Xander looked around the house once she had everything out, frowning. "How did she make a living room?" he muttered, going looking again. The bedroom was still going to give him nightmares until he painted. He hated pink. Pink gave him horrible flashbacks to high school. But the bathroom was great and that statue he liked was still in there. He brought it out, putting it in the front marble room. "I guess you'll be the living room." He looked around then groaned, going to the store first. A modestly nice decorating place that was having a sale so he wouldn't cringe at the prices. "Hi," he told the salesgirl. "I'm moving."
"We have a good selection of plastic storage bins. Safer and no bugs, plus handles so you can carry them."
"I've got enough of those, I'm decorating the new place. First, I need sheers. Very thin sheers. My front room is marble and it'd be okay if some of the veining showed through but pure marble is too much."
"Okay." She led him back to the curtains, letting him see. "These are as thin as we have," she offered.
"I'm not looking for privacy. I'm looking for wispy."
She frowned and found some in the plain fabric aisle. "If you put in a few seams and a few good curtain rods, these'll work."
"I'd rather not have to buy a sewing machine but that's about what I want in sheers." She frowned, shaking her head. "Any chance you'll be getting any in shortly?"
"No, we don't usually go that thin. Now, I know where you can get them." She wrote down an address. "That's a home place too."
Xander smiled. "Thank you. Let's go look at curtain rods. I've got black/gray marble and a few very nice windows. It'll have to go mostly around the room." She nodded, leading him over to those. He found a few that looked like old iron ones and they were good to him so he stocked up on those. Then he went to look at area rugs. Way too much marble meant that he needed a few or he'd slip and fall. Plus his poor dog. He spent a lot there but he got most everything. The other place had the sheers he wanted and candles so he stocked up on those too. Then he went home to get his tools and then to the new place to start putting things up. He was interrupted by the safe company guy, letting him show him which room he was going to turn into the vault. It was a minor storage area right now but pretty deep. It would work for a gun vault. He went back to work, finishing with his curtain hanging project. He got down and stepped back to look, nodding that he liked it. He got the carpets out of the car and came in to spread one long runner from the door to the wood portion of the hall, then one in the bathroom. Another went into the kitchen since he had some slick tiles in there and they were cold in the morning. He came back to find Speed looking around in confusion. "Hi."
"Well, I'm thinking the living room stuff should probably go out here." He looked around. "I'm debating on spreading it across the divide, making small conversation areas, or using it to sorta block off the entry to the rest of the house."
"For now, let's just put it in here and we can arrange later." Xander nodded, coming out to help. "Doesn't your arm hurt?"
"Well, kinda," he admitted. "But oh well. The curtains had to go up." He helped carry in his dresser, putting it where he wanted it. Speed looked around then at him. "She decided it belonged with the house."
"It certainly does," he agreed, nodding at that. "What's the bathroom like?"
"Roman." He let him see, watching him look impressed. "There's a lot of marble."
"At least you won't have to worry about it getting too hot in here," Eric joked, leaning over Speed's shoulder. "This is huge. Can we make H put in one of these?"
"No, Eric," Speed taunted. "You'd never get out of the tub and you'd get fired for always being late." He went back to the truck, going to get more of the living room stuff. Xander had them put that in the outer room, which made more sense than a bedroom at least. It did feel lighter in there than it probably should with all the marble. "Maybe we'll let you decorate for H sometime soon, Xan," Speed teased.
"Sure, is he putting in marble too?" He put down an end table, moving the couch where he wanted. "Across the divide?"
"Do that," Eric agreed. "With a chair and table set by the windows, Xander." He nodded, doing that. He heard a pitiful whine and looked outside, going to the kitchen to look out back. "Did the mean boy stake you outside? Xander, is your dog starved?"
"It's a whippet, they're greyhound cousins; he's supposed to be that thin, Eric. I put him outside so he wouldn't get in the way of the moving stuff. He likes to help."
"Knocked you off the ladder?" Speed asked, going to look. "You are one fast little dog," he agreed, letting the dog sniff him so he could pet him. "Good boy."
"He is and he's a very good alarm clock too," Xander agreed, smiling at his dog. "Give me another hour, Humphrey. Then you can come inside, once we've got more places for you to sit." He went back to the truck.
Speed checked the bowl, ice water, and he had a few pieces of kibble in the other one. "Did your daddy give you a treat?" he teased. He got up, looking at the dog. "Come on, Eric. The sooner we get done, the sooner we can play with the dog."
"It still looks too skinny to me."
"They're racing dogs. Of course they're skinny." He made him go inside and help Xander arrange things. The only heavy things were after all the tables and small boxes. "You are painting the bedroom, right?" Speed called.
"Yes, pink gives me nightmares. What sort of sheets would you put on that bed?"
Eric shrugged. "Comfortable ones? The same as any bed?"
Xander took a picture with his phone and sent it to Tony in DC, he had good taste in antique things. Tony sent back a shudder but a suggestion and his mother sent another one with a request for more pictures. He sent back a suggestion for a vacation and a happy face then went back to moving things.
"When are you moving the other weapons, Xander?" Speed called.
"When the gun vault is done."
"And your hidden areas?" Eric teased.
"Maybe. Not a whole lot of room unless I build an addition for it. The attic's really small."
"Build a garage," Eric suggested. "Or something next to the bush that's pretending to be a fence."
"I'm thinking about it but those can get expensive."
"You took out extra," Speed pointed out. Xander pointed at the curtains. "They cost that much?"
"No but I have some things I've still got to buy. Like a washer and dryer."
"One of my cousins works in construction, I'll ask him how much a good outbuilding should cost to put up. Then you add how much you put in for the vault door," Eric suggested. Xander nodded that would be fine. "Good. That way we know where most of them are." They went to get the couches, bringing them in and putting them on either side of the runner, letting Xander shift them back a little bit. "You sure?"
"I don't want to stumble into one." They nodded, flopping down to rest. "Now I've got to get the stuff from the motel and ...." Speed snorted. "No?"
"Calleigh's got those and your weapons. She checked you out of the motel."
"That means I've got to sleep in the pink room."
"You can fix that tonight," Eric assured him. "Or sleep in the guest room or the tub."
"True, I could sleep in the tub." He got up when he heard the beep, going out to find Horatio and Calleigh both pulling in. "I didn't order anything if we're doing the housewarming party."
"No, just helping you move like good friends," Calleigh said happily. "Horatio said I can't keep your desert eagle." He shook his head. "Pooh."
"I don't like honey that much," he teased. She punched him on the good arm, giving him a hug too. "Come on, they're putting in the vault door now. That way I can see how much room I've got left." He helped her carry in the specially padded trunks, the boys coming to help Horatio with the clothes. That way Horatio could arrange the clothes so they didn't have more t-shirt headaches.
"You need sheets," Calleigh complained.
"I've got some back at the old place."
"Horatio has those, Xander. We got the whole motel room and the rest of the stuff at your old apartment, plus the storage area you had."
"Then I definitely need an outbuilding."
Horatio patted him on the back. "You can buy one of those, Xander."
"No, he needs to move the bigger pieces there, H," Speed reminded him.
"Very tiny one." He pulled down the ladder, letting him look. "Some of the stuff won't fit up there."
Horatio looked down at him. "What do you have that's that big?" Xander grinned and walked off. "Xander!"
"You'll probably see some day."
"Tonight, Xander." He came down, putting back up the ladder. "Tonight. Right now actually since we're almost done." Xander pouted. "Now."
"He won't have much more room in here," Calleigh complained.
"I'm putting in shelves," Xander explained. "Plus racks like we have at work on the walls."
"I'll see if my cousin's done for the day," Eric offered, pulling out his phone to call his mother and have her call him. She had everyone's number in the family. "Momma, it's Eric. Xander needs to put a small outbuilding onto his new place. That's what I was thinking. Can you call him? We're ... there, yeah. That's fine, Momma. Please." He hung up. "She'll call him and we'll see when he can come out."
"I'll put it off the pantry," Xander said. Speed frowned, letting him show him. "Put it here, against the hedge."
"That could work," Speed agreed. "It'd give the dog shade too when he was outside." Horatio came in, walking Xander off by his wrist. "You probably shouldn't take the hummer."
"We can take his car," Horatio promised. "This time. If we need it, we can use the truck to move more of it here." Xander nodded that they'd have to. "What do you have down there?"
"Just some stuff I've collected over the years."
"Uh-huh." He got Xander his keys and made him get in to drive, walking around to ride with him. Sometimes he worried about the boy. He really did.
Xander opened up the door to his official open house, smiling at everyone. "Come in, guys. Stuff's in the kitchen. Humphrey's in the bathroom for the next little while whining pitifully."
"Let the dog out," Speed complained.
"He begs and he's bouncy. He likes to knock into people to get their food." He left the door open, that way others could come in, going to fuss over the food. The dog came running in. "No begging," he ordered. His dog sniffed everyone, barking at Calleigh. "Didn't meet her when she helped us move stuff?" he taunted. He handed over the bag of dog treats, letting her give him one. "He's loud but cuddlesome."
"He bounced like you on chocolate," she teased, petting the dog. "Hi, Humphrey." He wagged his tail then went to bounce around Speed, making him follow his bouncing up and down. She handed over the bag of treats, letting him give the dog one too. He sat down, letting the dog crawl into his lap to pet him, seeming to grin at the others while he got loved on. "You're adorable!" Calleigh told him, scratching his ears.
"I almost got the mini-doberman but it growled at me," Xander said, putting out drinks. "You do not knock people's food down," he warned. The dog growled at the door. "Yes?" Cooper leaned in. "You're allowed. Get in here." The dog got down, coming over to growl at him. "Humphrey!" The dog settled down for the price of some ear scratches, going to sniff the new one who came in. He heard someone putting down kibble so he ran into the kitchen, making Eric laugh. "He is a racing dog, Eric."
"He's very fast." He patted Xander on the back. "I see the doggy door went up."
"Yup, and the outbuilding too. Thank you."
"You're welcome." He smiled at Alexx when she came in. "Watch out for his dog. It's like him on chocolate."
"He's a whippet."
"He's this poor skinny little dog, Alexx," Eric complained.
"At least Xander rescued him." She kissed him on the cheek, going to put the casserole in the fridge for him. She came back out with something to drink, going to look around the house. "I like how you softened all the marble in here," she told him, making him beam proudly. "But that bed, sugar."
"She left it."
"Ah. No wonder."
"Horatio had to help me paint over the pink stuff."
"Well, the old owner did say to," Frank said as he came in. "This is nicer than it used to be."
"Xander, why don't you move into a water park?" Cooper complained. "You keep getting bigger and bigger bathrooms."
"You can't get clean when you use the slides," he taunted. "Besides, I need a bath with the stupid cast. I can't shower with it."
"How many people can you fit into that tub?" Calleigh teased.
"Don't know, haven't tried it yet." He shrugged. "Sorry. When I do find out I'll let you know." She blushed, but the others laughed. "Go look around, guys. Stay out of the vaults."
"Plural?" Alexx asked.
"Well, yeah. I had to put on a small outbuilding for storing some of the larger stuff. Horatio made me pare down my hidden areas to one. The other's through the pantry I won't be using anyway."
"Good idea," Frank agreed, going to look. He whistled at the size of the bathroom. It was nice. "I should bring my wife, let her get ideas. She's talking about remodeling." Eric handed him a card. "Cousin?"
"Yup, he put on Xander's outbuilding." He went to get more to drink, coming back with one for Calleigh too. "Here." He saw the dog coming out, watching him jump onto the back of the couch Alexx was sitting on and walk up behind her before flopping down with his head on top of hers.
She looked up. "Is that your dog?"
"Yup. Humphrey," Xander complained.
"He's fine, baby." She reached up to scratch him. "Don't mess it up too much, little one, but you can cuddle."
"He's like Xander on chocolate," Speed told her. She giggled at that and the dog barked. "No, you be nice to Alexx. She'll spank." He sipped his soda, looking at the host. "Sit, Xander. We don't want to make you fuss over the food."
Xander flopped down. "Where's Ryan?"
"Vexed with a case of twins," Calleigh told him. "He said he'd be over when he figured out which one it was."
"Okay." He looked around then at his dog, who was staring outside. "No barking at the cats," he ordered. The dog got up to do it anyway, making him groan.
"Humphrey, down!" Calleigh ordered. He got down, giving her a hurt look. "Bad boy to bark at the cats. C'mere." She put down a hand and he came over slowly. "I won't hurt you." She picked him up to cuddle and pet him. "Much better boy to do this. No more barking at the cats."
"Shelter dog?" Speed asked. Xander nodded. "Former owners?"
"Threw things at him." He took his dog, letting him settle in his lap. "I agree, no barking at the neighbor's cats." He scratched his ears, getting a groan. "Good boy." The dog's tail started to go. "Very good boy to protect the daddy." He wiggled down, going over to sniff Frank. He nudged his plate, making Frank drop it. "That was not good, Humphrey," Xander said.
"I didn't have a good handle on it anyway," Frank said. He looked down. "He's fast here too. Doesn't like cheese?"
"No, he hates cheese." He looked at his dog until he ran off to play in the kitchen. "We put the food up, right?" Calleigh and Speed went to make sure, driving the dog back into the living room. "Sit, Humphrey." He sat on Alexx's feet, then laid down there, staring at him. "Much better. Good boy."
Alexx looked down at him. "You are cuddly," she said, petting him. The dog licked her hand, then jumped up to lick her face. "Oooh, you do that very well too, even if you are getting pepperoni grease on my chin. Lick it all off, sugar." He kept going until she was without makeup too. "Thank you." She made im lay down, which made his butt sit on Eric's lap but he was fine with it. "Good boy." Horatio walked in and took off his sunglasses, getting a growl. "He's a nice one. You don't have to bark at him, Humphrey."
Horatio looked at the dog. "You quit. I don't have treats this time." Xander handed over the bag, earning a smile. "Thank you." He handed over a treat, getting a happy bark. "Good boy." He smiled at Xander. "Much better."
"Thank you. What did you go raid earlier?"
"Most of the highly illegal stuff I sent to Gibbs." He gave him a look. "You know better than to keep some of that."
"Some of it was a fee and some we found when we took out a demon enclave that was stealing weapons."
"Xander," he complained.
"Fine. Did you tell him I found it?" Horatio nodded. "What do I have left?"
"Not as much." He patted him on the shoulder. "We'll work it out, Xander." He got himself a drink then sat down next to Alexx, letting the dog crawl over to rest on his and her laps. "Good boy, Humphrey."
"He's a lot like Xander on chocolate," Cooper teased.
"He is that," Horatio agreed. "He's also very helpful. He nearly became light charcoal gray when we painted the bedroom." Xander laughed but nodded. "Is he still hiding under the blankets with you?"
"Yup, until daddy got happy last night and made him sleep on top of the covers. He gave me hurt looks all day." Horatio shook his head. "He did."
"I'm sure it'll be fine tonight, Xander," Speed told him. He patted his lap once he was done eating and the dog looked. "Wanna cuddle me too, dog?" The dog got up and sniffed him, letting him scratch his ears, but he went back to Horatio and Alexx. "Looks like he's found his favorite pet sitters," he joked.
"My kids would run him into exhaustion," Alexx assured him. Xander gave her an odd look. "They would."
"I don't know how."
"They would," she assured him. She scratched down the back. "You're a good boy, aren't you?" He barked and wagged his tail. "Yes, you." Horatio handed over a dog treat, earning her more laps of affection. "It's a good thing I don't like too much makeup, young man."
Valera leaned in. "The dog won't eat me too, right, Xander?"
"No, not in the least. That's Humphrey." Valera cooed and the dog stared at her, head tipped slightly to the side. "He's confused."
"That's okay. He'll get to know nice girls." She came over to pet him. "Hello, Humphrey. You're a good boy to guard the Alexx and the Horatio. I'm sure they need it. Who's sitting on the street?"
"That's Charlie, one of Dad's guys. Dad got a threat the other day for him and all his kids."
"I did not hear about that," Horatio noted.
"Dad didn't want you to worry."
"Ah. Told him not to tell me?" Xander beamed and nodded. "I do need to hear about such things, Xander."
"No you don't. It's not a good threat. He didn't think the guy knew about me." Humphrey got up and went to bark at the cat again, making him frown. He got up, going to grab the cat and bring it back to the neighbor's house. "Mrs. Croats?" A male came to the door. "Who're you?"
"She has kids?" The man glared. "Before you say another word, I'm the new neighbor and with the police department. Hey, Charlie?" He came jogging up behind him. "I have no idea who he is."
"Tell them you're fine, mom," the burglar ordered.
"I'm fine, Xander." She took the cat back in her bound hands. "I'm all right. Hello, Fluffy. Did you go taunt the doggy?"
Charlie hopped over the small hedge, going to arrest that guy. He ran so it was nice. Xander pulled out his pocket knife to free her. "You really okay?" She nodded. "Good. Hey, whoever's still in the house, your buddy just got arrested by a Fed. I wouldn't do anything stupid." They ran out the front door, she didn't have a back one, and right into his bodyguard. "There, he'll call someone for you." She patted his cheek. "Fluffy was living dangerously, coming over to taunt Humphrey again."
"I'll try to keep him over here, Xander. You go be a good boy and no loud parties."
"They're my coworkers."
"Even better." She sat down on her front porch, waiting on the officers to show up.
Xander went back inside. "Charlie's already called someone," he said at the confused looks. "She's a very nice older lady but she's got about fifteen cats and one just had kittens. They're tiny little puffballs if anyone wants one." They listened to the sirens. "Did you park on the street, Horatio?"
"I did. They'll leave the hummer alone, Xander. They always do."
"They're probably expecting one of us to show up," Eric taunted with a grin.
"That would be non-felony's job tonight," Horatio reminded him, taking a drink of his water. The dog barked and wiggled closer. "Thirsty too?" he asked, looking down. "Come on, let's check your bowls." He got up, making the dog go with him.
"I've got to do some more training with him, sorry." An officer came to the door. "Hi. Coming to the housewarming?"
"Wondering why there was a crime scene hummer here, sir." Horatio came out of the kitchen. "Oh, that's why. We thought it was yours, Lieutenant. Should we call CSI?"
"That's a robbery. Not a homicide," Frank reminded him. He nodded, going to do that. Horatio sat back down, getting a lapful of dog. Frank laughed. "He looks comfy with you, Horatio," Frank teased.
"He does." He petted him, weathering the pitiful noises he was getting for drinking. "You have doggy water, Humphrey."
"Dog," Xander said firmly, glaring at him. He got down and came over to suck up to the daddy, getting more attention. "Better. Cooper, you're nearest the music, turn some on?" He reached back to flip on the CD player. "Thanks." He looked down at the dog. "Go nap on the bed." He got up and went to investigate Frank and Eric again, getting a piece of sausage off Eric. "Don't teach him to beg, guys. I'm going to have a hard time breaking that habit."
"Obedience school," Calleigh told him. "Since your arm's still bad and all."
"The cast is coming off this weekend. I'll be back Monday."
"Did the doctor say that?" Alexx asked. He beamed and nodded. "Uh-huh. I will want a doctor's release, Xander. Otherwise I'll spank you and send you home."
"If you try to spank me I will retaliate by tickling or spanking back," he warned, staring her down, earning a smirk. "I'm a big boy and not one you pushed out. Only Mom can spank me, Alexx."
"Fine. We'll see."
"No we won't."
"She tries it with Wolfe too," Eric told him.
"I've seen." He gave her a look, shaking his head. "No you won't."
"I can now since that cast looks like it got wet."
"I fell asleep in the tub the night we painted." He grinned. "It seeped. I could break it now."
"You'd still need a doctor's release," Horatio reminded him. "That is PD policy."
"Tough, Xander. We want to do everything correctly while we have Feds watching us."
"Can't I have them eaten?"
"Shoot." He scratched his elbow. Then looked around. "Did the dog go outside?"
"Yeah, he's staring at the guys across the fence," Speed said, standing up to see better. "He's giving them very confused looks."
"Humphrey, let the nice CSI do their jobs," he called. "Get in here." The dog ran in, coming back to hop in Alexx's lap and cuddle her. "See, you can train him, much easier than me."
"We'll see," Alexx repeated, smiling at him.
Eric called Ryan. "How much longer are you going to be? There's going to be no food when the dog gets it." He listened, then laughed. "Are you going to be able to arrest tonight?" He nodded. "Okay, some of us will still be here then." He hung up. "H, he said about three more hours. He's weeding out the twins right now."
"That's fine, Eric. I'm sure Xander will still be up then." Xander nodded. He looked at him. "Go play, Eric." Eric grinned and hopped up, heading off. "Speed?"
"I don't feel like watching him get loose in the clubs tonight, H. Sorry." He looked at Xander. "You?"
"Eeeeh. Not with the cast. It'd be a liability someone would take advantage of. Besides, he could use the fun without the babysitting duties of looking out for my psycho posse. They're starting to really like him too." Horatio choked on his sip of water. "They are. One tipped him the other day."
"We'll go out together next time, kiddo," Speed promised, patting him on the head.
"I'm still not that much younger than you, Speed."
"Mentally you are."
"I'll go with you two next time," Calleigh promised.
"We could go tonight, make Horatio and Alexx watch us," Cooper offered. "Or you, Frank."
"The wife would get pissed if I picked up a hottie in the clubs, kids." He looked at Xander. "Go ahead and go. You could use the burst of fun."
"I can watch the boys get down and funky."
"I'm in," Cooper agreed.
"I suppose I could be talked into it," Horatio admitted. They all nodded. "Where are we heading? Some of us would need to change clothes."
"I don't care," Xander offered. He looked at Speed, then at Cooper. "You two go out more than I do."
"That French named place?" Cooper suggested.
"Lame music," Calleigh said. "The one on Main?" Speed gave her a horrified look. "It's a nice place."
"No, it's not. There's way too many thugs there." He looked at Xander, then at Horatio. "The one Eric likes to hide at? He probably didn't head there tonight." Horatio nodded, taking Calleigh with him. "Change, get hot, Xander. I'll go with you."
"Need to borrow stuff?"
"We can pause at my place on the way there," he said dryly. The others trooped out. "You sure?"
"You guys were looking kinda bored."
"Point." He went to change while Speed put up the food so the dog wouldn't eat it all. He came out in a good pair of leather pants and an extra tight t-shirt, and the cast was now gone. "I only put it back on for Alexx," he said with a grin. "It's mostly healed." He slid into his shoes, then grabbed his wallet and keys. They headed out together, letting Speed drive for now. Xander needed to get into the happy mood.
Eric came in the next morning, looking around. "Valera?" She came out of her lab. "Is everyone on calls? I know I'm about ten late."
"No, we all went out last night. Cooper's not here either."
Eric moaned. "Wolfe?"
"Sleeping in the break room."
"That's something at least." He went to wake him up then check on the others who had been there when he left. "Frank?" He looked over and smiled. "Where is everyone?"
"I asked that question to John Hagen about six this morning when he called. He's trying to find them at the moment." Eric moaned. "After you left they decided to follow your lead. They went to where Speed said you like to hide?"
"Crap," he muttered, walking off again. "Wolfe!" He came out of the locker room. "Let's find everyone else. They went clubbing with Xander last night."
"I thought the time I did on my weekend off that turned into a sudden trip to Atlanta in handcuffs was odd." Eric frowned at him. "New friend."
"Yours or his?"
"Good." He walked him off, finding the number for Xander's phone in his phone, then calling it. "And who is this?" he asked the female voice. "I'm Xander's coworker and he's not here." She hung up on him. "Okay, go run a trace." Ryan headed back inside, going to do that for him while he headed in that direction. He found John Hagen's number in there, programmed in by Xander, and called it. "It's Delko, any idea where wonder boy is with the others?" He groaned, then shuddered. "Well, a female answered his phone," he offered. "Wolfe's running a trace. When I know you will." He hung up, waiting on it. It came up a few minutes later. He called Hagen back. "Del Rio's." He hung up and turned on his lights to get there faster. It was an old club that had been shut down years ago.
Horatio walked into his office, flopping down with a groan of pain. His boss stomped in. "Sorry I'm a bit late, sir."
"Someone decided to take us hostage. She liked Calleigh." The Chief of Police moaned, walking off shaking his head. Horatio would not be telling him that Xander's theory was that his psycho drawing ability had rubbed off on her. That would only make it worse. Horatio rested his head against the back of the chair, closing his eyes for a few minutes. He heard someone sneak in and leave something then leave. He opened one eye long enough to see it was a piece of paper, then let himself fall asleep again. He needed a short nap.
"HARRIS!" Stetler yelled in the hallways.
"He's getting medical clearance and they wanted Calleigh," Speed called back then slammed the lab's door.
"I did not encourage that woman," Calleigh said bluntly. "I didn't know her, didn't want to know her, and I'm still straight so she was just funny thinking." She closed the door to ballistics too. Just more gently than Speed had.
Stetler walked in there. "Do you want to fill out the forms now or later for presents?"
She dug the bag out of her pocket, handing it over. "Here you go. I don't need it."
He looked then at her. "Is that a nipple ring?"
"Not with where she was suggesting she could put it for me."
"Eww." He walked out, shaking his head. "Anyone else have anything to declare?" he asked. Eric walked out Speed's and Coopers. Ryan walked out a bag. "Where did this come from?"
"My locker this morning. The threat's in there too." Ryan walked off again.
Stetler looked at the office.
"He's sleeping," Eric warned.
"He didn't get anything," Speed promised. "Go away or go ask Alexx if she did. Or ask Hagen for an account of the rescue, he was there too. He's taking Xander to get medical clearance for his arm." He stomped off, going to handle this new situation. Speed looked up at the office, grinning. He snuck up there to take a picture then back to trace to download it into his email.
"I want a copy," Eric complained, following him back into trace.
Later that night, Xander blinked up at the people coming in to rescue him. "Hi."
"Hi, CSI Harris. Did you go out again?"
"No, someone followed me from last night." He yawned and stretched once his arms were freed. "Where's John? She had him in the kitchen after I made her sick."
"Wait there," the SWAT member said, heading that way. They found John chained to the stove and her standing behind him with a whip. "Ma'am." She turned and they tasered her.
"Thank you, God," John complained. "Guys, the keys are in her apron pocket. How's Xander?"
"He was asleep."
"He got clubbed in the head a few times," John admitted. "He babbled and she didn't like that about him. She only wanted his hot ass." They let him go and he turned off the stove, walking over her to go check on Xander. "You know, you could hire me as a bodyguard," he teased.
Xander blinked at him. "You're really expensive and I'd never get laid, John."
"Good point." He helped him up and outside. "You okay?"
"Strangely enough my head hurts," he quipped, letting the paramedic have him. "I'm fine but my arm was recently broken."
"We were at the ER when we got snatched," John told him.
"We can go back there, sir."
"Can we go to Memorial? There's a really great pediatrician there who casted my arm." They nodded, taking them both there. Someone could get a statement from them at the ER. He giggled and waved at the doctor as he was rolled past him. "Hi, doc."
"Hi, Xander." He followed, shaking his head. "What happened?"
"Kidnaping victim, doctor. Clubbed in the head according to him. Tied down for the last few hours. He's one of two that got stolen from the other ER earlier."
"She made John cook," Xander told him. "Chained him to the stove and put him in an apron too. He had to burn it to get it off him."
"I'm sure it'll be fine, Xander." He checked him over, shaking his head. "You have a concussion." Xander held up two fingers. "Two?" He pointed at another spot. "Okay, so you have a good concussion." Xander beamed and nodded, then passed out. "Let's get a CT scan," he ordered. "Also let's x-ray his left upper arm. It was recently broken and he's missing his cast." The nurse nodded, going to make those calls. He went to check on Hagen. "Bodyguard?"
"Now. I should charge the kid." He looked at him. "I'm fine. She only hit me a few times with that whip of hers." Calleigh rushed in and stopped in front of him. He grinned. "We're okay." She hauled off and hit him on the arm. "Ow! She got me with a whip, be nicer. She clubbed Xander in the head," he said at the heated look he was getting. "I'll be fine with something for the marks. He'll probably be here overnight."
"Nope, hate hospitals," Xander called. "My dog will wake me up."
Calleigh went over there. "Speed went to feed your dog, Xander." She stroked over his cheek, getting a smile and him moving her hand to his forehead since it was cold. "Are you really okay?"
"You'll be fine in a few days." The orderlies came to wheel him off. "Where is he going?"
"I'm going too." They nodded, letting her walk beside Xander.
"I'd have to have a lot worse than a concussion to get that sort of fussing from her," John complained to the nurse putting cream on his sore spots.
"I wouldn't suggest you try that. She looks like she's a screamer," the nurse offered.
"Oh, she will be. Xander's her lab boy."
The nurse smiled. "That goofy little boy is a lab tech?" John nodded. "What field?"
"Ballistics." She broke out laughing. "Yeah, that's Caine's ballistics tech. Poor guy." He let her finish up then signed himself out, going to check on Xander. It was a friend's duty to save a buddy from being screamed at for stupid stuff. "Hey," he said, walking up behind Calleigh. "He good?"
"They're doing his CT right now. They took another of his arm." She looked at him. "Are you all right?" He let her see the bandages. "Good!" She hit him on the chest. "Who did it this time?"
"Some woman who wanted to make me the wife," he said grimly. "Put me in an apron and everything. She tried it with Xander but she got really sick after he cooked lunch."
She sighed, hitting him on the arm. "Twice in one day must be a record.
"Maybe, haven't asked." He gave her a hug. "He's fine if he was able to complain about her." She looked at him. "He finally got a dog?"
"One who's just like him on chocolate," she agreed. "He's a whippet named Humphrey. Eric swears he's starving."
"Delko comes from a momma who likes to feed him. I'm sure the dog's spoiled." He looked over as Xander was drug out. "He good?"
"We're reading the CT soon, sir. Should you be here?"
"I'm out, I'm waiting on him. I'm his bodyguard for the day."
"Oh. All right." She got them all back down to the ER, where the head CSI was waiting. "Lieutenant, it'll be about a half hour before we have his CT read."
"What about his arm?"
"Minor fracture but nothing too bad," she offered, heading off to get those results for him.
Horatio looked at John. "An explanation please?"
"Psycho chick in the ER earlier. She wanted us to be wives. Let Xander cook for her at lunch but she got hellishly sick and chained me in there instead."
"I think you'll make a charming wife," Calleigh teased.
He pinched her on the side. "Don't say things like that, I'll have to go do manly things to regain my machismo."
Xander blinked at him. "Naked gator hunting?"
"What?" Horatio asked.
"Got a pamphlet in the mail," he said tiredly. "Going to nap." He rolled onto his side, looking at the IV when he tried to bend his elbow. "Crap. I'm yanking this stupid thing!" he yelled before doing it and turning it off. "Better," he sighed, drifting off curled up in a little ball.
John looked at Horatio. "So how was Missouri?"
"Good. Colder than here but okay. He got to try some reconfiguration exercises." He patted Xander on the back. "Uncurl please, Xander, so they can put the IV back." Xander flipped over, trapping his hand to cuddle up to.
"Knew the boy would be cuddly," John said happily. The doctor came back. "Hey, Doc."
"I see he still doesn't like needles." He hung up the IV on the pole. "He should be fine without it." He let Horatio have the reading he had been given. "That should be about the same time as his arm is fully healed."
"Do you need to cast it again?" Horatio asked.
"Probably not. It doesn't look like it had more trauma. We do have to be careful of his head. Otherwise he's going to start having the same dementia problems as boxers soon." Horatio nodded once at that. "They did find evidence of prior head injuries."
"He said his head hit many walls and gravestones," John quipped. Calleigh poked him. "He did."
"He did," she agreed. "Still not the time or place."
The doctor smiled. "I've heard about his past a bit. I'm the one who casted his arm." Horatio nodded. "As of right now, take the usual precautions for head injuries. He should be fine and in a week should be able to go back to work."
"Thank you, doctor. I'll have him try for medical clearance at that point," Horatio agreed. "Can we take him home?"
"If you can wake him up." Horatio moved his hand, making Xander slap around until he found one, Calleigh's, and took it to cuddle, pulling her across him to do that.
"Xander, I'll cuddle you at home," she complained.
"Meany," he mumbled.
"Come on, Xander. Out to the hummer," Horatio ordered. Xander blinked at him. "You can't have Calleigh as a blanket. We'll take you home." Xander nodded, yawning and flipping over to cuddle Calleigh for a few seconds before getting up and padding out. Horatio signed him out and they left together. "John, are you heading out again anytime soon?"
"I'm on break for most of spring break. If they need me they'll assign me locally for a few days."
"Want me to stay with the kid? Calleigh and I both can so she can get the fussing out of the way."
"If you want. The dog food's under the sink." John nodded at that, letting Calleigh get him into his jeep. Horatio headed for his hummer, driving the poor boy home. Xander's keys had been found in the ER earlier so he had them now. He let the boy in, watching him wander toward his bedroom, pouncing the dog to cuddle. "Good boy, Xander. You rest with Humphrey." He snuck out, leaving the door open for Calleigh since she was parking. "He's in bed with the dog."
"Poor dog's going to be cuddled to death," John said dryly, heading inside. The dog growled. "You quit or I won't feed you." The dog wiggled free, coming out to sniff him. "C'mon, let's get you fed, dog." He walked him into the kitchen, finding the messy remains of the dogfood bag. "I see you handled that yourself today."
"Speed must not've latched the cabinet," Calleigh complained. She found the bag of treats, handing them to John, who gave a few to the dog, earning a tail wag and him going back to check on the daddy. She smiled. "There's two guest rooms and the living room. Where did you want?"
"I'll take a guest room and so will you, young lady. I remember what happened last night and you probably haven't slept yet." He walked her that way, letting her take off her shoes, then he tucked her in, laying down next to her but on top of the covers. "You nap. I'll worry about getting him up." She yawned. "Good girl, Calleigh. You rest so you can deal with the pouting tomorrow," he said quietly, making her fall asleep. He smiled, kissing her on the temple, then got up to check out the house. He found both vault doors, using the entrance code Xander had sent him for emergencies to get into it. Everything in that one was still fine. The other had the artillery. Not all of it by any means but some of it. He smiled and snuck out, taking her car keys to go to the third hidden spot that Xander hadn't told him about. Following the kid around could be very educational and quite fun. Horatio had no idea what the kid did when he went out on his own. He broke into that area, emptying it for him and taking it back to the house. He arranged the things in the vault then went to wake up Xander. "Hey, wakey time." Xander glared at him. "Good. What year is it?"
"The year of you being eaten."
"You have a concussion. You know this drill."
"Fuck." He flipped over, pulling the covers over his head. "I bite."
"I know you do, Xander. I'll get you up in another two hours, after I finish arranging things from the hidden area that wasn't very secure." Xander peered back at him. "The one you didn't tell me about, kid." He grinned. "It's in the other vault." Xander moaned, covering his head again. He let the dog wiggle under the covers then he hid. "You rest." He left, going to check on Calleigh. He found her in the artillery vault too, turning her around and walking her back to bed. "No working tonight."
"No working tonight." He went back to close it and came back, tucking her back in. She wiggled out of her vest so he helped her get more naked, kissing her on the lips this time. "You need your sleep. Horatio can't have both of you off."
She frowned at him. "Did I take you back?"
"Yes, you did. Otherwise more women will hit on you and I can make sure that you don't get more sapphires." She blushed. "Good girl." He cuddled next to her, staying on top of the covers. "You rest, Calleigh."
"Must I? I wanted to see."
"No you don't. Trust me on this. You really don't." He gave her a squeeze, moving closer to breathe in her ear, which made her shiver but slowly drift off. It worked when he used to fall asleep on her shoulder. He kissed her again. "We'll find a cure to Xander's insanity soon," he promised quietly, staying cuddled up. He knew what was in there. Horatio might want to know but he wouldn't bust the kid over that as long as he didn't use it on the city.
Xander woke up to the sound of soft breathy moans, frowning at the wall. "At least someone's christening the house." He looked at the dog, who lapped him on the nose. "Hi, Humphrey. You should probably eat, huh?" The dog barked and got up, heading for the kitchen. "Sure." He got up, wobbling up the hall into the kitchen. He found the same mess and frowned at his dog. "I'll have to get you more, dog. Give me an hour." He let him outside, going to make himself something to drink. The breathy moans were continuing so he found his keys, his wallet, pants, and shoes, and headed out. No one had taken off his t-shirt so he was fine to grocery shop like this. It only took a block for someone to pull him over. He gave the officer a bleary look. "I have a concussion and the dog's out of food."
"Are you drunk?"
"No, I've got a concussion. Why, do I sound drunk?" The officer slowly shook his head. "I'm fine. Just a concussion. I'm going to the grocery store and then right back home, officer. I promise. I'm even going slowly."
"That's why I pulled you over, sir."
"Um, Harris. With the lab." He handed over his ID. "My dog got into his bag of food. It's only another block up. Really."
"You probably shouldn't drive."
"Yeah but my minder was having sex. I'm not going to interrupt for dog food." That got a small smile. "You can follow me if you want." He took back his ID. "I'm also still half asleep, that's most of this. I've driven with concussions before." He started the car and drove off, making the officer follow him. He walked into the store, got what he needed plus some stuff for breakfast, then checked out and got back into his car, heading back home at the same slow, careful pace. He parked and waved, going inside the house with the bags. He put down dog food, then went back to bed. His head was throbbing.
John woke up a few hours later, looking down at the person on his chest. "Morning," he said when she blinked at him. "How long have you been up?"
"Long enough to think."
"Quit that. You'll only make yourself mad." He kissed her. "Let me scrounge for breakfast and check on the kid." He slid out, finding his clothes so he could do that. He walked into the kitchen, finding the dog was eating out of a new bag of food. He took it and put it into the cabinet, giving it a pat. "Good boy. Go cuddle the daddy." The dog ran outside then went to do that. He looked at the bags on the counter. Then at the hallway. He found the receipt. "Calleigh, he went out earlier."
"I thought you were good at sneaking around," she teased. He handed over the receipt. "He drove!"
"Apparently." She stomped out to look at his car, finding the nice note taped to her steering wheel. He took it when she came back with a blush. "Huh." He went to check on the boy, finding him naked on top of the covers with the dog on his stomach. "Under the covers, kids." He grabbed the free side, putting him under it with the dog. Then he walked out shaking his head. "The dog's comfortable."
"Not like he'll care and at that time I was giving you a foot rub, Cal." She pinched him but was frowning. "It's fine. We'll talk with him later about stupid stuff like driving with a concussion."
"The officer said he didn't get over fifteen miles an hour."
"Which was probably better for him," John agreed. "Let's go disable his car." She nodded, going to do that. John unpacked the groceries, sniffing the milk to make sure it was still good after all morning on the counter. Then he called Horatio. "We're disabling Xander's car since he decided to go out for dog food this morning." He hung up and put out the croissants Xander had bought and the jelly for her, plus the coffee he started. It was a good brunch. He brought it out, smiling when she came in. "Brunch?"
"Please. I'm starved. Should we make him eat?"
"He'll puke. I've had one of those recently and I did for three days." He sat down with his cup of coffee, sipping it. "I called the boss, told him we're disabling his car."
"Good! Someone needs a firmer leash on him."
"Then find him someone good to date," John pointed out. She glared at him. "It'd help."
"Probably." She went to check on him, finding one very naked butt cheek hanging out of the blanket and a whining dog. She gave Xander a nudge, making him get off the dog's tail, letting him run for outside. Then she covered him back up. "More than I wanted to see of you, Xander." She went back to the front room, finding Ryan coming up the walkway. "Did you finally find which twin it was?"
"Yup and I'm here to confiscate the keys." John found them and handed them over. "Thanks. What did he do?"
"According to the note the officer left, he thought my footrub was her having sex and the dog got into the food so he drove out to get some this morning. At fifteen miles an hour."
"Nice of him to be so careful. I'm on lunch if you two need time to pick up stuff. Horatio said he'd take tonight or I will."
"I'm fine until later, Ryan. Thank you." She smiled at him. "Which twin was it?"
"One planned, the other committed. It was the one with the contacts that committed it." She nodded. "So they're both in jail." He flopped down, smiling when the dog came out. "Hey, dog." He let it sniff him. "You're a good dog. Go guard the daddy." He ran back into the bedroom and wiggled back under the sheets. Ryan smiled at them. "Seriously, if you two wanted...." John shook his head. "Okay. Then I'll leave you two alone with him. I don't have a new case yet so I'll be out at the normal time, Calleigh."
"He's got frozen stuff," John offered.
"Always," Ryan agreed with a grin. He walked out, closing the door behind himself.
John looked around. "He did a good job making this look less like a crypt."
"He did," she agreed, nibbling another bite of croissant. "You should see the bathroom. Cooper joked he should move into a water park."
"Can't get clean going down the fun slides," he joked, earning a strange look. "What?"
"That's what he said."
"That's who I got it off of." He kissed her again. "Eat. You're too skinny."
"You can eat."
"You know I never eat breakfast." He finished his coffee. "Want some more?" She nodded, letting him have her cup. He glanced in the bedroom on his way past, then brought out fresh cups of coffee. "We should raid his other hiding spots."
"Horatio made him move one here already and raided one to send some stuff to Gibbs. What did you bring?"
"He had one that wasn't very secure so I brought that stuff here." He saw Xander come out naked and looking confused. "This is the new house, Xander. Bathroom's in your room." He nodded, going to do that. He looked at her. "He'll be fine in a few days."
"Horatio will spank him for earlier."
"Probably." He finished that cup of coffee and went to tuck him back in. "No making her look at you naked," he said in his ear. "She'll blush." He patted the dog. "Good boy." He licked Xander's cheek. "If he allows it." He left them alone. "The dog licked him when I told him he was good."
"He is very cuddly," she agreed happily. "I'm wondering how Horatio fought him off during that assignment for the ATF."
John looked at her then shook his head. "I've seen the transcripts. He got woken up every night by the cuddly one, they got him trying to get free of him." She giggled at that. "Seriously." The dog came out, giving him a begging look. "I don't have food. That's her." He looked at her, giving her the most adoring look. She sighed and handed over a piece of her last croissant. He ran back into the bedroom, going back to bed with the daddy. He yelped a minute later and ran back out, hiding under John's chair. "Now you like me? Xander, what did you do to the dog?"
"Demon bit me," he called. "Sleeping!"
"I know you are, do more of it," Calleigh called. She looked at the dog, patting her lap. It came over to crawl into it, giving her all the cuddles and loves he could because she gave in to his begging. "I love you too, Humphrey." She smiled at John. "He said he almost got a mini-dobie but it growled at him."
"I can't see him with a miniature anything," he said, thinking about it. "Especially not something that small and pompous."
"You never know." She patted the wiggling hind end, watching as he went to bark at the cats. Again. Xander came out and picked up his dog, carrying him back to bed. She coughed, trying to calm her blush down. "No wonder so many women want him."
John looked at her. "Feeling a bit evil?" he teased.
Xander came back out, frowning at them. "Why aren't you two christening the rest of the house for me?"
"It was a footrub, kid," John complained.
"Uh-huh." He walked back into the bedroom. "Go home. I'm better now."
"Fat chance," she called after him. "Go back to sleep, Xander."
"Tough. You might get stolen again," John called. The dog ran out to hide under his chair again. "Did he growl?" he asked the poor thing. He patted him but he went back to his female lap snuggler instead.
Ryan woke Xander up at ten, looking down at him. "Food?"
"Fuck off." He put his head back under the covers.
"You have to eat sometime."
"I'll have you eaten if you don't go away and let me sleep."
"I know they say you get personality changes when you have a concussion, Xander, but be nicer to me or Horatio is coming instead."
"Yay me. Keep it up."
Xander uncovered his head. "I'm not hungry."
"You haven't eaten all day. You have to eat sometime."
"No I don't. Feed the dog."
"I already did." He walked boxers over to him, handing them over. "Come on. Don't make me dress you, I'll put them on backwards so you have to walk funny. Just because we had to hear Horatio growl about you telling the cop that stopped you that you were one of us." Xander looked confused. "When you went out for dog food this morning?"
"You did." He handed over the note Calleigh had given Horatio, who had let him have it. Xander groaned, covering his head again. "Up. Now. Time for food. I'll even be nice and cook." The dog peeked in. "Go use the outside, dog."
"Humphrey, go use the yard."
"He's got a doggy flap." He snatched the boxers to put on, then climbed out of bed, following his coworker to the kitchen. He sniffed, then looked at him. "You made Thai stuff?"
"It was in the freezer." He handed him a plate and some milk. "She said you got that this morning too when I checked."
"I hate concussions." He walked out to the living room with his plate, getting comfortable while he ate. "What else did I do?"
"John was giving Calleigh a foot rub so you thought they were having sex. Told the officer that your minders were having sex." He brought his plate out, making Xander frown. "Some of the frozen stuff." Xander switched plates with him since his was less spicy, digging in again. "Fine, you can do that." He ate the food, ignoring the begging dog. "You have got to train him not to do that."
"He laid on Alexx's head during the aborted housewarming party."
"Did anyone get a picture?"
"Have to ask Speed or Eric."
"I can do that." He finished his dinner, putting the plate down. The dog sniffed, sneezed, then went to beg the daddy, who gave him a look. "Humphrey." The dog came back, letting him pet him. "Do not beg, but good boy to answer to your name." He let him go, watching him hop up next to the daddy, laying his head on his thigh, giving him the big eyed look of adoration. A piece of chicken fell off his fork. The dog nearly castrated him trying to get it off his lap. "You okay?"
"Fine. He tried to lap one of my nipples earlier and got shoved off the bed for it." He finished his dinner, putting the plate down. The dog jumped down so he could clean it for him. "Why else are you here?"
"Xander, you have a concussion," he said patiently. "Why do you think I'm here?"
"It's been a day, I won't die."
"No, you do stupid stuff. Therefore you get a CSI of your very own."
"Yay me," he said flatly. "Cable's not on yet."
"I can read books. I even brought one."
"That reminds me. I have to shelve the bomb manuals."
Ryan shook his head, standing up. "Come on, we'll do that while the dog runs around." He hauled Xander up, watching him wobble and turn a bit green. "Deep breaths." Xander calmed his stomach, heading into the extra vault with him. He saw the frown. "John said the one you didn't show him wasn't secure anymore so he brought it back."
"That's not all there was."
"Maybe that's why it wasn't secure."
Xander went to the other one, getting in and looking. "No, he put the other stuff in here." He went back to the main vault, getting down to work arranging things. A few he had to check so he could make index cards, ignoring the fact that Ryan was whimpering in the corner about his artillery collection. "I've got worse."
"Horatio said you can't play with them for a week because you told the cop you were with the crime lab to get out of getting a ticket this morning."
"Fine. I'll be at work tomorrow anyway."
"Six more days according to the doctor. He told me to remind you of that."
Xander looked at him. "Did he put a tape recorder on you too?" he asked.
"No, just a list." He handed it over with a grin. Xander read it, groaning. "Therefore you're going to be a good boy or else I'll treat you like your dog." He patted him on the back. "Are you going by number, style, or time you learned it?"
"Difficulty." He went back to shelving, then found his phone in there, finally. "I'm sorry," he said once someone answered Horatio's phone. "I don't remember going to the store but I'm sorry anyway. Can Ryan go home now? He nags." He hung up and finished with the bomb manuals, going back to his arranging the weapons in the order of most likely to be used. He backed out, finding Eric waiting on them in the kitchen. "Did he send you too?"
"Yup." He handed over the new note. "For you." He patted him on the back. "Wolfe, you need time off?"
"No, I'm good. I just woke him up to make him eat. Got friendly with the dog. We played some fetch too. I fed him but he didn't want to eat too much."
"He dove into the bag of food according to Calleigh."
"Ah. No wonder." He grinned at the slumping Xander. "More problems?" He took the note to look at. "Huh, your dad's in town. Well, if you're much better then it won't be a problem for you to stay awake while you see him tomorrow, huh? Go shower and then go back to bed if you want. I can watch the house and the dog." Xander nodded, going that way. He looked at Eric. "Why is that a warning?"
"Because his father wants him to do something with him. He always does," Eric said quietly, glancing at Xander's doorway. Then back at him. "It's going to become a conflict and Xander doesn't like to argue on personal matters."
"Okay, so I'm off tomorrow anyway, I can be here after I run a few errands."
"Might be helpful," Eric agreed. "Horatio's worried."
"I would be too. Especially with the month he's had."
"He had one of these during his internship too," Eric reminded him. Ryan shuddered. "So, who had them from the ER?"
"Some woman who Calleigh said wanted the guys to be wives. She stupidly let Xander cook then made John be the cooking wife."
"Wonderful. Stupid and psychotic. It's a great combination." He walked off shaking his head. "Have fun with the dog, Wolfe. It'll be fine soon enough." He got into his car and headed back there, finding Horatio and Speed cuddled up on the couch. "I gave Xander the note and explained things to Wolfe. Xander said he didn't remember going out to the store."
"I should still spank him," Horatio said hoarsely.
Speed handed him back his mug of tea. "I told you to drink that. Before we spank you for diving into cold water to save someone without someone watching you. You could've been bitten by that shark, Horatio." Horatio sipped, getting comfortable again. "Did the kid eat?"
"Wolfe made him eat. Just got him up apparently. He was in the back vault he had put in."
"Probably arranging things," Horatio agreed. He put down the mug of tea, snuggling into his pillow to rest. Speed made sure he was tucked in well enough and patted him until he fell asleep. It was good to be babied. They'd have to teach Xander that.
"Did he just say what I think he did?" Eric asked.
"Yeah, that we should have to teach Xander how nice being babied is."
"That would take girls not wanting to kill him. I'm not thinkin' it'll be this year." He went into the kitchen. "Need more tea?"
"Please. There's some on the stove getting cold." Eric brought it out once it had warmed back up, earning a smile. "Thank you."
"Welcome." He grinned. "Wolfe is in full fuss mode too. He's been playing with the dog."
"The dog's cute. I wouldn't mind a dog but we're never home."
"Point." He gave him a kiss and went to get his own dinner. He had just barely gotten home when Wolfe had called and he had been made the official messenger.
Xander looked at his father. "What's up?" He sipped his soda, curling up on the couch.
"Psycho brat who wanted me to be her wife."
"Concussion," Lee said, understanding that. "You okay to go back to work soon?"
"The doc apparently said a week. Horatio's being mean and enforcing it even though I could've wobbled in today."
"It's probably better if you don't, Xander." He grinned at him. "Are you okay otherwise?"
"I'm good. The house is fully decorated. My crappy month is due to be over with soon. I've already made my first mortgage payment and all the utilities are on but the cable."
"You have to pay for trash?" Lee nodded. "I'll get that one later then." He took another drink. "Sorry, lunch."
"I've had a few concussions. I understand, son."
Xander looked at him. "What did you need help with?"
Lee gave him an odd look. "I couldn't just visit?"
"You'd bring Mom if it was a vacation."
"I do have a case that I think you could help me with. I can get you excused."
Xander took another drink. "No, dad. I'm needed here."
Xander gave him a look. "The Chief wasn't pleased when the ATF borrowed me and Horatio. Even if they did point out that I was one of very few techs who could've went and they were asking for me by name. He didn't like that I had to go on comp time, even though he pushed me onto it for the broken arm. He didn't like that Buffy showed up and made me move either. He's talking that they're not getting their money's worth." He took another drink. "I have to do my real job for a while to calm him down, Dad. If it was after-hours down here I wouldn't care. Horatio might but I wouldn't."
Lee looked at him. "I could start to guilt trip you."
"And then I walk away and stop taking calls," Xander said honestly, earning a shocked look. "I got plenty of that from the ladies I used to know, including Fred, Cordy, and Angel." Lee grimaced but nodded. "Is it local?"
"No, St. Louis."
"They don't have gun techs there?"
"They do but not ones in the family."
"Just because I'm family doesn't mean you can't go to others. There's ones who're rated above me in the scheme of ballistics techs all over the world."
"I know but you're family and I like working with you."
"Dad, you also think getting shot at is a bonding exercise." Lee shrugged at that. "As much as I love working with you, I hate being shot at."
"It's slowed down."
"No it hasn't."
"Yes it has, son. Trust me. In the eighties I never went a week without being shot at."
"Ow. I thought the eighties were only about funny hair." He finished his soda, putting the glass down on the coffee table. Humphrey came out to snuggle. "Got tired of being in the bed alone?" He petted him. "This is Humphrey. You can tell Grandma you saw the furry grandkid." Lee shook his head. "No?"
"She'll scream at me again."
"Why not ask Jamie?"
"The director at NCIS hates us. She keeps trying to take our assignments."
"I'm sure Gibbs loves that."
"Not really. You sure?"
"If it was in Miami."
"You could be a great agent."
"Dad, I'm not an agent. If Miami fires me I've got to go beg Gibbs for a job or work with Fornell."
He stood up. "Fine, I won't guilt trip you or anything, son." He gave him a hug. "Get better, huh?"
"I will. Come down for a vacation sort of thing sometime soon, dad."
"I will. Your mom wants pictures."
"I sent her some this morning."
"I flew out at five."
"I'm sorry." Lee smiled. "Want a cup of coffee?"
"No, I've got an expense account for that." He patted him on the head. "Be safe and we'll see you soon." He left, heading back to the airport.
Xander put his head down, looking at his dog. "I don't like having to set that boundary," he said quietly. "I really don't." The dog whimpered, sensing his mood. "I feel like I betrayed him, Humphrey. I didn't but I feel like I did." He went back to petting him. "Hopefully that's the end of the crappy month from hell we've had." He laid down, letting the dog settle in on top of him. "Sure, we'll nap. It'll be a good nap."
Horatio looked up as Lee walked in. "Is it in Miami?"
"Then he can't go. He needs to stay in Miami and do his actual job." He put the folder aside, looking at the lounging, pissed off agent. "That assignment pissed off the boss and our budget is very tight. Techs are precious, expensive things, Lee. The Chief could see that having Xander and paying him isn't justified if he isn't doing his work for us. He's already warned me of that and I did tell him that."
"He could be given an excuse."
"The Chief won't let him. He will fire him."
"Then he could get a job in the agency."
"Homeland would never hire him with a disability."
"Miami knew he wasn't going to be in the field. Homeland doesn't need a ballistics tech. It needs field agents, which he's not qualified for with only one eye."
"It's not right. I'm his father."
"And I'm his boss," he reminded him. "I need Xander to do his job here with us. Miami's crimes have to take priority over favors for his family and others, Lee. I'm sorry but we need Xander here. Even if it were after-hours and local we need him here and we need him healthy. He doesn't have any more leave time left after his arm and his concussion."
"He seemed okay. He said he would've come in today."
"I can't afford for him to leave if he does get sick." He stared him down. "You're putting a lot of pressure on your son, Lee. You're going to end up making him choose between his family and his career and there's a lot of ways for the Chief to make sure he's never hired anywhere if we fire him. He's done it to other techs."
"I don't want to make him choose, Caine."
"You do or you wouldn't keep coming down to take him off for assignments. Unless it's in Miami itself and he can do it after-hours and on his day off I can't allow you to take him."
"It's his life. You're not his lover."
"No, I'm his friend. Right now he's probably beating himself up for turning you down."
Lee grimaced. "I'm trying to get to know him."
"Then come down on a vacation and relate like normal families."
"I can't do that."
"Then let your wife and other sons help you," he said firmly. "We need Xander more than you do. You have an office building the size of a block full of agents you can take to wherever. We have Xander."
"You have Calleigh."
"She's a field tech with a speciality. If we relied on her she'd always be backlogged."
"Fine." He stomped off.
Horatio took the phone off speaker. "Amanda, I'm worried that he's going to force Xander into something stupid so he has to leave the department." He listened to her. "He still has a concussion. It's only three days old." He nodded. "That's what I'm worried about." He listened to her go off on her husband's less than stellar qualities. "What do I do to cushion him? Because he's probably very afraid that he's wrecked what attachments he's made to all of you." He smiled. "That could help, yes. Thank you. No, he's at home resting. He'll start back next week if he's able. Thank you for helping us. Have a better day." He hung up, going to talk to Ryan. "How was Xander when you left him?"
"Crappy," he admitted. "His head was still throbbing. He was nauseous this morning when he got up. Even the dog's feeling pitiful for him. Why?"
"His father wanted him to go on a job with him."
"He's barely in any shape to work in the lab, Horatio."
"I know. Do you think he could come in and work?"
"Xander's the king of stubborn according to him," he reminded him. "He's come in with injuries before. Even after his father got him shot at and grazed he came in to work."
"Point. I'll check on him tomorrow and see if he can come back."
"I can help in ballistics, Horatio."
"It's safer for him if he's here and has a bit of support right now," he said quietly.
"Good reasons. He might be able to make it. He wanted to wobble in today."
"Then I'll check on him tomorrow morning." He patted him on the shoulder and went to call the boy. "Xander? How are you feeling?" He smiled at his 'crappy' comment. "Your father was here." He listened to him swear. "I told him you weren't allowed to go anywhere but here. I laid out some reasons. Then I talked to your mother. She agreed, you're needed here, Xander. Yes, and wanted," he agreed at the quiet question. "You're not too much trouble. Even when you go out. I'm sure you're not. Now, how are you really feeling?" He listened to him try to babble. "I'll pop around tomorrow to check on you. We'll see then how you feel." He smiled at the happier answer. "I know, you need to get back to work to feel better. It'll be soon and I'll make sure you're not overworking yourself. For now, rest. You could use it. No, let the dog play for now. You rest. Good. I'll see you tomorrow." He hung up, looking around. "I can feel you watching." Stetler walked in. "What now?"
"I saw the kid's father."
"He wanted him to do something with him but we had to point out his son wasn't fit for it and we needed him here."
"Good. The Chief doesn't like poaching."
"He's not; he's sure that's the only way he can bond with his son."
"It's still poaching."
"Xander's staying. He's trying to get back sooner than he should. I'll make sure he's healthy before he does."
"Good. Feds are coming in tomorrow."
"How do you know?"
"They asked for Harris' file."
"I don't know." He handed over the request form.
Horatio looked at him. "Why do you like him, Rick?"
"The kid's got a bright future, Caine. He shouldn't be dirtied by anything around you. Even other ballistics techs are saying he's going to be tops in the field. He can't do that if the mud that wraps around your ankles transfers." He left, going back to his office.
Horatio glared at his back. Then he looked down at the labs. "Something is going to have to be done about this," he muttered. He called Xander back. "Xander, the feds are coming in tomorrow." He smiled at the assertion he could still pull a regular shift. "Where are you?" He laughed at the 'in a cab' answer. "I'll see you soon then. Come to my office when you get here." He hung up, looking over the request form. Why would they want Xander's folder? Xander came in so he handed him the request. "From Stetler."
"Why?" he asked with a frown.
"I do not know."
Xander nodded. "Okay. I'll watch out for them. Going to work, boss. Making sure I don't have any sight problems. I'll be here tomorrow too." He walked out, heading down to ballistics. He had his clean lab coats with him. The dry cleaner had been happy to let him have them back. He walked in and took off his jacket, sliding into his coat. He found his glasses where he usually put them and got to work on the 'in' bucket. They would not be getting backlogged again. Calleigh came in twenty minutes later and gave him a hug. "I'm still nauseous. Feds are coming in and wanted my file for some reason."
"Wonderful. Are you released to work?"
"I'm making sure I don't have any reasons to complain when I go back to get clearance." He looked at her. "No wobbling vision or anything. Remind me I need new glasses next month too. These are scratched."
"I can do that. I'm working on the Henderson case."
"I'm on the in bucket."
"That'll work." She pulled on her lab coat and dove in too. Together they could clear the lab tonight.
"Mr. Harris," the investigative head said, walking into ballistics.
"I'm busy, wait ten minutes." He adjusted his scope.
"I think we'll talk now."
"I think I'm nauseous enough to puke on you so back the fuck off and go take off half the aftershave before it transfers onto evidence. That *is* federal protocol for lab techs."
"We will talk now or I will have you suspended."
Xander turned to look at him. "Look, sparky. I don't give a damn what sort of hold you have over Horatio. This is *my* ballistics lab, we follow *all* protocols and higher in here. If you cannot follow the protocols your agency set up then why do you work for them? You come into *my* lab and you had better be in a lab coat, you had better be in gloves, and you had *better* follow the rest of the guidelines, which you are not. Try to suspend me and I'll have your career fucking ruined. Now, follow the protocols or get out of my lab. This is your last warning."
"There are anomalies in your federal file, boy."
"Like the one that's got a rating saying I bite?" Xander asked blandly. "Ten seconds or I'm ejecting you." The agent sneered. "Good enough for me." He gave him a shove and called out to the agents around them. "Does this guy have a boss? I will *not* have someone as ignorant of lab protocol in my lab." One agent gave him a horrified look. "This is *my* lab and we do follow all protocols in *my* ballistics lab. He violated ten within four minutes. I want his boss's name and number, now, Agent ... Parkins," he said after glancing at her name tag. "Right the hell now or I'm reporting you too for not having your hair up and wearing open toed shoes in a lab." She wrote it out, handing it over. "Thank you! I would fix that before Caine finds out." He walked back into his lab, dialing the number. It led to a voicemail system so he left a long, detailed complaint. Then he hung up and got back to work. Another agent walked in. He glanced at him. "At least you're not violating most of the rules. Hands in your pockets or put on gloves. What do you want?"
"The agent in charge wants you in interrogation."
"He can wait. I'm working. I get a break in twenty minutes. Miami's victims don't get their money's worth if I'm off on a break." He got back to work. "You can stare at my ass if you want. I don't care." He went back to his matching, smiling at the perfect match. He turned and got to work on his report, noting the case number and name, then searching through the system. He saved his report, bagged the test fire, leaving the original there and running. "Before you say a word, the computer needs it there and it can take up to an hour to find a match. Calleigh, leaving to talk to violation boy. I have a sample running through the system."
"I'll watch it to make sure it doesn't walk off." She patted him on the arm. "Calm down. Have a soda."
"I puked breakfast. I don't think so." He walked off with the agent, disposing of his gloves properly and then unbuttoning his lab coat since they were in the halls. "Why are you here again?"
"Violations in lab protocol."
"In your file, sir."
"I don't know. I'm not privy. The rest of us are here for other matters."
"Pity you're being led by someone who violates lab protocol." He walked into interrogation. "Okay, I'm searching it. What did you want?" He stared at him.
"Your work in New York..."
Xander held up a hand. "I've never worked in New York. That was a tech trying to discredit me during my post-grad internship. Your agency took over the details after we found it. He had dated things down here before I arrived. Last I heard he's in a super max somewhere begging not to be a bitch on the block. And? You're taking me away from my job." He put his hand back on his hip.
"I have a double concussion. This is my first day back. You're lucky I'm only biting verbally. And? Anything else?"
"You have to get clearance to work in the field?"
"I lost an eye before Sunnydale fell in. That was before I started college. I trained myself to compensate without it but IAB does demand that I do that, even though he's easing off with how little I get into the field."
"That doesn't hinder you?"
"No, as I said I trained myself to compensate for it. That was over a year before I started my education."
"A bit late," he noted coldly.
"Sorry, I had other jobs until Sunnydale fell in." He shrugged. "Anything else?"
"You were on comp for the concussions?"
"No, I was on comp time because of a broken arm. I was talking with a former friend who came down here to convince me that I'm so worthless I should go back to being her lapdog and she hit me repeatedly in one spot until I had a three-quarter fracture. It was determined that I couldn't put a lab coat over my cast and therefore couldn't do my work in a realistic manner so therefore I had the time to move after she shot up my apartment when she left here." He shrugged again. "We can furnish those reports as well. I'm sure Internal Affairs would since they had me fill out an incident report on both matters."
"Was from some woman who kidnaped myself and a former officer named Hagen. I was in the ER getting clearance to come back from my arm. And? Got more? I need a drink before I get back to work."
"Your federal file has a sealed portion."
"That's due to the inquest of a group called the Initiative." He moved closer. "See, we found out the group were torturing assholes who got off on the tortures they were doing to the residents of the town. They took a friend," he said honestly. "My former friends and I made them go away. There was an inquest and *that's* what's sealed so no one else can get any bright ideas off it," he finished more quietly. "Now, anything else you want to know?"
"Your *bodyguarding*? You never listed it?"
"I don't have to answer that."
"I can have you fired for lying on your application."
"That was the only *good* way to put that in there so you didn't have to hear about Sunnydale and the protection detail. It was as close as IAB wanted to go. He made that decision after I had to shoot someone in the field who shot CSI Speedle. Since it related back to a terrorist I ended up kicking the ass of while I was interning at NCIS, the matter came up."
"Why did you switch, Mr. Harris? That is not how *normal* internships go."
"Not enough work for both of us. Also not enough varied work so I got a better hands-on experience in my minor or major. Plus lack of field work since I am rated for that as well." He looked stunned. "Didn't read the whole file? I'm a ballistics tech with a minor in trace and a minor in field work. I get out there two or three cases a month, as I wanted to. I couldn't do that at NCIS. I was having to take work from Abby's hands to have anything to do. Plus they do a lot more with hacking than I'm comfortable with since I'm a hands-on sort. We all agreed it would be for the best since I spent a week cleaning total in my four months there." He gave him another look. "Anything else you wanted to know? You could have asked politely if you hadn't broken lab protocol. I am the bitch in this department about my lab's protocol. By the way, some of your junior members are also breaking protocol. I would correct it before I report them too."
"You reported me?"
"I did. You broke protocol in a very major way. I do not allow that in my lab. You were in contact with evidence stinking of over-applied aftershave. You were in contact with evidence without proper lab clothing and equipment on. You were in contact with evidence without gloves on. You could have endangered every single case in there when it goes to court and I do not allow that."
"Are you gay?"
"After my last girlfriend turned into a serial killer I thought it would be better to switch teams. Doesn't help any since I still draw psycho women to me. Hence the concussion. Now, anything else? I've got work to do so I can put away criminals. You're getting in my way and I won't allow that either."
"You assaulted a federal agent."
"No, I gave you a shove out of my lab before you contaminated anything. Try to charge me, I'm pretty sure any judge will see it my way and then I can sue you for trying to damage my career and reputation. Now, as I said, I'm busy. You done yet?"
"I will be looking into your past."
Xander pulled something off his neck, handing it to him. "That's my full file of injuries. You should be able to get enough out of that to fulfill whatever sick desire you have in regards to me. I want that back so please give it to myself or my Lieutenant. It's come in handy in the past when I got injured." He walked out, going back to his lab. He did stop to get a drink, then regloved once he was inside. He found it had matched and printed that, checking the sample before he went back to his report. Horatio came in with the keychain drive. "Sorry I went bitch on him but I don't allow people in here without proper gear on."
"I agree," he said, looking at his report. "Is that mine?"
"Calleigh's. Yours is in the pile. Give me another five and you can have the whole stack."
"Good enough. I'll be in Chem." Xander nodded, going back to his report. He notated on the gun's listing in the system so they knew what else the gun had been used for. Then he closed down that search. He proofed his report, doing the usual checks, then printed it. It got taken out, stapled together, and then the whole pile got lifted. He took off his gloves once he was through the door, walking them down the hall. "Ryan?" He waved from Trace so he went in there, handing over his few reports. He put Speed's down beside his work station too. "For Speed." He walked off, going to give Calleigh the rest of hers. Then to chem to give Eric his and Horatio his. "And I have one that Frank found. Is he in?"
"At his desk, I checked," Horatio offered, giving him a smile.
"Thanks." He walked it off, getting a sip of water on the way. He found Frank reading something and put it overtop. "The gun you found without a case." He winked. "It's mythical. It makes you want to rape." He walked off, going back to his lab. The putz was in there. "You had better not be touching evidence."
"You didn't seal this envelope?"
"I always include the printout from the system in it." He photocopied it and put it in there, then sealed it. "That way if it comes up to trial we know where the case file is if it gets wet, like what happened during the last hurricane." He initialed it and put it into the done bucket, then got his next sample out. He looked at the boxed gun, frowning at it. "Hmm. When did this get here?" He looked at the date, then the seal. "Excuse me. Horatio?" He walked out, showing it to him. "Why did I get this back?"
"I don't know, Xander." He took it to look over. "Let's check." He went to look up the case in ballistics, after putting on gloves as was proper. He found it. "It was pulled for case review by Stetler," he said.
Xander called him. "It's Harris. You gave me back a gun I had already done and you wanted what with it?" He listened. "Then why give it to me? I can since it was put over here. Thank you." He hung up. "He wanted it to be put through trace and fingerprints."
"I'll let you do that in trace." Xander nodded, heading out, taking off his coat and hanging it up in there so he could switch.
"He works in other labs?" the head agent sneered.
"Trace is his minor," Horatio reminded him. "He gets a good fifteen hours a week over there when ballistics is clear." He walked him out then shut the door so they'd see if someone went in. Xander was already bent over the gun's grip to check it for any signs of anything. He walked in there. "What did he want checked for?"
"Sand. I'm not sure why." He grimaced. "I'm not seeing any yet." He rotated it slightly, getting back to work. "Horatio, Speed raised a point. I'm fully with changing coats but should I have to change glasses? One of the agents said I needed to."
"Not as far as I know. You don't usually wear shooting glasses?"
"No, these are safety plastic," he admitted. "I don't often wear them to shoot, they're for close work."
"Then it shouldn't be a problem. You shouldn't have any transfer and I know you don't needlessly wipe them or anything. I can check for you if you want."
"Please. I don't want to violate anything." Horatio nodded, letting him work while he went to look that up. Xander found a bit of gel-like substance on the barrel and swiped it with a swab. He even broke it down looking for sand. When he was done he walked it over to fingerprints once he had it back together. "IAB is doing quality control on this case. He wanted it checked for trace, mostly sand, and then fingerprints when you've got a clear spot?"
"Sure, Xander. That's what I'm here for. Did you really shove him out?"
"He violated ten matters of protocol within minutes. Hell yes. I don't let things like that happen in my lab, you know that."
"I do. You're worse than Speed and Valera combined." She grinned at his smirk. "Go, shoo. Did you find anything?"
"Swab of something on the barrel. Looked like a gel. I'll go run it in a minute. Speed's got the machine tied up." He went back to trace, finding Speed running it. "I could have."
"I'm clear now, I can. Also, case number?"
"I thought I did."
"One side, not both." He showed him. Xander took it and wrote it on the other side as well. "Thank you. One is good enough for a walk-over but it had to be done." He gave him a shoulder nudge. "How's the head?"
"Crappy and I've been thirsty all day." He looked at him, getting a nod. "Let me know?"
"Sure, or Stetler."
"That'll work. She's got it to run for prints." He walked off, going back to ballistics once he had changed his coat. He had more evidence to log in and examine. He did pause to get another drink. Alexx gave him an odd look. "I've been thirsty since the concussion."
"We should check your blood sugar."
"I've never had that problem but I do get thirsty from concussions," he admitted, grinning at her. "Think Humphrey's howling in misery?"
"Probably napping under your blanket again." She looked into his eyes. "How is your head?"
"Minor throbbing that's making me bitchy."
"That happens. Take some tylenol."
"I have. It's still throbbing and making me bitchy." He shrugged and went back to work. Natalia came in a few minutes later. "Gun or bullet?"
"Complaint about your language, young man."
He looked at her. "Natalia, I got clubbed in the head twice. I have two spots of concussion. I feel like hell. If you don't like me describing myself as bitchy today, take it up with Horatio. He agreed I was being bitchy this morning. I don't normally swear. Really." She stomped off. He got back to work, shaking his head. Horatio walked in. "I told her to go to you about her not liking me calling myself bitchy."
"She said it's making the rest of us look bad."
"No, I went full bitch on him earlier when he had me pulled out," Xander told him.
"I heard. I was watching." Xander gave him a sweet grin. "I agreed as to what you said, but tone it down a bit more, Xander. Or go take ten to get some more tylenol."
"I'm fine. I can't take more for another two hours. I'll take it at lunch."
Horatio looked at his watch. "Is your watch broken?" Xander frowned, looking at it then at the computer clock. "That is very wrong. It's nearly one, Xander."
"Huh. Let me write a note to computer services and then I'll take lunch." Horatio nodded, watching while he did that. He resealed his present evidence and went to eat. The agents gave him an odd look. "My computer's clock is running slow. I didn't realize it was my lunch time and time for more tylenol." He walked into the break room, finding what he wanted. Plus a soda. "Ah, sweet goddess." He sat down with that and two packets from the box of tylenol, gulping them before the food.
"It must be expensive to buy lunch every day," a female agent said as she walked in.
"I'm poisonous in the kitchen. It's safer and better if I don't eat my own cooking." He ate another bite. "Saves a lot at home since I don't have to buy pots or anything." He ate another bite, then held his stomach, gulping the rest of his soda. He got up to get another one, clutching the machine. "Food's a bad idea today."
"How did you get a concussion?"
"Some psychotic woman who wanted myself and a former officer to be her wives. She took me from the ER when I was getting clearance to come back after my broken arm. Clubbed me in the head after she made me cook and got sick." He opened the new soda, sipping it slower to try to calm his stomach down. "'Scuse me," he said, rushing to the bathroom.
Ryan saw and followed. "Xander?" he called from the doorway.
"Literally, like you cooked for yourself?"
"No, concussion stuff. Go put it in the fridge for me please?"
"Sure, I can do that." He went to put up Xander's food, bringing him back his newest soda, handing it over to him. "I'll tell H you're getting sick in case you get back late." Xander nodded, going back to trying hard not to get sick again. He walked out, finding Horatio and Alexx coming up the hall. "Food didn't react well with his stomach. I put it in the fridge and gave him his soda."
"He should still be in bed," Alexx complained. She walked into the bathroom without knocking. Not like she hadn't seen it all before.
"I'll handle it, Mr. Wolfe, thank you," Horatio said quietly.
"Welcome. After lunch I'm going on a suspect hunt." He went back to work, seeing Eric's worried look. "Lunch wasn't good for Xander."
"I've been there a few times," Eric admitted. "Took me a week. Worried my mother horribly."
Ryan looked around before moving closer. "Eric, I'm very aware of where you live," he said quietly. "I don't care, it makes you a happier person. Okay?" Eric nodded, smirking at him. "So you don't have to hide it."
"He was worried too," he admitted. "But he's had his own a few times."
"I bet. Wrecking his bike?"
"The other one, Wolfe."
"He could've wrecked a bike," he said with a small grin.
Eric snickered, shaking his head. "Not him. No. You sure?"
"Why would I care, Eric?"
"Welcome. Now, can we work on setting Xander up soon? He needs someone to fuss."
"You do okay at that."
"I'm still straight."
"He'd let you do all the cleaning you wanted."
"No thanks. Never even wondered about that side of the fence."
"If you're sure. Speed's trying to set him up with someone nice. He's been talking with his mother too."
"His father came down to try to get him to go on a job with him."
"Damn. Poor guy."
"Yeah, that was yesterday though."
"I remember the note." He looked over as the agent came in. "Xander still getting sick?"
"No, he's back in the break room getting a drink," he admitted. "What does his father do?"
"Homeland," they said in unison. The man grimaced.
Eric grinned. "Now and then he coopts his son to help him with cases and things. ATF does too. They like him. You got here on the wrong day."
"Yeah, usually Xander's nice, bouncy, funny to be around, an easy going guy. By the way, where is your coat and gloves? Now please." The man stomped off. "I should report that, right?"
"Let H. He plays politics better."
"Did you see Xander shove him for that?"
"I did. I'm surprised we don't see Xander with pretty new silver bracelets too." Eric looked at him. "Let Horatio."
"Fine. Or maybe Xander later on." Xander wobbled back to ballistics. "Looks like he's staying."
"He's a better man than I am. My last concussion I hid on the couch for a week." He looked at his sample. "What did you do that for?" he complained when he saw it bubbling.
Ryan looked. "Did someone switch the bottles again?"
"Maybe." He took a sample to test, then nodded. "Yup, this one." He called Horatio to come there, handing him the bottle and the test result. "Whoever that is I'm letting Xander bite them." He got a new bottle out and new solution, getting back to work. Fortunately that wouldn't matter with is rock sample. Just ate the dirt off it.
"I'll look into it, boys. Thank you. Any others?"
"I haven't noticed any funny reactions," Ryan admitted. "You might ask Speed. He tossed a bottle out earlier. Banked it off the window."
"I can do that as well. Thank you." He went to do that. "Speed, you tossed a bottle at the window?"
"Tampered with." He pointed at the can. "I used it to smoosh a spider that was on the glass since it had to go anyway. Another one?"
"Xander's going to bite someone."
"Not today, he'd have to bring it back up," he said dryly, walking off to Speed's laugh. He looked in ballistics. "Go home, Xander. Now."
"You're not. Go home."
"Bite me, Horatio. I'm fine." He got back to work. "I'm fine," he repeated when Horatio came in. He turned him around and gave him a nudge out of the lab. "Go fuss over Frank, he looked green earlier." He went back to work, shaking his head.
"I did not get that clearance faxed, Xander," he said from the doorway.
"I'm fine," he said in a sing-song manner. Horatio made a humming noise so he repeated it in Spanish. At the next one he went to Latin, then Aramaic. Then he started on Hebrew, then the demon languages until Horatio walked off shaking his head. "Told you I was fine," he muttered as he examined the bullet. "What are you? You weren't shot with anything I know of." He got out his identification manual, looking it up. "There's no listings." He looked around then walked out. "Is Calleigh back yet?" he asked Cooper since he was in the halls. "I have the impossible, a bullet without classification."
"Not yet but soon. She's probably grabbing lunch to eat on the way back. I can get Horatio if you want."
"Please. I'm hoping it's head trauma making me not see a groove." He walked back into the lab. This was going to drive him nuts. He turned it around, they were evenly spaced. There was no hint of another groove. Horatio came in. "Two with a right-twist." He let him see it on the bigger monitor. "Evenly spaced. No hints of other ones."
Horatio looked through the scope. "Can you run it?"
"I'd have to put in a classification and I don't have one."
"Try it anyway, Xander, see what comes up."
Xander nodded, starting it through the system. It came up unable to search, not enough information. He looked at him, shrugging a bit. "I don't know."
"Me either. Put it aside for now, show it to Calleigh later. Maybe you two can figure it out together." He nodded, doing that and going to the next sample. Horatio walked out, going to look it up in the ballistics textbook they kept around for reference. "Dueling pistol?" He brought the book back. "Run it as a pistol shot, Xander. The book has a special case from a dueling pistol that only had two but a left twist."
Xander nodded, running the saved search through the system again. He narrowed it down when he got nearly every gun in the system, coming up with nothing. "Not a clue. There's that guy in Orlando if we think it's an ancient gun. I can ask him if he knows."
"Ask Calleigh first, just in case." That got a nod and Xander ran the search another way, frowning when it came up with nearly every bullet again. "Is that one with a single twist?"
"Yeah, our musket shot." He sorted them by numbers of grooves, finding one that had two. "Doesn't even come closer. Those two are together and that's from a silencer." Horatio nodded at that. He shrugged. "We'll see." He got back to work on his current one.
Horatio walked out, finding Calleigh carrying in a tub of envelopes. "Xander found one with two grooves."
"I thought he'd find evidence of worn other ones."
"Not that he or I saw." She nodded, going to log in evidence then help him.
"Calleigh, I'm clear, want help?" Speed called.
She brought him back samples as soon as she had them logged. "Please. Someone drowned this guy in a vat of green jell-o. We're debating homicide or accidental."
"A nurse?" he asked.
"No, no links to any sort of hospital food. Might've been funnier but no." She went to check on Xander's bullet, unsealing it and looking it over. "What's this scuff?"
"The note said it hit concrete first. Bounced."
"Hmm." She enlarged it further. "This is strange."
"It's not showing up in the system or in the classification manual, and when I searched it I got every gun with a right twist or any gun with over two grooves. That one did have a double groove gun but it was a silencer groove and right next to each other."
"Interesting. Are you thinking a custom gun?" Xander shrugged. "Or maybe another musket?"
"Not a clue."
"Okay. I'll think about it." She sealed it back in there and went to trace to help Speed. "Two grooves."
"A bullet with two grooves."
"Only two?" She nodded. "What caliber?"
"I'd say forty-five."
"Huh. Not anywhere in the system?" She shook her head. "Good luck."
"We need the gun."
"Good luck," he repeated.
"Thanks, I think I'll need it. It's my case." She frowned, going over those notes. No gun recovered. "Drive-by."
"Then I really wish you good luck. Green jell-o?"
"Yeah, green jell-o," she agreed. "He was submerged about a foot down and had about two feet under his body. He aspirated it according to Alexx."
"No, they were doing a giant jell-o shooter on the beach. A bunch of college kids."
"Yeah, the mixer."
"Charming," Speed told her. "Great way to die."
"No. I'd rather not drown in jell-o. Especially not alcoholic jell-o. They were even letting it set up instead of keeping it liquid to slurp."
"Some do. They use the liquor instead of the water." Xander gagged, they could hear it. "Sorry, Xander. Her current case."
"Yummy, really," he groaned. "If pregnant women feel this nasty I feel really sorry for them. A report you wanted as soon as I got it done," he said, handing it to Speed. Then he fled back to ballistics. Gunpowder stink was settling his stomach again. Horatio walked in and pulled him out, walking him outside. "But...."
"Go. Home. Xander. You gagged in the lab."
"They were talking about jell-o. The gunpowder is making me feel better."
"Go home, Xander. Now." The boy pouted. "Right now."
"I need my keys," he pouted. "Grumpy." Ryan brought them out when Horatio called him. "Thank you. Tell him I'll be fine."
"Fat chance," Ryan told him. "You gagged at the mention of jell-o. That's bad, Xander." Xander turned green. "Go home. Play with the dog. Come back when you're not nauseous." Xander pouted off to his car, shaking his head. "I hate concussions nearly as much as I do broken ribs." He went inside to tell Alexx they had finally managed to send Xander home. He walked in and saw the green, slimy body. "No wonder they were talking about jell-o." Alexx looked at him. "Xander gagged so Horatio finally got him to go home."
"Good for him! About time! Come help me hold this guy's leg." He nodded, pulling on some gloves to help. "Making a solid, giant jell-o shooter on the beach and the idiot fell in without anyone noticing. In a clear container for over an hour. We have to figure out if he was so drunk he fell or if he was pushed."
"Really drunk kids?" he asked.
"Uh-huh. I called rescue to get a few who were passed out before I got more clients." She hosed off that foot. "This is going to clog the drains."
"Look on the bright side. Xander used to work construction. He can snake it for you so you don't have to wait for maintenance."
Alexx smiled, nodding. "I could use that now and then." She kept washing him off, letting the filter catch anything this time. "We're pretty sure it's accidental but I need to get a clear spot so I can draw blood for tox."
"Not to mention pictures. Jell-o distorts things. His tattoo doesn't look the same through the goop."
"Hmm. Someone somewhere will probably study it."
"Probably a college kid for his thesis," Ryan agreed. "Some chemistry major." She laughed, nudging him with her shoulder. Calleigh peeked in. "I'm helping hold."
"Might be a good idea." She came over to help hold too. Jell-o was sticky. Especially alcoholic jell-o. "They were going to call this the vomiting volcano shooter. They're trying something new for the alcohol."
"What were they using?"
"I'm not sure, the guy was slurring really badly when he told me. I confiscated the bottles. All of them. All twenty of them. They were going to make it for the record book then dig portions out for everyone until it was gone."
"I sent six kids to the ER anyway," Alexx assured them, "and had an officer stay there in case the rest of them passed out. Did we empty the jell-o out?"
"Oh, yeah. Made them water it down and chop it up before tossing it down the sewer access. No way was I going to let them keep it up after he had drowned in it. I was nice enough to let the record book people check the weight of what we removed and how many liters it was."
Ryan shook his head. "I was never that stupid in college. I'm feeling really old right now."
"I routinely look at teenagers and wonder if I was ever that vapid," Calleigh told him with a grin. "Oh, Xander came up with a good one. Said if pregnant women felt like he did he felt really sorry for them."
"For months on end," Alexx agreed. "Morning sickness is like that only without the headache."
"And you have *two*," Ryan reminded her.
"Yup, because the second one I got caught up in the moment." She washed off another inch. "We'll have to do another wash after this." They both nodded. "Ryan, aren't you needed in the field?"
"Yeah, I've got to take the rookie detective out to find my suspect." He let Calleigh have his leg and headed off to do that, tossing out the gloves. He popped in Trace. "Alexx could use some more help holding up the body to wash it if you're bored." He walked off again.
"I'm never that bored," Speed said to the empty doorway.
Xander looked up as someone pulled into his driveway the next morning. He beamed, walking over to hug him. "Tony."
"Xander." He pushed him back to look at him. "Are you all right? You look a bit sick."
"Me too." He grinned. Then he spotted the dog. "Hey, Humphrey. How are we?" He let the dog sniff him, getting happy barks. Then the dog saw the kitten sneaking over. "No, don't bark at the meow. The meow is nice." They walked the dog inside, closing themselves in so the dog couldn't go nuts on the cat. "How did you get a concussion?"
"Stolen from the ER. You? Want a soda or something?"
Tony gave him another hug. "You need to come back to DC."
"Then I'd end up working with Dad all the time."
"Yeah, Calleigh was chatting with Abby and told her he had been down here again to get your help."
"The Chief was wondering why they hired and pay me."
"That's a good reason not to go." He led him to a couch and sat them down, letting the dog into his lap. "Hey, Humph." He scratched his ears, getting a friend for life. He looked at Xander again. "Is anything else getting better?"
"They're trying to set me up with someone nice."
"That could be helpful. Give you someone to fuss over." Xander gave him a shy grin. "So, this is the new house? It looks different than your pictures. I like the draping effect." Xander beamed at that. "How did you do on the bed?"
"I took your suggestion. Did you know how much thousand count Egyptian cotton sheets cost?" Tony smiled and nodded. "But it's worth it if they do fix me up with someone so I'll deal." He stroked over his dog's back. "Feeling jealous?" The dog barked at him. "Get a toy, we'll play." The dog scrambled off, finding his rawhide chewtoy, but he stayed there to chew on it. "Eric thinks he's starved."
"He seems pretty healthy to me. Does he cuddle?"
"He even wiggles his way under the blankets with me." Tony shifted closer and Xander patted him on the wrist. "How did you get a concussion?"
"Gun butt to the head."
"Ow." He made Tony tip his head down, finding the small lump. "Poor baby." Tony gave him a sheepish smile. "So, did Gibbs send you down to raid my artillery again?"
"No. I am on vacation."
"Cool. I'm on enforced vacation until Horatio has medical clearance. The doctor won't give it to me until Tuesday now. He said me going back yesterday meant that I needed a caregiver." Tony snickered at that. "He even pushed it back a day." Tony gently stroked over his hair. "There, it itches but it hurts too much to scratch." Tony gently rubbed for him, making Xander moan. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. Jamie's wife sent you some cookies, they're in my bag." Xander grinned at that. "Come on, show me this mythical bathroom. I'm thinking about getting my own condo in DC."
"I couldn't find what I wanted." He led him back to the bedroom, letting him pause to look at the gun vault. "Hand guns and rifles." He led him into the bedroom. "We painted over the pink stuff. Humphrey helped, nearly got turned charcoal gray." Tony laughed and nodded, leading him into the bathroom. He heard the gasp and smiled. "This is why I bought this place."
"This is amazing. I want this. I need to bring pictures home so I can have it renovated if I can't find one with it already in there." He turned and found Xander right behind him. He smiled. "That a spa tub?"
"Whirlpool with nice jets. I'll even let you have the padded seat."
"You can sit next to me." Xander blushed. "Really." He got a kiss, making him moan. "Two concussions means one of us will get dizzy soon."
"I do like bubbles." Xander walked over, starting the tub, adding in his favorite bubble mixture. Tony inhaled the scent, nodding. "I like that." He took off his shirt, letting Xander help wherever he wanted. "Thanks."
"I still think you're a bit of a tight ass but maybe some good sex will loosen that?"
"It always does," he agreed, winking at him. "You a top or not?"
"Both. We'll figure out who gets what later. For now we'll soak."
"Let me get juice and stuff."
"Okay." He watched Xander walk out, his head tipped to the side. "This was definitely a great idea." He finished stripping, sitting on the side of the tub to test the water. A bit warm so he turned it down a little bit. Xander came back with a pitcher and glasses. "Got fancy?"
"It's mix and pour. All I had to do was add water." Tony looked at him. "Calleigh said it was fine."
"Good to know. Why was she here?"
"The day after I got home she and John got to watch over me. Apparently I mistook their footrub for sex and went out for dogfood. Not that I remember driving the day after getting clobbered twice, but they said I did." He tested the water and turned it back up. "The bottom will be cooler," he reminded him. He let him have his glass of juice, watching him sip it. "See? I can do that."
"You can." Xander poured his own, gulping it down. "Stomach?"
"Thirsty. Concussions always make me thirsty." Tony smiled at that. "You don't?"
"Sleepy and I get the nibbles."
"I nearly puked yesterday at the mention of green jell-o."
"Someone drowned in it on the beach."
"Giant jell-o shooter."
"That was my comment." He shrugged and got in, getting comfortable. "Come on. I'm not going to bite unless you ask."
"I may ask." He carefully climbed in then sank down, sighing in pleasure, his voice a soft moan. "Oh, nice. I definitely need one of these at home." He used his toes to turn off the water, finding the switch for the jets down there too. "Inconvenient." Xander handed him the remote with a wicked grin. "Even better." He turned it on high, all jets, and jumped when one came on just below his anus. "Damn!"
"It's very playful," Xander teased. Tony wiggled, groaning a bit until it hit the right spot. "Good?"
"Perfect." He shifted his back, hitting another one. "I'm moving down here to take your tub."
"Ask Horatio, he might need someone else." He snuggled into his side, stroking his stomach while Tony got happy with the jets. He snuck a few kisses, getting a content smile. "Get you up in a few hours?"
"Please, then we'll play and cuddle."
"Good, I like that idea too." He put his head back down on Tony's shoulder, letting himself drift off too. It was a very nice tub.
Calleigh called John on her lunch break. "Have you seen Xander? It's Sunday and no one's heard from him since we sent him home Wednesday. I called the house but got hung up on so I know he's alive, I think. I hope." She smiled. "I know you're only a few miles away, can you check on him?" She beamed. "Thank you, John." She hung up and went inside, going to tell Horatio. "I asked John to pop around on Xander to make sure he was okay and not sulking himself into a coma."
"Thank you. I was starting to get worried myself. Usually he'd have snuck back to work by now."
"I called last night and got hung up on."
"That is not like Xander."
"Which is why I sent John. He can unstubborn him if it's that problem or tell us if it's something else. Or maybe just giggle if he brought someone home."
"That could be dangerous."
"You never know." Horatio gave her a look. "If I'm not evil with constant exposure and hugs from him some other woman might be able to resist."
"I'm not holding my breath." She pinched him, getting to work beside him for now.
John parked, looking at the rental car in the driveway. Then at the house. "Hmm, family or friends?" He walked up to the door, tapping first. "Xander?" he called before starting to walk in. The dog barked and growled. "Shit, Humphrey, give me a heart attack," he complained, petting the small dog. "Where's the daddy?" The dog whimpered. "Xander?"
"In the bedroom. He's mad that we kicked him out to remake the bed."
Tony leaned out and grinned, waving. "Hi, Detective."
"Oh, hey, DiNozzo. I saw the rental." He walked back that way, seeing how Xander was playfully nudging Tony. "Well, thank God."
"I'm playing with him since I have to go back to DC," Tony told him.
"We could use a new detective."
"I'm thinking. The new director's enough to make anyone quit." He looked at Xander. "But we can keep it casual, right?"
"Of course. You can come borrow my tub anytime and when you finally get one I can come borrow it."
Tony grinned. "We can." The dog hopped up onto the bed, laying down staring at him. "Fine, we'll cover you up since the bottom sheet's finally on." They made the rest of the bed, giving him enough room to crawl out. "Want lunch, John?"
"No, kid, I'm good." He smiled at him. "I know for a fact they could use someone to replace me at the PD if you're looking."
"Your replacement is very much stupid," Xander agreed. "He thinks every crook hangs out at this burger place down by Golden Beach. Beyond that he refuses to listen to evidence. Ryan's trying to train him better but he's driving him insane."
"Gibbs goes on his gut but it's not like that."
"Good!" John agreed. "I've heard a lot about this detective. He even vexed Calleigh the other day by not listening to her."
"See? Very much stupid," Xander agreed. Tony smiled and kissed him on the forehead. "He's a great cook, John, are you sure you won't stay for lunch?"
"No, kid, she sent me over because you hung up on her last night."
"She has really bad timing. I doubt she wanted to hear me make the same noises you made her make."
"John, I changed the sheets the next day. I may not be a DNA tech..."
"That was after you left. I was giving her a footrub then."
"Uh-huh. She must really like your footrubs." John blushed. "So, sure you won't stay?" One hand snuck around Tony's waist, goosing him, earning a yelp and Tony grabbing the hand so he could pull him closer and kiss. "Hi."
"Hi. Let's not fall on the dog this time."
"Kitchen's nice." He looked at John. "Right now we're sticking to cuddling thanks to the dual concussions we both have. We're too dizzy to have sex."
"I'll let her know." He walked out smiling. It was good to see the kid happy. He even called from the car. "Xander has a buddy in to cuddle with. He said it's been cuddling because that damn concussion is making him too dizzy to beg for it." She squeaked and he heard a beep. "Had me on speaker?" he teased. "No, they're good. The dog got mad at them for kicking him out of the bedroom so they could make the bed. They've had bubbles a few times." He started the car and backed out of the driveway. "Giggling and happy, Calleigh. He even cooks." He laughed and hung up at her suggestion that Xander marry this person. He'd let them talk about that.
Tony walked into work Monday morning, looking at his boss. "I'm better."
"How much better?"
"I can drive but I've got one hell of a headache from doing it. But I'm stable to stand up and I'm not puking food."
"So three-quarters?" he guessed. Tony nodded. "That's fine, I can let you do desk work or light field stuff today. How was taking the kid shopping?"
"Didn't get much done." He walked photos over. "This is his bathroom. The tub is deep enough that the water comes to my armpits when I'm sitting down and it doesn't come near the emergency drain. With bubbles I got to sink in up to my neck." Gibbs smiled at that. "That's the freestanding shower next to it. The dog still drinks out of the toilet. The next one is how he fixed the pink areas in the bedroom." He took the picture he had taken of a shirtless Xander on the lawn from him. "That was Xander being goofy. He had a concussion too, possibly a dual one. That's the kitchen. I did a lot of cooking for him and he worshiped me like I was a God."
Gibbs looked at him. "I don't need details, DiNozzo."
"Not with two concussions, boss. Too dizzy. He said he'd do that next time I came down to cook for him." He flipped to the last picture. "That's how he fixed all the marble in the front room to tone down the crypt feeling. And that's his dog Humphrey. He likes to be an underneath dog. Crawls under the sheets with you to cuddle. Hey, Jamie, I brought back pictures of Xander's house," he called. He came trotting over. "The amended ones. I'll let you copy off my memory stick." He let him see them. "That's the front room. That's the tub. It's sinful, even has jets against your back, the back of your thighs and calves, and has two padded seats. I had a lot of bubbles while I was down there. That's the shower, freestanding next to it. Low water flow adjustable stream shower head so it's very nice. It's all marble in there, green marble. That's the kitchen. I did a lot of cooking for him and stocked him up with a lot of leftovers for a while. And that's the bedroom once he got it fixed." Jamie grinned at that. "He said Humphrey tried to help and nearly got painted too. He's there on the couch if your mom wanted to see him."
"Aww, and a shirtless Xander," he said, taking that one. "What happened this time? He's looking thin and tired."
"Charming." He handed them back. "I'll copy those to my PDA later." Tony found and handed over the memory stick. "Thanks, maybe this'll make them quit fighting."
"Your dad nearly guilt tripped him," Tony told him. "We talked about that too. Xander feels absolutely miserable but Miami does need him more."
"He tried it with all of us. He should be used to it by now," Jamie assured him. "He'll pout for another week and then Mom will kick his butt." He went to copy the pictures he wanted, ignoring the less than platonic ones of Xander napping. If Tony did it for his baby brother he wasn't going to complain. He was a good and decent guy, it was a good change in Xander's life." His team leader came back from her meeting with the director. "DiNozzo went to visit my brother. He brought home pictures of his new house. I'm saving them for Mom."
"That's fine. What did he find?"
"A crypt," he said blandly. "With an extravagant bathroom. He softened all the marble." He let her see the living room picture. "That's all marble on the wall, floors, and ceiling. He did a good job."
"He did. That looks comfy." He flipped to the picture of the tub. "That's nice. Marble?"
"Yup, and Tony said it was deep enough to come up to his armpits without hitting the overflow drain. With bubbles higher."
"Wow. I want that tub." Tony walked over the name and model number he had found. "Thanks, DiNozzo. Have fun?"
"Lots and lots. Played with his dog until the poor thing was tired Friday. Had bubbles all weekend." She smiled at that. "It was great but he's got a concussion too. He got stolen from the ER by a woman who wanted him to be her wife. Then she let him cook." Jamie snickered. "That's why he has the concussion, she got sick. He was getting clearance to come back to work." He took the memory stick with a grin. "Thanks."
"Welcome. I didn't take all the pictures of him playing. Mom only needs one or two good ones."
"That's fine. Nothing was that risque, even when I did catch him napping in the huge old bed. He even got the thousand count Egyptian cotton sheets I suggested." He went back to his desk, logging in for the day. "Okay, I'm here, boss. What case are we working on?" It got tossed over, letting him catch it. "Gotcha." He looked at Kate's desk then at him, getting a head shake. "Kate still off?"
"No, Kate's still suspended. The director tried to move her to a different team and Kate filed a grievance, the same as I did."
"I would too."
"Good to know. Shouldn't come to that. For right now, work."
"Sure. Where's Probie?"
"Same place," he said grimly.
Tony looked at him. "Just don't make my head hurt more when you drive later, boss."
"I won't, DiNozzo." He looked at him. "Now is not the time for a small sabbatical," he said more quietly. "Or else I'd let you try."
Tony nodded. "I know. So does he. He and Abby chatted Sunday, boss." Gibbs grimaced but nodded. "I'll show her pictures later."
"She'd appreciate it."
Tony IM'd down there, getting a sullen happy face back. "She's using emoticons instead of words."
"I got her a new soda when I came in."
"It's going to take more than that." He got up, taking down the memory stick. "Hey, Abby lady, do you have anything on our case?"
"I can't work like this so no. I don't." She took the memory stick to run, smiling at the happy pictures. "I want to go with him."
He gave her a hug. "I know. He's just getting over a concussion too."
"Why are you touching her?" the director asked.
"Because she's bummed and wanted a hug, Director. Friends do that." He looked at her. "He did invite you down to have bubbles in his wonder tub when you got a vacation. You can even play with the dog." She smiled a bit more at that, sucking on her soda. "I already gave Jamie the house pictures." She saved down everything then transferred it to her own memory stick, handing his back. "Thanks, Abs. So, anything on our case?"
"Nope, not yet. Tell the bossman I can't work like this. I'm not a slave. I refuse to be a slave and if I can't concentrate I can't work." He nodded, glaring at the director. "Oh, I have a new lab gremlin."
"Should we let Xander do a background check?"
"Might help. This one's a convicted felon." She glared at the director. "He's a rapist and you put him in *my* lab? I do not think so."
"He's paid his debt...."
"I don't care. I'm not working with him. Ever. Since I *am* this lab, take him and put him somewhere else, director. Before you have to hire six people to do my job." She stomped off. "Good." She looked at him. "You might tell Gibbs I shoved him in the closet."
"Is he even qualified to do lab work?"
"No. Never had a chemistry class in his life. I've already filed a grievance with the SecNav. She's in for a world of hurt. Kate went to her friends in the Secret Service to tell their mindees."
"I'm sure the president has heard then."
"Oh, yeah. They had lunch." Tony shuddered. "Exactly. Kate is *pissed* and told them about him too. Give him a new bottle of water? I don't want him to die in there."
"I'll get Gibbs to drag him off." He called up there. "Boss, me. Did you know her lab assistant is a convicted rapist who's never had a chem class? Closet." He hung up, looking at her. "Stay strong or maybe we can all take over an office in Miami."
"I might like that." She sipped her soda when Gibbs stormed in, pointing at the closet. "In there. I'm not letting him work with me. I like my body." She turned around, going back to her web surfing. "By the way, Kate's lunch was productive."
"Good." He hauled the guy out, looking at him. "Are you qualified to be a lab tech?" He shook his head. "Then why did she hire you?"
"I don't know. I wanted to be a janitor."
"We'll be down in HR," Gibbs said, dragging him off. He walked in and put the guy in front of the head person's desk. "He's a convicted rapist without any lab classes and you put him in Abby's lab?"
"No, I put him on the janitorial detail outside, Gibbs. The director put him in Abby's lab."
"Fix it. Abby locked him in a closet."
"Gladly. Want night shift?"
"Please, ma'am." He looked at Gibbs. "I'm not like that, I'm never doing it again. You don't have to worry about her or anyone else here, Special Agent Gibbs."
"I had better not or I'm letting her show off her knife skills."
"More than happily. I'll cheer her on if I slip."
"Good." He walked off, running into the director. "Trying to discredit our lab and make any and all evidence in there unusable in trial is a *bad* idea, Director. It truly is. She'll have to tell JAG and the other prosecutor's offices that he had been in there and might have contaminated evidence. It could get hundreds of cases reopened. Thank you for giving us more work." He went back to his desk, shaking his head at Jamie's worried look. "New guy in the lab," he told him.
"I heard. Actually, I helped with the background check for her. He seems to have turned his life around."
"He still doesn't have lab experience."
"Which I can agree with. Not that she really needs a helper." He handed over forms. "Dad faxed those over for some reason."
Gibbs looked at them, then smirked at him. "It's grant giving season."
"Eww. Poor Xander. They'll probably pimp him since he's a ballistics star on the rise. Poor man." He walked off shaking his head.
Gibbs sent an email down to Horatio, earning a groan back. He checked his inbox, finding one from Kate, one from the SecNav, and one empty one from the SecNav. He went into the one that hadn't been deleted on him, filling out the form in there. Including Abby's helper and how she was now so repressed she couldn't work. He sent it to her, to Kate, and then to Abby, who sent in her own complaint form. Tony did too from down there. Along with sending back some new information on the case for him. "Thank you, DiNozzo," he said quietly. Between them they could get Abby back on the even keel. Hopefully. If not it might take a vacation in Miami so Xander could work his magic on her.
Xander walked into work Tuesday. "Am I finally cleared?" he asked his boss.
"Ask Alexx for final approval," he said with a small smile.
"Mommy Alexx, can I go back to work now?" he called as he walked up the hall toward her.
"Barely. I can drive again."
"Did you eat?"
"Yeah, all weekend. Tony was up and he cooks amazing food. I nearly worshiped him in there." She gave him a horrified look. "What? I was dizzy until yesterday. I can't do that until we're not dizzy. He had one too."
She looked in his eyes then nodded. "Okay. You can work. I want to hear more about this visit later though." She gave him a look and he smirked back. "Uh-huh. Give, baby."
"He loves my tub. He had bubbles all weekend. Then he went home to the director trying to discredit their lab and Gibbs' team. She hired a janitor without lab experience, one fifteen days out of prison, to be Abby's lab helper this time. A convicted rapist."
"Is the baby girl okay?"
"Just fine. She shoved him in a closet. Gibbs hauled him off and got him reassigned where he was supposed to go. The guy even agreed, he shouldn't have been anywhere near the lab. Abby's been so put upon she can't work."
"We'll welcome her down here for a vacation too. Now scoot. I know Calleigh only has a few from me."
"Cool. Haven't done trace work in a while." He went to check, finding her in there. "Am I late?"
She hugged him. "No. Not late." She smiled. "How was Tony?"
"He had a concussion too. It kept me from worshiping him when he cooked."
She blushed. "Okay. Any other news?" He put down the copy of Abby's email, then looked around. "Go work in trace. Is she all right?"
"She let Gibbs get him reassigned after she shoved him in a closet. The guy agreed. JAG agreed with Abby that she should not have touched a thing while he was in there. Their director is going to be toast soon." She nodded, putting it aside. "She's so pissed."
"I would be too!" She gave him a smile. "Go work with Timmy."
"I can do that." He went in there once he had his glasses. "She's clear."
"Are you actually cleared for duty?"
"Alexx said I could."
"Good. How's DiNozzo? I heard he was down."
"Good. He loved my bubbles all weekend. He had a concussion too. He cooked, we played with Humphrey until he was worn out. I nearly worshiped him for cooking a whole lot of food." Speed snickered, giving him a pointed look. "Two concussions, Speed."
"Poor guy. Maybe next time?"
"Definitely next time."
"Good." He looked at his t-shirt. _If you choke a smurf, what color does he turn?_ "Purple?" he guessed.
"Maybe, never got to try it." He grinned wickedly, getting into the work. "So, how did the evaluation look?"
"Better after that one guy got fired for breaking lab protocol." Xander beamed sweetly at him. "You ask anyone?"
"No. I did not ask them for a single favor up there. I left a detailed, four minute long, complaint on their system about how he had broken lab protocol and how he had tried to apply pressure over a situation his people had already found out and fixed that was not my fault. That thing with the jealous tech came up." Speed moaned. "Yeah, so I included that in a later moment of complaint because he was still running around here without a lab coat or gloves on and he did touch evidence." His phone went off, making him wiggle it out to look at it. "Harris," he answered, listening to him. "Why do you need me in the field, Horatio?" He nodded. "Okay, I'm mid-test, can I have five to finish and then grab my kit?" He nodded. "Be right there." He hung up. "Take this over? Horatio just ran into an occult case."
"Gladly." He took over the test, letting Xander take off his coat and gloves then jog off. "That could be a bad thing."
Xander found the scene, parking the hummer he had checked out and walking inside with his case. He paused to look at things, then at Horatio. "Not as bad as you think, boss." He moved in further, finding the problem. He pulled out a special spray bottle, spraying the idol with holy water, making it scream. "Oh, yeah. That's a small issue." He found what he needed, working the small banishing. Half the marks on the walls disappeared and so did a body so he kept going until the body and the marks reappeared but the demon gave up hiding and left. He moved around the room, going to find any other hot spots. He found one with Ryan in the middle. "Don't move."
"Every time I try something growls and I feel something around my ankles."
Xander looked then got down to look. "Lift a foot up? Straight up?" Ryan did that, bracing on his shoulders. "Okay, a foot back. Bit farther. Down. Then do the other. You're not a tasty sacrifice, I am." Ryan nodded, doing the same thing. He slumped once he was free. "Go get the sword out of the back of the hummer, clear the building of bodies. Living and not."
"Give us twenty minutes, Xander. Are there any other spots?" Horatio asked.
"He's got a few other traps. Alexx, don't move any further until I say so," Xander ordered firmly. She gave him an odd look. He pointed at the walls. "We're running into LA and Sunnydale stuff. Do not move. Ryan nearly got eaten. Check Ryan for any wounds and I do many any. Scratches, nibble marks, anything." She nodded, motioning him out to her. He stood up, looking around. He found the other traps, springing them with a bite of the hamburger he had pulled through to buy. The main area growled at him. "Horatio, this is not what ate them. If it had, they'd be in chunks. These guys were his priests, the ones calling him," he said quietly. "If there's a sacrifice, she's in chunks and it would be a she. For right now, can we clear the building? It's not safe until I kill this thing and it's going to be messy."
"Give me twenty minutes," he ordered. "Alexx?"
"I can wait out here," she told him. "If he says not to come in, I'm not coming in."
"It'll eat females, Alexx. It likes to eat women, pure and not."
"I'm staying out here then." He nodded at that. "Get me the bodies, haul them out," she told Horatio. She stopped a female body hauler. "Not you either. They had traps that can only hurt women. It's keyed to us. Go get the van ready." She nodded, going to do that. "Xander, baby?"
"I've seen worse. It's just inconvenient for it to show up here. Horatio, has anyone checked the back rooms, behind the altar, anything like that for parts?"
"I'll do that," he agreed, moving carefully. He made sure he didn't step over anything like a diagram or a figure on the floor. "No chunks."
"So he's hungry. They probably only got halfway through. Then why are they dead?" He looked at a body. "Alexx, you're going to be giving me evidence in ballistics."
"Sure, I can do that." He looked at her. "I can."
"It looks like someone stopped the rite with a gun. Maybe a practiconer, maybe one of them. Could even be someone like me who didn't know they were this far along or didn't feel them." Horatio had the last body cleared and the rest of the rooms taped for evidence. He pointed. "Cloth. Torn." Horatio bagged that while Ryan got his sword. "Thanks, dear." He stood up, moving around Horatio. "Straight out, do not come in," Xander ordered. "Keep Alexx and Wolfe outside. If it bit him it can call him." Horatio nodded, taking them all outside. Everyone, even the patrol officers. "Okay." He cut his hand on the sword, dripping it on the trap. The demon sprung out, letting him duck it's swing. He faced off with it. "You get a piece of Miami over my dead body. I am the protector of Miami." The demon hissed and lunged, so Xander repeated it in one of the common demon languages.
"Hungry," it hissed back.
"Tough!" It tried to attack but he got it this time. He followed it down, grabbing the bottle of holy water off his kit to pour on it until it screamed and dissolved. He looked around. "I can feel you," he growled. A higher pitched noise came out of the shadows, making him turn to look. "Huh. Hi, inner me. How in the hell are you doing that?" It lunged and he ducked. "Not happening." He stared at it. "I know you're a mimic. You might as well change back. She doesn't hurt me." It morphed into Tony's image. "If I had to kill him to save him I can do that too." It growled and lunged and he got it with the sword, no effect. "Fuck." He pulled his backup gun out of his case and shot it, ducking the spray of ichor when it exploded. He looked at the mess then grimaced. "Eww. Now I have to change clothes and I like this shirt." He looked around, casting a small tell. One small demon and he looked at it, going over to banish it too. It sighed in pleasure as it left. He walked over, opening the door. "It's nasty and sticky in here now. I'm guessing whoever did this summoned something to battle the original since the second something's the areas of green ichor. Someone thought like a pokemon trainer.Oh, it's like very sticky blood so you might still get some fingerprints, maybe. " He grabbed his kit and walked out, shaking off outside. "Hey, boss, can I drive back naked?"
Horatio looked at him. "Line the seats with plastic, Xander, please." He nodded, going to do that. They kept trash bags in the hummers for various reasons. "Is it safe?"
"Yeah, but whoever did it was thinking Pokemon. Bringing something to fight the original monster." He slammed the back door of his hummer, walking around to cover the seat. "Find him, bring him to me, Horatio, let me beat his ass for leaving that lying around."
"Agreed. Go shower and change."
"Um, yeah, lots and lots of showering," Xander agreed. He slid in once the seat was tarped, heading back to the lab. He ran into Frank there, who gave him a horrified look. "Dueling demon lords," he complained. "Someone stopped the sacrifice by shooting the members and calling up something worse. I'm going to take a shower, I'll get rid of the plastic bag in a few. Leave my kit alone please." Frank held the door for him, getting a small grin. "Used to be like this every night, Frank. Aren't you glad I retired too?" Frank nodded quickly. "I know, I stink." He walked inside, waving at the receptionist. "I stink, I'm sticky, it's ichor. I'm going to the locker rooms now. Tell them not to touch my hummer, I'll clean it up." She just nodded, signing him back in. He found a shower already running in the locker room, smiling at that niceness. "Thank you whoever did that." He walked in there, making sure it was clear, then stripped down under the water to start his shower. A bottle of body cleaner appeared. "Dish washing detergent?"
"That I can do," Speed called back, going to find some. He brought it back, letting Xander have it. "Wolfe be okay?"
"It's gone, it can't call him. We'll make sure of it later tonight."
"Good to know." He walked off again, shaking his head at Eric. "H called him to an occult scene and he came back covered in green eww."
"Did he cover the hummer seat?"
"Go find out." Eric groaned, going to look. Eric brought back Xander's kit and shook his head. "Get some on the seats?"
"A few drops and some on the steering wheel. I'm hoping it's easily cleaned." Xander padded in a few minutes later, grabbing something from under the sink in that lab, then heading out. "Steering wheel too please."
Xander looked at him. "It's blood, Eric, not protoplasm or something." He grabbed some paper towels, going out to clean the hummer anyway. He came back twenty minutes later after having tossed the towels into a biohazard bag, getting back to work. He found Ryan waiting on him and walked into the morgue to look at him. "Any nibble marks?"
"One scratch," Alexx told him. "Right on his ankle."
Xander got her phone book out, looking up a number, using her phone to call. "Hey, it's Harris. We had a Dreath sacrificial group here in town?" He listened to her groan. "I've got an officer, a coworker, who was scratched by it in a trap. No, I killed it, I want to make absolutely certain though. Thank you. Tonight's fine. Ryan Wolfe. Yeah, him. I can drag him down there," he agreed. "I'll even help. Oh, if you hear *anything* about what happened to them last night I need to know right away. Someone went on the pokemon version of battling the thing. Yeah and I had to clean it up so I want to talk to this person who left *his* lying around. Thank you. Yeah, I'm at work, my cell is fine. Thank you, dear." He hung up, coming over to look at the bodies. He found one, frowning. "You're going to hate me, Alexx."
"Special preparation, like smudging?"
"It's tattooed on." She came over to take the primary pictures. "You'd cut how?" She ran her finger barely above the body, feeling the sucking start. "Exactly. I need silver and I need salt. Or I need my kit." Ryan went jogging off to find it. He looked at her. "Any others with this mark I'll have to fix."
"We can do that. Can we skim it off for you?"
"Won't help until it's interrupted. I'm not sure if you remove it whole if it'll work or not. Never studied that." He took his kit, bending down to open it on the floor. Stetler slammed in. "Doing Sunnydale and LA things," he quipped.
"You ruined the crime scene?"
"You'd rather have everyone eaten? I gave them plenty of warning to tape and clear the area." He found his silver knife and the bottle of salt. "Okay." He came up. "Move Alexx back please. It's trying to get her. Just a few feet." They got her back, letting her breathe again. "Ah, nice." He slowly and methodically cut through the marks the way Alexx would so she wouldn't have to hide this one, then put salt into it to block the power. The body heaved then turned into ash. He looked, finding his bullet. "Huh. Interesting. They should not do that unless they are undead." He moved to the others to check, finding they all had it on them. "How do you tell if a dead thing is undead?" he said, frowning at it. He checked the body over. "In this case I'm going to say she is. Alexx, want to document this one? Or Ryan?" He came over to document everything. "Are the pictures coming out?"
"I'm using your camera, Xander," Ryan admitted.
"I've got the special filter on it. Willow discovered it." Once Ryan nodded he got to work on that one, getting another bullet. Then he went to the last body, which was starting to smoke. He dumped the salt on it, making it shriek and hop up. "Ah, undead. Can I have the bullet before you're toast?" The vampire gave him an odd look. "We need to know who shot you."
"Piers? First, last, one of you?"
"New slayer chick."
"I'll deal with her later then. Bullet please?" Alexx handed him the forceps, letting him pull it out. "Not real bright of her." The vamp went to game face and he shrugged. "I hunted with Buffy, dear. I'm *that* Xander."
"You're a tagalong."
"Really? Then why aren't I in Cleveland and why did Angel need me?" She hissed and lunged, Xander did a nice hip toss. "Ryan, can you maybe find my stake in my kit?"
"Sure." He dug in, tossing one over.
"Thank you." She lunged again and he dusted her, looking down at himself. "I just showered too. Damn I hate days like this." He tossed Ryan the stake and went to dust off in a neutral corner. "Eh, has been worse I guess." He finally got dust free and looked at the shocked people. "What? Yes, they were undead. Someone shot undead people. The little brat who did it is getting my foot up her ass too. She should know better by now. I will be stopping this one." He grabbed his kit and walked off, going to change clothes again. "Hi, boss. Do you want me to document how I got the bullets out of the undead bodies that went whoosh or not?" he asked as he passed Horatio in the hall.
"I would like a better explanation."
"Let Ryan babble this time. He could probably use the time to work it out." He walked into the changing area, finding his phone in his locker. He dialed the same number. "I want that little slayer bitch and her posse if she has one at my station in under an hour. I don't care if she's grumpy, I don't give a damn otherwise. She shot vampires. Now please, before I have to hunt her, hurt her, and then send her to Cleveland." He hung up, then changed clothes again, leaving his kit in there. He headed out, finding Frank lurking. "There's going to be a young woman coming here asking for me. Stick her ass in an interrogation room where we can't be overheard when I paddle her. If she's got helpers they can go together. I'll be in trace." He walked that way, going to help Speed. "Hi again."
"Weren't you wearing a different shirt?"
"Yeah, and then the vampires rose in the morgue." Speed nearly dropped the test tube he was working on. "I had to change since I was a bit dusty. How do we document that?"
"Oh, yay me." He sat down at the computer to work on the report first, frowning when it came out stilted. "This one sucks. I pity the person reading it." He saved it, proofed it again, then printed it, signed it, and handed it to Ryan when he came in. "Here, hand that to the boss please, and Stetler since he was lurking." He put on gloves and got to work on his first sample of the day. "So, how was it while I was gone?"
"Boring," Speed said, looking at him. "Wolfe, go deliver." He nodded, walking off slowly. "It'll be fine."
"I'm having him blessed tonight since the first thing nibbled. He'll be perfectly fine."
"Good. Very good to know. We'll just watch him today then." He shook his head. "Do you ever want to not see those again?"
Xander gave him a look. "That's why I retired."
"Good point. We're glad you retired, Xander. Very, very glad you retired. We're very happy with that."
"You're babbling, Speed. Go take a break, I've got trace covered." He nodded, going to do that. He shook his head. "It wasn't even a really strange day," he complained, getting back to work. A senior patrol officer stomped in. "Caine has my report. Your guys will be fine as long as they weren't nibbled on," he noted.
"Do you always do strange stuff?"
Xander glanced at him. "I retired from the strange stuff the day I graduated college. Unless it's a scene, going to eat one of you guys or us, or the city's getting ready to bend over and take it, I'm still retired from the strange stuff."
"Good. You're which one?"
"I'll remember that. My guys?"
"I didn't see any that had been trapped. Are you missing any female officers?"
"Then only Wolfe stepped in the middle of something and got hurt." He looked at him again. "If they're worried, have them go to the priest of their choice and faith and take communion. Take confession if they're Catholic." That got a nod and he stomped off. Horatio walked in with the report, putting it down. "I wasn't sure what you wanted to hear. That's the first draft of the truth. You can tell me where you want me to make amendments when I get this done."
"We'll see later on. Ryan will be fine?"
"We'll have him blessed then suggest he take communion or whatever his faith of choice does to get holy and right with God. He'll be fine. I've been bitten before and I'm fine. You can pick on him about turning into me if you wanted."
"That would be mean, Xander. Do you have any clues?"
He looked at him. "Slayer brat named Piers. I've told the local place I work with to have her appear or I'm hunting her down and paddling her there. I told Frank if and when she showed up to put her somewhere we can't be seen or heard because I was going to spank her. She should know you don't shoot the dead bodies by now. Not like she was using wooden bullets, didn't get a heart shot either. Didn't even interrupt the symbol, which would've helped more than the forehead shots she used."
"Okay. When she shows up we'll make sure no one bothers you while you beat her. Thank you, Xander."
"Welcome, Horatio, but I'm still retired."
"Thankfully. Where's Speed?"
"Babbling how good it was that I was retired so I sent him on a break." He grinned then got back to work. "Oh, that bottle's tweaked too," he said, pointing at it. "I will hurt them. A lot. I'll even have fun doing it."
"We caught them on tape this time," he promised, going to look at the tape. The bottle was bagged for him by Speed and he went to find the guy so he could work out some stress too.
Xander looked at the slayer brats he had found. "So, an entourage? Picking up bad Buffy habits?" he asked. The male witch glared at him. "Before you say a *word*, little boy, I'm Xander. Buffy's Xander. You're all in deep fucking shit. You *shot* the vamps in the *forehead* with *silver*. You left a demon or two hanging around. This is not pokemon!" he shouted, making them all flinch. "You do not summon a demon to take out a demon! If I can kill it and I've been retired for over two years and I'm coming off a concussion you damn sure should have been able to kill it if you're supposed to be in the field!" They all flinched back from him. "Whose bright idea was it to shoot the vampires?" The slayer raised her hand and he swatted her until she ducked. It gave him the opportunity to turn her over his lap and paddle the hell out of her until she begged and cried. He put her on the ground, staring at her. "You *stake* vampires. In. The. Heart. Or you decapitate them. You do not shoot the vampires unless you're using wooden bullets and even then you do it in the heart! Silver does nothing but make them laugh!" She whimpered and nodded, still crying. "Why the forehead?"
"Inner eye. The book said so."
"Bullshit!" She flinched and ducked behind her witch for protection. "You!" The witch backed away from him. "You summoned a demon that was just as harmful, if not worse, than the one that was already there. You didn't manage to kill or block the original demon. You even left a little watcher demon hanging around! This is not a game! People could have died thanks to your demons. Someone nearly did from the original one and then yours attacked me when I got the first one cleared! You could be responsible for officers losing their lives. Are you proud?" he sneered.
"It kept the other contained," he defended loudly.
"So did a sixty-nine cent hamburger and a sword. It even killed it." The kid gave him a sullen look so he went after him this time. "Should've done this to Willow when she started her stupid shit; I'm going to fix you if I have to beat the Goddess into you," he said while he beat the kid's ass. He looked at the last one, who was cowering in the corner. "You, your attempt was?"
"I .... I wanted to stake."
"Well, at least you're sensible." He got into his kit, finding something. "Piers." She looked at him. "Hand." She held out a shaky hand, letting him drop the solution on it. "Good. You're a real slayer. Gifted and all that. I'm calling the people in Cleveland so you get some training," he said more calmly. "That way we *never* have to have this sort of talk again after I defeat two demons, banish two more, and then have to take out three vampires in the morgue. Am I clear why you're all going to get training, children? Before I beat you again?" They all nodded. "Good!" They all sat, staring at him. He pulled out his phone, calling Giles' store. "Buffy, put on Giles. I found a slayer down here in Miami who shot at the vampires in the forehead with silver bullets." He heard the laugh. "I'm not kidding. I had to take out the demons and everything." The phone was handed over.
"Giles, Xander. I just spanked the hell out of one of your girls down here. Piers. If you haven't you need to. Shot vampires in the forehead, inner eye, with silver bullets. Her male witch tried to stop a Dreath summoning by calling up a mimicking demon that attacked me once I got that one killed and I had to banish two others, at least one of which was his. Plus he's got a gear guy who could use trained. Yeah, like me. Could use trained in how to deal with the artillery and that stuff. No, I'm still in Miami. I'm still working with the crime lab. Come down and get them because she and her sorcerer can't sit. No, I did what we both should have done to Willow and Buffy when they started on their crap. I spanked the hell out of them. Come get them and get them trained so they can actually do the work if they still want to. Thank you." He hung up, looking at them. "He'll be down in a few hours. You will stay in here. You will not talk to *anyone*. Am I clear?" They all nodded at that. "Good." He looked at the gear guy. "Like swords?"
"A lot. That's why I help her."
"Good. You'll learn a lot about them from Giles. Crossbows too. Ignore Buffy, she's a twat. Ignore Willow, she's a bigger one. Tell Giles you want to learn the weapons stuff and he'll teach you. Someday you can be in my position if you want to retire. If not, then maybe LA could use you if they can't. They're down on people and Connor's okay but a bit grouchy now and then." The kid grinned so Xander helped him up. "Sometimes you've gotta deal. I know that better than most. You still have to learn what you're dealing with. So let Giles teach you. If he doesn't seem inclined to, come back to me. I'll teach you what I know." The kid beamed and nodded. "You're still in trouble for letting her shoot vampires in he head though."
"Am I going to be spanked?"
"No, we found her fingerprints on the gun." The kid nodded at that. "Good. Sit. Like sodas, kids, or water?"
"Water," the sorcerer said quietly.
"I can do that." Horatio walked in two sodas and a water. "Thanks, boss. Guys, this is my boss, Lieutenant Caine. If we *ever* have to have this talk again, it'll be with him and he spanks harder. We good now?" They all nodded. "Good. Should we let you call your parents? If not, Giles can handle it."
"I'm kinda free-falling there," the weapons kid offered.
"We'll still have to tell 'em but that'll be fine. We can send them a formal letter if they're that bad." That got a smile. "Piers?"
"My mom will shit. She's against the whole pagan thing and everything."
"Giles can explain it better than I can. You, witch boy?"
"My mom knows Watchers."
"Good. Then she can help explain things." He looked at Horatio. "Giles will be on the first flight down. Should be about three hours. They are going to stay in here and behave or else. Any other orders?"
"No, that's good work, Xander." He beamed and walked out, going back to ballistics. He looked at the kids. "What you did was very dangerous. It led to dangerous conditions for others. Thankfully Xander stopped it before someone got truly hurt or we'd be charging you with creating a harmful environment and attempted murder." They all nodded. "You all need to start thinking and learn what you need to do so this does not happen again. I did not like calling Xander to take out the creature this morning, any of them. Am I clear why you will go be trained or I will see you in a cell?" They all nodded. "Good." He looked at the weapon's person. "If you do turn out like him, remember that hoarding artillery makes others nervous. That's one lesson he had to learn repeatedly over the years." The kid smiled but nodded. "Good. Thank you. We'll check on you now and then. Would you like to clean up for a few minutes?" The girl nodded, letting him walk her to the ladies' room. Then back in there. "Stay in here. Hopefully it won't take that long, children." He closed the door, putting a patrol officer on the shit list in front of it. "If they need something get it for them. They are not to leave until CSI Harris or I say so." The officer nodded, leaning against the wall. Horatio walked off, finding Frank searching his desk. "The medicinal flask is in the other side, bottom drawer, Frank."
"Looking for some liniment for your boy. His hand's sore."
"He did spank them."
Frank looked at them. "They probably needed it. It solved?"
"The girl is like Buffy so he called her mentor to come gather them for training."
"Good! Less chance of having that situation again." Horatio found the liniment for him, handing it over. "Thanks. Your boy be okay?"
"He should be fine, Frank. One of them in there is probably bringing up memories. Where is he?"
"Observation. Stetler asked me to get the liniment for him so he could get back to work." He walked off, going to hand it over. "Here, kid."
"Thanks, Frank." He pointed at the one kid. "That was me ten or so years ago. Almost exactly like me. Only he dresses better."
Frank gave him an awkward pat. "Look how well you did. He can too." Xander nodded, walking off thinking about that. He watched the kids, shaking his head. "Well, the kid'll either die or finish growing up into Xander," he decided. He went back to his desk.
Giles looked at Xander when he came out to meet him at reception. "You look well."
"I have looked well. If you had come to graduation you'd know that." He gave him a look. "How's Dawn?"
"She split from the group."
"I've talked to her since she had Amanda, Giles." He looked down. "Joyce would be so pissed at you. They're this way. One is a younger version of me. One's a male Willow. One's a little Buffy with the same 'tude. The little me could probably soak up all the weapons training you can give him and then head to Connor if you don't want them together." That got a nod and Giles took his pass, letting Xander walk him off. "By the way, they're going to have trouble sitting. I spanked the hell out of two of them for their stupidity. She decided shooting vampires in the inner eye area was good and right." Giles moaned at that. "Exactly. With silver bullets. Her prints were on the gun. The younger me wanted to stake them so he's got some sense if you don't treat him like you did me."
"I'm sorry how I let them treat you, Xander."
Xander looked at him. "Then you didn't ignore me too?"
"I'm...I'm sorry about that as well." He looked at him. "We undervalued you horribly while we had you with us. It was the wrong thing to do." Xander nodded. "Would you forgive us?"
"Some decade. At least you're the reason I'm such a good tech now." He walked him into the room, letting Giles inside before closing the door. "Kids." They woke up, looking at him. "This is Rupert Giles, head of the current Watcher's Council. Giles, the one in all blue is the younger Willow. The girl is Piers, she's a slayer. The droplet test came up bright pink so she's active. The other one is Gary. He's a younger version of me."
"Nice to meet you all," he said, sitting down across from them. "Let me tell you what we can offer you."
"No, Horatio and I agreed. They're going. They need the training because the sorcerer there conjured a mimic demon to defeat the dreath summoning and it didn't. They will have the training or they will be arrested for endangering officer's lives. I had to save one who stepped into the dreath trap circle. I had to clear the room after that because there were ten people in there counting my coworkers and my boss. It nearly got our ME eaten. They will be trained or they will be going to jail. Well, the younger Willow and Piers will be. There's no evidence Gary was there."
"I can agree to that. Their parents?"
"My mom knows some of you. Hers is against pagan anything," the sorcerer said.
"We can deal with that. Gary?"
"Mine won't care."
"Then we'll give them official notification and get the other two parents to consent." He smiled. "Come along, children. If they're not being arrested, Xander?"
"Not unless they flunk."
"We'll see that they don't. Come along, we'll go gather your things and get parental permission. Then we'll go over what you were thinking and why. It should help clear up many wrong ideas." Xander handed over a copy of his report. "Ah, yours?" Xander nodded. "Thank you." He looked it over. "The vampires reverted when you broke the symbols?"
"Yeah, two had staking marks." Gary slowly raised a hand. "Good idea. Alexx implants wood now and then into bodies she thinks will rise." Giles nodded, taking them off to talk to their parents, gather their things, and return to Cleveland. Xander walked out, running into Horatio. "He'll get their parents to agree and take them home."
"Are you going to forgive him?"
"I accept that their neglect and bitchiness is why I'm the man I am today. Doesn't make it any better than a guy who can credit an abusive father for making him one hell of a Marine."
"Some year you will have to let go of those pains to feel greater happiness."
He looked at him. "Been eating the book of Buddha?"
"No, Xander. It's a truth I had to learn the hard way."
"I'll let go of it some year. It's slowly easing as I find people who actually like and respect me." That got a nod and a smile. "Did you hear Tony was down?"
"I had. Did you two have fun?"
"He had a concussion too."
"I'm sorry. Maybe next time. I did get reminded it was grant season." Xander whimpered. "We could use you to tout our program. It would get you to DC for a weekend." Xander wobbled. "We'll see when and if we get an invitation this year." He gave him a smile. "Finish up for the day and go home."
"I'll be fine. That kid has a better shot than I did. Giles knows what he did wrong now."
"Maybe he'll go on to do great things too." Xander smiled, walking back to ballistics. Horatio went to watch Giles talk to the children outside. He saw the odd look and the older man walked over to him. "Mr. Giles."
"Horatio Caine. Xander's supervisor." He shook his hand. "Thank you for pushing him to prove himself daily. He is one of the best techs we've ever had thanks to that lack of believing in himself." Giles swallowed, nodding. "I do hope that in the future I can give the same compliment about the young man out there but for a different reason."
"I know where we went wrong with Xander."
"As he had hoped," he agreed. "Don't worry about Xander. He's found love, acceptance, and possibly a lover recently. He's happy now."
"That's all I ever wanted for the boy. Thank you for taking care of my stray chick."
"It's not a problem. We enjoy having Xander here. He lightens the load and he helps us a great deal. I would not want to see either Miss Rosenburg or Miss Summers again however."
"I'll keep both brats in Cleveland," he agreed, smirking at him. "She really broke his arm?"
"She really broke his arm," he agreed. "Then she broke into his former apartment and shot it up."
"I'm very sorry about her. Perhaps Xander had the right idea with spanking the slayers who lack humility and common sense. This one will turn out better."
"I can only hope so. Xander is a role model they could aspire to."
"I'll use him as such for that one. Thank you for helping him."
"It's a pleasure. Xander is very easy to like and accept as family." He walked off, smiling when Giles got the children into the car and drove them off.
"That's the guy who let those girls hurt the kid?" Frank asked.
"It was but he's seen the error of his ways, Frank," Horatio said with a smile. "Isn't that the important thing this time?"
"Hopefully. Otherwise you'll have another great ballistics tech in ten years."
"It would be an honor, Frank. You know that." He grinned. "Or maybe I'll let Mac Taylor have the next one. Can't be greedy after all." He walked off smiling, going to check on his fragile little chick.
Xander looked around the formal event, grimacing with distaste. "I hate these things. Why do they make us do this for funds again?"
Horatio patted him on the back. "Because it looks good and we can brag on you, Xander. Think of it as a chance to see Gibbs and Tony again." He pointed and Xander beamed, sneaking over there.
"So, I hear the rain has been bad this year," he said in greeting. "All sorts of nasty weather."
Tony smiled at him. "I taught you better manners than that," he teased back. He gave him a manly hug. "I've missed you," he said quietly.
"Missed you too. You got to miss the slayer when I got back."
"A real one?"
"Yeah, got to spank her too. Got Giles onto her case." He grinned, walking them around, nodding at a few people. One gave him an odd look. "CSI Harris, out of Miami-Dade, Senator. Their prize ballistics tech."
"Oh! I've heard great things about you. Are you up for the awards ceremony?"
"Not that I'm aware of. I think my boss is but I'm up here to beg for money for our department." That got a smile. "At least I'm honest."
"You are. It's a refreshing change." He smiled at Tony. "I do know you, Agent DiNozzo."
"Senator." He shook his hand. "Xander used to be our intern once upon a time. He worked with Abby."
"That is very interesting. How long?"
"Four months. There wasn't enough crime then to keep us both busy full time and she hated it when I cleaned around her," Xander said, earning a loud laugh. "I moved to Miami after that."
"I'm sure they'd love to have you back, son."
"Perhaps, but I like Miami. Not so many agents lurking around trying to get into my work space." That got an understanding smile. "If you'll excuse us, I need to suck up to the person in Homeland who gives grants so he can tell my mother I was being good. She's over there too." That got a smile and nod, letting him shake their hands and walk off. He found his mother staring around, sneaking over to kiss her on the cheek. "You look as bored as I feel." He looked around but Tony was talking with Horatio. He looked at her again. "Couldn't drag Dad?"
"He's still pouting that you won't join us."
"Tough. I like my job. I like my dog. I like my department. I'd have to drag everyone up here." She smiled and nodded. "So go home and tie him down, paddle him a little bit until he gives up, and it'll be all better." He kissed her on the cheek again. "Gotta go pounce the man." He walked off, going over to talk to his boss. "Award ceremony?"
"Yes, you're up here for that too," Horatio told him. "You and Mac Taylor both. Mac." He shook his hand. "You remember Abby's former intern Xander don't you? Also, this is Agent DiNozzo, out of NCIS."
"Pleasure, Agent DiNozzo."
"Tony then," he agreed with a small smile. "Xander." He shook his hand. "I've been meaning to call about an odd sword. Horatio told me you're his ancient weapons person."
"I do know a good deal about them," he agreed. "Did you bring something so I can avoid sucking up to people?"
"I did because I was hoping to run into Horatio tonight." He showed him the picture he had folded in his pocket. "Any idea?"
Xander looked then nodded. "Two. One is this thing that looks like a pizza cutter, only it has a spike in the center and it's on a short pole. It's a re-creation piece from an earlier Tolkein movie. It's kinda rare and you'd be able to tell from the spike itself." That got a nod. "Or there's a chance it's a scimitar. Ever seen the old cheesy Aladdin movies?"
"I have. One of those?"
"Probably more likely. With that thickness it's more likely that and probably a lot less rare." He handed it back. "Either that or someone has a recreation of Xena's chakram and just stabbed them with it. Your choice of course."
"Where would you get those pieces?" Tony asked.
"The same place I got Abby her Solstice present, Tony." He grinned. "And Gibbs' too."
"He opened his. It's hanging next to the boat." Xander beamed at that. "I know she has a catalog so I'll try to get it for you, Mac?"
"That would be great, thank you, Tony. Are you local?" He nodded, grimacing a bit. "I've heard there's been some problems."
"Yes, but they stopped when Ducky was practicing his knife throwing and she walked into one. We have a new director now." Xander patted him on the back. "It's slowed down a lot of the problems."
"Mom said he's not stealing information either," Xander agreed.
"You're mother's NCIS too?" Mac asked.
"Homeland." He pointed. "That's my mom and dad did show up finally I see." He waved then looked at Mac. Then at Horatio. "What am I going to hide from tomorrow?"
Tony smiled at Horatio. "I'll make sure he gets there, Horatio. I'll see you tomorrow, Mac. Gotta go catch up with our wayward tech." He walked Xander off, letting him say hi to his father before taking him out of the event and into the fresh air so they could go play.
"Young love is so cute," Mac said with a bright grin.
"It definitely is that too. Thankfully it's not with someone who will kidnap him, hurt him, or otherwise abuse my poor ballistics tech." Mac laughed. "I'm not kidding." He walked him off to tell him what had been going on in Miami, getting the good gossip from New York in return.
Tony and Xander were walked into the awards ceremony by Gibbs, who handed them to Horatio. "You went missing these two?"
"Where were they?"
"Tied to a chair. Your senator missed them. By the way she's making a donation to the lab." He shook Mac's hand. "Taylor."
"Gibbs. Tony's yours?"
"My senior agent."
"He's a good one. So, how did you like having Xander?"
"We liked him a lot. He jumped in, took things from Abby's hands to do, wrote decent reports. Got into trouble like you wouldn't believe but that seems to keep happening." He glared at the boys.
"We were at a club, Gibbs. She took us from there," Tony defended.
"Uh-huh. Not like I care." He looked at Horatio then caught Xander. "You have to accept it. It'll get the lab good attention, kid."
"Damn it," he muttered.
"You still need an accent when you say that," Tony teased, poking him on the side. Xander swatted him but gave him a fond look. "There's news you should hear later."
"Why not now?"
"It's being announced later." He grinned at Horatio. "You can come too. Did we get that catalog from Abby for him, boss?" Gibbs pulled out the catalog, handing it to Mac. "That's where he'd shop."
"They've got some interesting weapons in here," he said, taking his seat since the speaker was coming to the podium. "He needs to be up there, Tony."
He walked him up there, sitting next to him since someone had put their seats together. "I have to do it too," he hissed. Xander gave him a pitiful look. "Tough." The speaker cleared his throat for attention, going into his short, boring speech. The others were gone over and then they came to Tony's, earning a lot of claps from Xander. Tony came down off the stage with his pretty box and shiny thing, giving Xander a nudge.
"For our last award we are awarding it to a ballistics tech who has positively influenced the field already in his young career. He has pushed others to be better CSI. He has encouraged others in his program in school and then later led by example, even with a small disability. He has paved the way for a lot of future techs to have a lot of very hard work living up to his skills and legends. So our last award goes to Alexander Harris, out of Miami-Dade's labs, for his outstanding accomplishments in the field of forensics." Xander almost stumbled on the way up the stairs but he got a smile anyway. He shook the speaker's hand, taking his box and shiny thing with a nod and a pause for applause. Then he scurried back to his seat. Finally they could go so Tony looked at him.
"I felt really odd accepting one of my own. Usually I accept all Gibbs' awards for him." Xander poked him again, getting up and going to hand his box to his boss. Tony did the same. "Only fair since I got all yours in my desk, boss." He walked Xander out. "We're going to lunch if any of you wanted to join us."
"I think we'll eat in public," Gibbs told him. Tony shot him a wicked looking grin and disappeared with his boy. "Those two are going to drive us nuts," Gibbs complained to Horatio.
"At least we'll be able to find them."
"Maybe," he agreed. "It didn't stop last night." He saw Lee lurking. "DiNozzo has him for lunch, Stetson. You can find your son later when they're taken again."
"I can do that. Thanks, guys." He walked out, going to track his son home. Or to the park where they ended up making out but that was fine. His other sons showed up later on and they made Xander come eat with them, with Tony too since he was apparently Xander's boyfriend now. It didn't keep Xander from being hit on at the restaurant or anything but Xander was happier. He only complained mildly this time.
Horatio walked into his called staff meeting Monday morning.
"Did you lose the boy again?" Frank taunted.
"There were a few senators who wanted to talk to him about his training and things. He'll be back later tonight. There is an announcement you should all hear however. Due to the new director taking over at NCIS being a 'let's play nicely with others' sort, there's going to be some teams switching around."
"Are we going to lose Xander to them?" Speed demanded, sitting up. "I will brain the bastard if he tries."
Horatio smiled. "No, we won't be losing Xander, but we are gaining a different team in the local office." They all stared. "Miami is known for having trouble dealing with agents who come to us demanding things. The local team has had no success. Gibbs' team does not play well with others either. Therefore they're sending them down here since we appear to get along well with them." That got some laughs. He held up a hand. "For those of you who do not know, we will be missing Xander now and then. The same as they will be missing DiNozzo now and then. We'll be able to find them together, but now and then we will have to remind them to be on time. We did at the award's ceremony. Gibbs drug them in for me."
"So, Tony and Xander?" Eric asked. Horatio smiled but nodded. "Okay. That's a good thing, right?"
"It's a very good thing," Frank agreed. "The boy'll have someone who'll fuss over him now. He might even steal him back."
"Gibbs has said if they kept being stolen together he was going to implant microchips on both of them," Horatio told him. "I gave him my permission immediately. He'll have their ME do it today. He is also coming down. Ducky refuses to work with anyone but Jethro."
"Abby?" Speed asked.
"The new director does not like strange folk, as he put it. Any of them who're not, basically, his version of Methodist and normal by that standard are being moved around. Including a great many female agents I'm scared to say. We are getting Abby as well. The whole team. Including their liaison officer, Ziva David. She's from Mossad."
"Okay, so the bad side is?" Alexx asked.
"None that I can see yet, Alexx. We may have a Xander who is late now and then, but he has assured me he'll try very hard not to be. Tony will hopefully be injured less. So will Xander. I'm only seeing the positives here because Abby will let us come to her for hacking things. McGee has agreed as well as long as they're not in an investigation."
"So, we're keeping Xander, getting a whole new team we can lean on and count on to know what they're doing, and Xander's going to be happy?" Calleigh asked. Horatio nodded. "Hell, I'm all for it then. How soon before they move down?"
"Agent DiNozzo is coming down this weekend. He was going to move soon so most of his things are in the process of being packed. That does mean we should welcome them Miami style into the family, people."
"Drive by?" Speed joked.
"Speed," Horatio warned.
"High speed chase?" Calleigh offered. "Xander said Gibbs drives like he does. Fast and rough."
"Calleigh," he complained.
"I don't think they'd care about either one as long as Xander didn't have to pull a sword," Ryan offered dryly.
"Quite true, Mr. Wolfe," Horatio agreed. "The rest of the team will be down at the end of the month. I was thinking something nice, a cookout maybe?"
"We can use Xander's yard since they'll need to know where Tony will be," Eric joked.
"That was my idea too, H," Speed agreed.
"I can see that happening. He does have a nice yard and Abby did want to meet his dog." He looked around. "Also, there is a lab position opening."
"Why?" Calleigh asked.
"Field tech, ladies and gentlemen. I have already been warned I may not poach from New York's labs, DC's labs, Las Vegas's labs, or New Orleans' labs again. Though the person from Los Angeles did come up and ask if they could have Xander back. Twice." They all shook their heads. "If you do know a field tech we might work well with or a patrol officer who wants to move I need to know. Have them send me letters of interest along with qualifications and a resume." They all nodded, making notes about that. "Anything else that should be discussed?"
"Can we pick on the boy when he gets mushy?" Frank asked.
"Their version of mushy is backing each other up when one's taken, Frank," Horatio said with a small smile. "We ran into the senator that was responsible for him being at the event I met him at. She took them both home by force that night. So if you know someone who wants to run for senator for this district, let them know as well. She'll be retiring this year since Gibbs brought the press and the FBI with him this time." They all looked stunned. "He warned her. She did not listen." He gave them looks. "Someone plan the cookout. I'll tell Xander when I see him tonight." They nodded. "Go to work, people. Crime hasn't stopped yet."
"They're only getting more creative too," Speed agreed, heading out first, thinking about what he could make that would be easy and quick if it was a long day. He popped up to Horatio's office. "Xander needs a grill." He went back to trace to get back to work until he got called on a case.
Horatio started to make notes. It would be a good welcoming party. Some of the insanity would calm down with Tony down there. He hoped.