NC-17 m/f, m/m
Tells and Lies.
Xander looked up at the doorway in front of him and took a deep breath, stepping across it.
Horatio frowned, getting up to answer the door. "Santiago. Xander's not here," he admitted, letting him into the house.
"I know. He's off talking to someone about his grandfather. He asked me to fill in this weekend for his submissives." He took off his jacket and let him hang it up for him. "He said it was too important to risk at the moment. Something about the Powers promising or something. I don't deal in that area." Horatio looked stunned. He shrugged. "So I'm here to handle his people. Is his appointment book around? I'm not sure if one canceled or not."
"It's in his office," he admitted, leading him that way. "He knew?"
"He called me Monday, Horatio. He didn't plan this very far in advance." That got a small, understanding look. "I don't know what was that important but he called me after he called his submissives to make sure they could handle him switching to me for a few days. I do know he plans on being back by Sunday."
Horatio nodded once. "I have no idea what started this off."
Emil looked at him. "Horatio, think about something. Has he gone through his Grandfather's things?"
"Not yet. It's sitting in storage." He sat down, letting him have the book. "His computer system tapes all scenes as well."
"That's fine. It's almost standard operating procedure unless they're your personal boy or girl." He smiled at him. "He's in New York I think. He said he had to start there."
"I wish he had told me that much. All I know is I woke up this morning with a note next to me saying he had to do something about the Powers' promising something and not delivering." He called Speed. "Your son is in New York talking to the Powers?" Speed choked. "Speed?" he asked patiently. He listened to what Speed said. "Why didn't he talk to me?" He sighed and nodded. "That makes sense. Let me know if you hear anything. Thank you. Santiago." He hung up. "Speed's met with them in the past."
"They are powerful beings from what I've heard." He gave him a look. "It's fine, Horatio. He's fine. Xander took care of himself for a very long time before you or Speed met him."
"I know, but I still wish he had talked to me first."
"Perhaps he wasn't sure what to say yet. That's what this meeting was about?" Horatio nodded. "That's fine then. Can you show me his working area? I heard he built a new dungeon."
"It had been our dining room," he noted dryly. "Now you're under my office." He stood up and led him that way, letting him look everything over. "The washer is in the kitchen. It's totally soundproofed. Even if I'm upstairs I can't hear a thing that's going on. We have a few guest rooms if you need one."
"No, I have a hotel room." He smiled at him. "I have the feeling you're going to have a fight with your boy soon."
"Only for not talking to me."
"Expect a call when he's done with his first meeting then." He patted him on the shoulder. "Think, Horatio. Is this like your Xander?"
"No, this is like the old Xander," he admitted.
"Then there's got to be a reason." Horatio nodded, leaving it at that until his boy called. "Now, you should rest. He's got one coming in within an hour. I'll keep out here most of the time."
"I don't care, Emil. Do watch out for his dog. He's still humping everything." That got a smile and he left him alone to get warmed up however. He knew one of Xander's clients that only came in once a month was coming tonight. Maybe he'd call Xander and leave a message on his phone. He went to their bedroom to do that. "Xander, it's me. Call me and tell me what's going on when you're done with whatever? I would like to know. If only so you don't surprise me with visitors." He hung up and turned on the tv. He was tired but not tired enough to go to bed. Maybe a hot bath.... He went to do that, turning the tv to a music station so he could have some noise.
Xander looked at the two blue skinned people in front of him, putting down the two gifts. "Angel said it was usual to bring you something," he said calmly. "In exchange for clarifying something for me."
"Presents are not necessary."
Xander looked at him. "You've yanked my life around for years already," he said dryly. "I'm being polite."
The female Oracle nodded at his statement. "We have, but you are not ours officially."
"Really? Then can you explain to me how my grandfather died before your prophecy about him seeing his first great-grandchild came to be?"
"Hasn't it?" she asked.
"Your arrogance is even worse than Angelus'," the male noted sarcastically.
"Considering how you let me grow up so I'd help your slayer?" he shot back. The man's eyes went wide. He looked at the female again. "As far as I know it hasn't. Has it?"
"It has. I cannot give you specifics."
"I don't need more than someplace to start looking."
"You should start in a small box of your heart."
Xander looked at him. "Their safety deposit box?" he asked, swallowing hard. "It's hard to look at anything with the way they all died."
She nodded. "Death is part of life."
"So is survival." She smirked at him for being so cocky. "Is there a daughter? Since Abby's having a son."
"There is," she admitted. "They knew but had not seen that we were aware. That action was not in the plan."
"So I would've lost them within a year anyway?" They both nodded and the male wandered off. He moved closer to her. "Where is the child? Horatio's been through that and didn't mention a child. He would have."
"She is in one of the Ancient Lands."
"That narrows it down some," he said dryly. "The Yemen family?"
"It was in part theirs, but not fully." She patted him on the cheek. "Your grief makes you do foolish things."
"That's part of love. He was my last relative."
"I don't consider my uncle a relative."
"He did raise you."
"No, he didn't. I raised me. Willow and Jesse raised me. You guys made sure I wouldn't be happy so your precious slayers would have a backup. You went a lot farther than you had to. Especially with how they used to sell me."
She tipped her head. "You were a miscalculation, Xander."
"Thank you for that admission. I know it cost you a lot to give." He stepped back. "Can I know which part of the Ancient Lands?"
"One that does not speak to you."
"Okay, so Mesopotamia? The Fertile Crescent? Egypt?" He saw her expression change. "Egypt. It's in his box?"
"Everything of your life is in a safety deposit box. Including your future."
He sighed. "I only have one last question. Is my child *blessed* to be one of yours?"
"No. None of yours are ours unless they ask. Your line is too unpredictable. It has caused many kinks in our plans when you have tried to fix things that should not have been able to happen."
He bowed. "I thank you for seeing me. Have fun torturing Angel for telling me how to come bother you." He smiled and turned, leaving their realm. He came out the other side, taking a deep breath. "Okay." He headed up the stairs, catching a cab back to his hotel room. He found his phone blinking that he had two new voicemails. "Huh." He listened to his mate's and smiled. Then he listened to Mac's. He called him back first. "It's me. That vial of semen you got sent of mine. Was it and was it both or just one?" Mac spluttered. "It's important, Mac. Because the Powers, those beings over Slayers, said he wouldn't succumb until he saw my first child. A daughter. Abby's having a boy." Mac sighed and said he'd look. "There's another safety deposit box. At least one, Mac. It's got his file on me and probably on Don too," he offered quietly. "Please? That's fine. I need to go to an embassy tomorrow. Thank you."
He hung up and sat down to look up the address of the embassy, then he called Horatio and Speed on a three-way call. "I'm back." He smiled at their assertion he was in trouble. "I know, but I had to ask. Because, Dad, they said he'd last until he saw my first child, a daughter," he said, stressing it. Horatio sucked in a breath. "These are the same people who're over slayers and who kept me there in Sunnydale until Dad sent me out. I had to ask. I'm going to an embassy tomorrow," he admitted. "Egypt." He leaned forward to hold his head. "I don't know, Horatio, but if she is in existence, then I need to know. Because if she's anything like me, then bad things can happen in her future, Horatio. Do you really want to open a door in sixteen years and have her standing there pissed as hell with a gun in her hands?" He smiled.
"I had to ask, Horatio. No, I called Mac first. Because the Powers said there's at least one more safety deposit box. It's got the file Grandfather and Grandsire have on me. They said she's in there too. I'll be back Sunday, Horatio. I promise, Dad." He smiled. "Thank you. As soon as I know, you will. Because I woke up with the nightmare on Monday night, Horatio. You saw me do it. You didn't understand but the clues came together and ...." He trailed off and swallowed again. "Babe, they're always right. That means something was wrong and I can't let them go like that. They're family. You'd do the same if someone promised to you that Yelina was going to live for another ten years and she died at nine. Please?" he begged. "Just understand?" He hung his head and nodded. "I know it's hard. We'll talk on Sunday when I get back. Dad, has Willow said anything about names?" He smiled. "Can you beat her on the head? No, I'll do that. Thanks." He hung up on them both and laid backward, his feet still on the floor. "Why me and not her?" he muttered. "Or Jesse?" The answer thankfully didn't come.
Xander walked into the Egyptian embassy the next morning, smiling at the receptionist. "I have a bit of an odd situation. I think I have a child who's been born in Egypt but I've never met the mother."
"Not voluntarily. Someone took some when I was kidnaped by a family out of Yemen."
She blinked. "I heard something about this family in Yemen who was having a problem with...." Xander pointed at himself and nodded. "Oh, dear. That can be a problem."
Xander nodded. "Definitely. Is there someone I can talk to, see what my options are?" She nodded, paging someone. A young man came out and he shook his hand. "Hi, Xander Harris. Someone took some semen from me while they had kidnaped me and I've learned that I have a child that's come to be from that involuntary donation."
"You're looking for your child?" he asked.
Xander nodded. "She's mine. I would like to establish some sort of contact, if not take her. Depending on how good her present parents are."
"That's reasonable. Let's see what we can do." He led him back to his office. "Do you know the present parents?"
"No. What little I've been able to find out is that she's in Egypt. She's a girl. My Grandfather or Grandsire may have been to see her. I'm not sure about that part. That's all I've been able to find. I know when they took the semen donation. They took two vials and only one was found."
"Okay. Let's see if we can search through the visitor and immigration records." Xander slid over his grandparents' passports. "That's very helpful." He got into a database and typed in the names. "Hmm. Your Grandfather Raphael was there about six months ago. He stayed for a week. It was listed as family business on the visa, which came out of this office. Let me see if I can find the copies of the paperwork." He got up and went down the hall to do that. He came back with a slim folder. "Yes, we have it still on file." He sat down again. "We do have a city he visited, but not where."
"But I can hire a PI and have them go from there?"
"You can. Are you thinking about taking full custody?"
"I don't know. That depends on her present parents," he admitted. "Also, I know your legal system is going to throw some fits. I'm in a monogamous homosexual relationship with a wonderful man down in Miami."
"The courts won't award you custody."
"But I can ask someone to be a surrogate, like the woman who adopted me as her son."
"That would be reasonable."
"I could also see if she wanted to come to Miami if she's a decent woman so I can have more contact with my daughter."
"That's another option," he agreed. He considered it. "I won't lie to you, Mr. Harris. This is going to be a small battle."
Xander smiled. "I'm from out near LA. I'm used to small battles." That got a smile. "I'm from Sunnydale." The man's face went slack. "I know some of you know because you have one out there somewhere. That's the other reason I want my daughter closer. So she can't be sucked into that stuff," he finished quietly.
He nodded. "Let me do some checking. Are you going back to Miami today?"
"Sunday morning." He leaned forward. "If they're great parents, all I want is visitation and to establish a relationship, let her know where she came from and who I am. If they're not, I want my daughter in my life full time."
"I understand. Give me a day to look into what we can find. Then we'll see if I can find you a reputable person to finish searching them out and give you a report on her." That got a nod. "Also, have you talked to your adoptive mother?"
"Not yet. I'm going to do that tonight. Or once I know if it's necessary. My fiancee should be involved in that discussion. He's in the police department down there and it could impact his career. In which case I'd do it more subtly."
That got a small smile and a nod. "That's more than reasonable at this point. Let me see what I can find and I'll get back with you tomorrow. Where are you staying?" Xander wrote down his hotel name and room number, passing it over. "Thank you."
"No, thank you." He put the passports back into his pocket as he stood up, shaking his hand. "Many blessings on your own family." He left, going to talk to Mac. He found him in his office. "Hey," he said quietly. Mac flinched, looking up at him. "She's in Egypt."
"Your daughter?" Xander nodded, walking in. "Huh." He smiled. "Is she all right?"
"That's all the information I have so far. The embassy's seeing what they can find out and then I'll make some plans after I talk to Dad, Mom, and Horatio." That got another smile. "So we'll see, depending on her parents."
"That's logical." He grinned at him. "You're right, there's four different safety deposit boxes. All in the same bank. It was in Gordon's things." Xander nodded at that. "Should I tell Horatio?"
"I will tonight. Grandsire went out there to see her apparently. They have a visa application for him. He went for a week."
"Then maybe it's in there."
"Maybe." He shrugged. "I don't know how I feel at the moment. Abby was being a bit cranky when I called her this morning. She said I'm obsessive and crowding her. I offered to kidnap her to show her what obsessive was. She didn't like that idea." Mac shook his head, but he was still smiling. "I was thinking about this last night. They'd never give us custody."
"Probably not since they've been putting gay men in prison for having sex," he agreed. At least the boy was being realistic as well as reasonable.
"So I was thinking about offering someone like Mom a permanently nice house if I got to take custody. That way I'd have her near me and they'd be satisfied."
"Aiden might not like that."
"Mom would squeal until the first diaper," he said dryly.
"Point." He nodded. "That is a good point." He smirked at Danny when he leaned in. "More stuff about his grandfather."
"More auctions?" Danny asked, coming in to give him a hug.
"No, I have a daughter in Egypt," Xander said, looking back at him. "If Mom won't, you think Stella might like to be the mommy?"
"Is she already born?"
"Yeah. But Egypt has this little problem with gay men. They like to put us in jail."
"Ah. That's a good point to think about. I don't know that Aiden would."
"Until the first diaper."
Danny smirked at him. "I want to be there when you suck up to her about it."
"I'll have help. Dad agreed with that idea really early this morning."
Danny snickered. "I bet." He patted him on the head. "Let us know what you find out. She's going to be a hellion if she's yours." Xander nodded, making Danny laugh and walk off. "Hey, Don?" he called, seeing him. "Xander's up here."
"Something about his grandfather's stuff and he thinks he found that missing vial. He thinks it was used in Egypt."
"Egypt?" Danny nodded. "That's going to be a long visitation commute."
"Yeah, well, he's thinking about setting up a stepmommy if they make him."
"That's more sensible." He shook his head quickly. "I can't see him in a dress."
"Don't tempt me," Xander called from up the halls. "Dinner, Uncle Don?"
"Works. Call." Xander nodded, heading out with a wave for them. He shuddered again. "That's a really bad thought."
"He's thinking about setting Aiden up as the mommy."
"She's a good one to him," he offered. "Let's hope she agrees. It'd solve all that pesky working stuff she's having problems with." That got an evil smirk from Danny. "Anything for me yet?"
"Nope. Still going."
"Sure. Make me wait longer to bang some guy into a wall while I cuff him." He walked off, going back to his desk to do some paperwork while he waited.
Xander walked into his house Sunday night, finding Horatio, Speed, Willow, Ryan, and Aiden all around. "Well, I have good news, and I have to beg someone for something. Well, two someone's." He kissed Horatio, staring at him. "They were right," he said quietly.
"Is she coming over?"
"Her mother's ill." Horatio's face tightened up. "They'll never give us custody. We're gay."
Horatio relaxed and nodded. "Thank you."
"Would you still love her if she's here with a stepmommy?" he asked quietly. Horatio smiled and nodded, kissing him again. "You're sure? You won't yell at me for it?"
"No, Xander. I like how you are when you fuss over Abby."
Xander smiled. "Thank you." He stole another kiss and looked at the others. "Mommy?" She smiled. "How would you like to live in a really nice house, get a good salary every year, and raise my Egyptian daughter?" She looked stunned, her mouth hanging open. "Her mother's got TB. She's not sick but they took her from her mother so she wouldn't get sick. Egypt doesn't like gay couples, especially not gay men. They would allow me to raise her if I got a suitable family environment for her. I went to the embassy to talk to them and the judge they had there. They have a special one for out-of-country adoptions. He said I could do it that way and it would be acceptable to them."
"Is she expected to get better?" Speed asked. Xander shook his head. "Why not?"
"Because Grandsire went to check on her. Even then they were saying it's too far gone. By the way, she's been living about twenty miles from the Egyptian Hellmouth." Willow whimpered at that. He moved closer to his mother, kissing her on the cheek. "I can't think of anyone I'd rather have her with. I'm going to do a lot of it myself," he promised. "Grandfather and Grandsire actually set it up so whoever I chose as a surrogate could have it. They were going to offer it to Abby if she'd move down here."
She let out a small breath, then hugged him. "Do we have pictures?"
"One." He pulled it out of his bag to show her. "That's Mahsa."
"That's a pretty name. It mean anything?"
"Like the moon. I looked it up." He kissed her on the forehead, making her smile. "You know that house Grandfather took you around a few months before he died?" She nodded. "That's the house they bought for that. They set up a trust for her specifically and one for Abby's son. It's for three mil each kid. The house will be deeded to the parent. There's a small trust to pay you fifty large a year for being the mommy. That way you can shop." She hugged him again and he hugged back, relaxing some. "It's an imposition, Mommy, I'm sorry. I didn't really know anything about this until I got some clues that stuck together in my head while I was sleeping and then we found more safety deposit boxes."
"I'm not, baby. It's a good thing to have her here. We'll watch your daughter very well." She looked at Horatio, who was smirking. "This bother you?"
"I can't see you pushing a stroller," he admitted.
"Don said he couldn't see me pretending to be her in a dress," Xander quipped, grinning back at him. "You won't mind?"
"I won't mind, Xander," he promised, pulling him over for a hug and a kiss as well. "I promise I won't mind."
Xander relaxed. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. They'd be family. As will Abby's son."
"She's still cranky with me." He pouted at Speed. "What did you say to her?"
"That we wanted to come up for the birth and the ultimate testing that'd be done after it."
"I thought we did that with the big needle thingy in her stomach."
"I thought we did. Maybe that's why she's cranky, Dad."
"Maybe. I'll call and ask." He went to do that. "When can we meet her?"
"I have to call that judge and let him know." He looked at Horatio, who smirked at him, then at Aiden, who hugged him. "We're sure? I know babies are a lot of work. She's a toddler."
"She kinda looks like you," Ryan offered with a smile. "Congrats, Xander."
"Thanks, Ryan. You'll be a Godfather, right?" He nodded quickly. "Good." He smiled at Horatio, who smiled back. "Good?"
"It's good, Xander. I wish I had known back on Monday." Xander hugged him and whispered in his ear, making him stiffen for a minute then relax and nod. "That's a good reason." He kissed him. "It's fine. I've been more than happy with the thought of your son with Abby. You know that." Xander nodded. "Good. Now, Willow, what names were you thinking of for your son?"
"Timothy?" she suggested.
"I'd spank," Speed offered with a sweet smile.
Xander stared at Willow, making her frown. "What?" she asked. He glared now. She went pale. She still looked confused until he smacked her on the top of the head. "But.... I thought you were going to name your son after him."
"She doesn't like it. Thinks it'll prejudice him to live a similar life."
"Oh." She considered it. "As a middle name?"
"I can agree to that," he promised. Ryan coughed. "When we first met Buffy, we lost our third friend," he reminded him.
"Jesse," he said, nodding slightly. "I remember hearing about him."
"Well, she promised him she'd name one of her kids after him."
"A middle name is fine," Ryan assured him. "You should always honor your friends. If we didn't have Speed back I'm sure the first child born in the lab among his friends would've been a Tim."
Horatio nodded. "Calleigh said she was going to if Eric didn't have one first."
"You guys were going to name your kids after me?" Speed asked.
"It'd make them feel like they hadn't lost you," Xander pointed out gently. "Because no one wants to lose you, dad." Speed hugged him, giving him a noogie at the same time. "Thanks." He grinned at him, then bounced over to hug Santiago. "I have a daughter."
"Then Lady Heather has a protege?" he teased.
"Some year soon. She's only three-quarters of a year old." Santiago smiled at that. "She's in Egypt."
"That's going to mean some tapdancing."
"Even better." He patted him on the cheek. "You were right. That one was interested and it did give us a chance to talk."
"I didn't think it was good for him to fly down every month to see me. You're closer and what he needs is someone with a firmer hand now and then," he agreed gently. "So you hit it off?"
"We did. We agreed to try it out a few times and I made sure you knew he could still come back to you." Xander nodded and beamed at him. "Good boy. Now, I've got to head back tonight."
"Do you have time for lunch?"
"No, I have a flight in two hours." He stroked his cheek, then patted it. "Call Lady Heather to tell her as well. Don't forget your Gregory either."
"I won't." He smiled and walked him out to his car, seeing him off. Then he came back and found Horatio calling Greg. He pounced him. "Hi, Greg." He listened to it as well, hearing him babble about the new baby. "She's a toddler. Her mother has TB. The state took her already. That's what Grandfather had planned. Yup. Thank you. Love you. No, I didn't admit to you. I'm sorry but they put guys like us in jail. Love you?" He grinned. "I know and it sucks. I'm sorry. I'm not denying you. Of course I love you." He smiled at the silly pout he was getting. "Of course. Love you." He blew a kiss. "Be a good boy and we'll talk a whole lot tonight, okay?" He beamed. "Love you." He got up and went to talk with Aiden about what his grandparents had found.
Speed called Abby. "We did the paternity test with the amniotic fluid?" he asked. She gave him a sullen answer. "I didn't know that. Then we'll definitely come up to celebrate the second baby Xander. The Xander son," he teased. "I'll bring him a baby sword and everything." Xander came out and handed him one, then went back to his office, making him howl with laughter. "He's already got one. A baby katana. Yeah, letter opener size," he teased. "Sure. Egypt. Yup. That's how we're doing it. I'll talk with you tonight via chat. When I get home, Abby. You behave and rest. Love you. Talk to you soon." He hung up and called Calleigh. "You're a grandmother twice." She whimpered. "They used one of the two tubes of seed the kidnapers took on a mother in Egypt."
"She went to a sperm bank," Xander called from the office.
"Okay, she went for some anonymous pop action out of a bank and got his somehow. Yeah, we're doing that right now. Patrick and Raphael planned farther ahead for this. Also, we did the paternity test on Abby at her amnio. So there's a Xander daughter and a son. Xander's even bought him a small sword. Sure. We're having lunch soon. Ryan and Willow. Aiden." He grinned. "See you soon." He hung up. "She said you can't buy the baby a baby whip yet," he called, heading for the kitchen. "Ryan, come help me cart food." That couple went to help him while Horatio went to check and see what had Aiden giggling.
Horatio waked into his boss's office the next morning, handing over the paperwork that had been faxed over from the embassy last night. He put it in front of his boss and stepped back.
His boss looked at it then at him. "Congratulations. Are you taking a few days of leave?"
"We are. We'll have to find her a pediatrician very quickly. She got taken from her mother because she had TB."
"That family that first kidnaped him took samples."
"Oh." He grimaced. "I'm sorry."
"In some ways so am I, but in others I'm not. Aiden's going to raising her. Abby's raising her son. So we'll have visitation." That got a smile and a nod. "I did think you should know about that."
"Thank you, Horatio. It's good news?"
"Xander's upset that she came to be but it's his daughter and he'd never let a child of his out of his sight by that much. Especially not when she's in the system. Also, he promised that Lady Heather would have a protege when she was older." The Chief snickered at that. "He did." He smiled. "So I will need a few days off when she comes over. I know it's short notice."
"That's all right, Horatio. These sort of things are why you have emergency leave." He found a form and worked to fill it out. "She's coming in on the tenth?"
"She is. She's flying in that afternoon. I would like a few days off before then. We've got to set up the nursery in Aiden's new house." He got an odd look. "Patrick and Raphael set it up for her."
"Interesting." He put in the dates. "The eighth is a Saturday. I'll give you that day forward until the following Monday. If you need more, let me know."
"I will." He bent down to sign it then handed him back his copies. "So far we've only got one picture." He let him see her. "She's a beautiful young girl."
"She's adorable. She's going to break hearts with his eyes. Good luck with her. Let's hope the mother of your stepson is going to love her too."
"She should. She's coming down the following week to get to know her. And so Xander can worship his son before he's born," he admitted at the amused look. "Speed can take over."
"That's reasonable. I wish you all the luck and the joys of fatherhood, Horatio. You deserve them. Have you told Yelina?"
"I was going to announce it at a meeting this morning," he admitted, smiling and putting on his sunglasses. He took the picture and his copies of the forms out with him, heading to his office. Where everyone was waiting per his orders to Speed. "Sorry to be so late," he excused as he walked in.
"We'll get used to it now and then," Speed promised. Calleigh snickered. "It'll happen now and then."
"It probably will," he agreed, smiling at them. He closed the door and looked at everyone. "We all know that the person in Yemen took semen samples when they had Xander?" Everyone but Valera nodded. She looked confused. "The first time he was taken," he explained to her.
"Oh. Poor boy. Has one surfaced?"
"They took two vials. One was found and destroyed. The other somehow got into a sperm bank in Saudi Arabia. Where it was used a few months later." That got mass gapes. "She's eight and a half months old. She's coming in on the tenth. She'll be staying with Aiden at her new house. Her mother was Egyptian but she's very ill. TB," he said when Frank opened his mouth. He let him have the picture. "That's the only one we have so far. That and with Abby's coming out soon, some things are going to necessitate me taking a few days off in the following months. I'm off starting the eighth for a week and that weekend. Abby's due in two months. She's coming down after I get back to meet her stepchild. She said so."
Speed smirked at Calleigh. "See what you get when you miss lunch to go meet with your mother?"
"She was thrilled I'm a grandma." She smiled at the picture and handed it to Yelina. "She's adorable."
"I hope she is in person as well," he admitted. "So, Aiden and Xander are decorating a nursery for her this upcoming week. He's back from New York. This is just a head's up about me taking some leave time."
Cooper raised his hand. "When's the baby shower?"
"We haven't decided if we're having one," Horatio admitted. Alexx snorted and gave him a look. "He said you're all more than welcome to come worship his daughter and the future protege of Lady Heather but he said he didn't want to make anyone give her presents."
"Yeah," Eric snorted, snickering at that sentiment. "Let me tell Momma and the others." Speed shuddered. "She'll be nice!"
"I'm sure she will but the baby'll be mobbed, Eric. Let her settle in first. Have we decided on a pediatrician?"
"We're getting recommendations from our mutual physician and I was going to ask Alexx for a recommendation as well."
"I've got a list, I'll bring it up," she promised. "Her mother had TB?" Horatio nodded. "That's why she was taken?"
"From what they said, Mahsa doesn't have it. They wanted to make sure she didn't catch it. Since her health is on a downward spiral, she agreed that the father could take charge of her. She apparently heard how she got the sperm." Xander walked in and kissed him then handed over a small book before leaving. "Xander?" he called. "They were talking about a formal baby shower."
"Give Aiden advice instead," he called, still walking off. "Found that in the box."
Horatio leaned against the front of his desk, looking in the journal-like book. He paused and reread, frowning some. "Excuse me?" he muttered, flipping pages. He sighed and handed it to Speed. "There's no worry about the child going to college. Someone was keeping the inheritances away from Xander. That's an account of them and where the accounts are." He looked around. "I wouldn't mind a welcoming dinner some night, maybe Wednesday or Thursday of that week?"
"Thursday's usually a gentle day," Calleigh agreed. "Bring stuff over that night so Aiden doesn't have to cook?" They all nodded at that. "Xander can, of course, order." Horatio and Speed both smirked at that. "Not like we want to see if the baby has his immunity to his cooking yet or not."
"Not yet," Alexx agreed. "So, a toddler and a new one on the way," she teased. "Can't get quite as noisy, sugar."
"Abby said we can only have visitation," Horatio said blandly. "Mahsa will be living with Aiden most of the time but we'll expect her over a lot. Xander has vowed to become the most hands-on parent ever." Ryan snickered and nodded. "It made Mrs. Wolfe pout and nearly cry at what he had planned for his daughter." He looked around. "Any other questions?"
"Her name's Mahsa?" Frank asked. Horatio nodded. "Okay. We have a car seat for the hummer, right?"
"We have a car seat for Xander's new lease car. His old one ran out. Speed told him he couldn't keep the ferarri."
"It's in the garage," Ryan and Speed told him in unison.
Horatio nodded. "That's what I figured, boys. It's special to him. The same as the house is." He looked around. "Anything else?" They all shook their heads. "Then go back to work. Have a good day, people." They got up, his friends patting him on the arm in congratulations. Frank stayed behind. "Problems?"
"I'm worried about his present-giving patrol. Aiden's dealing with those. Mayper got a few threats while he was doing it."
"She's going to be coming to you to see if you wanted to help."
"Not your brother?"
"No. Not at the moment. She doesn't like Ray. She hissed at him and sicced Thumper on him the last time she saw him." That got a snicker. "Also, the greater majority of the remaining puppies are going to her house. She said so."
"I'll let the wife know." He punched him on the arm. "You ready for this?"
"No," he admitted, "but I've had some time to get used to the idea that it was coming thanks to Abby." That got a gentle smile. "She's going to be a handful if she's anything like her father." Frank snickered and nodded, smirking at him. "I know. She'll be loved from the first day we have her, Frank. It'll be like Aiden and Speed really raised him."
"She's a beautiful girl, Horatio. Guard that beauty well. Let me know what I can do to help."
"Talk to Aiden. She's in high-squeal mode over that stuff." Frank nodded at the book so he let him see it, watching him read and go pale, then whistle. "Exactly. Xander hates dealing with those things. I've got to call Mac to see if he's seen this yet." Frank handed it back and wandered off. He closed his office door and emailed Mac to let him know about this new journal full of account information. Mac sent back he hadn't seen that yet. Horatio shook his head and went to photocopy it so it could be sent up there. That way he'd be frustrated too. Along with the good news about Mahsa.
Xander paced the waiting area of the first class lounge. Horatio had gotten them past security since they were picking up their infant daughter, but he was nervous. "What if she hates me? Or...or I turn into my parents? Or even worse, my uncle?"
"You won't, Xander. You've already proven to me that you're millions of times better than your parents ever were. The care you've shown with me and Thumper, not to mention how you baby Greg, shows that." He made Xander quit pacing. "Where's Aiden?"
"On her way over." He called her. "Where are you?" He grimaced. "She's stuck at security, Horatio."
"I'll go get her." He got up, giving Xander another pat on the arm before he left. He found Aiden pacing. "Your son picked that up from you," he teased. "She's our surrogate, gentlemen." That got a nod and they rescanned her then let her through. "Calm down. Xander's already a nervous wreck." He heard the flight be announced and hurried them up a bit. It was a fair distance so by the time they got there, Xander was sitting down holding his daughter. He smiled and took a picture, then of the grin Xander shot at him. "Is she all right? The flight didn't hurt her?"
"No, she's sleeping," Xander said quietly. He grinned at the social worker. "Thank you."
"It's not often we get these situations." She looked at Aiden. "You're going to be her adoptive mother?"
"I am. I helped rescue Xander from his folks." She shook her hand. "Aiden Burns. Former CSI out of New York, Seattle, and New Orleans." That got a small smile. She sat down on one side of Xander, Horatio taking the other. "Can I have her, baby?"
Xander carefully handed her over. "There you go, Mahsa, that's Mommy. You'll love Mommy like I do. Yes you will," he soothed. The baby yawned and blinked at them, then smiled at him and stared at Aiden. "That's your new mommy, Mahsa," he repeated. "That's Mommy Aiden. She'll be the one keeping all the aunties from cuddling you to death. She'll even keep the Uncle Eric's mommy from turning you into a girly girl. Yes, we'll help her do that." Horatio smothered a laugh. "You know she'll try to turn her into Marisol."
"I know she will but I'm sure you and Aiden can make her a strong, resourceful woman, Xander." He stroked his cheek then took the baby to hold. "Hello, Mahsa I'm your other father." The baby cooed at him and he smiled. "Yes, it's very nice to meet you too." He looked at the social worker. "Do we have papers to sign?"
"Quite a few," she admitted, sitting down across from them so they could change off when they had to sign something. By the time she was done, her flight back was pre-boarding and Mahsa was comfortable with Aiden. "I'll leave you to get her adjusted. We'll be checking on her periodically."
Horatio pulled out some cards. "This will be her pediatrician. This is the number of our ME's office. She's the mother of our CSI unit and will be helping when we get stuck. That last is my cellphone number. Call me and let me know when you want to come over." She nodded, stuffing those into the file as well. "I thank you for your help."
"You're welcome, Mr. Caine." She shook hands all around, let Xander have the two baggage slips for the baby's bags, then headed back to Egypt.
Xander looked at his mother. "Mommy, home?"
"Home's good. She should learn to like her crib." She got up carefully, letting Horatio help her. Xander ducked to get the bags while they headed right for the hummer. They already had a carseat. "How did you get it through so fast?" she asked once they were alone.
"I know a good number of social workers both here and in New York," he admitted, smiling at her. "We had them get letters of reference, copied the plans his grandfather set up for you two, and took a lot of pictures of the house. She'll be doing periodic checks but at the moment this is better for her and the system is overtaxed there as well." She smiled at that. "Besides, there's not really any rules for kidnaped sperm resulting in infants. With her mother being sick, they're just glad she's fine and with someone good. With your past work experience, my past work experience, and a few bribes paid...." She swatted him on the arm so he held the door to the airport open for her. "It helped oil the gears. Speaking of, Greg's going to be out next week as well. He wants to love on Abby as he put it." They waited for Xander to catch up, waving at him when he appeared in the crowd. "What took you so long?"
"They wanted to know why I didn't have a ticket. They didn't like the short version of the explanation so I had to give the long one." That got a smirk from Aiden. "It helped." He shrugged. "Hummer's in short term, level two, right?" Horatio nodded, letting him lead the way. It took all three of them to figure out how to put the baby in the car seat, but she didn't seem to care. She was still asleep. Xander got into the back with her, letting Aiden and Horatio ride up front. "This means I've got to update the will," he said quietly once they were on the road.
"You do," Horatio agreed. "The house can still go to Speed, Xander."
"If you're sure."
"Okay." He went back to staring at his daughter. "We have got to take tape of you to send to Lady Heather. You'll like her. She's a lot like a grandmommy." He ran a finger down her nose. "You're very pretty and delicate, daughter. We'll have to teach you how to use a sword and a crossbow when you're bigger so you can beat off the boys."
Aiden gave him a look. "Less strange stuff around her, Xander."
"I know, but it'll be self-defense lessons."
She snorted. "We'll see." Horatio got them to her new house, which wasn't that far away from where Xander and Horatio were living, and found that apparently all crime had been solved and no new ones had been committed today since all the crime lab was waiting on them. She looked at the guys waiting around. "Lunch break?" she teased.
"No!" Calleigh snorted. "We wanted to see the little princess." Xander got out of the back with her, letting her see and Speed see her first. "Awww, she's adorable."
"She is. You make pretty babies, kiddo." Speed kissed Xander on the temple then stole his granddaughter. "Hey, Mahsa. I'm your granddad."
She yawned and blinked at him. "Dada?"
"Close. Nearly there." He grinned and she smiled back. "You're such a good girl."
Aiden opened the door. "Into the house, it's humid today," she called. She smiled at Speed since he was still carrying her. "She's a good girl. Hasn't cried yet."
"She just spoke," Calleigh offered. They settled her in the living room, watching her look around. She was wide awake and the carpet apparently pleased her since she petted it. One of the puppies came in to sniff, then barked a few times.
"Quit," Xander ordered. The dog gave him a hurt look. "That's a human puppy. You guard the human puppy for me, Iggy." The dog let him pet him then went back to sniffing the baby. Then he laid down to watch her closely. "Good boy! Very good boy!" The dog looked at him then went back to watching the baby crawl around. She got too far away so he crawled after her, nosing her foot. She started and looked at him, then cooed and reached back for his nose. "Gently," Xander ordered, getting down to show her. Iggy went into his lap and he let her pet his side, earning a giant smile. "That's a doggy. Can you say doggy?"
"Dada!" she said happily, patting the dog again. A hand came down into her view and she went to investigate that. "Dada!"
"Yes I am," Horatio praised, picking her up to cuddle her. "That's very smart of you, Mahsa." He kissed her on the head and handed her on.
Eric beamed and called his mother. "Momma, I'm holding Xander's daughter. Yup, she's born. No, not Abby's. That's a son." Xander nodded. "Remember the story about the kidnaping and them taking some sperm? Well, someone used some and she's a beautiful little girl." He had to pull the phone away from his ear and they all heard her scream 'WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME SOONER, ERIC!' He chuckled and put it back. "They just got custody of her, Momma. She's here now. Aiden's taking care of her. Because her mother was Egyptian and they don't like gay couples, Momma. She's adorable." He let her have the phone, putting it next to her ear when she tried to chew on it. "Say hi, Mahsa"
"Mamama!" she squealed, listening to the pretty voice.
Horatio smiled. "I know who she'll love for cooking lessons."
Alexx snorted and took the baby. "You come to me, great-granddaughter. Since I'm Momma to Timmy I can be yours too." She cuddled her, getting a coo and a cuddle back, then the baby wiggled and got back onto the floor to crawl over to Frank, Yelina, and Ray Junior.
Ray Junior picked her up and sat her in his lap, just looking at her. "Hi, cousin," he said softly. "You're going to be very protected. Your daddies are like that and I'll back them up to beat the boys off you." The baby grinned at him. "Such a good girl."
"You can't have one," Yelina said firmly, stealing her. "Hello, Mahsa." The baby tipped her head, making her smile at her confused look. "I'm your Auntie Yelina. Your fathers will come ask me all sorts of girl questions and so can you." She kissed her on the head, letting Frank have her.
Frank grinned and got one back. "Hi, sweetheart. You're gonna be a little princess, aren't ya?" He grinned when she cackled and reached for his nose. "I know, it's big." He gave her a hug then put her back down on the floor, which made the dog come over and plop down in front of her to stare at her some more. The other two puppies came in and sniffed her then got into Horatio's lap for cuddles.
"You two are much too large to be lap dogs," Horatio complained but he petted them anyway. They were adorable dogs. Mahsa came over to pat the feet they had hanging off the couch, earning more sniffs, but they were too content to play with her. She gave it up and went to explore some more things. Iggy followed. They all heard a scream and the dog brought her back, presenting her to his daddy by the back of her shirt.
"Wow, you're good. Don't get her skin, Iggy." He took the daughter to check her over. "Good job! No skin pinched." He patted him. "Be gentle with the human puppy." The dog barked and got his ball to play with so he threw it. Mahsa crawled after it too, nearly as fast as the dog did. They brought it back together, her following him. He grinned and threw it again. "Is someone taping this?"
"Getting it," Frank promised, pulling out the camcorder to do that. Horatio snickered, shaking his head. "Well, you've got to send something to Lady Heather."
"We do," Xander said happily. "And Greggy." He threw the ball again, watching as they both took off after it, her squealing happily. They brought it back and he tossed it again but she stayed and crawled into his lap, staring at him. "Hi, baby," he said quietly, stroking her cheek. "There's my girl." He grinned and she grinned back. "I think she's got my smile."
"She definitely has your eyes," Speed offered, reaching down to stroke through his son's hair, getting stereo surprised looks. "I can pet him. I adopted him, Mahsa. That's why I'm the grandpa." The baby giggled and hugged Xander before crawling over him to get to Speed's lap. "Hi." He settled her in his lap, letting her look at Calleigh. "She probably hasn't seen many blondes," he said quietly.
"I guess not." She pulled a piece over for her to look at closer. "Are you staring at my hair?" Mahsa leaned closer to taste it, getting a lot of smiles. "Do I taste good?" The baby let out a gentle coo then wiggled her way over to snuggle into her chest, grinning at her. "Sure, you can cuddle." She gave her a good cuddle then lost her because she had spotted the puppies and Horatio's hair. She crawled over everyone, including kicking her father in the head, on her way to the dogs and Horatio's hair. Horatio moved one of the dogs for her to have a spot, getting her licked by both dogs.
"Down, boys," Horatio ordered quietly. "She's a human puppy." He settled her into his lap but she reached up so he leaned down, letting her play with his hair. She let out a loud squeal and grabbed on with both hands, beaming back at the others. "Ow," he moaned, trying to get free.
Eric reached over, tickling her. She yanked but then had to let it go to grab his hand. He beamed. "Hi, precious. Coming back to the Uncle Eric?" She spit at him and cackled, going back to staring at her father's hair. He helped her stand up, hands on her hips to keep her steady, so she wouldn't have to reach. It was nice of him. It gave her a better chance to grab more. Eric had to rescue Horatio's hair again by tickling her and handing her to Daddy, who snuffled her neck then settled in to cuddle her. She cooed and stroked his cheek. "You're good," he praised. "Is she still on a bottle?"
"Um, bags are in the car, so is her diaper bag," Aiden admitted. She went to grab them, bringing them back. She found powdered formula, a few bottles, and diapers in the bag, then in her bag were a few outfits, a handmade blanket, and a small stuffed duck. "Awww." The baby made a grab for her duck, cuddling it and her daddy. "Good girl." She went to make some formula, bringing it back. Frank got tape of him feeding his daughter for the first time too and it was sweet.
"Trade me places, Speed," Horatio ordered. Xander grinned and moved one of the dogs so he could cuddle against his husband with her. That way Horatio could help feed her. She held up her duck. "It's a pretty duck, Mahsa Does it have a name?"
"You? Okay, we'll call her you." He stroked over her hair and she grabbed his hand to hold while Daddy got the bottle for her, earning stereo smiles.
Frank turned off the tape and put it down. "Okay, that's enough mush."
Calleigh checked her watch. "Eric, you've got court." He hopped up and headed out, Speed right behind him since he had to be there too. She smiled. "We'll leave you guys alone until Thursday and we're bringing food that night, Aiden."
"Thank you. I'm sure she'll appreciate that." That got gentle smiles and everyone but Ray Junior left. She looked at him.
"She's my cousin, she'd better get used to me. Besides, the craptastic sperm donor's at the house. Mom wanted to talk to him. I don't. It's saving me from committing homicide."
"Works for us," Xander offered. "Where are Ryan and Willow?"
"He's too deep into a case and she's pouting," Aiden told him.
"Ah. Well, he'll see her fairly soon." He smiled down at his daughter. "We need to send a copy of that tape to Greggy so he can present it to Lady Heather."
"We'll present her in person in a few months," Horatio promised, kissing him on the temple. "The next time we head out there." Xander smiled and went back to cuddling his girl. She was nearly asleep again. "Let's put her down."
"Do I have to?"
"You'll have a lot of time to play with her, Xander." He nodded, letting Horatio hold her while he stood up, then carrying her up to her new nursery. She looked around sleepily but didn't seem to mind the dragons and unicorns, or the mage fighting a dragon on a poster across from her. He looked at Xander, then at Aiden, who pointed at Xander. He kissed him instead of saying anything, just shaking his head.
"It is," Horatio agreed.
"It was this or Grateful Dead bears, honey."
"I like it, it's just a bit odd for a nursery, Xander." He gave him a kiss and watched their daughter nap. Aiden snuck off to get herself some lunch. She knew they weren't coming down anytime in the near future.
Greg got the tape in the mail and looked at it, then at his boss. "It says to deliver it to Lady Heather so we can watch it together."
"It's probably tape of your new stepdaughter," he said, giving him a look.
"I'm still weirded out by the thought of being Daddy Greg." He shuddered. "It's just odd. I'm not daddy material, Grissom."
"That realization comes to us all too late, Greg. Go talk to Hodges, then deliver that after your shift. She'll be upset if you don't."
"True." He went to talk to Hodges. "It's official. They sent a tape of my new daughter. I'm supposed to present it to Lady Heather and watch it with her," he said in greeting, looking a bit down.
Hodges looked at him. "It's hard to believe someone as immature as you is now going to be raising a child to be just like you so that they can taint future generations."
"Aiden's raising her but we'll have her over all the time," he corrected.
"Then you still get all the great and noisy sex, but some of the diapers, good work," he finished dryly.
Greg grimaced. "I'm not ready to be Daddy Greg."
"So?" He shrugged. "Not like you had a say in it. Besides, you're Stepdaddy Greg."
Greg glared at him. "I don't have stepkids. My kids are my kids. No matter who fathered them." Hodges gave him a look. "They will be. Abby's son too." He shrugged. "I'm just creeped out by the thought that I'm a daddy now. Twice!" He shuddered. "That's almost a bad thought. Even if our son with Abby is going to be the next federally sanctioned goth lab tech."
"Federally sanctioned goth lab tech?" Nick said from behind him.
"Abby, the mother of Xander's son, is the only one so far. Our son with her will be the next one."
"Oh. She's goth?"
"You met Abby at the convention," he said dryly. "Dark hair, pigtails?"
"Oh, her. Yeah." He nodded. "Any word on the new one out of the Middle East?"
"She got flown in a few days ago. I'm going this weekend to meet her. That's why I'm off until Thursday."
"You have court on Wednesday," Grissom called as he walked past the doorway.
"I'm on preapproved leave," Greg called. Nick chuckled and shook his head that it probably wouldn't matter. "I'll call the idiot prosecutor." He went to do that. "It's Sanders. You do realize I'm not going to be back in the city until very early Thursday morning?" he asked dryly. "Preapproved leave and no I'm not going to change my plans to go visit my lover and our new daughter, or go spoil the mother of our son." He listened to him splutter. "Ask me if I give a damn. My flight comes in at eleven Thursday morning. I'm leaving Friday at nine in the morning. Between those two times, I'll be in Miami with my boys." He smiled. "I did point that out weeks ago. You didn't listen. No, I'm not changing my plans. Because our daughter was just given to us and I'm going to go bond. Listen, James, you're going to be damn lucky if I come back at this point in time," he said quietly. "There's a hell of a lot keeping me down there and it keeps getting harder and harder to come back. With our daughter being born and our son being due in just under two months? You can have me Thursday, you can have me Friday. You can't have me Wednesday." He hung up and got back to work, staring at the tape. When he was finally done he drove it out to Lady Heather's, presenting himself to her assistant. "I have a tape from Master Tim," he said respectfully. "He requested we watch it together."
She called up to the office. "Lady Heather, Gregory is here with a tape from Master Tim, ma'am. Yes, ma'am, for the both of you he said." She smiled at him. "It'll be an hour, Gregory."
"I'm off shift and I can stay up that long," he promised, sitting down and finding a book to read.
"He'll wait, ma'am." She hung up and smiled at him. "Want some coffee?"
"No thank you, Gloria. I've had plenty tonight." She giggled and walked off. He went back to his reading to kill time. She came down the stairs and he hopped up, getting a nod but she was escorting someone out. She came back and he gave her a hopeful look, getting a sigh. "Ready?"
"What sort of tape?"
"Of his daughter," he said quietly.
"I thought Abigail was having a son."
"She is. The guy who stole his sperm had one vial put into a bank in Saudi Arabia. They just found her in Egypt a few weeks back. She was given to them two days ago. They wanted to introduce you this way before they could formally bring her out." That got a gentle smile. "I'm still weirded out by being Daddy Greg," he admitted, handing her the tape. "It came to the station so I got to hear Hodges tell me I'm immature so therefore I'll warp her."
"Come to my office, Gregory." She walked up there, going to slide open the tape. The two wallet sized photos were smiled at. "She is adorable." She handed him one, earning a smile. They sat with him beside her knee, resting his head on her thigh as was proper for him, watching the baby explore her new aunts and uncles. Greg sniffled at the scene of Xander feeding his baby girl. She stroked through his hair. "It won't change that much for you, Gregory. Not if you don't want it to."
"I'm not with them just for the sex, Lady Heather."
She smiled. "It's good you realize that." She giggled at her new might-as-well-be granddaughter. "He did promise to raise her to follow me."
"She's got a strong grip already," Greg teased, heartened by that. He looked up at her. "Will I make a good father?"
"You'll make an excellent father. You and Xander both," she soothed. He beamed and hopped up, kissing her on the cheek before ejecting the tape and heading off. "I want a copy, Gregory."
"I'll have Archie make you one," he promised as he jogged out to his car. He headed back to the lab, stopping in on the techs having breakfast. At least two had breakfast every morning. "I've got tape of my daughter," he announced. "I've got to make a copy too, Archie. Can you help?"
"Sure," he agreed, snatching it. They paid and headed back to the lab. Most of the nightshift was still in. He waved at Catherine, who smiled and came to see what was going on.
"More soccer?" she teased.
"My daughter." Greg put in the tape and Archie started it, having to rewind it. "They gave Mahsa to Xander the other day." He sat down, staring at the screen.
"She's adorable," Bobby said with a grin. "Good thing Xander likes guns. He'll need some to shoo the boys off."
Greg giggled. "Wait." They watched as she got Calleigh's hair then spotted Horatio's hair and went to play with it. They all grinned at that, even Hodges. The last scene of Xander and Horatio feeding her together got a mass 'awww' from everyone gathered in to watch.
Warrick coughed. "That's a scary thing, Greg. You ready for her?"
"Hell no," he said dryly. "I'm still scared of being Daddy Greg, but she's a good little girl. Xander's probably camped under her crib while she's sleeping."
Grissom leaned in. "What are we doing back?"
"Tape of Greg's daughter," Archie admitted. "I'll copy it at home, Greg."
Catherine got him a blank tape from the box. "I'm not going to say anything. If Grissom does I'll spank him. This is a good reason, better than naked sports." She patted Greg on the head. "Congratulations. You're leaving when?"
"Friday morning. Eight on Friday morning."
"You told the prosecutor?"
"Yup, a month ago and then I reminded him again," he said dryly. "Not my fault he conveniently forgot."
Grissom gave him a look. "We need to be available...."
"If and when I find out how to do the demon teleporty thing, as Xander calls it," he overrode, "then I'll pop back for them, Grissom. Until then, I'm going to be in Miami playing with my new daughter that day. I reminded him of this. I also told him when I get in. He can wait." He went back to watching his daughter; Archie had set it to replay. She was adorable and apparently very smart. She was already as smart as the puppies were. "She's clearly going to follow us into the lab. Just under nine months and she's already as smart as the dogs."
Hodges patted him on the back. "As long as she doesn't get stuck there, Sanders." He walked out to his car, ignoring the fact he was smiling, even if it did scare and worry some of the dayshift techs. Ecklie gave him a worried look. "Sanders just got tape of his daughter. They're in AV."
"Oh." He nodded. "His vacation this time."
"And next time too since his boy's having a son born in two months." He smirked. "Can't you see his kids in the lab some day? His kids with Master Tim?"
Ecklie shuddered at that. "Unfortunately I can." He went to hide in his office and take something to remove that thought from his head. Before it got stuck.
Don found the tape in his inter-office mail and looked at it, frowning some. "What the crap are you?" he muttered. Tara had made him stop saying 'fuck' so often around her. His father and mother were both amused at that, so was his boss. "Hey, boss, going to AV," he called, heading that way with it. "Someone sent me a video tape," he said when he walked in. "Can you run it for me? See if it's a ransom demand or something?"
"Sure, Detective." He took it and opened it, checking inside the package. "For some reason I don't think it's a ransom tape." He handed over the stack of wallet-sized photos and put the tape in, letting him see it. Flack's squeal brought the others running to see what was going on. He wasn't the usual person to squeal at that pitch in the labs.
"Who's that?" Stella asked.
"Rewind it," Mac ordered. "If I'm not mistaken, that's Mahsa. Xander's daughter." Don took one of the pictures and handed them on, getting a smile. "She's adorable."
"I can only hope ours are too," Don said happily. The tape was played and they all laughed at her going for Horatio's hair. The look on her face was fully Xander's. The shot of Xander feeding his daughter, then the two of them doing it made Stella sniffle and Danny pat her on the lower back for it. "Aww," Don said when it was done. "She's adorable!"
"She is," Mac agreed, smiling at him. "Go ahead and make copies, we'll allow it this time," he assured him. He patted Don on the back. "Congratulations, Uncle Don."
"Thanks. That one and then Abby's boy soon." They all smiled at that. "In case you guys didn't hear, they had to give official custody to Aiden. Not that she's probably getting her a lot, but she's got the official custody. She said Xander did some sort of fantasy nursery."
Danny snickered and nodded. "With dragons and magic users and swirly clouds. He sent me a picture the other day to see if I liked it or not."
Don shook his head at that. "Only Xander," he decided, taking back the original once it had been copied off. "You guys got your pictures?" They all took theirs from Mac and headed back to work. He grinned at Mac. "Thanks, Mac."
"Welcome. There's an extra one."
"Probably for my lady." He took it and headed back to his desk, calling her. "It's me, baby. We got tape of Mahsa. Xander sent it and pictures. Sure, I'll probably be here," he joked. "Love you too." He blew a kiss and hung up, much to the amusement of a perp at the next desk over. He growled and the guy shrunk down in his chair, making the detective snicker.
"His girl's very sweet and delicate, but she can kick my ass," the detective told him. "She deserves the blown kisses. What's with the mail and the sudden trip, Flack?"
"Remember Xander?" He nodded. "Remember me ranting about the kidnaping and the stolen sperm?"
"Yeah, kinda," he admitted. Flack had ranted each time the boy had been taken off a plane. One of them he had mentioned sperm.
"Well, we've got a new niece." He showed him the picture. She got a grin. "He sent up the first tape of her for us."
"She went right for Caine's hair. Evil little grin and all while she did it."
He laughed. "That's a toddler for you. Very cute." He went back to his arrest report while Don went to brag to others. Family guy Flack was adorable too. Happy and bouncy as his nephew was.
Xander opened the door, smiling at the man standing there. "Greggy!" He pounced him, dragging him inside to cuddle. "I thought I was picking you up!"
"You were but I got an earlier flight offered," he said with a smile, giving him a squeeze. "Is she here yet?"
"No, Mommy made me go away. Abby's there too." He pouted. "She said I'm clingy and bouncing too much. I'll teach both kids bad habits."
"Then let's go. I'm a good reason to go back there." Xander beamed and grabbed his keys, taking Greg to Aiden's. He saw the frown and scowled back. "Where's my daughter, woman!"
"Be nicer to Mom, Greg," Xander complained. "Mahsa, Daddy Greggy is here," he called, going to hunt for her. He found her crawling in the kitchen after one of the puppies. "Hey, Dobbie, can we have her back?" The puppy barked and relented for head scratches and a few licks to the baby's cheek. He carried her out, letting Greg stare for a minute before he handed her over.
Greg awkwardly held her, but settled in to an easier grip when she didn't wiggle in his arms. She did stare at him then reached up to play with his hair. "That's a good girl," he praised, smiling at her. "I'm not quite as blond as Auntie Calleigh is, but I'm still blond. We know you're going to follow us into the labs. You're already as smart as a puppy," he teased, walking her into the living room to sit down with her. He grinned at Abby. "First time I've got to see her outside of a tape."
"Go ahead," she said, waving a hand. "She's already communed with Hobart, the amazing wonderbaby."
"Hobart?" he asked.
"Beaufort?" she teased.
He considered it. "Something less Southern and more Greek? Or even Scandinavian? My mother will pout otherwise."
Abby giggled. "His name's going to be Jon Ignatius Scuito."
"No Harris?" Aiden asked.
"I don't need someone to carry on the family name. Not like it's worthy to go into the future," Xander said patiently. "She can give him her last name." He grinned at her and moved closer but she swatted his hands. "Sorry." He sat down next to Greg, looking a bit contrite until his daughter leaned over to suck on his ear. "Hi, Mahsa. I'm not forgetting you." He took her to nuzzle noses with her, getting a grin. "You're a happy baby today, aren't you?"
"That's because she shit a purple and green diaper last night," Aiden said, rolling her eyes. "No more beets for her. Or strained spinach." Greg snickered. "Really! Carrots made it orange too. You have to watch out for those things unless you want the nasty baby surprises." Xander leaned into Greg's side, getting them both cuddled, which made the baby coo at Greg.
"Mama!" she said, beaming at him.
"Sure, you can call me that, even though I'd look sucky in Aiden's clothes." Abby burst out giggling. "I would." He took her back, settling her on his lap. She played with his fingers, then looked up at him. "Do you mind if I spoil you like Daddy Xander and Daddy Horatio do?" She sucked on his index finger and it was all good for him. Suddenly, he wasn't so worried about being Daddy Greg. Just his mother's reaction to being Grandma. He looked at Xander. "I haven't told my mother about us yet, much less her and Johan over there."
"Jon," Aiden said.
"I like Johan," Abby admitted. "It's very old world." She texted that to Tony, getting back a 'it means the same thing but the kids'll pick on him for it, Abby' message back. "Tony thinks they'd pick on him for it. He's been pushing for a normal first name."
"Demetrius?" Xander suggested.
"Um, no," Greg said, shaking his head. Mahsa shook hers with a grin for him. "That's right. He shouldn't be named that. He should be named something else. Something Papa Olaf would have approved of."
Abby cooed and came over to hug him. "You have a grandfather from the old country?"
"I did. Until a few years ago." She pouted and gave him a cuddle. "Thanks. He was really important in my life. My mother's kinda uptight so I spent a lot of time with Papa Olaf." He gave her a sad smile. "He's got to be laughing his butt off. He had to leave the old country after getting Mama pregnant. He'd laugh that I didn't even have to do that much. Say it runs in the family to be that fertile." Aiden looked at him. "I have no stepchildren, Aiden. If they're my kids, they're my kids. Adopted, step, Xander's or not. Even if Horatio comes up with one some year." He looked at Abby again, kissing her on the forehead. "Think you want two?"
She pinched him on the arm. "Let's see how one goes first." She snuggled in to take Mahsa from him, letting her commune with her lump of wonderbaby again. "There you go, you and Johan talk."
Greg beamed and hugged her. "Thank you!" He hugged Xander, getting a deep, hearty kiss. "Hmm, lunch." He kissed him again and the baby clapped and giggled. He grinned at her. "Thanks, dear. Good to know you approve of us too." He grinned at Xander. "Want to help me call my mom?"
"Want me to call your mom for you?" he teased.
"Well, probably," he admitted with a wicked grin. He patted Greg down until he found his cellphone, finding her number. "I can." Greg whimpered. He hit the button to talk to her. "Hi, Mrs. Sanders? No, this is Greg's fiancee, Xander." Greg gave him a look. "You're marrying us, Greg. Tough. Once we get Horatio over his pouty thing." He listened to her splutter. "Yes, ma'am, that's what I said. Well, I was going to offer you pictures of the grandchild we have born and the one who'd coming soon, if you wanted that was. No, she's just appeared. No, I was with Greg when she was conceived. Someone took a sample against my will and had her. Mahsa. Her mother's Egyptian. She's very ill. That's how I found out about her. She's an adoring child. I'm sure I can. What address should I have them sent to? We're doing formal portraits in two days." He looked at Greg. "You have her office addy, right?" He nodded. "He has it. I can do that. Miami." He grinned. "That is why he keeps coming down here. No, I'm having a son with a wonderful tech out of DC. Her name's Abby and we're having a son Johan in a few months. I'm sure he would but he's cuddling her and he wanted to call and tell you but I won the kiss contest so I got to call instead," he offered with a grin. "Sure, I wouldn't care. We'll be here. Like Horatio says, Miami never closes." Greg groaned and pinched him but took the baby to change her. "I can do that," he pouted.
"It's my first diaper, I can do it," he pouted back, taking her up to the nursery. He paused to look around then at their daughter. "Your Daddy Xander is a bit odd but you'll learn to love him like we do." He put her on the changing table and got to work changing his first diaper, using Xander's phone to call Bobby. "Changed my first diaper. No, she already loves me and my hair," he teased. "Mahsa, would you like to talk to Uncle Bobby?" She took the phone to gum and coo into and he could hear the laughter so he took it back. "Thought I'd share. Have a good day." He hung up and finished redressing her. "There we go, one more gone." He tossed out the diaper, sanitized his hands, then carried her back down, letting her get down to crawl. Xander was still listening to his mother rant apparently so he took the phone. "Mom." She started on him. "We just found out about her, Mom. Did you want me to suddenly become telepathic? Because I wanted to see her first, greedy! I just got to see her today. Feel lucky you're hearing before her birthday. Nine months, Xander?"
"In four more days," Aiden agreed. She took the phone. "Hi, Greg's Ma. No, I'm Aiden. I'm Xander's adoptive mother. She's staying with me. You can call and bug me all you want for pictures and stuff. Because her mother's Egyptian and they don't like gay folk. Therefore Xander's letting me have residence privileges while he does most of the work. Nah, he's a great dad. Sure, you can do that. We're here. He's down here too. He's in the labs down here. We can do that as well. Whenever you get a vacation, come on down. It's pretty down here." She smiled. "I can do that as well. Have a good day." She hung up. "Greg, baby, she wanted me to spank you until you howled for not telling her sooner that you were with a guy or two."
"Yay." He looked at Xander. "Is she coming home with us tonight?" Xander shook his head. "Can we do that to celebrate?" Abby squeaked and he grinned. "I started out seeing Master Tim instead of Xander. I'm tactilly deprived. He pets very well."
She cooed and petted him. "We can pet you like a puppy all you want, Greg." He grinned and tipped his head, letting her pet him better. Then Mahsa came over to help. "You do that very well, sweetie. I'm sure Daddy Greg appreciates you helping."
"She's not pulling, I'm happy," Greg quipped. Xander gave his hair a small yank then gave him a wink and a blown kiss, getting up to get the baby food. "Ooooh, lunch time, Mahsa." They settled in to tag team feed their little bird impersonator. Aiden could only shake her head and snap a picture at the cuteness.
Grissom answered his phone. "Gil Grissom." He had to pull it away from his ear. "Ma'am, please calm down," he said quietly, putting it back. "Now, what's wrong?" He sat up, frowning at her speech about her son. "Mrs. Sanders, I assure you, Greg is very happy with them. He is extremely happy. He always comes back happy and we know we're going to lose him to Miami some day very soon. Yes, I know. I got to see the tape Xander sent him when she first showed up. Because he couldn't go down for a week. Work and court cases," he admitted. "No, he's down there right now." He checked his clock. "With the time difference, they're probably at supper." He smiled. "That would be fine. Have you tried his cellphone? I know he keeps it on in case we have a problem and need to ask him about a case."
He nodded once. "No, I don't think it's wrong. They clearly love each other very much. Xander is very protective of Greg. Horatio adores him as well. You'd have to ask your son how they started, Mrs. Sanders. That's not my place to tell you. I'm sure he was going to but we've had a lot of crime recently and Greg's been instrumental in solving quite a few cases. Yes, in the lab." He raised an eyebrow. Greg hadn't told her he was in the field? "No, he's perfectly happy. You should call and talk to him, not me. Because I'm sure he wants to talk to you. Yes, try his cellphone. You have a good evening as well." He hung up and called the number he had for the house in Miami, getting a growling Xander "Greg's mother just called. She's calling his cell. Fair warning, she's screeching in outrage at you three." He hung up and went back to his reading over the file in front of him. That was not a happy mother. But Greg could handle it. It was his mother after all.
Greg whimpered when his phone went off right after Xander had hung up. "Please, not now," he begged.
"It's your mom, Greg."
He groaned and took the phone. "Mom, kinda busy," he panted. "Well, I am having dinner, Mom. I'm having Horatio and Xander for dinner. Mom, I know you had sex at least once because I'm here," he said dryly. "Yes, and I enjoy the hell out of it, Mom. No, I'll quit swearing. Mother." He closed his eyes and felt Horatio stroke his back. He was still over his lap at the moment with a very warm backside. He slid to his knees, resting his forehead against Horatio's thigh. "Mom," he tried again. Finally he'd had enough. "Mother, you have inconvenient timing," he interrupted. "Yes, well, presently I'm being spanked for being such a tease earlier. So can you try back tomorrow? I'll have my cell on then as well. Yes, Mom, I said spanked. Because I like it when they do that. Mom, you don't want to get into this discussion right now."
Xander took the phone but Horatio took it from him. "Mrs. Sanders, Horatio Caine," he said smoothly. "Yes, Greg's Horatio. Yes, like Horatio and Xander. Because you're upsetting him and I won't allow you to upset Greg, especially not tonight. Now, if you would like to call back when you're being reasonable, you can do that. Until then, you're upsetting Greg horribly. As any good lover does, I don't like to see either of them upset. No, I'm not hiding it. I don't at work either. Yes, my boss does know. He doesn't care because I do my job without it interfering most of the time. Now, when you're no longer shouting and preaching at him, then you may call him back. Do remember however that I will not tolerate Greg being so upset that he feels bad. Am I clear?" She went silent. "Was that an agreement?" He smirked. "I know you're his mother. Since he's now an adult, the job of fussing over him now falls to his lovers. Which we do horribly. Xander spoils Greg to the point of it irritating others at his workplace. The same as I do. Now, if you have questions about our relationship I would suggest coming down to meet with us. All three of us. I'm sure Greg could arrange to be here at the same time as you are. That would be most acceptable. Of course my family's down here. Xander's as well. He'll be here until Thursday." He nodded. "I'm off that day anyway," he assured her. "I took some time off to be with our new daughter. We can easily have lunch and talk about this. I look forward to it." He hung up. "Greg, are you all right?"
"I'm sorry I got you screamed at," Xander said, coming over to cuddle him. "You can spank me if you want."
Greg looked at him. "It wouldn't matter how I would've told her, she would've screamed anyway." He gave him a kiss. "Besides, you have bad reactions to being spanked." He grinned. "When is she coming?"
"Tuesday and Wednesday."
"Sure, I can get dressed up and things," Greg sighed. "By the way, she thinks I'm still in the lab. Let's not bust that delusion as well, guys?"
Xander nodded. "I'm sorry, Greg."
"It's not a problem, Xander." He gave him a cuddle and another kiss. "She would've found out anyway. Not like I haven't slipped hints. She's ignored them so far. You were more blunt and she can't ignore it. I'm not ashamed of you two. My mother accepts me or she doesn't. See if I give a damn." Xander relaxed and nodded, letting him cuddle in. "Aww, you poor baby. Horatio, we should make us both feel better." Horatio gave him a wicked smirk. "I know, one track mind tonight," he sighed. "Such a chore to be horny and surrounded by you two." Xander nipped him and gave him a look. "I am." Xander pounced, driving him back onto his sore rear. "Ow." He hissed then moaned when the pressure was made better. Because it was *good* to be Xander's toy.
Horatio settled in to watch his boys play. It was always cute and amusing.
Horatio had one last notification he wanted to do, and he found his brother on a stakeout, sliding into the car next to him. "Hi."
"Hey." Ray looked at him. "Did you need to see something on my slutty housewife there?" Horatio handed over a picture. "She's adorable. I heard your boy knocked some girl in DC up." He handed it back and went back to watching.
"Actually, Mahsa's from the first kidnaping. Her mother's Egyptian."
"How did you get custody?" he asked, looking confused.
"Aiden has custody. We have responsibilities for her."
"Ah." He nodded, smirking at him. "Liking being a father more than being an uncle?"
"She does adore us already. Plays with my hair nearly as often as she does Greg's." Ray spluttered. "We are in this together, Ray. Some year, we'll be bound."
"Uh-huh. Not my thing, big brother. So why the confab?"
"To let you have her picture if you wanted it. To invite you over for dinner some day soon so you could see her in person?"
"Um, no. Greg's parents are coming in."
Ray shuddered. "I'm sorry. Yelina's parents scared the crap out of me during our first meeting."
Horatio snickered. "Her mother is still quite scary," he agreed. "She and Eric Delko's mother went over at the same time to fuss over Mahsa." That got a wicked smirk. "She was quite confused about all the fuss and noise but sucked it up as only a child of Xander's can. Monday?"
"Not a good day. Sunday brunch?"
"We can do that. Xander doesn't have any clients that day that I know of."
"He takes people on Sunday?"
"Some are agents and officers, Ray. They might not get another day off."
"Oh. I guess that's reasonable. Especially since he's not Catholic."
"Nor will he ever be. He's said so. Apparently the priests taught a bit strongly around him in Sunnydale." Ray nodded once at that, still staring at the slutty housewife, camera in his lap. "Do you really like doing this?"
"No. It's a job. Now and then it's got its moments. Mostly porno moments but it's got its moments." He looked at his brother. "How is she?"
"Mahsa's fine. Very happy and healthy."
"I meant Yelina, dumbass."
"She's fine, happy, and healthy, but your son still wants to kill you. Xander's agreed he could have a guest room whenever you went over."
"That's fine," he sighed. "I guess I can understand that." He looked back and snapped a few pictures, then smirked. "Gotcha, sweetheart. Your sugar daddy is not going to be happy with you."
"As long as she doesn't end up on my caseload," Horatio warned.
"I'd hope not. Probably just dumped." He glanced at him again. "So."
"So," he agreed, smirking at him. "Two? I'll cook?"
"Better you or that other one instead of your main boy. I've heard evil things come out of the kitchen when he cooks."
"Greg's not a secondary lover to me, Ray. He simply lives in Las Vegas for the moment." He got out, heading back to his hummer and then back to the house. He found his nephew waiting on him. "He's at work."
"I figured he was. Taking more subtle porno for proof?" Horatio nodded. "That's fine. Can we talk, Uncle H? I've got the ho girlfriend problem."
"Of course. Where's Xander and Greg?"
"Cleaning the dungeon. Does he have OCD?"
"Only about his work surfaces. Which we do admire in him." He led him up to his office, letting him settle in. "She's sleeping around on you?"
"I don't know but she somehow made fifteen hundred bucks in a weekend." Horatio's eyes went wide. "Are we missing money? I know Mom's not."
"Not that I'm aware of. Has she been here?"
"No, not yet." He shrugged. "She won't tell me how, Uncle H. I don't want to have a ho for a girlfriend. Slutty is fine, selling it isn't." His uncle gave him a look. "I'm sorry but I am sixteen, Uncle Horatio."
"Which is all that's keeping you from a lecture, nephew." He leaned back. "Is it near her birthday?"
"January. Is Mahsa here?"
"She's with the dogs at Aiden's. She was over for the afternoon yesterday. Thumper did not like her."
"Didn't like the diaper being in the way?" he asked sarcastically.
"No, he came over to sniff her so she grabbed his nose to suck on. He was not a happy dog and went to cower under the bed." He grimaced. "He'll learn. Xander took him over to introduce the dogs here to her." He looked at his nephew. "What did she say about it?"
"She was real evasive. I asked if she stole it and she got this horrified look and said no really quickly. I figured we would've heard about it if it had been from a robbery." Horatio nodded, the local news would have reported it for that much money. "So the only way I can figure is drugs, which means I'm going to walk away and turn her in, or selling her ass on the corner."
"Stripping," Horatio offered. "With a fake ID."
"That could be. She's been trying to get me to do an open pole night." Horatio opened his mouth so he held up a hand. "I remembered how many problems have come for Xander from his eight times or so on the pole. Not going there. I don't want that sort of curse to spread to me, Uncle H."
"Good man, Ray." He smiled. "You have told her about us?"
"Oh, she's met Mom. Mom was not pleased with my little ho."
"We're having a family dinner Tuesday with Greg's parents."
"I'm not bringing her around normal people. She might embarrass you."
"Hopefully not," he admitted. "I'm having dinner with your father on Sunday."
"Means I can go home that night," he quipped. "Can I ask her with you here?"
"You can, Ray. I don't mind. Make it seem like you want to ask about doing something. Maybe she'll let it slip."
"Good idea. A bit of subterfuge." He dialed her phone. "Hey, Jessica, it's Ray. I was wondering if you wanted to go out and do something since you're so flush at the moment." He listened to her, then put her on speaker. "Sorry, my ear's killing me again. You're on speaker but I'm alone. You did what?"
"I went out and tried some things to get that. I want to save it, Ray."
"Should I worry?" he asked. "Because I did see that one guy stalking you after school yesterday."
"No, he's a friend of a friend." She sounded like she was smiling. "Where are you?"
"My uncles' house. Uncle Xander and Horatio are downstairs, I'm in Uncle H's office. Does this mean I don't have to think about your suggestion to do an open pole night?"
She giggled. "No, I'd like it if you could," she teased. "C'mon, it's fun. I had a lot of fun before I went out with my girls."
He snorted. "Some of your girls need a disease warning sticker," he said dryly. "No thanks. But I'll think about the suggestion."
"Ray?" Xander called from the doorway.
"Oops, gotta go. Uncle Xander." He hung up and looked at him. "Thanks, couldn't figure out how to get out of that one."
"The word you want is 'no'," he said slowly and clearly. "Repeat it often to girls like that before the bitch gets you in trouble." Ray grimaced but nodded. "Good. Then tell her you can't date her anymore because your uncle overheard and you're now in trouble."
"I'll craft that speech tonight so I can give it at school." He looked at his other uncle. "So, I was right."
"It sounds like she did a bit more than an open pole," Xander said dryly. "How much did she make?"
"Fifteen hundred." Xander gaped. "Yeah, that's why I was worried too."
"No way she made that on an open pole. Unless she draws like me?"
Ray snorted. "Hell no." He stood up. "Can I help with dinner or whatever?"
"Greg's fussing in the kitchen. He's making something his grandfather made."
"Cool." He went down there, letting them talk...or whatever since his uncle was chuckling in that special way. "Hey, Greg, can you teach me too?"
"Of course I can," he agreed happily. "You missed it, there is something Thumper won't hump, Mahsa."
"Uncle H said he ran when she tried to suck his nose for him. Worried he'll try that maneuver himself?
"Nope. He and Xander had one of those 'picking you up by the back of your neck to stare into your eyes and growl at you' talks when he tried her head. It stopped that problem fast." He grinned at him again. "What's up? Just general teenage stuff?"
"My girlfriend's a ho. She made fifteen hundred dollars quote 'trying things'."
"Uh-huh. Sounds like she had a gang bang. Wonder if there's video."
Ray blushed. "I hope not. She has in the past."
Greg stared at him. "Okay, I'm going to offer free advice here. Get the tape. I don't care why, get the tape."
Ray nodded. "I already have the tape. I kept the tape. It was made with my camcorder."
Greg sighed in relief. "Good job. Anything else you want to admit to?"
Ray gave him a hesitant look then looked toward the stairs then back at him. "Yeah, but I don't think Uncle H would understand."
"You'd be surprised but if I can help you can come to me like you would Xander."
Ray nodded. He looked around then saw his uncles coming in. "Can I talk to Greg for a few? He's hipper and had more girls like I like to date."
"Sure," Xander agreed, leading Horatio outside to sit in the sun with him.
Ray waited until the door was closed to look at him. "Two weeks ago she took me to a rave."
Greg moaned, leaning on the counter. "I'm sensing the hand of 'I had a hangover and did something stupid'." Ray whimpered. "Please let it be that?" he begged.
"I don't know."
Greg stiffened, looking at him. "You don't *know*, like can't remember?"
"All I remember is waking up in this grungy ass warehouse and there were some girls around me. When I asked she called me a baby for complaining."
"You're breaking up with her," Greg said firmly. "I don't care, she's not only a ho, she's dangerous to you. You could've been killed, Ray."
"I don't know what happened."
"Okay, first of all, blood tests?"
"Oh, shit. Horatio!" he yelled. He came jogging in. "Your nephew got taken to a rave by his slutty girlfriend and he doesn't remember why he woke up in a warehouse surrounded by girls."
"I can take him to where I do my bloodwork today," Xander offered. "I've got to do mine this week anyway, Ray. C'mon." Ray gave him an odd look. "Ray, condoms? Diseases?" Ray went pale. "C'mon. We'll do that then we'll handle her since it'll take a week to get back the results."
"Sure," he said weakly. "Thanks, Greg."
"Not an issue, Ray. This is something that needs to be handled. You were more than right coming to us. It was a few weeks back, Xan."
"That's fine." He put an arm around his shoulders, walking him out to his ferarri. "We'll talk on the way in, Ray. There's some things you might not have been given yet." Ray nodded at that, letting him tell him whatever he wanted him to know. Even if it was redundant it was another viewpoint.
Horatio looked at Greg. "It's burning." Greg moved to flip the pancakes then looked at him again. "A rave?"
"A rave. He said he doesn't remember much past getting there. He said he woke up in a grungy warehouse with girls around him for some reason he can't remember."
"That young lady and I are going to have a talk after I get a statement from my nephew."
"Yelina," Greg said quietly.
"I'll tell her later." The phone rang. "Horatio." He smiled. "Thank you, Xander. That's more than reasonable. Tell him I'm going to arrest her tonight." He nodded. "That's fine." He hung up. "She got him some juice."
"Which was opened and he didn't know better," Greg finished. Horatio nodded. "Can I help?"
"No, I think I want someone a bit more calm to go with me." He kissed him gently. "I'll be back in an hour. Can we eat then?"
"Just as soon as the boys get back," he promised. Horatio nodded, going out to find Frank. Greg went back to his cooking. That was going to be a long talk from Xander to Ray. Xander gave the *explicit* sex talk. He had written it out for him to give to Catherine because she had complained she wasn't able to get what she wanted to say out.
Frank and Horatio knocked on the nice, suburban door, looking at the mother. "Ma'am, is Jessica Savarnt home please?" Frank asked.
"Why? Is she in trouble?"
"Yup," Frank told her. "Should we do this out here?"
"No, I want to know what's going on."
"We have a warrant for her arrest," Horatio said, sliding off his sunglasses to look at her. "One count of distributing narcotics, one count of underage drinking, five counts of conspiracy to commit rape with drugs involved, and a count of solicitation." The mother looked stunned. "Ma'am, where is your daughter?" he asked more firmly.
"She... she's not like that!" she shrieked.
"We have a sworn statement that she did administer drugs to a young man and four girls at a recent rave," Frank told her. "All five of them were drugged and then ended up having intercourse. Since one of the girls was underaged, we could have added rape of a minor child to the charges. We also know she was drinking at that same party, probably using the same drugs on herself, and from recent reports she's been out peddling her ass at some higher class sex parties for money. Now, where is your daughter? Before I have to get officers to invade the house and retrieve her." She tried to close the door. "Stupid move, lady," he said dryly, catching it and forcing his way inside. "Jessica Savarnt?" She gave him a horrified look. "You're under arrest. You have the right to remain silent...."
"Why!" her father demanded.
"She intentionally and knowingly committed conspiracy to rape four young girls by drugging them and a young man then forcing them to have sex. With the addition of the drugs, that's a higher felony." He gave his daughter a horrified look. "Since the young man in question did not request the drugs, doesn't do drugs, and didn't know what to do when he was drugged, we're just now finding out about it. You should also know that your daughter's been spotted and paid a few times at some higher end sex parties recently. If we do find that money she made we will be confiscating it as well since it came from the commission of a crime." The father spluttered but Frank walked her outside and to the cruiser waiting on them.
Horatio nodded at the parents. "She'll be booked tonight and probably arraigned tonight or early tomorrow morning, depending on the backlog tonight. I would get her a good attorney." He walked off, putting his sunglasses back on as he walked past the cruiser, where she was screaming. "Thank you, Frank."
"How's Ray doing?"
"Fine so far. I've still got to tell Yelina. Xander got him to the health department for his bloodwork thankfully." That got a small smile. "Don't. I've got to tell his mother." He got into his hummer and drove to Yelina's house, parking and getting out, noticing the beat up old car in the driveway. Yelina opened the door with a smile. "Don't," he warned, stepping inside. "It's not happy news."
"What did he do?" Ray Senior called.
Horatio led her that way. "His girlfriend drugged him at a rave, Ray. Then she put him together with four other young women." Ray dropped his fork. "He's fine. Xander's taken him for the blood tests. He wasn't sure what to do and approached Greg about it earlier. They've been having a lot of talks and Xander found out the names of the girls so we could get statements from them. His girlfriend was just arrested."
"Oh, damn," Ray said, shaking his head. "Roofies?"
"Apparently. As far as we can tell," Horatio offered. He looked at Yelina. "She got him a juice and he didn't know not to drink it when it was opened."
She swallowed and nodded. "Where is he now?"
"Our house. Xander should be getting back with him in a few minutes. He has requested to stay over tonight until you rant and scream, his words."
"That slutty Jessica he's been dating?" Ray asked.
"Frank and I just arrested her. If she's smart she'll make a deal."
"Good!" He looked at his wife. "I think it's time I had a talk with our son."
"Xander has," Horatio told him. "I gave him the beginning lectures but Xander gave him the extended, explicit, clubber's version of the sex talk. They had a long talk about what you do and do not do, what you can do, and what's illegal. This is just a notification, guys. He's fine. He was a bit upset and confused but it happened two weeks ago."
"I thought he was at your place," Yelina moaned, sitting down.
"No, he took her out to dinner and then to a teen club. Somehow that turned into a rave. I'm guessing it was her idea since she's also done an open pole and has been soliciting herself recently," Horatio offered quietly. "Ray came over today to talk about her sudden influx of money." He scratched the back of his neck and looked at his brother. "Ray would never *knowingly* take drugs."
"Good. You're sure he's fine?"
"I'm quite sure," he told him. "I also talked to the girls and they said they didn't blame Ray. They got up before him and saw he was just as drugged as they had been. I made sure of that." That got two relaxed parents. "There is something to talk about. Xander wanted to know if you'd accept him paying for a decent school for Ray, Yelina. Somewhere he'll definitely get into college."
"Those sort of places are expensive," she complained. "I can't take gifts, Horatio."
"He was thinking about making it my bride price," he joked, smiling a bit. "Even though we're a way off from being bonded."
"You already paid for his last year's tuition to the Catholic school he's in," she complained.
"Yelina, his school has a chastity vow. Even with this it could catch him." He sat down. "Xander sees him as a little brother, Yelina. He wants to make sure he's safe and well- educated. That's not such a bad thing. I've paid some of his tuition in the past. This would get him somewhere very good. Somewhere he could make the connections he'll need to get into an excellent school. It would also greatly improve the quality of girls he's dating," he said lightly, looking at her.
"We can handle it without your boytoy," Ray said grimly. "Or are you the toy this week?"
Horatio looked at him. "Did I ever ask you that?" he asked calmly. Ray backed down so he looked at Yelina again. "He wanted to know if you'd let him set up a small trust to pay for his education expenses. He helped Aiden a lot when she was doing secretarial duties after his grandparents' funeral. Now we're finding more things that got sent to him that've got to be dealt with and Ray's been helping now and then with that paperwork as well. It would give him enough for his last three years of school plus full ride at any school in the state or any other he chose."
"I want him going locally," she said weakly. "Where did he want to send him?"
"Ray has some ideas about that. He wasn't hinting," he said at his brother's opening mouth. "He was talking about how he nearly made it into that one academy." Yelina nodded at that. "It would be up to Ray which school he went to. All Xander wants to do is take some stress off you. This is one problem that money can solve."
"I'll... I'll think about it," she sighed. "It's a gracious offer but I don't like accepting presents. Even from family." He nodded, he knew that.
"Think he'd buy me a new car?" Ray joked.
"No, Ray. He's not a bank." He looked at her again. "Ray said he'd definitely be home Sunday since that one's going to be with us for brunch." He smiled and stroked her cheek. "Think about it, Yelina. It could be very good for Ray. Plus it'd be a safer school."
"It would be," she agreed quietly. "I'll think about it tonight." He nodded, standing up and dropping a kiss onto her head. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. Xander's already promised that any of us who he wants can go with him when he picks up his test results. It was time for Xander to retest anyway." That got a nod. "Greg's cooking something his grandfather taught him so I'd better get back. Oh, Greg's parents are coming in Tuesday and wanted to have a family dinner to meet the rest of us."
"I can be there Tuesday night," she promised. She glanced at Ray and he shook his head. "All right. The son?"
"Is more than welcome. Ray, we don't want to have to explain what went on or make your son get violent. We'll see you Sunday." That got a nod and he left, heading for home.
"Does the kid think he can buy his way into Horatio's affections?" Ray asked bitterly.
She looked at him. "He already has Horatio's affections, Ray. He's always trying to spoil him with necessary things, like fixing the hummer when it had a rattle. Xander's a very sweet and kind young man. He loves Horatio and his family is everything to him since his original one was so horrendous." She got up to get some more food, coming back to sit down. Then she got up to call her son. "Ray?" she asked quietly. "Do you want to talk?" She smiled at his assertion he was all talked out and fine. "If you're sure. I'll be here tonight if you do want to talk. You could come home tonight...." She nodded. "I understand why you don't want to, Ray. That's fine. We'll talk tomorrow after school?" She smiled again. "Good boy. Remember, I'm here if you want to talk. Have a good night with them, son." She hung up and went back to the table. "He's talked with Xander for over an hour, he talked with the health care worker at the clinic, and he's expecting Horatio to pounce him later for another talk. He said he'd come home tomorrow afternoon."
"Why not tonight?" he asked. She stared at him. "We can be civil. He's my son."
"Raymond, he's still very hurt over what happened. He's not comfortable being around you. Pushing this confrontation will only make it worse."
"He's still my son."
"If you push it, he'll be Horatio's son," she advised, staring him down. "He's expressed quite a lot of angry and violent thoughts about you. With some of the trouble I couldn't keep him out of, you're lucky he hasn't bought a gun off the street and shot you."
"My son was a thug?"
"For about four months," Xander said from the back porch. "Sorry, doorbell didn't work and Ray said to come this way. He needed his backpack?" Yelina nodded, going to get it for him. "Ray, he's stated very publically and many times that if you come anywhere near him he's going to kill you like some clone. You hurt him deep enough to nearly drive him to suicide. Before you ask, yes I'm a damn good profiler. Even without the classes. So we're going to do what's best for your son. Which means slowly getting him used to the idea that you're alive and here sucking up to his mother. His words, Yelina." He kissed her on the cheek. "Did Horatio ask?" She nodded. "Please say yes?"
"I have a small college fund started," she assured him.
"I can get him into St. Bart's." She looked stunned. "Grandfather donated there for their gay alliance group's convention trips. With his grades it shouldn't be too many strings to pull. It's an *excellent* school. Somewhere Willow would've went to if her parents didn't have their heads in their asses. It'll mean he'll have the chance I didn't. A good education with people who give a damn that he's learning and you know places like that get eighty percent of their people into colleges, plus they end up with a higher average of graduating from college. Please?" he begged. "He's a bright boy. He deserves a shot."
"I can't afford that."
Xander snorted. "Yelina, baby," he said, pulling her into the kitchen. "The estate I got from Yemen was worth more than a few mil. I can easily afford to put him through the best schools in this country. Not even Buffy could spend all that money." She let out a small smile at that. "You're family. I want my family to have the best of whatever they need. I donated eighty thousand to Madison's care too," he said gently. "You're Horatio's family so you're mine. Please?"
"I'll consider it tonight, Xander. What did he think about that idea?"
"He has one he'd rather go to when I mentioned the school. He called them prozac pods." She snickered at that. "If the other's as good I'll gladly do that instead. I want the best for my family, and now I can afford it." She nodded. "Please? I'll set it up in a trust. That way he has to ask you to take more than twenty bucks a week above his school expenses. I can even set it up so you and Horatio have to agree to anything large."
She nodded. "That's a reasonable policy," she agreed. "I'll consider it, Xander."
He pouted. "I want Ray to be smarter than Willow was and not stopping his education for funny reasons."
"I know. Take my son home and feed him," she ordered, giving him a fond smile. He nodded, taking the backpack with him. She closed the porch door and sat down again. "It is a very good offer. That would let his college fund go to something else, like retirement funds."
"You could use it to fix up the house a bit," he offered.
"I like how the house is," she said, giving him a look. "That's why I had the renovations done last year, Ray."
"I was wondering when you put in that tub."
"I like it." Her tone made it clear only she had to approve of it. "Maybe I'll put it in an account so Ray can buy his first home."
"His wedding," he offered. He ate a bite of dinner then sipped his wine. "They're getting more and more expensive."
"They are," she agreed happily. Someday her son would be legally wed in the church and she'd be a stunning mother-in-law. As long as her son got better taste in women sometime soon.
Xander snuck down to his office later that night, going over that journal again. He needed to do something about that before the IRS got mad at him. He had told them yesterday that they had just found them in his grandfather's things. He had paid a hefty set of taxes on it as well. There had to be at least sixteen different accounts, most overseas, in that book. He logged onto the first bank, using the information that had been taken down. He found it already had a log-in and ID so he typed in things until he got it. The ID was his name and his password was his middle name. Why his grandfather liked his middle name he wasn't sure. The balance in there made him whimper but he looked at the recent transactions. Interest in, maintenance fees taken out. One check written on it for a hefty amount. He got into the copy of that, smiling at the reason. It was a good one. He logged out and got into the next one, making a note of what that withdrawal had been for in the journal while it loaded. Much the same here. The balance wasn't as staggering.
Greg yawned, walking in wearing only boxers. He stole a kiss. "You can download them into the program on the computer," he offered.
"I was just looking." He looked at him. "I remember when I thought sixty thousand was a hell of a lot of money," he said quietly.
"It is," Greg assured him. "Even to you." He sat on Xander's lap, going through them with him. Xander's balances were stunning him. "You're feeling blase about it, aren't you?"
"I am but I'm scared it'll all disappear because I do." He gave him a squeeze. "I have no idea what to do with this stuff, Greg."
"For now, we're going to see someone reputable and nice who can help you with that stuff," he offered. "Your lawyers probably know someone."
"I got a message to call them earlier."
"We'll do that tomorrow. Maybe you forgot to pay your yearly fees." Xander shook his head. "Then it's got to be something small."
"I hope so." He logged into one of the ones from the Middle East. "I can't even find Dubai on a map, Greggy."
"It's in the United Arab Emirates." He kissed im. "I looked it up once for a case. It's between Saudi Arabia and Oman. It's a fairly rich area. Dubai's just one of the countries that bonded to form that one."
Xander looked at him. "Is that near the others?"
"It's a popular banking spot. A lot of western money goes through there. They're a fairly rich country but they've got a big problem right now with contract workers who're building all that wealth." Xander nodded, relaxing against his shoulder. "We can look it up on a map if you want."
"Maybe we should go to see the banks in person," he said quietly.
"I'm not sure I can get time off for that," he teased. "The prosecutor wanted me to cut short this trip so I could testify." Xander grimaced. "He wanted me in Wednesday." He gave him a cuddle. "You could go to Switzerland since some of it's there."
"Maybe," he sighed, snuggling in to look through the rest of the journal. "I'm still worried this'll collapse on top of me like some bad nightmare."
Greg kissed him. "You don't get the cute guys in nightmares, Xander," he said gently. "You get the ugly lunch ladies." Xander grinned at that and nodded. "Good boy." Horatio walked in, giving them a look. "He came down to look over some of these things."
"He's still worried someone will protest and take it away," Horatio said wisely. He kissed Xander, pulling both boys up so they could settle in his lap. He looked at the monitor and gasped.
"Yeah," Xander admitted. "Greg was telling me where Dubai is."
Greg got into the browser and pulled up a map for him. "There it is." Xander leaned forward to see better. "Maybe someone needs glasses?" he teased.
"Only when I'm tired." He leaned back against Horatio's chest. "I realized earlier that not even Buffy could spend all the money I have," he said quietly. Horatio chuckled at that. "She can't. Not even going to designer places could do it. That's when I realized I was screwed. That and after taking that book to the IRS and having a heart attack at the amount of taxes I had to pay." He shifted so he could look at Horatio. "Greg wants me to see someone about some consolidation."
"I think you should," Horatio agreed. "It's a sound fiscal plan. Less fees." He gave them both another squeeze. "What did the lawyers want?"
"I only got the message at eight. I didn't check my voicemail for a few days," he admitted sheepishly. "Think I should try tomorrow?"
"You can. They might be waiting on it." Xander nodded, snuggling into his chest. "Let's go to bed, boys. This chair is not meant for this sort of cuddling."
"Can I yell at Willow?" Xander asked quietly, standing up to look at him. "She hasn't been to see Mahsa once. Ryan came over but he gave me an evasive answer about Willow."
"Let me talk to Ryan first, Xander. It might be a hormonal thing." He nodded, giving him then Greg a cuddle, but he walked upstairs cuddling Greg. Horatio closed out the computer and headed up after his boys. He was worried about that as well. Ryan had been odd at work for the last few days.
Xander dialed his lawyer's office number. "It's Xander Harris. Did they leave a message for me?" he asked their answering service. "Sure, I can hold. Thank you." He looked at his daughter, then shrugged. "I guess it is important. Hey, Paul. What's going on? No, I didn't check my voicemail. Too busy playing with Mahsa." He listened, then moaned. "How much is there?" He sighed and nodded. "Okay. I'll pop in on Monday with Mom. She's handling that since Mayper wanted to retire. Oh, I went to confess to the IRS. I made one woman swoon. Horatio and Greg want me to go to a financial manager soon. Yeah, we found a safety deposit box with a journal of accounts." He moaned again. "Honey?" he called. Greg came out. "Talk to Paul, baby. It's giving me a headache."
"Sure." He took the phone. "Hi. Greg." He grinned, then he stared at Xander. "How long has it been since it was cleaned out? Yeah, we can help him with that tomorrow. Also, we've got to update his will to include both kids and talk to Aiden about anything further she needs in case something happens. Yeah, that stuff. Please. Do you know a good financial manager who can consolidate for him?" He smiled. "It figures that Mac referred that back to you guys since he's so busy right now. Thanks, man. Las Vegas's lab. I don't mind if Xander and Horatio don't. Guys, if they can't get you two can they call me next or should it go to Aiden or Speed?"
"You then Daddy, then Mom," Xander said calmly. "Except about present stuff since she said she'd take that over."
"Xander said me, then Speed, then Aiden except about present stuff, that goes to Aiden. Sure, tomorrow. We can drag her down. She's got to need groceries." He grinned. "Thanks." He hung up and looked at him. "He said to call at least an hour before you get there." Xander nodded, burying his nose into his daughter's hair. "It'll be okay, Xander."
"No it won't. More stupid people want me."
"It'll be fine, we'll handle it, baby." He kissed him on the head and called Grissom. "Hey, Gris. Checking in. Watching my daughter be a teddy bear. She loves to cuddle us." He grinned. "She's adorable," he agreed. "No, they're coming down so I might be coming back and ask to hide. Did the prosecutor ever work out his stupidity?" He snorted. "I told him when I applied for it, Grissom, then again when you reminded me. I can go directly from the airport to the courthouse. He knows when I get in." He grinned. "See, I knew I was smarter than that," he teased. Mahsa spit at him. "Hey, no spitting at Grissom. He'll teach you that bugs are cool creatures. As long as you don't eat them." She giggled when her daddy poked her on the tummy. "Want to talk to Grissom?" He let her have the phone, watching her babble baby noise into it. He took it back at the sound of laughter. "She's adorable, Grissom. We have new pictures coming. Xander had portraits taken." He grinned at Xander. "We're doing okay. We know. Having family dinners all week," he admitted. "Thanks, Griss. See you Thursday sometime." He hung up and kissed Xander. "From Grissom. He said you make adorable babies and Lady Heather told him to tell us to bring both kids to present to her at the same time."
Xander grinned. "That's what I was planning on. Even a fanfare of trumpets."
"Well, we have said she'll be the next great domme," Horatio said from the doorway. "How is Gil?"
"Fine. A bit bored sounding. He and Aiden have to visit the lawyers on Monday. They've got too much stuff stored for him." Xander moaned. "They're also going to pull in a money guy to move things safely out of reach of toddlers' fingers." He moved the plate she was reaching for, letting her have the cookie on it since she fussed. "There you go, precious." He kissed them both on the head then went back to fussing in the kitchen. "Is it just your brother?"
"Speed said he's coming over," Horatio admitted. Xander perked up at that. "He's been busy on a fairly nasty case, Xander," he said gently.
"I know. He told me. Is he done or did Stepmom kick his butt out for the day to have fun?"
"He's done. They arrested someone late last night." He came out to steal his own kisses and a bite of the cookie, making Mahsa squeal and grab for his hair again. "I know you like my hair." He took her back into the kitchen with him. "Let's hope you don't get Daddy's cooking curse," he teased.
"Let's hope one of them doesn't. I seem to be keeping a few places in business," Xander said dryly as he came in to watch. He heard a car pulling in and walked out to the front door, opening it. "Don." He walked out to hug him. "Are you on forced vacation? Where's Tara?"
"She'll be down in a few weeks. Unfortunately I got sent down on a case and she couldn't get out of classes. She'll come down to see Willow's little one being born." He winked. "Now, where's my niece?"
"Inside pulling Daddy Horatio's hair." He walked him inside, grinning at their shocked looks. "He's down to work, not play."
"There she is," Don cooed, taking the baby to hold. "Hi, sweetness. I'm Uncle Don. I'm Xander's uncle." He grinned at her and she spit at him then gave him a cackle and a sloppy kiss. "Aww, you do love me." He cuddled her. "You're nearly as good at that as your Auntie Tara is," he teased. He teased her stomach, making her giggle and swat him on the nose. "Be gentle." He kissed her again. "Xander, too far into the kitchen while there's food being cooked." He sat down again. "Thanks. So, Horatio, I heard you guys have one of our runners down here?"
"We do?" he asked. "I'm taking some time off, Don."
"Sounds good ta me." He called Eric. "It's Flack. Where's my running idiot?" He snickered. "That one, yeah. That's why I'm here. Holding Mahsa She's poking me in the ear." He looked at her. "That's Uncle Eric. You can talk to him later." She squealed and kissed him again.
"Let her down, Don. She likes to crawl after Thumper to torment him." Don snickered but let her down to do that. She did indeed chase his dogs all around the house. "How long are you in for?"
"Hopefully not more than three days. My boss'll pout if it lasts longer." He listened to Eric's rundown. "That'll work. I'm at Xander's. Thanks, man." He hung up and went to chase the baby before she got into trouble. She was so sweet! He heard someone pull in and looked, opening the door for Ray Senior. "Hey. Watch out for the little locomotive there." He caught her before she could go outside, closing the door again. "Go find Daddy's hair." She turned around, looking very determined as she crawled off. She headed for the doggy door, nearly getting stuck in it. Xander caught her on the porch and brought her back inside, earning a wail. "Hey," he said, scowling at her. "You can go outside later." She sniffled pitifully. "Don't do that," he sighed, taking her back. She gave him the most pitiful look. "Fine, we'll go walk outside for a few," he complained, taking her out there, making her a happy baby.
"She's got another man already wrapped around her finger," Ray Senior joked. "Xander. Greg. Brother."
"Ray. Xander, can you set the table?"
Xander grinned and did that, setting the outside one and pulling out the awning so they could have a bit of shade. He came back for glasses and silverware, taking them out too. Then he had to catch his daughter. Fortunately he had put a gate on the porch. He closed it then let her go again. That way she could get outside. She pouted. "Tough." Don opened it and slid inside then closed it before she could get down the three stairs to the grass. "Thanks."
"Welcome." He went inside. "What can I do to help?"
"We're pretty well set," Greg offered. "Papa Olaf's special potato latke recipe, because he was adventurous now and then with other cuisines, is just right for a family dinner." He handed over a small bamboo warming/steaming container. "Put those out." He did that and came back for the rest of everything. Greg gave Horatio a hug. "Remember, we're here for you the same way you are for us," he whispered, then let him go once he was smiling. "I wonder what he got sent this time." He called Aiden. "We're coming to pick you up tomorrow to go to the lawyer's. Because you said you wanted to deal with the present giving idiots, Mom." He grinned. "Xander does and I'm going to snatch your son from the arms of everyone but Horatio so why can't I call you Mom?" He smirked. "That'll work. Yeah, that and something else, plus a meeting with a new financial guy. Thanks, Aiden." He hung up. "Mahsa, Mommy Aiden will come get you in a few hours. Once she's done with her bubble bath." Mahsa squealed so he went to see why. "What are you doing here?" he asked the deer.
"It came out to drink from the pool a few times," Xander offered, holding the baby. "Honey, the deer's back," he called, staring at it. Something was not right. His inner trouble voice was screaming. "Baby, get something. I think it's sick," he called quietly. He turned Mahsa around, covering her head with his shirt and hands when Horatio came out to put it down. "Thanks."
"I think you're right, it's flecked with sweat," Greg complained, going to call someone. "Hey, Speed, on your way over can you call whoever would pick up a deer we had to put down? It was visibly sweating, like a froth. Because we don't want it on the back lawn," he complained. "Mahsa's here and Xander thought it was sick." He nodded. "That works. We heard you were. Ray Senior. Us, her." He grinned. "She's in a bubble bath. Sure, come over." He hung up. "He'll call then ride over, Horatio. Calleigh forgot to tell him she wanted him to go away today. She had him in bed teasing her stomach with his tongue instead."
"Couples can be that way," he said prosaically. He dropped a sheet over the deer's body. "There, Xander, now she can't see it."
"Thank you." He let her go, then got up to get some water to hose off where the deer had touched the wood. "Sorry but I'm not taking any chances," he told Ray when he moved around him.
"I wouldn't either. Come to me, Mahsa" She spat at him. "Please?" She went to bother Horatio in the kitchen. "Okay, that works. She definitely knows Daddy." Xander grinned at him. "You'll want to bleach or lysol it after lunch."
"I am. I mixed in some restaurant-quality sanitizer." He finished his quick scrub then went to wash his hands and rinse out the brush and pail. "I'll clean it again later, once that dries," he said quietly.
"That's a good plan," Horatio assured him, smiling a bit. They headed out, Greg blocking the gate. Don adding to the block with his body. "That works too. Her highchair?" Xander jogged inside to get it, putting it between them.
"Hey," Greg and Don complained. Horatio smiled and let them have it, letting Don put her into it. She liked the highchair. She knew what it meant. An officer walked around the house. "That's it right there. Please don't let her see it," he said quietly, nodding at the sheet.
"I'm responding to a 'shots fired' call, Lieutenant. We figured it wasn't anything truly important since no one was in handcuffs waiting on us or hanging off the gate this time."
"The deer was sweating, visibly sweating and nasty, when it wandered up," Xander told him. "It comes up to drink from the pool now and then too."
"Okay. That's reasonable. Did you drain the pool?"
"I haven't seen it in a week," Xander admitted. "I'm going to, just in case. After I scrub the deck again later." Ryan walked around with someone from the DNR. "Hey. It was sweating."
"That's called a froth and it's a good thing you put it down," the DNR officer agreed. He looked at it then nodded. "Classic rabies signs. Are your pets vaccinated?" Everyone nodded. "Good. Anyone bitten?"
"No, I caught the baby when she came to stare at it. He's come over a few times to drink from the pool. I saw him about a week ago. He comes from that way," Xander said with a point. "Horatio put him down."
"That's fine, sir. Thank you for that. Officer Wolfe, I'll take him if the officer will help me move him, sheet and all of course. Wouldn't want to traumatize the baby."
"Sure," he agreed, putting on some gloves Horatio got him. They moved the deer to his SUV and he put up the gate. "Is someone keeping them as pets?"
"Possibly. We had a rabid raccoon in the park recently. We'll see." He got in to pull off while the officer headed back to report on that.
Ryan sat down in the spare chair. "Guys, I could use some help with her," he admitted. "I have no clue what's wrong with her."
Speed came out to join them. "Hey." He patted Ryan on the back. "Sit on the bench unless you're joining in."
"No, I've got a cranky Willow problem."
Xander sighed and looked at him. "You've got more than that, Ryan. You've got a magic problem."
"Crap," he muttered. "Do you have Ethan's number?" Xander nodded. "Thanks, guys."
Speed moved him to the bench then sat down, dishing himself out some food. "Latkes, thanks, Greg." He grinned at him. "Can I have some of the cheese and garlic sauce?" It was handed over. "Danka." He dug in. "Wolfe, most likely it was a moment of panic and she can't figure out how to undo it."
Don looked at him. "Don't ask me, Tara does that stuff at the house." Ryan blinked like he hadn't seen him. "Didn't see me here? I didn't think I was invisible."
"I saw Horatio and Xander. I kinda saw Speed when he came out and spoke to me."
"That is affecting your judgement," Horatio said. He got up and took Ryan to his office, calling her. "Willow Rosenburg, my office this instant, young lady. Yes, this is, right now." He hung up and counted to five and she appeared, looking confused. "You're endangering his life. Remove it."
"Ease off, Horatio. It was probably accidental," Ryan offered.
"What?" Willow asked.
"I couldn't see Don, Willow. He was sitting right there and I couldn't see him."
Xander walked up the stairs, talking on the phone. "Okay, I do what?" He nodded and took something out of a small jar, sprinkling it on him. "Now what?" He put the phone next to Ryan's ear. "Listen to that." He turned to look at Willow, frowning. "First you disrespect my daughter, then you try to become a widow?" he suggested. She glared at him. "I'm going to be blunt. What's crawled up your ass this time, Willow?"
"Why did you have to have kids!" she demanded.
"Not like I had *planned* on it, woman!" he shot back. "Someone stole it to make Mahsa and drugged Abby and I both, then stole some to implant in her." She went pale. "What? Not feeling special enough because hundreds of women give birth all over the world each day? You're special, Willow, get over it. No one that wasn't would've gotten Ryan." She burst out crying. "Whatever. I've got family stuff to do. If you're family you are. If you're not, we're keeping Ryan and you can borrow him from us." He stomped off.
"Willow," Horatio said more gently. Ryan moaned and clutched his head. "Help her."
"Him," she muttered.
"No, that's Tara. I can see the number on the display." He came over to listen to her instructions. "He's grabbing his head in pain, Tara. What can I do to help?" He smiled. "I can arrange that tonight. Thank you." He grinned. "He's fine. He's here. I'm sure he did. Mahsa's sucking up to him because he's got the good treats for her at the moment. Love you too, see you soon, dear." He hung up. "We'll finish fixing that tonight, Ryan. Go lay down." Ryan nodded, letting Horatio help him back down the stairs. He looked at Willow when she came down them, making her shrink down. "I will not allow you to harm him, Willow. That could have killed him while driving or in a situation. I would go home and think."
"It was an accident!" she yelled.
"So?" he retorted calmly. She went pale. "It's time you quit having them, Willow. Potty training children have accidents. Witches who have accidents like you do are turning to the wrong side." She burst out crying and headed back home. He walked outside again. "Sorry. We'll fix Ryan tonight."
"Let me refill the pool, we can use it," Xander promised. Horatio smiled and nodded. "He in bed?" That got a nod and Xander handed over more broccoli. "There, eat. You'll lose weight fussing over everyone but yourself." He smiled and took his hand to eat, grinning at Greg. "I'll hold yours during dessert?"
"Sure. I like that idea," he agreed, grinning back. Their feet were teasing each other under the table.
"Um, Greg, that's mine," Speed complained. "Don't like you that way, man."
Speed choked. Xander helped by patting him on the back until he could calm down and drink something. "Excuse me," he wheezed.
"I'm with Xander. You're Xander's Daddy. Can't I call you Dad? Aiden said I made her sound like an old fart by calling her Mom."
Speed took another drink, looking down at Horatio. "Smack him for me."
Horatio kissed him. "Only Xander gets to call him that. Otherwise I would and that would affect things at the lab."
"The last time you teased him that way Stetler was there and nearly died of a stroke spluttering," Xander said happily.
Ray Senior looked at him. "Don't tempt him, kid."
Xander looked at him. "I've killed more people than you. I'm not a kid, Ray." Then he smiled sweetly. "Okay?"
"Sure, Xander. Sorry." He stuffed his mouth and looked at his brother. "You have quite the taste in boyfriends, Horatio. Smart, strong, smart asses suit you."
"I'd like to think so," he said with a smile for his boys. "Otherwise I wouldn't be theirs."
"Or marked as ours," Greg teased.
"Or marked as yours," he agreed. Xander blushed, making them both smile at him. "We have to replace the ring you bent," he reminded him.
"I'd like to know how you bent a ring *there*," Speed complained.
"Where?" Don asked.
"When Xander ran because someone told Horatio to pick his job or us, Horatio followed."
"Heard that part. Heard you guys bonded somehow. Did the prelim to the real wedding."
"Which included a bonding piercing and a bonding tattoo," Xander said, stuffing his mouth.
"I got to put mine in a slightly different place. My thigh's really sensitive after the explosion so I couldn't get the tattoo there. It's across my back. They decided piercing me there was evil to me if I got it where they did. So mine's a few inches further back."
"Hmmm," Don said. "Guiche?"
"Buried Treasure," Horatio coughed. Don dropped his fork with a whimper. "That's why we let Greg move his back by a few inches."
Don nodded. "Do they work?"
"Very well," Xander agreed happily. Don snickered at the look on his face. "I still don't know how I bent the last ring."
"It's not hard. It's a very thin wire," Greg reminded him. "If I remember right, I bent it a bit two nights ago."
"I think I fixed that bend when I was playing with it," Horatio admitted. He stuffed his mouth again, weathering his brother's shocked look at him. "It's to remind Xander I'm there for him, no matter what, and that nothing and no one is going to take me from him. We're more steadfast than the tattoo ink he wears."
Ray Senior nodded. "You're a stronger man than I am, Horatio. It must be love to put yourself through that." Speed nodded, his mouth full.
Mahsa looked at Speed. "Dadada da!" she said happily, waving her hands.
"Hi, sweetie. Yes, it's Grandpa." She beamed at him. "Good girl. Eat your trees." She stuffed the one Don handed her into her mouth and sucked on it. "Good girl!" She beamed while trying to chew it up. Greg cut down a few more for her. "You eat like the big people." He grinned at Don. "Thinking about blue eyed, blonde haired little ones?"
"Definitely," he admitted with a small moan. "Tara's got four more years of school she thinks. She wants to be a teacher." Xander beamed at that. "She'll make a great one," he agreed happily. "She's staying part time at the moment but I love my girl. I don't want her to break her future to have babies. Not unless she wants them."
"Baby envy is very common," Speed offered. "Calleigh even had a touch of it. So did Alexx. Especially when Abby and the wonderbaby were down." Don snickered at that. "Has she named the grandson?"
"Johan Ignatius Scuito," Greg said proudly.
Speed blinked, then nodded. "Well, it fits her goth personality," he decided.
"She might go back to Jon with a single n, no h," Xander offered. "Tony's trying to talk her into it so the baby won't have problems in school."
"Johan's a classical name," Horatio offered. "A great pianist and a few others wore that name."
"Yeah but Tony's thinking like a jock," Greg reminded him. "I won't be upset if she does." Xander smiled at that. "You?"
"I gave her naming rights as long as I could spell it, it didn't have an apostrophe, and it wasn't in any of the major demonology books as the name of something that could be pulled back. She looked up a few early choices to make sure." He looked inside then at him. "If Willow doesn't name her son after Jesse, he'll be Jesse Johan Ignatius Scuito. She agreed."
Speed hugged him. "It's the pregnancy thing."
"It's her being a spoiled Buffy-style brat," he countered. "She couldn't accept I was happy and asked me why I *had* to have kids."
"Sounds like her mother got to her again," Speed sighed. "I'll talk to her later."
"Aiden's in a bubble bath," Greg offered.
"Most likely she's over there with her. She did like to run to Aiden more than me back in Sunnydale," Speed admitted. Xander gave him a hug. "What's that for?"
Speed looked at him. "Give, kid."
Xander grimaced. "We found the other safety deposit boxes. Including a journal of accounts."
"Horatio showed me. So?"
"Dad, those weren't in the thousands of dollars." Speed blinked and he nodded. "I looked at a few last night. I have money in places I can't identify on a map. Fortunately Greg showed me where Dubai is. Plus I've got stuff at the lawyer's they need to see me about."
"Crap," he muttered. "Going when?"
"Tomorrow with Mom."
"And us," Greg reminded him.
"And my boys," he said with a fond grin for them. He looked at Speed again. "We'll let you see the pretty stuff but not the fugly stuff."
"Thanks. A few of them have made me shudder. What did you do with the hairless stuffed dog?"
"Hairless stuffed dog?" Greg mouthed, looking at Horatio.
"The hair had mostly fallen out. It had tufts here and there but they were fairly sparse," Horatio told him. "We found the owner and sent it back."
"Good job, man."
"Being a CSI is helpful in those situations," Horatio joked.
"What other stuff have they sent you, Xander?" Ray asked.
"A crown I gave to the state drag queen board for the state queen. Money. They like to give Horatio suits so he dumps me."
Greg nodded. "I got a full chemistry set at home so I'd leave them." He ate a bite, looking at the quiet baby. "Awww." Speed grinned and took a picture with his phone. She was napping sitting up, her head tipped toward Greg. "Are they supposed to sleep so suddenly?"
"Ray did," Ray Senior admitted. "He'd play then curl up next to you and nap, but he'd bite if you tried to move. I have a few good scars on my hands and side from my boy." Horatio smiled at that memory. "He has one on his neck. Ray decided he was a vampire."
"He did draw blood," Horatio agreed, smiling at him. "How is New York otherwise, Don?"
"Not too bad. Overcrowded. Dirty in spots. We're getting happier every day with the stuff coming up."
"Ooooh, holiday shopping," Xander moaned. "Does Ryan's OCD have problems?"
Horatio looked at him. "I don't know. What were you thinking about giving them?"
"A gift certificate to the baby store so they could get whatever they wanted. Or maybe one to a mall. I have no idea what to get Willow that's not magic based. Ryan's easier to buy for. I've got one in mind for him if you need an idea." Horatio smiled and nodded, letting Xander whisper it in his ear. "He could use it."
"He could," he agreed happily. "That's a nice, uncomplicated present." He dug in again. "Greg, these are great. You did your grandfather proud."
"I love everything you cook," Xander offered with a smile. "I would've liked to met your grandfather. He sounded like a pretty cool guy."
"He would've spanked you," Greg teased. "You're much too naughty for him."
Xander grinned, winking at him. "I'm trying really hard to be good."
"Try harder, Xander," Don teased back.
Ray Senior shook his head. "I think he's trying as hard as he can, Don."
Xander stuck his tongue out at him. "You're just jealous because you can't have a boy like me," he taunted with an evil smirk.
"No, I usually went for sweet with a temper," he assured him. "Speaking of tempers, where's my son?"
"Home probably," Horatio offered, eating another bite. He smiled at Greg, taking the kiss he had waiting on him. He whispered in his ear, getting a wicked grin but a small blush. "Good. We can do that later."
Xander perked up. "Do what?"
Horatio and Greg both smiled at him. "You'll see," Greg promised.
"Ooh, sounds like someone's getting spanked," Don teased. "Should've tried harder, Xander."
"I don't spank him. He doesn't like it," Horatio assured him. Mahsa started and looked around. "Good morning, precious. Did you have a good nap?" She yawned and grabbed Greg's hair to play with, drifting off again.
Speed took another picture, smiling at the cuteness. "She plays with Calleigh's hair too," he told the others. "Hers and Horatio's both."
"There aren't that many blondes or redheads in Egypt I guess," Greg said, looking totally comfortable with her tiny first scrunched in his hair. "Xander, what do you want for a holiday present?"
"I don't know. Why?" He ate another bite, then got seconds, handing some to Speed when he grunted. "There you go, Daddy."
"Thanks, kiddo." He looked at him. "I need a hint too, Xander. You've pretty well gotten everything here. New music?"
"I don't care. Come over for dinner. I'll order one from the grocery store or somewhere."
"Yelina used to cook Christmas Dinner," Ray offered.
"I did the lab's last year," Speed offered. "I was on last year too. I brought in lunch for us."
"Yelina, Ray, and I had Chinese for dinner last year," Horatio admitted. "Xander was eating with his grandparents and they were out of town to be with Tara and Don. I couldn't get the time off."
"Me either so I worked that day," Greg agreed. "It's something to ask. Do we have the holiday schedule done yet, Horatio?"
"Nearly. So far I've gotten the usual requests for the day after or before off. One of the lab techs wanted a full week off, her mother lives in Texas so she's got to travel. I know Frank's wife makes him take her to a hotel buffet. Xander, call Yelina to see who's doing it."
"Sure." He pulled out his cellphone, inputting two numbers. "Mommy, Yelina, the question has come up about holiday dinner." He smiled. "I'll order if we do it here, Yelina. That's what he wanted to know." Aiden said something. "Sure, Mom. Yeah, I'm sure. Are you sure, Yelina?" He grinned. "That's fine. Mommy?" He snickered. "Sure, Mom. Thanks." He hung up. "Yelina said she'd bring a few pies to ours. Aiden said she'd bring a few casseroles since she's not the Betty Crocker ideal." Greg snickered at that. "Do you think you'll get to come down then?"
"I've got leave papers for whenever Abby delivers," he admitted. "That way I can fly out to meet with you guys within a few days." That got smiles all around. He looked at Horatio. "Grissom asked when I was going to start hinting."
"I'm waiting to see what next year's budget will be like," he admitted quietly. "I might be able to move you into the lab." Xander shook his head. "No?"
"No. Your boss called to ask if I'd make another generous donation to the PD because their funds are going to run short at least a month early this upcoming year if there's any overtime or bad hurricanes. He mentioned he might have to cut the lab's budget. I said I'd talk to you about it."
"I'll talk with him tomorrow," he decided. "Sorry, Greg."
"It's not a problem," he promised. "I'm not fully ready to leave Vegas yet. I know that. He knows that if he'd look." Horatio smiled at him. "I'm still getting over the issue with the haircare fight in the morning."
"Does Xander take too long?" Ray asked.
"No, Horatio steals my gel some mornings when his hair's sticking up." Ray choked. "That and I used his shampoo. I nearly got paddled for that in the unfun way."
Ray looked at his brother. "You have a haircare *routine*?"
"It gets messed up," Xander pouted. "I don't like him with messy hair unless I did it."
"He even pouts when I mess up Horatio's hair," Greg agreed, making Don snicker into his fork, then drop it. "Unless it's bedhair."
"Or the 'windows down on the ferarri going eighty down the interstate' hair," Xander reminded him.
"And they tease me about my speeding tickets," Speed taunted, smirking at his boss and friend.
"I only have one in the ferarri, Speed. You got one within ten minutes of Xander getting it," Horatio pointed out.
"You got a speeding ticket?" Ray asked. "You? Mr. Uptight?"
"Going ninety down the interstate," Xander admitted. Horatio blushed and sipped his water at that. "It's really easy to forget how fast you're going in that car. The Saturn tells you a lot faster if you're going too fast. Oh, speaking of, it's got that rattle again, Horatio. I'll need to leave it with the garage this time."
"We'll handle it somehow, Xander. Can it wait until Greg leaves again? That way you don't have to try to stuff you both and the baby in the sports car?"
"Maybe, I've got two lights on the dash again."
"That's the second time since you took the lease," Speed complained.
"It's not the usual problems. They even said that. They think someone tampered with the car." He sipped his water. "Especially since they found a camera the last time. Their head mechanic thinks I've got a stalker, honey."
"Why didn't you bring it in?" Horatio asked.
"Because he had put his greasy fingers on it and ruined any chance of fingerprints. I did give it to Ryan and Eric since you can't do the investigative stuff for me. You know, that's an idea," he admitted, looking at him. Horatio looked confused. "Put someone on part time and then have me pay them to help Aiden with the present and the camera stuff."
"I'll make the suggestion if things get that tight," he said, smiling at him. "I love that you take care of my lab, Xander."
"Thank you. Now can you get your boss out of my wallet?"
"I'll do my best." Xander beamed at that. He smiled at the sleepy Greg. "Greg, take her in to nap on the couch with her," he said gently. Greg nodded, taking the baby inside to use as a teddy bear. Thumper and the remaining three dogs from his grandfather's came running out. The puppies chasing Thumper mostly. "Stay on the porch," he ordered. Thumper jumped up on Ray's lap and cowered. "What did you do this time?" he sighed. "Greg?"
"Dobbie found him sniffing Mahsa's blanket," he called from the living room. "I told him to get off it and they ran him off."
Ray looked at the dog. "I remember you." Thumper sat down and gave him a pitiful look. "You do that better than my son did as a toddler." He fed him a bite of his dinner then got seconds. "Was he finally stopped?"
"No, not totally. He can't do it to her," Xander offered. "He still does it to nearly everyone else." He ate a bite. "Ryan probably had to close the door so he wasn't molested by the dog."
Ray looked at the dog again. "You need help, Dog. He's not even that cute."
"His favorite hump is still the rosebush," Speed offered. "It was very wise of him to move in with Patrick so he could become Xander's dog." Holly barked. "I know, it's a good thing he gave you puppies too." He petted her, eating with his other hand.
"Was this how you pictured your retirement, Horatio?" Don asked.
"I'm not ready to give up yet, Don, but no. I pictured it doing some traveling I wanted to do." Xander lit up and he smiled. "Our next vacation. Mexico?" Xander nodded, leaning over to kiss him. He pulled back with a moan of complaint, panting hard from the in-depth exploration of his tongue. "We'll make plans for next winter."
Speed looked at him. "Good idea. I like that one," he said, smirking at him. He let Holly go, getting the other two instead. "Greedy guys. Can't you wait until I eat?" He petted them both and they went to lay down in the sun. "I always thought I'd live in a library of books and art, maybe some cooking stuff now and then," Speed told Don. "Then Xander pointed out I could be doing other things, like teaching him things. It's a lot more fun confusing him with philosophy."
Xander snorted. "If they would say what they mean then it wouldn't be confusing."
Horatio stroked over his mate's hair. "Not everyone is meant to understand philosophy. Some people are great thinkers and some are great doers." Xander nodded, smiling at him. "You'll do great things and follow your grandparents' example, Xander. The world will be better for having had you."
Xander beamed. "Thank you. That's a great compliment. Would you... Um, would you like to help me pick out where my donations go this year?" he asked.
"I wouldn't mind," he agreed with a smile. "I like your usual ones."
"They're going to name the counseling center after Grandfather," he said quietly. "Would you go to the dedication with me?"
Horatio nodded. "I'll be there if I can," he promised. Xander relaxed and smiled again. "Are you giving a speech?" Xander nodded quickly. "Can I read it?"
"You can. I've got it done. I need to proofread it. I was going to let you or Dad do it."
"We can do that," he assured him with a gentle smile.
"I'd be honored to read your first speech," Speed agreed.
Don grinned. "I'll be there if I'm down here, Xander." Xander beamed at that, nodding a bit. "When is it?"
"Wednesday at two. Greg's already agreed that he's coming. His parents can sightsee during that time."
"That sounds like a plan to me," Speed said. He dug into his plate and got some thirds. "Should we save Greg some?"
"He already put some aside for later tonight," Horatio said with a smile. "She wear you out, Speed?"
Speed looked at him. "We agreed to not share those details, Horatio. That way you wouldn't have to blush at her and I wouldn't have to look at my son funny for more than signs of handcuffs."
Xander looked confused. "I use padded leather cuffs in the dungeon, Daddy. Why would I have marks?"
"He meant if your boy there tied you down," Ray explained.
"Oh! Horatio said I can't be that kinky yet. That's for a later anniversary."
Ray snickered at that. "Getting boring in your old age, brother?"
Horatio looked at him. "Not hardly, Ray."
"How's Madison?" Xander asked Horatio.
"Good. She's getting a lot better. This newest treatment is working well they think." He stroked over Xander's cheek. "Thank you for helping her with that, dear."
"You're welcome." He grinned and dug in, getting his own thirds. "One of my clients wanted a picture of Mahsa He wanted to make sure she'd be safe until this present giving curse is done with."
"Which?" Horatio asked quietly.
"The DEA guy. The one you don't know."
"We'll see," Horatio offered.
"I showed it to him. He thinks someone might target her to get back at you, Horatio. I told him they'd better not try because I'm the scarier one. He laughed." He grinned sweetly. "For some reason he thinks I'm nice."
"You usually are until you have to protect your family," Speed offered.
Don nodded. "Definitely. Even Stella and Danny thought you were nice, gentle, and innocent when you came up to New York."
Xander burst out laughing. "How long did it take to convince them otherwise?"
"About the second time they met you," he offered dryly. "That night you were unpacking all the weapons." He looked around. "Speaking of, where are they now?"
"Everything's down in the new bunker under the dungeon. Why?" He ate a bite, looking at him. "It's secure. Mac's even in the system so he can get in if there's an emergency."
"Where is the door down to the bunker?" Speed asked. "I've been in the dungeon and I haven't seen it yet."
"It's in the closet I used to hide the swords in, Dad. He did take over some of the old drug runner's lair under the house for it."
"I'd like to see it later," Horatio noted.
Xander blew a kiss. "We'll see."
"Xander," he said calmly. "We want to make sure no ATF squad will be busting in here."
"If they do I'm beating my client so badly he'll beg for forgiveness. Not like I'm using or selling them, Horatio."
"Xander," Horatio said softly. "Please."
"Fine," he sighed. "I'll show you how to get down there. Daddy too if he wants." He looked at him. "Did you clean your gun this week? I know I haven't had time to."
"Calleigh made me sit down and clean mine with hers," he admitted sheepishly. "She knew you've been busy with the baby and things."
"I guess I have. I didn't watch cartoons this week either." Horatio stroked over his hair. "Am I doing yours tonight?"
"I did mine yesterday afternoon," he promised. Ryan wandered out. "There's some food left if you're hungry, Ryan."
"Please." He sat down in Greg's spot, looking at the highchair then at him. "Is she napping? I was going to get some baby changing and holding experience hours in."
"She's napping with Greg in the living room." Thumper lifted his head above the table. "You stay there, Thumper."
"We ended up having a staring and growling match," Xander said at the confused look Ryan gave the dog. "He was trying to hump Mahsa's head. He can't do that."
"That inner beast of yours is certainly helpful," Ryan quipped, grinning at him. "Has she come back yet?"
"Not yet," Horatio told him. "Eat, Mr. Wolfe. Then you can play with our daughter." He nodded, digging into the lunch spread. "Xander was going to show me down to the weapons storage area. Would you like to come with us?" Xander gave him an odd look. "He should know in case there's an emergency, Xander. Didn't you give most of my team a code to get in?" Xander nodded. "Then he should know."
"He should," he sighed. "I can do that as long as he doesn't tell Willow."
"No, I'm not talking to my wife until I'm very less pissed at her," Ryan assured him dryly, giving him a look. "Don, I think Tara's fixed whatever she did to me."
"Good! It's good when my girl can help that way. It makes her happy then she pounces me." Ryan smiled at that. "What's up for this afternoon?"
"Pool draining," Xander told him. Don nodded at that. Ryan looked confused. "We had a rabid deer wander up and she liked to drink from the pool."
"Then it's a good idea," he agreed. "Do you have to dive in?"
"No, there's a pump switch on the outside. I can do it that way," he said with a small grin. "Then I'm going to graciously agree to my mate's request and show him my gun collection again to impress him enough that I get pounced. Then we'll look at the magic stuff on you once the pool's refilled. Okay?" Ryan nodded. "And of course if you need it you can borrow a bed. Just watch out for the sneaking dog." He had noticed Don looking at his lap. "Thumper?" he asked. Don nodded.
They all watched as the dog pounced Ryan's arm on the table, going to town on it. "Thumper!" Horatio snapped. He ran inside. "Thank you! Sorry, Ryan."
"It happened a lot when we babysat him," he said, shaking his head. "At least I'm not quite as bad as Eric is. He *loves* his Eric snuggly."
"He loves Eric's shirts," Speed said with a small smirk. "He had to throw away three of them for the stains on them after puppysitting Thumper."
"Eww," Ray complained.
"At least he's fixed now," Xander offered. "He likes to molest Ryan's right ear."
Ray shuddered. "I don't need those details. Really. Please don't share."
Ryan grinned at him. "After a while around Xander you realize you don't know how you got along before you met him." He ate a bite and moaned. "Oh, these are great. Who cooked?"
"Greg," Horatio said happily. "His grandfather's recipe."
"I'll beg to copy it later." He dug in, cleaning up the rest of the food on the table for them. Horatio and Speed loaded the dishwasher while Ryan went to put Mahsa down and grab the baby monitor to put on his belt. Then everyone but Ray, who decided to go home and try to talk to his son again, went down into the bunker. Ryan looked at the keypad and handprint scanner. "Fingers or palm?"
"Both." He put his hand on it then tapped in a code. "I'll give you guys your code. It's a birthday code." They nodded and he opened the door, letting them inside. "To the right, people." They headed to the right and down the five shallow stairs to the main area. It had a work bench, a recliner, and a small table to read from. It even had a book on it. "Sorry, I was lounging while a few of my clients moved the weapons. That way the ATF guys I work with would quit worrying." He opened the three doors, letting them see the sword room and the gun room. Horatio coughed and pointed at the other obvious room. "That'll make you upset at Toby."
"Probably," he agreed. Xander sighed and came over to open it. Each door had a code and handprint scanner on it as well. He walked into the artillery room and looked around, then at Xander. "Xander, can I have a talk with Toby?"
"Please?" he called, sounding nice about it. "Some of these are current weapons."
"I know." He went to look in the gun room, letting Ryan see the industrial cleaning kit he had set up. Ryan smiled at that and got into some of the drawers. He had a few drawers of multiple guns. He had some single models. Even Speed looked impressed and he didn't like guns.
"Hey, Xander, can I change mine out for this one?" Don called, waving it. "Please, nephew?"
"Do I have more than one?"
"No but it's the new Desert Eagle and Mac'll be jealous." He grinned. "Please?"
"As long as I can get a new copy. I can get you your own for Christmas."
Don snickered. "That'll do. Thanks, nephew." He kissed him on the head and they all paused when they heard Mahsa sniffling in her room. Ryan jogged up to get her, coming back with Frank Tripp. "Hey."
"Hey. I heard you were in about your runner. You joining us today?"
"I checked in with Eric, he said to come in tomorrow. He's still trying to find clues."
"That works." He looked around then at Xander. "You like the US, right?" he asked.
"Yes, Frank," he sighed. "I get some of it for translating stuff into demon languages. They liked the King Collection."
"Xander, what's in these packets?"
"Don't touch those!" he yelped. Horatio moaned and they all grimaced at the smell. "Take it and head outside right now, Horatio Caine. Before it spreads!" He walked the remains of the baggie upstairs and outside to start the draining of the pool and use the hose out there to try to rinse off. "Sorry, my stink bombs." He switched on a fan and got back to work. "Really sorry."
"Those are sickening," Don decided.
"Hey, they get vamps out of hidey holes like you would not believe," he bragged, smirking evilly at him. "They have *better* senses of smell."
"It won't come off," Horatio called.
"Go back outside, dear," Xander ordered. "I don't have the industrial strength febreeze up there." They heard him walk off again. "That poor suit. They'll never get the stink out."
"You told him not to touch it," Speed said grimly. He found a phone and called Alexx since his cellphone wasn't getting a signal in that room. "It's me. How do you unstink someone? Because Horatio does. No, I mean literally. Xander's stink bomb exploded on him." He snickered. "Somewhere between a really nasty diaper and rotten shrimp. It's a Sunnydale remnant." He nodded. "Thanks." He hung up and headed upstairs to peek outside at him. "Alexx suggested tomato juice, like you would with a skunk."
"Skunks smell better than this," Horatio complained. "If we could give these to SWAT they'd never have problems getting people out of their hidden spots."
"I'll run out and get you some tomato juice," Speed promised, going to do that. He ran into Aiden outside. "Horatio had a stink bomb break on him."
"That poor man. He won't be getting sex for weeks. Mahsa?"
"Down in the bunker with the other guys. Alexx suggested tomato juice."
"I tried that and lemon juice. No luck," she said bitterly, heading down there. "Hey, Ryan, can you think of anything that'll take that off him since tomato juice and lemons didn't work when I tried it?"
"That herbal bleach stuff Xander found for me. It worked to take rotten body stink off." He went to mix some up for Horatio, handing it over. He had to hold his breath, then he ran back inside. "Ooh, that's even worse now in the open."
"It takes a few to ripen," Speed said grimly. He still went to get the tomato juice and lemons for him, just in case he needed a second bath. You could never be too careful with that stuff.
Frank looked in the artillery room then at Xander. "Do your ATF clients know about these?"
"Um, no, they moved the swords and the regular guns."
"You've got a contact at NCIS, right?" he asked. Xander nodded slowly. "Ask them if they'd like them back before you get into trouble. I can't deny seeing it if I get asked by someone in an official capacity, Xander."
"Sorry, Frank. Horatio demanded he get to come see."
Ryan and Don both looked in there then moaned. Ryan walked out, going to call Abby. "It's Ryan," he said happily. "No, we're good. Horatio just broke a stench bomb on himself. We were wondering if you guys would like to come remove some of Xander's illegal weapons. He's got some present military-only hardware. Yeah, some of those things. No, he's translating some stuff into demon for a local bar owner. That's how he's paid. He thinks he's taking it off the streets but damn it that stinks," he said, moving away from Horatio. "Sorry, super stink bomb. Think campground outhouse after a load of tainted and diseased shrimp gets puked, Abby. That's how bad it smells. Horatio. Poor guy, he's trying to bathe off the stink now. Not even Thumper will get near him." He smiled. "That might work. Sure, when are you coming down next time?" He grinned. "That's even better. Sure, see you then. You behave and all that stuff." He hung up and headed back down there, getting the code on the second try. "Xander, Abby said she'll bring Gibbs and Tony down the next time she comes, which will be next week. She's coming down for the forensic anthropology series at the University." He saw the pout. "Only the dangerous and illegal things." Xander petted his pet AK-47. "If they say you can keep it. I told her you're getting it off the streets."
"Fine," he pouted.
"Thank you. She thinks she wants a stink bomb too."
"She's got hormone swings, that's mean," Speed assured him. Frank snickered at that. "It is. She'd use it on someone."
"Probably their director," Xander said grimly. "Ooops." He grinned and shooed them all out, letting Don take his new gun and a few spare clips with it since he was petting it. Don beamed and headed to put it into his bag. Xander made sure all the doors were locked, the lights were out, then he headed upstairs. He was really thankful Horatio hadn't asked to look in the explosives locker. Really, really thankful. Xander bounced up to help Horatio shower off the stink. "Ryan promised Abby could bring one of those home."
"You need them put in thicker bags," he complained.
"I usually threw them, Horatio. They got vamps out of dens like nothing ever seen. It's one of the few things I can make."
Horatio looked at him, then he took his hose off to shower a bit farther away before he said anything. "I still need to check on the explosives, Xander."
"We'll see." He jogged inside, letting Speed come out to help Horatio wash it off. The pool was almost completely drained so they went down into it to do the showering off. That way they could rinse it off at the same time.
Abby bounced out of her lab and up to the bullpen area, smiling at Gibbs. "Xander got given more stuff for translating."
"What stuff?" Gibbs asked, giving her a look.
"Stuff we should see and confiscate. Ryan said it was current military issue." Gibbs moaned. "I told Ryan you'd come down with me when I went to the forensics lecture series. Maybe Tony too." The director coughed as she came down the stairs. "We know someone who gets some limited weapons for translating things into another language for him. He's keeping them off the streets because he's a collector but he said he got something current so he had someone call us. Even though he will pout." Gibbs smirked at that, nodding. "Oooh! Horatio broke into the other stuff. He's presently ruing his choice."
Gibbs raised an eyebrow. "Ruing?"
"Xander has a new super stink bomb. Horatio had one break on him. He was scented a few feet away. Worse than a skunk."
"Does the kid use it offensively?" he asked.
"He did. He told me about them back when he was in his hometown." Gibbs just nodded at that and sighed. "So, can you come with me?"
"We can go with you for a day," he promised.
"Where are you going?" the director asked.
Abby gave her a look. "You already agreed I could go to the forensic anthropology lecture series down in Miami next week, Director."
"The father of my son?" she reminded her, stroking her stomach. Tony came in whistling. "Oooh! Xander's got given more things from his translating buddy."
"Sure, we can go look, see if anything should be turned over," he agreed. "He's good about doing that when Horatio catches him." He sat down behind his desk. "Done, boss."
"Thank you, DiNozzo. Any paperwork?" It was turned into a paper airplane and sent over. "Even better." He read it, signed it, then handed it to the Director. "There, yours." He looked at Abby. "Should you be standing this long?"
"Yes," she said patiently. "I'm pregnant, not crippled, Gibbs." She walked off shaking her head. She came back. "Did you get to see the pictures of Mahsa?" He nodded, smiling some. "Cool." He made shooing motions and she went back to her lab.
"This person is a collector?" the director asked.
"He is. He's getting them off the streets, Director."
"He likes guns," Tony told her. "He's very respectful. Doesn't plan on using them unless Miami's invaded. He's dating two CSI so they keep track of it."
"What else is he holding?" she demanded.
Tony looked at her. "He's a Master, Director. He doesn't need a gun to prove his point. He's from Sunnydale." She went pale. "He's a *collector*. He likes to pet them, coo at them, and call them his babies." She shuddered. "He's not going to use them. He likes to clean them. He also likes swords and battle axes."
"Fine. As long as someone knows," she said firmly.
"Oh, we get told when things show up that he shouldn't have," Gibbs assured her. "His grandfather called when he was alive. His boyfriends do now." She looked sickened. "Yes, he's dating two male CSI. He's also the father of Abby's child." She stomped off muttering. "And if you do something about that, I will kill you," he muttered in response.
"Ditto," Tony assured him.
Gibbs smiled at him. "Good to know, DiNozzo."
"You know I have your six, boss. Especially when it's something that could hurt little Johan."
"No, but there's a good chance the baby's going to have Jesse as a first name. He's the best male friend Xander had when he was younger. They saved each other when they were younger. It depends on what Mrs. Wolfe decides."
"Ah." He nodded. "That's not so bad. Jesse what?"
"Jesse Johan Ignatius Scuito."
He shook his head. It was very Abby.
Xander looked at his legal team. "Hi." He sat down, letting Mahsa sit on his lap. Greg and Aiden settled in around him. "Okay, you called." One of them smiled at Mahsa "This is my daughter Mahsa. Greg reminded me I have to put her into my will. Her and Abby's son."
"That's a good idea," one of them agreed. "We can update it with a codicil." He smiled. "Has she been put into the kidnaping databases and all that? Just in case?"
"We have," Aiden assured him. "The day after we got her." She handed over her copy of the paperwork. "Okay, this is what Egypt gave me. I know I need to sign something that says she'll go to her daddies if something happens to me." They nodded and handed over something. "You guys are on the ball."
"Xander told us after he told Horatio and Greg," the one on the left offered. "Other accounts, Xander?" He handed over the journal. "Oh, my." He nodded. "I don't think you'll be able to keep just the three accounts but my personal financial manager is in my office waiting on you. I've given him what we had so far. The things that Detective Taylor sent us and the auction facts." Xander nodded at that. "Aiden, we have keys for you."
"Keys?" she asked.
"We've rented a small storage facility for things." Xander whimpered. "We've been holding them now for nearly eight months. It's now full." She whimpered. "We have sent it back where we could. My daughter was thinking about being a CSI so I let her help with that, Xander."
"Sure, what better to teach her how to investigate and be frustrated," he offered dryly. Aiden signed her form and handed it back. "Am I going to need to cry?"
"Yes," the one in the middle assured him. Xander moaned and handed Mahsa to Greg, going to the other office to deal with the financial stuff. He smiled at Aiden. "You'll need to arrange for another auction."
"I talked with her before we came over," she admitted. "I figured I'd have to. Do we have a list?"
"We do. We kept to the same system Xander uses for the others," the one in the middle offered. He handed over a slim folder. "That's the index. It's separated into three tabs. Ones for Greg and Horatio are already separated out so they can see what to do with them."
Greg gave him an odd look. "How many do I have?" She handed him that sheet. He looked at it then at them. "Someone sent me a diamond crusted saddle?" They all nodded. "Why? I don't ride!"
Aiden patted him on the arm. "Better than the hairless stuffed dog."
"Good point." He looked at the baby. "No wonder you make such a good teddy, Mahsa We need one." She cooed and smiled at him. "Such a good girl." He gave her a cuddle then went back to looking it over, then at the lawyers. "Okay, do I have to sign anything?"
"No, Greg," the one on the right offered with a gentle smile. "You have power of attorney paperwork?"
"Since I'm still out in Las Vegas, my boss and one of my friends has it out there but they know about Xander and Horatio. They know to defer to them when they come out as long as they're being reasonable. When I got shot last time it went okay." That got a trio of nods. "I know I'm on theirs if I'm here. They're on mine if I'm not in Las Vegas. It's stated that way."
"Good." The one on the right smiled at him. "Are we handling your will for you?"
"I don't have that much stuff."
"Yes, but that would simplify things, Greg. Otherwise the state can take it all."
"Good point. I can draft one and send it down," he promised. That got a trio of nods. "Do you handle Horatio's?"
"We do," the one in the middle said, smiling at him. "Xander has us on retainer so we can handle his entire estate and all the many factions of problems."
"Especially his present givers," the one on the left agreed. "Some of them are quite stubborn."
"Oh, I know. I got sent a full chemistry lab at home."
"I thought you said it was a set," Xander said from the doorway.
"I didn't want to worry you, Xander. I donated it to Warrick's old high school."
"That was nice," Xander decided, coming in to hug him. "Mac found other stuff in the safety deposit boxes. Including our files from his people." He took his daughter with him. "We have to file for a social security number for her."
"Already sent it in," Aiden called. "Also talked to INS." She looked at them. "There's not going to be a problem there, right?"
"No. We've already informed them when we got told she was in existence. Her paperwork was already in the system when she was flown over. Even if they have a rash of stupidity over there, she'll be fine," he promised. She nodded. "We will not have another Elian situation. By the way, her mother's needs have been taken care of per Xander's orders. They're still saying she's too sick to ever take her back." Aiden smiled a bit, but it looked sad. "It's a mixed blessing," he assured her.
"It is. Has he set up stuff for Abby's son?"
"He has. We've drawn up a very loose visitation agreement that lets her decide when he gets visitation. That way she doesn't have to fight with him and she can hand him over for a few days if they're close-by. We've sent it to her and are just waiting for it back." She and Greg both smiled at that. "Abby was quite a breath of fresh air. We've also set up the son's trust fund for him and we've set up one for her as well, that way she won't need for anything if something happens and she loses her job. Xander said so but she doesn't know about that one yet."
"She's going to fuss," Greg warned.
"We advised it wasn't unheard of and she pouted. Xander told her it was so he could make sure she had pretty new clothes to stun her boys." That got a small smirk from him. "She's not quite aware of it but it'll be fine. It won't even get her in trouble with her boss. Everything looks to be all right. That codicil can be drawn up within a few days, or we can wait until his son is born. Either way is acceptable. We'd have to change it later if she changes her mind about his name."
"That might be a good idea," Aiden admitted. "But we don't want to rob her if something happens."
"Not an issue," Greg assured her. "They know what Xander wants."
"He made himself very clear," the middle one agreed happily. "He brought in a list with his first will. It laid out all the important people in his life and suggested how to split things." He looked in the folder. "We do have one piece of paperwork we need him to work on. There's a restraining order that's about to run out. We need him to file for a new one."
"On?" Greg asked.
They sighed. "The present giving person who tried to sue him for not accepting his gifts came back to try to kidnap him."
"Gee, we didn't hear about that," Greg said dryly, looking toward the other office, then back at him. "Have you told Horatio?"
"No. He's asked us not to." He called the other office. "Mr. Harris, you have to refile for the restraining order to continue," he said quietly. "No, it was new to him. He did suggest we inform Horatio as well." He smiled at the muttering. "That's fine. We can do that. There's another one that you should think about. We do have proof that they've been stalking you. That would be good as well." He made a note. "I can do that. Thank you. We'll need you to sign the paperwork."
"I'd like to see it first," Greg said a bit loudly.
The lawyer looked at him and shook his head. "He said he doesn't think it's necessary but he'll do it anyway. He doesn't want to worry either of you."
"I'm telling Horatio anyway," Greg assured him. He smiled sweetly. "May I?" He hung up and handed over the folder. "Thank you." He flipped past the will to the paperwork on the restraining order. "Hey, I know this one. He's been at Lady Heather's." He handed it to Aiden then looked at him. "I'll see if I can find out if he's been bothering her."
"That would be more than good for the case," the one on the left agreed. Xander and Mahsa came back, him chasing her since she was crawling. "She didn't like the financial manager?"
"It made her cry too," he admitted, picking her up and sitting down again. He leaned over to look at the paperwork then at his legal team. "That's not the other guy?"
"No, he's hunting Horatio and we have something to hand him on that situation," the one in the middle assured him, handing that envelope to Greg. "Better safe than sorry."
"Very true, especially with Horatio's life," Xander agreed. "Anything else I have to do?" Aiden handed over the forms with the 'sign me' tag on them. He grabbed a pen from the desk and signed them around Mahsa, but Greg stole her and let him do it the normal way. "There. Anything else today? If not, Mommy needs groceries."
They all smiled. "No, it'll be fine. Should we set up a further meeting with the financial manager?" the guy on the left asked.
"He's going to call when he's got everything together and seen. He said that the checks written on them might be autodrafts. He's checking it over. I had a lot of paperwork for him to sign. Then he's going to make sure I don't have to pay as many taxes as last time. Even he got upset at that payment." He took his daughter back. "Okay, I'm going to make sure Mommy eats then I'm going to steal Horatio for a few minutes to go look at his stuff." Aiden handed back the forms and took the index list from Greg. "Good. Thank you, guys. Say thank you, Mahsa." She waved and cooed, smiling brightly. "Abby will be down for the forensic thingy at the university." He stood up and headed out first, letting the others give them the time and date so they could talk with her.
Aiden walked into the lab's building, signing in. "Is Horatio hiding here?"
"He is. He's in his office looking at some paperwork. Is there a problem with the baby?"
"No, there's a problem with him having a stalker." She gasped. "I've got some stuff from Xander's legal guys."
The receptionist leaned closer. "Is he mafia?" she hissed.
Aiden giggled and shook her head. "No, sweetie. His grandfather was big in gay civil rights."
"Oh!" She nodded. "Like the new counseling center?"
"It's being named after him," she admitted happily. "I'm going to pounce Horatio and give him this information." She walked up to the office. "Horatio?" He waved her inside, phone molded to his ear now. She sat down across from him, waiting. He gave her a curious look so she held up the information. He held out a hand and she shook her head. "You don't wanna do that while you're talking to someone."
"I'm on hold. The Chief had to talk to the Mayor. There was an auto accident outside City Hall."
She handed both files over. "One's an index list, the other's on your stalker, as opposed to Xander's two stalkers. Oh, and did you know Greg got a whole *lab*?" He nodded. "He said he donated it. He didn't want to worry Xander."
"None of us do. This is driving him insane." He put it down when the voice came back. "I'm still here, sir. Aiden's here with me at the moment. No, I suppose Xander and Greg have her." Aiden nodded. "Here?"
"Park. They're hiding when you scream."
"Ah." He looked over the information file. "That's interesting. I did not know I had a true stalker. I thought it was just a contract out on my head." His boss spluttered at that. "Ray found out, sir. Yes, I've seen him. We had lunch with him yesterday actually. They did," he admitted. "I'm not sure, sir. You should ask Yelina that. He's trying to mend fences. No, his son is not happy. Then again, my nephew knows he has support. Yes, even for that." He leaned back with a sigh. "She gave him drugs without his knowledge or consent. Because of his father, he's very anti-drugs. He's turned in a great many classmates for having some. Exactly. No, she had other faults than that. Well, we do know that she did prompt them to have sex. He was quite sure of it the next morning. We're hoping the bloodwork comes back without a problem at the moment. That's right, one thing at a time. Did she take a deal?" He smirked. "Good. He came to me with his worries but shared that incident with Greg to get an idea of what he should be doing next. No, I helped. I gladly helped arrest her, Chief. Frank Tripp did. I only got to taunt her mother. Thank you, sir. Yes, apparently I do. Apparently I also have to look up my spouse in relation to some stalkers of his own." Aiden nodded. "Was that one of the reasons they needed to see him today?"
"One of. One's about to run out, one needs to be set."
"Interesting. No, I'm heading out again, Chief. Greg's parents are coming in tomorrow and staying through Wednesday. Xander's got the dedication on Wednesday afternoon. Greg goes home Thursday and I have weekend call." He smiled. "Of course. Abby's coming down next week and the next time I take off will be for her being in labor, unless Mahsa gets sick. No, she's soundly loved by the whole family. She adores hair as well. Mine and Calleigh's," he admitted with a small smile. "She probably never saw a blonde before she got here. Thank you. Immigration?"
"I asked, they had her paperwork in as soon as Xander told them," Aiden assured him.
"Aiden said Xander had his legal team handle the paperwork. Surely they can't be that petty because we busted a major smuggling ring among them." She gave him an odd look. "It was four years ago, Aiden."
"Let's hope they're not."
"They can't send her back."
"Point." She nodded. She grinned at Eric when he leaned in and gave her a confused look. "Dropping off stuff. Including the index file from the lawyers and Horatio's stalker file."
"Stalker? Interesting." He came in to look at that. "I know him. He was at a scene staring at Ryan and Speed."
Horatio looked at him. "We're apparently having a short staff meeting," he told his boss. "I'll keep you informed, sir. Thank you." He hung up. "When was this?"
Horatio paged the others, bringing them up to his office with curious looks. "Xander's legal team has discovered I have a stalker. Eric said he saw them at a scene earlier today."
"Greg said he's been at Lady Heather's," Aiden offered.
"Huh," Calleigh said, taking the information. "I do know him. Okay, we can handle that. We'll file the restraining order today, Horatio. Go play with the baby and Greg." She smiled and walked off.
"Look at Xander's stalker too," Aiden called after her. "One's about to run out, they're filing the other one today."
Speed shook his head. "I'm glad I didn't have that curse applied to me." He walked out with the others, going to snatch the information file to look it over. Ryan took it from him. The others in the lab saw it after Calleigh had the restraining order, even Frank because Valera snuck up to hand it to him.
Horatio took the index list to look through. "Is this comprehensive?"
"Just what they've been storing for the last eight months. Xander told me where he's keeping the stuff he gets sent. I've got the stuff the others have been sent and the stuff that used to go to Mayper. One of the lawyers had his CSI-studying daughter help with the sending back. She's presently in her education." Horatio smiled at that. "Xander agreed it was a good way to show her how to investigate and be frustrated. Greggy did not like the diamond saddle."
Horatio looked at Greg's list and shuddered. "Maybe Lady Heather knows someone who would like it for their favorite pony games."
"Eww. More than I want to think about, Horatio." She smiled. "At least you don't stink."
"I don't. I did go find another one and brought it to our SWAT commander for him to try. He did like it in the test. Tell Xander it does come off with rotten lemons." She nodded, smiling at him. "Speed bought one and it worked. Who am I to complain. You can bathe off their stench afterward." He went back to Xander's list, then flipped to his own. He moaned, then whimpered. Then let out a small scream of outrage. Speed came jogging up and took the forms. "That was my mother's," he said grimly. "My father sold it."
"Okay, well, now it's yours," he offered. "We'll see if Mac can track it, Horatio." He patted him on the back. "Calm down." He walked off with Aiden in tow. "Find it for him."
"The receptionist wanted to know if Xander was mafia," she shared with an evil smirk.
"No but some of them seem to like him. Hey, Horatio, did you see the newest present?" he called. Horatio came to the walkway, shaking his head. "The General's younger son, the one younger than the stupid ones, sent him something." He went to get it and handed it to his boss. "Here you go. Have fun with that."
Horatio looked at Aiden. "I would like to see that again," he ordered calmly.
"I'll find it today, Horatio. Not much else to do except get groceries." He smiled and walked off. She looked at Speed. "The General?"
"*Major* drug dealer down here. We had to let his murdering son go due to diplomatic immunity. It's almost a taunt between them now."
"Ewwww. That's going to be painful."
"Yup and Horatio's going to walk away much happier," he said fondly, going back to the lab. "I'll get our index list and Xander's together for you."
"I can do that." She went back out to the car, dropping off her visitor's pass on the way.
Horatio walked into the exclusive country club, smiling at the guard. "I have to deliver something," he said quietly. "A very tasteless present was sent to my husband by a member." He showed his badge. "I'll leave right afterward."
"Are you a member, sir?"
"No, I'm the fiancee of Xander Harris, the grandson of Patrick Benis." They scrambled out of his way. "They had a membership?"
"It's a lifetime one, sir. His grandson inherited that."
"I don't think he knows that. Send the information to my office please? I'm with the crime lab." They nodded. "Thank you." He headed for the dining room, smiling at the guard who opened the door for him. He walked back to the private section where the General was dining with his sons, putting the present blatantly on the table in front of him. "My fiancee is not pleased that your son sent him something. I didn't know your son was *family*," he said with a smug look. Then he turned and walked off, leaving one stunned, pissed off drug dealer behind him who would be beating his sons later.
It did so make his day brighter.
The General exploded in swears, beating at his sons until they ducked away from him. "How dare you dishonor the family that way! You don't send presents to the boyfriends of officers!" he yelled, smacking the one he knew it had to be. The wrong son, but oh well. They would all be learning this lesson again. "No son of mine is going to do things like that!"
The guards came running and walked them all off to a more private location so they could continue their...discussion. They didn't want to upset the other patrons. It looked bad to air such family squabbles in public. The gift was brought in as well then the guard left. They knew what the old man was capable of.
Xander squealed when he saw Abby at the doorway, pulling her inside. "You have the suckiest timing today. I'm with a client, but Mahsa's in with Greg in the kitchen. His parents are due in later today. Hi, Tony, hi, Gibbs. I'm with a client. Give me an hour." He headed back to the dungeon, going back to whipping his client until he confessed and broke.
Abby looked around for anything new, then headed to pounce Greg. "Wonderbaby and I are here," she announced. Mahsa squealed so loudly it almost echoed. "Hi, baby!" She picked her up to hug her, giving her a good cuddle. "How's my precious one?" The baby cooed at her. "Good girl. Such a good girl."
"Let me make some lemonade. Go outside, guys. Keep her from wandering." They went outside and he finished the lemonade, bringing it and glasses out. Xander came out ten minutes later, flopping down beside him. "Not go well?"
"No, it went very well," he promised, giving him a kiss. Mahsa waved at him from her auntie's lap. "Hi, Mahsa. Is Abby cuddling you?" he cooed. She beamed and snuggled back into Abby's shoulder.
"She's adorable," Gibbs said gently.
Xander beamed. "Thank you. She's brilliant too. She helps the puppies play fetch. Tony, watch out for Thumper. He's behind you and getting ready to pounce." Tony caught the dog when he leapt, putting him back down with a head pet. "Thanks. So, what's up?" he asked innocently.
"You, weapons," Greg reminded him patiently.
Xander pouted. "Must I?" Gibbs and Tony both nodded. So he sighed and led them down there, getting them into the artillery room. Gibbs started to pull down things with a head shake. "It's not like I use them. Toby will be upset with me for giving them away."
"We'll use 'em," Tony promised with a grin. "Or find someone to use them."
"Calleigh likes to work on her destruction database. You could let her use them."
"We'll talk with her, see if she can use some for the destruction tests," Gibbs assured her. "Abby would squeal at that too." He looked at him. "What're the other rooms?"
"Swords. Handguns. That's the artillery."
Tony looked around then at him. "Explosives? I remember you liked bangs and booms."
Xander gave him a pitiful look. "Horatio knows."
"Fat chance," Greg called. "We said sixty pounds, Xander."
Xander pouted, letting them into the locker section. Tony whimpered. Gibbs patted Xander on the back. "I won't tell as long as you do show Horatio this later," Gibbs ordered quietly. "This is dangerous. If something happened, you could wipe out the neighborhood, kid." Xander looked at him. "I know it's safer and secure but better safe than sorry, right?" Xander pouted but nodded. "Thank you." He patted him again. "Let us take some of these to the lab for Calleigh and then we'll let the base have the others."
"Not my AK," he whined. "It's my favorite." Tony handed it back and looked at the rest of the stuff. They only left with five things but they were things that no one was supposed to have outside the military. Someone was in trouble for selling weapons somewhere. Xander closed everything up and headed back upstairs, finding Greg's parents giving him worried looks. "I'm helping take them off the street," he explained. "I'm doing some translating work for a weapon's collector plus I'm taking care of someone else's collection for them. It's all perfectly safe but Horatio thought some of that was military issued and might've been stolen." He walked them out to the porch, finding Abby and Mahsa asleep in the sun. "Did we get a picture?" he asked quietly. Greg nodded and grinned at him, then at his parents. "Gibbs ordered me to take Horatio back down there later to show him the other stuff."
"He said he was going to." He pulled Xander into his lap. "No other clients?"
"Not for six hours. I have one late tonight." Greg kissed him.
"Are you a therapist?" Greg's father asked, sitting down.
"No, I'm a Dom. I do work in the therapy school of thought, making people let go of buried, repressed, and angry emotions until they can verbalize it, then I let them talk it out and help where I can. I do a lot of work with agents and officers."
"Is that how you met our son?" Greg's mother asked, giving Abby an odd look. "Your sister?"
"Um, no, friend. Someone drugged us both in New York and did a warm semen transfer into her while we were both unconscious." They gave him a horrified look. "I fought back against the people who were drugging us. They still won. The drugs do that when they can knock you out. Anyway, she's decided that she wanted our son. So I'm not unhappy about it. She's easy to love and get along with. We've already worked out visitation and all that stuff. All we have left is to give Mahsa a little brother in a little over a month."
"You're very blunt about the fact you were both attacked," his father said grimly.
"I lived in Sunnydale until after graduation," Xander said dryly, looking at him. "I've been kidnaped, assaulted, beaten, sold a few times. This is nothing compared to the guy who chained me up and called me a puppy while feeding me alpo." Greg shuddered so he kissed him. "I've healed and moved on," he reminded him. "Daddy helped a lot."
"He did. I love your father for helping you heal and move on," he said, smiling at him. "Mahsa came to be because someone who had kidnaped Xander took two vials of semen from him during the kidnaping, parents. Her mother has TB. She's technically being raised by Xander's mother because the government in her natal country doesn't like gay couples or trios. Fortunately Aiden supports us being very active parents with her." He grinned at his baby girl when she woke up. "Mahsa," he called quietly. "Want to hug the grandparents?" She snuggled back in and played with the nearest ponytail, going back to sleep that way. "She loves hair. Plays with Horatio's hair all the time." He gave Xander another squeeze. "Can you go get the tray of snack food from the fridge?"
"Sure. Can I add to it?"
"Nope." Xander pouted but went to get it. "Sorry, Xander isn't allowed to cook. He's a bit poisonous. Literally," he said when his mother rolled her eyes. "As in he's sent people to the ER multiple times and once to the ICU unit with cookies." They both looked stunned. "It's a gift. No one who takes him will keep him if they let him cook." He took the plate and pulled Xander back into his lap. "There, more than comfy." He grinned at Abby when she yawned. "You have a room upstairs, Abby. We changed all the sheets in the green room on the end. That way you don't get woken up by the noise." She giggled and nodded, taking the baby up there with her. Mahsa went into her crib with her stuffed duck and Abby took a well-deserved nap. After all, it was hot outside, she deserved a nap.
Xander grinned at them. "Horatio had to check in at the office for a few minutes. They're going over a problem with a case. Then he'll be back for lunch and until you and Greggy both leave."
"You call him Greggy?" his father asked.
"Of course I do. Greggy's mine. The same as I'm his and he has the right to call me cutesy names. We're young and in love, people. I'm sure you've seen it before in others. At least in the mall." He picked up a cheesed cracker and fed it to him. "You did not eat breakfast and I should spank."
"You probably should but you'll spoil me instead."
"Of course I will. Mom's bringing over lunch when she comes to pick up Mahsa and Abby. Abby's got a lecture tonight," he explained. "She's a forensics tech in DC." He fed Greg another cracker but Greg got him back and made him eat one too, earning a sheepish look. "I ate breakfast."
"You're in nervous flutterings, Xander. Calm down. They're not that mean. If they can't love you like I do or at least as a son-in-law, then they're shit out of luck." He looked at his parents, both of whom looked stunned. "Am I clear here, parents?" They both nodded. "Good." He smiled and leaned back when he heard the door. "We're out here, Horatio." He walked out. "You might need a glass if you want some lemonade. I made it fresh."
"Thank you. Xander, did you give Gibbs a stink bomb?"
"I'm giving one to Abby when she goes home," he said with a perfectly innocent smile. "She's even got a sample container waiting on it. We chatted last night. Did the SWAT commander like it?"
"He said it was very effective but they had to wait a while to go in. The smell bled through the gas mask and stuck to their uniforms." He went to get his own glass and came out to take Abby's seat, pouring himself some of the lemonade. "Hi." He nodded at Greg's parents. "Where's the little dog?"
"Inside. Somewhere hiding from Mahsa in your office I think."
"That's fine. He won't mess anything up." He smiled at them. "Yes, I am older than both of them. They love me in spite of that fact."
Greg's mother cleared her throat. "You seem quite confident that we'll understand this fling of Gregory's."
"Mom, I've been with them over a year now. If it was a fling, it'd be different," he complained. "It's not like I'm in it for the great sex and cuddles. I like being with them. They listen to me, they respect me. They love me. Xander teases me, they both spoil me, and I learn from them both. Within the next few years I'm going to be moving down here to be with them; a lab position has to open first, but I'll be on the first flight down once it does. They're mine and staying mine, Mom. Even if you don't like it."
"What about...diseases?" she asked. "You can't be too careful."
"It's not like we fuck around on each other. It's a totally monogamous relationship," Xander assured her. "Even if one of us were exposed to things in our daily lives, we're all tested routinely for work and we've very careful with each other."
"I know some of your field is sexual...." she started.
"Not if I don't want it to be," he shot back, interrupting her. "I don't sleep with my clients. I spank, I collar, I train, I whip, I cane, I occasionally treat them like children, but I don't screw my patients. I don't need it and neither do they. They come to me for a different form of relief. Greg and Horatio have both seen me at work. Greg and I met when I was in Las Vegas training under Lady Heather at the Dominion." They gave their son horrified looks. "There was a case," Xander said sarcastically, glaring at them. They both leaned away from him. "Greg's shift handles any cases that happen out of the Dominion because the lab supervisor knows Lady Heather socially. They met at a party or something. We met through the Dominion and we were friends for a year and a half before the relationship stuff started to come up. I had a long, hard problem with this trio at first. Then I realized I'd be incomplete without them both. They both fill holes in me that I need to be happy. Greg makes us both play now and then. Horatio keeps me grounded and sane when things happen. We understand different parts of each other but we do understand and love each other, but most importantly we like each other. We're still friends. Horatio and Greg can still tease each other over which lab is better. They can both tease me."
"I often do when you get too serious," Greg agreed happily, sipping his lemonade. It was a warm, fuzzy feeling having Xander take on his parents for him. Horatio gave him a look and he smiled. "Abby and Mahsa are both in bed. Gibbs said you had to look at the stuff he left."
"I had plans on doing that this afternoon," he assured him. "That way you and your parents could talk in the living room if they wanted. Are we putting you two up, Mr. and Mrs. Sanders?"
"No, we have a hotel. Better to enjoy being tourists," Greg's father offered. "So, are you a lab tech like Greg is?"
"No. I'm the Lieutenant over the local crime lab. I'm also head of the dayshift felony lab. I do get into the field, just not as much as I used to."
"Isn't that dangerous?" his mother demanded. "You could be shot."
"This is Miami, I could be shot walking across the street," he pointed out. "The same as Xander could have back in Sunnydale. The same as death comes to us all, but it's best to enjoy it before it comes for you. Otherwise you're left haunting others out of missed opportunities and love. It was a hard transition for all of us. None of us wanted a trio at first. Then we discovered that being with Xander was going to mean being with the other and we became closer friends. We discovered a mutual admiration and desire for each other. Greg never has to worry about any needs being met. We're there for him no matter what. Even when he gets hurt." Greg gave him a pleading look. "It wasn't your fault they mistook your address for your neighbor, Greg."
"You were injured?" his mother demanded.
"Someone mistook my apartment for my neighbor's and came to shoot her because she was buying her pot from a different source. I'm fine. It wasn't that serious of a wound. Was it, Horatio?"
"No, not at all," he lied. "Xander flew out that day to be with him and brought him back since I couldn't leave at that moment. He's spent most of his vacation time down here with us."
"All but the day I had to do my physical. I swear Grissom keeps finding me the nastiest things to do on purpose."
"Death is supposed to be messy," Xander pointed out. Greg and Horatio both looked at him. "It's the end of a life, one that's lasted for however long and been through however much. The body's got to shut down and the mess comes from that and other things, right? Plus, if they're homicide victims without a mess it doesn't seem like the killers thought it meant as much. The ones who created the most mess it meant more to. I'm not explaining that well," he sighed at Horatio's look.
"That's actually fairly insightful," Horatio admitted. "You've got the instincts to be a very good profiler, Xander. Most stranglers don't respect their kills as much as the ones who use more messy methods. Most of the stranglers do it out of anger or a warped sense of the artistic that I've seen." He sipped his drink. "It's also easier to catch serial stranglers. They usually don't plan their rituals out as far as the other sort do." He smiled at him. "Every now and then you prove that Speed was right about you going to be a profiler."
"Yes, but I still suck at school, Horatio. I always have." He leaned on the table. "Lady Heather had someone ask her about a moral dilemma and she posed it to me after she answered them. It was a lot like mine and she wanted to know if I thought differently about my former actions."
"Which actions?" Greg asked.
Xander looked at him. "While I was still in New York I had that assassin that came to me for purification before he retired."
"I remember that one. Hodges ended up being a target and he was not a happy person in the least. Even though we pointed out it meant he was a really great lab tech and people knew he was vital to cases. What did you answer?"
"The situation was a bit different. The person, a female, admitted to killing six victims and she was trying not to go for her seventh. She'd been doing this through various doms. The others had tried to stop her but the confession vow most of us work under precludes telling anyone. She said to tell the victims, which is what I did when I ran into that situation, and then to stop her. Even if they had to take her down on the street and put her back into subspace to stop her."
"Whereas you gave pointed, semi-clear hints to keep your vow," Horatio agreed. "Plus you stopped the one where you could directly interfere. That's still a gray area legally but morally that situation has to bother you."
"That's why I called Lady Heather and then Daddy."
"I'm quite thankful you did, Xander," Horatio said gently. "He was in the station when Speed got back after you talked to him." Xander nodded that he had heard that.
"We're required by law," Greg's mother told them all. "If we hear a death threat we are required to turn them in, patient or not."
Xander looked at her. "I hear confession, Mrs. Sanders. What I do is like what a priest does. I work under a fairly strict confession vow. If anything comes out in any session I'm not allowed to talk about it except with the person who said it. Without a subpoena, I can only hint. My whole field is built on trust. So no, my answer would be the same."
"What if it were a terrorist or something?" Greg's father asked.
Xander snorted. "Then I'd either take care of him or hint to the proper people. I can give very pointed, vaguely conclusive hints. I'm allowed to stop the person from doing it. And if whoever I give the pointed hints to comes with a pretty piece of judicial paper I can give them the tapes we make of all sessions. In the case I had, I stopped the one that was going to happen near me by giving the victim enough hints to protect themselves during his window of opportunity and then I gave pointed hints to others who could put the hints together and save the others. As for the situation you mentioned, back in Sunnydale I was on the protection detail. I'm pretty sure I can take down a terrorist if they're coming to me for confession before doing something. And hey, there's Masters in the CIA and other agencies that I can hint at without breaking anything and they'll be smart enough to know what I'm not saying and what the procedure is." He stared at him. "I know you guys are in our big sister city of San Francisco."
"Not like they deal with that stuff," Greg said quietly.
"Not everyone would," Xander agreed. He shrugged a bit. "Stating facts in the hypothetical raised." He gave Greg a squeeze, looking out when the door opened. "He's out here, Calleigh."
"That's fine." She came out, giving Xander a hug first. "Both of your restraining orders went through this morning." She handed over the paperwork. "You need to keep that with you." She kissed him on the head, then gave Greg one. "Yours from Las Vegas was faxed down. It had to be renewed next week anyway so Grissom sent us a copy of it." She walked over to Horatio and put down three papers in front of him. "Sign, date, and then you can have your copy." Horatio looked then signed and took his copy. "Thanks. The judge made an exception, he'll accept the signature post filing this time. He thinks we've got you hidden, but he never asked so we didn't have to tell him you're on paternity leave. Also." She pulled out something else. "These are the security plans you asked about earlier. The Chief said he'd add another two cruisers to the security patrol but that was all he could spare that close to rush hour."
He looked it over and nodded. "I know who planned this. Hopefully it won't be a problem," he offered, smiling at her. "Thank you, Calleigh. These are Greg's parents."
"Hi. Calleigh Duquesne. I'm one of Horatio's CSI and I'm dating Xander's adoptive father." She shook their hands. "Xander, Speed wanted to know if you'd like him to go with you tomorrow. He said he'd take an hour if you wanted."
"I wouldn't mind him being there. It's my first speech," he said quietly, giving her a look. "But Dad would never dress up."
"No, but the Chief did say that him taking an hour off means he can bring one of the official hummers and be backup in case something does happen." That got a brighter smile. "He did say that they didn't think it'd be a big problem area. Maybe a few protesters but nothing else. So don't get nervous, let Horatio pick out what you're wearing, and memorize it so you're not reading it. Okay?" He nodded, giving her another hug. "Good son." She patted Greg on the head. "I saw Aiden out so she's probably on her way here. Where's Mahsa?"
"Napping," he said with a smile. "She fell asleep on Abby."
"Aww." She went to check on the baby then snuck back out. She's have to tell Speed Greg's parents didn't look like happy people.
"Greg, you and I were both worked into the security plan." That got a nod. "Have you done your weapon qualifications?"
"Yup. The Sheriff still hasn't signed off on it but I have."
"That's fine. It shouldn't be a problem." He shifted closer so they could see it. "That's the stage area, that's us, there's the line of guards," he said quietly. "Speed'll be there, probably off to this side knowing him," he said with a point. "If something happens, I want you to get you and Xander to Speed or the hummer, whichever first. Understand?" Greg and Xander both nodded. "Xander, no helping."
"Good." He gave them both kisses. "I'm hoping I'm being overly uptight but we'll make sure you're both safe during the dedication." They nodded. "Good." He smiled at them, then at Aiden when she walked out. "Calleigh said she had seen you."
"She did. She tooted at me too. What's going on?"
"The dedication is tomorrow afternoon," Xander reminded her.
"That's fine. I'll be there, baby." She kissed him on the cheek then gave Greg a hug. "Where's our other kid?"
"In bed. She and Abby had a nap together," he said with a sweet grin.
"Eeh. Abby deserves a nap. Working in a fed lab has got to be trying her patience now and then." She fluffed Xander's hair with a smile. "I went over the storehouse, Xander. You're going to cry."
"That bad?" Horatio asked.
"Yeah, gaudy is thy name this time. You saw the entry for that two carat diamond ring?" He nodded slowly. "It's QVC huge, Horatio. They split it up and put little diamonds all over it." She showed him a picture. He shuddered. "Also, the saddle that got sent? Even Lady Heather shuddered. I sent her a picture since Xander suggested it. She said she didn't know anyone with that bad of taste."
"So can we give it to Nick?" Xander asked. Greg gave him an odd look. "He likes Western stuff." The funny look stayed. "Him or Lindsay, Greg. Pick."
"Nick would complain," he pointed out.
"That's okay, there's three of 'em," Aiden assured him. "Plus a few bridles, people. They can each have one." She smirked at her very evil thinking son. She loved it when Xander went into evil thoughts. Horatio coughed. "What?"
"Let's not traumatize Mac as well," he ordered. "We like Mac and Stella."
"So do I. So we'll send it to Danny," she said with a mean smirk of her own. "I sent the two girlier ones to Danny, baby. One had pink stone flowers on it. It was Barbie done big."
"Eww," Xander said, shuddering. "The poor horse."
"Yup. Greg, should I send the other one to Nick or would you like to deliver it?"
Greg looked at her. "He'll thump me."
"Send it to Warrick," Xander said with a smile. "Tell him what happened and that maybe he knows someone who might like it."
"Then Nick would thump him," Greg pointed out. "Never mind, better him than me. Or hey, send it to Hodges," he said with an evil smirk.
"Send one to each?" Xander suggested, grinning wickedly at his mate. "One will give it to him in private."
Greg cackled, giving his boy a bone-shifting hug. "I love your evil mind, Xander."
"As long as I don't get a call from Gil, boys," Horatio said, giving them tolerant and fond looks.
"He probably won't but he did want to know if you had more bugs for him."
"Actually, we do. They're in custody at the moment. I was planning on sending them out to him when they got released. The DA agreed that was more humane than them staying in someone's office down here."
"You work with an entomologist, Greg?" his mother asked.
"Yup, Grissom. He's well known for it. Oh, this is Aiden, Xander's adoptive mother. Mom, these are my parents."
Aiden gave him a look. "I'm not old enough to be your mom, Greg. Don't make me feel that old." He grinned. She rolled her eyes and shook their hands. "Hi. Horatio, isn't that ghost boy?" she asked with a nod toward the end of the house.
"It is," he agreed after looking. "Excuse me for a minute. That's my brother." He walked that way. "Ray, is something going on?"
"My son's skipping school," he admitted. "I can't find him."
"Xander, where is Ray Junior skipping today?" he called.
"He's doing something to make some holiday money," Xander called back. "He said it's legit, will give him a good stash for present shopping, and will net him many girlfriends. He said not to tell his mother."
"Too late," Ray Senior called back. "She called me."
"What is he doing?" Greg asked.
Xander looked at him. "A bit of modeling." Greg's mouth fell open. "It'll be fine and I'll expect him to come running to hide later tonight."
"Yup, I'm sure he will. His mom's going to freak."
"Sweetie, being young is the only time in your life you can get away with doing the stupid stuff," Aiden pointed out. "Plus he'll probably net more girlfriends, hopefully of a better class than the last ho."
"Not that it'd be so hard to do," Horatio agreed. "He's doing what?" Xander sighed and got up, going to get the paper to show him the ad. He found Horatio behind him when he turned to bring it back. He looked at it then at Xander. "My nephew?"
"Your nephew. He got a callback. They liked his innocent good boy looks." Horatio moaned, shaking his head with a sigh. "He's sixteen, Horatio. He's at the age where he should be doing stuff like that. If I had any confidence in my body and a lot fewer scars I would've done the same thing. I might still be stripping if it weren't for the scars."
"I would prefer he'd use his mind instead of his body."
"He said I can't pay him to help Aiden. I offered."
"Fine, I'll talk to him. What were you offering him to work with Aiden?" Xander leaned over to whisper, making him smile. "Most boys would jump at the car lease," he agreed, giving him a gentle kiss. "At least he tells you when he gets into things."
"Yeah, he mentioned he had went to the preliminary a few weeks back when he came to ask me bondage questions. He was curious before you ask."
"That's fine. Better asking than trying it out and getting hurt or stuck in one and having to tell his mother," he admitted. He walked him back out, letting Greg get on top this time. "Ray, he's doing a bit of beachwear modeling," he called. "It'll be fine. He talked to Xander about it."
Ray walked over. "We do realize he's *my* son, right?" he asked firmly, glaring at Xander.
"Ray, if your sixteen-year-old son wants to model a thong on the beach to get pretty women it's not like he's going to get a stalker. Or would you rather have him picking up worse women? He said he thought this would be fun and an easy way to legitimately make money for the holidays. I offered him a part-time job helping Mom and he turned it down. He said he didn't want to do office stuff, he wanted to go out and have fun while he made money. At least you know he's not using drugs or drinking like some of the kids do."
"That's low," he growled.
Xander leaned closer, then popped him one on the top of the head. "Then get your head out of your ass, Ray. He came to us because Horatio's been his stepdaddy for years now. He would have told him but he hasn't been able to yet. Your son's not some wild little brat out partying every night. Feel really lucky at that. Especially since his thug friends keep in touch from jail. Especially with the lifestyle his girlfriend had been pulling him toward. When your son first got drunk, I heard about it before anyone. He came to me to talk about how confused it made him and how much hangovers hurt. Then he went to Horatio to talk to him when I confessed I don't drink because I had alcoholic parents. He *trusts* us. So yeah, he's down to showing off his dick piercing on the beach in a thong. Yay. They liked that he looked so clean cut and cute. It's a lot less than what he could be doing, even with the skipping today, which is a boring day of subs according to him. Three of his teachers aren't there. He also stopped by another school this morning to talk to them because his mother suggested that one instead of the one he likes or the one I suggested. He's very serious about his future but he's sixteen and he's thinking about his next girlfriend, getting cred that the kids will admire him for, and making a little bit of spending money to go with his pitiful allowance - his words."
"Piercing?" Ray asked.
"Piercing?" Horatio echoed a second later.
"He's thinking about it," Greg admitted. "He asked me about a month ago how much they hurt and things." Xander looked at him. "Or did he go?"
"He called from the parlor a few days back. Two of his buddies talked him into it and stayed to hold his hands. We had ice cream the next day since he was so sore he wasn't moving right. But it got him out of gym for a day."
"Does his mother not keep an eye on him?" Greg's father asked.
"She does but going out with your friends for even an hour can lead you into trouble at that age," Horatio admitted, sounding a bit tired. "What did he get, Xander?"
"Nipple and a PA. Small gold hoop and a u-bar. I promised I'd get him a new set for the holidays so he could change them out."
"His mother will be yanking them out with a rusty pair of pliers," Ray said bitterly, heading off to find his son.
"You know, I'm going to excuse a kid getting two new holes when he's got a 3.9 GPA, he's been accepted to two pretty exclusive day schools locally, and his SAT score was in the 1500's," Aiden admitted. "It's not like Ray's a troubled kid. He's got frat boy behavior a bit early but that means he'll settle down in college faster." She looked at Horatio. "You gonna tell her?"
"I should warn him," he admitted. "It's always better if he tells her himself."
"He's going to tell her tonight and bring home the shots they didn't like," Xander told him. "Yelina's still stuck on the thought she used to change his diapers. He's trying to get her to see he's sixteen, not six."
Horatio nodded. "I suppose all parents have those moments."
"She told him he was too young to date," Greg offered. "He's not a bad kid by any means."
"No, he's not, he simply has bad taste in who he dates," Horatio admitted, pulling out his cellphone to call his nephew. "Ray, your mother sent your father looking for you," he said quietly. "I heard. Xander told me. Perhaps you should," he agreed. "Your father can usually track fairly well. That's fine, Ray. I wouldn't mind seeing the more tasteful ones." He smiled. "Xander told me that and I would suggest you think harder about helping Aiden, nephew. Because then she could only complain about the car. Exactly." He smiled. "That would be fine. We'll be here. Greg's parents are in so we're staying close to home today and tomorrow until the dedication. Then you can come with us since it's a holiday." He smiled. "Even better. We'll talk about that tonight. Oh, Xander told him about the two new pieces of hardware you're wearing. I would be wearing some very good clothes when you get home, Ray. We'll be here if you need to hide, yes," he promised. He smiled. "That's fine. We're here. Have a good shoot." He hung up. "He sounds very happy modeling."
"It's pretty neutral attention and girls will drool," Greg pointed out. "That's why I stripped for a semester in college." Then he moaned and shook his head. "Sorry, parents. Paid for the tuition though." Xander kissed him. "Thanks, baby."
"Too much mush," Aiden complained, heading inside since she could hear Mahsa babbling. "Are you up?" she teased, picking her up and bringing her to check on her auntie. She was still napping so Aiden brought her downstairs to play with the daddies. "Here, have some boy lovies."
"There's my girl," Xander cooed, taking her to cuddle on Greg's lap. "Such a precious and good girl. Yes you are." Mahsa beamed at him and waved at Horatio.
"Hi, Mahsa," he said, waving back. "Want to see me or roam around?" She barked, making Aiden giggle. "Okay. Aiden, get the gate and the screen door please?" She did that and Greg stood her up, letting her sit down on her own. She crawled around, investigating these new people, Aiden's ankle chain, then Horatio's shoes. She smiled up at him. "Want to be held?" he asked. She spit and giggled, going back to playing with the gate. She liked the grass better.
"Have we heard anything on why that deer was rabid?" Aiden asked.
"It had bite marks from a canine," Horatio told her. "They think it transferred from that." She nodded. "They've had two brought in recently as well."
"That's fine, as long as they don't come here too."
"No, they did a door-to-door notification," Horatio assured her. "It must've been a stray." That got a nod and Aiden took her down to play in the dirt. Mahsa squealed and patted the grass, then took off crawling for the pool.
"She's definitely your daughter, she wants to swim," Greg teased.
"I'll teach her when she's older," he agreed happily. Someone pounded on the door. "Around back!" he yelled. The pounding stopped and an officer walked around the side of the house. "Yes, Officer?"
"Sir, we had a report of shots fired?" he said. "No follow-up was done?"
"If it was Sunday we had a rabid animal on the property," Horatio admitted. "I put it down. Hodgekiss came out if I remember the nametag correctly."
"No, this was earlier today, Lieutenant. Around eight this morning."
Xander pointed behind him. "Go three houses that way. The one they're doing all the renovations on. It echos. I did a house patrol when I heard it." That got a nod and he wrote that down. "Watch out for strays too."
"I always do, sir. The rabid animal?"
"DNR took the deer, they found canine bites," Horatio offered. "Um, watch out," he said, nodding at Thumper.
"He an attack dog?" he asked with a small for the little lap dog.
"No, he's fixed but he still humps everything but the daughter," Greg told him. The officer laughed but Thumper snuck closer. "Thumper!" he complained. The dog whined. "Go use the bush, Thumper. It's mean to attack officers." Xander let him up so he picked up the dog and carried him over to the rose bush, letting him have it. "Sorry. It's his favorite toy."
"That's probably not going to work for aversion therapy," his father noted.
"Thumper likes cactuses, it's pleasure, not aversion therapy," Xander assured him. "Better the rose bush instead of one of our ears."
"I heard about that dog," the officer admitted. "You sure it was there, sir?"
"I am. The next two over are empty and one's destroyed. I know it wasn't here." That got a nod and the officer went to check it out. "That was nice of them."
"I'm hoping I don't hear more sirens," Horatio offered, finishing his lemonade and pouring a half glass more. "Mahsa, would you like something to drink?" he called. She crawled back, looking as determined as her favorite aunt ever had. She made it to him and pulled herself up on his leg, giving him a pouty look. "What do you say?"
"Mama!" she creeled, opening her mouth.
"Close enough," he said with a smile, letting her sip from his cup. She beamed and sat down, then crawled back down to the grass again.
"She's very active," Greg's mother said. "Are you going to have her tested?"
"No. Kids are supposed to be hyper, bouncy, noisy, and messy. That's what good kids with good upbringings have. It means they're enjoying their play time." He watched his daughter crawl in circles around Aiden, making her turn to face her. "She's doing it so you fall down and play with her, Mom," he called.
"Thanks, baby." She sat down and Mahsa crawled into her lap, giving her a wet kiss before trying to get over her. "Oh, I see, I'm a bridge. Do I look like a bridge?" she teased, letting the baby go over her shoulder while she leaned back. That way she wouldn't fall. "We need baby play equipment."
"Coming in a few days," Xander agreed. "We'll go shopping this weekend. I promised to take Ray Junior holiday shopping."
"Are you Jewish?" Greg's mother asked.
"Pagan. Nominally Wiccan." He looked at her. "We still celebrate Christmas. Horatio's Catholic so he does Midnight Mass that night. Greg had to work last time, he couldn't get time off."
"I had a turkey burger and a dead prostitute," Greg admitted. "It wasn't quite the usual celebration but we went out to breakfast the next morning and had a merry time."
His mother stared at him. "Are you still in the lab?" she asked bluntly. He shook his head. "Why not?"
"Because I wanted to be in the field, Mom. I met Xander my sixth week in the field actually." He smiled at Horatio. "Then I met that one a few months later. Our labs have collaborated on quite a few things in the past. Oooh, Grissom said it's not fair I get all the crossover cases down here. Next time I've got to bring Warrick with me."
"He'll be welcome. He's a very good tech," Horatio assured him. "Who complained?"
"Sara. So next time I'll be on for secondary things. Did Don get his guy?"
"Sunday night," Xander admitted. "Tara was happy to have him back so quickly. She missed her Don cuddles." Mahsa patted his leg while pulling herself up. "Hi, Mahsa." He kissed her on the head. "What's up? Did you want us to play with you?" She grinned so they went to play in the grass with her, letting her crawl all over them.
Horatio smiled at his family then at Greg's family. "We are very happy together," he said quietly.
"I still don't like it. It's not normative behavior," she said grimly.
"Yes, but Greg was never an average child, was he?" he countered. "He's always been an exceptional boy and then a wonderful young man with a few quirky habits. We do love him and that's what's most important. I do hope you can come to appreciate that much at least."
Greg's father sighed. "He's not a little boy and we can't protect him," he admitted. He looked at Horatio. "That doesn't mean I like the age gap you three have. Xander's a bit young for you, don't you think?"
"He came to me," Horatio admitted. He had, that dream had shown him Xander was going to come to him. He finished his lemonade and smiled at Speed when he came out. "This is Timothy Speedle, Xander's adoptive father."
"Yup. Call me Speed," he offered, shaking their hands. "Hey, kid, got something for you from Stella." Xander squealed and got up, coming to get a hug. "It's something less tacky than the crown, but from the same source." He handed over the smaller box with a grin. "She's now a part of the suicide ring. They're doing it now without the body parts. Mac called to complain."
Xander frowned. "I hate them." He looked inside the box, then blinked. He looked at Speed. "She had jeweled eyes made of my eyes?"
"Yup, sure did. She got the color nearly perfect. Must've looked nearly forever for that color brown." He gave him a kiss on the head. "Mac said to bury them. The auction house won't take them."
Horatio took the box, then snapped it shut. "We'll do that later. Did Gibbs come talk to Calleigh?"
"He did and she squealed for a good few minutes. She's doing another round of destruction tests this weekend for her database project." That got a nod and a smile. "She wanted to look through more of Junior's collection."
"Nope," Xander said, grinning at him. "Can we go for a ride this weekend?"
"Sure, I've got it off." He gave him a kiss on the forehead. "Be a good boy. Come get the lunch stuff Aiden forgot from the hummer." Xander nodded, walking him out to do that. Once they were out front he gave him a hug. "Your speech blew me away, Xander," he whispered. Xander sniffled. "I wasn't going to make us mushy in front of his parents," he offered with a grin.
"They hate me."
"Then they're not that important or that smart. Greg will make them come around." Xander nodded, giving him a squeeze. "Good boy. Let Horatio pick out what you're wearing. Now, get the food." He swatted him on the ass. "What's Ray Junior doing?"
"Doing a bit of modeling with the beach crew."
"Ah. No wonder his mother was throwing a fit. Warn him she knows about his piercings."
"We did." He grinned and took the bags and the tray. "Thanks, Daddy."
"Welcome, kiddo. Be good, see you tonight for the family dinner. Where should I pick up stuff from?"
"Oops. We'll figure that out in a bit." He headed inside, going to put food in the kitchen. Horatio came in and gently kicked him back onto the porch. "Sorry, can't handle the food. They think I'll turn it bad somehow. Honey, did you think to figure out where I'm getting dinner tonight from?"
Horatio moaned. "I'll call the grocery store, see what they can whip up in that amount of time."
"Call the ham place. We haven't had ham in a while." He looked at Greg's parents. "You don't have an aversion to ham, right?" They shook their heads. "Ham's good, dear."
"Then we'll do that," he agreed. He came out with plates for everyone. "It'll be nice not to cook."
"I'll cook the stuff I can," he offered.
"No," Greg said. "Even though I know you can't ruin the boxed stuff, no. Sorry, not taking that chance with my parents. They might think you don't like them." He came in to wash his hands and get the other plates, bringing them out while Xander got the highchair. "There, all set but for more drinks." He went to make more lemonade, this time from a mix. He came back out with the pitcher. "Mix this time, sorry." He set it on the table, letting those who said grace do that then they dug in. "New place, Aiden?"
"It's near the house. It's Southern comfort food and Cajun stuff. I've been craving spices since I worked in New Orleans for a few months." She ate a bite. "I did not want to deal with their level of strange stuff. I had enough of that in Sunnydale."
"Amen," Xander said dryly. "So, what did Willow's parents say to her this time?"
"Her mother got onto her about how all the trauma you saw and lived through means that you shouldn't be a parent. She's working hard to break her and Ryan up too. Said she's over her acting out phases so she should come home." She ate another bite. "They're coming down in another few days, Horatio."
"They're going to be in for quite a rude shock," he assured her. "Xander, are you sure I can't arrest her?"
"No, no one out there would ever go through with it since they liked to ignore it." He shrugged and ate a bite. "You can shove it back in her face, I have."
"Oh, I definitely want to meet her parents," Greg said happily. "Mom, you've probably heard of Rosenburg?" She smiled and nodded. "Did you know she was an absentee parent? She and her husband left her daughter alone quite often to run the town with Xander and their other friend. She spent so much time alone she was bandaging injuries because she played nurse from the textbooks. They had an active conference schedule," he finished dryly. She dropped her fork and wiped her mouth off.
Xander nodded. "She'd take off for weeks at a time. Willow would have to look on her website to find out where she was now and then. Willow's also shot back to some of the teachers who like her mother's books about how false some of it was. She's so mature because she got to help raise herself." He sipped his lemonade. "Willow's not a happy cranky pregnant woman by any means." He stiffened. "Horatio, Mom, Uncle Rory?"
"Willow mentioned him but I don't know, baby," Aiden admitted.
"I'll put in a call to where he was in jail, see if he's out," Horatio offered. "We can't keep her here if she wants to go, Xander."
"If she does, Ryan's going to beat her ass for taking off with his son."
"Point," he agreed. "We'll be on alert for that."
"I told Speed, he's supposed to warn Ryan today," Aiden said. She twirled her fork around to make her next point. "Even if they do come down, Willow's over the age of consent. They can't do much to her."
"But guilt trip her," Greg reminded her. "She's susceptible to that. Especially while pregnant. Does she want to go with them?"
"Right now she's really torn. I suggested she call Tara but she didn't want to upset her."
"Right," Xander said dryly. He took Horatio's held out phone, calling her. "Tara, me, I'll make it very quick. Willow's parents are getting ready to come down for a visit. Guilt tripping. Decided I shouldn't have my daughter. Yup. Could. She's been talking with Aiden but didn't want to bug you. Thanks, dear. Love you, be safe." He hung up and handed it back. "She'll call after she gets out of class." He heard movement and looked at the dogs. "Go get Abby up, tell her there's food." They took off running, they liked Abby, she played with them. She came down the stairs. "Aiden ordered from somewhere like home."
"Cool." She dug out some for herself and brought it out, letting Greg give him her chair and sit on the bench instead. "Thanks, dear." She kissed Aiden on the cheek. "I love you."
She grinned. "If I went for girls, I'd offer, dear, but I think you like gruff and grumbly, or cute and tight better."
"They'd never date me," she complained.
Xander looked at her, then he grinned. "We'll see, won't we?"
"No! No evil setting up plans," Abby warned. "Gibbs will get mad at me."
"He was growling because I stroked your stomach and cuddled you before."
"Doesn't mean he'll act," she pouted.
"Then we'll have to make him see the truth, baby. He's all yours, but you haven't pounced yet," Aiden assured her happily. "What about the other one?"
"He's never been that way. He likes many women."
"Yet he'll stare at the butt of doom now and then in confusion," Xander admitted. She nodded, eating a bite. He handed over the salt at her glance that way. "We'll put our less than evil thoughts to it, I've already had one evil thought today. Fortunately Mom thinks like me."
Aiden beamed. "You get it from both of us, son. Don't worry about it. Speed suggested we send both to Hodges. Or worse, Catherine."
Greg moaned, shaking his head. "She won't play along," he complained.
"Which is why we're sending it out tonight," she promised with a smirk for Abby, getting one back. "I think I'll adopt you too. You can be an honorary daughter, Abby."
"Cool! But you have to learn sign language. My mom's deaf."
"Okay, I can do that." She kissed her on the cheek. "Eat, my grandson in there needs more food." Mahsa made a pouty noise. "So do you? Okay, we can do that." She let her have some more noodles, earning a smile. "Good girl, you eat, don't throw anything else at Daddy Horatio's hair. Otherwise he won't let you play with it later." She ate that noddle instead of flinging it around. "Much better."
"She does love hair," Horatio said dryly, plucking a piece of vegetable out of it.
"I'll help you wash it later," Xander offered with a small leer. After all, they were in polite company. He couldn't fully leer until it was only family.
Danny carried the large box into the break room the next morning, putting it in front of Lindsey. "I don't know why I got sent this for you, but enjoy. They think you can use those. Just not on me or Sheldon. Or Mac." He walked off, going to watch from afar. He pulled Stella closer when he saw her going into the breakroom, shaking his head. "Present from Xander and Aiden," he hissed.
Lindsey frowned at the box, looking at the senders's name. "Xander?" She got up to open it, finding the tape broken. She opened the top, then stared. "Why did they send me saddles?" She pulled the wrapped bundle out, opening the paper over it, then she stared. "No. No way someone did that to a saddle!" she yelled. "Danny!" She stomped off, finding him outside. "No way someone did that to a saddle!"
"Someone thought Xander needed to ride more than his boys and he's never seen a horse except on tv." She stomped back in there, making him snicker. They both went to look closer. "Aiden thought you could use them somewhere."
"Not even show riders would use something like *this*!" she complained, pointing at the ruby studded saddle. "It's ...wrong! Very, very wrong! Mac!" she called, seeing him walking up the hall reading a file. He walked in, looking confused. "Xander sent these to me."
"There's more in there," Stella offered. "Are those real stones?" She went to look. "Mac, give me your pocket magnifying glass." He handed it over with a sigh. "Those are real stones. I'll be damned." She dug into the box, coming out with the pink stone studded saddle and Lindsey shuddered, backing away from it slowly. "It looks like something Barbie would ride. Xander's not exactly Barbie material."
"He might complain if you cut him to make him Ken," Danny teased. "I opened it to make sure it wasn't something dangerous. There's matching bridles and one blanket for the ruby one too." He grinned at her. "They thought you might know someone who'd want it."
"I don't know anyone with that bad of taste!" she complained. Sheldon leaned in. "Someone sent Xander saddles, Sheldon. With *stones* and stuff! They're tacky! Not even show riders would use these in a rodeo."
He came in to look at them, then at her. "Maybe a museum?"
"Is there a museum to tacky crap?" she asked.
"Depends on who you ask," Stella pointed out with a smile. "Could have been worse, they could've sent him horses too."
"Don't wish that on the poor animals," she complained, frowning at her.
"Lindsey, maybe you should take those home, just for safety's sake," Mac said. "That way no one can steal them."
"Mac, even if I put them out in the middle of the biggest purse snatching district no one would take them," she complained. Danny snickered and nodded. "See, he agrees with me."
"Can't say as I know many street thugs who'd know what to do with stuff for a horse. You'll figure it out, Lindsey, and don't forget to tell the IRS. You shouldn't have to pay anything on 'em but you never know." He walked off smiling. She was still fuming. Her face was nearly purple in outrage. He heard Stella snicker behind him and grinned at her. "Aiden sent it."
"I saw. She sent a letter?" Danny handed it over with a smirk. "That's so evil," she muttered, taking it to read in her lab.
He burst out laughing and went to work on his own case while Mac got her calmed down and home with the stuff. Maybe someone would mention Pony Play to her. He looked out at the shriek, finding Don watching her in amusement. "Asked if she had a human pony?" he teased.
"Yup. Wouldn't use those on a horse and they're pretty narrow saddles," he said with a smirk. "I rode in camp for a few summers. So, got anything for me?"
"Sure do. Give me ten to give you something else too."
"Sure, always happy for presents. Even if they do come from the terrible duo down in Miami. Maybe we should print out a FAQ on Pony Play and leave it on her desk?"
"Probably already been done by one of the uniforms," he offered with a wicked grin. Don chuckled. They could still hear her ranting from outside. Someone had a window open watching her rant about tacky saddles.
Hodges walked up to Nick in the fairly filled break room. "I don't know why they sent it to me when you're the one who likes all that western crap," he said, giving him a look. "Here, Merry Christmas. Greg said to be thankful it wasn't the Barbie stuff." He walked off again.
Nick whimpered, looking at the bridle inside the small box. "I don't have a horse," he complained loudly.
Bobby looked then at him. "I don't think that'd fit anything bigger'n a pony," he said in his gentle southern accent, accompanying it with a small smile. "What else did you get sent?"
"Xander and Aiden sent Warrick a saddle with diamonds and sapphires," he pouted. "He gave it to me earlier. Then this. It matches."
Warrick came in. "What's wrong? Can't find a horse for your new saddle?" he teased.
"No, they sent Hodges the bridle," Bobby offered with a grin. Warrick snickered. "You do realize it's pony sized?" Warrick quit laughing and looked at him, a horrified, eyes wide look. "If they sent it to *Xander* originally...." He let it trail off, watching as they both got the point.
"Oh, no! I don't need kinky stuff like that," Nick said loudly. "I'm not like that! I'm not into that stuff! Maybe Greg or someone is, but not me, man. I'm straight, I don't like kinky stuff! Catherine!" he called. She came in, giving him a look. "Xander and Aiden sent me the saddle and bridle someone sent him."
"So? You like western stuff and horses, right?" Bobby pulled out the bridle, holding it up. "I didn't know horses' heads were that small."
"They're not," Warrick told her.
She blushed. "Take it to Lady Heather, Nick. Give it to her as a gift or something." She patted him on the arm.
"Hodges said something about Barbie stuff," Bobby offered. He texted Greg, getting back what the others were. "Oh, they got sent to Lindsey in New York. She's from Montana, a ranch girl. One had pink stones arranged like flowers. Another with rubies." He looked at Nick. "So you got the manly set."
He walked off pouting. "Grissom, they're picking on me," he complained.
"Who is?" he asked patiently. He held up the bridle. "That's... interesting. Who gave it to you? I didn't know you were into that sort of thing, Nick."
"I'm not. Someone sent it to Xander and he sent it to me through Warrick and Hodges."
"Ah. Well, it'll die down soon enough. Give it to Lady Heather. Maybe she knows someone who would like it." Nick gave him a look. "I'll go with you."
"Unless you want to hang them at the house or give them to your parents," he offered.
"I can't see my mother explaining this story to her friends." He whimpered, walking off shaking his head, taking it to his truck. He stopped to grab the saddle then headed to the Dominion, handing it to Lady Heather's assistant. "Xander sent it to me through Warrick and Hodges. I don't play that way. Let her put it on show or something." He walked off still mumbling and shaking his head. His poor sanity. He'd have to thump Greg when he got back.
Gloria looked at it then carried it into the office. "Lady Heather, Nick Stokes just dropped this off. Apparently it got sent to him by Master Tim. They might've thought he'd appreciate it but he said he doesn't play that way so he wanted you to have it." She handed it over. "It's very fine leather."
"It is, and more tasteful than the others she sent me pictures of. Aiden's over his presents," she said at the confused looks. That got a nod. "Hang it in the pony corral," she ordered, handing it back. "I'm sure they'll adore breaking it in." Her assistant nodded and walked it down to that area, leaving it in the tack room. She sipped her tea. "That poor boy's mental state," she sighed, meaning Xander. Nick would heal. Xander had to be going insane. Her poor student.
Xander looked across the small crowd. "Um, sorry if this comes out unintelligible, I'm not the best public speaker," he mumbled. He opened his notes and took a deep breath. He glanced down, seeing Greg right in front of him. "My grandfather, Patrick Benis, was a member of the gay community and the larger one down here. He lived and loved here. He saved a lot of lost souls here. Most importantly, he found his heart here, with his male lover, my Grandsire Raphael." He cleared his throat and glanced down again then back at the crowd. "Over the years, my grandfather stood up for many things and helped many people. He took in a lot of runaways to help them get straight. He pulled a lot of young gay men off the street to make sure they had a good life and someone they could talk to.
"He mentored a great many gay men over the years. Professionals, athletes, actors, a politician or two, and some agents. He would have been very embarrassed to have this center named after him, he was kinda shy," he admitted with a small grin. "He hated to be noticed for all the good work he did. The same as my grandfather was a fierce protector of those who needed it. His work with male abuse victims, straight and gay, is more well-known than his work as a mentor of gay men. Right now I'm sure he's frowning at me for being mushy," he admitted with a sad smile, "but I didn't have the luxury of being raised with his love around me.
"It took a while for it to get to me, and get through my thick head, and then to accept that I couldn't do hardly anything wrong in his eyes. I hope that with this center others find that same sort of non-judgmental love and acceptance because that's the way he would have wanted it. He and my Grandsire would've both been here if they hadn't died earlier this year. My Grandfather of cancer and my Grandsire followed him once he realized how alone he was. My Grandfather inspired great loyalty in everyone he worked with, saved, and helped. So this is not only for him, but for those he saved and those he didn't get a chance to save. For all the people who felt so lost without him that they followed and those who'll hopefully follow in my Grandfather's footsteps of finding a comfortable spot in their lives and then helping others reach theirs. I can only hope he's pleased with the work that'll be done here but I know he'd simply smile and tell me I was being silly, to go pet the guarddog for a while or have a snack. So I do hereby dedicate this facility to the memory of my Grandfather, Patrick Benis, and all those he helped over the years. Thank you for honoring him this way." He walked off the stage and fled to Greg and Horatio's side.
The woman in charge of the center stepped up and smiled down at him. "Thank you, Xander. Your grandfather was an incredible inspiration for many of us," she offered. "Thank you also for following his heart's wishes and donating a sizeable amount to help us build this center to help the young runaways who need it, gay and straight. We will follow Patrick's dreams and not discriminate, but we will help the gay children who're lost find their own strength and help them get onto the path where they can find acceptance, love, and companionship with someone who understands them, as well as help them with the problems that sent them onto the street in the first place. Now, let me open the doors symbolically." She walked back there, putting the key in and unlocking it. She glanced at the hallway then smiled at the perfection. No one had broken in. "I welcome the community to help us help these poor young ones who're lost and need some help finding the strength to go forward with their lives." She got out of the way at the applause. "There's refreshments inside in the great room." She got out of the way, letting those who want it go in and take the tour. She stopped Xander, giving him a kiss on the cheek. "He would have called you so mushy," she teased lightly.
He nodded. "He would have. Grandsire would've cackled and bought me ice cream." She smiled and patted his cheek. "Can I.... I'm not comfy with people."
"I know, Xander. Introduce me to your mates?"
"This is Horatio, and the one behind me is Greg. Oooh, and there's his parents. Forgive them," he said fairly quietly. "Still getting used to me."
"It happens to the best of us." She shook Greg's hand, then Horatio's. "Lieutenant."
"Miss Chairwoman," he greeted with a small smile. "Thank you for doing this."
"It's an honor to honor someone like Patrick, Horatio. He was a great and kind man." She smiled at Greg's parents. "Hi, welcome to our counseling center and refuge."
Greg's mother smiled and shook her hand. "What sort of counseling are you going to be doing?"
"It depends on what our clients will need," she admitted, walking her off. "We'll be dealing with runaway children. Some will have drug or alcohol problems. Some will have been caught up in the web of the criminal morass that oozes in every city's streets. Some we'll help get back with their parents and sometimes we'll make sure their parents are met in Hell with the proper authorities waiting as a greeting committee." That got a nod. "There's similar centers in other cities."
"We're in San Francisco," Greg's father admitted. "We've seen the one out there."
"I've head good things about how they've helped a lot of gay teenagers accept themselves and learn to love who they were. I hope we can rival their success."
"What about those who want to change?" she asked.
"There's plenty of groups for them," she offered. "We're here to be supportive. Patrick took in over fifty young men in his life, mentoring them into college and careers. He and his husband Raphael were very loved by the community. Especially those who decided they couldn't live without him being in their lives and followed him to be with him in death." Greg's mother looked stunned. "Most of his staff, a few he mentored," she admitted. "It was a great tragedy to lose just him but to lose the others was devastating to many. Especially to one." She looked back at Xander. He was being asked questions by a reporter and Horatio had a hand on his back to keep him calm while Greg got him a cookie from the buffet. She looked at Greg's parents again. "We'll also offer to counsel the parents if it's a situation where the child could go home if the problems were worked out, or work with the parent's counselors if they're seeing one." She smiled and waved at a reporter. "Just a moment, dear." She looked at them again. "Those of us who have seen Xander in the past know he's not very comfortable with people. If this wasn't so important, he wouldn't have been here today." She smiled. "Excuse me. I have to take that." She went to talk to the reporter. "Yes, dear?"
"I didn't know Patrick had a grandson."
"His last son left him when he went to the Church," she admitted. "He didn't like that his father got lost in his grief."
"Say it right, my father was a greedy bastard," Xander told her simply, coming over to kiss her on the cheek. "He kept me away from my grandparents. I didn't get to meet them until I went on a road trip after graduating high school." He looked at her. "We need to go, Mahsa needs us."
"Of course, Xander. Thank you." She kissed him on the cheek. "Have a good afternoon and let your love ease the sorrow again." He nodded, walking out with Greg, Horatio right behind them since he had been talking to a reporter about the police department and the lab. She smiled at her again. "Xander really isn't comfortable with people."
"It's understandable," the reporter admitted. "I remember when his grandfather took him to a society event and he basically clung to his grandfather all night. Most of us though he was a new bodyguard." That got a smile. "So, he's with Caine?"
"I don't out anyone, dear. I can tell you that his adoptive father, the one who helped take care of him when he was younger, is Tim Speedle. He's in the Lab."
"Ah. So Father Patrick didn't get along with his son?"
"No. Not at all. Father Patrick was very forgiving but he disowned his son."
"Understood. I won't badger that one. Who was with him?"
"Greg Sanders. He's out of the lab in Las Vegas from what he said earlier when he introduced us. I do know he went to Horatio to help him with his speech and to help him pick out an outfit."
"He did look adorable," she agreed, finishing her notes. "Thank you. I'll try to keep his relationship out of it."
"Thank you." She kissed her on the cheek and went back to mingling, watching Greg's parents talk to a few of the counselors on the staff. Apparently it was a good discussion, they were both smiling and looked happy. Interesting. They were shrinks.
Greg's father walked his son out onto the back porch later that night, looking at him. "How bad were his parents?"
"They sold him a few times," he admitted. "Non-sexually. They beat him others." He sipped his coffee, leaning against the railing. "He's healed, dad. Speed and Aiden took him in after running his parents out of town fearing for their lives. He's a special young guy. He's still very optimistic, he's very happy, and he's content. I make him content."
"I understand that. Your mother's worried about abuse legacy."
Greg shook his head. "Not Xander. He won't and we're very sure of it. You can tell her I'm very sure of it. He loathed his parents and he never wanted to be like them. He's went against everything they ever taught him."
"What does he do when he's angry?"
"He takes a whip and works on his aim against a wall," he admitted. "Sublimation but it works for him." His father nodded, smiling a bit at that. "Before you ask, because I know you will, yes, I was going to Lady Heather. I have tactility issues. I never got enough," he said bluntly. "I went to be petted and I'm the one she trained Xander in tactile methods on." He finished his coffee and put the cup on the railing beside him. "I don't care if you can't love Xander. He doesn't care what other people think of him, but you're not breaking us up, Dad."
"I'm not thinking about that, Son. I'm thinking this is the first time you've stood up to us."
"Yeah, well, I'm not giving Xander up and I'm keeping Horatio too, Dad. We may have come together to be with Xander, but we have found that we appreciate and love each other just as much as we do him. We're stable and content with each other. Even if I do live all the way out in Vegas at the moment."
"When does he think a position will come open?"
"We're not sure. Whenever he can get the budget for it. I don't want to work on another shift, we'd never see each other. I'd never get the full cuddles at night," he teased when Horatio came out. "He does cuddle very well, Dad."
"I should hope so. Xander uses me like a teddy bear, it's only fair I do the same to you," he offered, giving him a gentle hug. Greg smiled at him. "Xander's in his office working on the computer system and the accounting stuff with Ray."
"Your nephew, right?"
"My nephew," he agreed. "He agreed with us about not telling his father anything about what he owns." He shrugged at Greg's father's look. "Family squabble." He gave Greg a squeeze. "The financial manager called while we were out. He's got a plan for everything. He'll bring it out tomorrow while I'm driving you to the airport. Then he'll explain it to me when I come peel Xander off the floor."
"How did he get all that money?" Greg's father asked.
"Some from his grandfather. Some people who have wanted him gave him," Horatio admitted. "He has a bad problem attracting stalkers who send him tacky things." He shrugged. "We handle it well. It's slowly stopping itself. He's been sent jewelry and clothes."
"So have we to dump him," Greg admitted. "We send back whatever we can but now and then it comes anonymously and you can't send back the clothes. The stores won't let you." He looked at him. "Did you talk to Speed about why he was making squealy girl noises?"
Horatio groaned, but kissed him. "Someone left Xander a sports car in his parking spot at their apartment," he said quietly. "He wanted to take it out for a test drive but knows he can't until they take it back to the dealership. If we can find the dealership."
Greg gave him a squeeze. "It'll be okay. Maybe he'll give it to Calleigh," he teased.
"Perhaps," Horatio agreed, smiling at him. "Did Nick call about the saddles?"
"He did," he sighed. "He got them very early this morning. He said he's going to kick my ass for sending him pony play stuff."
Horatio snickered. "Tell him you knew he liked Western things." Greg pinched him and they made room when Xander came out and wiggled between them, head on Greg's shoulder. "Hi," Horatio said, kissing the back of his other mate's head. "What's wrong?"
"Fed Ex," he mumbled. "Greg's mother got the door."
"Aw, crap, not another one," Greg sighed, going to get it. "I got it, Mom. Can I sign?"
"Greg Sanders." The clipboard was checked then handed over. "Thank you." He looked at the sheet. "I need a copy of this, just in case."
"There's one for you." He pulled it off and handed over an envelope, then a largish box. "There you go, sir. Thank you for helping with this." He handed over a small box. "This is also for Lieutenant Caine and you, sir." He walked off, getting into his truck and driving off under the watchful gaze of the dogs. He had to take the one in the back humping a box out and drop him inside the gates when he heard him groan but that was fine with him. He hadn't gotten anything on the package.
Greg looked at the form then went to make copies of it. He came back to move the boxes inside, getting into the envelope. "Xander, it's from.... Um, never mind," he called. "Mom, help me get these into the dungeon please." She nodded, taking the other side of the large box. They carried it in there and he went to grab the phone, opening the envelope again. He called Mac while he read. "It's me. Xander just got sent a huge, heavy box; I got sent a small box with Horatio, and an envelope with a death threat from your part of the world, Mac. Yeah, Fed Ex had it on one of the old sheets and I got a copy of it. I can fax it up there. Want me to open them?" He nodded, cradling the phone between his neck and shoulder. "I need gloves," he called, covering the mouthpiece. His knife came out and he took the gloves from Abby. "Thanks, baby. Abby, Mac, not you." He slit open the smaller box and moaned, turning away. "Mac, we've got body parts. Abby, please fax that form to Mac? He's on speedidal on the fax machine." She nodded, going to do that. "Horatio, call Alexx please?" he called. He got to work on the big box, looking inside. "Oh, Gods, Mac. Please." He hung up and ran to the bathroom to get sick. "No!" he shouted when he heard someone come in.
"It's me, Greg," Xander called, coming in to hold him. "What?"
"Don't look in the box, don't touch the boxes."
"Another one?" Greg looked at him. "Okay, I won't. I'll make sure we've got Alexx on the way." He stroked his back, looking out when Speed came in looking grim. "Greg's in here."
"Stay in there, kiddo." He looked in the smaller box, looking a bit green. "Eww." He opened the freed flap on the bigger box, then let it close and walked outside. He called Alexx. "Need an ME at Xander's. Two boxes, Alexx. Please. Bring a mask, it got mailed. Fex Ex had it. It's bad. I'm going to be sick and Greg is still getting sick. Thanks." He hung up and walked back inside. "No," he ordered. "You'll contaminate any evidence that might be left." Greg's mother backed away from the box. "Besides, it's nasty, you don't want it. Greg, did you call Mac?" Xander nodded for his benefit. "Okay. That's good. H, let Alexx in," he called. "You two should go outside somewhere. You don't need to see this."
"Someone sent him a body part?" she demanded.
"Xander's had a few people who sent him body parts. They want him and they're not shy about trying to lure him. Xander draws a lot of psychos now and then. Thankfully Horatio and Greg help calm him down so he doesn't kill them for it." She nodded, walking out. "Abby, you'll get sick," he warned. "I nearly did."
"It's okay, I've seen gross things in the lab too, Speed." She came in to look and turned pale. "That's really sick. Is that a uniform?"
"Maybe. I'm not touching it further." Alexx came in wearing gloves. "Small box first or big one?"
"Small." He let her see it.
"I've never seen anyone that pierced and tattooed there," Abby said, frowning and biting her bottom lip. "Eww." She walked off. "I need chocolate to take that out of my head." Horatio got her some and gave her a pat. "Thanks. Why send that to Mac?"
"If it came from up there we usually do," he reminded her.
"Oh, good point. I don't do much notification stuff in DC." He smiled at her and she shrugged, nibbling on the candybar. "Greg's still sick and Alexx is here. She petted my belly."
"We all like to show your son love and affection, Abby."
"Good!" She kissed him on the cheek then went outside, interrupting the parents talking. "Xander draws them because the town he was raised in. They're stopping them and he's been instrumental in catching a good few serial killers. He's also a very good profiler. He stripped a few times and got an assassin who decided he would be hers. We got to go to Cyprus because of that." They gave her horrified looks and she shrugged. "We did." She ate another bite. "She jumped off the hotel after marrying him. They were married about an hour and a half. Greg was married a few minutes longer to her apprentice. She drugged them with some really heavy alcohol stuff." She ate another bite. "They've got it down pat and it's these things that made Horatio and Greg realize that they should be with Xander. He doesn't ask for this but he does like to hunt them down for it. With that one.... Well, maybe we can keep him from flying for a few weeks so Mac doesn't get the help." She finished her candybar and smiled at them. "It'll stop. It has been slowed down. There was a suicide ring in New York a few months back. They were killing themselves then having someone send down their body parts to the object of their affection. Some went to stars, one went to an athlete. Two went to Xander out of nineteen I think. People love Xander, some people just love him wrong. Horatio and Greg protect him from them and he protects them from the bad things in their lives. Because that's love." She walked back inside, going to answer the door. "Hi, Gibbs." She smiled at him and gave him a hug. "Xander got sent a box'o human."
"That's not a good present."
"No but it came through Fed Ex. They really have to get better scanners." He smiled at that. "So, are you coming over for a reason or just to see me?"
"Just to see you," he promised, giving her a squeeze. "Caine, need us?"
"No, stay out there. It came from New York, Gibbs." He came out, pulling off his gloves. "They had on a uniform but it's a teenager," he said quietly. "You might warn your people for New York they might be getting a call."
"I can do that. Academy?" Horatio shrugged. "Can I see?"
"Sure." He led him that way. "Guys, let Gibbs look at the uniform."
Gibbs looked, looking a bit sick. "Hmm. Rhode Island Military Academy."
"Isn't that where Tony went?" Abby asked. Gibbs called him, walking her off to the office. "Hi, Tony," she called when Gibbs quit growling at the ringing phone.
"DiNozzo, Harris just got sent a body in an RIMA uniform," he said. "Teenager. Yeah, going to the ME's office down here. New York. Please. Be a lot more careful." He hung up. "He's out in a club."
"Of course he is, he's Tony," she said, shrugging a bit. "Where else would you expect him to be, Gibbs?"
"Point." He patted her again. "Sit." She sat and he went back. "I warned DiNozzo just in case," he offered. "He might show up at the ME's office."
"That's fine," Alexx agreed. "It can only help. It says it came from New York. Did we call Mac?"
"I did," Greg assured her. "As I opened them. Then I dropped it and went to puke. I got a copy of the shipping slip too. I faxed him a copy, Horatio. Abby did it for me."
"That's good, Greg. We'll figure it out." He nodded. "Are you all right?"
"I'll be fine. Xander's promised me a warm bath with bubbles. Need me?"
"No, sugar, go ahead," Alexx offered. "I know you leave tomorrow." He nodded, going up with their boy. She looked at Horatio. "You too. I'm heading with them as soon as someone helps me lift them out to the truck." Gibbs helped her with that and they carried them out together. "I do like where he put this extension," she said, trying to sound happier. "Much easier than carrying it around the house."
He smiled. "It's a practical thing," he agreed. "How did Fed Ex not see this?"
"We've had a few questions about that," she admitted. She shrugged. "We don't know. Them and UPS both. DHL's scanners found a few of that suicide ring New York had."
"DiNozzo got a present from one of them," he admitted grimly. She gave him a pat on the arm. "Let me know if we need to get involved. Speed has my number if you don't."
"Sure, dear." She got in once the doors were closed, heading back to the office. She got two of her assistants to lift it into her autopsy theater. "Tony," she said happily.
"I need to see if I can identify him," he said grimly. "The commander will take it better coming from me."
"Sure, sugar. Let me do two things first then we'll get him out of the box." He nodded, leaning out of the way. She laid out the mutilated organ. "Someone did want to send a message with you." Tony looked then turned a bit pale. "Exactly."
"Can you do that when they're alive?"
"I've seen people pierce and tattoo it before," she admitted. "I had one who had studs imbedded to form a picture before. Some people do not like their dangly parts that much." He shuddered and turned away. She covered it with a sheet. "There you go." She took the camera from his hands, getting the outside of the box then the body inside. "Let me change. It'll take me five minutes."
She walked off, going to do that. She came back in scrubs, with gloves already on. "Okay, let's lift him out." He put on gloves and came over to help her. "You're handy."
"I do the same thing they do upstairs," he reminded her. "Ducky has to have help lifting bodies now and then too." He took a picture of the kid's face then his nametag. "I'll call tonight." He looked at her. "I'll hand whoever the camera?"
"Use my office," she ordered, nodding. He smiled and went to do that. She looked at the poor boy. "Well, someone was not kind to you, baby. Stabbed it looks like and then shipped halfway across the country." She got her backup camera and got to work recording what she was doing so she could get to work taking off his uniform. One of the nightshift CSI walked in with Eric. "Another Fed Ex delivery, Eric. It's from New York. There's the box. Tony DiNozzo has my primary camera in the office trying to get you an ID." She looked at him. "He went to the same academy."
"I hate Fed Ex," he admitted. "How's Xander?"
"Helping Greg. He signed for it and opened it apparently. He was still getting sick when I got there." She nodded at the other table, letting them look at that. Both of them turned green. "Exactly. Give me two hours, okay?" They nodded, Eric going to take care of the box. The nightshift CSI stayed to help her gather evidence. "I thought dayshift handled all of Xander's presents."
"They do but Mac Taylor called down and said to have someone handle this. He said he didn't care what shift, he was sure Horatio was going to be giving us hell by looking over our shoulder anyway." Tony came out. "Hi."
"Hi, DiNozzo, NCIS DC," he offered, nodding politely. "I've got an ID for you, Alexx. He sent it via email when I sent back the name tag and picture of his face. He's sending you his file. I had him send it to you and he'll call the family to notify them that there was an incident. If he can't get them, he'll call you or Taylor since he's a New York native." She nodded at that. "Oh, belt is buckled backwards. It's upside down." He came over to look. "Also, the uniform's not shiny. He was a third year cadet. It should be crisper and more pressed, plus more shiny on the brass. He never said he was a sloppy cadet. He was a dorm supervisor so we know he wasn't that sloppy."
"I'll look for fingerprints then. Thank you, Agent DiNozzo," she said, smiling at him. "I bet you guys get less cases."
"Yeah but what we get drives us nuts. My team leader said we solve it fast. Meaning within days." She shuddered. "Exactly. Is the other thing his?"
"No. His is still there," Alexx admitted. "I already checked." He nodded at that. "Why was he home? It's mid-semester."
"His sister had been in a car accident so he was off on leave to check on her." She nodded. "I'm sure Mac can find that out as well if you need it." She smiled at him. "Okay, I'm done being Super Agent Tony again. Need me for more, ladies?" They shook their heads. "Then I bid you both a better and happier night."
"You behave and be well too, baby," Alexx ordered. "We can't be sure what sort of message this was yet." He nodded, going out to head back to the clubs. She looked at the nightshift CSI. "He's a nice boy. His boss is a growler, but he's a nice boy. A lot like Eric from what his friend Abby said."
"Abby, having Xander's baby Abby?" Alexx nodded, smiling at her. "Why are they down?"
"Oh. Yeah, that's got to draw a few of us. Okay." She took the jacket and bagged it. Then they got to work on his shirt, then his pants. They both looked for trace once he was naked, not finding hardly any. What they did was gathered so Alexx could wash off the body. She went to brief her boss on the web they had around this boy.
Mac hung up with the RIMA commander, sighing a bit. "Sorry, Don. Xander got another body shipped."
"Who?" Tara demanded.
"A cadet from RIMA, the Rhode Island Military Academy," he said at her confused look. "He got taken out up here and then mailed. Fed Ex needs better scanners."
"Finish eating, Mac. Nothing you can do for an hour," he reminded him. "They'll send stuff up once they've got it."
"Greg's faxed the shipping receipt. It was one of the old ones. The commander gave me the family's address. Their daughter's in the hospital after a crash."
"Ah. Okay." He finished up and kissed Tara, giving her a smile. "I'm going to help him check on the family, then I'll come back and cuddle you to distraction?" She smiled and nodded, patting him on the cheek. "Thanks, Tara."
"Call if they're hurt too," she said gently.
"Of course I will." He gave her another kiss and a bright smile. "Love you." He walked out with Mac, heading to the address he had. "Why was he going there instead of closer?"
"Probably what the family wanted. He didn't divulge if the family had a history with the school," he admitted, buckling up. "East 82nd." Don nodded, heading that way. He hated nights like this. "The good news is that Abby's down there. I heard Greg talking to her earlier, and DiNozzo helped with the ID. He called the commander personally and sent the pictures and nametag." Don glanced at him. "He went there."
"So it'd probably come easier for him," he agreed. Mac nodded. "That's good at least. Is Gibbs?"
"Yup. There's a series of forensic seminars going on down there."
"That's kinda cool. I've got to take Tara on vacation after the new year. She loved our last one."
"There's a lot to see in this world, Don. Let her pick a spot and go. You can afford it."
"I know, but she hates it when I spoil her. So does Xander when Horatio and Greg do it, but she said I can't really spoil her."
"Spring break, Don. Take her somewhere she'll love. Or go visit Lady Heather."
"We could do that." He pulled out his cell and dialed one handed. "Babe, me. No, not yet. Where do you wanna go for Spring Break?" He smiled. "Because you loved our honeymoon cruise and I wanna take you somewhere nice. This way I can book in advance, get a good room at a reasonable rate. Then you can be floaty about it for a few months." He snickered. "Wherever you want, babe. Vegas, Miami, anywhere you want in the world. Mexico, Brazil... Europe?" He beamed. "I could stand Paris in the spring and then a few days in Miami. Sure. I'll work on booking that this week. No, it's not your holiday present. This is a vacation for both of us. Love you." He hung up and put his phone back in his pocket. "Paris."
"It's a beautiful city," Mac sighed.
Don punched him on the arm without looking. "Get over it and get with their program, Mac. You know they want you. You know they're going to kidnap you again sometime soon because you've been hiding from them. You've got scary mates."
"There's two of them."
"So? It works for Xander."
"I'm not Xander."
"No, I doubt you could bounce like him." Mac smiled at the silliness of that mental picture. No, he could not bounce. "Or dance like him." Mac shook his head again. "Aren't you glad you're not a Xander since the house is up the street it looks like?" Mac looked at the address and nodded. "That's our place?"
"It's our place." They parked and got out, heading up to talk to the officers putting up the tape. "Homicide and CSI." They got let through. "Captain," he said in greeting.
"I didn't call you two. Rossi was up for the next case, Flack."
"Yeah, well, their son's body just got mailed to my nephew Xander in Miami."
"Oh, charming. Another one?"
"Someone else we think, at least this time," Mac admitted. "I have heard that there's a mimic ring but it's all about mementos. The family?"
"There's a daughter in the hospital," Mac told him. "Auto accident."
"We can check on that. What do you have?"
"I have the shipping slip being sent to me and the stuff from Miami. Their son went to the Rhode Island Military Academy."
"Impressive. What year?"
"Third. I got told he was in a box, fully clothed, but they thought he might've been stabbed."
"That fits with the cuts we found in there. It's a mess."
Mac nodded. "Want me on it or them?"
"Let's let you do it and Rossi can take it for my side." Flack nodded. "You got your kit?"
"In the backseat of Don's car," Mac admitted, going to get it.
Flack looked at him. "I'll hit the office, see what he's been sent."
"Sure. That'll help, Flack. How's Tara?"
"Good. She's good. A bit pissed that someone mailed Xander a body and parts."
"Greg called me first," Mac said as he came back, putting on booties and gloves. "The second call said the box with their son was accompanied by a penis that had been decorated."
"Decorated like ribbons?" the captain asked, sounding hopeful.
"Horatio said he hadn't seen one that pierced and tattooed before and it wasn't the boy's," Mac told him. The captain and Flack both shuddered. "Don, need my office keys?"
"No, I know how to pop locks." He walked off, going back to his car. He made it back to the office and to Mac's office a minute later, only stopping to get a memo from the receptionist since she was holding it up for him. "Charming. Tell them I said to bite me," he called as he walked. He found Stella in there. "That the stuff Miami sent him?" She nodded, handing over the new file. "Great. The family's gone too." She moaned. He leaned down, kissing her on the forehead. "I love you but he's stubborn. He's fussing that there's two of you. I pointed out it worked for Xander, even though he could never be Xander." She giggled at that mental image. "I told him he couldn't bounce or dance that way," he offered with a grin. Her giggling got higher pitched. "This was right after the discussion of me taking Tara to Paris for spring break." He stared at her. "I know you two are stubborn bastards. Both of you. So, ask my girl for help. She's got a sneaky mind and she's worried about Willow."
"Thanks, Don. I have a plan and we'll be having some fun soon." He grinned. "All I have to do is forge his signature on some leave documents."
"Nah, I wouldn't do that. Go all girl on him, Stella. How can he resist you in girly girl mode?"
She leaned back, smiling at him. "That's an evil thought."
"Yeah, well, now and then she doesn't quite cuddle me long enough to remove 'em all." He walked the folder off, taking it back to Mac. "You know, you really should take a vacation, Mac," he said when he handed over the folder.
"If I did that, they'd pounce me again, Don."
Don patted him on the back. "Yay. You could use the break, Mac." He walked off. "I'm going home. Need to cuddle Tara. Stella just told me I had a dirty mind."
"Your girl won't like that," Rossi teased as he hiked in from his car.
"You'd be surprised. It gives her a good reason to cuddle." He got into his car and headed home, going to cuddle her. "We need ta help Stella plan," he announced as he walked in. She smiled at him. "Mac won't be able to withstand Stella in girly girl mode." He snuck a kiss. She smiled at him. "Now, what's up with the girl?"
"Not sure yet. Her parents are due in tomorrow."
"You wanna fly down suddenly?"
"I don't think that'll help. Ryan might mind."
He snorted. "Please! No he won't. He'd be thankful for the backup." He stared at her. "Up to you, baby. I can easily call and make you a reservation, get you up early so you can head down there."
She shook her head. "She'll call if she needs me. I can get down there. Giles taught me how."
"Okay, if that's what you want." He kissed her again. "I got told I have a dirty mind so I need cuddles." She blushed and giggled, giving him a poke on the stomach before getting free and walking off. "What? No cuddles?"
"I made a new batch of mint chocolate chip cookies. I'm getting you some before we cuddle."
"I'm going to get so fat," Don complained. "I can't resist the cookies." He kissed her. "Or you when you smell like them." He snuggled against her back, moving her skirt out of the way while he nibbled on her throat.
"Don, this is the kitchen!" she said, sounding scandalized.
"I know. You cook in more ways than one. You fry my brain every day," he whispered in her ear. "Every time I see you I get all hot and sweaty, so hot you could cook an egg on my chest from the heart thumping you inspire." He nibbled her throat again, undoing his pants and sliding into her. "Then you come in and you cook and I just wanna melt like the gooey chocolate you put in the cookies for me. You make me wanna turn into pudding on even the worst bad guy." He started a slow, gentle, rocking rhythm, listening to her moan and letting her clutch at his arms. "Every single day all I can do is turn into a brownie and be soft and gooey. Even Stella said I reminded her of ice cream cake." She moaned and he shifted to get a bit deeper. She whimpered, her nails digging in. "That's my girl. My personal chef. You cook me," he whispered, and she came. He kissed her neck again, letting himself go. "I love you, baby." He let himself cuddle her until he slid out, then she turned around to hold him. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. Even if Ryan would make me clean the kitchen," she teased.
"Hmm, but I got you messy, not the kitchen." He kissed her and she hummed so he started them moving gently, just swaying together to the music she was humming for him.
"I still say you're silly, Don. So very mushy," she teased, kissing him again.
"Yeah, well, I'm a guy in love. I can be mushy for you and be a pain in the ass to everyone else," he offered with a grin. He winked at her, then picked her up and carried her out to the couch. He did up his pants when they curled up in front of the fireplace and tv, but everything else was going to stay that way, even if she did blush about her panties being in the kitchen. He could even get his cookies later, though he'd probably try to eat them off her stomach. She blushed so pretty when he did that. Then she made him two dozen the next day.
Willow looked at her parents, stroking her stomach. "Parents." She let them inside, going back to her easy chair. It was the easiest way for her to get up again.
"You're pregnant?" her father asked.
"I am. We had an oops with our birth control. It's a boy. He's due next month." She smiled, curling up some. "Sorry, but back pains happen at this stage."
"This is a nice house," her mother noted.
"We're renting it off Ryan's supervisor. He's living with Xander. They're in love. They're so cute," she cooed, stroking her belly. "I know, you like to visit with Horatio, son. Calm down." She looked at her parents again. "He's been fussy recently. He knows it's nearly time and he wants to come cuddle his puppies." She pointed at the two lumps in the kitchen. "Guys, come meet the parents," she called. The dogs woke up and came out, sniffling at the two visitors. "Aren't you two so cute," she cooed. "These are Right and Left. So named because of the position they lay on the bed when I'm trying to nap or cuddle with my Ryan toy." She smiled when they came over, sniffing her stomach then her face. "I know, I need to brush my teeth. You can have a snack later." She petted them both, letting them lay around her. "Good boys." She smiled again. "So, why the social call?"
"We think you're ready to come home," her mother stated.
"Mom, hate to point this out but I'm married and I'm about to pop out your first grandchild, plus I've got college stuff to do. I'm not going back to Sunnydale. Never. I spent too long protecting myself from the rest of Sunnydale to ever go back there." She let the dog standing up get some pets and attention. "Good boy. Can you get me the bone? We'll play." He went to get it, bringing it back. "Good boy." She tossed it and he raced to get it, bringing it back. "Good job!" She did it again and he brought it back. She tossed it again and she looked at them. "I'm not coming back. I'm happy in Miami. Even if my mind does occasionally make me slip into stupidity now and then." She took the wet rawhide bone and tossed it again. This time the dog stayed over there to gnaw on it for a while. "Did you want to see the nursery?"
"You're coming home, daughter," her father said.
"No, I'm not."
"You are," her mother stand, standing up. "Get your jacket. You'll get a chill."
"Um, nope." She settled herself in more firmly. "Sorry but no." Her father grabbed her arm. "Get off me!" she snapped, pushing him. She felt the magic building and glared. "Do not make me do something we'll all regret, family." Her mother pulled out a gun. "Ooh, shit. HELP! SHE'S GOT A GUN!" she shrieked then pulled off the blocking bracelet, grabbing it with her magic. She was so involved she didn't see her father pick up the lamp or Xander appear.
Xander put his gun against her father's head. "Put it down now," he said calmly. The lamp dropped. "Willow, lift, and then grab," he ordered. "It'll go off." She did that and it did go off into the ceiling but that was fine. She knocked her mother out, panting and grabbing her stomach. "Are you okay?" She nodded, holding her stomach. "Boys, guard!" he ordered. The dogs came over to stare at them while he pulled out his cellphone. "Ryan, me. Her parents are here. Her mother had a gun. She shot the ceiling. Willow's in pain, she took off her bracelet. I don't care what you're doing!" He hung up and called dispatch. "Hi, this is Mr. Harris... No, I'm not. I'm with CSI Wolfe's wife. Her parents just tried to kidnap her at gunpoint. We have a shot fired into the ceiling and she's panting and grabbing her gravid stomach. Might be a good idea, yeah. That address, yes, thank you." He hung up and put the footrest up on her recliner. "There, you rest," he soothed, stroking her back. He moved the gun away from her hand, then went to open the door. He heard sirens. When the officer got there he nodded. "Her parents tried to kidnap her. Her mother fired a shot into the ceiling. They're both down and she needs to see someone."
"Okay. Your gun, sir?" he asked, pointing at it.
Xander grinned. "Didn't use it as more than a threat against her father. He had a lamp." He put it away. "I've got my permit on me if you need it."
"Maybe in a few. Can you take it off for now?" Xander took off his belt and holster, putting them down. "Thank you, sir."
"Oh, you're *him*."
Xander nodded, letting him inside. He waved the paramedics in. "She's due early next month. She's panting and grabbing her stomach when I got here." They rushed in to check on her. "I knocked her father out, she got her mother. Oh, I kicked the gun by about seven inches."
The officer looked at him. "You're Speedle's son, right?" Xander nodded, grinning some. "You moved evidence?"
"I didn't want her to wake up and make a grab for it. Then I'd have to do something that would make Daddy scream and rant in public."
"That's pretty reasonable, sir." He came in to start cuffing the parents. He called dispatch. "I have two unconscious suspects and one ambulance, but the victim's going in that?" he asked them. They nodded. "Okay. Tell CSI Wolfe they are taking his wife to the ER to be checked out."
"University," the paramedic said.
"No," she growled.
Xander got her bracelet and handed it back. "Trust me. She'll want it. Willow, where does your OB want you to go?"
"Women's. Not University."
"Okay, we can do that. Should we call your OB?" the paramedic helping her up asked. She nodded, clutching his hand. "That was your water," he announced when he heard the sploosh. "Okay, we're definitely going."
"If I'm allowed, I'll follow," Xander offered. The officer waved at him to go. "Thanks. You know where I'll be."
"If I need more information I'll have your father drag you in."
Xander nodded hurrying out to get into the back of the ambulance. "Focus on me, Willow. Remember the exercises you had me do when you did the stitches when I was little?" She thumped her head while nodded. "Good, let's start those. Come on. In, deep breath. Slowly let it out." She followed along until the next pain. He forced her head around so she had to look at him, staring at her like he would a sub. "Follow along," he ordered. She breathed in and then slowly out. "Good girl. Now, let's drop," he said more quietly. "Back into your mind. You meditate. You can do that. Fall for me, Willow." She breathed in again and he stroked her hair, talking her down slowly and carefully. Even in the ER. She was finally in a good spot so he got down next to her ear. "Okay, now, let's keep up the breathing. Ryan will be here soon." She nodded slowly, breathing deeply. He looked at the nurse. "I'm a Dom, I had her drop into her mind."
"That works. The bracelet?" He stopped her from removing it, shaking his head. "It's in the way of the IV, sir."
"She's a Wiccan. It's restricting her gifts," he said, staring at her. She snickered. He let her remove it and everything in the room started to float. She put it back on and they all thumped down. "See?"
"Okay, I'll trust you to handle that. Let's lay the tube around it. Can it be moved to her other arm?"
"Sure." He did that and hitched it again, moving to that side. "Okay, Willow. I can hear Daddy." She moaned. "Mine, Willow. I can hear Speed. Dad!" He came rushing in. "Where the fuck is Ryan?"
"Behind me. He had to get sick." He came over to help her. "What's wrong? Too many drugs?"
"I had her fall."
"Ooooh," he said, nodding. "That'll work. Her parents?"
"Her mom pulled a gun. I heard a shriek for help and popped over." He gave him a look. "Speaking of, tell everyone I'm going to have a migraine tonight."
"Sure. I can do that. WOLFE!" He came walking in. "Feel better?"
"Much. The nurse gave me something for my stomach." He came over to take Speed's place. "We moved the bracelet?"
"It's in the way of the IV, I rehitched it myself," Xander told him. "Her parents tried to kidnap her at gunpoint. You need to spackle the hole in the ceiling and there's some claw scratches on the floor."
"That's fine, I can fix those," he agreed, smiling at him. "Guarding Horatio's property?"
"Why not, I am a great guard," he sighed, going back to whispering to her. "Willow, Ryan's here. Do you want to come up?" She mumbled. He looked at Ryan, who grimaced. "I had her fall." He smacked her lightly on the top of the head. "Out, Willow, now," he ordered. She floated back up to the surface, clutching their hands tighter. "Ryan's here."
"Ryan?" she asked, looking at him. He smiled and stroked her hair. "I'm sorry she shot the ceiling. Xander told me to push it up."
"It would've went off in you if you hadn't," Xander told her. "Her mother's finger was on the trigger while she was fighting for control without her bracelet."
"The ceiling can be fixed," he promised. "They make stuff to do that." She smiled and nodded, squeezing his hand. "Okay, has anyone called the OB yet?"
"Paramedics were going to," Xander told him.
"How did you get over there that fast?" Willow asked.
He looked at her. "The same way you got to Tara in New York when her parents were up." He gave her a look. "Giles taught us. I'll have a migraine later." She nodded, accepting that. "Okay, here's a nurse. She's up."
"Her OB is on the way, we're waiting on a bed upstairs, Mrs. Wolfe." She nodded at that. "I have to check you over. Can everyone but your husband go?"
"Please?" she begged.
"I'll take him to call H. I need to know if she's going today," Speed ordered.
"Her water broke before we got into the ambulance," Xander told him.
"She'll be going today," the nurse agreed, closing the curtain after they were gone. She put on a glove and got under the sheet to check on her. "Oh, yeah, you'll be going in a few hours, Mrs. Wolfe." She smiled and opened the curtain again. "Probably four or five hours."
"Okay, we can handle that," Speed agreed. "Thanks. Willow, want Xander here?"
"I'm okay now. He can come back later when Ryan's tired."
"I can do that." He drug Xander off. "Let's go make sure the officers don't need anything from you. Or that her parents aren't terminally stupid and tried to press charges against you." Xander growled. "I know." He patted him on the arm. "Hummer." He walked over to it, climbing in. Speed drove him back to Horatio's house, letting him get out and head to the doorway. Speed followed. "H, it'll be four or five hours before she blows. They get terminally stupid?" he asked at the look on Horatio's face.
"Not yet. Stetler did ask if they wanted to."
"Sure, because I'm going to let them kidnap someone," Xander said dryly, giving him a look. "They're damn lucky I didn't just shoot them." He looked around. "Dogs?"
"Bedroom, sir," the officer said. "Can we get a formal statement?"
"Sure." He followed him around to the back porch, letting him get what he needed. He did lie about how he got there. No one would believe he teleported. So cabbing was as close as he could come. He'd tell Horatio later in case it came up.
Ethan Rayne walked into Willow's room bearing a bear and a small bottle. "Poppet, want something to restrict your powers fully for a few days?" he asked gently. She nodded, biting her lip. "That's good, Willow." He poured out a small bit into her water glass then held it so she could drink out of it. "All down, Willow." She finished it and panted, putting her head back down. "Good girl." He stroked over her hair. "Where is your spouse?"
"Calling Xander to tell him he doesn't need to come in."
He looked at her. "It's sad that you've forsaken all that got you to the point of happiness because of the bitter words of a cult member, Willow," he said quietly. "Especially one that was going to let you be a sacrifice." She looked stunned and he nodded. "Remember the reason you survived, young lady."
"Lay off, Ethan," Ryan told him as he walked in. "What did you give her?"
"Something to restrict her powers for a few days. It'll suppress them fully for three days." Ryan nodded at that. "That way she doesn't act out of the pain she'll be in." He looked at him. "Do you need help for the child?"
"So far he's okay."
"Good." He smiled. "There is one thing she hasn't told you yet, Ryan."
"No," she growled.
He looked at her then back at Ryan again. "If she should have a daughter, her powers go to the child. Permanently and fully." Ryan looked stunned. "So said the Powers long ago. Now, think about who was happy she was having a son." He handed over the bear. "For the little one. Ripper wanted a call once he was out to make sure she's all right."
"I'll call him and Buffy both," he promised, staring at him. Then he looked at Willow then back at him. "You're here because Xander sent you?"
"Only to strip her powers for a bit. He was worried someone else would remove her blocking bracelet. Earlier she floated the exam room she was in." Ryan moaned at that. "The nurse let him put it back immediately. He thought it would be better if she didn't out the rest of us during this long, grueling process." That got a nod. "Also, you should check with Horatio. He's said that her mother is in a cult. That they were going to sacrifice her." He tipped his head. "He did say to call and tell him how she was, no matter what time she delivered. He's got your leave forms for you, he'll drop them by tomorrow for you to sign."
"Agreed. Thank you." He shook his hand. "I don't care if Xander comes, but she's being cranky."
"Yes, she's forsaken all that got her here, Ryan. I don't know why. That's what is bothering the boy as well." He walked off, going to tell them that both missions had been accomplished. Even though Xander hadn't wanted him to press her on the changes she was going through. He knew the cause. Possessions were very nasty things.
Ryan looked at her, then called Tara. "It's me. She's in labor. I don't know, Ethan just said she's forsaken everything that got her to me. He gave her looks like she's a cult member. No, but her mother was. Going to sacrifice her. Xander saved her."
"Xander needs to save himself," she said dryly.
"Why are your eyes brown?" Tara said something. "Sure, I'm here. Hospital. Yeah, you can do either of us or Xander and he'll bring you over. Thanks." He hung up. "Tara's on her way down, Willow." He pulled out his handcuffs, cuffing her to the bed. The nurse gave him an odd look when she came in. "She was trying to kill me."
"That happens in labor and delivery."
"As soon as she's calm I'll take it off. I don't need more injuries today. I'm not usually mean to her."
"Don't listen to him, he's made me have his child," she said.
Ryan snorted. "Who was it that forgot to take her pills? I didn't want kids, Willow. I wasn't ready for them yet." She gave him a look, but hissed at Tara as she appeared. "I think you can see the problem."
Tara came over, stroking over her forehead. "When did you start to become Xander?" The woman on the bed started to shriek and move so Ryan removed the handcuffs, holding her down instead. That way she wouldn't be hurt by the metal when she pulled on them. She smiled at the nurse. "We could use a priest." She hurried out to get her one. She went back to doing what she thought was necessary.
"Ethan gave her something to take her powers," Ryan offered.
"Even better." She finished her small spell, knocking her out. "Good." She smiled at the priest when he came in. "Father. This is Willow Rosenburg of Sunnydale." He crossed himself. "I went to college there. She's my ex."
"Sometime around her sixth month she had some radical personality shifts," Ryan offered. "Her eyes aren't the right color either."
He nodded, locking the door and coming over. "You needed holy water, young lady?"
"I did and I couldn't bring it with me." She took the small vial, starting the process to get the spirit out of her. By the time she was ready to push, the spirit was banished and Willow was panting and begging for drugs. The priest let the nurses in, nodding that they were done. "Sorry," Tara apologized. "Is it too late for her to have drugs?"
"Much," a nurse assured her.
"Okay, then we'll call Xander," Ryan decided, using the room phone to do that. "It's me. You knew she was possessed?" He shrugged. "We'll figure that out later, Xander. Can you talk her back into her mind? Too late for drugs. Took too long getting it out. Um, Tara?"
"Azrael?" He snickered. "Really?" He looked at Tara, who nodded. "Okay. Here, have her." He put the phone next to her ear. "Can you help, Tara?"
"Of course." She moved to the other side, letting Willow have her hand. She watched her fall back into her mind. "He's good."
"He is. He's putting her back into subspace," he told the nurses. "He's a Dom. She's not but her friend is."
"She won't be feeling the pain," one nurse said, deciding practical was best. "Her OB is up the hall getting some coffee, let me get him." She went to brief him. He just nodded at the fact they had done an exorcism in her room and she was down into subspace. So apparently he had an idea about this strange young woman and her highly overprotective husband. She followed him back, helping with the labor when the baby wasn't being pushed hard enough. "Tell him she needs to push."
"Xander, make her push," Ryan called. Willow started to push. "Good, thank you." The baby wailed and he smiled, taking the phone. "He's out. Can you bring her up? If I can convince her, Xander. I said she could name him." He gave Willow a hard shove on the arm, waking her up. "He's out."
"I missed it?" she demanded.
"Not hardly," Tara said, grinning at her. "Azrael wasn't happy that I came down."
"He never was when he used to come torment me in high school." She sat up, looking at her son. "You're kinda nasty, son. You need a bath."
"I'll help with that later if I can," Ryan promised, giving her a kiss. "How do you feel?"
"Not a lot, thankfully." She watched them measure and weigh her son. "He okay?" she called.
"He's just fine, Willow," her doctor soothed. "Rest and talk to Tara and Ryan."
She smiled at Tara. "When did you get here?"
"About three hours ago. I came to do an exorcism," she teased, smiling at her. Willow gave her a look. "What day is it, Willow?" She frowned and looked at Ryan's watch, gasping. "You were a bit possessed and scary."
"That's why Ethan gave her some blue stuff that made her normal for a few days," Ryan offered.
"It helped a lot," Tara assured him. "Her powers being gone made it a lot easier to get him out." She kissed Willow on the forehead. "You will come see me soon," she ordered.
"Of course I will." She smiled at her then at Ryan. "I'm sorry."
"It's okay, baby. We're fine." He kissed her for real. "We're good and it's okay." She nodded, relaxing again. "Tara, can you tell them?" She nodded, winking before she disappeared. He called Horatio first. "It's me. He's out. He's fine, just nasty and gross." He smiled. "She's fine too, Horatio. Thanks. Dogs? Um.... Thank you," he said with a goofy grin. "A few days probably. Sure, we'll bring her and him by on the way home. Thank you. Thank Xander too." He hung up and called his uncle. "It's Ryan. I'm a dad." He heard the shocked silence. "He's perfectly healthy." He hung up on the cackling. "My uncle's in a demented mood."
"It happens." She stroked his cheek. "What did Xander do?"
"Dropped you into subspace," he said dryly, smirking at her. "Because you were really hard to get back to normal, dear."
"Poopie," she muttered. "I'm going to get gloated at."
"He wanted you to be fine, Willow. That's why he came today when your parents came up." She gave him a horrified look. "He kept them from taking you at gunpoint."
"Are they alive?"
"That's not a fair question," he said firmly. She pouted. He glared. "It's not. Xander is not like that. No matter what you've both had to do in the past." She went pale and nodded at that. "But they're both in jail. Horatio found out they were going to sacrifice you to their cult that formed after you left Sunnydale." She shuddered. "Exactly. So he saved you. He also wanted to know if you were naming him after Jesse."
She sniffled. "I... I want to put the past behind me," she said, looking at him.
"Does that include your friendship with him?" She shook her head slowly, looking confused. "Because you've been a royal bitch to him recently. Even before this started," he said when she opened her mouth. She slumped and nodded. "Apologizing good, Willow."
"I don't understand him."
"What's to understand? He's happy."
"So?" He shrugged. "He was probably bi back in Sunnydale but there wasn't a good enough source of ass." She blushed at that. "Yeah, time to be blunt. You need to think about that stuff. Before you ruin your last true friendship the way you nearly ruined the one with Tara."
"Yes, Ryan," she said weakly. "Thank you for pointing out the road signs of my stupidity."
He grinned, kissing her gently. "It's what I do now and then. The same as you do for me. Okay?" She nodded and kissed him back. "Good. I'm going with the baby." He bounced out behind the bassinet.
Her doctor looked at her. "Do you often get berated?"
"Only when I do things like throw away the friendship of the guy who saved my ass more than a few times," she admitted. "This is an ongoing mental blindspot between me and my best friend. He's tired of refereeing. He was right, I do need to fix it. Then I can go back to being a cute and cuddly college student-slash-wife-slash-mother and we'll be good." She pushed the head of the bed up more. "Is he really okay?"
"He's fine, Willow." He stepped closer. "He's not abusing you?" he asked gently.
She snorted. "I'd kick his ass if he tried." He smiled at that. "I can too. Xander taught me how to fight."
"Is this the same friend who you're at odds with?" She nodded. "Why, if I can ask?"
"He left after graduation and he changed. He's gay and he's happy and he's a dom and he's happy and giggly and people send him crap and then he pouts at his lovers. It's just.... Wrong. Very wrong. It's not Xander."
"Maybe you didn't know him that well before?" he suggested. "Or perhaps getting out of the dangers you both faced let him finally find himself?" She pouted but slumped and nodded. "What really bothers you, Willow? That he's happy or that he's gay?"
"That he's happy," she whispered, looking at him. "I'm a bad friend. I know I am."
"Then the best thing is to talk to someone neutral." He gave her a pat on the leg. "The nurses are going to clean you up and we'll get you into the whirlpool later, all right?" She nodded at that. "Good girl. Think about who to talk to. You don't need this sort of stress on top of the new baby and college classes."
"Yes, Doctor Rich." He smiled and walked out, going to make notes in her chart about the talk they'd just had. Before any of the nurses called a social worker to talk to her about getting away from her husband. She looked at the phone and winced when no magic came out. She grabbed it instead, dialing a number. "Buffy, I need to talk to your mom. Because she's good at talking to people who're being poopie heads. I'm in the hospital. No, he's out. Just came out about an hour ago. Because I realized I was mad at Xander for being happy. No, they came. They're in jail. Kidnaping me at gunpoint," she sighed. "He's down in the nursery fussing greatly," she offered with a smile. "Ooh, you missed it, they had to do an exorcism." She giggled. "Tara. She's back at home. Giles taught her and Xander how to do the demon teleporty thing. Thanks. Hi, Buffy's mom. I need smacked on the head with a rolled up newspaper. He's fine. They're both fine. Daddy's fussing over new baby. About an hour ago. Then he pointed out I was destroying my relationship with Xander. Tired of refereeing really." She sighed and nodded.
"Basically. No, I'm mad that he's happy. I'm so screwed up. Though with my parents that's kinda reasonable," she admitted. She listened to the words of wisdom and sighed, nodding. "Thank you. Yeah, anytime. I don't know. I didn't plan on doing it yet. I'm sure we can work up a quick blessing and baptism. Thank you. I will let you both know so you can come down. That way Buffy can apologize for being mad at Xander for being gay." She smiled. "Yup, she was. Of course he beat her with a soft, fuzzy thing. It helped her. That's what Xander does. Even if the new Xander is really odd and weird. Sure, miss you too, Joyce. Watch out for that cult my parents joined. Ryan said Horatio told him that they formed out there after I left. Thank you. Love and miss you guys. Tell Giles. Thanks." She hung up and relaxed, thinking really about the good advice to get her head out of her ass and realize that Xander was the one person who had always protected her, loved her unconditionally, and always came back when she needed him, until this time. Even he had limits and she had pushed *way* past them this time. She sniffled, letting it out now. No one would say anything about a new mother crying. Babies hurt when they came out and she still had hormone problems.
to part 2: