The rest of the family trooped in, Speed carrying the deli fried chicken and sodas, and paused when they heard a moan.
"Xander?" Danny called patiently. "Are you playing with Ryan again?"
"No, me," Ray called, coming out without a shirt on. "I was giving him a back rub. His dog puked on me," he said at the stares at his chest.
"Works for us," Don said with a shrug. "You're on the approved play list." Danny shrugged too and went to get plates and cups for those who wanted them. "We're apparently sorting crap and hearing funny stories."
"Sure, I can help." He stopped Horatio. "Was your boss for real?"
"He was. Why?"
"I had ta quit after a guy challenged me at the office. Pulled a sword and everything. I didn't die or nothin', but it still happened. They're giving me funny looks. I excused it as a nut with a sword but no one believes me since they all said I'm dating one so I should've recognized him."
"I'll talk to him tomorrow, Ray." He patted him on the cheek. "For now, we've got neverending bags of things. Mostly gaudy things." He looked behind him as the door opened. "Frank."
"It's me," he agreed. "I brought a pizza and Yelina's promised a cake but she's not bringing Junior tonight. She thinks it might end up being dirty stuff."
"Only some of it," Horatio said blandly. "This is Ray Kowalski. He's going to be applying soon to join you and she."
"Hi. We do require shirts to be worn usually."
"Yeah, well, the dog puked on me. They do that," Ray said philosophically, grinning at him. "No mounties down here, right? Because the last one drove me nuts."
"No, no Mounties," Speed said, frowning at him. "You worked with Mounties?"
"Yeah, well, Vecchio did and I had ta be him for an undercover since he was undercover, so I got to work with him too. Talk about *stories*. Inuit stories. With morals." They all smiled at that. "These'll hopefully be funny and not have points?"
"Only to not get kidnaped with Xander," Speed said with a grin. "Ryan?"
"Working on the first bag," he called. "Horatio, who gave Xander the box of inhumanly small butt plugs?"
"The tree elf person as you called him. I never did catch his name." He headed that way.
Frank looked at him. "You're one of them, aren't you?"
"Level seven," he said proudly. "One of the few who can apparently work." Frank just nodded and went to go help once he had a drink. The others filed in once Ray went to wake up Xander and get them dinner. Xander came in to cuddle between his guys and let Ray tease him.
"Okay, I'm gonna agree. No way can a human body hold those in place for very long. They're made for Barbies," Frank said, holding up one plug. It was long but only a few hairs' width thick.
"For the people who use them, they're important and sacred, used after conception since they've got male breeders," Xander said with a small grin. "I married their high priest to his chosen one and they gifted me with the sacred objects." He carefully put the box aside and looked at the rest of the stuff. "Ah, here's my pants from that outfit." Horatio blushed at the buttless pants. "That was not intentional, it was a dragon, people. It tried to get a taste." He folded the thin silk, pale cream pants on top of the other box. Yelina walked in. "Come on in and eat. We're sharing stories. If I can remember who everyone was."
"You should've made a list then," Ryan complained.
"I thought I did." He looked around then chose a bag and looked inside. No list came to the top. He looked in an identical bag and a book came to the top. He pulled it and the book it was in out. "Here it is."
Danny looked at the book. "This is in Greek."
"I read Ancient Greek. I speak Latin." He handed the list to Ryan, who shook his head and moaned. "I know, it's only a partial one. I kept getting distracted because Horatio was making muffins."
"They were good," Ryan admitted, going over the list. "Okay, we've got one top, from the High Cleric of Hera?"
"He said I was being childish, it was a reminder to act more mature." He shrugged. "I knew I was throwing a fit. The couple didn't match very well and he liked them since it was his family. Then he abandoned her when I asked him if he would be willing to trade places with his spouse for a day a month. He said that wasn't his job because he was a man and stomped off."
"Yeah, he got hit with a shot of power outside and turned crispy," Ryan reminded him.
"True. She was one of Ares' high priest's daughters. Very pretty and very strong. She walked over and tried to get Ryan but eventually gave up and went onto someone more able to keep her." The others laughed and Ryan shrugged. He put the top into the other pile. "What else have you done?"
"Hmm." He looked at his pile. "Not much. A few shirts." He tossed one at Horatio's head. "That's yours I believe."
"It was. I like this shirt." He put it into his lap. Xander tossed over a set of ankle chimes, making him blush very hard. "Those are mine as well," he admitted. Speed looked at him. "I got bored so the temple there taught me how to, um, belly dance." Speed just grinned. "Later, dear."
"Later," he assured him. "In private."
Ray giggled. "Damn, and I thought the whorehouse demons coming for me were bad."
"They are," Xander and Ryan assured him together. Everyone laughed at that.
Ryan picked up the next thing in his pile. He held it up so Xander could see it and blush. "Which one gets the miniature of you?" He pointed at Danny, letting him have it. "Some artist paid him greatly to paint that. Took him a week of oiling Xander down to get it perfect."
Danny looked at it and blushed. It was a very candid miniature portrait of a naked and aroused Xander. He was laying on his back, his far leg up, his hair spread over his chest and across his lap, but unable to hide the sprouting column he was very familiar with. "He even included that scar it looks like."
"Oh, he did," Xander said with a brighter blush. "He got very close to examine that with a magnifying glass." They all laughed. "Don't you guys dare. There's one of Ryan somewhere. Horatio refused and went to hide from him at the church."
"I'm married. I didn't need naked pictures to be done of me and possibly spread around." Speed gave him another look. "You've already got one."
"I know I do. I could have a wallet sized one."
"With you luck, the day you put it in there, you'll wreck the bike and be knocked out," Eric teased, making Frank laugh. "They'd have to identify you by it."
"Let's not hope that," Horatio said, sounding firm. He sent a silent prayer that it wouldn't happen. He got a feeling of reassurance so it was all right. He looked at one bag, it looked brighter than anything else. So he got up to look in there, groaning as he brought it over and dropped it in Don's lap. "Since you do all the financial stuff."
Don looked, then at Xander. "It's full of really pretty coins. Got an explanation?"
Xander cleared his throat but squeaked a, "no," much to everyone's amusement.
Ryan looked at it. "Was I in town or out of town on that exercise?"
"You were setting up the place we were going to open the portal," Horatio said dryly. He looked at Xander, who gave him the begging look. "Unfortunately, this one got caught out shopping for some fruit. He had to get a craving."
"Not my fault," Xander said weakly. "I was bored and hungry."
"Yes, well, I'm sure you were." He looked at the other parts of the trio, then around. "I hear this screaming in rage. Realized that was where Xander was. Hurried out to see if he was in trouble. Two women had gotten into a catfight over who would bear his children. They were drawing a crowd to watch the entertainment. They drew people who bet on it. That's where about a hundred of it came from. They donated it to him and another ten percent to the temple of Hera because he blessed marriages with fertility." Xander gave them all a sheepish look when they looked his way. "Then someone bright got the idea that he should do them both in the middle of the market. To sanctify them as he had so many others." Xander shrunk down some more. "The people started throwing money at them to support the children and their mothers. The city's guards came. They got in on it when they heard what was happening. The unit Ryan was training with, the rest of it not with him, came out and started to get into it until one suddenly jumped and screamed, grabbing his ass. He shouted that Hera had to say he could. So they gathered up the coins and drug them there. They all made offerings for her to make it so. Xander was off to the side praying he wouldn't have to."
"I remember hearing about that," Ryan admitted. "I come back to find Xander hiding in Hera's temple. Just the next day. There's ten more women. Hera's people said that those two weren't the ones she'd choose. If a suitable woman could be found before we left she would allow it. Xander looked up and said a mumbled 'I'm infertile due to birth defect' prayer. We watched as half the women in a six day radius walked in. Princesses, priestesses, sorcerers, theologians. Some of them gave to the temple, some of them gave to Xander."
"I could've sworn I left that there," Xander complained loudly, looking up. The bag disappeared. "Thank you!" Something hit him on the head. "Ow!" He picked up the wand and looked at it, then up. "Not what I need for my hair either, Strife." It disappeared too. He sighed. "Unfortunately, I threw that at the priests when I escaped the most perfect woman to walk the earth. Beautiful. Radiantly beautiful. Would've thought she was the daughter of a Goddess beautiful. Cultured, well mannered, studied. Knew ten different languages. Virgin, which was important to them. The most perfect woman known to mankind. Two damn days before I left."
Strife appeared, handing back the wand. "She said she didn't need sex toys and 'Dite's got one. By the way, that was Athena's daughter. She's the one who made the protest to stop that." Xander said a silent prayer to her. He smiled and patted him on the head. "The bars underneath were still yours."
"I'll gladly donate them."
"'Dite said they were given to you in her service. You can't do that," he said in a sing-song voice.
"Then she can have them?"
"She don't need 'em either," he agreed, smirking at him. He pointed at the corner and the bars appeared, all sparkling. Some gold. Some gemstone. All very pretty. "Ha." He smirked. "No, we can't take those three if they manage to be let free. They'd try to take over."
"Ares would have someone to send some of the guys against," Ryan offered, grinning at him. "Were you behind those first two or not? I never did figure that out."
"Not me, toots. Not me in the least. Artemis." Xander whimpered. "Hey, you're the one who said the woman should feed her family not hunt since her husband was a hunter too."
"She might've been better but she was pregnant and could've died," he complained, looking up at his God. "I'm sorry, Strife, but it was more practical for her to rest during that time. I told her that later when she demanded to know why. That children were too precious to risk losing from hunting when someone else could do a poor imitation. Then when the child was born she could go back to it and he could take care of the kid." Strife grinned at that. "I told her that."
"She knows. That's why you only got mild mischief and the elephants didn't stampede." He stroked over the hair. "Are you being good?"
"I was," he pouted. "Then *they* came and then Giles got free." He hugged his legs. "Do I need to go cause hell?"
"Go shopping tomorrow, Xander. It'll be happy for all of us." He winked and disappeared.
"Strife?" Frank asked.
Horatio looked at him. "Where we were taken is where they retreated to. They like Xander too." Ryan nodded at that. "He trained at the temple of Ares. I did a lot of marriage counseling at Aphrodite's temple, telling them what a marriage should be and what it can be with some work. Xander spent a lot of time making marriages fertile. Tumie started that tradition and he shared it with Xander, letting him take it over when he got sick from the infection."
"Yeah, which is why I got stolen two years running by a small town that wanted me to make their fields, animals, and families fertile," Xander said dryly. "I heard back through Jace. It lasted five years the last time." Horatio snickered at that. "Record crops, birth rates, and animal birth rates."
"How?" Ray asked.
"I know just enough magic to make plants grow," he admitted. "I combined the two the last year. The year before then it was mildly okay so they brought me back because the drought they'd had for a decade was broken. But I was in the middle of a surge. I was confused because they had to cart my bound ass for ten days each way to get me there. And my magic was itchy from something we nearly got eaten by. So they came out together. Instant fertility. The animals started to rut there in front of us."
"Like the night we got you back," Speed noted.
"That was only a few days later," Ryan admitted. "We had to go steal Xander back that time." He held up a sash, making Xander moan and shudder. "Another time he got taken to sanctify a marriage he shouldn't have."
"No, they wanted it. She was pregnant. They had hand-fasted already. The father was a minor lord on the serfs and lord of the manor system we learned in class. It was his only child, a daughter. So instead of asking politely, because I probably would have since they wanted it, I got snatched. He had a strike team move into the city and to take me from Hershal's house. Carted me the week there in a very nice carriage. Let me clean up once I got there, gave me new clothes. Then they left me with the new couple, who told me what was going on. She apologized for daddy's arrogance and asked that I do bless it. I got a head's up that she might lose the baby. I told her and got her a healer. The healer fixed the issue and I blessed the wedding a few days later. She was carried down the aisle by four of the serfs bearing her chair. She was in gold. He was in gold. I was given gold and cream colored stuff again. I blessed the union and I told them that even if the first child could not survive due to the nature of the illness that had delayed the wedding, another few would appear within years. What I had been told. The father showered me in stuff." He pointed at the blocks. "Any of the gold with blue lines was his." Ryan made a note of that. "Then they sent me home in the carriage and sent praise to the local king and temples for me." He shrugged. "All I did is make sure they'd be happy and listened to them."
"Sometimes that's the essence of what a good marriage counselor does," Speed agreed. "Alexx does it all the time for us." Horatio nodded at that.
Ryan picked up something and looked in it. "Dirty pictures given by a priestess of Aphrodite's at a temple party." He gathered the other ones together to look through, noticing one was darkened with a 'censored' tag over it. He laughed and handed that one to Xander.
"Oh, they caught her surfing and the same guy who did my portrait did those." The others grabbed them to look at, smiling at the pretty blonde woman. Xander grinned at Horatio. "It's kinda strange not to hear 'Pookie' being yelled from Aphrodite's temple when she was looking for you," he teased. Speed giggled at that, leaning on Horatio's shoulder. "She called everyone pet names."
"Hold on, she looks like the woman who played...." Frank protested.
"Jace is like us," Xander told him. "She's the one who told the tv people." He gave a wise nod at that. "She runs a resort in Vegas. She's where Ryan and I went for that week." Ryan moaned. "Still sore?"
"She only won one match against me and it was a sneaky blow. She got me in the nuts. The next time I was on guard for it. That's why I kept pinning her against things and grinning." He grinned at him. "I could practice with you."
"I could use it."
"You could," Eric agreed. He looked at his boyfriend. "Then again, you'll be practicing against me soon too."
"Of course I am." He picked up the dolls. "Awww, the 'please adopt us' pledges." Xander leaned forward, hiding his face in his hands. "There were some orphans there who made 'please adopt us' pleas to us. They decided Xander and Horatio's land was a prosperous place where they could find work or marry well." Horatio blushed at that. "It took us two weeks to convince them that it's not that way all the time."
"How long were you gone this time?" Yelina asked. "I noticed the last time Ryan got taken with you it was four months when it was only two weeks here."
"Different planes and realms run on their own time code," Xander told her. "This last one we were gone for three hours?" he asked Don.
"Three and a bit. Maybe three and a half."
"For us it was two years," Horatio told her. "Xander guarded us because they hurt my back during the snatching portion."
"We need to find out how many more realms consider redheads so rare as to be mythical and next to the Gods," Ryan teased.
"Mr. Wolfe," Horatio said, glaring at him. "It was not my fault."
"I'm not the redhead and no, it was their fault for deciding they liked Miami. Can you imagine what they'd have done if they had stolen Willow?" Everyone laughed at that. "Fortunately Xander broke free before he was sold and then he got me free so we could rescue Horatio."
"I still say he stopped to get more greasy. His clothes would've burned like an oil lamp," Xander complained.
"Very true," Horatio agreed. "Fortunately he didn't touch me after knocking me in the head and hurting my back." Speed growled. "Xander killed him, dear."
"Good!" He looked at Xander, then at Ryan. "Thank you for protecting what's mine."
"Not an issue. You guys are family and part of the harem too," Xander said with a shit- eating grin.
"Fortunately no one's had to gift us recently," Horatio said, giving him a smug look. "Or was that where the money came from?"
"He said he put the foam over the hole. I'm not letting you rip apart my car to find out, Horatio."
"Pinhole camera?" Calleigh asked. "Maybe we can catch sight of it so we know what it is this time. Because the sudden showers of rubies and gold dust was kinda annoying, guys."
"I made about two grand off the stuff I collected when it kept hitting me," Ryan told her. She giggled at that. "Horatio's idea. I used tape and I gathered it up. It went to the pawn shop and they were more than happy to melt it down and give me weight value for the scrap gold."
"I'll have to do that. I have an old sock full of the stuff. Where did you go?"
"The one on Madison. He's not real legal but he pays well."
"I've been there looking for guns before," she assured him happily. "Maybe I'll go tomorrow during my lunch break." She reached over to pick up something, holding up the chain of those same coins pierced together like they had been sewn into a collar. "What is this?"
"That was the way someone fitted me for chain mail," Ryan said, getting up to find their joint bag. He found his and pulled it out, putting it on. "See?"
"Very nice," Eric agreed. "Don't come to bed in it. Still won't cover your neck."
"Most warriors would've went for a gut shot," Xander pointed out. "Easier, no swinging down, just stab or swing and move on." He looked at him. "Are my leathers in there? I couldn't find them to take to Jace's."
Ryan looked and tossed over the bundle of leathers. Then he wiggled out of his chainmail and got a hanger to put it on. "I'll get a better form later," he said at Danny's opening mouth. "It'll do for the moment."
"Yeah, it'll do for the moment," he agreed.
"Go put them on, Xander, I wanna see," Calleigh wheedled. "Please?"
"Sure but if you drool you clean it up," he ordered with a grin. He got to his feet and went to change, letting the dog out of the bedroom at the same time. "Someone let Spot out. He's sounding anxious and he's got puppy tail incontinence still." Don got up to let his poor dog outside, watching as he peed then came back in to help. Spot found one of the ferrets and brought her over to help too.
"Hey, Beauty," Ryan said, stroking down her back once she was next to him. "Let's see, this was...." He held it up and Horatio snatched it, wrapping it in his shirt. "That thing. What did the other one look like? Blue?"
"Blue marble," he said quietly. Ryan found it and tossed it over so no one else could see. Speed did peek then looked at his mate. "It was as close as I could get to you." Speed smiled and kissed him, earning an 'aww' from Calleigh and Frank. Eric and Yelina just giggled at that. They were cute. Xander came back in his leathers, making Eric drool. Horatio looked. "You couldn't find the other set?"
"He found these." He sat down with a creak of the leather, looking at his boys. "Yes, they're hard to get out of. They're so soft because I wore them a lot for that property." Danny casually tried to pinch them off Xander's leg. "Okay and because they're tight and make my ass look really hot," he admitted with a bright grin. "It was my naughtiness of the day. I was to go distract Ryan's training crew."
"Which you did," Ryan assured him. Then Ares showed up and half the guys who were hard before went off because of it." He nodded. "Ares had to call practice so the guys could go find a pro or their mates to deal with it."
Xander shrugged. "Strife said they needed lessons in how to fight with distractions."
"We certainly did," Ryan agreed. "I learned how to fight even when you're on such a high that you're enslaving a whole city." Xander blushed and ducked at that.
"It's not his fault one of the priests who didn't know fed him those red berries, Mr. Wolfe," Horatio cautioned. "It was his bad luck the priest didn't know and got to be worn out first. Before Xander killed someone in bed." Xander mumbled something. Horatio looked at him. "That would've been an accident, Xander. Not on purpose." Xander got up and gave him a hug, bending over. Yelina saw very well why people drooled over his butt since it was near her face. Horatio patted him on the back. "Go back to your cuddlesome ones," he said quietly. "Before Speed gets jealous."
"We only cuddled him. Even though I couldn't sleep in pants, we only cuddled him." He went back to sitting between his boys, moving his other ferret off the warm spot. "Hi, George." He nuzzled noses with him and put him in his lap. The ferret crawled out and went to examine things.
Ryan picked up a ruby dildo and tossed it at Danny. "That was yours." He moved the rest, all but two, over to him. Those went into his pile. That only left a few things. "This bag wasn't very stuffed."
"No, we separated them out so they wouldn't be," Xander reminded him. "I could've stuffed everything into one bag but can you imagine unloading all that?" Ryan nodded and moaned. Xander spotted something and blushed, putting that in the pile of toys. "That's one of those."
"How?" Eric asked, picking it up to look at. He jiggled it and then looked at him.
"Fill with warm water, Eric. Then rock."
"Oh, one of those. It's oddly shaped."
"That's because it's meant to hit the prostate," he promised. "It does it very well." Eric blushed. "Wanna borrow it? Ryan did once."
"No, that's okay. Is it clean?"
"It's smooth but it's stone, Eric. We boiled it anytime it got used." Ryan picked up the next item, holding it up. "Wasn't this the jock strap they tried to make for you?"
Xander snatched it and nodded. "Yup. As close as I got to describing it." Everyone stared at him, Horatio giving him tolerant looks. "They didn't have elastic and the thongs were a problem to tie by myself. Since I didn't want a helper in the bathroom...." He shrugged. "Besides, I couldn't wear their style of boxers under these. They'd have showed."
"Thongs would show, Xander," Danny pointed out.
"Well, yeah," he admitted. "My other pair has a very small hole and some of the priests at Cupid's used to bet on what color my underwear was that day." Danny blushed. He looked at Horatio. "I need to put in a pool like that one."
"Don't you dare," Ryan warned. "You'll never get out."
"It was nice."
He looked at his keepers. "They had a few spots that had built-on toys. You sat on them and the water lapped around you while you moved. Xander spent hours in there having fun. You'll never get him out."
"Maybe a special one for the tub then," Don offered. "One we can remove," he said when Danny gave him a look and a head shake. "It'll be fun and he could have fun in there when we're both tired and Ryan's at home."
"No," Danny said slowly and clearly. "No!"
"Fine, spoil my fun," Don sighed. "I'm trying to help Xander."
"You wanna try it," Frank teased.
Don shrugged. "Sure, why not?" They all laughed. "It sounds like fun." Xander nodded. "How were the showers done?"
"Ah, those. Sure." He heard a door slam. "We're in the practice room," he called. Aiden walked in and flopped down, cuddling Xander's back. "Did you have a bad day?"
"I hate tests." She looked at Danny and saw the pile of sex toys, then at Danny. "Are you hoarding them for future use?"
"Xander came home with them," he defended.
"Some were even modeled on me," Xander said proudly.
"You and me both," Ryan agreed.
"Horatio?" Speed asked quietly.
"Another occasion I hid," he told him.
"Sure. Maybe that's not such a bad idea though." Horatio gave him a look and shook his head. "We could do it at home. They have kits."
"No," he said firmly.
"Fine, spoil my fun."
"You'll have plenty later I'm sure." Eric laughed at that and Yelina blushed. "He will be. He'll be rubbing my back for hours."
"Lay down, babe, let me do it now," Speed said quietly. "Guys, some sort of padding?" Xander got up and got him some pillows from his room, tossing them over. Horatio took off his shirt and laid on top of them in front of his husband, letting him work on his lower back. "Sorry, he's still a bit sore from the surgery."
"It happens," Danny assured him.
"Xander, are those paint?" Aiden asked. He took her hand and put it on his thigh, making her moan as she stroked. "Those are leather."
"I wore them a lot over there because they were hard to get into."
"Good idea, dear." She patted him on the knee and let go, going back to looking over the toys. She found one that was above average and looked at it. "That's a nice size. I don't think I could do that personally but it's nice."
Danny looked at it and then at her. "That's modeled after slut boy."
She blushed and put it down carefully. Some day she'd find out when she had to pitch in and help with a surge or something. For right now, she wasn't ready for that yet.
"The guys at Cupid's temple said that they took a lot of impassioned pleas whenever he wore those. Mostly to not make them cheat on their spouses or whoever and to not make them stray from the breeding population but a lot of pleas."
"The priests at Cupid's temple said they got so many it was a running joke," Horatio agreed.
"I liked all the guys at Cupid's. It was how they teased me back." He had a sudden headache and felt his hormones leave. He apologized for his informality of making his temple sound like a pub, begged to have his gifts back. He got back an amused noise so he kissed Don, making him horny without it. It slowly flowed back into him. "Sorry. Forgot a word in there. Can't do that again."
Cupid appeared, looking down at him. "Some informality is all right but I don't know you that well yet, Xander."
"Good boy." He moved closer. "When you're as close to me as Jace is then I'll think about it. For now, consider me like a favorite uncle." Xander gave him the begging pout. "Don't even think about it. I originated that look."
"I thought you said that was...." His mouth was covered and Cupid gave him a warning look. "Yes, dear."
"Thank you." He let him go. "I should spank."
"Only if you rub me later." Horatio snickered at that. "I don't like being spanked."
"That's because it's a punishment," Cupid noted dryly. "Like I did all too often to my son." He pulled Xander up and took him with him, bringing him back when he was limp, sated, and cuddly. "There. The more he broadcasts the closer to Strife he is, guys. We want him evenly balanced."
Danny looked up. "Then can I have some more stamina?"
Cupid grinned. "You can build some."
"I'm doing phenomenal. I'm up to three a night."
Cupid groaned and nodded.
"We can't explain it if you turn his house into the back rooms, Lord Cupid," Horatio said firmly. "Plus, Danny might be embarrassed to have them."
"I'll put it under the house, kids." Xander gave him a begging look. "Including a small pool," he sighed. "How do I let you get to me?"
"You like me?" he guessed. "I'm cute and adorable and I make you pounce Strife until he quits laughing?"
"Usually true. Just stay a bit more formal, okay, dude?"
Aphrodite appeared, leaning on his shoulder. "He's the cutest thing and leave him alone, Cupie. If you let him go, we lose an anchor." He shuddered. "Got me here?" He moaned and nodded. "Good boy." She pinched his cheek. "Pookie, are you still in pain?"
"It's only been a week and a half since his surgery," Speed offered. "He's healing but he is mortal."
"True." She knelt down to look at his back. "It might help if they took out the small bit of metal they left in there." She held out a hand and it disappeared, and Horatio went limp. "That help?"
"Much, thank you," he offered, looking back at her. "Thank you, Lady Aphrodite."
"You're welcome, Pookie." She stroked over his hair. "You're one of my favorite couples; you give me great inspiration to make more happy matches." She stroked Speed's cheek. "If you don't clean your gun, I'm going to beat you with a shoe," she said quietly. "Tonight, Timothy." He nodded at that. "Good boy." She kissed him on the cheek, then the back of Horatio's shoulder. "You feel better, pookie, and take care of your studly one for me. I don't wanna lose either of you." She looked at the others, then at Aiden. She pointed at Eric. "Go there," she said slowly and clearly.
"He's with Ryan."
"He's bi, he needs breasts now and then. Ryan, sweetie, would you mind?"
"He's slept with other women in the past," he noted dryly. He looked up at her. "I knew we weren't going to stay together forever even before you gave me the pitiful looks."
"True. You're a realistic and a very good boy, baby." She patted him on the head and walked over to Xander, stroking over his cheek. "My poor studly one." She waved a hand. "There, fixed some things my idiot son left out." She swatted Cupid's bicep. "He's our anchor, Cupid. We need to make sure he stays balanced and in control." She swatted him on the butt. "Now go get laid by someone. You're seriously grumpy today." She looked up. "Strifey poo?" He appeared, giving her a hesitant look. "Dear, please go take my poor baby and straighten him back out? He's sounding like Athena again."
"Sure," he agreed, winking at him and stealing him away. "Laters."
She grinned. "They're so cute!" she cooed, then she waved and left.
"We weren't even in bed this time," he told Xander, who gave him a shy grin. "Too informal?"
"Just a bit."
"Does this stuff happen around you often?" Yelina asked.
"Now," Ryan and Xander admitted.
"But hey, it may have stopped the demons," Xander said happily. "I asked. He said only the really strong and persistent ones would keep coming." He looked at Aiden then at Eric. "She's cuddly too. And very soft to snuggle." Eric blushed. He looked at the pile in front of Ryan, using his foot to pick up something and toss it at Speed. "That was a present he bought you and forgot he had."
"It's cute. What is it?"
"It's a prayer bracelet for newly married couples. Mostly to pray for understanding and patience," Horatio offered, putting it on him. He gave him a kiss. "I helped make that one for you. I made all the couples I counseled make one." Speed smiled and kissed him. He looked at the pile. "There's only five things left."
"There's umpteen billion bags, Horatio," Danny said dryly. "I'm sure we'll find more stuff."
Xander looked at him and grinned. "Yes, but that's a surprise for another night." He pointed at one of the things. "Those were Ryan's."
"They're earrings," Eric said. "Speaking of, Ryan, earring?" he asked.
"Mark of favoritism," he said, swatting Xander's foot. "Those are mine the same way the headband coronet Xander came home from Vegas in was his." He put them aside, then handed them to Aiden. "You'll look prettier." He picked up the next thing, looking inside the box and blushing. "Your suggestion box, Xander." He handed it over. "Weren't you supposed to use those for a contest at Cupid's?"
"We used half of them for the art contest." Frank gaped at him. "It was to inspire artwork for the temple. Cupid is over passion and lust. So, took options for smutty thoughts and drew them out. The best couple to do them got painted that way. It made a bunch of people happy. The artists were ecstatic. Cupid got prayers out the kilt." Frank giggled. "It did."
"Did you broadcast at them?" Aiden teased.
"Didn't need to. I was a good boy because he was helping keep me worn out. Because Ryan doing it alone was going to kill him a few times."
"Yeah, he walked in after coming home from Vegas and wanted to know if Eric needed viagra because he only got two a night," Don told her, grinning at his buddy. Eric moaned and swatted at him but his buddy giggled.
"GHS probably get the most," Ray agreed happily. "I get six."
"I've gotten twelve in one night," Xander offered. "Over seven hours." Everyone stared at him. "What?"
"How in the hell? I know women who can't do that," Calleigh said, just looking awed.
"GHS are like that," Horatio advised.
"That would be why higher level GHS often have more than one lover," Speed agreed. "Xander should have a whorehouse-worth all to himself."
"They tried that," Ryan said after coughing. "He wouldn't take ownership of it or take the owner as his war prize when he got to rescue himself that time." Xander whimpered. "Sorry, I didn't know you had been taken, Xander. Even Ares didn't know you had been taken. Only Strife knew and he was giggling."
"Who took him?" Don asked patiently.
"One of the guardsmen. His wife ran the whorehouse and Xander ended up shoving him into the fireplace to get away from him. He had some nasty second degree burns on his backside," Ryan shared. "She wanted to thank him for getting her free and become his war prize, including everything she owned. The girls and the whorehouse basically." Xander moaned again. "So yeah, he refused one of those."
Xander looked at him and stuck his tongue out. "She chose you second."
"She did and I told her if she wanted me that badly to go to Ares and ask his permission. He annexed her services for the trainees so they would quit going broke." He shrugged and looked at the next thing, smiling at it. Then he went back to the box to find his suggestion, balling it up and putting it in his pocket. "Remind me to wash that before I shred it." He picked up the next item. "Ooooh, Horatio," he said, dangling it.
"Snatch that from him, Speed, I'm too comfortable," Horatio said sleepily.
"What is it?" he asked as he took it. "It looks like a carved fetish." Horatio looked up and nodded. "Present for counseling?"
"What one of them presented me for not letting her marry the bastard. It was a thank you gift," he said over the younger men's laughter. "It was."
"I'm sure it was," Speed agreed, going back to his backrub. "Anyone got any oil?"
"Second drawer of my dresser. The orange bottle has allergens so read the label," Xander told him.
"The entire second drawer?" Danny asked. "I thought you had a few bottles," he complained when Speed left.
Xander looked at him. "I do."
Speed came back with one. "How many did he have?"
"Seventeen," Speed offered as he sat back down. "Can I have this one, Xander?"
"Sure. I need to get another one anyway. I can show you where I got it from."
"Thanks. I like this scent." He let Horatio sniff it, getting a smile. He got to work on his lower back again, making him a happy mate. "What's the blue paper thing?"
"It's a mobile," Xander said, standing up and letting it unroll. They smiled at that and he went to hang it up in the living room by the windows. Then he came back and plucked the last few things. "Those aren't interesting. Everyone go get more and I'll let him do another one. One with better stories."
"Sure," Ryan agreed, smiling at him. "But if I find that statue you're so getting it."
"I said I burnt it."
"Uh-huh." He looked over and saw the bag he needed, it was glowing. He brought it over and started to dump it out but Xander snatched the statue and took off running. "Get back here," he shouted, running after him. "Give that back! You carved it of me and I want it, Xander!"
Eric looked at Don when he came back. "Think it's naked?"
"Yup," Horatio said quietly. "Very naked. With a sword. Two different people tried to buy it off Xander when they saw him carving it. He was waiting on Ryan to come off practice and carving it in the yard of the training area." He looked over at them. "I thought it was burned too."
Strife appeared. "Well, not really," he offered with a wide grin. He coughed and pointed at a bag, letting it fall out. "The stuff he was given to appear to be Ryan's consort? Should probably be hung up and put away too."
"I'll make sure he gets a new chest tomorrow to hold it, Lord Strife," Horatio promised.
"Good boy." He popped outside, catching Xander and holding him. "You called?"
"Save me," he begged, giving him the puppy eyes.
"And I get what in return?"
"I get plenty of those from you anyway." Xander sent him one and every muscle tightened, making him moan when he got instantly hard. "Oh, damn, that's good," he groaned. He took the statue and sent it back inside. "Your boytoy has it, Ryan. Be a good boy to Xander."
"He's not being good."
"Yeah he is." He stroked Xander's back. "How can you resist this innocent face?" he asked, letting Xander give him his best innocent looked, which had gotten him declared a holy virgin once. "Or deny him anything when he's dressed as your consort."
"Danny and Don handle it," he said firmly.
"Yeah," Strife snorted. "Sure they do. We'll talk about it. For now, make sure his consort stuff is put up properly tomorrow. That means clean, folded, hair sticks and things wrapped," he reminded Xander, who nodded. "Good boy. You're good at the protocol shit. Now, what can I do with you two since you're out here?" He pulled Ryan closer, kissing him hard. "He gave me the best thoughts," he said with a wicked grin. "Go shopping tomorrow, Ryan."
"I've got to work."
"Take it off."
"I can't. I'm out of vacation time."
"Go tell the boss, Strife, not me. Besides, he gets in better trouble when there's no one there to mute him."
"Point," he said, wobbling on that idea. "Take the cute skirt, Xander. She'll help by amplifying you." He stroked his ass again. "I like the other ones."
"They're assless thanks to that dragon," he complained.
"Even more reason to like it," he growled, then he disappeared, leaving Xander with Ryan.
"No you're not," he said, smacking him on the ass. "Inside, boyslut."
"I am not."
"You're a boy and a slut. Yes you are." He turned him around and gave him another swat. "Now." Xander trudged that way. "What happened to your hair?"
"Cupid put it up."
"Fine. I'll take it down later if they don't." He followed the jiggling butt, getting to watch the leather work the whole way. He walked in and in front of Aiden. "Guys, Strife said if the pretty female is off tomorrow could they please help him shop."
"I'm on," Calleigh admitted.
"I've got back-to-back lab classes," Aiden said.
"I'm off," Yelina said quietly. "I can take him."
"We'll take my car and you can even pick the music," Xander said happily, making her smile. "Thank you. I need to pick up the dry cleaning too." Don nodded at that. "You can wear one of the ones I bought you," he said firmly.
"Hush." He kissed him stupid. "Wear what I bought you. I'm spoiling you so I don't have to send Mac more bubble bath." Horatio snickered at that. "I did. It was to help him relax."
"I thought you were only evil on the baccarat table," Ryan teased. "Okay, let's see what's in this one." He finished pouring it out and blinked, then quickly pushed some things behind him, taking the statue to do that as well. "Sorry, some things I needed now and then to get myself ready for the incredible hunger and need Xander has." He moved on.
"You bought porn?" Calleigh asked.
"I was so tired by then, I had to see a healer for exhaustion," Ryan told her. "And Xander still needed to be worn out. I didn't do it for a week. He literally enslaved the whole city with a surge. They all came begging to be his. King and his wife and all. Down to the guy who ran the stables. Everyone. Straight and not. Yes, I needed the porn to get me past the exhaustion."
"I said I was sorry," Xander pouted.
"I know you were but you're still very hungry and needy when you get into that mood." He looked at Danny. "Have you seen that one yet? The that starts with fingers teasing on the chest and a shy, sweet smile, and moves into inability to move or breathe?"
"Twice. I took him to a whorehouse," he admitted. "Been way too long since he had worn some of it out."
"His hand had a burn from trying to learn from the blacksmith," Horatio said quietly. "On the other side and a little higher?" he requested. Speed's hands moved and let out a small moan of pleasure. "Thank you, Timmy."
"Welcome, Horatio." He kissed the back of his head. "Nap if you want to." Horatio nodded and went to sleep there. "I'm wondering if the red box is anything." Ryan looked and handed it over, making him look, then blush. "Well, it's clearly not drawn to scale."
"He didn't get to look but his red hair inspired him to such lust. So therefore Horatio was next to Priapus for him," Ryan told him dryly. "Redheads were their viagra of choice."
"One guy got proclaimed king because he had bedded twelve redheads and had twin redheads as concubines," Xander agreed. "The old king said he was more than worthy since he had managed such an unheard of feat and named him his heir over his son, who couldn't contradict him." They laughed. "Not kidding. Only one out of a million people there were born redheads. Having one who's bound or sworn to you was like having the favorite concubine of the Gods as your lover. Between having Horatio with us, my tattoos, and Ryan declaring me his consort and he was a favored warrior of Ares, there were some who wanted to know if we wanted a shrine. I said no. I said to make an offering to Cupid because I was his. He got some very ardent people who wanted their own redhead." He looked at the pile, digging through it. Then he scooped most of it into the bag and slid it over to Speed. "That's all his and offerings to him to bless them, their marriage, or to give them some of his time." Speed nodded his thanks and put it with the other things. "You think about emptying it to do that or whatever you want to come up to the surface if you want to pull something out."
"Sure. What's the rest of that stuff? More ankle bells?"
Xander handed those to Ryan. "It was part of his training to move silently," he said at Eric's laugh. "Really it was. If they didn't jingle he had the lesson down. Only took him three months. Everyone was very proud." He dug into the rest of the pile and shoved it with the sex toys. "More sex offerings. Sorry, Danny, but you are my keeper."
"I'm not your pimp."
"Ryan threatened to give me to one of them but I said no. You still get the spoils of the offers since I don't wanna look at them. It's a perk of the job, dear."
Danny looked at the stuff, then at him. "Looks more like you're reducing your amount of stored crap into some of mine."
"Just wait until we get into Tumie's stuff." Danny moaned. "Because my car will sit in that garage soon."
"I'll get the stuff moved tonight," Don said patiently.
"I can heft and tote, Don. I promise I'm not quite that gay." Don swatted him. "I'm not." He heard something. "Who is it!" he yelled. Something tapped again so he got up and went to answer it, finding Stella there with a cast on one arm. "Oh, you poor baby," he cooed, pulling her inside to hug her. "What happened? Is everyone all right?"
"We're fine. It was a car accident." She smiled ta him and looked over his clothes. "Aren't those a bit much for home, Xander?"
"They wanted to see them. Come on, let's go. We're all in the practice room. Including Aiden. Want dinner? They picked up fried chicken and stuff. Soda, milk?" he asked, heading for the kitchen.
"A water would be good," she offered. He got her one and a plate, leading her back to the practice room by her good hand then sitting her down on Ryan's free side, handing her the plate and the bottle of water, then he took his seat again. "Hi, guys. I'm Stella for those who don't know." She looked at Horatio. "That's one relaxed guy who I got sent to about a case."
"He's out on medical leave," Speed offered. "Can the rest of us help? All but Aiden, this is the lab and most of Homicide."
"Maybe then." She dug out the disk and handed it over. "For you guys on someone. Someone who wants Xander."
"Surprise, surprise, surprise," Ryan said, imitating an older tv show. He looked at Xander. Then at Stella. "Which one?"
"The hair yanking bastard at the precinct. He escaped custody when some idiot judge gave him bail."
Ryan just nodded. "Sounds like we've got a briefing first thing." Everyone nodded. "Yelina, come in and then take Xander shopping?"
"I probably should," she agreed, looking at Xander, who could only shrug. "Was this one hormones as well?"
"No, this one was Xander's tougher than he was and gay so he has to prove himself better," Stella offered. "It offends his manliness to have a stronger gay man."
"Hmm. Wonderful," Frank said once he swallowed. "I'm Frank Tripp. This is Yelina Salas. We're the detectives with Don and possibly Ray soon. Ray's from Chicago by his accent." He waved and grinned. "He's like Xander only lesser intensity." He pointed at the others. "You're sitting next to Ryan, who's next to Aiden, then Eric, then those two you guys sent down here with the bothered one. Then there's Calleigh. That's pretty much our lab if you know Speed and Horatio."
"We've worked with Horatio before and I've chatted with Speed," she said with a smile. "I knew you said you were scruffy."
"Sorry, end of the day scruffiness."
"Not that it'll be better in the morning," Don teased.
"I'll try to trim it tomorrow," he said with a smirk. "Better, oh great gay one?"
"Yup. Did you know Xander has more hawaiian shirts than Magnum?"
"I did," Ryan admitted. "He angsted over them while we were gone. Thought you end up tossing them on him."
"No, we're keeping them to remind him of his former tastes," Danny assured him. "You two trading fashion tips?"
Ryan looked at him. "Do you honestly think I have the body to fit into his leathers?"
"Nah, your butt's too flat," Aiden offered with a grin. "Nothing against it, just a fact of nature that you've got a flat ass. Stella, hand?"
"Car crash. Someone decided to try to run me into one of those spots where the train crosses a road outside of town during an investigation. Train hit the front of the SUV." Everyone hissed. "This is all I got and he got two counts of attempted felony murder. He had tried to run me off the road the day before." They all smiled at that. "So, what's this?"
"What we brought back from the last trip," Horatio said sleepily. "Stella?" he asked, looking confused. "Did they take us all this time?"
"Yes, dear. There's a whole planet of women just like me somewhere." Danny and Don both shuddered at that. She waved her cast. "I got sent with a warning of someone who wants Xander's head because he's gay and more manly than him."
"That's fine." He put his head back down then looked at the pile. "My other blue shirt." Ryan dug it out and checked inside it before handing it to Speed. "Thank you, Ryan."
"Welcome, Horatio. You rest. You need your rest," Ryan said quietly. Horatio nodded and shifted so he was facing the other way, letting Speed stroke his shoulder until he fell asleep.
"Sorry, he's just off back surgery," Speed excused.
"Not like I care. I don't wanna watch, I'm not like that, but it's all good to me." Speed smiled at her. "So, anything naughty?" Danny pointed at his pile and she looked, then blushed. "Um, yeah." She shivered and curled up. A lady in pink appeared. "An actress?"
"She's cute and all but nothing beats the real thing, baby." She stroked over her forehead. "Club your man in the head. He's stupid." She nodded. "It'll make him happier and you happier."
"Yeah but I'd have to club him more regularly and then he'd get mad again and sleep on the couch so I'd be grumpy," she said dryly. "Sorry, Lady Aphrodite. Which one...." She pointed at Horatio and Speed. "Ah, true love?" She smiled and nodded. "Good, now what about finding Xander someone who'll baby him?"
"We were going to ask Danny if he wanted to coopt Ryan more often," she admitted. "I don't see a permanent soul-deep love like those two." She sighed. "I wish I did." She gave Danny a look. "You have one in a few years. He'll know and let it happen." He nodded once at that. "She'll understand him if that helps any."
"Might be a good thing," Danny agreed with a small smirk. "Any of those your things?"
She looked at the pile and nodded, pulling out something. "This very muchly is mine. Someone took it out of my temple to try to woo Xander."
"I gave it back," he protested.
"I know you did. That's like the third thing that's come from the temples when they shouldn't have."
"Which means Jesrun was in town," Ryan said wisely. She looked startled, then looked at the necklace then nodded and snapped her fingers. A few more things disappeared and she left, going to tell the others so they could find that bastard and tie him up. "Jesrun is the prototype for Auto," he shared.
"How did they get the show?" Stella asked.
"This great lady named Jace. She runs a resort in Vegas. She's from where they're from."
"Cool." She nodded. Danny gave her an odd look. "I've seen Hermes before, guys. There's not that many older bike messengers in the city of New York, especially not ones who carry gold envelopes now and then." She picked up something and looked at it. "That's beautiful."
"It is," Calleigh agreed. Yelina nodded.
Strife appeared and snatched it. "It's to ensare all those who appreciate the male form, ladies," he said, staring at Stella. He purred and moved closer. She gave him a look. "Ooh, you'd be a fiery one."
"Pity you'll never find out, but yeah, Strife. Not yours. I like order."
"Chaos is exciting."
"I know, I see it every day on the job." He winked and disappeared with a few more things. "Interesting company you keep Xander." He moved his waistband to show her, making her move closer. "Is that what I think it is?" He nodded. "Wow." She looked at him. "Then who's over GHS?"
"Big, tall, buff, blond, wings... but level tens are him and Strife," he said with a grin. She giggled and nodded. "Makes sense, huh?"
"Oh, it so does. I'm sure Horatio has fun with the strife and chaos you bring daily."
"I'm a good boy."
"Keep tryin'," Don teased, giving his head a nudge. Xander gave him a hurt look. "I was picking."
"Pick on me and only get cuddles tonight."
"Ha, knew it," Frank said with a mean grin.
"Spread it around, Frank, let everyone know how much you want me in these pants," Xander countered. "The patrol guys won't like him as much."
"We're pretty tolerant and half of everyone thinks he is anyway, just in the closet."
Don shrugged. "I'd rather stay that way, thank you. Less problems if it's unconfirmed."
"Sure, I get that," Frank promised. He pointed at something. "Is that one of those restriction devices?"
Ryan looked and shook his head, pulling it out. "Someone walked up to Ares' temple one day only wearing this studded belt with a pouch and a butt plug attached. Said it was his people's ceremonial armor." He put it aside and made a note on his list. "Ares gave it to Xander to see if he'd do it too. He did. He looked so good there was a true orgy in the training yard that day. Strife showed up with popcorn to share with Xander." Don giggled at that. "Seriously. He can model it if you want. It's his." Danny blushed and shook his head. "You sure? He looks awfully cute."
"Torture is wrong," Eric reminded him.
"You are, you're torturing poor Xander. Behave." He swatted him behind Aiden's back.
"Xander, Ray said something about his teacher wanted to read more of something that you wrote?" Yelina asked. Xander squeaked. "I take it it's not clean?"
"Hardly. He writes gay boy smut," Don assured her. "Good gay boy smut."
"People traded him their official gay boy smut for his," Speed agreed. "The convention had a whole room of trading smut." Yelina blushed at that. "Which story?" She squeaked. He called Ray's house. "Hey, kiddo, it's Speed. Which story did she want more of? No, we told her why and she's blushing. Ahhh. Read it over her shoulder?" He got up to keep the phone away from Yelina. "Liked it?" He laughed. "Yeah, it loses something if you're not gay. Which one? Xander, unicorns and mages?"
"I'm working on it," he promised.
"Tell her he's working on it and he'll try to open it again tonight if they don't make him model the studded loincloth he brought home from wherever. Sure, verbatim if you want. I can do that too. Thanks, Ray." He hung up. "Can she have an autographed copy of something?" Xander blushed but nodded shyly. "Cool. It'd make her semester."
"My son did what?" Yelina asked.
"Snuck up behind her and read over her shoulder," Speed told her. "She screamed at him when she realized it, Yelina. Gave him detention. She was in her office." She huffed but sat back down.
"I have something new if someone would edit it for me," he offered. "Anyone?" he asked when everyone looked at him.
"I'm bored, I can," Stella said. "Het?" He gave her an odd look. "Never mind. Any het?"
"Secondary het. Longish for me too. I did a lot of work on my characterization."
"I'm proud," Don said, giving him a squeeze. "We'll see if I can help her." Xander beamed proudly. "That's an option if you wanted to work toward publishing something." Xander shook his head quickly. "Why not?"
"Too much rejection." He looked the pile. "What's next, Ry?"
"The bag." He held it up, letting everyone see it and blush. "Yes, it was molded on certain people," he said, giving Speed a pointed look. "Again, he only gazed at the bathroom window when he was bathing and snuck into the temple once." He opened it and looked inside. "And inside, Horatio stored a really odd offering to Xander."
Xander groaned. "You're doing this on purpose."
"Of course I am." He pulled out the small statue. "Someone wanted Xander to be female to truly serve Cupid directly." Stella took it with a giggle to look over. "They wanted him to have nursing breasts and breeding hips too." Cupid appeared to look at it, then giggled and disappeared to cackle in private.
"My fault," Strife's voice called. "Sorry. Give it to the fiery one."
"Thanks," Stella said happily. She tucked it into her purse. "It'll make Sheldon giggle and he could use it."
"Montana dragging on him?" Danny asked. She held her fingers a little bit apart. "New rookie?"
"Yeah. Two. Not a great one either. Can you come up on vacation?"
"Sure," he agreed. "Don's getting to go to Hershey for alone time, maybe I can go then and pick him up on the way back."
"Sure," Don agreed, grinning at him. "We can let Ryan have him that week." Ryan blushed. "I know, but sometimes even Xander needs time off from us."
"He's not the dog to need a babysitter," Ryan protested.
"No, but he definitely needs to have someone watching over him. Since the only people on the approved list we agreed with were Adam, Ray, you, Eric, and Aiden... Or Stella if she came down and wanted and he needed..." Danny offered. Stella blushed and shook her head.
Aiden looked at him. "Remember, I still have to make it to classes and things," she protested. "I'd never move if he's this size for real," she said, picking up that toy. Stella squeaked.
"I'm very gentle with women," Xander protested. "I make them squeal nicely and everything."
"Uh-huh. When was the last time you had a woman?"
"Anya," he said dryly. "She squealed a lot. Many times a night."
"Did she have feeling down there?" Stella asked.
"She was a nympho. She used to nag if she didn't get six a night."
"No wonder you think a satisfying two is too little," Eric complained. "Two is great for normal guys."
Aiden looked at him. "Two is all I can handle a night. Otherwise I might turn nympho." He grinned at her. "We'll see. I need more than that. Including wooing, boyfriend." He nodded. She looked at Ryan, then at Eric. "I don't care if you and he are together if he doesn't." Ryan shrugged. "You sure?"
Ryan looked at her. "You're the first open one and I don't mind. I know we're not true, eternal love like Speed and Horatio, Aiden. I'm realistic and I'm good with his time now and then." Eric frowned at him. "I am. I'm easy about that stuff at the moment."
"Are you sure you're not one of them?"
"I'm not a concubine, Eric. Are you sure you're not?" Ryan countered. Eric nodded. "Then we're good with whatever and we'll discuss this at home, without an audience."
"Agreed," Eric agreed. "What's that next one?"
Ryan picked something up then went 'eep' and hid it behind him. He got another one and held it up. "My award."
"For being a smart ass," Xander agreed. Everyone giggled. "Seriously. They had a sarcasm contest for one of the temples for charity. He channeled Speed." Speed laughed at that and reached over to swat him and get the medal to look at.
"It was for little kids who needed a new farm," Ryan said with a blush. "Between channeling Speed and the high priest at Ares' temple? Of course I won." He took it back and put it on.
"I've got to go next time," Speed complained. He picked up a coin to look at. "Is this one different?"
Xander leaned over to look at it when he held it up, nodding. "Yup." He grabbed his can when he tipped over. It was empty anyway. Don got up to get him another one and bring in a few more. He put the box in front of the other side of the stack. "Thank you, Don."
Don gave him a smile. "Need to ask."
"I know, but I was involved." He grinned. "Want a hug?"
"Not yet. Later. Then you can tell me the naughty story you promised about being chased through the streets by the virgin priestesses."
"Oops?" he suggested.
"Uh-huh. Did you broadcast by chance?"
"See those pants? Think a size tighter and molded to his crotch," Ryan told him. "Then think no shirt because he was trying to clean the new spot off his brand new shirt. He was eating fruit and dripped. So he was licking off his shirt and his fingers and using his fingers to clean his chest. One priestess saw him and complained. He looked up and gave her this boyish grin and said 'fruit stains on my new shirt' and then kept going with a small blush. One of the younger priestesses saw him and moaned. The older one started to scream at her for it. So the older ones decided to hunt down the danger to their chastity." Danny laughed at that and so did Stella. "That's what they called him," Ryan defended. "He made them have dirty thoughts. He was a threat to their chastity. He walked into Cupid's temple. It confirmed what they already knew. He came out and they were there with bludgeons and things. Seriously," he said when Stella cackled. "They were going to chaste-bash him because he gave them smutty thoughts. He ran. For his life.
"He ran to the temple where I was and inside, hiding behind Ares since he was there. Ares glared at the uptight virgins and they demanded he be handed over so they could teach him the error of his ways by beating the crap out of him. Ares took off his vest and most of them moaned too, then they went after him. It was like they lost their minds. Ares and Xander both ended up having to get away from them. Xander takes off running through the market again when Ares finally hides by disappearing, leaving him alone. He runs into Hera's temple and hides behind *her* when she appears. She bitches the priestesses a new one and says if they have to beat someone for giving them impure thoughts, they're not as holy and in tune with their Goddess as they thought. She banished them. The first priestess comes back and kneels in front of her, asking if she could have Xander. She'd switch to Hera's service if she'd give her Xander for even a night."
"I was standing behind her going 'I'm gay, I'm gay, I'm gay, oh please Cupid, point out to them that I'm gay and hate women' over and over again," Xander agreed dryly. Don giggled. "She heard and looked at me and shrugged. The priestess didn't care! She told Hera she wanted to suck and lick on my chest. Hera looked up and called her patron saint to talk to her about the girl. I begged them *both*. Her patron saint agreed that she needed some help. She growled and tried to get me by going around them. She ended up a very harmless kitten for a few hours until they figured out how to help her. Ares showed up and suggested they fix the cat, therefore fix the problem. Then he disappeared again before the women could get him for suggesting it."
"To come back to taunting us," Ryan assured him. "We were all wondering what happened. One unwise guy asked." Xander giggled. "He was walking funny all day from the new marks on his ass. Ares literally took a spiked boot and kicked him hard enough to drive a spike into him. He walked funny all day." Eric giggled at that. "I just stood there and grinned. When I got yelled at, I simply said of course they had dirty thoughts. Look at Xander in those leathers, then Ares' own chest." Ares smirked and let me go early so I could make Xander quit cowering in the corner away from scary women."
"Won't happen, not with his former friends," Danny told him. Xander frowned. He gave him a hug. "Drink and eat, Xander." Xander dug into his chicken. "What's next?"
Stella pointed at something. "What's that?"
Xander looked and grinned. "Payment for doing a marriage. It's a carving of her family for luck that she'd need to do another one within a year."
"Did she need to?" Don asked.
Xander looked at him. "I don't know if we can make someone go into heat or not, but she definitely had a fun wedding night." He shrugged. "It was only a few days before I got stolen right before we left."
"You got stolen while you were stolen?" Stella demanded.
"It was a whole world and they liked to steal him to make the spring plantings and animal heats prosperous. The GHS member already over there before us got treated as a demigod because he certified and made weddings fertile too. We rescued him too; he left for his home in France a few days back."
"Fortunately he gave the elephants to the local zoo," Horatio offered, lifting his head. He looked at Xander's sheepish look. "The day they chased you through the market to bash you for giving them normal thoughts?" Xander nodded. "Better than the time the Amazon-like tribe caught you."
"They were the remains of the barbarians who stole us. The women beat the men into submission and came back for us to get us all again."
Horatio smiled. "They thought I had already been taken as a favorite and protected concubine. They wanted Xander to give them many strong daughters and Ryan to take care of them." Ryan nodded at the giggling going on. "Not kidding." He sat up and looked at himself, then grabbed his clothes and the other clothes bag to go change.
"Horatio, just borrow. I have things that'll fit you," Xander called. "Look in the second closet."
"Thank you," drifted out of the bedroom. Horatio came back in a pair of cotton lounging pajamas and sat back down. "Sorry. I'm still too sore to put on things with a hard beltline."
"We understand," Calleigh assured him. "If I had back surgery I wouldn't wear anything but long shirts for days on end, Horatio." He smiled at her. "Right, Eric?"
"I can only imagine what sort of pain you've been in. Especially since she took a bit of metal out of there." He looked at Horatio's side, then smiled. "You're wedding ring or just a statement of ownership?"
"He can't wear a ring without Rick or someone saying anything," Speed said quietly, stroking over it. "That's how I remind him I'm there for him."
"Awww," Calleigh said, sniffling some. "That's so great!" She moved over to hug them both. "Though I wanted invited to the wedding, dumbasses, but I love that you're there for each other. Don't you worry about the idiot IAB guy. He's so toast." She smiled at them. Then at Danny, Don, and Xander, who was looking a bit sleepy himself. "Maybe someone should curl up with Horatio and nap?"
"I'm fine now," Horatio assured her, looking at Xander. Danny looked at Xander, then got up and hefted him up, carrying him to bed since he was fully asleep. "He's had a bad day."
"That's why we're doing this tonight," Ryan reminded him with a small smile. He looked at the rest. "Those are mostly things that Xander got given to perform weddings, tokens and bribes." He went back to his list, tossing something at Don. "That was your present." He ignored the horrified look. "Don't like their version of paisley?"
"Did someone make me a tie?"
Ryan grinned and nodded. "They did. One of the priestesses at Cupid's place did it."
"That's cute. I'll hang it up and maybe wear it someday." He went to do that, finding Danny cuddling Xander. "He not staying down?" he asked quietly.
"No, he is. It's good. He pulled me down to cuddle. I'll stay in here. Get Stella into whatever room's gonna be open. Let the others stay if they want."
"Sure," Don agreed. He walked out. "Guys, find a spot and squat if you want. Xander's down and demanding Danny cuddle since the ferrets are curled up against his back. That leaves three empty rooms and the couches. I'll curl up behind the ferrets."
"We're going to head," Eric told him, looking at Ryan. Who nodded.
"I'll call you guys tomorrow after I've had time to process the woman in lingerie pointing me at a taken guy," Aiden offered. Eric and Ryan both grinned and nodded. "Thanks, guys. Stella?"
"It'll save the department money. Show me to a guest room, Don."
Speed look down, Horatio was back out. "He said your bed's harder and better for his back if you don't mind, Don," Speed said quietly.
"Not an issue, Speed. You know that. You're family." He helped hold Horatio in place while Speed got up so he could help him up and walk him that way. "Yelina, Frank?"
"My wife would be really upset if I made her sleep alone for no good reason," Frank offered with a grin. "Yelina, drive you home?"
"I wouldn't mind. I walked up from the station." He nodded and stood with a small moan, helping her up. "Night, Don. Tell them it was a great time and I look forward to the next one." She walked off talking with Frank about a case.
"Ray, want a room?"
"Sorry, but you're taken," she offered with a grin.
"Not offering that way but I am extra cuddly too." She blushed and giggled, but shook her head and let Don help her up. She even helped clean up and headed home after shaking Stella's hand. Aiden walked out with her and they headed off at the same time.
Ray stood up and helped Stella up. "Come on, I'll help Don lock down the house and take out the dog for the night while you get your bag." She smiled and he let the dog watching the night with a small whimper now and then outside. He ran and relieved himself immediately, almost sounding a sigh of relief. He laughed. "Sorry, did we forget about you, Spot?" The dog marked a few more spots then came back in and headed to sleep on the foot of Xander's bed. Ray locked the porch door, waiting until Stella was in to lock the gate and do the alarms. He headed back to the back bedrooms. "You're in luck, both guest rooms are plain but nice." He smiled and let her into the first one. "I'll even let you have first shot at the bathroom while I say goodnight to the ferrets."
"Sure." She patted him on the cheek. "Want to come to New York? We could use you since we lost Don."
He turned her wrist over and rubbed his thumb over the tattoo there. "We'll see." She smiled. "I'll talk to my bitchy one about it if I can't get on down here." She nodded and went to settle in for the night. He walked into Xander's room after a knock. "I came to steal the minorly furry ones so they could use their litterboxes." Danny pointed at the spot in the corner in the plant. He grinned. "Spot nearly sighed in relief too," he promised, patting the dog's head when it came up. "Sleep, dog." He picked up the ferrets, getting protesting squeaks. "Let's go visit the cage for ten minutes and then we'll go sleep with me so Don can't complain that you're sleeping against his balls again." He walked them out, letting Don get the door. He put them into the cage, watching as they ran all around it to check everything out. Then Beauty used the litter box that needed cleaned. George used the other one. They both drank and ate some, then came back to get out again. He carried them back to his bedroom, which had a hidden litterbox in the closet. He opened the door, letting them see it. They investigated it then ran around the room once he had closed the door. Stella squealed and he leaned into the bathroom. "Sorry, thought it was shut."
She leaned out of the shower and handed him a wet, furry log. "Not quite. She's apparently wanting a bath."
Ray grinned and took her with him, going to get the other one and close the door. He sat down to use his shirt to towel Beauty off and call his bitchy one. "Hey, it's me. No, I'm toweling Beauty off because she decided to see what naked human women were like. She's fine. Just wet." He smiled. "It's good," he admitted. "Xander's kinda bummed for some reason but so far it's okay. Horatio said he'd ask. Stella said if not, maybe New York could use me." He listened to the complaints about the overpopulation of immortals in New York and sighed. "Tough, Meth. No, I'm going to sleep with the ferrets. Yes, I'm certain. Stella's one of the people Danny and Don worked with before. Showering with a cast. No, he's got his boys. It's all good," he promised. "We'll be fine." He smiled. "I'm sure I'll be fine and so will he. Jump off it, Meth. He's fine. He's well wanted now. No I won't go wake him up. Yeah and we're still on the east coast." He looked at his watch. "It is but he's still asleep. No, he came back from Jace's easily enough. He's fine! Jeez! Call him in the morning and me when you feel like being *my* boyfriend."
He hung up and went back to cuddling the wiggling, furry things. "I know. I should've gotten you guys and a puppy of my own. Less stress." He settled in to rest, listening to everyone else. Speed was talking quietly to Horatio. Stella was out of the shower but still in the bathroom, probably drying her hair in the mirror. It was soothing, like he was in a home and a family instead of borrowing a bedroom in someone's house. Maybe he did need to move to Miami and make his boyfriend follow him if he wanted him. If not, he was sure there were plenty of others and hey, it had sounded like Ryan was going to be single soon. He was kinda geeky but seemed pretty nice, if a bit focused. Plus he was protective but he wasn't overprotective like his present owner. And hey, Xander had said Ryan would make a great keeper some day. Maybe today was that day. He heard someone up and moving and looked out the door, seeing the unknown person. "How in the hell did you get in here after I set the alarms?"
"I had it turned off, young man. Go back to bed. This does not concern you."
"Bullshit. Chicago PD. Freeze." The man looked amused. The other doors all opened and people with guns stepped out. "Still amused?"
Don looked at him. "Hey, I know you. You're the idiot who broke in here our third night in the city," he noted dryly. "Um, Speed? Do we call the asshole in IAB or does Horatio?"
"No, I can call him," he promised. He called Yelina's house. "Is the idiot Stetler there, Ray? Have him come to Xander's. No, a patrol guy broke in again. Not wearing his uniform. Said he turned off the alarm. Told a visiting Chicago PD guy this didn't concern him." The guy stared to move. "Do it, make one of us shoot you."
"You can't use that thing," he said with disgust.
"I can," Don said happily. "And I will. Like I should've last time. Come get him, Stetler, before my dog has a new human-skin collar."
"Hear that?" Speed asked dryly. "That's us. Apparently the alarms are off. Thank you for doing your job." He hung up and slipped his phone back into his pocket. "He's on his way. They live a few miles off. Mandatory call-in restrictions are nice." Horatio patted his shoulder. "Look who we have, Horatio."
"So I see."
"You're gay too?" he demanded. "It's not possible!"
"Gee, am I gay?" Speed asked, looking at Horatio.
"I never asked that question." They both glared at him and the man shrank down. "Good idea. Sit, right where you are. Hands in plain sight." The man started to sit then he turned and ran.
"Spot, fetch," Xander ordered. The dog took off and bit him, making him scream and flail on the ground. He came out and took Don's gun, walking out there whistling. "Good boy, Spot. Go get daddy to give you a treat." He patted the dog on the head and he ran back inside to sit in front of his daddy, all happy puppy and wagging tail.
"Good job," Don praised, patting him on the head. "Very good boy. Let's get you a dog biscuit before we go take the gun from the other master." Horatio headed out there, making him smile. "Awww, let him shoot the asshole in the nuts or somethin'." He walked the dog into the kitchen, giving him some wet food and a few dog biscuits, even sitting down to pet him while he ate. "Good boy. You're being well trained." His puppy barked and lowered himself, his tail wagging. "Go get the ball, we'll play fetch." The dog ran off and brought it back. Don petted him for a minute, then threw it over the counter and off the back of the couch. The dog raced around to get it, bringing it back. He dropped it and barked again.
Don grinned and threw it again, this time toward the door to see what he'd do with an intruder. He set up an unholy racket and Don stood up. "Good boy, Spot. Down." Spot went back to growling. "Bring daddy the ball." Spot got his ball and brought it back, barking happily. "Good boy!" He tossed it and it got brought back. He scratched his ears and gave him a kiss on the nose. "You're such a good boy, Spot. Such a good boy. Go play with the Stella." He pointed at her. "Go play with the girl person." Spot looked at him. He tossed Stella the ball and she threw it, making him a happy, unconfused puppy again. Ball plus person was a happy dog. Confused dog looked a lot like Danny first thing in the morning. He'd have to remember that. He walked out there and took his gun back, looking at Xander. "I can assure you you've got the bigger set," he said quietly.
"I hate people who interrupt my safety," he said, staring him down, perfectly still.
Stetler moved closer. "Can you ...leash him?"
"I'm not the dog," he growled. The man backed off. "Just take your bitch and go, halfie."
"Fine," he agreed, grabbing him and dragging him off a bit.
"Xander, he has a job to do, even if he does try to pin other's sins onto me," Horatio said quietly.
"Do I care?"
"The alternative is worse," Horatio said in his ear. "Let him do his job."
"That's fine, he can do his job without releasing confidential and private information that could get you killed or kidnaped again. The same as he can do his job without giving me long stares when I come in. The same as he can do it now. I'm not stopping him from doing his job. His lack of morals and backbone is keeping him from doing his job."
"Shh," Don soothed, stroking his back. "Inside, Xander. Go play with Spot and the ferrets before George comes out to bite him too." Xander sighed but went back inside. He looked at Stetler. "You were okay enough in his book until you released those files and tried to blackmail the boss," he noted dryly. "We're counting on you to do your job in a professional manner. If you can't, hand it off now."
"Oh, I assure you I can. He'll be without his badge in the morning."
"Good then this makes the second count of trespassing. He did it to us our third night here. Also pat him down now. We've got valuables out in the practice room." Rick did that, finding a small statue.
"That's mine," he said, snatching it back.
Horatio looked. "Really? Because it looks like something I got given during my last kidnaping as a souvenir." The man gave him a horrified look. "Unless I can find my copy, were you in the same place?"
"No," he said, swallowing hard. "I...I saw him in the ring. I bet on him and he won me money." He nodded at that.
"Ring?" Stetler asked.
"The first time Officer Wolfe and Xander were taken together they were taken to some sort of battle ring thing where Xander had to defend them both," Don told him.
"Those places don't exist," he laughed. A messenger appeared next to him and handed over a letter. "What's this?" He read it and went pale. He nodded "I'll comply." The messenger disappeared. "He's a Metharn?"
"No, he's human. One of them adopted him because his father was a gambler," Don said dryly. "He didn't know until they found him when they started to take him in New York. The first time he was in that ring they were there." The man gave him a horrified look. "What?"
"I...." He laughed nervously. "What's a Metharn?"
"The green Jabba the Hut demons," Xander called. "With spikes."
"Oh, shit." He nodded. "I owed one some money." Xander came to the doorway. "He wanted you in payment."
"He can't have me, payment or not. You can die." He slammed the door, then came out to get his ferret and go back inside. Then he slammed the door.
Horatio reached down to get Beauty. "Did you sneak?" he said, smiling at her. "You're very good at that." He looked at Rick. "Make a report, fire him, and then we'll let the DPP handle it."
"You know the demonic police?" Rick asked.
"One showed up today to help us with Rosenburg," Horatio agreed, smirking at him. "He was most kind and they've saved Xander a few times. He's got a calling stone necklace if we need one."
"Let me do that then I'll call one. I have one." He walked him off, considering these things. If the boy was Metharn, even adopted, then that made his adopted family his harem. His harem were to be treated the same way you treated the head of the harem in matters of protocol. His mother had told him this a long time ago. That meant Caine and Speedle were sacred unless he could find something linking the boy to organized crime. He looked at his suspect. "What did the boy do?"
He shrugged. "All I know is that one like he was talking about forgave my ten G's in debts if I took that one from his harem and sent him there." He snorted. "I didn't think they were his harem."
"It's a technical term of protocol. To them that's a family unit that's not related by blood." That got a horrified look. "Anyone who's like family to that boy, his lovers, anyone who helps the family significantly, is considered his harem. Doing so would've set off a war that would've reached down here as well."
"Hey, one less thing in this world, okay?"
"No, it's not okay," Rick said, shoving him into the back of his car and heading off. He hoped the boy could undo whatever was wrong with his security system. He considered it then called Caine. "Those two today and the one your harem lord nearly took the head of are gone. They disappeared earlier tonight." He hung up and went to write up the report. "How did you do the alarms?"
"He gave me this little thing, I put it on the keypad box. He said it'd eliminate the system for at least six hours. Plenty of time. I slipped it on earlier when the chick went through."
"Yeah, curly haired, has a cast on one hand right now. Really pretty. She his girlfriend too?"
Eric strolled in. "That's CSI Bonasera down from New York on a case. Someone who wants to kill Xander for being more manly than him and gay." Stetler moaned. "Stella's like family to Danny and Don, the same way Aiden is."
"Is she considered harem the same way you are?" Rick asked. Eric moaned but nodded. "I noticed Wolfe getting rid of the gifts he was giving for consideration. Doing so usually sends a signal that they need more things, that money's tight."
"I'd hope not since it hasn't come back," he said bitterly. He looked at the guy. "Anything else we should know?"
"Those three from earlier are gone."
"We've got protection on them and their security company is coming out now. They know that shit too apparently." The man swallowed. Eric looked at him. "I could let Wolfe have you. He's not in a great mood at the moment."
"No thanks," he squeaked. "If I don't get him up there, they're going to kill me."
"Then next life remember not to gamble," Eric said prosaically. He walked off again, happier now. He called the house and told them what had been said, then smirked at the answer of yes, Stella was part of the original harem. Someone had sent him pictures of possible replacements for her since she hadn't followed. Eric laughed and hung up, heading back to his house to finish his talk with Ryan. Maybe he and Ray would get together sometime. They were adorable together and highly protective of Xander too.
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