Xander carried the file into the bank, sighing at the secretary. "I need to bring down accounts now. I was told it was unreasonable to have three-quarters of everything in another state." She put him down to speak to someone and he sat down to wait. It wasn't too long before a woman in a fairly severe business suit came looking for him. "Hi, Xander Harris." He shook her hand. "I've got to consolidate and move stuff down from New York."
"That's fine. We can do that," she assured him, her voice low and hushed but smooth and authoritive. She led him into her office and closed the door. "What did you bring for me, Mr. Harris?"
"I brought everything and my financial manager's number. He's out in Washington state but it's toll free."
"That's more than acceptable," she assured him with a small smile. He handed it over and she dialed it. She put it on speaker for him too.
"Stevey, it's Xander. Danny said I've got to move everything here to Miami."
"That might be a problem since that one box you were told has to stay in New York at that speciality bank."
"It can stay there and wither in it," he promised him.
"Good. Let me get your books. Who are you with?"
"I'm Miss Gold at the bank," she said. "I'm helping him with the move."
Xander dug out something. "This one account isn't being moved," he told her. She nodded, putting that aside with a post-it note. "It's from the sale of something that was given to me by a fellow kidnaping victim and he didn't want it but I didn't want it so I did what Steve said and got a release and put it aside in a special account if he ever wants it."
"I'm a member of GHS."
She considered him for a moment. "We've heard rumors about your people, Mr. Harris."
He grinned. "Probably mostly true. We're often taken due to our hormonal issues." Steve snorted at that. "Bless you."
"Your hormones are bad enough. Yours and everyone else's together is horrible," Steve complained. "Yes, they exist. That particular group of assets was from someone who took himself and another member together. The other member managed to get back home and didn't want to look at the things he had been given so he gave them to Xander. I told him to get a release and set it up in a separate account."
"Which I did. The release is at home in the files," Xander assured him.
"Good. Now, what are we dealing with?"
"Everything in New York. Danny said it's not reasonable and not good for me to have it up there."
"Is Danny the one who presently took you?"
"No, he's my keeper. He's like a boyfriend with extra special duties," he offered with a grin. "I've been taken a number of times and he's with the PD so he protects me. He should be on my main account." She pulled it up then nodded. "Don Flack Junior is my other protector."
"That's fine, sir." She looked at him. "They let you come back with what they had given you?"
"Not exactly but we pouted and cajoled our way out of that one," he said, it was as close to the truth as he could get. "At least I'm not having to store the elephants."
She let out a small giggle. "I remember seeing them on the news."
"That was Tumie and me, yeah," he agreed dryly. He looked around and waved at Richard since he had felt him apparently. Then he went back to her. "Sorry, know him."
"That's fine. We like it when friends suggest us to others." She looked him over. "Aren't you worried what they'll do to you?"
"I'm pretty good with it. I can get myself out of anything. As long as they don't try to castrate me again, I'm pretty good with it most of the time. As long as they don't touch the hair." She burst out giggling at that. "I've nearly killed one for wanting to cut my hair," he said with a small pout. "I'm not kidding."
"He's not," Steve agreed. "Also, the need you probably have to hug him? That's why he's taken so often."
She cleared her mind and nodded. "I understand now. Let's see what we have here already, shall we?" She looked at the current accounts. "Do we have your proper address for tax season?"
"Don drags me to the IRS every few months," Xander admitted. "The last guy we briefed down here thought it was cute I put bedtoy down as my occupation." She gaped. "That's what they want me for. That's why they take me. It's the truth." She shook her head quickly and he grinned. "Yes, GHS members are all like this. At the higher levels especially."
"What are the lower levels like?"
"Less intense and less bouncy, also less taken usually."
"Can you go to a lower level?"
"It's my hormones. I can't do a thing with them."
"I'm sorry." She got to work pulling up everything to look at. "I see you have a very healthy balance here, Mr. Harris." She smiled at Steve's cough. "Does he get your monthly statements?"
"I do the online one," Steve assured her. "I'm the one who yells at him for overspending because Danny's lenient and so is Don."
"I finished my holiday shopping out of the gambling winnings, Steve."
"Congrats. I've got to start mine. You'll get forms for that too."
"Already have," he said happily. "That's why Don's already drug me to the IRS so they can keep a running file like they did in New York. I went to the same guy after I got done with the sale of stuff for Tumie too. He has a copy of the release and this account's number in case it's needed for documentation."
"Good. Well done, Xander," Steve praised. "Now maybe some day I'll have you up to dealing with your investments."
"Sorry. I know you hate it. Miss Gold, he should have brought you in a few inch thick stack of papers. We'll decide where everything goes from there."
"Of course, Mr. Ellison, and please call me Marty."
"Call me Steve then. I foresee many calls between us in the next few days." She laughed at that. "It's been a mess since I first met Xander. He likes to diversify accounts by reasons he got them."
"It worked for me," Xander said, starting to pout again.
"Some people do that but mostly they put those into CD's around here and let them roll over until they're ready to deal with them."
"Like music?" Xander asked hesitantly.
"Not quite, Xander," she offered. Steve chuckled at that. "It's a short term, locked investment account."
"You lost me at my name, Miss Gold. That's why I have Steve and Danny."
"All right then. Let us work this out and you come back in an hour?" He nodded eagerly and left. She sighed. "He's so young."
"He is but he'll be like this his whole life," Steve assured her. "He'll be a hundred and taken by some rich, bored guy probably."
"Poor man. Too bad they can't fix his hormones for him." She got to work with him, sorting out the piles into various banks. "This small one...."
"It's a private bank and very small," Steve agreed. "He started out there and one in Sunnydale."
"I see that one too. It's got the nicest, easiest balance of all of them."
"I've seen that. That's from where he left to go on his road trip, where this ability was found out for him. Since then he's been stolen a number of times by people who wanted him to be their concubine."
"Poor man. That's a horrible life."
"It's got its compensations," he pointed out. He drank something. "Sorry, morning out here."
"I understand. He said you were in Washington state?"
"Cascade. I do this for him as a private matter. He's a friend of a friend and I'm running a race track out here."
"From Harvard," he agreed. "That's why they suggested me." He snorted. "Sorry. It's winter here too." She giggled. "I'll have to come visit him soon to get a vacation."
"A lot of people do come to Miami for that purpose, Steve." She got to work typing in names to see if they could do direct moves. "Well, all but one of them we can do a direct move from. That one in Sunnydale's not on the same system. They might charge him a fee for doing an electronic transfer between us."
"I'm on his account there too. I can handle that later and have it sent as a check otherwise."
Xander walked in with a stack of pizza boxes, letting the door guard have one with a smile while he was signed in. "I need a cuddle," he told the receptionist. "I hate dealing with banking stuff."
"No, they've got to move my stuff from New York and it's like the military moving a whole company of people at this point." She smiled and paged someone to come get him. "Want some?"
"No thank you, Xander. I just had lunch." He nodded and gave Calleigh a weak smile when she came over. "He's had banking issues all morning."
"You poor thing. The bad side of GHS?" she teased.
He nodded. "Moving the safety deposit boxes is looking like the Marines moving a company of troops at the moment. Can I have a cuddle?"
"Sure. We'll all come eat. We're having a slower day today." She led him to the break room and got everyone else notified, then sat down to let him cuddle her until Danny came in, then he slid into his lap to get real cuddles.
"I hate doing the banking stuff."
"As long as it all got settled today you shouldn't have to do it again."
"No, because when it comes in I've got to verify everything with the last statement and all the safety deposit boxes. That's going to take four trips because they scheduled them to come in on different days." Danny stroked his back under his hair. "Then she hinted that the ones with stones might have to be evaluated and counted too, which I'd have to be there for."
"It's a security precaution," Danny reminded him gently. Xander nodded and gave him a squeeze. "Let me eat then I'll cuddle some more." Xander slid off his lap and let him have some food too.
"I was going to ask if the dog died," Frank said as he quit hovering in the doorway. "Everything okay?"
"I made him move his accounts down from New York finally and he's got *days* of dealing with the bank," Danny told him, handing over the box, getting a smile for it. Xander nodded he was right. "He'll be fine, he's pouty at the moment. He's got a very good financial person watching over his stuff for him."
"Steve didn't like the other safety deposit boxes either," Xander told him. "Especially not from the demon bank."
"They have their own banks?" Calleigh asked. He nodded. "Do they run on different money?"
He looked at her and shook his head. "No." She shuddered. "Mostly they live on their debit cards. Less chance of leaving residue behind."
"Good to know," Frank agreed, eating another bite. "How much are we talking?"
Danny looked at him. "I lost count months ago, Frank."
Xander got up to whisper in his ear, making poor Frank choke. "That much. Plus the safety deposit boxes." He sat down again. Speed strolled in. "Second box down is the veggie one."
"Thanks." He popped open that box and made three plates. "Ryan's in and begging pitifully too." He went to deliver them and brought his back. "Horatio said I'm going Christmas shopping with you?"
"No, I'm going shopping with you," Xander countered. "He said you were thinking about something very special and I have good taste in that area, plus you won't be alone." Speed raised an eyebrow and Xander glanced at his bracelet. Speed nodded at that. "He said so."
"That's fine. We can go on my next day off, Xander. How did the bank thing go?"
"He came in and said he needed cuddles," Calleigh told him. "Told the receptionist that too." Xander nodded and pouted.
"Feel lucky you've got Steve," Danny told him. "Or else you'd have to do this on your own."
"None of the others do."
"True, the higher ones don't deal well with mundane things," Speed reminded him. He shrugged at the dirty look. "I'm impressed that he pays the bills."
"We have it marked on the calender to sit him down and make him."
Speed laughed. "Have fun with that. Really." He stuffed his mouth at Danny's scowl.
Xander looked at Danny. "Can't you do that for me?" he begged. "Please?"
"The bills aren't that bad," Danny said firmly. Xander gave him the most powerful puppy eyes he could and he felt himself crack. It was so pitiful. Xander even added a whimper. "We'll set it up online so it pays it automatically."
"I did that with my credit cards. Doesn't mean I still don't have to deal with everything," he complained, putting his head down on the table. "Speed, tell him it's not natural for me to have to do that stuff?"
"It's not," Speed admitted. "GHS members with money often go on spending sprees."
"Yeah, we've had to clean out his closet once already."
"I donated them," he defended.
"You did and I'm proud of you," Don agreed as he came in. "Bank that bad?" Xander nodded, giving him the puppy eyes. "It'll simplify things." Xander shook his head. "No?"
"No. It's like moving a platoon company for each and every safety deposit box. Since there's ten in the demon bank, the big, major one in New York, plus the smaller one with the paperwork, plus coordinating all the accounts? I should camp down there."
"I'd miss cuddles during ER." He sat down and got his own pizza. Calleigh nodded so they changed places, letting Xander lean against his side. "It's all right, Xander. I promise it'll be okay. That's why we got you Steve."
"They started to babble in strange languages about investments," he said with a frown. "Made my head hurt. I don't speak that language. Demon ones and Latin ones, important ones, not IRS's or whatever and music that's not music, and long term stuff."
"Shh," Danny ordered, patting him on the back. "It'll be fine. Steve deals with that."
"He tried to babble that language at me too," he defended. "I gave up."
"I know you did," Danny soothed, stroking his back. "We'll figure it out this month. It'll still be easier." Xander gave him a look. "It will and then we'll know exactly what you have, Xander."
"Probably true," Frank agreed. "What about all the stuff you brought back last time?"
"In the bags for the most part but they're hidden inside one of them," Danny said quietly, making him smile. "It's fine. He's just feeling pitiful."
"That's why I balance our checkbooks too," Speed agreed. "That gives Horatio a headache too." Xander perked up. "Don't you dare." He slumped down again. "Thank you for stopping that idea immediately." He finished his first slice of pizza, smiling when Ray came in with Yelina, chattering happily at each other. "Xander brought food."
"Thanks, buddy, I owe you a foot rub." He grabbed his and Yelina grabbed hers, then they left again.
Xander looked at Speed. "Tell Ryan to go riding."
"I can do that," he agreed, texting that to Horatio, who he could hear laughing up the hallway.
Ryan came in and hugged Xander. "It's a good suggestion. Thank you, dear."
"Did you eat?"
"Too tired to eat. Bank stuff and foreign languages." He scowled. "Even Steve tried to babble at me in that foreign language."
"I know." He grabbed his food and let Horatio get more for himself if he wanted. "Thanks, guys. I'm going to visit my horse."
"Say hi to Jace."
"He ended up here," he said with a wink. "She doesn't upkeep the stable anymore." He headed out to his car, waving at a few guys. "I'm fine and they still won't let me back," he complained at one amused look. "I'm going to visit my horse." He headed out, he hadn't seen his horse in a week. Fortunately he was in a good stable for the moment. Maybe he'd come get Xander tomorrow. It'd give him something to do. Maybe Danny too. They had rental horses there.
Ten days later Xander flopped down and looked at his keeper, upping the pitiful. "They need me to stand there while they do the appraisal. It's going to take *four days*," he whined. "Danny," he whimpered.
Danny held out a hand. "Who do you want to do it? I'll let them come do the ones from here too." Xander dug out the card and handed it over with a hug. "You're welcome." Xander's kiss showed he'd make it up to him later. He got up and headed out, going to the bank. He signed in and put down who to see. He had heard Xander come home limp and moaning her name a few times. She came out, smiling at him. He shook her hand. "Danny Messer. I'm here for Mr. Harris."
"Why? We really do need him, sir."
"I'm on his accounts and you guys are giving him a headache with your strange financial language." He handed over the card. "He likes these guys at the moment if you wanted to use them for valuation."
"Of course." She led him into her office to call them and make sure he was on the account. "He said you were the boyfriend with extra privileges."
"Mostly," he agreed. "I'm also with the Crime Lab. Even balancing his checkbook gives him a headache some months."
"That's why we give the forms," she said wisely.
"Yeah, he looked at it then gave Don this really confused look. Money management is not a skill Xander has or probably ever will have. We're doing good the months we get him to pay the bills." She nodded at that. "Heard more about us?"
"Tracked down some rumors. Most of you have people who handle those things. You do know you could hire an accountant locally?"
"He had one of those thoughts but then Steve warned us they'd be insane with how Xander does things. He lives off the ready cash principle."
"I've noticed." Someone came in with a case and a bright smile. "Our jeweler?"
"I am. And this is?"
"Danny Messer. Let me guess, you saw Ryan? Just darker hair, muscled and less bouncy?" He nodded. "He and Xander are best friends. He's off today if you wanted him. You saw him the day after he got shot in the arm."
"I wouldn't mind. Whatever makes your family feel more comfortable." He smiled. "What are we doing an evaluation on today?"
"The bank should've sent up the main box's content list," Danny offered. "Don said they handed over one."
"They did. There's a few others however." She looked at him. "You've worked with people like Mr. Harris in the past?"
"Oh, yes," he agreed dryly. "And Mr. Harris when he decided he'd had enough of some things lying around."
"We made him clean up the mess," Danny agreed. He looked at her. "Shall we? Because even I don't know some of it. Some of it's before Xander and I got together."
"That's fine." She took everything in the file back with them. The jeweler moaned at the sight. "I know you'll charge him a fee."
"How much?" Danny asked.
"Um..." She opened the other boxes and laid them out, then the larger one got put onto the floor next to him. "It's going to take me many hours to do this. Why are the lesser ones separated out?"
"They're by source. That's how Xander did that," Danny offered. "Take two, he won't mind." The jeweler smiled. "Any two from the bigger box but the emerald with the blade of grass? He liked that one."
"Of course. That's a wonderful exchange, thank you, sir." He shook his hand. "If I can get a stool?" She nodded, going to get him one. He settled in to do the lesser boxes first, pen and magnifying scope ready to do the work. This was going to take him weeks to quit drooling over. But now he knew who to go to if he ever needed raw jewels for a special order.
Danny presented Xander with the forms from the bank. "Sign, date, and then thank me. I gave him any two stones but the emerald with the blade of grass for doing it."
Xander took Don's pen from his jacket pocket to sign them, then looked at him. "What is today?"
"Thursday," Don said sleepily. He yawned again.
"The sixteenth," Danny said patiently. Xander handed over each one as he got it done. Danny signed most of them, Don sighed a few when he nudged him. Then Xander hugged him with the last one, and a kiss too. "Good boy." He grinned. "Now, we're going to put Ryan on the account?"
"I thought he was on the main one."
"Okay, she mentioned needing handwriting samples from us."
Xander shrugged. "Okay. Ask."
"I'll do that." He headed back out. He was even borrowing the corvette for this. Xander had handed over the keys without question. On the way he called Ryan. "Meet me at the bank. Yes, you, dumbass. Because he put you on the accounts and they need signature stuff. So tie him to the fence and you can have him back in an hour, Wolfe." He hung up rolling his eyes. He parked and walked inside, smiling at the banker that came out to meet him. "I made Ryan give up his horse for an hour too." She smiled at that. Ryan bounced in a few minutes later. "Good ride?"
"Great ride." He smiled and shook her hand. "Hi, Ryan Wolfe."
"Welcome to the bank, Mr. Wolfe. Mr. Harris has put you on his accounts and we need some signature cards done plus to see some ID."
"Sure." He handed over his PD ID and driver's license, then followed Danny to handle the rest. "I'm on the account?"
"In case something happens and we can't deal with it," Danny agreed. "He's still sulking with the headache he got from the strange financial language she used on him."
Ryan grinned. "It happens to the best of us." He signed where she indicated, making her smile. He punched Danny on the arm. "Let me go put up my horse, then I've got dinner with Eric tonight."
"That's fine. I've got two sleepy GHS members at home. Call later if you get bored."
"Sure." He shook her hand and hurried off again. It wasn't right to make anyone take care of his horse for him if he had been riding her.
Danny handed over the papers. "All yours."
"Thank you." She looked them over, nodding at them, signing where she needed to. "That's all we should need." He put his card, Don's card, and Ryan's card down, making her smile. "I'll call you first next time, Mr. Messer."
"Thanks. It'll save me the pouting. He been good with his account over the last few days?"
"There was one withdrawal but he said something about shopping." She shrugged. "I'm not sure."
"That's fine," he agreed. "I can make him clean his closet again." She laughed and shook his hand so he left, heading home. It was a good day for a nap. He laid down on Xander's other side and used his shoulder as a pillow, making Xander smile in his sleep and the dog give him a long look before putting his head back down.
Speed opened the card that had been put into his locker, frowning at the familiar handwriting. 'I don't want him, he's yours, but you've got to make some plans and the city doesn't pay you what you're worth. Take it and make future plans in case you've got to retire suddenly or something.' He looked around, then broke out in swears. He didn't even look at the check. Eric came in and he stuffed it into his pocket, heading out with a nod for him.
Eric looked at the check that had fallen out of Speed's pocket, blinking at the size of it. "Why would Speed have a check for that much?" he asked quietly. He started to call Horatio but then hung up before he could answer and called Calleigh instead. Horatio would think it was a finger slip. She walked into the locker room a minute later looking confused. He held it up. "This fell out of Speed's pocket."
She took it to look over, only touching the corners. "I know that handwriting. Do we think this is an attempt to separate them?"
"I'd hope not, but that's still eighty grand, Calleigh."
"It is." She frowned. "I swear I know that handwriting." She looked up when the door opened and Valera walked in. "Is Speed still here?"
"Rode off on his bike." She looked then gaped. "Damn!"
"We're not sure if it's someone trying to take Horatio or not," Calleigh said, looking worried. "Eric said it fell out of Speed's pocket."
"We should tell Horatio," Valera told them. "That way he's on guard and he can figure out where Speed went." They nodded and Eric took it back, sliding it into a bag so he could carry it upstairs. She and Calleigh shared a look. They hoped it wasn't something bad. They'd do horribly if they lost Horatio or Speed.
Eric tapped on Horatio's door. "Do you have a few?"
"Only if you make Stetler go away," he said dryly.
Eric looked at him. "Can I please have a few minutes? It's a personal issue with my sister." The man huffed but walked off. Eric locked the door and came over, putting it in front of Horatio. "It fell out of Speed's pocket," he said quietly. "I saw it. I told Calleigh. Valera saw it too." Horatio looked at him. "We're worried it's someone who's trying to take you."
Horatio called Speed's phone, getting him. "Come back to the office. Because you dropped something, Speed. Eric picked it up. Calleigh and Valera." He listened, then shook his head. "I'll straighten him out. Thank you. Come here anyway." He hung up and looked at him. "Xander." Eric relaxed. "Thank you for worrying though."
"I saw that guy watching you earlier, H. Of course we're worried."
"The one in the bowler? You didn't see him?"
"I got a picture of him. I'll print it off." He hurried off, passing Speed. "It dropped out of your pocket."
"Xander decided we needed a retirement fund."
Eric pulled him closer. "Those are called emergency plans," he said quietly. "They're important, Speed. Especially if you end up like us. Or if someone comes after him. Because I found someone watching him earlier." He let him go. "That worried us. I thought it was the guy in the bowler hat."
"Got a picture?" he asked patiently.
"Yeah. I'm going to print it now. Remember, Xander's trying to be sweet and nice. He's being helpful. Like taking Aiden shopping." He walked off, going to print that picture off.
Speed walked into the office, looking at him. "I was going to yell at him."
"We shouldn't. It's very sweet of him," he said quietly. "He's trying to watch out for us, Speed. Especially if something happens and we end up not taking *them* off for a few years." Speed sighed and slumped down, watching him. "It's not necessary and I'll remind him of that."
"He'll pout you into it," Speed noted dryly.
"Probably true," he agreed, smiling a bit. "It's generous of him, Speed. He knows he can't buy our affection or anything. He doesn't want me." Speed handed over the card, making Horatio smile. "See, I told you so. If something happened to either of us, the trio would watch over the one of us not in the hospital. Nothing further. To them we're like family. You're supposed to take care of family." Eric came back and he took the picture to look at. "He looks familiar." He handed it to Speed, who frowned at it. "Where do I know him?"
"He's a New Yorker. I know we ran into him professionally right after I started." He got up and faxed it to the labs up there. Then he called Stella. "It's Speed. Look at the picture I just faxed you. He was watching Horatio at a scene today and I'm pretty sure he's yours." He waited while she went to get it, pacing. "Want Danny back?" he teased at her complaints when a tech stopped her. "They're probably napping." He stiffened. "You're sure? Thanks. Yeah, go ahead. No, minor things like Xander being sweet and hyping the retirement fund." He smiled. "Thank you, Stella." He hung up. "He's a prosecutor." Horatio gave him a look. "She said he had asked Mac about the cases we've worked with them on."
"I'll check into it, Speed. Don't worry about it." He stood up. "Eric, go home."
"Heading. If he comes, let us know, Horatio. We will defend you like you do us." He walked out.
"Let's go see the boys," Horatio said with a fond smile. Speed took the check back and the card, walking out with him. "You're leaving early tonight. Big plans?"
"I had plans for a surprise," he admitted. "After dark." He held the elevator door for him. "Xander's for dinner?"
"Definitely." They headed out together, going with Alexx since she was heading that way. Horatio got them into the gate, watching Speed rush off in another direction. He smiled at Alexx when she gave him a quizzical look. "He has a surprise planned for later." He walked inside and stopped her. "Boys?" he called. It was silent, that wasn't like them. He walked in further. "Spot?" He trotted over. "Alexx, let's search for the boys." Spot led him back to the couch. He found them asleep. "Can you check them? Let me open windows." He opened the sliding door and the windows behind the ferret cages, reaching in to check them. George woke up and looked at him, then Beauty glared after a few more pokes. He walked them out to the small cage in the grass Xander had set up using an upside down playpen. Spot flopped down in the grass too. "Good boy. Watch the furry things." He went back inside. "Alexx?"
"I'm not sure, Horatio. They won't wake up." They shared a look. Then they heard a bike pull in. "That was fast."
"He was planning something last night. Speed?" He came in and coughed. "Open more windows." He looked at Alexx. "Should we call someone?"
"We should." She did that while he went to make sure nothing gas was on. She went to let them in when they buzzed. "In here, boys. They won't wake up and we're not sure why."
"There's been two of these recently," one of the paramedics said respectfully. "Awww." She swatted him and scowled. "They are cute."
"They're adorable but we're not sure if they're victims or not."
"Check the air conditioner, Lieutenant. We've had two similar calls recently." He went to do that, making a call to get someone to take the tank off the air intake. They administered oxygen, making Danny cough. Xander moaned and weakly swatted at them. Don pulled Xander closer to cuddle him. They smiled at that and got the oxygen mask on him too. "Let's get them onto the lawn as well." She nodded, going to set up seats. The dog didn't get in the way. He stared at them and barked when Danny moaned. "He's a good dog."
"He is," she agreed. "Xander's done a good job training him."
"Xander? The one who the PD was warned about moving in?" the other one asked. She pointed at him. "Wow. Hopefully this isn't about that." He got them all arranged and took their vitals again. "They're coming around. What sort of gas was it?" he asked when Horatio came back.
"Then they'll be fine. I'd expect some mild dizziness. Did you want them to go?"
"Whatever you think is best," Horatio offered. He nodded Eric around the house. "Air conditioning unit. Not the first apparently."
"News to me." He went to unhook the tank and bag it. Ryan came running around the house. "They're fine."
"I saw. I also heard a rumor but no homicides so they're calling non-felony about it." Eric let him see how it had been connected. He took a picture and sent it to the tech he had heard the rumor from, getting a 'let me check'. A few minutes later he got a yes. "Yeah, the same way. They'll be right here. It's been with Robbery."
"How would we tell?" Eric asked. Ryan gave him a look. "Fine, you go tell." Ryan nodded, heading inside with the CSI they let in. Eric shook his head. At least Ryan had found a family that loved him for the odd brat he could be. He and Xander were definitely cute together. Especially since Ryan let Xander play weak and helpless more often than Danny did. He handed over the bag when the CSI came out. "Let me finish this coupling."
"Sure." She pulled out her fingerprint gear. "Just in case."
"Good luck. Let us know, okay? They're friends."
"I've heard about Xander. I've also seen the memo about things that we're not allowed to let Danny have and bring home to him." That got a smile and Eric left it to her. She looked around then shook her head. She didn't understand all the fuss over this one person. Ryan came back with a sword. "Feeling macho?" she teased.
"Sometimes it's necessary around here. Let me know, okay?"
"Of course." She made a shooing motion. "Go watch them nap it off." He went that way. She pointed at the case when Horatio carried a tape out. "Security?"
"Yes. It's been necessary in the past."
"What is the big deal about this guy?" she asked.
"You remember the convention a few months back?" She grimaced and nodded. "Xander's a member of them."
"I heard that."
"They have a unique hormone and pheromone combination that makes them, basically, like a dog in heat. Many people can't control their urges around them thanks to that."
"Sounds like a good reason to take the stuff on the list to me," she said dryly, getting back to work.
"It's dangerous and it can lead to death. Mr. Harris took some by accident and lost fifteen pounds over two weeks," he said quietly. She shuddered. "We've also had numerous kidnaping attempts."
"Why is he allowed out of the house?"
"That's why he gives Don Flack free rent, to protect him."
"I feel sorry for the guy since he obviously can't control it but I wish him luck learning to control it."
She shook her head. "Then I hope medical science can help him." She finished looking for prints, shaking her head. "Not even a smudge."
"Gloves then. Maybe you'll get something off that. Keep me informed."
"Yes, sir. Did you check the records in the office?"
"I'm sure Mr. Wolfe did." He went back to help. The paramedics had decided to leave them there as long as Alexx or someone watched them. "Are we leaving them here?"
"The house is fully aired out and Eric borrowed a meter to check. It's safe for them to be here," Alexx offered.
"Ryan and I are staying the night, H," Eric assured him. "He's in a strange cuddling mood anyway."
"That's fine," Horatio agreed, smiling at them. "I think Speed wanted to do something."
"He's in the kitchen." Ryan looked over from where he was cuddling Xander, then glared at Eric. "Cuddles are good after you nearly get killed."
"It was too little to do that. Just enough to incapacitate. They would've woken sooner if it hadn't been ongoing." He shrugged. "They put a bigger tank on this one than they did the last house."
"That's fine. Keep me informed, boys." He looked down at his detective, who gave him a weak grin. "Rest tonight, Don."
"Will. Go play with your husband." Horatio smiled at that.
"He's right, go play with Speed. Speed's bouncy and needing you," Xander agreed.
"Fine, but we will be talking. We didn't need it."
Xander looked at him. "Did you think I do?" He shrugged. "I can shit on that much, Horatio. That's like me buying you lunch. Argue and I'll pout." Horatio walked off laughing at that. "It is," he told Don.
"You did what?"
"Sent them a card with enough to start emergency plan funds."
"That's reasonable and nice," Don agreed, kissing him. Ryan kissed Don on the forehead. "I'm fine."
"I know you are but you could use it too." He looked at the ferrets, who had tired of trying to dig their way out and were now napping. "We should get them some water and things."
"They tip over the water then play in the mud," Xander told him. "We can stay at a hotel tonight if it'd make you guys more comfy."
"No it'll be fine," Danny assured him. "Give it another hour, Xander."
"Okay." He snuggled back into Ryan and Don, then reached over and yanked on Danny until he flopped on top of them, sighing in pleasure. "Better." Eric and Alexx both laughed at that. "I like cuddles," he defended, but he was grinning.
Speed looked over when Horatio walked in. "Put on the clothes in the bag."
"Why? Somewhere special?"
"Put them on and find out." He took a kiss and finished dishing up the food he was making. "Now, before I spank." Horatio went to get the bag with a small smile for that. "Not that you don't need one," he muttered. He scraped the pan and put the food aside. "Eric, food," he called, washing his hands. Horatio walked past him with the bag he had packed last night. He went out to his bike, going to check it over while his mate changed. Horatio came out a few minutes later in jeans and one of his mate's t-shirts, making Speed smile. "I like you in that. Come on." He put on his helmet and Horatio came over to grab his. It wasn't often they got to go for a ride but it was going to be dark within the next few minutes and no one would know it was him. That was the bad thing about working for the PD, the secrets they had to keep from everyone. Horatio grabbed his own helmet and slid on behind him, wrapping his arms around Speed's chest. He patted one before taking off, heading down to ride beside the ocean. He had given Don his route for long, romantic rides and it this was Horatio's favorite. He heard the moan behind him and felt the shifting. "Let it go," he ordered. "I mean it."
Horatio shifted his hips, the vibration of the bike, the pulse of the engine, getting to him. His hands started to clutch less and stroke more, making them both happy. He relaxed and let Speed take full control of everything for the night. Nights that started out with a long ride usually ended up with him spoiled and pampered the next day for the soreness. Good soreness but still soreness. He glanced behind them and smiled. "Are we speeding already?" he teased, pinching Speed's stomach.
"Not yet I'm not. I should lose them." He smiled when he felt Horatio's body shift against his backside, feeling how happy he was. "Or I could just do something else," he noted, finding a good spot and pulling over. He turned and took off his helmet, kissing his mate's neck. "Leave the helmet on," he whispered. Horatio moaned and nodded. The officers got out to come over. "Problems? Since I know I wasn't speeding for a change?"
"Sir, you can't fornicate in public like this."
Speed looked at him. "I'm not. If I was fornicating in public he'd be bent over and I'd be behind him, already inside him, and making him scream as I revved the engine. Then again, with the price of gas, the bike might be off.... No, he's worth more than a new tank of gas. See, this is public groping. If I slip my hands down lower," he said, letting them move from Horatio's sides down to his thighs, "like this, it's public petting. Even if I tipped him back and went down on him it's not public fornication, it's a public blow job. Anything else?" he asked patiently. The officers just stared at him in shock. He grinned. The passenger walked back shaking his head. He looked at the driving officer. "You?"
"I know you're a cop, sir. Which one?"
"Speedle, with the lab. I thought all you guys knew my bike because you liked to taunt my boss that you gave me another ticket." Horatio moaned so he moved his hands to untuck the t-shirt.
"Oh, we knew, sir, but we didn't know you did men."
"Why would it matter to you?"
"Well, doesn't really," he decided at the next moan, going back to his car and going off. He'd tell his boss about this so he could chew Speed's boss a new on in the morning. He looked in the mirror, the other guy was taking off his helmet and they were kissing. He whimpered. Never mind. There was only one guy on the force who had that hair. His boss already knew and he knew not to say anything now.
Horatio took off his helmet as soon as it was safer and kissed him. "Next time, take the ticket and have it fixed."
"They'd take my license with the next one." He let his hands drift under the shirt, teasing his mate. "Besides, their definition was wrong. I was educating them. The Chief wanted us to do more public education events." He took another kiss and grinned. Horatio pounced, making him a happy spouse. "Let me get us somewhere more private, unless you want the houses across the street to tape this time too." Horatio shook his head and got off him. Speed turned around and Horatio clung to his back, letting him drive them to a place where some boulders had been moved onto the beach for shade and to break the beach's line. The advantage of going here on a bike meant that they could get between the rocks and play in there. And yes, the waste of gas was appreciated when Horatio was begging and pleading into the gas tank. As was the small velco opening he had sewn into the back of these jeans for the sole purpose of having sex on the bike.
Xander woke up to a messenger demon and glared. "What?" The letter was held out. "Thanks. Wait for a response." He opened it and looked then groaned. "No, it wasn't a matter of needing the money." He found a pen and wrote that on there, then handed it back. "Thank you. To whoever wrote that." It nodded and disappeared. Don made an inquisitive noise. "One of them wanted to know if I needed more money. The moving and selling said that to them."
"Too much stuff in the house, not too little money. Big difference." He pulled him back against his chest and Xander clung to him, making him happy. "Can I have my morning blow now so I can go back to sleep?"
Xander looked at the alarm. "Sure, baby." He went down to do that, making Don sigh in pleasure and drift off once he came. Xander went back to his cuddling, making Don smile in his sleep. Danny looked over at him. "Need one?"
"No, I can drift off again without the helping mouth treatment. Want to cuddle me?" Xander shifted over, getting Danny's back, making him smile. "Thanks, Xander." Don flipped over after patting the cooling spot on the bed, holding them both. "I swear he grows gorilla arms at night," he joked quietly, making Xander smile. "It'll be fine. We can protest this one."
"I was more worried about whoever used the gas. Were they already here?"
"Not without the dog eating them. You've got to remember to turn on the security system." He stroked his hand.
"I did but there's a hole in the security. It doesn't cover the edge of the cliff beside the beach. You can come up the stairs and cross over too easily."
"Then you'll tell the company that tomorrow and see what they can do."
"I have, they said all they could do was a camera there." He shrugged. "I like our privacy more than that. Oh, and I think someone there taped it the last time you pounced me on the lawn."
"I'll check in the morning," Danny promised, making Xander relax. "Any other worries?"
"What happens when one of us has to change lives?" he asked quietly. Danny flipped over to look at him. "If it's one of you two, you'll have to leave. We're too close to the station."
Danny stroked his cheek. "As long as it's not televised, we can probably stay in the city. I know some immies who never leave New York. I was one for the last two lifetimes," he said quietly. "There's colleges down here. If it's me I'll go. If it's you two, you'll go." Xander shuddered. "Or something," he offered. Xander nodded. "We'll work that out when and if it happens but we're not going to abandon you."
"I know you'll want to leave some year."
"Yeah, but we'll be open about it. We'll be close by. Most likely one of us will have to go and you'll get Ryan for a bit. There's no way you're going to be abandoned totally by us, Xander. You can't be. We'd never manage to rescue you." Xander blushed at that, he could feel it. He kissed him and got a smile back. "Ease that one some?" Xander nodded. "Good. Now, it's time to sleep. Horatio won't be cranky in the morning but I've still got to work." Xander snuggled in, letting Danny and Don both hold him for a bit, falling asleep that way. Danny looked over at Don, seeing him half-awake. "It's a worry."
"It is," he agreed quietly, shifting closer behind Xander. "Even if I'm not right there with him I'm not going to be that far away."
"Me either probably. Ryan either." He shrugged. "We'll work it out when it happens. Maybe he'll end up finding someone he wants to date and we'll back off slowly then. Be within a few hours of him and well within nagging distance." Don smiled at that. "It'll be fine, Don. I promise. He's the most reclusive of all of us."
"He still shops."
"Yeah but he also knows the demonic places where he can safely go openly. They don't question anything." Don nodded, shifting some against Xander's back, making him moan. "Let him sleep."
"I am." He stroked Xander's stomach, making him purr, but drift deeper again. "As long as we won't have to abandon him."
"We won't abandon him. Or you, Don." Don nodded and closed his eyes. Danny smiled once they were both asleep. His boys were insecure sometimes but they'd learn that he wasn't like that. He didn't abandon people, especially not those close to him.
Eric and Ryan looked at each other. "At least they worked that out," Eric offered.
"I'm still being realistic, Eric."
"I know and that's one of the things I like about you, Ryan."
Ryan grinned and snuggled closer. "Then again, we're tight enough that we're never going to be that far from each other."
"True. "So, if something happens, you're going to take their spot?"
"Yup." He looked at him. "You can hang around too."
"Oh, I will be," he assured him. "What happened to H and Speed?" Ryan ran a hand around his throat, making him shiver. "I noticed the tattoo on Speed's neck earlier. Who?"
"Aphrodite. Until they take them off, they're staying around," he said quietly. "I'm not sure if they've got any restrictions like we do."
"They can probably be killed the normal ways," Eric said thoughtfully. "I know Speed's been thoughtful recently."
"Well, it was a hard sell," Ryan admitted. "We need them to straighten the rest of this insanity out. They're family."
"You'll still lose family," Eric reminded him gently, for him.
Ryan looked up at him. "Most likely I'll lose you too."
"It could happen but you're still pretty new."
"Eric, I spent two years with Ares' favorite teachers and working with Xander. I'm a bit better than I was when we left."
Eric stroked over the small tattoo on Ryan's shoulder. "I can tell that but you still haven't sparred with me."
"Eric, I don't want to slip and have your quickening nag me for all eternity," he said dryly, making his boyfriend laugh and hug him. "Seriously."
"Have you taken your first head?"
"I've taken my first few lives," Ryan admitted quietly. "There was a battle to take the city. The first day they tried a frontal assault and we drove them off. I was in the middle of that." He looked into his eyes again. "The second day, I had Xander go make them beg to be his to spare the fighters."
"You led it?"
"No, I led my section," he said honestly. "The high priests of Ares led it." That got a squeeze. "I'm fine. I've already rationalized that. It's not like I'm going to suddenly become a hunter and go out looking for heads. I don't want someone's head. If they attack me they're toast, but I'm not going to jump anyone unless they're a danger to us and others."
"That's a good viewpoint." He stroked over Ryan's hair. "Why didn't you come home with princess hair?"
"I trimmed my hair," he said firmly. "Long hair is a problem in a fight. Unless you do what Xander does and braid small wires into it so whoever grabs it gets cut all to hell."
"Yeah, that stretchy cord with the strings? Those are very sharp little wires. He usually does a middle-of-the-head ponytail and then braids it with the wires. They hurt like hell and even leather isn't always a help when you're working with them. He knows how to use it in battle too. Then again, that battle we set him on the parapet and let him ooze down at them, then shocked them with hot oil. It worked really well and that king didn't want his son back when he started to rave about Xander's hair. Then the king met Xander and tried to spoil him rotten to come home. He'd learn the kingdom as the king's consort and then as the son's so he had a stable influence that could beat the crap out of him." Eric laughed at that. "Seriously. It worked too." Someone pushed open the door and padded in, snuggling against Eric's back. "Hi, Don." Don grunted and got comfortable. "Did Xander start to nibble again?" he teased. Don nodded. "Xander's got this one dream that makes him nibble and suck in his sleep," he explained. Eric just smiled at that. "I've woken up a few times with marks. Horatio did one morning and swatted the hell out of him for it." He shrugged and snuggled in deeper. "Are we on tomorrow?"
"Crime never stops."
"Doesn't mean one of us doesn't have it off."
"Not me," Eric said dryly. "Not you either. Your next day off is next week."
"Fine. I still think I could've come back after a few days to do lab work."
"With the injury they saw, not a chance," he said patiently. "Even though you heal faster it's still not allowed." Ryan nodded and got comfortable. Eric smiled when he heard the quiet snores on each side of him, shaking his head. Danny came to the door so he nodded behind him.
"Yeah, Xander and his food dream," he agreed. "The dog's got him." He crawled in behind Ryan's back. "Night."
"Night," he said, grinning a bit. He hadn't been in a bed with three other people in a long time, and the last time had definitely been for sex.
Horatio smiled as his team wandered in the next morning. "Did we have a long night?"
Don gave him a look. "Not really. We had to run from Xander's food dream again." Horatio coughed at that, shaking his head. "Figured you had seen that one at least once," he agreed, shrugging. "We all went to sleep next to the big, protective one." Ryan shrugged and headed to grab his things.
"It was something that the dog got cuddled for," Danny agreed as he came in. Frank gave him an odd look. "Xander has this dream where he's hungry so he nibbles on whoever's next to him."
"I had some spectacular hickeys when they had us all the last time," Ryan agreed. "And the time before then." Frank shuddered at that. "It's cute, I think he's having dreams about being a vampire. He always went for my neck veins." He gave Frank an amused look. "He's always sheepish in the morning. Hopefully the dog doesn't have a bruised ear from him."
"The dog lapped him and he quit," Danny assured him. "I've seen him do it before. Speaking of dogs, Don. Your puppy and his balls have got to part ways."
Don flinched and shuddered. "Why?"
"Because that's how we don't end up with puppies to give away," Danny said firmly. "Besides, it'll help that humping problem he's got with the bed." He headed off to his work.
Don pouted. "Isn't there a better way?"
"Ask a vet," Frank told him. "It's not like it hurts him."
"He'll be offended."
"He won't be, I promise," Horatio assured him. "Unless you plan on breeding him?" Don shook his head. "Are you sure?"
"Very." He called home. "Xander, can you look up vets who fix dogs?" He looked at the phone then hung it up. "He said no." Horatio moaned.
"Oz's horse," Ray muttered as he came over, shaking his head. Eric laughed and Don looked confused. He glanced around. "Oz kept a horse of his original one's line for nearly ten centuries," he said quietly. "It's the same thing. Generations of the same beasts. Are the ferrets fixed?"
"I don't know," Don admitted.
"Might wanna find out." He went to his desk and found the note on his monitor. "What the hell!"
"Computer services came to help the guy last night. Your monitor blew," Frank explained. "I was finishing up before going home. He used the USB slot on the side and it did explode."
"Then he should have to buy a new one," he complained, glaring at his system. "How am I supposed ta do the paperwork?"
"Not a clue," Frank admitted. Horatio walked off shaking his head. "Hey, Horatio, anything yet on my case?"
"I'm still trying, Frank. I'm not forgetting you."
"Thank you." He sat down then looked at the pouting guy. "When I'm not here you can borrow mine."
"Thanks," he said, frowning at his system. "I should call and chew him a new one. There's no reason to put a USB card on these systems." Frank gave him an odd look. "They're for transferring files. Little data devices. We beam to the PDAs we got given. No plugging needed."
"True," Frank agreed slowly. "Then why did he have one? New picture files for your wallpaper?"
"I don't know." He called computer services. "This is Kowalski in homicide. Yeah, that. Why did he have a USB device?" He listened. "No you're not supposed to be able to do that by what I was told. No, we're not supposed to be saving down files or anything either." Frank moaned so he looked at him. "Whatever. That's your job. When will I get a new monitor? Two weeks?" he shrieked. "How did you plan on doing my paperwork?" He smirked. "Yeah, that stuff. The rest of us have tons of it. Then go to the office place! Yes I'm serious! It'd be cheaper anyway!" He hung up on the laughter and put his head down, looking back at Frank. "Two weeks because they've got to have it delivered. They laughed at my idea."
"We'll manage. We did when the computers were down for four days after the last hurricane, Ray. Just hold on."
"I don't wanna hold on. I wanna do my own work." He smacked the monitor hard. Then he got up to go talk to their official supervisor, who didn't usually want to deal with them. "Yo, boss, we got an extra monitor around here?"
"Whoever had mine last night put a USB card into the slot and blew it up." He snorted at that. "The computer guys said it'll be two weeks."
"See if the lab has one. They've just done a monitor upgrade."
Ray went to talk to their AV tech. If anyone would know, he would. He leaned into AV. "Cooper, do you guys got any spare monitors? Mine blew up last night with the night guy and his USB card."
"I heard." He pointed in the corner. "It's smaller and older but it should be okay."
"Thanks, man." He grabbed it and headed back, hooking it up and turning on his system. It came up and he said a prayer for the kindness. Frank grinned at him. "Cooper had a spare."
"Good. That's always handy." He nodded. "Now you've got an error message."
Ray looked then thumped his head on the desk before calling computer services back. "It's Kowalski again. I found a lent monitor, now there's an error message? Yeah, that one." He hung up on the chuckling and called Cooper. "Can you please come help me? The chuckleheads down there are going to get my foot up their asses." He smiled. "Thank you, Cooper." He hung up and wrote a nice email to Horatio about how good his tech was and how nice and helpful. Cooper came over when he hit send. "Sorry, praising you."
"Not a problem," he said, restarting the system and getting into the setup to fix it. It came up to the login screen so he logged in and fixed the other problem he would probably be having. Then he smiled and reset his wallpaper to a group shot after the last convention. "You know Xander?"
"Yeah, my boyfriend's the national head," he said dryly, smirking at him.
"Ahhh. So one does call to the others?"
"Only in limited ways," Ray admitted with a grin. "Thank you, Cooper."
"Welcome, Ray. Let me know if you have more problems. The guys down there are paid by the hour. The rest of us are on salary so we don't get overtime." He patted him on the back and went back to his lab, finding Horatio looking amused. "Ray's computer."
"I heard," he assured him. "Thank you."
"Welcome but if we need the spare monitor it's on his desk."
"I'll make a note of that. How is my film looking?" he asked, following him. Frank really wanted this guy and he wanted him to be under the jail. Now if only they had better clues.
"I may have found a single frame of the person's head but it's seriously out of focus. I'm going to try to repixel it today." He let him into his lab, looking at what Ryan was looking at. "Which case is that?"
"The one where someone put a CO2 canister on Xander's A/C unit," he said, freezing it. "Ah, a picture and no masks." He grinned at Cooper. "Sometime today?" he asked hopefully.
"After I get done with Horatio's." Ryan smiled and punched him on the arm before leaving. "They did?"
"They did. There's been a group of home robberies using that same MO."
"That's fine. I can help with that. Is everyone okay?"
"It was lower levels thankfully. Everyone was asleep. I do hope we remembered to bring the ferrets in last night."
"I'm sure you did," Cooper told him. Then he looked at him. "You have pet ferrets?"
"No, Xander has Don's dog and two pet ferrets," he explained. "We went to have dinner with them last night."
"Oh. Sure. He seems like a ferret sort. You didn't." He got to work at the amused look the boss gave him. "Maybe a husky?"
"That'd be mean in the heat we have down here," Horatio said patiently. His phone rang and he looked at it. "Caine." He listened to Aiden. "They're fine. I'm sure they're fine, Aiden. Yes, someone checked on them this morning. Don and Danny both made it to work and Xander's grumpy about getting the dog fixed. I'm sure they're fine." He smiled. "That's fine. I could use some lunch. Of course." He hung up, watching the face be resolved. "That's their child, Cooper."
He looked at the other photos, then pointed at one. "By the other cameras, that child was in the living room playing Monopoly with the nanny."
"Interesting," he said, considering it. He walked off, going to do a birth records search. That was a very interesting fact. He called Frank. "The video did lead to one face not on the system. No, it looked like their daughter but at the same time she was in another room. No, I'm looking at ones where they were fraternal twins. Yes. I'm quite sure, Frank. No death record listed. We should go back there. Meet me at the house." He hung up and went to get his hummer from the parking lot.
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