Ballistics in Trouble.

Xander looked over at the couple arguing next to where he was looking for a new book for his next bored time at work.  Then he shook his head.   "Get one of the blue covered ones, I always liked them," he noted dryly, looking at them again.

"You're buying a romance novel?" the man asked, looking disgusted.

"I was raised by girls. Three girls actually."  He grinned.  "It gives me a unique perspective of the gender war.  The blue covers."

"See, it's guys like that who make me fight so hard for our son to never go to that prep school," the husband complained.  He looked at Xander. "What do you do for a living?"

"You're a hairdresser or something, right?" the wife asked.

Xander gave them both his most wicked grin "I'm a ballistics criminalist with the local PD."  Then he chuckled at the shocked looks.  "I get to play with guns all day long for fun and profit.  I also have a demolitions license and I'm on call for SWAT."

"Maybe that school isn't that bad of an idea," the mother said quietly.  "Is it hard to do what you do?"

"A degree in science.  The academy if he wants to go into the field.  Nothing too horrible," he promised.  "Being a tech pays well too.  Chicago starts at twenty-eight a year for field techs and mine started at fifty because I'm a lab tech with specialities."

"Science degree?" the father asked, looking really interested.  "Can he get it here?"

"Yeah, there's a sub-track at the university.  I went to UCLA.  I know Marshall University has one too.  There's about ten *really* good programs and it's no harder to get into than a regular science degree."

"Give me the money now!" someone yelled.

Xander looked around the edge of the bookshelves they were standing in front of and groaned.  "Stay here, duck if you hear a loud noise," he said quietly, unholstering his weapon and sneaking forward.  He made 'stall' motions at the cashier, glancing around. He didn't see any other people with guns and masks like that guy did.  He unholstered his weapon and walked closer.  He walked right up behind him.  "You're holding up the line, would you mind moving faster?" he asked politely.  The man turned, pointing his gun at him.  Xander waved his.  "I can fire off three-to-four shots before you can with that, especially since yours isn't cocked. Now, you can do the *nice* thing and give up so I can go back to picking out a romance novel for when I'm bored later or should I pull out my new badge and handcuffs?"  He gave the guy his most 'interested' look.  "Time's ticking, junior."

"Who are you!" he yelled, moving his gun further up.  Xander's gun came up and was pressed into the guy's forehead.  The guy wet himself and dropped the gun, raising his hands.  "I'm sorry!" he begged. "I'm so sorry!"

"Good.  Turn around.  Hands on the counter."  The guy nodded and did so, still crying.  He shook his head and put up his weapon, pulling out the cuffs he had been allowed to carry for all of three weeks now.  He patted him down once he was cuffed and grabbed the phone across the desk, dialing dispatch.  "Hey, Sheila, it's Harris.  Someone just interrupted my search for a book with a shotgun at the mall.  Yeah, there.  Please.  Need a car.  I've got him in cuffs and he's crying.  I'll wait outside with him.  Thanks, babe."  He hung up and smiled at the cashier.  "It's all right.  He's not all that bright," he said with a wink, taking him outside.  He came back for the gun, then walked back outside since the guy was sitting on the planter trying to stop crying.  He waved the cop car closer, waving the gun.  "Here, have fun with that," he said with a grin.

"I'm sure Morgan's going to be really impressed with you making her more work, Harris," he said sarcastically.

"I'll be the cute little boy I can be," he said happily.   "She'll forgive me.  All I was doing was finding a new book to read. Not like I planned it."

"Freeze!" someone shouted.

Xander looked at the guy in the light brown uniform pointing a stun gun at them.  "Dude, we're cops," he said patiently, showing his badge.

"I said freeze!"

Xander and the cop shared an amused look.  The cop looked at him and pointed at his car.  "Sir, officer, this is a police car.  I am a member of the CPD.  CSI Harris here is one of our top ballistics people.  Now, put the stun gun down before I have to arrest you too!"

"Verga!" Xander shouted, catching sight of him.  He looked at the cop, and shrugged a bit.  "Sorry, he hates me, but he's backup."  He looked at the older guy who ran the precinct that headed over the mall.  "Captain Verga, unfortunately I had to arrest someone who was trying to hold up a cashier in the bookstore."

"Morgan's going to kill you," he said dryly.  The cop and Xander both pointed at the security guard.  He looked at the guy and pulled out his badge.  "Put it down, officer!" he ordered when the guy didn't respond.  "Now!"  The officer swallowed and put away his stun gun.  "Thank you!"  He looked at Harris.  "I'm telling Morgan you're giving her more work."

"I'd offer to take it but I can't since I was there," Xander offered dryly.  "Have her call to cuss me out later.  I'll have my new romance novel."

"You read romance novels?" the security guard asked, looking horrified.

"My husband said I can't read fantasy novels anymore.  I get odd ideas," he said with a grin.  Verga snickered and nodded.  "Send Welsh any paperwork and I'll do it before I start on my new book.  For now, I'm headed to find it."  He waved and headed inside.  The cashier smiled at him.  "That's part of the job, ma'am.  Got a good recommendation for a romance novel?"

"One of the ones in the pink or the purple covers.  It's smutty but usually has a better plot."

"Thanks," he said with a grin, heading for that section. He found the books he wanted and picked two, then headed back to check out.  The manager came out to speak to him.  "It's what I do," he reminded him when he smiled.  "I'm a good CSI."

"I can tell, sir.  Which one are you?"

"Harris."  He suddenly chuckled and Xander nodded. "Indeed," he said dryly.  He waved his books.  "I need to do this so I have time to pick up lunch before work."

"Of course."  He checked him out, giving him a ten percent discount with a wink.  Xander grinned and headed off to his car. He made it through the drive-thru and back to the office before anything else happened.  He walked in and found a woman in jeans and a tight t- shirt tapping her booted foot with her arms crossed.  "Hi, Morgan."  He kissed her on the cheek.  "I'm sorry I added a shotgun but at least he didn't fire it."

"Xander, I'm already backed up!" she complained. "I'm over a day behind!"

"I'll come help," he promised. "I've got to do the paperwork for that hold up anyway."  She hugged him with a muted squeal.  "Go clear it with Mort."  She nodded, heading to do that. He rolled his eyes and headed into the lab, putting down his books and stealing a kiss from his husband.  "Morgan needs some help and I'm still workless here."  He stole a second kiss and grabbed some stuff to pack a traveling case.  Then he walked out to lean on the main table.  "Am I?"

"Of course," Mort said with a small smile.  "Get her caught up, Xander.  Then come back here.  By then we might have some work for you to do."

"They all moved to my neighborhoods," Morgan said bitterly.  "We've had more gang crap in the last two weeks than we have in the last two months nearly."  She tugged on Xander's arm.  "Come on, happy boy.  I've got stuff without your name on it."

"Sure.  Be back soon, Mort."  He headed off, smiling at her when she got into her car.  "I can follow."

"Oh, get in!  I'll drive you back or you can call your mate," she complained.  He nodded and got in with her, buckling up.  Native Chicagoans drove like maniacs.  He always buckled up when he rode with them.  She sped out of the yard, heading back to Region Three.


David came out of Trace around lunch, frowning at their boss and Greg since he was coming out too.  "Is Xander still gone?"

"Apparently," Greg said dryly.  They went out to the main table.  "Are we ordering from anywhere specific?" he asked the other gathered people.  The Chinese menu was handed over to him.  He wrote down his order and handed it to David. "Any word from Xan?"

"Is he in the field?" Tracy, their shift's top field tech asked.

"No, he's with Morgan in Region Three helping her with her backlog," David said, writing down his order, then checking his wallet and crossing something off.  He handed it to the person who handed them the menu, letting them put in the order.  He looked at the doorway, expecting Xander to show up since they were talking about food.  He shrugged a few minutes later and relaxed.  "I'm sure he's fine."

"He's got to be fine," Greg agreed.  "He's a Xander, he's fine."  He clapped him on the back.  "Besides, now you don't have to listen to him babbling about his newest geeky book."

"No, I took away his geeky books for the week," David said dryly.  "He's back to reading romances since he was having so many funny ideas.  He wanted to come to work dressed like an Elf Lord for Halloween."  Greg snickered.  "He did!  He came to bed wearing pointy ears.  I locked the book cabinet on him and told him he had a week to get the funny ideas out of his head this time.  Next time I might be more lenient but not this week."  They heard some shouting and he groaned.  "Please tell me we don't have a riot without Xander being here," he moaned.

"Nope," Greg said.  "If it was us, we'd be hearing the siren from the desk."

"Point," David agreed, getting up and heading upstairs.  The desk sergeant gave him a hopeful look.  "Xan's in Region Three."

"That's good, they just had some wacked out junkie take a gun off a traffic guy."  He shrugged.  "I'm sure he'll be fine."

"The reason for the shouting?"

"The Mayor's coming with a camera crew."

"Shit," he muttered, heading down there.  "The Mayor's coming with his press ho's!" he yelled.

"Clean your labs to make sure everything's done," Greg ordered.  Everyone groaned and got up, heading to do their thing and get ready for the inspection of idiots.  When the food came, he came out to get his and David's, putting them in the fridge.  They'd be eating in a few minutes, once the Mayor was gone. The mayor came in and Greg nodded politely at him.  "Mort's in with a body."

"Can we look in on him?" one of the camera guys asked, heading that way.

Greg got in his way.  "Do it and we'll make sure yours and your family's is taped too," he said coldly.  "That's disrespectful of the victims and their families."  The cameraman shrunk back and he glared at him.  Then he stuck his head in. "Mort, the Mayor and his press buddies are here."

"I'll be out within ten minutes, Gregory.  Make sure they're comfortable."

Greg came back out, looking at the Mayor. "He said about ten minutes, Mayor.  Did you want to start upstairs and then come back?"

"No, that's okay.  I wanted to know what all this fascinating stuff actually is," he said with a smile.  It was election year.  He was supposed to be a 'Law and Order' sort of mayor.  Unfortunately he only knew what he'd seen on Law and Order.

"Well, I'm in the DNA lab today if you wanted to join me. You'll have to put on gloves and hair covers."  The mayor smiled and did as he said, which made him look like an idiot, but that was really the point. He looked in the lab and groaned.  "Hold on.  Rookie intern."  He walked in and shut the door. "That had better not be a soda on the worktable," he said coolly.  "Especially not with the press here."

"I'm swabbing it," she said with a smile, pulling out a swab. "It's a good demonstration and I'll drink it later."

"Fine."  He opened the door.  "This is our intern, Melissa.  She's swabbing the soda bottle for DNA traces."  He pointed at the machine.  "Once she's got the swab done, she'll prepare it for analysis, then stick it into that machine," he said, pointing it out.  "I've got one that should be about done," he said, checking the sample he had started before lunch to marinade and soak.  He pulled on his gloves, double gloving.

"Isn't that wasteful of gloves?" the mayor asked.

"Actually, it's protocol," Greg explained.  "We don't want anything of mine to contaminate a sample that could rule out a murder or a rapist or someone," he told him.  "This keeps down my accidental contamination."  He picked up a suction device and pulled out some of the liquid, putting it into a testing pip.  He closed it and put it into the machine, turning it on.  He pressed the button and grinned.  "That's all I do and then the machine runs the sample, so I collect the report."

"Can't you wait to run both?" one of the reporters asked.

"No.  That would tell the machine to sample them against each other.  That's the way the machines are programmed.  It's not that much different, it is very energy efficient and it keeps us from mixing up samples, which could create a real tragedy."  He looked at his intern.  "Cut half that and save the rest," he reminded her.  She nodded and did as ordered, smiling when it was as ordered.  "Good job!"  He smiled at the reporters.  "Melissa is doing her in-school internship.  That's eight weeks in her senior year.  After she graduates, she'll have a year internship...where, Melissa?"

"I've applied for Detroit and I'm one of the last candidates there and Toronto," she said happily.  "I'd be more than happy to take either one.  They're both excellent departments."

"Did Thatcher suggest you?" the Mayor asked.  "I heard the Inspector is a very nice lady and she can probably talk to Toronto for you."

"She's the one who handed me the listings of the departments when I asked.  She and Constable Turnbull have been fantastic.  I've thought about staying if I got Toronto.  They've got a very nice set of benefits and Toronto is a very pretty city."

"I hear it is," the Mayor agreed.  "Didn't you want to come back here, young lady?"

"No.  I want to see different cities and different working styles.  Greg's great and so is Mortty, but I'd like to do a bit of traveling and see how other departments work.  The Toronto posting is with the RCMP unit there and it's supposed to be a lot more rigid and a much different environment."  She smiled at him.  "I like rigid environments.  Greg's a slavedriver but I'm a military brat."

"I understand," one of the reporters admitted, smiling at her.  "So was my mom."  Melissa grinned at her.  The machine beeped and Greg pulled out the report.  "That's all there is?"

"Then I evaluate it in context of the case and the other evidence and give whichever officer is working on the case my conclusions."

"Oh.  Interesting.  What does that one say?"

Greg looked at it and put it face down.  "It says that unfortunately the officer is going to need a few more suspects and people to test that sample again.  It didn't match any samples we already have."

"Does it go through that FBI database as well?" one of the cameraman asked.

"CODIS?" Greg asked.  "I can run it that way but I'll have to put it into the system by markers.  There's no way for us to merge the machine with the database due to FBI restrictions on it.  They won't allow us to.  Even then, it wouldn't save too much time.  The machine and the database work on two different operating systems by design of the FBI."

"Why?" one reporter asked.  "It seems counterproductive."

"It is," Greg admitted.  "But not as much as you think.  It's easier to input it, it only takes a few sections.  It also keeps contamination and any hackers out of the system.  I think that was their main reason.  That and to make sure only those with credentials have access to input and search records.  Privacy stuff ya know."

David stuck his head in.  "Xander struck again.  The junkie tried to shoot Morgan and he knocked the kid out.  He's fine.  They took him to the ER because he had a blood pressure spike.  Mort's not in his office or the lab.  I'm heading."

"Go," Greg assured him. "I'll let Mort know and watch your lab."  David nodded and headed off.  "Sorry, his husband's had a few blood pressure spikes over the last year.  I'm guessing he got really upset at the junkie trying to take on the Region Three office today."

The mayor coughed.  "His *husband*?"

"Yes, his husband," Greg said firmly, glaring at him.  The man actually took a step back.  "Xander and David are two of the top techs in this lab with myself and Morty behind them.  Do you remember that manpower problem?"  He nodded quickly.  "Xander *was* this lab then.  He's liaisoned with the FBI, SWAT, and other agencies and departments on cases.  He's our ballistics tech."

"I remember him," the mayor admitted.  "He seemed very nice. Is his health in danger?"

"No.  Not since they found out he was having the blood pressure problems.  They're being paranoid and Xander will be back as soon as he's done. He hates being fussed over."  He looked at Melissa, then at the reporters.  "Don't include that."

"We won't.  That's too private," the cameraman assured him.  He looked behind him, getting away from the door.  "Sorry, a new case?"

"No, that's Mort, he's our boss and the coroner for this shift."  He handed over his report.  "Did you see David?"

"I did," he sighed. "I'm sure they'll be back quickly.  I wonder what the idiot said to piss him off that way."

"He probably said something about the job," he said dryly.

"Gentlemen, and lady, if you'll follow me I'll gladly show you around our lab.  We only remodeled about a year and a half ago."  He led them out, heading to Xander's lab.  "This is ballistics."

"Is this where CSI Harris works?" the female reporter asked, looking around.  She noted the bag from the bookstore and smiled.  "I heard he had helped arrest someone earlier for trying to rob that bookstore."  She peeked inside then shook her head.  "I never imagined him to read those sort of books."

Greg leaned in.  "David made him give up fantasy novels for a week," he said dryly, smirking a bit.  "He hates mysteries since he does it here at work and thinks westerns are all factually and historically incorrect due to some accounts by his late grandfather.  I'm going into the field if anyone wants to follow myself and CSI Tracey."  A few of them went with him.  "Right this way, guys."  He nodded at Tracey, who only shook his head and took the keys.  "Can't I drive?"

"No, Greg. You still drive like you're in Vegas.  You can't drive with me in the car until you drive like a native.  Too fast and running red lights."  He led them out to the car and pointed at it.  "We're taking this one.  You can follow, but respect any area we tell you not to go near yet."  They both nodded, understanding that they could screw something up.  He got into the car and looked at Greg before starting the engine.  "Why?"

"Because there were eight of them and the mayor was going to go off on Xander and David."

"Ah. Okay then."  He started the car and backed out, heading to their scene.  "Xander will be happy, there's a gun involved."

"Morgan might still have him co-opted," Greg pointed out.  "She's backed up with that gang turf ward in her 'hoods."

"Point."  He groaned and changed lanes, heading out to the further districts of their range.


Xander walked into the office and stopped when he noticed everyone staring at him.  "I'm fine!  My shirt's in my locker.  I'll put one on in a minute."

"Where did your last shirt go?" the desk sergeant asked.

"The paramedic cut it off.  He thought I was having a heart attack this time," he said with a sweet grin.  They all shuddered.  "The junkie is now detoxed and going straight."  David walked in after him.  "I need to hit my locker."

"Sure.  I'll make sure the press is gone."  He watched his husband go then shuddered.  "They got into a discussion about being gay and it being natural, right, and healthy for a body.  Then the junkie started to tell him alllll about how he raped little kids for cash for an internet site.  That's why he nearly had the stroke this time.  Holding himself back."  They all nodded and got back to work.  "The press?"

"Upstairs watching Huey type," the desk sergeant noted.

"'Kay," he sighed, heading down.  "Mort, we're back!"

"That's fine, David.  How is he?"

"Getting a shirt since the paramedics cut his off him.  He had to hold himself back from not killing the junkie who was raping kids for the 'net for profit and drugs."

"Ah."  Mort nodded.  "Can we corroborate?"

"Yup.  While they were chatting, one of the field techs was checking the system.  Six were fed cases, one was local that he mentioned.  Two weren't in the system ...yet."  He smirked.  "He held himself off for nearly an hour from beating his head in to get all the information he could."

"I'm proud of the boy," their boss said with a fond smile.  "David, I still haven't found an assistant yet."

"Oh, please," he begged.  "He'll go spastic, like Sarah during the last blizzard."  Xander walked in.  "Xander, don't get more upset, but he hasn't found an assistant yet."

"I know.  His last one didn't pass the drug test."  He grimaced at his boss.  "You know I'll help, Mort."

"Yes, but you'll become overworked and overstressed and I don't want to do that to you, Xander."

"Yay," he said dryly.  "I do okay so far."

"Yes, but by the time I got back from my vacation you seemed to be missing some chunks of hair."

"That was the strippers having a fight," he defended, frowning at him, hands on his hips.

"Still," he said, staring the young man down.  "I'd rather have you as second."

"Then you'd better get us someone who can do the paperwork," David suggested.  "A cop?"

"Please don't pick Ray," Xander pleaded.  "Please!"

"It is a thought and he's next up for a raise," Mort admitted patiently.  "He's done the job before you came, Xander."

"Yeah, but he'll boot camp us or something."

Mort smiled and shook his head.  "Not hardly.  He's got a different management style but I'm sure you can work with him. You do that quite a lot anyway.   He won't yell as much at you."  Xander gave him his most pathetic look.  "Can we try it for a few days, Xander?"

"If we have to," he whined, looking upset.  "Mort!" he whined.

"Xander," he said more firmly.  "It's like working with Detective Brass when he ran the lab."

"I wasn't there then.  Ecklie was running it when I was there.  I made him have a heart attack."

"Yes, but Ray's more used to you," Mort reminded him.  "I can find another ME candidate easily but a good administrator is harder to find, and while Ray doesn't like doing paperwork, he managed to get the majority done the last time he subbed for me."

"Fine," Xander agreed, still frowning. "But I'm second in case anything bad happens."

"That's fine, Xander," he promised, smiling at him.  "Besides, this will allow him to help you mold the next generation of CSIs."

David shuddered.  "That's a horrible thought, Mort."

"Yes, well," he sighed. "Someone must.  Xander does all right but sometimes they need a more fatherly hand and Ray is very good at that.  Shall I approach Lieutenant Welsh about it today?"

"Fine," Xander agreed, still looking upset.  "You make sure he knows nothing is going to change between us and the first time he hollers at me like he does Stan I'm kicking his ass."  He went back to his lab.  "Who touched my books!"

"One of the reporters," David called. "Greg told me she was surprised but he told her about how I banned you from fantasy novels for a week."  He rolled his eyes.  "Thank you," he mouthed, heading back to his lab to get to work.  He found the overnight person in early.  "Bored?"

"Overtime," he said with a grin.  "I wanted to get some in before my vacation next month.  Some extra spending money to use and all that."  He nodded next door.  "How is he?"

"He's fine.  He was holding himself off from beating the idiot over there."  He looked around, then at him.  "Are we caught up?"

"Yup," he said happily.  "I stole half of your moo shoo since I figured Xander probably fed you."

"That's fine," he said lightly, staring him down.  The other tech grinned.  "I'll eat most of what I got Xander anyway."  He went to the fridge to get their lunches, dishing out Xander's for him and stealing the rest.  His mate gave him a hurt look so he fed him a bite of chicken.  "Tony stole half of mine."

"Sure."  He stole a kiss and they sat down to eat together.  "I wonder if Sarah's napping or doing Oprah again."

"Probably napping in front of her show," Mort offered with a grin.  "She is a very cute puppy, Xander."

"Does that mean she was shedding?"

"No.  Just an observation."

"So, where are you heading to work after here, Mort?  Somewhere warmer or colder?"

"Ah, warm weather.  I've taken a position in Cancun, Mexico.  I'll be leaving a month before they retire me to use up the last of my paid leave, that way I have time to move before my official new job starts.  I'll have access to some very pretty people all along the beaches.  I can stare all I want and no one will say a thing."  He smiled at them.  "It was my most inspired move yet, getting old."  He went back into his office.  "Melissa, are you busy, dear?"

"No, Mort.  Need me to come type?" she called, walking out her previous sample to finish drinking it while helping their poor, unable to type boss.

"He's so naughty," Xander said with a grin, taking a bite of his dinner.  "You're either buying or fixing a feast, dear.  I'm starved."

"Taco Bell?"

"Um, real food.  I'm in the mood for real meat."

"Steak place?"

"Sounds good," Xander agreed happily.  He looked at him.  "Should we warn Ray?"

David shook his head.  "Not a chance," he said dryly.  "I'm not getting anywhere near Ray until he's finished yelling."  He ate another bite.  "You're right, I'm really hungry."  He continued to eat, stuffing himself full.  They could split a good steak dinner later. That way he was sure Xander would eat vegetables beyond mashed potatoes.


Xander peeked into the office he had been summoned to, grinning at the secretary.  "He yelled?"

"He did, CSI Harris," she assured him with a smile.  "I'm sure it's nothing bad.  There's a reporter."

"Uh-huh."  Xander stepped in.  "I don't want a medal.  I refuse to be awarded for being my smart-ass self," he said quietly.  "You can tell him I said that and that I had a sudden case."  He turned and fled, calling Tracey on the way.  "Give me something in the field," he demanded.  "No, they're trying to either give me a medal or fire me in front of the press."  He smiled.  "Sure.  Ten-twelve, right?  Gotcha."  He headed there, making sure his siren was on the whole way so he didn't get a ticket.  He had the worst luck with that.  He'd have to banish whoever Anya was sucking up to in Traffic again.  Or her ghost maybe, one of the two.  By the time he got back, there were people waiting on him.  He got out of his car, noticing Fraser was at the door.  That tipped him off and he started to get back in but a cold, vise-like grip got the back of his neck.  "Ow!  Meany!  Let go!" he complained, struggling a bit.  The hand squeezed and he swatted back at them.  He knew who it was.  Their backup ME was the only guy big enough in the whole precinct to catch him this way. "Let go!  I don't want a reward and if I'm going to be fired it's not in front of the press!" he growled.

"Oh, shut up, Xander," he complained, dragging him into the locker room.  He stared at the few cops, who all quickly left.  Then he locked the door.  "Why don't you want awarded?  Getting awards and rewards is supposed to be a good thing. It's supposed to motivate you and others."

"So!  I don't want any!  I don't need any!  It's not like I do what I do for rewards!"

"Fine," he agreed. "Get it anyway.  It'll encourage all the other cops around here, including the few going to college to come help in the labs.  We want them to keep going and to make good on all the tuition we've paid for them.  We need you to show them that you can be heroic and good while still being in the lab.  Okay?"  Xander shook his head.  "Did you *never* get a reward for doing good stuff?  Even the stuff you *used* to do?"  Xander shook his head.  "Why not?"

"Because they undervalued me horribly and thought I was useless.  Usually I got yelled at."

"Well, this time we're giving you a certificate and I'll let David yell at you if it'll make you feel better.  Just smile, nod politely, and shake the Chief of Police's hand, Xander. That's all you have to do. No speeches or anything.  You can even donate it to The Wall if you want."  Xander slumped and nodded.  "Now, let's go.  Straighten yourself out.  What was that call anyway?"

"A domestic.  I've got the stuff in the car but I wrenched my shoulder so I was going to let someone else carry it in for me."  He gave him the pitiful look. "Must I?"

"Yes, Xander.  It's good for your career and for David's career.  You know it'll look good on you both and he's very concerned about those things.  It'll make him happy."

"Fine.  I'll make David happy by taking the stupid award," he sighed.  The ME smiled at him.  "As long as you go get the crap outta the trunk."

"Fine.  What is it in?"

"Paper bags.  My case too please.  I need to refill a few things."  He nodded, unlocking the door and letting Xander out.  Xander stopped to straighten himself out, he didn't want to embarrass his husband. David was very concerned about his career and he was also concerned about Xander's career.  He smoothed down his hair and walked down the stairs, pasting on the most happy smile he could muster.  He looked at his boss.  "Scott's bringing in the evidence.  I wrenched my shoulder.  It was a domestic.  Mother on daughter."

"That's fine, Xander. Did you want some tylenol?" Mort asked.  Xander nodded so he got him some and a soda, smiling at him.  "They're waiting in your office, Xander.  Play nicely."

"I don't want to embarrass David," he muttered, heading back to his lab, making sure his hair was smooth.  He walked into David's office, giving him a 'help me' look.  David smiled and blew a kiss, nodding at the door.  Xander nodded and opened the connecting doors, then shut it and stole a kiss.  "I'm only doing this for you, otherwise you wouldn't see me for two weeks," he whispered, then stole another kiss and walked over there.  His soda went onto his coaster on his desk and he looked at the old men in there.  "Evening, Chief."

"CSI Harris," he said fondly, shaking his hand.  "Thank you for coming back."

Xander shrugged.  "I go where I'm needed.  There was a domestic that needed my strength."

"I'm sure you'll be fair on that case.  Now, let's do this so you can get back to work?" he suggested.

Xander nodded. "Please.  I need to help Morgan in Region Three since she's a bit backed up and I'm not at the moment."

"That's fine. I understand.  Do you think a bit of internship help might help her?"

Xander shrugged. "I don't know, ask her. I know I like teaching interns and getting them straightened out and working right.  I've had two now.  One each semester since I hijacked Crissy's."

The Chief smiled and nodded.  "I heard about that.  He said you were quite tough on him when he complained about you."  Xander just beamed.  "Then again, he also said he was fully trained and his teachers gave him quite good marks.  We're proud of how you ride them when you have to."  He clapped him on the arm.  "Let's do this so you can call Morgan with me."  He smiled at the press.  "CSI Harris has been instrumental in helping this department.  He's done many things I haven't even heard about, at least until the Mayor came today and CSI Sanders told him about it."

"What has he done?" one of the reporters asked, pushing a microphone in their faces.

"He's helped the FBI on a few cases, he commonly works with our Rapid Response unit.  He's added in some construction experience on some cases that needed it.  Xander has been instrumental in making this section of our CSI department stronger.  He's someone that our officers looking to move up the ladder of command look up to now and then.  He's even taken it upon himself to counsel some of the officers after their first shooting if the department's counselors weren't readily available at that moment."  Xander nodded.  The Chief smiled at him.  "Lieutenant Welsh, who commands this precinct and unit, says he's one of the best investments we've ever made around here."

"CSI Harris, where were you trained?" the reporter asked.

"I did my education at UCLA and my post-graduation internship in Las Vegas, under Gil Grissom."  That got a smile.  He smiled at the Chief, silently telling him to get on with it.  The man winked at him and Xander had the feeling that something bad was going to happen because of this.  Any minute now someone would walk in and start crap about how he wasn't good and he wasn't worthy of this.  He swallowed and looked around his lab, then back at his boss again.

"We should probably get on with this. I'm sure we've embarrassed poor CSI Harris enough."  He pulled out a certificate and handed it to him with a smile.  "It really should be a medal for bravery for some of the situations you've handled, like the bomb here at the precinct a few months back and those things, but we don't really have one for this sort of bravery.  So the certificate will have to do."  The door opened and he noticed the boy flinched a bit.  He just smiled at Welsh.  "Ah, you're done?"

"For now," he admitted, handing him some folded paperwork.  "Since you're here, I'll save on mail costs."  He smiled at Xander.  "You do good work, kid."

"Thanks, Lieu, it means a lot to hear you say it," he said with an honest grin.  He took his certificate and the flashbulb went off.  "Thank you, Chief, for honoring me this way."  He smiled at him and the Chief smiled back, understanding very well that the boy hadn't wanted this.  "So, I take it I get more interns?"

"Of course!  You do good work with them," he said happily, clapping him on the back again.  "Come on, people, let's let him get back to work.  I'll be back in a few minutes, Harris."  He nodded and they retreated so he could make a better statement for the media.

Xander looked at the certificate and put it down carefully, then looked around before moaning and shaking his head.  "Something bad will happen because of this," he moaned quietly.  "Either I'll get another case that'll put me back in the limelight or my former friends will show up.  Something catastrophic."

"If they show up, I'm going to make sure they leave as soon as humanly possible," David assured him from the doorway joining their labs.   He walked in and hugged him, taking the certificate to hang up.  "Good boy.  I'm proud of you," he whispered.  "Thank you."  Xander nodded and sighed, giving him the same pitiful look.  "You'll get rewarded later," he offered with a grin.

"Sure.  It means more that you and Welsh think I do good anyway," he said dryly.  The Chief came back and Xander looked panicked.  "They didn't hear, right?"  He shook his head, closing the door.  "Oh, good."  He relaxed then glared at the Chief.  "I hate you for doing that to me!  I don't want rewards or awards and especially not medals!  I don't need 'em!"

"No, but it means more to the other officers.  It's moral boosting, Harris.  It gives them a reason to be like you."

Welsh suddenly moaned and held his head.  "I just had a vision of a whole force full of Xander's," he complained, rubbing his forehead.  "Please, don't encourage that, boss."

He snickered.  "I wouldn't think of it.  One or two is usually more than enough.  His uniqueness is what makes him such a good CSI and such a strong figurehead for those around him. By the way, I didn't mention you, David.  I wasn't sure you'd want me to."  David shrugged and nodded.  "Now, what's wrong with Region Three?"

"Morgan's had a bunch of gang warfare shootings," Xander told him.  "I was there earlier."

"I heard about the junkie.  Nice work.  That's why you got the certificate, for not beating him."  He clapped him on the back again.  "Let's call Morgan, see what I can do to help her."

"There's the cop upstairs who's doing his training in ballistics," David offered.

"I hadn't heard about that.  Who?"

"Prestons," Xander told him.  "I talk with him about his training now and then, make sure he's keeping up and understanding it all.  He seems to have a pretty good feel for it."  He picked up his phone and dialed Morgan, putting it on the speaker.

"Santa's warehouse," she answered with a snarl.

"Hey, me."

"What?" she whined.  "I'm busy, Xander!  You abandoned me."

"Well, how would you like some help?" the Chief asked.

"Aw, shit, warn me next time!"

"It was just on the news," David assured her.

"Oh, fun.  I'm going to skin you, Xander."

"Stand in line," he said dryly.

"CSI Hervanes, we've got an officer here who's in training to do ballistics, could that help you any?"


"Prestons," Xander told her.  "Nice enough guy.  He's in the second semester.  He's been a cop for years now.  He can at least do the test fires while you search."

"If you weren't gayer than my leather pants, I'd kiss you, man.  Please, send him!  Keep Xander there, my boss said he drew the wacko earlier.  You okay now?"

"Fine. My blood pressure came down after about an hour in the ER, I walked out.  I had lunch.  I got ambushed for an award and ran to do a domestic instead.  I came back and they were lying in wait for me, trapping me in my office."

"Ooh, you poor baby. Did you take one for the team?"

"Yes, and he only looked a little bit panicked," the Chief said blandly, looking at Xander.  "Thank you for that.  You did well enough for your first time.  Next time it'll be a real medal ceremony, with uniforms and all."

"That means I'd have to own one."

"Good point."  He smirked at him.  "You're worried someone will come in and decry you?"  He nodded quickly.  "I'd have stopped them.  We can't have the bad press, Xander."  He smiled at the phone.  "Did you want Prestons?"

"Please!  I'll beg!" she moaned.

"Sure, let me find him," Welsh agreed.  "Tonight?"

"I'll cook!  I'll eat Xander's cooking!" she pleaded.

"Damn, you are desperate," David said dryly. Xander glared at him.  "That is, dear."

"Guys, play later," she complained.  "Murphy just brought me in a *case*."

"I'll find him as soon as I can," Welsh said calmly.  "Hold on.  Need Xander back?"

"No, just Prestons.  I can boss him around.  Thank you!"  She hung up.

Xander called her back. "One last question, oh great one.  Interns later on?"

"I'd kill you, Xander.  You can have all the newbies. You're good at straightening out he idiots.  They're alllllllll yours, babe."  She hung up again.

The Chief nodded.  "Sure.  I like that idea.  Do you have candidates?"

"I was making sure we could," Welsh told him. "I'll send a notice to the local school tomorrow."  The Chief smiled. "You're sure you can handle it?" he asked Xander.

"I'm fine," he said patiently.  "My blood pressure is normal and I'm good."

"Fine," Welsh agreed with a smile.  "Any new news?"

"Mort wants Ray."

"Ooooh, I'll stock up on pain killers," Welsh said, shaking his head and grimacing.  "With you still as second?"  Xander nodded. "Can you handle that?"

"That depends on Ray."

"Point.  Okay, I'll warn him he might be filling in again."  He walked off rubbing his head.   He did remember to stop at the desk.  "Find me Prestons, he's needed in Region Three to help in Ballistics."

The sergeant looked at him.  "Prestons?"

"He's taking the extra classes?" Welsh prompted.  He looked at him. "You're not native to here, are you?"  He shook his head. "Fine. Where's Kennedy?"

"Childbirth.  His wife's having her twins."

"Ah."  He nodded, heading into the briefing room. There was always someone on break in there.  "Someone find me Prestons now, I've got an assignment for him," he called from the doorway.

"He's in class tonight," a female officer called, pushing her hair back behind her ear.

"Whine.  Now."

"Sure.  He's got a test tonight."  She looked at him and smiled.  "Problems?"

"Morgan needs him ASAP in Region Three to help in ballistics."

She beamed.  "I'm sure he'll be there as soon as possible, sir."  She went to find his number and call it from her cellphone.  She smiled at the grunt of annoyance.  "Region Three wants and needs you ASAP according to the Lieutenant.  They're backed up and Morgan asked for you."  She smiled at his happier grunt.  "Welsh said ASAP.  So call her at least to make sure she'll be there after you're done."  She hung up.  She walked up the stairs.  "Lieutenant, he'll call her to make sure she'll still be in when he's done and to arrange it with her.  Should I put a note on the board?"  He nodded, putting down the coffeepot.  "That's fine.  Kennedy's due back in three weeks."

"I'd expect him to be exhausted with twins," he advised.  He grinned a bit.  "Keep me informed if there's any problems."

"Yes, sir."   She hurried down to put a note on the assignment board.

"According to who?" one cop demanded.

"According to Welsh.  Ballistics in Region Three is backed up and he's taking the classes," she told him with a bright smile.  "It's a brilliant career move.  I'd do it if I could pass the science classes."  She went back to her break.


Morgan came into the lab the next night, looking at people gathered in there.  "Xander, I owe you," she said, coming over to kiss him.  "I love you, man.  Prestons is *great*!  I'm caught up again!"  She smiled at Mort.  "I love this man!"  She walked out again, heading in for the night.

David turned Xander's head around, kissing him.  "Mine.  Remember that."  Xander just beamed at him and took another kiss.  "Good boy."  He looked at Mort again.  "I haven't heard screaming.  Has anyone talked to Ray yet?"

"Welsh was supposed to," he said happily.  They heard a door slam and they all winced. "Perhaps they just got done?"

"No, that was Stan," Xander assured him.  "I heard boots following him."  He glanced around again, then looked at his boss.  "If you let him do that to me again I'm going to find you wherever you hide and bug the living shit out of you," he assured him.  Mort smiled at him and Mortty laughed.

"I tried, he said it was important. I wish I could have stopped him so you weren't embarrassed."  Someone shot off a gun and Xander sighed, standing up.

"Accident!" someone yelled.  "Don't send Harris up to kill us!"

"Good," Xander said, sitting down again. At least until it happened again. Then he got up and headed up there with a sigh, staring at the rookie cops.  "What the fuck are you doing!" he yelled.  The cadet whimpered and gave him a pathetic look. "Take his fucking weapon since he *obviously* can't handle it!" he told the trainer.  The guy stared at him so he pulled his ID.  The guy moaned and took the gun from the cadet.  "Thank you!  Before he shoots through the floor and hit one of us."  He looked at the desk sergeant.  "Where's Kennedy?"

"His twins were born last night."

"Oh.  Healthy?"  He smiled and nodded.  "We'll send a nice card.  Where?"


"Cool.  Thanks. Need help herding?" he asked the trainer.  He got a quick headshake.  "Good.  Watch out for Vecchio, he's having a bad night once Welsh finds him."

"He's already up there in the office," the sergeant warned him.

"Then I'm hiding.  I'm not coming back up again."  He jogged back down the stairs.  "Mort, you might want to check the body, make sure the bullet didn't hit anyone since he's right over your lab and he was playing with his holster.  I had the trainer take the gun from him."  He sat down, shaking his head.  "He's still with Welsh."

"Hmm.  Then I suppose we're done and you can lock the doors to your labs," he announced.  Everyone went to do that while he went to check for new holes in the ceiling.   He didn't need to do the paperwork on how a body got shot during an autopsy.  Though he did hear it when the screaming started.  Especially since he was screaming Xander's name.  Since he was the boss he had to go handle that he supposed so he went upstairs, going to calm him down.  "Detective," he said smoothly.  "Xander had nothing at all to do with your promotion."

"Why can't he handle it!" he demanded.

"He does much better as the second," he offered with a small smile.  "He gets a bit...hyper when he has to run things for good you understand."  Ray scowled and he smiled sweetly.  "Besides, you did such an excellent job last time, Detective.  We adored having you watching over my desk."


"No, it's been decided and the Chief agreed with me when I approached him about it. He said he wanted to give some hotshot new detective a chance to make a name for himself as well as you did."  He patted him on the arm.  Then they had to duck because a gun went off.

Ray spun.  "Who the hell did that!" he shouted.  One of the guys in the perp line smirked and waved his gun.  He stomped over there and snatched it. "Give me that, you moron!"

"You'd best be glad CSI Harris is locked in his office," Mort called pleasantly.  The guy's eyes went wide so he turned, finding Xander standing there, scowl in place, arms crossed over his chest.   "No work?"

"I heard another one and I came to beat the cadet to death," he complained, staring at the perp.  "You just lost your chance at bail and added somewhere between two and six more charges, little boy. You'd better pray the DA is feeling good and sweet tonight."  The man nodded, letting himself be led off to be strip searched.  "Anyone else?  I'm already having a bad night."  A few knives and one packet of drugs was dropped.  He looked at them, then at the sergeant. "Please tell me the cadets searched them?"  He nodded quickly.  "Trainer!" he yelled.  He came running down the stairs so he pointed. "Not only did your cadets fuck up the search, they let a fucking gun in!" he shouted.  The guy shrank away from him.  "Fucking well fix it, officer, before someone has to clean up a body!"  He nodded and ran back up the stairs to chew his class a new one, which got taken over by Welsh reinstructing them on the fine art of patting someone down while he searched Kowalski for chocolate.  He looked at Ray.  "They double-teamed me, it's not my idea.  As long as you don't yell at me like you do Dewey, we'll work together fine, Ray.  Otherwise you're still my buddy and that's all that needs to be said on my end."  He turned and headed back downstairs.  "Sergeant, clean up the mess.  I saw a knife disappearing again in the mirror."

"Yes, CSI Harris," he called after him.  He looked at Ray.  "Is he always like that?"

"Nah, sometimes he's a goofy kid," he said dryly.  "What happened?"

"I don't know.  I came up here to calm you down."  He opened the door.  "Gregory, what happened?"

"Buffy called, she's coming for a visit, she saw the newscast," David called back.  "Do we have any vacation time we can take so we can hide?"

"I'll see what I can do," he called before shutting the door down to their labs.  He sighed and shook his head.  "He didn't want the award because he knew something like this would happen," he complained.

"Eeh, I'm sure she can sightsee while he hides and does overtime."

"He doesn't have any left and our budget won't cover it."

"Really?" Ray asked.  "Since when?"

"Three months ago."

"Oooh."  He nodded.  "Well, the new year starts in another six weeks."  Mort sighed and nodded.  "We'll figure it out."  He walked off, going to sulk in private. This was making him feel really old!  He wasn't ready to retire to a desk yet and especially not ready to do paperwork all day.  At least he wouldn't have to deal with so many stupid people all day.  Just Xander, Greg, and David all day.


Xander looked up as his name was called over the intercom, which was rarely used.  "Must still be the stand-in sergeant," he muttered as he headed up the stairs with his soda.  He liked him but he'd be going home in another week. He was just too different and everyone had noticed things weren't run as smoothly since he had shown up to temp in.  He nodded at the college's advisor for the ballistic tech wannabes, smiling and shaking his hand.  "Hi.  We got permission."

"Good!  I've got two."  He handed over the folders. "One had hers fall through, we're not sure why, and the other guy couldn't find one in one of the other regions."

"Morgan said she doesn't want to teach," he admitted, looking in the paperwork.  "Which one's better?  Crissy might take them since I've been bored for a few days."

"I don't know why," the sergeant interrupted.  "We had that gun battle outside earlier this morning and a few others."

"Crissy handles her own shift's stuff if we're not backed up," Xander said, shrugging a bit. "She must have handled all those."  The sergeant nodded.  "Is Prestons still at Region Three?"

"By the board he is, CSI Harris."  He grinned.  "Should I order someone to get into trouble?"

"No, tomorrow's the last day of the month.  Crime always picks up around the first two weeks."  He looked at the teacher, winking.  "Let me call Crissy tonight and yell at her for not leaving me any work, and we'll work out how to take them both.  Even if I do have to teach them how to play poker."  The teacher smiled and shook his hand, nearly dancing off.  Xander went back to his office, dialing his fellow tech's cellphone and putting it on speaker so he could read through the files.


"Ah, lovely Crissy.  We were offered two interns this year and you didn't leave me any work."

"I did so, I left six guns on the table."

"They weren't here when I got in," he told her.  "Do we have a ghostly intern?"

"Noooo," she drawled.  "I've left you work for the last six days, Xander.  Haven't you gotten any of it?  I heard someone say you've been bored so I worked extra slow to give you extra tonight."

"No," he said, shaking his head.  "I get here about a half hour after you leave most days and there's been nothing on the desk, the table, anything."

"Damn it," she muttered.  "I've been leaving it on the exam desk, usually boxed or envelopes lined up neatly for you.  How many interns?"

"Two.  One got hers canceled and the other couldn't find a spot.  Welsh and the Chief cleared it after they embarrassed me."

"Okay.  First, pull up my notes on the computer.  I've been tracking off the list since I went looking for a report and didn't find one.  I was going to call later or stay late tomorrow to check with you on that case."

"Okay."  He checked her file folder of reports.  "List vs Reports?"  She made an assenting noise so he pulled it up. "Shit, Crissy, there's got to be sixty cases on here."

"Yup.  There probably was.  When was the last time I left you work?"

"Ten days ago."

"I only knew about the last six, that case was six days ago.  I tell you what, compare with The List Mort keeps and find them.  Then let me know what was going on."

"Yes, ma'am.  I'll call later tonight or leave you a detailed note on the desk."  He hung up and got up, heading to bug their boss and Ray. "Mort."  He got a smile until Ray glared at him.  "Crissy's been leaving me work for the last ten days. Any idea where it went to?"

"What?" Mort asked flatly.  Xander nodded.  "Where?"

"On the processing and examination table.  All lined up neatly.  She's got a partial list going back six days.  There's been at least sixty cases that haven't been covered."

"Oh, dear."  He sighed and stood up.   "Who has access to your labs?"

"Me, her, about everyone in here and the janitors.  We don't lock ballistics or Trace, we only lock up the exemplar cabinets between shifts and the labs overnight."

"True."  He rubbed his forehead.  "All right, I need a full report from both of you.  Make out a charge sheet, Xander.  Like you would for a real investigation.  Get the others to make sure they haven't been missing samples or anything."  Xander nodded, heading back to talk to Greg first.  Mort looked at Ray. "There you go, you'll still get to investigate."  He called Welsh.  "Xander's string of luck at not having any work wasn't the lack of work or  Crissy being overly good.  It was the fact that the samples she leaves him have been disappearing before he gets in," he reported.  "I'm already having him do that.  Detective Vecchio's here so I'll assign him to investigate?"  He smiled.  "I thought so.  No, he said about sixty cases.  Thank you, Lieutenant."  He hung up and called the Chief of Police.  "Xander's string of lack of work was someone taking or misplacing guns," he said quietly.  "Crissy's been leaving him work and there's been none when he gets in.  He said about sixty cases.  Please.  I don't need to deal with the DA today.  Thank you, Chief.  Yes, he knows and we've assigned Vecchio to the case."  He hung up and looked at Ray.  "Figure it out quickly.  At least two of the cases took a plea."  He got up and headed back there while Mort found all his copies of The List for the last two weeks.  He printed them and handed them off to Xander when he brought the report back.   "Any luck in the closets?"

"Not a bit," he admitted bitterly.  "I checked my stats for last month. I only got ten guns over this two weeks then.  That's why I never noticed.  I've actually done more during my shift and I thought she was doing the same."

"It's all right, Xander.  It's not your fault.  It happened before you got in.  They can't blame you."

"Yes they can!  Especially with that stupid award!" he complained, heading back to his lab, then over to David's to check his closets.  Still nothing.

"Let Ray check all the storage spaces, you sit down and compare The List to Crissy's reports," David offered.  "That way we know what we're looking for and you can check the system to make sure no one's input anything."  He nodded, going to do that.  A few minutes later he let out a scream so David popped next door.  "What?"

"They've been sending some of them to Morgan!  I input this one the other day!" he complained, pointing at the screen.  Ray joined them to look over his shoulder.  So he marked that one off with a special mark and kept going.  "It's about one out of every five it looks like," he noted as he continued to search.

"So, someone's taking them and sending on the stuff they either don't want, don't need, or didn't plan on taking?" David asked.

"Yeah.  None of these were involved in a homicide.  All the ones I got were robberies.  I remember wondering why they had so many robbery cases since the main Robbery unit was under Region One."  He grunted in displeasure as he continued on.  "This is so not good."

"Okay, we'll figure it out," Ray said quietly, patting him on the back.  Welsh stomped in and he shrugged.  "Some made their way to Region Three, Lieutenant."

"Wonderful.  How?"

Xander looked at him. "Crissy goes home at five to be with her kids.  I get in sometime between five-thirty and six since I start at six," he reminded him.  Welsh nodded at that.  "She's left stuff laying on this table for me. It's not here when I get in.  She started a comparison, it's still pulled up.  I'm going down the list to mark what's not in the system at all. Then I'll cross with what she's noticed on her list.  So far, none of these have been homicide cases."  He shook his head. "Last month I did ten guns in the last two weeks of the month.  I keep my own stats on that to track it. This month I've done fifteen, all from our shift.  I haven't had any carry over from Days in ten days."  He dialed Morgan, getting his former protege.  "Prestons, there's an odd thing going on.  Some of our guns have been not here when I came in at night.  Some of them are there though.  Any idea who's been shipping you guys guns so we can check?"  He wrote down a name.  "You're sure?  Um, anything from today?"  He nodded and wrote those names down.  "Thanks, man. No, Crissy's been leaving them and they've been disappearing before I got here, but you've only been getting one out of maybe four or five cases.  Sure. We'll compare lists later by fax tag.  Let her know, just in case.  Thanks, Prestons.  No, Vecchio is.  Over my shoulder, man.  You know me, someone's going to be wishing I had shoved a shotgun up their asses and fired for this.  Laters.  Thanks."  He hung up and handed Ray the name of the delivery company.  "That's who's been bringing them samples.  Morgan thought it was odd too but Region One uses them to ship off stuff when they get overloaded."

"Okay, any today?"  Xander handed over that list and Ray looked it over.  "Two of these were Stan's.  A double homicide."

"Then that blows my theory," he said bitterly.  "Ray, we've got to fix this. I'm not letting the lab be embarrassed like this. Even if it's only a janitor taking them and tossing them out!"

"I know, kid.  We'll fix it as soon as we can and I'll let you insert the shotgun for me, 'kay?"  He walked off, going to get an immediate interview with that delivery company, even if he did have to kick in their doors with SWAT.

Xander looked at Welsh.  "I'm still working on the list.  I gave Mort an official report on a charge sheet."  He nodded. "I'll have a list for you later of what's gone missing and what went to Region Three to add to it.  No wonder she's so backed up," he complained, shaking his head.  "She's going to kill me."

"She won't. It's not your doing," David reminded him.  "This just has some very bad timing."

Xander's head popped up and Welsh groaned.  "When was that award handed over?" Welsh asked calmly, going to look at it to find the date.  "Two weeks ago?"

"Yeah, the same day the new sergeant got here," David said, suddenly getting it by the way his eyes widened.  "It's got to be a coincidence."

"No it doesn't," Xander assured him bitterly.  "It doesn't in the least."  He looked at Welsh.  "Got any clues on who wants to discredit me this way?"

"Not a one, kid.  Just calm down and finish your searching.  Let Ray handle the legwork, I'll have Dewey help him since he wanted some overtime."  Xander sighed and nodded, getting back to his searching.  "David, expect some long hours for the next few days."  He walked out, going to report to his boss, who was still not happy at the news Mort had given them.  Maybe he'd fire off the shotgun once Xander had inserted it up someone's butt.


Xander slammed the door, stomping back to the kitchen, where is dog had just barked from.  He picked her up to cuddle her, sighing into her flesh.  "I'm home, baby.  It's all right."  He nuzzled her, sitting down to hold her.  David came over with a cup of cocoa, putting it beside him.  He looked at him.  "We all but have proof someone in Region One did it," he said quietly.  David nodded at that.  "It's going to get really messy, David."

"I know, Xander.  It happens."  He stole a kiss.  "Drink the cocoa, we'll cuddle once you've calmed down."

Xander nodded and let the dog rest in his lap, petting her with one hand while he drank with the other.  "I wanna call Brass," he decided.

"Sure. I emailed him earlier."  He smiled at him.  "Dewey let it slip, that's why I came home early to cook."  He stole another kiss.  "Go curl up in the living room with Sarah and call."  He nodded, taking his cocoa that way, the dog tucked under his arm.  He looked down at Greg's dog, who was begging horribly.  "You don't get cocoa, just puppy treats."  He opened a new can of them and tossed one down with a smile. "There, go brag."  Little Nick went to curl up in their fuzzy basket to nibble on it while he watched the birds out the back windows.

Xander picked up the phone and dialed, getting Grissom.  "Gil, I need Brass for some advice. Is he in?"  He listened to the cheerful sounding 'no, he's on a case'.  "Shit."  He sighed.  "What do you do when someone's trying to discredit you?  No, removing evidence from my lab and sending about a third of it the other office.  We think it's Region One, but I can't prove it yet.  Ray's got the case," he admitted at the quiet questioning.  "No, normal end of the month slow down.  I'd done some during the shift but nothing was left for me.  Crissy and I finally compared notes and found out seventy-three cases were somewhere in the ether.  No, we're not sure yet.  That's what I wanted to know.  Well, he is a union rep and he's been doing this for a while.  I figured he knew something about dirty cops since I went to him the last time I got involved in hurting one by catching him."

He smiled weakly.  "I'd like to but they're targeting me, Griss.  They're taking the stuff from my tables before I get in for the night."  He nodded.  "Yeah, even on my nights off.  I don't leave anything for her.  I haven't had that busy of a night.  I've actually done more during my shift this month than last month, but..."  He listened to the wise words and that Brass had come in.  Grissom was telling him what was going on.  Brass took the phone and gave him some good advice.  "No, I want to lube a shotgun and use it on him like a sextoy," he said dryly.  "Ray has it."  He nodded at the calming, firm advice.  "Thanks, Brass.  Yeah, we might be taking one soon.  I need a nap now. Seventy-three cases without a gun anywhere that we can find."  He gave a grim little smile. "No, all handguns as noted in the notes.

David came out.  "One shotgun, Xander.  The Pendelton robbery?"

"Oh, yeah, and one shotgun David reminded me."  He nodded, making mental notes. "Thanks, guys.  I needed that.  No, he's getting ready to serve me dinner and cuddle me. Sure.  Thanks.  Laters."  He hung up.  "We need to go on vacation out there soon," he said as he hung up.  "Am I too smug?  Is that why they're targeting me?  Did I do something wrong and they're trying to show me up?  Why me?" he asked miserably, cuddling into his mate's side. "I don't like this, Dave."

"I know, Xander.  I hate it.  Greg's ready to kill over this and so is Mort.  If it was a coworker, they've got some major explaining to do."  He stroked Xander's back gently, keeping him calm while he listened for the timer on the oven.  When it went off he wiggled free and pulled the brownies out, bringing one back as soon as he could pry it loose.  "Here," he said with a small grin.  "You need chocolate."  He got back into the position he had been in, watching Xander pick at it with his fingers.  That was a very bad sign.  If Xander didn't want chocolate, the world must be getting ready to end.   He hugged him tighter and made sure he knew he was loved and safe with him.  It was all he could do until he could pressure Ray for more information.


Xander looked up as his lab door opened, looking at the grinning man standing there with the gun.  "Hi," he said calmly.  "What did you need?  Is that for testing?  If so, I'm sure we're not going to need to send it to fingerprints."  The man moved closer and he stayed his ground.  "Is it for processing, Evens?" he asked calmly.

"No, it's not," he sneered.  "You're going down!  The same way you tried to have me brought down!" he said happily, but still sneering.  "I'm going to see you ruined."

"Sure," he said, nodding.  He was thinking back.  "How did I do that?" he asked finally.  "I don't remember ever getting onto your case about a mismatch or anything."

"You turned me in for those missing guns!" he shouted.

Xander nodded once.  "Okay, but I didn't implicate you.  All I did was do what I'm supposed to do when I find out, and report it.  I didn't yell at you, I yelled at your boss, man."

"And he tried to say it was my fault when he was the leak!" he snapped, raising his gun up higher. "I'll see you paying for eternity for doing this to my department!"  He started to pull the trigger but Xander moved, letting the bullet barely graze him.  "Stand still!"

"No!  I'm not that dumb!"  His guns were all in his desk, he couldn't reach them.  David was really closer to them and he was upstairs in a meeting with the other departments about this stuff.  The ballistics cases were being handled later so he was planning on going up then so he wouldn't lose his temper.  He tried the emergency button but it hadn't been hooked back up.  So he did what he needed to do and dodged again, getting another graze.  He was not Superman, he was not faster than the speeding bullet from a nine mil glock. He would be paying for this later, but hopefully David wouldn't be *too* mad since he was ducking and it wasn't his fault the soundproofing was working against him.


Upstairs, someone was looking at the light that blinked on and off.  "What's this?" the sergeant called, pointing at the light.  "It's blinking."

"Blinking?"  Bresbiss, who used to work upstairs, looked at it.  "That's the emergency beacon from the lab.  They never hooked back up the siren."  She called upstairs, getting their civilian aid.  "Get Welsh and Vecchio downstairs now.  The emergency light's going off for the lab!"  She hung up and went to get a few other officers.  "Guys, we've got a blinking beacon light on the desk," she reported.

"They're all upstairs," one of them noted dryly.

"All but Harris."  They looked at each other and ran.  They made it before Welsh and Vecchio, so they got to pounce the guy who had just shot their favorite tech.  Fortunately he was a bad shot since he only got him in the leg, but he made a pretty sound as he hit the floor under Bresbiss' flying tackle.

Ray ran in.  "Xander!"  He came over to check him over.  "He's got at least three wounds," he reported.

Welsh grabbed one of the radios off one of the cops, using it because it was faster than dialing.  "Dispatch, we need an ambulance in the CSI Ballistics lab at the twenty-seventh.  At least three gunshot wounds to one of the techs."  He tossed the radio back and came over to help since the officers were cuffing the other guy. "Who is that?"

"Evens from Region One," Ray said grimly. "Their ballistics guy."  Welsh glared at him.  "Evens!" he snapped, getting the guy's attention, even though he was struggling.  "You working alone on this little project?"

"It wasn't me!  He discredited me even though it wasn't me who let the guns get out of our hands!  It was the boss's little party!" he whimpered, still trying to get free.

One of the guys swatted him across the back of the head. "Quit moving, moron!"

"Huh?" Ray asked.

"Xander found Region One had some missing guns," Welsh reminded him.

"That was over a year ago!"

"So?  Revenge often comes out of the refrigerator," one of the cops reminded him sourly.  "Is this about those missing guns?"  Ray nodded.  "Well, at least it's mostly solved now."

"As long as we can find the guns," Welsh reminded him.  He looked over at the paramedics.  "Good, get in here.  He's got at least three."

"Sure.  Which CSI?  Oh, Harris," he said, nodding.  "I've treated him before."  He got around Ray to check the wounds.  "Three grazes, one good shot into his thigh," he said.  "Right where he had been stabbed before I think."  His partner broke out their gear, handing over bandages to start the process.  "Move please, Detective.  Let me get that one."  Ray nodded, moving so he could get to the injuries.  "How long ago was the first one?"

"We're all in a meeting upstairs, he was coming up once he was done," Welsh admitted.   He pulled Ray farther back.  "Get your man, go beat his ass," he said quietly.  Ray nodded, nodding for the officers to bring their suspect with them.  Welsh looked around, then called upstairs.  "Greg, *calmly* come down here and clean up Xander's lab.  I'll tell David myself what's going on but he's got a gun out and I think he's still inputting.  Now.  Tell David to wait, I'm coming."  He listened and nodded.  "That's fine, he can go with the ambulance if he heard it pull in." He hung up and headed up the stairs, finding David running after them.  "Call us!" he yelled after him.  David turned and nodded, then headed for the car.  Welsh went upstairs, going to tell the others.  Region One's people were suspiciously missing now, but he could hear someone yelling down the hallway at them.  He closed the conference room door behind him and leaned on it. "It appears someone in Region One was behind those missing guns," he said calmly.  "Evens just shot Harris."  Prestons stood up, glaring at him. "He'll be fine.  A few grazes and one in the thigh."

"Good thing he's a bad shot," Morgan said bitterly.  "Can we go hurt Evens?"

"No, Vecchio gets him first, then David.  Morgan, I want your team, with you leading, to go to Region One while we have them all here.  I want you to go search their offices.  I want those guns back," he said calmly. "You can get a list off Vecchio's desk if you need it.  If their second shift gets in the way, arrest them for now.  We'll figure out who's involved tonight."  She nodded, and the field techs in attendance followed. "Prestons, you too because I know you're a good cop. You'll make a fine ballistics tech."  He nodded, running after his boss.  He looked at the others.  "For now, we're going to adjourn this meeting.  Expect it to start again in a week."  They all nodded, heading back to their spots.  Welsh went to tell Vecchio what he knew so far about them and w ho had went to Region One.  Then he went to call his boss and tell him, finding Mort in his office doing it for him.  "Good, he hates hearing bad news from me."

"He rather expects it from me," Mort agreed, smiling at him.  "He's in the bathroom.  Is my boy all right, Harding?"

"So far he seemed okay.  Three grazes, one good shot to the thigh.  Vecchio has most of Region One in a room screaming at them.  We're pretty sure it was related to when those guns that were supposedly stolen from Region One came to light."

"Ah.  Revenge served chilled, one of Xander's favorite types of jobs."  He listened to the gruff voice on the other end.  "We've had a major break in the case against Harris.  No, Evens came up to shoot him during our meeting.  He's already headed there.  Three grazes and one true gsw," he reported.  "Harding sent him on.  We've got most of Region One in a room and are letting Vecchio scream at them.  They think it's related to those guns getting stolen or whatever from Region One last year."  He nodded, making notes on some paper laying in the notepad tray.  "Thank you, sir.  Of course.  I'm sure he'll be fine."

"The paramedic said the one to his thigh was where he got stabbed during the serial case," Welsh offered.

"Ah, Harding said the true wound was to the same spot he got stabbed last year.  Yes, then," he said mildly.  He smiled. "No, Xander blames you for putting him in the media, which probably prompted this somehow.  Of course. Well, I should calm David down.  It seems our mild little Trace tech has a nasty temper where his husband is concerned," he said blandly, smiling at Harding.  "Yes, he rather threatened the man who stabbed him.  Oh, I don't know," he said happily.  "I'd make microwave popcorn and watch this time."  He hung up and looked at Welsh.  "He wants David kept away from these people before he  retaliates."

"I'm not getting in the middle of that.  David can beat the shit outta them for all I care at the moment," he said plainly, sitting down on his couch.  "I had Greg secure his lab."

"That's fine.  He's helped Xander work in there a few times so he could learn a bit more about trajectory and things."  He leaned back.  "Should we call Vegas?"

"I don't wanna tell Brass or Grissom that Xander got hurt again. They'll try to claim Greg was a swap so they can have him back so he quits getting hurt."

"I doubt David would let him."

"True," Welsh agreed with a small smile.  "He does spouse-in-a-rage so well," he said with a faint smile.

"Well, David can be a bit of a drama queen when Xander's injured horribly.  But it is rather pretty to watch people flinch away from him.  He said he never understood why Vecchio and Xander liked their scary reputations until someone did that."  He stood up.  "I'm heading down there to check on Greg, make sure he's still here and all.  Let me know what comes of this."  He walked out, shaking his head.  Dewey came in with someone.  "Ah.  Detective, Ray has someone in custody for harming Xander just now in the lab.  In case you hadn't heard the screaming from outside."

"I did, I was wondering about that."  He handcuffed his guy to the chair and went to help with the screaming and yelling.  They all appreciated Xander too much to lose him or David over this petty crap.


Xander woke up, which he considered a nice thing with what he remembered.  He looked around, spotting the redhead sitting next to him.  He licked his lips.  "Where's my husband?" he whispered.

"He's not allowed in here," she said, shifting closer.

Xander pushed the button on his bed, glaring at the nurse, who flinched.  "Where's my husband?" he demanded, a bit more firm sounding this time.

"This hospital...."

"Either my husband is allowed in here or I'm going to sue you," he said plainly.  "He has my medical power of attorney."


"Now!" he sneered.  He sat up, groaning and holding his arm.  "Ow."

"Don't, Xander, you've got stitches," Willow warned, trying to get him to lay down again.

"Do I care!" he said, pushing her away.  "You don't even respect me, Willow.  Now, find my fucking husband and bring him here.  I'm checking my ass out and going to our usual hospital.  Since I *know* ours doesn't have mushrooms on the walls!"  She flinched.  "Now!"

"I can't do that, Xander," she said quietly.  "You're not going back there.  He let you get hurt!"

"Willow!  Someone came after me for being effective in my job!  He had nothing to do with it!"

"He still let you get hurt!" she shouted back.

"Fuck you," he told her.  He glared at the nurse.  "Call the fucking FBI.  Apparently I've been kidnaped."  She shook her head.  "Fine, I will."  He summoned over the phone, making Willow gasp, as he dialed a number from memory.   "Ford, it's Harris.  I have no idea where I am but David isn't here and I'm not in Chicago...."

"Give me that!" Willow shouted, taking the phone and hanging it up. "Bad Xander!  Bad!"  She started to raise a hand to slap him.

He punched her, then moaned and held his arm.  "Get her the hell away from me," he growled.  "I am with the Chicago PD.  I have been kidnaped and you're letting the woman who did it abuse me!"  She led Willow out and the door was shut. He checked his bandages, looking over as someone came in.  "I don't know you.  What city am I in?"

"Cleveland.  The nurse said you've been kidnaped?"

"Considering I live in Chicago and I was there when I got shot?" he suggested dryly.  The doctor nodded.  "Considering she took me away from my husband, who is the *only* one allowed to order non-emergency treatment for me?"  The doctor sighed and held the chart.  "By the way, that nurse wasn't particularly helpful.  You might want to note that on her forms."  He checked his thigh, then looked at the doctor.  "How bad am I and when can I fly home?"

"Not for at least a week, young man.  I noticed a few other injuries, especially a scar near that hole in your thigh?"

"I was stabbed by a perp last year during a serial case.  I'm a criminalist with the Chicago PD."  He winced.  "Now then.  I need the phone to call the guy who can come help me get home.  I have an acquaintance with the FBI out there.  I'm going home.  One way or another."

"If you move from that bed, it's going to be in a body bag," he said seriously.

"I've had worse."

"I doubt it."

"I lost my eye and had to defend my life not a week later."  The doctor hissed.  "So therefore, I'm going home."

"Let me check your eye, young man."  He came over to look and sure enough, one was glass.  "Well.  I didn't know you could be a cop with such a disability."

"I'm a lab tech.  I don't need both eyes.  They make microscopes with single eye pieces as well as ones with both."  He nodded, accepting that.  "Where's my badge and stuff?"

"I don't know.  It wasn't in the things you came in with."

"Ah."  He nodded.  "I need you to do something for me.  There is *one* person here who I trust.  Her name is Dawn Annabelle Summers.  She's about twenty-one now.   I need you to contact her and ask her to call my husband."

"We really can't follow his orders, sir, this is a Catholic hospital."

"He has my medical authority.  If you don't, I can sue this place and bankrupt it," he said calmly.  "I'd do it now and remind the nurse I'm allergic to morphine please."

The doctor checked the file.  "That's not in here."

"Why would it be?  Willow wouldn't have known it from when I got my eye popped and they found out.  She wasn't there."  The doctor nodded.  "By the way, she's a bit delusional.  You might want to watch her for more violent behavior.  She tried to strike me.  I hit her."

"Fine.  Let me call this Miss Summers first and foremost.  Then I'll...."  The door blew inward and Willow walked back in.  "I see what you mean."

"Yeah, me too," he sighed.  "Out, Willow.  I don't want to see you right now.  I'm going to have you charged with kidnaping."

"I didn't!  I'm saving you from a horrible and certain death!"

"We all die sometime," Xander reminded her.  "Besides, since I'm *saving* lives and finding the guilty who take lives, I consider any time spent on my job to be well spent.  Now, you're interrupting and violent.  I'd leave."  He looked outside, whistling at the cop.  "Yo, officer!  Come help a brother in need!"  He walked in behind Willow.  "I'm with the Chicago PD.  I'm their ballistics tech for Region Two."

"Don't listen to him," Willow said bitterly.  "He's mental!"

"My badge number is 88625.  I work in the twenty-seventh precinct.  She kidnaped me," he said, pointing at Willow.  "Took me out of a hospital kidnaped me."

"I can check all that information out.  Name, sir?"

"Alexander Lavelle Harris.  CSI, Ballistics, Trace, and Field."

"You do all three?"

"Ballistics is my main, I've got a minor in Trace, and I'm keeping my abilities open for Field tech work."

The cop nodded, writing that down.  "I can call my people and have them verify that."

"Good, can you remove Miss Rosenburg there before I have to punch her again for trying to hit me?"

The cop nodded, dragging her back to the courtesy phone.  He called his station, handcuffing her a moment later.  Then he came back.  "CSI Harris, they've been looking all over for you.  Your husband thought it might be her or Miss Summers?"

"Buffy Summers.  Dawn Summers, her sister, is a friend.  She's local.  She's probably not involved."

"That's fine," he agreed gently.  "Are you all right?"

"No, I'm here.  I should be at home being pampered by my husband and my dog."

The cop smiled and nodded.  "As soon as possible, sir.  The FBI was being called by my boss."  He looked at the doctor.  "I think he's going to be transferred back, doc."

"That's fine.  As soon as I have orders I can do that.  I will make a note on your chart about that allergy, young man."  He walked out, going to write in a long note about what was going on, in case he did sue them for misconduct.

Xander relaxed, smiling at the nurse coming in.  "Can I have some water or juice?"

"We can get you some juice, but I need to check your stitches," she offered, smiling a bit.

"I'm not mean unless you force me to be," he promised with a small grin.  "I pulled one in my shoulder when I hit her."

"Thank you, Mr. Harris."  She came in to check them all, then got the doctor to come staple that area while she got him some juice.  She'd have been violent too if she had been kidnaped while so horribly injured.  She smiled at the young woman who came running up the halls.  "Who're you?"

"I'm Dawn. I got called.  Xander's here?" she panted.  The baby on her back cooed and giggled, kicking her. "Ow, Mandy, calm down!"

"She can come in," Xander called.  "I trust her not to hurt me further!"  Dawn turned and frowned, then ran in to hug him.  "Hi, munchkin," he said fondly, smiling and hugging her as best he could.  "Oooh, you should move to Chicago, Dawnie."

"I know."  She stood up and took the baby off her back, handing her over once she was free of the carrier.  "There, Uncle Xander."  The baby squealed and hugged him just like her mommy had.  She smiled at the cuteness, wishing she had a camera.  Someone behind them took one so she turned to look, frowning a bit.  "Giles.  Go away."

"I had no part in this."

"Really?  And how did Willow get enough money to do this?" Xander asked dryly. "Did she rob the store?"

"No, she helped Ethan with a very hard spell and he paid her," he admitted, coming in.  "Hello, Amanda."  She beamed at him and went back to patting her uncle until he hugged her again.  He smiled at Dawn.  "I hope you don't mind?"

"No, interrupt away.  I'm going to sit right here until someone he knows and trusts gets here to take him home.  Then I'm planning on moving that way myself, Giles."

He sighed and nodded.  "I know Buffy is sorry for what she's said and done."

"So?  Too little, too late."  She looked over as another cop came in, this time with handcuffs already out.  "Don't make me kick your ass for hurting him more," she ordered coldly.  "I can and will."

"Um, no, ma'am.  I came here to get a Miss Buffy Summers?"

"She's a blonde, my older sister," Dawn told her.  Giles handed over a picture so she stared him down.  "Letting her hang finally?"

"She kidnaped him," Giles said, shrugging a bit.  "I can't protect her from justice but I can make sure it goes easier on her so she learns her lesson."

"Willow was screaming that she was saving me from a horrible death and David," Xander said bitterly.  He cuddled the baby.  "You're nearly as good at that as my puppy Sarah."  She blew a kiss and settled back in, falling asleep on him.

"Awww," Dawn said, smiling at him.  "She loves you.  I'll expect you to babysit at least once a year for her."

"Sure, if you can get David to agree," he said dryly.  He went back to soothing the infant, keeping himself calm with it, at least until Agent Ford strolled in and smirked at him.  "Dawn and her daughter Mandy came to see me."
"I can see that."  He nodded cordially at Dawn, then at Giles.  "Protecting him?"

"Yeah, because Willow's a bit on the powerful side," she said dryly.  She crossed her legs.  "If she tried something *that* way it'd take both of us to fix it."  He nodded, accepting that.  "When can he go home?"

"That depends on the doctors," Ford admitted, looking at Xander.

"They won't follow any order David gives them," Xander said bitterly.  "Sooner instead of later, Ford, please?"

"If I can," he agreed. "David's been growling at us now for the past two days."  Xander opened his mouth.  "They kept you sedated, Harris.  Vecchio went on a rip.  Crime's down in Chicago at the moment."  Xander smiled shyly at that, ducking his head a bit. "The Chief said he's sorry he gave you that certificate since it caused so much trouble. You'll be happy to know that ATF has arrested the Region One director for the gun selling he was doing.  It's also arrested Evens and two other techs there, plus your janitor, for taking the guns from your desk and destroying them."  Xander moaned.  He nodded. "Unfortunately.  DA Kowalski went on a rip about that and scared some of the people in the judicial club she was in when she heard.  They think the hormones are getting a bit out of whack again."  He moved closer.  "Any word on the elder Miss Summers?"

"I haven't seen her yet," Dawn admitted.

"That's fine," he agreed, smiling at her. "Are you moving back?  David went on a rant about your daughter not being safe here either."

"I'm planning on it.  I'm just about to graduate from my cosmetology program and I wanted to move closer to Xander."  She got up and took her daughter since the doctor was coming in.  Mandy whimpered but she calmed her back down and sat down with her.  "We're not leaving," she noted when he gave them all funny looks.

"I am," Giles assured him.  "I don't like to see bad wounds."  He left, letting Ford have his spot.

Ford looked at Harris.  "It'll be the easiest guarding assignment I've ever had.  You're not some primadonna who demands everything be diamond encrusted, even her juice glass."  Xander smiled and shook his head.  "When can we move him back home, doctor?"

"He really should be in traction for his thigh," he noted.

"I got stabbed there about ten months ago," Xander told him.

"I noticed the scar, but this is deeper.  I would prefer you be somewhere you could be watched."

"I have a husband," he reminded him.  "He's a Trace tech.  We've got a former DNA tech living with us too."

"A threesome?" Ford joked.

"No, Greg likes girls," he said with a smirk.  "He just never moved out."  Ford laughed at that.  "We like Greg.  I get to play with Greg when David won't let me play and be a naughty Xander."

"Wow, someone who understands a naughty Xander?" Dawn teased.  "I might want to meet this guy."

"He's a bit older, honey, but he's a nice guy.  We're best friends."

"Sure, I won't ride him too hard," she said with a wolfish grin.  He snickered and shook his head.  "No?"

"Maybe, I don't know," he admitted, shrugging a bit and wincing. "Ow.  I hate stitches."

The doctor looked at him. "Then perhaps you should quit getting hurt?"  Dawn burst out laughing at that, waking her daughter, who took a bottle and went back to sleep on the mommy's lap.  "What?"

"I'm a ballistics tech and I do some field work," Xander said with a small grin.  "People try to shoot me for doing my job.  I'm just like half the other techs in the city and about a third of the cops.  Besides, I haven't been hurt in months before this."

"True, he hasn't, we're very proud," Ford told him sarcastically.

"Hey, I saved your ass," Xander reminded him.

"You did, and you reamed my boss a new one too.  I'm really proud of you for that, Xander.  Especially since I reported him to the higher ups during my mandatory shooting leave.  The head guys in DC were not happy with that event."

Xander nodded. " Good!"

"How bad?" Dawn asked, looking upset.

"Bad," they told her together.

"Raid on some drug lords and I got sent with SWAT," Xander told her.  "The night I was going to propose.  I ended up tossing the ring at David before I left.  He was not amused with SWAT either, especially since Agent Ford's boss managed to screw everything up."

"Hmm.  No count of perps, no thermal imaging system, nothing so we went in blind," Ford agreed.  "Xander saved my butt that night, and a few others."  Xander nodded.  "Why didn't you get a medal?"

"I don't want medals, awards, or certificates of any kind," he said dryly.  "As happened this time, they lead to trouble.  I don't need more trouble.  David would get tired of me if I got into more trouble."

"Fine," Ford agreed, smirking a bit.  "I know David has a medal with your name on it."

"He can hide it too," Xander assured him.

Dawn coughed, shaking her head.  "It's where my sister and Willow used to put him down for doing what was necessary," she told him.  Ford just nodded at that.  "They got really good at it there for a while. That's why he went back to LA."

"I went to college because Angel ordered me to because I was bugging him by being bored," Xander told Ford.  "He even paid for most of it so I'd be there for emergencies but he didn't have to see me the rest of the time."

"I don't know why, you're fairly good at what you do," Ford told him.  "We liked you enough to offer you a position in our newest lab."

"Ick, no!" he said quickly.

"Fine.  I understand," he said with a small smirk.  "Who's taking over for your boss?"


"Oooh."  He shuddered.  "You're still second?"  Xander nodded, looking a bit smug.

"I'm so proud!" Dawn squealed, hugging him.  "That's an important job!"

"It is," he agreed, grinning at her. "I got it on seniority and doing it anyway."  He patted her and she let go, going back to her seat.  He looked at the doctor.  "Can't I go home to be spoiled?"

"We'll see later tonight, Mr. Harris," he said calmly.  "If you're making good progress I'll release you to home-care as long as you get someone to look in on you."

"I've got a housekeeper."

"I meant someone professional."

Xander sighed and nodded.  "Give him David's number so he can fuss everything into place?" he suggested.  Ford handed over a card and the doctor nodded his thanks, going to make that call.  "Make sure he knows I'm okay," he called after him.  "Or else he'll scream!"

"Yes, I heard one of the nurses where you were saying it was nice you weren't trying to kill the thieving janitor again."  Xander grimaced, but blushed a bit.  "Just remember, I'm in control of you until I hand you back to your husband.  Don't make me get upset and I won't yell like he probably does when you bounce around the house," Ford offered.

Xander blew a kiss. "I could never cheat on David, Agent Ford.  And what makes you think he doesn't just grin and watch?"

Ford blushed and shook his head.  "I forgot how much of a pervert you are, Harris.  I'm not like that."

Dawn looked at him.  "True, he needs a better haircut if he was going for a man.  All the gay guys around here have much better hair."

Xander nodded.  "Most of the ones I know too, except Stan."

She giggled.  "Poor Renfield.  He had a buzz cut the last I knew."

"Eeh, it's the callings of the job," Xander told her.  "I need a trim too so I'll let you work on mine once I can sit up fully."  She smiled and nodded.


David rushed the gate when he saw Xander, pausing to look at his hair.  "You got a haircut?"

"Dawn," he said, letting David take the wheelchair from the attendant and walk him off.

Ford coughed and held out a form.  "Sign and date, David."  David scrawled a signature and led his mate off, making Ford smile for a bit.  He went to one of the airport bars to get a beer, calling in while he was there so he wouldn't have to go on assignment again.  After all, everyone thought it'd be hard guarding Harris, but he had been pretty nice and decent about it.   He had even shared his horde of peanuts with him.

David rolled Xander out, smiling at the good haircut his mate had.  "I like it.  Is she moving in with us?"

"Near us.  Not with us.  I offered her the attic for a few days and she refused."  He grinned up at his mate.  "Do you like it?"  He nodded.  "Good.  She said it reminded her of Greg's."

"It does," David agreed, running a hand through it while the people mover belt helped them along. By the time they got to the car, he had messed up the careful spikes and it looked more like bedhair, which was what he liked on his man.  He carefully got him into the car, helping him buckle up as well. Then he handed the airport wheelchair to the nearest security guard and hurried back, getting in to drive.  "I've got our bed set up for you and the nurse starts tomorrow.  Where's your records from there?"

"The bag they gave me," he said, pointing at the thing that had been in his lap.  "How did they get me out of the hospital?"

"Faked paperwork to take custody of you.  Rosenburg claimed she was your wife and moving you back home.  The nurse on duty was kinda new but it was caught when she filed it with the administration at the hospital.  They called the FBI, and Ford called me since I was off venting my anger."  He reached over to clasp his hand.  "I was so worried."

"My first question was where you were," he assured him, leaning over to kiss him on the cheek, then moaning and sitting back up.  "Time for some pain killers."

"Um-huh.  I figured as much.  Greg made dinner, something nice and soothing his grandmother used to make when he was sick.  Brass wanted a call the minute you're home and awake, so by tomorrow."  He looked over, smiling since his mate was sleeping.  He heard the honks and started moving again since the light was green.


David walked into the courtroom the next morning, pausing to tell Stella something because she was working second chair this time.  The main DA was doing this case.  She smiled and patted his hand, nodding a bit.  He looked at the DA.  "He's fine.  Back home and in bed.  Being spoiled by our dog."  He sat behind them, looking at the other side of the courtroom.  "Shouldn't they be here by now?"

"They should be," Stella agreed. "I sent Stan and his boys over to watch Xander for you as well, so even if they try something it won't happen.  They're supposedly having a conference with their legal team up the hall."  She shifted some, putting a hand on her stomach.  "Calm down."  David smiled at her.  "We're fine.  That's why I'm sitting second chair, in case I go this week as scheduled."  The judge walked in and they all stood, her with some help from David.  The judge gave her an odd look and she smirked.  "I'm not in labor, I can be here."

"By that stage, my wife had retired to bed to be spoiled," he told her.  "I do not want you giving birth in my courtroom, DA Kowalski.  So I'll warn you as I have the other pregnant women in here.  The first labor pain and you're expelled so the court isn't bothered or traumatized."  She gave him a cold look and he stared back.  "Understood?"

"Sure."  She glanced at the other table, then back at the judge.  "I'm not the problem of the moment however."

"I can see that.  Bailiff, where are the defendants?"

"Having a legal conference, Your Honor," he said patiently.  "Shall I bother them?"

"Yes, now.  This is wasting time."  He nodded and came back with most everyone, one of the stated lawyers was missing.  "Are we missing someone?" the judge asked.

"He had to withdraw for the day, Your Honor, he was feeling a bit ill and we all know how you are about sick people in your courtroom," the lead lawyer on the other side noted, glancing at Stella.  He looked around.  Then back at the judge.  "I believe we're also missing a witness?"

"He's still on bedrest," David said sarcastically, glaring at him.  "Until the doctor says CSI Harris can move, he's not."  The judge looked at him. "He was kidnaped as well.  His care was botched during that.  I'm not having him moved."

"You are?" the judge asked.

"CSI Hodges, his coworker and helper in this case."

"Ah.  I've heard about you, sir.  You're good enough for now and we'll arrange for CSI Harris to come in with a paramedic if we must have him too soon."  He looked at the other lawyer again.  "Any other reasons to stall that you can see?"

"No, Your Honor," he said blandly, glaring at David once the judge looked away.

"I saw that," the judge noted.  He looked at the DA.  "I believe the opening is yours?"

"Thank you.  Our case if very simple. A little over a year ago, CSI Harris was handed some weapons from an auto accident that one of the detectives he works with was in.  They had been found in the trunk of the car that hit the detective.  As was proper, the detective handed them to CSI Harris for sorting, seeing if they were wanted in another crime, or were on file as being owned by anyone.  CSI Harris found that they were, in fact, from Region One's crime lab and had supposedly been destroyed.  CSI Harris did what he was supposed to do, reporting this to his superior and the Chief of Police, plus the director over Region One.  They had a small shouting match from what I've learned and the director promised to fix this error before CSI Harris was required, by law, to report it to the Federal Bureau of Investigations, who has domain over that ballistics database."  He took a breath, staying calm.  "For some reason, the Region One director put the blame onto his ballistics CSI and his reputation was a bit tarnished, even though he proved he had nothing to do with this situation at a later inquest.  Still, Region One's director was using him as a scapegoat and it drove CSI Evens to slightly lose control.

"When the Chief recently awarded CSI Harris for doing a good job in his chosen field and being so helpful to his department, CSI Evens came up with a plan to discredit him.  When his boss found out, CSI Evens was forced to allow him to help him, thus including some others into the conspiracy he was creating to discredit CSI Harris.  The conspiracy was simple.  They took all exposed, boxed, and bagged guns during shift change so CSI Harris couldn't process anything leftover from Dayshift.  They had a janitor steal the guns and bullets left for him by his coworker and bring them to Region One, where the most high profile cases were then destroyed and the rest to Region Three.  When Mr. Harris checked his statistics from last month, he realized he had been doing more actual weapons during his shift for the time of the month, but he thought it odd that he hadn't had any left over.  He and his coworker on Dayshift talked and he found out it had been going on about ten days.  He reported it to the proper people, including his supervisor and the Chief of Police.

"A detective was assigned to investigate with his help. CSI Harris did find the link to Region Three and the shipping company the conspirators used within a few hours of realizing the problem.  He handed over all evidence and continued on with his normal duties while the detectives continued to work the case.  During a budget and case meeting between the three CSI divisions, CSI Evens lost his grip on his mental problems and went down to the ballistics lab to shoot CSI Harris for thwarting him and for dishonoring him, even though CSI Evens stated that it hadn't been Harris's fault and that his boss was over the original issue with the guns from Region One.  There are Federal charges also being applied in this case, but they're holding off their case until we're done with ours.  They've decided to charge him on four additional counts, possibly a fifth depending on how this case goes.  We have firm proof of all of this, including signed confessions given to the investigating detectives.  I see no issues stopping us from trying this case and then handing over the defendants to the Federal authorities so we don't have to deal with them ever again."  He sat down.

The judge nodded.  "Concise for a change, thank you.  Your turn," he offered the other side.

The second chair of the legal team stood up.  "If it pleases you, Your Honor, I'm making the opening today."

"I really don't care which of you do it as long as it gets done," he noted dryly, staring him down.  "I'd prefer a concise report like the other one however.  I will note that I'm not allowing any grandstanding to go on in my courtroom.  This won't turn into the OJ trial."

"Of course not, sir.  It's nothing like it," he said with a smarmy smirk.  "What the DA so nicely left out was that this is all very much a soap opera.  There's revenge, tragedy, and the requisite distaste for homosexuals."

"I see nothing in the case that points to homophobia, nor did anyone even mention it in any of the interviews they've given us," the DA said quickly, standing back up.  "Your Honor, CSI Harris is a well respected and well liked officer.  Even the Chief of Detectives likes him.  He hates everyone and he likes Harris, now that he's got his badge officially.  He likes the boy even more since he nearly had a stroke standing up to him about the CSI badge issues the department just fixed.  This has nothing to do with CSI Harris' marriage."

"Which isn't legal," the lead lawyer pointed out smartly.

"So?  Neither was yours because it was done in another country. Did you ever fix that?" the DA shot back.  The lead lawyer glared at him.  "Truth, you can check it out if you want.  It's been shown in the press before."   He looked at the judge.  "This has nothing to do with CSI Harris' sexuality or his love life. Personally, even the biggest bigots in the DA's office like Harris being married because his husband calms him down!  Most of the police department feels the same since his spouse keeps him focused and out of trouble."

The judge nodded. "I've seen him testifying before, he was a bit jittery."  He shrugged. "Unless you can prove your clients did this as part of a hate crime against CSI Harris, it's a moot point," he told the other side.  "Get on with it."

"Sorry, Your Honor, I was just making a point."  He cleared his throat.  "My clients said that CSI Harris had unfairly turned them in, not giving them enough time to fix the issues that had been found out.  Their professional reputations were ruined. All they were trying to do was do the same.  CSI Evens never meant to hurt him.  He's a good enough shot to have killed him if he had wanted to."  He saw David whispering to Stella Kowalski out of the corner of his eye, getting some paper and a pen.  He cleared his throat again.  "We also know that no real harm or foul was intended.  The destruction of the misplaced guns wasn't meant to happen, they got mixed up in the routine batch going to the incinerator.  My clients meant no real or lasting harm to CSI Harris, who is quite smug and pushy.  He's constantly trying to push his weight around as the second-in-command in Region Two.  We've had multiple techs defecting from Region Two because of him."

"Point of order," Stella offered.

"On cross, DA Kowalski," the judge ordered.  She nodded, making note of that.  "Go on."

"We also do maintain that CSI Evens wasn't mentally competent at that time."  Stella snickered.  "What's so funny!" he demanded.

"Um, my water just broke," she said with a grin.  "I'm excusing myself and calling DA Marshalls in, Your Honor.  He's already agreed and he's up the hall.  May I take CSI Hodges with me?"  He nodded, making a shooing motion.  "Thank you, and sorry.  I'll be back in a few days."  She got up with David's help, handing over the notes that had been written before letting him escort her out.  "Oh, they're in so much trouble," she moaned, holding her stomach.  She noticed the guard coming closer.  "I'm in labor, he's driving me.  Get DA Marshalls in there now, guard."  He nodded, going to do that for her.  They all knew and feared her around there.  David got her out to the car and buckled in properly, then took off driving just like a native Chicagoan.


Xander was helped into the courtroom two weeks later by his mate, who was hovering very closely behind him.  "I'm here.  You called?" he asked.  He looked at the chair, then at the bailiff.  "I'm to put my foot up level, doctor's orders, bailiff.  Can I get a chair to brace on?"  He nodded and got one for him, helping him sit down, making him sigh and smile.  "Thank you."  He raised his right hand and put it on the bible in front of him. "I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth."

"So help you God?"

"So help me Goddess," he said dryly, smiling at him.  "Not Christian, but close enough for me."  The judge nodded it was all right.  He shifted, looking determined for a moment, then settled back in.  "Okay, I'm good and comfy."

The judge looked at him.  "For formalities's sake, I must ask, CSI Harris, are you on pain killers?"

Xander pulled out the note his doctor had written. "This is what I'm on and that's a statement saying it does not cloud my mental capacity, it only makes me babble sometimes."  He smiled.  "He said he's had to write those before, Your Honor.  If you need to contact him, his number's on the bottom."

The judge read it over.  "That's fine.  I'm including this in the evidence for this trial as exhibit 83, competency of CSI Harris to be interviewed and questioned."  He made note of that and handed it to the Bailiff, who sealed it in a bag.  "Proceed."

The second chair DA stood up, smirking a bit as Xander.  "Mr. Harris."  Xander focused on him.  "When was your last dose of medication?  Just for the record."

"One hour, and probably twenty minutes ago.  I took it an hour before we left the house so I wouldn't babble as much as usual."

"Thank you."  He stepped closer.  "Are you comfortable?"

"For now.  I'll ache in about thirty minutes."  The DA nodded, just staring at him.  "What?" he asked finally.

"Gathering my thoughts.  For the record, you and I are not friends, correct?"

"No, you hate me because I married David.  I could care less about your narrow-minded, bitchy point of view about my relationship.  I'm stiffly formal when we have to deal with each other over a case."

The head DA nodded.  "That is true, Your Honor, I trust CSI Harris's mental state now."

"Thank you," Xander told him. "David has a baby picture for you from Stella."  He looked at Marshalls again.  "Get on with it, I'm not that cute for you to continue staring at me."  The judge snickered a bit at that.  "I'm not," he said quietly.

DA Marshalls smiled at him.  "True, you're not the sort I'd stare at normally.  CSI Harris, CSI Evens and CSI Mitchel, Region One's director, have stated that you push your weight around.  That you've driven some techs out of the office and to them.  And that you push your gayness around as well.  Is that true?  Any of it?"

"I've had to call over there to get some help when CSI Mitchels refused the AV and computer techs help.  It was their tech's fault that our system got a virus that was released from their tech's working on something while plugged into the PD's intranet.  At that time, I was in command of Region Two because our boss was out sick.  All I did was call the tech over there and note that we needed help and if Mitchels was denying it, he was probably going to be in trouble from a higher source when our boss got back or when your boss jumped on him because some pedophile cases were hanging in the balance, waiting on those hard drives to be processed."  He shifted again and Marshalls got him a pillow to pad the chair, making him smile and nod.  "I also reminded him to tell Mitchels that all the pedophiles came from around where he lived if they got released because Mitchels had ordered him not to send us a redundant backup he had in a closet over there.  We used the backup for ten hours to clear the virus out of *all* the system and sent it back with the report and a note of thanks to that tech for being so helpful.

"Their AV and computer techs have always been more helpful to us than Mitchels allowed them to be when we had a manpower issue.  Our computer tech had two weeks off because he was in quarantine due to his son having measles.  Mitchels didn't want to lend us their techs for a few hours for a case that your office was breathing down our neck on.  Our boss, Mort, let me call to badger the tech, who hadn't realized what was going on.  All Mitchels told him was that he was not to help us and to ignore any pleas because we were being drama queens, his wording.  Their tech came over on his lunch break.  I believe the Chief granted him some extra overtime for that and a commendation in his file for helping during a tough time."  He shifted a bit again.  "As to the second allegation?  That I've sent techs running out of Region Two to hide in Region One because I'm so pushy?  There have been three techs that have left our offices for theirs.  A DNA tech who was transferred against her wishes since they were short.  A later DNA tech who left because she didn't like the, and a I quote, strange things going on in our office.

"We got the first tech back thanks to her transferring.  She walked out in a huff when it was announced David and I were married. She also had numerous problems in the lab otherwise, including attendance problems and issues with most of the coworkers.  Speaking as someone who has led jobs in the past, we knew she wasn't going to stay.  She never talked with any of the other coworkers.  She sneered at the field techs bringing her stuff.  Her Little Miss Perfect act was what made her transfer more than anything.  She wanted to be rich and work on rich people crimes and our Region does poor people crimes."  He shrugged a bit and winced. "As for the third allegation, that I push my relationship with my husband around?  We make no secret of it.  We try to keep any kissing to a minimum in the office, though I do get to sneak one to his cheek now and then in the main room before going to work, or one in the office if neither of us is busy, and that's a quick peck on the lips and a smile.  David is very conscious of his career and he doesn't want to alienate any of our coworkers, and neither do I.  We did invite most of them to the wedding, and most of them did come.  We also invited most of the detectives we work very closely with and most of them came."

"Did your boss?"

"No, unfortunately Mort couldn't attend, he had broken his foot.  He was getting x-rays.  He presented them to us later that night."  The DA smiled at that.  "I don't push anything about me at anyone else.  If you like me then accept me as I truly am. If you don't, then don't and I'll be socially polite to you, like you and I are."

"Thank you, CSI Harris.  Now about the guns?  The ones that Region One...misplaced?"

"You mean sold?  I was told by Detective Vecchio that there was evidence that those first guns that were found in the trunk of the car that hit Detective Kowalski had been sold.  I wasn't allowed to examine the evidence since I had been kidnaped by some former friends and taken to Cleveland, but he did explain why everything happened the day after I returned."

"You were...kidnaped?" the judge asked.

Xander looked at him and nodded. "Some of my former friends decided it was the job and David that had endangered my life so therefore they hatched a plan to present false paperwork that one was my wife and have me moved back to their home city so they could be closer.  I left them almost six years ago now because of the way they treated me and undervalued me.  We don't even really speak to them, even before they pulled this, and I did charge them with it.  The FBI decided it was a misguided attempt of friends to help me and gave them deals for probation."

"I see.  Do you have anything on that, CSI Harris?"

"No.  Agent Ford might.  He's the one who guarded me when I was finally found.  He and I have had to work together in the past so his bosses sent him."

"I'll have him contacted about that," the lead DA noted. "I didn't think it'd be relevant."

"It may not be, but I'd still like to have it present," the judge noted.  "Just in case."  The DA nodded, understanding that someone could challenge Xander's testimony based on that kidnaping. "Proceed, DA Marshalls."

"Thank you, sir.  CSI Harris.  What did you do when the guns were brought to you?"

"I ran them through the system. I saw the notations of their supposed destruction.  I notified my direct boss, Lieutenant Welsh, and then he notified the Chief of Police.  When Region One's director showed up, I went back to my lab and quoted chapter and verse on the rules of why you don't mark guns as 'destroyed' when they haven't been. I also yelled at them that they had two days to fix it and report this problem or I was required to by law.  If I remember right, I said something about being willing to die of a heart attack for the department but I wasn't going to jail for them."

"Then you are required to report such incidences?"

"Yeah.  If I don't, then not only am I considered liable for anything that might happen due to their being released, but I'm also in violation of the database's statues and we could have been locked out of it or had all our federal funding yanked for me not reporting it in a timely manner.  I judged a timely manner to be within three days of notifying the other department.  That has been upheld in other cases that were told to me in my ballistic classes by the Feds themselves.  That way some minor information can come forward during the report."  The DA nodded. "I gave them two days, which meant I'd be reporting them the next day, on the third day.  CSI Mitchels got huffy, so I screamed at him a bit more, offered him the reports I had run.  He sneered, I responded.  He took the reports and stomped off.  As required by law I reported them three days later, and I didn't have any report to go with it so I had to make due with a simple explanation and a listing of the guns, along with a note saying I had reported it to the office in question and the circumstances of their seizure. I have a copy of that report on my office computer if you needed it."

"No, we have it. You write very thorough reports."

"I'm a redundant backup guy.  I want all my bases covered and my ass firmly enclosed in case of gunfire aimed at it.  My husband gets very upset with me when I don't wear a vest."

Marshalls smirked a bit at that.  "Well, you do tend to get a bit hurt."

"Yeah, but I can't sleep in it.  It'd hurt both of us."  He smirked at the laughter that got from some of the watchers.  "I might also mention that someone, and the police did capture them, was trying to poison my dog the other day as well as Constable Fraser's canine companion.  You might want to warn them to stop it, DA Marshalls.  My dog and my husband are my only family.  I do get a bit upset when my family is bothered."

"We've already charged him, CSI Harris," the head DA noted.  "He said it did have to do with this case and he was paid.  That'll be presented later.  Thank you for reminding me."  Xander just smiled at him.  "CSI Harris, can you please recount the incidences as they happened that led up to your shooting, since my coworker is still staring at you?"

"I think he's blacking out," Xander admitted, leaning forward.  "Um, Judge, I think he needs to see someone.  He's fully not in there."

"Bailiff, help him to a seat and get a paramedic.  We'll adjourn until he's treated or removed."  His officer nodded and did that, going to call someone.

"I've got Xander's blood pressure machine if you think it'll help," David offered quietly.

"No, it should be fine.  He's diabetic and he's had some swings from the long hours recently," the head DA noted.  "Help Xander down so he can stretch out."  David nodded, going to get his mate and help him lay down on one of the benches.  Then he had to shoo off the paramedics.  "Not him, Marshalls."  He rolled his eyes.  "He's just resting."

"Fine."  They came over to check on that one instead.  "Hodges, go ahead and check his wounds and blood pressure anyway.  Vecchio, Kowalski, Kowalski, Fraser, Welsh, and Turnbull all said that if we were called, we're supposed to check on him too."

"Our friends are worrywarts," Xander noted patiently.

"Yes, but that's because they know you," David assured him, smiling at him as he checked his arms.  "He's looking okay here."  He pressed gently on Xander's thigh, getting a hiss but no dark spot.  "No blood that I can see."  He pulled out their blood pressure machine and used it.  "One ninety over one ten," he noted.  "A bit high but not too bad."  The paramedics looked at him.  "He's been bored in bed, it's been a bit high since he got hurt and kidnaped."

"Fine.  Do you want him taken?"

"No, I'll watch him, he'll be fine," David said calmly.  "He'll behave or he's eating oatmeal tonight for dinner."

"Eww, I hate oatmeal."  The DA snickered at that, shaking his head.  "He's being mean again."

"It's because he loves you, Xander."

"Your Honor, must they do this in public?" one of the opposing lawyers demanded.

"We're on break.  I can kiss and cuddle him if I want," David assured him. "Why would I care about your opinion on my relationship?"

"It's statements like that which get people bashed," he sneered back.

"And that's a threat," the DA said firmly.  "Bailiff?"  He came over, cuffs already out.  "I'm sorry but the city of Chicago does not allow such threats to go unpunished. We do have a hate crime law here in the state, gentlemen.  I don't care if you don't like him taking care of his husband.  You have no right to threaten him for it.  You're also going to be charged with hiring someone to poison their dog.  We were going to do that later," he said with a fond smile.  "Since you got stupid, we can do it now instead."  The judge looked down at him.  "There is a valid arrest warrant in place, Your Honor.  It's with the security detail so they could get him coming out of the building."

"Bailiff, restrain him and check on that.  As long as there is, we cannot interfere."

"Your Honor!" the lead attorney complained, hopping to his feet.

"Next time, don't let your people sink to that level, counselor.  If there's a warrant, I cannot stop it from being executed.  That's not my duty.  That's upstairs.  You'll have about twenty minutes to go protest it."

"Xander takes his meds every four hours," David offered. "It'll be two hours since he took some at that point."

"We'll take a long lunch break," the judge assured him. "I've heard him babble before.  I don't think my court reporter can type that fast."  The DA snickered again.  "Since we're on break, get that picture of Kowalski's baby."  David handed it over with a small grin.  "Is it cute?"

"Very.  Has his mum's nose," Xander said with a grin.

"We're not having kids, Xander."

"I know, David. I can admire and babysit.  Dawn wanted to know if we could babysit at least once a year for her too."

"Sure, I can stand small amounts of kids. Maybe once a month or so."  He checked his blood pressure again, smiling at it.  "Nearly normal," he pronounced.

"Then we'll leave him here with you," the paramedics agreed as they finished strapping down their patient, all of them flinching as the door slammed open and Stan ran in.  "It's not him."

"So!"  He looked down at Xander, looking at the monitor Dave was holding.  "Not too bad considering.  You okay?"

Xander grinned at him.  "You fuss very well," he assured him.  Stan just grinned back.  "Can I have some chocolate later?"

"Nope.  You can't bounce until your leg's fully healed, Xander," Stan reminded him.  He looked at the DA.  "Stella demanded to come back to help.  She's wandering this way more slowly.  I'll watch the baby for her."  The DA smiled and nodded.  "He okay?" he asked as the paramedics drug their patient out.

"He'd better be fine when I come see him tonight!" Stella yelled after the paramedics from the hallway. She walked in and looked at Xander, then handed him the baby.  "There, hold the kid."  She looked at the judge.  "I'm back."

"I can see that.  Aren't you on maternity leave?"

"I am.  This is fun and games for me," she said with an evil smirk, which made her exhusband and her boss both shudder.  "Can we get back to it before the baby screams?"

"If we're all still here," the judge noted.  The defendants remaining lawyers glared.  "Except that one I suppose.  CSI Harris, can you go on?"

"For now," he grunted as he sat up, hobbling back up there and being reseated, the baby against his chest, napping soundly.  "He's so cute!" he cooed. "Okay, I'm good, we can go on.  It's out of my system again."

The judge banged his gavel, making the baby snuffle but Xander nuzzled and cooed in his ear until he calmed back down.  "We're back in session.  Reporter, please reread the last question for CSI Harris."

"CSI Harris, can you please recount the incidences as they happened that led up to your shooting, since my coworker is still staring at you?" she read.

Xander nodded.  "Thank you.  I can...."


Xander hopped into work on his first night back, holding up a hand when Mortty rushed to hug him. "Let me sit, please."  He sat down and put the crutches aside, then pulled her in for a hug.  "I missed you."

"I missed you too!"  She gave him an extra squeeze and went to get him the snack cake she had gotten for him, presenting it with a grin.  "Here!"

"Ooooh!  I love you!"  He kissed her on the cheek, smiling as he unwrapped it as Mort, Ray, and David came in.  "She got me a wonderful prezzie!" he said, showing it off before taking a bite.

"You still can't bounce, kid," Ray said, patting him on the back. "Where's Sarah?"

"Your house.  She kept staring at the Christmas picture from last year.  Frannie came to get her," David told him, sitting next to Mortty.  "Don't encourage that. I'll have to tie him to a chair later."

She giggled and hugged him.  "You enjoy doing that anyway, David.  This way you'll make sure his first night back is a good night all around."  He blushed and ducked his head.

Mort shook his head.  "Well, I can't say as it was *boring* while you were gone, Xander, but it's much less so now.  Shall we get started?" he called more loudly, bringing everyone out.  "As you can see, Xander's back."  Everyone clapped.  Xander grinned and waved.  "He's not allowed in the field for at least the next six months, or until I get doctoral approval."  David shook his head. "I didn't think you had it already, dear boy.  He's still on crutches.  Very hard to fire things when you're on those."  He pulled out the list.  "Well, it's long," he announced.  Everyone groaned.  "Xander, you only have two waiting on you.  David, you have samples from the same cases and one other one.  Both of you also have interns coming in tonight."  David moaned at that, shaking his head.  "Unfortunately your dayshift counterpart had to leave early so he's coming in to learn from you."

"Dear, you're a good teacher.  You taught me all sorts of stuff I didn't pick up in class," Xander assured him, smiling at him.  "You really did."

"I know.  Is he competent?"

"Quite," Mort agreed.

Mortty laughed and nodded.  "He's like a mini-David clone," she assured him with a pat on the arm.  "He's wearing a *tie* and a heavily starched dress shirt.  It's not even a day to testify.  He's always like that."

David perked up at that.  At least the guy sounded meticulous.  "I'll try, Mort.  I've never done it before except helping Xander during his internship."

"That's fine.  He's not really yours but apparently your counterpart and he don't get along well."

"If he's a suit guy, they wouldn't.  Norma's a bit too hippy for him probably and Tony went to Region One," Xander noted.  Ray nodded at that. "The same as she is with Ray."

"Yeah, I'm glad I get you fruitcakes instead," Ray admitted.

"We were going to announce that tonight," Mort said at the curious looks.  "It was decided before Xander got hurt that he doesn't really have enough experience to run the lab, yet.  Detective Vecchio has run the lab in the past when I was on vacation, before we got Xander.  Therefore he's taking over the administrative duties while Xander keeps his second-in-command spot."

"And none of us really disagreed," David assured everyone. "Xander would get more and more hyper over time if we let him have it for real."

A few people shuddered at that. Mortty raised her hand. "I wasn't included?"

"No, dear.  Did you want to run the lab?"

She snorted and shook her head. "But I'm upset no one asked."

"My standing as second started during the manpower thing," Xander told her.  She pouted and he shrugged.  "Sorry, Mortty.  Did you want to be second for a bit."

"Eww, paperwork.  Where was I then?"

"Region Three."

"Oh."  She nodded.  "So you had the most experience of the guys here?"

"Seniority," Xander corrected.  She made a grossed-out face.  "Most everyone here got hired after I did.  Or came in from the other labs after I did.  Plus I have prior running stuff experience from the construction sites.  I'm more than willing to hand it to anyone if they want it.  David hates me getting frustrated with the paperwork."  No one said anything.  "Last call?"  They all shuddered and shook their heads.  "Then I guess it stands?"  Everyone nodded.  "Sorry, honey."

"It's not a problem.  I'd go on a power trip, you do it better than I do.  More gently most of the time."  He smiled at him.  "Any word on the deliberations, Ray?"

"Still going," he admitted.  "They summoned the judge for a conference earlier. Apparently it's down to one count that they're not sure on."  David nodded, accepting that. "You guys want to go back for the announcement?"

"No, it'll make me look like I'm smugly gloating over their misfortune and then someone else will try something," Xander said, looking over as the door opened and Agent Ford came in with two more agents.  "Ooh, a raid?" he asked happily.

"Well, we are here to investigate someone," he admitted, handing Mort the warrant.  "It's not you, Harris.  Ignore us."

Mort looked at it, then at them.  "She wasn't here that long."

"We still need all the records she had and to copy off any files she would have put onto the computer."

"The cranky one I replaced?" Mortty asked.

"No, dear, Morgan."

"What?" Xander demanded. "Morgan's really good!"

"Yes, but we're doing a background and case check," one of the agents said.  Ford glared at him.  "Sorry, sir."

Xander looked at him.  "You're making more work for me?"

"No.  Finish training your intern and Preston, Harris.  It'll be close enough."

Xander sighed and nodded.  "Sure.  If I must.  I like teaching."  He looked at David, who had sighed.  "I promise, no more long hours."

"Well, he does have the option of overtime again but I don't think he'll be running out anytime in the near future to do some," Mort offered, going to get her personnel file.  He handed it over. "Go ahead.  You know where Xander's lab is."  They headed that way.

"Don't delete anything," Xander called after them.  "I need to backup the reports files.  Crissy said to do it tonight."

"Fine," Ford called back.

"I hope they won't count her feminist leanings and manifesto on her wall against her," Mortty offered.

"No, they can't do that," David assured her.  "It'd breach EEOC regulations."  He patted her on the back.  "Give Xander the other one you've got stored so he won't bounce me later."  She grinned and went to get the one she had planned to give him later, handing it over and getting another hug.  "Thanks, Mortty.  Any good news, Mort?"

"Yes, while you were gone they permanently replaced that pipe above your work table.  Your intern spent his day off cleaning your lab with bleach, then with lysol and finally with alcohol."  David smiled at that.  That was his sort of guy!  "I think you two will get along fine, David.  Just give him a fair shot."

"That's fine," he agreed, leaning on the table.  "What cases?"

"Two homicides and your extra one is a domestic.  He's trying to plea and the DA thinks something's off, probably drugs."

David nodded.  "Okay, I've done them in my sleep almost."  Mort smiled at him for that and David ignored the ring of chocolate around his mate's mouth, for now.


David looked up as his intern walked in.  "Sorry I'm a bit late, sir.  There was a bit of traffic outside from some federal agents chatting in the parking lot.  I couldn't get into my usual space."  He put his briefcase down and took off his suit jacket, then put on his smock.  "I took the liberty of cleaning the lab while you were gone, sir.  I also took the liberty of cleaning the stash of GSR off your desk.  I don't know what the unclean ballistic techs were doing using your computer, but I did mention it to the dayshift tech, who only laughed for some reason."

"Xander's my husband, kid.  He's also got a minor in Trace so sometimes he comes over to help when I'm backed up.  He's got special, clean, jackets and gloves over here for those cases."

"Aren't you worried that he might be carrying things in his hair or some such?" he demanded.

"Yes, but I never let him help me on a shooting case so there's no possibility of missing a native sample of GSR due to the slight risk of contamination.  If and when he comes to help it's usually closer to the end of shift so he scrubs down in the locker room and does his hair before coming back in a clean outfit and putting on a clean jacket.  I'm guessing someone had to use my computer for the extra interns they've got.  They've got three between here and Region Three's offices."  He smiled at him. "Good reporting though.  Come on, let's get to work.  I'm down to that domestic.  We're looking for evidence that might suggest drugs or alcohol were involved.  He's already confessed but the DA said something was off about it."

"As you wish."  He double gloved then came over to help.  "Should I help with this sample or another one?"

"No, let's work on this one together so I can get used to you and make sure you know what you're doing.  The only intern I've ever worked with was Xander when he was doing some hours in his minor in my lab back in Vegas."   The intern looked stunned so he smirked a bit.  "Xander's very qualified.  He ran Vegas during his internship because the main ballistics tech was home with a mother undergoing cancer treatments. He has a minor in Trace so I got help whenever I needed."  Greg leaned in the doorway.  "He's another transplant from out there."

"Tommy?" Greg asked.  The boy blushed.  "Man, the last time I saw you, you had blue hair, a Grateful Dead ripped t-shirt and surfer shorts on.  What happened?"

"Mother made me see that I had to give out a much more professional image to be accepted."

David shook his head and motioned him to the doorway, unlocking it and sliding it open.  "Xan?"  He grinned at him, pushing back some of his hair. "You need a trim, dear.  Greg's in.  This is Tom, my new intern.  Tom, this is my husband Xander.  As I said, you'll be seeing him in here and we leave this door unlocked in case he gets hurt again."  Tom nodded, blushing a bit.  "Apparently Tom and Greg used to know each other."

"I'm friends with one of his older sisters," Greg said, grinning at Xander.  "You outlasted all the bets on how soon you'd be back.  I'm impressed."  He clapped the kid on the back.  "Be yourself.  Loosen up again. You don't have to wear a tie to work in the labs. I don't.  Xander doesn't.  David doesn't either."

"Ties can drag through samples and other things, giving contact transfer," David told him.  Tom took it off, still looking embarrassed.  "Xander and Greg used to get into naughty t- shirt contests back in Vegas, Tom.  Just be yourself and keep the meticulous nature.  Yell if you need your painkillers," he ordered before shutting the door.  He looked at his intern.  "Really.  I like uptight people but hiding it will only make you miserable. I started that way too but then I let my geeky inner nature come out at Greg's insistence."  He shrugged.  "Let's get back to work."  Tom rolled up his sleeves and came over to help, earning a smile for how he was doing.


Stan smiled at the baby in his arms.  "See the puppy, Derrick?  That's Sarah. She's kinda a cousin of yours.  Fraser, the big guy in red who held you a minute ago, the one with dark hair, well, his wolf had puppies with Sarah so they're my grandkids and she's an in-law of sorts.  Since Stella's your mommy, I'm an uncle so that kinda makes you cousins.  Now, Rennie, the big guy in red who's a blond, you'll love him.  He plays and tickles, and teases, and even plays with my toes now and then.  He's the fun uncle.  He'll play and coo at you all day, just like the big freak in black earlier, Uncle Xander.  Yes, he will," he said happily, teasing the baby's belly.  He got a belch for it but the baby seemed happier.  "That's very good!  It's an important guy skill.  We had to teach Xander how to belch when he first joined us.  We'll make sure you don't turn as girly as he is."

"Stanley!" Stella snapped. "Don't tell him that stuff!"  She scowled at him so he grinned smugly.  "I mean it."

"Xan was raised by girls.  He can't even understand basketball.  He reads romance novels, Stell."  She rolled her eyes.  "Since you're raisin' him mostly alone, with babysitting by me of course, I'm gonna make sure you don't warp the kid like his friends did him."

"My son will be going to Harvard.  He's not allowed to belch at Harvard."

"Unless he joins a frat," Ray teased from his desk.  He looked over.  "Yo, Stan, pass me the little one."

"Yeah, like I'm gonna toss you anything but work," he snorted, shaking his head.  "Mine all mine, Vecchio.  Go find a woman and date'er if you want some babies to hold."

Stella took the baby and handed him over.  "Keep him sane."

"I try, but Stan's already too far gone," he joked.

"I meant the baby.  I already knew that about him."

"Funny, not," Stan joked, smirking at her.  "When can we babysit?  Rennie's lookin' forward to cooing all night, 'cause then I get cooed over and played with later."

Xander hopped up the stairs. "Dawn said Rosenburg was looking for a way to gift me with one of those. She had to have Giles turn her blind for ten days to make her forget about it."  He handed the files he carried to Dewey.  "All yours, big man."  He hopped over, smiling at the baby.  "Hi, Derrick.  Are you being cuddled by the Unclie Ray?" he cooed.  "He's very good at that.  Let him and Uncle Benny teach you about sports too, that way I have someone to watch curling with that won't get your Unclie Stan jealous."

"Thatcher's getting another Mountie," Ray joked, smirking at him.  "She wanted to know if you wanted that one or if she should just present him to Stan in a big, red bow."

"I've already bagged my Mountie quota.  I couldn't handle a third one," Stan joked back.  Benny looked at him, sticking his head through the door of the breakroom.  "Ray said Thatcher might present him to me or Xan."

"I doubt you'd like him that much.  He's a bit uptight." He came out.  "Xander, what are you doing up here?"

"Delivering good news and seeing the baby."

"You shouldn't have come up the stairs."

"Oh, relax," he complained, rolling his eyes.  "I guess I'm being banished back downstairs, Derrick.  Come down to see us.  Mortty wants to squeal over you too."  He waved and hopped off, his crutches making him go more slowly down the stairs.

Everyone listened until the door closed, then they sighed in relief.  They couldn't stand it if he was gone for another six weeks.

"Who won the bet?" Frannie called.

Huey looked in his drawer at the list.  "It went past all estimates so the last one would.  That's.. Xander?"  He looked around.  "Who took that one?"

"Greg made it," Stan said smugly.  "I remember him doing it.  You let him write his own name too."

"I'll have to pay more attention to that stuff," he complained.

"You could invalidate it," Dewey suggested.  "Who's next, me or Kennedy?"

"David."  He looked up the list.  "The next one not in that house is ...Pershing?"

"The bigotted asshole from downstairs?" Ray demanded.  He nodded.  "Why?"

"He said David beat him too hard or .... they were a bit too playful is what he put."  He shrugged.

"Eh, Xander won," Stan decided.  Everyone nodded at that.  They'd probably get treated to something like candy anyway.


Xander was lying in bed later that next Sunday night, looking at his mate.  "David, would you tell me I'm stupid?"

David moved his book to look at him.  "Do you want me to tell you you're stupid?  If so, I'm getting you a therapist for your birthday."

"No, I don't want you to tell me I'm stupid but I think you will anyway and I don't want to be called stupid today."

"Okay."  He put his book aside.  "What did you do that I'll yell at you about?"  He shifted to look at him.


"Then why would I call you stupid?"

"It's an idea I had," he admitted, plucking at the blanket.  David caught his hand, he hated finding fuzzballs stuck to him in the morning.  "Sorry."  He gave him a sheepish look.  "You remember how I was bored when I was stuck in bed and how I had to fight to even get my laptop?"  David nodded, smiling at him.  "Well, I kinda tried to write something like a journal only it sounded like a kiddie book so I left it there for a few days and then I finally got around to putting pictures in it and I think it's dumb, but I don't want you to think I'm stupid," he babbled in one breath.

"I want to see it first," David said gently.  "It might not be stupid, Xander, but I need to see how much grammar and writing help you need first."  Xander blushed a bit.  "Were you planning on publishing it?"  He shook his head quickly. "Are you sure?"

"Very.  I can't stand the rejection," he sighed, snuggling in closer. "It's on my laptop.  I was thinking it'd make a good holiday present for Derrick."

David gave him a cuddle.  "I'll look at them before work tomorrow, Xan.  I'm sure they're pretty good, you just need some grammar help now and then, like you do in your reports."  He stroked his mate's cheek.  "Okay?" Xander nodded, tucking his head under David's and wrapping himself around him. "What's it about?"

"A demon hunter named Ted."

"Demon Hunter Ted?" he asked with a grin.  "Not autobiographical at all?" he teased.  Xander poked him so he laughed.  "I'm sure it's a great story about Ted the demon hunter."  He gave him a squeeze and got up, he had to see it now.  That did sound cute.  He found Xander's laptop in his office and came back to read it in bed, letting Xander rest his head on his thigh so he could stroke through it while he read.  He grinned at him.  "You did better here than you did on your reports.  I think it's cute!"  Xander looked up at him, looking hopeful.  "It's very cute.  We'll find a good place to print it for her for the holidays.  Only the one?"  He blushed and shook his head so David did a search for 'ted'.  He came up with a few more and read them, still rewarding his mate with petting.   "Remind me, it's nearly time to get the tree, Xan."

"Sure.  Next weekend?"

"That'll be the first of December, that'll be fine," he promised, grinning at him.


Stella opened the big, flat package and looked at David and Xander, who were grinning.  "What are these?" she asked, flipping them over.  "Children's books?"  She flipped through the first one, blinking at it.  "These are really cute!" she said happily. "Thank you! I can't wait to read them to Derrick."

Stan looked at them, then at Xander.  "Ted?" he asked.

"Hey, I was on heavy drugs!" he defended, pouting at him.

"He waited nearly two whole months to tell me," David told him.  "Don't pick on him about it."

"You wrote these, Xander?"  He blushed and nodded, ducking his head down.  "Well, I think they're very good.  Are you going to submit them somewhere?"

"No.  They're just for him."  He ran and hid.

"The two I tried without him knowing didn't want them," David whispered in her ear.  "He's really insecure about this."  She nodded, kissing him on the cheek.  "I thought about vanity publishing but that's expensive."  He looked at Ray.  "Maria got a copy too."   He grinned and nodded. "How's your mother?"

"Feeling old.  I think her age is starting to catch up to her joints."  He shrugged. "She's almost eighty-three.  You gotta expect these things and be gentle about it."  David nodded, giving him a hug.  "Xander's done good things for you, David.  I bet you'd never hug another guy before him."

"Not true," Greg said happily.  "He hugged me once, but I made him."  He handed over his presents next.  "Here you go.  Greg special gifts for special people and special friends."

"You make it sound so sleazy," Huey teased, opening his.  "Hey, I like this place."

"I know, that's why I got you the nice gift certificate, so you can splurge a bit," he teased, grinning at him.  "David, yours is a joint one."  David opened his and then covered, it blushing a bit.  "I figured there's stuff there you could use."  David blushed brighter and nodded.  "Quick, someone get a picture."  Dewey took one then cackled and ran off.  "I want a copy," he called after him.  "So will Xander!"

"I'm not sure I want to open mine," Welsh admitted, doing it anyway.  He smiled at the nice bottle of cologne. "Thanks, Greg.  It's even my scent."

"Yeah, I noticed you hadn't worn any in a few days.  I figured you ran out."  He shrugged. "I checked, your wife said it was fine."

"You asked my wife what to get me?" he asked.

"Well, yeah.  I didn't want to get you some if she already had," he said with a grin. "She said it was one less thing she'd have to put in your stocking so you could have more candy."

Welsh grinned at that, shaking his head.  "You three are nuts, but we like you guys."

"What got sent to Vegas?" Frannie asked as she opened hers, hugging Greg for the faux fur wrap and gloves.  "I like these, thanks."

"You're welcome. I'm not sure what they sent.  I know David and Xander sent some separate ones.  I sent separate ones.  I'm not really quite sure what Xander did."


In Vegas, everyone was gathered around opening presents.  "I got Mylanta," Bobby said, holding it up.  "I'm not sure why."

"From who?" Catherine asked, looking at her bottle of antacids.  "Mine's from David," she said, holding hers up.

Nick opened his gift from Xander and looked at it.  "I think I know why."  He read the card.  "He followed the directions exactly with help from Mrs. Vecchio over the phone and Dawn on some of them," he read off David's card.  He opened that package, finding his own bottle of rolaids.  "Anyone want to try the fudge?"

"I'm that brave," Sarah decided, breaking off a small piece to nibble.  She chewed. "Good texture."  She ate another piece.  "It's not too bad.  Maybe they'll teach Xander to cook yet."  She ate a larger piece after everyone else had.

Warrick grimaced a bit.  "Too sweet for me."  He handed his to Catherine.  "It was really sweet of him."

"He's a sweet guy," she agreed.

"It's all the sugar he ate," Brass noted, popping in another piece of his. Sarah suddenly got up and ran for the water fountain.  Everyone looked at hers, seeing the hot pepper she had eaten half of and wincing.  Everyone broke theirs into littler pieces, and no one else had those.  "I guess he thought she liked it hot?" Brass suggested, eating a walnut out of his.

"Apparently," Warrick agreed, smirking a bit.  "Rinse and spit, Sarah."  She started doing that and he shook his head.  "Xander's a funny little boy."

Grissom nodded. "He is.  He's also warped David since he sent us all stuff for heartburn."  He turned and lifted the big box that Xander had sent them, taking the meal out and handing it down for their feast.  "Okay, everyone, dig in."

Bobby got up to get the stuff his wife had sent with him, as did Warrick, and Catherine got the stuff she made.  They all ranged it around the table.  Then Bobby got the honors of trying Xander's first real cooked meal.  He winced a bit.  "Strong spices," he said. "Peel off the turkey skin."  He sipped a bit of his mylanta.

Warrick took the safe route, dishing up some of the mashed potatoes.  After all, not even Xander could mess up mashed potatoes, right?  He ate a bite and grabbed his water to gulp.  "Thai seasonings," he gasped.

Nick took some to taste.  "Interesting, but neat.  Good enough for me."  He tasted some of the stuffing.  "Not too bad.  A bit onion heavy."  He passed that down to Warrick, who was taking some rolaids from his jar.  "Try that, it's good."  He got up to get the knives for Grissom, who got the honor of carving if Doc didn't want it.  They all carefully tasted everything before fixing it.  Some things needed some salt, some things needed some spices taken out.  Bobby's wife's cornbread needed some butter because it was dry.  By the end, no one was sick and everyone had used David's presents, and Greg's presents were all amusing and fun so it was a good holiday.

The End.