Ballistics in Danger
Greg looked up as Catherine came into the lab he was working in, giving her a faint smile. "It's hard finding these things."
"It can be," she agreed, looking at the shirt he was working on. "GSR?" He nodded, going back to what he had been doing. "You know you've got to have the plans for the dinner auction in tonight, right?" He pulled something out of his pocket and handed it over. "Thank you, Greg." She looked at it and smiled. "Nice choices. Did you get your tux yet?"
"Not yet. I was going to go Saturday since I've got it off," he admitted sheepishly. "That way it's not too far in advance and I can't get nervous."
"Don't be nervous. Think of it as a chance to stun some rich woman with your mind and body. Get tight pants, we need the money this year after the repairs." She looked at the shirt again. "It's only got four stains."
"I've found eight," he offered. "Two different types of GSR according to Hodges. Two different chemical compounds and strengths basically. I'm guessing different caliber bullets?"
"You'd have to ask Bobby or Xander about that. Remind him I need his dinner plans tonight and take him to get that tux too since I know you've got the day off together again."
"Good boy, Greg. Make us proud and make us a lot of money." She patted him on the back and headed out, going to put his choices on the log for the auction and go back to working on her intros. She ran into Archie, who sighed and handed over his plans. "Thank you, Archie."
"As long as you never mention that blackmail again," he said firmly.
"Sure, until next year," she offered with a grin, heading back to her office.
Hodges peeked out of his lab. "She *blackmailed* you?"
He nodded. "She found my wallet in the locker room and found my baby picture. She's holding it hostage."
"Oooh," he winced. "Poor guy. At least you're not alone. There's Warrick and Greg too."
"He's still avoiding it," he said smugly.
Archie snorted and walked into ballistics. "Xander, what's your dinner for the auction?" He got given that pitiful look. "Fat chance," he snorted. "I've got to do it, Greg and Warrick have to do it. You have to do it. Pick somewhere and make a reservation."
"What if they're busy the night I have reserved?" he asked.
"They won't be," he assured him dryly. "We all heard about the salsa dancing thing." Xander moaned and hung his head, shaking it. "Tough, deal with it. Pick somewhere classy that you can be embarrassed in."
"What happens if they're my next stalker?" he asked miserably.
"Then at least we know who it is before they get too far along in their delusion," he said, clapping him on the back with a grin. "You're doing a great service by weeding out those questionable people in society." He went back to his lab. "Hodges, remember, he needs a tux too."
"Why do I get that one?"
"I've rented a tux before," Xander called. "I did go to my prom. I just looked like a dork." Hodges stuck his head into his lab. "I did. Even for the aborted wedding I looked like a dork."
"We'll see soon enough," he offered. "Pick one of the places at the Forum."
"Fine," he complained. He found a phone book and opened it randomly, closing his eyes and stabbing a finger down on that page. He looked and snorted. "Emeril's."
"Good choice, good selection, not greatly expensive but nice," Hodges offered. "Now pick a backup." Xander flipped the pages and did it again, making him laugh. "Burger King?"
"Deli." He did it again and shrugged. "Not too horrible. A Southern place that just opened by one of the local's casinos." He wrote those down and handed them over. "Here, you can deliver the method of my doom to the smiling and happy torturer and slave auctioneer."
"It won't be that bad," Hodges pointed out. Xander just gave him his 'get real' look. "It won't! I promise it won't."
"It will and I'm going to give the department a bad name."
"You won't. Even if you mess up and eat everything with your toes, they probably expect it." He went to hand that to Catherine, shaking his head at her amused look. "He picked randomly.
"They're not bad choices. I've eaten at that second place. Very homey and nice." She noted it down and grinned at him. "Tux?"
"He claims he's done it before. Sic Greg on him."
"I already did but he's dragging his feet too."
"That's because men should be known for more than their pretty bodies," Hodges quipped, going back to work. "You make us feel cheap, Catherine," he called as he walked away.
"Hey, there's women in there too," she complained.
Greg knocked on Xander's door, nodding at the car in the parking lot. "Let's go. You're driving."
"Yeah, if I have to, you have to. She said so. So let's do this and get it over with."
"Fine," he complained, grabbing his keys and wallet to head down to his car. "How did you get over here?"
"Cab. That way you can't escape by jumping out of the moving car."
"I hadn't thought about that," he said dryly. "Thanks for the idea, Greg."
"Fat chance, Xander. We'll be auction buddies. Do the hair and stuff the day before together and those things."
"Manicure, pedicure, facial, skin treatments," he sighed. "This is going to be really expensive, even if we do home treatments."
"We have to do all that stuff?"
"Yeah. To look our best. I did before my prom and I still looked like a dork." He got in and started the car, buckling up while Greg got in. "Seatbelt." Greg buckled up and he backed out, heading for the nearest tux shop. "Should we do good tuxes?"
"Yes, we probably should," he agreed patiently. "Head to Tropicana." Xander groaned and nodded, heading that way. "Thank you, Xander."
"Welcome. Are we doing our care stuff at a professional or at one of our places?"
"Doesn't much matter to me. My skin's pretty good. I use a moisturizer now and then and always use sun screen."
"Which is good," Xander agreed, "but you've also got oily spots and an ingrown eyebrow hair on the left side." He changed lanes and signaled to turn onto Tropicana, wincing as the lights came on behind him. "Damn it." He pulled over once he had turned and turned off the engine, rolling down the window. "Please tell me it's because I'm on call for something like a bomb?" he asked the officer walking up to them.
He looked at him. "You're a cop and you don't signal?"
"I forgot, I was signaling for the turn," he offered, "and I'm a ballistics tech." He gave him a weak grin. "I'm angsting over the auction." The cop snickered as he took the held- out license. "Really. I'm going to end up giving the department a bad image."
The cop wrote out the ticket and handed it over with the license. "I'm sure you will, sir."
"No he won't," Greg complained. "He's hit on all the time in clubs. Women offered to pay him the last time. Don't let him get away with that BS."
Xander shrugged and sighed. "I'll pay it when I go in to work tomorrow."
"That's fine, you've got a month, sir. Have a nice day. Good luck getting a decent tux." He went back to his car, chuckling the whole way. At least it was an odd stop and not dangerous. He heard a gunshot and ducked, and noticed those two got out and the ballistics tech was armed. "Sir, um, techs don't usually....."
Xander held up a hand. "I'd get out here!" he shouted. "I can hear you giggling, bitch!" A woman came out with a rifle and he and the cop both pulled their guns. "Put it down!" She continued to giggle. "Now," he growled, his eyes narrowing. She giggled again. He walked over there, slowly and carefully. She continued to giggle and he moved within touching range. "Do I look like I'm kidding? I haven't had caffeine yet." She giggled and beamed at him so he kicked the gun's barrel and then knocked her down, holstering his weapon while the officer jogged over. "I'm having a bad day," he growled in her ear. "This means I'll have to work on your gun later and I'll get to destroy it by chopping it into tiny little pieces and making desk art out of it." She moaned and arched up against the officer's thigh. "Eww. I don't go for the deranged." He looked at the officer. "Just don't tell Brass," he complained, almost pleading as he hurried back to his car. He zipped off, Greg just staring at him with an open mouth. "What?" he asked defensively. "Ray said I needed to work on my badass image."
Greg pulled out his phone and looked at the number he had only recently put in there, calling Hodges. "We're going to the tux shop on Tropicana, no, the other one. Come meet us. Because Xander just had to pull his weapon on someone who shot at the car during a traffic stop. Besides, he's still whining."
"Hey, I'm not the one who made her pant and get horny when the officer had her in cuffs," he complained loudly. He pulled into the parking lot and turned off the engine, getting out to head inside. The salesman smiled gently at him. "I'm in a damn bachelor auction against my will," he complained. "I look like a dork in a tux. Can we minimize it this time?"
"We can try," he offered gently, leading him back to the fitting area. "What size are you?"
"Thirty-four long." He sighed and sat down. "I hate these things."
"I understand. Basic and demure black I'm assuming?" Xander shrugged. "I'll see what I can find that should look good on you." He smiled at Greg as the other salesman came rushing to help him. "A friend?" Xander sighed and nodded, looking miserable. "Let's try some of the nicer ones, shall we? Do you have a budget?"
"Under a grand?"
"For that you can almost buy one, sir."
"Ewww. I hate tuxes."
"Fine," he said kindly, going to look for him.
"Don't listen to him, he's being a whiner," Greg told him. He looked over as Grissom came in, shrugging. "We're doing as Catherine ordered. Bullet didn't hit the car."
Grissom looked at him, then over at Xander. "Are you sure?"
"Ricochet off the back bumper, Gris," he said darkly, still scowling. "How did she blackmail me into this again?"
"It's your innate sunny nature," Greg said firmly. "Get up, try something on. No more whining."
"Fine," Xander complained, heading over to help the guy look. He tossed Grissom his keys. "Here, in case you need to turn off the alarm."
"Thank you, Xander. Your gun?"
"I didn't have to fire," he defended.
"Now. You don't need to be armed today. You might shoot Greg. We'd miss Greg."
Xander muttered something and handed over his gun and his backup weapon, taking the first tux to try on. Greg grinned at Grissom. "Thanks, Gris."
"You're welcome, Greg. I'll let Catherine know about this. The officer said he didn't want Detective Brass to know?"
"Yeah, Cap tends to ride him but Vecchio told him he had to work on his badass persona for up there. Apparently he thinks it'll be needed."
"I see. Interesting." He went to check the car, just in case, and brought back the keys a few minutes later when he found the ricochet mark. He kept the guns. Xander could have them back when he came in to work. He really might shoot Greg. He saw Hodges pull up and get out, heading inside shaking his head. "Hodges, he had to subdue someone."
"Greg said he did. He complained that it wasn't him making her pant too." He waved a hand. "See you tonight, Grissom."
"Sure." He laughed once Hodges was inside, going back to the scene to check on Catherine. "Xander's car is fine," he told her. "Ricochet only. Took off about thirty degrees to the rear."
"Good. Is he still mad?"
"I took his guns, Catherine. I figured we didn't need you or Greg shot for this auction thing." He went to put those in his Tahoe, that way he could find them later.
She shivered. She hadn't seen Xander as being a badass before, but now..... "And I had to piss him off," she muttered. "Oh well, everything's printed."
"What is that?" Hodges asked, looking at the puddle of green goop in the bowl on Xander's counter.
"That," he said, pointing at the bowl.
"Face masque to pull out the oil and balance out your skin."
"Why?" he asked patiently.
"Because I need it and Greg needs it," he said impatiently. "If you were part of this farce, you would too."
Hodges looked at him, then shook his head. "Most guys wouldn't go to this much trouble."
"I'm not most guys and I do know how to get ready for a real date, Hodges. Especially the important ones. At least I had someone else doing my manicure and pedicure earlier. That way I couldn't screw those up."
Hodges shook his head quickly. "You're insane." He went to get a soda out of the fridge, bringing one back to Xander. "Where is Greg?"
"On his way. He was taking a nap." He put down the fashion magazine and looked up, taking his soda. "Thanks." He heard the car pull up and got out, going to check on who it was. "Get up here," he called. Greg came up with his tux bag, slipping past Xander. He shut the door and locked it, hanging Greg's tux in the bathroom on the shower rod. Then he came back out and helped him push back his hair so they could start the beauty stuff.
Hodges just watched in fascinated horror. He'd never seen anyone do this, not even his sister, and she was a girly girl. Xander even knew how to nibble while the mask hardened so it wouldn't crack prematurely. He was almost afraid for his masculinity just because he was watching these sacred girl rituals. Somewhere there was a Sacred Temple of Girlhood that had a screaming priestess because Xander was showing them the sacred rituals. Oooh, and there he was starting on Greg's nails. He let out a soft whimper. "I'll be right back," he offered, heading out to get some air, and maybe a beer and a shot, or possibly a boxing match or a football game to reinforce his masculinity. He went back in when Greg yelled, then hurried off for that beer when he saw the tweezers going at it in Greg's eyebrows. He seriously did not need to see that. He came back an hour later to find them both dressed and looking handsome, in a rental tux sort of way. Neither tux fitted perfectly but Xander had pinned something on Greg's and was adjusting it so it hung better. Then he stood in front of his bedroom mirror and worked on his own until it hung perfectly. Hodges handed over the tracking device Xander had requested for the night. "Here," he said gently.
Xander slid it into his inside jacket pocket then patted his lapels down again. "Bad?" he guessed at their looks.
"No, good," Greg offered. "Thanks for the fitting, Xander."
"Not an issue. How much longer until we go to our dooms?"
"Um, an hour. We're due there in half an hour."
Xander nodded and went to brush his teeth, covering his chest with a towel so he wouldn't get spit on it, then came back out to drive them in. He had the better and bigger two-door. He slid in and buckled up, turning on the engine. Hodges tapped and handed him his keys and wallet, giving him a smirk. "Can you be back there with us?"
"Hell no, she might corral me into helping," he said dryly. "Have fun. Let me know how it goes. Call later, boys." He waved as they left and went to clean up Xander's apartment for him. That was just so bad. This way he could purge more girly things out of Xander's life.
Greg drug Xander into the room the department had rented for the event, then pushed him back to the waiting area. Sarah saw them and smirked. "Come on, Xander, it's for a good cause," she wheedled.
He glared at her. "Then you come find me when I get stolen."
"Sure, not a problem," she agreed happily. "Captain Brass said you had requested a tracking device. Got it on you?" He patted his pocket. "Good." She carefully pinned his number on his lapel pocket. "There you go, all set. You can primp behind the stage if you need to. Most of the guys are fussing with their hair."
"He did our hair," Greg told her, walking Xander that way. "Come on."
"But it'll be bad," he whined. "Besides, I feel like a cow going to slaughter auction."
"I promise, whoever wins you won't want to hurt you. At least not until the end of the date," Greg assured him, patting him on the shoulder. They ran into Catherine, who smiled and took pictures, making Xander growl. "He's going to break it," he warned. She hurried on. "Come on. It'll be fine."
"It won't be fine," he snapped. "I'm not a cow."
"You're not. You're a stallion being put out for stud among some thoroughbred mares," Sarah said gently, coming over to soothe him. "See, Archie's right there and Greg's right here. You're not alone in this and no one would *dare* interrupt this event to hurt you, Xander."
"Bullshit," he said firmly, going to check his hair and skin one last time. He could hear Catherine setting up out front. He was still hoping for an armed and dangerous group of assassins or stupid hostage takers to come break into the evening so at least then he'd be in his element. "Can't I just *donate*?" he asked as Sarah came back.
"No, Xander," she said patiently. "We've checked, there's no thieves coming to save you or anything either. We made sure of it." She adjusted his number. "You're in the middle of the pack, you'll go for a little bit and it'll be a nice evening with a boring lady who'll hit on you."
"I don't want to," he hissed, glaring at her. "Think about everything that could go wrong with this idea!"
Archie came over and leaned against Xander's side, whispering in his ear, getting him to calm down. He looked at Sarah. "You're making him panic, don't help." He fussed with his hair. "I'm before you, I'm like third out. Watch what happens, play up to the crowd of women like it's a club. Go out there and be the surly badass you are, Xander," he said gently. "It'll be fine. Someone will bid on you and someone will want you for dinner. Who knows, they might even try to pay you again." Xander groaned and banged his head against the wall beside the mirror, making Archie catch it. "Nice try to get me out. Thanks." He heard his name be called and handed off the mirror to someone else, taking Sarah's arm so she could escort him out onto the stage. He didn't get many bids but he hadn't expected that many. He wasn't as pretty as Greg and this wasn't an area where he got a lot of dates anyway. He smiled and handed his rose to his date for the evening, walking down to sit at her table with her, flirting shamelessly but gently and skillfully.
Catherine smiled at the crowd when it was Xander's turn. "I know you've seen a lot of smart men tonight, and this is our last tech of the evening, ladies. Xander Harris is our ballistics intern. He's the future of the labs and quite adorable. He admits he knows nothing about cooking, but cleans and shops very well," she offered with a smile as Sarah led Xander out onto the stage. "He's also proficient in many weapons of mass distraction and has been known to turn many a lady into a pile of goo at the clubs. He's very eligible, very cute, very smart, and very shy. He says dangerous women love him for some reason but what he really wants is a woman who'll help him by cuddling and being soft and gentle with him. Our intern, Xander Harris. Who's going to start?" No bids and she mentally groaned. "Come on, ladies. He's twenty-seven. He works out. He's very bright and has a wonderful dinner planned for your pleasure. He's a world-class flirt, tries his hand with me all the time." Still no bids and she looked at Xander, who gave them a shy grin.
"Fifty," one woman said quietly.
"Okay, good. I have fifty. Anyone else? Who wants one of our rising stars in the world of law enforcement?"
"He subdued a shooter just a few days ago," Sarah offered. "Made her moan so hard she gave up and begged for the cuffs."
Catherine gave her a look. "She's not the first either. I've seen him charm suspects into begging to be arrested, as long as he's got the cuffs and the night stick."
"Sixty," another woman offered. She stared at him. "Put your hands in your pockets, dear." The other women giggled when he blushed but he did so. "Hmm, well hung."
Xander looked at her, then smirked. "Yes, but it's not that sort of date. I did take an oath, my dear. I wish I hadn't, but I do have to serve *and* protect. Otherwise more women might go bad from my touch."
The first bidder looked him over. "Eighty."
"Great," Catherine agreed. Still the lowest of the night. "Anyone else? Going once, going twice...."
"A hundred," an older woman offered genteelly in a southern accent from the back of the room. "Such a dangerous young man can only do my reputation good."
Xander smiled at her. "I'd never whisper a word of what happened, letting you tell everyone whatever you wanted them to know," he promised with a small, evil smirk. She laughed and nodded at that.
"A hundred. Going once, going twice.... He's yours for the night, ma'am." She handed Xander his rose and he walked down there to her side, handing it to her and kissing the back of her hand. Someone had shown that boy very well how to charm. She'd have to thank Hodges and Greg for that later.
Captain Brass walked into the unit the next night, looking at the boxes behind the reception desk, then at Warrick. "No Xander?"
"Not yet," he said grimly. "He's an hour late. He didn't call. Hodges called his place last night and didn't get an answer." He paged Catherine, getting Sarah, who had a paper already for him. "Xander's?"
"Greg's actually. He hasn't come in yet. Xander hasn't?" She looked, there was the pass. "Damn. I'll go get his." They all watched as Greg stumbled in, leaning against Warrick as he moaned. "Long night?" she asked dryly.
He looked at her and handed Brass his doctor's excuse. "I'm going home," he said firmly. "Before I puke on her and Catherine. Xander?"
"No answer at home," Warrick said, looking down at him. "Just don't hurl on me."
"I won't." He wobbled back out, heading back to the cab. He was in no condition to drive. He hadn't felt this bad since his freshman year of his undergrad.
Brass looked at it, then snorted and shook his head. "I'll hand it to Grissom. Allergic reaction to something he ate." He looked at Sarah. "Go get Xander's."
"Sure." She went to look it up, coming back with it for him, running into Grissom at the desk too. "Here, the person who probably has Xander."
Grissom looked at it. "Can't be. She's on the table. Has been since two pm." He looked at Brass. "Tracking device?"
"Going for the monitor," he promised, heading that way. This was not a good thing. Not at all. He liked the kid, he'd hate to have to tell someone he had died. He came out with the monitor and found Greg back there. "Why aren't you home?"
"Um, fire next door. Firemen said I couldn't. I'm going to the break room for a few hours to nap." Grissom nodded, getting out of his way. "Thank you. I love you, man." He wobbled that way, letting Warrick help him.
Brass turned on the monitor, then sighed. "He's not on it. It's got a thirty mile radius."
Sarah took it and headed out to the Tahoe she had checked out for the night. "Get me a list of her properties. He's probably on one."
"Unless the person who shot his date took him instead," Brass snapped back. She turned to glare at him. "Oh, no you don't." He went to take it and do it on his own. He didn't like her attitude and she'd pick on the kid when it was her fault. He should drag her and Catherine along, just so they'd never do it again.
Grissom looked at her. "Go get Catherine, start a search in case he needs it," he patiently ordered. She sighed and nodded, going to do that. He rolled his eyes and checked the boy's messages, finding an interesting one. He called Brass. "Jim, we should have checked his messages. Someone said he's worth more than a hundred bucks and he's not going to be given back to those who don't appreciate him. Plus they'll turn him straight. No, not signed. No address given. Whoever it was tried to quit for him." He hung up and put that note into an evidence bag, just in case. Chain of evidence was everything after all.
Xander looked up as the door opened, nodding to his left. "Demona's in there."
"Demona Bradley. She's napping off a snort." He looked behind him. "Hey, Kelsey. This is Jim Brass. He's one of my bosses. You really probably don't want to hit him with that rock, dear. He'll get really grumpy."
"He's kinda cute, in an old fart way," the sorority sister said, knocking him out anyway. "Pity. I'm sure someone around here can use the castoffs. Is he yours?"
"No, honey. I told you I'm not gay."
She snorted. "Your skin's flawless, your hair is artfully arranged using just the right amount of mouse and your fingernails are perfect, try again, honey."
He shrugged as much as he could. "All I had growing up were girls. One geeky girl and one cheerleader girl. Then eventually one geeky girl, two cheerleader girls, and a lesbian witch."
She rolled her eyes. "So let me guess, you were their ken doll?"
"In everything but the clothes, yeah. I only played packmule and listening device when they were shopping. Please let me go?"
"Fat chance," she said sweetly, going to get up the other sisters. They had been found, they'd have to move him again. She heard the guy on the floor moan and came out to knock him out again. "And stay down, grandpa."
"Actually, he's only got a daughter your age," Xander offered. "Then again, I know mothers who are your age. His daughter wanted me to do her too. Can I at least go to the bathroom?"
"We'll see." She went to talk to the other sisters, getting one to release him and let him use the toilet, with her waiting outside the room just in case.
Xander pulled out his earbud and his cellphone, plugging it in and dialing the station, getting Hodges for some reason. "Sisters of Delphi," he said quietly. "They've knocked out Brass. I've seen fifteen of them." He hung up and put away the system, he didn't want to make them suspicious. It's not like they had patted him down or anything but Catherine had said he couldn't come armed to this thing. He washed his hands and walked out, allowing himself to be tied to the comfortable chair again. He had decided a few hours ago this was somehow payback for when he used to tie Spike to recliner, but at least it wasn't an uncomfortable chair. Jim was put onto the couch and bound there, then the sisters went back to their meeting in the kitchen. "Hey, Cap?" he asked when he heard the groan. "You okay?"
"I hate women."
"Yeah, I don't particularly feel like liking them because of the sorority sisters either," he said dryly. The captain looked back at him. "Sisters of Delphi. Cat told them they couldn't get together and all bid on one guy as a group so they kidnaped me."
"What about your original date?"
"Stroke I think. Scared to death. I beat one bloody there."
"Grissom saw." He grimaced and wiggled until he was sitting up. "You okay, kid?"
"Yeah, so far. No one's tried to kill me yet. They think I'm gay and that they're going to cure me, but whine." He beamed at the girl coming in. "I really am straight."
She snorted. "I bet." She looked at the captain. "At least you're not terminally old and ugly, just slightly old and used looking. I'm sure we can find a sister who'd want you. Maybe one of the new novitiates." She patted him down, finding his wallet and gun, putting one aside while she looked in the other. "Captain Jim Brass. LVPD." She looked at him. "Which department?"
"CSI. I help run their unit. Xander's my intern."
"Ah." She shrugged and tossed his wallet down. "We'll still keep him but you'll only be here until you're no longer fun. It's been seen."
Brass looked at Xander. "You ever try yelling?"
"Yeah, but they've got sound proofing and they showed me the pit where they keep their holy snake who supposedly helps them with their visions for papers and tests."
"Ah." He nodded. "Have I mentioned recently I hate your former life?"
"Not recently, but they're not Seers. I knew a few of them for the Powers That Be. They're not these girls. These girls are sorority sisters who think they have a clue."
The girl with them snorted. "I've been down to Out of Focus."
"Gee, they don't allow me in there because I'm from Sunnydale," Xander told her.
"We know. We were asked to pick you up," she said brightly. "They can have you once we're done with initiations. Then you'll be fine and straight again." She skipped off, literally, going back to the kitchen.
Xander looked up. "I've had enough," he sighed. "Really. Any time now. SWAT is good."
"I left word when I found you," Brass offered. "Someone's on their way."
Hodges walked into room where everyone was meeting and cleared his throat.
"Not now, Hodges," Grissom ordered.
"Fine, I won't tell you what Xander said when he did a ten second phone call just now." Everyone stared at him. "The Sisters of Delphi have him and Brass. He said they knocked Captain Brass out. He said he saw fifteen of them."
"Delphi? Like the old oracle of legends?" Warrick asked.
Hodges nodded. "Yes. They're a small cult up at the college." He handed over one of the papers he carried. "They're a group of former sorority sisters who found solidarity in their delusion of being Seers, though they only use it for papers and on tests."
"Hold on, if he called, he's got a new cellphone. It's got to have GPS," Catherine offered.
"Archie already thought of that," Hodges noted, handing over the other paper he carried. "He called from that tower, which narrows it down to two blocks. Yes, the transmitter is still working, and can be found on other monitors."
"Thank you, Hodges," Grissom said. "You've cracked this one." He followed the head of SWAT out the door and to his Tahoe to follow them to the scene. They could trace the signal on the homing device. He pulled in behind them, getting into the back of the van to listen while they scoped out the building with a parabolic dish.
"You do know that the original oracles were virgins, right?" Xander said tiredly. "That they had to stay that way, or else? That they could be put to death for not being one?"
"That's so impractical in today's world," a snotty sounding female snorted. "Today's seers aren't like that."
"Well, not all of them, but if you're Delphi the next generation, you should follow all the rules," Xander said dryly. "Including only taking one petition for each person over their lifetime."
"Plus not using it for personal gain," Captain Brass said, sounding like he was in pain. "Get off me! Before I have SWAT kill you."
"They're not coming," the snotty girl sang. "They have no idea where you are."
"I called them before I got here," he said dryly, and then you heard a crack. "Ha!"
"Nice headbutt, cap. We'll make sure you get an ice pack when we're done."
"Thanks. I could use it. She's got nothing but air in there and still has a hard head."
Xander snickered. "Think I'll get into this sort of trouble in Chicago?"
"I hope not, for Vecchio's sanity."
"He told me he learned how to pick locks on handcuffs thanks to Benny."
"Don't pick up his bad habits," Brass ordered.
"Sure, Cap. I'm hungry!" he yelled. "If you don't feed me, you can't rape me later!"
"We go," Grissom said firmly. The SWAT guys boiled out of their truck and knocked in the door, running inside to get those women. Grissom walked in after them, looking at his people. "Hi."
"Hey, boss. Can we stop to get a milkshake on the way to the station?"
"Sure, Xander. Let me cut the ropes."
He freed them and walked them out to the Tahoe, letting them get inside. One of the guys would drive Brass's car back. That's the way these things worked. Grissom looked at Xander. "Are you able to give a report?"
"The stupid bitches jumped my date in her driveway as I was dropping her off. She had a stroke, I think, and fell down twitching. I'm guessing if she's dead it's from fright. They grabbed me and put fuzzy handcuffs on me, but also gassed me somehow. I woke up there, I started to yell, they showed me their snake's lair, which is really gross since it's dead and stinking. It's under the third bedroom's closet, there's a trap door down there. They stand over it to get fumed. They brought me back and tied me back to the chair, told me I was going to be used to initiate some people and for their fun because they wanted to make me straight, even though I pointed out I was straight." He shrugged. "Then a few hours later, Cap came in. He got knocked in the head with a rock. Twice. They tied him up and tried to get a good look at him when you guys broke in so they could give him to some of their novitiates who were still pure." He looked at Brass. "Is this one of those beer times?"
"Definitely," he agreed. "We'll hit the sports bar after we give statements and get some beer and cheese fries while we watch hockey or something."
"If it's on," he sighed, nodding. "You'd like hockey, it's on ice. Lots of Canadian's play it, and it's got a lot of violence."
"Yeah, but it's always interrupted by stupid broadcasters on ESPN. Every ten minutes there's a broadcaster telling me about baseball or something." He shrugged. "Not my sport."
"Why didn't they frisk you, Xander?"
"Oversight, they thought I was harmlessly gay."
"Okay. Let SWAT clear the house and then we'll head back. I'll get Catherine and Sarah this house to process. They'll love the snake, I'm sure," he said fondly, smiling at him. "Greg had an allergic reaction to something last night but he's fine. He's got today off too."
"Sure." He watched as SWAT started to lead the happy squad out, sneering at them. "I so wanted one of my usual women to bust in there and break their plastic surgery chins. Or fake boobs."
"Now, now. No being mean, Xander," Brass chided, giving him a look. "We can't be vindictive. That way leads to vigilantes."
"I'd have to help catch them anyway," he said dryly. "It'll be a weapon and I'll have to see it. It's not like they'll use stakes." He looked at Grissom. "One did mention that they knew I was from Sunnydale and some of my former friends had asked for me to be sent to them."
"That's fine, we'll tell the FBI that so they can talk to them," he promised with a small smile. "Are you both okay?"
"I could use an ice pack," Brass offered. "That was a hard rock and then I headbutted."
"I'm fine, I just need chocolate and caffeine."
"Then we'll head back to the station with you," Grissom promised, heading that way. "Xander, we'll need your clothes for trace."
"Yay. I've got stuff in my locker. It's got to go back to the rental place."
"That's fine. We'll send it to them once we're done with it and be careful with it." He started the engine and drove off, heading back to the station, with a quick stop to get the poor guys a milkshake.
Brass ate another fry. "Thank you for letting the sheriff down easily."
"It's not his fault he hasn't got a clue," he said dryly. "I'm hoping it's because he's so busy." He ate a bite of his burger, shaking his head. "I can't believe he wanted me to stay and work tonight. By the way, I did remember to tell him that you were kidnaped as well, that way you could have tonight off too."
"Thanks, kid," he said with a small smirk. "Too bad you couldn't get Hodges off."
"Ehh, he's going to get to take it out on them."
"Probably true. You nearly done?"
Xander finished the rest of his burger and paid for their lunch, then wiped off his mouth and finished his soda, following Brass out to his car. He'd give Brass a ride home then head out for some fun. He smiled at their waitress and nodded back at the table, making her smile and nod, giving him a pat on the arm because he always tipped well. He turned off his alarm system and got in to drive, looking at him. "You sure you don't need to stop to get something for your head?"
"I've got stuff at home. It's not the first time someone tried to cave my skull in with something blunt and heavy." He watched as the kid backed out, looking at the traffic ticket on the dash. "He didn't cancel it?"
"Nope," Xander said dryly. "Remind me to pay for it tomorrow when I come in." He headed for Jim's apartment, waiting while he hiked up the stairs once they got there, then headed for one of his favorite clubs. He needed cheering up. He looked at the bouncer, who only stared at him. "What?" He turned, finding a woman in leather behind him. "Hi. Do I know you?"
She pulled a gun. "Do I care?"
He groaned and rubbed his forehead. "Listen, sweetie, I'm a ballistics tech with the PD. I don't make shit. I've already been kidnaped today by some sex-deprived, stupid sorority sisters. I don't need this."
She snorted. "I bet. Name?"
"Harris. CSI intern Harris." Her eyes went wide. "SWAT came after me earlier. Want to meet some of them?" He looked around, waving at the cop parking. "Hey!" he said with a grin. "She's in a bitchy mood."
"I can see that," he said dryly, walking carefully closer. "Ma'am, please put it down."
"No! He's mine!"
Xander looked at her. "Honey, I'm not yours. If you had *asked* I might have had sex with you in the bathroom, but not now. You're not worth the effort I'd use getting a blow." He rolled his eyes and looked at the bouncer. "Can I go in and destress now?"
"Sure. Go ahead," he said, eyes still wide. He opened the door, letting the poor guy in. "Um, ma'am, this club is run by a cop's brother. You're not going to like what's going to happen to you."
The cop called it in and then pounced her, getting her down with the gun under her body. That way he couldn't be shot. More cops came up. "Gun's trapped under her," he reported. Two more cops waded in and grabbed an arm each, pulling them out and making her drop the gun while the first one sat on her back. "I just met CSI intern Harris," he reported to them. "He's inside. She tried with him first. He's apparently had a very bad day?"
"Yeah, SWAT had to rescue him and Jim Brass earlier," one of them said dryly. "Sorority sisters who formed a sex cult or something." He donated his cuffs to the cause and they drug her to a squad car. He took off his hat to wipe off some sweat. "Where is the ballistics intern?"
"Inside. Destressing he said."
"Having sex in the bathroom?" the second cop asked dryly. The others just nodded, grinning at him. "That's fine. We'll go get his things in a few minutes."
Xander came out of the station for the second time, this time in his last outfit from his locker, except for his sterile gear. These jeans were worn soft and thin, and the t-shirt hung off him. He got into his car and sped off before anyone he knew noticed it was him again. This time the club was a bit darker. It was nearly dusk and he wanted to be somewhere darker and more fun. So he walked into an out-of-the-way vampire bar and right up to the bar, putting down a fifty. "I need a bodyguard for tonight. I'm going clubbing and I'm tired of being snatched."
The bartender looked at him. "You've got cajones," he said in awe.
"I'm a Knight. My balls are bigger than your head and made of steel. Please?"
"Sure. Male, female, demon, vampire?"
"Vampire's fine. Either's fine with me. Female would probably have more fun."
"Okay." He looked around, then whistled and pointed at someone, bringing her jogging. "He needs a bodyguard tonight."
Xander looked at the blonde in front of him. "Harmony."
"No shit," he said dryly. "I'm going clubbing. I've already nearly been stolen twice today, once by sorority sisters who had formed a cult of seers." She snickered at that. "Seriously. I'm also a cop. I'll pay you fifty for the night. Just make sure I don't get taken or eaten."
"What if I want to eat you?" she asked, vamping out and lunging. He slapped her, making her pout at him. "That's mean!"
"Harmony, you knew me before I was a Knight. I'm not that nice any more. Really." She sneered and he looked around, pointing at the biggest, oldest feeling vampire in there. "You, name?"
"Petrie," he sneered, sniffing him. "Human?"
"Harris." The vampire backed off. "Harmony here seems to think I'm as weak as I used to be when she knew me while she was human."
He looked at her, then at him. He leaned closer. "She's really from there?"
"Yeah and she's a former cheerleader and airhead," he said dryly. "Followed Angel's seer Cordelia for the longest time as part of the bitch pack." The vampire rolled his eyes. "I'm paying fifty for a guard to make sure I'm not stolen or eaten tonight. I've had enough for the day."
"Fifty's low but I can handle that." He snapped his fingers, bringing a young woman to his side. "Follow him around. He's not to be stolen, eaten, or harmed."
Xander grinned at her. "After the cult of sorority sisters earlier, I'm tired of it."
"Fine." She took the money off the bar. "We're cabbing or driving?"
"I'm driving. I'll even take recommendations." He led the way outside, letting her in before going around to drive. "Thank you," he sighed when he got in.
"Not a problem. We heard about it on the news." She smirked at him. "You're not afraid of me?"
"Nope. I had sex with Faith once."
She gaped at him, then nodded slowly. "You've got balls, my friend. Big, huge, brass ones."
"Steel, please. Brass is a friend of mine." He grinned at her. "He's my boss." He started the car and headed off into the darkening night. "Where to? Any ideas? I'm banished from Hellmarks for nearly being kidnaped again today."
"Hmm." She considered it and what he was wearing. "The Zone?"
"Oh, hell no. The last time I went there I got paid."
She chuckled, looking out the window. "I know of a great spot. Next set of lights, take a right." He nodded, turning on the blinkers to do so. "You're really proper about doing that."
"I got a ticket the other day and I work for the PD."
"Ah." She nodded. "Cop?"
"Ballistics intern." He made the turn, again using his blinkers just in case the cop car behind him was going to get him. "I hate it when they do that. Now where?"
She glanced back, then at him. "Next left, then a sharp right. It's a little hidden club. Non- demonic." He nodded, slowing down with his blinkers on to take that turn, heading as she said. He found the parking lot and parked, looking at her. "We're here."
"The parking lot?"
"No, the building," she said, pointing at it. She got out and followed him inside, letting him pay the cover too. Then she drug him out onto the floor to get him started. She had heard...rumors about him and his style. She wanted to see if he danced as good as she heard he loved and fought. It wasn't long before she was shoved out of the way by some dyed blonde woman and had to make due with what she could observe. The person she was dancing with gave up on her when she stopped, sniffing in the Knight's direction. He had smelled of lust, the same as his partner still did, but now he smelled of fear. She walked around the woman and took him by the arm, leading him up to the bar. "Are you all right?" He hissed in her ear. She nodded and went back to take that one out, leaving her blatantly out back by the dumpster with her gas canister beside her. She adored free lunches. She was even nice enough to walk around the other side of the building and talk to the cops. "Hey, guys?" she said, smiling at them. "I just found some chick laying beside the trash with a gas canister in her jacket. You guys might wanna go check her out." They got out and followed her back around, then she ducked back inside to get lost. She took Xander off to another club, this one safer. There she got to watch him be hit on by all the pretty little girls and given odd things. She wasn't sure what he'd do with a gold velvet bustier, or what the girl would do without her top, but he seemed to appreciate it. The same as he did the mood necklace and the rings he got tucked into his pockets.
Xander walked into the station and into Doc Robbin's back, giving him a sideways look. "What?" he asked cautiously.
"Come with me, young man. It's time we had a short talk."
"Sure. Let me get my pass and messages."
"You won't want to read them. I do believe Jim Brass swore at you on a few of them."
"Oooh." He took them anyway, glancing through them. "Only one." He followed him back to the autopsy room, holding the door for his elder since it was appropriate. A bit of sucking up never hurt. He found Jim in there. "Hey, Captain Brass." He looked at the body, then at him. "What?"
"You skipped out on your bodyguards last night."
"My bodyguard last night told me she saw a dead body. I wanted out of that club."
The ME looked at him. "Why is this victim missing all but two pints of blood?"
Xander considered it then looked at Brass. "I went to a place like Out of Focus to get a bodyguard," he admitted. "She kept me from anyone trying to steal me again, except Hodges when he found me late last night."
"Uh-huh," he repeated. "Vampire bodyguard?" Xander nodded. "Then did you know she attacked her?"
Xander shrugged. "She tried to slur at me that she had some gas, I told her to go outside. I danced off, letting my bodyguard shoo her away. I paid her fifty bucks for helping me."
"You couldn't keep her from hunting?" Doc Robbins asked.
Xander shook his head. "Not unless I wanted to pay a lot more." He looked at him. "How did you know?"
He snorted. "I know, kid. The same as I knew who you were when I heard your name."
"Cool. Yeah, I did have a vampire bodyguard. She nearly ate Hodges."
"He said she made a joke about being full," Brass reminded him. "This is not good, Xander."
"Sorry." Xander looked at the body. "Want me to pull out the stuff for a reanimation? Or since she'll be walking out tonight, did you want me to deal with that then?"
"She will be?"
Xander looked at the mouth, then at him. "Tell me that's not blood."
"She bit her tongue." Xander gave him a long look. "We only found her blood in there."
"Good!" he said happily. "She still had a gas canister."
"And your hair was all over her," Brass said dryly.
"I was at a club, I danced with her. I'm sure mine wasn't the only hairs."
"No, it's not," Brass sighed. "Go wait in Hodges' lab for me, Xander. We've got to figure out what to...." He backed away from the twitching body, shaking his head. "Now."
Xander looked at him, then at the doctor. "Want a stake?"
"No, I have one."
"Interesting," Xander said with a grin. "From where?"
"From college, when I roomed with a Watcher."
"Ah." He nodded. "Very interesting. I'll take my beating if I must but I wasn't being bad." He ducked out, heading back to Hodges' lab, giving him an odd look. "Brass said so."
"Why?" Bobby asked from the doorway.
"Because last night after I left for the second time I went and found a vampire bodyguard but one of the people I danced with was a threat and she got eaten."
Bobby shook his head. "Huh?"
Hodges looked at him. "I think that's the first time he's had the 'confused with the Xander' look so far," he congratulated. "Very nice work, Xander. At least she didn't eat me too."
"I told her not to." He sat down on his usual stool, looking at the pile of work. "Am I allowed to help?"
"No, most of this involves you," he said dryly. "Which of the sorority sisters rubbed her naked crotch on your pants?"
"Not a clue. I must have been unconscious during then." He shrugged. "I hope she didn't get me personally." He heard a yelp and stood up, coming to the door but Brass was rubbing his shoulder as he walked down the halls. "You okay?"
"Yeah, I'm fine. The Sheriff walked in to check on the case." He gave him a long stare. "He wants to know how you explain why she doesn't have a pulse and she's walking around."
"Tell him the truth."
"He's not that believing."
Xander walked in there, tapping the vampire trying to eat the sheriff on the back of the head. "Don't do that. He signs my paychecks."
"Who are you?" she growled.
"I'm a Knight. As in the one who hunts creatures like you." She backed away from him. "Now, you can be a good little vampire, or I can kick your ass. Your choice. You wouldn't be the first being staked in this precinct. I staked a mentor, I can stake you."
She sniffled. "You're mean!"
"No shit," he snorted. "You're a sorority sister, aren't you?" he sneered at her continued crying. "One of the Delphi chicks?" She nodded again. "Then I should stake you on general principles." He pulled his out and twirled it around before palming it. "Your choice, lady."
She sniffled and looked at the ME. "Can't you protect me from him?"
"You had nerve gas in a club full of kids. I'm not protecting you from Xander."
"Xander?" She looked at him. "I heard about you. We were supposed to pick you up for your friends after we returned you to being straight."
Xander rolled his eyes, and that's when she lunged. "I am straight, I just have taste. I don't date the stupid or the dead." He kicked her off and looked at the sheriff. "Can I stake her?"
"She's a criminal!"
"She'll burst into flames the first time outside anyway," he offered as he fought. He grabbed a scalpel and used it to stab her in the chest, making her grab it and hiss. "Your choice, sheriff."
"Stake her, Xander," the ME ordered calmly. He nodded and staked her, then dusted his hands and his stake off, then his jeans. "Thank you."
"Welcome. Need a broom?"
"No, I have a swiffer, they work very well for these sort of things."
The Sheriff looked at Xander in awe. "How did you know to do that?"
"That's my former life, sheriff. It's like reincarnation for me. By the way, I didn't tell or order my bodyguard last night to eat her or turn her. She was apparently just tasty. I told her to lead the woman off and do something about her, but not to eat or turn her." He put his stake back up and went to wash his hands and dust off his jeans again. "Gods I hate Fledges," he complained in the locker room.
"Baby birds are nice," Nick complained.
Xander looked at him. "Not that sort, Nick." He went pale and nodded, then backed away before walking out. Xander went back to cleaning up, then headed back to the labs. He stopped in Brass's office since he heard Grissom in there. "What am I doing tonight since Hodges is working on the kidnapings from yesterday and Bobby's done already?" He looked at the two older men. "Also, the sheriff was being attacked, the ME gave me permission."
"To do what?" Grissom asked. Xander handed him his stake. "How many weapons do you carry on you?"
Xander grinned at him. "Wanna frisk me?"
The sheriff walked in and turned the boy around, staring at him. "I don't want to know," he said after a deep breath. "I have no idea what happened. There was no body there. I was not attacked, nothing like that happened to you last night or yesterday."
"Then that cult goes free," he noted calmly.
"No, not them. I want them to stay."
"She was one of them."
"So? I didn't see anything." He held a hand to his throat. "How...."
Xander walked him back to the locker room, pulling out his small first aid kit and sitting him down to wash it with holy water and bandage it. "There, it'll look like an odd shaving cut tomorrow, just what it was," he said gently.
"Thank you. When you're gone...."
"Brass knows where to go for help."
"Oh, good," he agreed weakly. "He's never getting a vacation again." He got up and wandered off. "Go back to ballistics, Harris. You're needed there."
"Sure, sheriff. Thank you." He put up his first aid kit, heading back there shaking his head. "I was told to come bug you?" he asked dryly.
"How was the auction? Before the kidnaping?"
"I felt like a piece of meat. The women there wanted me to show off my dick first, and I still only got a hundred bucks for being treated like a specimen under a low powered microscope."
Brass walked into the lab with a red envelope. "I have no idea, it just showed up as a delivery," he offered, handing it to Xander.
"If I *ever* have to do another one of those, I'm going to kill the whole room. Do we see me doing that?" he asked dryly.
"Kid, if you had brought more, we'd ignore it, but I've already told Vecchio about last night and today. He's agreed, you're never going into one again. Open it, I wanna see what that was."
Xander opened the envelope, then blinked at the check inside. He pulled out the folded note and read it, then shook his head. "Here, a donation," he said, handing it over. "Consider it the rebuilding fund."
Brass looked at the note, then groaned and shook his head. "She's dead, I'm not sure we can do this." He went to talk to the PR department about this. They knew all these rules inside and out and were used to covering up for cops who got into trouble. Apparently a few others had other envelopes sent later with 'tips' from the dates, including Sanders. Greg had donated his without even doing more than glancing at the note according to the gossip he heard at the front desk. He looked at Patricia, waving it. "Xander too," he mouthed.
She beamed and nodded. "I knew he would. By the way, I just got a call asking if he was on duty tonight or if he could come out salsa dancing with her again. She wanted her best friend to meet him, maybe they'd hit it off."
"Ask Grissom. There's nothing in ballistics and only his cases in Trace at the moment." He continued on, shaking his head. That boy did liven things up.
Grissom poked his head into ballistics. "Xander, did you want to be here tonight? You got invited out on a date to go salsa dancing by one of your groupies and we still have nothing to do and you're still over hours for the week."
He grimaced. "I like my hours just fine, Gris, and it's not like you have to pay me for them." He gave him a long stare. "I'm sure I can be useful around here."
"Go," Bobby said firmly, pulling the kid up and handing him over. "Make someone go with him. Just make him go. I'm already done unless something new comes in. He can't help Hodges because it's his kidnapings. Go, Xander. Maybe you'll meet a nice woman."
"Maybe I'll end up being paid for breathing again too," he said dryly, shaking his head. "Fine. If I must."
"You must, and I told you to stick to sixty hours a week, no more," Grissom told him. "Otherwise I'm going to have to start sending you home. You're overworking yourself and it's not allowed. I'll have to tell Chicago on you."
"And they'll cheer," Xander said dryly, shrugging. "It means I can pull full time with them plus overtime." He walked off, going to get into his car so he could change and then go salsa dancing. He walked into the bar about an hour later, smiling at the bartender. "Hola."
"Hola," she purred, pointing at a corner table. "Back there, Xander. She described you perfectly." She handed him a drink with a grin. "You'll need it. She's a fierce one."
Xander winked and strolled back that way, skirting the edge of the floor. He nodded at the ladies. "Did you summon me from a night of no-work?" he asked politely.
"I did," one of them said, looking at him. "I know you from somewhere."
"As do I, great Stella." He pulled her up and out onto the floor so they could talk. "I'm the new ballistics person. Stan's been showing me around with Ray."
"Ah." She nodded. "Then you do know who I am."
"Very well. He mooned and drooled over you." He spun her out as a new song started, then pulled her back and dipped her, dancing her off, making her drool.
"He's mine, bitch, get over it!"
"No, he's mine! And you're the bitch!" two women started to fight.
Xander cleared his throat. "Ladies. The music of love is all about passion, but please, do not waste it on those who could not appreciate the sweaty nature of your energy and passionate responses to your partner. Fighting with her just wastes emotion better spent later on in the dance or with a mate in bed." He winked and danced his future DA off.
"That was smooth."
"Thank you, Stella." He dipped her again, pulling her up after a small semi-circle of waving her around. He winked at her and she swallowed. "I'd never take what was once Stanley's. He'd get upset with me and then pout." He walked her over to the table and helped her back into her seat, taking her friend out onto the floor. She was stolen by a Latino man who only smirked at him. He shrugged and turned, finding one of the two fighting women staring at him. He held open his arms and she rushed forward, letting him
show her what passion was about.
Greg walked into the salsa bar and looked around, then headed for Xander, hauling him up and with him. "Sorry, ladies, but we need him back at work to study more guns. We've had a problem and his lunch break is over." He nodded politely at Stella and her friend. "Say good night, Xander."
"Good night, Xander," he quipped, waving and blowing kisses. He followed Greg out to his Tahoe, getting in. "Thank you for saving me," he whispered. His window was knocked on so he rolled it down. "Yes, my dear?" She pulled him closer and kissed him, then stuffed something down his shirt and disappeared before he could blink. "I didn't need that!" he called.
Greg looked at him. "Well?"
Xander pulled out the panties and bra, watching as the necklace and rings fell out. He bundled it all up into the plastic bag Greg handed him, having to hunt one ring while he drove them off, but it eventually went in there too. "Hodges would laugh his ass off. That was Detective Kowalski's exwife. She's a DA in Chicago."
"I'm sure you'll have many amusing stories to tell him. So, how much did you get offered tonight?"
"No cash. I turned down all the trinkets though, including the offer of a trip to Hawaii for a honeymoon by a very pretty Latina woman."
"Well, that's one solution to you not being able to cook." He pulled onto the street the station was on. "Anything else that's really good?"
"Not really." He finished emptying his pockets as they pulled into the parking lot, only putting his pocket knife back. Once Greg parked he walked inside, smirking at Brass and handing over the bag. "From tonight's date."
"Wonderful," he said, looking at the assortment of things. "Who was it?"
"Ooooh. Any of these hers?"
"Not that I'm aware of, but I was going to wait to talk to him first. Explain it as someone gave it to me." He shrugged and headed back to his labs, smirking at Hodges. "No cash."
"Pity, I could use breakfast."
"I'll buy you breakfast, but only if you don't nag or tease about those sorority women."
"Sure. I can wait to do that," he said with a slightly evil smirk. Xander smirked back. "Have fun with the guns."
"Of course." He walked in and Bobby looked him over, whistling softly. "Yes, I do clean up well." He grabbed his jacket and glasses and put them on so he could get down to work.
Stan Kowalski looked up as Xander got off his plane. "Hey."
"Hey. No snow?"
"We had about three inches but it melted already."
"I keep missing it. I'll never see what snow is like." He looked at him, then pulled out a few photos. "Do any of these look familiar to you?" Stan looked at the pictures. Most of them looked like rings...but that one. He tapped it and looked at Xander. "I was invited to go salsa dancing by one of your ex's friends, and the usual thing happened in the club, but I couldn't be sure if someone took hers or not. I remember her wearing one while we danced, but not by the end of the evening." He dug that one out and handed it to him. "I also didn't want to make a big deal of it, that way she couldn't blame me."
"That's why you asked me to pick ya up," Stan said with a smirk. Xander nodded. Stan looked at the ring in the light. It was the one he gave her. "I'm sure someone took it and she's just too embarrassed not to mention it."
"That's what I figured. This way you could subtly give it back to her and she wouldn't get offended." He walked his buddy out to his car, patting it on the hood. "Hi, baby. Did you miss me?"
"He might not have but my dad sure did." He got in to drive, smiling as Xander got in beside him. "Dad wanted to know if you could help him change the oil this weekend."
"Sure, if I'm not busy or anything." He shrugged and tucked the rest of those pictures away. "Just make sure I don't have to see a single sorority sister this weekend and I'll do just about anything you want."
"Stupid sex cult stole me after the auction thingy, made my date die of fright." Stan just stared at him. "Brakes!" he shouted. Stan put on the brakes so they wouldn't have another accident. "Thank you."
"I've got to help you find a normal girl," Stan complained as he moved around the wreck he had caused, heading back to the station.
"Don't you have to stay?"
"Nope. I wasn't in the wreck, just in the middle of it." He hit the ramp for the interstate and headed off as fast as he could. He wouldn't be picking up Xander ever again. He almost crashed badly this time.
Xander wobbled off the plane in Vegas, looking at the guy meeting him. "Hi," he said weakly, sitting down in the closest chair. "I'm tired."
"Why are you tired?" Greg asked patiently, helping him up. Xander blinked at him. "Xander?"
"Tired but present."
"Why are you tired?"
"Xander, why are you so groggy," Greg tried.
"You're Greggy, I'm a Xander."
"I know that." He walked him out to his car, he had cabbed over to pick Xander up at Ray's insistence. He had wondered why. Now he knew. "Did you get to nap on the plane?" Xander nodded firmly, banging his head against the headrest. "Did you get to play with the cars?"
"Oh, yeah, got to help Stan change his oil and help Stan move. Then we went clubbing with Renfield. Oh. My. God," he moaned, clapping himself on the forehead. "I left that bag with Renny."
"The consulate Fed Ex'd something to Hodges earlier," Greg assured him.
"Oh, good," he said with a dopy grin. "Can I nap now? Please? Just make the women go away," he pleaded. "No more women, women bad."
"You can nap in the break room for a few hours," Greg offered. "You're due on shift tonight since Bobby's back home with his mom again."
"Okay. Just keep the bad women away from me. I'm going to be gay now. Women suck."
"I'm sure they do," Greg agreed, pulling off the interstate so they could head to the station. He got them into the back parking lot, it was closer to the back door, less chance of Xander wandering into something or someone, and got out. He locked the door but had to come around to get Xander out and help him inside. He did remember the alarm on the way in. Halfway there, they ran into Catherine, who got growled at. "He's had a bad woman experience this weekend," he said at her startled look. "They made him want to be gay now." She just backed away and Xander finished his trudge to the old couch, plopping down on it with his head in Warrick's lap. Greg shook his head at the confused look. "I don't know. He won't tell me why he's so tired and groggy."
"Xander, I'm not your pillow," Warrick said, trying to move his head.
"Since women are bad, will you protect me?"
"Hell no. You have Greg and Hodges for that. Hodges can scare off all the women around you." He got up and moved, letting the poor guy stretch out.
"What happened this time?" Sarah asked from the doorway, carrying her lunch bag.
"I don't know, he wouldn't tell me," Greg said dryly, staring at Xander. "But he hates women now and he hissed at Catherine."
"Okay. I'll try to stay away from him tonight." She put her lunch in the fridge then left, going back to the locker room to get ready for the day.
Warrick looked at the sleeping body. "I'm not sure I want to know what the consulate sent him now."
"Hey, Hodges?" Greg called. "Xander's back but he's asleep."
"Good." He came out with the opened box, handing it to him. Along with the report, which Greg handed to Warrick with a moan.
Warrick read it then looked at the kid. "Why did those old matrons want him?"
"He's cute, he's funny, and he likes sex," Greg told him. "All women like him." He took it to read again, shaking his head. "Xander, I promise, no women."
Xander pulled something out of his pocket and tossed it at him. "Make 'em all disappear. I wanna be gay now," he mumbled, going back to sleep.
Catherine bent to get the crumpled letter, looking it over. She compared it with Greg's note, then patted him down to get the keys to Xander's car so she could get his bag. By his account, they needed to look in it. She came back with it and dumped it out in one of the labs, which made Grissom backtrack to look at her. She handed over Xander's note. "Greg has the box from the consulate."
"Wonderful. Why?" She pointed at the note, sorting out the things she knew Xander didn't have. She held up a dangling emerald and diamond earring set, making him blink in surprise. "That's a nice present."
"No, that's a nice bribe," she said dryly. "To not press charges against them for taking him." She finished sorting out his things, noticing he didn't have any underwear in the bag and realizing she didn't want to know that much about his personal life. She checked the bag, finding a few more things in a baggie in the front, then shoved the clothes back in so she could go hand it to Xander. He curled up around it, hugging it to his chest like a teddy bear. "You rest, let us handle it," she said gently. "I'll protect you from the mean, nasty women, Xander. No more being taken and no more being looked at like a piece of meat." He shuddered so she backed off, leaving it in Greg and Nick's hands since he was in there getting a soda. She looked at Nick, grinning at him. "They bribed him not to press charges."
"Is that legal?"
"Yeah, barely," she admitted, going back to her self-appointed project. She found Hodges in there looking at them. "Helping?"
"I already cataloged the other box. This one's nice." He held up the chunky diamond bangle bracelet. "Looks cheap though."
"It's not," she told him, taking it to look it over. "It's very not cheap." She pulled over some paper to work on the cataloging, shaking her head as she went. "They bribed him."
"So I read. I also called Stan, who only groaned and hung up on me. I did call Renfield Turnbull, one of the Mounties. He was on guard duty so he had to call back. I taped the oral report of what went on when they took him out clubbing and then to a consulate dinner function." He coughed. "He did say someone might have stolen some of his clothes."
"He had no underwear in his bag," she offered.
"That could have been accidental," he said dryly. His phone rang and he answered it. "Hodges?" He listened. "Oh, thank you. No, he was fairly sleepy when he got off the plane so we had him picked up. I'm sure whoever picked him up didn't realize it. Thank you. Yes, tonight. Within an hour if possible. Thank you again." He hung up. "His *other* bag is still there. Greg didn't check for more than his carryon."
"He only left with a carryon," Greg said from the doorway. "I was there when he was packing."
"Well, he's got more now," he said dryly. "Big bag, waiting at the airport."
"Fine. Let me ask Grissom if I can get it." He went to the office to talk to him. "I didn't know Xander had another bag. Should I go get it?"
"I'll call the airport, have one of our guys out there pick it up and bring it back here," Grissom promised. "Is he okay?"
"Still napping. Nick came over to check on him and he grabbed him to cuddle. Took us ten minutes to get him free and to quit blushing about Xander begging to be saved from women." He shrugged. "The note was very interesting."
"So I saw." He smiled. "We'll have the shift meeting in a few minutes. Go check on him and wait in there." He nodded, walking that way. Grissom called the airport after looking up the number. "Hi, this is Gil Grissom, down in the CSI unit. One of our guys was just picked up and forgot a bag. Harris?" He smiled. "Yes, he's our ballistics intern. Why? No, he doesn't own one of those. No, he's bragged on his small collection many times. He prefers European models for their weight. Please. No, he's asleep on our breakroom couch at the moment. Sure. Just with the next guy's fine. Thank you, officer. You have a nice night. In my name's fine, or his. Or Hodges, he's one of our lab techs and is one of Xander's friends. Thank you." He hung up and leaned back, shaking his head and smiling. "Hodges?" he called. He came in a few minutes later. "Xander's bag is going to be coming back the next time someone at the airport has to come this way. For some reason it's got a rifle in it."
"He doesn't own a rifle."
"I know that, Hodges. I'm figuring it's part of that other stuff he was given. It may come in your name so don't be shocked if you're handed the duffle bag."
"Yeah, like military issue duffle bag from what he said."
Hodges shook his head quickly. "Okay. I'm sure it'll be fine. You want me to wake him up in about an hour?"
"Please. Unfortunately there is something that I need him to do tonight."
"Sure, Grissom." He went to check on Xander, finding Greg pinned down as a pillow. "Duffle bag?"
Greg shrugged. "Not a clue."
"Fine." He went back to helping Catherine sort and catalog. He knew what Xander owned and what wasn't his before this. He couldn't resist it any more. "At least this makes up for his poor showing in the auction."
"Yeah, it covers the cost of SWAT going after him too," she agreed dryly. "Who'd want to rob a function at the Canadian Consulate?"
"I don't know," Hodges said dryly. "I'm sure we'll get a full report from Chicago when we ask."
Brass looked up as Greg and Hodges walked in a list of things and a bundled report, giving them an odd look. "What crime scene was this from?"
"The hostage situation in Chicago," Greg said dryly. "The people who took Xander hostage and who were then shot and he was taken by a mob wife who decided to spoil him rotten for being so cute and helping her into her car when her husband was being a dick."
"Huh?" he asked, looking very confused. "I didn't hear anything about this."
"Well, it started like this," Hodges said, sitting down and clasping his hands on his stomach. "He helped Stan change his oil and move. Stan and Renfield Turnbull took him out to a club for dinner. Then Renfield realized he had an event back at the consulate later that night. A late night charity dinner thing. So he got Xander spiffed up with Ray's help. Took him as his guest, Thatcher greeted him warmly because she likes him." He smirked. "Gala dinner was interrupted by robbers."
"Robbers who Xander offered to be taken hostage by so they didn't upset any of the Mounties or guests. He pointed out he was a ballistics tech and they would come for him, and if not, he made mention of having money of his own and a family. Standard protocol with the usual lie," Greg offered.
"I've used that one myself," Brass said cautiously, still looking confused.
"The robbers took Xander with them," Hodges said. "Had him hold the bag and stuff. They got outside. They got in their van. Stan followed said van, blowing out a tire. Van crashes into a mob wife's car. Bodyguards get out and arrest-slash-shoot them for daring to come near her."
"Xander's released when it's noticed he's blindfolded and handcuffed," Greg interrupted.
"True. Mob wife coos over him while Stan works the scene, he didn't think anything would be harmed by it," Hodges said sarcastically. "According to Renfield, she called her husband to explain why she was late. He throws a fit. She mentions the 'd' word and says she's taking this nice young man who they had hostage to the hospital and then she's going to escort him home. After all, he's very nice and shaken very badly by the kidnaping and wreck."
"Probably more from the wreck," Brass offered.
Hodges smirked and nodded. "Basically. And Renfield said Stan noted he was protesting the whole time. So, not only did she leave the scene of the accident with him, and without a bodyguard, she walked him off, caught a cab, and took him shopping when he protested he was fine and could go back to the consulate. He apparently called about once an hour to let Stan and Ray know he's still fine and that yes, he's been taken, and no, she's treating him well. That she was just like his friend Buffy and he was helping her shop on her demand and on threat of her husband killing him for him bleeding on her skirt. Seems he had a nosebleed or something." Hodges rolled his eyes. "Renfield said that Ray and he caught up to them about four hours later, finally figuring out where they were. About that same time, the husband shows up." Brass groaned, reaching for his bottle of aspirin.
"Husband blows his stack, wife starts a screaming match. Husband backhands her. Xander pops him one in the mouth and orders him to never hit another woman again. That it's disrespectful and that he can't be a *real* man if he's hitting his woman. Points at Ray, says he'd never do it so therefore the thug shouldn't. Made a remark about needing better manners, got her into the car of her choice, and she pulls a gun and takes him with her, sneering and mouthing off to her husband," Greg told him, smirking at him as he took a few of the aspirin. "You'll want some Tums too, Captain."
"I already do," he agreed, pulling out that bottle too so he could take a few of those. "And?"
"She takes him shopping for himself. Rifle, new clothes, tux since his is basically ruined, shoes, jewelry for her, which she gives him as a donation to our building fund since he was complaining about that kidnaping apparently," Hodges said with a wicked smirk. "He pointed out that since she pulled a gun to take him that Ray would have to arrest her. So she adds in a nice tip in bribe to keep him from pressing charges. She is a mafia wife after all. She calls her husband and lets him tell him what she's done and about the bribe. He orders her to come home. She demands things will be different or she's leaving him and moving to Vegas to pamper this new poor baby. After all, he did sign a prenup and by hitting her did violate it so she was entitled to half of the estate. Plus alimony." Brass shuddered; he was divorced, he knew how bad that could be. "He's apparently advised by Mountie Fraser to accept her terms, it'd be cheaper and they could do some mild counseling, that he was *sure* Xander hadn't touched her inappropriately or done anything to harm her, but without it, she could be going to jail for kidnaping since an officer had seen her do it." Brass shuddered. "They kiss and make up. She drops him at Ray's Ma's house with the bags and the rifle, and then takes off, leaving him standing there confused."
"Ray's younger sister tries to take care of him but his older sister shooed her off and got her husband to carry things in while she made him some tea and some cookies to make him feel better. Ray comes in, Maria tells him what's going on. Ray tells her exactly what happened and Xander only moans and puts his head down, asking about paperwork. Ray thoughtfully handed it over," Greg said dryly. "That's why he didn't sleep last night. Then he was defending himself all day to IAD."
Hodges snickered. "And it gets better. IAD there says it's not his fault. That he's not the first that had this sort of thing happen. They do make him give a full account, down to the credit card number if he remembers them. They go through all the stuff she gave him, pronounce it okay, and tell him to have fun coming back this morning, after a day and a half of questioning. They drive him to the airport, having packed the rest of the stuff in the duffle bag, and take off. Then Renfield called and admitted that they had forgot some things and sends it to us. They get his statement and clear him again, he's fine with them. They make a note to watch over him because these things happen. Stan told them about the auction and they knew others like that."
Brass took a few more antacids. "So, now what do we do?"
"I talked with Xander. The jewelry is for us to sell. It's for the rebuilding and pension fund. She said so and he's donating it in total. Especially since it's all girls' jewelry and he's not." Hodges stood up. "As for the rifle and other stuff? He said that you can have the rifle too. He doesn't hunt so he doesn't need it. He doesn't want the option of becoming a sniper after a bad day like that one." Brass looked happier as he nodded at that. "The rest, well, he's just doubled his wardrobe. Got a nice tip. Wanted to know if you wanted half of that too."
"No, he can keep that and the clothes, but we'll take the generous donations," Brass said, looking at the list. "There's got to be a half a million in jewelry here."
"Three quarters according to Catherine. All quality stuff," Greg told him. "She wanted to know if we're pawning it or auctioning it?"
"Pawn's fine," he offered. "I don't care. I'll let someone else handle that stuff. Where is it?"
"On Gris's desk, along with the rifle," Hodges offered. "Bobby saw it and whistled happily when we did a phone-to-phone picture and call."
"Hmm. Good. Anything else?"
"Yeah, Xander's back asleep. He's exhausted," Hodges said fondly, smirking at him. "Grissom listened to all this and just moaned, saying to let him sleep until lunch."
"That's fine with me," Brass agreed. "I'll check on him later. Anything else come of it?" He looked at the list. "A Walther?"
"Yes, and he said he wants that one," Greg told him. "If you need it, he might pout, but he wanted it. That's why she bought it for him."
"Also, the consulate has put in a commendation with the city of Chicago for him," Hodges said fondly, still smirking. "For his help with the robbery and for helping to save and protect the lives of their guests. They're talking award and reward."
"Plus possibly a Mountie if he likes Turnbull that much," Greg offered. "He'll be out to visit in a few weeks by the way."
"Sure. We'll make sure Xander has one of his nights off when he's out here. Anything else I have to know? Before I have my ulcer erupt?"
"Yeah, the generous donation in the mob wife's name, she wants it kept secret. That's part of the deal of the bribe. Ray had a roll of Tums for breakfast that day, but he's fine now. He said to keep Xander here next month, that things are probably going to be pretty odd and to give it time to calm down. He did say to get the guy a better car since the one he's got now is a piece of crap."
"Xander said he was going to change cars right before he left," Hodges offered. "That he's going to call a garage up there and ask what's the easiest thing to get parts for that's reliable in Chicago's weather and traffic, then find one."
"I like his car," Brass noted. "I might know someone who would buy it from him." He shrugged. "Okay. Let's make sure Xander stays calm. Are we seeing any difficulties?"
"Yeah, two of our mob bosses out here are related to either the husband or the wife of that pair," Greg told him. "The wife's sister is married to the third highest in town. The husband's cousin runs a smaller gaming racket. We're not sure if they know or not or if they're going to care. If so, we might get some more donations."
"Donations are always acceptable. Them coming to kill him isn't," Brass said firmly.
"They won't. The wife called and said she talked to her sister, who now wants to meet Xander on her own. She was at the auction and remembered him. She's kicking herself for not bidding. She did say her husband's cousin was probably not going to interfere, just laugh a lot if he saw him."
"Oh, good, that's much better," Brass agreed. "I'll brief the sheriff on this," he said, waving the list and the report. "Thank you, guys."
"Welcome. Xander's got to cash that check for lunch and then he's buying us breakfast so we can pick on him," Hodges said with a smirk. "So if you hear about us then...you'll know what's going on."
"True. Try to keep the kid quiet and out of trouble, okay? No going dancing or dining at any mob places or anything that could out him and get him noticed."
"Sure, always happy to help," Hodges said smugly, walking out.
Greg looked at him. "We're planning on the waffle place for breakfast."
"Good idea. It's usually safer." He nodded, leaving him alone with his ulcer and his headache.
Jim Brass picked up the phone and dialed the sheriff's pager, putting in his office number, then hanging up. He sat back to read the report, which had transcripts of the taped conversation and all that already in it. The sheriff knocked and walked in a few minutes later so Brass handed it to him. "Chicago this weekend with Harris. He ran into a bit of a problem."
"What's this list?"
"Read the report first. We're getting a donation of the jewelry and the rifle."
"Okay," he said slowly, sitting down to read. He noticed the aspirin and antacid bottles being pushed closer and frowned, continuing to read. By the time he was done he had helped himself to both. "We want some of the cash too since she said it should be donated," he ordered, handing it back. He went to get a drink. He really needed a drink now.
Brass called Hodges. "The sheriff said he had to hand over some of the money too." Then he hung up and took a few more aspirin while he figured out who would get the jewelry and rifle to deal with. Someone from IAD stuck his head in and Brass gave him an odd look at his charming smile. "Who do you need help with?"
"We just got a head's-up from Chicago about a ballistics intern. I'm just letting you know that we're putting him on our 'odd things happen to him' list here as well so we can watch out for the boy. We have a report from them already."
"Get his evaluation file. It's got reports on the other things."
"Thank you, Captain Brass. How many times?"
"A few snatchings, offers in clubs."
"That's fine, he's not our first," he said happily, going to get that file and copy out the important parts. Including the information page. They didn't have that in theirs.
Hodges walked out to the desk later that night, looking interested at the man standing there. "Yes? You needed to speak to Xander Harris about something?"
"You don't look like him."
"I'm not him, he's still napping. He's exhausted from his trip to Chicago. I'm one of his internship mentors. Hodges, from Trace."
"I heard he was ballistics."
"He's got a minor in my area and we're best friends." He looked at him. "Can I help you with something?"
"Yeah, the missus and her spouse said to give him this," he said, pulling out a plain white envelope and handing it over. "The boss said it made 'em a stronger couple and he has their thanks. It's for the building fund. The missus said she should have bid on him but she was blinded by his shyness and geeky exterior. Also, he's invited to dine at their hotel tonight for a free meal."
"We can't take free meals," Hodges told him. "It's against policy and he can be fired if he did accept, and then Chicago wouldn't hire him as their ballistics tech either. I will give him the other one however." How did Xander do this? He was about to sweat himself to death.
"I understand and I'll tell the boss why he can't accept his generous offer, but that he thanks him anyways. Thank you, Mr. Hodges. Tell him to be safe." He shook his hand and walked away.
Hodges walked back there, taking off the wire and handing it to Brass with the envelope. "A donation. I turned down their offer of a free dinner based on policy against gifts."
"Thank you. Who?"
"Open it." He smirked at him, watching as Brass had to lean against the wall. He peeked and smirked, shrugging. "I'm sure that picture of her nearly nude will bring something. How much is the check for?"
"A few hundred thousand," he said quietly. "The wire?"
"The whole encounter."
"Even better." He went to report this and hand them both to the sheriff, then he took the rest of the night off. If Xander could nap through this, he could have a nap of his own.
Hodges went back to his lab, smiling when the sheriff came in with the envelope. "Did you get the wire as well? I didn't want there to be any ambiguity about the situation."
"No, I got it. Thank you, CSI Hodges. Where might Mr. Harris be?"
"He should be on the couch in the breakroom still. We couldn't get him up for lunch."
"Fine. Thank you. I'm sure he'll make up these hours." He went to check on the boy, finding him snoring, and shook his head. IAD got a copy of the wire and the check and the picture, and the rest went into the building donation fund. "It'd almost be worth it to keep him," he muttered. "He brings in good donations, he's usually a very hard worker. Even if these things did keep happening to him." He considered it. "No, I'll let Chicago have him. They probably need it with the state of their budget."