A Bit of Traveling...
Tony looked up at the building in front of him, smiling. "It's a nice lab," he decided, heading inside. "Hi, I need to see Lieutenant Caine," he offered. "I'm Detective DiNozzo from Baltimore and he's expecting me?"
The receptionist logged him in and paged him. "He's at a scene right now but he'll send someone else down, Detective. If you'd like to sit?" She pointed at the seats.
"Sure." He sat down, smiling at the semi-hard benches. They were a bit firm for his tastes but good enough for a police station. He smiled when he saw the man coming out, getting a nod from the receptionist. "Hi, I'm Detective DiNozzo from Baltimore," he offered, holding out a hand.
"Eric Delko. Come on. What do you have for us?"
"I managed to get his full record unsealed, including his juvenile records," he said proudly. He handed them over as they walked. "I hope it can help you in his murder investigation."
"I hope so too." He frowned as he read, then his beeper went off. He looked and moaned. "Guys, Xander's bringing lunch," he called. "Real food this time. He's trying new stuff."
"You know Xander Harris?" Tony asked.
Eric looked at him then nodded. "I do. Xander's dating another GHS member in the unit and one of our CSIs. Plus we've got a few others here." Tony smiled at that. "Come on. You can have lunch with us too." He walked down there, watching as Xander squealed and pounced Tony for a hug.
"Are you coming down too?"
"No, I had to bring stuff down from Baltimore because one of our less than stunning citizens got killed down here." He grinned. "I know the *perfect* place for you to invest in, Xander. Talk with me tonight over dinner?"
"I've got a few spare rooms. Save your PD some money." He grinned at that. "I'll introduce you to everyone. I saw you came in with Eric so you probably know the grumpy one."
"Ryan slept with his horse last night, Xander. Of course I'm grumpy."
"His mare's having some gestation issues and it's her first," Xander shared, making Tony smile at that. "Ooh, here's Calleigh, Detective Frank Trip, and Valera. Food. Kinda spicy food. Has pepperoni if anyone minds that."
Tony got his own bowl and sat down, saying hi to those Xander introduced to him. He did hug Don. "Hi."
"Hi," he said, grinning back. "Down on that case?" That got a nod and Don looked at the casserole. "Am I gonna burp all day? I've got my first performance review."
"Rolaids are in the bag, Don." He dug out a good helping and sat beside Tony. "I said he could use a guest room."
"That's fine," Don agreed. "Danny?"
"He's a buddy it's fine," he agreed between bites. He grunted and nodded at the folder, getting it from Eric since it was their case. He looked at Tony, who nodded since he was chewing. "Thanks," he said, finishing up. He did take two rolaids on his way out but it was good and he had leads now.
"He'll be late tonight," Don said with a grin. "It's his and Eric's case."
"That's fine." He grinned. "If I can help, just let me know. I'm down for three days unless you guys need me longer. I could use the sun. Baltimore's had a rainy spring."
"There's a great beach not twenty minutes walk from the house and you can tan all you want, however you want, in the backyard," Xander assured him. Tony smiled at that. "We had to move somewhere bigger because of various people trying to kidnap me. Ooh, Spot's casts are off. He's bouncing slowly but he's back to being a bouncy dog. He's so happy," he shared with Tony.
"What happened to him?"
"The last schmucks who took Xander," Don told him, shrugging some. "They're gone now." That got a grin and a punch on the arm from Tony. "They are." Ryan walked in. "Did you get to meet Ryan during the convention?"
"Kinda hard to since I was here," Ryan offered. "Hi, Ryan Wolfe, Xander's backup protector."
"Tony DiNozzo, Baltimore homicide." He shook his hand with a grin. "You guys all know what Xander is?"
"After some of the things that came for him? Yeah," Calleigh said dryly, smirking at him. "Fortunately they're on vacation for a few weeks." She smiled as Speed came in. "It's a bit spicy but it has pepperoni."
Speed looked then at Xander. "You said you wondered what my casserole was like with pepperoni." Xander held up a bite for him, making him nod. "Not bad," he admitted once he had swallowed. He grabbed bowls of the stuff for them, grinning at Tony. "Hey, Tony."
"Horatio's going to be in soon. I'm making him eat first. He got called out at four."
"Been there, done that," Tony agreed. "He can come call me charming and helpful in a while." Speed grinned and went to feed the boss and himself. He looked around. "Wow. You guys are much more tolerant than Baltimore is."
"We have to be, Speed would kick our asses," Ryan assured him with a grin, making Tony giggle and nod. "So, how is the North East?"
"Rainy for the last few weeks. It's spring mud season." Don moaned at that. "Yeah, I had one almost buried in the mud the other day," he admitted. He shrugged. "You do what you have to do."
"You do," Frank agreed. "Then again, if we messed up a crime scene on one of these guys by kneeling on it, we'd never hear the end of it."
Tony looked at them. "Really? I do a lot of kneeling, finding stuff, helping our CSU guys. They claim their job is to process. My job is to chase down people."
Eric laughed at that. "Here, we chase, we arrest, we question."
"We get into hostage situations," Ryan added looking at Calleigh, who blushed. "Then again, a few of us minor in saving Xander too." Xander nodded at that, smiling at him. "Behave."
"I have been behaving. How's your current case?"
"I'm not sure. The whole ex-wife thing is not doing it for me." Eric looked at him and he held his tongue. He had promised Horatio he'd try to be civil even if they were fighting and Eric had missed his call out. "We'll see later. My theory's leaning a bit at the moment."
"I've had those and had them turn around and be right," Calleigh offered. "You never know. People do things for stupid reasons sometimes. I had one last month that had a guy killed for a candybar."
"I like chocolate but I'm never that desperate," Xander quipped. They all smiled at that. "Guys, come eat," he yelled. "Do not make me take food home!" Some of the patrol guys came in to get some as well. "Take it, spread it around. It's a bit spicy and it's got pepperoni." They nodded and went to do that, letting the lab geeks get theirs first since it had been brought in for them. Then they hoarded the rest of the casserole. It was good. Even if some people did need some antacids. Including the homicide supervisor.
Don's watch beeped. "Gotta run, guys. My eval's today. Wish me luck."
Xander smiled. "Good luck, Don. Rewards if you get the raise when you get home or a backrub if you don't." Don grinned and nodded at Tony before going. Xander curled up in his seat. "So, need to stay here for a few or should I take you home?"
"I should probably make sure there's no questions about the files."
"Danny lives with him, he can call," Eric assured him with a grin. "Go relax. These are mini-vacations." Tony smiled and went with Xander, following him back in his rental car. Eric looked at Ryan. "Is he?" Ryan nodded. "High, low?"
"Higher than Don. Around Horatio's level," he admitted, finishing up. "I'm going back to the lab. Calleigh?"
"In a few. Let me finish and get some of the antacids." He nodded and went back there. "Eric."
"Don't. Just don't. It's not something I can talk about right now."
"You'd better start. Ryan's about to move to Xander's permanently and throw you off that balcony." She got up. "Besides, this is his only day off in the last two weeks. He needed the sleep. He works more hours than you do."
"I don't care," she said firmly. "If you can't talk to him, talk to me. Talk to Speed. Hell, talk to Xander!" He nodded. "Just fix it or figure out how to work around it. Before the rest of us get hurt by it." She walked off, leaving him there to think.
He finished eating and went up to the office, knocking. "Guys, can I borrow Speed to talk to?"
"I think it'd be an excellent idea, Eric," Horatio agreed. "Does this have to do with your sister?" He nodded. "Then take him away for an hour. I can spare you both for now. Where did Tony go?"
"Home with Xander. I told him we could call if we needed him back. Speed?" Speed finished his lunch and walked out with him, tossing out the paper bowl and spoon on the way.
Xander summoned the phone over, too lazy to get up and get it. "Harris." He sat up. "Is he all right? I'll be right there, Alexx. I'm sure. Keep him calm. Ask Danny. He should be okay but there could still be issues for a while. I'll be right there. Hold on." He hung up and looked at Tony. "Ryan just got shot in the eye with a nail. I've got to go to the ER. Play with the dog for a few, he'll be coming back here probably." He got up and headed inside to change and then to the corvette to head there. He rushed in and found Alexx in a stand-off. "What's wrong?"
"They won't give me any information."
"I'm Alexander Harris, his medical contact. This woman is like his fucking mother, tell her before I bitch slap someone," he said firmly.
"Don't swear at them," Alexx said firmly. "I'm sure he'll be all right, Xander. He's worried. Can we go see him now?" The nurse nodded and led them back there after checking his information. "Oh, baby."
"Alexx?" he asked, sounding drugged. "Can't they take it out yet?"
"They're doing it in a minute," she promised, stroking his hand. Xander took the direct route and hugged him.
"Hi, Xander. Can you get the others?"
"I did, baby," Alexx promised. "Eric put it over dispatch, it's all out there and I made sure Horatio knew where you were." He nodded. The doctor came in and looked at them. "Xander is his medical power of attorney and I'm like his mother. You move me with drugs."
"Sure," he decided, looking at Ryan, who nodded. "That's fine. We've got an ocular surgeon coming down to remove it, just in case, Officer Wolfe. Then we'll see what sort of damage there is. We're hoping nothing on it lodged back there."
"You and me both." He looked over as someone else came in. "Out."
"Out!" he yelled. She backed out and the nurse walked her off. "I'm not dealing with my mother. Alexx is my mother." The doctor nodded and made a note of that on the chart. "How long should I be resting for?"
"A good while, at least until we see if there's any damage back there, Mr. Wolfe." Someone else came in. "Jack. This is Ryan Wolfe. You can see the problem."
"I can. That's got to hurt. How did you do that?"
"Suspect had the nail gun in the closet and it popped me when I was checking a suspicious noise on a crime scene," he said tiredly. "Can we pull it now, it's got to hurt less when it's gone."
"Sure." He came over and shined a bright light in, looking around. "Looks like it hit into the tear duct, Ryan. Let me get some forceps." Alexx handed over a set. "Doctor?"
"ME. His adoptive mother. Xander's the fussy one."
He looked at Xander, then back at Ryan. "You're going to be spoiled."
"Of course I am. I usually am. That's what being smothered by Xander is like."
"I don't smother," Xander defended. "Do I?" Ryan gave him a look. "I'll be better at it?" he offered.
"You're fine at it. Smothering from you is nice," Ryan assured him. Xander smiled at that. "Come hold my hand." They held his hands down and the doctor pulled the nail out, making him hiss and arch up. "Maybe it hurt less in there."
"It'll hurt less in a few moments," the surgeon offered gently. "For now, let's stop the little bit of bleeding. Now, we're going to put you on a good antibiotic, Ryan. Even if it wasn't rusty, there's still a chance of it having debris on it." Ryan nodded at that. "Good boy. Let's bandage it since it looks like it's stopped bleeding. At least you heal quickly."
"I try," he admitted. He let them bandage it and tried to sit up but Alexx pushed him back down. "I can sit up."
"Not for a few more, sugar. Rest for now. How long will he need to be off work?"
"Probably a few weeks," he offered. "He definitely should not drive while he's like this." She nodded. "I can write out an excuse for him if you want."
"Please, our bosses will need it," she said. "Plus temporary disability maybe." He gave her a look. "If he says you can't come back for a month, you can't come back for a month, Ryan. Quick healer or not." He slumped and covered his good eye with his other hand. "Look at it this way. Xander wanted to do a bit of traveling."
"Maybe," Ryan agreed. He looked at Xander. "Can you call the others and tell them it's safe to come in?"
"I'm sure they're waiting," Alexx soothed. "Let me go check." She went to do that, going to say prayers that it hadn't been more serious. They could've lost Ryan if it had been a more serious injury, just to cover it up. She found Eric waiting. "Where's everyone else?"
"Hunting the person who did it. H went personally to find them and chew them a new one." She nodded at that. "How is he?"
"They pulled the nail. They're giving him antibiotics in case something shed off. It hit his tear duct."
"He'll heal, Alexx. We do that."
"I know that but that doesn't help a whole lot if there's debris, Eric." He nodded at that point. "Xander's in there with him."
"It's my fault. I'll drive him home."
She looked at him. "You'll have a fight on your hands." He nodded at that. "Did it have a good reason?"
"My sister's sick," he said, looking at her. She hugged him. "Thanks."
"I'll tell Xander you're going to take him home and take care of him. Ryan can go to his place when you've got to go to work." Eric nodded. "You want to come in?"
"He'll fuss and I'd rather fight in private."
"Sure." She went to talk to him, finding Ryan looking unimpressed with his prescription. "Eric said they ran off like an avenging army over you, baby," she soothed, stroking his hair off his forehead. He looked at her. "He's taking you home to baby you tonight and then you can go to Xander's." Xander opened his mouth and she stared him down. He glared back. "They need to talk, Xander."
"Xander," Ryan said quietly. "I do need to talk to him. Then I'll come take up my room with you guys." Xander nodded and hugged him. "Now, take Alexx with you. I'm sure she hitched a ride." Xander nodded and hugged him again. "At the latest in the morning, Xander."
"Yes, Ryan." He walked out with her, glaring at Eric, who nodded that he'd be fixing it. He got her into the passenger side of the corvette and walked around, saying a silent prayer that Ryan would be all right quickly this time. He hated being on leave for any reason. Then he got in to drive her back to the station. He found Horatio waiting on them and got out, letting Alexx out. "He's off for weeks," he said.
"I'm sure you'll take good care of him, Xander. The same as I am that Eric will when he can." Xander nodded at that. "It'll be fine. Remember, Ryan will heal," he said quietly.
"They were talking about flecks of debris and he'll still need his antibiotic and monitored."
"He'll still heal, Xander," Horatio reminded him, more firmly this time. Xander nodded at that. "Even if they do end up having to do surgery to fix it, he'll still heal and come back to us." Xander nodded and hugged him. "Good boy, now go home. I know you've got Tony stashed at the house. He called to see if he could help." He patted him on the back. "Can you drive?" Xander nodded. "Good. Do that. Go home." Xander nodded and went home, only crashing on the way home because someone ran him off the road. Horatio had gotten back into the labs with Alexx telling him about the injury when his phone rang. "Caine." He listened, then stiffened. "Is he all right? No, don't. Not until we get there. I'm sure. He'll be fine." He hung up and rushed off. "Alexx, send Don to me now." He hurried out to his hummer, finding the patrol officers looking antsy. He got out and ran over, finding Xander coming back around. "Xander?" Xander blinked at him. "Focus on me, Xander. It's Horatio. Come on. Time to wake up." Xander moaned and pointed. "What? Who hit you?" He whispered something. "What?" Xander said it a bit stronger. He looked around, no one of that description was there. Then he looked at him again.
"All right. Come on, I'll have the car impounded for evidence and fixed while I take you home." Xander held his head. "Come on. You'll be fine. You only passed out." Xander gave him an evil look and he glanced at the nearby patrol officers. "Come on." Xander nodded and let him help him out and into the hummer. He looked at the one who called. "His pulse is nearly impossible to find sometimes," he offered since the guy had said he was dead. "He's also got a private doctor who can check him over at home. He hates hospitals. Tends to react violently when in one thanks to his past." They nodded at that. "Hold the scene, Flack should be coming. Tell him I have Xander, get another CSI here." They nodded and went to call Flack just in case. He slid in to drive, looking at him. "Pass back out if you need to," he offered, heading for the house a bit slower than he needed to. Tony didn't need to see this. By the time they got there, Xander was more lucid and able to stumble by himself. He got him into the house and onto a couch, tucking him in. "Stay there." Tony popped in from the study. "Someone hit him on the way home. He's a bit dizzy but he'll be fine."
"Sure. I've had a concussion from playing ball." Horatio smiled at that. "I know, what a shock. I played ball." He shrugged and went to get Xander some tylenol and some water. "Here, these'll help as much as the nap you want to take." Xander took them and laid on his side, getting comfortable. Horatio slid him his card. "I'll call if he gets worse."
"Call first, Tony. Just in case. Xander can be odd about doctors."
"Most of us are. Especially with that castration thing." Horatio nodded and left, heading back to the scene. Tony went to wake up the dog. "The Xander boy is hurt, go nap on him." He led him out and watched him jump up onto his father, sniffing him before laying down on his covered body. Xander limply petted him. "I'll be in the kitchen if you need me, Xander. Just yell." Xander nodded so he went that way. Xander passed back out and died for a little bit but then he woke up with a gasp and found Tony staring at him. "Happens now and then," he said, then he drifted off again.
Tony stared at him, then filed it away for later use. He saw Xander start to shift and then Danny came in. "He's in here. He just woke up with a gasp, again." Danny gave him a long stare. "Can I know?"
"The world is full of weird things."
"I thought demons were."
Danny grinned. "We'll talk about it later. Did he say Ryan was coming back?" Xander shook his head. "Why not?"
"His idiot wants him."
"Good. They need ta talk." He came over to check Xander over, smiling at his weak swats. "You'll be fine." He kissed him on the forehead then petted the dog. "You guard the daddy." He turned and found Ray Junior behind him. "Someone ran him off the road."
"His poor corvette. Did he get out to kick their ass?"
"He's still mortal."
Ray snorted. "He's like some action comic hero, Danny. Xander can do anything if he can make my mother not fuss about being spoiled. I've got him, head off." Danny nodded and left it there. He smiled at the other guy. "Hi, Ray Caine, Horatio's nephew."
"I'm Tony. I'm a fellow GHS and detective down to help on a homicide."
"Cool. Hey, Spot. He okay?" The dog barked quietly. "Then we're going to go cook. You be a good boy and guard him. Come get me if something else happens." The dog put his head back down, watching them. "Come on. He'll be grumpy in a bit about his car."
"I'd be upset with whoever hit me too," Tony agreed.
"Trust me, Uncle Horatio is going to be chewing someone a new one in multiple languages if he can get away with it." He saw Adam stomp in. "Couch. Living room. Dog!" he called after him.
"That's fine, Spot likes me," he assured him. He checked Xander over, getting more weak swats. "I'm making sure you're fine."
"Go check Ryan. They were talking about debris."
"What happened to that one?"
"Suspect put a nail into his eye." Xander gave him a squinted look. "I hate concussions."
"It'll only last a few hours," Adam reminded him, petting him gently. The dog woofed quietly so he used his free hand to pet him as well. "Go back to sleep."
"I think Tony caught me coming back," he said quietly.
"It'll be fine, Xander. There's a few of us in GHS." He soothed him back into a nap, the dog with him, then he went to talk to Ray and Tony. "Anthony."
"Adam," he said, hugging him. "I didn't know you were down here."
"Ray's working with the local homicide unit."
"Wow. Small world." He grinned. "So, is his secret what you and Trevor are hiding?" Adam gave him a look. "I'm a detective, Adam, and a damn good one. You guys stiffen whenever the other comes near. He did it when Danny came in and Danny did it earlier with Don and Eric, then again with Ryan."
Adam smiled. "You are indeed a very observant detective, Tony."
"Is this why they use swords and Ryan's got a tattoo on his shoulder that's like part of the one on Xander's hips?" Ray asked. "Or part of how they spent two years out of time the last time and only a few hours here?"
"Those last two are related but not in direct correlation. Ask your uncle." Ray sighed and rolled his eyes but nodded and went to call him. He looked at Tony. "Yes, we're special. All the ones you named."
"That's fine. I'm assuming some sort of mutant self-healing since he was dead and then woke up." He licked the bit of sandwich filling off his fingers. "Or are you guys immortal?"
"Immortal, but it does come with a healing gift."
"Then I'd worry more about Ryan since Xander said something about debris while he was mumbling before he died," he said quietly.
"I'll check him later. You're not upset?"
"I figured if I was, I'd have been told by now, Adam. Since I clearly can't join I'll enjoy watching others and keep it in my head for any cases that might come up."
"Thank you, Tony." He patted him on the shoulder with a smile. "Raymond, quit lurking."
"Spoil all my fun. Is Ryan going to be all right?"
"He should be." He looked at him. "I suppose you heard?"
"Yup," he said with a grin. "Is that why Uncle Horatio has that thing on his neck?"
"No, that was Aphrodite," Adam said honestly.
"Cool. Does she wear that few clothes, like she did on the show?" Adam nodded slowly. "Then that's my wet dream of the night. Uncle H said I'm having dinner with him tonight. Hell, I keep the GHS stuff secret, I can keep that stuff too. Not like anyone would believe me. I'm a teenager." He headed out to check on Xander, then came back. "Something's seriously wrong. He's gone again." Adam went to check so he looked at Tony. "Miami was never like this before Xander moved down here." Tony laughed and hugged him. "Okay, I'm sure it was but I didn't know." He grinned. "Let me feed Spot for you and the ferrets, then I'll head to Uncle H's house if Adam will give me a ride," he called.
He got out the animal food and went to put it down for them. Then he headed out to wait outside and think. It was a pretty cool gift to have. No wonder Eric got women like he did. By the time he got to his uncle's house it had settled in to the level of 'something else I know about those around me that others shouldn't' in his mind and it was all good. He walked in and looked at his uncle, who looked scared. "Did she make you like them or are you just not aging? You haven't had any hair falling out in a while or complained about it."
Horatio gave him a hug. "If you ever want to be a detective, you'll make a very good one, Ray. I'm proud you're so smart."
"Which isn't an answer," he said with a grin. "But we can do that after dinner. What's for food?"
Horatio laughed and led him back to the kitchen, where Speed was fussing. "How is Xander?" Speed asked.
"Died a few times, he's back and Adam said it was all good again."
"Good," he agreed. He paused and looked at him. "What did you say?"
"Well, kinda found out by accident. So, do the tattoos give you that same sort of healing or not?"
"Not. We're still normal mortals. We'll live longer," Horatio told him. He looked at Speed. "As long as we're careful."
"Sure," he agreed. "You're the one who walks into hostage situations." He grinned at Ray. "So, you're cool with this?"
"Am I?" They both shook their heads. "Then it's not my thing and it's cool that someone is. Even though I can't brag, I knew Xander was some sort of comic book hero before this. He's proven to me he can do anything but balance his checkbook if he sets his mind to it." They laughed at that and he got hugged. "Feed me?" he begged. "Please? My growing boy stomach is spreading again." Speed nodded and went back to cooking. "Does mom know about..." They shook their heads. "It probably skipped her attention like you two being together did. I love my mother but sometimes she's focused on the wrong things. Like Stetler. By the way, he's back," he offered with a smile. "Can I cap him this time?"
"No, nephew," Horatio said firmly. "That's my fun."
"Sure, Uncle H." He hugged him around the arm. Horatio sighed and stroked his hair, and it felt so *nice*. "Oh damn." He looked up and Horatio nodded. "Well, dad would probably be pissed at that but at least I'm like the good side of the family." He went back to his cuddling.
"Wait as long as you can for sex," Speed ordered. "It'll be easier when you're in college to scratch that itch. Especially if you're above a three." Ray nodded and let it go for now. He'd worry later. Speed grinned at Horatio. "Xander did threaten he'd turn out like him if he kept skipping school."
"I'd hope he's not a level ten," Horatio said firmly.
"I'd hate to be the purring concubine kitty Xander is some days," Ray offered. Speed grinned at that. "Does that mean I can eat more chocolate?"
"As long as you try to eat a relatively balanced diet, nephew," Horatio ordered.
"Yes, sir." He shrugged. "I'm a teenager. Pizza is balanced. It has all four food groups." He yawned again. "You're very comforting."
"Thank you." He stroked over his hair again. "You can nap or eat, Ray. Pick one. You can do the other later."
Ray woke up and sat up so he could eat, making Speed grin at him. "I am a teenage male. My stomach overrules my need for a nap every time for the next few years." Speed served him the bigger portion and he dug in, eating fast so he could have seconds.
Horatio walked up to where Yelina was pacing the next morning. "I sent Ray to school this morning," he offered gently, smiling at her.
"Will he go?"
"He will be but I do have some bloodwork to run. Come with me?" She slumped and looked at him. "The indicators were there last night. Let's see where he sits so we can make a few plans." He walked her down to the lab and ran the bloodwork himself, taking the sheet when it came out. He handed it over. "He's still going to be normal," he reminded her. "A few weeks after he's had sex the first time we'll have to test it again."
"Can't I put him in a chastity belt?"
"It won't help, Yelina. He's low enough that a boyfriend or girlfriend will be enough for him as long as they understand and are a bit creative." She walked off. He went to find Ray, handing him the paperwork. "For your friend Adam," he said quietly.
Ray looked then at him. "Who?"
"Bit early," he offered.
"He curled up and purred while cuddling last night, Ray."
"I'll send it on. You warn her it's not official yet?" He nodded. "That's fine then." He went to fax it to their house with a small note on the bottom, then he destroyed the original. He ran into Yelina later. "This means that we can tailor his studying to help him more. All of us are hands-on sorts, it'll help him study better."
She nodded. "Is it certain?"
"Right now, no. He'll need to go that final step to take a permanent reading. Right now he could be hoarding hormones from stress or it could be a puberty surge. Or he could be holding them down due to everyone around him. When he's tried it, we'll see again." She nodded. "For right now, realize that he's going to need some wearing out. He's going to like more hands-on things instead of books, most of us do. Also, his tastes in clothes will probably change."
"Xander added to his savings account," she said grimly. "He can afford new clothes if he needs to, but I don't want him wearing silk and satin every day. He'll get in trouble with the other students at school."
Ray grinned. "My favorite outfit is a pair of jeans I've had nearly forever. They've been washed soft and smooth now. That and one of Adam's sweaters or shirts." She relaxed at that. "Only Xander wears silk every day and the way he does it you don't even know most of the time. All his dress pants are silk. Most of his dress shirts too."
"Which do look nice on him," she agreed. "He'll get to be a normal boy?"
"Of course. He may get a rep if his first girlfriend or whatever isn't doing it for him." She rolled her eyes. "It happens. Most of us did have one if we had sex back in high school. I had Stella, even back then. She complained a lot about my needs and sometimes some alone time is good enough. Especially if you combine it with some spoiling earlier like ice cream. At his age it's not backrubs and clubbing. It's ice cream and chocolate." She smiled at that. "He's a normal kid with a small switch in his body that screams 'give me chocolate now' every now and then. Watch him to see what help he needs. Come to us. Not like we weren't all there." She nodded and gave his hand a squeeze before walking away to call her son. He went back to his desk, finding it without a computer at all. "Gee, another light day," he joked.
"Too many more of these and I'm going to change desks," Frank complained.
"Hey, get on their ass."
"Oh, I have. And I called the Chief to complain that they're doing it to you and not all of us. He wasn't amused either." He looked up. "How was Ryan?"
"I don't know. Adam saw him after dinner last night. I haven't seen him since before he left yesterday. I know Xander got rammed on the way home from that." He groaned and Yelina looked over. "We're not sure if it's case related or Xander related."
She listened to her son. "Son, remember how he threatened to turn you into him if you skipped school?" She smiled at his promise to quit skipping. "We'll be talking tonight, son. We'll work it out." She hung up and turned around again. "Is Xander all right?"
"As far as I know they should both be fine. You'd have to ask the guys who live with them or near them."
"True." She called Eric. "Is Ryan all right?" She listened to his complaint something was wrong. "Should I ask Ray if his boy could come back over?" She smiled. "That's fine, Eric. Let us know, all right? Right now, he may be babying Xander since someone rammed him on the way home last night. I'm not sure. I wasn't here when the call came. I know Horatio took him home. That's fine." He hung up on her and she hung up her phone. "He's calling Xander and taking Ryan over there to check on his other student."
Frank looked at her. "Your boy?"
She sighed. "He tested at a level four."
"At least you know he won't be like his daddy. I've never heard of any of these guys doing drugs." She nodded at that.
"Four's not so bad," Ray pointed out. "It doesn't start getting difficult to work until you're a six, guys. We do need to make sure he's seen the list however." She nodded that he had. "Good. One less headache he'll have." He found a paper file on his desk and got to work on that, what he could. He moved over to Don's desk to work from there for now, and couldn't log in. "They took my ID and everything," he complained. He stomped off to their supervisor's office to make a loud, lengthy complaint. He didn't care if the patrol guys did start calling him Queen of the Detectives again. This was going to have to stop!
Horatio walked into Xander's house at lunch, putting down the bag from the deli both boys liked to eat from, heading for where he could hear voices. "I brought lunch." He turned when he saw what Adam was doing. "Is that really necessary?"
"It did leave debris behind his eye. It's trying to push itself out and it's not working. He'll end up losing it if I don't," Adam told him. "Thankfully I sedated him and Xander's very helpful." He took the next instrument and carefully finished removing the eye and the tissue behind it. He put it into a small dish beside him and watched as the blue lightening came out to heal the area. Ryan started to wake up. "Lay still."
"That feels bad," he complained, but Xander kept his hand from moving. "I want to ...."
"You can't. You do that and it'll take longer." He grinned. "Now you know why I complained so much about growing back my balls."
"If that feels anything like my eye, I'll make sure you never lose them again, Xander." He felt a stinging pain. "Ow."
"There may have been a fleck of metal left," Adam offered, using the sterile bottle of contact lens solution to help him. Ryan sighed and relaxed again. "Good." He watched as it finished coming in and then plumped out, turning to look at Horatio. "It's all behind the outer covering now. You can look."
"Thank you for helping him. Are they both going to be all right?"
"They are," he assured him, smiling a bit. "It'll be fine, Lieutenant." Horatio nodded at that. "How long did the doctor say?"
"Four to six weeks." Ryan gave him a begging look. "Alexx may let you back within a few weeks," he pointed out.
"The Chief said she couldn't the last time she did it," Ryan reminded him. "You and I both got chewed out for it, Horatio."
"True. There's always the traveling Xander wanted to do." Ryan groaned and nodded. "With any luck, it'll be fine and you won't have to do it again, Mr. Wolfe." He shuddered and clutched Xander's hands. "Now, whet happened to Xander? Ray said he kept fading."
"Your nephew is very nosy," Adam said but he was smiling. "He did. It appeared he had a crack in his skull from when he was an infant. It healed the new crack to that level until I came back and adjusted it to where it should be, then it healed it there."
"That's fine," Horatio agreed. "Should Ryan have to do this again?"
"No. I'm relatively certain I got all of it out of there," Methos admitted. "If not, he'll have the same pain and infection symptoms and we'll do what we have to so the last of the debris is removed." Ryan gave him a horrified look. "I'm very certain I got it all out. The rest should be released through your tear ducts if I did." Ryan nodded at that. "Now, you should rest while that heals. It is a major trauma."
"Still feels like things crawling inside my head." He looked at Xander. "I won't rub if you let go." Xander hugged him instead, and you just had to smile. "It'll be fine. Xander."
"I want the bitch who hurt you."
"So do I. Boss?"
"Arrested," he assured him.
"The one who hurt Xander?" Ryan asked.
"We're searching for her. We're still not sure if it's case or GHS related." Xander gave him a horrified look. "Which is why I want you both to go visit Jace and take that trip you wanted to. It'd mean you were safer, Xander, plus Ryan could learn more about defending you and himself."
"But...." Xander started.
"Go," Adam assured him. He stood up and picked up the dish with the eye. "We may even be able to give you two until the convention." Xander looked at the calender on Ryan's watch then at him. "I know. Go anyway. Danny can handle Don and I can handle the rest." Xander sighed and slumped, nodding. "Go pack. You can go to Jace's tonight." They went to do that from the special clothes here. He looked at Horatio. "Are you sure it's necessary? Eric could use the support."
"He'll have it from the rest of us," Horatio reminded him. He licked his lips and looked upstairs then back at him. "I'm not sure it wasn't someone trying to expose you immortals," he said quietly. "They took over ten minutes to call it in. It was called in by whoever hit him. That would've timed it about right for someone to see him waking up. When they got there, the officers said he was dead. I explained it as very deep and thin pulses." Methos sighed and nodded. "If that's right then I want them both together and safe. Xander doesn't need another emergency like that."
"He doesn't. Even though he's handled some before," he pointed out.
"I know that. The problem I'm seeing is if they know who is and who isn't. There's only a few people they can attack."
"And you can guard them easier. Eric's the one with the unusual activity at the moment with his sister, that makes him more vulnerable."
"He already knows and he knows that moving these two out of the way leaves less vulnerable targets. We can guard those three and Ray easier than we can those three, Ray, and these two. That's too many to guard."
"So getting us out the way means that the police car that hit me yesterday will go after Eric. You've told Eric this?" Xander asked. Horatio looked at him and nodded. "Because if he's got Marisol and she's hurt, he'll never forgive you."
"They wouldn't act with her there anyway. She'd already know," Adam reminded him. "You two we trust to be out on your own and able to watch for each other in case of danger," he pointed out. "Eric needs to be here. Danny and Don wouldn't leave and they can back each other up. They have for years. I know Danny was watching over Don in New York to see when he was going to be brought over on the job. We'll stick Ray with one of them at all times since he's the weakest fighter of all of you."
"Don is," Xander admitted. "He's not keeping up on his practicing."
"I can and will fix that. Having you here leaves them without visible targets, Xander, but we can't send you alone. You're a very high profile target. Most of the PD knows you and knows where you live. For them to attack one of others will take some work and they'll have to seriously work to expose them that way to the others. Ramming you got that. Ramming another police car and doing it that way won't. They'll protect each other and discount it."
"So having me there would be ideal but with this new injury...."
"It blew the plans I had," Horatio agreed. "This way is still better. We couldn't have sent Xander off by himself. Everyone would've known it was a trap. They all think he's too delicate to fight."
"When in truth I'm about as trained as Ryan."
"Which means you can help them if it's someone like a Watcher coming back from the bad old days," Methos ordered. Xander stared. "Some of them did decide a purge was in order. They wanted them gone because they thought the winner of the game would have power over humanity. They used a guillotine. I'm not sure if the quickenings were ever claimed by another. I know at least one of us was there with the group watching them. He's not exactly the nicest chap so he may have." Xander nodded at that. "Therefore I want your back watched by Ryan. You two work best as a team. Eric works best alone. He's known as a hunter because he's taken down some of the criminal among us. That'll also give Danny and I time to work on Ray and Don without you two showing off how much better you are thanks to Ares' help." They nodded at that. "So, shoo. Now. Go see Jace."
"I'm taking jewels with me," Xander offered dryly. "That way I don't have to worry about money if we do go there." He headed out to Ryan's car, letting him drive. Though he did come back for the lunch. "Thanks for feeding us, Horatio. Love you. Kiss my babies and watch over the furry ones."
"I will, Xander." He smiled at the infectious nature of his excitement. "He does like to travel."
"It's good for him. He's seen much but only on the darker side of humanity," Methos agreed. "Let me burn this to a crisp then we'll have lunch."
"Please not where I can smell it."
"Not an issue," he promised. He went to put it into the furnace he found in the basement, then it disappeared. "Thank you. Please watch out for them and the ones here?" He went back upstairs. "Where is the dog?"
"Sleeping on the bed, like usual," Horatio offered with a small smirk. "Now, how do we tell the others?"
"Easy, we conference call them." He pulled the phone over and hit the conference button then the speed dials for the various folk. All but Eric answered. "Sit," he ordered. "It's important. Someone get Eric if he's around." He ate a bite of his sandwich, Horatio sitting next to him.
"What happened?" Speed asked. "Eric's next to me."
"Let him listen in as well," Horatio ordered. "We think the person who rammed Xander is trying to expose the non-GHS, special members of the group." Someone moaned. "The fact is they called in the wreck ten minutes after they had caused it."
"Which would've been enough time for the officers to find him waking up if you hadn't thought fast," Eric agreed. "Okay, H. What's the play?"
"Right now, we've sent both boys to Jace's. They're too visible. Sending Xander alone is like a staked goat," Methos offered. "Sending Ryan off without Xander would've made him pout. This way we're in the preferred protection and hunting groups. Eric, I know you choose to hunt alone."
"I do. That's fine. Jace's and then wherever the DPP officer was talking about?"
"If they can," Horatio agreed. "While they're gone, Ray and Don are going to get their training expanded as well."
"I need it," Don agreed. "I haven't had the time or energy to practice."
"We're getting some help from New York early next month when they close that lab," Horatio reminded them. "Our boss signed with them earlier today. It's a done deal, kids. We can't let them know about this...."
"Small issue there," Danny offered. "Monroe's a halfie, Xander spotted it. Sheldon's one of us. Mac and Stella wear tattoos."
"Really?" Horatio asked.
"Really," Adam said with a smirk. "Part of Mac and Stella's job is to note what the others are doing."
"Another point, Alexx's is very faint but it's there," Speed agreed. "Eric found out during that insane person issue Xander had."
"Another interesting point," Horatio agreed. "So, we know where we're going?"
"We do. I've got either Don or Ray with me each case," Danny agreed.
"I've got the other one," Eric agreed. "Or Speed does since he's been sparring with Ryan for some reason."
"Might as well. Swords are better than guns."
"Yours is clean, right?" Eric demanded.
"Eric," Horatio warned.
"Sorry, H. Sorry, Speed."
"I'll hit you later," Speed assured him. "Ray, where are you?"
"With Frank on the multiple bodies a few blocks apart. We've got Calleigh and Alexx here right now."
"I'll have Alexx notified. I'm not sure it's not another issue like the Watchers a few years back, boys," Methos said quietly. "If so, we need to find the mole."
"Mole in the lab too," Danny reminded everyone. "Any ideas?"
"A few. It's a tech, not a full CSI. That's all I know so far," Horatio offered. "I have Ryan working on it." They all groaned. "He'll be back shortly," he promised. "He'll make sure Xander's safe and we'll help you with the pets."
"You can't have my dog, Horatio. Speed, get him his own ferrets?"
"Sure, Don. We've been talking about pets anyway." He sounded like he was smiling. "Anything else?" No one said anything. "Then we're on a scene. Later. Eat lunch, H." He hung up.
"I'll have a quiet word with Calleigh," Danny agreed. "She knows. Valera knows too, I'm not sure how."
"A few years back Eric kept tripping and breaking his ankle," Horatio admitted. "She probably caught that or a paper cut." He hung up on them all, looking at Adam. "What if it's not a Watcher?"
"If it's GHS related, we'll know because they come after you or Don. Or Ray. If it's specifically related to Xander or Sunnydale, Jace will catch it and stop it for us." Horatio nodded at that. "Now then, eat. You don't do that enough and he'll fuss if you lose weight."
"Speed does like to fuss."
"I meant Xander." Horatio cracked a smile at that and did indeed eat more.
Xander walked off the flight and paused at the slot machine. He was mad at the airline. Ryan pulled on his arm, making him follow him. "But..."
"Fine." He pouted all the way through baggage check and getting their swords free, then out to the car rental spots. "We're going to Jace's," he sighed. The man frowned. "Small castle resort? End of the strip?"
"The Olde World," Ryan offered, getting in. Xander got in as well then got out and grabbed his wallet, then got back in, handing it to Ryan. "Where's the other stuff?"
"In my pack." He looked at the bags, then at Ryan, who groaned. "Hold on, we forgot one." Ryan got out and went to get it, bringing it back. "I'm sorry."
"I can charge waiting time," he promised, looking at him. "So, what's this place like?"
"Calm. Quiet. Restful. It's not where you go if you want to gamble. It's where you go if you need to rest."
"I'll have to put that in her Chronicle." He looked at him. "Joe said to tell you two that it's not us as far as he knows. He can't get hold of the old man to tell him."
Xander pulled out his phone. "Baby, me. Can you please tell the old guy that Joe said he doesn't think it's a Watcher? Cabbie. Thanks." He hung up. "It'll get back to him by tonight." Ryan came back with his bag and a guard. He let him in and shifted over. "Need my ID?" That got a nod so he let him see it. "Sorry, I'm a bit flustered. He got injured yesterday and I'm supposed to be making him rest," he said with his best soft and gentle voice, smiling at him. "His boss said so."
"That's fine, sir. Here you go." He handed it back with a smile. "Have a nice day. You too, Joe."
"Thanks, Bob." He sped off with them, changing the meter over. "He catches a lot of you."
"That's okay it has my old address," Xander assured him. The cabbie laughed at that. "I am a bit security conscious now and then." Ryan gave him a pointed look. "He's a Watcher."
"Eric didn't tell you about us?" the cabbie asked. "We're the ones who watch and chronicle what you do and don't do. You guys don't have many of us in Miami."
"Mac's moving down," Ryan offered. He laughed at that. "Eric said something about tattoos and Mac, and seeing who's around us when we fight."
"That would be us," the cabbie agreed. "I'll have to let Joe know he and Stella are moving."
"Apprentice, Mac brought her in because having me, Danny, and Don together overloaded him," Xander admitted.
"Yeah but we like Sheldon. He seems like a winner and a nice guy. Not too wild. No overt problems like gambling or women. Nice, sweet guy."
"He is but he'll still take a scalpel to someone," Xander assured him.
"Good. That's how it should be for any man." He pulled into the resort. "Twenty-twelve, kids." Xander handed him twenty five and they got out, making sure Xander got his wallet and his bags this time. They headed inside and he pulled away to call Joe. "It's me. Well, saw Harris and Wolfe. Jace's. Oh, say that Harris said it's quiet, calm, and restful. The place where you go if you want to rest and nap instead of gamble." He smiled. "I passed it on to Harris, who called someone he called Baby. No telling which one that was. Oh, and did you talk to Mac yet? Seems there's a rumor they're going to Florida. The whole lab, Joe. Yeah. Oh, Bob saw Xander's old address. I'm not sure it wasn't us, Joe. I don't want to think it was but you never know. Sure. I'm here. No telling if they're going to stay here. Sure, I'll let you know. I don't know. Are you sure they're not together? Wolfe had that boyfriend sigh down pretty well." He grinned. "Sure. Let me know." He hung up and watched the resort until he got another call. Neutral territory or not, those two came armed to fight something.
Xander walked up to the desk, smiling at the woman who smiled at him. "I saw you last time I was in. We need to find a room or two. Harris and Wolfe."
"Should I tell Jace?"
"Up to her rules," Ryan offered casually, looking around. He nodded at the immortal coming down the stairs. "Morning."
"It is. You are?"
"Ryan Wolfe, this is Xander Harris." He shook his hand. "In on supposed injury leave back at work."
"It happens. You do what?"
"I'm a CSI."
He nodded. "Interesting. Have fun in the city while you're here." He walked off again.
Xander watched his back, then looked at Ryan. "Was that a threat?" he asked quietly. Ryan nodded. "Well, pity for him." Jace came out and he squealed, rushing over to hug her. "Hi, we're in but we're using you as point to break our path."
"I heard." She got free of the octopus and looked at him. "You look very well. What happened to the injury?"
"Some very mean person shot Ryan in the eye with a nail gun."
"Ow," she said, coming over to hug Ryan. "Where are you two going, dears?"
"Strife said there's this realm where I can learn a self-defense style that'll work with how I move," Xander offered. Strife appeared and nodded, sweating. "Hot where you were?" he teased.
"Thinking about you doing that," he assured him, winking some. "Hi, Ryan."
"Hi, Strife." He grinned at him. "Please make him behave while we're gone?" Strife cackled and shook his head. "I had to try."
"You did," he agreed, patting him on the head. "There's a few small things but they should come out without more eye removal." He looked at the check-in girl. "They'll only need one unless Ryan is going to let Xander order in sex."
"I'd prefer if he didn't," Jace said firmly. Xander gave her a look. "Are you GHS?" He beamed and nodded. "Who's your keeper?" He cackled and so did Strife. "Oh, dear. You're the level ten Cupid was babbling about." He nodded and beamed. "Ryan?"
"Temporary and pro-tem."
"Of course you are. Try, dear. Really." She handed them their room key. "Go play. Xander, stay off the slots. Your picture is with all the casinos. They know not to let you play slots."
"I can go play baccarat though?"
"Go right ahead," she assured him, getting a bright grin. "When are you planning on going?"
"I was going to call them tonight, make sure no one needed us back."
"Go," Strife ordered with a grin. "Today. You'll be back in a week." Xander handed him everything but his pack and his sword. Ryan did the same. Strife waved a hand and sent them to their personal detective on the DPP. He looked at her and handed her the bags. "Put them away then come relieve some tension I've got. It's gonna be *good*," he purred with a deadly smile before disappearing. She handed the bags and key to a bellhop then followed after him.
Xander stepped out of the portal in the desert, stretching up and then out. "Oh, I feel good." He smiled at Ryan, who was giving him indulgent looks. "What?"
"You move differently now. Your hair definitely helps with that." He turned and waved at the officer, getting a smile and a wave back. He made sure they had their things, going back for the extra bags. And the new pet. Then the swords. They closed the portal after kicking one last thing. He picked up the pet carrier and the baby dragon hissed. "Tough shit, get in there. That way no one can complain." Xander slid it into the carrier and picked up his share of the things and his sword. "Thank you." He carried their original packs and his sword, plus the baby dragon. "How far out are we?"
"I'm not sure," Xander admitted, looking at the GPS function on his phone. He typed in an address and looked at it. "Huh. We're about four miles from Vegas."
"We've walked further before," he agreed, heading off the way the phone was pointing. The dragon hissed and he looked down. "You know, I wanted to leave you there. I'd suck up to me. I've got to explain you to the others."
"I know he won't eat the other pets or our friends and their pets. That's what the charm on him is for."
"I can't believe you bought a baby dragon," he complained.
"Oh, whine, Ryan. I needed something to pet besides you." He saw an SUV go past. "Hmm. Look, it's your tribe."
"It is," he agreed, waving at them. One paused and rolled down the windows. "Walking back into town."
"Need a lift?" he asked.
"No, we can make it. Four miles?"
"To the Sahara."
"We can catch a cab there," Ryan said with a grin. "Thank anyway, man. Have a good scene."
"You know us?"
"I'm a CSI down in Horatio's land."
"Ah. Then you'd be Wolfe. He told us to watch out for you and Xander?" Xander grinned and nodded. "Get in, I'll give you a lift."
"We're going to The Olde World," Ryan protested. "Other end of the strip."
"Not an issue. We're heading back now. It's near to us." They got in and he looked at the pet in Ryan's lap. "What are you?"
"It's a baby dragon," Xander said happily. He buckled up. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. So, Ryan, we heard you might be injured?"
"My eye's pretty healed. Someone got me with a nail gun." The driver, a nice looking African-American guy smiled and drove on. "So, how is crime out here?"
"Cranky. Two dead guys without heads in the desert late last night so we're just now getting done. No ID on them. We'll go around to all the resorts and see."
"Well, since you're dropping us off, you can check ours," Xander said.
"I can. Thanks for reminding me," he agreed, smiling at him. The dragon hissed. "Hey, calm down. I'm nice, I've even got on the air conditioner." Xander reached forward and took the cage, making it calm down. "That's one feisty pet."
"It won't hurt my ferrets or my puppy," Xander said happily. Ryan looked back at him. "He won't."
"He'd better not. Horatio will get mad if something happens to your ferrets since they love him so much."
"He needs to grow his hair out more."
"You tell him that. I want popcorn when you have that discussion." The driver laughed. "So, you are?"
"Sorry, Warrick Brown. I went down to your part of the world on a crossover case." He called someone. "Gris, I picked up two stranded guys walking back and I'm going to show the pictures we got at their resort since it's on the other end of the strip. Sure. Thanks." He hung up. "He said it was fine. Wait until I tell the others we finally got to meet you. Greg will be envious."
"Danny's friend Greg?"
"I'll have to check. Danny..."
"Messer. Used to be NYPD then moved down to us," Ryan offered. He looked back at the beast. "How did you get him to sleep?"
"You picked on him about his scales shedding for two days. He still loves you, Ryan. Remember, he likes to curl up on your chest and huff at you while you sleep."
Ryan looked at Warrick. "If you *ever* get a chance to have a GHS boyfriend, run the other direction." Xander swatted him. "I'm not even his and now and then...it's just odd."
"Sorry. You want normal, go date Marisol."
"Um, no. Then I might have to compare since I'm dating her brother. I'm not the slut Eric is, Xander." Warrick laughed. "Let me guess, you guys went out with Eric?"
"Part of the case led us to a honey bar. It was nice, everyone there congregated around Delko."
"Yeah, they still do. I'm his stress relief."
"It's gotta happen. I've got one of those myself," he assured him, pulling into the parking lot of the station. "Let me drop what I'm carrying." He got out and went to do that, logging it in. He found Greg staring outside. "Do you know a guy named Danny Messer?" he asked him. Greg smiled and nodded. "I've got Wolfe and Harris with me."
Greg ran out and opened the back door, hugging Xander. "Danny's said a lot about you," he said happily, getting in. "I'll go back with you. I'm off shift and bored. If that's okay? Oooh, a dragon," he said, letting it sniff him. "Hi, dragon. A girl or a boy?"
"A boy," Ryan said, grinning at him. "Hi. You are?"
"Greg Sanders. You must be Ryan Wolfe. Danny's sent pictures but you had longer hair." He shook his hand and Warrick came back shaking his head. "Do you guys mind? They're going to coopt me and I'm already working on a third shift."
"Not an issue," Xander assured him, grabbing his bag and sword then closing the door again.
Warrick got in. "Pretty sword."
"Thank you. Handy thing too." He opened the door and looked then glared at the small bag that had fallen out. It floated back up. "I do not know what in my wallet hates me but I need to figure it out." He closed the door again and Greg took the sword to look at. "I need to clean the blade. Something attacked us a few days ago."
"That's fine." He handled it carefully. "This is pretty old." Xander nodded. "It's in good condition. Can you use it?"
"With a lot of skill," Ryan agreed. "He and I both." They nodded at that and Warrick drove them to their resort. He walked in with the bags while Xander got his bags and the dragon. He dropped them in front of the desk and hit the bell, bringing Jace. "We're back and look what Xander adopted."
"Is it legal?" she asked. "You look... Like a dragon," she said, looking at Xander, who nodded. "You brought a dragon back?"
"It's just a baby," he cooed, taking him out to cuddle him. "See, he's adorable and he's sweet." She sighed and petted him then Greg petted him. He didn't like Warrick. "Eat meat recently?"
"I did have a burger a few hours ago." He shrugged. "He'll learn to like me while you're here." He looked at the woman. "Is there someone here I can ask about two mystery victims in the desert while they head to their rooms?"
"You can ask me, sweetie. I'm Jace, I run this resort. Boys, here," she said, printing off their room key and writing the room number on it. They beamed and ran up the stairs to take a shower. Greg followed more slowly but grinning at her. "Let's see if they're our guests."
"Thank you." He pulled out the pictures. "Some resorts aren't too friendly with the crime lab."
She nodded. "I support law enforcement and I go to your yearly bachelor auction." She smiled at him. "I bid on you but they were rabid for you, Mr. Brown." He blushed at that and she smiled. "Being handsome and smart is the Greek ideal, sweetie. Don't worry about it." She looked then shook her head. "Not here. I've seen them here. They were in our shops. You might try there."
"Thank you," he said, smiling at her. "Those two, they're okay, right?"
"They're fine. They're just back from a short jaunt out of town. Ryan's on vacation after an injury and Xander loves to travel so he came along."
"That's fine. They seem like a nice couple."
"No, honey, Ryan's his backup keeper. Xander's a member of GHS," she said at his confused look. It didn't get any better. "Oh, dear and the convention's going to be here in a few weeks. You should've been told already. Make sure your boss realizes this? They're often taken and things."
"Sure. I can do that. Thank you, Jace." He grinned and headed for the shops to talk to them.
She tapped her fingers on the desk, then called up there. "Xander..." He defended himself so apparently Greg wasn't in the room. "Dragon?" she asked. He sighed and defended that. "You know what?" She blinked. "I want to see, young man. Tonight?" She smiled. "Sure. That's fine." She hung up and went to make a note. They weren't immortals that she had seen. Xander had said no one said anything about a freak storm either. She'd impress how dangerous that was on him later.
Don smiled as he answered the phone. "Flack. Hi, Xander. Are you back?" He grinned at the babbling. "Whoa, slow down. Going faster than I can think." He went back over it. "Dragon? Are you serious?" Frank looked over at him, raising an eyebrow. He shrugged back. "Sure, I look forward to meeting the new pet. Is Ryan there so we can check on him? Still going. Well, the convention's in two weeks, dear. You could just stay there and we'll meet you?" He smiled at that. "That's fine. I look forward to seeing what you learned too, Xander." He grinned. "Sure. Love you. Let me talk to Ryan while you shower. I'll tell Danny his friend is there. He's around her somewhere." Frank paged him getting a grin for it. "Hey, Ryan. Was he good?" He listened to the short explanation. Greg must be in the room. "Okay. Dragon?" He nodded once then sighed. "It won't eat us, right?" He smiled at the description of the charm and Greg's voice in the background going off about how cool it was and the spell would work. "Sure. No, why don't you guys stay there until the convention? It's only two more weeks. Still going. Thanks. Sure, here's Danny. Greg." He handed it over and went to thump his head on Frank's desk so Xander couldn't hear it at all.
Danny looked over. "He heard that somehow from the bathroom. He said you'll love the dragon." He grinned. "Hey, Greg. Long time no hear. No, actually, Xander's mine so I'll be out for the convention. What do you mean they didn't brief CSI. Greg, Xander's a level ten GHS. There's going to be about two thousand of members in your city in two weeks." He smiled. "I think you should, yeah. Sure. Dragon?" He held his head. "Sure. I'm sure it'll be fine, Greg. Thanks, man. Yeah, about two weeks. Watch over my boy for me. Keep him off anything electronic. Thanks. Soon, yeah, lunch?" He grinned. "Thanks, man. Have fun with that talk." He laughed and hung up then thumped his head on the desk. "The dragon's charmed so it won't eat the ferrets or the dog," he said when someone patted his back.
"What dragon?" Speed asked.
Don looked over. "Xander's new pet." They just looked at him. "Don't ask me, I didn't go. They did say they ran into Warrick someone and a Greg?"
"We know Warrick," Speed assured him, going to call him. "Warrick, my man. I heard one of our own got back from some mild traveling and is back in your city. How does Ryan look?" He heard the story and grinned at it. "Okay, take down this web address. GHS.org. Yeah. When you get there, under log-in, type you PD's name, and under number type in your name and CSI. Then go to the FAQ page and let Greg present it. No, I'll be there. Horatio and I go to watch over Xander with his people. It's necessary. Just read and you'll understand, man. Sure. Dragon?" He listened to that then shivered. "We'll see when we get out there then. Thanks, man. Have a good one and an easy case. Welcome. And thanks for watching out for Xander for us. No, you'll know. Ryan with a sword is very pretty and Ryan with a sword helps get Xander back usually. Yeah, that's why they have them. Because Xander would pout if he had to shoot someone. Sure. I'll email you once you've read. It'll explain a lot. Ask Catherine. She might know a few too. Laters." He hung up and put his head down on the table, shaking it.
Eric and Calleigh walked in. "They're back?" she teased.
"Xander brought home a baby dragon," he said into the table. "He's met Warrick and Greg from out there." Eric snickered so he looked at him. "Not funny. They were coming in from a dual body in the desert without heads, Eric. He said they were very helpful though." Eric shuddered and went to call his boyfriend. "Calleigh, you go tell Horatio."
"Yeah. Right," she said with a grin. She leaned out the doorway. "Horatio, they're back in Vegas. Xander has a new pet. Speed talked to Warrick and someone else probably talked to them." He looked out from his office. She shrugged and pointed. "He said I had to tell you."
"A pet what?" he asked, staying calm.
Speed came to the doorway. "Warrick called it a baby dragon, H."
"A baby dragon," he said calmly. "Uh-huh." He went back to his desk, considering that implication. Well, maybe he'd take the ferrets from Xander instead of getting his own. That way they wouldn't be eaten or anything.
Greg smiled when Warrick drug him back into the station. "What?"
"I need to look at this site and Speed hinted you might know about the convention coming up, Greg."
"Convention?" he asked hesitantly. He laughed a bit nervously. "What convention?"
"GHS?" Greg stomped off swearing. "I want to know, Greg."
Greg got onto his computer and logged in, doing it the official way since he was at work. Then he printed off the Frequently Asked Questions page and handed it over. "All you should need to brief them."
"Speed suggested you do it."
"Speed's in trouble when I tell the National Head he told you I knew some," he said dryly. He paged Grissom, who came in looking confused. "Did no one give anyone a memo on the convention in two weeks?"
"The one you're going to?" Grissom asked. "Why would they?"
"The GHS convention?" Warrick said. Grissom's eyes went wide and he took the sheet, then groaned. "Speed suggested Greg would do a better presentation."
"Gee, I wonder why," he said, glaring at him. "Do you need a new Keeper, Greg?"
"No," he said hesitantly. "I'm not that high up, Grissom."
"Bull, Greg. Really." Greg slumped. "Five, six?"
"Six," he sighed. "Come on, we'd better go tell the others. Speed still wasn't supposed to out me."
"He didn't. He said you should give the talk," Warrick said. "With some of your stories, I figured you'd know." Greg glared at him. "So, who was that kid today?"
"Xander? He's a level ten." He walked into the break room since most everyone was in there. He sighed and looked at them. "Is Catherine still here?" Nick shook his head. He called her. "Catherine, do I need to go over anything on the GHS convention in two weeks for you?" He listened to the silence. "Catherine? Are you alive?" He grinned at her spluttering. "Good." He hung up. "Okay, it got passed onto us, and onto my shoulders, that we're having a special convention in two weeks time." Everyone gave him odd looks. "Known as GHS." Nick spluttered. "I take it you saw a few in Texas?"
"One or two. Why?"
"They're coming here in two weeks, Nick. Why do you think we have to have this briefing?"
"Because only Vice knows," he moaned. "I'll skip it. I know it and the FAQ sheet by heart. Anyone already here?"
"A level ten named Xander Harris. From Miami."
"The one the Miami team asked us to watch over?" Sarah asked.
"Yeah, he's in with his backup protector, CSI Wolfe from down there. Okay, this is the FAQ sheet. Read it, know it, love it because they do. GHS live on the pleasure principle. Nothing that'll be going on there will be anything but consensual. It probably won't be paid but they will probably be spending some time in our fine houses of ill-repute. Well, and shopping. Chocolate, shopping, sex. It's all good to them and about the same. These guys are also often kidnaped. Like, for the higher levels, weekly."
"I've heard rumors," Sarah said, looking disgusted. "They've got to be joking."
"No, and there's going to be two thousand or so hedonists in that hotel that weekend and probably a bit longer. All of whom are a kidnaping risk. Including some cops. I know a few who are in there and are cops. A few who have protectors who are cops. Xander has one of those out of Miami. Ryan's his backup one actually. Well, really, Xander's got a boyfriend that's a CSI, a protector who works Homicide, and then two backups besides Ryan in Horatio and Speed from their lab down there. Considering they fight off about monthly kidnaping attempts for him? It's a good thing." He looked at Sarah, who was pale. "Xander doesn't like to go out that often or it'd be more often that they happened. Now, he's the worst case scenario of all of them. The lower levels are just bouncy, happy hedonists who like their life and need the stimulation or their hormones are overloaded. This is a *biological* condition. There's a hormonal trigger and then the pheromones flood everyone. So, we may have rape cases from near the hotel if someone was out and broadcasting and didn't realize it. A lot of these people have been taken. A lot of them are very nice people who just enjoy life a whole lot while their bodies rule them. They can't help being this way."
"There's got to be drugs," Sarah complained.
"There's a few herbal things but they also make them lethargic and lead to death, Sarah."
"I'd rather die."
"That's a choice they must all make. The lower levels have one boyfriend or girlfriend and a lot of sex with them. Eat a lot of chocolate, get a lot of massages. They're mostly normal people. The real trouble is the upper levels."
"Who often have to have more than one?" Warrick guessed. Greg nodded. "How many?"
"Guys like Xander often have at least two real boyfriends, or keepers, at least one more protector that they occasionally sleep with, and then a few on the side they call when they get surges. Xander's, from what I hear, doing it with a boyfriend and a protector. He's still surging as well. He was doing it earlier. That's why you were so happy after that scene." Warrick just nodded at that. "So, needless to say, this is going to be an odd convention." He looked at the rest of the group. "From the way Nick looked and Catherine sounded, they've run into members before. So have I. I think Grissom may have because he had that knowing look again?"
"I have. Back in college, during my undergrad, I played Keeper for a level five young woman I was dating. They're normal people with a hormone condition." Sarah still shuddered. "I'll make sure you're on cases far away from them."
"Thank you. Are we going to need to look for any homicides?"
"It's happened in the past. It was a 'if I can't kidnap you, no one else will have you'," a voice said from behind Greg. He grinned. "Hi, CSI Wolfe." He handed something to Warrick. "You left those."
"Thanks, Wolfe." He grinned at him. "How bad will it be?"
"To those outside the hotel? Probably not. I've heard that a few members haven't done the work to keep their pheromones down. Boston apparently had a problem a few years back about that. Miami's people like to come in and watch. They tried to bust a few rooms but couldn't find a way that they were exchanging money. It was some swingers within the group." He shrugged. "The cuddle room is always a bit hit. That's one big pile of cuddle. Nothing else is allowed in there." Greg grinned and bounced at that. "I heard rumors of a room 318 that's for those who need it desperately and aren't getting it at home. Again, consensual, no money changes hands, it's for those members who desperately need the sex to calm their bodies back down and wear out the pheromones."
"It can be worn out?" Sarah asked.
"Enough sex and everyone can be worn out so they quit putting out pheromones," he said honestly. "I play backup protector for a level ten. I've seen days when his two and him doing himself wasn't enough." She gaped. "That's ten, twelve hours later usually. There's usually an officer's corner while we're there. The protectors, the keepers, and the few who work in law enforcement all gather and talk about how hard it is. The most common problem if it's not worn out is confusion. So if you guys see Xander wandering, call me. Or if he's trying to play anything electronic. He's not allowed to." He looked at Warrick again. "Can I help anywhere? I'm bored. Xander's playing with the baby dragon and it hates me."
"Sure. Think you could identify it by type of cut?"
"No, but probably by composition if you've got a flake."
"Let's see," he agreed. "Grissom, this is CSI Wolfe, the one Horatio said was in town to recover."
"My eye's fine," he promised. "I'm bored and still on leave. Horatio told me watch Xander until the rest of his protection detail could come out. It'll give us a four day weekend with shopping and spoiling by Xander," he offered with a grin.
"I used to be a keeper. I understand. Let's go see what we can do." Ryan nodded, following him. "So, Warrick said you two had swords?"
"It's a way of keeping Xander in shape and helping his self-defense. A lot of us down there temp in as his protection detail so we do it now and then."
"Horatio does the same thing when I give him facts that don't fit his mental puzzle yet." Grissom smiled at that. "I'm just so bored," he admitted.
"I can understand that. I hate being on injury leave as well. What happened if it's not too personal?"
"Suspect was hiding in a closet with a nail gun. Right into the tear duct," he said. Grissom winced. "Yeah. Even the drugs didn't help that much. And it hurt more once it was gone for a while." He shrugged. "It's better now." That got a smile and he was led into trace. "Oh, lab sweet lab. I miss my lab." Hodges, the guy in there, gave him an odd look. "I'm Wolfe, out of Miami's lab. I'm out on injury leave and I know swords. May I?"
"If Grissom says it's okay."
"It could help us find a suspect since the victims weren't at the usual hotel for people with swords." Ryan looked at him. "I have no idea why," he admitted. "It's something we've all noticed over the years."
"Jace said they weren't guests." He looked at the sample, then checked it again. "Newer weapon. Stainless steel. I'd say a replica. Maybe one of the reproduction from Xena or Hercules. Almost looks like a piece of a carving on the broken side." Hodges looked. "I'm using something ancient. Most of us there do."
"True. How hard is it to get those?"
"Very easy," Hodges said. "It's in the catalogs for both those shows." Ryan nodded. "Do you think we could match their stainless steel to this one?"
"Could be. I don't know how they make them. That looked like it was pressed instead of pounded. It's too regular." He stiffened and looked around, then nodded at the young ME's assistant in the hallway. "Hi, Ryan Wolfe from Miami's lab."
"Hi, my name's David and I'm the ME's assistant. Helping on the beheadings?" Ryan nodded. "You should see the necks. It was hesitation marks all over."
"Then it was probably a dull blade and they had to chop," Ryan offered. "Which wouldn't lend itself much to a sword, but there were a few reproduction battle axes that I've seen. Them, the people who do the Lord of the Rings reproductions."
"I'll see if I can track them down," Hodges agreed. "You fence?"
"No, I'm a backup keeper for a level ten GHS. That's how we help him exercise and learn his self-defense." Hodges moaned and stared at him. "Convention in two weeks." He grinned.
Hodges looked at Grissom. "Greg's going, right?" He nodded. "Thank you, pray he finds a new keeper. He's been without now for two damn years of annoying me."
"How did you know?"
"I roomed with one in college. Longest semester of my life since they were always going off or eating chocolate. Horribly noisy people." Ryan grinned at that. "A level ten? She was only a level two. How do they live?"
"With more than one of them," Ryan admitted. "That's why I'm the backup."
"I wish you much viagra. Out of my lab so I can have my headache now?" They all left him alone to moan in peace. Maybe he would hide those days so he didn't have to see his former roommate. Not that she'd remember him. Or how he had been misfiled as a female student for his first and second semesters.
Xander walked into the hotel where the convention was and smiled at the girl behind the desk. "Hi, I'm in for the GHS convention and I was wondering if I could check in early?"
"Harris. Xander Harris. Should be four rooms booked under that name. It's my protection committee. One of them will be here later today."
"Well, I see one of the rooms, the lesser suite, is presently taken. The bigger one isn't yet. I could put you into that one since it's listed as you and two others staying?" Xander nodded. "I see we have your card on file. I'll go ahead and let you into your room today and the others when they check in, how about that?" She smiled and he beamed. "It says here there may be a special needs?"
"How do we feel about pets? I've got one with me. I was just traveling and can't make it home before the convention. It's not furry if it matters. It's leash and outdoor trained too." She nodded and typed that in. "Extra deposit?" She nodded. "That's fine. Put it onto this card," he ordered, handing one over. "It's new." She smiled and ran it, putting into the account. Then she handed him the card. "Thank you." He leaned over and hugged her. "Now, security?" She pointed. "Thanks." He bounced that way, finding the door. He tapped on the window and someone came to see what he wanted. "Hi. I'm Xander Harris. I have a file with the gaming board that I'm not supposed to play anything electronic because I get this funny feeling when things are going to hit. Are we going to have a problem if I play card games?" The man let him inside and looked him up in the database. "Is that the one from Mississippi as well? I got vindictive since they were trying to kill me and they were running an illegal immigrant sex ring."
"It is," he admitted, reading over it again. He called his boss. "Boss? Please come here." He hung up and his boss came in a minute later. "This is Mr. Harris."
"Hi," Xander said, shaking his hand. "I have the unfortunate gift of knowing when slots are going to hit. I wanted to make sure there wouldn't be a problem if I played card games."
"Why are you in town, sir?"
"The GHS convention. I'm a level ten," he said with a grin. "I'll stay off the slots. Though now and then I will tell anyone who asks which one to play."
The man looked at the file, then at him. "Mississippi?"
"They were running an illegal immigrant sex ring out of the ship and they tried to kill me. I got a bit vindictive."
"I see." He looked it over again then nodded. "I had better not see you anywhere near the electronic games, young man."
"It's not like that. It's not like I'm cheating. I have the same gift for stoplights." They stared at him. "Seriously." He walked him out there and looked around then spotted one being played. "Hers. Within five, six, seven pulls," he said quietly. "The one with the pinstripes and flowers together." They watched and her seventh pull it hit a jackpot. He looked at him. "I do that."
"I'd rather you not point it out to anyone and stick to the card games."
"Baccarat and poker," he promised with a grin. "Thank you." He hugged him. "I'm going to get my stuff from Jace's." He went to do that, and Ryan's stuff as well. The dragon was a bit harder, he was down in the kitchen staring in wonder as the meat was cooked. He snatched it and walked off. "How many times have I told you not to bother people while they're working? Someone could say something to him and make you go to the pound or something." He came down with everything and the bellhop, the dragon back in his cage. He kissed Jace on the shoulder. "I'm going to enjoy the pre-convention." He beamed. "I'll send Danny over. He could use the break. Conventions give him headaches." He checked out and paid his tab then walked out to get a cab. Jace sent her personal car around and he smiled and waved. Then they were off. He showed the bellhop his room key and got help moving everything up to his suite, putting the dragon down as well. He went to sniff everything and Xander got him a litterbox from the gift store. Then he went to cash out some of his money and go gamble. He liked being evil on the table.
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