Boys With Guns.
John Hagen walked into Xander's house, backing up a step when a large red dog came barking at him. "Whoa! I like the boy! I'm not here to hurt him! Who're you!"
Xander came out of the handgun vault. "That's Bert. Bert, he's a buddy, let him come in." The dog quit barking, sniffing instead, bouncing up to lick his face. "Good boy!"
"He is, he's a very good boy," he agreed, giving him a few pets. The dog went back to helping Xander and John went that way. "You hide stuff by magic?"
"Of course I do. That way the nosy friends and coworkers can't get into stuff." He beamed at him. "Which is why you missed stuff when you moved that storage area."
"Did you get it?"
"Yeah, I got it the other day." He patted the head that pushed into his lap, smiling at him. "Good boy, Bert. Very good boy to guard the daddy." The dog laid down next to him. "So, what's up?"
"Horatio wanted an accurate count."
"If he can't see it, I'm not telling him."
"Uh-huh. I doubt that'll work."
"He can't prove I have it if he can't see it."
"True but he wanted to know, in case something happened and someone broke in?"
Xander gave him a confused look. "They won't be able to see it either."
"Not without setting off the magical alarms I had someone set up."
"Interesting." He sat on the counter, watching him clean guns. "That's new." Xander let him see it. "Big."
"It fits in my hand."
"Yours and mine. Any good?"
"Yeah, I took it to the range this morning. It's very good." He let him see his range score sheet. "It's a bit of a recoil hog but I'll learn to love it too." He put it into its spot on the wall and got to work on the next one.
"Who did you see in New York?"
Xander grinned. "The Watchers." He got back to work, humming a bit. "I have a slight ethical dilemma."
"Those are Horatio's area, kid," John reminded him. He took the piece of paper he handed him anyway. "What's this?"
"A storage area that survived the destruction. I had forgotten I had it. I set it up to autodraft out of my former roadtrip savings account. Since the bank had other branches it kept going even after the destruction. I thought Anya had wiped that account out too but apparently I was wrong. It's just now running out and I have a month to claim it."
"So what's the dilemma?"
"They were originally Giles' books."
"Did you ask him?"
"Look at the third clause down."
He looked then blinked. "That might make them yours. You should still ask him."
Xander looked at him again. "I called up there to tell him that it had survived. He said it was couches and old textbooks from his museum days."
"What is it really?"
"Magic books. Other Watchery books."
"Oh." He handed it back. "I'd make sure he knew that."
"I asked 'what if some are Watchery stuff' and he said he hadn't packed anything there, he was sure of it. All of his from the library had been in the house and survived because he had sent them to Angel before the destruction." He gave him a look. "Which he did but not that stuff."
"So it means you've got a lot of books you probably shouldn't let the average person have."
"And I don't want them around Willow anyway. He told me to deal with it."
"Which to you means yard sale?" he guessed. Xander nodded. He considered it. "If he said it's okay."
"That's what I thought but that little voice that Speed prompted to come up a few months back keeps popping up and saying I should give him an inventory."
"What makes you think he doesn't know and is hiding them from himself and Willow?"
"Which was my other thought," Xander admitted. "I'm confused, John."
"Can these other Watchers buy them?"
"Yeah and they still hate Giles."
John laughed. "Talk to Caine. You'll need a few days off to go out there anyway."
"He's coming over for dinner. I was going to present it to him."
"So I'm a second opinion?" Xander beamed and nodded. "That'll work for me. As long as you don't buy more explosives or artillery."
"No, I'm going to be a good boy."
"That would be nice," Speed said as he walked in. "You can't steal Horatio tonight. It's our anniversary. We had to remind him of that fact but it is." John handed him the paper. "What's this?"
"Stuff that used to be Giles' but he gave them to me to store. They survived Sunnydale."
"Wow." He looked it over then at him. "Did Giles want it back?"
"No. Not that he thinks it is what it is."
"What is it?"
"Oh." He handed it back. "Sell them to people who won't use them to hurt others, Xander."
"He'll need time off to deal with that."
"He can bring Horatio lunch." He looked at him. "Not a bad idea. Where is the extra stuff?"
"Hidden even from you guys. You guys are nosy."
"We're CSI, it's a good trait to have," he said blandly. Xander just smirked. "Fine. You won't tell me. Is it worse?" John shrugged. Xander went back to cleaning his gun. "Go talk to H, Xander. I'm not sure if you have time left after the arm thing."
"I didn't get paid for it so I hope so," Xander said grimly. "Though I did get my comp check today so that went to pay the bills." He got up, putting that gun up since he was done. "Okay, let's go. Come on, Bert." He woke up and followed them out, sniffing Speed. "We love him like a brother too. He's a packmate." Bert woofed and went to lay in the sun in the kitchen. He closed the vault and followed Speed out, waving at John on the way to his car. "See you in a few. You can hang out with the dog."
"Sure, I'll do that. It's nicer than my place today." He went to play with the dog, getting a happy bark but that was good for him. They had even bought the new dog new toys. "What did happen to his last dog, do you know?" He played some fetch, which made the dog very happy.
Xander walked into Horatio's office with the lunch offering. "Bought, not cooked."
"I could use a mild dose of food poisoning to have a day off," Horatio admitted, taking his lunch. "What did you want to talk about?" Xander handed over the forms. "What's that?" He read it over then looked at him. "Yours?" He unwrapped the thick meat sandwich. "Thank you, Xander. I needed a real meal."
"Welcome. They were Giles and he doesn't want them back. Even if they are magic and Watchery books."
"So you need to do what?"
"Go clean it out and take them to the Watchery sort in New York. The ones I got the new compact missile system from."
"Where is that?"
"Hidden. I'm a good boy, you know that. I simply have nosy friends and coworkers." He gave him a look.
"As long as it doesn't get used without me knowing, Xander."
"Yes, Horatio," he sighed. "I won't spend it all on new swords either."
"Good. How long will it take?"
"Probably about a week but did you know I wasn't using my vacation time for my broken arm?"
"I didn't get paid for it."
"Interesting. Let me call about that?" Xander nodded, sitting down with his soda. Horatio finished another bite while dialing the phone. "This is Lieutenant Caine in the lab. I need to check on the amount of leave time one of my CSI has. Harris. He thought so too but he claims he didn't get paid for that time off." He listened while she looked it up, then smiled. "How did that happen?" He nodded. "Xander, would you rather get paid for it or have the leave hours?"
"He'd rather have the leave hours. He's about to get his comp check." Xander nodded that he had it. He ate another bite while she looked it up, fixing it for him. "Thank you," he said, hanging up. "All right. I need a leave request form." He found one and handed it over. "You have this weekend off."
"I know." He made it starting next Monday, then handed it over. "That way you don't miss me for too long."
"That'll work too." He signed everything then handed him his copy. "Deliver this to the chief and tell him why if he complains. Just that someone found something of yours that survived the problems out there and you need to pick it up."
"Sure, boss. Did Calleigh get my recommendations up to you?"
"She did but she didn't like one of your choices and liked one of the others."
"I doubt I could work with the one she liked. She kept giving me looks like I was stupid."
"That can happen. We'll figure it out." He nodded, heading off to do that. Horatio dug back into his lunch. He was starving. He hadn't gotten more than coffee for breakfast thanks to an early case.
Xander drove downtown, parking at City Hall so he could go bug his ultimate boss. He walked inside, letting them scan him, showing his ID. It got him into the right hallway, and to the secretary. "Horatio said I had to hand him this copy?"
"What did you need leave for, CSI Harris?"
"Some of my stuff was found to have survived the earthquake in Sunnydale. They need me to go pick it up by the end of the month. Since they didn't use the leave time for my comp time after all..." She smiled at that, taking it into the office. The Chief came out. "They didn't."
"That's fine. What survived?"
"I had rented a storage area. There's books and things in there. That'll give me enough time to fly out there, sort through it, pack it up to get it back here or to someone in New York if it's some of the stuff I used to handle out there."
"Interesting. I've heard of your other reputation."
"I'm still retired. And hey, if they're some of Willow's magic books, not like I'm giving them back to her. She's proven she's dangerous."
"Fine. I can approve this as long as you have the leave time."
"They didn't use it. Horatio checked when I said I didn't get a check this time. Fortunately I did get my comp check."
"Good. You're on this weekend?"
"Off, that's why I scheduled it that way."
"Then I'm sure he'll deal. New interns?"
"We have a few good ones they're going to interview further. One Calleigh liked gave me looks like I'm stupid. One I liked she didn't. There's another four on my short list so hopefully one of them."
"Good. As long as it's handled."
"It is and I helped them up there during the convention so I was working," he said with a grin. "When do we get restitution for those things?"
"Probably next payday if you submitted all the forms."
"Horatio walked me through it, sir. Thank you."
"Welcome. Have a good trip home."
"Not likely but it's got to be done." He laughed, going back to his desk. Xander headed home to play with the dog. Even if John had worn him out. So he played with John instead.
Xander drove his truck into Connor's parking lot, parking and getting out, locking the door. The guard gave him an odd look. "I'm visiting Connor."
"He's at work."
"It's still standing? I thought we destroyed the building." The guard shrugged so Xander called. "It's me, I'm in for the day. Your parking lot, live boy." He listened, then laughed. "Sure, I'm here. I can go get a sandwich. In a few." He hung up. "He'll be back in a few." He walked off, going to find dinner, getting back to the truck just after dark started to fall. "Hey." Connor looked at him, grinning and giving him a hug. "How's the mini-me?"
"He's doing good. He takes instruction. He doesn't have your mouth or fashion problems," Gunn said as he walked up to them. "What's that?"
"My storage locker in Sunnydale survived." They moaned. "Did you know we had hippie commune of demons who moved in there? They're trying to positive atmosphere the place into less bad karma."
"Somehow that doesn't surprise me," Gunn said. "C'mon. We've finally found all your files and stuff. That way you can take them with you."
"Did you figure out how to undo the demon?"
"I did get a note from someone named Abby?"
"Abby's the one I interned with in DC. Love that girl." They walked into Connor's place, finding a few boxes waiting on them. "Oooh, my stuff," he cooed, patting it. "What about the other hidden things, like Drac's crap?"
"That one may have been destroyed," Gunn admitted. "Huge demon stepped on it. I can check."
"Sure. Not that there was much in there, except furniture I think. Maybe a few books."
"One stuck to the demon's foot and turned the pavement pink every time he stepped down on it," Connor said. "How long you in town for?"
"Overnight. Then I've got to take the truck to New York."
"Not Cleveland?" Gunn asked.
"I asked Giles, he said he didn't want it back. I'll take it to Ellory's in New York. Or Bob."
"I hate Bob," Connor said.
Xander grinned. "You hate Bob because he hits on you."
"Yeah," he agreed, nodding at that. "How's work?"
"Work's good. I got a new dog. Abby stole Humphrey when she moved out." He pulled out pictures. "That's Bert, that's Tony with Bert. That's Abby." They smiled at her picture. "She's cool. Very, very cool. The sort of cool I always wanted to be." He kept going. "That's the boss. And the boss's boss, Horatio, with the rest of the team on the one across from him." Gunn smirked at that. "Horatio's still trying to get me to weed out the artillery. Do you guys need any of it?"
"No, we're good," Gunn admitted. "Wes's crap had plenty of it in there. Speaking of, he did leave you something. We finally got his will probated." He went to find the envelope. "Here. From Wes's lawyer." Xander smiled sadly, turning it over to open. The musical card was odd but very Wes and Xander now and then. It holding the Madonna theme to Evita was odder, but again, Wes and Xander stuff. He looked at the other papers, frowning. "Problems?"
"He left me his sword collection?"
"He did?" Connor asked, reading the note. "He did."
"Guess that's what's in that damn magical trunk of his," Gunn said, shrugging a bit. "Thing seems bottomless."
"Cool. I could use that." He kept reading, laughing a bit. "He wanted to know if anyone killed his parents yet."
"His dad died with the Bringers, right?" Gunn asked. Xander nodded. "Oh, what's with the Bringers in New York thing?" Xander looked up and shrugged. "You sure?"
"Lord Muscgrove is one of the older, retired Watchers. One that Giles actually respects. He said he saw them and he's been hiding from them by being homeless. I'm not real sure. Has anyone been brought back or did it maybe taint Willow?"
"Not that we're aware of. We're searching it out now," Connor told him. "Any other good news?"
Xander beamed. "I own a house."
"I heard that," Gunn said happily. "You said it was full of marble."
"Yeah, I dented my practice katana on some of it. Had to get a new one." Connor laughed at that. "I was in the living room." He pulled out those pictures. "I draped all the marble so it'd look less like a crypt. The next one is the bathroom. Tony moved in because of it." He grinned and went back to reading. "Hey, Gunn?" He looked over and Xander pointed at something. "Does that mean that his father's stuff comes to me?"
"I can check." He shrugged, getting back into the pictures. "Who's the hottie?" he asked, letting him see.
Xander looked then grinned. "Kate, she works with Tony. She's really smart. She's a profiler and former Secret Service." He folded up the letter. "If you could check on that for me I'd like it."
"Not a problem," Gunn promised. "Someone's got to do something with it." He ruffled his hair. "You need a trim, boy."
"I know," he sighed. "Tony was nagging too. He said he shouldn't be able to pull my hair." Connor gave him an odd look. "Yes, now and then he does grab. Not that I usually mind. He cuddles very well."
"More than I need to know," Connor told him. "I'm still confused by girls. Adding gay sex only makes it worse."
"Just don't date Buffy," Xander ordered. Connor shuddered. "Did you hear what she did to Dawnie when she got pregnant?" Gunn gaped, slowly shaking his head. "Yeah, kicked her out when she came home crying. Threatened her. Dawn got help from a social worker. She was old enough to file for emancipation since Buffy's her only relative. The next time Buffy saw her she was six or seven months along. She asked her bluntly if she was terminating or adopting it out. Dawn said neither so she walked out and hasn't seen her since. At least until she went to kick in her door one day to take the baby as a sacrifice."
"Damn," Gunn said in awe. "The baby okay?"
"Fine. She's kinda floundering and could use some good common sense."
"She need to move?" Connor asked.
"She might. You could ask." He pulled out his phone, letting them copy her number. "The baby has asthma, she's a little on the sick side, but she's a happy baby beyond that. Joyce would've yelled but not kicked her out and not done that to her. The baby's daddy left her three days after delivery. He's now being hunted for child support."
"He here?" Gunn asked.
"Arizona. They found him the last time she heard. They're going to garnish his wages." Gunn winced. "Yeah, so she could use a family."
"She was nice to me," Connor said, looking at him.
"She's got her Momma's sense too," Xander agreed. A ghost started to form in the middle of the floor. "Spike," he said blandly. "What brings you back again?"
"Soddin' Powers," he said glumly. "Dawn should come out. You'll have to talk to Giles again soon."
"Not a clue. They didn't tell me that," he said, giving him a look. "You look...tanned."
"I live and work in Miami; of course I am. It's very bright down there," Xander agreed. Spike snickered. "Anything else I should know?" He shook his head. "If you see Wes tell him I said hi and I have a dog now. And a boyfriend." Spike giggled so hard he dissolved. "Who's a Fed and keeps trying to hand his boss my stuff." The other two laughed at that. "Come on, guys. Help me move this to the truck. I won't bum a couch tonight." They helped him move that stuff down there and Wes's trunk too. Xander went to visit graves while they talked about him. He had to stake a vampire but they deserved it. They tried to pounce. He looked at the ashes. "My dog does that so much better, and my boyfriend's nicer."
Xander looked at the former building in front of him, sighing in displeasure. "Crap. He was right." He had parked his truck in a nearby parking garage so he caught a cab to Mac's lab, signing in and going to find him. He found Stella instead. "Hi, Stella." She looked confused. "I'm Xander, from Horatio's lab."
"Oh! His ballistics person. Yeah, what's wrong? More guns?"
"No, actually I'm wondering if you know why one of my local contacts got blown up and if anyone's searched the wreckage."
"I can check. Which one?"
She looked at him. "We wanted to talk to someone about that."
"Me too. Let's see if we can find answers together," he quipped, offering his arm. "Can I escort you somewhere to talk, ma'am?"
"You can." She took his arm, taking him to Flack's desk. "Look who showed up."
"Harris," he said, looking at him. "What happened to your buddies?"
"If I'm right, Henry was right." Flack looked confused. "Lord Muscgrove?"
"Oh, him. Yeah. What are Bringers? Assassins?"
"Longer than average story. Let's say they're why the original Watchers Council disappeared in a big ball of flame." He sat down. "Did anyone search the wreckage?"
"How much artillery did you find?" Don gave him a horrified look. "Remember, we deal in the strange crap."
"Basically. Let me call someone else in town. Got a phone book? That way we can see if anyone survived." He handed over his phone book. Xander found the name he wanted, calling out there. "Hey, is Bob there? It's Xander. Harris. Tell him it's Sunnydale and Bringer related." He listened, then nodded. "I can meet him there in half an hour. Sure." He hung up. "Let's go. That way we can move the back areas too. There's no telling what's going on." He stood up, letting Stella follow them out. He looked at her. "If I'm right, this is going to get uber strange."
"No, I mean worse than that. As in what I used to do in LA strange."
"LA strange isn't that far off, Xander."
Xander smiled. "Go look up Sunnydale and see the pretty destruction, Stella. It's the same cause if I'm right." She frowned. "I normally wouldn't care but that thing will kill you and I can only protect one person if we run into one."
"Fine. I'll protect myself."
"Okay. You'll want a sword." She gave him an odd look. He nodded. "Yeah." He let Flack pick the car to drive them over in. When they got there they found Mac and a balding man there. "Hey, Mac," he said as he got out. "Bob. Bringers?"
"Henry was right. I don't know why. I can't get Rupert."
Xander gave him a look. "I can." He looked up. "WILLOW!" he bellowed. She appeared a minute later, squealing and giving him a hug. He turned her around, pointing. "Bringers. That was Ellory's."
"Poopie!" she said, going over to look. "We've got some very nice hidden areas."
"I know. It's the artillery room, Wills. How are there Bringers?" She gave him a horrified look. "Did you?" She shook her head. "Did the little sorcerer?"
"No! He's not that strong and he's doing blood magic."
"Okay, then do a scan?"
"Once I get home. We have the scythe. Oh, poop, this is going to get bad. I can get someone local to undo the hiding spots."
"I can do it." She laughed. "I hid shit from you for years," he said patiently. He walked through the wreckage, finding the doorway. He laid a hand on it, chanting quietly until it appeared. He looked at it, then got down to look at the lock. He said something to it quietly and it opened, letting the rest of the walls appear. She gaped when he turned around. "Go find out why and solve it! I'm not letting New York or Miami be destroyed like Sunnydale was. Way too many to evacuate." She nodded fast, disappearing. He looked at Mac, nodding. "C'mon. Hey, Bob, I've got a bunch of Giles' stuff in a truck." He walked him inside, sighing in displeasure. "I can take custody of them if Bob doesn't want it, Mac." Mac gave him an odd look. "The world needs it now and then."
"What artillery?" Stella asked. Bob went to unhide that area for her, making her and Mac both gasp. Don just whimpered. "Why?"
"It's what we do, miss," Bob told her. He kissed Xander on the cheek. "They hated you."
"I know, but I don't care." He grinned. "And I'm taken. Tony would be very upset."
Bob grinned. "You sure?"
"He's a Fed and a forensics person. Yeah. He'll be pissed. He'll use you as a hunting toy and then cover up the evidence."
"Pity." He pinched Xander on the ass. "What about the basement and those areas, Detective Taylor?"
Xander looked at him. "I've only been in here. I heard there were workshops."
"In the basement. Along with a hidden thing that it takes a male slayer to find."
"I can hit that," Xander agreed. He looked at Mac. "You can have the artillery but we need to keep the other stuff just in case. Besides the fact that some of this stuff is priceless."
Mac considered it. "I am going to confiscate all the artillery, all the explosives, and anything illegal, Xander. Horatio warned me about your collection during the convention."
"That's fine, they had crappy taste in automatic weapons." He shrugged. "They were old white guys from Britain mostly who fought the bad, hidden, shadowy things in the world, Mac. They were more swords and crossbows. They didn't get into guns until about a decade ago."
"Fine. As long as we agree."
Xander shrugged. "There's only one thing back here that I can't get on my own and that's way too expensive, way too big, and present military issue. I'm dating someone in NCIS. Gibbs would paddle me."
"Yes he would," he agreed, going to look. "Let's see the rest of these areas."
"I'll stay with the charming young detectives, dear. Follow the silver path if you see it." Xander nodded, going to do that with Mac. He looked at Stella and smiled. "You are adorable."
"Thank you, but I'm also smart."
"That's even better. Is this pretty one taken?" Don gaped at him, shaking his head. "Another pity. Such prettiness should be appreciated." Don squeaked. "Awww, that's adorable!" he cooed, pinching him on the cheek.
"I think that was an 'I'm straight' but I can't be sure," Stella admitted with a grin for Don. "No wonder Horatio's so possessive of Xander." Something downstairs yelped. "Are you okay?" she called.
"He's fine, the vampire we woke up isn't," Xander called. "But that's to be expected. Hey, Bob, they sent Spike back to tell me I had to talk to Giles again sometime soon. Think the Powers are tired of them too?"
"It's possible." He shrugged, looking at the swords, clucking his tongue. "All specimens of questionable virtue." He led them into another room, letting them see the things in the cases. "This is what Xander could never hope to afford. I gathered this collection myself over the decades I worked with the Watchers. They never appreciated such great pieces. Such dark thoughts from them." He led Stella over to a crown. "This has always been one of my favorite pieces. Cursed to make the wearer kill her spouse. Such a wicked little curse on something so beautiful. The duality of the nature of humanity." She gave him an odd look. He smiled. "It is."
"Much of humanity can be like that but some aren't."
"Yes, but they only resist their nature. Like dogs, they can be trained to resist it. Those who fight and win over it are always stronger and better for humanity." She smiled at that. He patted her on the hand. "The broach next to it was from Venice. It still contains a drop of poisoned blood. That blood would be mixed with something to drink and fed to someone. If the poison didn't kill them the blood would taint them since it's human. It would make them a cannibal and no better than a demon to the Church. It would lead to a great many hunts of nobility over the years. They killed thirteen Counts, a Lord, and a Pope due to that broach." She shivered. "The history of humanity is written in the blood, both the good and bad, my dear."
"I know, it's still shudder-worthy."
"As it should be for those who resist and those who have fought it in themselves." He led her on, telling her what the other pieces were. Something knocked a wall in and he sighed. "Xander, do hurry up please! One's here!" he called. He smashed a case, getting the dagger from inside. "This won't be that effective." The thing suddenly went to dust. "Well! That was odd."
Xander walked in with a bronze scythe. One that looked almost identical to the one over the fireplace in Cleveland. "Mac and I saw it together." He handed it over. "We're not sure if it's needed or not and their library's down there." His phone rang. "Harris," he said, listening to the frantic voice. "Who died?" He grimaced. "Did she find another spot of it?" He nodded. "Good to know. I'm in New York. Tell Giles they blew up Ellory's. We're clearing out the back areas and the library. I'm with Bob." He hung up, looking at him. "Willow summoned Spike back and let him eat her."
"Without a pathway their way and power was closed," Bob said, looking at the scythe. Then at him. "You are a male slayer, Xander."
"I know. I'm still retired. I've also got to make sure she didn't taint me since I was in on the spell to bring back Buffy." Tara appeared, shaking her head. "I miss you."
She smiled. "I miss you too, Xander. You're not."
"I'm sure." She walked over to kiss him on the cheek. "I miss you too." He relaxed, letting her pet him like she used to. "They're gone. You can relax."
"And move shit."
"And move stuff," she agreed. "Including the stuff that Giles gave you and didn't realize." He grinned. "Good boy. The Powers are pissed."
"What did I do this time?"
"Not at you. The little you is very good though. We adore him." Xander beamed at that. "I'm watching over him for you. Plus Connor and Gunn." She stroked his cheek again. "They're gone. Relax." Mac came in with Don. "Hi." She smiled at him then at Stella. "You're very special. Never doubt that. I used to and couldn't see it until Xander spanked me for it one day. He still doesn't see it himself though." She poked Xander on the side. "We like the Tony. Tony's cute and nice." She winked and disappeared.
Xander sniffled. "Tara," he explained. He looked at Mac and Don. "You okay?"
"I moved before it came in," he admitted. "What was that?"
"Not an issue anymore, but that was a Bringer. A super vamp sent to prepare the world for the First Evil to come out. That's what happened to Sunnydale and my eye. One of her other disciples popped it on me." He looked at Bob again. "Any of them survive?"
"The one in prison."
"Could have. He's there." Don shook his head. "No?"
"No, we found him with his sword on his chest a few days ago," he admitted. "Someone made it look like he was laid to rest that way."
"Did we bury him with his sword?" Xander asked. Don nodded. "Thank you." He looked at Bob. "Anyone else?"
"Not that I know of."
"Shit. I've got a shitload of Giles' books in the truck. Including magic books."
"I'd rather he and Ethan not have those back," Bob said grimly.
"Me either. Just think, I found a mini-Willow too. He summoned a demon to fight a dreath demon and left them both there to eat officers." Bob whimpered. "Yeah. I do not want those books there. Dawn maybe but not there."
Bob shook his head quickly. "Dawn's planning on moving to LA with the others. How was Sunnydale?"
"There's a demonic hippie commune trying to undo some of the bad karma on top of the hellmouth."
Bob moaned, shaking his head. "I hope they can but I know it's futile in many ways. All right, while Detective Taylor gets to work removing the things you should not have, I can look at what you have and perhaps buy it off you." Xander handed over the envelope from his back pocket. "An inventory?"
"Yeah, how else was I going to get this done? I'm due back in Miami in two days."
Bob smiled. "That is a good reason." He looked it over. "You weren't kidding. Some very powerful magic books."
"Oh, yeah. Oh, there's someone looking into Wes's father's stuff. He died in the blast over there. Wes died after him and left me his magic supplies and sword collection, plus whatever his father left him."
"Interesting." He went back to reading, then nodded and looked at Xander. "Let me get to the bank, dear boy. Thirty percent of worth?"
Xander gave him a look. "That's how much? I don't know that much about book worth." Bob whispered and he wobbled. "That's good, I like that." Bob smiled and patted him on the ass as he walked past him. He blinked at Mac. "Okay, let me get him that stuff and then I can use the truck to take stuff down to Miami." He grinned and went to do that while Mac and Don swore and Stella giggled.
Tony woke up at four, listening to someone move things around in the house. "Xander?" he called. He got up, padding out to see what he was doing. "Did you buy out the Watcher shop?"
"No, the Watcher shop got blown up. I'm hiding their stuff." He stole a kiss. "There's almost no Watchers left." He went back to moving stuff.
Tony pulled him back into the house. "Move those in the morning, Xander." Xander nodded, going to close and lock the truck, letting Tony drag him to bed. "It's early. Anything I should tell Gibbs?"
"Mac confiscated that stuff."
"Even better. Horatio won't be mad either." He snuck another kiss, stripping Xander off and making him go to bed with him too. He'd think about there being a small u-haul truck in the driveway full of guns and swords in the morning, when he was more awake.
Xander grinned, snuggling in. He loved his Tony. Tara was right, Tony was cute and good.
Xander walked in an hour late the next morning. "Sorry, boss. Didn't get back until four."
"Why?" he asked patiently.
"Because the people I went to see in New York got blown up so I'm hiding stuff for any future Watchers. Oh, and tell the ATF guys that they won't find them." He walked off again, going to clock in and get to work.
Horatio went to call the local ATF office, three-waying with Mac so he could explain it to both of them. That agent called Rupert when Horatio gave him the number to make sure that was right and Mac told him nothing was illegal and Xander was a ballistics tech. He decided an arsenal like that was iffy but he'd leave it alone for now. Horatio came down to ballistics an hour later, giving Xander a hug. "Are you all right?"
Xander looked at him. "Not like they were friends."
"Good." He smiled at him. "I will be seeing them when?"
"It's handguns and swords," Xander pointed out. "Really. You can see the files that I got from Connor and Gunn. The stuff that Fred and I used to do in the Wolfram and Hart labs."
"I'll look forward to it tonight. Is the truck back?"
"I'm doing that tonight. There's stuff I still have to move." Gibbs walked in. "None of it was artillery."
"They heard you're our former intern so I have to check them to make sure, kid."
"Okay. They're in the spare room at the moment. It's all swords and handguns. Only two bigger things. I can easily find the other stuff in the underground."
"How?" Horatio asked.
"The other hunters and the demons have their own network."
Horatio looked at him. "Can we break that last one up?"
"They're wrapped around each other at a few points but I don't see a problem with doing that. Every now and then I call in a tip to the ATF line." He shrugged. "If you want."
"I would appreciate it, yes," Horatio agreed.
"I've heard about the one 'blue guy' one someone called in," Gibbs told him.
"He was, and the guy didn't realize that until he was facing him. Then he retired quietly after dealing with that. By the way, he's the one who sent the threat because you're gay."
Xander grinned. "Then it was good for the world, huh?"
Horatio gave him a gentle pat. "Finish up here, we'll go to your place over lunch, Xander." Xander nodded, going back to work. He looked at Gibbs. "How's your lab looking?"
"Better. Abby's going to have a lab warming party next week sometime when the last machine is in. She still can't find a caf-pow down here."
Xander looked at her. "I'll fix that after lunch." He got back to work. "Cal said she hired the sneering one?"
"She thinks it was a momentary problem," Horatio admitted. Xander gave him a look. "If you have a problem let me know."
"Okay, can I complain about another problem? Tony had a note that got mailed to the house to me from the Union Rep who said he didn't like me being gay. Since *someone* in the lab told him...."
Horatio nodded. "Do you know who?" Xander nodded, pointing next door. "Maxine?"
"I'll talk to her, Xander."
"Thank you. I know he told Stetler. I asked him and he told me who told him. I'm going to assume it's the same person as told the union rep. I asked him and he went pale so I'm pretty sure I'm right. That's the other reason why I'm late."
"I will be handling that."
"Thanks, boss." Horatio smiled, walking Gibbs out. "Lunch?"
"That's good for me. We haven't had a case in three days. DiNozzo and McGee are helping Abby hook things up."
"I'll meet you there."
"Have fun with her."
"Oh, I will be," he agreed, getting a smirk. Gibbs left, Horatio went to DNA. "Maxine, Xander's back."
"I heard he had problems."
"No, the people he used to work with left him some weapons. ATF was concerned about his arsenal."
"Gee, I don't know why," Natalia said dryly. "Not like he doesn't have artillery at his house."
Maxine looked at her. "Natalia, the boy has saved the world a few times. Shut up." She looked at Horatio. "I'm going to hug Xander." She made sure everything was safe and went to do that. "I'm sorry she's so cranky."
Xander looked at her. "She's mad because I don't want her."
"I know. She did the same thing to Eric and Ryan."
Xander nodded. "I know. They finally compared notes." She giggled. "I don't care if you don't like me but I do expect people to be socially polite and not try to ruin my career." He looked over as Agent Wilkins walked in. "Hey. It's handguns."
"You have how much artillery?"
"No comment. You know what I used to do."
"I do, unfortunately. You've given me a good few nightmares. What about these Watchers?"
"Who do you think trained me?"
"Do they need it?"
"Did you see the thing that came out of the water last month?"
"I'm still babying the ulcer I got thinking about it," he admitted.
"I have artillery because those things happen. Not like I'm going to go blow up things."
"I know. I still need to approve of your containment system."
"I have two locking vaults with safe doors. The majority of the artillery is hidden. Horatio goes over it now and then too."
"The payment you just deposited this morning?"
"A bunch of stuff Giles gave me back in Sunnydale that he didn't want anymore. I asked him if he wanted it back and he said no. So I sold it to another Watcher who could use it. I got thirty percent of the books." The guy nodded. "Again, not like I use them to play with around town."
"I know. Which is the only reason you're not in a cell." Xander gave him a look. "You haven't turned in anyone in a few months."
"I did, but you guys refused to go look at him."
"We don't want to deal with demons either."
Xander looked at him, then shrugged. "I gave you guys hints. Find a human they're dealing with and make him. The Chief would get mad if you borrowed me and now and then I need some of them."
Agent Wilkins nodded, smirking a bit. "What about that younger version of you?"
"Gary? He's helping Connor and Gunn in LA."
"Think he would?"
"I think if you asked, Tony might."
"I can ask DiNozzo and Gibbs. Thanks, kid." He walked off. "I want a full inventory list, just in case the unthinkable happens." Xander groaned but nodded. "Good boy." He ran into Caine coming out of DNA. "I'm getting a full inventory list, even what he has hidden. I want you to make sure what he has hidden is not going to be taken by some smart gang kid." Horatio nodded. "If so, I need to know immediately."
"He'd hunt them down and kill them. His guns are his babies," Horatio reminded him.
"Then maybe his grandmother has a point and he should have kids."
"I'm snipped," Xander called, making Valera giggle. "I am, think about how warped that kid would be," he complained. "John wold never be able to straighten them out about sports."
She walked off laughing, having to lean on Horatio to catch her breath. He patted her, letting her get back to work.
"The mother would go evil anyway," Horatio said blandly, cracking Wilkins up. "I'll get the full list from him today. I know he keeps an inventory and checks everything once a week."
"Good. I got the list of what Taylor confiscated. There's some who are very scared of these Watcher people. I pulled up the inquest file and they decided it was better they deal with it instead of us. As long as nothing got out into the open. Would you have Mr. Giles' address?" Horatio nodded, going to get it for him. "Thanks. Got to talk to him, make sure he doesn't have an arsenal too."
Xander leaned out of ballistics. "Giles hates guns more than he does computers. He considers them corrupting the ancient ways. If he has any it's probably a small collection started by Gary. The Watchers didn't start collecting them until ten years ago. Until then their ballistics person was working on a better explosive to attach to crossbow bolts. They're the ones who created RDX and sold it because it was too weak." He pulled back in, going back to work.
Wilkins looked at Horatio. "That's why we worry."
Horatio nodded. "I'll see if he knows what the explosive is."
"Thanks, Caine. Pleasure working with you. Try to keep him emotionally stable."
"He hasn't wanted to bomb us yet," he admitted. "Plus he's dating someone nice."
"Even better. Let's hope they keep him happy." He walked off happier. Nothing too bad would happen in Cleveland. Harris wouldn't make him want to drink anymore for at least a month. Life was good!
Xander walked into Abby's lab with a huge cup. "Sip," he ordered, holding it out. "Close your eyes and sip." She frowned. "Just do it. It's not like it's toad parts."
She closed her eyes and took a sip, then opened them. "Caffeine!" She moved closer, opening the lid. "It's a slushie."
"It's always hot in Miami, this way it stays cold." He looked at her. "It comes in six flavors. I like grape, you can pick yours. They have a cola flavor. It's at the same spot Gibbs goes to get coffee. It's twice the caffeine of Caf-Pows so be very gentle with them." He kissed her on the cheek. "I got to panic the NYPD lab, ATF, Horatio, Gibbs, and others. I'm proud. I've never caused mass panic before." He beamed and walked out.
She took another drink, walking upstairs, making Tony smile. "The slushie part is odd but I can deal with it. It's very good. Want some?"
"Xander made me drink one for lunch," Tony told her. "I'm still ready to get up and bounce. Be careful with those until you know how strong they are."
"Why did he cause mass panic?" she asked.
"About half the remaining Watchers got blown up. He took their non-artillery weapons to hide. We now have enough swords to outfit the Roman Empire."
"I'll have to remember that." She took another drink, looking at Gibbs. "I have caffeine."
"I can tell. You're calmer now." He looked at her. "What flavor did he decide on?"
"Orange." She took another drink, smiling at Kate when she walked in. "He found me caffeine in a slushie."
"It's good Xander loves you." She grinned. "Is it good?" Abby let her have a sip. Kate's eyes widened. "He did find a caffeinated slushie. Wow." She sat down behind her desk. "Any word on our computers?"
"Tomorrow," Gibbs told her. He looked at DiNozzo. "I'm not sure the Roman Empire needed that many swords and handguns. Or the artillery. But the explosives gave Caine a headache. His lover is very happy since it's their day off."
"Xander's always happy to help," Tony quipped.
"Abby, smack him for me," Gibbs ordered.
Abby smacked him. "Ow! Be more gentle with me," Tony complained.
"Did he bang your head into the headboard again?" Kate taunted.
"No, he didn't get in until four." He got back to work on his personal laptop. "He told me that the mass panic was because he had to expose a few people in the lab up there by opening their hidden areas. It's the same place he shopped at during the convention."
"Why were they blown up?" Kate asked.
"Sunnydale stuff." They all nodded at that. "Oooh, we missed it. Xander turned in a demonic arms dealer as 'that blue guy' when he described him on the ATF tip line. The agent busted him then promptly retired because that blue guy was a blue demon."
"Agent Wilkins said he was thinking about coming to you to bust some of the others," Gibbs told him. Tony leaned back, smirking at him. "The kid can't. It'd trash his connections. They don't want to deal with it."
"I'll see if he'll give me the pointer book." He got back to his email, smiling at the mushy note. "Xander sent me an e-card during lunch. Bert was sucking up to Horatio. He likes his hair. Thinks he's a littermate. Hagen's his other one, but he's a funny colored one."
Gibbs smirked. "Does he know that?"
"Xander told him. I think that was the cause of the headache."
"No, it was the explosives. The Watchers were doing research too."
"Uh-huh, including genetics research so they could make stronger Buffys."
"That's a bad thought," Abby said, heading off with her soda. She came back when she drained it a few minutes later. "Show me this place, Gibbs," she demanded. He gave her an amused look. "You could use more coffee too." He walked her off, showing her the shop, letting her get a small one of each flavor so she could taste test. She didn't need the equivalent of twelve giant caf-pows. Not today without any work to be done.
Xander walked into the house, looking around. "I'm home!" he called.
"I heard you drive up," Horatio called, coming out of the handgun vault. "You're out of room again."
"I'm still honor bound to keep most of those for future generations."
"Point but Mr. Giles said that you can weed them down. There'll never be that many of them again."
"Xander," he said patiently, giving him a look. "Speaking of, Rick wanted to know what that deposit he heard about was for."
"I told him when I walked past him on the way out. He's probably still gaping. I told it was to keep the magic books away from Giles and his people. By the way, Willow was turned."
"He told me."
"Do you still have a headache from talking to Giles?"
"Not at the moment. Speed found a good tea to cure those. Come see." Xander traipsed in there, giving Tony and then his dog a hug. "Now, where are you going to put all of them, Xander?"
"I'm not moving," he said firmly, "but I could add onto the storage building."
"You could," Tony agreed. "It'd be inconvenient to get to."
"This is all stuff for storage anyway," Xander pointed out.
"True. What about your hidden areas?" Xander gave him one of those confused looks. "I know you still have at least two."
"One." He held up a finger. "I emptied the one John started to empty and the other one Horatio made me empty."
Tony gave him a kiss on the forehead. "Gibbs said if you lied about it I could spank you. Something about investment stuff?"
"Oh, that!" He nodded. "That's not a storage area. Horatio's real estate lady said it was a good investment. There's nothing on it."
"There was by the satellite photos," Tony said, handing one over. Xander looked, frowning at it. "Didn't know that?"
"She said it was bare land." He shrugged, handing it back. "Unless I was sleepwalking it wasn't me."
"We'll see tomorrow night," Tony told him.
"Sure. Can we take a picnic?"
"We can do that." He gave him another kiss. "This is still way too many guns and Giles agreed with me. He also said with the new inventory of swords that they'd probably rust. You can't take care of this many in a week, Xander."
"So?" he asked, starting to pout. "I can change it to cleaning every other week." Tony gave him a look, staring him down. "But...."
"No. Way too much. Some yes, the artillery I don't mind. I feel like I should start spouting off anti-government slogans, Xander. You said yourself this morning that some of them are crap. Get rid of those."
"I shouldn't sell them."
"Does the department or Mac need some?" Xander shook his head. "Are you sure?"
"Yeah, nothing in there is something that we don't have multiple copies of and he should too."
"Las Vegas? LA?"
"No, they do but I can send some out to Connor, Gary, and Gunn."
"That would be helpful," Horatio agreed. The dog nudged his hand so he went back to petting him. "That would get rid of *some* of it."
Xander shrugged. "I was only planning on storing it, Horatio. Not using it."
"I know, Xander. This was a situation where you didn't get to plan. Mr. Giles did say he didn't want any of them up there. It might tempt the younger slayers to shoot them." Xander nodded at that. Bert barked so he smiled at him, reaching down to get under his chin. "You're a good boy, Bert." He looked at Xander again. "We have to reduce all this anyway. Now, Vice has suggested that we use some of it to trap some of the other weapons dealers in the city and state." Xander looked confused. "People like Bennedict."
"Yes, but it would be a major coup to get him off the street. Wouldn't it?"
"It would, I guess," Xander agreed. "I could probably give some to Dad and them."
"You could," Tony agreed. "Plus, we could use some of the lesser stuff to trap some of them," he pointed out again. Xander nodded. "Like you were doing back during your internship."
Xander nodded. "I guess." He looked at Horatio. "I want full plans, I want full authority of what we're offering, they're not getting into my artillery. If we have to use a piece I *will* be getting it back. No remarks made."
"If I can."
"Personally I don't care if we slag the POS guns, Horatio. You know that. I'm all for quality as long as we have a good range and my exemplar is covered. But sometimes I need the bigger stuff."
"I agree," he assured him. "Though I do want to know what's down there."
"Call your realtor buddy, see if she knows."
"We'll go down tomorrow, cases willing," Tony told him. "Gibbs already agreed to it since it's only an hour outside the city, Horatio." Horatio nodded that he agreed. "I'd suggest we put things out there but it would cause problems." He stroked over Xander's hair. "Didn't we talk about you and being able to yank your hair?"
"I haven't had time for a haircut."
"We'll get one tonight." He gave him another kiss. "We'll figure it out. I faxed him the list from the inventory you brought back. He said half the swords could be sold, and whatever you decided to do with the guns was fine as well. He said that there are other former Watchers, mostly retired, and none of them like guns. I did tell him to have them email or write you within two weeks or else they were gone. That gives us a good bit of time to plan things."
Xander considered it then nodded. "That's reasonable." Tony smiled. "I'm not that hard to talk into things, Tony."
"I know but you usually complain about the guns."
"No, these aren't my babies. None of my babies are going. Oh, tell Melinda I found them dirty."
"She had to do a test fire, she's cleaning the collection tonight, Xander," Horatio said patiently. "You'll let us deal with the new things with you?"
"Of course. Are you going to throw a hissy about the Vice sting?"
"We can set it up after hours," he promised, smiling at him. "By the way, your mother called twice."
"She thought I got into trouble?"
"Something about Wesley and British officials."
"Yeah, part of his will was that he left me the crap his dad left him if he died later than his old man. His old man was a Watcher, long term family in them, one of the backbones. I have no idea what he was left since Wes was the only child but all-but disinherited."
"Call your mom and we'll see," Tony offered. Xander nodded, going to do that. He grinned at Horatio. "At least he's not attached to the new ones yet."
"There's only ten pieces in there that I covet," Xander called. "How is the ATF sting looking?"
"Better," he called. He smiled at Horatio. "Thanks, I was bored."
"You're welcome. How's your lab?" They walked out together, finding Stetler at the door with uniforms. "Problems?"
"Not at this moment."
Xander hung up after a quiet word. "What?"
"Yeah. You had to bring backup to ask me a simple question?"
"No, these two show an unnatural interest in old weapons too. This way I get a second opinion."
Xander waved. "I was trained by the Watcher's Council." They both shuddered. "Ellory's blew up and it was their supply house. I'm hiding the sword and handgun collection. Wanted to see?" They nodded so he let them all into the spare bedroom. "We're still working on storage. I only got back at four this morning."
Rick looked at him. "Thank you for not making me ask twice about that deposit. By the way, someone wanted to know how much you make from the club issue?" Xander shrugged. "You don't keep notes?"
Xander looked at him. "I thought you were. I estimated based on what I reported to you."
"Good point. Horatio, do you have any other forms?"
"Two," he admitted. "I'll pull them tomorrow, Rick. Who wanted to know?"
"The Chief and Vice."
Xander snickered. "Which one?"
"Pierson," he admitted.
"She can kiss my ass and if this plan to trap the weapons dealers with the new stuff is hers I want someone else, Horatio. She thinks I'm a boy pro."
"I got approached by Agent Wilkins and Lieutenant Thomas over there, Xander."
"Then I'm good." He saw the coveting looks over his practice sword. "Sorry, I left my practice blade in there before I left. That's commercially available." One other katana was held up. "Ancient and priceless. That's staying and going on a wall."
"It's a well-thought out collection for an army," one of them admitted, coming out of there. The other carefully walked out, handing Xander his practice blade. "Then again those folk were always convinced there was one coming."
Xander looked at him, then he took out his eye, holding it up. "Four that I helped with." He popped it back in. "I'm one of the last ones however."
"Understandable, sir. You get into the field with that?"
"Yeah, it happened before Sunnydale fell in. I've trained and battled with it so I can compensate. I do always stick a uniform looking that way just in case if I'm alone but I'm very well compensated for it." That got a nod and a small smirk. He looked at the other guy. "You can shudder, I do." He shuddered, walking out. Xander grinned at Rick. "I know my paperwork is due next week. I've got an appointment the week after that, I can stay out of the field that week hopefully."
"Make sure he does, Horatio," Rick warned.
"If at all possible, Rick. Barring cases like that one that nearly got Officer Wolfe eaten." Rick shuddered. "He did solve it."
"He may have but it's still sickening."
"Yes and then I got to spank the hell out of the kids who did it," Xander said dryly. "While trying to stop it they made it worse. The original ones were the ones in the morgue," he said at Stetler's odd look. "They went whoosh if you remember right."
"I try very hard not to. So the second thing you cut up those three kids did?"
"The one in blue did," Xander corrected. "He's a mini Willow. Oh, she's now a vamp too. So fair warning if she shows up. It'll probably be at night." That got a single nod from the other officer and he walked out too. "Anyway, I beat the shit out of their asses before I handed them to Giles for that problem."
"I saw the report. You spanked them?"
"They were causing harm. They were still young. I was having Buffy flashbacks. Horatio saw me."
"I did," Horatio agreed. "He got them straightened out and then let Mr. Giles handle it from then on our. Are they back yet?"
"Gary's out in LA," Tony reminded him, bringing them a drink. "Did you want some water, Stetler?"
"No, thanks. I'm going to go have a headache. I want apprized of whatever this thing is with the British government."
"Wes, an old friend from LA, left me stuff," Xander told him.
"Whatever. Give me a final report, Harris." He walked off holding his head. Neither officer had twigged to anything that shouldn't be there.
Xander looked at him then shrugged. "Let me call Mom again. She wasn't sure they hadn't seized it for back taxes." He went to do that in the living room. "Hi, Mom. Sorry, Stetler wanted to see what I got from Ellory's."
Tony looked at Horatio. "Staying for dinner?"
"I shouldn't," he admitted, shaking his head. Bert whimpered and nudged his hand. "Do you want me to stay, Bert?" he asked. The dog barked and wagged his tail, bouncing up to lap him. "Let's sit and play in the back yard. If it's not too much trouble, Tony."
"I can fire up the grill, Horatio. Not an issue. Call your boys." He went to do that, finding the meat in the freezer. He called his boss. "We're dealing with the sword and gun issue. Horatio's Vice people have a plan to trap more weapons people. We're here, he's bringing his boys over. Thanks, boss." He hung up. "Xander, Gibbs is coming too."
"Okay. Not like I mind. Might wanna clean up this morning's mess."
"You can, it's your clothes," he called back. "I'm not the maid."
Xander leaned into the kitchen. "Dad thinks you'd look very cute in the outfit." Tony gave him a look, shaking his head. "You sure?"
"Very. We're doing the grill."
"Do we have veggies? Frank pointed out I haven't been eating any and threatened to tell Maxine and Alexx on me."
"I can do that too. Finish talking to your mom."
"I did. She'll call the embassy up there and let me know."
"Good. When will you know?"
"Sometime tomorrow. She said if there's a problem she'll tell them what's going on and send them down here." He went to clean up the bedroom, then came out to watch Horatio play with his dog. "We're going to lose Bert too, huh?" he asked quietly.
"If Speed and Eric aren't very good," he admitted. "But I'm as cuddly as any dog."
Xander gave him a kiss, smiling at him. "You are very cuddly but not as furry. That's why I like bubble baths with you." He winked, going back to his tidying project while Tony thought smutty thoughts and cut things up for the grill.
"Did you pick up more bubble bath?"
"I found three new bottles in LA and two new scents in New York while I was waiting on Mac to make up his mind. It was around the corner and I took a lunch break."
"Okay. We'll try those out tonight." Xander brought out a bottle for him to sniff, making him moan. "Ooooh, I like that one. Tonight?" Xander smiled, giving him a wink. He put the bottle up on his way to answer the door. "Out back, guys," he ordered. "Someone start the grill." Speed went to do that while Eric sighed, looking at Horatio playing with the dog. "Just like Abby did."
"We're never home."
"That would make you come home," Xander pointed out. "Plus Bert's trainable. He's already trained to sniff gunpowder."
"Point," he said glumly, going out there. "We're never home on time to walk him."
"I wasn't planning on bringing him home," his mate said, giving him a look. "I'm playing with the dog."
"Uh-huh. Just like Abby did. The pound is going to start wondering why he can't keep a dog."
"I don't want to bring him home."
Speed looked at him. Then at Eric. "We'll talk about a dog in the near future. That way we don't have to have one of our fights in a friend's backyard." They both nodded and he threw the ball for Bert, making the dog run off to bring it back. "Good boy!" He did it again and the dog barked, staring at him. "I threw it!" Tony threw it back out of the kitchen, making the dog run after it. "See?" Xander came out to play with the dog too, looking a bit sad. "We're never home."
"Abby said the same thing."
"Yeah, but Humphrey goes to work with her; Gibbs is training him to fetch criminals," Tony called from the kitchen.
Xander looked at him. "I don't think he's that strong."
"Neither does Gibbs but he's apparently good at it," he offered, shrugging a bit. "I don't know. I did not make that decision." He brought out food. "Is the grill hot?" Speed went to check, nodding and accepting the plates. "Gibbs should be here soon." He looked at Xander. "So, am I going to have to complain about some wealth?"
"I haven't heard back from Mom yet."
"What did you get for the books?" Xander gave him a sheepish, shy look, nodding inside. Tony followed, taking the deposit slip. "Not bad. Probably a bit cheated."
"Bob gave me thirty percent of the worth. Besides, what am I going to do with a u-haul full of magic and watchery books? Then again, the other one I had in LA is probably smooshed. Otherwise I have a whole villa full of girly looking wood furniture."
"Remember me having nightmares about the bug eating stuff?"
"Unfortunately and that I puked for the next day."
"Him. He never came back for it. Giles didn't want it sitting there so he let Spike and I raid it. He sold what he wanted and I kept the stuff I wanted. But something huge stepped on it and dragged some pieces around."
"Uh-huh. Okay, probably better anyway," he decided, nodding at that. He gave him a kiss. "I'll keep an ear out for your Mom." He went back to the kitchen, getting everyone drinks. Gibbs walked in and the dog threw up a fit, barking and growling at him. "Bert!" he warned. The dog settled down. "That's Gibbs, you know him."
"Did you do range time?" Xander asked.
"Earlier. That's probably what he's smelling." He let the dog smell him. "See, I'm still the one you stole the sandwich off of, dog." The dog ran back to Horatio, sitting beside him. He looked at him, getting a head shake. "Well, you could be a pack mate if you were more furry," he offered.
Speed looked at him. "He's my pack, not yours, Bert." Bert huffed and played with his human littermate again. Speed shook his head. "We've got pork and steak, Gibbs."
"Either's good. Fully cooked please."
"I can do that. Also veggies for some reason."
"Frank threatened to tell Alexx and Valera that Xander hadn't eaten veggies in a week," Eric said with a smirk for their young coworker. Who nodded. "I'd do it too."
"So would I," Gibbs admitted. "Doctor Woods is a fierce woman."
"Too bad she's not a redhead?" Tony teased as he walked around him. "Want a water or tea, Gibbs?"
"Tea's good," he said, popping him on the way back into the house. He sat down, letting the dog sniff him again. "I'm still me, dog." The dog huffed, going back to playing with Horatio. "Give me the ball?" He got it tossed by Horatio, letting the dog see it before he tossed it off to the other corner of the yard. Bert took off running, bringing it back to play with this human. "See, I knew you liked me for more than my lunch." He threw it again. "Xander, your father called. The estate's still whole. No one contested it. They tried to contact your friend Wesley but were told he was dead and his lawyer said he'd get in touch with you. So you've got to talk to the Embassy." Xander nodded, going to do that. "Not a clue why you're getting it."
"Wes left it to him," Tony said as he came out. "He got some from the books he had in storage too." He sat down, putting his feet up on the spare chair. "Okay, we have two things to talk about tonight. Vice wants Xander to use some of his spare weapons to help lure and track arms dealers in the state and city."
"Not a bad idea for the arsenal," Gibbs admitted.
"Xander said he gets everything back, no questions asked," Tony countered.
"Again, reasonable. He considers them like his children." He looked at his senior agent. "How do you feel about that?"
"I'm good with it. He's not emotionally attached to most of the new guns."
"I could have brought back the pretty cursed stuff," Xander called from inside the house.
"Probably not a good idea," Tony called back. "We'd hate to see the dog possessed, Xander."
"Me too," Gibbs agreed, taking a sip of his tea. "Brewed?"
"We have a pot. It's like a coffeepot only it makes tea," Tony told him. "Even Xander can work it without poisoning others."
Xander came out of the house. "We're getting British visitors, Horatio. I'll take their visit as my lunch and work off any extra hours."
"That's fine, Xander. It's something that has to be done. What else did Wesley leave you?"
"Um, a neverending trunk with swords and stuff, his favorite fountain pen. His journals. His crossbow. His motorcycle went to Connor." Speed looked at him. "He rode a Harley now and then."
"I've seen how you drive, Xander. You'd die in your first week from an accident," Speed told him, getting back to grilling. "Eric, take over." He came back over. "So this op would be after hours?" Xander and Horatio both nodded. "We can work on that with him, make a new persona and things." Tony smiled. "You can help, DiNozzo."
"Thanks. Not tomorrow because we found out his investment property had a small outbuilding on it and we needed to see what was out there." They all nodded. "Also, the Watcher stuff he said he'd put out a general broadcast through the networks that said the old timers who've retired could claim some of it as well."
"That would require shipping things over state lines," Gibbs reminded him.
"Most of them are antiques," Xander pointed out. "And hey, magicgram, Gibbs. I can get the mini-Willow to do it for me. Oh, yeah, tell everyone that she's now a vamp. Fair warning."
"I can do that," he agreed. He finished the tea, getting up to get some more, checking the meat. "Looks rare."
"None of us take it rare unless Xander needs a blood transfusion?"
Xander gave him a confused look. "Why would I? The bringer didn't try to eat me when one showed up to destroy Bob. Mac can use the special scythe just as well as I can. He had the same view of it I did and it's a blessed weapon to end them. Male slayers was what it said." Horatio choked. "I explained it to him. He said he'd have nightmares but keep it in mind. Bob's up there if something happens. Ooooh!" He sat up. "I got the most fantastic sword, Gibbs. From the early crusades." Gibbs smiled as he came out of the house with Stetler. "Back already?"
"There was a report that a piece of artillery was found up there in that destroyed building that you're keeping some contents of?"
"Mac Taylor confiscated all those."
"They gathered weapons?"
"The Watchers? Yeah. Why?"
"What do you have?" Stetler asked patiently.
"I've been asking that since I found out," Horatio offered. "Staying for dinner, Rick?"
"No, I need to know he won't blow up Miami."
"Only if the demon tunneling under it suddenly tries to destroy it," Xander said, still looking a bit confused. "Why would I want to? I like you guys."
"There's a demon tunneling under the city?" Eric asked.
"Yeah, it came from under the Caribbean." Eric choked. "What?"
"Did it come via Cuba maybe?" Speed asked.
"Um, no. Bermuda I think. It may've went by Cuba but you'd have to dig down pretty deep to get to the tunnels. I know that it's broken through in a sinkhole once in the Everglades. Someone saw it. It's a big huge worm, like in the Norse mythology that's eating the roots of the World Tree. It's about as big too probably. I should go check the sinkhole. Last time I did I saw some of it's back."
"When did the head break through?" Gibbs asked.
Tony blinked at that, reaching over to test Xander's forehead. "That's a big tequila worm," Tony decided, shaking his head. "We can check on the way out to your investment property, Xander."
"Okay." He grinned and looked at Rick, who was whimpering. "I promise, I keep a good inventory. I keep track of it so no one can get anything of it. Most of it's hidden magically. Part of it came from LA with Dad."
"I want to see in there."
Xander got up with a groan, leading him into the storage vault. He turned on the light and let him see. "See?"
He looked around. Bomb manuals. A cabinet marked with explosives. A lot of cases against one wall and a shimmering wall. "What's with the shimmer?"
Xander looked then at him. "Who let you see magic?" Rick looked at him so he shrugged. "I've got that stuff hidden."
"Not for much longer. Horatio!" He came strolling in. "That wall is a fake wall."
"Really?" He went around the stack of cases, moving one stack out of his way. He felt the wall, then closed his eyes and moved his hands over it, disbelieving it. His hand sank through and he walked through, then came back out a minute later. "Xander." He gave him a sheepish look. "GIBBS!"
"He can't have it! I might need it."
"Only for that assignment and then they can keep it at their office, Xander. After all, this building can blow over in a hurricane."
"So can theirs. Theirs is more likely anyway. Mine's marble."
Gibbs walked in. "Not that much different," he said. Horatio motioned him back. "What?"
"Close your eyes. There's no wall, there's an illusion." He led him through it, letting him see why the building was longer than they thought. They thought the outer door to the lawn furniture storage area covered the back half. They were apparently wrong. Horatio came back out frowning. "We will be talking."
"You've seen the inventory."
"One of those was not on it."
Xander got down the inventory book, handing it over. "You can check." He went to do that and he looked at Rick, shrugging a bit. "Sometimes I have to. Some demons are bigger than all the buildings downtown."
Rick walked off shaking his head. "I'll let them deal with that. I don't want to know!" He slammed the door on his way out, heading back to his apartment and a large drink.
Gibbs came out. "Where did you get the new sniper rifle?"
"He got it from where?" Gibbs pressed.
"One of the underground in the demon network. Horatio suggested Tony could help fill in the holes."
"One of them isn't in the right case."
"I know. It's a spare case. It didn't come in a case and it's really hard to move one of those without one. People gave me odd looks." Horatio gave him an odd look too. "You've seen the inventory."
"I have and you will be helping Tony close some of the links and the spaces in the demonic weapons network." Xander sighed but nodded, pulling out his address book to start writing down names and facts. Horatio took that but Xander snatched it back. "Xander."
"Half of those are the other hunters, Horatio. It's the only way I know them. It's also got other paranormal contractors and the overlord's address, things like that."
"We have an overlord?" Gibbs asked.
"Over the few demons, yeah. He keeps them out of our hair." He grinned and got back to work, taking out a few names. He finished up and handed the list to Horatio. "There you go. Those are the loosest links in the demon network. The top six and the later ones with stars are loose enough that it's a cash business. I did bust a few before I left LA. I know ATF didn't shut down that blue guy one very well either."
"You'll teach DiNozzo how to fit in?" Gibbs asked.
"All he has to do is say he's my mate, Gibbs. They'll accept him on that alone." Gibbs nodded, taking the list and walking outside. Xander looked at Horatio. "Sorry, boss, but I do need some of that."
"That is a bit much, Xander. I know armies that don't have that sort of ordinance."
"Do they win wars?"
"You are retired," he reminded him.
"I'm also the only protector down here if something big happens. Not that it should. This is a low demon area."
"Then we'll be able to weed those down. Perhaps give Gibbs two or three pieces a year that you don't need? He'll have them held for a year at the office?"
Xander considered it. "But what if I need them five years after that?"
"You'll have something else I'm sure."
"If I buy stuff like that I'd get noticed now. ATF pays way too much attention for me to get away with that."
"Good point. We'll work on disarming that part slowly. Just in case something happens, Xander. All right?" Xander sighed but nodded, following him out, sealing the door behind himself. He came out to play with the dog, but Horatio looked at Tony. "Have you seen the inventory book?"
"I think John Hagen has, but I try very hard not to get into those things. Xander, would it ruin your rep if I went in as your boyfriend?"
"No. By now half the network knows about us and they're going to be wary but you can say you're hunting presents." He grinned at him. "I can even hand you my wish list."
"Then we can do that," Tony agreed. "I'll feed the info back to Wilkins, then we'll work on what's going to happen later on." He looked at his boss. "That good with you?"
"It's fine with me, DiNozzo. We don't have half as much work down here as we did in DC. It's a nice place to retire." He grimaced. "Not that I'm ready to."
"Be thankful they didn't name you, Gibbs. Dad said he had to talk a few people out of it."
Gibbs shuddered. "I'm going to drink thanks to that thought later."
"You could be in Alaska, driving a dog sled," Eric offered with a small grin.
"Not with the way he corners the car," Tony said dryly. "No sane sled dog would let him go seventy on the back roads."
"Horatio, you're closer." Horatio leaned over and popped Tony on the head. "Thank you."
The noisy neighbor's mother peeked over the hedge. "Xander, what do you do again?"
"I'm a ballistics tech with the felony crime lab. The redhead is my boss," he said, grinning at her. "Let me guess, the nosy one who likes to stare into my windows overheard me talking about artillery?"
"She did," she agreed. "I'll try to stop the peeping."
"Bert scared the crap out of her the other day," Tony offered. "I saw her trying to get into the bathroom window too, ma'am."
"Oh, dear. Are you Xander's roomie?"
"Boyfriend," he agreed, smiling at her. "I'm Tony. I'm a Fed before you ask. The graying one is my boss Gibbs." Gibbs waved. She smiled at that. "Xander's got to talk about these things. He's one of the top ballistics techs in the nation. He even got an award at a national conference last year."
"Oooh, that's so good, Xander." He beamed at her. "I'll tell her you said that. She's panicking and thinking that you're going to blow us up."
"Only if she wakes me out of a sound sleep at three in the morning," Tony told her. "And it won't be Xander. It'll be me." She nodded at that. "Other than that we're good with her for everything but her peeping."
"I'll talk with her, Tony. Thank you for clearing that up, boys." She went back into the house to talk to her daughter. "He's not a thug, dear. He's a police officer. He works with the lab that's been on tv," they heard before she shut the nearest window.
"Horatio, can you?" Gibbs asked, waving at Tony. "You don't get to threaten normal people, even if they do wake you up, DiNozzo," he said once he had been smacked again.
Xander looked at him. "We could always move, dear."
"No. No more moving. I hate moving." Xander straddled his lap, giving him a deep kiss. "Unless you've made millions, no. We'd have to renovate the front room." Xander kissed him again. "Plus add on more storage areas." Xander smiled at that. "Be a good boy or no bubbles." Xander winked, getting up to play with his poor dog again before he ran away from them. Tony coughed. "Sorry, he's in a happy mood."
"As long as he stays happy," Horatio told him, staring him down.
Tony grinned. "I'm not like that, Horatio."
"I saw Tara in New York," Xander announced suddenly. "They sent her to talk to me. She said we're cute."
"We are?" Tony asked.
"Very," Speed said, handing him a plate. "Eat. You'll need your strength."
"Xander, remember, you can't take tomorrow off and neither can Tony," Gibbs ordered, taking his own plate. "Thanks, Speed."
"Welcome, Gibbs." He got the other plates, handing them out. "Xander, come eat with the people, not the dog." Xander bounced over, getting his plate and sitting next to Tony, getting a smile from them all for it. Young love was so cute.
So was the dog that refused to get out of the hummer when the trio headed out for the night.
Eric looked at Xander a few days later. "Does Bert always do the 'toddler gonna pee' dance when you come home?"
"Not always. Sometimes when he's been bored all day."
"He does it for us every night. We need more toys." Xander got him the bag from his locker, handing them over. "Thanks. You sure?"
"The next dog won't want to use his."
"If you're sure." He got a nod. "Thanks, Xander." He went to hand them to Horatio. "For your littermate." He walked off again, leaving a confused looking Frank Tripp.
"Bert decided he belonged to me," Horatio told him.
"That's two that've left the boy's bouncy nature."
"Bert thinks he's a littermate," Speed called from somewhere behind them. "Humphrey thought the same thing about Abby because she played like him. He's taken the shelter's people to meet Abby so they saw what was going on. They'll accept it this time too."
"Well, he does have good taste. Bert is a very pretty dog," Frank offered, grinning at Horatio. "He even matches your hair."
"He does but he loves me for other reasons too, Frank." His phone rang. "Horatio. John," he said happily. "What's wrong?" He listened. "Xander has a new dog already?" He nodded. "I'll tell him. Are you okay?" He smiled. "At least this one is protective. What's this one?" He shuddered. "That poor animal must have too much fur. I'll tell him. Thanks, John." He hung up. "Xander?" he called, heading for the lab. "John found you a new dog. One of his routine clients had to get rid of hers because she's got a daughter who ended up allergic. He wanted to know if you wanted her."
"Is she nice?"
"Tried to bite him this morning but not usually mean he said."
"I'll call." He beamed and called John. "What does the puppy look like?" He blinked. "That's a big dog. Is it gentle? I don't want it to bite Abby or anyone." He nodded slowly. "I can stand protective. So am I." He beamed. "Sure! Thank you, John. Can you bring her over for lunch?" He laughed. "I can be here. Of course I will if I can't be here. Bring her down. Thank you." He hung up and called Tony. "John has a client that has to get rid of her dog because her daughter is allergic. He's bringing her at lunch if you wanted to meet her." He hung up and got back to work. He was much happier now. He had always wanted a dog.
Tony hung up his phone, looking at Gibbs. "John's bringing over another prospective dog at lunch, boss."
"He didn't say."
"John didn't say?"
"That was Xander. Wanna go have lunch at the lab?"
"We'll be out here then," McGee pouted. "This is really nasty mud." Gibbs gave him a look. "It is!"
"I've seen worse, McGee, even around DC."
"Should see trash pit bodies," Tony agreed. He jumped when something came up out of the water, snapping at Gibbs. His gun cleared the holster but Ziva got it first. She only wounded it but it ran off. "Damn it."
Gibbs took off his hat, wiped his forehead with his arm, then put it back on. "Thanks, Ziva. We should probably tell animal control that we had to do that."
Tony called Eric. "How do you work in the Everglades and not get bitten by an alligator? Rifle? No, Ziva just got one with her throwing knife on the nose. Thanks." He hung up. "Boss, he said to post a guard. The body's going to draw them. So maybe we should hurry up."
"I'm all for that. Ziva, how are you with a rifle?"
"Tony's better," she admitted.
"I can do that," he agreed, going to get the one the Ranger had given them earlier. "I wondered why we got a gift." He checked it over, then smiled. "Tranqs, boss."
"Even better since they're endangered." Tony took up a guarding spot, letting Ziva take his spot. Gibbs shook his head. "Florida is not DC."
"Ya think?" Kate asked dryly as she slogged over in her waders. "McGee, there's no body parts that way. Whatever got the intestines is gone now."
"Probably an alligator. One tried to eat the boss."
"He's tough and stringy. It would have spit him out," she said grimly, getting his help to get back up onto the bank. She got out of the waders and let them puddle for now. "What else are we doing, boss?"
He looked at her. "Guard, Kate."
She nodded, looking at Tony. "Tranq rifle?" He nodded. "Good luck. They're very fast." She went to get a wet wipe for her face and hands. Ducky finally got there. "Got lost already, Ducky?"
"No, I had a talk with the charming Ranger about what we needed to watch out for. He did warn me to add more sunscreen and bug inhibitor."
"I should have," Kate agreed. She pointed. "There you are, all but the intestines. Something ate them."
"At least it left us something." He came over to check on them. "Jethro, you do need to apply more sunscreen. You're starting to burn," he said gently.
"I'm nearly done. I'll put some on in the truck."
"Good." He looked at the body then nodded. "Appears to be a sharp force trauma," he admitted, pointing at the open head wound. He carefully closed the intestinal cavity again. "Yes, that was animal markings but I'm not sure what." Tony fired at something, making it yelp and go off again. He looked. "Ah, a cougar. Very pretty animal."
"An alligator nearly ate Gibbs," Tony said grimly, putting in another tranq dart. He looked around. "Was it a 'gator or a cat, Ducky?"
"I can't tell without looking at a reference, Anthony. I'll do that back at the lab. Shall we, people? Mr. Palmer?"
"I'm not coming out of the truck while that thing's alive," he called. "It'll eat me. I had bacon for breakfast."
"It's tranquilized, Palmer," Tony called. "Get out here before we all get eaten." He ran out with the bag, doing the fastest move ever, and then ran the body back to the truck. McGee and Ziva picked up the stuff that had been under the body, wet paper. "We good?" They nodded, going to gather all their things. Tony went last, breaking down the rifle in the back of the truck. "I've got to see if Xander has one of these for us."
"Please do," Gibbs agreed. "With good tranquilizers. We'll ask him at lunch, DiNozzo."
"Sure, boss." They paused beside the ranger. "I had to tranq a cougar," he said quietly. "She was barely starting to huff and move when we left." He nodded, taking the rifle back. "Any particular tranquilizer we need for our own?"
"The standard is what we use. Fast acting, safe wearing off time." Tony nodded. "You know someone who can get you one?"
Tony smiled. "We're very close with the felony lab."
"They're good at it. Caine's boys are good." He saluted them. "Have fun, boys and girls. I'll check on the cougar." They drove off and he went to do that. "Poor city folk. First case in the 'Glades. Burned too."
Xander smiled at John when he pulled up, waving at him. He got out, letting the dog hop down and stretch, then sniff around. Xander cooed, making the dog look around. "C'mere, doggy. Come to Xander." John grabbed the leash, walking the dog over. It growled a bit so Xander stared it down. "Don't do that. I'm a nice people." He let it sniff him then petted the thick, soft fur. "She's lovely, John."
"She is but her daughter ended up allergic. No Tony?"
"He's on his way over. He's buying lunch so I'll buy him a tranq rifle." John laughed, sitting down so Xander could pet the dog. "You're a lovely girl, yes you are. Even part wolf." Tony's Mustang pulled up and he got out with Gibbs and a bag. "She's here." The dog stared at him. "That's Tony and Gibbs. We live with the Tony. He's nice and he cuddles and plays too."
"That is a wolf," Gibbs noted.
"Half," John told him. "She's very protective." He looked him over. "You need better sunscreen, Jethro. Sun poisoning isn't fun. It means you can't go outside for a month."
"I've got some on."
"Coppertone," Tony agreed, putting the bag down so he could squat in front of the dog. "Hey, pretty one. Would you like to come live with us?" He smiled when she sniffed Gibbs then him, then lapped Gibbs' hand. "Huh."
"I'm not home often enough for a dog," Gibbs complained. He sat down and the dog sniffed him again. "Go sniff DiNozzo, he's the new master." Xander cooed and the dog came back to him, letting him love her all he wanted to. Natalia came over and she set up an unholy racket. "Hey!" Gibbs complained.
"It's okay. I'm new to her," she said, walking around them. "What happened to Bert?"
"He decided Horatio was a littermate," John said with a grin. "This one belongs to one of my clients."
"She's adorable and if she wants to come home with us I wouldn't mind. Tony?"
"Is she friendly at home?"
"Yeah, she loves to cuddle up with my client's daughter and purse dog. Not aggressive unless someone breaks in." He handed over the leash. "She said you could take her home if you wanted her. I assured her you'd be good to her baby."
"Of course we will," Tony agreed, petting her some more. She sniffed at the table. "Ahh, another mooch." Xander broke into lunch, handing him his burger. "Want a bite?" He let her have a piece and got an adoring look. "Good girl. C'mon, let's sit down." They sat down together. "Hey, Xander. We need a tranq rifle. Can we count on your expertise or do we have one I can steal?"
"We have four and tranqs," he said with a smirk. "The Ranger hand you one this morning?"
"Yup, sure did." The dog hopped up between them, letting them both spoil her.
"You're going to spoil her, she'll keep begging," Natalia said.
"It's new pack behavior. You take care of the new pack members so they know they can count on you," Xander said firmly, smiling at his dog. "Huh? This way you know we'll take good care of you." He heard a squeal and looked back. "Come meet her, Max. What's her name, John?"
"Pretty. That's a good name since you are," Tony agreed, making himself not talk in baby talk. Maxine let Pretty sniff her then pet her. "Her former mommy had to get rid of her."
"That's a shame. You're beautiful, young lady." She sat down next to Gibbs, looking at him. "Aloe gel."
"I've got some back at the office thanks to Abby."
"Abby is very pale," she agreed. She patted him on the hand. "It'll be fine, Gibbs. You'll get used to the strange stuff down here." She heard the growl and looked. "No, don't eat him. He likes the boy most of the time. You can come over."
"That's a dangerous dog," he said.
Xander looked back at Stetler. "Don't show fear. She's reacting to it. Pretty, this is Rick. He won't hurt you or I'll bite him." Rick came slowly closer, letting his hands be sniffed. She bounced up and licked his face, making him shriek. "Hey! Noise!" Xander complained, hugging his dog. "We'll be just fine. Don't sneak attack unless it's a good thing." He fed her another bite of his burger, getting a swat from Tony, who handed over another one. "Thanks, dear."
"Welcome. I knew you wouldn't eat." He grinned at Gibbs, then at John. "Are you working today?"
"I am and I've got to get back. Want me to stick her at your house?"
"She can come with us this afternoon," Gibbs ordered. "That way she's not shocked too much." That got a nod and John left, heading back to work. "I'm sure DiNozzo can walk her around."
"You can make sure she and Humphrey get along," Xander agreed. Stetler came back with one of the dog handlers. "John Hagen found her for us. Her name's Pretty."
"She's got a lot of fur for Miami," the handler said, letting her sniff his hand. "Did you pounce the IAB guy?"
"He was looking a bit scared so she bounced up to lick him," Xander agreed with a smile for him. "Don't show them fear. They know you're a human packmate."
"If you say so." He looked at the handler, who shrugged. "She's not dangerous?"
"No, probably not. Seems pretty harmless." He whistled and his dog came over, sniffing noses with her. Pretty licked his on the nose then barked at him. "Nah, we'll be fine. Good girl, Pretty!" He petted her some more than his dog. "Very good girl." He smiled at Xander. "I heard you've been through two?"
"My first one decided their lab tech Abby was his littermate and the last one decided Horatio was since his hair and hers looked the same."
He walked off smiling. "Good to know, kid. She's fine, Stetler."
"Thank you." He stomped off again. Though he did manage to curtail Horatio. "You have a littermate?"
"Bert's a very good dog, Rick. He decided we matched. What is the new dog?"
"Outside." He walked off. He could get years of taunting out of that.
Horatio walked outside, letting the dog sniff him. "Hello, dog."
"Her name is Pretty," Xander told him.
"Hello, Pretty. You've got a very strong canine heritage."
"Part wolf," Gibbs admitted quietly. Horatio smiled at that. "She got on well with the K- 9."
"Good." He gave her another pet. "Xander, eat." He went back to eating. "How was the Everglades?" He handed Jethro something. "It'll help later on. Speed gets those now ane then."
He looked at it then at him. "For sunburn?"
"Thanks, this I do need." He smoothed some onto the bites on his legs, letting out a quiet moan. "Much better."
Xander grinned at Tony. "I'll repack my Everglades survival kit Calleigh helped me put together tonight."
"Thanks. We do need some advice on sunscreen. I've been using yours and breaking out."
"Go to this address," Maxine said, writing one down on a napkin. "Go to any of the cosmetic counters in there, tell them you need help picking out a good sunscreen and they'll give you one that's good for your skin type. If you tell them you're on a budget they'll even stay away from the grossly expensive, sixty bucks a bottle stuff. I've got one that helps prevent wrinkles, takes care of blemishes, and moisturizes for me."
"I like Coppertone," Gibbs said grimly.
She gave him a hug. "You'll break out or sweat it off. Use a sport version so you can't sweat it off, Gibbs." He nodded so she went back to eating her salad. Pretty stared at her so she let her sniff some lettuce, getting a sneeze and her turning to Tony, who showed he was done. She looked at Xander, who took a small chuck out of his mouth from his last bite for her. She scarfed it down. "Eww, Xander. Table manners."
"Baby birds do it," Tony reminded her.
"He's not a baby bird." She smiled at Horatio. "What sunscreen do you use?"
"I've got a specialty blend for those with fair skin," he admitted. He looked at Jethro. "I agree with her. A sport version so you won't sweat it off, Jethro."
"That's probably what happened this morning."
"Kate could declare it an office bonding exercise since the new director likes those," Tony offered. "The same as the new team in Alaska did finding better boots and coats."
Gibbs looked at him. "We'll see."
"McGee and Abby have to get some too, boss."
"We'll figure it out." He smoothed the cream over another bug bite, then handed it back. "Thanks, Horatio."
"Welcome, Jethro. Remember, mosquitos carry diseases down here too." That got a fast nod so he gave the dog another pet before heading back inside.
Xander grinned at Jethro. "You sure Tony can bring her over today?"
"Your A/C was out, remember?"
"Oh, yeah, I need to fix that tonight," Xander agreed, nodding quickly. The dog licked him. "I love you too, Pretty." He gave her a cuddle. After a few seconds she got free and climbed into Tony's lap.
"Ooh, too big for a lap pooch," he moaned, but he petted her anyway. "Come on. I'll see you tonight. Order if you get home first, it might be a long night, Xander."
"Okay, I'll call on the way home to come get her." He nodded, getting the dog down so they could go back to work. Xander beamed at Maxine. "I'm a good boy."
"You are. You can fix air conditioners?"
"Yeah, kinda. I had to help install a few systems while I was in construction stuff. It's not that hard really. We have a manual at home too." He picked up their trash and bounced inside to tell the others about his dog.
"I know who I'm calling the next time mine goes out in the middle of the night," Maxine decided. "He probably charges less too, just dinner or something." Natalia gave her an odd look. "He still can't cook."
"Why can't he cook? I've heard he's poisonous."
"We don't know. All we know is that he's never been able to cook and that he's poisonous. Even the most harmless stuff. He made himself sick the other night on microwave nachos and you know you only have to pour the cheese for those."
Natalia shook her head. "No one is that poisonous."
"Then let him cook for you," she taunted. Natalia got up and went inside to make Xander try. "Poor foolish woman," she sighed, shaking her head. She shooed a fly out of her salad dressing and went back to eating her lunch.
Xander stopped in at Tony's office later that night. Abby had said that Kate and Gibbs were both suffering from their sunburns. He picked up the large gift basket and walked it inside, putting it down on Gibbs' desk. "For the new team. There's one in there for Abby, one in there for Kate, one in there for each of you, plus some aloe gel for those who're burned. That should reduce it tonight. Now, if you get white spots in the burn, that's sun poisoning and you need to hit the ER and cover up really well for the next month. I found that out too after getting one from working by the water all day on a scene. Also in there are ice cream treats so open it soon."
"How does Caine manage to wear a *suit* in this humidity?" Gibbs demanded.
"It's silk or linen, something that breathes," he pointed out. "Plus we think the boss is made of ice some days. Today was fairly hot even for me. Kate, I know your skin runs a bit oily so I got you a formula for that. Tony, yours too, dear, because of your complex skin. It was the cheaper stuff, so we don't have to spend eighty bucks a bottle for you. This stuff should work just as well and it'll keep you from breaking out again, like you did last night, and it's also got a good moisturizer that won't make you break out. McGee, I took you as having fairly basic, well moisturized skin so I got you a normal type. So keep up whatever else you're doing. Abby's is for the terminally pale so she won't tan and can keep her goth look. Now, I'm going to go home. Enjoy the ice cream and remember to share with Abby. Come on, Pretty, let's go see the new house." The dog got up, following him to the elevator.
McGee came over to look, handing out what he had bought for them. Then the treats, bringing Abby down two since she was hiding from the sun again. "Xander picked it out for you. It's for the eternally pale people." She smiled and took it to look over. He put the ice cream next to her, getting a hug. "Gibbs has a bad sunburn."
"Aloe gel was what Eric suggested."
"He brought us some of that too," he agreed with a smile. "Come up when you've got something." He went back to his desk before Tony stole his portion of the treats. Kate and Gibbs had both slathered some of the aloe gel on their burns, making Kate sigh in relief. "Keep that in the fridge. That's how they did it at summer camp." Tony nodded since his mouth was full of ice cream. "How did Xander know our skin types? Even my dermatologist has to look."
"Buffy. Willow," Tony said before taking another bite. "He can do a face masque too, Probie. Sucked my breakouts right out last night."
Gibbs looked at his, smiling at it. It was uncomplicated. Had a bug repellant. Was waterproof so he could sweat in it or fish in it. It had the tag attached so it wasn't that expensive either. Kate's was twice his. Tony's was more practical at a mere twenty a bottle but Abby's had been expensive. Then again, speciality products were always more expensive. "We will be getting another bottle each to put in the truck, people." They all nodded. It was a smart thing. "That tranq rifle?"
"I'll bring it in tomorrow, boss."
"Welcome. Oooh." He sat up suddenly and smirked. "Natalia didn't think we were serious about how poisonous Xander was. She made him make her something simple, just a microwave, college cooking sort of meal. She's still in the ER. Ryan called me." Gibbs smirked at that. He knew Tony wanted to hiss at the woman for hitting on his man. "She's going to be off work for the rest of the week probably. She's lucky she didn't ask for something more complicated. Horatio apparently yelled at her on the way to the hospital."
"Horatio could replace her," Kate said grimly. "Even I can't wear my tops that low-cut. Even Calleigh can't and she's known to flash some cleavage now and then."
Tony smirked. "I know." He let out a small evil chuckle and finished off his ice cream. "Okay, boss, got our dead sailor's itinerary up. Looks like he was on a hunting trip. One of those 'man-cation' things. He was due to go hunting in the Everglades this morning with a reliable guide. His guide was listed and I'm doing a search for him now."
"I've found his family for Ducky so he could notify them," McGee added. "Plus his CO, boss. His CO did want a call when we figured out what was going on. All I told him was that he was unfortunately killed on his leave in the Everglades and that we were investigating." Gibbs nodded, finishing off his ice cream. "He did say that another sailor on his ship was supposed to be on the same vacation as he was. A very nice stress break was what he called it."
"Which is probably where the guide is," Tony agreed, typing that in. "Name, McGee?" It was beamed to his computer. "Nope, he's in the county jail for being drunk, boss. They put him in the drunk tank and let him out this morning. He's probably back at the hotel."
"Go ask him," he ordered. Tony nodded, going out with Kate. He looked at McGee. "You, find the guide." McGee went to look at Tony's computer, doing that. "Ziva, I want a detailed account of what threats we have to worry about down here. From terrorism down to mosquito-borne illnesses. I will not have us being taken out by bugs."
"Yes, Gibbs." She went to look that up for them. "We have terrorists down here?"
"According to Caine, there've been a few, mostly Central and South American," McGee told her with a small grin. "Also don't forget the gang activity. It is heavier than it was in DC and we're near an area." She nodded, going to pull up that information as well, starting on a general list she could add to later. "Boss, hurricane maneuvers?"
"I've got the lab manual from Caine. We'll go over it closer to hurricane season, McGee." He nodded, getting back to work. Gibbs looked at the rest of the basket, finding a gift certificate in the bottom. "He even left us things for dinner," he said quietly.
Xander waved Tony into the handgun vault when he got home. "Hey. Which tranq rifle do you want? Long or short barrel?"
"Whichever is going to be easier to grab."
"Well, one of the short barrels only has one sort of dart. The others use all four sorts of darts."
"Let's get a general purpose one. What do you suggest?"
"Longer. That way they can be taken down before they pounce. It'll lead to more accuracy, even for McGee." Tony nodded. "Then you can choose between the lighter and the heavier?"
"Lighter because of Kate and Abby." Xander handed over a case. "Tranqs?"
Xander opened the case. "The blue are big demon strength. They will take down something the size of Godzilla within two minutes. If you use them on a 'gator, it may die." Tony nodded. "If you use it on a wild horse, it'll live. If you use it on a cougar it'll probably live but it'll take hours and leave it vulnerable to being attacked too." He pointed at the next set. "Red are medium demon strength. They can take out a human. The blue you *never* use on a human. They will kill a human. Quickly. Like under forty seconds quickly. Less if they're allergic. The red you can use on a human but they won't wake up for a day and a half. You can use it on a 'gator and it'll be fine in about an hour. Cougars about the same. Again, dealing with sedated animals in the wild means that they can be attacked because they're down and helpless so if you're not going to be out there that long remove the dart and wait to see them get to the growling and trying to move stage. It'll come off *very* quickly after that. The pink ones are general tranq strength. The white ones are small animal strength. Dog, cat, kid. Because there is a half-demon child out there that has been abandoned and is running wild. Literally. If you have to take her down, you use the white one and then you call *me* then Horatio. If she's showing any demon characteristics I'll have to hide them before we take her off." Tony nodded, reclosing the case. "When you need more, you need to go to one of the guys on your list to bust. He's the blue guy they didn't want to bust."
"I can do that," he agreed, stealing a kiss. "Let me put this beside the door." He went to do that, finding Pretty watching out the door. "It's all right, Pretty. You live with us now so the baby couldn't get sick from you." He petted her, getting a small growl. "Come on, we'll eat."
"I've already fed her and given her treats. She's being picky. John's on his way over with what she usually eats and her toys."
"Hopefully that'll help. I know she's had a good few years with her Mistress." Xander nodded, giving him a hug and another kiss. "Thank you for the gift certificate for dinner."
"I figured you'd be home late," he admitted with a grin. "Is Gibbs okay?"
"He's fine. He had Ducky look at his sun poisoning. He found your doctor since I told him who you went to, and called him to get Gibbs the cream he'll need. Kate's is just aggravating her but she'll be fine tomorrow after a cool shower and some more aloe gel." He stole another kiss, smiling at John when he came in with the dog's mistress. "Hey."
"Hey. How was your last case?"
"Got drunk, went out into the Everglades on his own. Ducky said the cuts were animal claws."
"Pity." He let her have the dog for now. The dog whined and whimpered but Xander smiled and took her back to the bedroom, sitting down and casting a small something so his hyena could talk to that one's wolf side. The wolf was better after that, going to love on the Mommy but was happier with them. He came out, giving Tony a small smile. John ushered his guardee out, giving him an odd look.
"We speak the same language kinda now and then. We had a talk." He just nodded, leaving them alone.
"You can compluse the dog?" Tony asked.
"No, I let one of my possessions out for a minute to speak to him. On a timer so she had to go back. Willow taught me that. Oh, if you hear stories about me being shirtless and smoking, it was Willow." He went into the kitchen, getting her another of her treats. "Your mommy spoiled you by feeding you jerky," he teased, giving her another piece. She barked and went out the doggy door, going to enjoy being outside for a few minutes.
Tony came in to give him another hug. "You're amazing." He stole a kiss. "Pretty, we're going to bed. Come in when you're ready." He drug Xander off, making sure the rifle was still in the living room and the front door was locked. They were halfway through when the dog came back but she took up her half of the bed so it was fine. She wasn't watching this time.
Ducky smiled as he sat down across from Horatio. "Thank you for meeting with me, Horatio."
"Not a problem, Ducky. You know our two teams work very well together." He handed over the spare menu. "I like their chicken here, but the beef tends to be a bit overdone."
"Good to know." He smiled and glanced at it, making up his mind fairly quickly. He closed it and put it down, smiling at his companion. "I would like to know how you manage scenes out there."
"We post an extra guard with a tranquilizer rifle. Alexx keeps one in her van, handgun sized." That got a smile. "Plus each hummer has one as well, and a flare gun too."
"Interesting. What about emergency kits?" Their waitress came and he smiled. "Can I have the romaine salad with chicken and the light raspberry vinaigrette please?" She nodded. "What tea do you have?"
"Sweet, iced tea, sir."
"No, he means real tea," Horatio told her.
"OH! Tea tea. Um, we have Earl Gray and a breakfast blend. We usually have a few flavored teas but they made them iced today."
"I'll have a cup of Earl Gray please." She smiled and nodded, writing that down.
"Give me the number ten, cheese on the side," Horatio requested. She nodded. "Water." She took their menus and walked off. "For emergency kits we carry a standard first aid kit in each hummer. If it's something that serious, Alexx is there at the beginning scenes and PD usually has first priority unless it's a major trauma. The one time we haven't, Eric ended up driving Ryan to the ER." Ducky nodded at that. "Now, since your team does pack a bigger truck than ours does, you can afford to stock up a bit more. I would put a bug repellant in there. The general necessities. A bottle of sunscreen for reapplication purposes. A tranq rifle."
"We got one of those off Xander."
Horatio smiled. "Load the pink one, Ducky. The red one is still very strong." Their drinks were brought, Ducky's had a tea bag. "Thank you." She smiled and walked off. "Sorry."
"It's something I've become accustomed to while out," Ducky assured him with a smile. "Not too many places have high tea these days."
"Two of the local hotels do and there is a tea bar by one of the colleges," he offered. Ducky smiled at that. "They also sell loose but they're highly expensive. We do have an importer in town and he does sell more cheaply. I buy Yelina tea."
"Even better. Next time you go, call me so I can tag along if you wouldn't mind."
"Not in the least, Ducky. We hope you can find a spot and be comfortable down here. How is your mother finding it?"
"She's complained about the heat most days, but the Corgis and she are having wonderful walks around the house I found us. I've told the local department as well in case she gets out in her dementia."
Horatio slid over something. "A lot of places use one of these," he said gently. "They're GPS capable, they don't look that bad, they've got the medical condition that can be engraved on it plus a phone number. It's widely known about and the EMTs like it."
Ducky smiled at the simple silver bracelet. "That is a good idea. At home everyone knew us so if she got to the nearest neighbor they called me." He tucked it into his pocket. "Thank you, Horatio."
"Not a problem, Ducky. There's a lot of retirees down here so it's something the city has to plan for. Also," he said, handing something over. "This is what's commonly called an adult day care. They have activities and things for her to do all day if she's bored. They have a competent staff, we've never been called there, and they've only had one person escape and wander off in the five years they've been running. It would give her a chance to get out and be around others, but others like her and with her condition. Plus they do have trained nurses on staff for emergencies. That way you wouldn't have to worry so much and she could play bridge."
He beamed. "That is a charming idea. I'll talk about it with her tonight. I hadn't realized how well Florida had managed to deal with the declining years of the retirement community."
"We have. We have industries devoted to them," he agreed with a small smile. Their lunches came and he nodded, letting her walk off again. "You might want to remove the tea bag."
"Oh, probably." He took it out, laying it on the saucer and took a sip. "Yes, a bit strong, but I've been making Jethro not scratch his sunburn all morning." Horatio did smirk a bit at that. "Has Xander had one of those? His doctor asked."
"He's had one bad, serious sunburn. We were next to the water all day and he didn't have extra in his field kit. He came in the next day, even though he did growl at everyone. We handed him the aloe gel and Speed was kind enough to get the spot on his back." Ducky gave him an odd look. "It was swampland, Ducky. Leaches. It took us three hours to remove them all because Ryan accidentally pushed him into the water twice. The body was right on the edge."
"Poor lad. Could be worse I suppose but that poor lad."
"Indeed," Horatio agreed, taking a bite of his lunch. He looked at it then at Ducky's. "Did she switch them?"
"I think she did." They switched back, shaking their heads. "Yes, this is mine. I did order the raspberry vinaigrette. This is a decent place for lunch."
Horatio smiled. "It's better for late night dinners, after the fashionable dinner hour and before ten." He ate a bite of his lunch, looking at his phone when it rang. "Horatio," he answered. "Lunch. Why?" He nodded. "I can be there." He hung up. "I'm being called to a Grand Jury after lunch."
"Poor man. Do try to have fun."
Horatio smiled. "That's why someone put games on cellphones, waiting to testify." Ducky snickered at that, saluting him with his cup of tea.
Xander walked into NCIS that night, he was done for the night but Tony had a few more hours of paperwork to do. He stared Gibbs down. "You're not dosing yourself often enough with the cream, are you?"
"How do you know?"
"It took three hours to remove all the leaches from me after Ryan pushed me into the water twice at a scene," he said blandly. Jethro shuddered and let out a quiet moan. "I have been where you are now. Put the cream on ever four hours. Trust me, it helps."
"I can't get part of it."
"Then ask! Not like we'll do more than smile, Gibbs. Let me see." He let him see the spot of burn just down the back of his neck where his t-shirt had ridden down. "Shoulders hurting?"
"I swelled in the heat this morning."
"Drink more water." He put some of the cream on, earning a small sigh of pleasure. "You can also try some cool compresses through the day to help with that problem. It'll help with the itch a little bit. I have heard vinegar but I don't know if it works. I do know that noxema works well. So get some on the way home and scrub with it tonight." He shifted, moving to work on his shoulders. "You did swell." He frowned. "Is it just the heat?" That got a nod. "Then I'd say drink more water. Even I had to switch off juice because my arm aches when I don't. I'm still going to beat Buffy for breaking my arm."
"She did?" he asked. Tony nodded too. "How?"
"Hit me three times in the same spot."
"Yeah, that was right before the concussion when Tony came down though." He shrugged and went back to doing his shoulders. "Stop at the house tonight. I have something in the medicine bag that you can soak in to relieve some of this." Gibbs gave him an odd look. "You can even borrow our tub for the night, Gibbs. It'll help with the pain and swelling, plus probably calm down some of the sunburn ache. You'll still need to go out covered but it'll help." That got a nod. "Good. I have to stop and pick up one thing and something from the deli?" he suggested.
"Love you," Tony agreed.
Xander grinned at him. Then at Gibbs. "When you get done. We even have spa jets in the tub." He walked out, going to pick up the one herb he knew he didn't have, and something else he needed in his personal collection, then he headed home after a quick stop through a deli. He went into the bathroom to mix the herbs he needed, putting them in a small plastic cup waiting on Gibbs. Tony drug him in an hour later. "You could have finished the paperwork."
"He's miserable. Did you get the noxema?" Xander pointed at his jar of it. "Thanks. Boss, you can even stay over tonight if you need to. I've slept in that tub many a night taking care of aches and pains."
Xander hit the drain switch and started the water. "Standard faucet, the remote is on this side," he said with a point. "That way you can adjust the jets however you want. If you sit on the seat on the left, one jet is a bit ...personal. The other side doesn't have that one." That got a quick nod. "The stuff is in the cup, it'll smell herby but it's good for you. You're not allergic to cooking herbs, right?" He shook his head. "Good. Just don't drink the water. Outside is fine, inside isn't." He gave him a pat, got him the noxema, then grinned. "Have it for as long as you need it, Gibbs. We can use the guest bathroom tonight and there's two guest bedrooms. We'll even keep it down." He walked out, closing the door behind him. "Towels are in the cabinet."
"Thanks, kid." He tested the water temperature, turning it up a bit. Then he turned on the jets, finding the 'personal' one. That did made him turn that one off and adjust the others to a soothing looking motion. He poured in the herbs, then spread the cold cream on his face, arms, and neck. It made him sigh in pleasure. "It stinks but if it works I'm all for it," he decided. "I can't stand this sunburn." He wasn't normally someone to complain but this was a lesson he would not have to learn twice. He stripped down, neatly folding his clothes on the bench in there. Then he climbed in, moaning as the jets hit the good spots on his back and legs. The smell of the herbs was actually calming. The padded backrest was nicely cushioned. He turned off the water and let himself relax. If a guy like Harris, who was tougher than he was sometimes, could do this, so could he. He'd take his word on how to fix this injury. He even fell asleep in there, only being woken up enough to let out some of the water and run warmer.
"Blue button, Gibbs," Tony called. "It's the water warmer."
Gibbs looked at the small remote then the buttons on the tub. He hit that one and smiled when it came on. "This is a decadent tub." He shut off the new water and relaxed again. His face had quit hurting. It didn't feel like all his skin was going to crack open if he opened his mouth. His back and knees had quit hurting. His shoulders were unswollen. Maybe a bit of luxury would be a good thing. Nothing this extravagant but a smaller tub with maybe a few jets. Or he'd see if you could install a system in a tub you already had since his was nice. Every now and then even the toughest Marine needed R&R. This was his. He drifted off again, content, warm, and comfortable. In the morning Tony knocked and brought him breakfast, plus the bag from his car with a wink. "Thanks, DiNozzo."
"Not a problem, boss. The free-standing kits aren't as good as that tub. Nothing's as good as that tub, but it'll be fine. Oh, turn the nozzle on the shower *down*. Xander used it last and it's set at skin piercing. Turn it to the left to do that." He grabbed something and left, going to take his own quick shower.
Gibbs got out, moving to take a shower while the tub drained. He stuck his hand in the stream as it came out, wincing at it. He turned it down and it was much better. It helped finish off his night of relaxation and healing. He washed off the cold cream and all the other stuff, noticing a few spots that had turned a light purple. "Probably one of the herbs," he decided. Xander's shower gel was an unmanly peach scent so he used Tony's Irish Spring gel. Much more manly. He got out, changing into clean clothes, then digging into his breakfast as he walked out.
Xander went in to rinse out the tub, just in case the dog got inquisitive, and came out dressed too. "You okay?"
"I feel like I've had a week's vacation," he admitted. Xander beamed. "Thanks, kid."
"Welcome, Gibbs." He gave him a hug. "It'll be okay."
"The purple marks?"
Xander frowned. "Must've been the preservative solution on one of the herbs. It's nothing harmful and it'll wear off in a day. I've had that too," he admitted. Tony smiled. "He tried to play connect the dots with the ones on my back."
"More than I needed to know." He sat down at the table, smiling and petting Pretty when she came to join them. "Morning, dog." She nuzzled his hand, earning the good pets, then went to beg Tony.
"Spoiled," he teased, pointing at her dish. "There you go, eggs." She ran over, going to scarf them down while they did the same. "Don't tell Kate, boss, but you can use it when you need to. You being that tense or hurt means we can't function properly."
"Thanks." Tony grinned. "Any other ideas about the office?"
"Have the spraying guy come in monthly since Abby swore she had bugs?"
"I've already arranged that with the guy who does the FBI building." Xander shook his head quickly. "No?"
"No, Vice has them under investigation. You might want to check. I know Fornell was down about that."
"I've got to call him anyway."
"He'll think you're retiring," Tony pointed out, eating another bite.
"He can come down and get his own sunburn," Gibbs said. He looked at Xander. "I still use the medicine?"
"Yup. You'll need to. The noxema all night did wonders but you'll still probably itch and ache a little bit for a few more days."
"I can handle that. I don't look like a lobster anymore." They both smiled. "Finish up, DiNozzo. You've got to drive me in and we're going to be late."
"Sure, boss." He finished up, putting his plate in the sink. Then he kissed Xander. "Be safe at work today."
"You too." Tony smiled, taking Gibbs' plate to put into the sink. Then they left together. "It's Xander's job to do the dishes since I do most of the cooking."
"That's how my exes and I split it too," he agreed. He slid in to drive, making Tony frown but hand over his keys. "Next time you kidnap me to help me with something steal my car too."
"Point. Go easy on the engine. She's been running a bit rough. I need to find a good mechanic."
"Ask Delko, he's the car guy. Or see who Speedle takes his overpriced engine to."
"I'm going to." They backed out of the driveway, letting the door close behind them. Then Gibbs put it in forward and it stalled. Tony moaned. "Come on, baby. It's easier to have you towed from downtown." Gibbs tried to restart it. "Let me. She can be fussy about others driving her." They got out and Tony got in, putting his seat back to where it should be. He stroked the steering wheel then started it. Splutter, smoke, nothing. "That's not an engine problem. That's sugar in the gas tank," he said, looking at Gibbs. Who stared back. Tony nodded. "Yeah." He went to look, finding it was still missing the gas cap under the little door. "Yuppers." He called inside. "Xander, baby, call me a tow truck please? Someone attacked the car. Sugar most likely. Thanks." He hung up and got into the trunk, finding the scene kit they all carried. He came around to print the gas cover, finding two very good prints. He lifted them and then went to work on the inside. He was lifting another one when a tow truck came up. "Hey." He grinned. "Someone doctored my gas."
"She's a fine car, sir. I'm sorry."
"Me too." He stood up, putting all three tape lifts into his pocket. "I need her to go to someone good who'll treat her right."
"I know a few good ones. You mind odd or redneck?"
"Someone who'll appreciate her."
"Redneck it is. She'll be babied." He hooked the car up, taking her off. "Need a ride?"
"No, we can get one from a friend. Where?" Tony asked. He handed over his credit and auto cards for the tow, getting a nod. The guy ran it, letting him sign the slip. He handed over the guy's card. "Thank you. I'll check on it about noon. I'm a Fed." That got a nod and he drove off with his poor baby. He turned and found Xander leaning on the gate. "Hi. Can we hitch a ride?"
"Yup. Mine's fine, I've already checked." He opened the gate so they could get in. He went to finish getting ready quickly, heading out with his boys. Traffic was horrible so he was late but he gave Horatio, and the Chief since they were together, a look. "Sorry, someone sugared Tony's gas tank so I had to drive him to work. I'll make up the thirty tonight, boss."
"That's fine, Xander. I know you do whenever traffic snarls you. Is he all right?"
"Pouting and planning vengeance for touching his baby." He walked inside, going right to the lab. Calleigh gave him a look. "Tony's gas was sugared." She shuddered. "At the house."
"Ooooh. Your poor neighbor is going to die this time."
"Probably. Traffic is a bitch and I had to take them to work. There are *four* wrecks on *one* side of the Causeway." She giggled. "Exactly. Who else isn't here?"
"Eric and Speed. Horatio had an early meeting. The Chief still lurking?"
"Out there with him when I came in."
"That's probably not a great sign." She leaned closer. "Xander, you know we have a mole in the lab, right?" she asked quietly.
"Yeah." He grinned. "I even know who it is." She looked stunned. "Kinda obvious. Not even the boss can wear two grand shoes. Plus DC probably let something slip once upon a time."
"Who had the shoes?" He pointed at the next lab over. "Maxine?" He shook his head, staring her down. She frowned. "You're serious?" she asked. He nodded. "When?"
"The day Pretty got here. So it wasn't just that she reminds me a lot of Buffy," he said quietly.
"That's a nasty compliment." She looked at the walls joining them. "I'm going to talk to Horatio. Leave my sample alone?" He nodded, letting her go do that while he worked on the other stuff. She smiled at Frank. "Give me another thirty, Frank. Got to check with the boss on something."
"Sure. Xander down there?" She nodded. "Gun jammed last night when I was putting it back together."
"He can check it for you." She found Horatio and the Chief still on the front steps. "Horatio, Xander thinks he knows who the mole is," she said quietly. He looked down at her and the Chief stared in shock. "He noticed someone wearing two thousand dollar shoes. Even saving up for them, that's a hell of a pair of shoes. Especially for one on a federal paycheck."
He considered it. "That could be," he agreed. "Xander has said a few times she reminded him of Buffy." The Chief looked confused. "The friend who broke his arm, sir." He looked at her again. "Any other ideas?"
"Yeah, that someone in AV has a big mouth now and then and probably let something slip by accident."
"That is also quite possible. I'll look into that today. Thank you."
"Welcome. Oh, Frank's gun jammed on him last night. He's going to see Xander. We're nearly clear." She walked back inside. She found Ryan in there. "When did you get in?"
"I had the early body call this morning," he said, rubbing his forehead with the back of his hand. "I've been on a beach since five." She gave him a gentle hug. "I was asking him how his dog was." He looked at Frank's gun. "We can't figure out what's wrong with it."
"I can so," Xander complained. He nudged Frank and pointed. "Sand?" Frank moaned. "Sorry." He recleaned it for him, cleaning every part before he put it back together. He felt where the stick was. He looked at it again. "Hmm." He checked. "You're going to need a new one, Frank. You've got rust." He let him see. "Probably humidity."
"Damn it. It'll take all day for someone to get me one."
"Cal, get him my spare from my kit?"
"Tony has that one. You were complaining about it last week," Ryan told him.
"Oh, yeah. I need to ask him about that." He looked around then went to his desk, handing over something from the bottom drawer. "Mine from in here."
"Thanks, kid." He looked at it. It was a pretty standard police issue. Then at him. "I thought you liked bigger and heavier weapons."
"I do but she's still got that one." She blushed and got it out of her desk drawer, handing it to Frank while he put the other one back. He grinned and got back to work. "I still want it back but that's a loaner. It should be clean."
"Thanks, Xander." He walked out, smiling and happy. Even if the kid did have 'pull a gun out of my ass' syndrome. He looked at the Chief. "Who's doing the slag reports for our service weapons?" he asked him.
"What happened?" Horatio asked.
"Xander found some rust. Slide's stuck. He said it was probably humidity or, now that I think about it, we had that leak into my desk a few weeks back and I only wiped the outside because I thought it didn't get in." He held up the other. "A loaner."
"I remember when he leant it to Calleigh. She had a problem with the recoil."
"I'll be careful with it." He walked off, going back to his desk. He had paperwork to do for a new gun.
Horatio looked at him. "We could use another few buckets of damp rid if you see the maintenance guys, sir."
"I know, Horatio. This year has been horrible for that. How is the NCIS team holding up?"
"Decently. Xander donated a tranq rifle to them recently." That got a small snicker. "Also sunscreen since two agents got burned on their first case in the Everglades." That got a louder laugh. "Gibbs has sun poisoning. He wasn't wearing a waterproof formula. I've helped Ziva make up the threat index Gibbs wanted on who was what and what sort of threat, from bugs to gangs, to our occasional terrorist." That got a nod. "I also lent them my copy of hurricane codes for labs. Just in case."
"It's good you two can get along."
"Jethro and I understand each other quite well," he agreed. "Even without the ties Xander forged between us."
"That's right, he's one of theirs originally."
"Their intern," he agreed with a small smile. "I believe he got Abby some sunscreen for those who're supposed to be incredibly pale so she doesn't have to tan." That got a loud laugh. "We've got interns coming in tomorrow." He looked over as Speed pulled in, checking his watch. "It took you two hours to get here from home?"
"That was with me weaving through traffic. I think Xander magiced his way at one point. There's now five wrecks on the causeway. One of the ambulances crashed into a cruiser, Chief." He got off his bike, taking off his helmet and sunglasses. "Sorry, boss. Delko was somewhere behind me. We were playing traffic tag for the first few miles. He's probably on the *other* side of the causeway. It'll be lunch."
"I'll let him go to the first scene if he's got his kit," Horatio offered. Calleigh and Ryan came out. "Eric's on the other side still."
"I called," Calleigh admitted. "He's still by the coffee-shop. He said there've been shots fired at the FBI building and they're shutting down the block." Horatio nodded. "Xander's coming too, boss."
"That's fine. We'll go help." He looked at the Chief. "Get us air rescue?"
"I can do that." He moved to make the call. Calleigh handed Horatio his kit. Xander came out armed and with his sunglasses on. "You look like a Fed without the suit," he teased.
"Take that back," he said grimly. "No self-respecting Fed would wear my t-shirts."
Horatio checked the shirt just in case. 'I'm not staring at you, I'm studying my prey.' "Not that shirt," he agreed. "Speed, call Eric. Tell him to get there. Tell him to tell whoever we are coming." A helicopter landed and they boarded, letting Speed get on last as he yelled that into his phone. The door closed and they went up.
On the way there Xander's bad shit radar went off. "Horatio, we're targeted," he said quietly. He leaned closer to the pilot. "Take us around the south way," he ordered. He got a funny look. "Funny feeling and I'm an eleven year combat veteran. Plus there's a better parking lot to land in." That got a nod and he took them that way. Xander tugged on Horatio's arm, pointing at something. Horatio looked then nodded, texting Frank, who sent it to Dispatch. They landed and came out of the helicopter, nodding at the Feds staring in horror. "You needed backup?"
"You couldn't drive?" one asked dryly. "It's our scene and you had to show us up!"
"There's billions of wrecks on the causeway," Calleigh told him. "What's going on? Where do you need us?"
"Mostly we need you on the second floor. They went after our scene team." They nodded, heading that way. He stopped Xander. "You're not wearing a badge?" He held up his ID. "You're.... Oh, shit, you're Stetson's son," he muttered. Xander smirked and nodded. "You're a field tech?"
"Backup. Oh, we nearly got shot down by the guy with the rocket launcher. You might call dispatch to see if they got him." He walked off, barely catching the second elevator. "He wanted to make sure I could do the work," he told Speed, who shook his head. "Though he did mutter Dad's name like a swear." Speed nodded as they got off. Xander put his sunglasses on his collar and moved to a clear spot. He checked his kit. "I'm down to twenty swabs. Have to fix that." He looked around. "Where do you want me, Horatio?"
"Left corner, Xander. Near Ryan. That's ballistics." He nodded, going that way once he had on gloves. They were down on kits so he left his there. Which Horatio appreciated. Jethro came off the elevator. "Find a clear spot, gentlemen and ladies." They nodded, going to find the other side of the floor. He and Jethro shared a look. "Rocket launcher. Xander's still got his enemy radar."
"I know. It's not his."
"Good to know. You look better."
"Ah. He is good at fussing." Jethro nodded at that, letting him go off to deal with his own team. Jethro went to check over everyone. This was a federal case, he got to take lead this time. He found Xander staring at the exemplar cabinet. "Do not covet."
"I'm not. I'm trying to decide if this is a bomb behind here and how I'd move the cabinet." Jethro came in to look. "HORATIO!" He came jogging in. "Is that a bomb?"
"It is," he agreed. "How do we get this off?"
"The easy way," he decided, taking hold and giving two good shakes before yanking out a few screws. "Cheap wallboard for the lattice, boss." He put it aside, looking at the bomb. "I know this one. Get me some clippers? They should be in the blue cabinet." They moved to find them while he moved the bomb, getting it onto a table. He got it open and clipped the wire, then frowned, staring at it. The timer was off. He flipped it over and dismantled the back, taking out the gas canister before it went off. Seconds before it went off. He held it up for Gibbs to take. "I hate backups." He walked out, letting them handle it. "Guys, we found a small explosive device with a gas canister backup!" he bellowed. "Be very careful! Call if you see one!"
"Yup, I'll be doing that," Ryan agreed since he was nearest. McGee was up the corridor and he nodded too. He called Kate and Tony since they were on the other end of the floor to make sure they had heard. He looked at him. "Why did we divert?"
"Guy with a rocket launcher pointed at us." He got back to work, finding something. "Found a print," he offered when Horatio came out. He held up the lift sheet. "Kinda smudgy, sorry. Looks like they cornered at high speed."
"That's fine." He looked at it. "It can be run, Xander." Xander nodded, going back to his other searching. They had gun casings everywhere. "Just one caliber?"
"All Mac-10's, H," he agreed.
"Thank you, Xander." He went to check on the others, finding Calleigh had the same news and the same smudgy print. "Xander found one out of ballistics." She looked around the area she was in, looking a bit frantic. They found the device and he figured out what started the countdown, fixing it before it got past the minute mark. "That's two."
"Anyone who finds fingerprints yell," she bellowed. "That's a second device with fingerprints nearby."
"Then I'm in deep shit," Speed and Eric called in unison. Horatio hurried over. He found the bomb and got it before it started to count at all. They sighed and went back to work.
Xander leaned over one cubicle wall. "Bomb sniffing dog's on his way up, Horatio. Just in case." That got a nod. "Also, I'm finding the fridge in the break room is open for some reason. I have no idea if some of the things in there are biological or not."
"We can check," he agreed. Jethro walked off with him to check that.
"Question," Speed asked. "Was the causeway traffic snarl this morning intentional? It's hardly ever that bad all at once, especially in the morning, H."
"That's a good question. Another is the person with the rocket launcher involved?" he agreed. He called Frank. "Did you get him?" He nodded. "Any clues? I'll release a few of mine. Who do you want?" The answer surprised him. "You sure? That's fine. I'll send him." He hung up. "Xander, you and Ryan go to where Frank is; process the scene to find out who had the rocket launcher."
"It wasn't mine," Xander defended.
"I know that, Xander. Frank asked for you two specifically." Xander nodded, grabbing his kit once he had stolen an extra pair of gloves off Calleigh's kit, then took off with Ryan behind him. "Jethro?"
"Looks like a disgusting refrigerator but some of them might be biological contaminants by now," he admitted as he came back. "Where did those two go?"
"Xander's bad radar."
"That's reasonable. Wolfe's OCD makes him very thorough. Xander's an artillery person." That got a nod. "I wish 'em luck."
"He had gotten away by the time Frank got there."
"It figures." He went to let the bomb sniffing tech and dog in. "We've found two so far."
"Three," Horatio corrected. He handed over the last one. "Anywhere we're finding fingerprints."
"I called Tony to make sure he knew, boss," McGee called. "I'm done collecting." He handed over his basket of envelopes. Calleigh marked where they had come from, putting them into a plastic bag. She put that into an evidence container and waited on the others to come in. "Now what, boss?"
"Did you sketch, McGee?"
"No, boss, but I did take long range photos so we could do it back at the office. Plus 'real life' distance ones. Xander said they're all Mac-10s as far as he can tell."
"All the ones I've seen are too," Calleigh agreed. "At least that size. I don't know how he figured out which specific gun."
"He said spray pattern?" McGee offered. "Based on footprints and knocked over things? Plus a few smudges of gunpowder?" She frowned so he led her back. "He paused here, looked at the footprints, the ceiling, the residue spots," he said, pointing at them, then at the little number placards, "then at the casings. Then he said 'huh, Mac-10'. Then he moved on."
She did the same thing. "He's right, that's the right spray pattern but it could..." She looked again, then shook her head. "No, he's right," she realized. "The others have a shorter distance for the casing discharge." She looked at him. "There are days I don't appreciate Xander enough." He grinned at that. "He's right, Horatio. With the distance the casings shot..."
He smiled. "I figured he tested it sometime in the past," he agreed. "Are we nearly done?"
"Nearly. I've got a bit more to go over." That got a nod. "Plus someone's going to have to see the cubicles to see if they've been gone through."
"The tape will tell us that," Jethro told her. "I've got it and we're going to go over it right now, Calleigh." He looked at the spot she was in. "How did he tell?"
"There's footprints here," she said, getting out of the way. "Someone stood here in muddy shoes, which he thankfully picked up and outlined. Look at where the GSR is, then where the casings were." He looked then nodded. "Each type of automatic weapon has a discharge distance. Most of them are only a few inches. The Mac-10 is the only short one with one that size." She pointed at the grouped cluster of placards. "So I'm thinking Xander was right."
"Wow. You have to know a lot to be a ballistics tech," McGee said, shaking his head. "Glad I'm not." He went to work. A guy in a hazmat suit came in with a containment box. "Fridge is this way, guys." He pointed. "I wasn't even sure what some of that stuff was. And one thing's lurid green."
"Pistachio pudding, McGee. Did you get anything else?" He shook his head. "Then go watch the tape, figure out which cubicles got touched." He nodded, closing his case and heading to do that. He looked at Horatio. Then around. "Let me check on DiNozzo. I haven't heard a smart remark in a few minutes." He went to do that, finding him hanging up the phone. "No smutty calls on shift, DiNozzo." Tony handed over the bomb and the canister. "K-9!" he called. They came over, taking the bomb, letting the dog get the areas around them. "Why didn't you yell?"
"I didn't know we had someone here who could except Xander."
"Horatio," the K-9 officer told him. "He used to be bomb squad."
"Good to know. I called Harris." That got a grin. "Kate?"
"I'm clear, Tony." She came over with her plastic bucket of envelopes. "Why aren't you done yet?" He pointed at the bomb, making her go pale. "You don't yell and warn me?"
"I kinda froze for a minute, Kate," he said bluntly. "Excuse me for doing that. I don't know what to do with those."
"Have Harris teach you if you want," Jethro told him helping him up. "Kate, take over his area. Go help McGee figure out which cubicles. It'll take a higher security rating to look at some things." That got a nod and he walked off to do that. "Kate."
"Sure." She handed over her bucket. "From my corridor." Once the dog was out of the way she got to work taking pictures and notating the scene. They came back with a drawing of which ones had been ducked into, letting himself and Jethro do that while the others finished up. She handed Calleigh her ballistics buckets. "From mine and DiNozzo's areas."
"Thank you." She checked them off, put them into big plastic bags, then into the same plastic bin. "Any other casings or ballistics evidence?" she called.
"Haven't pulled the bullets from the ceiling yet," Eric reminded her.
"Doing that last, Eric, that way nothing falls onto evidence. I need you all clear for that." They nodded, finishing up and bringing it to her. "Gibbs, tell me if you're going to be in Xander's section?"
"No. Start there, do the outside corridors first. They were only in this pod and one other cubicle in the back." She nodded, grabbing a ladder and going to pull the bullets from the ceiling. He went back to looking. The agent for his cubicle came in. "Is anything missing?"
He looked then nodded. "I had a folder open on top. We have an arms dealer." He pulled out what he still had.
Gibbs looked at it. "The Miami-Dade team nearly got hit with a rocket launcher on the way in," he said quietly. "Harris went."
"Their ballistics and artillery tech."
"Oh. I guess that's good if Caine wants," he agreed.
Tony stood up, looking at him. "His surname is Stetson." The agent's eyes went wide. "As in the one the ATF likes. They did put him in under the family name, boss. Was this guy working on it?"
"Yeah but he's at the ER. He freaked out downstairs."
"That's understandable," Tony agreed. He got back to work. "Is he normally messy?"
"No, he's OCD."
"Then someone was definitely here." He broke out the fingerprinting materials to get to work. All the papers were gathered and put into an folder for later going over. He found a few stray hairs as well. "Is he a brunette?"
"Bald. Old guy."
Tony held up a small envelope. "DNA, boss."
"That's fine, Abby's still waiting on that machine. Caine's people can run it." That got a nod. "Anything else?" Tony handed over what he had found. "Thank you. Go to the next one." Tony nodded, going on. "We're going to need to confiscate anything they may have touched."
"Clear down the Philips file then, Gibbs."
"Good to know." He did that, finding a few stray hairs of his own. They might be the cubicle user's but he took them anyway.
Xander looked around the building top they were on then at Frank. "He was there by the antennas." Ryan nodded, heading that way. Xander started on the doorway. No one had opened it from this side according to Frank. The fire escape didn't come all the way up here. It was the only way down. He pulled two beautiful prints and put them into his case, closing it again because there was a slight breeze. He saw something and took off his sunglasses. "We have GSR on the door," he said. Frank came over to look. Xander pulled out his flashlight to change the lighting angle on it. "Yeah, that's GSR." He moved his case closer, getting a swab. Then he closed it again until he was done with the swab and it was put back. That time he had to catch one of the lift sheets. He shifted things around so all the evidence was on the bottom. That way it wouldn't blow away. He moved around, finding a small biological sample. "Got urine too." He took two swabs and moved on once they were in and closed up again. He walked the rest of the roof, finding a few things. Including an evidence tag. He looked at it before bagging it. He walked it over to Frank and Ryan, holding it up. Frank groaned. "Not ours, Frank."
"No, that's FBI issue," he agreed. "Tell Horatio."
"I can do that." He went to grab his kit, putting that in there while he called. "Hey, boss. Found an evidence tag, FBI issue. Case MDF1655-458-3." He listened while Horatio asked an agent, nodding. "Thanks." He hung up. "Related to the materials gone through in the cubicles," he called out. He saw the door open and reached for his gun. "Frank!" he yelled when the guy came out with the AK. Frank turned, but the guy turned toward Xander instead. Xander got a shot off but he was in the open and squatting down on one knee. He got a graze on the arm. The other guy got hit in the stomach. Xander held his arm, breathing deeply for a minute. "I'm fine," he said when the officers rushed over. "Check him. I want him to fucking live. He knows something." They nodded, getting Rescue there while Xander looked at his arm. "Even over the broken spot. I'm not happy." Ryan came over to check, pushing past an officer. "I'm fine. It's a graze, Ryan."
"You still got shot."
"Shut up." He stood up, handing over his case. "The stuff's in the bottom tray so it wouldn't blow away." He handed over his sidearm. "For later testing." Rescue came up and he let himself be led off. He glanced at Frank. "Safer," he told him. That got a nod. "I'm fine, I can handle myself. Watch Wolfe."
"Agreed. Go. Guys, he's got a graze. He goes too and that's a prisoner." They nodded, taking them both off. He knew Xander would start a tape recorder and start the 'confess now' talk in the ambulance for him. He called Horatio. "Xander's grazed. We had one shooter come up with a machine gun. Looks like an AK. Wolfe is it tagged?"
"Yeah, it is," he agreed. "Tell him Xander handed over his sidearm for testing since he got the guy in the stomach."
"Hear that? Wolfe has Xander's gun. He got the gun in the stomach. Same arm that had been broken, Horatio. No, he was walking and growling. Thanks." He hung up. "He wanted him to bring it with him."
"The ER would've taken it anyway," Ryan reminded him. "I need an escort." They nodded, taking things down to put into the back of the patrol car. Then the officer sat guard on it, literally sitting on top of the hood. Ryan went back up to note the new incident on the sketch. Someone was going to pay. He looked at Frank. "Is someone available to look at Xander's house?"
"I'll see if Hagen's available. He can get into the vaults if we need him to." He called him. "Hey, where are you? We have an FBI assault." He nodded. "I figured it was on the news. No, Harris just got a graze. The guy came after *him*. That's what Wolfe was thinking. Thanks, buddy. Sure, have fun with the dog." He hung up. "He'll take his cheetos over there. It's his day off."
"Damn. Hate that for whoever goes in later," one of the officers quipped. Ryan and Frank both looked at him. "Unlike the new guys on the other side of the building, I know what a grouch Hagen can be, sirs. I saw him the last time he got called in on his day off."
"Lounging around eating cheetos in front of the tv can be done just as easily at Xander's house," Ryan told him. "Plus the new dog."
"Yeah, she likes Hagen," Frank agreed.
Ryan grinned. "She's part wolf, Frank. She'll eat whoever breaks in."
"Good. The boy needs something like that," he agreed. "We done?"
"We are done," he agreed. They left together, Ryan taking the new sketch and the last few things down with them. The officer got off the trunk so he could put things into there. "Right back to the lab," Ryan ordered. "I'm riding with you." That got a nod. He got into the passenger's seat, letting the officer in to drive. They headed off with lights and sirens. It was going to take them to get through the traffic snarl.
Horatio hung up, looking around. "Gibbs, Tony?" They both looked at him. "Xander's fine. They found FBI evidence tags there."
"Why is Xander all right?" Tony asked calmly.
"A second suspect came up and tried to shoot at him. Ryan said only him. He's only grazed. He's going to the ER with the suspect."
Tony took a deep breath. "I'm going to help him kill people. Which arm?"
"Frank said the one that had been broken. Xander apparently got him."
"Good!" He got back to work. "Is it linked?"
"By the case number I looked up, yes," Horatio admitted. Tony stood up again. "They found another evidence tag sitting up there."
"Oh, goodie," Tony said with a feral smirk. "Is someone on my house, boss?"
"I'll call John Hagen," Horatio said calmly, walking off to do that. "John, Horatio, where are you?" He smiled. "Thank you. Let me know, John." He hung up. "He's on his way already, Tony. Frank called."
"Great minds and all that." He got back to work. "I've still got to call and check on my car at lunch, boss."
"I'll remind you, DiNozzo." Horatio gave him an odd look. "Sugared."
"I hate when that happens. I got to arrest two teenagers in my neighborhood when they did mine. They're still not happy in jail." Speed snickered, shaking his head. "Are we nearly done?"
"We're done," Speed agreed, coming over with one of the plastic bins. "This is yours, Gibbs. Where do you want it?"
"My truck. Calleigh, do you want overloaded with the ballistics or do you want Abby to have it?"
"Up to you, Gibbs. I've got more room and Xander." Horatio shook his head. "I don't have Xander?"
"He was just grazed," Tony told her. "Someone ran up on their other scene."
"Who in the hell?" she demanded.
"Someone he got back," Gibbs told her.
"GOOD!" She looked at Horatio. "Who's going to take the idiot's statement?"
"Frank. Mr. Wolfe has the evidence from there going back to our lab. Gibbs, tonight?"
"Tonight's fine for a share. Calleigh?"
"I can handle most of it by then," she agreed, heading off with the ballistics tub. The boys got out of her way. Eric even offered her a life saver from the pack in his pocket, earning a smile. They were too far away to hear what she told him but he was scowling so he probably got told about Xander too.
"I'm almost pitying that suspect," Speed said as he walked over to the elevators. "McGee, I need let into your truck." He nodded, coming to do that with their evidence. They rode down together. "Xander's fine."
"I heard. Tony's going to go ballistic on someone."
"That's a good pun," Speed said, making McGee smile. He wiped it as the doors opened, walking out together. "Last of the evidence coming down," he told one agent, getting a nod. They put their bins in the NCIS truck and closed it back up, standing guard until the others came down. Then Speed went to catch a ride back with a uniform. Eric drove his own car back there. The causeway was clear so it was better.
Xander walked into his house, frowning at the stink in there. "John?" he called, reaching for his gun. Not on him. He found his phone. "Horatio, I'm home. John's not here. Pretty?" No answer. "No barking either, boss. Hold on." He moved in carefully, finding John and the dog whimpering at him. "Send me Rescue now, Horatio. He's injured." He hung up and checked him over, doing a quick turn around the rest of the house before coming back. EMTs rushed in. "This is former Detective John Hagen. You call Horatio immediately when he gets to the ER." They nodded, taking him. He looked his dog over, not finding an injury but she was still whimpering. "Come on, Pretty. Let's take you to the doggy ER." He got up and put her into his car's back seat, on top of the tarp back there. His back seat was gross so he kept a tarp on it. He got in to drive, taking her there. One of his coworkers would be there soon. He pulled in and got out, picking her up to carry. "Someone broke into my house, shot the guy who was in there watching her. All she'll do is whimper. We need to check her for forensic samples as well," he noted calmly. The nurse nodded, taking him back to a room. "Thank you." He got her onto the table, taking a comb and a large piece of paper. "Done this before?"
"Twice now. Both home invasions." Xander nodded, calmly combing her. The doctor came in. "Home invasion with a shooting, sir."
"She's whimpering. Doesn't want to open her mouth for me. Check to see if she bit someone?" Xander requested. He finished and moved to her tail, then her other side. Then finally her head. The doctor got out of his way. "Her name's Pretty."
"Pretty? She's yours, sir?"
Xander held up his ID, nodding. "Yeah. There was a former officer shot at my home as well."
"Okay. You done?" Xander nodded so he got to work on her. "She's got a broken jaw, sir."
"Xander." He looked. "Is that evidence she bit someone?" The doctor nodded, plucking it out. Xander put it onto a tissue, putting that into the same envelope. Someone knocked then walked in. "Here, Eric. I combed her, he pulled the skin from her teeth. I put it on a tissue."
"That's fine. Are you all right? Your arm's bleeding."
"It's from picking her up. I popped a stitch." He went back to staring at the vet. "Will you need to keep her?"
"No. We can't really cast or sew her mouth shut for this. We can go in and put on a bar to hold it steady. I want to do x-rays?" Xander nodded. "Thank you." He walked her off, watching how she walked. "She may have been kicked too."
"Someone's going to die," Xander said simply. "Do whatever you have to do." The doctor nodded, taking Pretty with him. He looked at Eric. "John?"
"He's at the ER, they're working on him. Two shots to the lower chest/upper stomach area."
"Right about where I got the guy who rushed me," he said quietly. Eric nodded. "Who's doing my house?"
"The vaults were closed."
"Good. You stay here." Xander nodded so Eric took the evidence back to the lab. "Valera." She looked up. "From Pretty's mouth. She bit whoever shot Hagen." She took it and started on it right then. "Thanks." He walked the rest over to Trace. "Speed, Xander combed Pretty at the Vet's." He took the envelope to look at, nodding at what he saw. "She's got a broken jaw and the doc thinks her ribs may be sore with the way she's walking. He said someone's going to die."
"I don't blame him. Someone is asking for it," he agreed. "No new word on Hagen yet. Calleigh's down there waiting to process him." Eric winced. "She demanded. Said he wouldn't feel comfortable with one of us doing the collecting."
"If she's sure." He nodded. "Okay, do they need me at Xander's?"
"No, Horatio took that one personally," he admitted. "With Kate. If they need more help, they'll call me."
"She's good," he agreed. He dug in to help with the other evidence. They could see someone in ballistics. "Who?" Eric asked, nodding.
"Madeline, from non-felony. Horatio called her over. She looked at the bins and swore."
Eric smiled. "Xander probably would too."
"Yup." They got back to work. Xander stomped in an hour later. "No," Speed ordered. "Do ballistics, not in here."
"Sure. Let me know who hurt my dog?"
"Agreed. Where is she?"
"Minor surgery to hold her jaw together. I'll get her in a few hours." He went over there, putting on his jacket and glasses, taking the spot next to his counterpart. "Hey."
"Hey. Where were you?"
"I went home after being shot. Horatio said so. So I got to walk in and find John Hagen lying bleeding on my floor and someone hurt my dog."
"Someone's going to die," she said. Xander nodded and grunted. "Okay. I'll support you and cheer."
Xander looked at her. "I dated a mean cheerleader once."
"Doesn't really surprise me, Xander." They got back to work, sorting out which casings came from which gun first. Then they could run samples. "Where did this one happen?"
"Ooooh." She shuddered. "Their lab?"
"Their lab people's non-lab floor," he agreed. "Their cubicles. Hazmat had to come check the fridge." She giggled and nudged him with an elbow. "They planted bombs too."
"Should we swab for residue?"
"No. Not yet. We can later if we need it." She nodded, getting back to work. Horatio came in and he stopped to stare at him. "How is he?"
"He's in Intensive Care. They closed him up already." Xander slumped and nodded. "Calleigh's done all the collection and she's on her way back. She stayed until he was out of surgery."
"Of course. She should. She's his." Horatio smiled at that. "Any word from my house?"
"Nothing in the vaults was touched. The loose guns are still there as far as we can tell."
"Was he shot before or after I shot the guy on the roof since it was the same general area?"
Horatio looked at him. "I do not know," he admitted. "We'll figure that out, Xander." He nodded. "How's your dog?"
"Getting her jaw bolted together."
"Someone's going to be," he agreed. "I'm not calling Dad. I don't want to worry him."
"I agree and Jethro said the same thing." Xander grinned and nodded, getting back to work. "Anything yet?"
"Four guns," Madeline told him. "So far. We haven't been checking for anything like fingerprints, residue, or anything else." Calleigh came in. "We've got it, go run the others."
"Xander should be home," Calleigh said firmly.
"I would but my house is still a crime scene," Xander said, looking back at her. "John was at my house when he was shot." She glared. "I'm not sure if it's related to the guy I just shot on the roof when he got me or not, boss."
"I'll figure that out." She walked off, going to ask Ryan what had happened. Agents came out of the elevator and she glared. "Get out of our lab, people. They assaulted ours at the same time. We're doing it."
Xander came out, looking at one. "NCIS has evidence. Go bother them," he agreed.
"We're here to take control," one said. "You're not Caine."
Horatio came out. "It involved our officers and yours. You can work with us or you can go baby your own people. Xander, have Alexx change the bandage on your arm, you're bleeding."
"I popped a stitch when I picked up Pretty."
"Pretty?" one agent asked.
Xander looked at her. "At least you're not wearing open toed shoes today," he said dryly. "My dog. They broke into my house to shoot the former detective in there watching over my personal exemplar since one of them ran up on the second scene, the one where someone was trying to blow the helicopter we were using to respond to your building's scene, and tried *me*, not the others." She went pale. "He's in Intensive Care. So it's ours and yours. Work with us or without us, people. Horatio, it's not bleeding now. It stopped at the vet's." He turned him around and pointed. "Yes, boss." He went to do that, walking into the morgue. "Alexx, can you give me a new bandage for my arm?"
She looked over, putting down the cleaning cloth she was using. "Get your hind end over here." He hopped up on her table, letting her look at his arm once his jacket was off. "Graze." He nodded. "You tore a stitch?"
"They shot John in my house," he said quietly. "Plus hurt my dog. I tore it when I picked up Pretty."
"Uh-huh." She went to get her stitching kits, coming to fix it and then rebandage it. He didn't even hiss. "Local?" He shook his head. "If you say so."
"I've got a high pain tolerance, Alexx." She nodded, applying a bandage. "Thanks." He got off the table, heading upstairs to get back to work, sliding into his jacket on the way. "Move," he ordered as he walked into ballistics. The agent in there got out of his way. "Madeline, have we found more guns?"
"Most of the odd pin impressions or the ones we can't tell look like each other. I'd say five guns." He nodded. "I'm starting on the bullets Calleigh pulled."
"Mac-10?" She nodded, giving him half the stack. He got to work, opening up a document to start his report while he worked, searching them one by one. He was making piles out of which one went with which gun.
"We have enough microscopes, put one sample from each gun on one," the agent suggested. "Then put a bin in front of them." They nodded, doing that so they could sort them easier. Xander and Madeline kept notating as they went, letting her help by sorting them and making sure things were sealed back up. It was a small task but she knew she wasn't going to get in their way. They were finally done ad she had a tally for them. "We have one gun with a diminished count," she offered. "Far diminished."
"Someone was planting bombs too," Xander admitted. "We have a smudgy, greasy print wherever he planted one. I'd guess it was probably that guy." That got a dual nod. "Thank you, ladies. Let's finish up the reports." He took the count to finish his, letting Madeline take it from him. He proofed and printed, then nodded at the agent. "You can use my log-in. Save it under your name and ID number." He walked his and Madeline's off, handing it to Horatio, and Jethro since he was up there and so was his dog. "She got released early?"
"DiNozzo went to pick her up when he went to check on his car," he admitted.
Xander sat down, petting his poor dog. "It'll be all right. Whoever hurt John is in deep shit, Pretty. We'll get him and you can bite him again." She laid her head in his lap, letting him comfort her. "I know you ache, baby. We'll do everything we can to make you feel better faster." He yawned.
"Take a short nap," Horatio ordered. Xander nodded, shifting them back into the corner by the window, sitting there to nap in the sun since she liked to. He smiled at Jethro. "It's been a bad morning. He told the other agents to go away."
"So did I. So did Abby." He smirked, taking the other reports coming in. "From which scene?"
"Bureau," Ryan said, putting them down. "The rooftop." He put that one down. "Calleigh's got Speed working on the stuff collected at Xander's. She followed John's and he took over the house. DNA from that one is coming soon according to Maxine. Fingerprints is having to maneuver things. We took a swipe from an outer edge of one print, it was pizza grease. Olive oil and pepperoni grease specifically. No cheese grease in that sample." He put that one down as well. "The bomb was taken by bomb squad and she called them to see if they pulled prints. They're sending them over from non-felony. Madeline went back over there. She passed by me on the way out. Calleigh's fuming in the locker room," he finished more quietly.
"Thank you, Ryan." He nodded, heading out. He looked through them, handing them to Jethro. "It's amazing how many people have adopted his writing style," he said finally.
"It's easier to understand," he said. He read the last one then handed the stack back, scenes separated by turning that part sideways. "They had inside information?"
Horatio nodded. "They had inside information." They got up and headed out together, Horatio closing his office door. He found Stetler looking into ballistics. "He's napping next to my window, Rick," he said, walking down there. "With his dog. Looks like an adrenaline crash."
"I still need a statement from him, Wolfe, and Tripp."
"Frank's with the suspect at the hospital, waiting for him to get out of surgery. Mr. Wolfe?" He came out of DNA. "Is that my test result?"
"It is. Someone's going to pay and pay and pay," he said, handing it over. He looked at Stetler. "As long as you make it fast I can give a statement and show you the sketch of this morning."
"Do so." He followed him to get those things and take it in the lab. "I'll wake up Harris in a few."
Horatio and Jethro looked at the report. "Inside people," Jethro agreed, heading off with it. "Which DA would get her?"
"She did shoot a Miami citizen and one of our former officers. We'd get her but if she turned evidence they might not hand her over for more charges. Attempted murder over turning on the FBI?"
"They consider that treason, especially since it went to an arms dealer." He paused. "Is he on the ATF's list for Xander's bust or Tony's?"
"I do not know. We can call Wilkins and check on the way over." That got a nod and Horatio pushed the button for the elevator. Frank came off. "Stetler's looking for you."
"Good. Hagen came to the same spot so I checked on him. They're going to downgrade him to serious in a few hours if he stays stable." They both smiled. "Someone heard a glass break up here?" Horatio turned and jogged off, going up to his office. "Okay." He followed, finding Horatio checking on Xander. He pulled out his phone. "Rescue, this is Tripp. We need an ambulance in Caine's office ASAP. GSW victim CSI Harris." He hung up, coming over to move the dog. "Come on, Pretty. It'll be okay, girl."
"C'mere, dog," Jethro ordered. She came over whimpering. "You protected him. It's not your fault. The daddy will be just fine." Others rushed in. "OUT!" They mostly backed out. Calleigh looked at the hole, walking around the boys. "Well?"
"Sniper rifle. .307."
"Parking lot shot," Frank said.
"Could be from further out," Jethro told him. "I used to be a sniper. I could've hit that from the road."
"There's a bend. I'll get officers out to search," she decided, looking at Xander. "Shoulder?" He nodded. "Good. I'll kill them too!" She walked out. "Let's go, people. We need to find the sniper's nest. Right now!" They nodded, going to help her if they weren't busy. Officers too.
Alexx rushed in. "I got called. What happened?"
"Sniper through the window," Horatio said, getting out of her way. "His shoulder, Alexx." She nodded, looking then putting pressure on it. "Need us?"
"No, you go find this walking dead person before I do or Maxine does," she told him bluntly. He nodded, walking Jethro out. Stetler walked in. "You can wait!" she said firmly. "He's not conscious. It was a sniper shot." She looked at the dog. "You must be Pretty. You hop up on that couch and you sit your tired butt down, girl." She hopped up there, sitting as was ordered. "Good dog! Make yourself useful and pet her for me." She nodded at the EMTs coming in. "Shoulder. Into the joint." They nodded, moving him out so they could get to him easier. "There may be glass shards. It came through the window."
"Yes, Doctor Woods," one said, taking his blood pressure. "It's good."
"He was having an adrenaline crash when he was shot," Stetler said. They nodded, taking things off the gurney so they could move the boy onto it. The dog growled. "You, quit. They're helping the boy."
"Pretty, c'mere," Tony called. She ran over to him, letting him pet her. "Good girl to guard the daddy. Good girl. Very good girl." He looked at them. "How bad?"
"Shoulder, sugar. He'll be fine, just sore and injured for a bit."
"So I'll be whined to death?" Tony asked dryly. She nodded, smiling a bit. "That's fine. Can you put Pretty in your office for a few minutes?" He looked at her. "Can you guard the Alexx for me?" He pointed. "I'm going to go with the other daddy and guard him. I'll even bite the guys who shot him for you." She whimpered. "I know, baby." He handed over her prescription bottle. "I have no idea how to get that down her throat since they had to bolt her jaw together, Alexx."
"I did it with a child, I can do it with her. Come on, Pretty." She walked her off, taking her to give her some medicine. "Just like the vet's, baby girl. It'll be okay and Daddy will pet you later. He'll love you a lot for protecting him." The dog barked quietly. "Yes you did and you know you did." She walked her into her office, giving her the pill as gently as she could. "Now, you nap that off, baby, and I'll be out there finding out who hurt the baby girl. Okay?" The dog laid down in her chair, staring at her. "Good girl!" She went back out to her present body, finding her boss. "What?"
"Dog in the morgue?"
"It's Harris' dog, Chief. She's got a broken jaw. His house was broken into and John Hagen was shot in there. She's just off surgery."
"As long as she doesn't contaminate anything." He looked and found her staring at him. "She's got a lot of hair."
"She's a good girl. They found her protecting Hagen."
"That is a good dog," he agreed. "Harris?"
"Got shot through a window. I went up to administer aid."
"Fair enough," he agreed, leaving her alone.
She sighed. "Someone's definitely getting bitten on the hind end when they find him. They'd better *pray* Horatio finds them first." She smiled back at the dog. "It's all right, Pretty. This is just like the vet's, baby girl. You nap off the drugs." She went back to her autopsy. Non-felony was catching the homicides for a little while. They'd have to be paged but it'd be fine.
Xander woke up in a hospital with his arm being held up. He looked at his arm, then growled and tried to move it. "They gave you a muscle paralyzer in that arm," Tony said quietly from his other side. Xander rolled his head to look at him. "You have to have the traction for at least another day. The shot went into the joint and they need the stitches to not pull this time." He leaned forward. "How do you feel?"
"She didn't get any more hurt. She's soaking up Alexx love in her office." Xander smiled at that. "Now, how are you feeling?"
"About normal?" he asked with a small smile. Xander nodded, grinning back. "Good." He stood up, stealing a quick kiss. "Let me get the nurse?"
"When can I go home?"
"Hospitals kill people."
"Not this one. They've got too many of us in here. Speaking of, John's across the curtain from you. He's napping so don't yell." That got a nod. Tony pushed the nurse's call button, bringing one. "He feels about normal."
"Can I have my arm back now?" he asked.
"No." She checked him over. "The joint was damaged. They need you to keep it propped up for a few days, sir."
Xander looked at Tony. "Don't tell Dad and Mom?"
"I told your mother that you were fine and it wasn't a cause to rush down here. Just a shoulder injury. I didn't tell her you had been shot." Xander smiled at that. "By the way, Wes's dad left him some books and a small box of stuff. Not sure what's in there." Xander nodded. "They're bringing it down today. The rest of the stuff was being released to Giles today since he's the only Watcher left in existence. Though I did call to tell him that Wesley had left you the stuff his father had left him, just in case it was something he'd need some day. He did say that you were one of them now."
Xander shuddered. "I hate tweed."
Tony smiled. "I'd hate to see yo in tweed," he agreed, smoothing down his hair. "Will you behave?" Xander nodded slowly, staring at him. "Promise me you won't try to check yourself out AMA or anything? Because someone's got to guard John."
"Can I have a gun?"
"Not yet," Tony admitted. "Soon." He smiled again. "We good?" Xander nodded so he left. "I'll be back when I can tonight, Xander. Don't worry about anything, we're all going to bite them for you two." He let the door close, calling his boss on the way out. "It's me. He's awake, aware, and complaining. Said he feels shitty, yeah, like normal after being shot. I told him he had to guard John, he wanted a gun. I said I'd be back tonight." He hung up, getting onto the elevator so he could go back to work. Someone needed his foot up their asses. Someone was going to get his foot up their asses. Repeatedly. He got back there and found Fornell waiting on them. "What do we have that's new?" he asked before pulling Forenll out of his desk chair and sitting down.
"You're off the case, DiNozzo. They broke into your home," Fornell said at his snicker.
Tony looked at him. "Shut up and get out of my way before I bite you too." Fornell took a step back. "Now, what else is new, boss?"
"Two things. The agent the dog bit is in the wind. The other one is being picked up by MDPD and being brought here."
"They got the fingerprints to register. Ziva's helping hunt him donw," McGee said, tossing him the report. Tony caught it, looking it over, then tossed it back. "Abby's got something but she's correlating it to one other thing with Speed's help, and he's downstairs. How is Xander?"
"Wanted a gun. Wanted out. Feels like crap. Pretty standard." He looked at Gibbs again. "Who else?"
"The arms dealer is on Xander's and your list, DiNozzo."
"Hey, we'll get to meet early then," he said mock cheerfully. "Anything else I need to know?"
"They didn't get into the vaults," Gibbs told him. "The rocket launcher was from an earlier sting."
"Good to know." Fornell gaped. "Xander's a Watcher." He looked at him. "I told his mother he had been injured on the shoulder but not that he was shot. That way she wouldn't rush down here. He said to."
"Good. She'll fuss and Lee'll blow up the city," Kate said. Gibbs nodded and Fornell shuddered. "Anything else, boss?"
"Not yet." He called the lab, putting it on speaker. "Do we have anything new yet?"
"One thing," Abby said. "But it's not a big thing. Speed found slime by the artillery vault at Xander's house." Tony stiffened. "So someone should check."
"I can do that," Tony agreed, heading home to do that. He found Horatio there with him. "Speed said he found slime."
"Jethro told me." They got into it together, finding things were where they should be. There was more slime and a small spot that looked like a dimple in the floor. "Check the cases. I'll get the inventory." Horatio went to do that. Tony started to open cases. Only one had slime on it and it was still in there. There was an empty hole. He let Horatio see, getting a nod. He moved on, finding the explosives cabinet had been touched but it was full. "That wasn't full last time," Horatio said, looking. "The missiles are all there too." He frowned, counting pounds and looking at the inventory. "Someone added to it."
Tony shrugged. "It's a safe place to do that." He heard a sucking sound from the other vault, going in there. "Hey." The demon whimpered, cringing away. "Don't do that, I'm Xander's mate, Tony." The demon gave him a fearful look. "Give me stuff directly or give him stuff directly, don't just put it in here, okay?" The demon nodded quickly so he smiled. "Thank you. What's that?" It held out the gun, looking a bit reverent. "Thank you. He'll like that one."
"Where did you get it?" Horatio asked.
"Gozul," it hissed, then sucked back into the floor, leaving a small dimple and a small bit of slime behind.
"Huh, I'll have to ask," Tony said, putting that gun down once he had wiped it off. He looked at him. "I told him he had to stay there to guard John. He wanted a gun."
"That would be a bad idea. He'd shoot the nurses who woke him up."
"Probably true," Tony sighed, putting that one away. They closed the vault doors and headed back to NCIS, finding Gibbs watching their person. "Someone added something," he reported. Speed looked over from his corner. "Seriously. We saw the demon. It said it got it from Gozul and it was adding a gun when we caught it."
"Interesting," Gibbs agreed. "Are they locked back up?"
"Sure are, boss. So's the house and the alarm system is back on."
"Good." He walked out, going to talk to their suspect. He walked in and the man stiffened, sitting up straighter. Jethro sat down, staring at him. "You are in a very deep hole. You have ten seconds to start talking before I hand you a shovel."
"You can't hold me. It wasn't a military crime!"
"I was called in because you helped attack the FBI center and their own people couldn't do their own case. Your choices at the moment are federal detention or Florida detention." The agent sneered. "You're wanted on two capital crimes in Florida and only one in Federal charges. Your choices are the chair or a super max."
"That's no choice," he sneered.
Horatio strolled in. "Jethro, may I?" He nodded. Horatio looked at him for a moment. "It's not often I see people who're stupid enough to shoot officers. Technically John Hagen is still with the department. He's on unpaid leave pending a psychological evaluation. That is a charge that will keep your appeals to a minimum. We have enough evidence to convict you, your four other friends from the FBI shooting, the one that got away on the rooftop, and I do believe they were the same person who shot John Hagen. She's going to be going to the chair. You will be going to the chair for that and treason. That means the chair or a firing squad I believe?" he asked Jethro, who nodded.
"Yeah, planting those bombs would mean treason charges," he agreed. "So you can deal by spilling your guts or you can die. Still the same choice. She's being given the same one since we just found her." He had heard Tony's tap on the window and the code of 'got her'. "Your choice which one of you doesn't die."
"It was her idea!"
"I bet," Jethro agreed. "Want to tell Fornell instead of us?"
"He's a better asshole than you are."
"He's a bastard, get it right," Fornell said as he walked in. "Will Miami-Dade give us authority?"
"The DA's can argue," Horatio told him. "I'll be there to watch it happen. Or, I can always let you in the room with the family of those who got hurt. I'm sure CSI Duquesne and others would love that."
"Harris is a nobody. So's his family."
Tony walked in smiling. "Can I have him, boss, please?"
"Aw, come on, boss. I want to go at him like my father would." He stared him down. "Or my grandfather." The man swallowed. "Please? He did hurt my dog." The agent snickered so Tony walked over and turned off the video camera. Then he slammed his face into the table twice. "Shut up, putz," he said in his ear. "Xander is mine. Now, what was the plan and why? Otherwise you're going to Gitmo on the fast plane tonight," he hissed. "I'm sure they'll get you to talk. They'll *love* you and you'll never see another soul who won't want to kill you for betraying your country. Your choice."
"Xander's related to agents in Homeland. Covert in Homeland." The guy whimpered. "They'll take you to Gitmo first and then, well, that's part of the spinning wheel really. Chechnya. Pakistan. Saudi. They can do some amazing things over there. Have been perfecting it for *years*," he hissed, moving around him. "Now, which do you want, little boy? Gitmo, the chair, the firing squad, or to spill your guts like the little piggy you are?"
He burst out crying. "I'll talk!"
"Good!" He walked over to turn back on the tape, turning around looking perfectly calm and relaxed, smiling even. "It's good that you decided to talk to us, Agent Miller. Now, what is going on? How does it tie into the current ATF stings, and why Harris?"
"DiNozzo, let us handle this," Jethro told him.
"Fine, I'll be watching," he said, staring at the suspect for a second. "Have to check on my car anyway." He walked out, going back to the watching room. "No, that's not normal. I'll be suspended later," he announced.
"More time to listen to Xander whine," Speed said. He patted him on the back. "Calleigh would've gutted him and asked for a deathbed confession. Want to talk to the other one?"
Tony smiled. "Kate and Abby are." Speed shuddered. So did McGee. "It'll be fine. She'll talk too." He went back to watching Jethro destroy every single reason the agent gave until he finally broke and admitted it was for the money. Then he got the names. "Probie?"
"On it, Tony. Have a good few days off."
"I've got a boyfriend in traction. I doubt it." He called the nurses' station. "How's Xander Harris doing please? Agent DiNozzo. The one who was sitting with him. Yes, me. Look on his chart, lady. I'm allowed information. I'm his medical power of attorney. Yes." He held his head then looked up. "I'll be right there." He walked out, leaning into the interrogation room. "The nurses hate me, boss, bring you back dinner?"
"Please. The usual." Tony nodded, heading off. He looked at the agent again. "Was something planned at the hospital?"
"They probably won't give out any information over the phone. They wouldn't when Speed was shot," Horatio said quietly. "Eric nearly shot one of them for that." He stared down the agent, finally taking off his sunglasses. "Fornell, which DA did yours want to deal with?"
"I leave that to them. I sit back with popcorn when they go at each other."
"Good to know. The other?"
"Is staying ours," Gibbs said. He looked at the agent. "You sit in here."
"Please let me stay in the federal system," he begged.
Fornell nodded. "I'll try since you cooperated." He went to tell the DA that. He found them facing off in the bullpen. "DiNozzo told him he'd spill or go to Gitmo for treason. He wants to stay in the federal system so he doesn't go there or to the chair."
The federal DA smirked. "I can arrange that. Life?"
"Is too good for him," Fornell noted. "He didn't say we couldn't kill him, just keep him in the fed system. Gibbs, did you promise him he wouldn't die?"
"Barely. You can give him options. He might like the death penalty instead of some of the federal detention centers." She smirked, walking off to do that. "Kate, did she break?"
"She gave Abby a horrified look so I let Abby have her, boss. Abby told her all about what they could do to her at Gitmo and other secret prisons. She broke with the ripping out your toenails but Abby went on for another few minutes. She's decided she wants a quick death. Since she shot Hagen and he is technically still an officer you can have him."
The Florida DA smirked. "Thank you, Agent Todd. Any others?" She smirked at Horatio. "How will you do without your prize ballistics tech?"
"We won't be without him for long, Miss West," he assured her calmly. "Until then he'll consult." She went pale. "Possibly for the ATF since he'll be on leave." She stomped off. "There's six more names on the federal side and one more on ours."
"Agreed. Bring me a solid, airtight case."
"I'll bring them in begging for mercy," Abby said as she walked around her, handing Gibbs a cup of coffee. "Can I, Gibbs?"
"Go for it, Abby. Prove it, bring them in, Horatio can interrogate here. It'll keep the threat portion down." She nodded, dragging Speed off by the wrist to help her. He looked at McGee. "Has DiNozzo called yet?" He handed over a note of what Tony had said. "He's right, he is. Five days as a matter of fact. Along with a note in his file." He put it aside. "Thank you for handling that for me, McGee."
"He said he needed it anyway, boss."
"He probably does," Horatio agreed. "Xander will whine him to death by the time he's out of the hospital." Kate snickered. "He will."
"Tony routinely checks himself out AMA, Horatio. Bad concussions and all. When he got the plague he came back after being out for a week. He was shaking, could barely stand, was having problems eating, and came back to work."
"They do suit each other very well," McGee said dryly, typing. "Boss, does he still need to do a report?"
"I'll let him know." He sent that to Tony's phone and reminded him of the dog.
Tony came back a few hours later with a big basket of deli supplies. "I'm going on the Xander-cooking method. Here, have food." He handed over the report. "I borrowed a laptop there. I've stopped him from trying to get out twice and when I got there I had to step over two bodies. Ryan got to growl at someone finally." He looked at him. "Three?"
"Five and a reprimand," Gibbs said.
"That's fine. Not like I want to move out of here anyway, boss. Anything else I should know?" The final report was handed over. He glanced over it. "Good!" He handed it back and smiled. "Wilkins is on his way to see him. I said I'd be back there. If you need me unofficially, call." He walked out humming and much happier. Now all he had to do was beat the neighbor's daughter for putting sugar in his gas tank. Ryan had run the prints for him as a favor. He and the dog headed back to the hospital to cheer them up. He'd let Calleigh go hand the little girl the court papers saying it was her job to pay for the repairs or she was going to be sued for damaging his property. He walked the dog in, holding up his badge. "Hi." The security guard gave him an odd look. "It's CSI Harris' partner. I'm bringing her for a visit."
"She's a K-9?"
"Oh." He nodded. "I guess that's fine, Agent DiNozzo." He let them up, calling up there to warn them. They couldn't refuse service or K-9 dogs.
The nurse glared at him. "You again?"
"Me again and I'm staying here for a long time this time so butt out." He walked Pretty past her, letting her go once they got into the room. "Go ahead, girl. That's the daddy and the John friend." She sniffed John, hopping up to sniff his nose, giving him a little lick and a whine. He opened his eyes partly and petted her gently, making her lap him harder. "Good girl, Pretty. Want the daddy?" She barked and jumped down, going to hop up on the daddy and lick him too. Xander smiled and petted her with his good hand, making her groan and flop down on his stomach to cuddle him. "Good girl." He smiled at John, opening the curtains. "How are you feeling?"
"Shitty," he muttered.
"Well, you were shot," Tony told him. "By the way, she's going to the chair. By the time Abby got done with her, she was begging to go to the chair." That made John smile and Xander laugh. "One other is going to the chair and the other six are staying in the Fed side." Agent Wilkins leaned in. "Telling them the outcome."
"Good." He smiled at Xander. "Your mother heard you got shot. She's on her way down. Your father's in a proud but panicked moment. Fornell was brave enough to call her at home to tell her during lunch."
"Yay me," he said, looking at the flowers. "Give those to John, man. I'm not that much of a girl."
John looked over at him. "I can't do a face masque like you can, Xander."
Xander stuck his tongue out at him. "I'll teach you, John. After all, we're going to be in here for *days* since I can't go home."
John pushed his nurses' call button, bringing the sour one. "If I beg, can he go home sooner before he warps me into believing football is like gay sex too?"
"It is," Xander told her. "There's no other reason to get into that bend over and take me position. Well, except labor. I hear some native women give birth in that position." She gave him an odd look. "I was raised by girly girls." He beamed. "Do you need help draining that zit on your forehead? I'm good at them."
"No, thank you," she said, backing out slowly. She went to talk to the head nurse about a psychological evaluation, but the nurse had been told by Ryan so she explained it to her better. Within an hour they had discharge papers for Xander and a sling for his arm. Agent Wilkins got them checked into a good hotel for the night with the dog and stayed to talk with John until his boss got there, and then his friends. He'd escape in a few more days.
Xander looked over at his mother's gasp. "Hi, Mom. Pretty, this is my mother. Don't bark at her. She can do worse and if she can't, Grandma can." The dog sniffed her, letting herself be petted like the spoiled princess she was. "I'm fine, mom."
"You got shot, son. You're not." She gave him a hug, kissing him on the head. "No Tony?"
"Wilkins wanted him today." He smiled at his brothers and his father. "I'm still fine. Just a bit achy and sore." He adjusted his sling. "And bored. I'm about to start making face masques again I'm so bored." His brother Philip punched him on the good arm. "What? My skin could use it. So could Jamie's."
"We'll keep you from being that bored today," Jamie promised, giving him a pat on his good arm. "How are you doing? Back in the house yet?"
"Tomorrow. They're trying to find out why someone was giving me guns." He sipped his water and Pretty barked at the waitress, who gave her a bowl of water and a pat. "Thank you."
"You're welcome, sir. She's a beautiful dog." She walked off, going to take care of her other tables.
Xander grinned. "We've been spoiled."
"Spoiled is good for you when you've had a Dad Day," Philip told him. "Because only Dad has days like you did."
Jamie looked at him. "I had one of those when I worked with you guys. That's why I went to NCIS. How are they liking the local office?"
"It's good. I had to let them borrow a tranq rifle. Kate and Gibbs both got really bad sunburns out in the Everglades on a case. Other than that Tony said it's been kinda boring."
"It is a low case area," Tony agreed as he came over, stealing a kiss before pulling over a chair, smiling at the dog. "Did the pretty waitress spoil you?" The dog barked and let herself be petted by the other daddy. "Good girl. Very good girl. We'll get to go home today and see the John friend." He smiled at them. "John's spending tonight with us since they don't want him alone at his place. His boss was pissed too, wanted to shoot them himself."
"Won't Calleigh be mad?" Xander asked, looking confused.
"She's got court in the morning so she's got a long night going over the case files." Xander nodded at that, finishing his water. He grinned at Amanda. "I think he nearly set a record for getting out of the hospital."
"I heard. How much glass did they have to pick out?"
"Not a whole lot," Tony assured her. "He'll be fine. The bone'll heal. The joint shouldn't have any pain once it does."
"What he said," Xander said, nodding a bit. His brothers laughed. "The doctors refused to talk to me, they only talked to him. I even pointed that out once and got a funny look. I think I want to go back to the pediatrician in the ER. He talked to me." His lunch was brought and the waitress looked at the others, who all ordered something light, and Tony, who ordered the same thing Xander had only with pickles. She walked off, going to get it for them. "I'm back on comp time," he announced. "This time the Chief agreed I could keep my vacation time and just stay on injury leave. He did suggest I get the ATF out of his hair while I'm gone. I also told him I could easily do minor things while I was this way but he forbid it. So I'll go in starting next week to do minor things."
"There is that cruise assignment," Lee offered. Amanda hit him on the arm. "It's a cruise to Mexico. It'd be relaxing for him."
"He can't draw with one arm in a sling," she complained. "If it gets dangerous I don't want him killed this time, Lee."
"I wouldn't let him be."
"Horatio wanted me in the city, guys." He ate a bite of his sandwich. "Sorry, hungry, breakfast," he said once he swallowed, taking another bite. His mother gave him a look so he nodded at Tony, who just grinned. "He's not very nutritious."
"No, that's not a filling meal. It leaves you hungry for more," she agreed, smiling at him. "I want you to rest."
"I will. But I can do the ballistics inventory Horatio wanted done while I'm like this so Calleigh doesn't have to. I can even consult on cases and I've got six court cases coming up soon. The DA was told I was injury leave so maybe he'll hurry them a little bit. I'll get to go back about when John does." They all smiled at that. "They did finally clear him while he was in the hospital. I've also got the two shooting reviews while I'm down. I don't see a problem with them. Tony took the week off with me to listen to me whine."
"I heard why he's off," Lee said, smiling at him. "Nice work, son-in-law."
"Thanks, Dad." He looked at Xander. "I'm actually suspended." Xander looked at him. "I slammed Miller's face into the table."
"Good. I would've gutted him and asked for a deathbed confession." Tony snickered and nodded, letting their waitress put down food. "The people who shot me. He's a Fed," he said at her odd look at him. She nodded, going off again. He grinned at his family. "So you came down to suck up to the new furry grandbaby since the last one went home with Horatio?"
"We did," Amanda agreed, smiling at the dog, who was laying next to her boy. "She's a beautiful dog."
"John's guardee had her but her daughter ended up being allergic," Tony told them. That got smiles and both brothers got their own share of playing with her. "Be gentle with her chin, Phillip, it's got a bar right now. Miller broke it."
"She sucked up to Alexx in the morgue for a while," Xander told them. "Even came out to watch her, head tipped to see what she was doing." They all smiled and dug in, eating lunch and chatting about what was going on at home. Xander finally had to ask. "You left Grandma food when you locked her in the closet, right?"
"She's on a senior's cruise," Lee said with a grin. "We haven't told her yet, son."
"She's planning on stopping here anyway. The ship lands here and she was going to spend the night with you then come home," Amanda told him. "So you can tell her how you pulled your impersonation of Lee." She stroked his cheek with a smile. "I do want to see the house."
"We can go home today," Tony assured her. They smiled and finished up, Amanda putting it on her expense account. They went to help the boys pick up their room and take them home.
The waitress found the signed slip, smiling. "So they were all Feds. Gotta love the expense accounts." She went to file that slip and have someone clean the table. Plus pick up the dog bowl.
Lee relaxed in the back yard, smiling when Tony came out. "What's with the slime spots?"
"There's a slime demon who leaves Xander presents."
"I don't know. I asked and it said Gozul." He flopped down in his usual chair. "He'll figure it out while he's on leave." Lee smiled at that. "That's what he's good at. Figuring things out. He's the one who found the first bomb and told me how to dismantle mine. I still can't believe they did that."
"They were jealous of what others had," Lee said quietly. "They're not the first."
"Or the last," Tony agreed, shifting some to settle in better. Pretty came out the doggy door, hopping into his lap. "Hey, Pretty. Why are you wet? Is the daddy taking a shower without you again?" The dog lapped him. "Good girl." He petted her. "Does all the insanity come from you?"
"His mother," Lee said wisely. "He handles it like I do."
"Ah. That's where the handling things come from." He looked at him. "Does she beat you for that?"
"Now and then," he admitted. "About every time I get shot at or check myself AMA." He grinned back. "It'll slow down, Tony. His club thing did."
"We haven't had the energy to go out in a while."
"Well, you can take him out while he's injured. Use the time off to spoil him a bit. You're young, enjoy it. Like the cruise to Mexico. You'd only be there as backup."
"I'd get back a day late. You'd have to tell Gibbs why."
"Hmmm, no thanks. I hate making Jethro growl." The dog looked at him. "I do. He growls like you do. C'mere, grandkid." She hopped down and hopped into his lap. "Ooh, you're heavier than you look." He petted her anyway.
"She's part wolf."
"I'm surprised she didn't kill the person attacking Hagen."
"If it had been us she probably wold have," he admitted. "Xander would've had her attack without a second thought while he was drawing a gun." That got a smile. "He's great at what he does."
"He is," Lee agreed. "Wilkins is getting other agents into the problem list. He said he's gotten Taylor to help with his state's problems. They have a detective who can do it. They'll have a mass meeting in DC in a few weeks. He'll still be off then?"
"They're saying a month. Xander is saying a week before he sneaks back."
"Horatio won't let him."
"There's little things that need done. Things like that inventory that'll take a few days. This way no one has to stay late or rush casework." That got a nod. "The Chief agreed with him on that and Xander pouted that he had to go on comp time. The Chief quit complaining about him being hurt too. Wanted to give him a medal for saving Hagen's life."
"He threatened to. Made the Chief laugh. He agreed he'd hold off the medals this time. He learned why the rest of us appreciate Xander so much. Wilkins promised to make sure he made it back to work healthy, they could even work on his physical therapy while he was with them if he had to. Even the press liked him."
"Good. You do know he's up for the Public Service Award this year?"
Tony grimaced. "Gibbs has seven of those in my desk."
Lee smiled. "I heard you tell him it was his turn to pick up yours." He bopped him on the arm, getting a smile. "I saw Sheppard. She's about ready to cry."
"That was nice. Did you warn Gibbs?"
"I have, he said he'd start locking his doors." Tony smiled and nodded. "How's Ziva doing?"
"She's been a bit bored now and then. Kate treats her like a child." Lee nodded at that. "You could probably borrow her for the Mexico cruise. She's used to spy work."
"I'll ask Gibbs, see if he can spare her. I haven't worked with anyone from the Mossad in a while." He looked at the building next to them then back at his son-in-law. "Why did he put that there?"
"To put it off the pantry and not block anything but the neighbor's view. Plus to give us some shade."
"I guess it works. Kinda closes in the yard though."
"It helps though," he pointed out. "Even with it he was hiding some of the stuff in a Willow way." Lee snickered. "Stetler can see through the illusion wall, told Horatio how to get in, who told Gibbs. He let out this big, tired sigh of discontent." Lee snickered harder. "They're getting him to consider reducing some of it."
"I'm sure they are. They might even succeed but he's got his mother's stubborn nature."
"I've noticed that," Tony agreed with a smile.
"You should've seen her when she was in the field, Tony. She actually out-stubborned a kidnaper once. Made him walk off pouting and let her go." Tony had a giggle fit and the dog came back to cuddle him. "Be thankful Xander's not a daughter, it'd be worse. She gets it from her mother."
"His grandmother babied him when his arm was broken. Made him eat and everything."
"Yeah, and on the way home she spent a good day in Cleveland too. She did what Rupert should have done, spanked the hell out of those brats." Gibbs came out of the house. "Hey. Can I borrow Ziva for a mission?"
"Please. She could use the stress break. Where?"
"A cruise to Mexico for an information handover. Low threat of injury. Tony thought she might be bored."
"More stressed because she doesn't always understand the forensics." He sat down. "I came home to find a visitor."
Tony grinned at him. "Well, they've got one room, the brothers have the other, but you can have the tub, Gibbs."
"I'll take a couch, DiNozzo." Pretty barked at him. "Hey, dog. Comfy?" She got down and came to hop into his lap, getting petted. "Good girl." She doggy-smirked at Tony and got comfortable, letting him pet her wherever she wanted. "I still can't take you home, dog. I'm never there."
"Horatio said the same thing before his littermate refused to get out of the hummer one night," Tony said dryly, making Gibbs crack and smile. "When is Grandma getting here, Lee?"
"I'll hide in the office," Gibbs assured him. "I don't know what the attraction is but she and Ducky's mother have both hit on me."
"It's your charming nature," Lee said.
"They want you to cuff them and interrogate them, boss," Tony said with a grin. Gibbs smacked him on the head, making the dog bark. "See, she agrees."
"Xander, your boy is going odd again," Lee called.
Xander strolled out of the house in a pair of pajama pants. "Do you expect me to cure him?" he teased. "That would be noisy and then Mom would blush. She said so." He came out to sit in Tony's lap, getting comfortable. "How odd are you?"
"Your grandmother hit on Gibbs."
"Welcome to the family. She's very stubborn," Xander told him, getting his own swat. "Mom said that's where she gets the stubbornness to put up with Dad from."
"Take him and go rest," Lee ordered. Tony let out a wicked chuckle, standing up so he could walk Xander inside and make him a bit more sane again.
Jethro shook his head, going back to petting the dog. "Could be worse. Xander could be twin girls."
"That's worse," Lee agreed. "Thankfully Jamie gave Amanda the granddaughter so she has someone to dress up and coo with." Pretty barked. "She'd braid your hair if she could figure out how, dear. Don't worry about it." She settled in again.
Jethro shook his head. "I remember life before meeting Xander."
Lee sighed. "I said the same thing a few months ago about life before I met Amanda. Wouldn't trade it for the world."
"True," Jethro agreed, petting the dog again. They could stand some Xander insanity. Just not all at once. Then again, Tony could keep that down for them. That was a boyfriend's job. That and to keep track of the artillery.
Xander looked at the headlines the next morning, grimacing. He walked into Horatio's office, handing it to him. "Can I go visit Mac?"
Horatio looked at the paper then at his ballistics tech. "I didn't hear about that until afterward?"
"I was doing something for Wilkins and found it," he admitted sheepishly. He wrote down what he did. "That's the code to turn it off and how to break down the second timer. Peter down in Bomb Squad froze when I asked. Can I hide now?"
"Go hide in ballistics, Xander. Clean the guns. You can come back." Xander beamed and bounced down there. He was cleared for duty! Yes! Horatio read over the story again, then called Bomb Squad. "Tell me it was a ploy or a fake device?" he asked quietly. He held his forehead. "No, he's supposed to be on comp time for that shoulder shot. He was helping ATF." He nodded. "Agreed. Thank you. Let me know if we need to do anything with that." He hung up and put his head down, banging it once on the desk before he got up and went to intercept Calleigh. "He's hiding and cleaning the guns."
"That's fine. I know he's bored." He handed over the paper, making her stare and wobble. "Him?" she squeaked. He nodded. "Well, we can always handcuff him for the medal I guess."
"I'll run and hide," Xander said from ballistics. "Mom said I could have a couch for a few days."
Horatio gave him a look. "You are a credit to the lab, Xander. You'll draw others into the field."
"Then you'll have a lab full of kids just like me, Horatio."
Horatio shuddered and turned pale. "No, that's not a good thought, Xander. I'll find something that has to go to Mac." He went to do that, sending him a waning email. The lab would not survive with more than one Xander. Or even someone else trying to be Xander. The world might not survive there being more than one Xander. He realized he typed that in and erased it, summing up the problem by telling him to look up the story in the local papers. Then he sent it and found something that Mac could have. "Xander, how about another present?" he called.
"But, Horatio. My guns!" he complained.
"You do have those ones you don't want."
"Point. I'm still figuring out who Gozul is too." He shrugged, leaning into the office. "Are you going to help me weed them out again?"
"If you want." Xander grinned and nodded at the hall. "Right now?"
"Chief's here and there's cameras outside. I'm putting back on my sling." He ducked out, going to do that and duck out the morgue entrance, sneaking around to his car. He waved at the Chief before getting in and speeding off.
Horatio went out the front door, smiling at the Chief once he had his sunglasses on. "Sir."
"Was that Harris?" he muttered. Horatio nodded. He turned around so the cameras wouldn't catch what he was saying. "Medal?"
"He's going to be delivering something to a friend. He did point out that if you did that it would encourage more just like him to come to the lab."
The Chief went pale. "You'd kill me."
"Give him one but don't make him show up," he muttered. That got a nod and they walked down there to handle the press together.
"Lieutenant Caine, is it true one of your techs disarmed a nuclear device yesterday?" someone yelled.
"It is true. He was on assignment with the ATF since he's injured. He's consulting with them on some gunrunners. He does ask that you not hound him or else he'll run and never come back."
"Is he getting a medal, Chief?" another reporter called.
"We will be giving him one privately. He doesn't want to be publically acknowledged since some of his work does require some undercover assignments now and then. Before you ask, he's already escaped you today." They pouted at him. "Sorry but he's very clear he doesn't want attention."
"To consult and help the ATF now and then we do need him undercover," Horatio said. "Mostly he's a normal ballistics tech, ladies and gentlemen. He was in the right place at the right time. He's thankful he knew someone in Bomb Squad he could call on for help." They took that down. "Other than that, he's still consulting with the ATF until his recent injury is healed."
"How was he hurt?"
"He was hurt working to apprehend the agents who planned the raid on the FBI building," Horatio told them. "A sniper got him in the shoulder."
"I heard her was shot in your office," a blonde, female reporter called.
"CSI Harris was shot through my office window. He had been grazed earlier that day and I was checking on him." That got taken down as well. "His dog was also there because she had been hurt when someone broke into his house to get him, which led to the shooting of Detective Hagen." They smiled at that. "Fortunately that matter has been cleared and sent to the courts. Now, if you don't mind, we have work to do, ladies and gentlemen. Crime does not stop for your pleasure or mine." They backed off and he walked off. "Chief, meeting later?"
"Three," he agreed, waving at him. "Budget."
"I know." He smirked as he got into his hummer, heading off to hide and help Xander pick out what he was bringing to Mac. It was a good escape. He got there and found Xander staring at a small demon. "What is that?"
"Gozul. It loves me." He looked at him. "I think it's my clubbing problem gone odd, Horatio."
"Can you banish it without hurting it?"
"I'm trying to discourage it." He looked at him. "You can't have me, I belong to Tony. He'd get really pissed and stomp you, plus get Buffy down here. Neither of us need that." It pouted but nodded, disappearing in a pop of slime and a small dimple on the floor. "I hate to break his heart that way." He walked into the gun vault, finding another padded case. "Did you get cornered? I snuck around Alexx, making her snicker."
"I did but I told them to leave you alone, that you had to do undercover work."
"I'm not leaving the lab," he vowed. "I'm a nice, normal ballistics tech with a trace minor from here on out, Horatio. I swear."
Horatio smiled at him. "At least hide for a while, Xander." He gave him a gentle pat and they got to work sorting out the guns. "Where's Pretty?"
"Went home with John. Tony promised I could have another dog." Horatio snickered. "How's Bert?"
"Good. She's decided Speed's pillow is hers now. She doesn't mind her adopted pack as long as they keep me happy. During our last fight she growled at Eric until he apologized for being an ass."
"Good of her."
"Very. Speed laughed himself sick. Literally." Xander grinned at that, pulling down something. "I thought you liked that one." Xander pulled out the newer model, making him pick it up to look at. "That is much prettier."
"Isn't it?" He beamed and put that one back, laying the other one into the padded case, marking it off his inventory. "Well, at least I haven't heard from Mom yet."
"Making you wonder if she's got something worse?"
"No, I know she hasn't heard yet. Gibbs said he'd complain to Fornell later. I called Tony when I got the second timer dismantled. He handed the phone to Gibbs and walked off to pound his head into a wall. He was not a happy camper."
"I'd have done the same thing, Xander. You can fly or drive, your choice."
"I'll fly. It'll be safer. I'd hate to be mugged for them and have to prove what I can do to some other lab." Horatio laughed, leaning on the work bench. "Hey, not nice," he complained.
"They'd ship you back, Xander. I did warn Mac that you're coming."
"That's fine. As long as it won't make him mad if I hide up there for two days. I need some more of the special bubble bath I found up there anyway." Horatio smiled, handing him over another one but Xander put that one back. "The one behind it." He handed that one over instead. That one got marked off and they finished filling the trunk. Then Horatio drove him to the airport so he could run away and hide.
Mac met Xander at the gate, giving him a look over. "No radiation poisoning?"
"No, I only had to dismantle the second timer."
"Good job. Bags?"
"One, for you." He beamed. "I'm hiding."
"Good. Come on, Xander." He walked him off, letting him get the case from security. He looked at it and smiled. "More toys?"
"More toys," he agreed. "How's Don and Stella?"
"They're doing okay," he said, taking one handle to help him carry it outside to the official SUV. "Not as nice as your hummers."
"You guys don't have Everglades up here."
"True, we're purely city crimes," he agreed happily. "I can't imagine what Stella would yell at the alligators if one tried to eat her."
"Ducky yelled at the last one. I never knew he knew that demon language." He climbed into the passenger's side, letting Mac get the back gate and climb in to drive. "I need to stay near Ellory's. I have to hit that bath shop again."
"I know a good place near there. Do you have a budget?"
"Tony took me clubbing last week and some ladies got hot from us making out in a back corner. I'm blowing that wad."
"Okay." He pulled into traffic, heading to let him check in. Then they took the trunk to the lab. They walked it in together. Xander got signed in and they headed down to Trace. Stella saw him and opened her mouth. "He's hiding."
"Because I was helping ATF and we ran into a nuclear bomb. I had to dismantle the secondary timer. The press is rabid down there so I'm hiding," Xander finished with a bright smile. "And giving over more of my exemplar."
"Nuclear?" she said faintly. He nodded. "Uh-huh." She walked off, going to call Don and tell him Xander was back. He groaned when she told him why. So it wasn't just her. She heard the squeal and looked at ballistics, smiling at the happy bouncing the techs were doing with each other. "Boys with guns," she muttered, hanging up and going back to work before her headache got worse.