Ballistics In The Press.

Xander looked at the guy walking up to him in the entryway, then shrugged at the desk sergeant.  "I don't know, man.  It happens.  Any other bad news?"

"No, not a bit," he offered.  "You guys okay down there?  I heard the heat blew again."

"It did but I fixed that," Xander noted dryly.  The guy coughed and he looked at him again.  "You needed to see which client?"

"I'm CSI Terrence Bailey.  I just got hired to work here?"

Xander nodded and shook his hand.  "CSI Harris, Ballistics and Trace. Tell us if you hear anything more about that vandal, Toby.  I'll lead the new guy down then up to Welsh if Ray isn't in."

"That's fine.  Welsh hasn't come in yet.  He may have tonight off."

"Wonderful," he noted dryly, nodding his head.  "Come on, Bailey.  Time to meet your death and devise your own punishment."  He opened the door and headed down the stairs.  "All the CSI labs are down here."

"You don't have security?"

"That's what desk sergeants are for," he noted patiently. "Besides, usually I'm enough of a deterrent for anyone to think twice, along with our head, Vecchio.  Yo, Ray!" he called.  "New boy's here!"

"In Trace," Ray called back.

Xander nodded, leading the way back there.  He walked in and looked at the sample.  "Blood and ash.  Looks like they tried to wash it normally but the ash probably set the stain."  He looked at David.  "That's what happened to the blue t-shirt you gave me."

"I remember.  Think we can get DNA?"

"Probably.  As long as it wasn't washed in bleach.  Mortty!"  She bounced across the hall, giving him a hug and a grin before looking at the stain.  "DNA capable?"

"Maybe.  I can try."  She grinned at the staring guy.  "Hi, I'm Mortty."  She took the shirt back across the hall.  "Ray, that mouse is back!" she yelled.  Something heavy hit the floor.  "Never mind!"

"Thanks, Mortty, I'll have the guys put out more traps."  He looked at the guy.  "With one of the local buildings burning down the other day, all the mice have moved here.  They'll be gone within a day and Xander's dog does pretty good hunting them.  So, you're a what sorta tech?"

"Field," he said, looking very cautious now.

David smirked at him.  "You'll do fine.  Right out of college?"

"No, I was working in Houston but I did my college in Maryland."  He looked from Xander, who was wearing a simple t-shirt and jeans, to Ray, who was wearing a suit and tie, to David, who was doing jeans and a nice shirt.  Then he remembered the DNA tech.  "Is it dress down day?"

"Only the field techs *have* to look presentable," Xander offered dryly.  "No one can see us down here unless the mayor or the Chief brings down the press."

"He's hunting you again," Ray noted.

"Fuck. Can I throw on a better shirt and head into the field?"

"Nope.  He ordered you to stay here."  He looked over Xander's outfit.  "I might change, Harris.  Really.  It's about that pesky reward for pouncing the thief last month."  Xander walked off muttering.  "Sorry, he hates medals and certificates."  He led the guy out.  "Did you get the introductory lessons and the information packets with the PD rules?" he asked.  The guy nodded.  "Good.  You've filled out all the paperwork I'm assuming?"  He nodded again.  "Even better.  Let me call someone so they can start you in the field with them until you start to learn the town."  He called one of the guys on his cell.  "Tracey, you busy yet?  No, new guy, Bailey, is here.  Yeah, him."  He looked him over.  "Suit and tie presently.  Why?"  He shuddered.  "I did enough of that with Benny.  Sure, come get 'im."  He hung up.  "I'd change into jeans and a t-shirt.  They've got a case with a lot of mud, slime, and fish."

"We don't have jumpsuits?"

"You do but they're not waterproof, kid.  Go change.  He'll be here in about ten minutes."

"Um, sure."  He headed back upstairs and got his bags from his car, bringing them to the locker room by following a cop taking off his tie.  "Hi, CSI Bailey," he introduce when the guy gave him a funny look.  "We just take an empty locker?"

"Sure, that's fine.  CSI have theirs along the wall," he said, pointing.  "Which tech are you?"

"Field.  I'm the new field guy."  He walked that way, finding an empty locker.  It was even dusted, so he was impressed.  He laid out his supplies methodically and got undressed, changing into something less good.  He turned and found another cop watching him and shrugged.  "I'm new.  Just started today.  CSI Bailey, field."  He grinned.  "I already met Harris and Vecchio."

"Detective Vecchio's one of the hardest asses in this city," the cop offered.  The others in the locker room with them laughed.  "He is, but he's good and he's thorough.  He tends to take a 'kill it' approach but with what he gets into it's reasonable.  You say you met Harris?"  He nodded, grimacing a bit.  The guy laughed.  "Yeah, apparently you did.  Is today a t-shirt day?"

"He had on a plain blue one but the guy in the Trace lab and Vecchio said the Chief was coming. Something about a reward so he came to change."

"You'll understand soon enough.  A word of advice, Bailey.  Either hide behind Harris if shooting starts, or hide somewhere far out of the way if they're firing on him.  Harris is one of the guys who subs for SWAT and he's *good* at what he does.  That's why some people want him and some people want him dead," he offered.  The guy nodded slowly.  "Harris is a big goofball and they're all family down there.  Him and his husband David, the guy in Trace, are really tight.  It's just that trouble likes Harris.  Who did they stick you with tonight?"

"Um, some woman named Tracey?"

"CSI Tracey, that's his last name.  He's good.  He's one of our senior people.  There's only two higher in the department than he is and one's a transfer with twenty years of experience.  They've worked with Xander on serial cases before, let him advise you about Harris.  Just remember, he's a geek, a goofball, and people don't fuck with Harris.  We don't get fucked with because people don't fuck with Harris.  His first instinct is to blow it up, shoot it up, or stab it a lot."  The guy whimpered. "He's a nice guy as long as you're not on the wrong side.  Just remember that."   He grabbed his hat and walked out.  "If you're heading with Tracey, expect to need to change again," he called.  "They're dealing with a possible homicide on a fishing boat.  Lots and lots of fish guts from what I heard."

"In the lake?" he demanded, shaking his head.  "I didn't think you had a fishing industry."

"Not much of one," one guy offered.  "Enough for some of the local markets.  Personally, I wouldn't eat anything outta the lake, but that's just me."  He came over.  "Listen, Bailey.  The twenty-seventh not only has Harris and Vecchio, we also have two Mounties and their captured man, who is the city's other badass.  Detective Kowalski, not to be confused with his ex-wife who is DA Kowalski.   If you can get along with one of them you'll be okay with all of them.  Don't try to out macho Harris or Vecchio, they'll win.  Harris was raised by some warped girls who didn't teach him about guy stuff, but he's fairly macho and heavy about the harder things in life.  He's also the guy you go to when you need to talk about a shooting.  He's been there and done that a lot as he puts it."  Bailey nodded, looking confused. "Get on their good sides.  It'll make everything easier.  As long as you get along with one, you'll be fine.  Harris is really respectable for being gay.  He doesn't do much hiding in the closets, unlike the Mounties from what we've heard," he offered with a small smirk.  "Just let them get to know the real you.  Don't try to pretend, pull airs, or anything like that.  You will lose their respect if you do that.  Now, you got a speciality we should call you first about?  Bugs, strange stuff, birds?"

"No, I haven't really done anything like that," he offered quietly.  "Strange stuff?"

"Again, Harris.  It's part of his former life.  He's one of about fifteen in the department.  We around here usually just call him and describe it.  He answers and hardly ever has to come out with the younger Mountie.  Another thing, you gay?"  He shuddered and shook his head.  "You're gonna be working with a few.  Ray's straight as a nun's ruler, but Harris and Hodges are married.  We all attended the wedding.  Kowalski is in deep with his Mounties."

"Hell, with the way they go at it, you'd think they were trying to conceive," one guy joked.

"That's a really bad thought, Perkins!" that first guy complained, turning and throwing the socks in his hand at him.  "I didn't need to imagine a pregnant Mountie!  That's just disgusting!  They eat enough odd things as is!"  He looked at their new field tech.  "Just be yourself and let it ride for now.  You'll be fine."

"Are the rest of them normal?  I met the DNA tech, Mortty?"

"Mortty?  She's cool.  She's a bit goth and badass herself, but she's good," he offered with a small smirk.  "She's also very hot and *loves* Xander.  If he wasn't taken, she'd have him wrapped in her little velvet gloved hand within a minute."

Xander walked in and looked at them.  "Don't scare the new guy off me!" he whined.  "Gods, guys!  It's not like I'm as bad as you think!  Just because people come after me and some gang kids run!"  He walked over to his locker, grabbing his jacket out of it.  "I spilled my soda," he complained, grabbing another shirt to put on as well. "Stupid Chief jumped in and surprised me while I was typing a report."  He looked at the new guy.  "One piece of very firm advice, Bailey.  If someone's shooting around us and not directly at me or Ray, hide behind us or Stan.  Or one of the Mounties.  If they're shooting at any of us, hide under a table or something.  It'll keep you alive."  He wrote down a few numbers.  "Okay, that's Dispatch, Ray's desk, and he's playing Tetris at the moment, and my office.  I've got the fax machine, just add a number and it's the fax line.  Put those into your cell and make sure you remember them.  Got it?"  He nodded.  "Good.  Tracey was pulling up as I walked in.  He's the guy with the wild red streaks.  He lost a bet and Mortty got to play with his hair."  He put on his lab coat and fussed with his hair for a moment. "Pretty enough to be filmed hating myself for getting a reward?" he asked the cops.  They all nodded so he left, going back downstairs.

Bailey closed his locker and put his lock on it, heading out to look for the CSI in question.  He found him chatting and put on his bravest smile.  "You must be CSI Tracey?  Harris said you were taking me around?"

"I am.  Got a jumpsuit yet?" He shook his head.  "Yo, Rory!" he called.  "Newbie needs gear!"  The guy looked abashed and went back to get his processing kit, coming back to get his jumpsuit as well.  "Thanks, Rory," Tracey offered with a small grin.  "Love ya, man.  We're dealing with fish so be ready."  He walked the guy out.  "Forget whatever they told you," he offered as they walked outside.  "Harris is a nice guy.  Hodges is a great guy, if a bit sarcastic and moody sometimes, and Vecchio earned his respect long ago.  Kowalski is doing two Mounties, but it makes him sane and happy, we like that.  Never feed Harris or Kowalski or the wolf chocolate.  That will get you yelled at and possibly swatted by Vecchio or Welsh.  Just be yourself and you'll do fine.  Pretty soon we'll warp you so you fit right in around here."  He opened the car door, letting him inside.  He walked around to get in, then frowned at something in the doorway.  "Hey, the third Mountie.  I'll be right back."  He tossed in the keys.  "Go ahead and start it to turn on the heater."  He walked off, going to talk to him.  No one had seen this Mountie yet.  "Which one you lookin' for?" he called as he walked.  Then he ducked and winced, looking back at his car.  "Fuck.  Go inside, tell the sergeant to call fire and our ME."  He nodded, hurrying inside.  "Huh.  Lost my bet on how long before Harris drove him mad," he noted bitterly.  "I coulda used that pot."  Ray and Xander came rushing outside.  "Boss, I handed him the keys so he could turn on the heat while I asked the new Mountie which one he was looking for."

"New Mountie?" Xander asked.

"I sent him to the desk, didn't you see?"  Xander shook his head and went back inside, but came out shaking his head.  "I know he was here."

"I'm not doubting you," Xander offered. "But you can buy a Mountie costume anywhere around here," he suggested with a grin.  "He look off?"

Tracey thought back, then nodded.  "Yeah, actually he did.  His boots were brown, not black.  They also weren't shiny like Benny's or Turnbull's.  That and I think his belt thingy that goes over the shoulder was on the wrong side.  It looked off.  Kinda loose too."

"Well, the wrong shoulder is a sign of a higher rank," Xander offered.  "But it still wouldn't be *loose*.  I'll pull the security tapes. Maybe he's the bomber."  He went to do that, taking them down to the AV lab.  "Look at the Mountie.  Tracey said his belt was loose and his boots were wrong."  The guy nodded, they all knew what proper Mounties looked like around there.  He walked back outside, waiting while the fire department hosed down the car.  Tracey went back to his site.


David walked into Ballistics and looked around before closing the door and leaning against it.  "You okay?"

"He seemed okay," he offered.  "I didn't really know him enough to grieve for more than a guy who got killed."

"You sure?"  He walked closer, giving him a hug.  "Are you backed up?"

"Crissy didn't come in today," he reminded him, stealing a kiss.  "I love you."

"I love you too, Xander."  He gave him a cuddle.  "Rennie wanted to go home to Ottawa over the weekend and he invited us to go with him."

"Eeeeh," Xander sighed, looking at him.  "Did you want to go?"

"It's a pretty city and there's a Star Trek convention," he offered. Xander beamed and kissed him hard, making him moan.  "Not in the office," he said, pulling back.  "I take it that's a yes?"

"Please," Xander begged.  "Can we get rooms at the hotel?"

"I checked and they said they still had a few."  He grinned at him.  "Will you be a good boy?"

"I'm always a good boy," he promised, grinning slightly wickedly.  "I didn't even make a face when I accepted the check.  I was a good boy all day."

"You were," he agreed, stealing a quick kiss.  "I'll let you get back to work.  What did you want for lunch?"

"I don't care.  What's open?"

David grinned.  "Chinese, pizza...."

"Pizza or the Greek place if it's open."

"We'll order from there before we come in tomorrow."

Xander nodded, letting him go back to work.  "David, can I have turkey and hot pepper later?" he called.

"You're an odd man, Xander Harris, and you eat like a pregnant woman!"

"Sorry, dear."  Mortty came in and hugged him.  "What?  Am I being fired?" he asked, frowning a bit.  "I was a good boy."

"I know you were, I was hugging you because you were such a good boy and didn't run from the big plastic check this time."  She patted him on the cheek.  "Are we doing pizza?"  He nodded.  "David, order a real pie.  I want some too," she called.  She kissed him on the cheek and bounced off again.

David shook his head, closing the connecting doors.  "We have some odd friends," he noted, getting back to work. His load was light tonight.  He even called in the pizza order since he knew what they both liked on theirs.


Xander looked up from his paperwork, noticing the people in the doorway of his lab.  "What?" he asked, his hand inching toward his gun.  "Did you need something in this lab?" he asked politely.

"CSI Harris?" one asked.  He nodded slowly.  She smiled and walked in, handing him a card.  "Here, because you're helping crime go down."  She leaned across the desk to hug him then backed off.  "Thank you."

"You're, um, welcome.  I guess.  I'm just doing my job.  Really."  They smiled.  "Here, let me get you my boss so he can pass on your comments to the Chief.  Ray!" he called, trying to sound calm.  No answer.  He called him.  "Ray, there's a group of people here who want to praise me and just gave me a card.  They'd like to give you comments to pass up the chain."  He hung up. "He'll be right down.  He's at the desk getting the mail."  He grinned, forcing himself to relax.  "So, are you relatives of officers?"  They all shook their heads.  "Huh.  A fan club?" he suggested.   That got some giggles and a few nods.  "Okay, I guess that's cool.  Ray!" he called, hearing a door shut.  He walked back there.  "These nice people just gave me a card," he said, showing it to him.  "They thanked me for helping take down crime."

"You're good at that," he agreed, smiling at them.  "That was very nice of you.  Did you want to fill out some compliment forms?"  They nodded and followed him.  He looked at Xander, who shrugged.  "Fine," he mouthed.  He took the card and walked it out to hang it on the wall.  That got a lot of smiles so he smiled back and got them some complaint forms and handed them over with pens. "Here, these'll do.  I'll correct the header later."  They sat around the main table, writing nice comments about Xander.  He sat down to sort the mail, finding two for Xander that seemed to be personal.  He got up to walk them back there, then paused in Trace to scan them.  You never could be too careful about Xander's mail.  David looked at him, then the letters, then found the scanner without a comment.  "He's got a fan club."

"I knew that but I thought most of them came from the clubs," he noted dryly.

"Apparently not.  They gave him a nice card."  He scanned the letters, putting one carefully aside.  "Dave, go *get* the bomb guys.  Do not call, it might set it off," he warned.  He nodded, calmly heading out and jogging up the stairs once he was out of sight.  He could call from the front desk.  He couldn't run up three flights of stairs for money.  Ray came out and smiled, taking the forms.  "Thank you, ladies.  That's very nice that you support your local police department.  But for right now, we're going to have to clear the lab.  Someone just sent us a questionable envelope and it's got to be checked."

"That anthrax stuff?" one asked, pouting a bit.

"We don't think so but we can't be sure yet.  So we're going to have to evacuate all of you upstairs. All right?"  He smiled winningly.  They smiled and he got the rest of the forms then they shook his hand or kissed his cheek before walking off.  He took a deep breath and hit the emergency button for the lab-wide announcement system.  "People, Xander just got sent a letter bomb.  Cover and leave for a bit.  All but you, Harris."  He let it go and shook his head as the SWAT guy came in.  "It's on David's table.  Please don't destroy the lab."

"I'll try really hard not to."  He walked back there, watching as everyone left orderly.  Another thing Xander had helped with. He found the letter on the table and scanned it, then looked at the other one laying out, then scanned it.  It came up to be the one he wanted so he carefully lifted it and carried it out to the main table.  He noticed the forms, tipping his head to read them.  "Interesting.  Harris, fan club?"

"I don't know," he offered, opening his other piece of mail.  He looked at it, then groaned and handed it over.  "It explains why I'm getting a letter bomb.  I love you, man.  Have fun with that."  He walked off shaking his head. "David, they sent a letter explaining *why* they sent me a letter bomb," he called as he walked.  David just shook his head.  "I left it with the SWAT head," he told Greg, who was pulling on some gloves.  "Ray...."

"Not my fault, kid.  Who was it?"

"He signed it an 'anonymous mob guy'," he said sarcastically.  "I so wanna go rid the city of the families, just in case!"  David pulled him closer, patting him on the back.  "I know, but it's dumb!  He sent me a *letter* explaining *why* he sent me the letter bomb!"

"I'll smack him around when we find him," Ray promised.  Only Xander.  He turned and walked outside, going to laugh in private with Kowalksi and Turnbull.  David and Greg joined him a minute later, leaning on each other to laugh.  "Only Xander."

"Yeah, only him," David agreed.  "I don't know how he does it."

"It's not my fault!" Xander whined from behind them.  "It's not funny either!  It's pathetic!"  He stomped off.  "I'm going out!" he yelled as he walked.  "Where people won't laugh at me!"  He got into his car and slammed the door, heading off.

Ray and Stan looked at each other, then burst out laughing again.


Xander was led into the unit by the handcuffs, glaring at the guys around them.  "I was being good!  Let me go!"

"You were out without an escort, you had to run from a woman, that's not being good!" the cop complained.  He drug him up the stairs and to Welsh's office.  He tapped gently and the door was opened. "Sir, someone let Harris out clubbing without an escort."

"I thought you were on tonight," he said, looking at Xander.

"I was, but then they sent me a letter bomb and a letter explaining the bomb," he said bitterly.  "I walked off since they were laughing at me and I couldn't work anyway."

"Fine.  Let him go, officer.  I'll take charge of him."

"Sir, I should warn you, he was running from about six women who were cooing and wanting to protect and cuddle him.  I'd also suggest you check his pockets since this fell out when I caught him," he said, handing over something from his pocket.  "I don't know how he does it, but please have Sanders and Hodges find out so it can be bottled."  He released Xander and walked off shaking his head.  Only Harris.

Xander glared at him. "I was saving my sanity and my lab was blocked off.  Is it unblocked yet?"

"No.  You're still in protective custody until we figure out who.  Where is your husband?"

"He was laughing," he said bitterly, pouting a bit.  "Can't I go home?"

"No!" he snorted, shaking his head.  "No way in hell, Harris.  Into the office.  I'll call to get you an escort to wherever your spouse is."  He let him flop down onto the couch.  "Since you're here, empty the pockets."  He handed over the paper bag from his lunch, watching as he took off his shirt and undid his pants before letting things out of his pockets.  He tried not to look when the kid dug into his boxers, but it was hard not to.

Stan came to the door, leaning over to watch Xander.  "Ants?" he asked hopefully.

"No, emeralds and pearls."  He dropped the earrings into the bag and wiggled a bit, letting something fall out his pantsleg.  He patted himself down then frowned.  "I had my ID and badge, right?"

"It's on your desk," Greg called as he came in.  He looked at him, then shook his head.  "He should beat you for being dumb."

"Oh, fuck off!"

"Sorry."  He walked in and hugged him.  "We didn't want to laugh but we couldn't stop."  He patted Xander on the back, looking at his chest.  "Since when did you have a tattoo?"

"Since the trip to LA."  He put back on his shirt after shaking something out of it and dropping it into the bag.  He handed it over and stomped off.  "I'm going home!"

"You're going to a hotel," Welsh called.

"If they want me that badly, I'll be at home and I'll mine the damn yard!  I'm not running from some stupid jerk who wrote that letter!"  He headed out to his car, but the ME stopped him and turned him around, walking him back inside. "Let go," he said impatiently.

"Can't do that, Xander.  There's a small assault that just happened and it's a crime scene."

"So?  It's not like I can't hop over the body."  He got free and headed out the other exit, walking around the building.  He found someone leaning against his car and looked at Ray.  "What!" he demanded.  He got in and slammed the door, then started the engine, gunning it a bit.  Ray did move so he didn't have to run him over, but right at that moment he wasn't really caring a whole lot.  He headed home to turn on the extra special security system he had installed, and the normal one of course.  "It's not like I can't disarm anything that the punk could throw," he muttered as he drove.  His phone rang and he continued to ignore it.  He parked, got out, slammed into the house, slamming the door behind him and stomped into his office to start the security system.  Someone stepping wrong on the lawn would either set off a really loud, obnoxious alarm, or would set off a low-charge land mine.  Their choice of path of course. He heard the door slam and slammed his office door too, locking it.

"That's not saving you," David called.  He pulled out his old ID card and jimmied the door, walking in and slamming it.  "What are you doing here!"

"I'm tired of running!  I also don't want to be laughed at again."

David grimaced.  "I'm sorry but it was funny."

"No it wasn't!  It's pathetic!"

"Pathetic can be funny."

"Not in this case," he said sullenly.

David moved closer, tipping his face up. "We weren't laughing at you, we were laughing at him.  Now, are you done with your male PMS for the month?  Because we shouldn't be here."

"I've got the special system armed."

"I thought I told you to take that down and the SWAT chief ordered you too."

"I've been too busy to."

"Xander!  You can get arrested for that."  Outside a mine went off and an alarm.  "See!"  They went out to look.  The mine only threw up dirt, it wasn't enough to really hurt someone.  That person, however, was cowering on their lawn begging for some merciful saint to come save him.  David opened the door, leaning out.  "Hey, did you write the letter?"  He looked up and nodded, still whimpering.  "Good.  Stay there.  There's more mines all around you."  He closed the door.  "Go disarm it before someone else shows up," he said quietly. Xander muttered the whole way back to his office but he did so because the alarm quit going off.  He sighed in relief, rubbing his aching forehead.  Xander came back so he grabbed him, making his mate look at him.  "You're in trouble.  You knew you were in trouble when you left tonight and I'm not happy you came back here when there was a danger."  Someone knocked so he looked out, then opened the door.  "Didn't I tell you to stay there?"  He looked and Xander's gun was already in his hand.  "Thanks, dear."

"You're gay!" the man demanded.

"Yeah," Xander agreed, smirking a bit.  "Happily gay and married to my husband with a dog.  Why?  You got something against us?"

He backed off, looking even more upset and confused now. When the cops pulled in he pointed at them. "They're gay!  They're not just dangerous but they're gay!"

"I know that, dipshit, I went to his wedding," Huey yelled back.  "Get over here!  Harris, that had better not have been a land mine!"

"I removed the explosive charge," he called from inside.  "They're only throwing enough dirt to scare you."

"I don't care, dig them the hell up!" he yelled back.

"Yes, Detective Huey," he sighed, going to find his shovel and do that.   If Huey was yelling it was bad.  He'd have to comply before he got yelled at for weeks on end.   Though, he decided, Welsh would probably be amused again.  He looked up at the discreet nozzle above his head, then grinned at his mate.

"And the flamethrower that you use against the Mormons and the Avon Lady," Huey added, having seen the look.  Stan had shared that bit of information around the office, just in case someone was having a bad day and turned it on them for showing up at eight in the morning.  "Now, Harris!"  He looked over as the SWAT van pulled into the driveway.  "He claims he took out the explosive charges."

"I can see that.  Before they would have blown up the entire lawn.  Did you order him to remove them again?"

Huey looked at him.  "And the flamethrower nozzle above the doorway Stan helped him install."

The head of SWAT just shook his head and walked up to the door.  David pointed down the hall, going back to the living room.  "I promise to only yell a bit."

"He's disabling the fuel tank on the flame thrower."

"Any other nasty surprises?"

Hodges looked at him. "Like he tells me," he said dryly.  "He knows I'll complain if he tells me about something like the back doorknob being electrified while the security system is on.  Thankfully he took that down after it got Greg late one night."  He picked up his book, starting to read.  "He's in the basement."

"Thanks."  He walked that way, knowing about the house from many events when the couple let everyone come over to watch games on their bigger than average tv.  He opened the door.  "Harris!" he bellowed.

"I'm disabling it," he whined back.  "Go away!"

"Fat chance!"  He headed down there to look over his shoulder, noticing the other things down there.  "Who was growing what?"

"Dawn's growing some magical herbs for her Wiccan and magic stuff," he said as he worked.  He finished sealing off the tank then disconnected them.  He capped that tube and dusted himself off as he went upstairs to fire it one last time.  It had scared the Mormons who had woken him up very badly, they had left a trail of wetness most of the way down the driveway.  The perp screamed as it went off, but Xander only smirked before letting it run out of fuel.  "Try it again," he called.  "After all, they can only complain about the stuff that's already here, not everything!"  He waved and slammed the door. "Boss, they're ready to go and you're blocking them."

David looked at his mate.   "Sit, Xander," he said calmly.  "I think it's time we discussed corporal punishment."  Xander snorted but sat across from him, staring him down. "You knew it was stupid to do when you took off."

"You laughed at me!"

"I laughed at the situation!"

"You still laughed at me."  He got up and went up to his tower room, slamming that door since the dogs were in there already.  He had a few spare pillows and a nice recliner in there for his napping and reading pleasure.  The dogs were even nice enough to share with him and cuddle under the blankets. He was asleep before David quit ranting at the walls to give him time to calm down and came searching for him.


David looked up as his kitchen was invaded by the dogs, letting them outside.  "Xander, come eat!"  The front door slammed and he smirked a bit, looking at the parts he had removed from the cars.  Both their cars.  Stan had told him how.  He went back to fixing breakfast, putting a plate down at his mate's usual seat when the door slammed again.  He opened the back door and the dogs ran inside, they didn't like the cold weather that much, unless Xander was playing with them in the snow.  "Better, guys?"  They barked so he fed them and refilled the self-waterer, then dished up his own breakfast and brought it to sit down and eat.  Xander stormed into the kitchen so he pointed at the plate. "Eat."



"I'm not hungry."

David grabbed his wrist and pulled him closer, making Xander stare at him.  "Just admit that you did something stupid and the fight ends.  I'm sorry I laughed at you.  I was still more laughing at the idiot who sent the letter. You're the one who ran off when you should have been in protective custody."

"I didn't need it."

"You did need it, Xander."  His husband got free and sat down, glaring at him from across the table.  David pushed over the plate.  "Eat."

"I'm not hungry.  I'm also not helpless and I'm tired of running from those sort."

David put down his fork and drained some of his coffee before he started to yell.  "It's only wise to protect yourself, me, Greg, and the dogs.  Yes, you can, but you're still only one guy.  Sarah's not an attack dog and Greg and I can't fight that well."  Xander slumped a bit more.  "I don't know why they like you either, but I'm tired of it, Xander.  I'm tired of having to run and all that stuff.  I don't want to keep going to a hotel or back to the station for protection."

"See!  I can ...."

David kicked him under the table.  "You can't.  You're one guy and even you have to sleep sometimes."  He stared him down and Xander sighed and nodded.  "I'd rather not have to do this at all.  Can we find some way to make sure they can't get to us or they quit coming after us?"

"I quit and hide on the top of a mountain?" he suggested bitterly.

"That might work, but then I'd get cold at night.  No one else would ever put up with my feet."  Xander cracked a small grin at that.  "Or our dog's nose in the belly button or her snoring into the same belly button."  He reached over and made Xander look at him again.  "I love you and I realize that others come after you because they want to get the major roadblock out of the way.  I realize that Stan and his boys have the same problems.  I'm just wondering why they come after you since you're not in the field.  Is it the scary reputation?  Is it the cases you've already worked?  Is the main guy over the city paranoid about you?"

"We belong to the same gun club," Xander admitted quietly, giving him the puppy eyed look.  "He's a bit scared of me.  I won the last club tournament.  He'd won the last ten in a row.  He threatened me the last time I saw him so I pulled out my badge.  He only laughed."  He shrugged a bit.  "I wasn't trying to egg him on, David."

"I know."  He gave Xander's hand a squeeze.  "I know you don't try and people consider you scary anyway.  Could he have heard about your past?"

"Maybe.  It's not like that's a well-hidden secret."  The phone rang and he picked it up.  "I'm having a heart-to-heart with my mate, Welsh, can't it wait?"  He listened then snorted.  "LA has plenty of criminalists and ballistic techs.  Why do they want me specifically?"  He listened and looked at David, then shook his head.  "No, sorry.  Not unless David wants to move and he's left LA once."  David shuddered.  "Nope.  He doesn't want to even visit.  Sorry."  He hung up.  "LA came recruiting."

"LA can bite me," he noted. "They're all assholes."  He gave Xander's hand another squeeze.  "I know you don't want them to come for you."

"No, but he's making me either hide and defend us, or go after him."

"That's going to put even more pressure, Xander.  They'll really be after you then."

Xander stared him down.  "I know that.  Why do you think I told OCB about it?  They told me to calm down and hide.  That I bruised his pride."

"You may have, but ...."  The phone rang again and he growled as he picked it up.  "What?" he demanded coldly.  "I don't care. You can tell.....  Henrietta.  Nice to hear from you again.  Yes, this is," he said in his most smooth, kissing ass, politically benefitting voice.  "No, actually Xander is my spouse.  Yes, a male.  Yes, I realize that.  No, but I'm also not letting him go back to LA.  He did his training out there.  He had people out there who want to kill him as well.  So, no, I don't think he'll be going back to LA.  Neither will I."  He rolled his eyes "Henrietta, dear, think about it.  We have a good salary, many good friends, Xander's high up in the lab here, and Ray pretty well babies him when he's having a bad day, like last night when he got a bomb threat.  We own our house, we have a dog, his almost-sister is living here.  Why would either of us want to go back?"  He smirked a bit more evilly now.  "No, Henrietta.  If you want him, you get me as well.  We're part of a package deal you see.  That's why we're married.  Hey, consider this, he makes me be nice to people."  He heard the shocked gasp on the other end and his evil smirk got brighter and broader.  "Exactly.  That's *my* spouse and where one goes, the other goes.  Since I don't want to work for LA and he doesn't want to live in LA, neither of us are going to LA.  You can tell whoever suggested him that.  Oh, really?  No, we'll call him ourselves in a few minutes.  Thank you for that information."  He hung up.  "Angel wants you back," he sneered. "He suggested the LA crime lab should hire you."

"Fuck LA, I don't wanna be there.  There's way too many demons and I like the clubs here better."  David smirked at that.  "I didn't ask for that stuff last night."


"Again," he sighed, slumping down and putting his elbows on the table so he could rest his chin in his hands.  "Some pretty jewelry, but I don't want it. I just want to find out what's going on that makes them come for me and get rid of it."

David smiled, nodding.  "I'd like that too."  He stood up and gave him a kiss.  "Eat, before I spank you again.  Not that you don't deserve it for not removing the mines and having that flamethrower system."

"I only scared the missionaries away with it," he offered in his best 'hurt little boy' voice.

David snorted. "Yeah, I saw you setting it off last night to 'clear the line'," he rebutted, staring him down.  "No more scary torture devices as security systems and remember, you're digging up the mines today."

"Yes, David," he sighed.


Xander gave him a small, hopeful look.  "You won't laugh at me again, right?"

David stared at him for a moment.  He knew Xander had bouts of low self worth and all that stuff, but this was getting out of hand.  He looked truly pitiful.  "I wasn't meaning to last night," he offered quietly.  "What broke you this time?"

"The stupid reward."

"Dear, that means you did good.  You've got a skewed sense of 'good job' and 'quiet job'.  Rewards and medals are good things, things to celebrate."

"But I don't want to be seen and gawked over!  I don't want to be acknowledged or anything! I hate it!"  He got up to pace.  "I hate the whole damn process, Dave.  I hate the press, I hate the notoriety, I hate being stared at and asked questions to.  I hate it all.  Everything about that whole medal shit is bad to me."  He stopped and looked at his mate, his hands on his hips.  "I know you don't understand, but I don't want the fame, or the acknowledgment.  That more than anything will make me leave a job."

David got up and gave him a hug.  "I don't know why you're like this, Xander."

"I don't like being stared at."

"Ah."  Now he was starting to discover something and it clicked with the other things in Xander's life.  He was a private person.  He didn't want to have people know the real him, the one that very few saw beyond the goofy guy in the t-shirt.  He didn't want people to see how badly he wanted to hide.  It also confirmed what he thought about Xander's childhood abuse situation.  "How about this," he proposed.  "You call Welsh and tell him if you ever get another medal or certificate, you're not accepting it."

"He won't listen.  I tried that."

"Then let me."  He gave him a gentle kiss.  "You eat. I made you a good breakfast and you didn't get dinner."  He nodded, sitting down to eat, but pulling his mate closer to hold at the same time.  "It'll be fine."  He stroked through the dark hair.  "I promise, it'll be fine.  I'll go talk to Welsh while you're digging up the land mines."  Xander nodded, eating slowly but still holding him.  "Good boy.  Now, take a soda and go outside to dig.  Take the dogs if you want."  He nodded, going to get his jacket and gloves, plus his boots from the closet.  David called Welsh. "You up yet?" he asked once Xander was outside.  "No, we've got to talk.  You and the Chief need to lay off Xander.  Because he's a very private guy and he hates being put in the spotlight.  And you knew this.  He told you before that he was going to quit if he got any more awards.  He was serious about it.  That's half the reason he ran off last night, Welsh."  He listened to the calming words.  "Yes, but remember, Xander's not everybody.  No one ever rewarded Xander and you're making him panic and hide.  I had to sleep alone last night because you guys were making him panic and hide.  He can't go out and have fun because of the press that he's gotten and he's being threatened by one of the top family guys in the city because he's a better shot than him and the press he's gotten.  So lay off my man!"  He hung up and went to watch Xander dig with the dog's help. They were having fun and laughing so he smiled as Xander picked up a clot of dirt and tossed it for them to chase.

Greg wandered out, resting against his back, his chin on David's shoulder.  "He okay now? I wasn't going to come out while you two were fighting."

"He's fine.  They scared him by making him a spotlight person again."  He smiled and waved at Xander, who grinned back and got back to work.

"Why doesn't he just set them off?" Greg asked quietly.  "It'd be easier."

"That would get someone here to see what was wrong."  He called the station again, this time SWAT.  "Xander can't find all the mines in the yard so we're setting them off.  Don't come running."  He hung up and went to the doorway.  "Babe, bring the dogs inside and just set them off."  Xander beamed like an evil little kid with his mind-control toy being sold for Christmas, bringing the dogs inside so he could arm the system and use the switch beside the door.  The front and back lawns both went up, letting him cackle grandly.  David kissed him gently.  "It's all right. You can be a good boy later and make up for making me sleep alone."  He went back to his book.  Greg could fix his own breakfast.  Xander stripped down to his boxers and a t-shirt, coming over to snuggle up against his side under the throw blanket.  He ran his hands through the hair while he read, listening for the first snore.  And the first sleep-grope.  It was an old habit from when they had been working such long hours and could only catch a nap together.

Greg peeked in then left, heading back to his room with his cereal.  He settled in at his desk and called Grissom, making him a happy guy too.


Their shift's ME stopped them before they could go inside. "You don't wanna do that," he noted.  Xander frowned.  "Welsh put up a big banner congratulating you for the reward."

Xander shook his head and walked in, heading up the stairs.  He walked into the office, put down his ID, his badge, and his issued gun, then turned and walked out.  "I told you to leave me alone!" he called as he headed down the stairs.  Then he went back to the car.  David could get a ride home with Greg.

David looked inside at the shocked faces.  "Xander doesn't want attention, people.  He's never wanted attention.  Did him *hiding* from the Chief and the Press miss you all?"

"We thought he was being coy," the desk sergeant offered.

David shook his head.  "No, he wasn't.  You guys just lost him because of this.  Feel proud."  He went down to his lab.  Xander wanted to be alone.  He did call and Xander actually answered his phone. "Want me?" he asked quietly.  He smiled.  "Sure, you curl up with Sarah on the couch.  I'll be here whenever you're ready to talk."  He hung up and put on his labcoat, getting ready to start work.  Ray slammed his door open and he jumped, glaring at him.  "Don't do that!"

"It's my lab!"

"Yeah, and now you have a vacancy to fill!" he shot back.  Ray flinched.  "You knew better.  Xander's presently hiding, talking to our ghosts in the attic because of that stunt.  I warned Welsh, he didn't listen.  You didn't listen.  Fucking well deal with it, Ray."

"That's not nice," Greg said from behind Ray.  He did smack Ray upside the back of the head though.  "When has Xander ever sought out attention?  Even in the clubs he's shy and usually starts out alone until someone comes for him.  He hates being put on the spot."  He looked at David.  "He okay?"

"He's talking to the ghosts."

"I've done that.  They're very nice people," he admitted.  David nodded.  "I'm headed out on a case.  Call me if I'm not back in time to take you home and I'll come back long enough."  He headed out, grabbing his kit on the way.

"Call your man and he either comes back or...."

"He handed everything to Welsh, Vecchio.  Do you think he's coming back?" David asked acerbically.  Ray winced.  "So, get over it.  You hurt Xander worse than we all did last night when we laughed at him for that stupid letter. And yes, that's what he thought it was before you ask.  And no, don't send your mother to talk to him either."

"He quit!"

"Hell yes he quit!  Xander wanted to be left alone!  Remember, he was more than happy thinking about going to Montana and having a dog.  He doesn't want any of that shit he's been getting.  No awards, no medals, nothing like it.  Especially not with the press involved!" he finished hotly.  "Xander's a very personal, private, shy guy and you hurt him, Ray.  You'd better get on your knees and *beg* if you want him back.  He warned Welsh he was going to quit if he didn't quit with the certificates and stuff, and I warned him earlier.  Then we came here to the banner and party.  You both knew better.  Hell, the blind guy who hangs out on the corner knew better!"

Ray nodded, backing down.  David was in full 'protect the mate' mode now.  "Sorry.  I'll talk to Welsh."

"Good! You do that!  Now get out, I have work to do!"  He fled and David glared, getting back to work.  Mortty came over and looked at him so he glared back. "Did you know about that?"

She shook her head.  "No, I saw it when I came in just now.  He okay?"  He shook his head.  "He here?"

"He quit."

"Oooh."  She winced.  "Welsh might not let him come back."

"I don't think he cares at the moment," David noted dryly.  "This is the same guy who refused to allow me to plan a birthday party, even with just our friends. They knew this wasn't going to go over well.  Welsh did the one thing he *knew* would make Xander quit because Xander and I both told him he would be quitting."

She walked over to hug him.  "I'm sorry, David.  It'll be okay."  He nodded, taking the comfort. "I'll go visit him in the morning, after I get off shift.  By then he should have calmed down and he'll still be up probably."

"Probably," he agreed, smiling a bit.  "Thanks, Mortty."

"Not an issue, David.  We like you two together.  He makes you a happier guy and you calm him down so I'm the loudest and bounciest."  She went over to her lab.

"Meeting!" Ray bellowed.

"Blow it out your ass, Ray, I'm already backed up!" she yelled back.  "And you'd better be borrowing knee pads to apologize to Xander!"

"No, Xander got over that fantasy," David noted to himself as he covered the evidence he had out and went out there for the meeting.  "I see you're still here," he noted bitterly.

"Welsh said it's up to the Chief if he wants to come back."  Ray stared him down.  "That wasn't my idea."

"Yeah, but I notice you didn't protest it either," David shot back.  Ray winced and sighed, but nodded to show he was right.  "Good, then you get what you deserve."  He went back to his lab, he had work to do.


Xander heard the doorbell but didn't really care.  Most of the people who he'd want to talk to today wouldn't be ringing it, they'd knock and walk in.  He looked outside and saw Stan and Benny.  "Must have been Benny."  He opened a window.  "What!" he demanded.

"Xan," Stan called, looking up at him.  "Are you all right?"

"No.  Do you actually care?"  Stan glared at him.  "Usually you'd come in."

"I didn't wanna be shot today," he countered, still glaring.  "Get down here and let us in."

"I'm not in the mood to talk, Stan.  Go away."  He shut the window and went back to his sulking with the ghosts trying to cheer him up.  He heard the front door slam; he hadn't thought it'd be that easy.  He glared at Stan as he came up the stairs.  "What!"

"You're a pissy bitch, Xander," he said dryly, hands on his hips, staring his friend down.  "Even worse'n Stella sometimes.  What crawled up you and died?"

"I hate being put out there like some prize stud as an advertisement for the damn farm, okay?"

Stan moved closer, sitting down in front of him.  "You've done that stuff before."

"And it keeps getting worse.  I told them to quit or else I was going to quit.  They didn't listen and when David tried to stop Welsh you saw what he did.  I'm apparently not wanted there.  They can fuck themselves with the guns for all I care at the moment."

"You don't mean that."

"Yeah I do.  I don't want to be recognized, I don't want medals, I don't want certificates, rewards, none of it.  I wanted to do my job, do it well, do it quietly, and have coworkers I could consider friends.  Since I can't do that, I can't work there."

"You'll be doing what tomorrow?" Stan demanded calmly.  "Working at McDonald's?"

"At least then no one'll wanna see me on the news."

"You'll be in trouble within a week."  He leaned forward, patting Xander on the face.  "Call the Chief, explain this to him."

"I have, he didn't listen."

"Fine.  Do you want David to?"

"He tried it with Welsh and again, he didn't listen.  I'm seeing a pattern here," he said in his most condescending, snarky voice.  "I wonder why."

Stan slapped him lightly.  "This is me, Xander.  You don't have to be that way."

"Just go away and be happy.  I wish you many happy arrests without chasing and no gunshot wounds."

"Fat chance."  He shifted closer.  "I'm here, you can talk to me."

"Talking won't make it better."

"Yeah, well, David's already blown up at Ray twice.  Welsh is even skulking around the office since Huey and Dewey are blaming him.  We don't want ya ta go."

"I can't work like that," he said, staring at him.  "I just can't."

"Fine," he agreed, standing up. "I'll go remind Welsh of that.  He knew better."  That got a faint smile.  "You're chilly, why don't you get some cocoa."

"I don't feel like it."

"You don't feel like chocolate?"  He shook his head.  "Maybe I should take you to the hospital again."  Xander grimaced, shaking his head.  "Fine.  Just get a blanket then. You're cold to the touch."  He walked out, going to chew his boss a new one.  When he got back to the station with Benny, he found him already being chewed a new one and pushed past the listening people to walk in there and slam the door in their faces.  "Do you two realize how much you've broken Xander!" he said coldly, nearly shouting. "He told you both to quit with the awards and shit, and he meant it!  Now you've fucking well lost him and it's your own goddamned faults!"  Both men glared at him.  "Oooh, yay, I'm shaking.  This is the same guy who hid from the first one.  This is the same guy who *refused* a birthday party, even just me and Ray and my boys being there, because he doesn't celebrate it.  How stupid are you!" he shouted.  He took a few panting breaths and glared again at Welsh.  "You knew long before you put that banner up that he'd take a runner.  Are you proud of yourself?  He won't even go drink cocoa now!  He doesn't feel like eating chocolate!"

"It was to protect him!"

"From what!  The mob guy he beat at the shooting contest who's not really alive!" he yelled back.  Welsh blanched.  "That's who's behind all those threats, Lieutenant.  If you got off your ass and listened to him and David, you'd know that!"  That got a flinch from the Chief.  He glared at him now.  "And you, you knew damn well to lay off Xander.  He asked politely.  He tried to hide from you.  Well, guess what!  You just lost us the best person in this fucking building, including the Mounties and you two!  I hope you're damn fucking proud of yourselves since he's sitting in his attic freezing to death at the moment and refuses to come down or talk to people thanks to you two.  How is this protecting him!"

"The notoriety...." the Chief started.

"Only makes the guy want him worse," Stan interrupted hotly, and the guy backed away from him.  "Xander beat him fair and square and now he's being a sore loser and you're rubbing his nose in it so he has to come after Xander.  Did you want to see them be blown up?"  The Chief shuddered.  "You damn near did!"  He glared at Welsh when he dared to move then back at the Chief again.  "You also lost him.  He won't be coming back.  He said all he wanted was to do the job well, quietly, and have some friends in the lab.  He had that until you and your line of medals and shit started.  Now he can't do that and you made the guy panic.  He's not like you and me; he never has been.  Take the fucking hint, every time you put him in the news, he gets another threat.  So either Xander'll have to go after the guy to stop him or else he'll be stopped by him!"  The Chief backed away another step and Stan followed. "You've put one of your best people in fuckin' danger for the sake of your department's pride.  Fuck the department, deal with the reality of the people in it!"

He walked out and slammed the door again, heading down to the lab.  "Vecchio!" he snapped from the doorway, storming inside.  "Get your ass over to Xander's and apologize or I'm taking you apart at the joints."  Ray gave him an amused look so he punched him, staring down at him since he was on the floor. "You hurt the kid, who you said was just like your little brother.  How often have you seen Xander shrink away from people!  Now get your ass over there!  He didn't even wanna eat chocolate or drink cocoa thanks to you three!"  He stormed off, going back to his desk, where everyone stayed far, far away until he got calmed down by Fraser.  Once he actually smiled at a bad joke, he was approached with a perp and got to deal with him for a bit.  They were all scared of him now so the process would go faster if he did them.


Xander glanced outside when someone pounded on the front door, seeing who it was.  It was the Chief so he wasn't moving.  He snuggled back into his cocoon of blankets and looked at the ghosts.  "I hate them."

"You need them," the former father pointed out.  "You were happy with your job until they did this."

"Yeah, well, they keep doing it, even after they knew how I felt about it and how much it was endangering me."  He snuggled in deeper as the door was pounded on again.  "I'm not talking to anyone."

The mother floated down, sticking her head through the door and scaring the cop standing there.  "Xander said he's not talking to anyone," she told him.  "He's very upset.  I doubt he'll be talking to anyone but Gregory and David later."  She withdrew, going back up the stairs.  Something caught her attention and she went to look, frowning a bit.  "Xander?  Can you come here please?  There's something here!"

Xander walked down the stairs, the blankets still around his shoulders and down into the root cellar that was under the stairs.  He found the reason for concern and sighed, squatting down to get a good look at it.  "Get me my tools and my cell please?" he asked quietly.  She nodded, going to move them and hand them over.  He grabbed the phone and his set of tools, taking off the blanket and using it to sit on.   The floor was really cold and so was he.  He could see his breath, but that wasn't really fogging up the timer at all.  Three hours.  Yay.  He checked the device, it seemed standard but something was off about it.  He used his picture phone to take photos then sent them to his boss up in SWAT.  "Check your email, tell me I cut the red wire.  No, it's in my root cellar.  Just look at the damn picture and tell me how to get rid of it!" he snapped.  "I'm not in the mood for people today! Yeah, well, go yell at the Chief and Welsh.  I give up but I don't wanna be blown up!  Yet!"

He looked at the phone when it was hung up and sighed, starting the tedious removal of the external casing, putting it on the blanket around him.  He came down to two sticks of TNT and one large chuck of C4, plus a small glass vial of something.  "Multiple choice, great," he said bitterly, looking at the wires.  His hand hesitated.  The little voice in his mind was screaming to not touch anything but he wasn't about to be blown up.  He looked at the display he hadn't disconnected yet then at the choices.  He tried to retrace it, finding one odd wire.  It was bare and it led under the explosives.  He carefully shifted closer, looking at the back side of the bomb.  There was another display.  It had about thirty minutes.  The top one was a decoy.  That display led back to the small vial.  The others would lend to the explosion but the vial was the main component.   That meshed with what the little voice in his head was screaming.  He was going to reach for the cap to undo it when his phone rang.  He looked at the number and answered it.  "What? No, I'm disarming a bomb in our root cellar, David.  About twenty-two minutes.  I don't know, it looks almost chemical.  No, the ghosts found it. Laters."

He hung up and bent over again. The wires were soldered onto the top.  He used his voltmeter to test the current.  It was hitched to the battery.  He couldn't unscrew it without disturbing the power line.  Not a good thing.  He checked, there was some give in the wires.  He used his pliers to lift up the container by the lid, unscrewing the bottom jar from it.  He sighed as it came off and he carefully put it farther away.  He checked the timers, then got to work on the remaining explosives.  The first timer went off with a fizz of noise when the electrodes hit the liquid that had migrated to the lid, but that was all.  He got up and went to tape off the container, feeling a bit dizzy.  "No, not a biological," he moaned.  He got everything into better containers and marked it, writing out a quick note to go with it.  The container of liquid was taped off and put aside first. If it had been biological, they'd need that separately.  He called his spouse when a second wave of dizziness hit, getting Ray instead.  "Put my husband on," he said quietly.  "I'm not arguing with you, Ray. Put my damn husband on!  Because I just dismantled a fucking bio bomb in my basement that's why!"  There was a pause and then Ray laughed.  "Fine.  Whatever."

He hung up and called Greg instead.  "Get here, there's a bomb in the root cellar.  It's already apart.  The liquid is in the plastic cup."  He had to grab onto the table.  "It's biological I think.  The bomb is still down here, neutralized.  Neither of the dogs have been down here, only me and the ghost.  I left the liquid separate and taped it off.  There's notes on what I did.  No, Greg, I'm telling you this because Ray laughed, the SWAT commander hung up, and I'm about to pass out."  He hung up and went to the doorway, locking it.  "Watch for Greg," he told the ghost.  "Keep the dogs upstairs."  She nodded, floating out to do that.  He sat down to watch the bomb, shivering again.  Now he was really cold.


David looked up as Greg came jogging in and grabbed a few pieces of equipment.  "What?  Xander didn't get the bomb in time?  Ray stole my phone when I told him about it."

"It was a biological liquid.  He's dizzy and about to pass out.  It's dismantled but I can't get him now."  He jogged back out, heading off with Ray by the simple expedient of dragging him out by his collar. "Ray, Xander just dismantled a bio bomb in our root cellar," he said as he drug him up the stairs.  "I don't think that's very funny.  I don't know why *you* do, but I really don't.  Now, I'm going to go check on the situation since he said it's dismantled and the liquid in it was off to the side, plus he was dizzy and about to pass out.  I expect there to be an ambulance within two minutes of me calling to say it's safe.  Do you understand?" he demanded coolly, dragging him outside now.  He ran into the guys from SWAT coming back.  "Why did Xander just dismantle a bio bomb?" he called as he drug Ray off.  He was starting to struggle now so he turned and hit him with one of the equipment cases.

"You better than anyone knows that Xander *never* calls for help unless he really needs it.  Now, get in my fucking car or else, Raymond."  He continued to walk, heading to his car.  He put the gear into the back and got in to drive, noticing Ray wasn't there, but he was heading for his own car.  "Good."  He sped off, lights going.  Xander never called for help, ever.  Xander only called after something was done, unless it was something he knew he couldn't handle alone.  There had been very few of those instances.  He pulled into his driveway and got out, pulling out the gear.  He checked the first meter and sighed.  It was swinging already, from over five hundred feet away.  He tried the second one, it was a radiation meter. It was going off the charts too.  He called it in. "Dispatch, this is CSI Sanders.  I'm at home.  There is evidence of radioactive and possibly biological agents in my house.  CSI Harris is still inside.  Repeat, still inside."  He looked over as Ray pulled up with Welsh.  "We need medical and he did say that the bomb was dismantled already."

"Affirmative, CSI Sanders, SWAT in route, along with EMTs.  Do not approach closer."

"No, I know better," he assured her.  He hung up and glared back at Ray, tossing over the meter.  "You tell me, Ray."  He got back in and pulled further up the driveway, going to take the bio readings from the back yard.  He called David.  "Root cellar is where?"  He nodded.  "Thanks.  I don't know, we're waiting on SWAT.  Um, I'm not sure yet where the dogs are.  Xander could still be fine.  It's just a precaution, David.  Calm down."  He hung up and walked back to the front of the house, nodding at the SWAT guy as he handed over his meter.  "Both our dogs are in there today, somewhere.  Heji!" he called.  The male ghost stuck his head out the attic window, scaring everyone around.  "Where's everything?"

"Xander and the whatever it is are in the root cellar, under the stairs.  The dogs are locked in the tower room, Gregory.  They weren't near it."

"Thanks.  Protect the dogs until Ray can grab 'em."  He pulled out his house keys, handing them over.  "There ya go."  He glared at the guy, making him flinch before heading to the door.  He glared at Ray, who took a step back and nearly behind Welsh.  "Good idea," he growled.

The SWAT commander opened the door and took a reading, then winced.  "I need decontam suits!" he called. "EMTs as well!"

"Fuck," Greg complained.  "Looks like I'm staying with Dawn tonight."  Welsh glared at him so he glared back.  "It's your damn fault!  Ray didn't listen, I'm betting he told the SWAT guys and they didn't listen.  How often does Xander call for help!"  Welsh shuddered, remembering the other two times.  One was a SWAT action that got well and truly out of hand with most of the team dead, and the other had been him pinned down by at least twenty gang members with guns and Xander with only one gun and no vest.  Greg looked back at the house as they came to get Xander and the pets out.  One of the SWAT guys carried out the dogs, putting them into Greg's car until they could be checked, then he went back inside to help with the stuff and Xander.  They had to break open the door of the root cellar, but that was fine.  They found everything laid out for them and the liquid set aside, handing that to the guy with the lead container to hold it in.  The bigger lead box for bombs got everything else and Xander was carried out by two of the guys so he could be handed over to the EMTs.  Greg watched them set up the first IV, then the second IV, and watched them take off.  He called David.  "Bad news.  Radiation and he's headed to the hospital. I don't know.  They didn't tell me."  He looked around, catching one guy's eyes.  "Hodges wants to know where he has to go wait!"

"Mercy!  They've got the only decontam rooms in the city," he called back.  "Tell him we're sorry."

"Not as sorry as you're gonna be, Harris quit today," he called back.  He put the phone back to his ear.  "Mercy, David.  Yeah.  The only possible spot.  I've got both dogs and we're heading to the vets right now.  Sure.  Thanks."  He hung up and went back to his car, getting in to pull around the potholes on the grass.  Their vet was very good and he called first.  "Sasha, hi.  Greg Sanders.  I've got mine and Xander Harris's dogs with me.  There was a radioactive bomb in our root cellar.  I'm not sure if they got exposed or not or if I did.  Yeah, I'm heading now.  Please."  He hung up.  They'd meet him outside with special carriers.  "It's all right, guys.  You'll be fine and so will daddy.  He's too stubborn not to be.  David would kill him if he's not all right."  He pulled into the vet's parking lot and around back, parking the car there.  They came over so he unlocked the doors, letting them take the dogs.  He got out and one of them scanned him for radiation, grimacing.  "Me too?"

"You too.  We called EMS, they said for you to head to Mercy as well.  Just in case.  Oh, the dispatcher said to tell you they think Xander only got a mild dose of radiation but he was a bit hypothermic by then."  He nodded, getting back in to drive off.  They took very good care of their dogs.   He pulled in beside the ambulance crew that was getting scrubbed down and got out, locking his car and heading over.  "CSI Sanders, reporting as ordered."

"Where did you go!" one of them shouted.

"I took our dogs to the vets.  I notified them on the way over too.  They're in decontam themselves.  Where do you want me?  Scrub down or not?"

"Not.  Inside," he said, pointing at the sealed plastic area.

"Crap, not this again," he complained, heading that way.  His things were taken and put into a special container while he was checked over and his clothes taken as well.  "I was just at a crime scene. You might bag those for the Henderson robbery case."  They nodded, making notes of that as well.  He saw the Police Chief on the news and glared at his threats to whoever had mined one of 'his' CSI's houses.  "Ya know, you'd think since Xander quit today, that he wouldn't make such statements in front of the press."

"Why?" one nurse asked, taking his blood pressure again. "Do you usually run low?"

"Yeah, a bit.  I'm a pretty calm guy."  He looked at her.  "Because they kept giving him press and he hates it.  He absolutely hates having his privacy invaded.  He hates being rewarded, he hates medals, all of it.  They kept doing it to him though so Xander walked in today and handed over everything."  He shrugged, wincing a bit.  "Can I have a soda at least?"

"Juice or water.  Nothing else," the nurse said patiently.

"Fine, can I have some juice then?" he asked with a sweet grin.  "Also, expect two shrieking light brunettes.  One's nearing middle age and the other's about twenty-two and my girlfriend.  Hopefully someone babysits and she doesn't bring the baby."

"You won't be allowed visitors."

He looked at her.  Then he pointed at Xander without removing his eyes from her.  "Xander's husband becomes a flaming queen of screaming and ranting when he's hurt.  He's gone through suspects, EMTs, and others.  The people at General are very nice and anytime they see Xander is hurt, they just get out of David's way. You might want to reserve a spot for him too.  He does live with us."

"You live with them?" she asked, smirking a bit.  "You have a *girl* friend as well?"

"I live downstairs.  Actually, my girlfriend is like Xander's little sister.  Shrieking runs in her family too."  She smiled and nodded, making notes to check those two people for any indications of illness or radiation.  "So, was it just radioactive or was it also biological?  Xander said he was about to pass out when he called me."

"We have someone testing it right now, CSI Sanders."  She handed him the oh-so- attractive hospital gown and he grimaced. "Tough, you're staying too."

"Fine.  Can I at least stay with Xander?  He's got some very heavy nightmares at times."

"No.  He's going into a much more shielded room than you'll need. He could contaminate you.  Can he take pain killers?"

"Ask David.  I don't know his full medical history."


"Hodges.  Look for the screaming light brunette guy with a small spot of receding hairline.  It'll be him or Kowalski since his Mountie's wolf tried to trim his hair for him."

She smiled at that and made note of it.  "Thank you, CSI Sanders."

"Greg, please.  Since you're going to be getting to know me pretty well over the next few days," he sighed.

"Hopefully not that well.  Okay, he can go.  He's on a level two system.  Still able to drink and only radiating a bit."  Two orderlies in hazmat gear came down to put him into the plastic bubble and lead him off.  She looked at her fellow nurses before going to find the spouse.  She found him, he was already demanding to see his mate and screaming and ranting.  "Hodges?"  He stopped and glared at her.  "We should check you as well since you live in the same residence.  Come with me, please?"  He nodded.  "Your spouse should be fine but we need some medical history on him right now.  You'll be expected to give it while we check you over."

"Can I see him?"

"He's across the room in a sterile area.  We can't let you next to him, Mr. Hodges.  I wish I could.  CSI Sanders said your spouse has some nightmares and asked to be in the same room as well."  She got him onto the table and gave him a moment to look at his husband before going over the medical history file.  His eye got caught in the recap of the press conference and he growled, making her back up.  She understood Greg's warning now. "Depending on how we isolate him, you may be able to use waldos to touch him," she offered quietly.  He nodded, calming himself.  "This is Harris's husband," she called when a nurse called about medication he couldn't take.  She sent a student nurse over to answer the questions she had while he was checked over.  She didn't even stop him when someone called.

"Dawn?  No, I'm looking at him and I don't know yet.  Greg got the dogs to the vets.  Check on them for us.  We're at Mercy.  Greg's already in isolation and they're thinking about moving me as well. Tell me what's going on and keep me informed.  Got it?"  He hung up.  "Greg's girlfriend. Do you need to talk to our vet?"

"No, we've already been called as a matter of procedure," she assured him. "If we hear anything we'll let you know."  He nodded, relaxing again since his husband had just pushed a nurse away.  "He's not cooperative?"

"He hates being caged in."

"Ah.  Ladies, he's got a small issue with confinement," she called.

"He's been shot in the past," David called over. "He's not a happy patient either. You might call General since we usually end up there.  I think his charts have warnings now," he offered with a small, evil smirk.  He had only complained ... a little bit the last time Xander had been in there.


David sat beside Xander's plastic bubble, staring at him.  His mate was starting to come around and he was shaking his head already.  "You're in such deep shit."

"I called SWAT first," he groaned, flipping onto his side and tossing the IV he had yanked out off the bed.  "He hung up."

"I heard that.  He's already pleading to keep his job."

"So they still think I just make shit up?"

"No."  He smiled.  "The Chief has already come by and he's very sorry.  He wants you back and he's going to lay off you now.  Welsh stopped by and left flowers and coffee toffee stuff he knows you like."  He pointed at it.  "The dogs are fine."  Xander relaxed, smiling at him.  "You're not however.  You got some massive radiation from the liquid uranium in that small jar that you took off."

"I had to, that was the primary bomb."

"I understand that.  I love you for being able to do that."   He reached over to touch the edge of the bubble, Xander's hand coming up to touch the other side.  "You've still got to stay in there for at least another three days.  Possibly up to a week.  Until you no longer glow in the dark."

"I glow in the dark?" he asked, smirking a bit.  "Instant nightlight for you so you won't keep me up while reading."

"No.  If you continue to glow in the dark, they won't let you come home, ever.  You'll have to eat hospital food for the rest of your very short life."  Xander nodded, his smile losing some of it's happiness.  "I'm not mad, Xander.  You handled it.  I'm mad as hell at someone else for doing that to our house, but not you."  Xander nodded, reaching over again.  He touched him as best he could. "I'd give you a hug but the nurses have a dart gun.  They weighed me and everything to make sure it'd be strong enough."  Xander snickered a bit, smiling at him.  "You need to rest and you need fluids.  Can I get you some juice?"


David hit the button for the nurse, bringing one running.  "He'd like something to drink and can you close off the annoying dripping noise?"

"What happened to his IV!" she demanded.  Xander raised his hand. "You needed that, it's got the medicine in it!" she complained, closing it off and going to get the doctor.  She had been warned but had no idea it was going to be this hard.  "Him," she said, pointing at him.  "He removed the IV."

"It popped out when I flipped onto my side," he noted impatiently.  "I hate hospitals.  I hate being cooped up and unable to move.  I'm going to be crankier than my spouse!  Just get me out of here and I'll be a happy Xander far, far away from here."

"To do that, Mr. Harris, you need the medicine in that IV," the doctor said gently, coming over to remove the needle and get a fresh one, sticking him again.  This time he also uncoiled the extra tubing so the boy could move.  "Do you have any other problems?"

"I have ADHD and I'm not a good patient," he told him, looking very serious.  "I'm a horrible patient."

"Fine.  It shouldn't be too much longer.  The faster your radiation levels go down, the faster your spouse can get in there to cuddle you.  So just try to stay calm for now.  He can even bring in a DVD player for you if you want."

"I would, but ours is presently locked in the house, which is still under tenting and CSI control," he noted.  "I'm hoping they're going to clean the fridge."  Xander snickered.  "Everything will be bad by then," he complained.

"Where are you staying at night?" the doctor asked him.

"Right here."

"Um... I meant when you have to leave?"

"Right here," David said more firmly.  "There aren't enough cops in this city or Vegas to move my ass out of this chair."

"That's fine, we'll get you a better chair to nap in then, Mr. Hodges."  He glanced at Xander, then back at him.  "I wouldn't let him out of my sight either with his injuries."  He left, making notes on the chart and handing it over.

David looked at him.  "Would a DVD player help?"  Xander nodded, looking pitiful.  "Sure, I can do that and hit Blockbuster."  That got a shy grin.  "I'm still not mad at you.  Except for the hypothermia part. You know how to put on a sweater."  Xander ducked his head, giving him another shy grin.  "I saw the blanket, I'm still not impressed with that.  By the way, Stan's got two days off for swearing at the Chief and Welsh, even though they deserved it. He took the reservations for Ottawa when I ordered him to.  We can go next time."

"Gymnastics?" he asked pitifully.

"When you're better, Xander.  Not until then."  Xander sighed and nodded, leaving it at that.  "Once you're better I'll take you to see something you like.  Maybe even a curling tournament or something."  Xander grinned at that, beaming happily.  "Do you want to go back to work?"

"I don't know yet," he said honestly.  "Are they going to continue?"

"No, the Chief has some sort of idea that you're going to sue him since his plan to protect you backfired and got our house nearly blown up with a dirty bomb.  That's why he said he was doing it, to protect you.  That they wouldn't come after someone famous."

"And yet again, it's been proven wrong," Xander noted bitterly.

"Yeah, well, one of the new guys in SWAT asked if we weren't sure you weren't *making* the bomb.  He's up the hall in traction.  I think Turnbull got in a few hits as well.  I know Fraser got him at least once."  Xander grimaced a bit but his eyes didn't show he was unhappy.  "Think you want me to get the DVD player now?"

"No. I don't want you to go.  Can I be read to so I can nap again?"

"Can you wait for your juice?"  He nodded and David smiled, pulling out a book.  Since his mate was deciding to be cooperative.  He had warned the nurses that he'd be pulling out IV's and things like that.  "I've got Barbara Cartland, which will make me have hives, or one of the Sherlock Homes books."

"Sherlock Holmes," he said happily.  "I don't want you to get hives."

"Yeah, me either."  He opened the first page.  "Sherlock Holmes...."


Ray walked into Xander's room once he was out of the bubble, looking at David.  "Can I have him?"

"I don't share, otherwise Greg wouldn't need Dawn."

"That's not a mental image I needed," Ray said dryly.  "Just give us ten."

"If you upset him, I'm letting Rennie and Benny kick your ass," he warned.  They would too, they turned scarier than Ma fussing over Xander and Greg.  He gave Xander a kiss on the cheek then left, heading to call everyone with updates.

Ray looked down at his guy.  "I'm sorry."

"Yay," he said dryly, going back to his fill-it-in puzzle.  "Do I care?"

"Xander," he sighed. "We want you back."  Xander looked at him.  "When you're released back to duty. Same salary, same shift, no press, no medals ever again, even if you earn 'em, all the rookies you wanna train, and no complaining about the elf ears.  By the way, Mortty said she hasn't been able to come because she's been running the samples night and day from your place to make sure you can go back.  She got so pissed *she* went up and about killed him when they brought him in; impressed a few Feds as well."  He smirked a bit.  "Will you come back?  You're the only one that'll make her quit pouting.  She's threatened to have you turned if you don't so she can make you and David her pets."

Xander snorted.  "I already saw a vampire me.  He's an evil and cold bastard and she'd be my beloved princess within a day.  She'd help me plan how to turn David and Greg."

"Last I knew, Stan and I were on that list."

"Your mother said I couldn't have you turned for helping them with that," he said dryly, staring him down.  "Or for laughing at me.  Either time."

"Like I said, I'm sorry."  He stared back and Xander shrugged.  "Fine.  I'm sorry.  I didn't mean ta upset you and I was wrong.  I'd never heard you actually call for help before. You never seen ta need it.  You're like some superhuman guy at times.  I didn't know that it was that bad.  Greg told me and I ran after him."

"Correction, Greg dragged you and yelled at you so you went to get Welsh and then followed him," Xander said, putting down his puzzle book.  "He told me."

"I figured he did," he agreed, sitting down in David's chair.  "I thought you were playing.  Like I said, I'd never heard you call for help before.  Especially not for something that sounded like a joke ta me.  You don't usually draw that sort of trouble, ya know?"  Xander nodded, smirking a bit.  "Do you know who they got?"

"Yeah, and I also know why they got him.  The pissant will be dead if I or David have a say."  Ray smirked a bit at that.  "That doesn't mean you didn't treat me wrong, Ray.  That doesn't mean I want to go back.  You guys didn't listen to me.  You treated me like some trick dog in a circus.  The only people whose opinions mattered to me did that to me.  Why would I want to go back to that?"

"It'll change, Xander.  I promise it'll change," Ray said, shifting forward some.  "It won't happen again.  The press is no longer allowed near the lab.  You may get a medal or two now and then when you do the usual brave, yet stupid stuff, but it'll just be handed over.  No ceremony unless it's something like the SWAT thing.  The Chief's already bending over backwards and taking it from the new Mayor, who wants ta keep him, but even he wants ya back.  He doesn't want to be anywhere near you, he's a bit germ phobic, but ...."

"Is he a bad guy who wants to take over the world too?"

"No, not really," he admitted.  "He wants to work his way up and make the really big bucks as governor, then possibly Prez."  He shrugged.  "He's got a narrow viewpoint about that stuff."  He reached over to touch Xander's hand.  "Listen to me, kid.  I don't want you back if you won't be comfy.  I don't wanna force you to come back, but we'll miss you.  Mortty will cry a lot more often.  She was crying last night when she couldn't get away in time for visiting hours."  Xander swallowed and nodded.  "So, at least think about it for me, okay?"  He stood up, and David came in.  "Thanks."

"You needed to apologize in private," he noted patiently.  "Xander, did you want to call Mortty? I tried and she started to cry again."

"Sure."  He took his cellphone, new and reprogrammed for him already since the old one was too lethal to ever touch, and dialed the lab.  "Mortty, why are you crying?" he asked patiently.  He smiled.  "Fine.  Come see me whenever you get off.  I'll wake up for you. You know I will."  He grinned.  "Sure.  Bring me chocolate and a coke too please.  I don't care, sneak it past the nurses."  He grinned.  "Thanks, dear."   He hung up.  "If I *ever* see another camera in my face at the station I had better be under arrest or they had better think I'm a celebrity," he noted calmly, watching his husband, who just smiled and nodded.  "Understood, Ray?"

"Understood.  Stan accepted your medal for dismantling the bomb already.  It's in your desk drawer. Along with all the others."  He leaned down, kissing him on the forehead. "Get better soon, kid.  The lab's really too quiet without your noise."  He nodded at David.  "Ma sends her love but they won't let me sneak in food either."  He left, going to tell the Chief, the Mayor, and Welsh that they were off the hook, for now.  Or at least it had shrunk a lot.  The Chief had even made sure that Xander was still covered under their insurance by saying he had only walked off the job, not resigned or handed in his badge.  That had been nice and saving his own ass.  It made everyone look good in the press.

Xander held up his hand and David came over for a hug. "I'm doing the right thing, right?" he whispered.

"Yes, you are," he agreed quietly, kissing him gently.  "Now, go back to your puzzle.  I didn't run out to get new videos yet."  Xander grinned and got back to it.  "I did call Rennie and he's bringing you some later."

"Thanks."  Xander gave him a sideways grin. "When can I escape?"

"Next week sometime," he said patiently, sitting down again.  "You know that. Not until you're better.  We won't have the house back until then either."

"At least Mandy and Dawn are taking care of Greg and the dogs."

"They are, but then again she's good at taking care of our mutts," David joked, making Xander grin at him.  "Greg is a mutt, Xander.  He always was.  Did he tell you how many girls he ...dated in Vegas?"  He nodded.  "I thought he might have bragged."

"I still get the prettier girls and guys at the club.  Like you." He blew a kiss and got back to work, erasing two letters he had switched in the word he had just done.

David settled in to watch and be with him.  It was all good again, for now.

The End.