Horatio came back Monday morning and found his desk absolutely clear. Not even the phone on it. "Mr. Wolfe?" he called. "Were you in my office?"
"No," he called from Trace. "Eric was." He came out. "Why did the Chief refuse to let me on paternity leave?"
"I'm not sure. I'm going to check on that right now. Coming?" He nodded, heading with him downtown. They walked into the Chief's office together. "Is he in?"
"He's fighting with Mary out of Vice. He canceled some honeymoon leave," the secretary admitted.
"He canceled my paternity leave," Ryan snorted. "He's got another thing coming, dear. Like my foot up his ass."
"Ryan," Horatio warned. Ryan settled down. "Since it's the same complaint, we're going to support each other." He tapped then walked in, letting Ryan follow him. "Mary."
"Horatio. Did he do it to you?"
"Me," Ryan admitted. "My son just got born two days ago. By the way, Chief, unless you have a very good reason my wife's going to sue you. She's still hormonal and she's already talked to three different lawyers who've assured her what you did to me was illegal and immoral."
He sighed. "We are going to have a threat soon, lady and gentlemen. I need everyone on deck."
"How do we know this?" Ryan asked.
He looked at him. "The same way I know your wife will handle it."
"Ethan gave her something so she can't."
"She still has Mr. Harris."
"Except that they're fighting because my wife's a shrew now and then to him," Ryan said dryly. "She's mad at him for being happy." The Chief gave him a horrified look. "You know what, Xander can take my spot. How about that?"
"That might work better," he admitted. "Mary, dear, I'll do what I can but it'll be within the next few days."
"Fuck you, I'm going anyway," she told him. "I don't care if you do fire me, I'll sue your ass if you do." She stomped off, slamming the door behind her.
"Chief," Horatio said gently. "What precoged threat are we talking about?"
Horatio nodded once. "You won't need Vice for that and I won't need Ryan."
"You have a liability in Speedle."
"Yes, but I have others and Speed doesn't go into dangerous situations. He's exempt from raid situations due to PTSD issues he's seeing someone about. You signed that order yourself." He took the held out paper, staring at it. Then he pulled out his phone. "Xander, dear." He smiled. "Did Speed tell you?" The Chief gave him a horrified look. "Please. What can you do to help us?" He nodded, taking a pen to make notes. "That'll work. Thank you, baby. I love you. Be safe. Of course, take Mahsa shopping, dear. She could use some new clothes." He hung up and looked at him. "You had the date wrong. They're coming next week, not this week. Also, they're going to be traveling into the city. He's already alerted the Feds that he knows. Abby's not happy but she agreed that the accuracy of the person who had the precog made it nearly certain. She put it out as a hint she heard in the mall." The Chief swallowed. "So the Feds are into it. Now, Mr. Wolfe is going on paternity leave. I'll handle my own department."
"Speedle has visions?"
"He was brought back by the Powers," Ryan said quietly. "What do you think?"
"Poor man," he sighed, shuddering and shaking his head. "Where and when?" Horatio handed over the notes. "Speedle is where?"
"With his son being babied for his new headache." Horatio gave him a look. "Alert SWAT that there's been rumors. Set up roadblocks for the three days before then. Call them sobriety checkpoints. Tis the season after all," he said dryly. His boss nodded. "Then let us handle the rest."
"Thank you, Horatio."
"Next time, ask, sir." He walked Ryan out. "Go home, Mr. Wolfe." He ran for a cab. Horatio smiled at him. He made a very fussy father. Xander had to coat his son in dirt to make Ryan quit trying to compulsively clean his bottom and mouth off. It took them nearly two hours to clean him up afterward but Ryan had gotten the point. He went back to his office, finding Eric putting things back. "Why did you steal it?"
"I didn't, someone else did then put it back, so I came up to check for bugs. Had to remove two." He grinned. "Wolfe?"
"Where he should be, Eric. Thank you. Get me Frank and Yelina, plus the others." He nodded, going to do that. They came in a few minutes later. "Ladies and gentlemen. Close the door, Eric." He did that. "We have a threat coming to Miami." Frank groaned. "Those who have...gifts have seen them coming next week. It will be a bombing crusade. They will be coming up from the Keys. We think they took boats to there. The Chief will soon be announcing sobriety checks for the three days our intelligence says they'll be moving during. Two weeks from Tuesday we will have our first bomb if they are not stopped. Calleigh, Ryan is at home, where he should be. Xander has heard some things and has gotten word back to Abby and his ATF client." She nodded at that. "Expect incoming Feds. Frank, Yelina, I need you to work some of your contacts. If they manage to slip around us, I want them found before they get a good foothold. They probably already have an advanced scout setting up a place to stay. I want them found if possible. SWAT is getting the same speech."
"This is why he canceled the leave," Eric said. Horatio nodded. "Stupid." He shook his head. "Speed is...?"
"Having a migraine from his vision," Frank admitted. "He'll be back this afternoon probably. Yelina?"
"I have some people I can check. Horatio, what about Raymond?"
"Asking the one would be a good idea." Frank looked confused. "You didn't hear?" He shook his head. "My brother was working for the Feds."
"Charming! No wonder your son is one big ball of anger," he told Yelina, who nodded. "I'm sorry, he okay?"
"He spends a lot of time with his uncle," she admitted. "It makes him feel better since Raymond and I are working things out. That way I can kill him with a clear conscience. Is he staying over again tonight, Horatio?" He nodded. "That's fine. I'll get a long bubble bath then. How is Willow?"
"Fine and happy. They did an exorcism while she was in labor. It helped."
"Pregnant women are scary but really," Eric joked. Horatio looked at him. "Never mind. I don't need to know."
"Tara has baby envy," Calleigh said with a grin for him. "She wrote me to check on Speed and Xander for her. She's got very bad baby envy."
"They'll be beautiful children," Horatio assured her. "Eric, anything from New York?"
"Not yet. You could try calling Mac."
"Last time I got Stella. That means she's got him kidnaped and tied up again to make him see sense."
He could only nod at that statement. "Okay. Why?"
Frank snickered. "Because she and Messer want in his pants badly, Delko. They've tied him up a few times to get him to listen to reason." He looked at Horatio. "Your boy?"
"If it's necessary, the arsenal is at my disposal," he assured him quietly. That got nods. "All right, briefing is done with." They left, going to call their contacts and see what they could find out. He called Mac. "It's me. Are you untied?" He smiled at his assertion he hadn't been tied the last time, Stella had his phone because he was in the morgue in the MRI room. "That's fine. I was wondering if there was anything new on the box case. That one, yes. Because if they're down here we're about to hit a major snag according to those who can tell ahead of time, Mac," he said quietly. "So I'd like to ship him up to you." He smiled, writing down two names. "We'll see. Thank you." He hung up and went to hand that to Eric. "Here, the last two suspects they have."
He nodded. "I'll go after lunch. Let me finish the primary process on these." Horatio nodded, heading back to his office. "Maybe I'll find out who put the bugs in his office too," he muttered.
Mac hung up, putting his head down. He hated the strange stuff that floated around Xander. He really did. He looked up when he heard a coo, staring at the child standing there. "Where did you come from, sweetheart?" he asked her. She smiled and waved. "Hi." He sat up slowly and she giggled. "Would you like a story? Or I have a candy cane somewhere." He found it, finding a piece big enough that she couldn't choke on. It lured her in and she settled in his lap while he found a report he could read to her. She wasn't very old. He hit the second speed dial button on the phone then the speaker button. "It's Taylor. Do we have a missing toddler? Female, just about old enough to walk?" He hung up, flipping it open. "This is about Mary Cavanaugh," he said, smiling at her. She sucked on her candy and smiled back. "She wasn't a very nice woman but people generally liked her because she was a teacher. She taught first grade, where you'll be some day." He poked her on the stomach and she smiled. An officer came jogging in. "Found her parents?" He turned the page. "It looks like Miss Mary fell down her stairs but the nice neighbors who liked her helped her up and to the hospital, that way the good doctors could take care of her."
She clapped. "'Pital!" she crowed.
"Have you been to a hospital?"
"Many times," Flack said as he walked in. "Speaking of Mistress Mary, how did she die?"
"Blunt force trauma from the machine falling on her," Mac said sotto voice. He smiled at the baby. "Do you know Don?" She raised her hands to him. "That's a good girl. Her parents?"
"Mom was just arrested for stabbing dad. She walked off while we were doing that." He picked her up, earning a smile. "Come on, precious. We'll go back to my desk. I have cookies to go with that candy cane. Thanks, Mac."
"Welcome." He grinned and waved. "Bye, little one."
"Say bye, Hillary."
"Bye!" she said, waving back at him, then sucked on her candy cane again. She smiled at Stella when they ran into her. "Bye."
"Bye," she said, smiling and waving at her. You just had to. She was adorable. "Let's hope she finds someone good to take her in," she told Don.
"I can only hope," he agreed, heading back to his desk. He found Tara waiting. "Hey." He kissed her and then the baby did too. "She was wandering while we arrested her ma."
"It happens I guess," she admitted, taking the baby from him and sitting down. She smiled at her. "You are a very special young woman, dear. You'll be a great woman when you grow up." He kissed her on the top of the head. "Don?" He sat down, smiling at her. "I want, Don."
"What do you want, baby?" She looked at the baby then at him. "Are you sure? I mean, we can be a foster family if you want."
She smiled. "I'd love to, but I want ours first," she whispered. "Please?"
"Whenever you're ready," he promised. "You know that." She smiled and nodded, taking his hand to hold. The baby smiled at them both. He dug out a cookie, letting her have something for her free hand. "We'll talk when we get home," he promised. She smiled and nodded. "You probably should wait three weeks to make sure it's not Willow syndrome," he teased.
"I know. I'm trying, but he's so sweet," she cooed. "Ryan finally got to go on paternity leave too. They got it fixed."
"Good! I like that they got that stuff straightened out." He patted the baby's hair down, looking at his boss. "Hey. They on their way?"
"Yup. She's a sweet girl."
"Let's hope she's got decent relatives," Don offered. He looked at the baby and Tara, then got up, going to ask her. "Hey." She glared at him. "You have anyone we should call about your daughter? Before the system eats her?"
She swallowed. "My mom won't. His mom will try but she's a bad choice. My sister's better even though she's a flake."
"Give me her name and number." She took the pencil and paper, writing it down for him. Then she handed it back. "Thanks. My wife's cuddling her. She's having a cookie and a large piece of candy cane." That got a gentle smile. "I'll call them myself if I have to." He walked back to his desk, finding the social worker talking to Tara and his boss. "Hey. She has a sister she said can take her in." He handed over the name and address. "She called her a flake but said her mother wouldn't and her paternal grandmother shouldn't. She's a sweet and loving girl, very curious. She went to the CSI labs and went to bug Taylor for a story."
"I'll call her down to the office. What sort of flake?"
"Don't know but she was praying hard. So maybe it's a case of an alternate religion. If not, let us know? We might be able to put her up for a few days."
"I'll keep that in mind, Detective. May I?"
"That's my girl, Tara," he offered, taking the baby to kiss. "You be good for your auntie and this one, okay? If you are, I'll give you two more cookies for later." She beamed at that. Tara got them out of his desk, putting them in a napkin for the social worker. He kissed her on the cheek, letting Tara do the same. "There you go, precious."
The social worker smiled. "She'll be fine. There's a lot of very good parents in the system, Detective."
"Yeah but she's sweeter than most. She even got Taylor ta smile after he had a groaning moment." She nodded, walking the baby off. He looked at Tara. "Wait until after the next round of pills wear out," he whispered. "If you still want, I'm there. Or we can plan it for spring break." He pulled something out of his desk and slid it over. "Pick a hotel?" he suggested with a grin. She squealed and hugged him around the neck, making the others in the room give him a smile. "Vacation," he announced.
"He said he'd take me to Paris," she admitted with a bright grin. She went through the brochures while he finished his reports. Then they went to lunch. It was a good, if a bit long, lunch.
Xander looked over when Willow and Ryan walked their son in, waving a hand but going back to his book. "Mahsa's in bed, guys."
"We came to see you." Willow sat across from him. "I wanted to move on, Xander."
Xander looked at her. "Moving on doesn't mean not honoring the past, Willow. It means that you don't dwell in it."
"Naming him after Jesse would have."
"Whatever. Abby agreed we could put it in my son's name."
"How are you and the baby doing?" Ryan asked, patting him on the arm. Xander looked at him and he grinned. "I tried."
"I know you did," he sighed. "She's fine. She's perfectly healthy. We went to get some booster shots today with Mom. We came home and made some popcorn to share and read together, then she went down for a nap. Mom too. She's in the blue bedroom." Ryan smiled at that. "Did you want the name of our doctor?"
"No, we're already going to him," Ryan assured him. "He makes your family happy so I figured he was more than good enough for mine." Xander grinned at that. "Okay, we do have to ask some questions."
"Do you think Horatio would sell the house to us?"
"I think he's waiting on that decision, making sure I'm not going to piss him off beyond all reason. You can ask him."
"I have, he was evasive," Ryan admitted. "Okay, think he'd mind if we painted? Something nice and not too bright or loud? Something warm maybe?" Xander shrugged. He texted that to Horatio, putting it as he was going to suggest it. He got back a 'that would be fine, tell them no blue and no greens.' He showed it to Ryan, who smiled. "Thanks. What do you do about the drooling?"
"Of course he's drooling. He's still working on swallowing and pooping, Ryan. Speaking of..."
"How often does he do this?" Willow complained.
Xander looked at her. "As often as he needs to. He has no control to hold it, like we do. His rectal muscles have no strength and he's got no control of his muscle reflexes. Within a year it'll slow down to once a day or so." He heard the bad noise and looked at him. "Did that feel better, little prince?"
"It's the sixth time today," she complained. She handed Ryan the baby so he could change him. "He likes it," she defended at Xander's curious looks. "He even cleans him better. It sticks to his tiny penis and I don't want to hurt him."
He looked at her. "Have you been taking drugs?" She glared. "I ask because you're being kinda scatterbrained at the moment. Lacking sleep?"
"He never sleeps!"
"He's a baby, Willow. Little Ian will *never* sleep for the next few months. That's why Eric's mother reminded you to buy food you could eat with one hand." She pouted. He sighed and shook his head. "Want me to babysit for a few hours?" She gave him a begging look. "Fine." He went to get the baby from Ryan. "She wants some time off," he offered.
"I wouldn't mind. I'm about to drag her to her doctor to talk about postpartum depression," he admitted quietly.
"Not needed. If she's depressed she does nothing but bake brownies with butterscotch chips." He finished doing up the diaper and took Ian from him. "Hi, Ian. Let's go play. That way Mahsa gets used to a baby in the house." He brought him out, sitting down with him. "There we go. You can hang out with the Unclie Xander today, yes you can." Willow beamed, kissed him on the cheek, and ran for the car. He looked at Ryan. "Dinner?"
"I'll be back by dinner," he promised, smiling at him and heading out. They both needed a nap but Willow definitely needed a rest.
Xander looked at him. "Don't worry, he'll come back for you. They didn't abandon you, Ian." He texted Horatio to say he had Ian then went to put him in with Mahsa, who cuddled up to his side and got comfortable. "Good girl, Mahsa." He patted her, then Ian, who cooed and settled in to nap. He went back down the stairs, turning on the baby monitor. Ian snored, it was cute. He went back to his book, shaking his head when Aiden walked in. "Willow and Ryan needed a nap and a break from diapers."
"Uh-huh. So he's where?"
"In with Mahsa, getting her used to babies."
"Ah." She went to check on them, smiling at her daughter, who had such a confused look on her face while she watched the baby. "That's Ian."
"Mine!" she said firmly.
"No, he's Willow's. He's going home soon." She picked her up and her duck since she reached for it. Apparently she wasn't going to share. She brought her downstairs, letting her down so she could crawl around. "It safe?"
"It is," Xander called. "The dogs are out in the yard too." He smiled at his daughter. "Hey, baby." He kissed her then let her go play.
Aiden flopped down, looking at him. "They not okay?"
"Ryan's fine. He's worried about having a whiny Willow."
"She's a few days post birth. She's allowed to be whiny and sore."
"Yeah but he's worried that she's going to get depressed and stuff." Ian sniffled so he waited. He quit and they relaxed again. "Personally I think that she's her own worst enemy right now. They both said he never sleeps and Ryan's still cleaning him at a moment's notice. He's better now but Willow says she's scared of hurting his penis while cleaning him."
"That's really hard to do," she pointed out. "Is she twisting it?"
"I think she's afraid of it. Maybe I'll suggest to Ryan she get some more up close and personal time with his."
"That's mean so close to birth. Men don't understand how nasty women feel afterward." He gave her a look. "Not that I know first hand," she admitted dryly. She swatted at him and Mahsa swatted at her, scowling. "He deserved it. He's being mean to Auntie Willow."
"She said she wanted to move forward," he said, mimicking her.
"Some people want to forget what made them who they are," she agreed. "It sucks, but it happens."
He nodded. "You're right, it does. Why in the hell was I friends with her? She's been like this for years. Even you pointed out how she was treating me back in high school. It's like that only worse."
She stroked his hand. "She will finish growing up. Ryan's not going to let her be the spoiled princess she has been." He nodded at that. "Did someone tell him about the daughter clause?"
He smirked. "Ethan did."
"Oh, wonderful. I'm sure she was receptive."
"She was possessed."
"Even better." She reached down to grab Mahsa, pulling her into her lap, then moving the duck closer to Xander. He picked it up and handed it to her. "Thanks. She didn't want to share."
"Yeah but she's got to learn to share now and then. Abby promised we could have a lot of visitation. If we lived closer together we'd get him nearly as often as we get her." She smiled at that, giving him another hand pat. Mahsa followed along, giving him a smile too. "Thank you, daughter. That's very nice of you to pat the daddy." She beamed. "You hungry?" She babbled and patted the table. "I got some new mashed bananas stuff." He got up to get it for her, bringing it out with a spoon. "Here we go." He popped open the jar too, making his mother smile at him. "So, they've been here. Any word on Uncle Rory?"
"No, not yet that I've heard." She took his phone and texted that to Horatio. They didn't get back an answer so apparently he was busy. She filled the spoon and let Mahsa dive down to suck on it. "There we go. Do we like this?" Mahsa looked at her. She dug out some more. "Was it good? Want more?" Mahsa smiled and ate another bite for her, making her happy. "I guess she likes this one."
"She's liked most of their stuff," Xander admitted. "I guess we found her brand." He went back to his reading. "I think she'll like this one, Mommy."
"Good. We need more books to make her as bright as you could have been if the teachers had been any good." He grinned at that. Someone tapped on the door. "Who is it?" she called.
Xander got up to look. "Hi, Officer Prestons. We weren't even noisy today."
"You weren't and no one's seen you in two days, the Sarge got worried."
"Ah." He nodded. "I'm with my daughter and babysitting for CSI Wolfe at the moment." He let him inside, letting him see Aiden feeding her. "We're waiting on my son to be born." He went back to his seat, listening to the speaker. "He up?"
"No, he's still snoring. Just having puppy dreams." Aiden fed Mahsa another bite of food. "What's wrong, Prestons? Think I'm too maternal?"
"No, ma'am. She's a pretty girl."
"Thanks," Xander said with a grin. "I don't begrudge her mother having her created, just how the sperm got to her." He looked at him. "What's the other reason?"
"Um, we intercepted a message that IAB Stetler was holding back from your boy. Something about Abby, ransoms, and the baby?"
"Excuse me?" Aiden asked.
"We overheard it, ma'am. We're not real sure. He's not telling anyone anything about it since he confiscated it."
"Thank you," Xander said quietly. "I will be handling that." That got a nod and Prestons left. He texted that to Horatio then called Gibbs. "It's Xander. Is Abby in trouble? Because the IAB twat was overheard withholding a message about her and ransoms, Gibbs. Gibbs, if you need a ransom, you call me. You know that. Not like I don't have it to burn, man. Now, is she in trouble?" He nodded once. "I'll be up there tonight. Oh, yes, I will be. Because I can get information you can't." He hung up and looked at her. "Mom....."
"I heard. Go." He nodded, going down to the bunker to get a few guns, then to make reservations on a private, chartered flight. He came up and went up to their room, going to get dressed in something better than what he was wearing. He came down in hunting clothes, carrying a bag. "Remember to keep them unloaded for the flight," she called after him. She went back to feeding Mahsa her mashed bananas. "We'll be okay," she promised, smiling at her. "So will Daddy. Daddy plans battles very well and the stupid bastard who took Auntie Abby is going to pay dearly. Then maybe she and your little brother can come down to play. Won't that be good?" Mahsa opened her mouth so she shoveled in more food. "Sure, we can do that too. Then we'll talk about baby brothers and sharing." She tasted a bite, it wasn't too bad as babyfood went.
Xander called someone on the flight up. "It's Harris," he said quietly. "Yeah, I just heard. Because there's an IAB officer who was keeping that information from me and Horatio. Yup, him. If you can, you can. Have they made a ransom demand? Because I have money to piss on, Fornell. Have they? You know what, have them call me directly. Not Gibbs, me. Yeah, I'm on my cell. It's shielded in this plane. Private flight. Thanks." He hung up and waited. His phone rang and he looked at the number. It had a text code. "Yes?" he answered. He listened to the demands. "Fine. I need twenty-four hours. I want to talk to Abby first and I want your promise not to harm her or my son. Yes, I'm quite sure it's my son. Put her on or I will destroy you. Baby, I'm that powerful and I've got friends. Now, put my baby's momma on or else no money and destruction down to the soul level will occur within seconds." She was put on. "Are you all right?" he asked. "No, I just now got told. Stetler was holding it away from us. You okay?" He smiled. "Abby, what did I do best back in Sunnydale?" he asked gently. "Trust in me." He smiled when the guy came back, not a very nice smile either.
"Okay, now I want your promise. Because if something happens to her before then I will kill you anyway. Twenty-four hours. Because it'll take another three to get there and the local banks will be closed by then. That means I'll have to get it in the morning. I just took off from Miami. Hey, blame that on Stetler down in IAB. He didn't tell us and he took the message so no one else could either. Yeah, that guy." He raised an eyebrow. "Twenty-four hours. She's given at least the humane basics. Bathroom, water, food, medical if she's ill. Because she's due in three weeks, man. That's kinda necessary and I doubt you want to deliver the baby yourself. Exactly. Hey, if she does and you do protect her and get her to help, then I'll gladly pay you anyway. Agreed, that much, twenty-four from now. Call me tonight with a drop location. Thank you." He hung up and waited. Ten minutes later he called Santiago. "I'm in your neck of the woods in an hour. I'm not coming for a visit. Someone took Abby. This is just a head's up," he reported then he hung up. Then he settled in to make plans. He knew this guy somehow. He knew the guy knew Horatio, knew Stetler. He had described him, kind of, during the call. He was in the PD down there or in the lab itself. He sent that note back to Horatio's cellphone then settled in to rest his mind.
It was going to be a long day.
But, hey, violence at night was his speciality. So was surviving the impossible and saving others.
Horatio looked at his phone, frowning. He got up, going to find Frank. "Where's Rick?"
"Hopefully licking his balls somewhere far from us. Why?"
"Because apparently someone's been withholding information from me today. Abby was taken last night and no one told us on his orders." Frank hissed and winced. "Seen him, Frank?"
"No, and I want to be far, far away when you find him, so let me go to lunch and take Yelina with me." He got up and went to find her, taking her to a nice, simple crab place down by the water. It might be out of the blast radius.
Horatio walked up to the head IAB office. It wasn't that far away. He tapped then walked in like normal. "Is he in?"
"No, if I see him I'm killing him," he said pleasantly. "Norm."
"He's in a meeting with Stetler."
"Thank you." He pulled out his cuffs, heading into the office. "There you are, Rick," he said happily. "Stand up please." Stetler gave him an amused look. So he hit him, then hauled him up. "Thank you. You are under arrest for the charge of obstruction of justice and resisting arrest. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed for you. Do you understand these rights?" Rick made squeaky noises. "I'll take that as a yes." He walked him off, clearly past every single cop he could. Then he shoved him into an interrogation room, blatantly locking the door. "Rick, you decided to withhold a crucial, life threatening message from myself, my staff, everyone who knows me, and my lover. That message could save Abby's life. Now, if she's killed, I will be counting you as an accessory to her murder because it is clear to me that you had some help in it. I will also be digging to see if you are an accomplice or not." Someone pounded on the door. "I'm busy," he noted coldly. "You have one chance to make it so I don't throw you in gen pop and announce that you're a child raping police officer." He moved closer. "Who has her?"
"All I did was decide it would interfere with the running of your lab!" he sneered.
"Not good enough, Rick. Pity." He stared down at him, seeing the look of hatred. "You've now endangered the life of a very nice woman, a federal agent by the way, and her unborn son, which is more than viable at this moment. That means you can be charged with both their homicides in this state. Or in the Federal government thanks to some new laws being signed presently. I will make sure you go to the chair if she's hurt."
"I can, Rick, and by the way, time's up. Oh well. Xander's already on his way up there." The man growled and lunged at him so he tripped him in the approved method and put him down, standing on his chest, putting enough direct pressure on his ribs that he was in screaming agony, hence the noises he was making at the moment. The people outside couldn't hear them through the glass. This room didn't have an observation chamber either. It was a design flaw. All the people watching saw was him doing things by the book. He looked outside and pointed at an officer, then at Stetler, mouthing 'booking forms'. The officer nodded and went running. He pressed then got off him, leaving him moaning. "It's a shame your jealousy of me being the better officer ruined a fine career, but to endanger Abby's life like that? Hmm. I pity you when Gibbs finds you." He unlocked the door, taking the slips, which were partially filled out.
"Thank you." He slammed the door again, finishing them. He signed them, making them official, then he showed them to Rick, making him go pale. "This is going to make my year," he vowed, grabbing him by the cuffs and opening the door again so he could drag him past the cops waiting around and down to booking. Rick's boss got in the way so he held up the slip. "He decided to withhold information on a kidnaping. The kidnaping of the mother of Xander's second child. Who is a federal agent in NCIS. Under Gibbs." The man's eyes went wide. "If she dies, he'll be getting two homicide charges as well." He walked him on, taking him down to booking. "Here, have this piece of shit before I kill him," he noted quietly, handing over the forms. "Put him in gen pop. Let someone announce that he's trying to hurt kids. Because he is."
"You won't get away with this," Rick sneered.
"Don't make me hit you again, Rick. You won't like it." The booking sergeant came out. "The cuffs stay on. He is to be considered dangerous and a flight risk. I know for certain he's got hidden accounts. Yelina's son found them."
"Yes, Lieutenant." He walked Stetler back to fingerprint and take his photo. Horatio watched the whole process, looking very smug. The booking sergeant looked at the IAB officer, shaking his head. "You have the life expectancy of a gnat. Next time, don't betray the badge." He finished him up and put him into a holding cell. That way they could get him to an arraignment as quickly as possible. He called the courthouse personally. "We have a dirty cop in holding," he said quietly. "Stetler. IAB. Thank you. Caine did. He's so livid he's cold. Please, before the building has to be rebuilt again." He hung up and came out. "Transport is coming now, Lieutenant."
"Good, I'll follow it. I want to be there for this whole process." He went back to his office, finding his boss in there pacing. He sat down long enough to type up the report, proofread it once, then printed and signed it, attaching it to a copy of the booking sheet. Then he handed it over. "I'm going to cheer on the prosecutor and wait for Xander to call. Anything else I can do today for the department, sir?"
"He did what?"
"It's in there." He walked off, going to follow the transport in. They were going to push him through quickly so he'd have a long time in jail to think. He ran into Yelina against his hummer. "I know you heard."
"I did. I had to get away from Frank. Why? Abby's a sweet girl."
"He's jealous. He's been trying to poison people against Xander as well." He slid in and revved the engine before closing the door and backing out of his parking spot. The ride was a happy one. He even turned on the radio. He would worry about Abby in a little while. Gibbs had it well in hand and if he didn't, Xander did.
Xander walked into NCIS late that evening. "Is Gibbs still in?" he asked. The guards nodded. "He's expecting me, I'm the father of Abby's son. Also I've got two weapons on me and my permit in my wallet."
"I'll need those, sir." Xander handed them over, going through the metal detector. They were handed back. "Thank you for being honest."
"Oh, I'm going to kill whoever has her." The guard looked stunned. "No one told you someone kidnaped Abby last night either? Wow, I thought that was a Miami problem." He shrugged and got onto the elevator, heading up to the floor Abby told him to go to long ago. He walked off and handed Tony his camera. "Upload those. That's where she's being held. A frontal assault won't work with that structure, the doors are welded shut." He looked at Gibbs. "He's expecting the money drop tomorrow, he did vow to me on his soul that she would be well taken care of tonight. Because he knows I can do it. He knows us somehow. He's been to Miami, he knew Stetler was withholding the note when I mentioned I had just left Miami, and he knew my habits. He asked about Mahsa's pretty new pink dress we bought her three days ago." Gibbs nodded once. "Before you say a *word* I'm going. I'm as well trained as McGee at the very least. There's also the fact that I planned graduation," he finished quietly. "Now, you have pictures, including of her. She's fussing at him greatly to annoy him. She saw me but he didn't. Sneaking around staking vampires has a great benefit for sneaking around to find hiding spots and what's going on inside them."
"How did you get in?" Tony asked.
"Sewer drain. No one ever checks those or skylights." He looked at Gibbs again. "You couldn't call *directly*?"
"I didn't want this situation."
"Well, you have it. And either I'm going with you or I'm going without you. Take your pick, man." He turned to look at Tony and McGee, both of whom looked stunned. "Yay, I'm trained. Not like Buffy plans. Or Giles." He came over to look at the photos Tony had uploaded. "Okay, here's a small door but it'll creak. It's rusted shut. The main doors are welded shut. There's this window here. There's another sliding door in the back but it's also rusty and the track's caked with dirt, nearly solid. There's a skylight, there's the sewer access, or we can wait until the drop and get her."
Tony nodded. "Thanks, Xander." He looked at him. "You're kinda scary."
"Just wait. You never got to see me hunt." He looked at Gibbs again. "Do you want to risk getting her tonight or wait for tomorrow?"
"I'd rather go tonight. She's had some practice contractions."
Xander nodded once. "Okay, how would you like to do it?"
"How did you get in?" He came over to look at the pictures. "That's one very old metal building."
"Sheet metal too," Xander offered. "Not the best quality. Like the stuff they use on carports. Pretty thin. Some places were bending in the wind. I came in through the sewer. There's an access hatch about half a mile up," he said, drawing a map. "It's one of the worker accesses instead of trying to get in through a nearby manhole and getting lost. It's got a map on the wall so I followed it. Only got lost once." He pointed at the interior shots. "The access comes up in that corner by the second sliding door. It's in shadows, there's no cover, but if he's looking it'll be a pain to get up. We could gas but not with Abby nearby. So we could draw him that way to the noise and get him. Or we could make him paranoid and want to give her up." He looked at him. "Random bangs, howls, noises to cover us getting a door open. I would suggest the other door since any light in that shadow will be seen and the door's bright green in the right light. He had a coleman lantern and an oil lamp for light. The potty was a toilet without running water but he did have some jugs of water to flush and drink with. He's not fully survival trained but apparently he can camp."
"How survival trained are you?" McGee asked.
Xander looked at him. "Enough. I survived Sunnydale and my parents, McGee. I survived sleeping outside on Christmas Eve in Sunnydale every year for a lot of years. I'm not to the level of fanatic but I'm good enough with the proper supplies."
"Okay. Better than me. I have problems starting a campfire without matches."
"It depends on what types of rocks you can find," Tony noted, staring at Xander. "You can't go. It's against regulations."
"Then I can knock you out and go without you," he said with a bright grin. "Your choice, Tony. Really." Gibbs grabbed his shoulder and he did a nice hip toss. "Don't do that. Mahsa's been sleeping on it and I'm pinching a nerve now and then. Pain makes me cranky." He looked down then helped him up. "Now, how would you like to go in?"
"Can you lure him out?" Tony asked. He wanted to forestall the screaming match those two would have until *after* he had cleared the building. He'd even be nice and warn others so they could clear the building too. Having Ducky die would be a shame.
"Yeah, I can lure him out. He didn't want that much." He shrugged. "I have it on me." He pulled out the three bundles of cash. "I had it before I left Miami. I took out more just in case. The question is, would he be paranoid enough to come out then?"
"Yes," Gibbs admitted. "Without hurting Abby." He sent a message to that text id, telling him they'd have the money in two hours. They'd text a spot to meet them. To bring Abby. He got back a smiley face. "He can't even type in messages. He spelled in net speak."
"Even I can spell better than that," Xander said dryly. "There or here, Gibbs?"
"There. Just up the street and out of hearing."
Xander nodded, flipping pictures by stealing Tony's mouse. "Then I would suggest here. Open, not too crowded, but nothing that should impede arrest. The noise of the traffic will cover the noise of us breaking in if it has to. It closes at eleven. It's eight now."
"We can do that. Sit an agent there with us," Tony offered, calling Ziva back from her dinner break. "It's me, come back now. We have news." He hung up, looking at Gibbs. "Who goes in to get her?"
"He's got to be there to drop the money," Gibbs noted.
"Which I'm fine with. Give me a backup agent." Gibbs and Tony both snickered. "Guys, has it escaped your attention that I was one of the main hunters in Sunnydale? At least three nights a week for three years? Plus regular issues of world-endage?" They all gave him horrified looks. "I *am* a combat veteran and nothing gets away from me. I'm an end game, doorstop fighter. Really." Gibbs nodded once. "The same as I like weapons. Now, who's my backup?"
"You'll get Ziva. She's all pounce." Gibbs was already making plans to break the cocky attitude later on and he knew both his male agents could see that. DiNozzo almost looked amused at something, hopefully at the way the kid was acting.
"That's fine." He texted that same number the address and the time. "I set it for ten sharp. To come have coffee with me." He grabbed the money, putting it into the manilla envelope Tony gave him. "Thank you too." Ziva came off the elevator looking stunned to see him. "Get your shit and let's go, Ziva. You're coming with me. They're going in on the rescue." She looked at Gibbs, who nodded. "Think I should change to make a better impression?"
"No," Tony offered. "You can do rumpled and worried. It's natural. Won't make him think you're there to eat him."
"I know things that can do that." Ziva gave him a funny look so he broke into Hebrew. "I grew up on Boca del Inferno," he told her. "I hunted with the slayer for three years. I was her planning person." Ziva went pale. "You're backing me up while they go in to rescue her," he said in English. She nodded, grabbing her gun. "And I'm driving. I've heard about yours." He took her down to the parking garage, getting into his rental car. "Envelope?"
"Tony handed it to me." She handed it back and he nodded, putting it in his lap before he started the engine and backed out, then drove a bit fast. He missed his ferarri. "You drive like Gibbs," she complained.
"I miss the ferarri my grandfather got for me," he admitted. "I have something safe and reliable but it's in the garage and I need more reasons to take it out." He glanced over, then back at the road. "Can't put a baby seat in a two-seater with the husband riding."
"Mahsa?" he prompted. "Abby's been bragging for weeks."
"I thought that was her niece."
"No, Mahsa's my daughter out of the first kidnapers. She's a beautiful ten months old and she's a very happy baby most of the time." He found his way back to the coffee shop, parking and getting out, checking the address. He got some coffee and sat down, envelope under one of his thighs. His guns were unsnapped when he saw the guy wandering his way looking around. He took another drink, giving him a look over the rim. The guy sat down across from him. "How do you know me?"
"I've seen you around, Mr. Harris."
"Hmm. I figured out you've been in Miami and you've got someone inside the PD that's giving you information. Can I know who?"
"Pity. Horatio's going to be pissed that I didn't find out."
"He had his fun earlier with Stetler," he sneered. "My money?" Xander put the envelope on the table, letting him have it. "Nice big bills. Non sequential. ATM?" Xander nodded, finishing his coffee. "It's been a pleasure doing business with you, Mr. Harris."
"Is safe. I'll drop her off at an ER in about forty minutes. She can call from there, that way you can make sure your son is fine." He sneered at him. "Why did you need a son anyway?"
"Because someone drugged us and used us."
"Pity you couldn't do that with a real woman."
Xander stood up and grabbed him by the throat, pulling him closer. "Abby's closer than you'll ever be after I cut that small, meaningless dick off you and then cut in a vaginal opening," he growled. He squeezed, making the man gasp for air. "What's wrong? Did you want to be the one knocked up instead? Did you want to be the one who got serviced? Maybe you think I'll put you in my straps and work you over out of gratitude?" He started to turn blue so he eased up for a moment then squeezed again, adjusting his grip. The man went blue immediately. "That's a good shade on you. Fortunately I did learn the essences of breath play, even though I don't play with it. I'll make an exception for you." The man batted weakly at his hand. Ziva came over to get him. "Oh, give me a few more," he cooed, petting him before knocking him down.
"You broke my jaw," the guy mumbled, holding it. "You hurt me!"
"No shit, Sherlock." He moved around the table and kicked him, making him scream in pain. "That's for kidnaping the mother of my child." He got him in the nuts since he was rolling around. "That's for pissing me off. Not to mention pissing Horatio off." He turned and walked off. "Going to get my girl now. Thank you. Ziva?"
She got the man cuffed and called Gibbs to see if she should get him an ambulance or take him back to the office and someone there could look him over. She hauled him up and to the car. "Feel very lucky he's relented and letting you live, pussbag." He mumbled something. "I know what I meant!" She hotwired the car and took off, driving her best... for her in a bad mood.
Xander went to get himself another coffee and one for Gibbs. Abby always said to bring him a gift of coffee if you had to deal with him. He probably needed one to keep himself from being yelled at. Not that he wouldn't tune him out if he did.
Tony looked around the inside of the warehouse, then nodded it was clear. "Abby?" he called.
He headed for the only door in the place, it had to be that one. Humans were funny that way. He tapped then opened it, finding her handcuffed to the toilet. "He decided you went too much?"
"Not my fault he sits on my bladder," she complained. He came in to look at the cuffs. "They're not standard cop issue. You'll have to remove the pipe if Ziva isn't here." Xander walked in behind them, handing Gibbs a coffee, then moved her gently off to the side. Then he gave it one good kick. The sink fell, pipes and all. They got her off them and standing, then he gave her a body-crushing hug. "Awww, it's all right. He wasn't that scary. He thought you were tainting Horatio but he's not that scary or that mean." She patted him on the back, making him pull back to grin at her. "That's my good shopping buddy." He grinned brighter. "Where is he?"
"Ziva hotwired my rental car to take him back to the station. You, young lady, need someone to make sure you're okay."
"And we're going to make sure of that," he promised, walking her off. "Your only choice is the nice sirens of the ambulance ride or not."
"Ducky can do that," Tony said, following behind them. He wanted to be far, far away when Gibbs started to yell at the boy.
Gibbs looked at the coffee, sniffing it. "Hmm." He tasted it and nodded. "Even got it right. Abby must've told him. Pity it won't save him." He walked off, McGee following behind him shaking his head. "Ducky can do that," he told the boy.
"I didn't know he was an OB."
"He does most of the minor medical for the group," McGee offered. "Everything up to Tony's plague and gunshot wounds."
"I thought I was doctor phobic," he said dryly, looking at her. "If that's what you really want."
"I'm fine, Xander. Just hungry."
"He didn't feed you!" he demanded.
"Oatmeal." The growl made her step back into Tony. "It's okay, I like oatmeal. You can't hurt him. He's in custody."
"Bet me. I'll pull a Willow," he snorted. "He hurt you!"
"I'm fine. Really." She pulled him closer to hug him again. "See, I'm fine and little Jesse is kicking up a storm in there." He laid a hand on her stomach but it had been very warmth inducing that he had wanted to check on her first instead of the baby. He liked her! She smiled and stroked his cheek. "We're both okay." He moved his hand and hugged her again. "That's my good boy. Now, where's Horatio?"
He gave her a confused look. "Miami, where else would he be?"
"He let you out alone?" Tony asked. Caine had seemed so much more overprotective before.
"He had his own problems to deal with. Stetler wouldn't let anyone tell him about her being kidnaped under penalty of losing their badges. I found that out when I was on the flight up." They all shuddered. "Frank texted me and said that the station's still standing and Horatio was so pissed he couldn't even yell. So he's calming down." He looked at Abby. "Are you sure? I make a very fussy best friend and the position is open at the moment."
"What did she do this time?" she sighed, leading him to the car. There wasn't enough room so she ended up in Xander's lap. "Xander?"
"Lots of little stuff. Like saving her life wasn't a good reason to be friends. I think Joyce told her to pull her head out of her ass too." She smiled at him when he wrapped the seatbelt around both of them and she snuggled in to be held. "You're fully sure? I mean, there's like three hospitals on the way and Ziva's probably having fun with him since I got to hit him."
"No, Ducky's fine. If he says so I'll go and you can go with me." He nodded, giving her a cuddle. She smiled at McGee, who grinned back. "Nice move with the coffee," she whispered in his ear. He grinned at her, then went back to cuddling her. "Too bad I couldn't get that one thing through airport security."
"One in my bag," he offered with a kiss to the cheek.
"Do you do this to Horatio when he gets sick?" Tony asked.
"He doesn't get sick," Xander pouted. "I'm losing my fussing touch. I like to fuss. Whoever she ends up with will be fussed over too." He stared at him until he got the point and looked away again. She swatted him. "They will. Especially if you get majorly sick or move closer to Miami."
"She's staying in NCIS, kid," Gibbs ordered.
"So? There's an office closer to us. Your whole team can move and I'd fuss over all of you. Alexx would be proud of me. She said I fussed over Daddy nearly as well as she did when he had to skid his bike. Even Stepmom was amazed at my fussing skills."
"The next time DiNozzo gets really sick we'll send him down to you so he takes all his medical leave," Gibbs offered dryly, taking a corner a bit sharply. He was still going to chew the kid a new one back at the office. He got them back there and Xander carried Abby to the morgue. He was in high fuss mode and even Gibbs had to smile at that move. Ducky gave him an odd look. "He's fussing over her."
"I can see that. I'm surprised she's not in the Emergency Room."
"He tried really hard to talk her into it," Tony assured him, pulling Xander off Abby so Ducky could get in there. Ducky smiled at him then got to work checking her over. He smiled at her and she hugged him. "She good?"
"Just fine. A bit peckish perhaps but good. Nothing's harmed her or the baby, Xander."
"More concerned about her," he pouted, giving her another hug. "Okay, now let's go beat the guy again."
"You can't beat him once he's in custody," Tony assured him. "No matter how much we want to, we can't either."
"Have you seen him yet, Ducky?" Gibbs asked. "Xander said he hit him."
"Oh, yes. Broke his jaw on the left side. I also got him an ice pack for his testicles. They were a bit swollen and in pain."
"Shoot, I didn't kick him hard enough if they're back down already," Xander complained. She stroked through his hair. "I'm fine. I promise I'm fine." He whispered in her ear, getting a giggle and her walking off with him. "I brought her a present."
"Of course he did," Gibbs agreed, shaking his head. "The kids has balls of iron."
"Constant combat can do that to one. I'm guessing he's suppressing the hunting and battle instincts in Miami, boss," Tony offered. Gibbs looked at him. "Not like he'll go hunting most vampires and Caine would never let him do it alone. I don't see Caine being one to dress up and go out to hunt vampires either." Gibbs just nodded at that, heading up to interrogation. He found the director watching him. "He had Abby."
"I heard." She looked at him. "Did Ziva hit him?"
"No. Harris hit him."
"The father of Abby's son. He came up with the ransom and found where she was being held." He walked out and walked into the interrogation room, finding Ziva in there. "He say anything yet?"
"A lot of mumbles about how candy canes should be straight or something. It's very hard to understand him with his broken jaw. How's Abby?"
"Fine. Xander brought her a present." She smiled at that. "They're in the bullpen somewhere with DiNozzo trailing them. Go help." She nodded, going to do that. He sat down across from him. "So, you wanted Caine?" The man gave him a heated look. "Usually the people who want to steal him from Xander give him things, they don't take the mother of his future child. You're probably very lucky he couldn't get up here himself." The man moaned, putting his head down. "Sit up!" he snapped. The man sat up. "Thank you. Now, you did this why?" he demanded. The man started to mumble. "Try louder and clearer. I know you can." He glared at him. The man mumbled louder and tried for clearer. "Open." He did that, wincing. "Hmm. He broke teeth too. Bit your tongue too. Pity." He slapped down a pad of paper and a pen. "Write it out." The man sighed but went to writing. "That's not what I asked." The guy glared and went back to writing what he wanted, handing it over to him. "Uh-huh. Your accomplices in Miami? We already heard about Stetler." The man shook his head. "He'll be going down for it anyway, even if he wasn't formally inducted into the conspiracy. I want their names. Otherwise I let the kid have you." He stared at him and slid the paper and pen back. "Now." Someone knocked. "Busy!"
"I believe he's ours," Fornell said as he walked in. Gibbs glared at him. "He stole a federal agent."
"It crosses state lines too," Xander said from behind him. "But you can have him after Gibbs has had his fun, DD Fornell. He stole Abby." He walked around him and looked at him. "Who's your playmate down in Miami?" he asked calmly, a bit quietly, but his full glare was on him. The man wilted. "Posture!" he snapped. The man sat up straight. He moved around to hiss in his ear. "I will know or I will tell your cellmate how to act in my stead," he hissed. "I will make sure you pay for hurting what's mine. Am I clear?" The guy nodded. "I want their names. All of them. Every damn last one and every other bad thing you've ever done in your lifetime. Or else Gibbs is the least of your worries. Remember where I grew up," he finished. The man whimpered and began writing. "Just because you don't believe doesn't mean they're not real," he promised, one hand on the back of his neck. Not putting pressure, just reminding him he was there and going to hurt him. He finished writing five names and looked at him. "Is that all of them?" He nodded. "So Stetler was just fortuitous?" He nodded again. "Thank you. Gibbs, Horatio would like those names."
"Of course. I'll fax them down to him with a report on your stupidity and arrogance, Xander."
Xander grinned. "It's not arrogance if it's true, Gibbs." He looked at Fornell. Then down at his victim, then back at him. "I'll let you torture him for me. I'm sure you know some very neat toys." The man shuddered and slumped. "What did I say?" he asked in that same deceptively calm and quiet voice. The man sat upright again, holding his nuts. "Good idea," he growled. The man got up and went to hide behind Fornell. "Awww. Good boy! You deserve ear scratches for that. I'll let your future cellmate know you need them." He looked at Gibbs. "Abby and her present are both in the lab. It's still a very thin bag." He smiled at Fornell, walking around him, watching the guy scoot around Fornell to keep him between them. "Awww, good boy! Two nights of ear scratches. By the time you're done you'll like your roomie nearly as much as I like mine." The man swallowed and clutched at Fornell. He walked off smiling.
"Get off," Fornell ordered. "Sit down!" The man slumped and slunk back over there, looking like a kicked puppy. "You know, I never saw that one as scary before."
"I have. Now I'm seeing how scary he can be. He's also fussing over her. Sat her in his lap in the car, all that." Fornell smirked. "I know, it's cute and she deserves it, but still." He glared at the guy, making him slump down. "What did I say!" he snapped. He sat up straight again. "Thank you," he growled. The man whimpered.
"Let me, Jethro. Do we know who he is?"
"I didn't frisk him and Ziva didn't mention it."
"Hmm." He came over to frisk him, finding his ID case. "Interesting." He held it up, getting a snort of pleasure. "Pity." He put the shiny badge down on the table and pulled the guy up, watching how he was still cupping his nuts. "What happened to him anyway?"
"Before Ziva could arrest him, Xander apparently broke his jaw and some teeth, he bit his tongue during it or while she drove him back, and Xander also apparently got him in the balls."
"Good for him. I can think of some people who'd like a shot. She wears the scary shoes too." He walked him off, taking custody of their prisoner. He'd come back for the statement once he was locked in the car since it was cold outside. The car would be nice and chilly. Just the thing to bring down his swelling. He came back into the elevator and looked around, sniffing. "What the hell is that stink?" He got out, deciding he could get it faxed instead. He didn't want to stink that way. He'd never get it out of his suit.
Tony looked up when the air conditioning unit suddenly started. It was barely sixty in the building. That meant there was a heavy chemical stink and someone had turned it on. Then he realized what Abby had wanted to test and see. He moaned and got up, going to find a gas mask. He handed one to McGee. He was mean but not that mean. He handed one to Gibbs too. "It'll stink soon," he told him, going back to his reports. He looked around. "His bag's gone too, boss."
Gibbs put on the mask in the elevator, going to the lab. "What are you doing!" he demanded as he walked in.
"Playing with the super stench bomb, Gibbs. Even Miami's thinking about using them," she said from behind hers. "I put it into a glass box and withdrew a sample. This is only from the sample." He moaned, glaring at her. "By the way, Xander's gone. He said I could come cuddle up with him tonight if I didn't get pounced by whoever was worried. He thought someone might be," she said, going back to work.
"I was, but this is mean, Abby."
"It's the hormones, Gibbs. I want to be a mean and bad girl suddenly. Or maybe it's where Xander turns girls bad so he can have them." She smiled at the director, who didn't have a gas mask, only a cloth over her mouth and nose. "Xander created it. It's being tested in Miami for use by SWAT and other teams for extraction purposes." She got back to work. "I want to know how he makes it. He said he makes it in the sink. Then again, I can't cook as badly as Xander does. I'm not that poisonous."
Gibbs shook his head, pulling her away from there. "It can't be good for you. Neutralize the sample."
"That's what I'm trying to figure out. He said rotten lemons." She shrugged and beamed behind her mask, going back to it.
"Who sent us this present?" the director demanded, only having caught half of it.
"Xander's the baby's father," she said, turning to look at her boss. "He makes these stink bombs. They came in handy back in his former town. He offered them to Miami Rapid Response for their use in extractions. He offered them to us too so I'm testing one, Director. Sorry about the stink. It's from the small sample." She held up the beaker. "The rest is in a glass box." She pointed at it. "It apparently takes a few minutes to get fully ripe." The director stomped off. She shrugged and got back to work.
"No, Abby, that's mean to the rest of us," he complained, pouring it down the sink. He drug her off, letting the guy in hazmat gear take the box. "It's a new stink bomb for extraction purposes." They nodded, going to gather that. Someone else would want that too. He drug her outside, meeting with the rest of his team and Ducky. He took off the mask, huffing the fresh air. "It even got through the mask. I'm impressed."
"Me too," Tony said. "How do I get it off me?"
"He said rotten lemons worked best, then a tomato juice scrub after that. He used to use that to make vampires leave their hiding spots. They have more sensitive senses of smell."
"That's just cruel," Tony decided, walking off before he gagged. "Boss, I'll start calling around to see who has some rotten lemons for you. Because you stink." He pulled out his phone, calling someone. "Cynthia, I know you work in a farmer's market, we need rotten lemons to take the stench off us after something went up in the lab. No, he said rotten ones then tomato juice. Just past good might be okay. I don't know. He said that then tomato juice. Please. I'm at NCIS. There's five of us who need it really badly and one's pregnant. She was testing it. A new assault tool," he admitted, shaking his head. "It's so bad it got through a gas mask," he admitted. "Please?" He smiled. "Thanks, dear. Miss you." He hung up and looked at them again. "I'm going to stay over here before I get sick but one of my exes works in produce so she's bringing some that're past the point of being sold. I told her there was five of us. Where's Ziva, boss?"
"I don't know," he admitted, looking at the building. He called her. "Where are you?" He nodded. "That works. Thank you." He hung up. "She's with the director and Mr. Palmer. They're on the other side of the building. Ducky apparently left right before she opened it."
McGee texted the cure to Palmer then looked over as a pickup pulled up. "Please let that be her. I stink and I wasn't anywhere near the lab." He walked off, gagging from the stink clinging to Abby and his boss. "Please let this work."
"Rub the pulp directly on your skin, Probie," Tony instructed. "This is also how you take bad dead body scents from your body. Only you use good lemons then. Thank you, Cynthia, how much do I owe you?"
"They're free, Tony. I don't want to know what you got into." She handed him the rest of the boxes and drove off holding her breath.
"Boss, come get a box!" he called. He went back to rubbing it into his skin, then his hair. His face was last and he was very careful not to get any in his eyes or nose. Then he opened a container of tomato juice, starting with his hands. He sniffed. "Worked on most of it, boss," he reported, getting away from the stink coming closer. McGee moved too. Just in case it clung to them. "Abby, where is the little freak?"
"He said he thought someone who loved me and wanted me would be pouncing me tonight or else I was more than welcome to come curl up with him while he made a dirty phone call back to Horatio and Greg, then I could have cuddles."
Tony looked at her and sighed. "Wanna watch a movie with me instead? That way I can warp little Jesse back toward being a normal boy?"
"She's going to need a shower anyway, we all will," Gibbs admitted. "I have crappy water pressure."
"My building has okay," McGee offered.
"Mine's a fantastic water saving showerhead that's adjustable. A bit phallic but at the highest setting I can blow marble off the shower wall." They all smiled at him. "Probie?"
"I'll head home, Tony. Um, boss, your car?"
"Cab," he and Tony said in unison.
"No way is this stink getting near my car," Tony assured him. "If it does, I'm going to make Harris clean it with a toothbrush. Every single inch."
Gibbs nodded. "We'll have to keep him from flying out tomorrow so we can have a discussion with him."
"Ooh, and find out how he makes those," Abby offered. "Tony, can I borrow your shower too?"
"Of course." He smiled and pointed at the box Gibbs held. "Get some of the cans of juice too. We'll leave the rest for the director."
"She was in there without a mask," Abby offered. She grabbed another box. "There, that should be enough for the three of us." McGee took some of hers and a few more, then two cans of the juice. She put a few extra cans of juice into the bare spots. "Cab?"
Tony called one. "We need a cab at NCIS and warn the driver we've just had a body call, we're going to unstink right now. Yeah, non-cloth seats, man. Thanks." He hung up, then he texted the director's phone. By the time she made it around the building they were headed off and McGee was left to point at the lemons and juice then flee.
Sheppard looked at the boxes of lemons. "Why?"
Mr. Palmer looked. "Lemon juice is what we use when we've had a really smelly body, Director," he offered. "I'm guessing there's something in the past-due lemons that helps it more. The tomato juice usually works to take skunk stink out and the text said to use it after the lemons. You want to mash the pulp and juice into your skin and hair, then scrub." He took his own. He didn't stink that much. Ziva got hers and a can of juice too. "I've got some at home," he said at her curious look, smiling. "I have a glass each morning and I don't smell that much." They carefully stayed away from the director, letting her have the last few boxes of lemons and the containers of juice. She'd need them. She had gotten exposed in the lab then the hazmat guy had bumped into her, splashing some more of the liquid on her. They fled, leaving her to shower wherever she wanted. Not like they wanted to watch.
Xander walked in the next morning. "Not armed this time," he quipped. The guard from last night smirked at him. "What?"
"That stinky thing, sir?"
"That's my super stink bomb, it works very well. Miami's testing it too."
"Definitely cleared this building," the guard noted, getting him through the metal detector. This time it beeped. "Hmm. Piercing?"
"Yes and I can't take it out."
"Welded?" he joked.
"Behind my penis. I can't get to it well enough. It's my version of an engagement ring and I switched out last night. It has a magnetic close."
"Ah." He handwanded him, finding that was the only beep so he let him through. "Gibbs is at his desk. Took us four hours to get the air cleaned on their floor."
"Wow, good ventilation system," he joked, grinning at him. "Think about it for SWAT."
"I'd run and beg to be arrested if they'd clean it off me." Xander got onto the elevator once he had his visitor's pass, going up there. He shook his head. "He's in so deep when Gibbs bites him."
Xander came off the elevator and found Tony watching for him. He shrugged. "She wanted to test one, guys." He walked over, presenting himself in front of Gibbs. "You needed to see me bad enough you put in a warrant to question me so I can't fly home?"
"Do you know how dangerous and stupid that was!" he snapped.
Xander looked at him. "Yes but I know how necessary it was too. You guys don't have access to the same network I do."
"How did you find out where she was being held?" Tony asked.
"I asked a few of the local demons." He shrugged and looked at Gibbs again. "I only found out an hour after I got here, Gibbs. I figured doing a lone wolf rescue would've given you a bigger headache when I stole her back to Miami with me." He stared him down. "You trust other specialists in their areas. That's mine."
Gibbs snorted, shaking his head. "Not going to cut it, kid. You butted in on a federal investigation. I can and should charge you with obstructing justice."
"I didn't. I helped and I turned over information. Therefore no road blocking done by me," he said patiently, staring at him. He leaned down. "I could have easily taken him out while I was in there taking pictures. Next time I'll know to do that so you don't get your panties in a twist. Okay?" He stood up again then walked off. "Heading home, guys. Tell Abby I want an email if she wants more of those and just generally as well, plus I'll be up for the birth if she doesn't come down."
Tony looked at Gibbs. "You'd never let me get away with that."
"I'm not letting him get away with it either. Fornell is waiting on him."
Tony shook his head. "Can't see as that's going to make a dent either, boss." He got up and handed over a CD. "The information file Abby has on him." Gibbs ran it, reading through the notes and the journal entries. His eyebrow went up a few times. Then he smirked once. Then he stared and paged back up to go over a section again. "Graduation?" Gibbs nodded. "It looked well planned. Low body count. Necessary." He shrugged. "So maybe he's got the skills."
"He'd never make it in the service," he muttered, looking over the plans. "It is a good plan." He nodded, continuing on. Then he looked at him. "Watching me read?"
"Wondering if we can make her less fussy." He shifted on his feet. He knew he was interested in Abby, the same way Tony himself was. It was pretty clear and he also knew these things tended to get in the way of a happy working relationship. He sighed. "Never mind."
Gibbs looked at him. "Don't worry about it, DiNozzo. I'll cede."
"I am. I'm much too old for that," he said quietly.
McGee cleared his throat. "I just got an email from Xander. He said, and I quote, you're a stupid ass, Gibbs, she wants you both." He printed it off and handed it over. "He also said to make her happy or else you'd be seeing him in a totally new and even more scary way." Then he fled.
Tony got down to look for bugs, finding it under his desk. He held it up, shaking his head. "He's probably got one in the lab too."
"Probably." He leaned back, looking at his senior agent. He was cute. "How do you feel about that?"
"Never thought about it, boss."
Tony slowly shook his head. "Not really. Never had a reason to." He looked at him. "Anything tiny I might've harbored got a large dose of reality a long time ago. I'd be killed for it."
"If that's what you want." Gibbs shrugged. "Then we'll see." He sat down, getting back to work before the strange thoughts started to invade his mind. "Boss, make it stop," he begged finally. "I'm starting to go stranger than Xander is." Gibbs got up and smacked him hard on the head. "Ow. But thanks." He rubbed the sore spot and got back to his report on last night. "Kate would've screamed for days about her ruined clothes," he noted finally, looking around to see that he was alone. "She would've laughed her ass off about this too," he muttered as he typed. Abby came up and stood in front of him, making him look at her. "That's a cute dress. Not your usual."
"It got delivered." She turned so he could see the black gauzy dress with the empire waist and the velvet trim around the curved, plunging neckline. "Do we like this?"
"I do and it looks comfortable."
"It is very comfortable." She smiled and kissed him on the forehead. "You give good cuddles," she whispered. "Can I have more?"
"Anytime you want," he promised, smiling at her. She beamed and skipped back to her lab. She looked like some odd mixture of little girl and full grown woman in that dress and her pigtails but it was a beautiful dress. It suited her present figure very well, and probably her later figure too he realized. She could wear it after the birth. It wouldn't ride up in the front but it'd still be beautiful on her. He'd have to break in on Xander's spoiling. He looked around before logging onto the internet and finding a site he had been looking at for her birthday present. He found what he wanted, considering it for a few minutes. It'd go well with that dress. He ordered it for her and then logged off and got back to his report. He had to get this done before Gibbs barked for it. He wondered if Fornell was done with Xander yet but he was probably already on his way to the airport. He did write an email to Caine, then decided to send his report instead. He smiled at his boss when he came back. "Did you see Abby's new dress?"
"I did. She pounced me. It looks good on her. He's got good taste."
"Well, he did shop with girls, boss," he said dryly. "I sent Caine my report." He finished his conclusion and checked it over before sending it to him. "First draft."
"Thank you, DiNozzo." He closed out the other file and got to work reading it. "Hmm, including the stink bomb," he said. "Thanks."
"Welcome. I figure someone wanted an explanation of that stench. The director okay?"
"No. She's not in today. She's probably still smelly." Or crying, one of the two. He sent her an email, getting a phone call back. "Gibbs." He listened. "One got sent to your home?" He nodded at that. "Any idea why? Oh, the original one they wouldn't let her bring on the plane. That's reasonable. I guess. Okay," he said, hanging up and bursting out laughing. "He sent one to her with the address of the airport and a letter stating it was the one they had confiscated off Abby. That she had given them her address to return it to."
Tony shook his head. "Better her than me, boss. Even if that's a mean thought I'll go to hell for, better her than me."
Gibbs smirked at him. "True." He shook his head and sent that to Caine as well. He had to know what sort of problem his boy had. He needed to keep a firmer hand on his leash.
Xander stepped off the plane, smiling at the stewardess. "Thank you, you were a great help." He tipped her then walked into the terminal, finding Horatio with his sunglasses on. "Hi." He moved closer and looked around before smiling. "I drove."
"You're going to be paddled," he said quietly, staring down at him.
Horatio took off his sunglasses, looking at him. "Xander." He pouted. "Xander."
"She needed me! I'm the one who could get the ransom money! Besides, they didn't know where she was! So I helped! Even if I did give her a stink bomb to try out."
"I know." Xander sighed, heading for the parking area. He watched him walk. He wasn't limping. He wasn't sore. "Did you get hurt?"
"I hurt my hand punching the guy when I broke his jaw."
"Not what I meant."
"No, I'm fine. It was a bait situation." He gave him a look over his shoulder. "I found her, gave over information, we planned it together to lure him away to accept the money while they went in to get her. Then I joined them and fussed her to distraction." He grinned. "I was a good boy."
"You mouthed off to Gibbs."
"I stated my credentials."
Horatio have him an unhappy hum and pointed at the car. "Now, Xander." Xander handed him the keys, getting a smirk. "Won't save you."
"You always drive when it's us." He put his bag into the trunk and got in when Horatio held the door. Horatio closed the trunk on his way around to get in, starting the car and backing out. "Do we still have Ian?"
"No. He's at home. She's rested and less fussy. He's feeling better as well. Thank you for babysitting until the situation arose."
"Did you get the names of his accomplices?"
"Late last night and I had a lot of fun with them as well," he promised as he pulled out of the parking garage. Xander had apparently prepaid in this lot. He pointed the car towards home and headed that way. "You are still in trouble for going on that. You are not an officer or an agent."
"I'm just as trained as some of his guys!" he defended.
"I do not care, Xander. You are not an officer or an agent. I'm going to put my foot down before Greg or I get hurt and you try to go in with the strike team." Xander growled. He glanced at him. "Calm down."
"No one touches what's mine, Horatio."
"Xander, we're not married."
Xander looked at him, then pinched him on the arm. "You're still mine, Horatio, and nothing takes what's mine. Ever again. You're mine. Unless you walk away from me you're staying mine. No one's taking you from me or else I will react."
"You're sounding a bit scary," he noted.
"Now," he growled back. Xander snorted, looking out the window. Horatio found a nice, deserted area and pulled in, looking at Xander, shifting to look at him. "Xander. Look at me." Xander turned to face him. "There are people who are skilled at that. You can let them handle it. You can wait for me if something happens." He got another snort and a look. "Our SWAT teams won't let you go if there's that sort of situation."
"Horatio, baby, have we considered the thought they won't stop me?"
Horatio frowned. "They will, Xander. They've had to stop worried and fussy lovers before, usually by arresting them for trying to help. Even ones who're cops. Or agents in one case last year. They will not let you go in on an assault if there's one. They will protect me, the same as Gibbs and DiNozzo will protect her. You could have handed over the information and left it there."
"I could have taken him out when I got the information considering I went to scout the building and got inside to take pictures, but I handed over the information instead of dragging him back by his balls while carrying her."
"Which is a good step," Horatio assured him. Now he knew why Speed had warned him Xander was going to be possessive. When you had lost or had most everything taken away, you tended to hold on to everything else. "I'm not going to be hurt if you let the officers help us."
"You can be."
"I won't be," he said more firmly, staring at him. "Am I clear?" Xander scowled. "No, Xander. Leave that to the professionals. You scared the hell out of Aiden when she found your vest in the closet." Xander slumped at that, nodding. "Good, then you know that's stupid since you yelled at me about that."
"I'm just as trained...."
"People aren't demons, Xander. They don't have the same impulses or responses. In those situations I want someone who's very experienced in what humans will do if something goes wrong." Xander sighed and nodded. "I know it's a bad feeling to wait. I know it's a horrible thing to wait. I know it drives you up the wall, but there are others who will rescue me for you."
Xander hung his head. "But you're mine. That's my job."
"No, it's their job. Your job is to make sure I'm all right afterward and to take care of me." Xander looked at him. "It is. The same as it's my job to do that for you. Now, are you hurt?" He held up his hand, letting Horatio look it over. "Just bruised I think," he said, giving it a gentle squeeze. "I want you to talk to Mac, Xander."
"I keep bothering him, he's not my big brother and he's tired of me, Horatio."
"He sighed the last time he heard my name."
"This isn't the usual problems, Xander. He's not tired of you. I promise he's not." If he was Mac could be a man and tell him to handle it himself. Or tell Speed that. "Please?" Xander nodded. "Good boy." He kissed him on the temple. "Now, we're going home."
"Why? Did they fire you?" he demanded, sitting up straighter. "Because if they did I'm going to destroy the fucking department!" Horatio put a hand over his mouth, giving him a look. "I will!"
"I am suspended because I did hit him before arresting him. I have a whole week off without pay at the moment." Xander scowled. "That is proper procedure and it's keeping me out of the problems that could occur since I did have to help six officers into jail cells last night. Now, is she okay?" He removed his hand.
"Ducky said she's fine and she didn't want to go to the ER or anywhere else."
"I would've preferred her going to someone who dealt with more live people than dead," he admitted, "but if she's comfortable with him that's fine." Xander slumped. "I know, you tried very hard. I've seen you fuss over Speed and Aiden." He stroked his cheek. "Do you understand why I should have gray hair at the moment?" Xander nodded, looking at him, looking very pitiful. "Not that I mind being yours, Xander, but there are times when you can't personally go on the rescue. You have to trust others to bring back what's yours. They will. Almost always." Xander nodded, leaning against him. "That's my boy. Thank you." He kissed him on the head. "Thank you, Xander."
"Welcome but it still sucks ass."
"It can but that can be fun. You can devise whole new fussing strategies."
Xander looked up at him. "Does that mean I'm going to get fussed over?"
Horatio looked at him. "I'm still deciding that." He made Xander sit up to look at him. "Remember the next time you have to do something stupidly heroic that there's more than just me who wants you to come home. There's Mahsa and Jesse, Abby, Speed, Aiden, all of us want you to come back."
"She's having some deeper thoughts, Xander. I promise she's not that shallow."
"She was back in high school. She did the same thing then. I was only good for snacks and helping her with stuff, at least until she decided we should be kissing. Then I got blamed."
"Maybe you should work on that. I know you were more than that. So does Greg. So did Speed and Aiden, even back then." Xander nodded. "Speed wouldn't have taken you in if he didn't think you were more than a gopher. He's not that nice most of the time." Xander smiled a bit, nodding faster this time. "So, if she's like that, Ryan can smack some sense into her. Hopefully."
"I'd like Oz to," he admitted, looking at him. "Have Oz and Ryan talk."
"They have a few times," he assured him. "It helped him a lot. The same as your journal could." Xander closed down at that. "I know Speed had you work on one."
"Yeah but not that I'm going to show anyone."
"Not even me?" Xander shook his head. "Why not?"
"Because I don't want you to see that side of me, Horatio. I'm not like that anymore."
Horatio kissed him. "I know that. It doesn't mean I don't want to know." He stroked his cheek, smiling at him. "I want to know."
"But I told you."
"You did, and I remember all of it," he promised, getting a small grin and a shy look. "That doesn't mean I don't want to know what you didn't tell me. Especially your thoughts."
Someone tapped on the window. "Sir?"
Horatio lowered the window. "Yes, officer?"
The officer frowned, looking at him. "Do I know you?" Horatio pulled out his ID. "Oh! Talking with your son?"
"Fiancee," Horatio said dryly.
"Having a fight?" Xander nodded. "What did you do?" he asked.
"I went to help rescue the mother of our son. She was kidnaped."
"She's also a federal agent so there were a lot of very protective people who sent me their reports, Xander."
Xander shrugged. "I knew where she was and they didn't. Like I said, I could have just brought her back."
The officer nodded, looking at Horatio. "I hope we never run into that situation with you, Lieutenant. Have a good discussion, sir." He walked off, going back to his car to report that it was a pair of lovers having a fight. Dispatch asked who so he called on his cellphone so that wasn't broadcast over the airwaves. He doubted his guys needed to know that about his lover.
"Xander," Horatio warned.
"I could have."
"That would've been more dangerous since you weren't wearing a vest," Horatio said grimly. "It would have gotten you spanked by Gibbs and then by me. Am I clear?" Xander pouted but nodded.
Speed answered his phone. "Speedle." He listened, then nodded. "Yeah, he's like that. Thanks for the head's up. No, he probably would've went to rescue her himself if they had let him. Yeah, good progress. Thanks for the warning." He hung up and put his head down, shaking it. "I love my son," he reminded himself. "I love my son. I love my son. I love my son."
"Why do you love your son this time?" Eric asked.
"He went to save Abby. Got the information, butted in on the rescue and planning, mouthed off to Gibbs, let Abby play with a stink bomb."
"Eww but at least he knows what he's doing."
Speed looked at him. "They're agents. Xander's not," he said patiently. "He could have been killed. My son is not an action hero and he needs to learn this."
"I'm sure H can encourage the right thought processes," he said dryly. "Or can't you use positive reinforcement on Calleigh?" He walked off smirking.
"Not a bad idea." He texted that to Horatio, then got back to work before thinking about the possibility of losing his son to drive himself insane.
Horatio got them home and upstairs to their room. He got them into a shower, checking Xander thoroughly while he washed him. He didn't have a scratch on him that wasn't his poor hand. He left him in there, going to get some things from the dungeon. By the time he came back Xander was drying off so he set things up and walked back in there. He kissed Xander, making him smile and dive in again. He walked him backward, getting him out to the bed, then down. While they kissed he hitched the cuffs, pulling back to look at him. "You trust me?" Xander hesitated but nodded slowly. "Thank you." He moved back to kissing him. He slowly moved down to his throat, nibbling on it. He left a bruise but he didn't care and Xander only hissed. He licked the spot, looking up at him. "Trust me," he whispered, moving further back. He was going to drive Xander insane like he had when they had first gotten together. Nips to the sensitive areas. Bites to the better ones. Torturing his nipples until Xander begged him to move on. Lapping them until he could only moan. Sucking until the chest under him wiggled and made pleading noises. He moved down to play and tease his stomach. "What did I ask?" he said.
"And do you?" he asked before nipping a spot that Greg had found on Xander's side. Xander yelped and arched up into his mouth. "Xander?" He sucked on the spot, pausing to drag his teeth over it. "Xander?" He nodded frantically. "Enough to trust others to help me?" Xander nodded, whimpering, still trying to get him to do more. "Good boy." He moved back to tease his cock, just a finger touching it for now. He checked his ring. "What happened to the other one?"
"Had to change. Stone fell. Couldn't get it back on. This one's magnetic," he panted.
Horatio teased the new ring, because he knew Xander hadn't had one of those before. Xander started to huff and pant and arch up, spreading his thighs. "That's very pretty," he soothed, going back to stroking his cock with a finger. Xander whimpered. "What did I ask?"
"Trust you," he said more quickly. "Please, Horatio? Please don't tease? I don't tease you!"
"You do. Every single day, Xander." He moved down to lick across the head of the hard, dripping cock. "What was the lesson?"
"Trust you." He arched his hips up. "Horatio!"
Horatio smiled and went to play. He liked to do things that Xander didn't usually let him. He lapped over his cock, then moved back to play with his ring. Xander screamed and squealed, going rigid, but Horatio had control of his balls. He clamped on the ball harness/restricter, then moved back to taste him. Xander made a whimpering noise so he flipped him over, checking the cuffs. They had enough give and Xander's hands were now above his head. He wasn't able to do anything with them. He went back to his playing, lapping across the crease of his ass. He slowly moved in, circling around the hole until Xander was struggling. He stroked his cock. "You're mine, Xander, and you agreed to trust me." He went back to it, stabbing in suddenly, tasting him, tonguing him, kissing his hole like he would be him soon. Xander was making pleading noises again so he played, he loved to play. Greg let him play and Xander did enjoy it. "You like it, Xander."
"Horatio," he panted. "Please!"
"When I'm done."
"Please, baby, please let me come?"
"When I'm done," he said more firmly. He went back to his treat, one finger teasing the ring Xander wore. He was keening and straining. His whole back and sides were pink and he was panting. He heard his breath hitch, saw him wobble, and let him come, soothing his back until Xander started to breathe normally again. "I did not want to make you pass out," he offered in his ear. Then he rehitched the restricter and got back to his playing. Xander was still making pleading noises so he played all he wanted. It was good. Xander was just as good at taking it as Greg was. He was going to drive Xander to the same state Greg got to for him. "Fall for me, Xander," he whispered. "Go like Greg does for me." Xander shook his head. "You trust me, I love you," he soothed, coming up to play with his fingers for now. "You know you want to." Xander shook his head again.
"You can. I know you can. I want you to be mindless for me. You're mine. Remember that. The same as I'm yours, you're mine." Xander whimpered. "It doesn't make you a weaker dom, Xander, but I'm the alpha in our bedroom." Xander let out another small whimper. "Let it go. You're mine, Xander. You trust and love me. Let me have the control this time." He went back to playing, making Xander go down for him. Xander finally gave him what he wanted and let go of all his control, letting him experience it without trying to help. All he could do was moan, beg, and whimper. Horatio smiled, finishing up with his ass, moving back to his ring. He saw Xander start to huff and pant for breath again so he eased off, moving to play with his cock instead. Xander made a pained noise. "You're still mine, Xander. Now, what was your lesson today?"
"Good boy." He soothed him, finding the oil. He slicked his fingers up, sliding them into his hole. He was still fairly tight. Horatio's tongue was playing with the ring again and Xander was back to turning pink. He eased off. Xander still wasn't breathing so he reached up to turn his head. "Breathe for me, Xander. Catch your breath. It only gets better from here." Xander continued to pant so he kissed him, interrupting it. "Breathe," he ordered, staring into his eyes. "Breathe," he ordered. Xander panted, staring at him. "No, deep breath." He slid into the tight, wet heat. Xander creeled and reached for him but his hands were still bound. Horatio stretched out across his back, starting slow, steady, creeping in and out of his body. Xander started to push back harder so he smirked at him. "Do you need claimed?" He slammed in suddenly and Xander panted, arching his back so Horatio could do more. "Fine, if that's what you want." He gave him a hard ride, sliding out and slamming back in, getting into the groove of claiming his boy. He understood the 'mate' thing Xander had with him. He wanted it so bad. He wanted him to acknowledge that. "My mate," he said in his ear. "Now!"
"Yours," he begged. "Your mate. Yours." Horatio smirked. He made a huffing/growling noise, pushing back. "My mate! Now!"
"Yours," Horatio promised in his ear. "All yours," he panted, speeding up. He slammed in harder and faster, growling about it when Xander cackled. He bit him on the shoulder, making Xander scream, but it was good. He tasted good. He slammed in one last time and came, releasing Xander's balls so he could come and Horatio could thrust through the tremors his ass had around him. Xander finally flopped onto his stomach. Horatio turned his mate's head, letting him have a better way to breath. He licked the bite, then looked at him. "I'm sorry."
"I'm not." He rattled the cuffs weakly. Horatio groaned but crawled up to release him, checking his wrists. Xander flipped over to cuddle, sinking his teeth into Horatio's neck and shoulder. "Mine," he said, staring at him, licking his lips off. Horatio nodded, swallowing hard. "Get you back later," he mumbled, putting his head down over the bite mark and falling asleep.
Horatio stroked his back, smiling at his poor boy. He'd have to prove he was the alpha in their bedroom again later. Otherwise he'd never walk for the rest of his time off.
Speed came over that night, looking at them both. Xander was curled up on Horatio's lap eating dinner. "Can't sit?" he asked. Xander shook his head. "You okay?"
"Fine," Horatio promised, smiling at him. "We had a long talk in bed, then a longer bath."
"Did you tear my son?" Speed asked impatiently. Xander shook his head. "Then that's between you two as long as I don't have to get involved." He spotted the bite mark and looked at Horatio, who tipped his head. "Huh." He looked at his son. "Your inner girl come out?" He nodded. "Fine. Whatever. Are we over the stupidity that made my son force Gibbs to bring him?"
"I played bait and drug him away from Abby," Xander told him.
"Yay, son." He stared at him. "It's not your job. Am I clear? No matter who it is, if there's people who have *official* training, they go. You fuss." Xander slumped and nodded. "Thank you. I don't want to mourn you, son. None of us do. Because no one else would put up with Willow if you weren't here."
"I'm not putting up with Willow," he admitted quietly, looking at him. "It's like our senior year, Daddy."
"I know." He gave him a kiss on the head and Horatio on the cheek. "It'll be okay, Xander. We'll handle her and Aiden's about to whip her ass." Xander nodded, relaxing again. "Good boy. We love you, that's why we want to keep you around. Even Gibbs, though he was not a happy camper." He stroked through the dark hair.
"It would've been easier if I had rescued her when I was gathering information."
"Probably, but you're not a victim of the random visions some of us got blessed with," he said dryly. Xander grinned and gave him a real hug, then hissed and winced as he sat back down. "Horatio!"
"We were bathing until Willow brought Ian over," he said quietly. "I didn't mean to ride him that hard, Speed."
"Uh-huh. Claiming sex is like that. That's why you got bitten." Horatio nodded. "Good, I don't have to explain that to you or warn you you're a ring away from a marriage ceremony. Which I am not paying for. I will stand up or give my son to you, but I'm not paying for it."
"I think I can use some of the hoard to do that," Xander said dryly.
"It's better than setting it on fire or pissing on it," Horatio agreed. "Which I heard you bragged you could do." Xander looked at him. "You can't, Xander." His mate whispered in his ear, making him moan. "Are you sure?"
"They gathered it all together, that's before the last auction next month. That's what the financial manager found. So the IRS overestimated and they'll have to give some back." He shrugged and shifted, wincing. "I think I want more bubbles."
"Finishing eating first," Horatio said gently, feeding him a bite of sandwich. Xander nibbled for him until the baby wailed. "Speed, can you bring him down?"
"Sure." He went up to grab Ian, bringing him back down. "You are noisy, kid." The baby stared at him in shock. "You are. There's no reason for that sort of noise." He carried him back downstairs, handing him to Xander, watching him cuddle the baby gently. He kissed him on the head again. "You'll be a great dad," he whispered. Xander beamed at him. "It shows. You'll be the Martha of fatherhood. All the kids in the group will love you." Xander nodded, smiling brightly at that compliment. "Where is his father?"
"Asleep in the driveway in his car," Horatio admitted.
"They never let him fuss," Xander told him. "Ryan jumps at the first noise. Willow jumps at the first noise. Half the time he'll put himself back to sleep. I'll work on Ryan tonight." They nodded and smiled. "It'll be fine. It's a common thing according to the books Mom and I found." He took a kiss from Horatio, then kissed his father on the cheek. "Make yourself a sandwich?"
"I could use one." He went to make himself some food, coming back out to eat with them. "Okay, the office is still standing, it's a miracle. The Chief came down screaming and ranting about the officers being arrested," he told Xander. "He was still screaming and yelling after Horatio walked away from him and got suspended."
"I didn't want to tell him what I was thinking," Horatio admitted.
Xander stroked his wrist. "If we have to, I can support you and you'll teach other CSIs. After all, you taught Dad and Eric, plus Ryan. You're a great teacher." Horatio smiled at that compliment. "You even keep trying to teach me patience. You might even win some day." Horatio chuckled and nodded. He shifted again and hissed. "Ow." He looked down. "What's wrong, Ian? Feeling lonely without your human slaves?" The baby sucked on his pacifier, staring at him. "We'll fix your slaves so they're parents again." He heard the door slam. "Ryan?"
"Me," Aiden called. "I saw him, he's still crashed on his steering... what the hell is that!" she demanded, pointing at Xander's shoulder.
"The step before the marriage ceremony," Speed told her. "Xander's possession came out."
"So why did Horatio bite him?"
"Because I had a similar occurrence when I was younger," he admitted quietly. "Mine was a white tiger."
She huffed. "Fine. You'd better be marrying my son, Horatio, and the other one too."
"When they're ready," he promised, looking at her. "I'm not leaving them, Aiden."
"You'd better not. Otherwise not even Mac'll be able to find all the pieces of you if you make my son cry." Horatio nodded, accepting that. "Good!" She took the baby and sat down. "Before you ask, Alexx is off today and stole Mahsa for a few hours." She smiled at Ian, who sucked at her. "I know, I don't look like the mommy slave. Tough, kiddo." He settled in to rest on her. "Any idea what's wrong with him?"
"Jumpy parents," Horatio told her.
"Ah. Yeah, I'm guessing Ryan might have that problem."
"Willow's gone back to her senior year mentally," Speed told her.
"Uh-huh. I can kick her ass too. She's not that sore. Looks like the son's sorer." She heard the door close and looked out. "Out here, Ryan. Get a sandwich and make me one too please." He nodded, going to do that. She looked at the baby. "You are spoiled, Ian. Very spoiled." Ryan came out, letting her smooth the marks on his forehead and nose. "Next time, lay down in the back seat."
"Carseat was in the way," he admitted. He flopped down, looking at his son. "How long did he sleep?"
"Two hours," Xander told him. "You've got to let him fuss a bit, Ryan. He'll go back to sleep eighty percent of the time. If he needs something, he'll go from fussing to screaming. They're like that."
"It seems wrong."
"If you don't, he'll never sleep through the night," Horatio offered. "Yelina had that problem until Ray and I handcuffed her to the couch one night. She realized Ray went back to sleep most of the time."
"Maybe I need that."
"We'll fix you then you can fix her," Speed offered.
Ryan looked at him. "I wasn't ready to be a father."
Speed gave him a short look. "I didn't plan on being a dad either, but I did a damn good job and you can follow in my esteemed, golden footsteps, Wolfe." He ate a bite of sandwich. The baby made more sucking faces. "Due for a bottle?"
Ryan looked at his watch. "Within an hour."
"Spread it," Aiden ordered. "He'll start to need it less often and eat more that way. That's the way it should be." He nodded, relaxing again and going back to his lunch. "He's a good boy, Ryan, but you're his slave, not his daddy."
"I know. I don't know what to do about it."
"Bookshelf in my office," Xander told him. "The book Alexx and I found together when I heard about Mahsa. Stella said they keep a copy in the office for any kids they run into on cases." Ryan went to get it and came back reading while he ate. Ian fussed. "He can read, son. Actually, you could read it to him, Ryan." That got a grin. "I read everything to Mahsa, including the paper. They can't tell what you're talking about yet."
"I can do that," he agreed, taking his son to carefully hold. Aiden smacked him on the back, making him move suddenly. The baby cooed so he relaxed and held him more naturally. Then he got to work reading quietly out of the baby book. The others smiled at him, then at Xander as he hobbled up to his room and the tub. "Sorry, Horatio."
"It's not a problem, Mr. Wolfe. You need the help. We're more than happy to do so. As long as we're not going to become the parents."
"No, he's my son. I love your lover, he's a great guy, but I want to raise my own son." That got a smile from the other adults. His son peed. "Thanks, good to know you approve too, son."
"Wait five to make sure he's done," Aiden ordered. "Mahsa does that to me all the time." He nodded, timing it on his watch. Then he went to change him. He came back a few minutes later and sat down to read to him some more. "Has Willow gotten over her thing about hurting him while cleaning him?" Ryan shook his head. "Have you thought that maybe some up close and personal time with yours could cure that?"
"She threatened to castrate me."
Horatio snorted. "She won't, Ryan. She's having a bad week." Ryan looked at him. "She is."
"She's also retreated to her old behavior," Speed told him. "Back to high school."
"It happens," Ryan admitted, "but I had noticed that. Her problem with Xander?" They all nodded. "I'll work on her again."
Aiden put a hand on his arm. "Ryan, it's not your job. You're her spouse, not her censor. I'm her adopted aunt-like person, and I'm going to kick her tail for you. She needs it again. Joyce didn't do it well enough. That's my job. Speed gave Xanny love and attention, I straightened out the girls." He grinned at that. "He did. Xander came to me but he went to Speed more. If he was bummed, he went to sleep on Speed's couch. The night he lost his virginity, he and Speed spent two days eating nothing but peanut butter and pixie stick sandwiches. Not like I could've given him the sex talk. Would've made him more weird since the girls warped him." Horatio snorted at that. "They did."
"They did," he agreed. "He picked out a very flattering dress for Abby recently. Brought it with him."
Speed grinned. "He's got good taste as long as it's not his own clothes."
"We'll fix that," Horatio assured him. He looked at Aiden. "When they relent it'll be a small, private ceremony."
Both parents snorted. "Yeah, right," Speed said dryly. "With the three labs attending and NCIS?"
"At least no one would dare break in," Aiden pointed out.
"True," Ryan agreed. "Pissing off Lady Heather that way would be hazardous to your health once Santiago and Xander got them." His son cooed. He smiled at him. "Do you like the Uncle Xander?" He burped. "That works too." He checked his watch. "Nearly time for food." Aiden took his watch from him. "Hey!"
"They're not a machine, Ryan."
"Sorry." He went back to his lunch, letting his son suck on his finger since it had some sauce on it. His son made a grossed out face. "That's italian dressing. You'll learn to like it more later on." He finished up and went to get him a bottle, making it a bit bigger this time. He came back and sat down, getting comfortable with his feet up on a free chair. His son sucked down the bottle and it was good. It was comfortable. It was what he had been missing for the last few weeks. "Huh."
"That's how it's supposed to feel," Aiden reminded him. He smiled at her. "That's a comfy baby. Remember this feeling. Especially if he gets colic."
"Does she have it?"
Aiden nodded. "Which is why Alexx said she'd take her for two hours. Before I screamed."
"It happens to most babies, we took Yelina's gun," Horatio soothed. "We took Ray's gun and let him sleep on the couch because he was whiny."
Aiden giggled. "What does he think about Xander?"
"He tries very hard not to. He doesn't want to understand." He looked up toward their bedroom then back at her. "He'll be able to walk again tomorrow. I'll be gentle later." He smiled and went inside to bring Xander something to drink, finding him asleep in the tub. He snuck out, going back down there finding him and Ryan alone with the baby. "He's asleep."
"Sleeping spouse is one of my favorite views this last month," Ryan admitted. "What is wrong with us?"
"Her," he told him. "You've bent over backwards. You're more understanding than I am, Ryan. This is her issue and she needs to have a long look at herself. You and he can both come stay for a night if you have a fight sometime soon." Ryan nodded, bending down to pay attention to his son. "It'll be fine, Ryan. Trust me." He got a small smile and a nod. "Good boy. Take him to the couch, nap with him." He went to do that. Horatio put his feet up and listened for Xander to splash and wake up. He did order dinner. He didn't want to cook and Xander would need something soft.
Ryan looked at his wife when she came out of their bedroom. "Have a good rest?"
"I did. How about him?"
"We figured out why he won't sleep." She beamed at that. "Because we jump at the first fuss."
"No buts. Usually he fusses and goes back to sleep nearly immediately. If he needs something, he screams. We're doing it to ourselves, Willow." She sat down next to him, slumping against his side. "Also, we can wait five minutes for him to finish peeing and won't get anointed. Aiden taught me that." She gave him a look. "We talked. She also said it's time to move his feedings a bit farther apart."
"He's not on a time clock," he said firmly. "He'll have to move back to less meals anyway, that way he eats more. So we're adding a half hour to his feedings and adding more food. It's the natural progression." He handed her the book he had been reading all day. "Here."
"Where did you get this one?"
"Alexx gave that to Xander for Mahsa and Jesse." She winced. "Tough. He's naming his son after the friend who helped save his life."
"But, moving forward...."
"Doesn't mean forgetting the past, Willow. It means not dwelling in it." He kissed her. "I think maybe you need to see someone to talk about that stuff. I can help you find a decent one, not like your parents." She slumped but shook her head. "It'll help."
"I can do it."
"If you could, you wouldn't have this issue. I don't want to get between you and Xander. I like Xander. He's a great guy and a nice guy. I'm anxiously awaiting when Greg decides he's ready for marriage and they do it. I want you to be happy and the only way you'll be happy is if you work through this."
"Then talk to someone. It's clear that doing it on your own won't cut it this time. Talk to Alexx, talk to Speed, talk to Aiden or Calleigh, or even Horatio. Talk to Stella, up in New York, or Tara."
"Tara was mean," she pouted.
"That doesn't sound like the Tara I know," he said dryly. "Did you deserve it?" She nodded. "Then maybe you should talk to the department shrink?"
"They'll say bad things about Xander," she said quietly.
"No they won't. Xander's not like his parents. Or else you'd never let him babysit. I thought I was going to be the fussy parent," he told her, giving her a look, making her smile. Their son fussed and he held her down. "No." She struggled but he started to breathe more deeply and went back to sleep. "See?" he said, smiling at her. "This is how you get them to sleep through the night too! We'll enjoy that."
"No we're not."
He looked at her. "You can go on birth control again, Willow. They said six weeks."
"Fine," she grumbled. "I'll call my OB tomorrow." He nodded. "Thank you, Ryan."
"Welcome. I'm looking for things getting back closer to normal again."
"Maybe having him was a bad idea."
He kissed her. "We weren't ready but I don't seem to mind as much now." He got up, going into the kitchen. "Want something to drink?"
"Please." He brought her out a glass of water and went to start on dinner while she thought and waited on their son to scream. "I still need to take that retest."
"Do that tomorrow," he ordered. "That way you quit putting it off."
"I'll call her tomorrow, make an appointment for early next week." She made notes on those two calls then settled in to read the baby book. Their son wailed a few minutes later so she went up to look at him. "What?" She saw the dirty diaper and sighed. "Sure, I can try that again, even though you hate me for it." She turned and found Ryan was putting out things. "Do you...." He gave her a look and she sighed, coming over to let him help her with this. She was the mother, she was supposed to be able to do this stuff. He guided her hand and the baby smiled at her for it. "So you like it that way? I don't have to clean all around it?"
"Gentle swipes, Willow. It's not like it's caked on." He left her to it.
She nodded, putting herself into a more positive frame of mind for doing this. She finished him off then put on a new diaper and laid him back down, watching as he fell back asleep after a few minutes. "We'll figure it out. I'll be as good of a mommy as Tara will be," she promised, smoothing down his soft downy fur. Because she still couldn't call the stuff on his head hair. It wasn't. It was fur. She went back to the baby book, going to read the good advice. If Alexx Woods relied on it, it must be okay at the very least. "Maybe Eric's mother will give us some advice too."
"Maybe Eric will. He's an uncle, he's babysat for years," he pointed out. "He's even helped one sister deliver."
"Could be worse I guess."
"Yeah, they could've had to do an exorcism on his scary sisters too." He patted her on the head and she smiled at him. "Thank you for calling Tara on me."
"You needed it. You were scarier than any of Eric's sisters. Even scarier than Stella." He grinned and handed her a plate. "Here you go." He went back to get his and they enjoyed a quiet dinner. Their son would let them know when he was ready for his.
Tara smiled at Don, sneaking up to his desk to pounce him, making him yelp. "Got you," she said with a grin.
"Tara, baby, don't sneak up on me! I could've hurt you."
"You knew it was me. Your suspects don't try to hug. Do they?" He grinned but shook his head. "See, you knew it was me." She kissed him on the cheek. "Abby's fine."
"Why wouldn't she be?"
"Because someone took her and Stetler wouldn't let anyone tell Horatio or his guys. Horatio arrested him and five guys who were actually in on the kidnaping." He moaned, sitting down, letting her have his lap. "Horatio's suspended for a week. His boss came to yell at him for that and he walked away. Plus he hit Stetler when he tried to resist arrest. So he's at home snogging the Xander into a coma and soreness," she finished with a wicked grin. He grinned back. "So Abby's okay and Xander got to help rescue her." He snorted at that. "Yeah, he probably made them let him help rescue her, but that's Xander for you. He's very protective of what's his. He's like a toddler with only one toy now and then." She kissed him. "But everyone's good and Abby's having some stronger practice contractions so you'll have a new nephew sometime this week she thinks."
"Great. Can't wait. How's Mahsa and Ian?"
"Willow's still being a brat. Xander's watched Ian a few times and Horatio said they got Ryan calmed down. He was bouncing at each fuss. Ian never slept. Now they're going to beat sense into Willow again so she's not being a brat like she was back in high school. Mahsa's a happy toddler and she's begun pulling herself up on the furniture to stand up. So she'll be walking within the month we think." He grinned brighter at that. "Horatio said her house is already babyproofed, it was when she moved in. The old fussy ones decorated it that way for her." He chuckled and nodded.
"Tara, it's not lunch," Don's boss called.
"No, but his email is bouncing so I got told to come tell him that and the news from Miami, DC, and Vegas." She looked at him. "Greg got an owwie in the field but he's okay too. Nick did not like his saddle, he gave it to Lady Heather. Ooh, and they're going to present both kids to her at the same time. Just as soon as he and mommy can fly."
"Sure, we'll watch for another kidnaping out of Vegas flying this way." She swatted him, giving him a look. "They have."
"They're dead," she reminded him. "After Abby being kidnaped the last few days I doubt her boys will be letting her out of their sight anytime soon."
"Boys?" he asked.
"Xander pointed out that they had some severe denial. He helped by giving them a stink bomb. She wanted to look at one anyway. She opened it in the lab to get a sample." He groaned. "That's the sound they made that night when they all went to Tony's to shower off the stench. His bombs are *really* nasty. He wanted to know if Mac wanted one for you guys to test. Miami's SWAT is. They like his super stench bombs. He said Gibbs does too, now that he doesn't stink anymore, and they're thinking about asking Xander to make them some more. It's in the same book as his breath spray recipe." She beamed at him. "So he sent Mac a stink bomb through the mail today."
"I'll warn him," he promised. He patted her back. "My email's bouncing?" She nodded. "Okay, I'll fix that too." He kissed her gently. "There, happy me." He gave her a swat on the butt. "Go see Sheldon since you wanted to take him to lunch. I think he's in." She nodded, going to do that. He logged into his email, erasing all the departmental memos and other spam, then looked. His inbox was nearly clean. He was so happy! He printed out the pictures of his niece from Xander and the ultrasound one from Abby, but saved those. It was a great thing. Then he emailed Mac a warning about incoming Xander presents.
Mac smiled as Tara and Sheldon walked down the hall together. "Have a good lunch, you two."
She smiled back at him. "You too and watch out. Xander wanted to know if you guys wanted to test the same stuff Miami was testing of his. He sent it through the mail."
"Thanks for the warning," he said dryly, watching them head outside. He stopped in his office to check his mail, finding Don's waiting on him. It made him groan but send one to Horatio asking how bad it could be. He got back a two word answer: don't ask. The follow up was 'stock up on soured lemons and tomato juice in case it breaks, Mac. Our guys love it to clear buildings. It cleared NCIS out after they had rescued Abby'. He moaned at that information. It told him all he really needed to know. "Probably another cooking disaster." He put his head down, letting the aching thing rest for a few minutes. At least until he heard the chuckle from the doorway. He looked up, seeing Stella wearing something...feminine. Nearly girlish for her. He blinked. She did look stunning. "Xander's sending us a sample of his stink bomb so we can see if our guys want to use it."
"Good thing I won't be here." She handed over two papers. He looked at it then at her. "Since you're such a tight ass, we decided we'd try it together. You hurt Danny a lot and it'll make him feel better," she said simply, walking off, her hips twitching just enough to catch his attention.
He groaned, signing off on the weekend leave. "I'm not a tight ass," he complained to himself. He wanted so bad to check the denied box on one of their leave forms. He really did. But if he had really hurt Danny, it would be even more cruel to deny him finding happiness with her. He checked both boxes and put them into his outgoing box after making a copy. That way he couldn't change his mind. Not that he wanted to be that cruel to them. He checked their stated plans. Stowe, VT was a pretty resort area. About a ten hour drive but a pretty area. He put the form back and went back to the lab to work on something. He needed to keep working. Even if he did see how enthusiastic Danny was in describing the area to Adam. He hadn't been that bouncy and happy for a while. Well, except for a few nights he wasn't going to mention. Not even to himself. "Danny, I approved you to go," he called. "It's in my outbox."
"Sure, Mac, thanks." He pinched him on the arm. "Want a postcard?" he asked as he walked past him. He grinned at Stella. "He approved it."
"I saw." She grinned. "He hesitated too." She smoothed down her shirt. "Do you like this one?"
"I wanna drool and take up feeding like the kids in Miami are." She blushed and walked off. "What? At least I'm honest," he called, grinning at her back. He loved flustering Stella. It was nearly as much fun as doing it to Aiden. He went back to work, watching their plan to drive Mac insane with need working quite well. Especially later on when he got dinner sent in. He popped in. "Should've told me you were ordering, I'd have put in with you."
"I didn't. Xander sent it," he admitted, holding up the card. "He said he was too far away to cook for me." That got a grin. "It's his favorite Indian place in the city so he's recommending them to me by feeding me tonight. Want some?"
"Nah. Not in the mood for spicy tonight. Have a good dinner and remember to go home sometime tonight, Mac." He walked off again. He wondered about that. Xander had a touch with spices. Just look at his jerky.... He looked back at the office, jogging back there. "Mac, the jerky spices?"
"Not in here, I already called to see," he admitted, smiling at him. "Don't worry about it, Danny."
"Sure. Good ta know." He walked off again. It was safe. Mac would kill himself if he jumped them in the office thanks to that jerky of Xander's. He didn't like that stuff in the office.
Mac ate a few more bites then put it into his fridge for the night. He wasn't very hungry. He went back to work. It was a good night for it.
Tara sat across from Sheldon at lunch. "Can we talk?"
"You said you wanted to. I hope I can answer it this time," he teased. She blushed but swatted at his hand. "What's up, Tara?"
"Baby envy," she sighed. "Don said to give it a month to make sure I really want it and he's there whenever I'm ready. I'm not sure I'm ready."
"Tara, honey, you will make the Goddess smile with how great of a mother you'll be." She smiled at that. "You'll be just as good as Xander is, if not better." Her smile got brighter. "Quit worrying about it. Right now you need to figure out if you're ready to have one. You're still in school. Do you want to take a year off to be a mommy? Because I know you will."
She shrugged, nibbling on some of her bread. "I don't know, Sheldon. That's what's bothering me. That and the fact Don could get killed. Then I'd lose everything of his."
"He can say the same though."
"True." She ate a bite of her soup, then looked at him. "I think I am ready. Even if he's wary I'm ready."
"Sweetie, he's not wary. He loves you more than anything and he'd adore to worship your pregnant belly for years." She giggled at that. "I heard they're like good potato chips."
"I don't think we need ten or twelve. Maybe two?" she suggested.
He shrugged. "That's between you two, sweetie. Has it gotten any better since you talked about it?"
"It's gotten worse, Sheldon. I *ache*."
He nodded. "Then what I'd suggest is seeing your doctor, letting him know you're thinking about getting pregnant. There's some supplements you should take beforehand to make sure birth defects aren't going to pop up. Then go off the pill."
She nodded. "I saw him earlier today. He was happy I wanted one. He said I'm perfectly healthy and he wished me an easy conception. He said the multivitamin I take now is good enough." He smiled at that. "I should take more calcium, huh?" He nodded. "And iron?"
"Probably. You'll get those in the prenatal vitamins. They taste like vanilla, or so I'm told." She grinned at that. "Okay?" She nodded. "I wouldn't pounce him at work, but whenever you're ready."
"But pouncing at work is fun. I pounced him today and he squealed." He snickered at that. "His email was bouncing and we heard from Horatio. He told me to pounce him to let him know his email was bouncing."
"I'm sure you loved sneaking up on him too," he teased. She blushed but nodded. "Good girl, Tara." He kissed her hand. "Okay. The only rule I will set is that I am not delivering him or her. Am I clear?" She nodded at that, smiling at him. "Thanks. Sid might."
"I don't think I want Sid to look at me there, Sheldon."
"Good point, but if something happens, we'll get Sid to do it instead of me. I had to do an OB rotation for medical school and I always wanted to make it all better."
"The pain brings a wonderful gift who won't let you sleep," she pointed out gently. "Pain is part of that." He nodded. "But I won't ask you to be my OB. My doctor gave me a few very good recommendations." He grinned at that. "Would you like to be a godfather?"
"I'd be honored to be a godparent for you and Don, Tara." He nodded at someone paying a lot of attention when she looked a bit confused. "Now, you eat. You're too skinny. Don's got to be the only one eating all the cookies you make." She giggled and pulled some out of her bag for him. "Thanks, dear." He patted her hand and dug in. He even got the check this time. They switched off when they had lunch together. He walked her back to the precinct, watching as she snuck up on Don again, but this time he was more grumpy. She whispered in his ear, getting a stunned look. She grinned and walked off, winking at him. "Have a good day and be careful on the way home, Tara."
"Of course I will. I'm taking a cab. Don worries when I take the subway." She went to get a cab to take her home.
Sheldon walked over, looking at the stunned man. "She offered me godparent rights when you two do finally have one." Don grinned and shrugged, getting up to follow his girl home. He made it back to the main hallway in time to see him pull Tara into a unused room and close the door so no one could see them making out. He glanced at his watch, timing the squeaky noises starting. "Yeah, that'll be fun." The officers walking past there gave the door an odd look. "Tara and Don are talking about some news from his nephew in Miami."
One officer snickered. "That's not talking, Doc."
"It's as close as she'll admit to," another teased him. "How are they?"
"Good. They got Abby back when she had been stolen. She's having a son for Xander. His daughter's doing good. Everything's generally good now that they had six officers who ended up jail for the conspiracy to kidnap and hold Abby for ransom. One an IAB guy." They all gave him horrified looks. So he grinned and nodded. "Horatio even got to arrest them."
"I remember Caine when he came up on that last crossover case," one guy noted. "They make it to gen pop okay?"
"He hit one. He's got a week off," Sheldon admitted. "Not that his boy minds." They all snickered and walked off. That was a good reason and they'd all probably take the week off without complaint for that reason. Hitting an IAB guy, because it had to be him that he hit, was a fantasy of many officers on the force. Sheldon watched as Don snuck Tara out of the building, walking off shaking his head. He nodded at Don's undone tie. "Need help with that?"
"Not from you. It's a bit wet," he admitted, taking it off. "Thanks for door guarding, Sheldon." He walked back to his desk, looking much happier and calmer. He went into his shopping directory he had bookmarked and found something, sending her a treat. It should get there right before he got home. His boss came to her door and he smiled at her. "What?"
"What happened to your tie?"
"Tara was holding onto it while we kissed. It's a bit crumpled."
"Uh-huh. You do know they put a camera in the closet, right?"
"Wasn't in there, doesn't matter to me. Closets are much too small."
She walked off shaking her head. "Get back to work, Flack. Please."
"Yes, Mom." He pulled over some paperwork, getting back to finding his latest suspect. One of the guys looked over. "What?" he mouthed. He nodded at Don's throat so he touched the wet spot. "Hickey?" he mouthed. He got a smug smirk and a nod. He shrugged. "I taste good. It's all her cookies." He got back to work, much more content, but now he was having evil thoughts about how to get his suspect. "So that's why Xander has evil moods," he realized. It was something that did light up a lightbulb inside his head. He ordered her something else and got back to work. She'd blush but that was cute on her too.
Xander looked outside when he heard a car. "Honey, it's your brother and Ray Junior. He looks like he's handcuffed."
Horatio went out to meet them. "Ray." He looked at his nephew. "What did you do?"
"Nothing. I was sleeping in. I don't have first period today. I even had permission." He glared at his father. "Then he showed up like he owns the place."
Horatio pulled him out and undid the cuffs, checking his wrists. "Go to school, Ray." He nodded, grabbing the bag he kept there so he could change clothes. He also took Xander's keys for his more sensible car. He had permission to drive it. He looked at his brother. "They do let them come in late if they're not having their first class."
"It's still not responsible. You and I would've skipped the rest of the day."
Ray came out in real clothes. "Thankfully I only share a name and a limited amount of your genetics." He got into the garage and stared. "Hey, Uncle H?" He came over to look and moaned. "That's a pretty car. Can I take it?"
"No, Ray." He patted him on the back. "We'll be taking it back."
"Pity." He got into Xander's Saturn, backing out carefully and heading to school. He gave his headmistress a look. "Father issues. I was handcuffed."
"He wanted you to miss?" she asked.
He shook his head. "No. He decided me sleeping in meant I was going to miss the rest of the day. Am I late?"
"By about five minutes. Parking pass?"
"Uncle Xander's car. Mine's still in the garage at home. He got me two minutes before my alarm went off." He headed to his class. "Sorry, father handcuffed me." The teacher just nodded at that. "Ask Uncle H if you don't believe me."
"No, I remember hearing about your father."
"I'm not him," he said blandly. "It pisses him off."
"Some parents can be unreasonable." She handed over the pop quiz, giving him a smile. "Five minutes, Ray." He nodded, going through it.
Speed answered the call. "Speedle," he sighed. He groaned. "What is it?" He looked at his phone. "Excuse me?" He put it back against his ear. "Uh-huh. Okay. Sure. I'll call Aiden." He groaned. "Why did she say to call me? I don't know anything about classic cars.... Ooh, that scene. I do have to go back there. I'll get Frank to ask." He hung up, going to find Eric and Frank. "Yelina, your son got busted for sleeping in? Horatio said they got him out of the handcuffs and sent him off in Xander's Saturn. Frank, someone left Xander a high end ancient classic car in the garage without screwing with the security system. He wanted to know if you could ask the guys at that car place when we go back there today."
"Sure, I can do that. What'd he get?" Speed shrugged. "Should I ask for a picture?"
"Probably. Horatio was on the house phone." He walked off shaking his head. "Classic cars now," he told Eric.
"What happened to the sports car you got sent?"
"I sent it back. They were not happy. Oh well." He went back to his lab, getting back to work.
Frank ran the car through the system once he got a make, model, and VIN for it. It came up with a registered owner who was not Xander. It came up with Greg's name. He looked up his number to call out there. "Sanders, sorry to wake you. Did you buy a really old Austin-Healy?" He listened to him complain. "Because one showed up in the garage down here registered to you, buddy. Sure. I would. I can do that. Thanks." He hung up and called that dealership. "Hey, I need to check and see if you guys sold a car to someone. It was registered in the name Greg Sanders but he said he didn't buy it. This is Detective Tripp," he agreed. "VIN, and make and model. Austin-Healy.... Yeah, that's the VIN." He listened to who had bought it, making notes. "Thanks, man. How did they pay for it?" He smiled and made that note as well. "Thank you." He hung up and emailed that to Greg.
Greg walked into work that night, looking at his boss when he ran into him in the hallway. "Did you buy me a 1960 Austin-Healy?" Grissom slowly shook his head. "They purchased it in your name, Grissom. Then they registered the classic antique in mine. You might wanna check your credit report?" He hurried off to his office, letting him go complain to Hodges. "I got sent a car. They said Grissom bought it for me."
Hodges choked. "Excuse me? They sent you a car?" Greg grimaced but nodded. "What sort?"
"1960 Austin-Healy." Hodges gave him a look so he found it online and let him see a picture. "That. They left it in Xander's garage without setting off his alarm. It was bought in Grissom's name."
"Crap," he muttered, looking at it then at him. "Any idea who did it?"
"They paid in cash. They bought it a month ago to restore it a bit more. The place's cameras have already been erased that far back. So we have no clue."
"Hell," he muttered. "Does it go fast?"
"I don't know. I've been here all day," he said dryly, giving him a look.
"Mail!" Nick called. "Greg!"
"Is it from Xander?" he called.
"It's from Miami, no name." He handed over the three boxes. "I didn't know you liked classic cars."
"Neither did I until someone who said he was Gris bought me one of those," Greg offered. "In blue." Nick moaned. He opened the first box once he had on gloves. He saw the confused look. "If they're presents from someone we occasionally have to do fingerprints to find out who sent them." He opened it and looked inside, then wobbled. "Oh, shit."
"Sit him down, right now!" Hodges ordered, kicking a stool over. He saw what was in the box and grimaced. "Eww. Don't they check for things like that?" Nick paged the ME. He put it aside and grabbed some new gloves to open the other one, blinking at the pretty jeweled tube. "What's that for?"
Greg looked. "Penis trap. It's got a cockring built on the end so you can't get off and it robs you of any sensation while they taunt you." He sat down again, fanning his face. "Well. First brain. Not nice. Really not nice. Hi, Doc."
"Hi, Greg," Doc Robbins said, looking in the second box. "Instrument?"
"Penis trap I think."
"Oh. Okay." He looked in the other box. "It's a brain." He lifted it out to look at it. "It's got a note written on it in magic marker. It's amazing where you can write with a sharpie." He let Greg see it. Then he watched him turn pale and get sick. "That means something to you."
"Mahsa's mother's name," he said between heaves.
"We can check," he agreed, taking it and the box off.
Nick got the other present. "Greg, I'm going to process this." Greg nodded, spitting into the trash can.
"He said the writing on the brain was Mahsa's mother's name," Hodges said quietly.
"We can check on that." He went to do that. "Grissom, Greg just got sent a brain."
"A model I hope?" Catherine asked. Nick shook his head, letting her see the other one. "What's that?"
"Greg called it a penis trap?"
"Uh-huh." She nodded. "So we'll be seeing Lady Heather tonight, Nick?"
"Probably a good idea," Grissom agreed. "I'll check with the doctor." He went to do that. "Is it human?"
"Yes it is."
"Can you test for TB from brain tissue?" He got an odd look. "I heard Hodges tell him it had Mahsa's mother's name on it and Greg told me she had TB. Also, she's Egyptian."
"We can send it through the process." He let him see the writing. "They have good penmanship. I have to say this is the strangest present I've ever seen. Though I did hear something about body parts and stuffed animals out of New York when they had a suicide ring."
Grissom gave him a look. "I don't want to know. Anything indicative of cause of death?"
"Looks healthy. I'll put it through the usual tests, Gil."
"Thank you. Let me know." He walked off, taking the box it had been in with him. He handed it to Nick. "From the brain." He went to check the receptionist. "I need Greg's mail please." She gave him an odd look. "He just got sent a brain."
"I was wondering what was in the boxes. Fed Ex still has to run tonight, Grissom. Right now he's got your memo and one letter." She handed it over. "I think the letter's from his sweetie."
"I hope so." He walked them back to Greg. "You forgot to pick up the memo of the week from Ecklie that he made me write." He handed them over.
Greg looked at it then laughed and balled it up, putting it in the basket with his lunch. "Sure I will, Grissom. Right before I sue the department I'll announce my sexual orientation." He opened the letter, smiling at the pictures. "Mahsa." He let them see, then they went into his wallet. He read the letter, snickering at it. "Xander's in big trouble. Horatio had to ride his ass. He went to save Abby. Butted in and made Gibbs let him help. He's lucky he's still walking." He flipped to the next page, it was in Horatio's handwriting. He smiled and sniffled at a bit. "I'll be ready soon, guys."
"Moving?" Hodges asked.
"Married. Moving's going to take at least a year." He looked at him. "No open spots and a crappy budget year." He grabbed the bag of trash, taking it outside once the letters were safely in his locker. Then he went to work in the lab on his last case. He wasn't going outside alone tonight. He did see Lady Heather when she came in, sneaking in a smile and a wave. She waved back and nodded for him to follow, so he did like her obedient puppy, which he was. "Yes, ma'am?"
"This is what you got sent?" He nodded. "What did you think it was?"
"A penis trap."
"It is a vault," she agreed, opening it for Nick. "Hmm, not new either." Greg got some swabs and wet them down so they could collect the sample. "Once that's clean I know someone who would love that for their boy." She looked at Gregory, who shrugged.
"Not like I can have fun with it by myself, Lady Heather."
"Point, dear." She kissed him on the cheek. "Now, what news do you have?"
"Someone also sent me a brain."
"Charming. The same person?"
"We think so."
"You poor boys." She kissed him on the forehead. "What else can I help with?"
"Where would you have bought one of these?" Nick asked. "I doubt you can walk into any jewelry store and say 'I want a penis vault'. Right?"
"No, but there are jewelers who specialize in the BDSM buying contingent," she admitted, making notes for him. She handed them over. "With the symbol underneath that biological deposit, I'd say it was the second one on the list. That's their mark." Nick smiled. "It might be quite old. I've seen examples dating back to the Tzarist times of Russia during Catherine the Great's reign, boys. They were around then and if they had remade it or refinished it they could have marked it."
"Okay, that gives us a place to start," Nick admitted. "Greg, go make sure Fed Ex didn't leave you anything?"
"Last time I saw Fed Ex they left a body in a box at Xander's and a highly decorated penis in a box." He headed to the front desk, finding Ecklie fuming. "Let me guess, something came?" She nodded. "Better here where we can find out who sent the tacky shit than my apartment. Then again, my complex manager knows not to accept anything for me from any shipping company unless it has my own name on it." He looked at Ecklie. "That's because people send me body parts and toys like the penis vault I got sent earlier." Ecklie turned purple. He took the new box, sighing as he opened it, wincing at it. "That's just sick." He walked it off, holding it out. "Lady Heather, I'll need your help getting the parts out of this one for the ME," he noted. She nodded, following him. "Doc?" He came out of his office. "Another one." He put the box on the empty table. "Lady Heather needs to remove the device for you. I know I can't."
The ME looked at it. "What is that? A bear trap?"
She looked. "Similar design specifications but not as much pressure. It's like a nipple clamp." She put on some gloves and pulled the device out of the box. She smiled at Ecklie. "Give me a moment, Director." She carefully got it undone and then the penis harness as well. "There you go. The tension was set a bit higher than normal. I usually only set them at half that."
"I'm thinking it's the guy they haven't caught from New York yet," Greg admitted. "He took the father's penis and tattooed it and pierced it before he cut it off him." She nodded. "That's the one that got sent to Xander the last time I was down. Today's just smacks of the same stuff."
"Perhaps but I'm not a profiler, Greg. Master Tim is an excellent one, as is Santiago."
"If I have to go running to Master Santiago, it'd better be life and death," he reminded her. "Horatio would get pissed and spank me. Again." She smiled and kissed him on the cheek. "Thank you for your help, Lady Heather."
"Not a problem, Gregory. Now, this could have come from that same place I noted. They do sell those sort of things as well." She stroked his cheek before leaving. "Come for tea soon, dear. Bring pictures."
"Yes, m'lady." He looked at Ecklie again. "Sorry. She knew where we could get that stuff." He walked out, going to tell Nick. "She said the new device on the new set in the morgue could've come from the same place. She also said the clamp portion of it was set double what she usually uses."
"Do I want to know?"
"Probably not but you'll have to." Ecklie brought in the device in a bag. "See?"
"Okay, is it molded to shape?"
"It was on him for a while," Greg admitted. "I'm starting to think it was the guy who did it in New York. I don't know why."
"Thinking like Xander," he teased.
"Possibly. He is a kick ass profiler." He shrugged. "She also suggested Master Santiago was one if I needed to bother him. Let me know."
"I will. Anything else come in?"
"Don't wish that on me."
"Sorry, Greggo. Wanna help?"
"It involves me. I can't."
"Point." He got the swabs out to take biological deposits for DNA comparison to the brain and through the system. "Go work, Greg." He nodded, going to do that. "Someone sent him a classic car down in Miami too," he said quietly.
"There's a family curse on the males in Xander's family. Once they find their true mate, or in his case mates, everyone in the universe wants to break them up. They do it a lot of ways, the most obvious being the kidnaping attempts and the presents. So some bribe his boys and some bribe him. They send back what they can but not everything has a known sender. The car today was bought in Grissom's name and I doubt he did it. Most of the rest is auctioned off and some of it's sent back to him again. He has this one really ugly pin that's been bought and sent back to him twice now. The good news is that there's only about two and a half more years left on it. He did some historical research when his grandfather was alive. They said it lasted about four years."
"That's why Sanders moved into a secure compound?"
"Yeah, especially after that guy broke in to get pictures of him so he could sell him and Xander together." Ecklie shuddered and walked out. He went to talk to Greg. "Maybe you should set up someone as a front, Greg. Someone to gather presents, send them back? Give you a bit of breathing room."
"Most of mine go to Xander's lawyers or Aiden took over the rest for Mayper. Only a tenth of it gets sent out here," he admitted, looking at him. "It's a pain to get it here but I spend a few mornings a month running fingerprints to get who sent crap to me."
"That's not a bad idea," Grissom agreed as he walked in. "I'd rather have them sent somewhere else. An intermediary step so Ecklie and the Sheriff can't complain."
"They'd rather have me kidnaped? No one gets near my apartment, Grissom. Besides, I don't make enough to hire my own personal CSI. Hey, Warrick, make sure there's nothing at the desk for me but beware of Ecklie," he requested. Warrick nodded. "He's done a few for me. I couldn't figure out how to get the fingerprint off something and I had to go to him, plus he intercepted another one for me. The ME has a file on these things, Grissom. Mostly I get threats."
Warrick strolled in. "Envelope."
Greg took it to look over then carefully open. He glanced inside then poured it out, looking at it. "Huh. Not a threat." He stared at the check. "Written on the Bank of Bermuda." He sighed. "It's a cashier's check." He looked at Grissom. "Can I have my camera please?" Grissom took pictures, blinking at the check. "That's the same place the donations to the lab came from." They all nodded at that. "It's a nice thought. Any note in the envelope?"
"Get back to work, Greg, I've got this," Grissom promised. Greg moved down the table, getting back to work. "I'd like to know how many of these you get a week."
"Three threats, one present, and one check a week on average," he reported. "The present is often kink gear or clothes. The check's usually pretty small and easily sent back. The kink gear too, it usually comes from a local place. It's bad for business if he doesn't let them buy it but I've got major credit at his store. He's sent back letters for me reminding the people that I'm a taken boy with a well-established relationship, plus that my Master is very scary." He looked at Grissom. "Sending it back to them would cost the guy money."
"It would," he agreed. "It's probably unkind to his business." Greg nodded. "Buying Lady Heather's holiday present?"
"No, I've already got that." He grinned when he found something. "People send Horatio suits. Some that don't fit but they mostly send him suits and money. Then again, he gets more overt and subtle threats too. He gets more body parts. Xander's the worst. They found his grandfather's safety deposit boxes with the accounts he had been hiding so Xander wouldn't get upset with the human race again. He tripled his estate. It took us four days to convince him he could come out of the house again. Oh, auction next month, guys." He capped his sample and moved on. His phone rang so he stuck in his earbud and hit the button through his jacket. "Speak. No, I'm not happy, Horatio. Because I got sent a brain with Mahsa's mother's name on it. Plus a penis vault, a really heavy leather and clamp harness, some more money, and the body parts still inside the harness. How's Xander?"
He smiled at the assurance they were all fine, even the baby. "Thanks, love. No, I'm searching samples on cloth and everyone's giving me 'aren't they cute' looks." Grissom coughed. "Grissom said hi. He also said he didn't buy that car." He smirked at Grissom. "He said he knew that but the guy even put on a fake face of you." Grissom shook his head so he got back to work. "How're things with Abby?" He beamed. "Really? Good! Finally! I'm glad the stinkbomb ploy worked. How's her labor situation?" He chuckled. "That's fine. I'm sure he'll be just fine in DC, Horatio. Or you could follow him. Remember to save a weekend off to bring them out to present them." He nodded. "I can do that. Sure. Love you. Be good and be safe. Hug sore boy too." He chuckled. "I figured that's the only way you're putting that thought in his head. I'd love to, Horatio. Whenever you're ready, baby. Thank you. Miss you." He blew a kiss and hung up. "We are getting married soon. Grissom, I need off the first full weekend in the new year, that's when they're bringing the babies out to Lady Heather. Abby's going to pop sometime this week so I should fly out for at least a few days, whenever you can arrange for me to have three days off in a row?"
"I've got forms waiting in my office for dates, Greg. I'll make the schedule out that far to include you off that weekend."
"Thanks, man." He grinned at him. "He did say the fake face was that good. He also said the forms had your fingerprints on it." Grissom dropped the swab he had been using. "He said he could use a handwriting sample too if you wouldn't mind."
"Someone out here," he said.
"Yuppers, or someone who's watched you in the past."
"I can send him down one, Greg. Let me know when they catch them. I want to know who's been invading my privacy."
"I know that feeling. That's why I moved," he quipped, getting back to work. "You mixed samples."
Grissom looked down, marking that swab as both those spots and got out another one to take pure samples. This was now starting to annoy him too. Someone needed to have a stern discussion with someone.
"Did you hear that Horatio got to arrest Stetler and five other cops for the conspiracy to kidnap Abby for ransom?" he asked. Grissom stared at him. "Five were involved. Stetler decided to withhold the information so they couldn't help get her back by paying the ransom or anything. He had it nearly a day before Horatio heard from a patrol guy. That's why he's got a week off at the moment. He hit him when he refused to stand up for his arrest. The other guys were in the conspiracy, watching Horatio for the guy who wanted him to dump Xander so he'd be pure and his."
"Is she all right?"
"Just fine. Xander jumped in and made Gibbs let him help. He had reconned the place they had her. So he got to help and fuss, but she wanted one of his stink bombs to see if they wanted to use them. It cleared NCIS that night. Took them all night and half the next day to get the stink out of the lab from a few milliliter sample in a jar. So it got her the boys she was wanting. He helped scrub her back that night." He grinned and got back to work. "Apparently it was good and set off some early labor. They're saying it's going to be a few days but Xander's on his way back to DC to help and be there for the birth. Without the stink bomb this time. Because those things are really bad. Really, really bad." He capped his next sample. "If you ever get hit with one, use soured lemons to take it off and then tomato juice. Oh, did you guys get the name of that stuff Xander found Aiden for when you need regular lemons? The lemon body scrub?" They shook their heads. "I'll get the name for you. It's expensive but it works better than simply rubbing them on you. It's a body acne treatment." He grinned. "It was part of her 'I'm not a grandma yet' basket he got her before he found out about Mahsa." He got back to work. A few tape lifts and he was done. "Off to deliver goodies to Hodges." He walked up the hall, leaving them in a tray for him. "Mine."
"Thank you for giving me *more* work, Greg," he said bitterly. "What else came?"
"Big ass check from the same source that gave us the lab grant."
"Can I have the rest of my lab fixed?" he begged.
"Sure." He shrugged. "I'll push Gris for that purpose if we can't give it back." Hodges smirked at him. "We do try. It's a cashier's check though." He walked back there. "Grissom, if that's another grant to the lab, Hodges could use some stuff replaced."
"He, Archie, and Bobby are tops on my list," he admitted. He handed over the bagged note.
"I'll get their Christmas present cashed later," he promised with a grin. "Guys, I need help figuring out what to get Don and Tara. She's pagan and likes all natural stuff but the other's Don Flack."
Nick looked at him. "Perfume? Most girls like it."
Warrick looked at him. "Take Catherine to the store with you, Greg. Let her pick it out and put both your names on it. That's how I do it." He walked off smiling. "Catherine, Greg needs help figuring out what to get Tara this year for the holidays."
"Sure. Why? She's a sweet girl but she didn't seem that complicated."
"Tara's Pagan," he reminded her.
"Oh, yeah. So all natural stuff maybe." She shrugged. "I'll think about and make Greg go with me when I buy Lindsey's stuff. It'll probably be from the same spot." That got a grin and a nod. "How's the baby?"
"Probably okay and Abby's about ready to pop from what he said. Xander's headed to DC to be there for the birth." She smiled. "They'll be out the first full weekend of the new year to introduce Lady Heather to his kids."
"That's wonderful news," she agreed, going to talk to Greg. She saw the check then looked at him. "Nice present if you can get it."
"Unfortunately I can get it," he said dryly. "It's from the same source as the lab grants."
"Ah. So who's getting the early presents?"
"Hodges, Archie, and Bobby."
She snickered. "They're going to throw you a party, Greg." She walked off. "I'll make you go with me when I buy Lindsey stuff after payday."
"Sure. Thanks." He looked at the rest of his evidence, then went to bug Hodges. "Anything yet?"
"There's six samples ahead of you."
"You're getting new toys."
"Yours is next," he announced. Greg grinned and headed to get some water before going back to work. All he could do is wait for results at the moment. Hodges was much happier. "Grissom, what am I getting?" he asked when he came in for his results.
"That depends on how he wants to split it. What do you need?"
Hodges stabbed a button on his computer, printing out a list. He handed it over. "That."
He looked at it then at him. "He's not Santa, Hodges."
"Most of that?" he offered.
"We'll see what we can do." He walked off shaking his head. Greedy and pushy, what a combination.
Xander peeked into Abby's room. "Are you decent or can I giggle at the clown nose?"
"No clown nose." He came in and gave her a hug. "Good. Now if only he'd come."
Xander leaned down to whisper to her stomach, patting it gently. Then he looked around before back at her, holding up a small bottle. She shook her head so he put it away again. "Okay. I told him he had to come out. That way I could cuddle him." He kissed her on the forehead. "Now, how does the first weekend of the new year strike you for a trip to Vegas?"
"Sounds good to me," she admitted. "He can fly by then. I'll be almost ready to go back to work. That'll be good," she decided. She smiled at him then at the nurse when she came in. "This is Xander."
"The father?" she asked. Xander nodded. "Okay. We'll put you on the approved visitor's list. We've had to restrict it."
"If it was her boss I'm going to send her another stink bomb."
"No, not the director. Palmer got creepy and squealy. Ducky had to make him go home." Xander grinned at that. "I know, he's a geek, but that's okay. McGee won't come."
"I can fix that," he assured her. "Handcuffs fix those issues."
She smiled. "Gibbs didn't want to leave. Tony either."
"They can come back when you're closer. I hope they're not out on the streets right now but they can come back when they're closer." She nodded. "Anything else I can fix for you?"
"Make him hurry up?"
"We can give you medicine," the nurse offered.
"No, that can hurt him."
Xander looked at her. "I can chant over your stomach. Or they can pop your water balloon."
"Chant over my stomach," she decided. The nurse smiled and left them alone. "What does that stuff do?"
"Makes it go faster. Tara said it's like an herbal version of the stuff they wanted to give you in your IV. I have not a clue if it works but she said one of the women in her coven swore by it. She had hers within four hours."
"I'd like that. Please?" He smiled and coated his hands, getting to work massaging it in, making her groan and arch into his hands. "Oooh, that feels nice, Xander." She smiled at Tony when he leaned in. "He's giving me a belly rub."
"Those do feel nice and I'm not jealous." He came in to help. "What's that stuff?"
"Herbal stuff one of Tara's coven members swore by to speed up labor."
"Okay. Is it safe?" He nodded. "You're sure? You checked?"
"I did. I checked with Alexx when she told me what to get."
"Then I won't complain." He came over to help, getting her ankles for her. She smiled at him. "Gibbs is growling at the director. She wanted us to handle a homicide case out of town."
"You two are my coaches. Fat chance!" She made a grab for the phone and missed, getting it the second time. She dialed. "Put the stupid bitch on," she told the secretary. "Yes, this is and she's trying to send my labor coaches out of town while I'm in labor!" She waited while she was on hold. "Director, Gibbs and Tony are my labor coaches. I need them here while I'm in labor. Yes, I'm going this week," she snapped. "I'm already in labor, Director. The same as after I'm out of labor I'll be back in ten weeks, which I have by right of the federal family leave act. If you don't like it, shove it! I need my coaches. They're the ones who help me control the pain and focus on getting him out so we don't both die. Hey, I can always curse you to fertility." She heard the laugh. "Can I?"
"You can," Xander assured her. "It's a natural woman's right to be fertile. I'll ask Tara if she can craft it for you. Or maybe Ethan."
"Mean thought." She grinned at him. "I love your evil mind. Ethan?" she begged to the empty air. "She's trying to take my coaches away!" She heard the shriek and giggled. "She's got a rain of frogs in her office. Tree frogs so they've got sticky feet and are clinging to her." She hung up much happier. "Thanks, Ethan." She looked at him. "Get to rubbing!" They both quit smiling at her and got back to work. She sighed in pleasure, until the next contraction. Then she grabbed Xander's hand and squeezed, screaming a bit. "Get it out!"
Gibbs came strolling in. "They have an operation for that, Abby." He nudged Tony out of the way. "Focus on me," he ordered, staring at her. She focused on him. "Good, now breathe!" She panted. Xander whispered in her other ear, getting a nod. Her pattern changed as she came down. "She doesn't do hypnosis well."
"Hmm, that might keep her out of subspace," he offered. "They still make drugs for the pain."
"They do, and I want some!" Abby yelled. "Please give me drugs!" The nurse came in with a needle. "Bless you!" she said, starting to cry. The next contraction started while she was getting the drugs. She felt it slowly ease the pain some. Still not enough but some. It was going to be a long night. The nurse checked her then made notes and went to call her OB. "Okay, that stuff is magical. Wipe it off?" Xander got a warm, damp paper towel from the bathroom to do that for her, letting Tony have her free hand. "Thank you, guys. No more kids for a while. Please no more kids for a while."
"We don't need kids," Gibbs promised quietly. She nodded, smiling at him. She bore down when the next one started.
Xander watched the mess. "Huh." He leaned out the door. "Her water broke?" The nurse came back. "Sorry to keep make you running."
"Not an issue." She checked her over. "We're doing good, Abby. Just about an hour more it looks like."
"Thank the Gods." The nurse smiled and headed off again. She looked at her men then at Xander. "Can I go kill the bimbo space alien nurses?"
"Sure. The ones who did this to us are fair game in my book." She smiled. "Want to stay in this position?"
"Yup. I'm not squatting to crap out the baby."
"Okay. I'll be here. Can I catch?"
"Not like I care, Xander."
"I don't want to even look," Tony admitted.
Gibbs smiled. "I'm perfectly happy up here, Abby." Horatio strolled in. "Different flights?"
"I had to get Aiden to pick up Mahsa," Horatio admitted. "Plus Willow to pick up Ian." Xander rolled his eyes. "I know." He patted him. "How are we, Abby?"
"Going pretty fast. The stuff Tara told Xander to get works really well. I went from one every two hours to one every ten minutes in about twenty minutes."
He nodded. "As long as you're healthy and so is he," he promised, kissing her on the forehead. "Did you like his timing for presenting the babies?"
"I did. Call Lady Heather and tell her."
"I will when he's out and we know he's okay. She works nights anyway," Xander offered with a smile. She grinned back. The nurse came back. "Already?" The nurse pulled a gun on him. "Huh." He moved, snapping her arm and getting her onto the floor. "No one touches what's mine, woman. Who are you?"
"Lindsay Chaplain," she groaned. "Please, Mr. Harris."
"No." He let Tony have her when he coughed, kicking the gun closer to his feet. "There. Have another one." He looked at Abby, shrugging a bit. "I don't know. Fanclub member?"
She gave him a look. "You need less of a fanclub."
"He stole my mentor and she died because he slept with her!" the fake nurse yelled.
"I didn't sleep with Lady Death, dear. She drugged me so I couldn't." She started to cry. "Go away. This is my son being born." Tony drug her off and Horatio took his place. "Do you want to help catch, honey?"
"No, I've delivered two in the past," Horatio admitted. "It was more than enough for me, Xander. You can help catch the baby." He got a happy beam, a small bounce, and a breath stealing kiss. "Calm down, Xander." He nodded, going to help her. Abby tried to break his hand so he tamped down on the pain, helping her through this. Tony came back and took Gibbs' spot so he could get feeling back in his hand. Then Gibbs took his spot. That was fine. He sat down and held Xander so he wasn't in the way and they could watch it together.
Greg walked into the Dominion, smiling at his favorite assistant. "I am the bearer of good tidings. Is she in and up?"
"She is. Go right up to her office, Gregory."
He grinned. "Thanks, Gloria." He walked up there, tapping before walking in, bowing to Master Santiago since he was in there. "You missed Abby being kidnaped and in labor?"
"No, I was there when she was taken. Is she all right?"
"She is just fine." He bowed to Lady Heather. "Jesse Johan Ignatius Scuito was born about two hours ago. Preliminary tests say he's perfectly healthy, does not have her parent's deafness, and should be perfectly fine. Mother is also doing well. She's being so spoiled by Xander it's not funny." She smiled at that. He handed over a card. "Master Tim requested some of your time on that weekend, m'lady. The whole family will be out then."
She opened it and looked at the date, then her calendar. "I have a client that Saturday morning, but I'm sure he won't mind." Greg smiled and shook his head. "They're coming to present the children to me?"
"Yes, m'lady." He leaned over to kiss her on the cheek. "Thank you for your help earlier as well." He stepped back to a respectful distance. "I'm off to be a happy, bouncy daddy today and forget I got sent parts. With your leave? Oh, Master Tim said he would have called directly but your cell is out of order and the hospital wouldn't let him use his cell, but their phones had the Dominion's number blocked."
"That's acceptable," she assured him with a smile. "Go celebrate being a father, Gregory." He bowed to both of them, snuck another kiss to her cheek then left. She waited until he was gone to stick the card in her calendar.
"His training's weak," Santiago noted.
"Yes, but he was here for tactile comfort before, Emil. He gets more of what he needs at home. He'd get too much if he were closer all the time but that's how it goes sometimes." He smiled at that. "Have you seen Mahsa's picture?"
"I haven't." He looked at her copy. "She's adorable." Lady Heather put the picture back. "He's doing a formal presentation?"
"He is. He promised I could have Mahsa to train if she consented."
"Even better." He grinned at her. "You're such a softy," he teased.
"Well, yes, but only about some things." She smirked at him. "How is your new boy?"
"Irritating the hell out of me. He's whiny. I'm sure Xander didn't let him get away with it."
"He's pushing his boundaries, Emil. Remember when Paul did that to you?" He nodded. "Do what you did then."
"I would if he wasn't out of town this weekend on assignment and expected to be out of town for the next two months." He finished his tea and put his cup aside. "I'm going to take a turn wearing out my arm. By your leave?"
"Go ahead," she said with a smile. She touched the card and went back to her business duties. That had been a good message and a very bouncy herald delivering it.
Don walked into the office to find a large basket with balloons on his desk. He looked at it then around. He was the first one in. He smiled, finding the card. "I know Abby's due. That is a Xander style present." He opened the card and sat down, hard. "Oh, shit!" He called Mac. "Get to my desk right the hell now, Mac Taylor. Yes, you, now!" He hung up and looked at the basket. He could see something moving around. His boss came in, giving him a fond look. "Don't, it's not from the family. It's from someone who told me Tara's pregnant. I think it's got a snake too." He looked closer, backing up when something hit the cellophane. "Yup, it's got a snake. It's not a happy snake either." Mac walked in with his kit. He handed over the card. "Before you ask, she's in bed. There's a snake in there." He tapped a bit of the cellophane around the basket it to make it strike again. "I don't know what type that is." He dug into his desk, then opened the top of the present once he had the small canister. The snake lunged up and he sprayed it, making it fall down. "There you go." He handed over the canister of breath spray. "Knew it had more uses than peeling paint and killing spiders for Tara."
Mac retied it and shook his head. "Get my kit, Don." He got it, following him down to a work area. "Clear this area please. I've got a deadly creature in here." The techs all ran for it, closing all the doors for him. He carefully cut into the cellophane, letting Don spray it again. "It's probably dead." He put it into a plastic bag and sealed it. If it wasn't dead it soon would be. He saw a second one and Don sprayed it too. It still lunged so he moved, getting it when it withdrew. Another spray and it went into a bag, struggling the whole way. He looked around it, waving at Danny. "Stay, Danny! Get someone, we've got poisonous snakes!" He nodded, taking off at a jog. "I don't know if there's any more in there, Don. Put on gloves." He did that, the thick, heavy work gloves. "That'll work. Let's carefully remove each piece of fruit, okay?"
"Sure." First he untied the balloons, letting them float free. Someone knocked. "We have poisonous snakes in here," he called.
Sheldon walked in with a glass cage. "I heard." He grabbed both bags and emptied them into the cage, closing the lid. "It looks like there's something curled up in the hay, Mac. Be careful."
"I'm trying, Sheldon. Kill those."
"Yes, Mac." He moved them off to the side and got more work gloves to put on, coming over to take the fruit and put them in an evidence box of their own. Don yelped. "Did you get bit?"
"Nearly," he admitted, looking at his hand. "No blood." Sheldon took his hand to wiggle the fingers and press to make sure. No blood came up. Don sighed in relief. He picked up the breath spray and got the snake where it was hiding, making it keel over. "Got you back, bastard." Mac reached in and got it, handing it off to Sheldon, who dropped it into the case. If they killed each other, they didn't care. They kept going, finding two more in the bottom of the basket. They were asleep until the grapefruits on top were moved. Mac nearly got bitten that time. Nearly on his face. It was within millimeters. Don caught it and handed it off to Sheldon, who slid it into the case. "We done?"
"Nearly," Mac promised, catching his breath. He finished removing everything. "Okay. Sheldon, we need to catch the balloons and pop them in a way that means we can test the air in them." He nodded, jumping up to catch the strings. "Good. Thank you. Now, we have to do fingerprints. Don, are you all right?"
"Very pissed. It's finals week so I can't make her stay home either."
"It'll be fine. Put an officer on her, Don." He nodded, going to do that. His boss already had but he talked to the guys personally, making sure they knew he'd be gutting them and using them as decoration if Tara got hurt. Then he called her to tell her. He went back to his desk, finding chocolates on them. "Any idea?" he asked the room at large.
"The usual one who brings Stella chocolates when she orders," one of the other detectives called. "Card on the back, Flack."
Don turned it over to look at it, nodding. "This one says it's from Stella. I'm going to have it scanned in case. Thanks, guys. The deadly snakes are gone now." He walked off with the candy, finding Stella coming in. He held it up and she smiled. "You did send?"
"I did send. I thought you'd need a bit of cheering up since it's finals week." He smiled at that. "Why?"
"I got sent poisonous snakes in a fruit basket with balloons and a card congratulating me for knocking Tara up."
"We're trying," he admitted with a small, sheepish grin. "Can I get it scanned anyway, just in case?"
"Of course. I can do that." She walked him into the Trace lab, going to do that for him. Danny came in. "What's up?"
"Mac nearly got bitten catching the snakes."
"Him and me both," Don admitted. She gave him a startled look. "Five poisonous things in the basket, Stella."
"That fucker is dead when I find him," she stated. No one did that to her Mac. Or her Danny. Danny gave her a look. "You, no mind reading. I can be mushy in my own head." She finished the analysis, handing him back the box. "All good, Don." He kissed her and ate one, walking out with them. She looked at Danny. "We have to."
"We should," he agreed. She smiled at his easy capitulation. "Did you hear, Abby delivered last night."
"I didn't." She smiled and hugged him, smiling at Mac. "Did you hear that Abby delivered last night?"
"I didn't." He smiled at them both. "That is a good reason to hug in the lab. I'm fine, guys."
"Bullsnot, Mac. Even I can see you're shaky," Danny said, pulling him back to his office. He sat him down and worked on his shoulders. "That's a crappy way to start the day."
"The letter said it was for making Tara pregnant," he admitted.
"Don's got that covered," Danny assured him. "What can we do to help?" Mac moaned at the knot he got to release. "You really do need this, Mac. Next time we're in Miami I'm having Xander work on you."
"I'll be fine."
"Tough, suck it up. You can barely move your arms. That means our lives are in danger on the street. After all, we know I'm not comfy with my gun." Mac looked at him. "I'm not, probably never will be, Mac. I passed qualifications again. Feel lucky." He went back to his shoulders, noticing the new tension. "Just because I suck at it doesn't mean I can't do other things."
"You're right. It is something we should work on, Danny."
"Yeah, well, gonna take some therapy there, Mac." He kept going, making Mac moan again. Mac went limp in his hands so he patted him on the head. "There, that's better. You can move, right?" He nodded. "Good." He patted him again then left him alone, shrugging at Lindsay's odd look. "He moved wrong when he dodged the snake trying to eat his face."
"Is he okay?"
"Yeah, he dodged just enough. Cracked his neck wrong or somethin'. He's fine. I got the knot out. Stella's working on it. Go help her if you're clear." She nodded, going to do that. Danny looked at Mac, who smiled at that order. He shrugged. "Makes sense if she's clear." He went back to his own case. Stella, Sheldon, and Lindsey should be able to find out who had done that. If not, he'd wade in too. Once he was done.
Don smiled at Tara when she was led into the bullpen. "Did you sneak?" he teased. She pouted. "Tara?"
"No, I was going to take the subway to school." She sat down, giving him a kiss. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, one narrowly missed my hand. Only got the glove." She glared. "I don't know who yet. Doc, Stella, and Lindsay have it." She glared harder. He looked at her. "Do you feel okay?" She nodded, her scowl clearing up. "You sure? You're kinda pouty about being protected."
"Could the card be right?" he hinted. She blinked and stared then got up and went to the bathroom, coming back pale and shaky. "I'm guessing that's a reason to have a good dinner out tonight?"
"Dinner with your family," she reminded him. She sat in his lap, giving him a hug. "We should celebrate but not in that room," she whispered. "Or in the garden." He whooped and gave her a squeeze. "Don! Easy!"
"You're not that fragile," he teased. He gave her another squeeze, making her hold on while he got up to dance her around.
"That is the dance of fatherhood," one guy quipped to his partner.
"You should know, you've got six," he complained.
"True. They might too some day. Congrats, Flack," he called, clapping. The others joined in. Don beamed and Tara blushed, hiding her face in his shoulder.
"Thanks, guys. No one tell my folks, we're having dinner tonight." He looked at her, letting her slide back down so he could kiss her. "How was your test?"
"Okay. I think I passed." He smiled. "I'm going to get pounced, aren't I?"
"Like nothing Wolfe did to his witch," he promised in a low voice. She blushed bright red and swatted him lightly on the shoulder. "If it wasn't for the homicide on my desk, I'd show you." She whimpered. "Go home, be safe?"
"I'll even let them check the house first," she promised, giving him another kiss. She walked off, finding them waiting at the desk. "Hi, guys. Can you check the house too? Don said they found snakes in the basket today."
"Of course, Mrs. Flack," one agreed, escorting her out. "What was the applause for?" She blushed again. "Really?"
"Really," she agreed sheepishly. "Baby envy." They both smiled at her and took her home, making sure they did a very thorough check of the house for her safety. Flack would now be the world's fussiest father and would destroy the city if something happened to his daughter-in-law. The son might be even worse.
Xander hung up his phone, looking at Abby. "Tara had such strong baby envy I'm going to be a cousin." She squealed and hugged him around their son. "Hi, Jesse." The baby blinked at him then went back to sleep. "You get to go home, don't you?" he teased. She nodded. "I've got the papers. Give me the baby." She did that, going to get dressed in the bathroom. She came out in the same dress he had bought her, making him beam at her and hand back the baby. "I knew that'd look just as beautiful on you after you delivered." He waved at the nurse, letting her bring in the wheelchair. He got them settled, checked the room, then headed to their rental SUV. Horatio was behind the wheel waiting. "Sorry, she got to squeal after I heard from Tara. Her baby envy was very strong."
"They'll be wonderful children," Horatio promised, getting out to help Abby into the passenger's seat while Xander got the baby into the carseat. He was better at those. "There we go. Your home, Abby, or one of their's?"
"I don't know, they were arguing about that last night." She called Gibbs. "Don't growl at me. I'm going home. Yours? That's fine. Or mine, I've got the cradle. Sure. Come over tonight, Gibbs. Bring fussy and whiny." She hung up. "Case on the ship that just pulled into berth."
"That's kinda funny," Xander admitted.
"I know, it is," she agreed, smiling at him. "We all set?" They nodded so Horatio got in to drive. "Can I still call him Johan?"
"Of course. You can call him whichever you want," Xander promised. "That's a parental right." Horatio smiled at that. "I think he wants to call him Iggy," he stage-whispered, making her giggle. He checked the baby and they were off, Horatio shaking his head. Xander looked at the baby when it made a noise he did not like. "Our future Nobel winning chemist just laid a load, Horatio. Drive a bit faster?"
"I'm going the speed limit, Xander," he said patiently. "It's not that far." He turned a corner, seeing the lights going on behind them. He sighed and pulled over. "Change him if you can while we're stopped. He turned off the engine and rolled down his window. "Yes, Officer?"
Abby looked at him. "Do I know you?" He shook his head. "Are you sure?"
"I'm sure," he promised. "Sir, your taillights are out."
"It's a rental," Horatio told him. "I'll tell the rental company that once we drop Abby off. She's going home from the hospital, Officer."
"I understand that, sir. They're not broken but your brake lights didn't come on?"
"I don't remember braking," he admitted, looking confused. "Not since we paused to pull out of the hospital." The officer gave him an odd look. "I'm used to a hummer, Officer. I drive the Miami-Dade crime lab hummers when I'm at work."
"You're an officer?" He saw what Xander was doing. "Sir?"
"He just crapped. Of course I'm changing him while we're stationary. It's nasty if I don't." He finished wiping his butt, making his son squeal. "Sorry, is the wipe a bit cold? I'll try to warm the next one, son." He got the new diaper put on and the old one with the wipe tossed into a plastic bag they had back there for trash. He tied it off. "Abby, can you toss this in the barrel by the front tire?" She nodded, opening her window to do that. He looked at the confused looking officer. "You wouldn't want to sit in it, right?"
"No, sir," he said, agreeing to that much. "For future reference, cops get nervous when people start opening things during traffic stops. I can issue you a warning, Officer."
"Lieutenant," he admitted, pulling out his ID. "She's NCIS."
"Oh, hey. Work with DiNozzo?"
"I'm Abby." She grinned and waved. "Their lab tech."
"Oh! No wonder you have lab geeks with you," he said, nodding. He took his license and noted down things, checking the box for warning, noting on there it was a rental vehicle. "There you go, sir," he said, handing it over. "Tell them to fix it please." He walked off, going back to his car.
"Sorry," Xander said, shrugging a bit. He made sure the buckles were rehitched. "We're set."
Horatio tucked it into the visor and headed off shaking his head. "At least it wasn't the fanclub," he muttered.
"I heard that," Xander assured him. "I'm being mean and teasing myself later while you can't help."
Horatio glanced back in the mirror. "That's not a punishment, Xander."
"It is if I handcuff your butt to the chair." He smiled sweetly.
"That could be," he admitted, letting Abby navigate to her home. Once there he helped her up to her apartment while Xander got the baby and the gift bag the hospital had given them. He didn't want to know why she slept in a coffin, but that was just her he supposed. The baby had a beautiful black painted iron cradle with a midnight purple canopy. "This reminds me of the D&D nursery at Aiden's house," he quipped, going to answer the door. "McGee. She's in bed. Coffin."
"Bed," McGee told him with a grin. He handed over a small box. "For you guys. We'll be at the office most of the night with this one probably. Gibbs said to apologize since he doesn't. Tony said so." He smiled at Xander. "He okay?"
"Loving the iron cradle."
"Good, that thing weighs a ton," he shared quietly. "Abby, its' going to be a long night," he called. "Two suicides on the ship that just came in."
"I'll be here and being spoiled," she assured him.
"Okay. We'll come over once we're done for the party." He left with a grin for the fathers.
Xander shut the door and looked in the box. "Hmm, chocolate covered macadamia nuts. Someone wants to help us spoil her." Horatio smiled, bringing them in to her while Xander called his contact locally. He brought over the spoiling stuff he had been gathering for the last day, letting him take the box and sign the slip. "Thanks, man." He closed the door and walked it into the bedroom, making her look awed at the gift basket that was his height. Well, stack of baskets his height. "I figured you could use the storage somewhere. Here, their places, wherever, or in the lab." He grinned. "There's excellent bath stuff. There's treats, there's ... that's a spider." He opened it and killed the small daddy long legs. "Sorry, must've snuck in." She smiled and let him show her each of the baskets while she nibbled on Gibbs' present. Someone else knocked so he went to get it. "Yes."
"In bed." The bags were handed over. "Thanks. From who?"
"Thanks. Need a tip?" He shook his head and walked off. Xander checked the hallway then closed the door again. "Tony sent lunch."
"He likes to eat," she agreed, padding out to look through it. "Awww, he sent me my favorite and sushi." She kissed Xander on the cheek and found her cellphone to text him, then she padded back to bed, texting one to Gibbs about the nuts and she'd be at home. Johan fussed and they both ignored it but she looked. He went back to sleep so she shrugged it off. "Must not be a big thing."
Horatio looked. "Lost his thumb." He put it back in the sucking mouth and the baby drifted off again. "There we go." He smiled at her, letting her have the last basket of things Xander had found. It had seashells and things for some reason. She seemed happy to see them.
"I'm putting the shell patterns on something for the holidays."
"Ah." He nodded. "I'm sure it'll be beautiful." He kissed her gently on the forehead. "You should rest."
"I probably should." She let him restack her baskets of Xander goodies and the box of Gibbs goodies, then she snuggled down in her coffin. He tucked her in and let her sleep, going out to the living room to check their mails for now.
Greg smiled at the new announcement that hit his inbox. "Abby's home," he announced. They all smiled at that. Hodges pouted. "You know we should give it back if we can."
"It's a grant to the lab," he pouted.
"Hodges, he sent it to me to break us up."
"I know." He gave him a miserable look. "If it comes back?"
"Then it's yours." That got a nod. "If not, I'll see what I can swing in the way of next year's donations. I know Don and Xander both have to do some." That got a brighter smile. He looked over as Ecklie stomped in. "Another present?"
"No. What happened to that check?"
"It got sent back. The person who sent it left us a clear account number. That's the right thing to do since he sent it to break us up, Ecklie. I'm not dumping Xander to give the lab money. I can't take it otherwise because I'm not a whore." The lab director gave him a glare. "I don't care if you don't like it." He stood up. "I'm sorry if it pisses you off, Ecklie, but he sent that to break me and my boys up. I'm not breaking up with them to give the lab more money! I respect my relationship and I'm not taking it on that reason. It's always been the protocol to send all those presents back when we can. Sometimes it takes a few days, sometimes it doesn't. Since we had an account number this time it was easier."
"I can have you fired," he sneered.
"Do it, watch me ruin this department," Greg snapped back. "Especially with your little memo the other day, Ecklie." He backed up a step. "Now, get out of my face. I'm not whoring myself for this department. Ever. I have an open invitation to Miami and to help Aiden work on the stuff down there in the family until a lab spot comes open." Ecklie stomped off. "Puss bag," he muttered, sitting back down. "Sorry you had to see that. Some people have no tact. If it comes back, I'll give it to the lab. If not, at least it's one less person sending me shit to get us broken up."
"No, I approve of that attitude, Greg," Grissom promised. "There's a grant we can fill out to get Hodges new equipment since some of his is ancient." That got a small smile. "It's on your desk, Hodges."
"I'll get on it today, Grissom." That got a nod. "No more parts, Greg?"
"No, not in the last week. It's been a mostly present free week." He saw the Sheriff stomping their way. "Incoming," he said dryly.
"Sanders, did you threaten Director Ecklie?" he demanded.
"Only when he got into my face about sending a present back to the person who had sent it," he noted calmly. "He apparently wanted me to sell my ass for the department and I respect myself and my relationship more than that. With his memo saying all the gay officers in the lab had to come out to him personally and disclose our relationship status, he's in deep shit, Sheriff." The man looked stunned and Greg shrugged. "It's not my fault. I have always sent back presents when I could. I'm not breaking up my relationship for anyone. Especially not to pay the department like they're my pimp. So yes, when he threatened to fire me I told him to bring it on and I'd sue. Now, this is the last I want to hear about this since you're doing it in front of others." He got a horrified look and glared. "You wouldn't call anyone else out in front of others. Would you?"
"No," he admitted. "Fine, my office."
"Grissom, may we use yours?"
"Go ahead, Greg. Door's open." He followed them. "As his supervisor, I'm going to be here as well." He shut the door. "It has been the protocol they established with the first present, Sheriff."
"The last grant?"
"Was a grant directed at the lab and we didn't know who had sent it," Greg assured him. "Xander got it sent in cash and put it into a more secure method for mailing purposes."
The Sheriff sighed. "We're facing a budget crisis, CSI Sanders."
"Guilt tripping me makes me dig in my feet even more," he warned back. The Sheriff backed off. "I don't care if you don't like me being with them. I don't care if you don't like me knowing Lady Heather. I could care fucking less what anyone's opinion means. The only opinions that matter to me are my family's. They wouldn't do this to me. If it comes back I'll gladly give it to the lab. If it doesn't, then it doesn't and it's one less person who wants to break up my relationship for their own petty sexual fantasies. What's mine is mine. I'm very protective of my boys. Both of them." The Sheriff took another step back then looked at the bookcase behind him, getting away from the bugs. "The poisonous ones are on the other shelf. Gris, do you have a copy of that memo? I stupidly threw mine away."
"I do." He printed it off. "Ecklie made me write it, Sheriff. It's not my feelings on the subject. I don't care who's sleeping with who as long as it doesn't impact their work and I don't have to hear details or see anything illegal."
He looked at it then at Greg. "This is a violation of the new policy."
"Yeah, I know that," Greg promised him. "Now, is there another problem?"
"No. The presents were being sent here?"
"Most of them needed some forensics help to find the original owners so I could send them back. I don't let any deliveries but food go to my apartment. I'm very conscious of my safety after being broken in on by that one photographer and white slaver." The Sheriff shuddered. "Now, you can calm down Ecklie or not. If he whines at me about it, tough. The protocol we three agreed on was they went back if at all possible. Even the classic car I just got sent in Miami last week. Even the money stuff. All of it. It's for our safety and our sanity. Because if we didn't send the back, they would expect to be able to step in and break us up, sometimes by force. Especially since some of them like to send body parts." The Sheriff nodded at that. "If Ecklie doesn't like that, he can suck me. I don't care about his opinion in the least. I don't suck up to others for things. I never have and I never will."
"He hasn't," Gil agreed. "Except when he was handing in his field application but that was reasonable because it meant a lot of paperwork I didn't want to do." He took a deep breath. "I'm going to agree with Greg, Sheriff. What Ecklie was trying to do was wrong. That memo is wrong. Calling him out about it in front of others was wrong. If I see something like that again I will have someone banished from the lab and it won't be Greg unless he starts it. Now, are there any other concerns?"
"How many presents have you been sent?" the Sheriff asked.
Greg shrugged. "I have a log book at home and the one in Miami is for what got sent down there for all of us. One of them even gifted his adoptive father to hand him over. Do we have anything on the brain?" he asked Grissom.
"We do, it matched DNA out of New York and California. We sent it to New York's lab since that was the last known address." Greg sighed in relief. "Has anyone gotten in touch with her mother?"
"Xander said he did and she's still okay. She let her talk to Mahsa, making her a happy baby, then she and Aiden talked for about an hour. She mailed her pictures too." He grinned. "The last immigration hearing is next week. So if they get bitchy we're going to hide our daughter until we can appeal."
"She was sent to her biological father, there shouldn't be, Greg."
"It's a republican ordered agency, Grissom. Xander is still in a gay trio."
"Point. But with Aiden raising her...."
"We can only hope and I'm skipping that day. You've got the forms. That extended my week of new daddy leave by a day earlier." That got a nod. "Which I was listed as being on call for anyway, not on shift." He looked at the Sheriff. "I like this department most of the time and I love this lab. That does not mean I won't fight back if he starts shit or gets into my face, Sheriff. Not even Lady Heather or Xander could make me stop. Before you ask, yes IAB asked why I was getting presents. I told them, got them in touch with the guy down in Miami who handles it when Horatio gets stuff, and they've had a few drinks over the phone together. Especially since I heard Horatio got four brand new hummers sitting in his driveway at the moment with big bows on them. They're temptations to leave Xander. I'm not leaving Xander and I'm not leaving Horatio."
"Fine. I get that, Sanders. You're going on paternity leave?"
"Someone just had a son for Xander. It's taking about the last of my saved leave time but yes I am. Before you ask, they were both drugged at a conference and someone did a warm transfer while they were drugged. They've worked out custody so she gets majority, no matter how often he pouts, and all he has to do is ask to get him." He dug out a picture. "This is our daughter Mahsa. The first time he was kidnaped someone stole semen, that's where she came from. This is our new son Jesse Johan Ignatius Scuito."
"He's adorable. Congratulations." He looked at the smiling father. "When are you moving down there?"
"When a spot comes open. We think it'll be a year. They're having a legitimately crappy budget year."
The Sheriff nodded. "All right, I can accept that and the fact you do need to send those back. Try to go easier on him?"
"He started it. I'm not letting someone use me as a whore for this department. He wants it, let him go bend over on a street corner."
"Point. This is the end of this discussion?"
"Sure. Not a problem. I'm fairly reasonable when not approached in public about this stuff. Yelling at me in front of the rest of the lab tends to piss me off. As is I'm going to have to stop Xander from sending him something nasty in the mail for yelling at me like that. Because he'll know even if I don't tell him. He's bribed a patrol officer to call if something happens to me."
The Sheriff smiled. "I'd do the same thing if I lived so far away from the one I loved. Your relationship with Lady Heather?"
"None of the department's business. The same as Xander happens to be her student Master Tim." His face went slack. "So, no, butt out of my bedroom."
"Agreed. Grissom, I'll handle this memo thing."
"Thank you. Conrad's gotten a bit stressed, I don't know why."
Nick knocked then walked in. "Grissom, Greg just got sent a major box here."
"I had them send them to my shield," Greg defended.
"I know. Doesn't seem to matter. This one was addressed to you here, Greggo."
"Coming." He looked at Grissom. "See you out there." He walked out, taking the gloves and box cutter from Bobby. "Okay, guys. If this is a body, I'm going to get sick again. The last one I got this size was." He carefully opened the top. "We have pictures, right?"
"Got the box already," Warrick promised. Greg pushed back the top and he paused then took a picture. "Is that fabric?"
"It is." He carefully pressed. "Did anyone x-ray this?" The receptionist nodded. "Any idea what it is?"
"Solid, not electronic."
"Doesn't preclude other types of bombs." He carefully felt along the top layer of fabric, peeling it back. Three layers down he ran into a small switch, like a real switch. He held it up, frowning at it. "Huh." He handed that to Warrick to bag. Then he moved the next few layers, still searching for wires. He came to the top of a house. "A doll house?" He cut open the front of the box, moving that fabric out of the way. He looked at it. "Any idea what house that is?" he asked. No one said anything. "Guys?" He looked up at Ecklie. "I don't know, it got sent to me. It was addressed to here." He finished moving the fabric and checked the base then the back. "Okay, it's clear for wires." He pulled the house out and put it onto a nearby table. "What are you?" he muttered, finding the catch to open the front of the house. He opened it and stared. "Okay." He blinked. "That's just....odd, even for those guys. Anyone find a note?"
"Found one," Bobby offered. "Who's Oz?"
"Used to work for Xander's Grandsire, dated Willow in high school. Old friend of Xander's." He took the note. "Sent to you here for some reason. Not a clue why. Nothing too creepy in it just odd. No idea why a dollhouse," he read. He looked at it, checking all the miniature fixtures. He found a spot for a battery. "Nine volt?" Archie gave him one and he plugged it in, looking at the message that appeared. "Huh. No, I want a less ornate crypt. I swear I know this house." He took a picture with his phone and sent it to Xander with a 'wtf' header. He got back a simple answer. "This was his grandfather's house down in Miami. Interesting." He checked for more hidden messages. He did find a small doll in a closet. He pulled it out to look at it, then frowned. "Xander hasn't had hair that long since .... Crap a while now." He let Warrick take that one. "Okay," he sighed, lifting it down and putting it back into the box. He took out the battery and handed it over. "One last check. Bugs?" Bobby handed over the bug scanner. He found two and removed them, letting them be bagged separately. The GPS chip he found didn't make him any happier. "He took one from a phone." It was taken by Ecklie. "I think that's the only way we'll figure out who sent this via Oz." He took it back and bagged it. "Grissom?"
"Put it in a corner of my office, Greg." He and Nick lifted it. "Before anyone says a word, when Xander's grandparents died, most of their staff committed suicide to follow them. They were loved that much."
"They were all found in the basement the next day," Greg offered as he came back. "Piled up. One of the last ones to go piled them up then laid down on top."
"He's not in the closet down there, is he?" Warrick asked.
"Only for social things. Then he never denies but Xander's not comfortable with people. He's more comfortable with animals. We don't take out billboards but most of the department knows we're together. The mayor joked about it in council while they were doing the rebuild." That got a nod. "He's in the closet sometimes about his dom stuff, but otherwise no."
"Okay," Warrick said.
"Horatio's not either, right?" Nick asked. Greg shook his head. "Then why the doll in the closet?"
"It was a good place to hide?" Greg offered. "I don't know. Xander's the profiler. He doesn't like humans so he studies them to try to understand them better."
"What happened to that kid?" Warrick asked. Greg gave him a look. "That bad?"
"Yeah. And worse than you think. His parents are dead, thankfully. That way I don't have to cover up a double homicide. They died when they tried to sell him." He frowned. "His hair was cut after the fire. The assault and the fire they found him in." They all nodded at that. "I don't know. I'll tell Xander about it later, get his thoughts. Grissom, was the meeting done?"
"It was. Good job on that robbery, Greg."
"Thank you. I'm going home now. I need some ice cream and a long talk with my boys." He waved. "I'll work on the dollhouse tomorrow if I don't get a new one, Gris."
"That's fine, Greg. Let us know if something else comes."
"I hope not." He walked off, shaking his head. He had to detour back to the locker room, finding someone in his locker. He cleared his throat. "'Scuse me? Looking for something?" The man gave him a horrified look. "I think that's mine." The man backed away. "Oh, try. Really." The man tried to move around him so he put him down. "Guys, someone was in my locker again!" he yelled. Grissom came in. "Him. He tried to run." He went to look. "Hmm. Keys aren't here." Grissom found them and one of his pictures of Mahsa. "Thanks." He stuck the picture back and closed his locker, looking at him. "Want me to have a dial lock or a padlock?"
"I'll bring one in." He walked out through the other door, heading to his car. He found Warrick checking it over. "Someone was just in my locker," he admitted, popping the hood. He put back the wire he loosened every day, then shut it. He turned on his alarm and it didn't go off. "Anything?"
"Nah. Have a better day, Greg."
"Thanks, you too, man." He slid in and headed for the house. He had to stop by the post office to get his mail from his PO Box, then the hardware store before he forgot, but otherwise it was fine. He flopped down on his couch with a bowl of ice cream, turning on the video chat feature on his laptop, finding Horatio on. "Hi, baby."
"Good morning, Greg." He smiled. "What's wrong?"
"Someone broke into my locker. Ecklie came after me for sending that one check back, got the Sheriff onto me. They both started on it in front of the rest of the lab. Plus I got a strange death threat dollhouse."
"Xander said you sent him a picture of their house."
"It was a miniature dollhouse. It had a mini him with his long hair in a closet. It had a switch like he'd use a few layers above the house. It was wrapped in a pretty light purple silky feeling fabric all the way around then when I put in the battery there was a death threat. It said it was a crypt fit for me." He ate another bite of ice cream. "I don't know what the hell is going on, Horatio."
"We had one of those sent to Speed," he admitted. "One was found today by Ryan as well. Willow thought it was a well-intentioned baby gift until she plugged in the battery. Did you take fingerprints?"
"No. It's in the corner of Gris's office." Someone pounded. "Hold on." He put down his bowl and got up, going to the door. "Hey, Adam. What's up?" he asked his apartment manager.
"You had mail in your box." He handed it over. "You okay?"
"Talking with Miami via chat." That got a nod and his manager walked off. He closed and locked the door, coming back. "Spam mail in my box." He finished looking through it, coming to one envelope. He held it up. "There's something inside."
"Move it so I can see too, Greg," Horatio ordered. He did that and looked. "That looks like an evidence envelope." Greg got some gloves and carefully slit it open, pulling out a baggie of white powder. "Interesting."
"Be right back, baby. Gotta go deliver this." He hung up and finished his ice cream while he grabbed his shoes and keys, heading back to his car once he made sure his door was locked. He pulled back into the station a few minutes later, getting out and running into Grissom in the hallway. "Here." He handed over the envelope. "This was inside," he said, holding it up. Grissom took it to look at. "I opened it with Horatio watching. We were video chatting. It was sent to the apartment complex."
"I'll have tox read it, Greg."
"Thanks, Grissom. I don't want to be scared."
"I know, Greg. Calm down, it'll be okay. Go back to talk to Horatio." He nodded, going to do that. He took it directly to tox and the envelope with it. "This was mailed to Greg," he said, handing it over. "To his physical apartment address he never gives out." That got a nod and they moved to the containment system to open it and get out a sample. He walked the envelope to fingerprints. "This was sent to Greg's apartment," he told her. "The new one."
"Hell," she muttered, taking off her jacket. She sat down to look it over, putting it in to be scanned. "I'll send the sticky stuff to DNA, Grissom."
"Grissom!" the tox guy yelled as he jogged up the hall. "I need the CDC," he panted. "That's anthrax."
"Call them." He nodded, going to do that. He looked at her, letting her nod. "I'll approve the overtime," he promised her. He went back to check the report. It was a mixed sample. Some of it was anthrax, some was baby powder. It was a very minute amount. He called Greg. "It's me. Tell Horatio it was Anthrax. I want you in Miami today, Greg." He hung up and went to tell the Sheriff. "It's me," he said before entering. "Greg got mail sent to his home address by someone. No return address on it. That is the address he never uses."
"I noticed it had been switched to a PO Box," the sheriff admitted. "Another threat?"
"Anthrax. A minute amount with baby powder. The tox tech is calling someone already." That got a nod from the Sheriff. "I'm putting Greg on emergency leave. I'm sending him to Miami for his own safety."
"Agreed," he decided. "That's damn dangerous. Keep me informed."
"Of course." He walked out, calling Greg back. "Did you tell her?" He smiled. "I will. Go. Take the first flight. Don't worry about packing, just go, Greg." He hung up and called the Dominion. "Lady Heather please, Sandra." She put him through. "Lady Heather, Gil Grissom. Greg got sent Anthrax," he said quietly. "To his home address. He's heading out now. I'm sending him down there. He's too panicked to call for himself. We've also gotten an odd threat in the form of a dollhouse. I don't know. I'll call Horatio in a moment. Don't worry, he's well protected. Exactly. Just a head's up, yes." He smiled. "I'd be delighted to come out for Christmas dinner. Thank you for the invitation, Lady Heather. You have a good night." He hung up and went back, finding two men in hazmat suits in there. "The person it was sent to did not open it. He's a tech. The report was on the table when I put it down."
"We have it, sir, but we need you to step back please," one of them ordered.
"Of course." He stepped back. "The envelope's in fingerprints and part is going to DNA. Let us know how we can help. The intended victim's headed out of the city for his own safety."
"Thank you." They boxed up the rest of the baggie and closed the containment box, then walked it out.
"What the hell!" Nick called, jogging to find Grissom. "We had a radioactive sample?"
"Greg got sent anthrax to at his apartment." He grimaced. "He's going to Miami today."
"Good!" He called Warrick. "It's Nick. Someone sent Greg anthrax. His place, not the PO Box he's got, Warrick. They were just here. Thanks, man." He hung up. "We need to call down there."
"I'm doing that now," he admitted, walking off to call from the office. He called the house. "Horatio? Gil Grissom. Greg's on his way down. I ordered him not to pack or anything. He got sent anthrax." He blinked. "Really? No, to his apartment, the new one. Yes, that address. No, I don't care," he admitted. "It's fine with me, Horatio. Yes, I would like to compare the dollhouses. Did they have a miniature Xander figure and a switch that was on top of the house by a few layers of fabric?" He smiled. "We have photos. He opened it in the hallway with most of us around. Warrick took them. Warrick?" he called. He was stomping past and backtracked. "Send all the dollhouse pictures and evidence to Horatio. Speed and Ryan Wolfe both got one that was similar. Greg's on his way down."
"Good! Who in hell sends anthrax to Greg!" He stomped off again, going to do that.
"The entire lab is now very upset," he said quietly. "Whatever we have, Horatio. I believe in cooperating in these things. Thank you." He hung up and went to find Warrick. "He'll send up the files they have on the ones they got sent. That way we can compare." Warrick nodded. "It'll be fine. There is no one more protective of what's his than Horatio Caine, Warrick. Not to mention that the boys like to protect him as much as he protects them." That got a half smile. "I've already alerted Lady Heather as well."
"Thanks. Call Don?"
"I can do that as well." He went to look up that number in his email. He knew he had been sent it. He found it and called it. "Is Don Flack in please? Junior. Gil Grissom, LVPD crime lab. Thank you. No, I don't have it but I know someone who would. Thank you. That would be more than acceptable." He was transferred over. "Mac? Gil. No, two problems. A dollhouse with a threat to Greg and someone sent him anthrax to his physical address, the one no one knows about." He nodded, leaning back to listen. "Horatio had a few sent to Speed and Ryan Wolfe. We're already doing that. Warrick has it here. He's sending down ours and we're getting theirs. No, it was suggested I warn Don Flack as well since he's family. I called his desk but he's out and someone else answered. They transferred me to you. Thanks, Mac. We'll find out. Cut with baby powder. Only minute traces of anthrax. Probably enough to make him sick but not spread it much farther. Thank you. Sure. If I get any indication it's heading your way you're my first call." He smiled. "She is? That's great news. Have her call Lady Heather to tell her and Xander. They could use some cheering up today. Thank you, Mac." He hung up still smiling, getting an odd look from Nick. "Tara's pregnant."
"Don Flack's Tara?" He nodded. He grinned. "She'll be a great mom. Any other good news?"
"Horatio's team got sent two dollhouses. Warrick's exchanging information." Nick nodded at that. "Tell Catherine to be careful of her mail, just in case it was against the lab this time? It's a possibility," he warned at the snort. "Not every threat against Greg is because he's with Xander. Some are because he's a CSI."
"Point." He called her. "It's me. Be very careful of your mail. Greg got sent anthrax. He brought in the baggie without opening it thankfully. Headed, yeah. Also the dollhouse thing is multi-city. Horatio's guys got two sent. Ooh, and Tara's pregnant. Yeah, Flack's girl. Grissom was smiling about it too. Just be careful. Thanks." He hung up and went to help dust for fingerprints. "Grissom's not sure the anthrax isn't from a CSI thing."
"Could be. You never know what sort of idiots we have around here. We just arrested one getting into his locker. He had his keys and a picture of Mahsa." Nick shook his head. "So we'll see." He found a fingerprint and lifted it. "That's a beautiful one." He put it aside and got back to work finding others. Grissom came in an hour later. "We've found three prints."
"We've got an FBI agent claiming jurisdiction," he told them.
Warrick snorted. "Yeah, after they tried to blackmail Greg because he likes to be petted?"
"That's my thought at the moment. Greg's already left the city by his GPS chip. He's apparently just taken off. What do we have?"
"Fingerprints," Nick offered, pointing at the stack. He added his newest one to it. "A smudge but some ridge detail."
"Okay. Are we nearly done?" Warrick moved to the back. "Good. I'll stall. Let Ecklie do it." He went to stall the agent. "I'm sorry, but we're still examining it. It'll be about an hour and a half."
"Why? That's our job," she noted.
"Greg is one of ours, Agent Prestons. Your department has tried to blackmail him in the past for going to someone." She frowned. "So no, we'll be running a joint investigation. We'll gladly collaborate and keep you informed of what other are found."
"Are we expecting others?"
"Do you really want to go bother Horatio Caine?"
"No," she admitted. Then she smiled. "You'll work with us?"
"Of course. Including giving you the fingerprint information we got off the anthrax bag and envelope?" he asked the hovering tech. She handed to over. "Thank you, Mandy."
"Welcome, Gris. Greg?"
"Good. Best place for him. Master Tim's a fierce guard bitch of what's his." She walked off again. "Heading home, boss."
"I can run the new ones," Warrick assured her. "Have a good day." She nodded, heading out. He looked at the agent. "Give us an hour. We've found a few more. We've lifted them, now we're going to run them."
"I can have our lab run them."
"I like ours better," he noted patiently. He went to do that. Only a few names came up and he ran them against the earlier cases of Greg's. One came up in common. "Have a match," he called. "One of Greg's cases last year." He let them see. "He should still be in jail."
"Could it have been planted?"
"No evidence of it being transferred," Nick said from behind them, handing over two more. "There you go. It's in layout two." She followed him to look. She even supplied her own battery. "That's the exact same message that got sent to CSIs Speedle and Wolfe in Miami. We're waiting on fingerprint and any other evidence they've got." She nodded. "Also, the box is in the corner. Including the fabric wrapping. These are the pictures we took as it was opened." He let her into it. "The miniature switch was about three layers on top of the house."
"Okay." She put in a CD, copying them down. "Can we have the box?"
"No prints we could find. I dusted that first."
"Tape over the stamps. I was going to try to lift them later but I can't be sure I can do that." She nodded, going to look at them. He looked at Warrick. "Anything good?"
"Some very good things," he offered. "Most of the prints belonged to two people. The few accessory prints could be related or not." He handed over copies. "Those are your copies. I emailed them to Horatio personally. This is looking less like an attack on the family and more like an attack on the labs."
"If that's Xander's grandparents' house it can't fully be," Nick pointed out.
Warrick shook his head. "The Miami lab is a family, Nick. As in eat over, go visiting family, all that stuff. I know Willow said she had been over at least once. She mentioned the gardens." Nick nodded at that. "Speed would have because he's Xander's adoptive father. Wolfe probably went if his wife did. Greg would've because his connection to Xander."
"So maybe it's something to do with his grandfather's death?" she asked. "I heard he had died?"
"He died, his husband and most of the rest of the family and staff committed suicide to follow him because they loved him so much," Nick said quietly. "Horatio found the bodies doing a check when he hadn't heard from them."
"So it could be related to them?" she suggested. "Was there anything going on with that family?"
"They were big in gay rights," Warrick told her. "He did a lot of mentoring and giving to charities. That's why they loved him that way."
"So it could be a member of someone's family," Nick offered. Warrick nodded. The agent made notes on the sheets. "We can get a list if you need it."
"I can talk to Caine. He should be in a good mood this week, I heard his son just got born."
"In DC to Abby from NCIS," Warrick said with a grin.
"He was involved in the alien bimbo thing?" she demanded.
"Xander was," Nick said. "Horatio's with Xander. So's Greg."
"Oh! The connection between the two labs. Okay." She made a note of that. "That will definitely mean certain agents are not going to be going to the lab for help. They won't be allowed. Their mouths will get in their way." She looked at them. "I admit we have some mighty idiots."
The boys nodded. "We know," they agreed.
"I still like the ones who came in to blackmail Greg for going to Lady Heather's," Warrick told her.
She shook her head. "Arrested?" They both smirked and nodded. "Good. Any other team that may be involved?"
"Grissom told New York just in case," Nick offered. "Xander's a second cousin or something to Don Flack Junior. If I remember right, Flack's a nephew from Patrick's second marriage, Xander's his grandson from his third." She nodded. "They've been warned. You might warn Gibbs." She whimpered. "Or we can. I don't mind. He won't bark at me."
"Why not?" Warrick asked. "He barked when Greg was talking to Abby the other day."
"He's just as possessive and protective of what's his as Xander is," Nick chastised, giving him a look. He looked at her again. "I know they work with a guy there you work with."
"That would be the bastard Fornell," she sighed. "We all hate him. But I can drop this bomb and then run." She grinned. "Thanks for making my week, guys." She handed over a card. "I just got transferred out here. Let me know if you come up with anything. If you're going to interrogate, let me know that too so I can go with you." They nodded, letting her go to report back.
Warrick looked at him. "She's not pushy, I might like her."
"It's a nice change but it'll make the others look worse by comparison."
Warrick nodded, pulling out their copy of the reports. "Okay, we have these two guys who have the majority of the fingerprints. We have these guys who have one somewhere. We have this list of dollhouse places in this city. The shipping tag came from?" Nick looked then pulled it up. "That fits with some of what we have." He checked the clock, then looked at Nick. "Think it's related to the anthrax?"
"I don't think so. It's too different."
"Maybe." They settled in to look at what they had, making notes. They had two guys they needed to catch. That way Greg could come home.
Greg came off the plane, smiling at the 'welcome to Miami' sign that usually greeted him. He headed out, going to get out of there. He found Mahsa waiting on him in Aiden's arms, making him coo. "There's my girl."
"You're dating my son, Greg. I'd hope not," she joked. "C'mon. Bags?" He shook his head. "Probably a good idea." She walked him out to her car, getting Mahsa back into her seat, no matter how much she wiggled and fussed. "We're going to see daddy, quit, Mahsa." She quit. "Thank you!" She finished hitching her in and walked around to get in and drive. "Anthrax?" He nodded. "Shit, baby, I'm sorry. Who did you piss off?"
"I don't know. I want someone to tell me that. Preferably soon." She nodded, backing out of her spot and heading out once she had paid the toll. "Where's the others?"
"Horatio's at the lab. We found the bombers so they're going over their gear. Xander's pacing around in circles at the house. Abby got warned so she's all right. She said it was tacky to do that." He smiled and nodded. "Gibbs was going to throw a fit, she promised he would. Did you hear Tara's pregnant?"
"I didn't." He grinned. "They're going to be some beautiful babies." She nodded. "Breakfast?" She chuckled and pulled through somewhere, letting him get it for himself. "Thank you," he groaned, eating a large bite. "I sat down to eat ice cream and chat with Horatio when the envelope got brought up by my manager." She nodded. "But we'll deal. We always do." He ate another bite. He moaned. "This is so good."
"It's the area, Greg. They want you here too."
"I know, and I'm praying every day for a lab opening." She smiled and patted his knee, heading up Xander's road. "How many other problems are there going on?"
"A few presents that could be sent back. Nothing else."
"Good. It'll be nice to have a bit of quiet after last night." He finished that sandwich and noticed she was glancing at him. "I sent back a check. Ecklie got pissed and called me on it in a team meeting. Then he got the Sheriff into it and he started in front of the team and I called him on doing that so we finished in Grissom's office. Oh, and let's not forget that Ecklie made Grissom write a memo saying that all the gay officers had to go to him to confess our relationship status."
"Xander's still got the scary trio of lawyers."
"I know. I don't want to have to," he said. He ate his hashbrown, weathering the begging noises. "I got you one, you can have it when we get home, Mahsa." She babbled at that. "Good girl." They pulled through the gates and they closed behind them. "Someone's being paranoid."
"You got sent a biological weapon, baby. Of course he is."
"Good point." He got out and got the baby out, carrying her and the bag she wanted into inside. "There, go find the daddy for me so we can pounce." She gave him a begging look. "When we pounce the daddy." Xander came out of the kitchen. "Should I worry?"
"Making tea." He came to give him a kiss then Mahsa one because she was tugging on his pants. They took her outside, Greg gave her a hashbrown once she was in her high chair, getting a fond smile. "Needed breakfast?"
"Yup. I'm starved." He sat down to finish eating, handing her some egg when she made more begging noises. She stuffed it in her mouth with a smile. "Good girl, Mahsa. Chew it up." He kissed Xander again. "I missed you."
"I missed you too." He smiled. "I got a long email from Hodges about today." Greg nodded, eating another bite. "Coffee?"
"Love you even more," he teased with a grin. Xander went to get him some. He grinned at their daughter, who stuffed her mouth with another bite of potato. "Good girl. You eat." He handed her a bite of muffin and went back to his breakfast. Aiden and Xander both came out. "The bombers were all caught?"
"They got their forward scout a few days back," Xander said proudly. "That's how they found the exact time and route. They found a lot of bombs and Horatio sent back a groan about dinner so I had something sent to the lab for everyone to take quick nibbles of. They even called Ryan back in so I've got Ian."
"That's fine. It's good practice for when we get Johan."
Xander beamed and nodded. "We'll get him for two weeks after we present him to Lady Heather." He grinned at that. "We need to decorate for the holidays today."
"We do," Aiden agreed. "Mine first, then yours?"
"Okay. Whatever is good with me," Xander promised. "I didn't really decorate last year." They both smiled. "Are you done with your shopping?"
"Yup but it's not wrapped. They're in my closet," Greg admitted. He handed the cheeping bird next to them another piece of his muffin, making her quit cheeping for more food. Aiden handed over a sliced up banana she had been hoarding, making her a happy baby. "She's good."
Xander smiled. "She gets it from me." Greg gave him a look. "Can you resist when I beg you?"
"Well, no," he admitted. Then he grinned. "But you feel the same."
Greg looked at the wet fingers grabbing his hand. "Mine's all gone, eat your banana, silly." He let her have his hand, watching as she put the food in his hand then ate it, smiling at him. He grinned back. "Sure, we'll do that." He picked up the next piece and fed it to her. She clapped and ate it. He went back to feeding her. "You are such a good girl," he praised. He fed her another piece, watching as she stole the next one and ate it with a bright grin. "Okay, you eat the next one." She ate it and it was the last piece. She rocked the plate. "No, you've had enough," he teased. "Lunch is coming soon." He got her out of her highchair, settling her into his lap. "There's my girl." She snuggled into his chest, still playing with his fingers. "I missed you, Mahsa. Yes Daddy Greg did." She yawned but smiled at him. "Come on, we'll nap together while Daddy Xander plots with Mommy Aiden." He carried her to the couch, curling up with her.
Xander leaned closer to Aiden. "Did I get him something? I don't remember."
"It's in your closet." They went up to see who they still had to buy presents for. It was always hard to buy for Speed if you didn't want to buy him books. The same as he had hers and she tried to peek but he swatted her hands.
"It's not time for that yet."
"Fine. What about a tree?"
"I'd like a tree," he agreed. "Last year we had a wreath." She nodded, going to get the keys and Xander's wallet. She drug him out to his car and then to find what they needed.
Horatio saw the delivery guy walk into the breakroom, frowning at him. He walked down there. "What's this?"
"Sir, your fiancee said you needed something you could grab bites of on the run so he had us make this for you and your team." He laid out the last three boxes and unsealed them. "There you go, sir. From our kitchen to your stomach." He smiled and handed him a menu. "He said to give that." He tipped his hat, heading back to his car.
Horatio looked in the boxes, finding bars of food. Meat and cheese on biscuit bars. Blueberry muffin with crumb topping bars. Sauteed vegetables on darker wheat biscuit bars. Turtle bars with drizzles of chocolate over the rest of the gooey goodness. Fruit compote on what looked like shortbread bars. And finally a second set of meat and vegetable bars, this time together with a layer of shredded cheese sprinkled on top. He found a paper plate and got what he wanted, including a treat because he deserved it. "Food!" he called as he walked out of the breakroom. Everyone came to see and get what they wanted. They were cut about the perfect size to eat on the run between labs or for a smoke break. He settled in to eat his lunch, then went to help in the labs when he was done.
"Xander?" Eric asked.
"Xander," he agreed. "We have a menu too. It may have been a special order but it was a good thought."
"Horatio, if you ever dump Speed's son, I'm trading you spouses," Ryan called before going back to his lab.
"Fat chance," Speed called after him. "I have to approve of anyone the son dates if certain idiots are that stupid." He walked into the lab with him. "Greg's where?"
"On the couch with Mahsa. Aiden texted me a minute ago. Why?"
"He just called. The four hummers came back. Ian's up and fussing." Ryan came out of his lab, giving him an odd look. "Yes, your wife did it again." He looked at Horatio again. "Also, they're off doing the decoration shopping so if you've got any special ornaments you might want to let him know."
"No, I only have one and I'll hang it myself," he admitted. "Is he getting the tree?"
"I don't know. They're in her car." Horatio sighed and nodded. "They're doing her house first and I'm guessing she's getting a tree for Mahsa. Maybe a fake tree, can't tell with Aiden sometimes, but you'll be getting a live one."
"It'll be nice to have," Horatio agreed.
Ryan hung up his cellphone. "Boss, can I go spank my wife?"
"No, Mr. Wolfe."
"Why?" Eric asked, giving him a look.
"I can't study with the baby around," Speed mimicked, looking at Ryan, who nodded. "I'm sorry but I'm going to have someone kick her ass." He walked off, going to the morgue. "Alexx, Xander sent in food in convenient grabbable form. There's still some of the turtle bars left with the real food."
"Let me finish cleaning, Speedy." She smiled at him. "Good work today."
"Thanks. Can you have a talk with Willow?"
"What'd she do this time?"
"I can't study with the baby around," he mimicked again. "Greg's got both kids at the moment because Xander and Aiden are out decoration shopping. Not that he minds or that Xander minds."
"Uh-huh. And this was news to Ryan?"
"I'll have a word with the girl," she assured him. She finished cleaning and went up to get her own lunch. "Oooh, I like these. From where?" He gave her the menu. "Not on here so a special order, but these would be nice for holiday parties." She made a mental note and walked her plate of food off to her car, going to have a talk with Willow. Before the girl pissed off Speed again and *he* had to have a talk with her.
Horatio came home that night, sniffing the house. "That smells good," he offered, kissing the apron wearing Xander. "Cooking?"
"Making cider. Greg's helping. I'm stirring."
"That's fine." He took another kiss with a smile. "Are we decorating the tree tonight?" Xander gave him a shy nod. "Never done it before?"
"No, I hid. It caused more fights, leading up to the yearly grand one that made me sleep in the yard."
"I only have one special ornament so we'll have to find some pretty ones together."
"I found some very pretty glass ones." He played with his chest, then took another kiss. "We'll see later." He nodded, letting Xander lead him into the kitchen, where both kids were in high chairs. "Ryan hasn't come over?"
"He was going to have a fight with Willow first. Then he might be over tonight."
"That's fine." He kissed Greg, making him moan and clutch his chest. "You're all right?" He smiled and nodded. "Good boy. I missed you."
"I missed you too." He grinned and pulled Xander in to kiss him. "Stir?" Xander nodded, moving to stir the cider. He led him out to look at the tree. "Aiden couldn't put it in the holder."
"We can do that." He peeked at the ornaments, smiling at them. "They're beautiful, Xander."
"Thank you. Mom thought they'd break thanks to the dogs. Speaking of, pull Thumper out of the tree." He brought out mugs. "Here you go. I didn't get cinnamon sticks."
"That's okay," Greg promised. "I added some." He sipped and nodded. "This is good. We did good." He stole kisses and moved to put down his mug so he could pull the dog out of there. "I talked to Don while you and Aiden were out shopping. He got sent a basket of stuff for getting Tara pregnant from someone who sent a lot of poisonous snakes. He used the breath spray to stun them so they could be removed without them getting bitten."
"At least they're minty fresh," Xander offered with a grin. "He's the next branch up, Greg." He nodded, reaching up to grab the dog by the tail and pull him down. Then they put up the baby gate. "There, much better." Thumper went running away from the kids, going to hide in Horatio's office. "He's still scared of her. She tried to chew on his tail today." He took another drink. "How do you use that tree stand thingy? It's like something I'd use in the dungeon."
"It basically is," Horatio admitted, getting down to slide it onto the bottom of the tree. Then Greg tipped it up for him and held it balanced and upright while he tightened the pegs in. "How's that?" Greg let it go and it swayed so he tightened them further. Xander got down to get them tighter. "That's good." They stood up, moving to open the ornament boxes. "Do we want to start with lights or garland?"
"Lights. That way we know what's going on the windows, door, and wreath," Xander ordered, picking up some. "I went with blue and silver lights."
"I think that would be wonderful," Greg assured him. Xander could still be so unsure sometimes. He snuck a kiss and got to work on the top lights. They slowly wound it around and back, leaving the part against the wall bare. It took two strands and then Horatio got to work on the ornaments. Greg took some for his side while Xander got to play with the tinsel. Especially the icicle tinsel, which got into Horatio's hair quite a lot, earning him a playful swat and a kiss from Greg, but they both got Horatio afterward, making him groan and get them both back. "The carpet looks a lot like Christmas too," Greg quipped. He looked at him. "What special ornament do you have?"
"It's in my closet." He climbed over the gate to go get it, checking on the babies. They were napping. The stove was off. So it was safe. The dogs were laying beside the high chairs to guard them. He found his mother's ornament, looking it over. It was still in pristine condition. He brought it down, hanging it on his side but Xander moved it to the center front. It was nestled between a pair of branches but that was fine. "That's perfect, Xander." He gave him a hug. "Tree topper?"
"I got a star?" They both nodded so Horatio helped hold him up so he could put it up there while standing on an end table. "There." He plugged the top light into it then got helped back down. "I felt like a cheerleader."
Horatio spanked him. "You looked like a cheerleader," he teased. Xander pounced, dragging him away from the tree to pounce him on the couch. That way the tree wasn't bothered.
Greg smiled, laying out the live wreath on the table. He knew how Xander did his last year so the candles went into it. Some of the silver tinsel, then the candles went into the windows. Xander had told them it was a very old tradition to show that someone was home and celebrating. Then he got to work on the windows, but Horatio came over to help him hang them. This strand was all silver bulbs so he kept with that one. Then they moved to the doorway and got that one. They ended up with an extra strand of lights and Xander brought it out back, winding it around the railing by the table. That got an approving nod and they went back to get more cider, carrying out the highchairs to sit out there with the babies and relax. The babies woke up during transport but let themselves be cuddled instead. Especially Ian.
Ryan came in, smiling at the cute picture. He even took a picture of it. "There's my boy." Ian jerked awake. "No, nap, son." He came over to pluck him from Greg's lap, sitting down with him. "It's all right, you can nap. We love you napping." He settled in and napped on the daddy. "Who went to talk to her?"
"Alexx," Horatio told him. He looked at Mahsa, who made grunting and reaching noises. "What? Want Greg? His lap looks lonely." He handed him over and she reached over to pat the baby but let Greg hold her. "That's a good girl, Mahsa. You'll like your brother too." He smiled at Ryan. "We were decorating."
"I saw. It looks great, guys."
"There's warm cider in the kitchen," Greg offered. Ryan shook his head. "Non- alcoholic."
"Then I might take some." He got up to get himself a small cup, smiling at it. "It's great, Greg, thanks." He came back out with Ian, letting him sleep on his chest. He settled in again. "I'm taking her to the doctor's tomorrow, boss."
"Please do," he agreed. "You're still on paternity leave, Ryan."
That got a smile and a nod then he took more sips. "Thanks, guys. It means a lot that I've got you guys behind me as referees." He grinned. "Even if you are doing it for the son."
"We love your son, Ryan," Horatio promised. "As long as he's your son."
"I agree. There was no reason for him to come over today."
"I don't mind," Xander assured him. "We can't have him in there when I'm working on someone but the rest of the time I don't usually mind babysitting."
"We do need some time alone," Horatio reminded him.
"Of course." He grinned. "I am done with my shopping except for Tara's and Dad's."
"Tara's pregnant," Horatio reminded him.
"Yeah but I want to get her something and then the baby something. I found the baby stuff but not something for her." He pouted. "Mom didn't like my idea because I found her a great outfit."
"Get it anyway," Ryan ordered. "Aiden didn't get to see Tara in more than two outfits."
"Point." He grinned. "In that case I've got hers in the closet but it needs to be wrapped. I was going to add something before doing that."
"What were you thinking?" Horatio asked. Xander got a catalog, bringing it over and squatting next to him to show him. "That is darling and they'd both love it," he said happily. "Can I put my name on that one?"
"Let me see." He saw the picture and nodded. "She'd love that. I'll go in on it too."
"Okay." He settled in again, changing the page and pushing it over to Ryan, who grinned at the picture there. "Yes, for your fussy bitch."
"That's a good idea." He grinned at his son. "Did you just pee on me?" Ian shifted and he turned his head the other way for him. "There you go. We'll change you in a few minutes. That way you can sleep." He grinned at his sleeping son. "I'm loving this sleeping super power ability you have, son. Keep growing it, that's my good boy." He patted him on the back. The others all snickered. "I'm glad we haven't had colic yet and that he's okay most nights. Last night he didn't want to go down and he didn't want to stay down, even when I did handcuff Willow to the bed."
Xander smirked. "We all had those nights. He wanted to get up and dance."
"Dancing," he moaned, hitting himself on the head. "Or a drive. I should've tried that." They all nodded. "Thanks, guys. Horatio, do you need the name of a good contractor to add onto the garage?"
"No. I don't need five hummers." Xander looked at him. "I know one's the lab's. It's still mine."
Xander grinned. "You didn't realize two of those are lab hummers?" He slowly shook his head. He nodded. "Two are." Horatio smirked at that. "So I'm spoiling you. One's in your name. The Chief gave you the proper paperwork for stickers and tags. One's yours, one's being donated. The other two should go to rescue?" he offered.
"They would like that," Horatio agreed. "We've got a holiday softball game coming up this weekend...." He smirked at his very crafty, evil thinking mate. "What else did you have planned?"
"I don't know. What did you want me to plan since that's a picnic?" He stared at him. He smirked. "I know it's for charity." Horatio nodded. "So I was going to do my donation then."
"That works for me," Greg agreed.
Horatio looked at him. "We'll talk later."
"If you want," he said with a saucy grin. "But I was going to pounce Greggy instead of doing other things with my mouth."
Ryan stood up. "Let me take him home after I change him. That way you guys can pounce each other. Speaking of, Thumper's trying to get over the baby gate." He walked into the bathroom to change his precious son then took him out to the car.
"Boys! Outside, you too, Thumper!" he called. The dogs came running out to pay attention to him. "Do not go near that tree again." He walked in there, taking down the gate and getting some of the breath spray.
"That's mean," Greg noted from the doorway.
"It's not." Thumper snuck toward the tree and he sprayed him, sending him running to rinse his nose. "Try it again." The other puppies sniffed but left it alone. One came back and he got sprayed. He rubbed his nose on the carpet. Then he shook off the tinsel. Xander helped brushed that off and they left the room. Thumper came back and he sprayed him again. He yelped and ran for the tree. "Ah!" Thumper slunk off. He sprayed him under the tail this time, getting a different yelp and he ran from the room, going to hide in Horatio's office. "Out, boys." They ran out and he shut off the lights, then closed the door. "That way we don't have to worry in the middle of the night." Horatio smiled and took the breath spray. "It works."
"It does," he agreed. "It's still mean." He walked him upstairs, finding Greg putting Mahsa down for a while. Then he let Xander prove how much he wanted to pounce Greg and not talk.
Horatio called Speed. "Go pick up my old hummer." He walked past him, nodding at his boss. "Thank you for humoring Xander," he said quietly as he walked past him.
"Welcome, Horatio." He shook his head, rolling his eyes. "I take it one is yours?"
"Staying mine," he agreed.
"Fine. Whatever. It's in your name." He walked off. Speed came in a few minutes later. "Did he clean that one?"
"He did," Speed agreed. "And I'm claiming this one."
"It draws trouble," he said dryly. "Do you really need more of that?"
"Well, no," he admitted. "I draw it already but the hummer seems to be blessed for getting out of it." The chief walked off smirking, still shaking his head. He saw the new hummer and then Eric pulled in driving another one that was clearly new. It wasn't dented, scratched, or otherwise used. "I can almost smell the new hummer scent from here," he joked. "Where did the other one come from?"
"Horatio's admirer. Gave him four. Two got outfitted by your son. One's Horatio's, in his name. I tried to reach for the keys and got growled at."
"I do not growl, Eric," Horatio said as he came out. "Thank you for driving that one in. I'll make sure you get home tonight."
"Sure, H." He grinned at him then clapped Speed on the back. "So, which one of us gets your old one?"
"I claimed it. It got him out of the trouble he drew, it can work that same magic for me," Speed defended at Horatio's amused look. "Even if it does need an engine overhaul again."
Horatio nodded. "It does. I was going to let them do that this weekend." He put back on his sunglasses, smiling at them. "So far it has been a very good day. They found out who sent the anthrax to Greg. My new hummer has a very powerful engine and a very nice radio. It also has a good cup holder for my morning coffee. He even slid in a CD for me this morning."
"Congrats," Speed said with a grin. "I'm still claiming your old one."
"If you want." He walked over to look at the other new one. "Not quite as good but still very nice. Eric, let's not thump the stupid kids off the road," he noted, heading back inside to get back to work.
Speed and Eric shared a look. "Apparently the sex was great last night," Eric quipped.
"According to Xander it's never bad," Speed said smugly. "But I hear that most days too." He walked off, going to get the autopool guys to look his hummer over.
Eric shook his head. "Yeah but I have more fun," he called after him.
Horatio looked up Sunday afternoon, frowning when he saw the Fire/Rescue Chief in his office doorway. "Did he forget to turn over some paperwork for the hummers?" He got a hug. "Um, thank you," he said, giving him a gentle pat. The man pulled back and punched him on the shoulder, walking off again. He called Xander. "I just got a hug and a punch on the arm?" he asked, rubbing the sore spot. He smiled at the reason. "That was very nice of you, Xander. Yes, they could use that donation. It's very generous of you." He chuckled. "Yes, I'm sure Mac would approve too." He grinned. "Thank you, Xander. That would be fine for our holiday party. I'll talk with Yelina today about the holiday dinner. Yes, love. Behave." He hung up and called Yelina. "Xander's asking about Christmas dinner?" He made notes. "That would be reasonable. Xander was thinking about having our holiday party on the Solstice. Would that work for you?" He smiled. "He'll be ordering. You know that, Yelina. Thank you." He hung up and sent out an email to everyone, including his boys and Mac. Just in case someone was coming down for the holidays. Then he finished his last bit of paperwork, going to check on the lab.
Speed looked at his phone when he got an email beep. He leaned out the door. "Am I making anything?"
"If you want. We're doing lunch for Christmas and he's ordering a full dinner."
"I'll bring my stuffing." He went back to work.
Eric looked out. "Can't make Christmas dinner, H. Got family stuff." Horatio nodded. "Will make the party, should I bring Momma and them?"
"Up to you, Eric," Horatio assured him.
"Thanks, H." He ducked back in to work.
"Can't make either," Valera called. "My mother's demanding I come home." She brought out paperwork. "I've already talked to the nightshift DNA tech, she'll be moving to swing and she doesn't mind. She said her cats wouldn't care." He nodded at that, looking at the dates then signing it. "Thanks, Horatio." She kissed him on the cheek and jogged back to her lab.
Calleigh looked at him. "Hmm, problem?" she suggested.
"I sent out an email about our holiday party and then how we're doing Christmas dinner."
"Okay, one less I have to cook. Is Speed making anything?" she asked with a grin. "I don't often intrude on his sacred domain." He smiled and nodded. "That's fine. I'll get his list later on." She handed over a report. "Our hit and run had one in his leg. That's from that."
"Thank you." He walked into fingerprints, taking her held out vacation request. "Will someone cover?"
"Night shift said she would and leave stuff laying around. It's only an extra long weekend, Horatio." He nodded, signing it. "Also, here, three for you, you special boss you," she teased. He smiled and took them on.
"Hey, bossman, can I bring anything to the party?"
"Up to you, Cooper," he called back. "Do you have that tape analyzed yet?"
"Not getting it. Lots and lots of static for some reason I'm still trying to find." He nodded. "I've got EMF interference, bossman, sorry."
"Find it, fix it, then get it to me as soon as you can."
"Yes, sir." He got back to it. He suddenly growled and went to find out what was broadcasting that flux. "That's it!"
"Let me check the next lab over," he offered, going to do that. He found the QD tech had moved things. "You're driving Cooper insane with an EMF flux," he said gently.
"I didn't think it'd have one but I'll move the stuff away from that wall again, Horatio. Sorry."
"Just check with him." That got a nod and he walked on, finding a note from Alexx saying she'd be at the team party but lunch was at her in-laws this year. He filed the other paperwork, going over the notes. He called Frank. "It's me, we have a suspect." He made a note on Alexx's note. "That's fine, Frank. Want a suspect?" He smiled. "Meet you there." He walked out, grabbing his sunglasses on the way. He nudged him away from his old hummer, taking him to his new one. "This one, Frank."
"Speed's claimed that one."
"It won't keep him out of trouble with the trouble you draw," he snorted. He climbed up inside, wiggling in the seat. "Nice." He looked in the back then at the radio. "Gift?"
"The hummer, Xander tricked it out." He turned on the engine and buckled up, backing out. Frank put on his belt too. "It has an upgraded engine as well," he admitted.
"I wondered where the two that went to Fire/Rescue came from."
"I walked out one morning and there were four of them in front of the garage," he joked.
"Man," he complained. "I should be jealous."
"You want the family curse?"
"Please God no."
"Didn't think so, Frank." He took off, handing him the sheets. "We're waiting for one last piece of evidence. It is enough to crack them perhaps."
"That's good." He grabbed the bar above the door when Horatio sped up. "No need to show off Caine," he complained. Horatio chuckled and slowed down. "Thank you. My wife would get mad if we crashed."
"I'd hate to make you miss her pot roast," he teased.
Frank looked at him. "You're too happy. They good last night?"
"They're good every night, Frank, but last night they decided to go mean and evil again."
Frank snorted, shaking his head. "It's been a long time since my wife wanted to go mean and evil. You lucky man." Horatio hummed and sped up to get around some slower traffic again. "Are we being chased?"
"We are. Call in that blue camaro please?" Frank pulled out his phone to call that in. Horatio did some better driving, out distancing them. He saw the lights come on behind them and stop the camaro. "Good." He slowed down again, getting back to their pursuit of a suspect instead of being pursued.
Xander bounced around the party, smiling at everyone, even a few of Greg's coworkers had come down, along with Mac, Stella, and Danny. He flittered around until Greg caught him under some mistletoe he had snuck up earlier, giving him a kiss. "Calm down," he ordered quietly. "You're bouncy." He grinned. "Be my good boy and I'll reward you by driving our other one nuts and letting him have you when I'm tired." Xander smirked at that and stole another kiss, putting out more food.
"Where's the dog, Xander?" Danny called.
"Thumper's in Horatio's office. The others are outside. They've been picking on Thumper recently so he's hiding from them."
"In other words it's time to get them fixed because they're doing to Thumper what he does to everyone else," Aiden joked. That got some laughs. "I do like the tree but I don't remember that one ornament."
Horatio coughed. "It was my mother's, Aiden."
"No wonder." She kissed him on the cheek. "You're a good son-in-law." She patted him on the cheek then moved to talk to Willow and Ryan.
Xander heard the bell and blinked, looking around. He went to answer it, staring in horror at the person standing there. "Uncle Rory. Why are you here?" He blocked the door. "Most of my fiancee's coworkers are here," he said quietly. "If you cause a scene I will drown you in the ocean. Am I clear?"
"Let me in, boy," he sneered.
"Problems?" Stella asked, coming up behind him to give him a hug. "Great party, Xander."
"Thanks, Stella." He saw the leer. "She belongs to a Marine, Uncle Rory." He got a shrug and the door was shoved. "No. Not if you're going to make a scene." Horatio came out to see what was going on. "Dear, this is my Uncle Rory."
"Good evening." He kissed Xander on the temple. "Stella, Danny's telling some story about you and skis?" She hurried off. "Tonight's not a good night, Rory. Xander will be home tomorrow." He looked at him. "No clients, right?" He shook his head. "You should come by tomorrow."
"Why? Afraid I'll out you?"
Xander shook his head. "Everyone in there knows." He shrugged and looked at Horatio so he took the opportunity to shove his way inside. "I'm going to drown him in the ocean, you mind much?"
"Only if I have to clean it up."
"No, I'll have something eat him." He walked Horatio back inside once he had closed the doors. The dogs had all run inside too. "You guys behave. Holly, no getting near the food. Dobbie, no begging."
"I can't believe you named the dog after a house elf, son," Speed said dryly, watching Rory. He smirked at the look on his face when he saw him. "Yes, I'm here too." He took a sip of his soda. Then he smiled at Calleigh. "Calleigh, this is Xander's Uncle Rory."
"Hi," she said, smiling and waving. "I'm Calleigh. Speed and I are together." She heard the small growl and looked around. No one but Greg was looking mad. Then Thumper lunged at him. Xander got them away from the tree, letting his little dog knock him onto the floor. "Hmm. Usually he's a very loving dog."
"Thumper, off!" Xander ordered, plucking him off. He looked at him. "What's your damage tonight?" He walked the dog off. "I know, he smells bad. He's a bad guy. You still can't eat him, it'll make you sicker than my cooking." He put him back in his office, then closed the door, coming back. "Sorry. Usually he humps everything," he offered, helping him up. He sniffed him. "Ah, the subtle scent of home. No wonder. He hates people who've been drinking." He walked off shaking his head, looking at Horatio's precious ornament. "Dear?" He nodded and Horatio went to move it out of the way just in case. He looked around the group. "Ryan, why don't you go check on Ian?" He nodded, taking Willow that way. "Mom. Please," he whispered. "Dad?" They both shrugged. "Please?" They both shrugged again. "Okay. Eric's Mom, I'm sorry about him." He grabbed his uncle and walked him outside, tossing him off the back porch. "Those people are my family. You're embarrassing me. I won't have it."
"You won't have it?" he laughed, sneering at him. "What? Think you're so big now?"
"Well, I am fully grown. I'm an adult now. So yeah, I do think I'm big now." He stared at him. "You know, I remember when you used to scare me. Then I saw worse as a child." He shrugged. "Pity."
"I bet you won't be so smug when I tell everyone what you are."
"Uncle Rory, everyone in there knows I'm with Horatio and Greg. They've known all along. That's why they're *family*."
"Two?" he demanded.
"Yeah," Xander said, smiling smugly at him. "Takes that much to make me quit bouncing and guess what, they love me. Even Grandfather approved." He saw the blanche. "Yup, I found him and Grandsire Raphael too. Spent the last few years with them."
"They're gone now," he sneered. "I made sure they can't come near you."
"Yeah, they're gone now," he sighed, mourning for a moment. "Technically they've been dead now for a while but officially gone now for nearly five months," he offered. "But yeah, they knew, they approved, and approved of me and how I managed to survive you and dad. By the way, which side are you related to again? Because I heard we're not relatives at all." His uncle ran at him and he tripped him, standing on the back of his neck. "That's really stupid. After all, all but Mommy Aiden and about three others inside are cops. And before you try the blackmail thing again, won't work. Even his boss knows, Uncle Rory. They joked about our trio during an open council session." His uncle growled and tried to move. He pressed down, making him whimper. "I should also tell you that I'm a very well trained dominant," he said blandly. "Well enough trained that I can cause you a great deal of pain if I wanted to and no one would know." He leaned down. "Now, you wanted what?"
"You owe me," he growled.
"For what? Not killing you?"
"I sent your girl after you. I know what you did at night, how many you killed."
"Not that they were living before then but yeah, most everyone in there knows that too. They've even mostly met Buffy." His uncle whimpered when he pressed down again.
Mac opened the door. "Need help?"
"No, we're having a talk about blackmail. Did you like the thing with the hummers for Fire/Rescue?"
"I did. Hiding the donation in the glove boxes was cute, Xander." He looked at him. "By the way, the curly haired goddess is mine. I'm the Marine he warned you about and his grandfather made sure I'd look out for him." He stepped out. "Want him arrested?"
Xander looked at him. "You have a choice, Rory. You can either walk away now or go to jail for a felony."
"I'll have that dog killed."
"The whole PD knows that the dog humps everything. Why would they care?" Xander asked sarcastically. "Pity you're out of ammo there."
"I know what they did to you," he sneered.
"So do I. So does Horatio. I told him. He helped me heal. Him and Daddy Speed both. Anything else you wanna try?" He moaned when Xander pushed down again. "Well?" He shook his head. "Good." He let him up and dusted him off. "Can you please make sure he's not driving, Mac? Thumper jumped him because he's been drinking."
"Sure." He walked him outside, going to flag down the officer cruising their part of the neighborhood. No houses were occupied further up so no officers were patrolling up there at the moment. It made for a shorter route during the party season. Officer Prestons pulled over. "This is Rory someone. He's related to Xander somehow we think. He tried to crash the party. He's fairly drunk and there's a car there that doesn't belong to us. Plus he was just kicked off the property for making threats. Can you drop him somewhere?"
"Up to you. Even Xander's dog Thumper hated him on sight."
"That's bad," he admitted. "That dog loves everything." He got out and got him into the back. "Thank you. You are?"
"Detective Taylor, NYPD's Manhattan crime lab," he offered, shaking his hand. "Horatio's counterpart."
"Welcome to Miami, sir." He got back in and drove him off. "So, you're related to the boy?"
"I'm his uncle."
"Interesting. So you knew his grandparents then?"
"No! Fags like that should be eliminated."
"Ah. You're one of those. No wonder he threw you out and the dog didn't like you." He brought him into the station. "Sir, got thrown out of Lieutenant Caine's party by his nephew, Xander. Apparently even Thumper didn't like him. They said he was drunk and had driven over but they weren't going to let him drive back. Detective Taylor from the NYPD labs said he didn't care what we did with him as long as he went away."
"That's fine. We can let him sleep it off then go back to his hotel," he offered, walking him off. "So, what was the boy like as a kid? He's a great guy now. Babies the whole lab staff all the time." He heard the growl and dropped it. Drunks could be mean and stupid.
Xander woke up the next morning with a yawn and then a yelp because something cold was pressed against his side. He looked over, seeing the man beside the bed. Then he glanced around for Horatio and Greg. He quickly thought but everyone had went home, including Mac and Mahsa. "And you wanted what this morning?" he asked dryly.
"They won't save you," he sneered. "I see you turned out like the people we sold you to."
"No, people pay me to spank them. Big difference from killing people for fun." He sat up, looking at him. "I hate to sound cliche but you really won't get away with this. Horatio's one of the best CSI in the country. He's found more murderers than you can count." He got slapped. He licked his lip. "Yay."
"Where's the money, boy?"
"Locked up." He got hit again and this time he hit him back. Then he settled himself in a more decorous pose. "Sorry, kinda naked after sex last night."
"I can fix that." He pointed the gun at his groin region. "Where's the money?"
"Locked up. Not like I keep it here in the house."
"Get up, get dressed. We're going to the bank."
"Um, are they open today? It's Sunday." The man growled. "I can hit an ATM but that's it. It's still Sunday. No matter how much you swear, growl, or sweat." He did get up and got some clothes on. He turned to look at him. "Anything else you want? Breakfast perhaps?"
"I know not to eat your cooking, boy," he sneered.
"I've gotten better. It's amazing what two lovers can teach you when you're the center of their world." The gun came up. "Not like you cared to teach me."
"You get that from your worthless mother."
"Is that why my father came back to you time and again? By the way, I don't want to know who did what. I don't care who bottomed. You're both sickening. Thankfully, I have better taste." He ducked the hit this time, letting him hit the wall and scream. That or a gunshot would automatically dial Horatio and Speed's phone and play a live feed. He hoped, if Willow had set it up right. "What? Are you sore, Uncle Rory?" he taunted. "It's still Sunday, not like I can go to the bank today." He walked off.
"Get back here, boy! You don't move without my authority."
"Bet me. I'm making sure my daughter isn't here, putz." He checked the nursery, sighing in pleasure. Then he turned and hit him. "Good, we're alone. I can do to you what you did to me when I was younger." He advanced on him.
"Freeze, MDPD," a voice yelled.
"Please get this person out of my house and watch out he's armed," Xander said dryly. He leaned against a wall. "This is my supposed Uncle Rory. Hi." He grinned and waved.
"Who're you, sir?"
"Mr. Alexander Harris, son of Timothy Speedle."
"Master Tim," he said. Xander nodded, looking at him. "This is?"
"My father's gay lover. Not that he accepted it as such but they were. Right now he's trying to make me give him money with that tiny popcap gun."
"I can still kill you," Rory growled, pointing it at him.
"Put it down, sir!" the officer ordered. Xander came off the wall. "Mr. Harris."
"Relax." He stared him down, putting the gun against his stomach. "You think you're man enough? I've seen real men. I've killed a gang member to protect myself," he hissed. "I've shot people to protect myself. I've staked creatures that make most men piss themselves. You think you can shoot me? Do it." He saw the fear in his eyes. "What? Scared?" His uncle tensed up. "Chicken." He grunted and shifted his grip on the gun. "Not good enough? You think you're a better man than me? You sold me to two butchers. People who were going to use me and kill me. Fat chance you're getting the chance now." He headbutted him then sneered down at him. "Pity you've never been a real man. I guess that's why you have to drink, huh?" He walked over him, kicking the gun out of his hand. He walked past the officer. "Did you see my dogs outside?"
"All but the small one, sir."
Xander went to find him in the tree, finding Horatio's ornament on the ground. It had a small crack when he checked it. He put it carefully aside and grabbed the dog out of the tree, glaring at him. "What did I say?" His dog slunk down so he dropped him on the couch. "Away from the tree, Thumper." Horatio walked in, gun drawn. "Found Thumper in the tree, baby. He knocked down the ornament. It's only cracked. Can I let Willow fix it?"
Horatio looked at him. "Your uncle?"
"Upstairs communing with the officer who responded first."
"Thank you." He kissed him. "Define crack?" He waited while Xander got it so he could see. "If she can without tainting it." Xander smiled and put it down then gave him a real kiss, making him put up his gun by feel so he could hold him. He heard the officer walk behind them. "Cheesey theatrics," he complained when he could breathe.
"He deserved it. He couldn't accept what he and my father had. They turned it into drunken groping because he was so pitiful of a man. He deserved me to shoot his ass since he woke me up with a poke of his gun." He kissed him. "Did it get Dad too?"
"I'll call him and see." He called Speed. "Did you get a call from Xander's system?" He smiled. "He's the one who called the first officer here." Xander smiled at that. "He's fine, Speed. Yeah, it was him. He's fine. Thank you." He hung up and kissed him again, quickly. "From him." That got a grin. "Now, let's look at the ornament." They went to do that, pushing gently to put the edges of the crack back together. It looked perfect again. "Maybe a bead of invisible glue overtop of it," he offered. "I can find someone to ask." He got a hug. "Thumper?" He peeked out from his favorite chair. "Thank you. Out, Thumper. Not allowed near the tree." He jogged out. "Thank you." He put it in the wreath and they closed the door, ignoring the pitiful whines from the tiny dog. "No. No being in the tree." Speed pulled up and got off his bike, walking inside. "He waited until we were gone then woke Xander up with a poke of his gun."
"Charming. The officer said he played chicken with him." He looked at his son. "Dumbass."
"I knew he wasn't going to shoot. His eyes said it, Daddy." He gave him a hug. "He wanted money."
"Not that he deserves it." He swatted his son. "Still a dumbass."
Horatio nodded. "Please don't do that, Xander. It was very dumb. I could have lost you." He got a nod and a small pitiful look from his boy too. "Your dog does it better." He kissed him again. "Are you all right?"
"I want to borrow some of Ryan's OCD to clean the house."
"You hired a housekeeper for today," Speed reminded him. He shook his head. "I'm here, go ahead and go back to work, H."
"Thanks, Speed." He took one last kiss. "Behave." He walked off, nodding at Mac when he got out of his car. "They're inside. He dared his uncle to shoot him."
"That was in the brave yet dumb category he likes to ride in now and then." He walked inside. "Xander, Stella claims you're hiding her present in here somewhere and she's going to come begging soon."
Xander looked at him, grinning. "So, did the food I sent you help?"
"For some reason I woke up in my car near the Plattsburgh ferry," he admitted. He gave him a look. "At least it let me drive."
Xander grinned. "It didn't do anything to you, Mac. All it made you do was feel a bit more content. Your mind did the rest."
"You sound like a mystic I've heard on a video game recently, kiddo," Speed said dryly, heading for the kitchen. "Leftovers still around?"
"Unless Greg ate them all before taking his buddies sightseeing." He looked at him. "I do have one of her presents. The other is a joint present and Tara's hiding it." He grinned. "Want them?"
"Please, I want to taunt her." He let him into the tree room, making him smile as he dug into the mound of presents under the tree. He got handed six presents. "All these?"
"Sheldon's and Lindsay's too. No saddle this time."
"Thanks. She screamed for two days. Out, Thumper." He ran from the room. "Found him up the tree?"
"Yup, broke Horatio's family ornament too." He found one last one and handed it over. "For you." He grinned. "Because Aiden picked it out. She said Stella used to sigh over one of those." He led him out, taking him to the kitchen. He got him a paper shopping bag for him. "There you go." He grinned. "Want to stay for a while?"
"She'll start calling soon unless Danny's diverted her attention away from presents. Did you see the scorpion he gave her, Speed?" He nodded, his mouth was full. "She adores that thing. Wears it every chance she can." Xander beamed at that. "You give good presents."
"Want me to stay?"
"We have the arsenal," Xander reminded him. "He comes back and I'm shooting him then soaking him with a stink bomb." Mac shuddered at that. "Did it break in transit?"
"No, in the lab, Xander. It took us two days to make it quit stinking."
"Took a day and a half to clear the stink out of NCIS," Speed offered. "Abby wanted to study one."
"Rotten lemons, then tomato juice," Xander told him.
"I got that advice from Eric," he admitted. "Thanks, Speed. Thank you, Xander." He walked out with the presents, rolling his eyes at the ringing phone. "Yes, Stella and Danny? Yes, I have yours and a few others. Soon. It'll take me a while to get home. Because I'm not in the car yet," he told her patiently. "Stella. Danny, please give her a bit of patience?" He heard the cackle and hung up on her first moan. He got into his car, looking at the small box. That went into the glovebox for now. He could only guess what it was but he definitely wasn't ready to take the fun, comforting thing they had and add responsibility.
Horatio looked at the people gathered for lunch with him, which included Mac, Stella, and Danny. Speed was still distracting Xander. "I need to do something special for Xander and Greg."
"An open spot and a ring?" Eric suggested.
"We're all but married and the chief said if I tried this year he was going to fire me and give Speed my place so you could have Greg. Xander growled at him for it." That got a snicker from Danny. "He is very protective over me. It's been a bad year for him. I need to do something extremely special for Xander and something good for Greg."
"A ring," Eric prompted. "He'll squeal."
"I've already got his ring, Eric. Both their rings." That got a grin from Greg when he came over. "Yes, even yours." He gave him a kiss on the head. "I don't know what else to do for them. You go play. I'm figuring out where your present is coming from."
Greg gave him a real kiss. "My present will be spectacular, even if you give me glitter and candy." He skipped off again. "I'm going to play at the local toy stores."
"Behave," Horatio ordered. "We'll go later. Go play in a different store." Greg grinned and went back off again. He sighed.
"That's the look of doom for later tonight," Warrick teased. They all waved at the yellow racing bike zipping past with two riders. "Checking up on us."
"Probably Xander being curious. He hunts presents like Stella does."
"Hey," she complained.
"You do," Danny said, patting her on the hand. "You even found the one I had hidden with Tara."
"The rest of hers are with Tara too and she's hidden them from all of us, even Don this time," Mac joked. "That way you can't get another one until Christmas Eve." He looked at Horatio. "What does Xander like to do more than anything else?"
"I don't have the vacation time to take him on a good one, Mac."
"Hit another cop," Eric joked.
"He deserved it," Horatio shot back. "That's why Frank disappeared for eight hours."
"Of course I did. You were going to explode that time," Frank complained.
"You've got the presentation coming," Stella reminded him. He smiled at that. "Can you work in a few extra days?"
"Probably not." He looked at her. "They used my vacation time for my suspension."
"I didn't think they could do that."
"He did it so I could still get paid. I complained, he told me it was too late." He sipped his coffee. "Okay, what Xander likes? Dancing now and then. He loves to tease me. It gives him his attention fix for a while. He loves to travel but we don't have time for that unless I take an unpaid sabbatical." He took another sip. "He loves to eat. He still can't cook beyond some minor boxed stuffed. I'm a bit lost. Last year was hard. I gave us a vacation because I had the time in."
"What is he giving you?" Eric asked.
Horatio moaned. "He's giving both of us a cut of his accounts so we can take care of our families and departments."
"Buy off the Chief?" Stella suggested. "Ours would take it," he said at Mac's look.
"That's not really ethical, Stella."
"Yeah, and? All's fair in love and war, Mac. Unless he wants to take an unpaid sabbatical? Or have the lab destroyed again?"
"Don't even say that out loud," Calleigh ordered. "The last time was hard enough on them. Speed nearly had panic attacks in the foreign lab. Of course he had Mary Sunshine in there with him and her Care Bear collection."
Horatio shuddered. "Don't remind me." He looked at her. "Don't say that out loud anyway. Someone might just do that."
She smiled. "Sorry."
"It's not your fault." He looked around. "I'm also getting something smaller than that, something more meaningful. Then again, he's still stuck on Speed's gift."
"I think they're going to fix that for each other today," Calleigh admitted. "He's stuck on Xander's so they'll give joking, mushy presents this year." She grinned at the Chief when he came over. "What's wrong, boss?"
"Problems? Plotting world domination perhaps?" he asked.
"Christmas presents," Frank offered. The Chief sighed. "Sorry, but what do you get a boy like Xander?"
"A Tigger tail," he said dryly, looking at Horatio. "What is he getting you?"
"Some of his money so I'm well taken care of in case something happens to him, and another present I'm not sure of yet. He's being evasive and smirking whenever I hint. He's already tried to find mine from him." He finished his coffee and waved for more, getting a very nice new cup from the waitress. "Thank you." She hurried off again. "Any ideas?"
"Two. One, the Feds are still ready to raid your lab, Caine."
"I know. I'm waiting on them. They're not going to be happy. By the way, you have paperwork for January."
"I saw," he sighed. "I thought you would've been happy to be paid for that week." Horatio looked at him. "What?"
"Xander loves to travel," Eric told him.
"Then that works with the second problem." He stared at him. "They didn't fix the air conditioning and filtration system?"
"They did in the lab."
"They didn't in the rest of the building." Everyone groaned. "Which is why your other spouse can't have a spot next year." He gave him a look.
"I was only interested in the lab. As far as I knew, the precinct portion wasn't going to be touched," Horatio said, taking a sip. "How long are they going to be displaced for?"
"All of you. Eight week." Horatio gave him a look. "Tough. You can double up and the other lab will be happier since you've got more hummers and they can have one." He walked off. "That'll be starting in February. Do have fun with your plans. Arrange it somehow."
Horatio looked around. "Anyone still have her number?"
Frank called. "Angela, look at your boss and tell her they're shutting us for six weeks in February. They're fixing our part now. Should have, didn't plan on it, Horatio didn't know," he explained. "Yup." He pulled the phone away from his ear when she yelled that and the louder scream happened. "Let her know a hummer of their own comes with it since the lab's got three new ones, one's Horatio's but his old one was claimed by Speed. Chief just told us. Trying to figure out what to get Xander." He smiled. "That's an idea, yeah." He hung up. "She suggested that you and the boys, if you can get Greg sprung for it, and Speed and Calleigh all go on a long trip to Europe. A cruise to Italy maybe? One of those nice combo trips?" Horatio grinned. "That'll get you out of the way for Spring Break too."
"Thank you, God," he prayed, looking up. He looked at Calleigh. "Italy, France, England?"
She sipped her tea. "You're going to spoil me, Horatio. I'll quit being a sweet, innocent Southern girl if you give me such lofty ideals."
"There's spas on most ships," Stella told her. "If she can't, can we go?"
"You don't have eight weeks of leave," Mac offered. He looked at her. "But I don't see anything wrong with going away to a spa for a weekend." They both hugged him. "Thanks. Get off." They got off and he looked at the smug Horatio. "You've got to clear it with Gil."
Horatio snickered. "Greg's ready to walk off. They're nagging him and teasing him about the tiara he got sent yesterday." He finished his new coffee. "I need an exact start date."
"Plan for the first weekend in the month, just in case," Calleigh offered. "Not like you can't afford to take a few weeks off by then if you have to."
"Point. But you two can't."
"Yes I can. Not like I'm planning a honeymoon."
"Xander will pout," Danny teased.
"He'll get pushy too," Mac offered.
"He's already tried and I told him to back off before I took all his guns away." She smiled sweetly. "Italy or where?"
"I'll bring over brochures tonight?" She nodded. "Good. Eric?"
"I don't like to travel. If I do, I'll go diving for a few days. Wolfe could use the time off to become super dad again too." He finished his coffee. "So what about Greg's?"
"That's a present for both of them," Horatio reminded him. They all nodded at that. He looked around, checking for Greg, then pulled out the box in his inner jacket pocket. "Think they'll like them?" Stella and Calleigh both sighed in pleasure and Danny grinned at it.
"Looks good," Mac agreed. "Very manly yet a bit more gentle since both yours are like that. What about yours?"
"I've got one in my size," he admitted.
"You've got good taste in jewelry. Who helped you shop?" Frank teased.
"Ray. He drug me down there, said it wasn't right I was living in sin. Eric?"
"I'm scared of those things. They're nice though. Not too flashy, nothing that'll get in the way of guns."
"Greg doesn't carry one," he admitted. "The Sheriff hasn't signed off on his weapons qualifications yet. When he does, I'm sure Xander will be gifting him with one too." He put them back in his pocket because he saw Greg bouncing up the street. "I'm getting him music," he decided. They all snickered. "I am. The same as I'm getting Xander some excellent chocolates." Greg slid into his lap, getting a kiss. He removed an earbud. "We are going to have a lab shutdown in February."
"They didn't fix the precinct at the same time."
"Really?" he asked with a bright grin. "What are we thinking?"
"I'm thinking part of your present may be a trip."
Greg squealed and hugged him. "I love you!" He kissed him and bounced off. "Nick!" He pounced him. "They're going to have a lab shutdown! He's thinking about a trip!"
"Good going. You have vacation time?"
"Well.... Unpaid sabbatical?"
"Could work," he agreed with a grin, waving at the group and dragging Greg off again. Horatio had asked them to distract Greg for a while. "Show me this lemon stuff?" Greg nodded, dragging him to the department store and to the right area. He looked at it, blinking at the ingredients. "It really works?"
"Ask Danny later. They swear by it after Aiden had to use it."
"Wow. How much do you use each time?"
"Aiden said about a third to a half, depending on the scene."
"For thirty bucks, that's not that bad," he decided, buying a bottle. He walked him around. "We need something for Catherine. A group gift." They looked around, finding a few things. He called Warrick. "A purse or a new vest? Or maybe a nice shirt?" he asked, pointing at one. He grinned and picked up the purse. "She'll love it. It's like her." He nodded. "Thanks. Sure, you can pay me back." He walked it up to the counter. "Can you box it too?" he requested. "It's for a coworker."
"She's a lucky woman," she teased back. "It's ten more dollars."
"I got that part," Greg offered, handing over his part and the ten bucks. "When Xander was buying Aiden her 'not a grandma yet' basket, he brought Eric and his sister Marisol here. She found a thousand dollar purse. Xander told me." Nick shuddered. "Yeah. Exactly. Cat's a lot easier to shop for." He took the box. "Thank you." Nick took the receipt and they left, going to put it in Nick's rental car. "Okay, where's Warrick?"
"Watching the women," he said, giving him a look.
"Of course," Greg agreed. "I did that a few times during my first time down here with Lady Heather. She was very amused at me." He heard a gasp and looked around, giving the woman a look. "What?"
"You know Lady Heather? Out of Las Vegas?"
"Yeah, I'm with the PD out there and we've had to work on a few cases with her. I acted as her security once when she came down to see one of her students on vacation."
"Oh, my." She fanned herself. "Are you a dom?" He shook his had. "Ooh, pity," she pouted.
"Double pity, but my boyfriend's with the PD locally," he offered with a small smile. "Sorry."
"That's all right, young man. Tell her Miffen sends her greetings."
"Of course. I'll send that over tonight." She nodded and left them alone. He got into the car, texting that to her. He got back a 'who' so he sent a description and a quick rundown of the discussion. She sent back a smile and a 'fine, Gregory'. "I need to get her something better. I got her a new brush set. It's not enough."
"Want to go back inside?"
"Not really. I'm trying to save for the move and the salary gap."
"I think Xander's going to be sharing more, Greg." Greg looked at him. "I do."
"I don't think so."
"I think you'll be surprised."
"When did you see this?"
"Last night when I went to check on the dog for him. It was on his desk."
"Uh-huh. Can we ..."
"No, he'll tell you when he's ready. It might've been part of his will, I don't know."
"Not knowing my boy." He gave him a look. "What should I get Lady Heather?"
"I like the brushes. Hair stuff seems to be your thing with her. She pets yours, you work on hers, or you did that one time. I'm sure she'll appreciate it." Greg nodded. "Are they nice?"
"Rosewood and lacquer."
"She'll love them, Greg." He grinned. "Or should I call you Greggy."
"Only Xander and Horatio get pet name rights," he said dryly. "Should we save Warrick from the shallow women on the beach?"
"He'd kill you if you did," he reminded him. "Lunch? I keep hearing about fish tacos."
"Sure. Head west." They headed that way and Greg took him to where Eric had taken him during his first trip down here. The whole time he was trying to figure out what Xander was doing with the paperwork Nick had seen. He finally texted him, but didn't get an immediate answer.
"Must still be riding with Speed."
"They did look adorable on his bike."
"They usually do," he agreed happily. "I've seen the picture in your locker, where Speed's against the side and Xander's on the back, leaning his head on his dad's shoulder."
"True." He dug in, eating, still trying to figure it out. He got a text message back. "He's going to take care of me in case something happens to him. That's what that was for."
"See, part of his will," Nick reminded him.
"No, he said it wasn't any fair peeking at my present." He put his phone away. "So Hodges will quit pouting."
"I talked to Gris this morning, he already is." Greg dropped his food and wiped his mouth, taking a drink of his soda. "It came back with a note saying he meant for you to use it for the lab's purposes, it wasn't meant as a come-on."
"Fine. I'll write a nice thank you note. Hodges can squeal like a cheerleader on speed." Nick snickered at that image. "Text Warrick to see if he's hungry?" He dug in again. Nick did that before eating another bite.
Horatio sat across from Speed, on their coffeetable. "There is going to be a lab shutdown in February."
"Calleigh warned me you were going to tempt me because of that." He raised an eyebrow, sipping at his beer. "What's the temptation not to have a panic attack about the Care Bears coming out to turn me into Barney?"
"Your son's holiday present." He handed over the brochures. "We'll have eight weeks. These take four to six."
Speed looked at them then at him. "That is one hell of a temptation." Horatio smirked. He looked at them, then around. "Cal?" She came out of the kitchen. "Come see?" She came over to look, smiling at the options. "I know Tara's going to Paris for Spring Break."
"We can meet her there for a day," Horatio promised. "With this one," he said, tapping one. "Or I was thinking about this one but we'd have to catch them at the end, see when Don's planning for that week." He cleared his throat. "You guys like food, Xander loves food. That one's geared toward food lovers. The other one's an ancient sites cruise and excursion. The last one is an art and music tour."
"I..." Calleigh trailed off, looking at the destinations. She swallowed. "I'd be happy with any of the choices."
"I like the food one, but the ancient sites one would appeal to him. He liked the hands-on history class they had where they went to a dig. But... If I had to guess, I'd say food, Horatio." He looked at him. "Can we call Don and see if he's made any plans?"
"I can. Her spring break is the blue week on the calendar on one of them." They looked. "I told him that we were planning on traveling around then too. The only thing I'm worried about are his clients."
"That's around the annual dom convention," Calleigh pointed out. "Plus he's only got four at the moment, Horatio. He's been pulling back since some got moved out of the area." She looked at the food one. "What day would we be in Paris?" Horatio pointed at the multicolored block. "Both days?"
"We get in late one night, leave late the next night. Or we could leave there, spend time with Tara. I take him to the convention while you two keep going for that last week."
Speed looked at her then at him. "Usually I'd make sure you wouldn't need a soul or a night of pleasure for an offer like that, Horatio."
He smiled. "I don't need a soul, I have three of those."
"Good point." He grinned. "Mushy." He went back to looking.
"And who went to see the newest animated film with his son?" Horatio teased back.
"He likes them," he defended.
"Uh-huh. Because certain boys didn't go see Pride and Prejudice?" Calleigh teased.
"It's the only way to expose him to famous and great literature. We saw War of the Worlds too and he giggled through it." He looked at the trip then at him. "Are you sure?" Horatio nodded. "That means four weeks on a ship with limited ways to get away from us. You'd be with us night and day for four weeks, Horatio."
"Speed, if I want to get away from you, I can hide in our room. I'm getting us rooms with balconies. There's a spa on the ship. There's a gym. There's a club and all that good stuff." Speed moaned. "Yes? No? Should I even mention it to him?"
"Yes," he moaned, handing that one back. "Please? How much will we owe?"
"Nothing, Speed. Consider it a pre-wedding present. That way I don't have to get you something too massive later." He put that one into his pocket, standing up. "Go cuddle, kids. Work again tomorrow." He left, going back to find his boys conspiring together in the kitchen. "Boys?" he teased. They pounced him, driving him against the wall. "Boys, presents," he moaned, and they left him, looking attentive. A little voice in his mind compared them to the look their puppies and the kids got when they were watching you eat and expecting you to throw something to them any second. "This is a family present," he warned. They looked excited. He looked at the brochure, making sure he had taken the right one. He held it up, giving them a smile.
Xander stared at him, just blinking. Greg squealed and pounced him. "I love you!" he squealed. "You're a great Santa!"
Xander took it, looking it over. "Five weeks?" he asked, looking hurt.
"Speed and Calleigh are coming, Xander. We'll see Tara in Paris. We'll get off in Paris and then go to the Dom's convention." Xander grinned at that, a shy, loving grin. "Really." Xander hugged him. "I had to ask opinions on which one you'd like." He kissed him. "I do love you both, and I do love to spoil you."
Xander looked at him, grinning. "I love you," he whispered. "Have me?"
"Of course I am." He pulled Greg in for his own kiss. "We'll go on all the day trips. Get fat from the food." Greg grinned at that. "Duck Speed when he's got motion sickness. Tease in the clubs," he offered, pulling Xander against his front and Greg against his back, rubbing gently against him. "Play in the onboard pool and the spa." Xander moaned, getting into the vision. "Anything you want to do is yours, baby. Anything at all." Xander got off, resting against his chest, hands curled up in his shirt. "Are we cooking?"
"I was making us some hot pockets," Greg offered, grabbing them. "We should go have bubbles."
"We should," he agreed. "We need a bigger tub." Xander gave him a wicked grin. "What?" Xander winked and jogged off, going to get a box and a bottle. Horatio let Greg have his attention for now. It was still good with him and they were both needy. Then he headed outside. Finally he came back in, interrupting his kiss with Greg. "Ready?" Xander nodded, taking them out to the pool, which now had a huge froth of bubbles and there was a motor running to create a jet effect. Horatio grinned at him. "That is going to be a bit fun." He took off his suit and dove in. Greg stripped down and dove in. Xander slowly stripped off, turning around to check the house then back around to dive over Greg's head. He moved under the water, nipping Horatio's thigh before surfacing. "Very fun," Horatio agreed, chasing him across the pool to catch him and kiss him, plus grope him. Greg's hand came up his crack, making him moan. "Greg."
"There's three ropes on the side of the pool to hold onto," Xander panted. Greg found him one and gave it to him to hold onto so he wouldn't drown. Then they double teamed him until he came. Greg giggled and took off, making Horatio chase him but Greg dove under the bubbles and snuck him from underneath, making Horatio grab the side before he went under.
Xander waved at the guy coming around the house. "Hi, Ray. Go away, I'm molesting my fiancee."
Ray looked at the bubbles, then at the boys, shaking his head. "I don't want to know. Is my son here?" Greg looked over and nodded. "Is he under those bubbles with you?"
"Can I drown your stupid ass for even suggesting that?" Xander asked with a sweet smile.
"Just joking, kid."
"Fine, sorry, it was an inappropriate comment." He walked off, hurrying. Because he would be drowned in the bubbles and then Horatio would have to explain to his wife how he died, again. Or maybe they'd just turn him over to Rosenburg because that was one scary woman.
Xander looked at Horatio. "Can I ban him if he doesn't have on a leash and someone holding it?" he called.
"Sure," he called back. "Come here, Xander."
"Why? Am I going to be spanked? Because I will hide."
"No, no spanking, we promise," Greg called. Xander swam over, pouncing them. They used the rope to hold him to the side, Greg allowing his wrist to be anchored as well so he could hold Xander still while Horatio drove him insane. "You did what earlier?"
"Which earlier?" he moaned, arching into the hands.
"With your Uncle," Horatio prompted.
"Exactly. Dumb things, Xander." He got to work teasing him until Xander begged for mercy, then slid into his prepared body. He braced himself by grabbing the side of the pool, making Xander's legs go around his waist, then he rode him until Xander babbled. "Need the cock ring," he panted.
Greg grinned and pulled down his balls, then Xander's balls. "That way I get to play too." Horatio smirked and rode Xander harder, making him finally give up and come. "Awww." Horatio grabbed him and found him plugged. He tossed the plug onto the grass and dove into his body, giving him what they both wanted. Greg came with a scream of pleasure, leaning on the side of the pool. They looked around. "Xander?" he called. He heard a content noise and looked over. Xander was surrounded by mounds of bubbles, floating on his back, asleep. They grinned at each other and moved to gently tow him to the shallow end so they could get him out and carry him inside to dry off so they could cuddle in bed. "That was a good idea," Greg whispered once they were cuddled.
"Hmm. Wonderful idea. Need more handholds next time. Like a net." Greg grinned at him. "You really like the trip?"
"I would bear our last child to go on that, Horatio."
Horatio kissed him. "No more kids, Greg. Not unless we end up adopting Ian."
Greg nodded and settled his head on Xander's stomach, one arm over his hips, getting comfortable for the night. Horatio got Xander's shoulder, one hand in Greg's hair, and it was all good for them.