Sword Boy

Tony looked around the corner, shooting at the person who was shooting him, smirking when a warm body hit his back and handed him a few spare clips.  "What are you doing here?"

"Saving your ass, like I have many others over the years.  Horatio's on the other end of the alley," Xander quipped.

"Thanks for the spares.  Will they fit?"

"If not, they fit my backup."

"Even better."  He looked at them.  "I'll need that."  Xander handed it over.  "Bless you."

"Want me to order tonight?"

"I could appreciate that."  He checked and nearly got shot but that let Horatio zero in on his position.  He came out when he heard the quiet 'move and I will kill you'.  "Hey, Horatio.  Long time no see."

"Tony.  Xander?"  He came out, looking at the person who had come up behind him.  "Gibbs.  Finally."

"Figured he'd be in trouble," he said, looking at Tony.  "This person did what?"

"The theft I told you about last night, boss.  Gave me a damn long chase too," he said, wiping his forehead.  "Ten blocks this time."

Xander patted him on the back before hugging Gibbs.  "Welcome to Miami.  They're using my yard to give you guys a cookout tomorrow night."

"That'll work," Gibbs agreed.  He walked over to their suspect.  "Caine, he ours?"

"One less piece of paperwork I have to do."

"How did you guys hear?" Tony asked.  "I didn't call in for backup.  I didn't have time to."

"We were heading to our scene and saw you," Xander said cheerfully.  "See, Horatio has TP sensing radar."  Horatio gave him a look.  "You do.  That's why you go watch Eric work.  So he can't get hit on like I am."  He looked at Gibbs.  "We're due at a homicide so let us know if you need us again."  He walked off. "I'm driving, Horatio, right?"

"My hummer, I drive, Xander," Horatio ordered.  He handed the suspect to Gibbs.  "Here, have him.  We'll see you tomorrow at Xander's for the cookout."  He followed his tech, shaking his head.  "Good spotting, Xander."

"Thanks, boss."  He waved cheerfully before climbing in.  "Did the guys really pick on Calleigh when we got the hummers?"

"She nearly had to hop up to get in.  Both Eric and Speed taunted her for weeks until she got them back."

"Hmm.  Spanked?"

"No, she did something meaner."

"Mean I can appreciate."  They headed off again, going to their scene.  "Well, let's hope ours isn't that exciting."

"Hopefully not," Horatio agreed.  "Do we have to talk about how you and Tony shouldn't work together?"

Xander looked at him.  "Not like I'm going to make out with him on the job, Horatio.  Not unless it's called for."

"Good to know."  He pulled into their scene, looking around at the MP's standing around.  He got out.  "Which branch?"

"Marine, sir."

Xander called Tony's cellphone.  "When you're done with him we think we have one that might involve you too.  Thanks.  Yeah, is that where you were heading too?"  He laughed.  "We're here."  He hung up.  "This is where Tony was heading when he saw his suspect run out of a deli after holding it up."

"Good to know."  He looked from the doorway.  "Two of ours, one of theirs."

"It happens," Xander agreed, starting from the doorway.  "Hmm."  He looked at the frame. "Kicked in instead of picked.  Strong guy too, he took part of the frame off."  He examined the door, finding the boot print there faintly.  He grabbed a lifter sheet.  "Can you hold the door steady for me please?"  Horatio nodded, doing that for him while he lifted the boot print.  He sealed it, putting it into his case after noting on it.  Then they moved in together.  "I hear a dog and a something in a cage, Horatio."

"There's a pet snake in the back bedroom," one MP responded.  "The dog's in the kitchen, sirs."

Xander looked at him.  "Where did you walk?"

"Around the outer edges outside, sir.  I came in through the back door and poured some food to get the dog back there.  Then I walked up the hallway on the beige part of the carpet since it's industrial looking, less chance of tracking things, and into the other bedrooms.  The other victim's back here."  Xander nodded, carefully stepping around the scene and following him.  "I did do a sweep for other victims."

"It's always better if there's a live one," Xander agreed.  "That's protocol, it's not an issue.  We'll take boot prints to rule you out."

"Standard issue, sir."

Xander looked at him.  "Everyone walks differently, so therefore we get different wear patterns.  That with age of the boots....."

"Good to know."  He let him open the bedroom door. "You'll need my prints too, I had to open this door and we don't usually carry gloves."

"We can do that by the time we're done."  He checked the victim, mentally groaning.  "Horatio, tell Alexx we've got a pre-teen back here."  Horatio came to the doorway.  "Our MP buddy said he had to open this door so we'll need elimination prints."  He grinned at him.  "It's much better being a buddy than a bastard."

"It always is, sir."  He looked at Horatio.  "Whenever you need me, sir."

"Take the dog outside if there's a run, Corporal."  He nodded, carefully heading back down the hall to do that.  "Shot?"

Xander looked then shook his head.  "Doesn't look round from this angle.  I'll wait to touch him after Alexx gets here."  That got a nod and they headed back out.  "Pre-teen in the open bedroom, Alexx," he said, kissing her on the cheek. "Hey, Gibbs.  Dig in.  We share information."

"Did you get anything off the door?"

"Boot print, really faint.  Like I said, we share."  He took his first body, going over her with the camera to film everything then looking for trace while Alexx examined the other ones.  "Alexx, the kid's wound didn't look like a shot from the angle he's slumping, it was from the front.  No blood on the back of his shirt."  She nodded. Xander held up a swab when Tony started to look for one.

"Thanks.  Any idea what this is yet?" he asked, holding up a swab of green stuff.

Xander took it to sniff.  "Wasabi."  He handed it back then covered his face with his sleeve while he sneezed.  "Sorry, spicy stuff very early.  I cannot eat like Eric does."  He got back to work.  He sneezed again.  "What is that?"

Tony sniffed.  "Gas.  Guys, someone check the stoves and things," he ordered the MP's.

"Check the stove," Xander yelled.  "We smell gas!"  The MP back there did that, coming out nodding.  "Off?"

"Now.  I turned it off at the meter, sirs."

"Thanks, man.  I don't feel like being blown up today."  That got a smile.  "It's not a good day to die.  We've got the welcoming party for the new NCIS team tomorrow at my place.  My dog's looking forward to people coming to play with him."

"Your dog will go spastic," Tony teased.

"The first time he met Alexx he crawled up behind her and rested his head on her hair," Xander told him.  "He loves his Alexx lovies."

She smiled at him. "Your dog sucks up worse than you do, sugar.  Tony, you can cook, right?"

"Yeah, I'm really good at it too," he said happily.

"Good, then I won't have to make extra for the walking stomach there."  She got back to work, smiling when an older man came in.  "You must be Ducky.  I've heard a lot about you.  Alexx Woods, the local ME for dayshift."

"Charmed, my dear.  How many do we have?"

"One in uniform, two without, and Xander said a pre-teen."


"With gas that had been on," Horatio told him.  "Welcome to Miami, Ducky."

"Ah, Lieutenant Caine.  I have heard much about you.  I'd shake your hand but gloves and all that.  And Xander."  Xander smiled at him.  "Anthony?"

"Hey, Ducky.  Look out, there's wasabi on ours."

"Death should me a messy proposition or no one would remember the contributions you made," he said gently.  "Which isn't always a true statement but it is a good way of thinking about it."  He got down to look at theirs.  "I would say stabbed.  Doctor Woods?"

"I concur about mine.  Xander?"

"None on his back, Alexx, and he fell face down.  You know I can't flip him until you say so."  He picked off another hair.  "Also, I've got longish dark hairs on this guy."  He bagged it and moved on to get another one.  He held it up.  "Eww, lice."  He bagged it separately.  Alexx moaned at that.  "I'll help you fume them."

"Thanks, dear."  She came over.  "We done with him?"  Xander nodded.  "Let's flip him over then."  Xander helped her flip him over and let her open his shirt.  "Yeah, that's a puncture wound.  Poor guy, can't be over seventeen either."  She got up, heading to the other body by following the pointing MP.  "Thank you, Corporal?"  He nodded.  "Thank you, son."  She walked in there, clucking her tongue.  "Very young, you poor thing."  She looked at him.  "Xander, did we do anything with him?"

"No, Alexx."

"McGee, go help her," Gibbs ordered.  "She's in the bedroom with the child."

"On it, boss."  He carefully walked that way.  "Hey, Xander, Horatio."

"McGee," Horatio said with a smile.  "Alexx is back there."

"That's fine.  I've worked with Ducky a lot."  He walked back there, starting the processing from the doorway.  "Ma'am, can I get a clear shot of the body?"  She nodded, getting out of his way.  He did what he needed to do, helping her when it came time to move the body.  He looked at it then at her. "That's a steep angle," he said quietly.  She looked then nodded.  "You think it's self-inflicted?"

"I won't know until I measure it, McGee.  Give me a few hours to tell."  She got a nod and he moved to the computer, canceling the screensaver.  "I know that.  Horatio?"  He came in.  "Look at the picture on the screen."

Horatio came over to look, nodding slowly.  "I know that symbol.  Alexx, is he a member?"

"Let me check."  She undid his shirt, looking for tattoos.  "None on him.  Xander, check for a LES tat?" she called.

"None on mine, Alexx, but it's a she."

"One on mine," Tony said a minute later from the doorway.  He looked at the computer screen.  "Gang related?"

"It may be," Horatio agreed.  "We'll see within the day."  They all nodded. "Let's let Alexx and Ducky take the bodies.  You two can work out where he's working today."  She nodded, following her body haulers out with the younger body.  He looked at Tony.  "Is your lab set up?"

"Not a clue if Abby's down or not."

"Tomorrow," McGee said.  "I need to confiscate this computer though."

"Save it down under your name, McGee, that's local protocol," Horatio ordered.  He nodded, doing that.   He also made note of what was open, playing on the playlist, and what the screensaver had been.  Then he unhooked it and took it out to their truck, putting evidence tape on it.  Horatio finished the processing in there, coming up with a few more longer hairs.  "Interesting."  He bagged everything, letting McGee get his.  "We'll need both MP's prints and boot prints, just in case," he told Tony, who nodded, going to get them.  "Gibbs, is your lab working?"

"Abby will be in late tomorrow.  Can we borrow yours?"

"You can borrow our techs," he agreed. "The same as Ducky and Alexx can work out who works where today."

"That'll work this time."  He looked at the MP's.  "Thanks, guys.  Anything we should know?"

"We'll check with the neighbors to see if they know who can take the dog," Xander told him, looking up at him.  "Our shelters are chronically full since it's just past hurricane season."

"I'll go ask," Tony said.  "Get statements too.  McGee?"

"Coming, Tony."

"I'll do that as well," Horatio agreed.  "Xander?"

"I'm fine but remember my eye appointment is after work tonight."

"I know.  You can leave on time and come back if you have to."  He took his evidence out to the hummer, letting Xander finish up with the small details.

"Eye appointment?"

"Time to change my glasses," Xander told him. "Mine are scratched and it's time for another exam."  He found something odd and took a picture of it.  "Get my scissors please and a container?"  Gibbs handed it over. "That looks like gun oil."   That got a nod.  Xander cut out the spot, labeling the jar once it was sealed.  He put it into the pile of evidence.  Horatio came back with a plastic tub for his samples.  "Thanks, boss."  He gathered and went toward the kitchen, going to see what had been turned on.  "Stove was on, no pilot light."

"It could've went out."  Gibbs checked it.  "It's a self-lighter. Someone had to put it out."  Xander broke out his fingerprint brush and powder, getting to work on everything there.  "You're thorough."

"I always am.  Better to do it once than have to come back and go over stuff again."  Someone tapped then walked in.  "Hey, Ryan, bit late," he noted without looking.

"I'm here to take your spot.  You just got called to court."  Xander frowned at him.  "That homicide last week is taking a plea."

"Charming."  He handed over his brush.  "I want my kit back."

"Agreed.  Go change."

"They get me like this if they call me out of the field."  He walked out, waving at Horatio.  "Ryan said I got called to a plea sentencing."  Horatio nodded.  He looked around, waving at one of the cruisers.  "You're taking me to the courthouse."

"Yes, CSI Harris."  He slid into the front, going off with him.  "Do you need to change?"

"They called me in from the field.  They should be lucky I'm not wearing one of my threatening t-shirts."  The officer laughed.  "They should.  The DA knows this and so do most of the judges by now.  Thanks for the ride," he said when he got out, heading inside.  He showed his ID, surrendering his gun since he was only a tech.  They hand-wanded him, as usual.  The new scanner checked for gunpowder and he always had some on him.  He walked up the hall, finding a pacing DA.  "You called me from a scene?"

"I did.  The Bruenis case?"

Xander thought back.  "The double homicide with stabbings?"  That got a nod.  "Got the case file so I can read over it really quick?"  It was handed over.  He flipped through it, nodding.  "Okay."  He walked inside, taking his real file from Calleigh since she was in there too.  He handed back the other one.  He looked at the DA, who pointed at the stand.  He walked up there.

The judge looked at him.  "Who are you, young man?"

"CSI Alexander Harris, ballistics, field, and trace, Your Honor.  I was out in the field when I was called."

"You could have taken the time to change."

"Justice should be swift, not waiting for me to primp like a teenage girl.  I can do my job just as well in a t-shirt as I can a button up shirt and nicer pants.  My clothes don't lower my intelligence or my skills."

"Fine.  This time."  Xander held in his retort, he could see it and it made him smirk.  "Another comment?"

"No, sir. Let's get to the swearing, I have a quadruple murder case I need to get back to."  The bailiff came over to swear him in.  He sat down, folder on his lap.  The DA approached and started asking mundane questions so he could remember faster.  He had to resort to the file once but that was expected.


Xander walked into the office, leaning into Horatio's office.  "Judge Harkins hates me, still.  Not that I care but fair warning if he complains about my clothes this time.  He didn't recognize me but he tried to stare me down."  He walked off, going down to trace.  "Hey, need me?"

"Yeah, it's your case, you can help process," Ryan agreed. "Told you you should have changed."

"Justice should be swift, not give me time to primp."

"Good point.  He didn't like it?"

"No.  Though I did point out my clothing choices for field work didn't lower my intelligence or skills.  Also again.  The DA knows I wear this almost daily.  Next time he can give me more warning."  He put on his coat and gloves, getting to work.  "Anything from the autopsies yet?"

"Not yet but Ducky has said that Alexx is quicker than he is."

"She gets more bodies every day."

"Which was her argument.  He smiled and said it was a compliment since she was still accurate.  They're talking fishing I think."  He handed over a sample.  "From the stove."

"Did we get the stuff NCIS recovered too?"

"We did, and I got the boot print out of your kit too.  Doesn't match either MP.  Also, we got a better look at the tattoo, it's not a gang tattoo, it's in the wrong script for theirs.  It's more initials."  Xander nodded at that.  "So we're stumped at the gang angle."

"Unless he was in love with one of them," Xander pointed out.  "Then he wouldn't get a formal one, just an homage."

"Could be.  Frank's working that side with Gibbs right now.  He's also finding him good maps of the area for their use."

"I still need one of those," Xander complained. "Dispatch hates it when I ask for directions."

"Xander, I grew up here and even I need a map sometimes," Ryan told him patiently. "You need a guidance system for the car."

"I always seem to get the hummer without one."

"It's the last to go," he agreed.  "Have one of your posse give the lab another one with one so you can have that one."

"Don't suggest that out loud," Xander said, giving him a look.  He got back to work, frowning when his phone vibrated.  He found it and pulled it out.  "Harris."  He listened.  "Who broke into my house?  Is my dog okay?"  He nodded.  "No, the vault doors should both be closed, Officer.  Why?"  He nodded.  "I'll be right there.  Give me fifteen."  He hung up.  "Um, handle this."  He walked off.  "Horatio, someone tried to get into my collection!"

"Coming," he agreed, following him out to the hummers, making him get into his so he could drive.  They walked in ten minutes later.  "Officer, was anything taken?"

"Not that we can tell, Lieutenant.  Harris."

Xander gave him a look.  "My dog?"

"Bathroom, sir."

"That's fine."  He checked under the couch.  "They did take the loose guns."  He stood up after grabbing the one that was under there.  "Not mine.  There's six others spread around the house."   Horatio opened a bag for that gun, letting Xander look around.  Nothing else appeared to be missing so he got into the safes to look for his inventory list, coming out with it marked off.  "Okay, we're missing these seven but one may be with the old place.  I'm not sure I ever got the gun Buffy used on my old apartment back."  The officer nodded, making a note of them.  "They were all loaded with a single clip, no spare clips lying around.  This was under the couch on the left.  These two under the couch on the right.  This one was in the kitchen.  These two in my bedroom on either side of the bed.  The last was behind my headboard.  The other I'm not sure."

"Good to know, sir.  Any idea who?"

Xander looked at his doors, prowling back and forth.  "They had a key.  The only people with a key are the former owner, myself, Agent DiNozzo, John Hagen, the boss here, and my lawn boy so he could use the bathroom and get a drink."

"We'll start with the lawn boy and the former owner, sir."

"Thank you.  If they don't have that last gun I used to live at the address on the back of that list."  He looked then nodded.  "A former friend used it to shoot up my apartment."

"I'll do what I can, sir."

"Thanks."  He looked at Horatio.  "Let's lock up the house, let me check on the dog."  He went to do that, letting him out.  He barked at the officers but just wanted attention.  "Did someone hurt you?" he asked.  The dog snuggled into his side, getting comfortable.  "Good boy.  Very good boy.  You defended the house as well as you could."  The dog gave him a begging look so Horatio got him a treat. "There you go.  You be a good boy.  Go nap on the bed."  The whippet ran that way, hopping up and crawling under the covers.  Xander turned to find one of the non-felony people there with his list.  "Hey."

"Hey.  Vault doors?"  He pointed at the nearest one.  "No wonder they couldn't get in.  Let me print.  What's your lawn boy's name?"  He wrote it down and his number.  "Thanks, Harris.  I'll watch out for your beast."  The dog's head popped out.  "Hmm.  Greyhound?"

"Whippet.  Cousin to them.  Be a good boy for her, Humphrey."  He patted her on the arm.  "I've got a quadruple."

"Go, I've got it."  He nodded, leaving with Horatio.  "That poor tech."  She checked on the dog, who was peeking out at her.  "It's okay, Humphrey, you stay in there and we'll be just fine, dog."  She went to dust the back door for prints first.  That seemed like the safer bet.  The dog came out to watch her, head tipped to the side.  "You're a very smart pooch, Humphrey."  He licked her and nosed his bowl closer.  She looked at him.  "I don't feed doggies. You'll have to wait for your daddy."  The dog started to sound pitiful.  "Ah!"  The dog stopped staring at her.  "Thank you.  Back to bed, Humphrey."  He nudged his bowl again.  "No, I'm not feeding you.  Bed!  Now!"  The dog ran that way, tail wagging.  "Good boy!"  She got back to work, frowning back when he started to bark at the screen door.  "Don't like cats?" she asked dryly.  She shook her head, going back to her duties.  The dog could bark as long as he didn't bite her or anyone else.


Xander looked at the kids who had his guns, frowning at them.  "What did you think you were doing?" he asked calmly.  His lawn boy glared at him so he glared back.  "You stole from me?   You stole *guns* from me."

"You have plenty!" he defended.

"That's because I work here," he said, getting down in his face.  "I have guns because I need them to match with what other people use on little boys like you who like to play with things they don't know how to use."  He slumped down.  Xander straightened up.  "Your parents are coming."  They all groaned.  "Good!  I hope like hell all your parents beat the living shit out of you for this.  Do you really want to go to jail?  What you did is a felony, kids, and you're all old enough to be charged as adults.  That means no juvie.  That means *prison* prison.  Where they use little boys like you as toys."  They all slumped down at that.  "Now, I want to know *exactly* what you were going to do with my guns and I do mean right the hell now.  If you tell me I'll tell your parents you cooperated.  If not, I'll let them beat you and hand them paddles when their hands get tired."

"My momma won't beat me," one boy sneered.

Xander looked at him.  "Bet me.  You been in here before?"  He went pale.  "Uh-huh.  I'm sure we can convince her it'll keep you out of here for good before you end up in prison for the rest of your short life.  Now, what were you going to do with my guns?"  Gibbs walked in.  "Hey, not on our case."

"I know.  These the little punks who need their asses kicked?"


"Where you from, man?" that one kid sneered.

"LA.  I got tutored by Crypts and Bloods.  You wanna go LA style, little boy?"  He shook his head, slumping down so far he nearly slid under the table.  "Sit up!" he snapped.  They all did.  "Thank you!  Your poor postures aren't getting you any favors either.  Own up to it, boys.  They'll give you a mild slap on the wrist if you do.  If not, well, I hear prison orange looks flattering on some people after a few weeks in there."

Gibbs looked at them.  "We'll talk the judge into giving them the bootcamp option."

"Not available in Florida thanks to some deaths," Xander said grimly.

"Pity.  A good Marine could whip them into shape within minutes."

"Go right ahead, I'll watch the master at it," Xander said dryly, pulling out a knife to clean his nails, leaning against the wall.

Gibbs stared at them, looking at Xander's lawn care boy.  "You were going to do what?"  The kid swallowed.  "Kid, I'm a Fed.  With the amount of guns you stole, we can take it from Miami.  That means you'll be in *our* prisons."

"And none of you are rich enough to go to the good ones with golf courses," Xander told them.

"True, you'll be doing *hard* time.  Locked in a little cell every day for twenty-three hours a day.  Allowed into a small cage outside to get fresh air once a day.  Showering once a week."  They all started to look sick.  "Now,  you were going to do what with the guns?"

"We were gonna keep 'em and show 'em to our friends," the tough one said.  "You can't take us for six guns."

"He can," Xander said, looking at them.  "Unfortunately there's over five of you, in the state of Florida that constitutes a gang.  A gang's weapons can be confiscated and they can be turned over to the federal authorities if they had intent to sell them, use them in a terroristic manner..."

"That means making threats with them," Gibbs interjected.

"Or if you intend to use them in the commission of a felony that would normally get federal attention, ie a bank robbery, major murder spree, kidnaping, using them across state lines," Xander finished.  They all gave him horrified looks.  He nodded.  "He has every right to take you boys right now.  You're a gang by the law.  You took guns with intent to sell."

"No, man, we weren't gonna sell!" the tough kid said.

His garden boy shook his head.  "We just wanted them to look tough, Mr. Harris.  We weren't gonna use 'em or anything.  Just to be cool."

Xander looked at him.  "Guns don't make you cool.  Brains make you cool.  Obviously this point has alluded you."

"Rappers are cool and they have guns," another kid complained.

"No they're not.  Most of them can't balance their own checkbook.  They might be cool because they can rap, but not because they have guns.  Only half a percent of thugs with guns can rap and only one percent of those get a recording contract."  They all pouted.  "Having a gun won't make you cool.  You want to be cool, learn how to rap.  Learn how to paint.  Become a super brain.  Having a gun will make your parents bury you way too early and grieve for the rest of their miserable lives.  I'm sure you've seen it with other kids who thought guns were cool."  They all nodded.  "Do you believe them, Gibbs?"

He looked then nodded.  "Yeah, I think they're just terminally stupid this time.  Let their parents and the DA sort it out."

"I can do that.  Thanks."  He got a nod.  "Be right there to the meeting on the homicide."  That got another nod and Gibbs left.  Horatio ushered in parents, and he noticed one looked very relieved.  "Yours not here, ma'am?"

"No, son.  Where is my boy?" she demanded.

"He said it was stupid," Xander's lawn boy said, starting to pout.  "Is my Momma out there?"

"And your father.  You'd better pray he doesn't go for his belt."

"Not inside the station."  Xander looked at her.  "If we see them being beaten like they deserve for this stupidity we're required by law to turn the parents in to social services.  Take them outside the station and where we can't see before you beat them please."

The other mother looked at him and nodded.  "You don't have to worry about that."  She looked at her son, the tough one, watching him shrink down.  "You're in so much trouble, you'd better pray!" she ordered.  He nodded, starting to mumble one.

"Did they hear?" he asked Horatio, who nodded.  "Then I'll leave this with the DA and miss my guns until I can replace them."  He walked out, going back to their portion of the lab.  "Is the seventh with the old landlord?"  The tech in charge nodded. "Good to know I have to replace that one too."

"It'll be okay, Harris.  You can probably get a discount for buying in bulk.  Or start shopping at pawn shops and check them for being stolen and used.  Then get reimbursed for those that were."  He snickered, nodding at that.  She went to watch the parents and the ADA work out what would happen.  She leaned in.  "How about a scared straight program?  Gibbs was telling them about prison, let's let them see where they'll end up if they don't use their brains sometime soon."

"I know a few cons who'd love to do it," Horatio agreed.  "We have one who's a father in there.  He took a charge for his son.  He's due out soon."

"Give me his name and I'll see if he will," the DA promised.  Horatio wrote it out, handing it over.  "I remember this case.  Good.  We'll do that too.  If the parents don't mind?"

"Oh, I want my son to see where he's going," one mother assured him.  "In graphic detail.  Can he stay overnight too?"

"I'll see what I can do, ma'am.  Let's take this to my office so we can do the official paperwork. Officer?"  They came in to escort the parents and children out.  He looked at the relieved mother.  "If you need one, we can provide you an excuse for work."

"I don't need one.  My boss will be thankful it wasn't our kid too."  She walked out, going to tell her boss that it wasn't her kid this time, just all his friends.  Her son had brains!

Horatio smiled at the DA.  "Thank you."

"Not a problem.  Better to deter than have to see them again in five years."

"Or sooner," Horatio agreed.

"Definitely."  He followed the last child out, calling his secretary for her to start the paperwork for him.

Horatio went to the meeting.  "What do we have?"

"Are they taking deals?" Calleigh asked.

"Every single one of them," Xander agreed.  "They thought having one would make them cool, like rappers."

"Prentis suggested a scared straight approach as well as probation and a monitored teenage years," Horatio told him.  "One mother wanted her son to stay there overnight so he got the point.  It'll be fine."

"Good," Speed agreed.  "What happened?"

"My lawn boy took all the loose guns in the house and left me one that was jammed," Xander told him.

"Gave him a key?" Eric asked.  Xander nodded.  "That's why most people don't.  They can drink from the spigot outside and pee at the gas station, Xander."

"From now on that'll happen," he agreed.

Prentis leaned in.  "Hey, Harris, you have one hell of a dog, man.  Came to watch me, nosed his bowl when I gave him a compliment.  Hates cats though."

"Yeah, he does.  Was he any trouble?"

"No, the one time he tried to huff the powder I sent him back to the bedroom and he ran that way for me.  Good training job."  She walked off, going back to work.

Xander grinned.  "Now if only he didn't beg," Speed said.

"I'm working on it," Tony told everyone.  McGee and Kate both gave him odd looks. "What?  I'm staying with him right now.  It's a lot cheaper than getting my own place and I get the good bathroom every time I want it."

"I only charge him half my payments and cooking duties," Xander agreed.  "He's a *great* cook."

Tony smiled.  "You're easy to please."  He looked around.  "Now that we're all here, what do we have?"

"The boot print was standard military issue, we can use the wear pattern to match them," Calleigh said.

Ducky smiled.  "This is a refreshing way of doing things.  No barking from Jethro."

Xander grinned. "This is only special crossover cases, Ducky.  We pulled out the company manners for you.  I know that someone also turned the oven on and blew out the pilot.  I had to run off to see how many of my guns got stolen from my house.  Ryan was running it?"

Ryan coughed, nodding.  "I got a match to someone in the house."  He slid it down.  "Who it turns out is in transgender transition.  About two-thirds through according to Alexx.  That's the female figure, Xander."  He nodded at that.  "I also ran the other prints you guys pulled.  Mostly from the family but not all."  He slid down three more sheets.  "Those were also pulled from various points.  The youngest one's was pulled from the kid's room."

"What do we have on where he's serving?" Xander asked.

"He's at Fort Bragg right now," Gibbs told him.  "Doing some training.  He's a IED trainer."  They all nodded at that.  "Other than that, he's got a clean record."

Ryan leaned on the table.  "One of those belongs to someone stationed at Fort Bragg.  That's his second listed address in the DMV system.  We know most prints are cleaned off within a month, or sooner depending on how much of a clean person the victim is.  These were still clean, we only got one smudged print."

"It's something to ask, see if his friend might know who would want to hurt them," McGee agreed. "I can call up there, boss."  Gibbs nodded at that.  "Did we find anything else, like listings for girlfriends, boyfriends?"

"I didn't find a cellphone and I thought that was odd earlier," Xander admitted.  "Did you find one in the kid's room, McGee?"

"No, I didn't.  That is strange.  A younger kid I can understand, but three adults and no cells?"

"I don't remember a house phone," Ryan offered.

Calleigh pulled up her laptop, typing something in.  "According to the phone book online, no land line listed."  She got into another screen, typing in the name.  "The kid had one at least.  So we've got missing cells.  I can run that down later if Xander doesn't," she offered.

"That'll be fine.  We'll run down our guy's just in case it's got something classified in his voicemail," Tony offered.  She smiled and nodded.

"Alexx, or you Ducky, who got killed first?" Xander asked.

"The three adults got stabbed pretty near each other," Alexx said.

"We know from the blood evidence you collected that the Sergeant died last.  His blood flowed over the blood of the female victim, for want of a better phrase that won't upset someone," Speed told them.  "The other didn't have any mixing."

"So we have her, him, and sometime the other guy," Xander said, considering it.  "What about the kid?"

"He went last," Alexx said.  "His liver temp was slightly higher.  By the way they were all stabbed.  It was something round but not a screwdriver.  It wasn't perfectly round."

"So, if I took a really slim stake?" Xander suggested.  "Something hand carved?"

"Probably," she agreed.  "Or something pointy that was natural.  It was wood though, I found a chip.  It's pine by what Speedy found."

"Alexx, underhand or overhand?" Xander asked.

"Underhand, baby.  All four were underhand.  The kid's was at a steeper angle too.  He died right there by the blood pool."

"So someone staked him like they would give him the heimlich?"  She nodded.  "Or they were hugging him from behind."

"Probably, yes.  The others got it from a front angle.  I'd say the attacker was a bit taller than our transexual subject, about the same height as our Sergeant.  That one was the most straight on.  The other guy was at a sideway tilt so I'm guessing he was trying to turn when he got stabbed."

Xander looked at Gibbs, then at them.  "Relative size?"  She handed down a photo.  "How much shrinkage?"

"Maybe a half inch around.  Why?"

Xander looked at her.  "I have a wooden spoon that I do rice with that's this size."


"There was a space on the wall," Ryan said, hunting through the pictures with Tony.  He got handed it by Tony.  "Thanks.  Here.  Slight discoloration.  Looks like someone took something that had rested there for a few months."

Xander traced the outline with his pen.  "That's a chili spatula."  He handed it down to Gibbs, who looked then handed it on.  "That's about the right size though."  Tony looked then nodded.  "Can we see if they had one of those from one of the neighbors?"

"One mentioned them being avid chili cookoff participants.  She's been perfecting her grandfather's recipe for years was what one said," McGee told him.

"I got that as well, and I'm assuming they're talking about the transexual victim," Horatio said.  McGee nodded.  "Did they hint?"

"They said she was a bit odd, but really nice so they could overlook her identity confusion according to the shrinks up the street."

"Gotta love shrinks," Xander said.  "Any old grannies who watch the neighborhood?"

Tony smiled.  "I did have tea with one.  She said that nice young girl was dating someone new, very charming and handsome, drove a shiny medium blue sports car, just darker than the sea at noon at the harbor according to her.  She said he's not the sort to pull up and honk, he always comes up and knocks politely when he wants to take her out.  The whole family loved the boy.  The Sergeant was sorely missed by his brother, the other victim.  He was struggling right now, his job was rocky with overtime demands.  Bobby, the female, has been doing a lot of filling in and she said she's been a very good mother to their younger brother, Paul.  The Sergeant was in for  week's leave, vacation time according to her.  He got here about four days ago.  Bobby had a date two days ago but he left without taking her with him and didn't look happy.  Could have been a fight, she wasn't sure.  Now, she did say that the dog would go wonderfully at her house so he's over there.  The snake we let Animal Control have when no one wanted to take care of it until we found more relatives."

Everyone nodded.  "She also said that the older brother hadn't had a girlfriend in nearly a year thanks to work issues.  She had stomped off screaming that he loved his job more than her and he should marry it instead so perhaps they were getting close to that final point.  She wasn't sure.  She did say that they were quiet, not heavy drinkers or partiers.  The Sergeant did when he was in on leave with some of his high school friends.  She said he went to Central?"  Horatio nodded he knew which one that was.  "That everyone there knew the six or seven boys who hung together if we needed that information.  She did think that Bobby would make a very pretty girl once he was done and she fully supported it because those boys needed some softness in their lives again.  She started right after their parents died with her cut of the inheritance.  The older brother, Steve, used his to pay off the house and make sure his little brother had a school fund, plus bought that big screen tv and fixed the kitchen up.  The Sergeant used his to buy a new car and take care of some older bills the family still had hanging around.  She did say that she thought one had been shady, that the father had been doing some drugs in his end days.  That he had succumbed, her word, due to the pain of losing his wife a month earlier.  Then he died in his sleep."

He leaned on the table.  "I would've called Ducky, but I figured you had already figured out she was a trannie.  Sorry if that shocked you.  I also found out that the boyfriend never showed up during the week, only on the weekends, only on Saturday and Sunday morning for church.  She said he wasn't local but she didn't get a good look at his license plate.  Just that it was white with a figure in the center.  Something colorful.  Possibly a bird."  They all nodded.  "She was sure it wasn't a Florida plate.  She also said that Bobby had an allergy to one of the meds late last month, had to be switched off one of the hormones.  She said that was just before the possible fight took place.  So I'm not sure if he agreed with her or not, but that was about the same time she got the implants as well.  She started to grow her hair about a month before that."

"Then it's possible her boyfriend didn't know," Xander offered.  "A 'how dare you do this to me' fight and breakup."  Tony nodded.  "If they were hugging the kid, they had to know him pretty well or he would've struggled.  Most kids his age hate being hugged or kissed. I know I did."

"I used to pull away from everyone," Gibbs agreed. "So we definitely believe it was someone familiar with the family?"  Everyone nodded.  "What about the gang insignia?"

"To throw us off?" Speed suggested.  "Or they could have some connection."

"It could relate back to the tattoo on the Sergeant," Kate offered.  "Did we find out if he was affiliated?"  Gibbs shook his head.  "He could've claimed it was a girlfriend."

"It's not that hard to find one and ask if they know them," Xander offered, looking at Eric.  "Hype that someone was trying to make them claim credit or be one of them?"

"That could work.  I know where they hang in the afternoon," he agreed. "Tony, do the high school."

"I can do that after I do the phone search."  He looked at McGee.  "Do a background on him.  Full, in depth.  Everything."  He nodded.  "Is there any evidence we haven't gotten to yet?"

"Tox isn't back yet," Alexx said.  "I'll have a final report by tonight when they get back to us."

"No DNA, all the fingerprints are done by those two smudges," Ryan agreed.  "I found a later one on the back door I lifted just in case."

"No ballistics, all the chem and trace are done," Speed agreed.

"No, there was DNA," Xander said.  "I pulled a lot of hairs off."

"I must've missed those in your case," Ryan said, going to get his case for him.  He came back with the two envelopes.  "Why two?"

"One had a lice."

"Oh.  Good idea.  I'll warn Valera.  That'll take until tonight too.  She's not too backed up right now," Ryan said.  "I'll deliver.  Need me on anything else?  If not, I've got next case."  Horatio nodded for him to go.

Xander looked at Gibbs.  "They showed you were the coffeepot was, right?"

"They did, smart ass."

Xander grinned.  "Thanks for thinking I'm extra smart today, Gibbs.  Horatio, did the judge complain?"  He nodded.  "Then next time give me more time."  He got up.  "I'm going to check in ballistics while you guys do that stuff.  Let me know when it's my turn again."  They all nodded, letting him go.

Alexx looked down at the others.  "Also, one last thing I forgot.  They had just eaten.  Probably coming in from a dinner out.  Looked like pasta, a bit of wine, some meatballs."  She stood up.  "I've probably got another body waiting on me by now so I'll go do that.  Let me know if you need more or who's going to claim the body, Gibbs."  She got nodded at so she left with Ducky following to help her with the bodies.

Gibbs looked at  Horatio.  "Your team is nearly as efficient as mine is."

"With less loud music," Calleigh teased.

"True, you don't listen to anything near what Abby does in her lab."  The others broke up, walking out talking about the case and what they were bringing to the welcoming party.  "DiNozzo, we need directions," he said quietly.  "So will Abby."

"Already got them printed, boss, and we're going to be fine with everyone at the house.  I promise."

"No closet issues?"

"No, I didn't have room in his."  He grinned and got up, heading to start his tasks.  Xander let him have his desk for that, earning a smile from Calleigh.  "Our office was trashed by the going away party the last team threw.  They *really* wanted to go to Alaska."

"So this was your punishment city for being good?" she teased.

"Sure is.  Not that we see it that way.  Except Gibbs.  Now he's got to find a new way to build a boat since he can't find a basement around here."  Xander chuckled.  "He does.  He found a good spot near a canal.  What am I making tomorrow?" he asked as he typed.

"I don't care," Xander told him.  "You're putting together the grill with me?  That way I have the mythical third hand that they don't tell me I'll need?"

"I can do that too."

"I usually order stuff from the deli," Xander told him.

"That's probably safer, Xander."  He reached over to pat him on the back.  "Okay, he does have a cellphone up there."  He dialed into the service provider, which was military friendly.  "Hi, this is Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo, NCIS, Miami, Florida.  We had one of your customers, a Sergeant Thomas Smythe," he spelled it, "end up dead down here and his phone is missing."  He read off his badge number, waiting while they verified.  "Just got transferred from DC," he admitted.  "Well, we need to know a few things.  What sort of phone?"  He made notes.  "Would it have GPS capability?"  He nodded, writing down that information.  She had his GPS ID on her screen.  "Okay, when was the last time he called?"  He made a note of that and to who.  "Please, if you can send our office the full call log for the last week, ma'am.  He was on leave with his family down here. Them too unfortunately."  He hummed and made a note of that.  "Thank you.  Can you also send the office a copy of his voicemails?  In electronic format or on tape, either is fine.  Thank you, ma'am.  Of course."  He made note of her name and ID number.  "Thank you.  I'll ask for you directly if we have any problems."  He hung up, typing the GPS ID into the system.  "Here we go.  Phone's on and walking."  He let her see, checking the ones for the other phones.  They were nearby.  "Can you get patrol to pick up the pockets they're in?"

"I can do that," she agreed, calling in that order as she walked off.  "Meet you back here, Tony."

"Thanks."  He looked at Xander.  "You sure?  I can make anything you want."

Xander gave him a gentle grin.  "I'm not picky."

"Good point."  He winked and got up, taking his notes with him to hand over to Gibbs.  "Calleigh's finding the people walking around with the phones right now.  I'm going to the high school to find his friends.  They're sending the voicemail tapes to us.  I asked for the last week's call log.  They're going to the office so someone will have to put together one of the desks soon."  He grimaced.  "Did you report them?"

"The director said we'd have new desks within a week."

"Sure, I can work on the floor, boss.  Can I have a laptop this time?"  He walked off.  "Going to find his friends, boss."

"Take someone with you."

"Hey, Wolfe, you busy?"

"Not yet."  He came out with his kit, just in case he got a call on the way.  "Any luck?"

"The cellphones had legs.  Calleigh's running down the Rockettes."

Ryan snickered.  "She'll have fun with that I'm sure."  Tony nodded.  "We're going after the friends?"

"Yeah, just in case so there's no loose ends."

"I know where that school is.  I went there."  Tony looked at him.  "It's one of three public ones in Miami."

"Wow.  DC had more."

"Consolidation hit us recently.  The rest are private, expensive, exclusive, or religious.   Or the alternative school."

"Seen those too," Tony admitted.  "I think they may be onto the right track with the boyfriend."

"The neighbor you found didn't say they had any other friends?"

"The Sergeant's friends.  The older brother was too busy for friends and the younger guy was too little for a pack."

"Packs?" he teased.  "Thinking like Xander already," he finished once they were in the elevator.

"Great minds and all that," Tony agreed happily.  "It bother you?"

"Hell no.  More women for me and they won't be evil from wanting Xander or you."  Tony snickered.  "You'll figure out the lab is a bit kinkier than you thought soon enough."

"I have noticed a few things.  What's with John and Calleigh?"

"She's resisting hard."  They got off the elevator.  "It's fun to watch though."  The ran into Frank outside.  "Hey."

"Hey.  Heading out on a new one?"

"This morning's quadruple.  I'm being a native guide to one of the local high schools.  Have you met Agent DiNozzo yet?"

"During the last case down here," he said with a grin.  "How is your banishment?"

"So far it's okay.  We got a memo saying that we weren't allowed to take a single day off during spring break.  Gibbs had to put the last team on report for trashing our office.  We don't have a single piece of unbroken furniture."  Frank laughed at that. "They were very happy to go to Alaska.  What did you guys do to them?"

"They got pushy with Horatio a few times," Frank admitted. "Got the behind-the- sunglasses stare down from him.  Then again, their junior officer was the only one with balls to stand up to anyone in the lab."

"She probably dated Eric," Ryan joked.

"Possibly.  The boy is a bit of a slut," he agreed.  Tony laughed.  "Heard you were too."

"I'm a good boy, Detective," he said with a smirk.

"We heard.  As long as you treat the kid right.  Or else we'll have to step in and Horatio can be...creative."

"Not an issue."  He looked at the parking lot, frowning.  "Tell me that isn't Rosenburg."

Frank looked.  "Or a clone.  I'll call, you two scurry off."   They headed off while he called Horatio.  "Incoming."  He hung up, giving her a patient, calm look.  "Yes, Miss Rosenburg.  What can we do for you today?"

"How do you know me?"

"I was there when you kicked in Xander's door."

"Oh.  Is he here?"

"Don't know.  Why?"

"I wanted to talk to him.  Is there a problem with talking to him?"

"Um, yeah. You kicked in his door and tried to kidnap him."

"I'm not like that," she said weakly.  "I wanted to talk about what he told the new kids he found for us to train."

Horatio walked out.  "Miss Rosenburg.  Welcome back to Miami."

"Can I bum an hour of Xander-talking?"

"When he has lunch, at two."  He stared at her behind his sunglasses, making her wilt.  "We will be watching for aberrant behavior this time."

"Fine.  I can understand that.  Buffy was really mean to him.  She hit him and things."

"She broke his arm," Frank told her.  "Then she broke into his place and shot it up."

"Oh."  She pouted.  "I don't want to hurt him."

"I know you don't, that's why we'll only be watching," Horatio told her.  "Go and come back at two."  She nodded, going back to her car.  He looked at Frank.  "Thank you for the warning," he said quietly.

"You want to tell Valera?  She still wants to smack Buffy around for breaking his arm."

He smiled. "I was going to tell Calleigh and Alexx, Frank.  Valera can wait behind them."  Frank shivered.  "Since this is the second time I think she deserves it."  He walked back inside, calling Calleigh once he got into the elevator.  "Willow showed up.  She'll be back for lunch to talk to Xander."  He hung up, going to the morgue.  "Alexx."  She smiled.  "Willow just appeared."  Xander leaned out of the office.  "I told her you couldn't talk until lunch."

"So same as last time?" Xander asked.  Horatio nodded.  "Okay.  Guess that means I can't eat with Cooper," he said, shrugging a bit.

"You can bring him and me, sugar," Alexx promised with a sweet smile, patting him on the cheek.  "Now, come help us rod all these wounds."  He nodded, coming out with the rods so he could do that.  "Two, Horatio?"  He nodded.  "I'm sure we'll have a *lovely* lunch."  He walked out smirking.  "Don't you worry, if she tries anything I'll get to practice my swatting.  Ducky said that Gibbs finds it very therapeutic."

"And then some," he agreed.  "Should I duck out of lunch and let you guys talk?"

"No, let's see what she wants to apologize for.  Then we'll see."  He nodded at that wisdom.  "Good boy."  Ducky came back.  "We're going to have lunch with Willow today."

"That poor lass," he said with a happy smile.  "Well, I'm sure she won't warp any more young men into calling sports odd names.  Anthony nearly beat Xander for what he calls football."

"So did I," Alexx said happily, smiling at Xander.

"It does.  Or like they're giving birth and then passing them off to their daddies. That would make touchdowns taking them home."

"Don't make me smack you," she warned.  "I had a bad enough image with the baby animals."  Ducky gave her an odd look.  "I was making an analogy to make him feel better about not being perfect in everything.  Pointed out football players don't often go to petting zoos."  Ducky moaned.  "Exactly.  His mind went to where they were playing it with the baby animals."

"Well, every lad must have some sort of odd thinking, it's what leads us to consider the deeper subjects of life," Ducky decided.  "Let us use yellow for the gunshots and blue for the stabs?"  They nodded, letting Xander help them place rods.


Xander looked up when Willow walked over.  "Hey.  This is Cooper, our AV tech, Alexx, our ME, Calleigh, my fellow ballistics person, and Gibbs, you might remember him.  I interned with his department and he just switched down here.  Come sit."  He ate a bite of his sandwich.  "What's up?"

"Can we talk about what you told the mini-uses?"

"Why?  Is it going to change things?"

"Were we really that bad?"

"Do you remember the last three years we were together?"  She nodded.  "What was I doing?"

"Hanging around.  Fixing weapons."

"Doing your job for you because you and she were lazy," he snorted. "I did plenty of patrols on my own, Willow.  You guys refused to see me as anything but lesser.  I didn't need that then and I don't need it now."

She pouted.  "You don't have any special powers."

"And yet I managed to fight and survive the same way you did," he pointed out, staring her down.  "And then I became better because I actually finished college, got a degree that helps people and let's me do what I like to do all day long, and now I'm one of the top people in the field.  Huh, so very worthless."

"You were injured!"

"Angel didn't seem to care."

"He was humoring  you."

"Is that why he woke me up out of a sound sleep more often than not?  Made me come in when I had finals, papers due.  Presentations, lab times?"  She scowled at him.  "I did a hell of a lot for Angel.  If he was still alive you could ask him.  Or you could ask Gunn or Connor."  She glared.  "They knew.  They never discounted me.  They let me prove what I could and couldn't do.  Which was a hell of a lot more than they thought I could do based on what you guys told them.  Funny about that.  For the first month they kept  going 'they never said you could do that' until the point where Cordy had to point out why they didn't know."

"You never paid attention!  You couldn't do the research...."

"I can read as many languages as you can," he said bitterly.  "I did more of the research because you snuck off to do magic research while I was working on the real problems.  Hell, even Wes got treated better than I did when we were in high school.  By the way, he was there when I was too.  He was shocked as hell that you guys hadn't wanted me along since I'm damn good with most weapons.  Oh, and get this.  People come to me to see what sort of archaic weapon something was."  She huffed.  "I was never less than you two were.  It's just that you two were being bitches about things because you felt *special* and damn, there I was a normal guy without the specialness doing the same work, and more most times, and it made you feel normal.  Of course you shoved me away, Willow.  It's elementary psychology.  I took away your Goddess complex by proving I was better."

"I staked more than you did," she told him.

"Not hardly.  Even before you went to Cleveland.  You'd do an hour of patrolling, you and Buffy would go back, and I'd stay out to do more.  There's a reason why people know who I am and not you other than you're a witch.  I've had non-hunting vampires and harmless demons check to make sure I was staying retired when I did retire."  Her face fell.  "Sorry but no.  Doesn't fly in the face of reality, Willow.  Find reality, it's been calling now since tenth grade."

"You lied to her about me resouling Angel."

"The only way to stop it was with his own blood since he opened it with it.  He had to close it with a sacrifice.  Do you think she could have done that?"  She stomped off.  "By the way, I still like how you blamed me for you kissing me.  Wasn't my fault, Willow."  She flipped him off.  "Very mature.  When you finish growing up, come back."  He went back to his lunch.  "Sorry you had to witness that.  She needed it."

"She probably did," Alexx agreed.  "Thankfully you're retired now so we don't have to worry about your violent urges."

"You didn't have to worry about them before unless you picked on me."

"I still wanted to know what happened at that one scene a few weeks back," Cooper said.

"No you don't," Alexx told him.  "Not unless you want to clean up the next one."  She looked at Xander.  "Which t-shirt are you wearing?"

"A threatening one.  She should've been smart enough to get a clue."  _Hi  I don't care  Thanks_ about said it all for him.  He answered his phone.  "Harris."  He listened.  "She didn't catch the clue that I moved?  Have her arrested.  Not like I want to deal with her.  Tell the new tenant I'm very sorry.  She's deluded and childish.  She also thinks I'm worthless and horribly disabled, I should be begging in a corner."  He saw Stetler come out of the building sneering.  "Sure, have her brought here to the lab's precinct.  Call 911.  Thank you for letting me know."  He hung up and stood up.  "Hey, Rick, Willow's here and she just went to trash my former apartment if you wanted to talk to her like you did Buffy about my sports issues."  Stetler sneered at him.  "The redheaded menace."  He walked back inside shaking his head.  He sat down again, getting back into his lunch.  "He enjoyed his talk with Buffy."

"That's because he put her down, got to override her, and shot all her illusions," Cooper said, shuddering.  "It was brutal."

Xander looked at him.  "Did it work?"

"She cried."

"Doesn't mean it worked," Gibbs told him. "I made her cry back when we had him as an intern."

"Uh-huh, the weekend I signed on with Miami," Xander said happily, grinning at him. "How long did you have to shower after you walked out of the Magic Box?"

"Only twice.  I was shocked, there weren't any parts in jars."

"No, we weren't into that.  That was Angel when he lost his soul."  He shrugged and grinned, digging in again.  "We did herby things."

Alexx patted him on the hand.  "Remember, you're retired."

"Yup, I am.  Now I only have to do it if the city's bending over to take it up the butt."  She swatted him.  "Hey!  It's an apt description this time."

"Not one I need to hear," she complained.

"Sorry."  He shrugged and dug back in, waving when Frank came out.  "Willow's coming back in bracelets," he called.

Frank walked over.  "Of course she is.  You didn't date her too, right?"

"No, she used to have a major crush on me that I ignored," he admitted. "The other side of the psycho posse."

"What did she do?" Frank asked.

"The same thing she did last time.  The poor new tenants are horrified."


"He told Stetler so he can break bad on her too," Cooper told him.

"That was kinda fun to watch," Frank admitted, going to call Horatio and warn him.  He walked over when Willow was brought in, taking her out of the car.  "Charge sheet?"  The officer finished it for him.  "Thanks.  She keeps bothering one of the CSI."  He walked her inside.

"Oh, no, she's IAB's, Detective," Stetler told him.  "You can have the prisoner after I question her."  Frank shrugged and handed her over.  "No complaints?"

"I wanna watch."

"Fine."  He walked her off to the room he had specially prepared.  He knew Caine was watching too.  "Now, Miss Rosenburg, I hear you have information on what CSI Harris used to do?"  She nodded slowly.  "How much of it was illegal?"

"None.  Well except that we had to steal a grenade launcher from the military because it was the only thing that would kill something that was going to eat everyone on the planet."

"Did they know?"

"Yup, but they didn't charge us.  Firing a grenade launcher in a mall at a blue thing sucking emotions out of people for nibbling times gets on the news even in Sunnydale.  They decided it was for a good reason when Xander explained it and warned us not to do it again."

Stetler stared at her. "You're serious?"  She nodded, smiling at him.  "How did he get on the base?"

"Prior possession gave him the codes.  That's the Ethan's fault."

"Anything else?"

"I kissed him and he cheated on someone so we rightly blamed him."

He stared at her.  "Wouldn't that make you guilty instead of him?"  She looked confused.  "You said you kissed him.  Wouldn't that make you just as guilty since I heard you were dating as well at that time?"

She shook her head. "It was his fault.  He's the guy, he should've stopped me."

"See, I talked to Miss Chase," he sneered.  She went pale.  "She blamed you.  She did admit she was cheating on Xander.  They were already starting to break up.  You were not, were you?"  She shook her head.  "Hmm.  Then, as a thinking and rational being, you should have stopped yourself.  Not relied on him to stop you.  As I've heard he has other times in the past.  Including when *you* tried to end the world."
"I was grieving!  You wouldn't understand!"

"You'd be surprised," he said blandly.  "That's something billions of others have done through history and yet *they* didn't try to end the world.  Even the ones with the same powers as you."  She glared at him.  "They didn't, did they?"

"No," she ground out.

"So, you went evil.  Interesting."  He sat down across from her, pulling open the file he had on Harris.   Her last charge sheet was in there.  "I see you have a propensity for violence."

"No I don't."

He looked at her.  "You broke into his apartment and threatened the new residents just now.  You broke into his apartment the last time and threatened police officers and federal agents.  You tried to end the world in a shower of making everyone hurt and be in pain.  You have admitted in the past that you were a serial killer in your youth.  How is that not violent?"

"He said he staked more than me."

"Yes, but he did his out of a duty to protect others.  You did yours for very different reasons.  Doing it out of frustration, the joy of watching them dissolve.  You probably even celebrated when you got to fifty of them."  She went very pale at that.  "Did he?"

"We didn't think he staked that many," she admitted.

"Yet, he was there in the patrols with you, correct?"

"We protected him. He's a normal guy without skills."

"Really?  Is that why he recently received an award from the federal government for his achievements and accomplishments in the field of forensics?  Or why numerous federal agencies count on his help?  Why other departments come for him in the matter of archaic weapons?"

"That's that stuff, it's not the same as staking someone."

"You're right.  What he did was like killing a fleeing suspect in the line of duty.  What you did is like being a serial killer.  You're so bad you inspired one of you own, didn't you?"  She looked clueless.  "Harris' last girlfriend.  Tanya whater-her-name-is.  She was going around killing blondes and redheads repeatedly.  You are not only a serial killer, you inspired another one.  That's a feat that's worthy of federal study."

Gibbs leaned in.  "They don't want her.  I called to check.  They said Miami could have her for the assaults and threats."  He closed the door, going back to watching.

"Maybe it's not that rare then," Frank offered from his corner.  He walked over and opened the door.  "Someone make sure she doesn't have any other warrants please."  He closed it and walked back to his corner.  "That way we don't have to send her back like we did the other one."

"Thank you, Detective, that was helpful."  He smirked at her, watching her look confused.  "You damaged property.  You threatened two innocent people."

"Three," Frank said, handing over the charge sheet.

"Three," he agreed, smirking at him.  "Even more helpful."  He looked at her again.  McGee leaned in.  "She's mine for right now."

"That's fine.  There's no warrants for her arrest but a note was put in that she had hacked some systems back in Sunnydale to help with the problems out there."

"To cause or help?" Stetler asked.

"They said to help and the files say that."

"Files?" Frank asked, looking impressed.

"Her new ID, her old ID, and her one from high school.  I can pull them if you want," McGee offered.

"No, that's all right.  I think I have plenty here.  As long as there's no warrants?"

"Not that I could find, federal or any state."  He closed the door, going back to watching.  Xander walked behind them, shaking his head.  "You never told me she was a hacker."

"Abby knew."  He watched Stetler destroy her.  "You know, half of that could be applied to me."

"You did it as part of your duty, kid," Gibbs said.

Xander looked at him.  "Now and then it was frustration relief."

Gibbs looked at him.  "Felt guilty later?"  Xander shrugged.  "Now?"

"Now and then."

"Then you're not like her.  You can see the value in other's lives."  He went back to watching.  He felt someone else join them, looking back to see Eric hugging him.  "Go ahead and let him go, Delko.  He doesn't need to see this."

"Sure.  If he wants to I'm sure Cooper is saving it down."  Xander groaned, going to ask him not to do that.  He shifted closer, leaning on Calleigh's shoulder.  "I thought he was only mean to Horatio."  He took a bite of her fries to nibble.  "Thanks, needed lunch."

"You need to eat, Eric.  Or else I'll tell your mother or someone."

He looked at her.  "Not like any of them ate lunch."

"I can nag them in a few minutes."

"They're on their way in.  We'll steal the rest of your fries while we watch."  Speed brought in a bag of popcorn, letting him share.  "Thanks."

"Welcome.  Figured you were hungry too."  He leaned on Calleigh's other shoulder, letting her steal some of the popcorn too.  He even let Horatio have a few pieces before he went in there to help.  Willow gave him a horrified look when he laid out a full charge sheet with multiple offenses.   His assertion that she should be charged for blackmailing a department official was valid because she was trying to blackmail Xander into his bad former habits was enough to make them all smile.  "He's good," Speed agreed.

"He's very good," Calleigh sighed.  "We need to get a copy of this tape to John.  He'll giggle like the time they mixed up his meds and gave him happy pills."

Back in the labs, Xander found all the evidence he needed, going over it.  It gave him a place to look for a suspect but they'd probably need Tony or someone to do it.  He looked around then sighed.  "Kate?" he called.  She peeked in.  "Here, a suspect, dear."   She came in to get it.  "I think the boyfriend is his military buddy."

"Interesting."  She looked it over, nodding at the information they had.  "It does look like it.  I'll have someone pull him down here for questioning."

"Shouldn't you go up there unless you have to bring him down?"

"We'll have to anyway," she said, patting him on the cheek.  "Good instincts, Xander."

"Should I bark?" he asked dryly.

"Only if Tony likes it."  She walked out reading the information.  "Gibbs, we have a suspect," she called.  "Xander put it together.  We need to go up there or drag him down."

Gibbs came out of observation, looking at the information.  "That would fit."  She pointed at something.  "You sure?"

"He thinks so.  Who do you think?"   He pointed.  "Same guy, Gibbs."

"Even better.  We'll go tonight after we get the tox results back."  She nodded, going to put together the full file and input it into their system.


Tony walked Abby in the next night, making her squeal and run to hug Xander.  "Kitchen?" he teased.

"Waiting on everyone.  Watching the dog sniff the grill."  He looked at him.  "We need gas for it."

"Let me see what we need."  Xander handed over the instruction book.  "You're being handy," he teased.

"Often."  He went back to hugging his Abby buddy.  "I missed you."

"Of course you did."

"Willow came down."

"Were they mean to her?" she asked.  He nodded.  Tony nodded more quickly, going out to look at the grill.  "I'm sure they had good reason.  I have a letter from your mom."  Xander pulled his head up to look at her.  "Her computer's broke at home."

"Oh.  Okay.  Are you staying over tonight?"

"If you want."  She felt a cold nose and looked down, cooing.  "Hi, Humphrey baby."  She sat down to play with him, getting a happy puppy since she did feed him treats.

"He'll get fat, Abby."

"He'll play it off tonight with all of us.  I'm sure he loves to play with everyone."  She took him out back to help Tony with the grill.  "Is it hooked up?"

"All but the gas tank," he agreed. "I called someone to pick some up."  He looked at the nose worming its way under his arm.  "Hey, Humph."  He scratched his ears.  "Go get your ball.  Go get the ball!"  He ran inside, coming out with a rope.  "That'll work too."  He gave it a tug and the dog pulled back, sinking his feet in.  Abby came over to play, using her mouth.  "Dog germs."

"Dogs have very clean mouths.  Shouldn't that be sitting on concrete or something?"  She went back to tug of war with the dog, making him a happy dog.

"She's got a point, Xander.  Do we have spare tiles or anything?"  Xander went to look, coming out with the loose ones they had found in the bathroom but hadn't had time to fix.  "That'll work."  He set them up, putting the grill on top of them.  "Yeah, that's level, it'll work."  Ryan came through the house with two gas cylinders.  "We're cooking that much?"

"You never know," he told him, helping him hook the first one up.  Xander came out with the tools, earning a smile.  "You're a handy guy," he teased.

"Bad joke, Ryan."  He got it hooked up and started, letting it warm up. "Okay, there's meat in the fridge that Tony picked out last night."  Tony went to get it before Xander could touch it and ruin it.  "Ry, this is Abby."

"Hi, Ryan," she said, going back to playing with the dog.  Xander picked her up and moved her further out, making the dog bark and follow.  "Okay, I'll play over here."

"We don't want you to run into the grill."

"That's a bad thing," she agreed. She gave the rope a tug and the dog tugged back, growling at her.  She went back to her oral tug of war, making him a very happy dog.  She understood him!  He let go suddenly, making her fall, but he rushed over to climb over her, sitting on her back to lick her ear.  "You're a good boy," she praised.  "You won, I falled down."  She carefully moved, letting the dog sit on her chest so she could pet him.  "Such a good boy."

"Are you staying tonight, Abs?" Tony called.  "If not, we'll have to let you into Kate's place or let Gibbs take you home."

She looked back at him.  "That depends, would I be an imposition?"  The dog lapped her so she went back to her attention.  "You love me. You really, really love me, huh?"  She got up, letting him chase her around since she had the rope.  Xander took a picture, she saw him do it, but oh well.

Gibbs came out shaking his head.  "Abby, let the poor thing rest."

"You hush, bossman, he needed played with since Xander works all day."  She changed direction, earning a bark and him speeding up.  "Yes, you needed a long run, didn't you," she panted.

Tony caught her, making the dog growl ta him. "I took you for a run this morning when I went for mine.  Go get the ball!"  He ran inside, getting his ball this time, which was more sedate.  He played fetch very well.  He went back to the grill, finding Xander tightening the gas nozzle again.  "Did it loosen?"

"I heard a pop, I'm making sure," he said from under the grill.

Calleigh came out of the kitchen.  "Do I want to know what Xander's doing?"

"Making sure the gas doesn't leak," Ryan said with a grin.  He looked over at Abby, taking another picture since she and the dog were tugging on the ball again.  "Abby, Calleigh's here."  The dog barked and Abby barked too, getting a wet tongue to the lips and nose for speaking his language.  "You should be careful, Abby, he might think you're a female puppy."

"Only when the last director annoyed me," she quipped.  Calleigh laughed.

Xander came out from under the grill, looking at her.  "The oversight people came down and I told one I was being bitchy that day."  She giggled, rolling around with the dog.

"Didn't Natalia complain?" Ryan asked.

"Yeah, she thought it'd make the rest of you look grumpy too."

"I was more than happy to watch you bully the guy into putting on the proper gear."  He grinned at John when he came out, giving Calleigh a pat on the shoulder.  "That's Abby."

"Her or the puppy?"


"Hey," he called, waving.  She waved back, going back to her tug of war for the ball.

"Abby, you can't steal his dog," Gibbs said when he came out with Horatio and his boys behind him.  Kate followed more slowly, dragging a chair to flop down.  "No lawn furniture, Harris?"

"See the door on the side of the gun vault?  Open it, pull out stuff."  Gibbs went to do that and Xander looked at Horatio's dish.  "There's a table in there too."

"It can hit the fridge for now," Speed promised, taking it back in there while Eric set things up.  He let everyone else in, giving Alexx an odd look for walking in with Natalia.  He got a shrug back.  "Okay," he mouthed.  "Everyone's out back," he called.  "No snooping in Xander's bedroom, Valera.  Or you, Natalia."

"I was checking out the bathroom," Valera teased.  "Xander, you have tiles missing?"

"We're using them under the grill for the night," Tony told her.  "Then we're sealing them back down this weekend."

"Okay."  She came out to help cook, being nice enough to give Horatio a nudge toward the others.  "Go chat.   You need to relax too, boss."  She looked at the meat then at him.  "Eric can eat that all by himself."

"There's more in the fridge."  She beamed, going to check.  She came back with a soda and a water, letting him take his choice.  "Thanks.  Grilling is hard, manly work."  Xander gave him a look.  "You come near this grill and I will spank."

"Then you wanted to nap with Abby tonight and the dog?"

"No," he admitted.  "Kate, let her know where you'd put her up tonight so she can choose."

"I've got a couch, Gibbs has a couch and a spare room, they've got a spare room and the dog."

"I'll stay with the dog.  She appreciates me."  She checked under the tail.  "Ooops, he."  She patted him, getting a cuddle.  At least until he saw Alexx, then he went to pounce her, crawling into her lap to lick her and love on her until she laughed and put him down with an ear scratch.  "He loves you."

"I love him, he's a good boy," she agreed.  The dog barked and ran over to sniff the new people, sneezing at Kate and Ziva.  Then he went back to his oversized littermate.

Calleigh suddenly squealed and hit John on the arm.  "As I told the little punks who stole my guns and their parents, if I see boyfriend, spousal, or child abuse, I am required by law to turn those people in to the proper authorities.  Take him out of my sight to beat him if he needs it that badly, boss.  That way I don't have to turn you in for beating him," Xander called from his spot on the grass.

"Gibbs, you're closer, smack him for me," John requested.  Gibbs leaned over and smacked Xander on the head. "Thank you.  That was just a playful swat, kiddo."

Xander looked at him.  "How would I know?  Not like I like swatting games before sex.  The closest I got to that was Cordelia."

"Don't remind me of the heathen woman," Horatio ordered.  Xander grinned at him.  "Really, Xander."  Frank came out.  "How did it end up?"

"Willow is going to take her probation back to Cleveland and behave for a change.  I also called Mr. Giles to tell him what had happened.  He promised to spank her himself."  He looked at her friend.  "She and Stetler had a *long* talk about how and why you draw the psycho women.  How did you handle Anya?"

"I have incredible stamina," Xander said proudly, beaming at him.  "Just ask my dog after I've played with him for hours on end."

"You're a better man than I am if you could deal with that, Harris," Frank said.

"Just think, I did that after patrol, then went to work the next morning at my construction job."

"No wonder you never sleep," Tony complained.  Xander grinned at him.  "We've got to break you of that bad habit, Xander.  We really do."  He flipped the meat.  "The first stuff is getting ready to come off, guys.  Someone get me plates and pull out the other stuff."  Alexx went to do that with Speed's help.  "Abby, go wash up."

"Fine.  We'll go clean up and then we'll eat, Humphrey."  He followed her into the house, letting her clean his face after hers.  They came back out together, him hopping into her lap to snuggle in and nap.  He was tired now.   He didn't even beg more than a few times.  His littermate understood.  She gave him a good portion of her dinner.

Horatio came over to get his.  "Have you showed her the lab yet?"

"Not yet.  I'm giving her a happy night," Tony said quietly.  "We'll be able to hear the shriek tomorrow."  He handed Xander down his plate, getting a smile.  "Not enough chairs?"

"Table's not big enough."  Tony smiled, putting on the new stuff, making Xander follow him over to the table so they could sit nearby.  "I didn't cook anything," Xander said when everyone looked at him. "I promise I haven't done more than tighten the gas on the grill."

"I watched, he didn't," Ryan assured them.  They dug in.  The two teams joked, laughed, and played while Ziva watched, looking very confused.  Xander finally took pity on her and leaned over to whisper in her ear in Hebrew, earning a surprised look.  "Did he just hit on you?" Ryan teased.

"No, he speaks my native language."

"It came in handy for research working with the Watcher's Council," he said with a grin.  Her eyes lit up.  "I grew up in Sunnydale."

"Oh, dear."

"Basically.  I helped Rupert and Buffy."

"That would explain why you know Hebrew."  She gave him a long look.  "Why did Director Sheppard not like you?"

"I'm bi-sexual.  I'm smart, I'm good at my job.  I'm male.  My parents coopted me now and then.  I ruined some of her plans, like having Abby and Tony discredited and Tony put in jail."

"You missed one," Abby said.  "She hired a recently-released rapist without any training at all to be my lab assistant.  I locked him in the closet until Gibbs got down there."

"He agreed with both of us, Abby.  He had no business being in your lab," Gibbs told her.  "How was he doing?"

"He said he'd miss my perky cheer but so far it seems his rehabilitation has been successful."  She grinned at Ziva.  "She hated him because he's something she always wanted to be."

"She was good as a field agent," Jethro said.

"Yes and she let it cloud her judgement, Gibbs.  Or else she wouldn't keep trying to take over your investigations."  He looked at Ziva.  "Did you notice how she was always pushing her way, even if it caused problems?"  She nodded at that, a bit quickly.  "That's why she didn't like me.  I pointed out when she screwed up and why.  Repeatedly if necessary. Add that onto the fact that she's threatened by men who wouldn't sleep with her even if she begged and, well, you get the picture probably."

"Why are you bisexual?  I know some who are either but no one who's both."

"I've always been this way but I used to lean more toward women.  Then I started to date psychotic women who liked to kill others.  Since my last real girlfriend became a serial killer...."  She just nodded at that. "I went closer to fully gay than not.  Every now and then I still look.  There's some very beautiful women in Miami.  Some of whom are here right now, but some of them will smack the crap out of you if you look."

"Wait until she experiences spring break," Eric teased.  Ziva looked confused.  "It's the end of February through the end of March.  All the colleges get a spring break.  A good portion of them come down here to party for their week off.  Miami gets an extra two hundred thousand people during that time."  She gave him a horrified look.  "All young, eighteen to twenty-five usually.  Mostly drunk.  All running around in bikinis and really short shorts.  Lots and lots of crime though.  We're lucky if we're not pulling all nighters during spring break."  Horatio moaned since his mouth was full, nodding at that.  "You will also see the stupidest people ever."

"Oh, I don't know," Calleigh offered.  "I think the jell-o shooter guys were pretty damn stupid myself.  Not even on spring break."  She looked at Ziva.  "Ten kids decided they were going to create the world's biggest jell-o shooter on the beach."

"What's a jell-o shooter?" she asked, looking confused.

"That's where you mix jell-o with alcohol instead of water," McGee offered.  "Gets you really drunk really fast but you don't usually taste the liquor."


"They're teenagers and it's fun," Xander told her.  "I used to like to lick them off bellybuttons."  Tony laughed and nodded that he agreed.  "How many gallons was it anyway, Cal?"

"Nearly thirty gallons of jell-o.  They mixed it with stuff that was going to be solid.  They were slowly layering it to get in some record book somewhere. The guy mixing it fell in between two layers and drowned and no one noticed because they were so drunk.  We had to dig him out of the top layer of jell-o.  A foot of green alcoholic jell-o.  Then we had to wash the body."

"Nine times," Alexx agreed.  "Hand to God I've seen less mess with chainsaw killings and people run over by a train."

Xander nodded.  "It was nasty.  I had a concussion and even the thought made me sick.  He did fall in?"

"Yeah, he was so drunk he fell in.  His blood alcohol was up in the point-three range, Xander.  And the kids still wanted to finish drinking it after we pulled the body out because they were that drunk."

"And that's spring break right there," Speed agreed.  "All the 'I was so drunk I did this or that' stories come from spring break.  We're one of a few favorite destinations.  I really sorry for the guys who have to work Lake Mead out in Las Vegas.  They get tons of drowning deaths from stupid, drunk kids."

"We get plenty," Alexx assured him.  "So drunk they pass out in the ocean.  Or on the beach and drown in the tide.  Waking up wondering what country they're in."  Ziva shuddered.  "That's spring break down here. That and little, tiny girls in bikinis so small no one has to wonder what they have."

"Who all want to play with Horatio's hair and think Alexx is a mom figure to ask advice from for some of the oddest questions," John finished.  He saluted them.  "I wish you much luck this year."

"We aren't even allowed to take a day off during it," McGee complained.

"Our building has a wonderful view of Collins Avenue," Tony told him.  "We can sit up there with field specs and see *everything* without having to leave the office if we're free, Probie."

"Only if you want to clean the restroom with your toothbrush," Gibbs told him.

"I had one girl last year who flashed me and asked if I'd autograph her.  They were holding a contest and I was her cop entry," Horatio told them.

"I got two of those," Ryan agreed.  "On a scene.  Walked up to the tape and flashed everyone.  The officers choked."

"I signed them so they'd go away," Eric reminded him.  Speed looked at him. "I did.  One had a permanent marker too."

"Spring break is the place where pictures are taken that you will never show your kids and probably not your spouse," Kate said.

"I liked the bikini photo, Kate."


"No, it's on the grill," Tony quipped back, getting a head shake from Horatio.  "It is."

"It is."  He went to check on it, flipping it over.  "Anyone ready for seconds?"  Xander hopped up, Eric and Ryan following him.  "Spring break, Ziva, is like Mardi Gras or Carnivale for younger people without the religious overtones."

"I went to the one in Spain a few years back," she admitted.  "It was fun but very easy to find targets with all the drunks."

Xander patted her on the wrist.  "It'll get better.  Spring break is always the same but never quite exactly the same.  But it's fun.  Too bad I'm too old to enjoy it anymore, but it was fun."

"Last year you got taken five times in one day," Speed complained. "From scenes, Xander.  You're not leaving the lab this year."

"I was nice enough to donate the money I got given that time," he teased.

"It went into the antacid fund," Ryan told him.  "Thank you for that."

"I thought we got a new microscope with it," he said, looking at Horatio, who nodded.  "More antacids too?"

"Definitely.  We needed it.  He's right, this year you will not be leaving the lab unless there is a multiple body scene and we will make sure that we double the amount of patrol officers watching over us."  Xander grinned but nodded.

"Did you keep the piercing the one girl did?" Speed asked.

"Hell.  No."

"I didn't hear that part," Abby complained.

He looked at her. "Nor am I going to tell it with Calleigh around.  I asked her opinion and she gave me this really horrified look before walking off crying the last time."

"She told me," John admitted.  "How long did it take it to heal?"

"Someone found the hole, it's still partially open.  Other than that, it doesn't hurt anymore.  That took four days of limping around and standing funny."  Tony giggled.  "It did!"

"I know why too."  They all looked up as loud music started. "I'm going to blow them up.  Anyone mind?"

"Yes," Frank complained.  "I can't hear those things, DiNozzo."

"He can't say them either," Gibbs told him.

"But... every single night, boss!"

Xander looked up.  "I'm calling the cops if you don't shut that shit off right the hell now!" he yelled.  It got shut off.  "Thank you!"  He picked up his chicken leg to nibble on.  "Last time she turned it off long enough for the officer to get there and then turned it back on when she thought he had left.  I had him waiting in the kitchen.  We had that 'I'm going to blow up your stereo' talk."  The music started again and Xander grimaced, getting up to get something.  He pointed it at the house and they heard a shriek of music as the system overheated and the CD drive popped open forcefully.  "I knew I brought that back from Missouri for a reason."  He put it on the table, looking at Horatio.  "It's still a handy thing."

"It was then too," he agreed, taking it to put into his pocket.

"Someone asked where you got the ideas for the guns you tinkered with while there," Gibbs said.

"I used them like Leggos."  Gibbs just nodded at that.  "Abby, if you want to nap, we'll get you into your room."  She nodded, letting him lead her that way and get his mother's letter from her bag.  The dog curled up with her, woofing at him when he covered them both.  "Sleep well, guys.  We won't be too loud."  He walked out, reading his letter while he walked.  "Phillip's wife is having the next great spy," he said as he sat down.  "Mom said that grandma is very sorry about nagging me.  She sent her to talk to Giles and Buffy.  That's probably why Willow came down."  He flipped pages, smiling at the part from his father.  "Dad's sorry he guilt tripped me and he'll only try to borrow me for Miami cases from now on.  Though he did say that there's one coming up in Mexico.  They're going on a cruise for it."  He went to the third page, smiling at the love they sent.  He put it into his pocket, grinning at Tony.  "They heard you're a good roomie.  That's what dad said," he offered at the amused look.

"Do they all know?" McGee asked.

"I told them, that way we would know who was keeping track of Xander if he got snatched again," Horatio admitted.

"I put the microchip in them both this morning," Ducky offered from his seat.  He got up, getting some more dinner.  "Shall I turn off the grill, Anthony?"

"Please, Ducky.  We have a microwave if we need to warm stuff up."  He patted Xander down until he got the letter to read, smiling at it.  "McGee, they wanted to know if you wanted set up with the oldest niece.  She's about twenty now.  Jamie got married very young," he said after some mental math.  Xander nodded.  "Shotgun?"

"Dad had an AK and promised they'd be married or else.  Her father tried to protest, even with her being pregnant.  That was his first wife.  She had an auto accident.  His new one likes him more."  Someone came through the back gate and he kicked Horatio, nodding at their visitor.  "Hey, Tanya, why are you here?"

"I came to see you, silly."  She came over, giving him a hug.  "I wanted to make sure that you were happy or else I'd have to fix it."

"I'm very happy," Tony told her.  "Really.  If I'm not, Kate'll fix it for me."  He nodded at her.

"Good," she said, smiling at Kate.  "My Xander bear deserves to be very happy."  She hugged her.  "As long as you watch him we'll be fine.  I've heard you're a woman like me."

Horatio coughed.  "Tanya, have you been reliving the old aggressions again?" he asked gently.

"Yes, I saw them and I nearly went after them. But that's okay because I'm going to Cleveland tonight."  She blew a kiss. "You're a hottie but my studly bear is better for me."  She trotted out, heading off again.

Frank listened to the voice on the other end of his phone.  "Yeah, that one. Trotted out of Harris's back gate.  Said she's going to Cleveland after his friends.  Sure.  Let me know if you catch her."  He hung up.  "The rookie's coming to chase her."

"I'd stop her at the train station," Xander offered.  Everyone looked at him.  "When we were together she was afraid of planes falling out of the sky.  She didn't believe anything as strong as physics and thoughts could keep a plane up.  She compared physics to praying for healthiness."  He sipped his soda.  "She's had how many?"

"Four that we know of," Horatio admitted, updating Dispatch to that fact.

"I see what you meant when you said you didn't date her for her brains," Speed said.

"No, I did not.  She could cook."  Tony stared at him.  "I like more than your cooking skills, Tony.  Especially when you dress me."

"Yes, we do need to talk about your closet again, Xander."  He looked at the t-shirt of the day.  "_Ask me about my explosive diarrhea_ is not what I want to see in the lab."

"I thought it was a statement that he ate his own cooking again," Speed suggested.

"I have worse," Xander offered.  "I could be wearing a chaos shirt, an entropy shirt, or something like my elephant t-shirt."

"No, that's quite all right," Eric said, Frank shaking his head quickly to back him up.

"It was a good day for a nap," Ryan said, looking at Eric.  "Overcast, rainy.  A little bit cool.  All of us who got so afflicted we couldn't function had a good nap.  Even Stetler."

"He demanded a list of all my t-shirts.  For some reason he hasn't bothered me about them since then," Xander said.   "Oh, Abby got her sister Mortty a copy of our corpse t-shirt."

"I'm sure she appreciated it more than Director Sheppard," Kate offered.  "She got the theme song stuck in he head for the rest of that day and couldn't make herself quit humming it."

"I even tried to give her other brain-knot songs," Tony said happily.  "Abby tried the Oompa-Loompa song."

Gibbs smacked him again.  "I got that one stuck in my head."

"Feel lucky, boss, I got Disney songs all day," McGee complained.

"Now and then I get the Toys R Us song," Xander told him.

"I hate that store," Alexx announced.  "My kids drive me nuts every time we go in there to get sand for their sandbox."

Horatio looked at them.  "Let's change the subject before some of us have nightmares?"

"Where's a good place to fish, boys?" Gibbs asked, putting his feet up on Abby's chair.

"The 'glades," Eric told him.  "Unless you want to go out to get bigger ones."

Xander leaned closer to Tony.  "Think we could take a weekend to sneak away to Paramount?" he hissed.

"I think we can sync schedules now and then," he agreed, smiling at him.  "Hey, boss, convention's coming up next month."  Gibbs gave him an odd look.  "It's in New York.  You could challenge Taylor to another arm wrestling match."

"We'll see tomorrow.  The office budget is going to be shot with needing new furniture and a whole new lab."

"There's a high school chemistry, single eyepiece microscope," Tony told them.  They all gave him horrified looks.  "I'm guessing they imposed on you guys for cases?"  Horatio nodded.  "Abby's going to freak and have a panic attack."  Kate nodded at that.  "The computer's ten years old.  We don't have 'net access at the moment."

"No wonder they were so happy to go to Alaska," McGee said, frowning.  "How are we supposed to work?"

"I warned his secretary that we'd be calling tomorrow about the state of the office and the lab," Tony told him.  "I told her it was going to be bad, that Abby was going to freak out for a bit, and she's warned him that he's getting a call."

"Good work, DiNozzo.  Is there a coffee-shop nearby?"

"Two blocks, Cuban coffee and regular sludge," Eric told him.  "Not a national chain place, a real coffee shop where they roast it on premises."

"Better prices than Starbucks?" McGee asked.

"Lower.  Also, I warned them you'd have some major caffeine people moving in, told them about the Caf-Pow problem.  They have a take-off of it.  It's more caffeine than the original but it comes in six different flavors, like a high octane slushie.  I've stayed awake for *hours* on those, especially the grape."

"She might like that," Horatio said.  "Xander would."

"He's not allowed to have those in the lab," Calleigh reminded him.

Xander grinned.  "What if I construct a plastic box for it?"

"No.  You can hike out like the rest of us."

"Even if it can't spill?"

"Are you still concussed?" Alexx demanded.  Xander shook his head.  "Then why are you still so thirsty?"  Xander pointed at Tony.  "Is he that salty?" she teased.

"No, I made some very salty stuff recently," Tony said, grinning at her.  "That's beyond the point that the doctor said he didn't drink enough fluids every day."  She gaped.  "I made him go when he got sick one morning.  Just in case Rosenburg decided he should be pregnant."

"He'll need to redo his clearance to work soon," Horatio told him.

"I can go to the same guy," Xander promised.  "He said so."

"Good.  Anything else we should know?"

"The mattress is squishy, I keep waking up with a sore back," Xander told him.

"Then lay on  Tony," McGee suggested.  "He's probably firmer than the mattress, maybe."

"I am, thank you.  There's a way to put a board under it, Xander.  We'll find one."

"Okay.  Then I'm out of problems for the moment.  Unless something came in the mail?"  Speed shook his head. "You peeked?"

"There wasn't anything in the box.  It was open."

"The electric bill came," Tony told him.  "Nothing else but ads."

"Good.  Did the payment actually show up this time?"

"I didn't check."  He went to get it, coming back nodding.  "It did."  He handed it over before sitting down again.  "What are we doing for hurricane season?"

"The house is mostly marble, it shouldn't fall over," Xander pointed out.  "We've got bolt locks for shutters."

"What about the office, does anyone know?"

"Run like hell was how they used to put it," Eric said.

"Then we'll figure it out," Gibbs agreed.  "Can someone find me safe lab protocols for hurricanes and other disasters?  We only had biochem disaster drills in DC."

"I have them in my desk. You can borrow them," Horatio said.  "Xander, I heard back about your question.  As long as your glasses are clean and free of GSR, you do not have to change them going to Trace.  You have to clean them if they're caked with residue but  you normally would anyway."

"Thank you."

"You're welcome.  It was a question that no one had thought to ask before.  I would suggest you start wearing goggles instead."

"I do most of the time but now and then I forget I have them on."

"When's your next appointment about your eye?" Eric asked.

"Two weeks.  After shift.   He's the same guy who does my fitness paperwork.  I don't need it refitted," he said at Speed's odd look.

"If you say so.  I noticed yesterday it was a bit swollen."

"Means it needs cleaned.  I've probably managed to get some GSR back there."  They all shuddered.  "Sorry."  He hopped up to get the ringing phone.  "Harris."  He listened.  "No, this is his phone but he's out back.  Let me get it to him.  Horatio?"  He handed over the phone.  "You left it in the kitchen when you got up."

"Thank you, Xander."  He put the phone against his ear.  "This is Horatio Caine."  He listened, then nodded.  "That would be fine.  Both our ballistics techs will be in tomorrow so we can run that for you.  Do you have the gun as well as the bullet?"  He nodded once.  "That'll work for us.  Bring it into the lab, we'll be there.  I'll see you then, Captain."  He hung up.  "Calleigh, you and Xander need to compare one to a cold case we had last year.  The county on the other side of Tampa is bringing it in."

"Boonies?" Xander asked.  Eric nodded.  "Seen them before?"

"We had one case that ran up there," Speed admitted.  "Eric and I went.  The only diner they had at the time fried *everything*.  I couldn't even get a salad."  He looked at Horatio.  "Which case?"


"I kinda remember that one.  I'll pull it in the morning, Horatio," Calleigh said with a smile.

"Thank you.  He's hoping it's a match.  We never did find that gun and their system is being iffy on the match."

"That's fine," Xander agreed.  "It happens to the best of us sometimes."

"It does," Gibbs agreed.  "Even Abby's been frustrated by a near match."

"Xander notes those in his reports," Calleigh said proudly.  Tony grinned at that.  "He's well trained.  We get interns again next year and I'm going to have him help me pick one."

"That's a good idea," Horatio agreed.  He stretched and yawned.  "We should head home too, boys.  It was a good party.  We'll see you tomorrow."  They got up, heading out.

"Am I missing another Americanism?" Ziva asked quietly.

"Eric's lease ran out and he couldn't find a decent spot within call-in radius," Xander told her.  That was their standard reason.  "Speed lives out by them."

"Oh, that's nice of him," she agreed, smiling at that information.  She saw the look Kate gave him.  "What?"

"Wondering if Horatio was single."

"No," Tony said, shaking his head.  "He's very quiet about it but he does have someone."  He heard movement inside the house.  "What's wrong, Humph?"  The dog came out and nosed his hand.  "Hungry?  We didn't feed you regular food tonight."  He got up, going to do that.

"I should probably get home too, boss, it's getting late and tomorrow's going to be a stressful one trying to rebuild the office."  That got a nod and McGee got up, helping Kate up.  "Walk you out?"

"Sure, I wouldn't mind.  Ziva, are you heading now or later?"

"I'll go home in a few minutes."  She looked at Gibbs.  "Tony and Xander are together, yes?"  He nodded.  "I thought so."  She got up, going to tell them she was okay with it, finding Tony nuzzling the dog. "You look good with him too."  She smiled and walked out, heading to her apartment.

Gibbs came in.  "Be safe tonight, boys.  Baby Abby if you have to get her up too early."  He walked off, heading for his car too.

Xander brought in the dishes so Tony could get the leftovers, sneaking kisses when they passed.  Tony smirked at him.  "Bubbles?"

"As long as you set the alarm this time.  I can't be late."  Xander nodded, going to do that once everything was in the dishwasher.  They could set it to run when they left in the morning.  Tony joined him, pouring in the bubbles he wanted that night, earning a smirk for it.  Xander stripped down, letting Tony give appreciative looks before he climbed into the tub.  Tony stripped off and joined him, getting in to play and cuddle.  Xander was definitely a cuddler.


Xander walked back into ballistics from lunch.  "Hi, and you are?" he asked, holding out a hand.

"Captain Prussian."

"Horatio said you'd be coming in today.  Xander Harris."

He smiled at him, then at Calleigh.  "There, now you don't have to worry your pretty little head about this gun, darling."

Xander coughed to hide his laughter.  "Um, Captain, can I introduce you to CSI Calleigh Duquesne, the head of ballistics here?"

"I get it all the time," she assured him.  "They fall for the charming exterior."

"Sorry about that, ma'am.  We only have one female tech and she's our DNA person."

"Don't worry yourself."  She smiled at Xander. "Did you pull the bullet?"  He handed it over.  "Let's see what we can find."

Xander looked at the new match, then the gun.  "Did it jam?"

"It was jammed when we found it."

"Hmm."  Xander looked it over.  "I have to ask, did you dust for prints and all that?"

"We found it in one guy's closet."

"It's still protocol around here," she told him.  "Plenty of stupid boys hide things for their friends."

"Hadn't thought about that.  Go ahead if you need to."

Xander nodded, getting the fingerprint powder and a brush from up the hall, coming back to do that. He checked, then got a different powder, stealing it from Ryan.  "Thanks, doing a shotgun."  He went back there to dust it, frowning at what he found.  "I've got two great partials on the trigger guard, Calleigh.  They don't look the same either."  He pulled them off together.  "I can't get them separately.  They're overlapping."

"We can separate them in the system."  He nodded, handing it over.  He found another one on the end of the barrel, lifting it as well.  "Good job."  He smiled and put the powder back, weathering the swat from Ryan.  "Stealing from Ryan?"

"Yup, sure did."  He came over to check the gun over.  "I can see why it jammed.  Someone put a piece of pen in here.  Looks like...."  He took it out with some tweezers.  "Ah, the spring broke, it bridged the extra distance."  He let the Captain see.  "That should be noted.  It might give you a way to make someone slip up and confess they fixed the gun."  He started the report for her, looking at the case number and name, then the county it happened in.  He looked at the bigger screen when it went up.  "That's not a reload."

"No, it's the same as the other."  She stared.  "Not a perfect match."

"But a good one?"

"Can you magnify the scratches on the original?" Xander asked.  She did that.  "That's not a bouncy mark."

"No, it's not a ricochet," she agreed. "Silencer?"

"On a shotgun?" the Captain asked.

"Coffee can or other big can with cotton glued inside," Xander told him.  The older guy gave him a horrified look. "It'd muffle but not fully.  There's better insulators but that's the fastest, cheapest, and easiest.  Plus there were unknown cotton threads on the body that looked like they came from cotton balls."  He pulled on his glasses.  "Could that be a scuff from a silencer, Cal?"

"Maybe."  She turned them both around.  "Without that scuff I'd say it's a perfect match."

"When was the exemplar firing done?" Xander asked.

"About six months ago."

"Then let's do another one, just to have a better comparison to the old one."  He found a spring of about the right size, putting it in there. Then he came back and looked.  "The spring breaking wouldn't cause that."

"No, it wouldn't," she agreed.  "Go do the test fire, Xander."  He nodded, going to do that.  She looked at him. "Give us about ten more minutes and we'll be able to be definitive and give you a report right after that."

"Sure."  He looked toward the firing pen.  "He's one of those froufy little gay boys, isn't he?"

"He's never been froufy around me.  Happy, playful, bouncy, but never swishy or anything."  He gave her a look. "He is with a male partner.  It keeps him from being kidnaped.  We recently recaptured his last girlfriend, she turned into a serial killer."

"Oh.  We don't get many of them in our town either. Unless they come this way to be show boys in the big city or something."

She patted him on the arm.  "He can't sing and he's further hampered because he can't cook.  He's poisonous."

"Not even with a can of beer and a grill?"

"Nope, not even then.  If he tries we're going to arrest him for intentionally causing injury to us."  He smiled at that.  "Really.  He's fed a cookie he made to a suspect and we  nearly got sued."  Xander came back with the test bullet, letting her see it.  "No scuffing?"  She took it to look at, replacing the last test fire.  "This one sucks, Xander."

"It's not the spring.  I even took it apart to see why."  He found their pinhole camera and stuck it up the barrel, looking at the monitor.  "There's a good reason.  It looks like someone sprayed the inside with acid."  She looked, frowning.  "Someone up there did the new test fire themselves?" he asked.  The Captain nodded. "How long ago?"

"Four weeks."

"What did they do after that?"

"We did have a small chemical leak into our storage area.  Evidence is right next to the lab's supplies."

"That would explain the etching," Calleigh agreed.

Xander  moved back to the computer, running the bullet.  It came up with a match in the system.  "The refire came up with a match," he said, waving them over.  He clicked on the gun, looking it over.  "Hmm.   It looks like someone in Tampa lost it on the way to being melted."  The Captain looked stunned.  Xander grinned at him.  "Being thorough, I'll run the other one."  He ran that one, coming up with a different gun.  "Same  brand, different gun, boss."  He let her see.  Then he looked at the Captain.  "Looks like you found a different crime, maybe.  Give us about four more.  Let me check with fingerprints too."  He went to do that, coming back with a sheet.  "We had a number of prints."  He handed it over.  "Is that who had the gun?"

"No, it's not.  It's his uncle."  He looked at the shotgun then at the boy.  "That's very interesting."

"The first match he ran has other samples," Calleigh said, pulling them up to compare them.  "They're very close."

"So no joy?" the Captain asked.

"It looks like a case of the same brand but different gun," Xander told him, looking at him.  "Though you did find the gun to another crime.  Did  they have any others in that make and model?"

"Two more.  We can test those.  The kid bragged that *that* one had been used in that crime though.  We're going to decide on his charges tonight."

"Felony weapons charges, obstruction, and accessory charges?" Xander suggested.  The Captain smiled.  "At the very least the felony charges, since this was on a destruction trip when it was stolen, will probably make the kid beg."

"Oh, he'll beg anyway," he agreed.  "I'll have our boy test the others too."

Calleigh printed off views of the bullet and wrote the case number on it for him.  Then she let Xander finish up the report.  He proofed it, being extra careful to make sure it looked okay.  He printed it, letting her staple it.  "If we can help you any further, just call me," she said, smiling at him.  "I wish it had been better this time."

"No, this is good news.   Got anything on the destruction?"  She printed that as well, handing it over along with her card. "Thank you, ma'am.  You too, kid.  I'll call if our boy has questions.  Thanks for this."

"Not an issue, we're always happy to help," Xander said, finding one of his cards and handing it over.  "I'm usually in here, even if she's in the field.  Call either of us if we can help."

"What sort of training did you do?" the Captain asked him.

"I graduated second in UCLA's program," he said with a quiet smile and some pride.  "I'm a ballistics major with trace and field work minors."


Xander giggled.  "The person I started to intern under just moved down from NCIS up in DC.  She *is* the entire lab.   A hacker too.  She doesn't even have an assistant."

"That's skill," he agreed.  "Thanks, guys."  He walked things out to his car, nodding at Caine.  "Not quite what I wanted and hoped for but some good news."

"Good luck," Horatio told him.  "If you need us, call us," he reminded him.  "That's what we're here for."

"That boy of yours is really hyper."

Horatio smiled, nodding.  "He likes overtime too."

The Captain laughed.  "Good luck calming him down."  He got in, closing the door once everything on was on the seat next to him.  He waved before starting the car and backing out, heading back north.

Horatio waved, going back inside.  "Xander?"

Xander leaned out of ballistics.  "He told Cal not to worry her pretty little head, Horatio.  He called me a froufy little gay boy.  He was nice once we busted the illusions."

"That's fine.  You were polite and professional?"

"Of course!  Aren't I always when I do consults?"  He pulled back in then came out.  "We are clear, boss.  Trace?"

"Clear as well."

"Whoo-hoo, hall bowling,"  he said happily, making Horatio shake his head.  "No?"

"No, Xander.  Not unless we've been clear for over a day, gone over all the cold cases, and can't find any other work to be done around the office."

"Fine, spoil my visions of fun.  Did they call from the new office?"

"They did.  Abby walked around in circles for an hour before they got her calmed down enough to call the new director.  She made him go to her lab to show what she had to have.  He complained about the price so she pulled up pictures of our lab and he flinched at the special labs we have.  She pointed out that she needed the minimum of her old lab, but she could get some multi-tasking machines and beg us for DNA running privileges for a few more months if he would get her the rest of it.  He agreed with that and Tony showed him the bullpen area.  He was not impressed.  He did promise they would have some desks sent down from storage. As well as computers. They'll be up and running within days."

"Good.  If I have to I'll go help Gibbs put together the desks after hours.  Going to get a drink."  He went to do that, coming back with a soda he finished in the halls before going to AV.  "Do we have anything for me to do?"

"Not a thing, Xander," Cooper said with a small grin.  "Clear?"  He nodded.  "Go look at cold stuff with Ryan.  I think he's clear too."

"I can do that."  He went to pop in on Ryan.  "Cooper suggested I help you look at cold stuff since both my labs are clear."

"I'm finishing up reports," Ryan admitted, going back to his typing.  "I hate writing reports."  Xander laughed, giving him a hug.  "Thanks.  Did it match?"

"Nope, matched to a stolen one in Tampa.  There's two others up there of the same make and model so they'll try those."  He looked at the screen.  "Is that how you spell that name?"

He looked then grimaced, backspacing and going over the name again.  "Thanks.  Go clean?"

"Sure."  He went to do that, finding Speed had already cleaned.  Everything was shiny.  So he went to non-felony and leaned into ballistics down there.  "I am clear," he announced.

The tech in there gave him a sour look.  "Don't brag."

"Need help?"

"No.  I've only got four left.  Thanks for the offer, Harris."

"Sure.  How about the exemplar?"

"All clean.  I did it last night while I was trying to figure  out if I wanted to file for divorce."  He shuddered.  "That's why I cleaned the cabinet.  Speaking of, we need to up the exemplars.  We need a ballistics meeting."

"I'll tell Calleigh."  He walked off to do that. "Calleigh, Melinda said we need to have a lab meeting about the pitiful exemplar we have."

"I'll call it later if we stay clear," she agreed, making a note of it.  "How are they?"

"Four.  She cleaned last night when she was trying to decide some marital things."

"That's a good way to think," she agreed with a smile.  "Help Ryan with the cold case stuff."

"He's doing reports."

"Oh."  She thought then looked at him, then at her watch.  "Go take twenty, let me see if I can find us some work.  Maybe checking patrol guns."  He nodded, going to get another soda while she went to find Horatio.  "We're clear and he's bored."  Horatio let out a delicate shudder.  "Patrol gun check?"

"Go for it," he agreed.  "Non-felony?"

"Four guns left and Melinda cleaned the cabinets last night.  She wants a meeting about buying new guns."

"Do that later if you stay clear."  She nodded, going to tell the patrol supervisor that they were pulling a random gun check for the patrol guys.  She smiled as she walked into his office.  "No new crimes?"

"Not in the last little while.  Why?"

"Ballistics is clear."  He moaned, giving her a look.  "How about a random gun check?"

"I can see that.  Give me ten to start it."  She nodded, walking off to grab some supplies.  Xander joined her with his stuff.  He walked out into the squad room.  "Unless one of you goes out to kill someone or finds a homicide, ballistics is pulling a random gun check.  Go find the gun nutjobs.  I will be getting reports."

The officers groaned, but did it.  They knew an order when they heard one.  They found Calleigh in their break room, Xander at another table, and split up to let them check their guns.  Calleigh noted each one, serial number, and clean or not, plus any maintenance that needed done.  Xander did the same but a few times he stood up and smacked a cop on the head.  For some reason his line shrank each time he did it.  One he handcuffed next to him.  He had to glare to get people back in his line.  Even the commander came in and he got smacked on the head too.  The guys laughed at that.  The detectives got told and they came in, as well as John Hagen since he was in for lunch with Frank, and only John got smacked of all them.  Calleigh only had one she had to glare at, making him slink off.  By the end of the day, they were tired but the guns were cleaned, even the guy who had a jammed one.  Xander made him clean his once he got finished, he was even nice enough to let him out of his cuffs.  The lists were handed over to the commander, who nodded at them and sent them up without changing anything.  He knew better.  Calleigh went into the lab, going to check everyone else's while Xander called the ballistics meeting and found their exemplar inventory list.


Horatio stopped Xander on the way out that night, looking at him.  "You hit a few officers?"

"If their guns were that filthy, yes."

"How filthy did you consider it?"

"Near to jamming.  One guy had one that was jammed, his slide was stuck open even, in his holster.  That's the guy I had handcuffed."

He nodded, letting him go.  "Next time, be more tactful."

"They expected it from me.  The first few guys sighed in relief when I made a few clean theirs.  Then I got one that was dirty enough that it wouldn't have fired."

"I  understand why, just be more tactful, Xander."

"Yes, Horatio."

"Good boy."  He smiled at him.  "Abby called to tell you she found an apartment. You were in the ballistics meeting.  How many guns did the team decide to buy?"

"Nineteen. Mostly theirs.  I did not volunteer my stash before you ask."

"How many are you going to buy?" he asked with a small smile.

"Twenty-six," he said sheepishly.

"Do you need them, Xander?"



"So I have one."

Horatio patted him, shaking his head.  "Don't buy them unless you need them.  You can add some of your collection to the lab if Calleigh agreed."

"My guns," he pouted.

"I know but this way they would do more good than being locked in a vault and cleaned once a week.  The other techs could use them to find more criminals and to learn from them."

"They won't take care of my babies like I do."

"I know they won't.  You have some duplicates, think about donating those."

"That would cut down the buy list by about ten," he admitted.

"Which would save the department money," Horatio agreed.  "Which could pay off the next time we have to rescue you from some evil woman."  Xander gave him a look.  "We know it'll happen sometime, Xander.  It always does."

"I'm sorry."

"It's not your fault," he promised.  "Come on, we'll go look, maybe there's some you aren't as fond of that can go to the cabinet.  If we don't need them, Mac might.  You know he'll treat the guns well."  Xander nodded, going to his car.  Horatio went to his hummer, going to follow him home.  He found Tony in the kitchen.  "We're looking at weeding out some of his personal exemplar."

Tony looked at him.  "Wear the sunglasses so you don't get the full power of the pout."

Horatio smiled.  "He has duplicates."

"He has sword duplicates too."

"I've heard."  He walked into the handgun vault behind Xander, watching him look around.  "Do we have their list?"

"I called Calleigh, she's faxing it to me."

"You're out of room already, Xander," Horatio pointed out.  Xander sighed but nodded and got to work with him weeding out the duplicates and what was on the lists.   He saw Horatio's nod at the machine guns and shook his head quickly.   "They could use those too."

"No they can't. I asked, they said they can use confiscated ones."

"This way we don't have to worry if one is going to be destroyed."

Xander pouted, petting his favorite AK.  "Must I?"

"Not that one.  I  know we have one of those in there."  Horatio gathered some, letting Xander snatch a few back.  He still managed to weed out another thirty guns from the automatic weapons racks he had shown.  "Should we look at the other vault as well?"

"Nothing in there is for an exemplar cabinet."

"If you say so."  He helped Xander note on the inventory which was going to the labs in the morning, giving him a hug when he pouted.  "This way you can buy things that are more special, Xander.  You don't need *every* gun.  As a ballistics tech you have access to most of them.  Get *special* guns for your collection."  Xander looked at him.  "Really."  That got a nod and Xander added another six handguns. "Remember, you can use this on your taxes as well as part of the mortgage payments to reduce your taxes."

"I can?"

"You can.  Go to the tax people this year.  They can help you with that."  He gave him a pat, helping him pack the guns in one of the padded trunks.  The automatic weapons went into another.  "There, we'll sort them in the morning before cases come in.  Then what Miami doesn't need we'll give to Mac during the convention."

"Am I going?"

"You are going.  You are going to help Calleigh pick your next intern."  Xander smiled at that.  "Good.  I'll call Melinda on the way home to let her know that you're donating some of them to the cabinet.  That way she and Calleigh can fight over them."

"Yes, Horatio."

"Good boy."  He gave him another hug then let him go.  "Where's the dog?"

"Tony, where's my dog?" Xander called, walking out of the vault, closing the door once Horatio was out of it.

"Abby's.  He refused to get out of her car."  He came out of the kitchen, giving Xander a hug since he still looked pitiful.  "We'll get a new dog in a few days if he won't come home."  Xander nodded, resting against his chest.  "Horatio, staying for dinner?"

"No, I think he could use some cuddles tonight.  Make sure he goes to someone good for his taxes this year, Tony.  He needs to."

"I can do that."  He smiled as Horatio walked out, giving Xander a gentle kiss. "You can still see them, clean them, and play with them all the time.  They'll be at work and this way others can see what a good collection  you have."  Xander nodded against his shoulder. "Come on, I'm making calzones."


"Really.  With the good cheese."  Xander grinned, letting him break the tension that way for now.  They'd cuddle later and talk about a new dog.  It was quiet without Humphrey barking at the neighbor's cats.


Xander got out of his car the next morning, finding Calleigh and Melinda waiting on him.  "I will be pouting," he warned.  They jogged over, pulling open the back doors to get the trunks out, letting him help carry one.  Melinda even checked for his keys and locked his car for him. "Now, I clean all my guns once a week at home.  If I check and they're not clean, I'm repossessing the whole lot of them," he ordered.  They both nodded, letting him help them carry everything into the main gun locker.  They sat down with their lists to figure out what each one wanted.  Only one gun remained on the buy list and Calleigh had a lot of fun with the automatic weapons doing test fires so they had them on file.  The remaining half trunk went into Horatio's office with a lock on it.  Then Xander went to work while Calleigh did the logging in for them.  Melinda's boss came in an hour later and gave him a hug too, then walked off with a happy smile.

"He has artillery at home too," Speed called after her.

"She can't have it," Xander called from ballistics.  "Mine!"  Calleigh gave him a look.  "Still mine, you can't have it either."

"I saw what was in the back vault, Xander.  I don't want it, I want to hand some of it over to Gibbs."

"No.  Mine."  He scowled at her.  "Don't make me take them home."

"I won't."  She finished up, putting them in the 'Xander' section of their in-lab exemplar. Since he had worked there a new gun would appear now and then.  She had decided that one panel of the wall was 'his' section and his others would go there just as well.  She even put a sign over it for nightshift.


The nightshift ballistics tech walked up to where Calleigh was changing.  "We have a lot of new guns that don't have evidence tags."

"They're not from a bust.  They're from Xander's collection.  Horatio got him to donate some."  She smiled at her.  "He added some automatic weapons too.  Non-felony got everything on their list but one."

"He has a collection?" she asked flatly.  Calleigh nodded.  "A real one?"

"Yeah.  He's got a good collection.  Don't you have even a small one at home?"

"No," she said, trying to sound patient.  "Those are for anti-government nutjobs out in Utah, Nevada, and Montana."

"It's all part of Xander's past.  He's always kept some weapons as a backup.  He's got swords and crossbows too.  What we're not using is going to the convention as a hosting gift to the felony lab up there.  Though I do hear that Mac Taylor has a tech from Montana now."

She walked off shaking her head.   She ran into Xander running a hand over them.  "They'll be fine.  They're guns, they won't feel separation anxiety."

"I'll miss them."  He looked at her. "They will be properly taken care of or I will be taking them with me.  Am I clear?"

"I'll do my best, Harris.  Loosen the sphincter before you become Wolfe."  He gave her a look.  "Really.  They're *guns*."

"Actually they're more like my kids.  Which is why they will be treated properly."

"Fine, we'll be very gentle with them."  He nodded, walking out.  She rolled her eyes, calling her non-felony counterpart.  "How many guns did your lab get from Harris' collection?  Apparently he's got a gun nutjob collection at home as a personal exemplar.  Yeah, that's where those new ones came from and why he's got his name on one of your boards too probably."  She looked at the 'Xander' board. "Yes, Calleigh gave him a whole board for his collection.  Looks like we got thirty from him today.  Fair warning, he claims they're his babies and if we don't treat them right he's going to repossess them."  She laughed.  "Yeah, exactly.  Someone needs to date the boy and straighten him out.  So if you know anyone...."

Ryan coughed from behind her.  "He's letting a member of the new NCIS team live with him at the moment since he couldn't find a place. Yes, they're like Xander's family, they don't treat him like the girls who warped him did, who were his old family.  He cleans his *entire* collection once a week, Karen.  He is *very* serious about that."  He handed over the bullet.  "From Alexx's last body."  She put it into the dayshift bin.  "Thank you.  Tell Fredricks I said hi."

She listened to her friend.  "I know you heard.  Yeah, that was Wolfe.  Once a week.  No wonder he smacked a few officers yesterday during the gun check.  Exactly.  We have *got* to set that boy up.  I'll let you go since that's your boss."  She hung up and went to look at the new guns.  They were nice and things they didn't have lying around the office.  Natalia walked in.  "Bullet for us?"

"I came to see Xander's collection that he donated."

"Probably not all of it," she said grimly.  She saw the confused look.  "Some ballistics people are in the field because they are gun nuts.  Wolfe said he's got swords too."

"I guess that's what's behind the vault doors at his house," Natalia said, looking at them.  "Aren't some the same?"

"Yes, but different years.  They changed them enough to need a different notation in the classification manual.  He has good taste in what he bought over the years.  Some are classics, some are the updated versions.  One's a POS that we see now and then on the streets but we don't have a version here to look at.  Xander definitely knows his guns.  I heard he memorized the manual."

"I didn't think ballistics was that hard," Natalia told her.

She snorted, pulling out Xander's copy of the manual, putting it on the counter with a slap.  "That's the current classification manual.  Most of us can tell them on sight by looking at the bullet.  Xander can do a few of them by feel in the dark from what I heard.   He learned the manual by going to pawn shops and going over each and every gun in there until he knew it by feel, how it broke down, how it was weighted, canted to which side, and how it fired, hard or soft.  I've heard him rattle it off before for another CSI.  I also know he can do domestic, which is this book, and foreign, which is that book," she said, pointing at her copy.  "He prefers Eastern Bloc weapons because they fit better in his hand and they're heavier.  Doesn't mean he's not in the top three percent in the field."

"Wow.  Xander really needs to date."

"Go right ahead," she said dryly. "Wolfe said he's letting a fed shack up in his new house with the dog."

"I met Tony and his team.  He was nice.  A bit joking and fun-loving."

"Sounds like my sort.  See if he's straight.  Give him my number."

"I'll do that.  Thanks."  She walked out, going to call Xander.  "Hey, it's Natalia.  I heard you donated some of your personal collection to the department.  Want to go out for drinks?"  She heard the answer and blinked.  "Really?  I never pictured you as a non- drinker."  She nodded at the reason.  "That's fine I guess.  We can go out for dinner instead if you want to talk."  She heard the other voice say something and blinked.  "Did he just say something about your bath being ready?"  She blushed.   "Oh.  Okay.  Sorry.  Have a better night, Xander."  She hung up, going to shake her head in the locker room.  Ryan came in a minute later.  "I'm free tonight, want to go out?  Xander's roommate is fussing over him."

"I know.  You didn't realize that they're together?" he asked quietly, checking to make sure they were alone.  She slowly shook her head.  He nodded.  "Yeah, Xander's like that now and then.  Bi.  Very bi.  Very happy at the moment too."  She shrugged and closed her locker door once she had her keys.  "As for dinner, I'm unfortunately having it with my parents tonight.  Maybe some other night?"

"Sure, I'd like that."  She smiled and left, going to talk to someone else.  She ran into Frank Tripp.  "Did you know Xander was with...."  He covered her mouth.  "What?" she demanded behind his hand.

"That is not a topic you talk about in a police station," he said clearly.  "Not everyone is a tolerant person and I'd hate to see the boy if he had to shoot someone to protect himself.  Am I clear?"  She nodded so he moved his hand.  "Yes, I have known.  They're cute, they're good together, and the boy has someone to fuss over who returns it.  It's very good for him to be with them."

The rookie detective looked over.  "Xander's dating?" he asked, looking horrified.

"Yes, smartass, and they're good for him."

"Oh.  They?"  Frank glared at him.  "I'm not a bigot, Tripp, but Hallelujah.  Maybe that'll keep the bad women off him for a change."

"Last time they got taken together," Frank said with a smirk.

"Oh, well, at least he's happy then.  Good for him.  Better than that Buffy thing or that Willow person."

"True, it's much better for him."  He looked at Natalia.  "I'm surprised you didn't pick  up on it at the welcoming party, Natalia."

"I wasn't paying that much attention to him.  Was it that older guy?"  Frank gave her a look.  "What?"

He walked off shaking his head.  "Go home, Natalia, you're clearly tired."  She stomped off.  He went to find Horatio, finding Eric teasing him in his office.  He tapped then leaned in.   "Boa Vista didn't realize Xander was bi, dating Tony, and thought that he was with Gibbs when I mentioned the rest of us who didn't know caught on at the party.  Are you *sure* she should be here?"

"I am," Horatio agreed.

Eric looked at him.  "She didn't know Xander was bi?  We've been talking for months with Valera about setting him  up with some nice guys."

"Apparently she's not nosy and wasn't listening. The new kid prayed that it was a good thing."  Horatio smiled at that.  "He bummed?"

"He went home to Tony and a bubble bath," Maxine said from behind him.  "She really didn't catch the same clue the rest of us got?"  Frank shook his head.  "Let me guess, she tried to out him in the squad room?"

"Yup," he agreed.

"Stupid," she said, shaking her head.  "Boss, one last report," she said, tossing it in at him.  "I'm going to drink away the knowledge that she's that clueless if you wanted to go out, detective."

He smiled. "I wouldn't mind one or two beers," he agreed.  "I had to stop her from outing him and she asked why."

"Some people lack sense," she agreed, walking him back to his desk.  "I'll let Alexx handle her if something bad happens."

He grinned at her.  "That's just plain mean, Valera."

"Thank you," she said happily, making him laugh.

Eric laughed.  "That was cute."

"That was," Horatio agreed, smiling at him.  "Aren't we done for the day?"

"Speed has two more tests to run.  Meet you at home?"

"Gladly."   Eric winked and walked off, heading for the house.  Horatio stood up, put on his jacket, and followed, finding his boss outside.  "Chief," he said respectfully.

He looked at him.  "Pretty night."

"Very.  I was going for a walk on the beach."

"You're not my type, Caine," he said dryly.

"I wasn't offering, sir."

"Good.  What's this I hear Harris has taken up with a fed boy?"

"Gossip travels fast."

"I heard it yesterday off a patrol kid."  Horatio nodded. "Will it help his little problem?"

"Now and then, but he has the same problem.  We've since implanted microchips so we could find them easier."

"Good to know.  He donated?"

"He donated sixty-one guns to the department," Horatio agreed.  "I helped him sort them last night."

"Good man.  How many did we keep?"

"That is what we kept.  The rest are locked in my office.  They're to be a hosting gift when we go to the convention.  Xander's going to help Calleigh pick our next intern for ballistics."

"I hope you find another good one.  He having problems with this new knowledge?"

"Only from one of the ATF agents and one oversight agent.  Why?"  The Chief looked at him.  "If something like that were to happen from one of our boys you would hear about it when I drug their mutilated corpse into your office in handcuffs," Horatio assured him.  "The same as if it would happen to any of the rest of my lab."

The Chief stared at him for a minute then nodded.  "I like that answer even if it's not very tactful.  You're picking up habits from the kid, the same as he is you.  It suits you, Caine.  Have a good walk with Delko and Speedle."  He walked off much happier.

Horatio stared at his back.  "I hate the gossip network," he muttered, going to his hummer so he could go home and get comforted.  By the time he got there Eric was spread naked on the couch, slowly stroking himself, and grinning at him.  "The Chief knows about us."

"I know, he sent me a happy anniversary card."  He held up his free hand.  "I seem to need help."

"You do?"  He looked his body over.  "I don't see why."  Eric tilted his cock toward him.  "No, it looks like you're handling that very well."  He stripped down, sitting across from him, spreading out in his favorite chair.  "Handle it for me, Eric."  Eric moaned, going back to his stroking.  It was a happy sight.  Speed stomped in and paused, then shook his head with a moan.  "Not have a good day?"

"No, I did.  I solved it.  I also heard the Chief knows?"

"He sent me an anniversary card," Eric moaned, arching his hips up.  "Speed, he said I don't need help."

Speed watched.  "I don't think you do.  You're doing it pretty good so far, Eric."  He stripped off, lounging next to Horatio on the floor, letting one callused hand work its way through his hair while they watched Eric bring himself off.  "That was pretty."

"It was," Horatio agreed. Eric gave him a lazy smirk. He shifted his legs outward, letting him see.  "The real question is I thought we were going to walk on the beach tonight."

"We can once the sun's down," Speed agreed, turning around, staying on his knees, resting his chin on Horatio's thigh. "I think maybe I need another demonstration of how to handle that problem, boss."  Horatio laughed but kept going for his boys.  It made them happy and he liked them being happy.


Xander walked into the New York lab with the case, Horatio having the other end.  He smiled at the receptionist, holding up his ID.  "I have a hosting gift for Detective Taylor from Miami-Dade felony."

"I'll page him for you," she said happily, telling him that.

He came out looking very confused.  "Horatio, Xander."  Xander gave him a one-armed hug.  "What's that for?"

"I made him clean out his collection," Horatio told him.


"Not the artillery," Xander said happily, moving so he could see the trunk.  "It's a hosting gift.  Someone did try to beat manners into me once upon a time.  It was Willow so she beat really hard, but she did try."

Mac smiled.  "Come to my office, boys."  He walked them that way, watching as they put it onto his couch so Horatio could undo the lock.  He got into the trunk, smiling at the guns in there.  "These are nice," he agreed, smiling at Xander.  "Good choices."

"Thank you."

"We got sixty-one of them," Horatio told him.  He sat down.  "We decided that he needed to collect more special guns."

"I got a Walther the other day on e-bay," Xander said happily.  Mac looked at him.  "What?"


"It's a neat gun with an interesting design.  It's an old one.  A James Bond era gun."

"Interesting."  He straightened up.  "Our tech will love you, Xander.  Let me get him."  He paged him to his office, going back to his looking.  "By the way, you were right.  It was a scimitar."

"Thought it might be since no one mentioned fan stuff.   Horatio is *not* getting into my swords before you ask.  Or the artillery."  The local ballistics tech walked in looking a bit confused.  "Hi, Xander Harris, Miami-Dade felony dayshift."

"You're a god," he breathed.  Xander blushed and shook his head.  "Yes you are, man.  They're saying you're going to be tops in the field some day soon."

"He brought us hosting gifts since he was cleaning out his personal exemplar collection," Mac said.  The tech squealed, coming over to look.  "Thank you, Xander.  You made him very happy."

"I like happy people.  Are you going to the convention?"

"I'm supposed to.  We're looking at the intern candidates.  You too?"

"Calleigh couldn't come.  So I'm picking our next intern."  The local tech hugged him, earning a squeeze back.  "You're welcome."  The guy grinned, closing the trunk and carrying it off.  "I've got seven of those at home, you can have that one," he called after him, getting another grin and a wave.  "I like happy people."

"He'll be squealing for days," Mac said with a smile.  "You're early for the convention."

"I'm speaking at the intern's thing tonight," Xander admitted. "I have no idea what I'm saying but they said it's question and answer."  He shrugged.  "We'll see."  He grinned.  "We just came to make your day and I'll leave Horatio here with you.  Come have lunch with us during the convention?"

"If I can," he agreed.  Xander beamed and walked out, heading out to catch a cab.  "If you ever have to let him go, for *any* reason short of homicide, I want first crack," Mac told Horatio.

"Granted, but his boyfriend is a federal agent," Horatio said happily, smirking at him.  He heard feet go running past and moaned.  "Please let that not be Xander handling something," he begged God.

Mac looked.  "No, Chad dropped the case and the lid popped.  That's Flack."  He leaned further out.  "That's a hosting gift from a ballistics tech in Miami," he called.

"He has nice taste," Don called back.  "Can I help?"

"Ask Chad."  He pulled back in, looking at Horatio.  "I've got about three more hours of work on my present case."

"I can go back to the hotel and lounge," Horatio agreed.  "Call me when you're done and we'll have dinner."

"I can do that."  He shook his hand.  "What happened to Calleigh?"

"Xander ended up beating a patrol officer who made fun of her for being short, female, and blonde.  She's mad at him," Horatio admitted.  "He pointed out that she couldn't have kicked his ass the same way and that it was his duty as her junior officer to handle those things for her.  The same as he would for me.  The officer was begging and crying to IAB when he was taken to the ER.  She's still in a disagreeable mood and we don't want to scare the interns."

"Sometimes you've got to let them do it themselves to prove the point."

"She had proven it verbally but he was still sneering.  He's a bit taller than I am.  Xander turned him into a begging, sobbing, huddled up man after she got frustrated.  She'll calm down this weekend."  Mac smiled at that.  "She will.  I left Speed with her to calm her down."

"Hopefully it'll work itself out."

"They're still friends and she accepted why he did it for her, but she's still mad at the officer."  Mac chuckled, giving him a pat on the arm.  "You missed the surprise gun inspection the day they were clear and bored.  He popped a few on the head like Gibbs does for having ones that were nearly jammed."

"Like I said, I want him if you can't keep him," Mac told him.

"Fat.  Chance."  Mac walked him out, smiling and happy again.  That's what friends were for after all.


Xander looked at the group of intern candidates.  "Since I'm not the president and I don't make speeches I have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing so I'll take questions, how about that?" he suggested.  A bunch of hands went up.  "Okay, let's go front to back."  He pointed at one.  "I feel like an oracle so ask."

"When did you graduate?"

"Two..."  He pulled out his wallet to check his mini-diploma.  "Almost three years ago now," he said, smiling at him.  "Time does fly.  I graduated out of UCLA's program.  Second highest.  We had a detective that was switching over and I scored right behind her.  I have a major in ballistics, a minor in trace and field work to clear up that one."  He pointed at the next one over.  "What did you want to know?"

"You have a major and a minor?"  He nodded.  "Is that required?"

"No.  Quite a few labs only want you to have *one* speciality.  Especially the bigger labs.  They want you to do one thing and do it excellently.  It's the smaller departments that will need someone that have skills in another area.  By now you should be trained to at least be able to help now and then in another area.  If you're going to a small department I would use your last semester to up that area."  They all nodded.  He pointed at the next one.

"Where did you intern?"

Xander grinned.  "I started at with my in-school, as most of you have.  I did mine at a military academy for my ballistics one.  They did a lot of artillery testing and I know a good bit about that.  My in-school field work I did in Sacramento with a wonderful tech named Griffold.   My in-school for trace I decided to be lazy and do it out of the LAPD labs and I had done some other ballistics filling in with them over my last few years as well.  They knew me by then and knew I knew what I was doing.  My out of school ones I started at NCIS.  That's a federal agency and I interned in their DC office.  We didn't have that much crime and that's a place that has *a* tech.  Abby's a wonderful tech.  She *is* their lab.  She can do *anything* but she's a hacker and I'm not.  That's the only point of dissension we had between our styles.  I love Abby, she got transferred to Miami and stole my dog when she moved in.  I needed more hands-on and more work, because I was taking stuff from her to run, and I was driving her nuts by doing so.  Fortunately I ran into Lieutenant Caine at a fundraiser thingy and we clicked.  Abby talked me up so they got me four months into my internship and I've been there since working under Calleigh."  He pointed at the next one.  "What's your question?"

"How hard is it to work for a girl?"

"Let me tell you, it's not hard at all," Xander said with a grin, sitting on the front of the stage.  "Calleigh's very determined to pull her own weight.  She's not here this weekend because I ended up having to get between her and a really stupid officer who thought it was cute that she's five-four, blonde, and carries a bigger gun than he does.  It kept her from shooting him and I nearly got beaten for doing so.  Most females in the lab have heard every single sexist joke there is and have shot back at someone.  They can all do the work.  I do not expect anything less from the females except running times and even then some of them beat me.   If you end up with a female boss, enjoy it.  Be yourself, if you annoy her she'll tell you.  Tell her to tell you upfront if you're worried.  I did that with Abby because I'm seriously warped after having been raised by my best friend.  I hug.  I told Abby up front to tell me if I got annoying.  She did every time I mopped around her."  That got some laughs.  "So yeah, they're just the same as we are, only prettier."  He looked at the second row.  "It looks like there's two of you so lady's first?"

"Go ahead and let the poor boy go," she called.

"Okay."  He pointed at the guy.  "What's your question?"

"What else did you bring to the lab?"

"Well, before I went to college I did construction for three years so I brought that knowledge.  We had to do some demo work in the company I was with so I brought bomb skills too.  I used to hang out with my high school's librarian, who was slightly odd and had a lot of swords and crossbows so I'm very good at archaic weapons - personal use, not the siege or war weapons, though I am upping my skills in that area in case it becomes necessary.  I brought a slightly warped viewpiont of the world.  I brought tracking skills because I used to hunt a bit when I was younger.  The librarian I hung out with hunted vampires."  They all laughed at that.  "So yeah, I brought those skills as well."  He scratched the back of his neck.  "The best way to find out what other skills you have is to look at the really long application you guys had to fill out.  Look at each job, look at the skills you used on that job.  It's sometimes important that you did learn something.  Even if you only worked fast food you probably got something.  I did that and a lot of working in convenience stores.  I can tell a thief *really* well by body language now.  That sort of thing."  He skipped over the female for a second.  "You look like you have a related question?"

"Where are you from?"

"Three hours outside LA, and then LA itself for my college years."  He smiled at the female intern.  "I think you're going to head us in a new direction so I'll come back to you."

"I do have one that's in a different direction.  Hours?"

"An interesting topic.  As an intern it's usually, in almost all cases, stated that you're to work thirty hour weeks. Ten to fifteen more if you've got a minor.  Most departments will let you get by with a few hours here or there of overtime if it's necessary.  Some bosses will use interns like pack mules and make you do overtime.  Those you wanna kinda watch out for because most interns don't get overtime pay.  When you get your contracts look it over and ask that question. Most bosses will scoff at the idea of overtime but if you get a major case there's every chance you're going to need to stay over as well.  I did in Miami a few times.  Then again, I had someone in Homeland that I know who had come to ask for my help finding a hiding agent and we had a joint Vice/ATF gun ring and I was the only unknown male ballistics tech they could pull in the city.  The guy wouldn't work or sell to women, claimed they were more vicious and apt to shoot their supplier."  She smiled at that.

"When you get your contract, look it over.  Ask about overtime.  I will tell you that you will be spending one full shift on your own in your lab by your sixth month if your trainer thinks you're ready.  You get that when they think you're ready so they can see if you can handle the everyday stresses of the lab.  Don't freak if they pull a sick day.  Abby didn't do hers on purpose but I got a few of her shifts covered.  The better you are, the more competent you are, the sooner you'll get that and then they might offer to let you start working full time and maybe even get the boss to up your stipend for you."  She smiled and nodded at that.  "I know out of my interning class, Las Vegas' lab had their ballistics tech who nearly had to shut down his lab because his mom got sick and he didn't have a competent tech in there.  Unfortunately I had a classmate who was a stupid brat and she wouldn't pull her own weight.  I heard from him and recommended he go poach another tech that I knew.  Within a month he was able to go be with his mom for a few weeks while she started treatment.  Being *that* sort of tech will only earn you praise."

He looked around.  "That does bring up a point that my boss asked that I talk to you guys about so I'm going to diverge here into another topic.  Tech behavior.  Your behavior is looked at in and out of the office.  A good lawyer will ask you how much you regularly drink if you get called to testify.  That would be a defense attorney who is trying to discredit you."  They all groaned.  "Being a lab tech doesn't make you immune and those of you who're going into the field portion of being a CSI this is even more important.  Yes, you can have fun now and then.  If you're a nightly drinker, stop.  Before you start your internship.  They won't like the hangovers and it'll affect your ratings negatively.  If you're the sort to call off on paydays, don't.  Your evaluations will say that.  They will be honest with your employer when they're asked, and if you get either of those reps you won't get a job after your internship and I've seen interns that have been let go for too much partying.  It jeopardizes cases because hangovers make you make mistakes.  Now, again, if you're a mild partier it'll be fine.  Don't come in with a hangover and don't call off for it.  That's why you have days off.  That was a direct quote from a teacher a of mine.

"That tech in Vegas who wasn't worthy of filling in?  She got fired for calling off on paydays, drinking very heavily, and for drunk driving because she wrapped her car around a telephone pole.  Didn't hurt her but they got her anyway for it.  Also, for those of you on drugs, any sort of drugs, the myth that you can get them out of your system is false.  If you listened in an upper chem class you know very well we can take a hair sample for a drug test.  Even prescription drugs show up.  Everything shows up and it shows how long you used it for, in what strength, and they can guess frequency of use from that.  If you're on a prescription drug it is *highly* important that you let your future bosses know that.  If they get surprised at it when you're popped for a random test, you won't be happy with the talk.  By the way, they do randomly test interns at a rate of three times more often because we're rumored to do stupid shit.  Also, you should be aware that there are certain classes of drugs that you cannot take and be in the lab.  Any lab.  By federal regulations. If you're on them and you need them then I would talk to your doctor once you get the protocol sheets off the online source.  Because if they find it you will be fired automatically, even if you're a God of the department, and they will banish you from lab work.  You'll be lucky to find work in biomed since most of them won't allow those same drugs.

"This is one of the hardest thing for some new techs to get.  Once you sign on with an internship, in-school or not, your reputation is *everything*.   It will get you hired.  It will get you offers.  It will get you offers to do this in a few years," he said with a grin.  "You can *never* take your reputation too lightly.  Due to me having an oversight agent fired because he refused to put on gloves in my lab I've actually got a point in my profile where it lists me as bitchy, in that term, about lab protocol.  I will be the first to admit I am.  If you're going to be *my* intern  you're going to live up to my expectations.  Some of you will be talking to me this weekend about an open internship in Miami.  Those of you, be yourself.  That's the most important thing I can tell you.  If you're bouncy, let your inner nature come out.  Don't try to hide who you are, they'll get frustrated.  If they know you're a bit hyper or bouncy up front most bosses will say 'you're young, you'll grow out of it'.  Mine did that and well, I think it's the only time Horatio's ever been wrong, but he did think that."  That got some laughs and he pointed at the next one with a question.  She shook her head.  "Who else had questions?"  He got two hands and pointed at the one up front.

"What about clothes?  I know a lot of us are going on a limited budget."

"If you're getting financial aid, get a bit more that last semester," Xander told him. "You're going to have crappy paychecks until you're out of your internship.  Most of the ones I looked at paid two grand a month before taxes.  Most of the places they were in had housing costs of about nine hundred to a thousand a month for rent."  That got some horrified looks. "Interns make shit wages, guys.  It's a universal complaint.  There's some departments that hire interns because they can't afford a new full tech.  It's great, they get to mentor you guys and all that, but we get shit wages.  So if you're on financial aid, I would take the time to shop.  Now, I don't think you have to go overboard.  It does depend on your field and your lab.  I don't expect *any* intern to wear suits like Horatio does.  Even if they're rich kids.  Suits can get dirty too.  His dry cleaning bill is *enormous*."  That got some laughs.

"Seriously.  He wears a suit daily.  Now, you will need a suit for interviewing.  You will need a suit or two for court.  Most labs will let you get away with decent pants and a shirt.  Some field techs can wear jeans now and then, but baseline expect nicer pants than jeans and a decent shirt.  I'm odd, I wear sayings t-shirts that make people take naps now and then.  Horatio is very understanding about that."  That got another mass laugh.  "Seriously.  One day I had a t-shirt that made twelve officers, one CSI, and another tech take a nap from the headache.  There was also a great run on tylenol that day for the rest of them.  Horatio had been out in the field until someone called him.  He came back specially to take it off me, drive me home, and suspend me for the day.  So nice pants, don't have to be too expensive.  You'll want to check but most labs will accept things like dockers, especially for interns.  They know you make shit wages.  They did once upon a time too.  Shirts, I would go with something plain or a button-up if your dress code says it.  For interviews, let some of your personality come through in the suit.  If you're a happy, singing person who likes to wear flowered clothes most of the time I'd expect you to wear a suit that has it.  For women, the pants versus skirt thing I can't answer.  I don't like skirts.  My female friends tried very hard now and then to make me wear one.  I hate skirts."

That got a few laughs.  "You guys can easiest show your personality by what you wear to your interview.  Be yourself but be a bit stiffer version of you.  We expect you guys to be nervous.  In some cases awed.  I nearly bowed to Bobby out of Las Vegas.  Those of you in UCLA know that some teachers will tell us to."  That got a few nods.  "For those of you worried about costs, you can find nice things at second-hand stores and thrift shops.  Make friends with the people who work there, tell them you're going to work in a lab and ask if they've got any dress pants, good shirts, that stuff.  They might even start hanging things back for you and it's a lot cheaper.  That or ask for family for Christmas presents.  I got a few of those over the years from a few different friends.  Or you can snatch and run from some friends' closets and they won't mind, much.   I did that to Angel when I left LA.  He only called once to get his black silk shirt back."   He pointed at the other tech.  "What's up?"

"What's the most important thing you learned during your internship?"

"Well, huh."  He considered it.  "Don't piss off the boss comes to mind first."  That got a laugh from the questioner.  He looked at her.  "One of them would definitely be to listen.  Even if you're great in your field, even me, has something to learn.  I learned a lot watching Abby.  I learned even more watching the guys down in Miami.  I definitely upgraded my interviewing skills thanks to them and they helped me with a few areas I was weaker in.  Also, if you're interested in another area and you know a bit about it, ask that tech, see if he'll let you watch him on your day off so you can learn more.  There's no such thing as a useless skill.  The most important skills I had at NCIS was that I could bounce and be happy with Abby when she wanted to bounce and I made good enough coffee for the head agent we worked with a lot because he was coffee addicted and a grouch if he didn't have it."  That got more laughs.  "Seriously," he said, holding up a hand.  "It kept my butt from being chewed a few times when he thought I had done something stupid, which in my case was dating."  He looked at her again, a gentle, content smile.  "Just remember, you're there to learn.  You're there to make contacts and friends if you can.  Be yourself.  They'll accept you and probably like you, but no one can keep up a fake personality for that long."  He saw a hand go up.  "What did you need to know?"

"I was at the DC award ceremony," a voice called.  Xander shuddered.  "They said you're disabled?"

"About a year before I started school I had the unfortunate event happen where I lost an eye."  He popped his out, holding it up for a second before putting it back.  "When I was in school I told every single teacher.  I had to prove constantly that I could do the work.  A few of them helped me learn how to compensate.  If you've got one, it's important that your boss know but also if you've learned how to get around it to still do the work you need to assure him of that.  If you need something like a platform for a wheelchair to sit on, tell him exactly how he'll have to change the lab around.  Or give him examples from your training and references from your teachers and other interns showing that you can compensate for it.  Gibbs wouldn't let me anywhere near the field because I was a lab tech.  It wasn't about my eye, he said only agents got into the field.  Horatio was wary at first but I switched to Miami-Dade at a convention like this one, the one in Cleveland, and everyone who had worked for me told him how well I learned to compensate for it, any issues I still have because I take absolutely crappy scene photos.  I tape instead to solve that issue.   The things that you need a precise distance during pourings I use a ruler.

"I had to prove myself in the field with the detectives a few times but they figured out pretty quickly that I knew my shit, I knew how to compensate for it, and I wasn't any more dangerous than any other ballistics tech in the field.  So yeah, if you have one, tell them.  Be honest. Unless it's something that absolutely will not impact your career then you can leave that off.  My bigger handicap is that I'm a hands-on person.  I don't learn anything from lecture classes.  I even had a few where I was tutored by gang members to get me through them."  That got some horrified looks. "They were college students too, but they were gang members taking the classes for their own future.  I had a wonderful Crypt that got me through Chem with this one teacher who hated giving us lab time.  I had a Blood who got me through Econ.  I consider that a bigger handicap than my eye because it did mean I didn't get the fullest extent of the lectures and I told that to Horatio and Speedle, who does Trace and Field down there.  He put me through my paces for weeks on end finding where I was weak and drilling me until I wasn't.  He was very patient with some things and growled at me about others when there was one thing I could not get for anything.  Then Eric and Horatio stepped in and helped me learn it in a different manner.  I still suck at it but I can do it technically correct, which is the important thing."

That got a mass of nods.  "That goes back to my main point of be yourself.  They'll need to know but you don't have to walk in with a sign around your neck that says 'I'm dyslexic' or anything.  When they ask you about your schoolwork saying something like 'well, I had a few troubles thanks to a minor learning disability, but I handled it with tutors' or however is a lot better than sitting down and going 'I have this problem and this problem and this problem' to them after shaking their hands.  "If you ask Horatio he'll probably tell you that my biggest disability is that I'm bouncy and a bit hyper plus that I date psycho women who want to kidnap me.  I did warn him of that one during our interview and so did everyone at NCIS who he talked to.  Just because they had to rescue me a few times," he finished with a small grimace.  The crowd laughed.  "Any other questions?"  They shook their heads.  "Then I wish you all luck.  Those of you who're interviewing with me about the ballistics spot, have me paged if you can't find me.  I'm probably getting a soda. Oh, that's a good point to mention.  Ask them the drink rules in the lab.  Abby gets sodas all day, I have to walk out to get my habit of choice.  It's a good thing to know up front."  They all smiled.  "Go, have fun, but be careful.  New York is a big city that can eat people if you're not careful.  We don't want to make someone call the locals away from their relaxation to find one of you.  Good luck to all of you and welcome to the field."  He hopped off the stage, smiling as the kids walked out in groups.

"You did very good," Mac said as he came down.  "Though you're right, Horatio does consider you being bouncy your biggest disability."

"I know.  Oh, you so missed it.  We had to do one for a county upstate that needed to check against an old case.  He told Calleigh she didn't have to worry her pretty little head about the gun."  Mac burst out laughing.  "Called me a froufy little gay boy a few times.  Calleigh told him I couldn't sing or cook."

Mac patted him on the shoulder.  "That's not a bad thing to hear as a warning about you, Xander.  Dinner?"

"Sure."  He walked back with him, finding his boss back there.  "How big is your dry cleaning bill?"

"It's still in the low three digits," he said, pinching him on the arm.  "Calleigh sent that."

"Aww, is she over being pissed at the officer?"

"He came up to her with his new cast and sling to apologize.  He decided she was like an ethnic mother if she could handle you.  That strong, resilient woman who never let anything get her too down and could beat her sons no matter how old they were."

Xander grinned sweetly.  "I'm sure she'd try too."

"She told him she was from New Orleans, that's a whole different sort of strength and that you were nice if you got to know you."  He walked them out.  "You did good.  Thank you for hitting that one point."

"It was necessary.  Too many techs end up without jobs because they do stupid shit.  Besides, someone's got to live up to my reputation someday."

"Which one, the kidnaping one?" Mac teased.

Xander looked at him then nodded.  "Yes, that one too.  That's why Grandma wants more grandkids."  Mac laughed, nodding and patting him on the back.  "Come on, I'm starved and I budgeted a good dinner this convention.  That way I can skip out tomorrow and go sword looking."

"Do you really need more?" Horatio asked.  Xander gave him an odd look.  "Never mind."  He shook his head.  "Remember what we said about bringing guns home."

"Ship them through Fed Ex.  They don't scan as well."

"That was said as well," Horatio agreed.  "Though I do believe Tony said no more than five without permission?"

"Well, yeah," he admitted.  They walked into the steak place at the hotel, smiling at the hostess.  "Three please?  Unless Stella or someone is coming, Mac?"

"Flack is.  He's got a sword-wielding nut he wanted you to look at."

"Sure.  Four."  She nodded, leading them to a table.  He took his menu, looking at the prices.  "Wow."

"That does happen."

"Hey, I make a real salary, I can at least get my dinner," Xander decided.  He looked at Horatio.  "When should I get the step raise?"

"When the Chief takes off the raise freeze," he admitted.  "He instituted it a few months back to save on the budget for a few months."

"So I'll get it retroactively when he takes it off?"

"Probably not."

"It is in the contracts."

"I know, but that's a city-wide power, Xander.  They did it to all of us."  He grimaced.  "It happens now and then.  It'll be broken shortly I'm sure."  Xander nodded.  "Besides, you are living on your current salary."

"Yeah, but I wanted to put the raise into the house payment to pay it off quicker."

"Which is a financially sound idea," Mac agreed. "That and your retirement fund."

"I have one of those?"

"You probably should.  You do things that make you get hurt," Horatio noted, giving him a look.  "I'll give you the name of who handles mine when we get home, Xander."

"Okay."  He smiled when the waitress came back.  "Can I have a coke no ice?"  She nodded, taking that down.  He looked at the menu again.  "Also, can I have the number five to start?"

"Sure can," she agreed. She looked at Horatio.

"Side salad to start.  Coffee please."  She wrote that down.  "Mac?"

"I think I'll have the platter, with the baked potato, and a salad to start.  Water please."  He handed his menu over.

"I'll take the number four for the meal," Xander said, handing his over.

"I'll take the steak and mushrooms," Horatio said, handing his over.  She smiled and walked off.  "Are you starved, Xander?"

"Well, yeah, and what I don't eat I'll have as a midnight snack later on."  That got a nod.

Mac texted someone, and their dinner companion showed up, ordering his own when the waitress came nearby.  She nodded, putting it onto their check as he sat down.  "Hey," Flack said, smiling at Xander.  "Don Flack."

"Xander Harris."  He shook his hand.  "Mac said you had a super psycho for me."

"Oh, yeah."  He handed over the file.  "I don't know why, I don't know with what, all I know is that he's annoying and it keeps getting me up at five because he attacks joggers."

Xander looked through the folder, separating out a few things.  He put his soda off to the side when it came, his appetizer too.  He nibbled while he read, then held up a picture.  "This isn't the same."  Don looked stunned.  "Different style of cutting.  See, you can swing a sword a few ways but even if you're doing the same thing a different person is going to get a different swing.  Height and strength differences, quality of sword.  This one's not as deep or as long.  It's also not as high on the body.  So either the guy was shorter and had shorter arms or it's someone else."  Don nodded, making a note on his notepad.  Xander nibbled another piece of his sampler platter, grimacing at what he was eating.  "That's not what I expected."  Horatio took those.  "Please, poach.  No one would believe you ate healthy all weekend anyway."  He let Mac have a few of his cheesesticks too.  Then he went back to browsing.   He finally leaned over, showing Flack something.  "He's always around this spot."

"We've tried to catch him."

"Get a scent dog and handler. Have them wait there.  Have the dog check for his scent until it shows up."  Don looked stunned.  "It's a different use but he should be able to do that.  Now, I will say that the guy is having issues."  He pointed at something.  "This wound has grease on it.  The next one he checked too.  It was on his hands.  So he's doing something menial or he's homeless."  Don nodded faster, writing that down.  "And I'm thinking you're going to find that he's homeless but I'm not sure why I think that but I do.  Now, for the sword?"  He ate another bite of his treat, then sketched something and wrote down a web address.  "I love them.  You've got some goth places in the city that'll sell the same thing.  He's using a knight's sword.  Long sword, thin blade.  Horse battalion quality.  If it's not chipping steel off he knows exactly what he's doing when he sharpens it or he's having someone else sharpen it for him. That's the other reason I'd exclude that picture."  The waitress came back so he cleaned up his mess to make room for his dinner, putting it on the bench beside him.  "See, this one is fatter, it's also less deep.  The original sword had a stronger point, meaning a deeper 'v' shape.  This one's shorter and squatter.  I'd say a two handed bastard sword or maybe a longish short sword but this one is definitely different.  Thanks," he said when he got his steak.

"Is this going to be on the same check or different ones?" she asked.

"I'll get mine and his," Mac said, nodding at Flack.

"I've got mine and he's got his," Horatio told her.  She nodded, going to make note of that. "Where would he find it?"

"See, the shorter one is looking cheaper.  We're talking cast aluminum."  He showed him the picture.  "That's metal shavings.  It's not a good sword."  He nibbled a bite with his fingers, picking up the other picture.  "This one's a very good sword.  It stays sharp, it cuts cleanly.  It's cared for.  It's sharpened carefully."

"Okay, so we can find those types in the city?" Don asked.

"I'm bugging out of the DNA stuff in the morning and don't have intern candidates until after lunch.  I'm going sword and gun shopping anyway so you can come with me if you want."

"Sure, I'd like that," Don agreed, smiling at him.  "Eat like a real person, kid."  Xander tidied up the file, handing it back to him.  "Thank you for this."

Xander shrugged.  "It's what I do."  He dug in, finishing his appetizer and then digging into his steak.  He did end up taking half of it back upstairs with him but that was fine.  He could use a snack later.


Xander drug Don into a goth shop.  "There's a reason we're here besides the fact I need a Solstice present for Abby, Don."  He smiled at the counter girl.  "Hi, he needs to look at swords and I need to look at something pretty for a goth girl I know.  She's a lab genius."

"Okay."  She led them to the swords, letting Don stare at them for a few minutes.  She let Xander look at the jewelry.  "Is she special to you?"

"Like a sister."  She pointed at something and he shook his head.  "She's got this one," he said, pointing at one.  She looked at him.  "Her name's Abby.  She's a federal lab genius."

"Oh."  She pointed at something else but he shook his head and pointed at something in the back of the case.  "That's pretty," she agreed, letting him see it.  He smiled and put down his debit card, letting her ring it up and box it for him.  "There you go."

"Thank you."  He walked back to where Don was, pointing at something.  "Your original looks like that.  Only it's of use quality.  That is ceremonial for some of the pagan practiconers."   Don nodded firmly at that.  "Your other one is about that one's size," he said, pointing at another one.  "But it has this sort of tip," he said, pointing at the one on the counter.  "Probably that sort of handle too."

"Okay, that gives me a general outline."  He looked at him.  "Now, where do you go to find swords in New York that are use quality?"

The salesgirl wandered over.  "What sort of use?"

"Someone's using a mounted knight's blade in the park," Xander told her.

"Ellory's would know best."  Xander nodded that they were going there.  "Or, if you're looking renfiar there's a blacksmith down by the park."

"Thanks," Don said, smiling at him.  "Has anyone bought one of those?" he asked, pointing at the first one.

"Yes, but if they're using it and having to sharpen it, that's not the fully best metal mix for that.  Your friend is right, that's for ceremonial use.  Do I know you?"

Xander smiled.  "I worked out of LA and Sunnydale."  She went paler.  He shrugged.  "Swords are good."

"They are.  Ellory's got sorts like you who would know."

"That's why I'm going sword shopping there later," he agreed happily.  "Which blacksmith?"

"Um, Jenkins.  Tall guy, nice guy, but very tall, kinda odd."

"We'll talk to him before we go bother the stuff antique sort," Xander said, kissing her on the cheek.  "Be well and be safe."

"You as well, Knight."  He winked, walking Don out.  "Wow."  She went to send an email to a friend to tell her who she had met.

Don looked at him.  "Knight?"

"I used to help with the strange shit problems in my town and LA.  That's the formal title for someone who jumped into the fight without a reason to and without the inborn skills."

"Oh.  Interesting.  So you've got a rep?"

"Yes, and the people at Ellory's will sneer for a good bit because they don't like who trained me or me."  He grinned.  "It'll be fine though."  He led him into another shop, looking at the salesman.  "Has anyone bought a two-handed bastard sword or a mounted knight sword recently?"

The guy looked at him.  "You a cop?"

"Helping.  Someone used both of those and my expertise was called in.  He's a cop," he said, nodding at Don.

"Huh.  Only two long swords and one short, troll sword, sir."  He pointed at their stock.  "Mostly Templar actors."

Xander went to look.  "These are nice."

"They are, but they're still lesser metal than the museum quality pieces."

"Yes but they're probably also lighter than mine.  My long sword at home is about fifteen pounds."  The guy winced.  "Exactly."  He looked at one, finding one that felt good in his hand, and another katana, because he liked them.  He found the whole set in a box and moaned.  "How much for the jade dragon set?  It's not marked."

"One eighty."

Xander brought them up, letting him ring him up.  He accepted the bag, walking off with Don again.  He let him see the long sword.  "That's what he's using.  Only of better quality."

"How is he hiding this?"

"Trench coat.  I can.  Or if he's a Highlander fan he might've figured out how they manage to hide them under short coats.  I never could."  Don moved them into an alley to give it a swing.  "No, like this," Xander said, putting down his bags to show him.  "This is what he's doing.  So if he's coming out of hiding, he's moving this way."  He did it for him, getting a nod.  He handed it back. "You can carry that one as a reference sample."

"Thanks, kid."  He watched him pick back up the bag.  "Did you need the new katana set?"

"Yeah, my other one's a bit bent at the moment."  Don snickered.  "It is.  I used it on something big and hard the other day.  I banged it into a column in the living room and it was marble."  They walked out of the alleyway, heading to the park to talk to the blacksmith.  "Hey."  The guy looked up at him.  "I heard you do Renfair sharpening?"

"Real actors can do their own."

"As can I," Xander agreed.  "But he's a cop and we're looking for information on the guy using the knight's sword in the park."

"Oh, Henry."  He nodded.  "It's a beautiful blade."

"Is he using it to kill people?"

"Henry?  Nah.  No, it's a family heirloom, the last thing he has left of them," the guy said, coming over to lean on his half-door.  "There's a few in his group that might be the one you want though."

Xander looked at Don.  "That's going to be touchy."  Don nodded.  He looked at him. "Any idea where they'd be?"

"Yeah, right now they're usually down at the pond.  Henry likes to stab fish and ducks for dinner."

"That'll work, thanks, man," Don said.

"Can you not take it from him?  It's the last thing he owns," the blacksmith said quietly.

"That's between him and CSI.  If I don't have to, I won't," Don promised.  The guy nodded, patting him on the back.  "Any idea who's been using a ...what was it, Xander?"

"Someone else used a cheap recreation two-handed bastard sword a few days back."

The blacksmith nodded.  "Yeah, one of those idiots out at Ellory's."

"Going there later," Xander agreed happily.  "Thanks, man."  He walked Don off.  "You're in luck, I am a CSI," he teased.

"True."  He led him to the pond, letting him see the group.  "I'm guessing that's Henry."

"I know him."  Xander handed over his bag, walking over there.  "Lord Muscgrove?" he called. The man stopped trying to stab the duck and turned to stare at him.  "Xander Harris, from Giles' little group.  Need to talk to you, sir."

"Something dangerous?"

"Not from you and hopefully not for you."  He nodded, coming out of the water, letting Xander lead him back to Don.  He took the file and held up a picture, earning a moan.  "In the park."

"Not with mine," he said firmly.

"Are you sure?" Don asked.

He nodded.  "It's not mine.  I can let that one swab it if you must."  Don smiled at that.  "As long as I get it back."

"If at all possible if it's the murder weapon.  If not it's yours," Don agreed.  "Any idea who does?"

"Oh, yes.  Quite a lot.  I've seen him wandering around."  He flicked a hand.  "Stupid little boys who think they're in Highlander.  I can show you."

"I would appreciate that."  Don held up the other picture.  "Any idea which guy at Ellory's I need ta beat?"

He looked then snorted. "Thompson," he sneered.  "Always trying to update things."  He looked in the bag then at Xander.  "Downgrading?"

"I bent my last one.  I can't practice with my real one in case I bend it too.  I live in a house full of marble and marble columns in Miami."

"Well.  I suppose that's all right.  Where is Rupert?"

"Cleveland with the bitchy hos."

"Ah, them.  Is Buffy still alive?"

"Broke my arm a few months back," Xander agreed dryly.  "Warping the others Willow ended up calling."  He looked stunned.  "Before the thing with the First, Lord Muscrgove. Why are you out here?"

"Hiding from the Bringers."

"But... we sent them packing when we battled the First and Sunnydale fell in."

"No, I've seen some.  They're still here."

"Then you definitely need to see Rupert," Xander ordered.  He nodded at that.  Xander pulled out his phone, taking the address from the entry for the shop's number.  "That's Rupert's shop.  He's running another magic shop."  He handed it over.  "Go see him."

"I shall tonight, Xander.  Thank you.  Are you Miami's protector?"

"Pretty much.  We've got an overlord.  I'm retired unless it's really horrible or eating a cop.  I'm a ballistics tech," he said proudly.

"As your training probably suits you for, lad."  He looked at Don.  "Tonight, go sit on the Lover's Walk, at the green bench, the one with the heart on the back.  Pretend to be one of us."  Don nodded.  "Watch for him, he'll be there.  You can stop him when he shows up."

"I'll do that and talk to the other guy," he promised.  "Thank you."

"You are quite welcome, young man."  He walked off, going to find a phone and make that call.

Xander looked at Don.  "Shall we?"  He took his bag back with a grin.

"We shall.  How much time do you have left?"

"About an hour and a half before lunch."  He walked him off, taking him to Ellory's, which necessitated a cab ride, but that was fine.  He walked in and noticed the sneers.  "Stuff it," he ordered.  "Or else I'll get Willow to turn you all into lizards."

"She still has that frog phobia?" a bored male voice asked in a German accent.

"Yuppers."  He walked over.  "Shopping for my private collection.  Yes, I know I bought cheaper stuff to practice with."  They quit looking at Don, but he took his bags.  "Where's Thompson?  He needed to consult with him about something."

"In the back.  Thompson, the police are here for you," he called.  The man came out and Don walked that way to talk to him.  "What are you shopping for, young man?"

"Interesting stuff.  I still have most everything leftover from Sunnydale."  That got a nod and he walked him over to another showcase, letting him leave his bags in a chair behind the counter.  He peered at something.  "That's not that old."

"It's blessed."

Xander looked at him. "Why would you bless a poisoner's amulet?"

"I do not know," he admitted. "Maybe they worked for the Church."  He shrugged, letting him see some things.  "How big is your budget?"

"My man would kill me if I spent over two grand this trip."  He looked up.  "But we're seeing if I can talk him into a better mood.  I definitely can't spend over four.  Why?  New kits in?"  He nodded, letting him see one.  "Hmm.  That handgun won't work.  It'll jam after a few uses."  He pointed at one.  "That's a better version.  Oh, Giles has a mini-me in training named Gary.  I'm hoping he sends him to Connor before Buffy and Willow warp him too."

"We have recently sent Connor a new gear kit," he admitted.  "With a better gun."

Xander grinned.  "Good."  He got back to his browsing, wandering around the store.  "Aww, that's so cute!  A baby demon trapped in that."  They all looked and he grinned.  "The red one, guys."  They took it out to look at it and marked the price up.  He looked at his host.  "Okay, now where's the real stuff?"  He was led into the back room, letting him see the stuff back there.  He found a sword he didn't have a type of, taking it down to test it.  "Oooh, that's heavy."  He handed it over.  "I don't have one of those."  He looked at the other stuff.  "Go stop Don if he's coming back here.  He's a detective."  He nodded, going to stop him.  Xander walked around, looking at most everything, picking up two new guns and another, good, katana.  One that was historical by the wrapping on it.  Then he looked at the artillery in the back area.  He picked up a case, moving to open it on the floor.  "Oooh, pretty, and Horatio took mine."  He closed it and walked it out to the host's area.  "I need these."

He looked at the case then at him.  "That is outside your budget."

"Not unless you mismarked the price."  He let him see.  He grinned. "Plus, don't I still get the Watcher's discount since I'm the only Knight in Miami?"

"I thought Hendricks moved down there," another person called.

Xander looked. "I thought he was in Tampa."

"Well, he might be.  He's somewhere down in Florida."

"Takes half a day to get there from where I am.  Plus, I work with the PD as a ballistics tech."  He grinned.  "Flack asked my opinion on swords."

"Fine, you can have the discount," his host sighed.  "Are we shipping to you?"

"Please.  That way I don't get in trouble with my boss."

"I can do that."  He let him write down his address and pay for it, watching him tuck one of the new guns into his back waistband.  "Are you sure you want that thing?  It needs cleaned."

"I know.  It's a good gun and it could use some love.  That's what I do for a living."  He winked and took his bags, walking out.  Flack had the guy in a squad car.  "See, I helped."

"You did.  Who are those guys?"

Xander grinned.  "Watchers.  They're over the strange crap training.  Which is why you didn't need to see the pretty swords in the back room."

"Fine.  I won't mention it but I will keep it in mind."

"Oh, you have to be one of us to buy from in there.  Or else it's *real* expensive and they'll tell on you for the most part."

"Good ta know.  Thanks, kid. Need a ride back to the hotel?"

"I wouldn't mind in the least."  He got into the car, holding out a hand when Don took the new gun.  "Mine."

"Did you have this earlier?"

"Just bought it."  It was handed back.  "It needs some TLC.  The last owner didn't clean it often enough.  Since Horatio made me clean out my personal exemplar I had to give my last one to the department."

"I saw it that night," he admitted.  The squad car took them back to the hotel first since it was on the way.  "Tell Mac I got one and I'll get the other tomorrow."

"I can do that.  Call if you need me."  He slid out, making sure he had everything.  He headed inside, running into Horatio and Mac.  "Don's got the atypical case and Lord Muscgrove told him how to get the other in the morning."

"Good.  What did you buy?"

"Practice stuff.  I bent my last practice katana on a column in the living room when Gibbs scared me."  He walked it up to his room, and his new gun, putting them all down.  He patted the gun.  "I'll baby you tonight, dear.  Don't worry."  He made sure they were hidden then went down to get lunch and find his candidates.  He barely got to sit down when one was across from him.  "Hey."

"Hi.  You said to be ourselves and I'm nervous."

"It happens.  Which part of Miami's labs were you wanting?  I'm only doing ballistics today.  Horatio's doing the others."


"That would be Horatio."  He paged him, getting him and Mac again.  "This one wanted to be impressive and work with DC, Horatio."

"We can talk," he agreed.  "We were going out for a hotdog, walk with us?"

"Okay."  He bounced up to follow them out, handing over his resume to both. "Since I have an interview with Detective Taylor later tonight anyway."

Mac smiled.  "No time like the present."

Xander dug into his burger, calling Tony.  "I was good.  I bought Abby's Solstice present and only a few other things.  Including a new practice katana."  He smiled at the happiness that created. "No, I was helping up here.  They've had a sword murder."  He listened, nibbling on his burger.  "No, I was a good boy.  Thank you, Tony."  He hung up and finished his lunch, then went to find his interns.  They had a room set up for them to interview in so he flopped down next to Horatio, whistling.  "Yo, my ballistics interns, I'm here."  A few came over, one leaving her last interview.  He looked at her so she dropped her forms and went back.  It was probably not the best impression but that was her mistake.  He got down to the first one, questioning them hard about what they did and did not know.  At one point Horatio looked at him and shook his head.  "I can."

"They can learn it this year, Xander."

"Fine.  Spoil my fun."  He went back to it, weathering the smirks.  "That's the boss's boss.  I make a cut, tell her, she calls, then she tells Horatio."  They nodded, letting him get back to the interviews.  He already had a few he favored.  His notes and chart for the beginning questions was going to Calleigh on Monday.


Tony walked into the house Monday afternoon, finding a new case in the living room.  He looked around. "Xander?"  No boyfriend.  He must have dropped it off.  He opened it and groaned, taking it out to the car so he could drive through somewhere for a late lunch while he headed back to the office.  He walked the case inside, handing it to Gibbs.  "It appeared on the couch."

He opened it then looked at him.  "He's got good taste."

"He does, but we don't need that."

"Horatio made me take his last one too."

Xander walked in and closed the case, taking it with him.  "Yes I do need it.  Tough."  He walked out, taking it home and putting it into the hidden area of the vault.  Because some stuff you had to hide from the nosy people he lived and worked with.  It was the problem with hanging around with CSI.  He came out of the vault, closing it and going to make himself a sandwich.  He kissed Tony on the way past.  "Love you anyway."  He found his practice sword, heading into the back yard to get to work. "When can we get a new dog?"

"You have me, why do you need a dog?"

Xander looked at him. "You don't bounce and lap?"

"True, I don't."  He walked out.  "I'm just as cuddly though."

"You are," he agreed with a smile, kissing him again.  "But I like dogs."

"We'll get a new one tonight if you put back on a shirt and put the sword away."  Xander beamed, going to do that.  Tony shook his head.  He knew being around Xander was warping but he had been hot without his shirt on using the sword.  Too bad there wasn't time for lunchtime sex.


Xander walked his new pet in the next day, letting him sniff Frank.  "We're showing him off before we go home with him."  The dog sniffed Frank, then the person next to him, sitting down and looking at Xander.  "Good boy!"  He beamed.  "He can already smell gunpowder.  I found a brilliant puppy."  He hugged him and walked him off, taking him home.

Frank looked at the rookie.  "Range?"

"Yup.  You?"

"Not in a few weeks thankfully.  At least he found a lab.  They're usually bouncy and happy dogs too."

"Didn't he have a dog?" Eric joked.

"Abby stole it when she moved."

"The dog did love her," he agreed, handing over a folder.  "Here you go.  All yours."  He walked off again, shaking his head.  "Hey, H, Xander got a redish colored lab looking dog."

"It's a lab/setter crossbreed.  He named him Bert," Speed called.  "He said the dog sniffed him and sat down, so he's clearly somewhat trained."

"Xander said gunpowder," Eric agreed. "He brought him in to sniff Frank."

Horatio shook his head.  "I'm sure they'll get along very well."  He called Tony.  "What did he buy in New York?"  He said he'd send him an email and hung up.  Horatio went upstairs, finding Tony had sent it with a picture of the dog and the fact that Abby was not allowed to steal this one.  He smiled at that, and the list.  The part where Tony told him he couldn't find the new artillery made him sigh a bit.  He called Xander.  "Where did you hide it?"  He listened to him babble about hiding spells and those things, then hang up.  He groaned, shaking his head.  Only Xander.