Don and Danny shared a look, then looked at Speed, who shook his head. "Keep me out of the pets," he warned. "I don't want to deal with pets. The ones we're adopting will be more than enough for me." He walked off before they could get him involved in going out to the new farm. "Horatio, they think Xander wants to keep one of the seized horses that's staying out there."
"He may. He likes to help those who need it," he reminded him with a tolerant smile. "I'm sure they can convince him Ryan's two, soon to be four, are enough."
"I hope so," he admitted. "Ryan called and said that Xander covered the whip marks on one and was feeding it, it was sucking up to him."
Horatio sighed. "Then I suppose he'll have horses and when Ryan or he retires to his next life, one of them will be out there." They shared a look. They could go hog a bedroom out there too probably. "Plus I'm sure we'd be allowed rides." Speed gave him a look. "It is very calming. I rode Princess a few times."
"I saw and worried. She's a trained warhorse, Horatio."
"So?" He shrugged. "She was perfectly gentle with me." He got back to work. Speed slumped but got to work beside him. So he knew he had won this argument.
Ryan came bouncing in and smiled at Frank, going over to Ray and Don. "Hi." He held out the pictures. "I took one of Xander and the colt. He's so pitiful and injured."
Don looked and moaned. He did look good with the baby horse.
Ray looked and grinned. "Cute. Is he up for adoption?"
"Probably soon. Why? Do you think Adam might want him? He has a few whip marks Xander said but he's nice and he's gentle and he follows orders better than Princess already."
"The animals we have are more than enough," Don said firmly. Ryan gave him the puppy eyes look he learned off Xander. "That's cruel. Go see Danny."
"Sure, but they may be coming to see what sort of animal Hubert really is." He showed the picture to Frank, who could only shake his head. "He's a good horse."
"You can't sleep on the couch with a horse, Wolfe." Ryan rolled his eyes and went to show the others in the family. Yelina came in with Mac from her last scene. "Fair warning. Wherever Xander bought to put Ryan's horses, they're using the extra space right now for the ASPCA's seized horses. The boy's already got soft and squishy feelings for a young'ne."
Ryan came back with Danny stomping behind him and showed Mac and Yelina the picture.
"He's finely conformed," Mac offered, handing it to Yelina, who only 'aww'ed. "Riding lessons might be good for your son as well. I learned balance from mine."
Danny glared at him. "Help us here, Mac. Ryan's already got two horses. Both pregnant. We don't need a fifth one. Even if it is pretty and soft according to our boy."
"Lindsey decided to come down. She'll probably stick up for Xander," he warned with a small smile. "What did he do, buy a stable?" Ryan nodded. Mac sighed and shook his head. "Who's going to run it?"
"He's hiring a manager and stable hands so I don't have to muck every day," Ryan promised. "And so he doesn't have to muck every day. He hates to muck stalls." He grinned. "Think she'd want to help me get Princess and Princess 2 stored away this weekend?"
"Probably," he agreed. Ryan beamed. "For now, let's all get back to work. We can talk about the new foal when the topic comes up." It's not like the house had a stable attached to it. He looked at Don, who raised an eyebrow. "Is there a stable at the new house?"
"One. It's got my bike in it." He grinned. "Unless he buys the neighbor that's annoying him and makes her move, we don't have the room." Mac smiled at that. "Good thinking, Mac. Thank you." He heard Stella 'awww'. "Oops. Well, maybe she'd like to turn into a farm hand?"
"Maybe," Mac sighed, going to talk her out of adopting a horse too. She was gushing with Calleigh. "Ladies, even Ryan only gets out to see his every other day." They shrugged.
"I know I can't fit a horse in my apartment, Mac, but they're so cute!"
"They are. I'm sure the boys will let you go out and pet them all you want." They smiled and went to call Xander, who was squealing and babbling over the speaker phone too. So apparently he was right. He went to talk to Horatio. "The ladies want to adopt one too." Horatio moaned. "Maybe you guys need a mounted patrol down here?"
"We have one," he said grimly. He called someone he knew over there. "Phipps, Horatio Caine. No, I heard through a coworker that owns a horse that the ASPCA just confiscated a few. That's what I was thinking. I know you have two about to retire, that would give you time to train. You should call them. Which officer rides? Officer Wolfe. He's friends with Mr. Harris and got given two pregnant ones to entice him onto his side so he could steal Mr. Harris." He smiled. "Someone named Shelly? Princess is his," he said, laughing at the comment. "Well, he was told she was a fully trained warmare," he offered. "The other is as well. I'm assuming they smelled blood on you. I know Mr. Harris has just purchased a stable for them to live at so he could sneak rides and not have one at the house. Exactly," he agreed happily. "They're at his new stable. We have pictures of one young one that Xander's taken a liking to. Ryan?" He stuck his head in, looking interested. "How many seized horses are there?"
"Fourteen. One pregnant mare. Two geldings, one stallion, probably why she's pregnant, and the rest are mares but that one colt. They all handled very well getting out of the trailer and let themselves be petted and looked over."
"Here, talk to Officer Phipps, he's on horse patrol."
Ryan took the phone and walked off telling him about them, promising to send him pictures. That would be a good way for them to be rescued and adopted. He brought back the phone once he had downloaded the pictures off his camera and sent them over. "Thanks, boss." He went back to his lab.
"Keeps me from adopting one of those too," Speed noted sarcastically from his corner. Horatio glared at him. "Maybe next life?"
"Maybe next life," he agreed, giving him a look to let him know he'd be making up for that remark later. Speed smirked and got back to his project. Horatio went to get a drink and think up evil things to do to him. He did deserve it for that remark.
Xander smiled at the ASPCA officer who pulled in, waving her inside. "Come on. Hubert?" He came out of the study. "C'mere, dragon." He picked him up. "I found the egg and he was given to me."
She scratched his head. "Well, you're not anything that I know is on the illegal exotics list. Has he been looked at by a vet?"
"He's had a rabies vaccination. Our usual vet was trying to figure out if he needed anything that snakes took." He walked her into the living room, letting her smile at the ferrets. "Sorry, he let one out. George?" The cloned George came out and looked at him. "Thank you." He put him back inside the cage and undid the tubes to the far box so they could go play in there. "Sorry, I was cleaning litterboxes."
"That's a worthwhile thing. Especially with how bad one of those is."
"He got into some of the plants out front. Gave him the runs." He sat down to do the others, letting Hubert help by playing with the dogs, one of who pounced him and used him as a pillow. He laughed. "I know, he's very comfy to nap with. Daddy naps with both of you two." The dog barked and licked him then went to get a drink.
"They have free run of the house?"
"And the yard mostly. The ferrets get out at last four times a day to wander around down here. They like to nap in our bed." One was wiggling out through a gap. "See?" She laughed and helped him then put him back into the cage. "I've got them sealed in the center one so I can clean."
"That's fine. It's got more than enough room to occupy them." She patted him on the head. "You're doing a fine job, Mr. Harris, and if I find out what Hubert is, I'll let you know, especially if he's on the illegal list." He grinned at that. "Try to keep them out of danger. I know one of the plants in the driveway is bad for dogs."
"The invisible fence ends about a foot away from that and we've already trained him away from it," he promised.
"Good. Then you're doing better than most pet owners. Have a good day and thank you for letting us borrow the pasture."
He grinned. "I know Ryan's boss talked to someone in horse patrol." She smiled and nodded at that, heading back to her car to go back to work and write up the note on the one animal.
Xander got back to cleaning litterboxes with the other dog's help. It was necessary. They were nasty.
Ryan parked his car and got out, letting everyone park around him. His two horses were out in the pasture already. So he assumed his tack was in the barn. He looked up. It was definitely going to storm. "Got to put them up, guys." He headed for the barn and that pasture entrance. "Princess, come on, it's going to storm." They both came trotting in, letting him put them in the further boxes. Then he came out to slowly lead the other ones in with the help of Horatio and the horse patrol officer he had invited out. The old owners were apparently with their daughter since they didn't come out. He looked at the foal. No halter. No marks like he had ever worn one. "Hey, it's time to come in," he said quietly. It shied away from him. He sighed and nodded. "Come on." It backed further away. "Okay." He walked off. "I'm going to get some food. Want some dinner? Some oats?" It came closer but it moved away from Danny. "Danny!"
"Sorry. Try to put a halter on him?"
"I don't have one and he didn't come with one." Xander parked and got out with the dogs. He grinned. "Xander, come get him inside."
"I got him a halter." He walked out and tipped his head to the side, then let the horse sniff him and the dogs. "Come on, it's going to get noisy and wet soon. Let's go get dry." He clucked his tongue and the horse followed him with the dogs nudging his back legs. "Good boy." He walked him inside using his mane to steer and put him into his own box. "His momma's not here, right?"
"Not that I know of," Ryan offered. He looked at the boxes. "Are we missing one?"
"Fetch the horse, boys." They went to find the other horse and chase her up to them. He smiled and went out, looking at her. "Dinner time. Wanna eat?" She neighed. "Good. Let's go." He took her halter but she tried to pull her head away. He stared into her eyes and she settled down. "Good girl. Come on. Let's get dry since it's starting to rain." He walked her inside with the dogs shaking off behind him. "We're going to need an ark." He settled her into the box beside the foal then got the halter out of the bag. He took the tags off and measured with his hands, stroking and petting him in the right spots. He didn't like it but he let him do it. Then he slid the top band over his ears and hitched it, then the bottom one. He checked it after a few minutes of him shaking his head, smiling at him. "I did that once. I got really dizzy too." He fed him another carrot and he settled in, only rubbing it against the stable wall. "Behave. Quit that," he ordered more firmly. The horse responded to his tone and came back, getting another carrot. "Good boy."
"You're training him like you did the dog?" Don asked, looking confused.
"Yeah. It's the only way I know how to train an animal. I'm not going to teach him how to play fetch," he offered with a smile. Don walked off groaning. He grinned at the colt. "Let's see your back, young man." Ryan came in with oats and he salved the injuries, making him twitch his coat but he settled in after a minute. Ryan looked at him. "More tiger balm. They said it'd be a good idea." The horse patrol officer came in to look at him. The colt backed off some. "Shh. He's a nice guy. See, let him pet you," he offered, stroking down his back. "Go ahead." The officer smiled and rubbed his nose, getting a friend for life. "Is his halter on right?"
"It's on very well, Mr. Harris. Good job. Next you'll have to teach him how to follow on a line." He quit scratching and the colt nudged him with his nose, making him laugh. "I can see him being a great officer's horse some day," he praised. "A few of the other ones too." He finished petting him and stepped back. The colt whinnied softly and moved closer. "Shh. You're loved and safe," he promised, scratching his ear. "You're very safe here. Even if the storm does get loud you're safe." One of the other horses started to kick and Danny opened the door, letting him out. "Hmm. Doesn't like the storm."
"Doesn't like sounds," a female said, coming over. "He didn't like the cars earlier." She smiled at the little one. "Good work. I noticed he wasn't wearing one." Xander smiled. "He'll fuss with it for a little while then get used to it. The softer leather was a better choice for him. Less chance of irritation."
"I asked the people at the saddle shop." She smiled at that. "Horatio said he's with the horse patrol."
"A few of them would make good ones." He looked out when the horse started to buck, watching as Xander slipped out there.
"Xander, no," Ryan ordered.
"He needs calmed down."
"He'll kick you in the head," Ray complained. "Let him do that. He can't hurt himself out there."
Xander rolled his eyes and moved closer, catching the halter in a small jump, pulling his head down to look at him. "Hey, it's just a loud noise and some light." The horse's eyes were spooked, he had seen that look before. He moved around to his side, stroking his neck. "Shh, it's just a big, loud, scary noise. Noise is what life is about," he soothed, stroking him. He slowly calmed down to panting with his petting. "Good boy. Now, let's try the stall thing. Get you some water," he said softly, talking to him like he would anyone having a nightmare. He got him back into the stall and sat with him while he ate and drank, getting him calmed down.
"That's a good job," the officer said, looking at Horatio. "He want to join?"
"He's a GHS member," Horatio said quietly. His counterpart sighed. "Can this break that problem?"
"He probably already did. He shouldn't have too many more problems again." Horatio smiled at that. "We'll have to report he had problems but that they're solved. He's another fine candidate. Too bad we only need two. I'll call the others I know in other cities, let them know." Horatio shook his hand. He looked outside. "Not like I blame the poor guy for not liking this one. I don't like this storm." He headed out, going back to his office to call from the dry, safe spot. Plus all his numbers were there.
Ryan leaned on the doorway, looking at them. "He in for the night?"
"He should be okay. Someone should stay to watch him though."
"We're close enough," the wife assured him. She smiled and helped him out. She even patted the nose that came over. "You're a beautiful boy. Yes you are." He nuzzled her. "I'll bring you some sugar later, young man. Eat." He looked when she moved the food bucket and went back to eating. She let Xander out, smiling at him. "Good job."
"He was having a nightmare." He shrugged. "I don't like storms either. The ferrets and I are going to go hide under the covers." He kissed her on the cheek. "You know I don't care if you guys continue to live in the house, right?" She smiled at that. "It's got to help your daughter." He patted her on the shoulder and walked out to his car. Then he headed to go hide under the covers far from the storm.
Danny and Don shared a look, then nodded at the others, heading off to chase their boy before he got into trouble.
Speed looked at Horatio, then at Mac, who had followed, then at Ryan and the other owner. "Ryan, your two?"
"They're fine. I fed them and they're happy horses. I even gave the pregnant one down there some of what they're having. The feed store said it's good for pregnant ones." He grinned. "I'm going to be a grandfather." He bounced down to look at his ladies, getting stereo noses to pet and coo at.
Horatio smiled at that, going to look at the foal, who was napping standing up, as was proper. He snuck off, going back to look at both Princesses. "They'll be fine."
"I know they will. Shelly used the extra Xander paid her for me to bring feed and extra hay." He grinned at him. "Of course you can come ride whenever you want, Horatio." That got a gentle smile. "It also wouldn't be the first time she's ridden double," he said quietly. "Like you do on his bike." Horatio blushed a bit but gave him a knowing look. "It helped. What can I say? Xander brushed her for hours afterward." He let go of the noses. "You girls eat. I've got this weekend off so we'll go for longer rides." That got a neigh and he went to pet that one's nose too. "Yes, someone will come in tomorrow to look after you guys. You'll be well taken care of, no matter where you end up." He rattled the food bucket and the nose dove back in. That was a neat trick she had taught him. He hugged the wife. "Thank you for letting Xander help you." He ran out to his car, heading home.
Horatio looked at Speed. "He said we could take them out this weekend for a long ride," he offered. "Go for a picnic?"
"We could do that," he agreed. "We're still not adopting a horse, Horatio."
"I know. We can borrow one." He smiled and his husband gave him a tolerant look. "Mac?"
"Lindsey's going to go insane when she comes down." He nodded politely at the wife. "I'll be back this weekend to help, ma'am."
"That's fine, dear." She smiled as they left, then looked at the horses. "Now, can I turn out the lights? Or are you guys going to get fussy?" The colt fussed when the lights when off so she turned off most of them, leaving him some light. She gave him a pet to check the halter then headed up to the house. "You wouldn't believe it but that one got the young one haltered and the sound shy one calmed down. Claimed he was having a nightmare." She sat down at the table. "I said I'd pop down later to check on that one."
He smiled. "If you want. Anything else get said?"
"He said we could live here as long as we needed to, it might help her."
He took her hand to hold. "He's good people. Protective. Who were the others?"
"Steve from horse patrol came to look them over. One Ryan said was his boss. Offered him a ride and a picnic outing on his mares. Apparently the other was his husband and their friend or boss. One of the two." He nodded at that. "They have another friend coming in soon named Lindsey. That one decided she'd lose her mind."
"Must be fond of good horses. They are that."
"They are. Especially that young one. The boy's got a good hand going with them."
"Even better," he said happily. He handed her a plate. "We should eat. Then we'll check on them later."
"You know, he might let us manage the old place if we asked."
"Maybe but I never could turn a great profit."
"Not like he's the sort to care," she pointed out. "I take him as one doing it for the love and who has the money to do it properly." He nodded that he'd think about it. It was their home, they had built this ranch but their daughter's medical bills were outrageous.
Xander smiled as Lindsey came off the plane, waving at her from behind the security shield. She waved back and came over once she had her bag. "Welcome to Miami, I am the official welcoming committee," he said happily, taking her arm. "I'm to take you right to the station but Hubert's along since he wanted to bask on the corvette's steering wheel." She gave him an odd look. "He's a baby dragon. He's missing Ryan's horses."
"Ryan. Like Ryan Wolfe? The newest CSI on the team?" He nodded. "How did he get a horse?"
"She's a warmare. We were together and someone gifted her to him." He beamed. "He's also a full warrior himself thanks to the training."
"Warmare?" He nodded, grinning as they walked outside. She waved a hand. "We do not have humidity like this in Montana, or in New York."
"It's like this about half the time," Xander said happily. "It's always nice and warm." He let her into the car. "See, Hubert the baby dragon came to say hi too." He slid in to drive, smiling at her. "I'm to take you right to station but I'm not allowed to bring lunch since the Chief said they don't get anything done for hours whenever I bring lunch."
"That's a dragon," she said. "They're mythical."
"I know. I found his egg at a market off-realm."
"You went where they do that dance," she accused. He beamed and nodded. "Will you show me?"
"Nope. Only some GHS members have been able to do them so far and Danny said I'm not allowed to perform in public after the orgy I caused at the convention." She moaned. "Sorry. But if you're really nice to Ryan he might let you play with his mares." He started the car and moved the dragon off the dashboard, plopping him into her lap. "Hold him, he likes to get under the pedals." He backed out and took her on, watching her stare for a few minutes before breaking down to pet him. "Also, at the new farm, we've got some seized horses. The ASPCA needed stable space." She gave him a look. "What?"
"You have a farm?"
"Ryan had to have somewhere to put his two pregnant mares."
She just shook her head. "Never mind. I'll ask him if I can go riding some day soon. Thank you, Xander." He just grinned. "You still don't like me, do you?"
"Nope. Aiden's my buddy. You upset Aiden and I make your life miserable for weeks on end."
"I have no intention of upsetting Aiden."
"Good, then we're copacetic for a while longer." He pulled onto the interstate and headed for the station, going a little fast. The dragon started to wiggle. "Hold him tighter. He thinks someone's going to ram me again so he keeps trying to force me off the road. If we crash, I'm taking the repair bill out of his scales." The dragon settled down at that. "Thank you. I promise, I went over defensive driving with Eric again." He saw someone in the mirror and changed lanes professionally and courteously. The other person, not so much since he tried to cut off a semi. He snickered when the horns started. The guy wisely kept going and hit the median instead. He saw the flashing blue lights and slowed down. One came after him and he pulled over. "He was trying to follow me way too closely so I changed lanes," he defended when the officer came to his door.
"He did," Lindsey agreed, pulling her ID. "Blinkers and all."
"Do we know why? Can I see your license, sir?" Xander dug out his wallet, then opened the glove compartment. "And your license to have that in there?" he noted when he saw the gun. Xander frowned and looked around, then it hit him on the back of the head. "Neat trick."
"Thanks. It hates me. Keeps trying to run away. It's too redneck to put it on a leash." He handed both over and his registration. "I have no idea. Who was it?"
"Someone who works with Channel Four."
"Hmm. Maybe it's where I tossed one of them off my lawn the other day then." He shrugged. "I'm a high level member of GHS."
The officer moaned. "You're that one, aren't you? Caine's penance for being good to the city?"
"I spoil Horatio Caine and his lab rotten," he defended, starting to pout. "I make them lunch, I make them treats. They're like my family. He plays with my pets." The officer smiled at that and handed it back. "He does. Who calls me his penance?"
"A few of the patrol and state boys, sir. Go. The trucker will back you up I'm sure." Xander beamed and pulled away, doing it properly, letting the automatic window function get the window before his license ran away again. He shook his head and called his partner, who was talking to the trucker, who did indeed back up the guy's story. He told him who he was and the trucker asked for his address. Apparently he had something for him.
Xander walked Lindsey up to the receptionist. "This is CSI Monroe from New York. Mac's expecting her."
"They're all in the break room having a conference, Xander," she said brightly. "No lunch?"
"The Chief called to complain that they don't get anything done when I bring lunch." She pouted. "Pout at him, I did." He leaned closer. "Who's been calling me Horatio's Penance for doing good things for the city?"
"Some very stupid people who we swat," she assured him, smiling and patting his cheek. "Go ahead and take her back, Xander." He nodded and walked her off, taking his visitor's pass from the box and one for her too. She called someone. "He heard," she hissed. "He's upset and he heard. He's going to tell Caine."
"Too late," Stella called as she walked past her. "Horatio heard this morning. There's someone missing skin. Was that Xander?" She nodded. "Good. Now all I have to do is convince the chief he helps us by breaking the tense times so we can have more lunches." She walked on.
"Mac, I picked her up and I didn't even stop to get her lunch, like the Chief ordered me not to," he said, still pouting. He looked at Horatio. "Am I a burden on you? I thought I was being helpful and spoily."
"You are, Xander. I promise you are." Xander gave him a hug. "Go ahead and sit. We're talking about the Chief's new pronouncement. Welcome, Lindsey. I'm Horatio Caine."
"I've heard, sir, and it's an honor to come work in Miami." She shook his hand and the others, smiling at her people. "I'm finally here and the humidity is worse than it was the month the lab air conditioner went out."
"No, today's pretty normal for this time of year," Ryan assured her. "You get used to it." She smiled and sat down. "Eric can even manage sweaters in the summer somehow." Eric glared at him. "You did."
"I do not."
"That baby blue pullover, that's a sweater," Speed agreed. He looked at Lindsey. "You don't so much get used to it as figure complaining only makes the air conditioner quit working for longer periods of time. It gets worse than today." Xander nodded at that. "Even his hair frizzed last week." She shivered. "So, Horatio, what did he say this time?"
"That we'll get a new trainee." Xander smiled. "I've put the notice out here within the PD. They have a month to respond or else I'm going to have to go outside the department." He looked around. "If I do, do we know anyone who might want to transfer in?"
"Donna," Lindsey told him. "She was our trainee."
"Greg or Tony might," Xander offered. "Tony's a full detective in Baltimore's homicide and Greg's just now starting to trainee in the field according to him."
"Greg would be an interesting trainee," Horatio offered. "He dresses like Speed during his grunge period." Speed smirked at him. "Danny, did you want to go with them?"
"Wherever you need me, Horatio."
"Then for right now, I'll stick you back on Mac's team when we split in a few months." He looked at Mac. "Your lab's exterior is done."
"The Chief up there is swearing at himself for being so stupid," Lindsey told him.
"Too late. They're Miami's now," Horatio said with a fond smirk for her. "We'll have to see what happens there and if anyone would want to go back."
"He tried to take our pensions, hell no," Stella said firmly. "I'm going to kick his ass first." Mac looked at her. "I will."
"I'm sure will," he agreed mildly.
"We want tickets for that event," Danny finished with a grin.
"Sure, we'll hold it on the front lawn so everyone in the family can see." Officer Jessop came to the door. "What's up, Jessop?"
"The Chief is here," he said. "He apparently saw Xander's corvette and is looking... purpleish." He walked off since he had warned them.
"I'm being good."
"You are," Speed agreed. "It was very nice of you to not make us take time off work to go pick up Lindsey." The Chief stomped in. "He was picking up CSI Monroe, boss."
Xander pouted. "You said I couldn't. They'll starve if I don't feed them. They work too hard and forget to eat. I know Horatio likes to work through lunch. Ryan and Speed do. Eric's always out in the field during lunch so he never eats right. It'll make him sick to live on fish tacos and burgers." The Chief melted. "Just once a week?" he begged, adding puppy eyes.
"Fine, once a week. Horatio can tell you when, Mr. Harris." He looked at Lindsey and smiled. "Welcome to Miami. I'm sorry about that dreadful accident on the way in."
"I'm not. The guy was trying to ram Xander and he cut off a semi," she told him. He blanched. "We talked to the responding officers and the trucker apparently agreed with us."
"Yes, that's what I heard," he sighed. "Mr. Harris, it was said he had something for you?"
Xander shrugged. "I have everything as far as I know." He looked at Don. "Was your mom or anyone sending down stuff from New York? It was a New York plate on it."
"Not that I've been told. If so, that's a lot of fudge." Danny grinned at that. "We'll see and deal with it, Xander. Whatever it is." Xander nodded. "Now, trees?"
"Coming in next week. He found some older growth ones that had to be moved and he's moving them to us. It's a nice thing and keeping them from being wasted as logs and toothpicks."
"Good. I like that." He looked at the Chief. "We're doing fine, sir."
"I can tell. Are we clear on how the move's going to go?" Horatio nodded. "Then why the meeting?"
"Going over the options for the new trainee, introducing Lindsey to everyone she doesn't know, explaining how the lab works."
"Ah. Fine." He walked off, looking much happier.
Speed reached over and patted Xander on the head. "Good boy." Xander beamed. "Try for a raise for us next time."
"I tried last time. He gave me a look and laughed. Said he had given Horatio too much already and he was obviously spoiled. He said if he got more greedy he'd cut his budget."
"I'm not worried, that's what the Federal grants are for," Horatio said placidly. He'd deal with his boss later. Maybe a surge outside his office.... Speed caught his eye and gave him a look. "Fine, I'll let Xander pout at him again."
"I like your plan better, boss," he said with a fond grin.
"How did you know what he was thinking?" Stella asked.
"The evil look in his eyes was all I needed to see. I knew what was going through his mind. Or I could be wrong and he could be planning to bring the ferrets to work again." He shrugged.
Horatio smiled. "As long as they weren't in the lab."
"Valera said she found more cracker crumbs," Ryan noted. "I assured her they've been at home." He looked down at the nibbling to his ankle. "Hey, Hubert. Did you come in too?"
"He wanted to bask on the steering wheel in the sun," Xander admitted. He grinned at Danny. "Lindsey wanted to see me dance."
"If you do that, she'd try to take you and then I'd have ta shoot her," he said back, sounding fond. "No public performances, Xander."
"Yes, Danny." The GHS members sighed in pleasure. "Not even for the family?"
"I'd like to see it," Mac offered.
Don stared him down. "Sure, if we handcuff you to the chair you're in," he said then he grinned.
"I saw the training copy Xander gave Horatio," Speed offered. "Handcuffs won't be enough, guys."
"He has good self-control," Lindsey defended.
Sheldon looked at her. "Lindsey, I saw Xander practicing one day and nearly hurt myself," he said plainly. "Even with handcuffs, Mac would still try things without his conscious mind working. It's said those dances can raise a GHS member's level."
"That's still unproven," Horatio said firmly. "Also, we do have a good subculture of GHS members in the city, Lindsey, including those in the department."
"You mean some of them work?"
"The lower levels can handle it better," Xander told her. "You worked with one before and didn't know it." He grinned. "We get a membership guide every year."
She looked at Stella and she burst out laughing, shaking her head. "Oh, no. I like chocolate as much as the next girl, but no. Aiden's the one sucking up chocolate like it's her life's blood."
"They said the gift certificate was only good for two years," Speed told her. "We've already asked, you can buy more gift certificates with it." She smiled. "Eric, make sure she knows that."
"I will." He made a note to himself. "This lab and precinct protect Xander and the other GHS among us," he told her. "We're like a family here, Lindsey."
"Was it Ryan? Xander said he had been given horses and that's a pleasurable thing."
Ryan grinned. "I'm the family's protector. If Xander has to get into trouble, they send me for some reason."
"You got injured," Eric told him, shrugging a bit. "If you hadn't, one of the others would've went to watch Xander learn how to dance."
"No, because we don't have immunity from it yet," Speed complained. "Not even him."
"Some," Ryan offered. "Not total," he said at the looks. "After thirty minutes or during some of the more intense dances? Not yet." Frank, Yelina, and Ray came in. "Guys, this is Lindsey Monroe, she's from Mac's old lab as well."
"Speaking of those dances. Some of us wanna see," Frank ordered, looking at Xander, then at Don. "Can you?"
"A very little bit, Frank. I need a lot more flexibility to do that."
"Horatio?" Yelina asked. He grinned at her. "Do not teach my son."
"He's not old enough yet," Xander assured her. "Can we teach him how to ride Ryan's horses?"
"If you must," she sighed. "No lunch?"
"The Chief said I couldn't," he pouted. "Only once a week."
She frowned. "That man has to quit meddling. You're wearing some of those urges out by spoiling the rest of us."
"They're calling me Horatio's penance for doing good things for the city," he said, looking pitiful now. "Even the receptionist. Stella heard her."
"That'll be stopped," Frank assured him. "Now, quit pouting." Xander gave him the pitiful look. "I promise, we'll help stop it, kiddo. Just quit." Xander nodded, resting his head on Danny's shoulder. "Thanks." He looked at Ray Kowalski, who was walking out. Then he came sauntering back with his bottle of water. "Good trip?"
"Much." He smiled sweetly. "Teach my boyfriend to head to Paris without warning," he said dryly. He flopped down beside Xander and gave him a hug. "How is the dragon?" He pointed at where he was nestled in Speed's lap. "Awww. Hi, Hubert."
"Yelina doesn't believe he's a dragon," Frank told them. Hubert raised his head and gave her a 'what are you smoking' look. She came over and Speed let her have him for a few minutes, Frank smiling when she cooed at him. "He's a very good napping buddy, even if he does like to release the ferrets to run around with him." He looked at Xander. "Call something in for us?" He grinned and did that, sending the careful text message to someone. It came back declined. He looked at his card, then took Danny's wallet to get that one. It went through this time. Frank grinned. "Thanks, kiddo. The wife forgot."
"Frank, her mother's sick. She's got more important things to fuss over," Xander reminded him. "She's got to nag nurses and swear at the doctors, plus rant at God."
"True, and she does that then comes home to clean the house in frustration. Even Wolfe would think it was clean." Ryan grinned at that. "Seriously. She bleached the dishes. I ate out last night and the night before."
"Rinse them in vinegar then wash them the normal way, Frank. Rotgut, dollar a five gallon drum vinegar. The same stuff you use to clean the coffeemaker." He grinned at that. "I learned that lesson the second time."
"How did you stand living in the dorms?" Eric asked him.
"In a private room," Ryan said with an evil smirk. "I tried to have a roomie the first two semesters. They ran screaming from me. I even repacked their things for them," he finished fondly. Everyone laughed at that. "The college got proof of my OCD after that and couldn't make me pay extra to have a single room. It was nice of them and I moved off campus shortly afterward. A student-only apartment complex. We traded help. I cleaned, they cooked for me. I got to be the pretend boyfriend for the two lesbians who lived upstairs and they told my mother I was a good boy who'd never think of doing dirty and nasty things that would require touching another person. They even protected the fish I used to have."
"Your mother and I get to have a talk soon, right?" Xander asked. Ryan shook his head. "Please, Ryan? Pretty please? I won't make you do my hair if you lose our next sparring session."
"I like your hair. It helps me think." Xander shifted over, letting him comb through it with his fingers. "Boss, I was thinking. The Dupree case? Could that be a hit?"
"I'd hope not. It's possible." He looked at Xander, who was grinning. "Let Frank do it, Xander. He's got a case I can't find any evidence on. He's a great muse, Frank." Frank sighed but petted his hair. He frowned. He thought. Then he slapped the table and went to make a call. "Told you so," Horatio called after him. "Thank you, Xander."
"Welcome," he said proudly. "You know I like to help." Calleigh giggled at that. "I do."
"You're very helpful. Especially when you feed us." She got the page and went to get the food, carrying it back, wincing when she finally let it onto the table. "Really hot, guys. Paper plates?"
"The didn't send plates?" Xander asked. "Usually they're so much better than that and I ordered drinks too." She went back to check, finding the delivery person with the second bag of things, taking them with a smile. Xander got up and kissed his lovers on the cheek. "Later, guys. Happy snacks." He headed out, then came back to get his dragon from Yelina. "If I leave him Don will complain and the Feds will come back."
Horatio looked at the dragon. "Should you get caught by a Federal investigator, burn him." The dragon wiggled down and moved to beg Stella into feeding him some of the lasagna. "Good. Go, Xander. Behave and plan where the trees are going."
"Yes, Horatio." He bounced out, smiling and waving at the chief and the other guys. "There might be some left later, Jessop." He grinned at him. "Horatio's got a trainee position open."
"I'll spread that around, Xander. What did you get them today?"
"Lasagna. Plus I gave Frank an idea. A lot of the CSI like to pet my hair while they think." He shrugged and walked out.
Jessop went into the break room to blatantly steal some of the food. "Thank you, sir. I'll pass around the new opening in the lab." He looked at the dragon, then shook his head. He looked at Horatio. "Sir, there's been some suggestions that some of the patrol officers might be needed to calm Mr. Harris down now and then. I know they're not right but a few have suggested it. Would you like their names or should I just point them out to Wolfe so he can cut into them with the sword in his locker?"
"Point them out to me. Ryan's not allowed to use his sword in the building," Horatio said quietly.
"What are they saying?" Eric asked, digging in.
"Something about lining them all up and doing a chorus line maneuver to Mr. Harris and others like him if they had to so the chaos around him would calm down."
"No, that would get the rest of us very upset," Danny assured him. "Have some garlic bread, Jessop." That got a smile and he took some of that too, heading out. "Ryan, you've got a sword in your locker?"
"And in my car. It's what I am, guys." Horatio looked at him. "It is."
"No using it at the station without my approval, Ryan."
"Yes, boss." He ate a bite and grinned once he had swallowed. "I try not to be a good boy like Xander is."
Yelina giggled at that, throwing her balled up napkin at him. "Try harder, Ryan." She dug in and moaned. This was good.
Horatio looked at Ryan. "You do try," he agreed with a small smile. "Maybe I'll start sending Eric with him."
"He might like being stolen."
"No I wouldn't. I'm not fond of the whole 'Xander's family is a harem' idea that some of his suitors have either. I'm not one to lay there and take it."
Ryan looked at him. "Really?" He grinned. "Have to remember that." Eric gave him a dirty look. "And tell Aiden." Eric blushed and looked away, shaking his head. "By the way, you forgot my birthday too."
"Sure, I'll be sorry tonight," he agreed. He looked around, seeing the speculative looks. "Did anyone remember your birthday?"
"Xander and Horatio did. Horatio left me a card in my locker. Xander sent me a special eclair cake." He grinned. "I told him not to make a fuss."
"When was your birthday?" Calleigh asked. "You never even hinted."
"Last week," Horatio told her. "The day he was on the sugar rush from that cake made of eclairs." Ryan could only smile at that. He knew he was guilty as charged on that count.
Xander got home and found a truck in front of his gate, and the waiting neighborhood patrol guys. "What's going on? I'm not moving today."
"It's for you, sir, we don't know anything else," the usual driver said from the passenger's seat. His cast was hanging out the window. "We'd like it if you fixed it though."
"I'd like to know what it is first." He looked at the trucker. "I'm sorry the guy trying to ram me cut you off."
"You did what you should have, sir." The man took off his hat. "I taught my daughters the same move. Most truckers are protective sorts." He handed over his clipboard. "This was ordered for you, sir. I'm just the driver," he offered.
Xander looked at it, then at him. "Someone ordered a chocolate what?" The driver nodded. "How big is this thing?"
"Eight foot, sir. Um, where should we put it?"
"Hopefully in someone's freezer because I don't even have a chest freezer." He looked at the clipboard again. "How did they freeze it?"
"They've got it packed in cold packs and things. It was only shipped from Orlando." Xander looked at the plates and he smiled. "The company." He nodded. "I've got to deliver it, sir. They won't let me not deliver it."
Xander signed and opened the gate. "To the garage, watch out for the dogs and any possible ferrets."
"Sure." He grinned and handed over something else. "That's the other thing I'm carrying. I have no idea."
Xander looked at the name at the top. Cartier. Uh-huh. "Same spot please." That got a nod and he drove the truck up to the house. Xander called Don. "I think we have another one. Well, there's a giant chocolate monument and something from Cartier here, Don. Did you order me a chocolate monument? Or Speed and Horatio?" Don asked them and got 'no's from them too. "Come home on time tonight?" he requested. "Thank you." He hung up when he saw another truck coming up. He blinked, then looked at the patrol guys. "Do not ask me. I have no idea."
"We know these things happens."
"Yeah, apparently to me." This one was at least a smaller truck. It was for a game show and driven by a familiar driver. He sat down on his hood, watching as it went to another house. Then the driver looked at him and winked. He sent a prayer about his new chocolate monument, hearing the cackle and seeing a head shake. He whimpered and shook his head, looking down. "Damn it," he muttered. He got in and headed up there pulling around him so he could park in the garage. He walked inside and moved the ferrets and the dogs out of the way, getting a smile. The driver put the dolly down and slid the box off, letting him have it. "Thank you," he said quietly. "Need a tip?"
"No, sir. Just wondering what you were going to do with it?"
"Well, right now I'm going to go into the bedroom and cry," he admitted, giving him a look. "Then later on, I have no clue what my boyfriend will be doing with it." The man nodded and patted him on the back, heading back to back down the driveway. The animals all appeared suddenly in the living room and the doors were locked, then Ares appeared. Xander looked at him. "Worried they'll follow you home?"
"Worried they'll try to leave with the truck, Xander." He looked inside the top of the box, then at him. "Why would anyone send *you* that in chocolate?"
Xander shrugged. "I have not a clue, Ares. You're the god, aren't you as omnipotent as Q was on Star Trek?"
"Yes, but not even I can fathom this one. Or him for that matter. What's in the case?"
Xander opened it. "Girl jewelry?" He looked up. "We do realize I'm gay, right?" he called. "Gay and *male*?" Unfortunately neither one changed. Xander gave Ares a hug. "I'm going to take a nap now. Love you."
"You go nap, Xander." He watched him go, then looked in the box again. If that were to scale on a human... That did make him think. And smile.
Don walked in first. The others were behind him and he got to see the monument first. That's all the neighborhood patrol guys would say. He saw the crate and checked it. It was still cold. The others came in and he waved a hand. "Here it is. I don't see dinner either."
"Pizza's coming," Xander called weakly. He wandered into the kitchen. "Can someone make that go away?"
"I'd love to, let's see it first," Danny told him. Xander handed him the briefcase. He opened it. "It's girl stuff. Again." Xander nodded, giving him a look. "Okay." He put it down to the side and Speed got the pizzas, signing the slip in Xander's name. "Let's open this thing." Xander handed him a claw hammer then wandered off again.
"Xander?" Horatio called. He heard the semi-hysterical laugh. "Go cuddle the dogs." He took the hammer and opened the top of the crate, letting Don and Eric take it off. Then a side. Then the side touching the first one. They all stared at the eight foot vagina.
"That's one large...." Eric started but Aiden nudged him. "What's in the corner?" Horatio pulled the cover off that, finding a six foot white chocolate dildo that was built like a slimline one. He started to giggle. "Um." He ran outside to cackle at that.
"I'm going to agree with Eric," Calleigh said, going to hug Xander. "We'll cut into the six foot white chocolate vibrator," she soothed. He let out another hysterical sounding laugh. "Shh." He looked at her and shook his head. "It'll be okay."
Horatio came out. "That is tasteless in the extreme, Xander. Yelina's taken a look and went to tell her son he has to come in the front door." He sat on his other side. Xander rested against him. "We'll talk to this new one."
Xander looked at him. "I'm not a girl and I hate girls. Girls are bad and evil."
"Not all of us."
He looked at her. "I'm not dating you! You'd turn evil too!"
"I might," she agreed, giving him another hug. "It'll be okay."
Danny leaned in. "Anyone mind if we take an axe to those things and spread it around to the group?" Horatio shook his head. "Speed said you guys didn't need any."
"Give me some of the white chocolate, Danny, please."
"Sure." He went to find the axe and clean the blade, then carried it inside. "Everyone out of the way!" Everyone but Ryan moved. "You too."
"We'll have to hold it. Neither one's very stable."
Yelina took the axe, cutting into it. That was an affront to her femininity. It was not going to be allowed, or near her son. She panted when she finally got the outer lips cut off. Danny took it back and went to work on the main part of the vagina.
"Someone somewhere would say something about the symbolism," Speed joked. "Women doing female castration. Gay men destroying that which they don't love."
Don put a piece in Speed's mouth. "Your own slutty side is showing, Speed. Go wear it out." He turned him around and gave him a shove. When Danny was starting to sweat he took his turn with the axe, wearing himself out. He handed it to Ryan, who got into the dildo.
"Horatio said he wants a piece of that," Danny told him. Ryan handed him over the foot thick piece of the tip. "Thanks." He found some saran wrap and covered it then went to hand it to Horatio. "First off the top."
"Thank you." He looked at Speed, who was nibbling the chocolate he had been fed. "Is it good chocolate?"
"Decent. Better than Hershey's, less than the stuff we've got at home." He finished off that piece. "We'll freeze the dildo chocolate." Xander let out another whimper. "Knock him out?"
Horatio nodded and did that.
Mac came in and looked then at the others. He had been running late. "What was it?"
Don handed over the camera. "Sit down," he said before he could get into the pictures he had taken while Danny went for the axe.
Mac sat down and looked at it, then at him. "Stella's where?"
"Giggling with Eric and Aiden on the front lawn with Ray Junior."
Mac handed back the camera and got chunks of each from Danny. "That'll last me forever."
"Feed them to Stella, Mac." He walked off blushing. Danny looked at Don. "Did I read that wrong?"
"No." He took their chunks and put them into the freezer. Ryan's went into his car. The others all got their parts but Yelina, who was still scowling. Don nudged her. "Whoever gave Xander girl jewelry too."
She snorted. "It's the hair." She went to talk to the boy, making sure he didn't like that sort of thing. He was protesting that he hated women so she supposed it was all right. As long as he didn't spread that to her son.
Horatio found the clue he'd been needing and sat back, sighing in frustration. It appeared his brother was alive. He would have to find him. He was family. He cleared his computer and got up to go back to work and think. He needed to think.
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