Notes: all t-shirt slogans come either from Scribe's wonderful site or coolsig.com
Xander walked off the elevator, looking at the name on the envelope then around the room. It was a standard office setting, little cubicles all in rows. He grimaced and walked into the nearest one, holding up the envelope. The man cattycorner from him got pointed at. "Thanks." He walked over there, standing in front of him. "I got sent to you."
"Why?" the older man said, looking at him. "Do I know you?"
"Probably not but my teachers sent me to you with this and said for you to get me to see your bosses about an internship. Apparently they decided it'd be a good thing to try, otherwise I'll end up looking at the normal labs."
"Uh-huh. Internship during school?"
"Post-grad." He grinned. "Ballistics with a minor in trace and experience in construction and explosives. I did my in-school internship at a military academy out in LA where they tested a lot of new weapons."
"Oh. That's where I heard of you."
"They sent my picture?"
"Probably." He took the letter to read over, nodding at some of it. "Not too bad for qualifications. Why send you to me?"
"You knew my Ballistics mentor and he said I'm scarily like your Abby sometimes. Though I would have to warn about certain t-shirts around here, Agent Gibbs."
"Hmm." He nodded once and walked him off. "I'm going for coffee with the kid." Xander obediently followed him, letting him read over the rest of the letter. He looked at him. "Any problems with working here?"
"Don't let me date without a background check. Don't make me go to Cleveland or you'll never see me outside of a hotel room. I deal in strange shit but I'm retiring the day I graduate college."
"Define strange." Xander took off his shirt, letting him see the scars he had. "Those are bite marks and that's not human," he said, looking at one. He looked at Xander. "Outside, kid." Xander put back on his shirt, following him outside. "Where you from?"
"Sunnydale. Yes, I know I have a sealed 'do not touch' file. Yes I was there when we took down the Initiative. My instructor knows that because I had to save him from something trying to eat him a few months back. He thought you should meet me anyway and I'd still scarily get along with Abby, his phraseology."
Gibbs blinked. "I know that name...."
"Covert operation to train demons to be grunts."
"I remember those freaks."
"I helped stop those freaks. They had a friend. They wanted to end the world. It was Wednesday for us."
He snickered. "Okay, so the real obstacle is the file?"
"Or sending me to Cleveland. My former friends are there and you don't want to hear that rant. I don't know you that well, you can hear it some other time," he finished more cheerfully, even with a scary grin.
Gibbs snorted and nodded. "The dating thing?"
"I only date evil women. My last one turned serial killer to kill my friends over and over."
"Okay. You would fit with Abby," he agreed. "Ballistics?"
"With a minor in Trace and field classes, plus the construction experience and demolitions. Plus I like artillery. I have to find a way for my personal collection to come with me." He shifted closer. "It'd be a year's internship, Agent Gibbs. Then I'm looking to find some small department where I can have dogs."
"That's probably reasonable. You like coffee?"
"I lived on it for the past few years." He shrugged and pointed. "Shall we? Before I get in trouble for annoying you?"
"Sure." He walked him down to the coffee shop. "Have you been in the field?"
"Yeah, I had to take two mandatory field classes. I figured taking the other four for a second minor was logical and a good thing for future work possibilities. I did six weeks with the lab in San Diego for that. Mostly I stood around going 'you missed a hair' to the person I was following for five weeks and then he had me in the lab the last one because he didn't want to get me involved in his serial case."
"No, she was killing representatives of my friends over and over. She's in a padded room," he admitted, holding the door for him. "Hopefully she'll stay there, but you never know with some psycho chicks. Then again, I seem to draw them. The one before her was in vengeance and I nearly toasted my ass when I left her at the altar."
Gibbs blinked at him. "You walked away?"
"Her friends showed me how miserable we'd be. I turned into my father. I'm still having nightmares about what they showed me." He looked up. "How strong do they make it?"
"My strength and I'm a former Marine."
"Hmm, field strength so I should get the medium." He walked up there. "Hi, can I have a number three, milk, real milk not soy, and two of sugar?" He nodded, ringing that up. Xander got his and waited while they fixed it and Gibbs got his. The kid didn't even have to ask. He just rung him up and went to pour it himself. "Come here a lot?" he joked.
"Every few hours," he admitted. "Helps me think."
"Helped me get through Calc and Chem with tutors," Xander admitted. He shrugged at the look. "I do practical so much better than I do classroom lectures. Especially since my Chem teacher was found to be making drugs." He took a sip and nodded. "Good, thank you." He followed Gibbs back. "Anyway," he sighed. "The military academy I did my ballistics field hours in was good. I got to make sure who hit the target was who said they did. I got to work on their tester weapons. I had to show someone why one was going to blow up on them and help them fix it. I also got to show off my scary artillery knowledge to my ballistics teacher because he let us do neat things like fire a land-to-air rocket into a brick and cement block building we had so we could recreate it to see the damage coefficient." He took a sip, weathering the strange look. "I know, but it was fun," he said with an evil grin. "Very, very nice explosion."
"Uh-huh. Ever think about going into the service?"
"Yup. Won't but yup." Gibbs looked at him again. "I have the utmost respect for it, but I'd drive someone nuts." He took another drink. "So, do you think my teacher's going to be mad at me for scaring you?"
"I've seen worse. Wait until you meet Abby."
"Okay. Is she a vampire?"
Xander snickered. "Gibbs, one last thing you should know." He pulled him out of the way of foot traffic. "I worked on a hunting team from tenth grade until the day I graduate college. That's in three weeks. There's kinda an apocalypse when I get back that I'll have to help with. That's about ten years of hunting the paranormal. Most goths, not even close." Gibbs stared at him in horror. "That's one reason he sent me to you, so you could make sure I don't go out and break into a sudden *need* to go hunting. That way I have someone who can point out where I'm going wrong when I slip back into that mindset."
"I see." He sipped his coffee and thought. "How many do you think you got?"
"I don't keep stats. Do I look like a serial killer to you?" he asked dryly. "What I did was necessary. Our town had more walking nasties than living ones. Staked my first at sixteen, kept going until about last week. You're in a low concentration area and I like that. If not, I'm thinking about applying to Las Vegas."
Gibbs nodded once. "That's not a bad handicap to have."
"No, I have a small one of those but it's compensated for," he admitted. "Has been since the day Sunnydale became a hole in the ground." Gibbs arched up an eyebrow. "I walked into that battle with injuries. Learned real fast when someone was coming up on that injured side."
"Left or right?"
"Okay." He stared at him, then suddenly blinked. "One's glass."
"Yup. That's what keeps me out of SWAT," he said dryly, saluting him with his coffee. "I'm still one of the most competent in the field today. Especially in the hunting I used to do. I know *very* well how to compensate for it in battles, gun battles, and running battles. Plus hunting."
Gibbs nodded. "You're honest."
"I was told you'd never accept me if I wasn't. I was told not to be a smart ass and not to wear any of my smart-ass t-shirts," he offered with a goofy grin.
Gibbs smirked. "Good idea. How bad?" Xander just smirked back. "Uh-huh. We do have a dress code."
"I'm sure you'll yell if one's too bad," he agreed.
"Good. Then we understand each other. C'mon." He led him back into the building and up into the elevator, taking him to the director's office. "He in?"
"MTAC, Agent Gibbs."
"I can wait," Xander agreed. "I only have a level two security clearance. Had to for my internship," he said at the odd look.
Gibbs nodded. "Sit. Finish your coffee." He walked out, going to the situation room. He looked at his boss. "I had someone sent to me to help Abby in the lab for an internship. One of the guys I served with is teaching ballistics."
"At UCLA, I heard," the director said, giving him a look. "You like this person he sent, Jethro?"
"He's a lot like Abby with my instincts. I think they'll work."
"I can interview him," he agreed, following him back. He smiled at the young man. "Do I know you?"
"Nope, not unless you got into my files."
"Probably not." He let him into his office. "Jethro took you out for coffee?"
"We talked about my in-school internship out at Sack's Academy, sir." He sat, being a bit more stiff with him. "My major's in ballistics with a minor in trace but I also have construction and demolitions experience. Plus I've taken all the mandatory field classes for a minor there."
"Good. That's more than I usually see. Did you want to stay in a federal lab?"
"No, to be honest, I want to become the princess of a small lab and raise dogs," he said with a grin. "After all, I'm cute and cuddly but I date evil women so they'll have to pay attention to that." The director laughed. "My last one was a serial killer," he said with a small shrug. "She's not the worst I've dated either. I'm realistic. Dogs are safer."
He smiled and nodded. "Did you bring your transcripts?" Xander pulled out another envelope, handing it over. "Thank you. Your name, son?"
"Xander Harris. Please ignore that file."
"What file, son?"
Xander looked at him. Then outside, getting a nod. He looked at his future boss again. "I was there when the Initiative came down," he said quietly. "I'm from Sunnydale. There's a 'do not touch' rating somewhere. I'm usually easy to get along with however. I only eat stupid feds for breakfast. I don't take you or Gibbs for that sort however. My instructor said he wasn't and he could easily tell the others I'm not that mean."
The director typed his name into his computer, looking at the file. "I'd say." He looked at him. "You were more than there, son."
"There were only four of us," he shot back dryly, giving him a look. "I hunted since I was sixteen, sir. I'm retiring the day I get that pretty piece of paper from UCLA in three weeks."
"Hmm." He stared at him then went over his transcripts. "Why so low in those classes?"
"I learn better from practical education. Plus my chem teacher was making LSD. I did have a tutor to put it back into practical application for me."
"That's good. Anything else I should know?" he asked, changing pages. He blinked at one thing then at him. "Left or right?"
"Left. Fully compensated for. I can and have went into the field since it happened, sir. That happened right before Sunnydale turned into a hole. I was there and injured, I learned how to compensate really fast."
"Good!" He went back to reading, smiling at the boy across from him. He finally smirked. "Did your teacher ever say you reminded him of Gibbs?"
"No, he said I'm scarily more like Abby since I usually bounce. I'm a bit hyper usually. I'm holding it in today," he said with a goofy grin. "Don't want to *scare* anyone."
"Good idea." He nodded. "When can you start?"
"I graduate in three weeks, have to pack up the small amount of crap and the artillery I have, then drive it out here. Five weeks? That'll give me enough time to drive and not kill others with sleepy road rage plus find a dump to live in?" That got a nod and he shook his hand. "Should I ask about salary?"
"Our interns get the usual stipend, the two thousand a month you expect, and if they pull too much overtime we see if they're worthy of more." Xander nodded at that. "Good. Anything else you can ask?"
"I usually wear t-shirts and decent pants. Should I shop?"
"I'd prefer you not upset Abby. She's a bit...odd but she's a genius in the field."
"I get along better with women then men, sir. Just promise you'll never send me to Cleveland so I don't have to become a paranoid person."
"Not an issue," he assured him. "They moved there?"
"After telling me I was stupid, unworthy, and couldn't possibly deal with their lives," he finished blandly, giving him a look. "That thing I'd helped them with for years on end, ya know? I stayed with Angel and I worked with him."
"Good enough for me. I probably won't have a reason to send you up there, Xander."
"Thanks, sir. Anything else?"
"Forms, son. Forms. Have Gibbs take you to meet Abby and then to HR if she can stand you."
"Okay." He shook his hand and walked off, smiling at Gibbs. "I'm sure you heard."
"I did. You'll like Abby."
"I hope so. I don't like making women pout." They got onto the elevator and went down a few floors, letting him walk into the lab first. "Hmm, compact but useable. Very nice," he said. The dark pigtails bounced and the woman attached to them spun around. He grinned and waved. "Hi, I'm a Xander. You're my last person to meet to see if I can be your ballistics and trace intern for a year of post-grad work. With a side of explosives and construction if you need it."
She blinked. "Huh?" Gibbs walked in. "Gibbs?"
"This is Xander Harris, Abby." She gaped in awe. "You know him?"
"Of him," she said dryly.
"Please don't listen to Willow and Buffy," he moaned. "They're both stupid, prejudice bitches who think I'm dryer lint." He gave her a pitiful look. "I'm much better than they think."
"I can see that," she said dryly, giving him a look. "Hunting?"
"The day I graduate and get the pretty paper is the day I retire. One apocalypse in the way between," he admitted.
"Don't get dead, kid," Gibbs ordered.
"I don't plan on it but I do get to play with the shiny artillery during it," he quipped, giving him a look. Then at Abby, grinning at him. "So, can I come learn from you?"
"In or out?"
"Ballistics with a minor in trace?" He nodded. "Okay. We can try. When do you start?"
"Five weeks," Gibbs told her. "That gives him enough time to drive and to get rid of the artillery we'd have to arrest him for bringing across state lines." Abby and Xander shared a look and he grinned at her. "If you do and I find out we'll have to arrest you, Xander," he reminded him.
"I know," he sighed. He shrugged at Abby. "Anyway, t-shirts? I tend toward obscure, mean, or snarky sayings."
"I'll let you know if it's too much. Make sure you've got a spare in your locker I've approved of. Dark jeans are fine but I'd prefer better. Sneakers are good."
"Okay." He nodded. "That's about most of my wardrobe. I promise not to wear leather. Just don't let me date without a background check."
"I heard," she said dryly. She came over to kiss him on the cheek. "Go fill out the scary forms, Xander." He beamed and nodded, bouncing some. "Good boy." She patted him on the cheek and gave Gibbs a hug. "I love you for getting me my very own Xander. Now shoo, I've got a stuck gun."
Xander took it and looked at it, then got the gun oil and used it, then went into the firing chamber to fix that for her. He brought it out and handed it back then walked out with Gibbs following.
"He's good," she said, nodding. "I'll like him, even if he does turn scary when he dates." Gibbs walked off shaking his head. "Ooh, he'll learn," she said happily, going to tell Ducky. "We're getting a Xander intern," she said happily. "Ballistics and trace, Ducky." He grinned at her. "He's a very nice guy. About my age. Worked with a Brit before so maybe he'll understand you better than Tony does."
"That might be," he agreed, kissing her on the temple. "Be a good girl, dear. When is he coming?"
"Five weeks." She beamed. "He even wears mean t-shirts."
"Then I'm sure you two will get along quite well."
"Probably. He got along with his former friends and they were girls. Much meaner girls than I am." She bounced back to her lab to get to work. Ducky could only smile at that enthusiasm. She was infectious.
Xander showed up his first day, making the guards stare at him in horror. "I'm working with Abby, I'm her intern," he said with a grin.
"Abby?" one guard asked another.
"The one with the scary shoes you can't look higher up on." He hand wanded him, giving him back his gun once he had seen the permit and the new work pass. "I didn't know lab techs got to carry, Mr. Harris."
Xander shrugged. "It's going in my locker, guys. Plus I'm a *ballistics* intern. Most of us like guns." He beamed at him. "Am I okay enough?"
They just nodded and let him go. He had the proper forms and IDs for the gun and to be there. One did call his supervisor to let him know that Abby had a new intern. That way they could monitor her security system.
Xander found the locker room with a point from Gibbs, finding his new locker with his name already on the tape on it. He put his things in there and pulled out one of his lab coats, his glasses, and one other thing. Then he closed it and used his lock on it, heading to the lab. He walked in and handed her the black velvet bear with a grin, putting on his lab coat so he could learn the lab's layout.
"You didn't have to bring presents."
"Willow raised me. Yes I did." He slid on his glasses, giving her a look overtop then a wicked smirk. "I also brought a nerf suction cup gun for downtimes."
"We don't get many of those."
He kissed her on the cheek. "I'm here to pull my own weight, Abby. I don't want favors or favoritism. I expect to come out of my internship being as capable as you are and I've worked for a *long* time. I'm not some goofy little twenty-three-year-old frat boy." She nodded at that, putting the stuffed animal on her desk then getting back to work typing something. "Anything I can do?"
"You can get me a soda," she offered with a smile.
"I only treat the one I'm dating, Abby. Did you really want to turn evil?"
"Well, no," she admitted, thinking about it. "Not today. C'mere. You're going to get more experience in trace than ballistics."
"That's fine." He came over to look over her shoulder. "I can't program."
"That's why we have me and McGee, baby." She beamed at him then got back to work. "Okay, this is our current case. Everything is laid out on the table. Do a preliminary sweep for trace for me, Xander." He nodded, moving to do that, pulling over a stool to sit on while he worked. "Do you mind music?"
"Not in the least. I have some in my locker but I tend toward softer grunge, eighties metal, some comedy stuff, and some country."
"Sorry." He gave her a look. "Your lab. I'll complain if I get a headache or I'll take my first paycheck and get an iPod. Not a problem." She beamed and turned on her music, dancing while she worked. He smiled and got back to work. "Am I cutting samples out?" he called over the music. She came over and looked then nodded. He marked then cut out the small sample, letting her have it once he had it formally prepared and marked on the sheet. Then he got back to work hunting for more. A few he could swab. A few he couldn't. A few hairs in the cuffs of his pants. One of his own that dropped. "I need a hair net."
"Mark it on the sheet, Xander. That way I know to expect it might show up." He nodded and did that. He also bagged it and wrote on the bag what it was from. Then he got up and went into the bathroom to recomb his hair. He came back. "Grooming?" she teased.
"Don't want to shed more and be a suspect," he said with a wry grin. He finished up with the last piece of clothing and came over to help her run things. She swatted his hand. "I've got to do it, you know that." She sighed and rolled her eyes so he went back to work. He grinned when the director came in, waving a hand. "Hi, Director."
Abby turned down her music when she heard him. "Hi, Director." She smiled at him. "Thank you for getting me a Xander of my own."
"I know you're used to working alone, Abby. How are you two doing so far?"
"Okay but he's still trying to run samples." She swatted him and took the one he was doing. "Hold on, that's a wet mount."
"It's a smear from a liquid stain. I've got a swab sample going in the GCMS already. This way we can visually compare it to the one I found that looked slightly different on the back of his shirt in case they're similar." He swatted her hand and took it back, going back to it. "Told you I was going to pull my own weight," he said dryly. He grabbed the results and got to work on the next sample.
The director smiled at the look on her face. "He is very talented, Abby. Remember, he's here to be trained and to make sure he knows what he's doing."
"Also to give you the day off if I do have some sort of idea," Xander offered with a grin for her. "That way you know I can handle it on my own. Future employers like that stuff. I know I did when I was a boss." He ran that sample and started to correlate data. "Was the guy in a field? That's crop fertilizer."
She pulled it up and shook her head. "No. Not unless he was using it on his lawn." She looked over his shoulder, entering the chemicals into the database she had for that. "Huh. Used for tomato crops. I didn't think we were the right climate to grow those in mass quantities."
"Maybe it'll point to a killer," the director offered.
"Or maybe he was using it in his personal garden," Xander offered then he shrugged. "We'll see." He got the next results and kept going, getting them all processed and entered into the system, moving so she could check it. "I'm used to writing short reports, am I?"
"I usually just tell Gibbs, reports are for the prosecutors," she offered. He nodded, getting to work on those. She watched him type. "Hy, not hi." He corrected it and kept going. "Now, how are you going to present it?" He spelled and grammar checked it then printed it out, putting the reports where they should go. Then he presented it to her and went to clean the ballistics area. "Okay, I'm impressed," she decided, cracking the director up. "Thank you for getting me a Xander of my own, Director."
"Not a problem. Should I tell Gibbs you've got something for him?"
"I'll bounce up in a few minutes." He nodded and left. "Xander." He came out. "Where did you do your in-school?"
"Sacks Academy, out by LA. I did my mandatory field hours with the San Diego PD going 'you missed a hair' for five weeks then I got grounded to the lab because they pulled a ritual murder and he didn't want me to get sucked into something that could come with a high profile. I got excellent evaluation marks," he offered with a shy smile.
"I can see why." She stared at him. "We can get along. You can even have your own monitor." She pointed at the one on the left. "Use that one. McGee often uses the one you were on." He nodded. "You can put up some mild decoration if you want too." He grinned at that. "There's a few rules you should know. Never call me ma'am. Never call Gibbs sir. He'll swat you. Never apologize to Gibbs' team. Gibbs sees it as a sign of weakness. So unless you screwed up majorly don't." He nodded again, leaning against the wall, arms crossed. "Never touch the sacred coffee. Gibbs is meaner without it. Also, Gibbs' team works like mules in a mine. Sometimes we do too."
"Not like you can stop an apocalypse due to tiredness, Abby. I was in college and helping Angel at Wolfram and Hart at the same time. There were plenty of times I wrote papers on the way to fights and while I was being stitched up." She smiled at that. "I don't want it permanently. Some year I'd like to slow down but I know I'll have some overtime here and there, even though interns are only supposed to be working thirty hours a week."
"Crap, I forgot about that." He came over to give her a hug. "Thanks, Xander. Are you sure you won't get me a soda?"
"Only if I'm suddenly dating you. I had a lot of that problem with Anya so I gave up."
"Anyanka, the one I nearly married? In Vengeance?" he prompted. She shuddered. "Money ho and sex ho. I was *always* buying her crap."
"Sure, I can understand that. Maybe I should set you up with a nice girl."
"Do you want to visit them when they turn bad?"
"Well.... no," she decided, shaking her head, making her pigtails hit her on the forehead. "We'll work on finding you some new female friends." She beamed. "We're having a football outing this weekend. Want to come with me? Meet Gibbs' team?"
"Watch them have gay sex in teams?" he asked, looking confused. "Don't you have to pay for that?"
Her mouth fell open. She let out a squeak. She slowly started to shake her head. "No, not sex. Football."
"With the grabbing, aggressive sex tendencies, and all those sexual positions?" he suggested, nodding a bit. "Tara said it's just like aggressive gay sex in teams."
She squeaked a bit higher. "Oh, dear. We're going to have to fix that before Tony hears you say that. He played ball."
"Oh. I got tutored by gang members so I guess it's all good. Wanna come help me decorate my slum of choice tonight? That way you can preview the t-shirt collection?"
"Xander, do the girls around you go bad because maybe you're a little bit gay?" she asked hesitantly. "Not that I care and I'm sure no one else will, I mean it's a personal issue. Not like you're going to have comfy cuddles with anyone here or anything."
"I figured out long ago that I could find about one out of every ten thousand worthy but not really. I'm much oriented toward women. Now and then one will strike me but it'd only be for fun and games. I can't see myself settling down. I'll have dogs. It's better that way." She just nodded and gave him a hug then got back to work. "Now what, boss?" he quipped with a bright grin.
"Go back to the ballistics stuff and see if you can find the shell casing I lost in there last week. I looked everywhere."
"Okay." He went to do that.
Abby squeaked when someone came into the lab, one hand on her chest. "Give me a warning, McGee!" She punched him on the arm. "What's wrong?"
"Gibbs thinks you might need something," he offered, handing her over a soda. "He wanted to know if your intern was doing okay." He looked around. "He left?"
"No, he's finding something." Xander came out with the shell casing. "Where was it?"
"Under the firing bed. It was trapped. I elevated it a few inches then put it back down and checked the level." She nodded, smiling at him. "What next, boss?"
"Go ahead and sort the cabinets, Xander. McGee, this is Xander, my new intern. He's a ballistics intern with a trace minor and experience in construction and explosives."
"Hi." He shook his hand. "I'm Tim McGee. I'm on Gibbs' team. You came up to him a few weeks back, right?"
"My teacher sent me to him to see if he could get me an interview," he offered with a grin. "Xander Harris." That got a smile back. "We're fine. Even if I did take work out of her hand to do it myself. She swatted and I swatted back. I'm not some frat boy, McGee. I'm also very protective of those around me."
"Good. We like that. Abby should be protected." He smiled and walked off, heading back to his desk. "They're fine, boss. She's got her new cafpow and he's sorting the cabinets for her. She said they were getting along fine and he admitted he took work from her hand to do it himself, leaving her harder things to do. He assured me he's not some frat boy and he's probably going to be okay. He found that shell casing for her too." He sat down. "Why did he get sent to you for an interview?"
"Anyone who works with Abby gets cleared by Gibbs first," Tony told him, looking over at him. "Because if Abby quits working we're all screwed." Gibbs gave him a look. "They do."
"They do. I brought Abby into the agency, McGee. Plus I served with one of Harris' teachers. A few things had to be noted before the interview to make sure he'd be okay here."
"Is he a nice guy?" McGee asked. "Should we take him out to show him around the city maybe?"
Tony looked at him. "I'll gladly show him the nice clubs."
Xander walked over, looking at him. "We probably have much different tastes. Besides, if I date, we'll need to start doing background checks to make sure the next one doesn't start to kill people around me, dear." He walked over to Gibbs with the report. "Abby wanted to make sure that was in a format you could read and understand later on when you had to refresh yourself on the case before a trial. That's my usual report format, plus test results. She said she'd babble at you later but she's talking to her mother via IM at the moment."
Gibbs looked up at him. "You do *reports*?"
"Yeah, that's what they taught us," he said dryly, waving it. "All sorts of stuff, including crop grade fertilizer." Gibbs took it to look over then looked up at him. "It's the more massive one. For ballistics I have a simpler format. Since that's a full case of evidence I included it all."
"No, this is okay. It's in plain english. It was proofread by her?"
"Spell and grammaticked. I figure if you found a glaring error you'd yell at me," he said dryly. He shrugged at the look he got. "We all know I'm not some party kid, Gibbs. What would I do if I was? I'd be bored stupid."
"Probably true." He went back to reading. "It's fairly understandable. Can you teach DiNozzo how to write reports?"
He looked at the guy then back at him. "If you want I can show him. We all write differently. The same as I could never wear his suit. I'd look sucky in it and I'd itch and fidget all day." He got a smirk for that. "I would. Speaking of, Abby said to tell you I can't come to her football party this weekend because I have funny mental issues where girls raised me. She didn't like my ideas on football being like aggressive gay sex in teams while keeping score." Tony choked at that. "It is," he defended. "Otherwise you wouldn't be in the 'bend over and take me' position for half the game and patting each other the rest." He looked at Gibbs again. "She's trying to set me up with someone. She does think she knows someone who's only mildly evil already so I can't taint them. So we'll have to see." He shrugged. "Need anything else from us?"
"No, this should be okay for the day." Xander beamed and walked off, stopping to get a drink of water. "Calm down, DiNozzo, he was raised by a very girly girl," he sighed.
"He... he..." He let out a shriek. "That's not right!"
"Afraid he'll ask you out?" McGee teased.
"No!" he shot back, glaring at him. "Asshole."
"Kids," Gibbs warned. "DiNozzo, he was raised by very girly girls who taught him about sports. He probably doesn't understand anything outside of ice skating and stuff. Write Abby and have her ask him."
"First he called me uptight and then he insulted my sport, Gibbs."
"Write her an email, DiNozzo," he said patiently.
He growled and went down there, finding Xander rearranging the cold storage cabinet. "Are you supposed to be doing that?" he sneered.
Xander looked at him and nodded. "Until someone brings us more evidence, yeah. Abby said so." He got back to work.
"I'm not uptight."
Xander came out of the cabinet and closed the door, leaning against it, looking him over. "The thong under the three grand suit proves that, dear; doesn't mean you don't play it very well." Tony gaped. "Before you ask I've got a shirt that says 'sexiest elf since Legolas' too."
"You know, everyone in the world thought it was a gay character," he shot back. He was feeling very strange right now, like he had crossed into the Twilight Zone or something. He was prepared to not like this kid but for some reason, he did.
Xander nodded. "Those manly shoulder squeezes." He gave him one. "You're still not one of the one in ten thousand I'd go on my knees for, sweetie, so don't worry about it. I like women. I've turned a few very evil after having sex with them. I've dated things that make men shudder in horror at the meanness of them and turn them into sex starved, money grubbing women. You're not my type." He gave his shoulder another squeeze. "Besides, you're much too upper class for me, dude. I worked construction before college. We'd go to totally different bars."
"It's still not gay to play football."
Xander gave him a look then snorted. "Do you know any other time you get into that bent over with your ass in the air position?" he shot back. "I don't." Tony went pink. "Or how often you pat the other guys? How you hike the ball? Tara, my very lesbian friend, was right when she explained it to me."
Abby walked in and groaned. "You talked about football, didn't you?" she moaned. Tony nodded, giving her a look. "He was raised by a girl who later became a lesbian, Tony."
"What do you think of basketball?"
"Redundant with girls in the center shaking it like strippers? Boring."
Tony just let out a small whimper. "What sports do you watch?"
"They watched gymnastics, ice skating, cheerleading stuff, and Willow watched horse jumping events. Those are kinda nice to watch."
Tony closed his eyes and took a deep breath, turning to hug Abby. "Don't let him say that around the other teams. Someone might try to hit him."
"Tony, Xander's pretty tough. If they did, he can kick their butts," she assured him. "He's just as tough as Gibbs is, it's just that he was raised by girls."
"I can do a mean face mask," Xander agreed. He got back to work. "Abby, is this cream in here an experiment? It's got orange fuzzies on the solid parts." He held it out and she took it to throw it in the biohazard container. Tony walked off shaking his head. "Sorry."
"Be nicer to Tony, we like Tony," she said patiently.
He looked back at her. "Not like I was mean to him! I didn't summon anything to pick on him, I didn't overtly pick on him, and I'm being a good boy. Incoming female stuffy person."
"That's probably Kate," she said, looking at her. "Yup, I was right. This is Xander, my new intern," she said, letting him wave.
"Interesting view," she admitted. She stared at the ass, watching as he wiggled it in time to the music. She looked at Abby again. "He that cute on the other parts?"
"Xander!" He came out with something else. She looked at it. "Who put yogurt in my cabinet?" She tossed it out too. "I'll talk to whoever later. Xander, this is Kate, she's on Gibbs' team."
"Then you've got to be a formidable woman, like the ones I'm used to," he said, shaking her hand. "Xander."
"Thanks, I think."
"My former best friend was five-four and could kick anyone's ass. In heels and a backless shirt."
"Then I'll take that as a compliment. Abby, did you find anything on our samples?"
"I gave a report to Gibbs, including result reports, but she was saving something special for you," Xander said, going to clean the next cabinet over. "Were these alphabetical?"
"Nope. By test and use." He nodded, leaving it that way. She looked at Kate. "He's *very* handy." She led her over to the computer. "The one I was running while Xander stole samples from me to do have something to do came up this. That doesn't precisely go with the fertilizer we found on his shirts." They shared a look then looked at Xander's butt.
"I'm more than a great ass," Xander said dryly, not even having to look. "Remember, I turn women evil, Abby."
"Good point. He turned one into a serial killer who wanted to kill his former friends for him," she said brightly, smiling at Kate. "She's in a mental hole."
"Good. That's where she belongs." She glanced at Xander again then at the screen. "Is that going to help us?"
"You don't usually find that sort of dirt with crop fertilizer. Which was what Xander found."
"Okay. Thanks." She walked off, going back to her desk. "Gibbs, Abby's last sample, the one Xander didn't take from her to do for her pleasure, came up as a highly acidic juice compound. Mostly lemon juice. She said you wouldn't find that with the fertilizer samples?" He handed over the report, letting her look at it. "Interesting." She sat down to work on that angle. "Did everyone else get to meet the new intern?" Tony growled. She looked at him. "What? He taking away the cute points you usually get?" she taunted.
"He called football aggressive gay sex in teams," McGee offered. "Tony was insulted since he used to play college ball."
"Ah. Well, it kinda does look like it from my point of view, but it's nice to watch them in the tight clothes." She got back to work.
"The boy was raised by some very girly girls," Gibbs told them all.
"One of who was five-four and he said could kick the ass of anything while in heels and a backless shirt," Kate added. Tony moaned at that. She looked at him. "He's not a bad kid."
"He's twenty-seven," Gibbs said dryly.
"It took him that long to graduate?" Tony asked.
"No," Gibbs said impatiently. "He used to work construction, DiNozzo. He got injured and couldn't so he went to school after his town fell in."
"Fell in?" Kate asked.
"He's from Sunnydale and that is the last I'm saying on that matter," he said firmly. "We will not search it out either. With that kid's luck there's someone still watching him."
"Why?" Kate asked. Gibbs looked at her. "Is it going to impact Abby?"
"Not without the kid killing someone."
"Okay. So he's protective," she decided. "We all are." Gibbs moaned and typed in something, waving them over so they could see his 'do not touch' rating. "So he came to a *federal* agency?" she asked dryly. "Why!"
"His instructor served with Gibbs," Tony said, frowning some. "How do you get one of those, boss? I know you've got a 'do not annoy' note in yours." Gibbs looked at him. "I caught a peek when I brought down leave paperwork. The girls were joking about it down in Personnel."
"I've seen one of those before when I was in the Secret Service. It was someone who had been CIA but they had been made to let him retire. He got his after he shot the person trying to bring him back into the field."
McGee typed in a code and they looked at the rest of the file. Gibbs gave him a look. "Abby found it lying around," he said dryly. "Or so she said." He went back to browsing then backed away. "Whoa."
"Indeed," Gibbs agreed. "So we don't bother the new kid. He's allowed to be strange. Those two girls raised him and warped him, and then they decided he wasn't worth the effort after he fought with them for years," he said quietly. "Are we clear?"
"I'll teach him better about football," Tony decided. "Injured how, boss?" Kate gave him an odd look. "He said the boy was too injured to go back to construction. Injured how? Are we talking combat fatigue? Should we take the gun he brought in out of his locker?"
Gibbs shook his head. "He's allowed to have it and carry it. He's a near marksman with it, DiNozzo. He can also undo bombs." Tony nodded once at that. His phone rang and he put it on speaker once he heard the voice on the other end.
"I can do anything up to a level 3 device, something with simple design or multiple triggers is fine. Something with umpteen billion wires I'm not as good at. I'm still working my way through all the manuals," Xander noted dryly. "As for my injury, all you *need* to know is to cover my left side if you catch me in a brutal or gunplay situation. I've got good compensation for that weakness already. After all, I went into many battles with it. I got hurt a little bit before Sunnydale fell in and I fought that last battle there while in recovery. The only thing you guys have to worry about is me dating. I date and draw evil things to me. So if I'm dating do a background check, Tightass. Anything else? By the way, Abby wanted me to remind you that profiling me is going to drive someone insane. I'm complicated like that," and you could hear he was smiling. "Also, unless you've been in my position, you won't understand. Thankfully I've moved on and *retired* from that life. So let's not worry about the Xander. Worry about how your dead guy got crop fertilizer from Georgia on his shirt." He hung up.
"He's got a point," Gibbs agreed. "By the way, his file does list him as being a minor tactician for small group combat." He smirked. "Get back to work."
"Did he just call me what I think he did?" DiNozzo asked.
"Yup," McGee said, patting him on the back. "So apparently you were throwing during the games, Tony." He scurried back to his desk before Tony could hit him.
"Did his instructor send him to us so we would teach him how the rest of the US views masculinity?" Tony asked.
Gibbs shrugged. "He did suggest that I watch out for his thing against sports. Then again, I was told that's why he had the tiara." He got back to work, canceling that off his computer and erasing his browser history.
"Did Abby know him before he joined her?" Kate asked.
"Of him, not him personally."
Abby stomped up to Gibbs' desk. "Gibbs, make Xander let me clean my own weapons!" she complained. "I don't care if they are meditation for him and whatever. They're my weapons!"
"Have him do the one he brought in so he can brag," Tony said, giving her a look. He waved Xander over when he saw him. "Come defend yourself, kid."
"I'm almost the same age you are, Tightass." He looked at her. "I'm sorry! I'm not used to having women who like their weapons and take good care of them! It's always been my job to do the weapons. Besides, we're done and I'm bored!"
She pouted at him. "I like weapons."
"Then we'll go fire my LANS system at something this weekend," he offered, making her smile and nod. "Not like you were giving me things to do, Abby."
"I'm working on a miniature. You could help," she offered.
He considered it. "Does it take depth perception?" She nodded. "Then I probably can't do too much unless there's buildings or something?" She nodded. "Then I can help with that part," he offered with a goofy grin. "Unless we're getting more evidence from another team?" he asked Gibbs. Who shook his head. "Downtime?"
"Not really. This is about normal."
"Then I'll bring in bomb manuals," he decided. "I need to go back over them anyway before I transfer my explosives certification out here." He shrugged. "Okay. Oh, Abby suggested I remind you I'm an intern, not a pack mule." Gibbs looked confused.
"Interns are only supposed to work thirty hours a week, Gibbs," McGee reminded him.
"Not that I don't understand and realize about times when it's vitally and critically important to have me there then, I just wanted to know how many more months I should expect to keep up my old hundred hour week schedule."
"Hundred hour weeks?" Kate demanded. "What were you doing!"
"Going to school full time and helping some people with some very bad things on the side." He looked at Gibbs again. "So I don't care about some overtime as long as it doesn't become me needing to move into the lab permanently to live there."
"It shouldn't. We only get cases we stay overnight for every few weeks," Gibbs offered.
"Then I'm there if you need me," Xander assured him. "In most of my other areas too. Then again, I doubt you'd have to stake too many things?" Gibbs shook his head quickly. "Thanks, dad." He grinned and walked off, dragging Abby with him. "You can tell me where I'm ordering lunch from. That way I don't poison myself with my cooking again."
"You can't cook?" she complained.
"Abby, my parents didn't own a stove and I'm poisonous," he said dryly. "No, I can't cook. It's best for everybody if I don't cook. So no, Xander is not a cooking person." He got them onto the elevator, leaning on her shoulder. "Should I wear my tiara tomorrow?"
She looked at him. "Why do you have one of those?"
"The other students voted me the Pricness of Ballistics," he said with an evil smirk. "Because I need the attention sometimes to make sure I'm not playing with the *big* weapons. The instructor agreed and said that since there's no one who'll ever be like me, or else he'll retire and drink himself into a coma, it's my title for life. Or until I have a kid and make them into me. But that's why I'm fixed," he finished smugly.
She had the sudden picture of Xander's daughter looking at her and going 'mommy, I'm *bored*,' and shuddered in horror. "Being fixed is good for you I hear," she offered, walking him back into the lab. "It works for other puppies." He giggled and gave her a hug, peeling off to go clean the other side of the lab. She found another thought to get that one out of her mind before she got warped. "Xander, what happens if they show up down here?" He looked over. "The ladies."
"I'm hiding. I'll run and hide. I'll hide behind Tightass or Gibbs even. Just let me hide and it'll be okay."
"Sure. I'm sure your friends would scare them too." She smiled and got to work on her model, looking over it to see where she was. "Did you move my army guy?"
"No, but McGee did earlier. He was checking the feet for some reason."
"He helped me paint a few," she admitted, moving it back into position. She counted. "One's missing?" She looked around, calling McGee. "Did you steal some of my soldiers?" She huffed. "Then who did, McGee?" She sighed and went to find the fingerprint powder and brush, letting Xander help with that too. She'd have to dust the entire thing but that was fine. Someone was getting swatted. Then again, Xander was a very good swatter.... He was bored... She found out who and sicced him on them. It was good for him to go play with someone else. New friends and people who were scared of you were good in their job.
Xander opened his door, looking at Tony. "What? Did I miss a call-in?" He let him into the apartment. "Welcome to my slum. I went for warmth since I heard winters get cold and the hangings will keep in the a/c when I finally buy one."
Tony looked around. "They're velvet. You don't usually look goth," he said, looking at Xander, who shrugged. "Gay?"
"I can appreciate one out of every ten thousand people, DiNozzo. Doesn't mean it's your turn."
Tony smirked. "I'm perfectly fine with that."
"Because you've got a Gibbs on your ass?"
Tony blinked. "Noooo. He's pretty straight, Xander." Xander gave him a look. "He is."
"Um, bi, and you'd be surprised," he snorted, walking into the kitchen. "I've got soda and one semi-decent beer for my monthly drink. Want one?"
"Sure, I'll take a soda." He took one from the kid's hand. "Why are you living here?"
"Interns get about two grand a month, minus taxes." He took a sip and sat down. "I can afford this place. So, why else are you here? Besides to investigate the scary decorating as Abby called it."
"I wanted to get to know you better. If I'm going to depend on you in the lab, I need to know that I can depend on you."
"Sure." He nodded. "I get that. What did she tell you?" he asked with a small grin.
"Well, nothing. I did ask, but she said to look you up." He relaxed. "So I did. Did you know about the sealed file?" Xander nodded once. "You know that Gibbs showed us." Xander nodded again, taking another sip. "How long were you in combat?"
"Tenth grade. Just before my birthday," he said quietly. "Injured many times. Disappointed many others by my friends." He took a longer drink and put his soda down. "The biggest thing you have to know is that I've fought most of that time straight. Not like we could take vacations, except for Buffy going to visit her father a few summers in high school. The rest of us didn't take vacations."
"You were in constant combat since tenth grade?"
"Except some weeks when nothing was going on and when I was healing." He stared at him. "Yes, I'm better than they think. If you ask anyone other than my former friends, they'll tell you that. I scared the hell out of Angel and his crew when I broke out in skills. They had been convinced I was a nothing little tagalong too." He grimaced. "They checked me for possession for weeks on end before accepting that the ladies in my life had been a *bit* biased."
Tony nodded at that, looking thoughtful. "Girls?"
"Buffy, Willow? Them?"
"Yeah, I saw about them." He shifted, getting more comfortable. "Are you dangerous to normal people?"
"Only when I'm lacking sleep and you'll know. I'll growl first."
Tony grinned. "We'll try to keep that down." He stared at him. "The girls obviously hurt you a lot. Abby did say if they showed up she was going to help hide you."
"I'll run. It's about the only thing I'll run from but I will run like there's a demon wanting to fuck me up the ass with a dick that shoots fire. Again."
Tony smiled at that. "Again?"
"One fixated. Angel had to send him off a few times." He shrugged. "Just part of my wacky life. You should remember not to let me date anyone you like. I seem to turn them evil. Somehow. I turned Anya from a former demon into a money grubbing nympho who complained." He shrugged. "I don't know how but I managed it. My last one was a stripper and she turned into a serial killer killing my former friends over and over by proxy." He shrugged again. "I have no idea how."
"I'll keep that in mind if I send any of my ladies your way," he offered dryly. "What injury?"
Xander looked at him. "Before the last battle in Sunnydale I lost an eye," he said quietly. "I was still at the last battle of Sunnydale."
"They let you?"
"They needed me."
"Oh." He grimaced. "That sucks."
"It does," he agreed, nodding some. He even grinned. "Wanna see my Princess of Ballistics tiara?"
"Sure." Xander bounced up to get it, bringing it back carefully. "They chose well. It'd look good in your hair, Xander." Xander beamed and put it back in the display box. "Crystals?" He nodded. "Didn't think they'd go for diamonds," he said in a teasing voice.
"No. I'm not a high maintenance princess. Give me some guns and I'm a happy camper," he admitted, sitting down again and finishing his soda. He got up to get another and came back. "Sorry, spicy food earlier."
"Done that to myself plenty of times," Tony assured him. He took his sip of his soda. "So, you don't cook?"
"My parents didn't even own a stove, Tony. I learned what one was in Home Ec. I thought they were really ancient microwaves." Tony snickered at that. "I did! I can kinda make cookies as long as someone's watching me very carefully. I'm out of practice though. I'm actually very dangerous in the kitchen. I made the whole team in LA sick once because they were eating the snacks I had made."
"That takes skill," Tony assured him happily. "So, clubbing?"
"I go. I mostly go to get lost in the music. Sex in the clubs is nice but I'd still make them less than good girls."
Tony nodded. "I can see how that would happen. I'm going next weekend, cases willing, if you wanted to go with me."
Xander grinned. "I think we've got different taste in clubs. I can see you somewhere a lot more high class than I go."
"Probably true. I can hit a grungier club if you want."
"I'll probably end up at a rave."
"Much more grungy than I am. Do be careful."
"I am. It was suggested by Abby." He grinned gently, just a happy grin. "She's a nice lady."
"She is but she only likes older guys."
"I'd never date my boss. It screws things up at work, Tony."
"Which is why I don't do more than look," he said dryly.
"I heard you were a hole hunter. And yes, that's how Palmer described you."
"I'm going to cream the little nerd."
Xander grinned. "He blushed and said I was probably worse but I'd go for D&D chicks. So I pulled out pictures. He panted and drooled." Tony shook his head. "He's confused."
"He is very confused. I'm all for the conquest but I do it for fun. Not for the thrill of the count." The phone rang and Xander reached over to grab it, looking at it, curling his legs up under him. "Something important?"
"Nope. Angel." He answered it. "It's me," he sighed. He took a sip of soda. "No, Angel. I retired. I'm working a *real* job kinda with the military. No, these guys repudiated the Initiative as not being theirs."
"No real soldier I know would've went for that," Tony agreed. "They picked the sadistic ones."
"We know. Buffy dated one." He listened to Angel splutter. "She did. Ask Spike if you don't believe me. No I'm not telling you where I am, Deadboy. Because you'll tell Her Blondness and I'd like to not take a cross-country run to get away from the woofing woman. Yes, her. Your ex. The bitch. Exactly." He took another drink and mentally sighed. "Gee, Angel, maybe for the same reason you checked me for possession for two weeks straight?" he suggested. "Yeah, those friends. The ones who described me as being like dryer lint. So why would I care if they want to know where I am. The only one out of that whole damn group I want to hear from is Dawn. She knows where I am. Anything else? Oh, whine!" he said dryly. "Then magic the sucker, Angel. You're a vampire, act like it!" He hung up and shook his head. "Sorry, he's having a woose day."
"They happen to the best of us," Tony told him, finishing his soda. "You're not the goofy guy Abby thinks."
"I am sometimes." He grinned sweetly. "Sometimes I can't be. Sometimes I've got to be the badass of the block. Sometimes I get to be the bitch of the block. Sometimes I get to be love's bitch. It all depends on what's going down around me." He finished his second soda. "Want another one?"
"Sometimes. I got forced to watch a lot of dress movies. Willow, and later Willow and Buffy, basically turned me into a very manly girl."
"I noticed," he assured him, standing up, smiling at him. "I'm a movie buff. Next Sunday? Cases willing? Share a pizza?"
"Okay." He beamed at him. "Thanks."
"Welcome. Maybe we can work on the sports thing so you don't send someone else into a blind rage."
Xander shrugged. "They're boring anyway."
"Fine. Just don't air it out like that in the office. There's a lot of other former jocks in the office."
Xander giggled. "If they try me I get to show Abby how I liked to tie down Spike when he was in my care." Tony gave him an odd look. "He's a vampire, he would've licked me or worse. It was bad enough he used to add blood to my cereal so he could claim it."
"Eww." Tony shook his head quickly. "We'll work on it, kid. If you need geek support, go to McGee."
"He's a different sort of geek."
"True, but he's as close as you'll get outside of some of the computer geeks at the FBI. We see them now and again."
"She warned me about a furry named Fornell."
Tony patted him on the head. "He's not exactly a furry sort. He's a mean bastard. He and Gibbs are the same sort of bastard. Abby's the only one who would call him furry." Xander smirked. "Ooh, just don't make whatever case they show up on worse for us, okay? They already hate us."
"I'll do my best."
"Thanks." He patted him again. "One of the stones in your tiara was a bit loose. You might want to check them." Xander beamed. "Good boy. Remember, we all live by Gibbs' standard, even the lab." That got a nod. "No leather without prior approval."
"Unless I don't have any laundry." Someone knocked so he got up to check. "Ahh! Dinner." He opened the door and handed over the cash, taking his bags. "Thank you." He closed the door and peeked in the bag. "They're very nice."
"A lot of the restaurants know us," Tony agreed. "Plus we've got a pretty diverse base. It all depends on where you can get to and what you can get delivered. We'll make plans on Friday, cases willing. Remember, don't turn off your phone. Gibbs will yell if you're out of reach when he wants you."
"Okay. I can do that."
"Good." He grinned. "If you've got troubles with Abby, come to me first. She and I are really close. It'll save Gibbs some stress." Xander nodded. "Good boy." He patted him again. "What about your later job? Have you thought about where you want to end up?"
"I'm thinking a small department I can lord over the ballistics portion of and have a dog."
Tony nodded. "That's a good idea. I get one of the forensics journals so I'll bring it in tomorrow. That way you can look over the openings listed." Xander beamed and nodded. "Then I'll see you tomorrow. Have a good dinner and be safe, Xander." He left, going back to his house. He had definitely made peace with the boy. Even if he was the girliest guy he had ever met. He had met more butch gay guys. But the boy had a lot of undercurrent. Not even Kate would be able to profile him easily. It would be fun to watch her try. She was probably tough enough that Xander would be wary thanks to his former friends. That was not going to be an easy working relationship. He got into his mustang and started the car, heading for his apartment. It was a nice night. Maybe he'd go out tonight after all. He headed up to change then went to one of the clubs he liked to haunt. Definitely higher class than Xander said he liked.
Gibbs looked around Monday morning, then walked back up to his desk. "Where's Harris and Abby?" he demanded.
"I saw him Saturday night while he was at home, boss," Tony said, looking at him. He called Xander. "Xander, where are you?" He nodded. "Report up to our floor. Abby's not in yet." He hung up. "He's in the locker room taking something for his headache."
"Headache?" Gibbs demanded. The boy came off the elevator, earning a long stare. "Hangover?" he asked dryly.
Xander looked at him. "Not hardly. I'm waiting for bloodwork results to see what she drugged me with," he said with a squinty eyed look. "I don't drink, Gibbs." Gibbs stared at him. "I have maybe one beer a month so I can let it all go and relax for a night without nightmares. I don't drink otherwise."
"Where did you go last night?" Tony asked, standing up. "I'll go check the machines, boss." He headed off.
"Abby set me up on a blind date with her friend Evilista. She said she's already partially a bad girl so I wouldn't turn her too much farther." He shrugged. "What do I know?" He sat down in Tony's chair, putting his head down. He pulled out his phone and looked at it under the desk. Then he hit the send button. "Abby? Where are you? Why are you in a closet?"
McGee got to work on his computer. "Keep her talking."
"Sure." He snorted. "Abby, sweetie, either I was drugged or I had a stroke," he said slowly and clearly. "Why are you in a closet?"
"Her phone is registering her closet, boss," McGee said.
"She said she's not, McGee. She can see disco polyester and plaid. Definitely not her closet." He listened to her. "The last thing I remember? Evilista grinning at me like Buffy when she found chocolate in the fridge." He looked at his phone. "McGee, check to make sure this is her number I'm calling?" He came over to get it then shook his head and traced that number. He took his phone back. "Someone reprogrammed my number for you. Anything in the closet you recognize?" He snickered at her yell. "Someone's there with her. She called him Scott and apparently he's ignoring her pleas to let her out. Oooh, and she just found a dress Evilista borrowed from her and never gave back. So she's at her house. Somewhere toward Baltimore she said." McGee printed off an address and map, handing it to Gibbs. They stomped off. "So, baby, what'm I doing today, boss?" He yawned. "I don't know. They just ran out of here to save you like the knight I usually am." He grinned. "Of course you can kick their asses. You're just as scary as Willow is at least. If not Buffy too." Tony poked him on the head. He looked up. "She's in Evilista's closet. They ran off with a map. She reprogrammed the number I have for Abby."
"That's good. You've got enough drugs in your system to knock you out since you were given it recently."
"She dropped me off for some reason. I don't remember falling asleep. I figured I had either been drugged or had a stroke." He put his head back down. "No, Tony's still here. Want him? Sure, I'll nap it off. We'll start working again after lunch." He handed over the phone. "Abby's trapped in a closet that contains plaid and disco polyester." He got out of Tony's chair and laid down behind it, curling up on the floor. "I'll nap here. She said so."
"Sure," Tony agreed, sitting down in his chair. "Abby? Are you okay? Pretty heavily. He's even slurring a little bit. Sounds almost drunk. No, the guys are on their way. Kate hasn't made it in yet. Probably another flat. They're redoing her road this week." He smiled. "Sure, it's more than ethical to take your clothes back. We'll have benadryl cream here to treat you for the hives you're getting from the polyester," he promised with a grin. "Shouldn't take them too long. Not with how Gibbs drives." He snickered at her comment. "No, he's snoring." He snapped his fingers at the director, writing a note and handing it to him. "We're fine, Abby. No, this isn't your number." He checked it then went back to talking, handing the director the drug report. "It's hers, Abby. Sure. I'm still here. I'll guard your puppy for you." Xander barked. "See? He's already made himself comfy behind me. I'm sure it'll be fine. I promise I'll guard him. Good." He winced. "Sounds like Gibbs broke more than the usual speed laws. Be safe. See you when you get in. Yell really loudly about the polyester." He hung up when she squealed Gibbs' name. "He's fine."
"Are we sure he shouldn't see someone? I can have Ducky sent up."
"We might want to do that. He's still slurring. Abby said to let him nap it off. Rophy is a good blackout drug. Since he doesn't drink I can only guess she got him a soda. He drinks coke usually." That got a single nod. He looked back at Xander, who had flipped over then back at the boss. "He'll be fine. Gibbs made it there in record time. Abby set him up with her."
"He said not to let him date without a background check," he joked. "Anything else I should know?"
"Hey, Harris, anything else happen last night?" Tony called. Xander dug into his pocket and tossed something at him. "Uh-huh. How did you make money?"
"Refused to sleep with her," he mumbled. "Happened before. Ask Angel. Didn't sleep with her, turned her down and walked off. She pounced and tried anyway. I handcuffed her to the bar and left the area to go play with Abby again. It ended up in my pocket," he mumbled.
"Did he just say he got paid for turning a woman down?" the director asked.
"That's what it sounded like," Tony agreed, nodding. "We'll run fingerprints and stuff, sir. Make sure."
"Thank you. I'm sure he didn't do anything illegal to get it." He walked off shaking his head. He did go down to the morgue. "Ducky?" The older man smiled at him. "Someone drugged Abby's new intern."
"I thought they might have. Abby called last night to warn me she had lost him. Is he in the ER?"
"Behind Tony's desk taking a nap. Abby said to let him sleep it off."
"I'll go check on the lad in a few moments."
"Good. Help DiNozzo get a report on how he got paid by turning women down." He walked off, going back to his office.
"Interesting. I haven't seen that skill since I was a young boy myself," he admitted, going up to look at him. "Is he fully asleep, Anthony?"
"He's snoring if that's any indication," he said cheerfully. "Abby set him up with her friend Evilista. Then she locked Abby in her closet with plaid and disco polyester."
"I'll have something waiting on her for the hives. Did we get a report on the drugs?" Tony handed it over. "That's fairly strong." He came over to check Xander, looking at his glass eye. "Interesting."
"We know. He said he compensates very well."
"Good." He checked his breathing and pulse. Xander blinked at him. "I haven't seen such skills at avoiding women since I was a young lad myself, Xander."
Xander grinned. "Ask Angel. I freaked him out when I got paid by the women who forced kisses and dances on me. Made me one hell of a stripper too." He closed his eyes again. "I'm trying to nap, Ducky, why are you touching me? Are we dating? You'll be evil too."
"No, Alexander." Xander glared at him. "Xander?"
"Better. Thank you." He closed his eyes again. "I'm fine. It's no worse than the food poisoning or the concussions, even together." He yawned. "Just let me nap. Abby said to nap here until she got back."
"That's all right then." He stroked over his hair but the boy ducked. "Fine, I'll leave you alone, lad." He stood up and looked at Tony. "He'll probably be fine. No slurring."
"He was doing that earlier."
"It's quickly metabolized."
"I'm a fast healer too. Nearly mutant level," Xander joked. "Can I nap or should I go nap in the elevator?"
"We'll be more quiet," Ducky promised. He smiled at Tony then left to make a quick note in case it was needed later.
"Want music?" Tony asked.
Xander shook his head, hitting it on the filing cabinet. "Ow." He held the sore spot but fell asleep again until Kate came in. She slammed her desk drawer closed and he threw a knife at her.
"He must be fully asleep," Tony joked. "He was drugged, Kate." She gave him a horrified look. "He was drugged. Abby set him up on a date." Xander got up and went to the elevator, going to nap in there in the corner. He shook his head. "Gibbs should be on his way back, he'll get him out of there. Can I have Xander's knife?" She made squeaky noises while she pointed. "You woke him up. He was drugged, Kate." He got up and came to get the knife. "Good thing he's a damn good shot, huh?" He sat down again, putting the knife into his desk drawer.
"I'm going to kick his ass!"
"I'd like to see that fight," McGee offered when he came off the elevator. "Gibbs drug Xander into the lab with Abby. They're both napping in her office on the floor." He grinned. "Did we miss anything?"
"Xander threw a knife at me!" she shrieked.
"You woke him up, Kate," Tony reminded her, loudly enough that any listening agents overheard. "What did you expect after he had been drugged?"
She stomped off, going to find Gibbs. "He threw a knife at me when I came in! He missed me by four inches, Gibbs!"
"Next time, don't wake the combat veteran up," Xander shouted. "Go away before I shoot you! I'm a damn good shot!"
"Abby, cuddle the boy," Gibbs ordered. Xander groaned but when he looked he was cuddled up with her, his face in her neck, holding her. "Good boy, Xander." He walked Kate out of the lab, giving her a look. "I usually reach for a weapon too, Kate. What did you expect? He had been attacked."
"Only if he's not had enough sleep or he's in a mind-altering state." He walked her back into their row. "Anything else happen, DiNozzo?" Tony held up the bagged money. "From....."
"Xander's pocket. He claims he got paid for not going to the bathroom or the backroom with someone."
"I called his friend Angel while you guys were gone. It's happened in the past. Last time he got given sapphire earrings. Every now and then he breaks out in this miasma of lust according to the guy I talked to out there. Wesley said that it happens every few weeks, Xander doesn't usually go out alone because of it, and he doesn't usually end up kidnaped but has been known to. He did say that the boy does protest heavily when women pay him for breathing, dancing, and the occasional kiss. He also said one time he got paid because a few women decided to watch him and some girl in some back hallway and totally embarrassed them by rating it and paying him for it. The girl fled crying but eventually went into porn." He handed over the notes he had made. "So that needs to go back to the kid. I've got his dagger in my drawer, boss."
"Ducky said he'd seen it when he was younger too. He woke Xander up first by touching him. Oh, don't call him Alexander. He glared at Ducky, made him back off."
"Also good to know," Gibbs said dryly. "Apparently he's in a bad mood?"
"I'd be in a bad mood too, boss." He handed over the drug report. "That's what's in his system. He said Evilista dropped him off this morning. Since he didn't remember passing out on her couch or going home with her he figured he'd either been drugged or had a stroke."
"Or drunk," Kate said dryly.
"He said he doesn't drink, Kate," Tony said firmly, staring at her. "He said he has one a month so he can fully relax and let all the nightmares go for one night."
"Which says alcoholic parents to me," Gibbs agreed. "His background check did show them too." He handed back the report. "Get one from Abby later about what happened. Get one from him if he's got any memories. Bundle it together in case." Tony nodded. "I had him cuddle up to her when the kid threatened to shoot Kate for waking him up again. He's very cuddlesome."
"He seemed like the sort." Tony smiled. "I'll be very careful when I take him out this weekend, boss."
"Please do. We don't want you kidnaped too, DiNozzo." He gave him a look. "It's happened too many times already."
"Not my fault," he complained. He finished his report on this and bundled it and the notes together then put the money with the dagger. He'd give it to the kid later. "Maybe he'll move to a better part of the slum." Gibbs snickered. "Do you know where he's living?" Gibbs nodded. "It's a hole. He decorated in velvet wall hangings."
"It'll help him later this winter," he agreed. "Plus keep the a/c in if he's got one." He sat down, writing the director an email about what had happened then he got to work. "Do we have anything new on the B&E in the barracks?"
"I do, boss," McGee said. "I've got the video fully decoded now. I watched it earlier. It's not very good video. Fairly low resolution. It does show a face we can clean up to get an ID off of. It did show he was in uniform." He put it on the plasma screen next to Gibbs' desk, letting it run. "Abby's got software we can enhance it with."
"Do that. Be very quiet," Gibbs ordered. McGee nodded, transferring it down there then heading to sneak into the lab and get something done. Gibbs looked at Kate. "Why were you late?"
"They turned my street into a cheese grater, Gibbs. It shredded two of my tires. I had to have the car towed and take a cab here."
"They're saying a week but this is Public Works. The same people who keep a lane of the interstate closed for months on end when they repave it." He nodded once and got back to work. "Is the person who had Abby in custody?"
"Local law enforcement has her," Gibbs said. "Her husband said she's trained him to share her attention and he's used to her stashing toys in her closet so he didn't let her out when she started to complain. He's in custody too." Tony snickered. "She fits her name."
"Abby apparently told him she was already slightly evil so he couldn't turn her worse, boss."
"Oh, I don't know about that," Gibbs said dryly. "See if you can figure out what he's doing this weekend, DiNozzo."
"Sure, boss." He got back to work on the leads they had.
Abby woke up cuddled and looked at the person cuddling her. "If I turn evil, you're in trouble." Xander hummed and sniffed her, then kissed her on the tip of the nose and gave her a squeeze, going back to sleep. "Xander." He hummed again. "Xander, it's Abby. I'm your boss, not your pillow. You promised you wouldn't turn me evil, mister."
"Don't call me that," he muttered. "Hated that from them."
"Sorry. Can you let me go?" She squeaked when he gave her a harder hug. "Not a vampire." He pouted and blinked at her. "Good morning!"
"Weren't you in a closet?"
"Yeah, but you called and Gibbs rode in on the shiny car-horse thingy like he does. Somehow that turned into us napping in the lab." She looked at him. "Can I go?" He blushed and let her go. "You're very comfy to nap with."
"I'm not. You're very comfy to nap with. Even better than Bert, my farting hippo." She got up with a help from him. "Thank you, Xander." She walked over him and went into her lab. "Someone was in here."
Xander got up with a groan, holding his head. "I know I don't drink."
"McGee was here." She looked at the monitor. "He left a note." She read it and giggled. "Someone took a picture. They decided we're cute." She let him see it and he grunted, heading upstairs.
Xander walked up to Tony's desk, opening his drawer to find his money and knife. He left the money there, but took the knife with him, giving everyone a grunt on the way out.
"Xander, the money's yours too, kiddo," Tony called. Xander flipped him off. "It'll pay for soda."
"Soda Goddess," Xander said. He came back to get it and blew a kiss, heading for the nearest machine. He pouted, coming back. "Change?"
"Take Abby to get a cafpow," Gibbs ordered. "She can buy her own." Xander nodded, grunting at him, going to grab Abby by the wrist and drag her out. "Someone is not coherent when he wakes up."
"He said he's looking to move to a small department after this so he won't have to date and he can raise dogs," Tony told him. "I brought in a forensics journal so he could see the current openings."
"Good idea," Gibbs agreed. He got back to work. "McGee, any way of unscrewing the program so the guy doesn't look like me?"
"Actually, boss, I've got it narrowed down to three people using face recognition. I'm tracing them to see where they were that night," he admitted, looking at him. "They all do kinda look like you." He went back to it.
Tony looked at him. "Are they related?"
"No, not that I can find, Tony. Sometimes people do look a little bit alike. Either that or they were wearing a Gibbs mask." He felt the funny look. "Like the guys who wear masks of presidents when they rob banks, boss." He typed faster.
"Where would you buy a Gibbs mask?" Kate asked.
"The nightmare section of some joke stores?" Tony joked. Gibbs glared at him. "You can be, Gibbs. That's why everyone but Fornell's scared of you." He got back to his own portion. "Send one to me, Probie. I'll work on it." One ID got sent to him. "Thanks."
"I don't think it was a mask," Gibbs said.
"I don't know, Gibbs. You are pretty scary," Kate teased. "To everyone but Abby's little lab monkey."
"With what he used to fight, I find that comforting," Gibbs said sarcastically. He heard them come back on McGee's computer. "Are you hacked into the security system?"
"I wanted to make sure they're both okay, boss. Abby's still a bit wobbly but Xander's flitting around and being a pain in the ass to her. She just punched him on the arm. He gave her a hurt look. She's caving? He's getting to go back to flitting around and doing things without her watching over his shoulder."
Tony looked at him. "Spend any amount of time with him and you will too, Probie." He got back to work. "Mine's locked to base for being drunk. Has been for two days, boss."
"In the brig?"
"Yup, on garden patrol."
"Um, huh?" He shook his head. "Sorry, boss, watching him work Abby in a full fussing mood. She's throwing a fit that he's cleaning things." He went back to watching. He gave her a cuddle and she stomped off. "She's on her way back up here." He looked at his screen. "One of mine's been in the brig for eight days, hit and run with an official vehicle, awaiting trial, denied bail. The other isn't noted as doing anything so I'm assuming he's available for questioning. His squad's listed as being on a PT run today." He printed it out and handed it over. He grinned at Abby and she punched him on the arm, making him wince and hold the sore spot. "Sorry!"
"He's fussing! He's fussing and he's ...he's flitting and he's cleaning, Gibbs. Cleaning! This is not the proper Xander behavior!"
"Then it's probably the drugs," Tony told her. "Or he's worried about what happened last night. Maybe he's worried about little Xanders."
"He's fixed. Which is a pretty good thing." She looked at Gibbs again. "I don't care why, he's about to mop."
"Too late," McGee told her. He got out of her way this time. He knew better.
She looked in the security camera and called down there. "All my stuffed pets had better be back in their correct and exact place, Xander. Am I clear?" She hung up and glared at Gibbs. "It's time for a fatherly talk, Gibbs. Now. Right now!" She pointed and stomped a foot.
Gibbs got up and went to talk to him. "McGee, turn it off," he ordered as he walked. He walked into the lab, looking at the mopping person. "She thinks you're worried." He sat down out of the way. He took Xander as the sort to bop him with the mop by accident.
Xander looked at him. "I worked fast food, Gibbs. I know how to mop. It needed to be done, she's not in any shape."
"Your apartment isn't that clean, kid."
"This is work."
"We're already impressed," he said flatly. "Level with me, kid."
"I'm not that young!" he complained.
"I'm in my forties."
"Then you've got about thirteen or so years on me," he shot back, giving him a look. "Can't a guy mop without causing a panic?"
"The day that you got drugged? Or the day that you got paid for not doing anything?" He saw the hands tighten on the mop. "We have a gym, Xander. Go use the heavy bag."
"I don't want to scare people." He stared at him, back into his more scary persona. "I know I will. I saw the looks when I drug her out for our drinks."
"That's probably from Kate complaining you threw a knife at her."
"She apparently woke you up."
"Oh. Yeah, that's about right. I used to throw one at Angel and Spike when they tried after I had crashed too. They made me quit sleeping with a stake when I got Spike in the stomach." He went back to mopping. He suddenly stopped and hit something with the mop then pulled his gun and shot it. "I knew I saw one of you." Guards rushed in so he held up the rat. "It's dead," he said with a sweet, goofy smile. One of them took it and they all backed off.
"I'd have shot it too," Gibbs agreed. "Looks like a New York sewer rat to me. Do we have a leak from the sewer?"
"In the gym," Xander told him. "There's an open cover. No grate inside to keep anyone from coming up it. Also, there's a security weak spot in the back of the garage. I can get up from the dumpster onto the second level, which doesn't have a working camera in that corner. It was an ancient camera with exposed wires. I'm guessing that's why it doesn't work. From there, it's not that hard to get a pass." He handed one over from the table. "Found that on the ground the other day. I gave it to Abby and she just groaned. Then again, a lot of people leave theirs in their cars." They all moaned. "So, yeah, but I'm sure that's where the rat came from. You might wanna warn the morgue. They're closer to the gym."
The guards just nodded. "We'll tell Doctor Mallard that, Intern Harris, and let our boss know about the security issues you spotted. What branch did you serve in?"
"Protection level street combat in a small town with a very high death rate." He grinned sweetly again. "I'm from Sunnydale, that town that fell in." They just nodded and left. Xander looked at Gibbs. "That's the only way I can describe it."
"It's probably the only good way to describe it without talking about the hunting you had to do to protect others." He looked at him. "So," he said grimly. "Why are you worried?"
"Were you a terrier in your last life?"
"With my luck my former mistress was like your Willow and kept me on a very short leash if I was." Xander giggled at that. "Give, kid." He walked over to him. "Well?"
Xander sighed. "I hate that things like that happen." He gripped the mop tighter. "I hate whatever draws them to me. I'm bordering on hating most women at the moment thanks to things like that and my former friends." He stared at him. "It's not your fault but I don't want to scare anyone so I'm cleaning. She can leap. If I have to, I'll go clean the morgue."
"Ducky would fuss if you did." He patted him on the shoulder. "You turned them down?"
"I always turn them down."
"Then you have no issues with us. Calm down. Let DiNozzo help you figure out why this happens. You and Abby can work on it during slow times. It'll give you something else to do. Maybe she can find an antidote. Or whatever it was that blessed you this way." He gave him a shoulder squeeze. "Just calm down. Quit scaring Abby."
"Thank you, Xander." He patted him on the shoulder. "Now, finish mopping before she can come down and make sure she doesn't fall. We'd have to baby her and she'd shout at us too. Also, let her do stuff."
"I'm bored," he hissed. "A bored Xander can cause chaos."
"Then only work your thirty hours a week, Xander. Trust me, if we need you more, we'll call you back." Xander grimaced. "Bored at home?"
"I can't afford cable or an internet connection."
"Then move to one of those boarding motels." He walked off, going back upstairs. "Abby, he's still stressed about the clubbing stuff. Leave him alone about it. Also he found a rat. I gave him permission to finish cleaning your lab."
"Thank you, Gibbs." She headed back down there to help him clean. "You found a rat?"
"I saw a sewer rat and I shot it," he said proudly.
"Good job!" She clapped him on the back and carefully walked over his trail. "Get me the wipes and I'll start on the main table then move around while you mop."
"As long as you don't fall. Gibbs gave me orders to protect you." He got them for her and handed them over. "So be careful." He went back to his cleaning.
She watched. "You do that like you would a restaurant."
"Many too many times in fast food," he quipped.
"Ah. No wonder." A guard came in. "Did we figure out where the rat came from?"
"We have. We found the open manhole cover in the locker room your intern told us about but the boss said no one can get up off that dumpster."
Xander handed over his mop, lab coat, overshirt, and glasses, heading out with him. He led him outside, then to the dumpster. "Someone moved it by a foot. It'll still go." He closed the top, then looked around before climbing up. Then he spit on his hands, rubbing them against his thighs before he jumped for the railing, catching it with one hand. He made his way up and over, then got onto the elevator and went back to the lab. He grinned and took his mop and coat back, nodding at the table. "I only need the glasses for close detail work." He wet his mop down and went back to mopping.
Abby shook her head. "How far off was it from the last time you did that, Xander?"
"Wonderful." Gibbs walked in and smacked Xander on the head. "What was that for?" she asked.
He pouted at him. "I'm being good."
"You're showing off. Most guys can't do that."
"They'd be bad guys. They're always more skilled than you think. Even Angel learned that lesson eventually, Gibbs." Gibbs walked off shaking his head. "If they're determined they can be delivery guys too. That's how most of the snackers I know got entrance into houses when they wanted it."
"You know, I never thought about vampires doing that," Abby admitted. "Even I invite delivery guys in now and then while I'm grabbing money."
Xander nodded. "Me too and I *really* know better." She nodded, grinning at him. "I also have a stake right there for my moments of stupidity," he admitted with a grin. "Plus my super soaker with holy water." He went back to his mopping, cleaning up the footprints Gibbs had made.
"Ooh, they're having Tony recreate it." He leaned over to watch. Tony made the same jump, barely. He nearly lost his grip before he could get his second hand up there. But he did make it over the railing. "Before you ask if they fixed that camera, this is from McGee's phone. It's a live feed." Xander snickered and nodded at her to go. "Ice pack?"
"Or something for his hands."
"I'll go baby him. You finish cleaning and shoot any more rats we get." She went to do that. "Awww, you poor thing. Did they make you try to be a Xander?" she teased, babying his hands for him.
"He's more athletic than I gave him credit for."
"It came in handy," she reminded him, giving him a look before bandaging his palms for him. "There, you'll be fine." She heard the guard flinch. "He found another one?"
"Yup," he admitted. "Gibbs, can you please suggest *traps* to the boy?"
"I don't want more dead things in my lab!" she complained. They all stared at her. "I'll let him use a crossbow."
"That'll work better," the guard offered. "That won't make us flinch."
She called down there. "Xander, use a crossbow instead. Sure, the mini one you stashed in my desk is fine. Thank you, Xander." She hung up and went back to fussing over Tony. "You know, he said they moved the dumpster a foot from the last time he tried it."
"I'm not surprised. It must've moved when he jumped too. The push-off force or something." Gibbs looked at him. "It would."
"It did an inch or so," the guard admitted. "He caught it one handed too, DiNozzo." He went to report to his boss, shaking his head, letting him have the film he had taken. "I had DiNozzo test it, sir. It is a weak spot. Along with the spot that's letting Harris shoot rats for target practice." He moaned, going to call someone to fix that. Even if the lab's security camera was letting a quiet 'here, ratty ratty ratty, come to Xander, ratty ratty ratty, let the nice Xander shoot you before you contaminate evidence' that made the monitoring guard snicker. "Sir, is there something wrong with that boy?"
"I did some research on his former town. It fell in about five years ago from an earthquake. Most of the town got out," he offered. "Before then it had an extremely high death rate. In the twenties most years." The guards all gaped at him. "There's rumors of an informal protection patrol."
"Harris said something about street level protection combat," the guard from earlier admitted. They heard a gun go off and all looked at the camera. "Another rat?"
"No, sir. I'm not sure what it was but if it was a rat, it was a giant rat." They went jogging up there to see. "That's one mutant rat," the guard said in awe. "I've never seen a three-foot rat."
"I have and they're cannibals. They eat people." He put down his mop. "Help me drag it outside so we can burn the sucker. There's a good chance I only stunned it."
"That's cruel, sir."
"No, cruel would be for me to shoot it more times and not burn it so it'd eat someone else." The 'rat' shifted and the guards yelled and backed away. Xander just sighed, rolled his eyes, grabbed the rat's feet and walked it out to the elevator, taking it down to the bottom of the parking garage. Where he set it on fire. It went up very prettily and was even cheery. He waved at the running guard. "Bullet didn't stop it."
"That's one huge rat," he said, sounding awed.
"Yeah, and if more come I want silver bullets," Xander joked. "Can you go get some from my car?" The guard gave him a look. Xander just grinned back. "I'm always prepared with reference samples because I *am* a ballistics tech." The guard took his keys and went to get one for him, coming back with more crossbow bolts too as a blatant hint. "Thanks." He tucked the bullets into his pocket, the bolts into his back waistband, and made sure the rat demon was fully dead before heading off. "It'll burn out."
"Sure, Harris," he said, staying to make sure of that, fire extinguisher by his side.
Xander met Gibbs in the elevator. He stabbed the button. "Giant rat."
"I saw. Normal?" Xander snorted. "No more shooting."
"I'll use a silencer."
"Thank you." They both got off at the lab, him and Abby both watching as he reloaded the gun with silver bullets and found his silencer in his bag in her desk. "Uh-huh."
"No, I wasn't a boy scout. It used to be necessary in my life." He shot the next rat, looking at her. "Better?"
"Much." She took the crossbow, reloading it with a smile. "I like this."
"Just don't hit us," Gibbs complained, leaving them alone. Hopefully she'd warp him just as much as he was warping her. Then again, that meant they'd both drive him insane and try to warp DiNozzo and McGee. Kate would resist for as long as she could, then she'd stomp off and go shopping or something. He sat down behind his desk. "Now that the entertainment is over with. Do we have someone?"
"His troop's just now coming back onto base, boss," McGee offered. "I had the MP's call when they got back. Told them someone's car had been spotted at an accident and we needed a statement." That got a nod and the team left to question someone before they got overrun with rats too.
Xander looked at himself then at Tony when Tony stared at him. "What? Not good enough?"
"I don't even look like that in leather," he complained. "C'mon." Xander locked his door and did something to the frame before following. "I thought that was your friend," he said quietly.
"It was but I picked up a little bit. Enough to research the minor things." He pointed at the mustang and Tony nodded. "She's a beautiful girl, Tony."
"Thanks." He grinned. That was odd, this little femme hunting guy liked cars? "Get in." He slid in and Xander did the same. They headed out to a club Tony thought might be a good compromise. "Gibbs said I was to see if we could find that offering thing out."
"He reminded me. It doesn't work if I call it."
"That's fine. Just be a normal guy. Maybe we'll get some fun tonight." He turned a corner and lights went on behind him. "Huh." He pulled over, pulling out his ID. "Yes, Officer?"
"Sir, you're on a list to watch tonight?" she asked, spotting the ID. "Gibbs put you on it, sir."
"I know. My friend here was kidnaped last weekend. He's paranoid."
"Oh. Are you all right, sir?"
"I was fine. They stuffed Abby in a closet with disco polyester." Xander grinned. "I think it was watch out for us if Tony had to rush after someone to save me."
"Sure. That'll work, sir. Thank you." She let them drive off while she went back to her car to report that to her boss. That way the watch list could be modified.
Tony got Xander into the club he liked, watching as the boy moved out onto the floor. He had moves. The girls were gravitating toward him. He got his own girl but kept an eye on the boy. His partner huffed. "He's new to town. I'm bringing him around," he soothed, smiling at her. She still danced off but Xander sent one of his over with a wink, getting back into the action. She cooed and cuddled up to him. It was nice. She was very sweet. She had very sharp nails she was digging into his butt. She was also dragging him off to the bathrooms already. "Desperate?" he teased. She nodded, latching on to have some fun with him. He came out and found Xander liplocked in a dark corner. Xander's girl squealed went limp in his arms, earning a very satisfied smirk. She wobbled off and Xander went to play with someone else. Huh. He hadn't tried to get any for himself. Tony found another partner near Xander, listening to him try to get away from someone. He gave the woman a look, then tapped the outline of his badge in his pocket. She went pale and disappeared. He went back to it once Xander had grinned in thanks.
An hour later Tony looked around. No Xander. He checked the back areas. Still no Xander. He groaned and went to the back door, finding Xander outside with someone trying to attack him. He let the door close, watching in awe as Xander methodically kicked her ass. Then she went whoosh into a pile of ashes. He clapped. Xander stiffened and looked at him. "She attack you?" Xander nodded, moving to check her victim. "She good? Need the ER?"
"Could probably. She's unconscious." Tony called it in for him and they waited while an ambulance came up. "We came out for some fresh air and found her like this," Xander said, looking at one. "I don't know what's wrong with her."
"That's fine, sir." They moved him, getting into the woman's space to check her over. "Thank you, boys. You probably kept her from being hurt a lot worse," he said while they put her on the stretcher. They took her off and the boys both waved.
"Good cover," Tony said quietly.
"I couldn't tell them she was bitten. They'd have taken me too," he replied just as quietly. A bouncer came out the back door. "We called in the girl that was laying in the trash."
"Thank you, Knight," he said, lighting up. "The attacker a problem?"
Xander looked at him. "Are you?"
"I am but I'm fairly peaceful. I get my needs met other ways." He took a draw, looking at him.
"I came out for some air. The vamp attacked me." He nodded at the pile of ash. "I'm still retired."
"Good deal. You might wanna watch out for a place called Kinetic. It's a buffet."
"Good deal. Give my greetings to the overlord. I'm in on an internship at NCIS." He nodded at Tony. "He's one I personally protect."
"We know his team too. We like Abby," he admitted with a grin. "The overlord said she's too cute to turn or nibble on. Go off, boys." They nodded, heading to Tony's car.
"Knight?" Tony asked.
"The proper term for someone who jumps into the fight that's not his." He gave him a look. "It's not like I'm a slayer, Tony."
"Oh. So they *knew* you?" Xander nodded. "You've got a rep?" Tony got a nod again and a small smirk. "You're retired?"
"Unless the world's bending over and grabbing its ankles or I'm attacked."
"Good. Gibbs will like that." He patted him on the back. "You don't want to go there, right?"
"Nope. I'm sure the city's watching the buffet for how many people disappear after being there." He waited until Tony unlocked his door, then slid in. "So, now where? Cool down, keep going?"
"Keep going. I'm not in the mood to cool down yet." He started the engine and backed out. "What are you driving?"
"POS sedan. It'll die soon."
"There's a bus that comes to the gate. I'm not sure how many transfers you'd need though," Tony admitted, heading off to the next club. He decided to pick somewhere a bit more loose and fun. "This one's a bit more upscale. That good?" Xander shrugged. "Okay." He pulled in and parked, letting the boy out so he could lock his car up. He presented them to the door guard, smiling at him. "Hi, Bob."
"Hey, Tony. Newbie?"
"This is Abby's intern Xander." Xander grinned and waved. "He was very good at the last club." The bouncer laughed and let them in. "Go play." Xander bounced out to the floor, diving into the moving mass of bodies. Tony watched for a minute, getting a drink before heading out to join in.
Tony walked up to Gibbs' desk the next morning. They had weekend call so they had to report. He dropped four baggies. Then he dropped a report on Xander's sweat. Then he dropped something else. "I have no idea where the boy is, boss. Not only did he get taken, it rubbed off on me. The last time I saw him he was with Senator Penfield's wife." Gibbs moaned. "She is an evil bitch so maybe he's not turning her more evil, but I can't show up on his doorstep to ask if his very married wife has my friend tied to a chair."
Gibbs called Xander's cellphone. "Ma'am, this is Leroy Jethro Gibbs at NCIS. You have my intern. We'd like him back and this is the only offer you're getting. I'm sending the FBI to embarrass you in front of the press if we don't get him back quickly." He nodded. "That would be fine, ma'am. Thank you, Senator Ketchum." Tony shuddered at that name. "We're at the office. Yes, that would be fine as well. Just in what he's wearing is fine, ma'am." He put his head down at her suggestion. He could not bust in to arrest her. He'd be suspended to his desk for not being subtle with the politicians. They complained to his boss, who complained to him. "No, that won't work. We need him back, Senator. Now."
Tony took the phone. "Senator, Tony DiNozzo. No, you don't have to take him shopping. I'm sure he is a great shopping buddy. His former friends warped him very badly so they probably traumatized by making him help with that too. Obviously not for himself since he still has Hawaiian shirts in his closet. We need him for a case, ma'am. He's on call today instead of Abby. Thank you, ma'am." He hung up. "She said it'd take an hour. She lives on the other side of the city." He walked over to his desk. "So that's mine, boss, and yes I did complain when I got slipped money. I think the jeweled cock ring was a new thing." McGee choked at that, giving him a look. Tony got up to find that bag, holding it up. McGee whimpered. "Exactly. Someone slid it into my pocket after a grope to make sure it'd fit and left. The money was just tips since whatever Xander has rubbed off on me in the car." He looked at Gibbs. "Did you know he has a scary rep?" he asked quietly. Gibbs looked at him. "A bouncer was one of those sort." Gibbs nodded once. "He had to handle something that attacked him. He's damn good, boss. He also pointed out he was retired."
"I'll let him spar with me soon." He got up. "Going for coffee. Page me if he's back before I am." He walked off shaking his head. The kid was going to drive him nuts. He came back in time to hear the complaining young man.
"No, I don't need a tux or diamonds," he complained. "I'm not a rent boy, Senator!" He closed the door and started to stomp inside.
"Harris," he called, waving him over. Xander gave him a hurt look. He pointed and the boy came over looking like he had been kicked. "You okay?" He gave him the extra coffee he had gotten for him.
"Frustrated." He gave him a hug. "I'm sorry I'm such a pain." He trudged inside.
Gibbs walked over to the car. "Senator."
"Special Agent Gibbs." She slid out to look at him. "I had no idea."
"You liking the boy."
"He's young enough to be my son," he said dryly. He sipped his coffee. "I'm watching out for him for Abby today. He's her toy."
"Oh." She pouted. "Are you *sure*? I know he was out with your second last night. Most of us thought you two were together as well." Gibbs choked. She stroked his wrist. "Don't worry, I won't out you two, Gibbs. It's not politically expedient since I ran on a gay rights ticket." She patted him on the cheek. "Take good care of that boy. He needs a...firm hand." She handed him a bag. "These are his. I'm sure we'll all appreciate him at the gala next month?" she suggested, trying to make it an order.
"That depends on our caseload." He looked at the bag. "He doesn't need that." She snorted. "He doesn't."
"I'm sure you can swing by for a few hours, Gibbs. After all, it would be good for your agency." She slid back into her car and blew a kiss. "See you then with the boy." She headed off with a cheery beep.
Gibbs walked inside, letting the guards x-ray the bag. "Stupid senator," he muttered once they were on the elevator. He got off and tossed Tony the bag. "We were *invited* to the gala next month."
Tony dug into the bag. "She's got decent enough taste." He came to the invitation and looked at it then at Gibbs. "It's him and a date, boss. Abby or Kate?"
Gibbs gave him a look. "She thought me." McGee choked again, wheezing this time. He glared at him, making the young agent head for the bathroom. "Fix it."
"Sure, boss." He carried the bag downstairs, putting the invitation in front of Xander.
"I'm not going."
"You might have to. She can retaliate against the agency." Xander glared at him. "How did she get you? I turned around and you were gone."
"I was dancing with her assistant and she drug me over for a drink. My usual fruit slushy thing. They started to talk around me. I cut and ran politely but her assistant drug me off with a gun in my side. I tried to find you, you were facing the wrong way and the bouncers fell all over themselves since she's a senator."
"This is DC. They do basically rule the roost." He patted him on the back. "If we can we'll get you out of going. She thinks Gibbs should be your date."
"Think he'd handcuff me so I can't be taken again?"
"Maybe," he agreed with a smile. "I did a report on your sweat from the shirt you left in the car when we moved for the second time. Are you running another one?" Xander nodded, pointing at a machine. "Good. What're you doing now?"
"The stuff Norfolk sent to Abby." He held it up. "I can run the trace portions and she'll be in around one for a few hours to look over my shoulder."
"That's fine." He patted him again. "Calm down. She gave you some pretty stuff."
"I'm still not a whore. I spent all night tied to a chair."
"If we're not busy, ask Gibbs to spar." He smirked. "Show him what you can do."
"I'm used to fighting faster things, Tony. It doesn't always translate back to humans."
"It can," Gibbs assured him as he came in. "Plus I'm not that slow, kid. We'll see. The Norfolk stuff?"
"The trace portions." He looked at him. "Can you just ground me? She thought Tony was playing Daddy to me."
"I'll try, kid. Now and then even I have to be forced to play politics. It's the town." He sipped his coffee. "What did she send?" Tony carried the bag to a work station and emptied it for him. "How did she get your size?"
"She had it in the closet," Xander said grimly. "A few of them." He shook his head and went back to running it. He didn't care. Tony gasped so he looked over. "What?"
"Money," he said, waving the check. "You can move."
"Good. I'd like to move. My neighbor upstairs snores." He glanced at it then at him. "That's way too much for having me tied to a chair all night." Ducky walked in. "Hi, Ducky."
"Good morning, Xander. A new case?"
"Stuff from Norfolk. I'm doing the Trace they sent." He ran another sample once his was done, going to prepare the next one. "Tony, did you bring that journal?"
"I've got the last one and this one," he said happily. "They're in my desk, Xander. I'll bring them down for lunch." He got back to browsing. "She even bought you underwear?"
"Her closet. She let her assistant pick it out. She thought I'd look cute in a thong but I told her they never fit right. They pulled in the wrong way. So she groped and agreed there was a reason for that," he said dryly. He took that information and put it where it was supposed to go. Then he ran his last sample. When that came out he finished bundling up and settled in to write his report for someone over there. He left it with Abby's pile so she'd know what he did. Then he came over to look. "Cheesy. I look bad in a tux. Even Armani. Oooh, and rubies this time," he finished flatly and sarcastically. "Yay me. Cordy would be pulling out her old pompoms." He walked off shaking his head. "I'm raiding the soda machine, Gibbs. Be right back. Clean that shit out of my lab please?"
"Sure, kid." He shook his head. "Senator Ketchum," he told Ducky.
"I'd heard she was in the mood for a new boy." He helped Tony put things back in the bag. "It appears Xander doesn't want to take advantage of such things."
"She all-but ordered us to the gala next month." He walked off shaking his head, going to do a fast report on this for his boss, just in case someone called him about it. He got back a 'yes, you're going, it's budget time' from him. He groaned and sent back a 'can I send DiNozzo?' and got back a 'fine, whatever, make sure the boy has social skills' and the director going out for coffee. He walked down to find Xander and Tony going over what had went wrong. "Xander, I was ordered that one of us would go with you. It's budget time and she's on appropriations. She can slash our budget completely, kid." Tony moaned. "I was also ordered to make sure you knew how to act in a social setting."
"In a restaurant. I'm not comfortable around people, Gibbs."
"We'll work on that," Tony promised, patting him on the back. "It'll be like I'm your big brother." Xander looked at him. "Really. I grew up in a lifestyle like them, Xander." Xander gave him a confused look. "I refused to join the family business."
"Mafia?" Xander teased.
"Only when he wanted something," he shot back, giving him a look. Xander grinned and nodded. "We'll work on that. It'll be polite mingling and making small talk. Sipping champagne. Yes, you can have a single glass and keep it all night. I do. Not like they get the best stuff for those events." He ruffled his hair. "It'll be okay. It'll be a boring three hours out of your life and then you can go pick up a girl for some fun or something. A lot of them like men in good tuxes. We'll have to get yours fitted in case it doesn't." He walked out, going to get those journals for him. He brought them back and found Gibbs suggesting a spar. "You should, boss. He's good. He'd definitely kick my ass."
"Abby can kick your ass, DiNozzo." He nodded. "Come on, kid." Xander sighed and put down his jacket, with the journals on top, following him down to the gym. "Want to change?"
"I picked all my wardrobe for the purpose of fighting," Xander pointed out. He waved him on. "I still don't want to hurt you."
"Weapons outside the ring. Let Tony hold them," Gibbs ordered, staring at him. Xander sighed and took them all off, handing even his pocket knife to Tony. "Thanks. I realize you're a weapons fighter by the way you're standing." He waved him on. "Come at me."
"I'm a defender, Gibbs."
"Fine." He lunged and the kid moved. He looked awkward. "At your usual speed, Xander. I can take you out anyway." Xander huffed but did as ordered, grabbing him and flipping him, then tapping him in the middle of his back. He got off him and moved back, watching him. Gibbs advanced again and Xander ducked to the side, getting in a side blow. This time Gibbs fought back and it was a harder fight. Xander was sweating by the time he was done. It ended up in a tie but Gibbs probably could have wiggled out of it and gotten the kid when he called a halt to it.
"Much." He looked around. "Do we need to test you with weapons?" he asked the boy.
"No," he said, sulking a bit. "I'm good with weapons."
"I meant staffs, those things."
"I'm still pretty good. Buffy had to spar with someone and Giles was too delicate now and then." That got a nod. "Plus I kinda learned on the job."
"That happens," he agreed. He gave him a small smile. "Good job."
"Thank you." He grinned at him. "I need a shower, I'm stinky." He slid out, leaving his weapons and things with Tony for now.
"I told you he was good, boss," Tony reminded him.
"You were right." He got out of the ring and came down. "Make sure that gets back to him."
"Of course I am." He went to put them in the lab in a pile, finding Abby in there. "He did the trace stuff for you."
"I saw. Where is my lab monkey?"
"He and Gibbs were sparring."
"Any good?" He nodded, kissing her on the cheek. "What's in the bag?"
"Senator Ketchum decided to outfit him for the gala in three weeks."
"Oooooooh. Poor boy." She logged into the security system, running it back so she could see the match.
Xander looked around the gala, looking disgusted. "Why am I doing this?" he asked Tony.
"Because otherwise there won't be an agency for you to intern with, Xander." He patted him on the back. "Smile. Small talk. Hold your champagne in your left hand so you can shake hands. Remember those few cases where they're going to shake oddly." Xander nodded, pasting a smile on his face. "Nicer, Xander. You look insane." He looked at him and poked him on the side. "Imagine them naked."
"Eww." He looked at his friend. "Please don't do that to me. I've got a very strong imagination."
"Then think about them having to face Abby down." He grinned and Tony nodded, grinning back. "Better. Now, let's go make some socially polite talk. If anyone asks, I got told to bring you so we could show off our newest lab tech." He took a glass of champagne for each of them, handing Xander his, and they walked further into the room. They ran into the senator lurking in wait. "Senator Ketchum." He shook her hand. "Gibbs couldn't come tonight. He's twisted his ankle."
"So he trusted his boy to you? Interesting," she purred, smiling at Xander.
"We're not like that," Xander assured her, shaking her hand. "But thank you for pulling me away from my forensic and bomb manuals, Senator."
"Bomb?" she asked.
"I'm a ballistics tech. I used to work construction. I've got to switch my demolitions license here and then wherever I end up after my internship year is done."
"You're not staying?"
"I drive Abby insane in the lab taking work from her," he admitted with a gentle smile. She shivered. "I'm looking to go to a wonderful but small department where I can raise dogs."
"I haven't decided yet," he offered, lying. "If you'll excuse me, our boss is over there and told us we had to come even though I've got a homicide waiting on me." She nodded, getting out of their way. They walked off, smiling and shaking hands on the way. Tony smiled and nodded he was doing fine. "Save me?" he whimpered to the director. "Please?"
"Give it an hour more, boys," he said, smiling at them. "Tony, very good of you to help him."
"He's not from an affluent background, Director. Besides, it'll help with interviews and things." He smiled at Xander. "There is someone you should meet. Why is he up here?" he said with a nod toward the other end of the room.
"It's grant season as well," the director reminded him.
Xander looked at him. "Is he a lab person? He looks like the guy in the article."
"That is the guy in the article," he agreed, smiling at him. "Go, I'll follow and save you if you make an ass out of yourself."
Xander nodded, walking that way, smiling and nodding at someone, ducking around another one. He sipped his champagne to wet his mouth but grimaced, making the man watching him smile. "Sorry, I'm more used to soda. I saw your picture and an article on your lab in Forensics Monthly. Xander Harris, Trace and Ballistics intern at NCIS. I'm bothering Abby right now," he said, holding out a hand.
"Horatio Caine, Miami-Dade." He shook his hand. "Ballistics and Trace?"
Xander smiled and nodded. "With just enough credits to qualify me for field work if it becomes pertinent but I'd like to stay in the lab." He looked around and put his glass down, rubbing his hand. "Sorry, hand cramp."
"It's fine, Xander. We all have to pretend at these things. How are you enjoying working up here?"
"I love working with Abby but we've got a lot of downtime right now. Abby's used to being the lone tech for the whole department so I'm learning a lot of stuff outside my area, but I'd rather not be the only tech when I move on. A good, supportive lab who would like to play with the dogs I intend to adopt, but not the only tech." He blushed. "Sorry, I babble when I get nervous. The only reason I'm here is because a senator kidnaped me one night and blackmailed our boss since she's on the appropriations committee," he said quietly. "Tony had to teach me how to act around smart, rich people." He looked at him. "How is Miami? Is it nice?"
"It's a very nice city," he admitted, smiling at him. "Before you ask, we do have a ballistics tech but she's also a field tech."
"Really? Wow." He grinned. "Think you could use a sub tech in about a year?"
"I'll see what we can do. Do you have a card?" Xander patted himself down and handed one over with a goofy, happy grin. "I'll look over your credentials, Mr. Harris."
"Xander, please, Lieutenant. I trained out at UCLA, we're not that formal out there and Mr. Harris is the dirtbag who spawned me." He looked around. "There's Tony, I should probably quit hiding. Think I could sneak out?"
Horatio smiled at him. "Probably not. Sometimes you have to do these things for the department."
"I've taken bullets, injuries, and sword cuts for the team, I suppose I can take being bored to death too," he sighed. He grabbed his glass. "I'll see you around."
"There's a convention in two months in Cleveland, are you going?"
"I'm going to try but Abby's not sure if she can go with me. She wanted to be there so she could tell everyone how much I annoy her by taking samples from her to have something to do," he admitted sheepishly. Horatio chuckled at that. "We have ten teams locally and we're the only lab, but I expected to have more work to do. Even then, I know there's stuff I'm missing in my education. She doesn't do a whole lot with *physical* trace. They do a lot with computer trace and that's not my best area. I'm not a hacker," he admitted sheepishly, giving him a look.
"Then why go there?"
"One of my instructors knew one of the team leaders out here and he sent me to Gibbs. See..." He sighed. "Back when I was in school and before college I had to be a ...protective person because things happened around some of my friends. The teacher wanted me with someone who could understand what I just retired from in case anything interrupted my retirement from that issue."
"Protection...." Horatio said, looking at him. "You know that irritating blonde creature in Cleveland." He knew he had looked familiar.
Xander nodded. "I used to fight beside her. I was with her all the way until she moved to Cleveland, where she decided I was dryer lint. Her words." He took another drink, shrugging some. "I'm retired from that. The day I graduated UCLA I retired. They wanted to make sure nothing interrupted my retirement and they thought having me near someone who knew what combat was would ease the transition."
"That's sensible," he admitted, smiling at him. "UCLA?" Xander nodded. "So you took Destra?"
"Yes, my moron signal tower quips are going to waste since I don't get to use any of my field training here." He grinned. "If you call her, she'll tell you I used to do construction and have a demolitions license too," he quipped with a happy grin. "I corrected her a few times on construction issues. She loved me anyway."
Horatio patted him on the arm. "Come to the convention, Xander. There's a few people you should meet."
"Good boy. Now, quit hiding. You can't sneak out from this side." The boy gave him a naughty grin and smoothly walked off, going to slip into the crowd while he sipped his champagne and thought. He found his earbud for his cellphone, calling home. "Calleigh, call Destra out at UCLA. I just ran into a very intriguing intern at this event. Harris." He listened to her babble. "She did? He said one of the others sent him to NCIS." He listened to her babble about him and how he had a few issues but that he was going to be a great tech according to his teachers. "Hmm. Make sure you're on to come to the convention with Speed and I. He's a ballistics tech with a minor in trace and field," he admitted. She repeated that to someone. "Yes, he's complained about that. He's working with Abby at the moment. Of course. Thank you." He hung up and nodded politely at Tony when he came over.
"Forgive him if he was bouncy and happy to find someone who didn't want to kidnap him," he said quietly. "The boy's good, Caine. Very good. Gibbs appreciates him, thinks of him like some odd cousin he's showing the way into the field. There's only three things you have to know about Xander. He'll do what's necessary. Never let him date without a background check, we found that one out the hard way, that's why we're here tonight. And never, ever let him gorge himself on chocolate or he'll bounce. Wore Abby out bouncing. Shot at some rats that snuck into the lab too." He got a smile. "He's a good tech but NCIS wasn't the fit it should've been."
"He told me why he got sent to your people."
"His ballistics teacher used to serve with Gibbs. He's still looking for some Trace teaching. See if you can get him to do a half-year internship with you. It'd help him and by then you'll know if you can stand the boy when he's bouncy and happy or who would best suit him."
"I might be able to do that," he admitted. He smiled. "Quit worrying. He made a good impression."
"Good. I worked for over a week on his social skills. His parents...not the best of creatures. Can't call them human," he said at the interested look. "Oh, he absolutely cannot cook. Didn't know what a stove was until home ec. Got kicked out of home ec for poisoning people with brownies. Cannot cook. Ever."
Horatio smiled. "I'll keep that in mind." That got a nod and Tony winked before walking off. "The boy gets more and more interesting," he decided. A half-year internship would make sure Abby had finished teaching him what he'd need to know. They all knew Abby in forensics circles, and that she did a lot of hacking things. The boy didn't seem like the hacker sort. A real lab with a lot of work would probably be better for the boy. Or maybe he'd steal him for the rest of his internship year. That was possible. The boy seemed pretty stable. He was also obviously the one he had heard about leaving that group. He finished his champagne and went to find some more, forcing himself to mingle and mix with the people who gave his lab money.
Xander presented himself in front of Gibbs the next morning. "I was a good boy, I didn't even beat the bitch who kept pinching me."
"You were. I heard you did very good last night, Xander," Gibbs promised, smiling at him. "Abby said to make you go away. She wanted to work. Want to switch hours today?"
"No," he pouted. "I'm bored too." He frowned. "Can I go into the field? I have passed those classes. I should probably keep up with them," he said dryly at the odd look. "It's either that or I've got to call over to the FBI to go in for my explosives and demolition licensing with them. They said so."
"Why don't I set you up with someone at Quantico who can make sure of what you do and don't know?" he offered. Xander beamed and nodded at that, starting to bounce. "Quit." Xander quit bouncing. "Thank you. You give me a headache when you bounce. Need anything?"
"Glasses. They're down there."
"Go get them." Xander jogged off to do that, jogging down the stairs. Gibbs called out to the only IED instructor he knew. "It's Gibbs. I've got a ballistics and trace lab intern who had an explosives and demolition license before. He's got to transfer it out here. I want to know what he can and can't do. Thank you. I can do that. Harris. Dark hair, thin. Male. Him," he agreed, rolling his eyes. "Abby?" He smirked. "The director knows he's not getting enough work here. Thank you." He hung up and wrote out the directions, handing them to Xander when he came back up in a simple t-shirt and jeans plus his NCIS hat. "Good idea, kid. Got your ID badge on you?" Xander waved it. "Go here. Let them test you." Xander took it and nodded, heading out. He got back to work on his current case. There was no way he was taking Harris onto a case in the field. Even if he had taken all the classes, that was for agents and full CSI, not for Harris, who was a lab tech with credentials as far as he was concerned. Abby came up confused an hour later, looking around. "I sent him to an explosives person so he could reup his licence."
"Oh. That's good for him." She came over. "He met a very nice lieutenant from another lab last night," she said, giving him a look. "Where they do a lot more work."
Gibbs looked at her. "If he wants to switch he can do that. You've had him doing a lot of trace work and it's his minor."
"True. They wanted him to go to the convention. I need to go too."
"I'm not in personnel."
"It'd mean taking Friday off through late Monday." Gibbs frowned. "I need to go with him, Gibbs. That way I can introduce him to the right people, tell them how he does in the labs, that stuff. I'm not doing formal evaluations at the moment. I'll do one at the end of his time."
"Make sure the director knows." She nodded, going to do that. He got a call. "Gibbs." He listened, then groaned. "He left from here over an hour ago. Let me call him." He hung up and called Xander. "Where are you? Why does the FBI have you?" He blinked a few times. "Put the agent on. It's Gibbs, NCIS. He's Abby's lab intern. He's going for his demo testing. Get him there. You can ask him about whoever shot at his car in a few minutes or on the way. Yes, I said so. Thank you." He hung up and called his friend back. "Someone shot at the kid's car. FBI is bringing him out," he offered. "Exactly," he sighed. "Thanks. Let me know." He hung up again, grabbing his bottle of aspirin. Tony came in with a box of evidence from an office raid. "Harris got shot at on his way to his demo testing."
"I saw that. I also saw him duck when the first shot happened, which was appropriate, then get out and blow the bike's tires, then go arrest the suckers before anyone else got there." Gibbs stared at him, aspirin in his hand. "I also stayed with him until Fornell got there. I called Fornell personally. Fornell was probably questioning a shooter if you didn't talk to him. By the way, he needs a better car, Gibbs. His really is a piece of crap sedan." He handed over the box. "All the financial records, including the books he was hiding his theft in." He went back to his desk, taking his own advil. "He's got style, I saw him pounce. Bad handcuffing style but otherwise he was okay." He went back to work on his portion of the paperwork. "Kate and McGee are on their way back too. Kate had to stop to get coffee for her headache."
"I can see why. Any idea why they shot at him?"
"Diversion according to the first agent on scene."
"Ah." He took the aspirin. "Abby said they're both going to a convention next month?"
"That way the boy can have an internship that does what he needs, Gibbs. Including giving him enough work." They shared a look. That was the only problem Abby had with him. Him taking her work so he had something to do too.
Xander tapped on Gibbs' door. "Sorry about the interruption to the plans today, boss. This is the report he said you wanted. He agreed with me, I'm not fast but I'm good." He grinned and walked inside when Gibbs opened his door wider. He followed him back to the kitchen, giving McGee a hug. "Hi."
"Hi, Xander. Get off." Xander got off. "What's that?"
"My demolitions testing. He also showed me some I didn't know what to do with."
"I can see that," Gibbs said, reading it over. He was rated 'competent but not fast'. He looked over all the categories. "He didn't go into the higher classes?"
"He said that'd take another day or three to teach me. I said I had the manual for one but I was a bit lost. I showed him where on the board and he explained that part to me. But he did say I needed a few more days to finish that education."
Gibbs nodded, putting it down. "Sounds like you did good. Have fun?"
"Yup," Xander said with a grin. "We talked artillery too while he was testing me. He likes tanks and I like the newer stuff for destruction purposes." Gibbs smirked at that. "What? I like explosions. They're pretty."
"They are." He shook his head but he was smiling. "McGee, head for a few." He went to the living room. "Abby thinks that you're being stifled."
"Only a bit," he offered, looking a bit sheepish. "I try."
"I know. I've seen you try. She was saying that convention would probably suit you better."
"Tony was suggesting I ask to do a half-year of internship after I graduated here. That way I could get all the stuff I missed since she doesn't deal with everything or a very diverse crime base. Plus since I'm not a hacker so I'm lost now and then."
"That's a good idea. She was thinking you might want to change after that."
Xander shrugged. "I don't want to leave her. It'd look bad."
"Not necessarily," he offered. He sat down. "If they offer, would you?"
"You're tired of me, aren't you?" he sighed. "I knew I shouldn't date."
"It's not that, kid. That's actually an amusing side note most of the time." Xander grimaced. "It's more that you're right, you're not getting what you need in our lab. We don't have a diverse base of crime. We don't get into receipts that're wet, a wide range of ballistics, or very many ballistics now and then. We're keeping you doing trace when that's not your main area. She thinks you'd be better served by hitting a lab that could let you into the field."
"I could like that but it'd still look bad."
"Not really. You can explain why you got sent to us. I'm fairly certain that your teacher's worries were pretty groundless most of the time. In any given lab you're bound to either find someone with military training or at least someone who's had to fire in the field. I think you'll do good with it. Not that we won't miss you. Abby will pout for weeks, and so will Tony."
Xander grinned. "You're sure?"
"I'm sure. Besides, she's going to hit you the next time you take work from her. She's a bit more laid back than you are. You're a lot more forceful than she is in the lab. She's learned to pace herself by the rate of evidence. You'd be better in a lab where you had a lot of evidence every day. We're too small of a lab for you." Xander nodded that he agreed. "Did you like Caine? Tony mentioned you had met him."
"He seemed pretty nice. He knew something about Buffy. He mentioned it. It's supposed to be a great lab."
"It's a good lab. Abby trusts results from them most of the time." That got a shy smile and he knew the kid would do fine. "Did you talk about lab positions with him?"
"I did. His ballistics tech is also a field tech."
"So you could probably help in there. Plus their trace department, and they could even give you field hours now and then for big scenes."
"True, but they might not have an opening. I don't want to count on it, Gibbs."
"Which makes you realistic, kid. We'll see what we can do. We're all going to the convention." Xander blushed and looked down. "Just so DiNozzo can have some fun things to do for a weekend that doesn't include possibly becoming a father." He sat up. "Also, the director said your file doesn't contain a DNA sample and he wanted you to fix that tomorrow for some reason."
"He didn't say. He said to put it in there just in case."
"I guess it'd help if I got kidnaped again."
"Probably true," he agreed, smiling again. "You should take some of what you've been given to get a new car."
"Yeah, I need a new car. Mine died." He sat down. "Before there was only one dealership near Sunnydale and I took what they had. Where do you start new car looking?"
"New or used, just get something reliable that's good on insurance and gas, kid."
"I plan on it. Did you know they use hummers down there? The article I found was on their mobile hummer crime labs."
"They're sturdy vehicles. It sounds good." Xander grinned. "If you can, if not maybe he'll know of a good place for you to go, Xander. He's pretty well known in the world of forensics. Between him and Abby, you shouldn't have too much of a problem. Just dress nicely at the convention. No going slutty and going out to party. Make a good impression."
"Don't call me sir."
"Yes, Gibbs," he said with a grin. "So, I've got my demolitions license again. They transferred it into the federal system so I don't have to keep switching it around. They also noted I had construction experience in it."
"Good. It can only help. What did Fornell say?"
"A lot of muttered swears. He said he'd see you in the morning when he figured out why they picked me as a diversion. They were talking in Greek and I understand Hebrew but not Greek."
"That works. Go home, go play."
"I can't go home. The building was nearly destroyed earlier. I'm waiting for permission to go in and pack."
"Gas main explosion." He got up to turn on the radio, letting him hear the news report. "That was about two buildings up from mine. Mine's got concussion damage on the top five floors out of the eight."
"Okay. Go to a motel tonight." Xander nodded, going to do that. He shook his head, listening to it.
Xander came in the next morning, handing Gibbs a card. "I'm there until I leave. They let me get my stuff at two," he said, yawning a bit. "Sorry but I'm exhausted. Not that I had that much stuff to move but all the hangings had to come down and I had to clean to get my security deposit back. So I'm there, but hey, I have cable." He yawned again. "I'm going to nap in Abby's desk chair until she needs me."
"Go for it." Xander nodded, going down there. Gibbs shook his head but he was smiling. He updated the kid's records and made a note in his personal ones.
Abby looked at Xander as he came in dragging. "Are you fit for work?" she demanded.
"Nope. I got to get my crap at two this morning." She looked confused. "Gas explosion was two down from my apartment, Abby. I can work if you need me to. I'll just yawn a lot."
"There's ballistics evidence." He took the guns with him, grabbing his jacket on the way. She shook her head. Even tired he was a great tech in the making. She'd be sorry to have him go. A few hours later they got a double homicide and things picked up again. Xander was still dragging but he was working like usual. They kept going until they had it all done and then Gibbs came down to get reports while she looked up a few things for him. Another team came in with a homicide as well and Xander handled that while she got this one since it had phone records and things. They sent a guard for more soda and coffee, but that was the only dinner they had. They kept going even after the teams went home. Xander fell asleep over his keyboard long after Abby had claimed her desk chair but that was all right. It's what was expected of him. They both knew that.
Tony came in the next morning, frowning at the man working. "Did you get any sleep?"
"Three hours," Xander said, sounding like he was awake again. "I'm fine. Abby's still asleep but she found what you needed about midnight." He pointed at her monitor and finished up what he was doing. He frowned at the evidence. "Huh?" He bit his lip, then paged that leader. "It's Harris, I'm done with the evidence. Yeah, just now. It depends, did you have anyone who was in North Carolina at Myrtle Beach?" He grinned. "Because you found sand from there on the body and a few other things. Sure, I'm up." He hung up and finished his reports, checking them over and printing them with the reports. The team leader walked in grimacing. "Hi." He showed him what he had. "By geological reports, the sand came from here. The pattern of the sand on the body suggested transfer instead of running into it or it being poured on him post-death. There was also a bit of glitter mixed in so it could have come from a novelty, touristy sort of t-shirt maybe? Oh, and there's this." He pulled up the ballistics report. "That's the registered owner of the gun he was shot with. Ballistics matched in the system. You brought me a DNA swab with his name on it. Abby's got it running overnight. She did it before she fell asleep. That's the last match we have, that to the sample from the envelope." He looked at him. "I don't do DNA, sorry. But that's your best suspect right now and probably what you need to bring him in and break him."
"Thanks," he said dryly. "Fancy yourself a field agent?"
"Actually, I am rated for field work," he admitted, looking a bit confused. "I had the second highest score in the field classes, right behind the officer who was switching over and had to take it. She was a detective." The agent looked unimpressed. "Did we get more evidence?"
"No," he ground out, taking the reports to walk off with them. He handed them to his senior agent. "Harris did everything but the DNA comparison. He said it's running. He said look for those things."
"The guy we questioned had a t-shirt like that and it was his gun, boss," she noted. "That's the break we needed." She got up and went to find the guy so they could bring him in. She knew where he worked.
Tony looked at Xander, giving him a shoulder nudge. "Good work."
"Thanks. Oh, you've got something odd in his phone records. Abby said something about ghost numbers?"
"Interesting. Abby?" he called. She came out of her office rubbing her eyes. "Good morning, sleepy." He kissed her on the forehead. "Ghost numbers?"
"Yeah, like phantom of the opera numbers." She blinked at Xander. "How long have you been up?"
"Few hours. Cleaning crew got me up," he admitted. "Everything but the DNA comparison is done on mine and I handed it over."
"He did a good job too. He proved who it was without a confession in sight," Tony admitted. "C'mere, Xander. Look at this one." Xander shifted over to look over his arm, then he suddenly highlighted one. "What's that?"
"The porn line that's a CIA check-in. I called it by accident. I'm surprised no one complained about me again."
"Very interesting." He patted them both on the back. "Abby, can you run him through their system?"
"I can't get into their system. Send McGee down in a few and I will. Let me shower and change first." He nodded, heading off with that information. "Good job, Xander," she said proudly, beaming at him. "Now, let me shower. Refer them to my shower if they need it right now." She walked off, going to do that.
Xander tidied up his last case, putting everything back into a box and sealing it, marking the case name and number on it. "She's in the shower, Gibbs," he said without having to look when the door opened. "She said she'd be back in a few."
"If I were her, I'd take time," an accented voice said.
Xander turned to look at the guy. "And you are?" he demanded.
"Your better, boy."
"I doubt it." He crossed his arms, looking him over. "Hmm, trained. With the idiots who shot at my car day before yesterday?" The man nodded. "Pity they were so pitiful."
"Ah but they did what they were supposed to." He moved closer. "You are quite an interesting young man. You could do a lot for my people."
"I can do a lot for many people, but you'll never find out." He lunged, catching him off guard, but the guy could fight. Xander barely kept himself from having his head caved in. But he let himself slip into the hunting mindset, the one that scared Angel now and then, and he finally won against him, getting him down. He slammed his head into the floor, then looked around. "HELP! GUNMAN IN THE LAB!" Guards came jogging in. "Guys, I had to subdue him. He had a gun somewhere." He looked around. "There it is. Use gloves to pick it up!" he snapped. They did that. Two of the guards arrested him. Xander was helped up to his feet. "He came in to tell me he was with the guys who shot at my car the other day and I could do a lot for his people." Abby came in. "We knocked into your evidence. One report's under the table, Abby."
"Because he had a gun, he's with the guys who shot at me the other day, and he wanted me to come work for his team."
"Oh." She looked at him. "I have no idea who he is. Is he a lab person?"
"Um, Abby, go have caffeine," Xander ordered. "Shoo, now. Let them arrest the nice terrorist." She gave him a dirty look. He stared back. "Now. Out of the way. If he touches you I have to kill him." She huffed, going to complain to Gibbs. He looked at the snickering guards. "I would. Anyone who touched her gets his ass killed." He shrugged. "That's a pretty simple equation, even for me to do." He waved. "Go. Shoo. Let Gibbs have him." They walked him out. Xander got down under the desk, finding her reports for her. Including something she had dropped last night. He brought it back up, bumping his head on the table. "Ow." He rubbed it as he came up, turning to find someone he knew standing there. "She huffed off to complain to Gibbs that I was protecting her, McGee, but she was working on that one." He pointed at the monitor. "Um, it had ghost numbers and a porn line that's a check-in line for the CIA. I'm surprised someone didn't tell Gibbs when I hit it by accident."
"Thanks." He nodded. "Go see Gibbs yourself." Xander nodded, going to do that, still rubbing his head. McGee shuddered and called. "Boss, sending Xander to you." He hung up and looked over what she had found, finding what she needed him to do. He was right, the guy was CIA somehow.
Xander walked into the hallway in front of interrogation, waving at Ducky. "I didn't hurt him that much. I only slammed his head into the floor once. A few rib shots. Some stomach torture, a few leg sweeps." Ducky moved his hand to look at his head. "I'm fine. I hit it on the table when I was picking up stuff we knocked off."
"Did he tag you?" Gibbs demanded.
Xander frowned at him. "Yeah. Why?"
"Let Ducky look you over," he said patiently.
"Do it anyway!" Xander slunk off, looking like he had kicked him again. Ducky followed. "Let me know. Get someone to download the tape for me," he called after them. He went back to the observation room, watching their suspect look calm, relaxed, and happy. Ducky came back shaking his head. "He hurt?"
"A bruised rib. A few bruises on his throat and stomach will be coming up. One to his cheek. Nothing tragic. The boy was right about that." He handed over something. "From the cameras. Anthony pulled it for you, Jethro."
He looked it over, frowning. "He actually attacked first. He has good instincts." He reran it, this time with sound added. He smirked. "Good to know. Tell me when Fornell gets here." He went to interrogate the guy. He was going to have some fun with that.
Abby looked at Xander later that night. "Xander?" He looked at her. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine. Why wouldn't I be fine?" he asked, looking confused.
"You have ouchies, Xander."
"I've had plenty of them, Abby. Including when I lost my eye." He shrugged. "So? It's a bruise."
"Oh." She got back to work. "It was good work with the case for Peter's team earlier."
"Thank you," he said proudly. "I didn't want to piss him off. I'm not sure how I did."
"You stepped on his toes by solving it for him. Some people are like that," she pointed out. She patted him on the back. "You should go home. Have Tony drop you off."
"I've got my bus pass. I'm living at a closer motel." He patted himself down, finding the keys. "See?" He grinned. "You sure? There's still some clean-up I can do."
"Go. Now. I'll clean." He nodded, going to do that. She smiled at his back. She appreciated the hell out of Xander. She loved Xander. She'd love to keep Xander, but he was like a lion in a very small cage most of the time. It was nearly as bad as when you locked Gibbs to his desk for a week and he had nothing to do after the first few days. She finished wiping down her lab then headed to go home too. He did look a bit slumped at the bus stop but the bus was coming. "Xander, want a ride?" she called. He looked over and shook his head, straightening up some. "You sure?"
"I'm fine." He stood up to get on the bus, heading for his new place.
She sighed and then huffed, going to bother Gibbs. "It's me," she called as she walked in. They all knew he never locked the door. Gibbs came up from the basement. "I feel bad. It's like he's a hurt lion in a very small cage."
"We're working on getting him to a lab that'll work better for him, Abby," he reminded her. "I called Caine personally earlier to brag." She smiled at that. "How was he?"
"A bit slumped. He said he didn't hurt." She shrugged. "I don't know. Do we have someone sitting on his motel room?"
He nodded. "Tony's doing it tonight." She smiled at that. "Someone's got to, just in case." He gave her a hug. "He'll be fine, Abby. Go home." She nodded, leaving him alone. "As long as the kid doesn't go do anything stupid tonight, he'll be fine," he said more quietly. He could probably use some stress relief but he hoped the kid stayed in tonight.
Tony walked in the next morning with Xander attached to his arm. "We're fine. Fornell locked us together about four this morning, boss." Gibbs found his universal key and got them unlocked. "Thanks." He rubbed his wrist. "Fornell said to keep an eye on him, he'll be here about ten."
"I'm fine," Xander complained. Abby came off the elevator. "Tell them I can go work!"
"Well, you probably could but nope. We're clear." She shrugged. "Pray to the mean Gods, Xander." She looked at Gibbs. "I got the most cryptic email from Fornell personally." She handed it over.
Gibbs looked at it then at the kid. "You're adopted?"
"He thinks you are."
"Huh. Not that I'm aware of." He shrugged. "It explains why I'm smarter than the things who raised me if I was. Not like I'm going to consider it a big tragedy." He walked off again, going to the lab. "I'm going to clean and sanitize the lab. I promise more terrorists won't break in." He walked down the stairs, going back to his job.
"He's adopted?" Tony asked. Gibbs nodded. "From who?"
"Remember the kid three rows down?"
"Jamie?" He looked over. "Jamie!" He stood up, giving him a confused look. "Come here." He came walking over, letting Tony take the email from Gibbs' hand to read before handing it over. "It's about Xander. The lab tech."
"I know him. He's a nice guy, if a bit scary now and then." He read it over then looked at them. "Uh-huh. I wonder if Mom knows." He picked up Kate's desk phone to call. "Hey, Mom. Me. Can you come to NCIS with Dad? Fornell's coming here and there's something you should hear."
"He'll be here at ten," Tony told him.
"Tony DiNozzo said he'd be here at ten. Thanks, Mom." He hung up, smiling at Kate when she came in. "Sorry, had to call my mom." He handed it back. "I want ringside seats but to be behind plexiglass. Anyone mind?" They all shook their heads. "Cool." He went back to his desk. That was definitely something he'd have to think about. Xander was a nice guy but kind of very scary now and then.
Abby looked at Gibbs. "I want to do the paternity test," she said quietly.
"Go do it. Make him do a coffee run. They're both in the system." She nodded, going to send Xander off for coffee for the team and a cafpow for her. He looked at DiNozzo. "Why was Fornell worried?"
"He wasn't sure it wasn't related to his parents' business."
"Good point." He shook his head. "He does kind of remind me of Lee now and then."
"Boss, he's *so* Amanda's son," he said dryly. "That trouble magnet nature?" Gibbs groaned at that. "Guess we know where the 'paying' thing came from." He went to his desk. "Fornell's bordering on paranoid, boss. Fair warning. He probably hasn't slept either." He logged into his computer and checked his morning email. "I have one from Miami. Why?" He clicked on it, reading it over. He happily wrote a glowing recommendation of Xander and mentioned that the boy, him, and Abby would be at the convention with Gibbs. Then he sent it. He grinned at Gibbs. "Hey, boss, Miami just wrote looking for recommendations. You should check your email."
Gibbs got into it, finding the request. He read what they wanted and wrote a good one. Not glowing, but good. He did note that the kid did bounce now and then. Also about his problem with dating bad women who did bad things. That was the only negative thing he could say about the kid really. Fornell stormed in, early. "We're waiting on his parents."
"You told him!"
"His brother works three rows over," Tony said dryly. "We told them. We let him read your email."
"That's fine. Where is he?"
"Coffee run," Gibbs said. He called down there. "He's been gone for twenty minutes?" He smiled. "No wonder." He hung up. "He's coming in now. He had to go to the further place for her soda." He looked at Fornell, leaning back in his chair. "And?"
"Who had his DNA put into the system?"
"Uh-huh. Someone knew it was going to come up." Xander came off the elevator, handing him a cup of coffee too. "Thanks, kid."
"Figured you didn't get any sleep either. It's plain, no sugar." He handed him a packet of sugar and a little container of cream. Then he handed the others theirs and went down to hand Abby her soda. He looked at her monitor. "Is that mine?" She nodded, looking at him. "Who are they?"
"They'll be here soon."
"So they're spooks?"
"Yup. Covert." She gave him a hug. "They're very nice people. I stayed with them one summer." He grinned at that. "You're a lot like your mom, Xander. She's a trouble magnet too." He groaned. "Sorry but you kinda are." She gave him a squeeze and got back to it. "Your big brother works upstairs. You've met Jamie, right?" He nodded slowly. "He's your big brother." She grinned. "It'll be okay. Really. Your grandma will beg for kids. Tell her you can't have any." She grinned and got into her email. "Oooh, Miami's asking for letters of recommendation for you," she said in a sing-song voice. "That's a very good sign." Xander preened. "You'll like Miami. It's full of pretty people."
"Don't... don't include this stuff, okay?" he asked hesitantly.
"Of course not. You can tell them that if they want to know if this works out." She turned and got back to her typing, then she read it over and adjusted one sentence. She sent it and hugged him again. "Not only glowing but good too." She looked over as the door opened. "Hi." She smiled at Xander. "Don't get upset," she said quietly, sliding past the couple she knew with only a pat for Amanda's arm.
"Hi," Amanda said, coming in closer. "You're Xander, right?" He nodded, sitting down. "Do you have any idea what's going on?"
"Not a clue. The director here said I had to put my DNA onto my file. I was thinking it was about how I've been kidnaped a few times." He shrugged. "Not like I have a clue."
The male looked at him. "You look familiar."
"You saw me in the store the other day. I think."
"No, beyond that." He frowned. "Where were you raised?"
Amanda groaned, holding her head. "We were over the inquest into the Initiative."
"That was some good work we did that day," Xander said dryly, shrugging a bit at their odd looks. He grinned. "I fought with Buffy."
"That's where it was. It was on the security system," Lee said. Xander nodded. "Plus afterward. You came back to scavenge?"
"Giles told me to."
"That makes sense, seeing if anything was left down there," Amanda agreed. "We probably would have too," she said. She looked at Lee then at their son. "This is really odd."
Xander nodded. "It is. I'm almost feeling emotional."
"Those girls were bad to you," Tony called from outside. "Fornell's here and he's grunting in displeasure. Can he and I come in?" He stuck his head in. Xander nodded. "Thanks." They walked in together. "Sorry, Lee and Amanda. Terrorists shot at Xander the other day."
"I'd like to know why too," Xander admitted, looking at Fornell.
"He wanted to pick off people around Gibbs," he said dryly. "What did you do to him?"
"He appeared in the lab. I kicked his ass. He said he was with the people who shot at me. What did he say I did to him?"
"That you taunted him and made him want to take you."
Xander grimaced. "Did I date him? Usually that's a line the women I date use after I'm rescued."
Lee snickered. "I haven't heard that since before we married," he told his wife, smirking at her. She hit him on the arm and rolled her eyes.
"He's yours?" Fornell asked.
Xander canceled Abby's screensaver. "She ran it specially." He looked at his parents. "So was I an intentional give-away?"
"No, they took you from us. Your mother was in a coma and our former director thought it was for the best."
"Can I kick his ass?" Xander asked. "I really would like to."
"He died about five years ago," Amanda offered. "I'm about ready to dig him up."
"I can call in a favor with Willow, see if she can raise him. As long as he dies again it'll be fine."
"No, not really a good thing," Lee admitted. He looked at him. "Do you still talk with them?" Xander let out a bitter sounding snort. "I'll take that as a no."
Xander shook his head. "Buffy said I was like dryer lint when we went to Cleveland. I annoyed Angel to undeath so he paid for me to go to college. That way he could keep me around if he needed me but I was out of the way and away from his hairgel."
Amanda hugged him. "It'll be okay. We'll get to know each other and it'll be less strange."
"Abby was thinking about getting him into a lab that has a wider range of cases," Tony told them. "Miami's seemed pretty interested."
"Our lab's not that massive," Lee admitted. "The FBI lab?" Fornell gave him an odd look. "He is a tech."
"We'd never let him come over. Most of us don't like Abby. The fact he trained with her means that we'd give him funny looks for the rest of his year. The DC labs aren't that great either, kid. Sorry."
"I liked Lieutenant Caine. He seemed like a nice guy when we met at the stupid gala."
"You were there?" Amanda and Fornell asked.
"Ketchum kidnaped him and made it an order," Tony told them. Xander shuddered. "Sorry, kid." He patted him and looked over when Abby's computer groaned like a zombie. "That's an email." He moved the mouse, getting into it. "He's going to see you at the convention, Xander. Wear something appropriate for an interview." Xander bounced and nodded, beaming at him. "Calm down. You know Gibbs hates it when you bounce in the lab." He patted him on the back, accepting a hug. "It'll be good for you and you can come back for vacations and things." He let him go. "Take your parents outside to talk with them."
"I want him in this building," Fornell complained. "There could be more."
Xander looked at him. "I grew up in Sunnydale," he said slowly and clearly. Fornell shuddered and walked off. "Okay, let's go outside. I could use more soda." They smiled and let him stop at the machine but took him outside. He ran into the director and pinched him on the arm. "Did you know?"
"I saw the resemblance," he admitted, nodding at the older spies. "With the trouble he gets into, he could only be yours." He patted Xander on the back. "What's this about Miami?"
"Abby thinks I'm being stifled here and she thinks they have an open internship spot."
"That works," he decided. "If you do, we'll want updates, Xander. She'll pout."
"Good boy." He let them go, smiling at Lee. "He is exactly like you when you two got together," he said quietly. "Be nice to him." He walked off, going to check on Gibbs. "Miami?"
"I think Caine could handle him."
"Ahhhh. Caine himself. Where did those two meet?"
"The stupid gala," Tony said, coming in to sit down. "They're headed outside, boss."
"That's fine. Fornell?"
"Went to shudder in horror in the bathroom. Xander said the name 'Sunnydale' and he nearly freaked."
"Good to know." He looked at his boss. "They're really his parents?"
"Before they were married, she was pregnant. Or maybe they were married but no one knew," he admitted at Abby's harsh glare. "She got knocked out on assignment and was in a coma for a while. Their director thought it was for the best to do that to the kid and not tell them."
"Hmm. Maybe Willow can raise Billy so they can thump him good," Abby said.
"Perhaps," Director Morrow agreed. "Is the boy safe, Jethro?"
"Very. Did the idiot get out?"
"Someone's trying." He walked off. "Guard him if he does get out."
"Of course." He shook his head, looking at Abby. "Go back to work." She nodded, going back down to the lab to see where he had left off. She forwarded the email message Tony had left open before answering it.
Xander looked at his grandmother. "Hi," he said quietly.
"I'm not that scary, boy."
"Yes you are." She laughed. He shrugged. "I'm used to girly girls." Amanda led him into the kitchen, letting him help. He pulled away from the food. "I'm poisonous. I don't cook. I've nearly killed people."
"Okay. You can watch. The boys used to all the time, Xander." She pulled out food to start preparing things, letting him watch. "So, is there a special girl in your life?"
"Nope. Girls are bad for me. They go evil. I'll have dogs."
"You can give me a great-grandchild," his grandmother demanded.
He looked at her. "That's going to be kinda hard to do considering I'm snipped." She gave him a horrified look. "Not like I expected to make it out of Sunnydale and way too many bad guys like me to leave that an open possibility. Sorry but no kids. Dogs, I'll gladly adopt all the furry kids you'll ever want to play with." He looked at his mother again. "Also, I'm kinda bi. It's pretty rare I find a guy I like but there's been a few."
"That's fine, Xander. We don't care if you date a guy," Lee assured him as he came in. "Francine is hiding in fear under her desk."
"Good. I'll deal with her for hiding this secret tomorrow." She smiled at him. "There was a small conspiracy to hide you from us."
"That's okay. I guess they thought it was necessary." He shrugged. "It wasn't a great upbringing but there's not too many things I can't kick the ass of or defeat one way or another. Gibbs even sent me for more demolitions training since I only had the mid-level training from construction and things."
"Things?" his grandmother asked.
He grinned. "I grew up in Sunnydale."
"That town that fell in from the earthquake?"
"Portal to hell," Lee coughed. "You okay?" He looked at his son and opened his mouth. Xander scowled so he closed it. "I'm assuming they know?"
"I've had it since before Sunnydale turned into a hole in the ground. I went into the battle that turned it into a hole in the ground a few weeks after it was done. I learned to compensate a long time ago."
"Good. It means it's not going to hobble you."
"Maybe in the field, but not usually."
"Good," Amanda agreed, looking at him. "I noticed it earlier. He's a bit slow now and then, Xander."
"Did you name me or them? I wondered about the middle name stuff."
"You were going to be named David," Lee told him. "What's your middle name?"
Lee shook his head. "Some parents are cruel." Xander snorted. "I heard. We got your background check read to us on the way over this morning. Did they survive?" Xander shrugged. "You honestly don't know?"
"My uncle's in Texas. As long as I'm not going there, I don't care. More power to his DUI butt."
Amanda gave him a hug. "It'll be okay. We won't be Ozzy and Harriet, but we'll work out a good relationship. We are not like them."
"That's good." He patted her. "I'm going to contaminate the food and make you all sick."
She laughed, pulling back to get back to cooking. "Maybe we can figure out why you're poisonous in the kitchen."
"No one's really sure," he admitted. "The first time I tried to cook it went bad. Every other time it went bad. Then again, the pseudo-mother couldn't cook either. She gave me food poisoning from fish and cabbage once." His grandmother gave him an odd look. "She did. I spent a week in the hospital from it." Lee moaned. "So yeah, eating my food is punishment." He leaned on his hands, watching her chop stuff. "What did Fornell stop you to say on the way out?"
"Haswari's out." Xander looked at him. "He pretended to be dead to escape. They think he left the city. Before you ask, he's telling Gibbs too."
"If he was going after those around Gibbs, did he warn Ducky too? And Abby?"
"He did," he agreed. "He said Gibbs would if he missed someone." Xander nodded at that, putting his head back down. "Want to ...go look at family pictures?" Xander shrugged, going with him. "Have you worked with your big brother a lot?"
"He brought stuff down the other day for a homicide. I solved it for their team and his team leader wasn't happy with me for it," he admitted. "We see a lot more stuff from Gibbs' team. It's like the other teams only do a fifth of the work."
"Jethro gets the harder cases," Lee told him. "He's one of the senior agents in the agency. He scares other agencies. They give it to him." Xander grinned. "If they can't take you in Miami for a few months are you going to stay?"
"I have to stay. I need the internship hours."
"Good point." He found the family album and sat down with him. "Here we are. Started when your mom and I got married. She's got another one of the boys when they were younger, before her husband died." Xander nodded at that, leaning over to see. "Want to switch sides?"
"I'm good." He grinned at him. "You're trying too hard. I'm not Buffy."
"No, you're not," he agreed. He relaxed and explained who everyone was, ignoring his mother-in-law lurking. Eventually she went back to the kitchen to pump Amanda for information on their son.
Xander came in the next morning looking confused. He stopped in front of Tony's desk. "They're mad because I didn't know what to do at a family table."
"Like you do in a restaurant but you end up serving yourself like it's take-out," he said, looking up at him with a small smile. "Only you use restaurant manners."
"I tried. Grandma got mad because I didn't know how to use a casserole dish." He frowned. "Oh, got a message." He handed it over. "It's for Gibbs."
Tony glanced inside then at him. "That's a good warning. He's in the locker room I think." Xander took it back and went to find him. Tony shuddered. He didn't want to know what she'd be like.
Xander found Gibbs changing shirts. "Coffee spilled?"
"Someone tried to run into me on the way in." He took the message to look over then at the boy. "You okay?"
"Grandma's mad that I can't give her more great-grandbabies. I couldn't use a casserole dish and that didn't make her happy either. I guess my parents are cool. We got along well last night. We'll do another dinner in a few weeks, cases willing." That got a nod and a small smile. "Should I worry about this?"
"No. You don't have to worry about this." He patted him on the arm. "Isn't today your day off?"
"Yeah but I'm bored."
"Go sleep, Xander."
"I can't. There's a pro working next door and her clients like her to be a screamer."
He closed his locker and walked off, leading him back upstairs like a puppy. "Go shopping. Find something nice to wear for the interview you'll be doing." Xander nodded, going to do that. He shook his head. That poor boy. "Did you read that?"
"Yes, and the very thought of your ex taking over scares the crap out of me with what I've heard about your ex-wives, boss," Tony quipped.
"That's probably a smart reflex." He sat down, typing that message to Ducky's email. The director came down a few minutes later. "Pinging me again?" he asked dryly.
"Wondering how you knew."
"Xander brought it in." He looked at him. "Why?"
"It's a political appointment, Jethro."
"Then she'll be great. Just don't let her change crap for no reason, sir." He went back to working. "Before you ask, I sent Xander home. There's no work and he's already over hours for the week."
"He is. Why?"
"Abby hasn't been filing hour statements for him."
"Have someone in security find out when he's been in there by the video cameras."
"Good idea." He went to get someone to do that, then came back. "You let him out on his own?"
"The kid can take care of himself," Tony reminded him. "Besides, I'm sure someone's watching the boy." He looked over as Jamie came in. "He's shopping. It's his day off."
"That's kinda cool. Think he'll come in for lunch?"
"Probably," Gibbs admitted. His phone rang. "Gibbs." He took down a note and handed it over to Jamie. "Thanks, Lee." He hung up. "Yes, he'll be in for lunch. Probably sooner. They didn't want him out wandering around alone either."
"He managed it once, boss, and he's not that untrained," Tony reminded him. "Plus he's probably armed."
"Dad hates going down to any station to get us out of trouble when we have to save ourselves," Jamie assured him, going back to his desk. "Hey, Peter, my brother's coming in for lunch."
"Tell Philip I said hi."
"Wrong brother." His team leader looked at him and grinned. "Turns out Harris was Mom and Dad's together but the agency had him stolen to protect them."
His boss looked at him. "You're related to that lunatic?"
"He is not."
"He's scarier than Abby!"
"He's also spent a lot of time protecting people out by LA," Jamie shot back.
"So he's a gang thug? We're letting gang kids work here?" he sneered.
"Not hardly," Jamie said dryly.
Gibbs came over. "First, you're loud enough to make me cranky. Second, no, he's not a gang thug. One tutored him in chemistry. Another in economics. He's not affiliated. Unfortunately his former town had a bit of a high death rate so he and a group of friends constituted the quasi-legal defense team the town didn't officially sanction. The rest were mostly girls before you ask." Peter shuddered.
"I heard Buffy was a bit tough," Jamie said dryly, logging into his email. He looked at Gibbs. "Maybe I'll take him shopping for lunch."
"It could help. He'll be interviewing during that convention. Even Abby wants him to buy new pants."
"We'll work on it, or hey, let him go out clubbing some night and maybe one of them will take him shopping."
"Probably in handcuffs," he said grimly, heading back to his desk. "He's here."
"Okay." He grinned as Xander got off the elevator. "Are they being mean?"
"Want lunch with me?"
"Are you going to nag for nieces and nephews too?"
"Hell no. I have plenty, Xander."
Xander beamed. "Thank you!" He hugged him. "Grandma nearly growled when she found out I was snipped." He let him go and headed back down to the lab. "They won't let me go home or go shop," he said at Abby's look.
"Then take my farting hippo buddy Bert and go nap in the office until lunch. By then maybe we'll have a case." He shrugged, going to do that. This was going to drive her insane. She'd be babbling so much that Gibbs would need a translator. The scary thing was, Xander could babble just as well so he could be the translator. She shuddered at that mental image and went back to going through her email. She groaned at one and sat down to figure out when Xander had been here and when he wasn't. She also started with today's. Not like he was late but she did note he was there to sleep since they wouldn't let him go home or shop. He definitely needed to shop.
Xander looked at his father that Friday night. "I feel like I'm in jail."
"Protective custody, same thing," he admitted.
"I still need to shop for my interviews."
"You should," he agreed, smiling at him. "We can drag the agents with us. Or even see if Tony wants to come, that way he can tell you what to wear. He's had more interviews than I have."
"Sure. If he's not busy and wants to come. Abby was going to make me dress in black silk."
"Depending on the shirt that might be okay," he offered. "Maybe not but maybe." He looked at the agent, who gave him a dirty look. "What?"
"We found ten checks in Mr. Harris' apartment, sir?"
"Yeah, swag from the kidnaping dating I get." He shrugged. "It happens sometimes. That's why I went to the gala. There was a senator who had me tied to a chair and she insisted." He looked at his father. "I've got cash stuffed around too." An envelope was handed over. "Why did we go through my things?"
"Because we wanted to make sure no one planted any bugs, sir."
Xander shook his head. "I don't care if they want to hear me snore and whack off, guys. Really." He looked at his father again. "Help," he mouthed. "Escape?"
"Maybe. Guys, why don't you stand down? I'm sure I can protect the boy," Lee offered.
"Fornell would eat us, sir. He's even scarier than Harris is."
"That's good to know." Xander stuffed the envelope in his pocket, then looked at the guys. "Here's the deal, guys. I'm going to go out. I'm going to do a bit of minor shopping because I've got interviews coming up. Then I'm going to go out clubbing. If you guys want to come as my clothing approval committee, feel free. Maybe you guys can keep the girls from snatching me tonight or paying me for breathing and not sleeping with them. If not, have a good nap." The agents opened their mouths so he set off something on his keychain, watching as they all fell asleep. "Yeah, demon things do that to some. Especially Fricken's farts. Coming, dad?" He walked over the agents, heading for the door.
"Sure," he agreed, following along, smiling. His son was so like him!
Amanda walked into NCIS the next morning, finding Tony already at work but no Gibbs yet. "Did you hear anything from my son or husband last night?"
"Yup." He quit typing to look up at her. "He gassed the agents watching over them. We're not sure with what. They both said they woke up with the taste of farting in their mouths. Then Xander and Lee did some shopping. He sent me pictures for approval." He let her have his phone. "I turned down most of them. Apparently your spouse needs better taste in interview clothes. I finally suggested a *good* store and sent the boys there. Then they dropped things off at Xander's motel room and headed out to have some fun at a low-pressure club. That was the last I heard of them but knowing Xander, he picked up a girl or was picked up by a girl."
She sighed. "I had hopes that it wouldn't happen again." She handed his phone back. "Thanks, dear."
"Welcome, Amanda. He's due into the lab in about an hour if you wanted to wait."
"Please. I think I need to spank my husband. He should know better by now." Gibbs came in, giving her an odd look. "The boys escaped custody last night. Went out to play."
Gibbs looked at Tony. "Shopping then clubbing, boss." Gibbs moaned. "Have more coffee, really." He sipped his own and got back to work. "I'm still working on tracking Haswari, boss. He's gone to ground. Can't find a thing on him."
"We'll find him," Gibbs assured him. Lee came off the elevator dragging Xander. "You two okay? I need to know before I yell."
"I can protect my own son, Gibbs, and he's very good at doing it himself." He smiled and kissed Amanda. "Hi, honey. Thank you for the clothing recommendation, Tony."
"Welcome, just don't kiss me."
"Awww," Xander said, giving him a hug. "Did you need to meet the woman I met last night? She's a shrink and she seemed kinda nice."
"Until...." he prompted, looking at the boy.
"Until she pulled a knife and went at him for being so good on the dance floor," Lee told him. "Oh, we went car shopping too. That was after the police came to arrest her. We went to look at a few lots and one caught his eye. A woman came out of the dealership and they talked about it, so he's got a car again. He's also got a lot more than that."
"Dad!" Xander whined.
"Sorry." He shrugged and grinned at Amanda. "He's definitely my son."
"We won't tell anyone in Miami that so they won't get worried in advance," she shot back. "Xander, are you okay?"
"I'm fine. She was a demon. It was kinda nice she didn't really hit on me. Gave me a good deal on the car though." He shrugged. "So I'm now a proud driver, it's in the parking lot and I need to go get a parking pass." He headed off to do that after hugging his mother. "Morning, Jamie," he called as he walked past that row.
"Morning, Xander," he called, waving a hand absently. "Mom, Dad nearly got him kidnaped twice last night too. Phillip said that they're both in trouble for the woman who gave him the money and the one who tried to take him out on her boat."
"That one was a ploy, son, and we knew that. That's why we stopped her," Lee called back, rolling his eyes. "Remember, I can still do the work, Junior."
Jamie stood up to look at him. "Uh-huh. Don't make me put Phillip on a conference call."
Lee grinned. "You do that and Grandma comes to live with you for a few weeks while we have the house fumigated."
"That's mean. She doesn't like my wife." He sat down again, shaking his head. His wife would scream for months if she came over for a weekend. Much less a few weeks.
"We need the house fumigated?" Amanda asked him, looking confused.
"No, but I can have it done," he offered with a smile. "Always happy to take you to a hotel for a few weeks, Amanda." He kissed her and walked off grinning. "Going to work."
"Change when you get there, Dad. You look like you've been out clubbing."
"Gee, thanks, kid." He got onto the elevator, shaking his head all the way down to get a cab to work. He was proud of how his son handled himself. He even walked past his former friend and teammate with a happy, goofy grin because his son was so great. "Francine, you would not believe how good my son is," he bragged, making her moan and put her head down. She was still under a death threat from Amanda. His other son peeked out of his office. "We're fine, son."
"Uh-huh. Did anyone tell mom that the first lady gave him fifty grand?"
"Nope. Nor am I, Philip," he said cheerfully. "But he did get a good deal on a car. You might ask him where he went."
"Sure, I'll do that when I take him to lunch today, Dad." He went back to work, shaking his head. His parents were getting strange in their old age. Again. His mom came in and walked in to look at him. "We're going to lunch today."
"I know. What did they do last night?" He handed over the briefing sheet he had done. "Thank you, Phillip. Who paid him?"
"The first lady, not the one who tried to stab him or Haswari's person."
"Oh, charming." She walked off reading. At least the boys had dropped her off on Fornell's doorstep, even if ringing the bell then running was childish.
To part 2: