Note: Challenged by one of my list members.  She wanted to see Xander be related to the people from _Scarecrow and Mrs. King_.  She got her wish.

Challenging Ballistics

Mortty opened up her email once she had everything put down, looking at the email message.  Since it was from her 'sister' Abby in DC, she sat down like the message line ordered.  She frowned, clicking on that one, reading it.  "Oh, shit," she said quietly.  "DAVID!"  He walked in and she pointed, getting out of the way.  "From Abby."

"Did she get pregnant by osmosis from dancing with him?"  He sat down and read the message, then one eyebrow slowly inched up.  "I know them," he admitted.  "Well, him.  I met him during a case that crossed into our territory and we had to provide lab results."  He read it for a third time, then got up and headed to talk to his husband.  "Xander."  Xander took off his earmuffs, putting down the gun he was test firing at the look on his mate's face.  "Um, sit, dear."  He sat on the floor, just staring at him.  "It's nothing bad."

"Bullshit.  With the look on your face it's either an apocalypse, Buffy's running around naked and claiming she's pregnant by me, or you're leaving me."

"I'm never going to leave you.  You bring misery to my gloom.  A pregnant and naked Buffy is an apocalypse, and if it were demonic, I'd be scowling.  No, Abby's boss said she had to input your DNA profile into the system after that convention.  After she saw the tape of the night out we had."  Xander nodded slowly.  "Were you maybe…adopted?"

"No.  They'd have gloated about that.  Why?"

"Because, unless the system is really warped and everything we know about DNA is wrong,  you're related to an agent in DC, he's your dad.  Your mom's listed as a classified file by the same agency.  I don't know why.  Abby said she'd hunt more information after she told Gibbs to get permission, then she'd send it to Mortty."

"I want that email in my hand!" he bellowed.  She walked it over and hugged him, having to bend down to do it.  He read it, frowning at it.  "I'm not adopted."

"I don't know what's going on," she soothed, patting down the hair she had messed up.  "Maybe this is like the baby scare, a really sick joke by some Feds."

He looked up.  "Mortty, babe, I don't want to see tits unless you're nursing the offspring you have for us someday."  She backed up, pulling her shirt back up. "Thank you."  Ray walked in, giving them an odd look.  He held up the email, they were great friends and what Xander knew about his family Ray knew about his family.  "Abby's boss is whacked in the head."

"Quite possibly," Mortty agreed.  "She tried to make her wear a business suit and preppie heels."

Xander whimpered. "That poor girl.  Did she knock her down the stairs to prove they were dangerous?"

"No.  Gibbs got her free of the polyester and preppie pumps.  Fortunately.  Or else we'd have another tech here already."  She took the email back from Ray's limp hand.  "She said she's searching it further when she finds out from Gibbs if she can do this during work hours or not.  If not, she can get into trouble if they find out and come for her for looking.  I don't know what's going on and neither does she yet."

Xander pushed himself up and went to his desk phone, tapping out a long distance number.  "Shitbag," he said darkly.  "You never told me I was adopted.  I'm surprised.  You'd usually hold that over my head, how all my failures were because I wasn't your kid."   He listened to his uncle rant at him. "Yeah, keep it up."  He looked at the phone in his hand, then cackled and hung up.  "Worst decision my mother ever made, stealing me from the hospital," he reported.  Mortty hurried back to report that to her sister.  "Apparently I'm such a disgrace that she turned herself in and they wouldn't take me back or arrest her for it."  David hugged him.  "Thanks, Dave."

"Can I hit your parents if they're alive?"

"He's alive and he's in Texas.  My paternal tormentor was in Vegas for a few weeks after the disaster but then he moved down there to live in redneck squalor.  No word on my mother but she wasn't screeching in the background so I'm not sure if she's alive or not."  David opened his mouth.  "Ecklie rubbed my face in it.  He found it when personnel records were taken down with the virus.  He tried to rub it in my face about three days before he sent me that gun."  He went to pick up the gun and get back to work.  "Firing that one now!" he called, firing it.  He gathered the bullet then brought it back to compare it.  "Tell Huey he's got a bad eye.  Not only is this the wrong caliber, but the wrong make.  I'll run it through the system, see if it can match anything in there."  Ray nodded, going to tell him that.  He looked at his husband. "If they show up, you will strip the house of any and all weapons, including the steak knives, kit knives, and my pocket knife, right?"

"Of course.  They'll go with Greg."

"No, not to Dawn's.  She'll help me.  Send them to Stan but make sure he won't let the Mounties have them.  I could probably talk them into giving them back to me."  That got a nod and David walked over to his trace lab, closing the connecting doors quietly.  Xander walked out when Ray yelled his name, looking at the person standing there.  "And you are?"

"Wondering why someone at a government agency was inputting you into the DNA database for agents and cops," he noted patiently.

Xander crossed his arms and canted his weight off to the side.  "I don't talk to people who don't identify themselves, unless you want me to make fun of you?"  The guy sneered and Xander suddenly moved, pushing him against the wall.  "You leave Abby the fuck alone," he growled, getting into his face. "Her boss made her do that.  I REFUSE to let anyone fuck with Abby.  If you think Gibbs is a hardass, you ain't seen me yet.  Do we have a clear understanding?" he hissed.  The agent nodded quickly.

"Xander, down," Ray ordered.

"Bite me."  He stepped back.  "Now, ID or leave, asshole."  It was handed over and Xander looked it, then went to his office to call Gibbs.  "I've got a fed here who's from a smaller agency than you?  It says classified under that.  Yeah, that one."  He listened to him.  "Really?  No, she stole me.  You can tell them that and get their dog outta my yard, Gibbs.  Before I hurt him.  I'm not having a good day.  Have Abby tell me personally, not email Mortty.  I almost ended up staring at her tits when she gave me a hug."  He hung up and walked them back out, tossing over the credentials. "Head home, sailor, and go through Gibbs.  He knows who I am.  Tell them I was stolen from the hospital if it helps, that's why my uncle said."  He waved and headed back to work.  "Ray, please make sure I eat lunch.  David forgot to get more cereal and milk.  We didn't even have any leftovers I could warm up."  He slammed his lab door, then kicked it.

Ray looked at the agent. "I'd do that personally.  He's not in a good mood and things tend to explode around him when he's in a bad mood.  Either that or his stalkers will come by to try ta steal and cuddle him again, which will make his husband go off."  The agent slunk out the door and ran off.  Ray went to call Gibbs himself to tell him what had happened.  Some days, dealing with Xander's life was more amusing than others.


In a small, secret basement office somewhere in DC:

"Um, Lee, have you got a moment?" an older, still pretty blonde woman asked as she peeked into the top person's office.  He nodded, putting down his pen.  "Um, this is going to be pretty hard to say, so just stay relaxed and we'll all be fine."

He looked at her.  "Should I have someone send a sedative for you?  You look like you need one.  Just spit it out, Francine."

"Okay.  Remember when Amanda was in a coma?"  He groaned and held his head, nodding.  "Um, well, there's some things that happened that we didn't tell you about.  For a very good reason," she said quickly at his glare.  "At that time, we didn't think you needed the stress and she was still pretty touch and go, so we were deciding to shield you.  The director then, Billy, said so," she offered hesitantly, backing up a step.

"Spit it out or I'm telling Amanda how you started off this conversation," he ordered, staring into her eyes.  She swallowed.  "Now, Francine."

"Well."  She took another step back.  The phone on the desk rang and she got a small reprieve while he listened then grunted.  "A problem with the transfer under  Homeland's banner?" she asked, sounding really hopeful, even though she'd been complaining about these problems for months.

"No, Gibbs is on his way down.  I didn't know we had a crossover case," he said, staring at her.  "Somehow I think this is related.  You've got *a* minute to spit it out.  Or else I'm asking him."

"Well, you remember how the baby was in trouble and they told you he didn't live?"  She winced at the growl.  "Well, Billy decided you shouldn't be told, because he didn't want you to have to worry about anything other than her.  I promise, it was done with really good intentions."

"The road to hell and all that," Gibbs said from behind her.  "Personally, it makes a lot of sense that Harris is yours."  He walked in and looked at her.  "Should I call Ducky to have him sedate you again?"

"No," she squeaked.  Lee, her boss and friend, glared at her and she ran out.  "I'll go pull his file."

"Don't bother, I brought it with me," Gibbs called after her.

"Harris?" he said, looking at the name.  "Alexander Harris.  I know that name."

"Really smartass ballistics tech.  Trained in Las Vegas, now in Chicago?  Part of their SWAT team?  You guys, or her, sent someone to talk to him.  Abby likes him and he respects me so I got a call about it, warning me he had sent the guy off pissing himself."  He sat down, looking at him. " He also said to tell you he was stolen from the hospital.  Plus I know he got a hit on the baby thing a few years back when they input the suddenly appearing child.  So, how's the wife?"

"She's going to be going on a tracking exercise later."  He opened the file, looking at the picture.  "He looks… every bit like her."  He tapped out a number on his phone, bringing his wife from her office.  He handed it to her.  "You're going to want to sit.  Before you have a stroke.  Francine started off a discussion about that young man by 'remember when your wife was in a coma'."  He gave her a look as she sat down to look over the file.

"He looks like the grandson."

"That's because apparently he's their uncle," Lee said dryly.  She glared at him.  He held up a hand. "I had no idea, but this was probably what Billy was talking about when he gasped out something about the hospital.  He told Gibbs to tell us he had been stolen from the hospital."  An intern brought in a very ancient folder and put it on the desk with a coffee pot, then fled.  Everyone in the building knew Gibbs and they hated it when he visited.  "Need a refill, Jethro?"

"Please."  He poured some into his Styrofoam cup.  "Thank you.  Amanda."

"Jethro."  She smiled at him.  "You know him?"

"I do.  He's working with Abby's cousin Mortty in Chicago.  He's a very …odd young man is the best way of putting it.  Xander, well.  He's got this problem with women who hand him money and things in the clubs, even with his husband there with him, on his arm.  I included the tape from the convention when we all went out together.  The Director saw that and had Abby put him into the database in case we ever ran into him again, probably as a kidnaping victim."  He shrugged.  "If I had known, I'd have drug him back with me after the convention, guys."

"No, it's not a problem," she said weakly, looking at her husband, pushing her hair back. "Didn't Billy tell you he didn't survive?"  Lee nodded.  "Then what happened?"

"I don't know."  He flipped open the other folder with a one-handed snap and got to work reading.  "He was stolen, the director encouraged the local officers not to press charges, saying that it was better if we weren't stressed additionally since there was a strong possibility that you'd have brain damage and that I was still being hunted, that it was safer."  He grimaced, looking at Gibbs.  "Is your new director that bad?"

"No, she just adds to my team, makes arbitrary decisions about my staff and their dress code.  Tried to get Abby to dress like Francine."  Lee groaned; he adored Abby, everyone who knew her did. "She was horrified after watching him be gifted like that and having Abby stolen for a few hours, along with a few of the other officers with us."  He shifted some, taking a drink of coffee. "I can tell you he's a very nice young man, but if you get in his face, you'd better pray.  I almost thought about recruiting him, he'd make one hell of a field agent under me with a few weeks training, but with his problem in the clubs it's too dangerous for him.  Besides, his husband's more sarcastic than I am.  DiNozzo might grow to like him more than me," he said wryly.  Amanda swatted him on the arm.  "That picture in there doesn't do him very good justice and it's a few years old."  He handed over the one from his wallet.  "That's the one Abby sent me from her vacation right before the convention.  David is his husband, he's the older guy on Xander's hip.  Xander's the young guy, then Abby and Mortty."

"She's still a beautiful girl," Amanda said fondly, touching Mortty's face.  She had let her stay in her house as a teenager while she trained for six weeks.  "Where were they going?"

"Vampire club.  He's apparently from Sunnydale."  Lee stiffened and looked at him.  "He's her knight from what I heard.  His mate had to make him quit hunting.  He's *that* Xander."

"That explains so much," Amanda sighed, taking the other folder to look over, letting her husband have the one with the evaluations and his federal licenses and what he could do.

"He's a ballistics and explosives tech?"  Lee looked at him.  "How?"

"Construction and practical experience.  He loves his guns.  He's also only got one eye.  That's why he's not in SWAT instead, Lee.  That's why he's staying a ballistics tech.  Night shift as well.  He's a nice kid.  He jokes, he's playful, he's a bottomless pit.  He's got a dog that's his and David's baby.  Mortty and Abby both offered to carry a real baby for them if they ever wanted one but David gave them horrified looks when they brought it up.  Xander might some day, but David's scared of babies."

"All right," Amanda said, standing up.  "We're going to Chicago when?"

"This weekend," Lee told her.  "Just as soon as the computers are finished integrating."

"He's a bit pissed right now," Gibbs assured her.  "They never told him or held it over his head."  She glared at him.  He held up a hand.  "His parents were like that, Amanda.  The last time he said anything about them he called them drunken biological donors."  She growled.  "I know, it's not right but it's going to be a hard few weeks for both of you.  So just calm down, tell your mother she was right, and start with a call out there.  His boss's name is Ray.  Their CSI unit is under the twenty-seventh."

"Vecchio runs something?" Lee asked, looking horrified.

"Night shift CSI.  Your son's his second but he hates the extra jobs.  He had to fight to go back to working forty hours.  Call Vecchio.  He's good friends.  His mother adopted him from what Ray teased him about."

"Sure.  I'll do that first," Lee agreed.  "Is he on this weekend?"

"His shift has Friday and Saturday off."  Gibbs stood up.  "He's a neat kid, guys.  But he's also an asshole.  You hear local rumors about the reasons why some of the criminals run and cry, he's one.  With Vecchio and Kowalski.  He's the third in that holy trio and the Mounties back him up as much as his husband and Vecchio or Kowalski do.  He does some limited field tech work to keep his hand in."

"Thank you for telling us, Jethro," she said, giving him a hug.  "Come over for dinner after we get back."  He smiled and nodded.  "Give Abby a hug for me too, dear."  He grinned and walked out.  She slapped the folder onto the table. " Fat chance I'm waiting," she said firmly.

"Well, I can't go until this weekend," he reminded her.  "I'd rather we go together.  It's not that hard.  It's Wednesday.  We'll call Ray, talk to him about the son.  See what he thinks and have him ease up on us coming out to meet him.  I've heard of him before, he's every bit the fierce dragon you can be, Amanda.  When we got word someone else got caught in the DNA testing of that one child who turned out to be from a mission of mine with a Russian spy, he threw a bigger fit than I did.  Of course every now and then he gives them kicked puppy looks too, just like you're doing to me right now.  Go hunt down Francine."  She stomped off.  He looked up the number and called out there.  "Vecchio please.  Stetson."  He smirked.  "He'll know."  He put it on speaker so he could go back over the files again.


"Ray.  It's Lee."

"I expected this later.  He's in my office.  David.  Out.  Take your boy out to feed his pitiful ass."

"Hell no!" Xander said loudly, then there was a click.  "You are?"

"Lee Stetson.  Apparently I'm your father."

"And you don't write?" he demanded.

"Xander," another voice said calmly.

"We were told you died when you were taken from your mother, Xander.  Should I call you that, Jethro did."

"You know Gibbs?"

"Yeah, he routinely pisses us off."  He leaned back, waving his wife in.  "Amanda, your mother, just walked in.  He was talking to Ray."

"Hi," she said weakly.

"Sit," Lee ordered.

She pulled a chair closer.  "Xander?"

"I'm here, just drinking.  It's a night for it."

"No more Mountain Dew," Ray warned.  Then the sound of something being slammed.  "You have way too many guns tonight."

"Plus, both ballistics people are out, Xander, so you're on call too," that same male voice said gently.

"You are?" she asked.

"His husband, David.  Deal with it."

"Dave, nothing's taking you from me without me going on a world-ending binge," Xander assured him firmly, then it sounded like he kissed him.

"Guys, I didn't need to see you two make out in *my* office," Ray complained, loudly.  "Quit!"

"Sorry!  Maybe you should try dating again, Ray, before I set you up with a nice boy we know."

"Fat.  Chance.  I'll have Ma make you eat your own cooking."

"No way in hell," David said firmly.  "I'm not letting him go back to the hospital for that long ever again!"

"I'd never eat my own cooking. I learned that lesson, dear.  That's why didn't get breakfast," Xander said gently.  "So," he said, then he cleared his throat.  "This is really awkward."

"We were going to call Ray to find out a bit more about you until we could come out this weekend," Lee offered.  "But you're right, it is.  Our agency's director at the time thought it'd spare us some stress since your mother was in a coma and I was being actively hunted.  Of course, he had us told you died."

"My mother apparently tried to hand me back but they told her to keep me.  This was the first I'd heard about it though."   The sound of shifting.  "When were you planning on coming out?  I've got to work most of the weekend unfortunately.  I'm taking off two nights for some special training stuff."

"With the slayer or otherwise?" Amanda asked.  "We had to deal with one a few years back locally, Xander."

"No, I'm not going hunting.  Dave gets really pissed with me when I do that, or when I put landmines on the lawn, or when I put the flame thrower over the door again."

"Quit showing off," David said quietly. Another kissing noise.

"Keep it up, I'm locking the lab doors," Ray warned. "Sorry, they're having a 'coupley' day.  It happens now and then when Xander's stressed."

"How did you two meet?" Amanda asked.

"He was working in Vegas on their nightshift when I came in to do my internship post graduation," Xander told her.  "Since that's my minor I spent some time working with him and got to know him, then waded through his sarcasm and 'no one likes me because I'm a miserable person' stuff, to get the real guy.  Who I married a few years back."

"Good," Lee agreed.  "Um, well.  This is still really awkward.  Do you have any other family out there with you?"

"The dog," David told him.  "Sarah."

"Well, with us, you've got two much older brothers.  They were teenagers when you were born," she offered.  "One's got two girls, the other's got a son.  You're the only gay one, but that's okay with me," she assured him.  She looked at her husband. "I thought for sure my mother was losing what was left of her mind when she insisted some officer on the screen was a relative.  I told her she was being silly.  Next time I'll listen closer to her evidence."

"Was it a bomb thing, the taping of the movie, or the radiation thing?" Xander asked. "Or just some of the other random menaces in my life?"

"Harris," someone bellowed in the background.  "Need your help!  We've got a sniper situation!"

"Coming!  Hate to cut this short, but duty calls and all that.  I'll be here when you come in.  It's going to be a light weekend since it's near the end of the month.  I'll tell Ray where I am at all times.  Later.  Talk with Ray and David."  Another kissing noise.  "Let me get my vest," his voice faded out into the distance.

"I will say this once," David said firmly.  "If you hurt him emotionally there is nothing that will stop me from destroying you.  Xnader does not need someone else to hurt him.  Are we clear?"

"We are," Lee agreed.  "Jethro mentioned his relatives out there weren't the best."

"That's putting it mildly.  I'm a nice guy, and so's Dawn, but they're going to die by one of our hands soon.  That is the only warning I'm giving you."  Then a door slammed.

"Sorry, he's very protective of Xander, and Xander's very protective of him," Ray admitted.  "After what they've been through it doesn't surprise me.  Got my email, Lee?"

"Somewhere.  Got mine?"

"Yeah, it's in my address book in my desk.  I'll send you the file I've got on him from where I recruited him.  You could also ask Horatio down in Florida since he was up for the convention.  Calm her down.  She's huffing and growling."  He hung up.

Lee looked at her.  "Do you need a sedative?"

"No, not yet."  She got up and stomped out.  Everyone in the agency ducked.  They all knew Lee had a temper when things got that bad, but she was the one they were scared of, especially since the gossip said it was about one of her kids.  Since one worked with them….  "Philip!" she bellowed.  He came out of the computer lab, giving her a hesitant look. "Francine, explain it to him and then hide.  We'll be doing a tracking exercise later."

"Yes, Amanda."  She took the boy off to the side to talk to him while Amanda went for a walk.

Lee came out of his office.  "You're going to be on your own this weekend," he announced.  "We're going out of town on a business trip.  Emergencies only.  Have it working by Friday or deal with Amanda on Monday."

"Excuse me!" Philip yelled.

Lee looked at him.  "We just found out too.  We're going this weekend.  Did you want to come with us?  Or would you and your brother rather go out after we've made contact and talked to him?  His husband seems very  nice."

"He's gay?"

"You've heard of Harris in Chicago, right?"  His stepson slowly nodded. "Him."  Philip glared at him. "They told us he was dead, Philip.  That's why your mother's growling and calling your brother."

He nodded and went to send her a message to her blackberry system that he'd be going out later, after they made contact.  He didn't want to be there for the first few days, someone would cry on him.  Then he called his wife to warn her.  She wasn't always fond of gay people, but she'd learn to live with it or his mother and grandmother would kill her this time.  Then he sat down to think, a lot.


Xander came in with his rifle over his shoulder.  "The mayor is safe," he reported, handing Ray his rifle, then his bulletproof vest.  "I'm hiding.  He was yelling my name to the press.  You don't know me at the moment."  He went back up the stairs and out the back door, heading for a hiding spot.  He had a good few of them around the city by now.

Ray called the mayor.  "I need my ballistics tech in tonight.  Do you mind leaving him alone!" he snapped.  "He's already had a shitty day!"  He hung up on his blustering.  Then he called Xander's cellphone.  "Come back, you can hide in the lab."  He went to take his rifle and vest into the lab.  David would be looking it over to make sure it was still whole.  Xander had a nasty habit of getting hurt and not telling anyone unless it was life threatening.  The Chief of Detectives came in, giving him along, hard stare.  "You two drove him off again.  You'd better beg."

David glared at him, making him back up.  "My husband did what?"

"Earned his other shield, Hodges.  Where is he?"

"Out.  You made him go hide."  He walked closer.  "No ceremony."  It was handed over. "Thank you.  I'll switch them out on him later."

"Good.  By the way, you need to start turning on the security system for the next few weeks.  There was a mob hitter in the crowd.  The guy trying to hold him hostage went down and that guy pulled one, pointing it at Xander, so he took him down too.  Both non-fatal.  That's why he's getting it if he asks.  That'll keep the press off him."  He stomped off.

David called Xander's phone. "You're clear.  Get back here."  He hung up and looked at the pretty badge.  "Now I'll have to do something heroic to earn mine."

"You guys are all getting yours next year," Ray reminded him.  "That was the agreement."  He clapped him on the arm.  "Just keep him calm, all right?"  Xander stuck his head in and looked around. "He's already dropped off your reward and left again.  Get back to work."

David walked over and took off his old badge, then put his new one on him.  "There, that looks nice against that belt."  He gave him a look. "How's your shoulder?"

"Sore.  Still. I knew shooting hoops with Stan was a bad idea.  I still say basketball is a great, big rerun with cheerleaders in the center."  He went into the firing pen, then came out with his new badge being held up.  "Already?  That's next year."

"You earned it," Ray assured him. "He said so.  No awarding ceremony."

"Thank you."  He went back in there to get back to work.

Ray and David shared a look.  Living with Xander was insane at times.  Ray went back to his desk to make a note about that to Stan, so they could celebrate as a group. It was tradition, the new detective bought the first and second rounds.  Stan's squeal a few minutes followed him down the stairs and into the lab, which, of course, brought Mortty and Turnbull, their Mountie in residence today.  Frasier would get him later.   Ray shook his head.  Xander brought way too much insanity into his life.

"You'd be bored without him," Greg said from the doorway with a smirk.  "What happened?"

"He got bumped up the ladder."



"Oh, cool.  Is it first through fifth round around here like Warrick said it was when Nick made it?"

"First and second around here," he assured him with a smirk as he put his feet back up.  "By the way, bad shock earlier.  Xander has real parents."

"Are they good ones?"

"They were decent folk when they ended up out here hunting for a rogue member of their agency.  Abby knows them probably since they know Gibbs."

"I know them," Mortty called. "I stayed with Amanda for six weeks of training in DC."   David grabbed her by her collar and drug her into his lab so he could talk to her. He wanted to know what Xander was getting into before they got there.


Ray looked up as someone called his name, waving Lee and Amanda over.  "Hey.  He's out on a call, or something.  We lost track of him an hour ago but since then there's been a car chase.  He'll be back soon, swearing and dragging someone by their collar."  He waved a hand.  "Bags?"

"Just one," she said, taking his arm to walk out with him.  "He's doing what?"

"What I did last month probably," Lee said dryly.  "Thanks to Gibbs and DiNozzo.  Again."

She gave him a look. "Do you want to have that fight again?" she asked.  He shook his head quickly.  "Good idea."  She smiled at Ray, who just grinned back.  "How's your sister?"

"Fussy and cranky.  The same as usual."  He heard the siren go off and moaned, heading with them to grab their bags.  He headed for the security office, flashing his badge. "What?"

"Um, sir, bomb threat was just called in."


"Concourse B, Detective…."


"Is Harris with you?" he asked hopefully.

"He's in the middle of a car chase."  He headed that way, going to take charge.  SWAT was on the other side of the city.  "Yo!" he shouted, and they all stared, then one of them grabbed him, handing him a headset that already had Xander swearing.  "How much time?"

"Eighteen minutes."

"Good.  Go get my guests, the male can disarm if Xander can't."  He got down to look at the bomb, putting on the headset.  "It's me.  Okay, we've got a duffle bag that's been unzipped carefully.  I can see flashing numbers, and a large antenna looking thing."  He frowned.  "Why?  Oh.  Okay.  We got an insulator?" he called.  One was tossed over. "Thanks."  He slid it carefully over the antenna then opened the bag wider after checking for additional wires.  Lee got down beside him. "Xander, I'm seeing three switches under the clear plastic faceplate and then one wire leading back to the battery but it looks like it's twisted since it's got electrical tape around it."

"It's an Unger model," Lee said quietly.  "Hey, Amanda, Unger models were the battery wire or the countdown wire?"

"That's the one you usually punt."  She came over to look.  "That's not an Unger, that's a Model Two, the one based off it.  You usually do the battery wire on those, Lee."

Ray groaned and held up a hand.  "What, Xander?  Yeah, they just got in.  Well, they are kinda spies," he noted dryly.  "Gee, thanks."  He handed over the headset and walked Amanda off. "He said he'd have ta shoot it."

Lee listened, then nodded, pulling his sidearm and standing up, taking aim, then looking away as he fired.  He hit the second switch easier and then the third was blown out. "Okay, gone.  Now?"  He reached in and pulled the thin blue wire that had been behind them.  "Okay, it's been pulled out.  Weak soldering job.   Any other steps?"  He smirked.  "Thanks, kid.  See you soon.  No, we're at a hotel.  There's no way we want to push this.  That's why we left the two boys and their loud, obnoxious families back in DC.  Sure. Soon."  He handed it back to Ray.  "Done."  The officers rushed forward, putting it in the special box they kept on hand for it.  Some guy in body armor jogged their way.

"Don't worry, we had Xander."  He listened to Xander's rambling muttering.  "Where are you?"  He listened to the rundown.  "Okay, and he's got what?  Why does he have Greg?"  He groaned and rubbed his face.  "Xander, call for a road….  He's in a cruiser.  Okay.  Where are you exactly?  Is Greg in the trunk?  Then ram his ass into the lake," he ordered, handing it over to the SWAT officer, pulling out his phone to call Dispatch.  "It's Vecchio, Harris is in pursuit of a stolen cruiser, the perp has Sanders in with him.  I told him to ram him into the lake.  Make sure you've got paramedics wherever they end up.  Yeah, the sensors should go off once it's in the lake.  They're supposed to go off when the engine is flooded that way.  Thanks.  Yeah.  Make sure they've got paramedics since they've been going for over an hour.  Leaving the airport.  Bomb's taken care of unless there's more than one.  Peterson's already reporting."

"I see Xander used his method!" he called.

Ray looked at him. "It works!  Faster too.  Plus very stress relieving."  He walked off, hanging up.  "The Riv's outside."

"You still have the old Riv?" Lee teased.

"No, I'm on number six thanks ta Benny," he complained.  "He keeps getting 'em wrecked and blown up."  He walked them out to his car, letting them inside.  He looked at Amanda, who was beside him.  "Station since that's where Xander'll be heading so David can fuss?"

"Sure," she agreed, smiling at him.  "I had no idea his life was as insane as ours used to be when we were a field team."

"More," he moaned, starting the engine.  It didn't turn over.  He pushed in the cigarette lighter then tried it again once it had popped back out.  It started this time.  "Sorry, she's feeling unloved since I haven't been in a car chase recently."  He backed out and headed to the station.  On the way he called David.  "He's going to have to rescue Greg from the lake," he reported.  "He was swearing and muttering.  Have a soda and a shirt for him, Dave.  Thanks.  I've already told them to have a paramedic since he said Greg was knocked out an hour ago.  Yeah, you can tell her once we've got him and he's been fussed over by Xander.  On our way in.  Yes, them too.  No, Xander had to help us disarm a bomb.  It's fine now."  He hung up and headed for the interstate.  "Some days I wonder why I get out of bed when I have to deal with Xander all night."

He took the right exit and headed down into the early afternoon traffic.  A cruiser went screaming past with lights and sirens.  Then a silver Lincoln.  "That's Xander."  He followed them, just in case.  "Dispatch," he called, getting an unhappy voice.  "Report me as following Harris and the moron who sucked down the signal tower this time.  Sanders was awake and staring in horror out the back window.  Also, Harris is in Hodge's car.  The Lincoln."  He hung up and turned on his lights and sirens.  "Sorry.  The guy apparently changed directions."  His car sped up at the touch of his foot on the pedal, going like the champion purebred she was.  "Good girl," he offered, patting the dashboard.  "Let's go help the Xander idiot."  He sped up more, going through a red light.  He saw Xander pull ahead and shoot out the guy's tire, making him grin.  "Classic," he teased, speeding up to complete the boxing in maneuver.

The car tried to get away but it wasn't working.  It stopped suddenly and Xander spun his car, heading after him.  Ray turned his grand old lady a bit more carefully since there was traffic, but they were off again.  This time, they got to see Xander bump the car, and it did go into the lake.  Xander got out and dove after them.  Ray got out and leaned on his door, looking at the kids edging toward the Lincoln.  "That's Harris's car!" he shouted.  "Do you really wanna piss him off further?  That guy had Sanders!"  An ambulance pulled up beside them.  "Still down," he reported, slamming the door and going over to help.  Xnader came up with Greg, so Ray helped him out, then Xander went back down after the perp.  "Hey, Greg, weren't you *off* tonight?" Ray asked dryly.

"I got called in to help Mortimer," he moaned, coughing.  "He's got evidence bags in the trunk.  That's Mortimer's car."  He coughed again and the paramedics hauled him off.  "I'm fine!"

"You're going!" Xander yelled as he came out dragging the other guy.  He dropped him in front of Ray, then kicked him in the side.  "Don't make me do that again in my husband's car!  Or else he'll make you fix the paint with your fucking tongue next time!"  The guy gave him a horrified look. "Yes, you moron-signal-tower-fucking bastard!  I take it up the ass every day and I love it.  Don't worry, you'll learn to love it in prison!"  He kicked him again and went to fuss over Greg.  Greg was trying to get up.  Xander held him down and looked into his eyes.  Greg whimpered.  Xander pulled something out of his pocket and forced it into Greg's mouth, then held it closed and rubbed his throat like he did with his dog when she needed things like pills.  Greg gagged but ended up swallowing it.  He smiled sweetly at the paramedic.  "I made that earlier today to try out a new fudge recipe.  I got it off the same site as the one with the hamburger helper stuff that sent four cops to the hospital with literally explosive diarrhea.  Have fun with Greg."  Greg started to gag, trying to bring it back up.  Xander smirked at him.  "Try it, Greg.  Watch me call Dawnie."  He gave him a horrified look so Xander smirked.  "Only good boys get their sins hidden."

"I'll go so I get treated for food poisoning," he moaned, laying back and letting them handle him.

Xander smirked. "I knew you could be reasonable.  After all, Brass can come out again."  Greg whimpered.  "Or Grissom."

Greg looked at the paramedic.  "He's going to feed me more lethal fudge if you don't get me out of here."  They smiled and got him out of there.

Xander walked back to their perp, who Ray had handcuffed.  "Oh, let me kick him again!" he whined, glaring at him.  He leaned down.  "Just think, by tonight, you're going to be taking it and loving it like I do.  They're gonna love you there, little girl.  You're gonna be bending and taking it up the ass for *years* for making me chase you that way and stealing Greg.  Oh, Ray, we'll need to haul it out for the evidence.  The new bags are waterproof but may not be that good.  They went for the cheaper versions, of course."   He walked back to his car, then looked down at himself.  He called David.  "Should I leave your car here or drive back wet?"  He grinned. "I'm fine, David.   No, I force-fed Greg some of my fudge from this morning so he's going to get treated for that.  I also told him if he didn't I'd pay for Grissom and Brass to come nag him in person with Dawnie.  No, I'm soaked to the skin.  Thanks, babe. Love you too."  He hung up.  "Anyone who doesn't wanna watch, I'm getting naked.  David doesn't want me dripping on his seats!"  The other cops all looked away and he stripped down, getting into the car and heading home.  He beeped and waved. "Going to shower and change, boss!"  He sped off.

"Okay, he's worse than we ever were," Lee told Amanda, getting a slow nod.  "He's also got quite a mouth on him."

"I'll say."  She got out and walked over there.  "That was Xander?"

Ray sighed and nodded. "Yeah, that was Xander on a rip, Amanda."  He pointed at her for the perp's benefit.  "That's his real mother."  The perp burst out crying. "She's a Fed.  So's his biological dad."  The guy whimpered and nuzzled his leg.  "Not me who's going to have you tonight, scumbag."  He whistled and pointed at him.  "He's getting me wet and nasty.  Also, get the cruiser out of the lake.  There's evidence in it and Harris said it's probably important."  They rushed to get a water retrieval truck and to take the crying guy away.

"How stupid were you?  Did you not realize that was Harris!" the guy dragging him off shouted at him.  "You know how he is!  You're going to make him be mean and evil to the rest of us. It might even be a t-shirt night for this!"  The guy burst out in new tears so he shoved him into the back of the car.  "Twenty-seventh, sir?"

"Yeah.  Let Stan book the idiot if you want.  Both Mounties are at their real job today."  That got an evil smirk.  "Tell David he's on his way back after he changes."

"Of course, sir."  He got in to drive, heading back there.  "How fucking dumb are you!" floated back at them as he drove off.

"Sorry about that.  We let Xander scare people for us.  It makes our job easier," he said with a smile.  "Just like it did when I was his age.  He's my protege."  He walked them back to the car.  "Sorry about his mouth.  Every now and then he breaks out badly with it."  He held the door open for them then walked around to get in, noticing his phone was ringing.  He groaned and answered it.  "He's fine, Dawnie, but he was fussing about going to be checked out so Xander fed him some fudge he made earlier.  No, just a small piece.  With any luck they can pump his stomach really quickly before it poisons him.  Sure.  The usual spot.  We're by the lake.  Have fun with that."  He hung up and moaned again.  "Xander's adopted little sister is dating Greg.  That's going to be a loud fight when she finds him."  He started the engine and it didn't balk.  "Good girl," he praised, patting the dashboard. "See, I said we'd get into one soon."  He drove them back to the station, expecting Xander was probably already there.  He got out and found David outside pacing. "What?"

"His shoulder's still sore, Ray."

"He looked okay in the water, Dave.  It'll be okay.  He was swearing but he'll be fine."  He waved at the people getting out.  "David Hodges, these are Lee and Amanda Stetson."

David stopped moving to look at them, focusing on her.  "Your son looks a lot like you," he offered, shaking their hands.  "Forgive him, he's been having a full day with the day shift person off this week for vacation and our swing isn't doing very well."  He led them inside and downstairs.  "Xander's in a mood!" he announced.  "Send him down!"

"Hey, keep the guy calm, we'll all look the other way, even if it's in the locker room," the desk sergeant offered dryly.  "Please.  He go into the lake?"  David nodded.  "Well, consider it a way to spoil him rotten later."  David smirked at him as he opened the door down to their domain.  "Visitors?"

"His real parents."

"Oh, shit," he muttered, staring in awe.  "Oh, holy shit."  He crossed himself and said a quick prayer.  "Okay.  I'll send him right down once he's got a soda."

"I've already got one out for him."  That got a nod from everyone.  "Just send him down."  He walked down after them.  "Straight back.  Mortty's across the hall from me."  They walked straight down the hall, making Mortty squeal and come out to hug them.  "Xander had to go into the lake after them and then had to feed Greg some of his fudge."

"He also taunted the suspect about enjoying his time with his cellmate," Lee offered dryly.

"Yeah, for some reason the crooks are really surprised when they realize Xander's one seriously gay man and he just wrecked their lives."

"One of the Bloods said that he was the only gay man he'd ever respect for being tougher than he was," Mortty agreed, smiling at Lee again.  "I love me some Xander cuddles.  He hugs nearly as nice as you do, Lee."   He smiled at her and patted her on the head.  "Oooh, come see Xander's lab.  It's not the most comfy but it's very well done."  She walked in and looked.  "Oops.  RAY!"  He came walking up the hall.  She pointed at the present.  "Another one."

Ray grabbed it and walked off muttering.  "Stupid stalkers," was about the only intelligible, English words out of the lot of English and Italian.

David looked after him. "If it's another teddy bear, it goes to the children's hospital."

"I know."  Ray waved a hand.  "Talk with them.  Have a break."

"I'm nearly clear anyway," he called.  He led them in there. "This is Xander's main lab.  His minor in trace means he spends a lot of time in mine," he offered, opening the door between them. "Ray, I've got one too," he complained.  Mortty picked up that one and brought it out there.  "Thank you, dear."

"All I ask is that you let me or Abby have baby Xander and Davids for your guys," she quipped, beaming at them.  "It's the only kid I could ever see me raising.  They'd be tough little vampire Goths."  She hugged them again then hugged David, who gave her a pat on the back with a look.  "Sorry, couldn't resist."  She got off him when someone cleared their throat from the doorway.  She looked back at Xander.   "Another present."

"Ray showed me.  Both bears."  He walked in and shut the door, then picked up Mortty and walked her back to her lab, putting her down and swatting her on the ass.  "You live over here.  I can't have strays today."  He went back to his lab and shut the door again.  "Sorry, she's happy and bouncy."  His mate handed him a soda.  "Love you too, David. Thanks."

"I didn't figure you had time for it and it's been a few hours since your last one," David said dryly.  "Xander, these are Lee and Amanda Stetson."

Xander waved with his free hand as he drank. "Sorry, bad caffeine habit some days.  It was a long night with the dog growling at the escapee squirrel that got into the house."  He walked in and sat behind his desk.  He had bought his own desk chair and it was the most comfortable one he could find.  He had taken a few naps there over the last year.  "So,  you're my real parents.  You're Feds, Mortty's said that much and that you're in the covert branch, unlike Gibbs and Abby.  She's shown me pictures."  He looked at them.  "Feel free to jump in any time. I may've been raised by girls but damned if I can handle stress like this."

Lee smiled at him.  "You do look a lot like Amanda, Xander."

"Thank you."  He looked at David.  "He was playing nicely, right?"  They nodded, smiling at him.  "Good.  I'm so proud of you," he teased, poking him.  David swatted him with a glare.  He grinned back until David walked off with a sigh and a rolled eye heavenward.  "Sorry, dear.  I'll make it up to you later."

"Does that mean you don't need your shoulder worked on?"

"I'll beg and do the laundry, correctly," Xander vowed.  David gave him an evil smirk. "I will."

"In that case I might give you a few minutes of my time."  He closed the adjoining door.  Then he said a silent prayer that these new two could accept Xander as he was so he didn't have to help him through a severe rejection.  He sat down and enlisted some help from the others members of the  Xander Is Cool With Us society.  "Jim, David.  Yeah an issue, no, something interesting.  Xander has real parents.  Yeah, that's what I said.  They're here now.  It could, yeah.  Thanks, man.  No, they're covert Feds but Gibbs knows 'em.  Not a clue, Mortty knows them really well.  Well, he did have to feed Greg some fudge he had made earlier in the day, which was probably in his pocket when he went into the lake to rescue him from the cruiser that Xander had run into the lake since someone had kidnaped him from a scene and was on an hour-and-a-half car chase with, but otherwise he should be okay.  I'll see later tonight.  Thanks, Brass.  Yeah, we're good so far.  Miss you guys too."  He hung up then got back to work.  He looked over as the door opened.  "Xan, Jim'll call later."

"Cool," he agreed, smiling at him. "Did you tell him I had to give Greg food poisoning?"  David smiled and nodded.  "Excellent. Need me?"

"No, I'm almost done.  How's yours tonight?"

"Repeat after me.  Tomorrow," Xander said dryly.  He stood up and looked at the two parents.  "We can go have dinner if you want.  Ray, I'm taking them to lunch!"

"Fine, get something done today, Xander.  Helix wants to take a deal for three years."

"Fat fucking chance," he muttered.  "Give me two minutes to do a test fire and compare."  He found that gun and went into the firing pen to shoot one.  "Shooting one!" he yelled, then the gunshot.  He came out with the bullet and found the reference sample in his inbox, then stuck them both under the microscope.  "Crap.  No match."  He bit his lip and looked over the notes, walking out with them.  "Did Stan become terminally stupid or did he give me the wrong marked box?" he asked, handing it over.  "The bullet from the autopsy was the next size up and what he gave me was a thirty-eight."

"Crap," he muttered.  "I'll call.  Do it when you get back, Xander.  We'll talk later."

"David called Jim Brass."  He grinned.  "Thanks, Ray. You're the world's most tolerant boss."  He gave him a hug then went to grab his jacket.  "Come on, there's a good pizza shop up the street."

"Sure," Lee agreed, following behind him.

"One of your brothers is that hyper when he eats sugar," Amanda offered.  "Jamie's not working with us anymore but he's still hyper when he has pixy sticks for lunch."

"Don't let him have sugar or more caffeine," David called from his lab, making Mortty giggle from hers. "You, quit, or no baby Xander's in a few years, I heard that."

"But who else would let me have a kid who understood me," she complained.

"Ask Greg or jump DiNozzo again," he ordered, closing the door to his lab so he could get back to work.  He also called Bobby since he knew Brass would never tell the lab techs anything.  "It's me.  Xander has real parents who're feds.  Stetson.  I know, covert feds that Ray worked with in the past and we had them out in LA for all of a half a day waiting on results.  Yeah, they're at lunch.  No, Xander had a car chase to rescue Greg.  Hour and a half without caffeine and then into the lake.  So they probably heard him swearing quite a lot at the guy.  Sure, later's good.  We're doing real midnights.  Miss you guys too, Bobby.  No, Mortty's begging to be our surrogate.  I think she wants to get us both into bed but she blushes when he teased her about it."  He smirked.  "Thanks."  He hung up and pulled out his next sample to analyze.


Amanda called her sons from the hotel room that night, smiling at the happy voices.  "We managed to survive today," she said happily.

"So I take it another day like we used to have occurred?" her older son asked dryly.

"Not my fault," Lee called as he came over.  "All your brother's fault.  Remember the days when it was really bad?  Well, it's like that for him now and then too."

"So," Jamie asked patiently. "What's he like?"

Lee and Amanda shared a look.  "Well, he's a lot like you with the sugar thing.  His husband seems very nice and patient with him.  He greeted us and threatened us, like a proper spouse would in that situation."

"You know Gibbs, right, boys?" Lee asked patiently.

"How can I forget?" Philip said bitterly. "I was locked in a house for four days with the man while he worried about where DiNozzo was and without any coffee.  It's really hard to forget him, especially since he came to threaten us today about treating Xander very gently when we meet him."

"Well, Xander's exactly like what you'd expect a younger Jethro to be, but he drinks soda instead of coffee and he's got my danger senses, plus your mother's eyes and nose."

"He's the protege Gibbs always wanted but with the trouble he draws, he'd never bring him over.  Jethro seems to respect him," she agreed.

"You mean Gibbs respects someone besides Ducky and DiNozzo?" Jamie asked.  "Interesting.  How did they meet?"

Lee chuckled.  "Mortty works out here.  Abby came out for a convention and she got into trouble."

"I knew he was concerned about her, but to fly out and take in a convention?"  Philip asked.

"Yeah, well, he's always looking for good field agents," Lee reminded him.  "He told us he'd gladly take Xander but too many things happen around him.  People get kidnaped, people give Xander money for no reason in the clubs.  His husband would get pissed if they had to sell the house and move their dog.  Little things like that."

"I will mention that he's got a mouth on him," Amanda offered dryly.  "He berated a suspect earlier for making him dive in to get him after a very long car chase.  He said some very indelicate things."

"As in Gibbs would've washed his mouth out," Lee assured them.  "He kicked the suspect too for making him go in to save him.  Before he was arrested of course.  Got given his gold shield recently as well."

"So, if Gibbs and DiNozzo had a kid, it's our baby brother?" Jamie suggested.

"Basically," Lee agreed happily.  "He's a ballistics and trace tech with a bit of field work thrown in.  When we got in there was a very nice bomb threat in the airport."

"You or him?" Philip demanded.

"Him really. Ray, remember Detective Vecchio?  He's over Xander's CSI shift.  He had them call Xander…."

"They had him on the phone before Ray got there," she reminded him.  "They knew who to call."

"They did.  Ray took the headset and went to look at it.  Amanda and I discussed what sort of bomb it was.  Xander's advice was to shoot it in the switches and then pull the wire that it exposed.  He's on call for that when they're running low on techs."  He turned on the tv to the local news.  "He's a very interesting young man.  The people who took him from us weren't that good of parents but he's definitely been raised by some softer female influences.  He smarted off to one of the other officers about football being more gay than he is because of all the patting and the positions."  His wife blushed.  "She blushed then too," he said at the laughs.  "He's got a small lapdog with his husband.  David's a bit sarcastic and cynical but he's a nice man with a good record as well."

"Are they joining us here?"

"I asked Xander and he said to refer that back to David; see if Gibbs could handle having him work with Abby.  He said he probably wouldn't work with us, too much trouble with him being married to David, but he liked Gibbs and he wanted to annoy their director for making Abby put his DNA into the system.  I think he'd do even better at that than DiNozzo would. I emailed Tony and he sent back a groan but then sent a longer message about Xander and what they had found during a background check.  Remember the Initiative fiasco a few years back that we ended up embroiled in, boys?"  They both moaned.  "He's one of the people who took them down.  He's *that* Harris."  That got a deeper, female moan.  "Hi, mom."

"Lee, dear.  Where is the other grandson?"

"Right now, he's at home with his husband since he was covering swing today due to a vacation on dayshift. Usually he works midnights."


"Yes, mother, Xander is very content with his husband David," Amanda assured her.  "David was very nice and politely threatened us not to hurt Xander or else he'd go off on us.  He worked with Xander and helped train him during his post-graduation internship."  The sound of an opening file came over the line and they shared a smile. "Hodges, Philip.  He married Hodges."

"Good record, cynical bastard is how it's put in background check.  Ooh, a warning.  And I quote, he will go after those who harm his husband.  Not usually violent but known to threaten and follow through if his husband is harmed, taken, or being upset.  End quote.  So I'm guessing they're pretty tight."  The folder closed and the sound of something sliding.  "He's a ballistics tech?"

"Yup," Lee agreed, sitting down.  His attention was drawn to the tv.  "Boys, check CNN.  Are they getting a massive SWAT action in town?  I could've sworn I saw him heading in with them and there's Ray and Stan behind him.  Oh, crap."  He looked at Amanda.

"Neither of us are young enough to go into that sort of situation, Lee," she warned.  "Don't even think about it.  You'd end up being saved.  We can watch to make sure how he handles it."  The building the team had entered exploded and they cut back to the reporter.  "Ooooh, that looked like it was messy earlier."  He turned up the volume.

"And I repeat, the Chicago Rapid Response team has been found and rescue teams are on their way in to them.  There are no reported casualties at this time."  She suddenly ducked as more debris got sent into the air with a second explosion.  "That was a secondary explosion, Mark, stay tuned while we figure out what that was."  The camera panned over to show the new entrance to the former building.

"Gotta love C-4," Xander complained as he came out, dusting off.  "Yo!"  He pointed at the medics.  "We've got two people with panic attacks, six broken bones, four of them on one person, and two concussions.  You mind hurrying?"  They ran that way and he groaned, shaking his head at the reporter moving closer.  "You know better."

"CSI…. Um, Detective Harris."

"You had it right the first time," he said firmly.  "Go away.  Now!  There's a line for a reason, woman!  Now!  Or I'm having you arrested.  Their families deserve better than you pushing a camera in their loved one's faces."  She backed off with the camera.  "Keep going!  I want a sheet to shield them!" Xander called.  "Now!  Right the hell now!"  More SWAT members came over with folding screens and Xander disappeared with a sigh, going to help.  He came out ten minutes later to talk to the Chief of Police quietly, whispering in his ear basically.  He got a nod and Xander grabbed a large silver case, heading inside.  "Active crime scene!" he bellowed.  "Touch nothing other than the victims!"

"Yes, CSI Harris!" someone yelled.  They watched as the bodies were carried out.  None of them had more than oxygen and IV's, so it didn't look that bad.

The Chief of Police approached the camera.  "There was an explosion in the heating system according to CSI Harris.  It collapsed the ventilation system, which weakened the floors and caused it to cave in.  Fortunately, all officers were accounted for and doing fine, only minor injuries.  The exit was then blown by minute application of plastique by the bomb squad personnel.  At this time that is the only statement we're going to make.  Now please, give the families time to get to their relatives' sides before you pounce and get back behind the line."  An officer came limping out so he looked at him.  "Tripped?"

"Over Harris, sir.  He told me to quit touching stuff unless I wanted to become evidence."

"You don't touch evidence, it corrupts it," Xander said as he came out, handing over a badge.  "It fell off someone's holder, boss."  He glared at the officer.  "You, me, training on how to handle a crime scene, tomorrow night, kid.  By the time I'm done with you, you'll make an excellent CSI, just like you said you wanted to be."

"Yes, CSI Harris.  Thank you for mentoring me."  He ducked off, heading to get away from the press.  The Chief gave him a dirty look, then shot one at Xander.

"He said he wanted to be one."  He glared at the cameras.  "Shouldn't you guys be covering traffic or something?  The line's still behind you."  They scrambled back and he looked at his boss again.  "I can get you the training system for the Academy.  I found that out earlier. Taylor said that it would be fine to send you a copy for your authorization, sir."

"Thank you, Xander.  You're very good to this city."  He patted him on the shoulder and turned him away, and you could just barely hear it.  "Do you want to lose the shiny gold thing?" he hissed.

"Not my fault, sir.  It was a ventilation explosion. No one said it ran on natural gas and the pilot was out."

"Thank you.  Are you nearly done?"

"Nope.  We'll be sifting for days to find the evidence of the drug lab we were here to bust."  The chief nodded and patted him on the back, letting him go.  Then the chief smiled at the cameras and had officers remove them to behind the line.

Lee sighed and looked at Amanda.  "I can see why Gibbs would want him."

"Me too, but he's very tough, dear."

"He is," her mother agreed over the line.  "He's cute though.  Has Lee's height and Amanda's eyes."

"Yeah, he can pout the same way too," Lee agreed dryly.   "He did it at the waitress when she cut off his sodas.  Apparently they all know him by name."

"Well, Xander did say he poisoned that other technician by feeding him fudge he had made," Amanda offered.  He chuckled at that.

"We'll be out in a few weeks," Philip assured them.

"Yeah, he'll like us.  We're more normal but DiNozzo liked us."

"Abby said that he could move on the dancefloor like DiNozzo can," Philip agreed.

"Yeah, and that he was just as cranky as Gibbs in the morning.  She said to imagine a very gay Gibbs without him going flaming queen and that was Xander.  Guess she was right."  They hung up.

"I can definitely see why Jethro respects our son," Lee said quietly, looking at her. "Even if he is bordering on thug now and then."

She nodded, sipping her coffee.  "He probably needs it on the job.  If he had become an agent he wouldn't have to deal with street crime."  They watched as someone tried to run into the building and Xander got her stopped and listened to her, then nodded, sending her off with an officer but leading another one inside.  "Oh, no.  someone was in there."

"That looks like a worried mother," he agreed.  He sighed when they finally came out with the child and the paramedics rushed over to take her.  "Oh, thank God," he whispered, hoping the mother knew better and learned from this mistake.  "What was she doing in there?"

"Maybe they lived there."

"Let's hope not."  They shared a look.


Xander looked up from typing reports as David loomed over him.  "What?" he asked weakly.

"There's no way in hell that child survived naturally," he said quietly.

"Who told David I did stupid shit!" he called.  "You guys know better than that!  It gets me yelled at and then I have to be cranky!"

"We do it so he doesn't bash our heads in," one of the officers defended.  "He'll scream at us if we don't and then scream at you, which puts you in a worse mood."  Xander glared at him. "Please don't make me your student too, Harris.  I don't want to be you."

"He said he wanted to be a field tech," Xander said dryly, looking up at David.  "What's the good of having it if you can't use it when needed?" he asked quietly.  "The officer knew, he asked me if I could."  David growled at that.  "She was three, Dave. I couldn't."

"I know, Xander.  Finish up and let's go.  I'm driving since you've probably got the shakes."

"I'm okay.  I got it out when I was doing the explosive to get us free."  He went back to typing, hurrying up since his mate was impatient.  "I need a bath."

"I'd say. You're sweaty and dirty."  He came over to look down Xander's back, hissing at the bruises.  "You landed on top of someone?"

"Yeah.  A beam was coming down so I tackled him out of the way.  He's got three kids and I'm pretty good at healing.  Plus I had on the newer body armor."  He shrugged and finished with a few last key strokes, then he checked it over, giving it a proofread, grammar check, and spelling check.  Then he printed it off and handed it to their Lieutenant.  "I'm going home before David fusses himself to death, Welsh."

"Good work today," he said quietly.

Xander shrugged and grinned. "It's what I do.  Otherwise I wouldn't be a Xander."  He walked out on David's arm.  "Are you sure I can't drive? You look tired."

"It was watching that on the news."  He gave him a hard pinch.  "Next time, call to warn me on the way there not to turn on the tv."

"The last time I did that you turned on the tv and the radio, then bitched me out when I got home," he defended.  David gave him a look and he wilted, giving him the most powerful puppy eyes he could.  "I love you?"

"Won't save you.  Home, Xander.  Bathe, let me check you over for more bruises."  He swatted him and opened the car door.  He climbed in to drive and Xander stole a kiss, earning a small smile. "If you're lucky, I'll climb in with you.  You did good saving her."  He stole a kiss and got a happy husband again.  He started the car and drove them home.  "Did you get to yell at the mother?"

"Once the cameras were gone.  I had the cruiser take me there to check on her and debriefed the mother about why her daughter was alone in a supposedly abandoned building.  She broke down crying and said she'd go straight now.  I pointed out it was a very good idea."  He yawned and stretched as much as he could.  "I hope like hell they weren't watching that.  They'll get the idea that I do that all the time."

"No, only a few times a month," David said dryly.  "Please make it less often and don't get picked up by a group that wants to make you a test subject?"

"Dave, Gibbs said they're still smarting from the last time they ran into me.  My file has a 'do not touch' order for a reason.  They don't want me.  Even if I pulled up the holiest of holy miracles and cured all cancers, AIDS, poverty, and hunger, they'd still probably keep away from me.  You never have to worry about them coming for me.  He'd never say anything."

"How did he know about you being able to?"

"I had to heal Stan in front of him a few months back.  That's why I brought him with me."  David pulled the car over to look at him.  Xander sighed and faced him.  "Stan got shot on a foot chase, Dave," he offered quietly.  "I was right behind him. It was that guy I hunted down later.  I ended up using some magic to heal him.  He made me swear not to tell his boys.  They'd lock him down and make sure he never left the house. You know Frasier's a worrywart about him."

"I do, and it's usually for a good reason," he pointed out dryly.  "Fine.  Anything else you want to confess since we're talking and there's no bugs?"

"Yeah, I've got a new stalker," he offered quietly, glancing around then back at his stunned look.  "Not the teddybear person, who's a bit misguided.  A true stalker sort.  Abby caught them in my file and locked them out, then called Ray.  Ray told me about a week ago.  We think it's a recently retired colonel but we're not absolutely sure.  That's why the extra special security system came back.  So please don't complain, all right?"

"For now," he agreed, taking his hand to hold. "Thank you for telling me.  When were you planning on it?"

"Um, never. Unless they broke in with a strike team."  Someone pounded on the window.  They pulled their badges and the cop sneered.  "Roll down the window, dear."  David did that.  "Listen, little boy.  We're talking about the rescue I just pulled when the building caved in.  Get over it.  He's allowed to hold my hand, that's why I married him, because he's such a good hand holder."  He grinned at David.  "Did you want to go back to Vegas for our vacation this year?"

"Or we could go to DC to see your parents," he offered.  "They might appreciate that."

"As long as they don't think I'm some thug," he complained.

"Sir," the officer said.  "You're idling."

"It happens, he just saved a little girl's life," David pointed out.  He turned off the engine and gave him a look.  "Better?"

"Thank you.  Which ones are you, officer….."

"Hodges."  The man blanched.  "Which, of course, makes him the newly Detective'd Harris."  The officer backed off.  "Traffic," he snapped.  The officer stepped closer.  "We're just talking.  I promise we won't be making out."

"Yes, sir.  Sorry, sir, but the pollution level is getting worse."

"I know.  I'm sorry we were idling.  We were talking about the SWAT thing.  Thank you for the warning."  He nodded and walked off.  David put back up the window.  "I doubt your parents will think anything about it.   You're a cop, you have to do that sometimes.  Besides, Abby said your father was nearly as bad as you are.  I'm sure they'll understand your life isn't usually like that."

"Hopefully.  I hate the exciting days."  He stole a quick kiss. "I need a shower.  My shoulder's really throbbing now and my back aches."

"It should, it's one big bruise, Xander."  He started the car and drove them home, getting him into the tub so he could look him over for more injuries.  Later on, it was all about the cuddling.  Xander needed the comfort.


Xander walked into the trace lab late the next night.  "The Chief wants my shiny gold badge back for mouthing off to the press.  Someone made a complaint about my language.  Should I toss it back and smirk pleasingly for not being rewarded for doing what I needed to?"

"No," David said patiently. "You've earned that badge, Xander.  You're keeping it.  He's just huffy.  It'll blow over in a few days."  He gave him a gentle squeeze to the arm.  "I want someone to look at your shoulder.  I think you damaged the joint instead of the muscles."

"I don't think so," he complained, rolling it around. "It's mostly fine tonight, just a bit stiff."

"If it's hurting tomorrow, you're making an appointment," he ordered.

"Yes, dear."  He stole a quick kiss and went back to work.  He had a lot of comparing to do tonight.  That's why he didn't realize anyone was watching him for a good thirty minutes.  He finally looked up.  "Hey," he said, getting back to work.  "This is what I usually spend all night doing."

"Our ballistics tech does the same."  He walked in and looked at the samples he was comparing.  "The mundane parts of the job are usually more satisfying."

"Yeah," Xander agreed, smiling at him.  "The heroics is in the usual stuff.  Plus it gets me less press."  He went back to work.  "I hate it when they get close matches but not perfect."  He walked to his desk to write the report.  "The rifling's only eighty percent and it's going to piss me off.  It's not the same gun but that's the only one they found.  Hit the green button please?"   He did and the computer started to run it, coming up with a match within seconds.  "Huh."  He came over to look at it.  "That's this case," he complained, hitting the 'find more' button.  "Ray?  Can I have a second opinion?"

Ray came in and looked at the samples, turning them slightly.  "Not a perfect match."

"No but the computer thinks it is."  He clicked the button again.  Then he stopped it and switched the bullets, doing it again once the autopsy bullet was back in the envelope.  It came up again.  "See?"

"I do," Ray said thoughtfully. "Select out of the state?"

"He's never been out of the city."  He fixed it, selecting a higher quality of match.  It came up again and with another one.  "Ray, I need to resolve this," he said miserably.  "This is the second one."

"I understand, Xander.  Is he edging on a deal?"

"He claims it wasn't him, it was some guy who was staying with him." He gave him a look.  "Please?"

"Call the admins over the database.  See if they're doing something."  Xadner nodded, clicking on that button then doing that.  "Sorry, Lee."

"Not a problem. We ended up having to get new computers because the old ones wouldn't run the newest version of the database.  They switched it to a Mac platform instead for some reason."  He shrugged.  "No one's sure why."

"Probably the anti-trust issue," Xander said as he hung up, hanging his head. "That's what they said too, Ray."  He looked at him.  "Screw it, I'm calling Abby.  Even if we do have to reload the operating system and software it'd be better.  I'll still have to do a quality control check since they switched over."  He picked up the phone and called out there.  "Abby, I love you.  Do you know how to fix the ballistics database?  I'm only getting matches back to my cases today and they said it's the new upgrade."  He nodded, making notes.  "Can I get that at any store, have to download it, or can I get a hacker to get it for me?  Please, Abby.  I've got to do a quality check since they changed it in May."  She sighed and gave him what he needed.  "Thank you, dear.  I miss you.  Mortty misses you too.  Yeah, he's here.  Love you too, Abby,  you behave and tease Tony for me, 'kay?"  He grinned, making a note of that. "Should I announce it?"  He beamed.  "Cool."  He hung up, then hit the intercom button.  "Abby wanted you guys warned that we've got a crossover case with NCIS coming in and they've assigned Gibbs."  He hung up and looked at Ray, holding up the sheet.  He moaned.  "I don't know enough to do that.  Lee?"

"Not me.  I'm not the technical sort. That's your brother Philip."  He shrugged.  "Can we get new computers?"

"No, they're doing a secondary security upgrade.  We may go down totally if so."  He called Ford next, growling at his voicemail.  "What did you do to the ballistic's network!  Fix it before we go down for good, Ford!  Do you know how many murders I have to go back and check by hand?  Not like you guys sent us notice!"  He slammed the phone down.  "I should sic David on them."

David opened the door.  "Calm down."

"I am calm.  I've had about eighty-three homicides since then that're going to be called into question.  They never notified us.  The person on the phone said they did it May fifth."

"Calm down," David repeated more firmly.

"I am!"


"Fine.  I'm calm," he sighed, holding his head.  "I'll be a good Xander and go over it by hand but that doesn't mean I can match alternate cases.  That's going to fully go down tomorrow if we can't get that fixed."  David grimaced.  "She said that they're doing the final security upgrade today and then working on yours."

"Damn it!" he snapped, going to write his databases' administrators to see if that was true and see what they needed for it.  He got a longer notice and moaned.  "Ray, they sent it to the cities.  Not to departments.  They want us running stuff that's not out yet!"

Xander called Bobby.  "I need to know what you guys did to comply with the new upgrades to the ballistics database.  Because we're going to go down tomorrow with the newest security upgrade. All I'm getting are matches to the current case.  Yeah, like that.  How did you guys fix it?"  He groaned. "That's not available yet, David said so."  He shivered.  "That's a fate worse than death at the moment.  Anything else you can suggest?  How did you get the preview copies and how bad is it?"  He wrote down that name and address.  "No, they sent it to the city and it never got passed onto us. I'm not sure how Fredricks is doing theirs.  Thanks, man."  He hung up and called the only other ballistics lab in the city.  "It's Xander.  Did you guys hear anything about a security and database upgrade?  Where was I?  No, I don't even remember hearing about a meeting. When was it?"  Xander slammed his head into the table.  "He sent me out with SWAT that day.  Thank you.  Who?"  He nodded.  "Are we all getting them?  Because if not, I'm dead in the water now.  Thanks."  He stood up.  "'Scuse me, I've got to threaten our boss."  He walked off, heading for the car.  He drove down there, trying to calm himself down, but he wasn't any calmer when he walked into the Police Chief's office.  He pointed at the door and the secretary shook her head.  "Press?"


"Fuck him."  He walked in and slammed the door shut.  "You sent me out with SWAT on the same day you announced we had to upgrade the lab's computers and I never heard.  We're dead in the water in ballistics and Trace is going to start going tomorrow.  I didn't even get a memo about this, boss."

"Calm down, Harris."

"You just took out my ability to do half my job!" he shouted.  "You want me to stay calm!  People are going to go free!"

"Calm down," the mayor said dryly.  "You're being a drama queen.  You're not usually like that."  Xander glared at him and he flinched. "Sorry."

Xander looked at their boss again.  "You sent me out with SWAT instead of going to the meeting, and that was the one that we had redundant backups.  Did you do it on purpose?"

"Harris, I love this department."

"So do I," he snapped.  He crossed his arms over his chest.  "Why wasn't there a memo about the meeting?  David didn't hear a thing about his either."

"There's a trace update coming?" the mayor asked.

"Yeah, when they finish locking my unit out of the system tonight they're going to start locking him out because they want us to use an experimental new OS that's not available."  He looked at their boss.  "Memos?  Anything paperworky, a phone call?  Anything?  So I don't end up dead in the water?  I can match with a microscope but not to any other cases.  That and now I've got to do quality control back to May 5th."  He whimpered at that.  "Exactly.  That's eighty-three homicides and another, at least, hundred cases like B&E's and muggings.  Are you going to suddenly start paying me overtime?"

"Why?  It's your job," he pointed out.

"Yeah, and you didn't let me know what I needed to do to stop this and you SENT ME AWAY," he said slowly and clearly, "from the informational meeting that I needed to attend to know this shit."

The chief stood up.  "I don't like your insinuation, Harris."

"That's wonderful.  Then why did you send me out with SWAT that day?  Even though they didn't ask, didn't want me there, and tried to send me back but you refused to let them.  The commander there filed a complaint!" he finished on a shout.  The mayor flinched again.  "You kept me from knowing this!  You're making my job fucking impossible."

"That's not my duty."

"If they send it to the city instead of the departments, like the person at the admin's office for the database said they did, then yeah, it is.  And this isn't the first time.  Why was I with SWAT last night?"  The mayor gave him a horrified look. "I'm a *tech*, not a cop.  They made us get our badges.  I'm a ballistics tech and I'm only supposed to be on call for *bombs*," he told him.  "Not for general SWAT actions.  Not to go out and hunt down cases."

"I want your badge."

"I want my life before you made us get the badge," he snapped back.  "You're the one who wanted us to have badges for no reason. I warned you this shit was going to happen and you kept pushing.  Congratulations.  My office is now dead in the water and I'm going to have to go back and do hand-matches until I find out what I need so Ray and I can requisition it, like we should've known to do back in April, when they sent out the notice.  Which also didn't come to me."

"How dare you," the chief hissed.

"How dare me!  I'm the top ballistics tech in this fucking city!" he shouted back.  "How dare me!  You're keeping this shit from me on purpose!"

"I think that's enough," the mayor said calmly.

"Yeah, well, me too," Xander promised, glaring at his boss.  "Consider my lab closed until further notice and start transferring stuff to Region Three.  I can't handle anything without having what I need.  By the way, DNA is going down next month by what she said.  And then fingerprints.  Have fun with that."  He walked out, slamming the door behind him.  He headed back to the office, still huffy and growling.  The desk sergeant took one look at him and backed off.  "We may have a claim of missing memos.  I need to know if anything  came in April or May about a database upgrade to my lab, or any other lab, and about any meetings with the chief about such things.  Also, let it be known, my computers may be permanently down until we can fix this conflict but they got Region Three working.  Send 'em there."  He stomped down the stairs.  "He did it on purpose," he called.

"He said you're on suspension too."

"Wonderful.  Have fun with that."  Xnader handed him his badge. "Not like I wanted it.  The day of the meeting was the same day SWAT complained that I got sent to them.  The memo got sent to the city in April.  I'm still the senior ballistics tech, right?"  Ray nodded quickly.  "We're sure?  None of the swing guys, who're all new, or the guy in Region Three, who just got hired?  None of them are?"  Ray shook his head again.  "Then I'm down to hand matching and unfortunately rerouting everything out of this lab.  Trace is going to start having troubles tonight, DNA and fingerprints start next month."  Ray moaned.  "Let them get used to it. Since we've got most of the senior CSIs here, they can throw their own fits. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a hellish backlog of QC stuff and hand-matching to do.  Don't expect me to find old cases anytime soon."  He walked off.

"You're still suspended," Ray called after him.

"Not like he was going to approve the overtime it'd take anyway," Xander called back.  "It's me or it doesn't get done.  Ever."  He called the DA's office, holding up a finger when his father opened his mouth.  "It's me.  Did you hear anything about database upgrades?  Yeah, me either.  Region Three did though.  That was the day they sent me out on SWAT on purpose and got the complaint filed.  No, we're dead and I'm having to do quality reviews back to May 5th, when they started this.  So, I'll let you know if you've got a problem sometime next week."  He hung up and sat on his stool again.  "Sorry, I'm having a hissy fit."

"No, I agree.  I'd have one too.  What did they want?  That operating system isn't even more than a trial in a few labs.  Vegas, Miami, LA, and Seattle have it, not even Homeland Security has it yet."  Xander nodded.  "You knew that?"

"Yeah, I've been keeping track of the new lab equipment.  I knew they'd try something.  The Chief of Police is same guy who used to be Chief of Detectives and he's the guy that made all the techs, straight techs, not field techs, but the lab techs, qualify for their badges."  He looked at him.  "I tried to fight that one, which is why he doesn't like me.  That and I'm better at his job than he is.  I'm also a better cop than he is.  So now I'm supposedly suspended but this needs to be done."  He got up and went to pull his files.

"Harris, you're still suspended, you're not supposed to be in the building," Ray said as he walked in. "I got ordered to escort you out."

Xander looked at him.  "You know what, tell Stella that since he just endangered over two hundred of their cases."  Ray groaned.  "Sorry, but this has to be done.  Either I do it here or I set up a small lab at home.  You're choice, Ray.  Which would you rather have?"

"Set up a lab at home," David called over.  "Ray, I'm down.  They started mine early."

"Okay.  Do what you can, Dave."

"I can't."  He joined them.  "My system's completely down.  Like virused down with a message saying this was the planned upgrade, make sure your system complies with the new codes."

"But the new codes aren't legal," Lee pointed out.  "That OS is only available in a few labs for testing.  No one else can get it.  They can't make you upgrade either."

"Yes, they can.  It's their playground," Xander assured him.  He looked at Ray, then at David.  "Lee, you and Ray go away for like, twenty minutes?"   He smiled sweetly at them.  "Please."

"Why?" Ray asked.

"So I can gather what I need to so I can work at home.  I'll telecommute with you and Stella, Ray.  With this problem, I could've endangered anything with additional matches in the system."  He nodded, taking Lee back to his office.  Xander looked at the computer, then at his husband.  "Get me the blue discs please?"  David smirked and got it for him, then went to do a system backup as well.  Xander knew he could still get in there, he had access to get in an delete files if he had to.  He downloaded it straight from the file manger, like they liked them to do.  He had to get an extra disc but that was fine.  Then he went to pull the cases he remembered.  If he had to, he could get Ray to bring him any others.  He copied down a backup file of his reports and stuffed that in there as well.  The cases and discs went into a box he had lying around.  Then he lifted up a microscope and headed off, blatantly walking out.  "You'll hear from me tomorrow, Ray."

"Sure, Xander.  Let me know what you need."  He smirked at Lee.  "He's not a happy camper."

"I wouldn't be either."  He got off the phone with Philip, who was going over the administrator's head about this.  Homeland owed them a lot and this had to be fixed before departments all over the country went down.  "It's a petty power play, Ray.  They want to have control over all the cases."

"Which means it'll take eight thousand times as long to get anyone convicted," Ray pointed out dryly.  He called someone he knew.  "Calleigh, I love you and Horatio.  I need the specs for the upgrade we're going to have to do.  No, they upgraded it for everyone.  Xander's locked out of the system and due to politics, he made a complaint and got suspended for a few days.  Thanks, dear."  He hung up then smirked at him.  "Gotta love the politics."

"I told you Xander doesn't play that game," David reminded him dryly.  "Thankfully.  I'm barely able to make a backup copy of everything, Ray.  They're locking down mine and Mortty's too.  Fingerprints is out at the moment so we're not sure about there. Should I start it?"  Ray nodded so he went to check their computers.  "We're down in here too, Ray.  Transfer control over and pull up solitaire again."

"Thank you."  He called Dispatch.  "Alert all CSIs that anything for Trace, Ballistics, DNA, or Fingerprints is to go to Region Three.  We're in the middle of a database upgrade and we're dead in the water.  Yeah, this is Vecchio.  If he tries to force it," he said at the 'the chief said not to', "tell him we've got no access in any of those departments.  Our computers are completely down.  He'll have to switch control.  We can't do anything with just microscopes these days.  Thank you."  He hung up and shook his head. "Mortty, do what you can with samples, you too, Dave.  Everyone else, endure."  He sent out a text message, getting various flavors of 'fuck this' back.  Greg's was especially colorful and in Italian.  "I love Sanders, he's learning Italian because he's bored."   He sat down and put his feet up.  "Sorry.  He'll be at home soon."

"I'll see if I can pull some strings.  Was he supposed to be there last night?" Ray shook his head.  "Then why was he?"

"The same cause.  The same as last time.  He hates Xander for sticking up for what was right.  The lab techs shouldn't be required to be cops.  Xander nearly had a stroke fighting with him.  He hated Xander for being a figurehead then.  Xander is the longest hired ballistics tech we've got.  When we had manpower problems, Xander was this lab.  He worked eighteen hour days with pneumonia.  He thought it was cute," he said with a sneer.  "And good of him, doing his duty."  Lee shuddered.  "Exactly.  So therefore we're all sticking up for this."

"Ray, my Mass Spec's blinking at me.  It lost computer access too.  I don't have the samples database."

"Okay, do what you can and then deliver samples by hand.  Take David."  She came into the office and whispered.  He nodded. "I know.  He's suspended so he's telecommuting."  He smirked at her.  "He called Stella Kowalski personally to let her know."

"This is going to blow 'speedy process' out of the water."  She walked off shaking her head to bag and bundle up samples and what she had.  "David?"

"Nearly done.  I'm driving."

"Sure."  She went to get them someone to carry boxes, because there was no way she was carrying eight boxes up those stairs.


David walked into the precinct that housed Region Three, getting horrified looks.  "We've got a database upgrade going on.  We can't even run samples in the Mass Spec anymore.  They never told us like they did you guys."  He kicked the door open, nodding for a few of the officer to go help Mortty.  "Go heft for the department, boys."

"And you are?"

"Hodges."  Two of the patrol officers ran off.  Mortty walked in with a box and he followed her down. He'd never been down in this one.  It was a lot more new than theirs.  Everyone stared in horror at them, apparently it was nearly shift change.  "We're doing a database upgrade they never told us about.  We're completely down but AV."  He put a box down in front of his counterpart.  "I've got another four in the car, she's got another seven.  Let's go."  He just got stared at.  "Tough, kids.  The Chief never told us."

"There was a meeting," Fredericks, their ballistic tech said weakly.  "He said Xander skipped."

"No, he sent Xander out with SWAT, who then filed a complaint for them being stuck with the non-cop for no reason.  Do you have copies of that OS?"

"It's integrated into the new machines," his counterpart said quietly.  "You didn't get…"  David shook his head.  "Shit!"  He hopped up. "Let's get the stuff, people."  They went to help.  "Where's your mate?"

"Telecommuting.  He complained and got suspended.  This means he's got to quality control any matches back to the May 5th start date for anything he matched through the database.  He's got a microscope and files at the house."  He hefted another box.  "I'm damn sorry, but we're rerouting."

"That's fine," they agreed,  going back there.  Mortty was still going over the upgrade's details with their supervisor, including what was really needed.

"See, that's what Calleigh said, but they've got the trial OS.  Ray's already called the routing change."  He moaned lightly.  "Until we're up and running, even my samples database for the sampling machines is gone."

"I understand.  It's not your fault, Mortty.  You're our senior DNA tech.  Harris is our senior Ballistics.  David is second head of Trace."  David gave him a look.  "You are.  We've still got Horton.  You were hired right after he came on.  He's on sick leave so you're defacto senior Trace guy until he comes back from his surgical recovery.  We've got the senior AV tech and computer tech, and you've got the senior fingerprint.  Plus you've got Sanders and the senior field techs, all but the union rep that we have here on day shift.  We're screwed."

"I know.  Ours was supposed to start tonight. I was going to work longer to get clear and have them send anything new to you guys but they started early."  The door opened and the chief stormed in.  He snorted and got back to the list.  "Do we have the costing and that stuff so I can give it to Ray?  And what's this one?  It's a single use that's got major software flaws."  He looked at that supervisor, who pointed.  David pointed at the item.  "That recently got thrown out of a federal court case for having flaws in the software.  That means anything tested on it can be thrown out or at the very least heavily challenged here."

"Do I care what you think?"

"Well you obviously don't care that the department can't work," he shot back.

Mortty patted him on the back.  "Unfortunately, thanks to the memos never making it to us, we're dead in the water except for AV, Chief," she said more politely.

"I told him…."

"No, Trace, DNA, Fingerprints, and Ballistics are all dead.  I can't even run samples thanks to this.  Thank you for giving me an easy night."

"You can stay here and work."

"No, I can't.  I cannot leave my lab unmanned.  I can see if Greg wants to come over."  The other tech nodded quickly at that.  "I'll call on the way back, Steff.  Not an issue.  He was hopping mad when I left."  She called Greg but he took her phone.  She took it back.  "Do not snatch things out of my hand, that's rude."  She called him.  "Greggy, me.  Come to Region Three or did you want to man the lab at home tonight?"  She nodded. "Good deal.  Thanks."  She hung up.  "He's on his way.  He was headed out for a call but Tracey was working with him and told him to come."  She got hugged.  "It'll be okay.  I promise."  She looked at the chief again.  "Providing we manage to get what we need on paper tonight, how long will it take us to get it?"

"You're not getting anything."

"Hey, you can explain to the DA why they can't try any cases," the supervisor agreed.  "My team could use the overtime.  And if not approved for it, then it'll get us sued for another problem with due process and speedy trials."  He looked at Mortty.  "Can you and Greg switch off?"

"I can."  She smiled at him.  "You know I miss you but I love my lab over there."

"I understand, dear.  You're our senior DNA tech.  Greg may have the higher Federal rating but you're our senior."  She nodded and the Chief growled.  "It's true.  Hodges there is the senior Trace tech until Horton comes back.  Harris is the senior ballistics tech.  We've apparently got more than we thought, kids.  Let's head back.  Cut the meeting short."  They nodded and carted things where they needed to go. "AV is still okay?"

"AV and computers don't need federal databases.  We can't even get into the sample query files.  I had to do a manual backup, so did Xander before he got sent home."

"For lack of work?" Fredericks asked.

"No, he went and threw a fit about being sent to SWAT and not hearing anything about this since they sent the memo out in April."

"We heard May first," he admitted.

"I know.  He knows.  Stella knows.  Everyone knows now."  That got a shiver of horror.  "Xander's going to try to match the samples by hand for any cases that he had multiple matches out of the system.  It could throw hundreds of cases out as far as I know.  Have fun with the overtime.  I've got to get back there with Mortty.  With Xander gone, we're lab seconds."

"You're staying," the Chief hissed.

"It's a requirement that our labs be staffed during normal hours," he said firmly. "Even if the equipment is down.  If this continues, I might think about an offer to switch out for the night but it is illegal by PD and Federal standards to have the labs unmanned for that long without an emergency having been declared.  It's in the lab handbook."  He walked off with Mortty.

"If you leave you're fired," he called.

"Do it, watch me sue, Chief," David said, turning to glare at him.  "By the way, we do know that Xander's the reason we get such good techs?  That he's been talking to them?"  He blanched. "That it's because of him that SWAT's still alive and he can sue you for making him do a job he's not trained to do.  A ballistics tech is not an officer, even if you make us take the classes.  For that matter, we've all had offers to move somewhere else.  Miami's putting on a new shift.  New York is opening up a new lab.  I'm sure either of them would love it if the three of us and Sanders transferred out as a well-integrated group.  Hell, we'd get better salaries too.  Miami's offering nearly double what I'm getting now.  I think Xander would look great with a tan, don't you?"   He walked her off, hand on her lower back.  "I've had enough of him," he muttered.  Once they got outside, he tossed her the keys, getting in so he could call some people and not crash them.

"Horatio, David Hodges.  No, small issue.  The Chief is sabotaging our lab on purpose.  Are you still looking for nearly a complete night shift?  Because I'd rather work with someone I trusted not to do that to us.  No, he got the memo and sent Xander out with SWAT, getting a filed complaint since he shouldn't have been there.  Seriously.  I can't speak for Mortty, but she's affected.  They suspended Xander for complaining.  Us, possibly Greg.  Possibly Mortty if this continues.  She's about to cry."  He gave her hand a squeeze and she started the car, heading back to the lab.  "I don't want to think about it, but can you give us a week?  I think Xander would do wonderfully with a tan and he's from California, the same as I am."  He smiled.  "I heard.  He was going to be my next call if you couldn't use us."  He smirked at that. "Thank you, Horatio.  We love you guys."  He hung up and called Mac Taylor in New York.  "Surprise, Stella, it's David."  He grinned.  "No, our department just decided to screw us over about the database updates.  Yeah, those.  No, they intentionally didn't tell our office.  Mortty, honey, I can drive if you need me to."

"No, I'm good."  She sneezed.  "Allergies.  Hi, Stella."  She pulled them out onto the street, taking the phone from her.  "Are you guys still setting up a new lab?  Because unless they fix shit, it's between you and that very sweet redheaded man in Miami.  Yeah, him, Xander, me, probably Greg.  Yeah, fully.  They never told us.  We're down to one lab in the city.  Let us know or we'll call in about a week, give it time to straighten out?  Thank you, Stella.  Love you, dear.  Oh, I'm considering it anyway.  It's a tossup at the moment.  Love you." She hung up and handed the phone back. "You guys go, I go."

"Sure," he agreed, smiling at her.  "I'm sure we can sell the house fairly easily.  I'm wondering if she went running up the halls or not."

"Maybe.  Greg and Danny got on really well too.  Then again, so did Eric and Danny and Eric and Greg."  She shrugged. "With the way things are going, some day it'll all be one city."  He chuckled at that.  "It will."  She pulled into their station and got out, heading inside.  The desk sergeant gave her an odd look.  "Were we suspended too?"  He shook his head.  "Staffing rules, someone's got to be down there who is qualified."

"I understand.  Detective Kowalski is down there bugging Vecchio.  His ex-wife's nagging the Lieutenant at the moment."

"Good, tell her to go further up the chain, it wasn't Welsh," David assured him.  He walked her back down there, going back to their labs.  "We dropped it off.  Any word from Xander?"

"Yup, he faxed over a list of cases he needs evidence on," Ray called.  "You two okay?"

"This goes on for more than a day and either Horatio or Mac gets us," David told him.  "I'm not endangering his health for this petty politicking. I don't mind politics now and then but to sabotage this way?  No way in hell I'm putting up with it."  He headed back to his office to clean his desk and finish up any remaining reports.  At least that could be cleaned up.

Greg called in, so he put him on speaker phone.  "David, if you guys go, I go."  Then he hung up.

David smiled.  He loved his friends and family.  They were very neat.


Elsewhere, Horatio and Mac were talking, trying to see who needed the group the worst.  Their various crews were involved.  Horatio was offering a better salary and beaches, but Mac pointed out the problem of David not going to them and Mortty not being a tanner.  Whereas they had more culture.

"Oh, just share them!" one of the detectives yelled.  "Please!"  The bosses considered it then let it go, shaking their heads.  Not doable really.  The cities were too far apart and crime was too nebulous to schedule that way.


Ray looked up as the Chief stormed into his office, then went back to his journal reading.  Someone had called down to warn him he was coming so they were all looking productive.  His journal was snatched and slammed onto the table.  "Problems getting us what we need, Chief?"

"Yes," he sneered.  "How dare you do this!"

"It's not our fault we weren't told that we needed to have a system's upgrade by today, Chief.  Or that Xander's found the system mismatched about twelve cases so far. Fortunately Stella didn't take it out on his hide and our swing person went over there to sub in and rematch those cases for him."  He crosses his arms, staring him down.  "Ya know, if they leave, there's every chance you'll lose Kowalski and the Mounties to their other office so Stan can follow.  Can't say as I wouldn't mind retiring either boss.  Sorry, we're a family on this shift," he said at the heated glare.  "Xander is this lab.  He's broken himself numerous times for this place.  There's no way in hell we're letting you do this ta him."  He sneered.  "The only thing left to decide is more urban or sunshine."

The Chief stomped out.  "I've already let the Mayor know, in very certain terms, what happened, including backing it up with paperwork," he called after him.  "Have fun explaining yourself."  The man glared at him before slamming the door.  He picked up his journal.  "He's stomped off in a snit," he called.  The cards in the back labs came back out.  They could only clean so many times. Everyone had already agreed with their Region Three counterparts who'd get what shifts so things could still get done and the tired local techs could get a few hours of freedom from work.  Ray called Stan.  "So, if Xander and everyone leaves thanks ta this mess, you gonna go?"  He smirked at the assertion Rennie was following his 'little brother' Xander one way or another.  He'd just tie them up and cart them over a long pole across his shoulder.  "You might wanna put in your vote for New York or Miami."  He hung up and pulled out the real magazine he had been reading.


David smiled at the man who had knocked on his door.  "Horatio.  Come in."  He walked in, taking off his sunglasses.  "Let me guess, you've heard about the politics?"

"I have and I agree, he's sabotaging the lab."  He looked at him.  "Mac and I are still arguing over you guys."

"Stan and his Mounties would come if they can.  Ray might as well."

Horatio smirked.  "We've got some good detectives, but we'd welcome them.  I'm not sure if the Mounties could find anything to do in Miami however."

"Dief would pout about the lack of snow and all the hot peppers," Xander called from the room he was working in.  They walked in there and he waved absently.  "Sorry, I'm handing matching the cases we cross-referenced with."

"Not a problem, Xander."  He came in to look at the two stacks of files and the evidence boxes.  "Someone smuggled them out?"

"Yeah, Ray had someone bring them for me," he said, straightening up and rubbing his eyes.  "I hate the really close matches."  He got out of the way.  "I'd call that ninety-six because Stella wants an exact figure."

Horatio looked the nodded slowly.  "It looks like another case of ammo switch."  He looked at him.  "Lab reload?"

"No, not by the box."  He made a note on the notes beside him, checking the name again.  Then he bundled everything back up and refiled it.  He looked at Horatio.  "I love Chicago.  I seriously love Chicago.  Like I loved Vegas.  I don't wanna leave, but I can't take this.  I don't need this stress.  Ray and Welsh are great, but I want a supportive department behind me, Horatio."

Horatio smiled.  "Mac would be here to tell you this, but he just caught a sniper case into a school."  Xander hissed.  "With the people who're willing to move with you, they're willing to switch out Mac's other shift and put you on with his staff, who doesn't exactly work on the shift system alone."  David leaned against the wall, gaping at him.  Horatio smiled.  "You've got a lot more firepower than we could use and the Mounties don't have a consulate down there.  Besides, like you said, they'd miss snow."  Xander gave him a goofy grin.  "Also, I heard a rumor about you having real parents?"

"Yeah, Abby's director made her put my DNA profile into the Federal Agents system after she saw the party convention tape."  Horatio chuckled at that. "Abby was putting it in and it came up with matches.  She warned Mortty, then went to check it out further.  They're up the street at the hotel."

"Good.  Are they good?"

"They are, covert feds."  Xander shrugged a bit.  "I've had one of those weeks when I've had to be Super Xander, Son of Ares, God of War again.  The day they got here, I was in the middle of rescuing Greg from a tech-napping moron, who I sent into the lake.  Plus I had to undo a bomb at the airport over the headset system.  So they caught me in Super Xander mode."  Horatio smiled at that.  "You're sure Mac could use us?"

"Yes, I am.  He said he'd welcome the whole group, Xander."  He patted him on the arm.  "This way, Eric can't pout at you because he has to protect Calleigh to this day in the clubs-he doesn't trust it won't suddenly spring back up."  Xander blushed a bit at that.  "Besides, that way you'd be closer to Abby and Gibbs.  There's a shuttle from New York to DC every few hours.  Which would mean you could get to know your parents better."

Xander smiled.  "You think we could get a nice house out there?"

"You should be able to.  New York housing costs are ridiculous."

"I've been making him invest what he gets given in the clubs," David offered dryly.  "That plus selling this house?  We can manage it."  Horatio smiled at him. "Xander, Maria wanted to know if she could buy the house."

"Wow.  Sure.  Yeah."  He grinned at him and walked over, hugging him.  "I love you."

"Love you too," he agreed quietly.  Xander gave him a gentle, sweet smile.  "Let's call the others to say we've decided on New York, then we can conference in with Mac."

"He'll be out later tonight," Horatio assured them, smiling at them.  "Can you two put me up?  I could use some help from Mac on a case and a night off."

"Sure," Xander agreed happily.  "Hey, does this mean I get to meet the Don guy?"

"Yes, it would," Horatio agreed happily.  "What about Dawn?"

"She's a hairdresser."

"Good point."  He smiled at them.  "Mac should be in within a few hours.  He said he'd call when he landed."  Xander squealed and hugged him.  "Eric ordered me to tell you this way you couldn't gang up on poor little him."

David cackled. "I think that'll be a vacation."  Horatio smirked at that.  "Thank you, Horatio."

"Not a problem.  You're serious?"

Xander nodded.  "I can't take this. I love Ray's mother and hopefully she'll move with us.  I just can't take the non-supportive department.  They've been inching my hours back up on me again too."

"I understand."  He patted him on the cheek.  "Let go, Xander."  Xander blushed and let him go. "Thank you.  Let me get my bag from the car and I'll come play with the dogs."  He went to do that, putting it in the spare room David was changing sheets in.

Xander called Mortty.  "New York.  Mac said he can use us all."  He hung up and got back to work.  He would clean up this mess since he hadn't realized it was like this.  It was his job to do this.


Xander signed the last form and handed it to the Mayor, then put down his old badge.  "My personal firearm."

"That's fine, Harris.  Are you *sure*?  We'd hate to see you go."

"Yeah, well, I loved working with you guys until the politics and stuff got in the way of being a simple lab tech.  He kept the press on my ass.  He kept sabotaging me. I can't stand it, I'm sorry."  He stood up.  "I'll come back for vacation."  They shook hands.  "Thank you, sir."  He saluted and headed off, going to get into the car.  David had less paperwork than he had since he was officially in review for a raise.  "Last checks?"

"Are being sent."  He stroked his thigh.  "It's the right decision."  Xander nodded so he drove them to the airport, heading for their new home.  They were all flying out as a group, Mortty's idea, and would be greeted on the other side by Stella and Danny, since they knew everyone.  Thatcher hadn't been happy to lose her Mounties, but she understood the power of politics and had made an offer from one of the Canadian cities.  David had simply given her a look, then pointed out that would mean Kowalski, Vecchio, and Mortty would have to become Canadian citizens.  She had shut up and quit trying after that.

They got to the airport and got out, dropping off the rental.  The dogs were with Greg in their carrier.  They only had a suitcase between them.  Xander pointed at the terminal.  "Shall we?"  He took David's hand and walked him inside, smiling at their posse.  "My people," he said fondly, grinning at everyone.  "We checked in?"  They all nodded.  "Dave and me too?"  That got another nod from Ray.  "Cool, through security, people."  They headed for the checkpoint, getting some horrified looks.  "They pissed me off.  We're leaving."  The security guards took Xander's gun and boxed it up, along with the others' sidearms for their later retrieval.  Dawn was the only one who got to go through the metal detectors, but the dogs did bark at the x-ray machine, making the tech smile at that.  Everyone else got passed through. They got onto the plane with only stops for burgers and magazines, settling into the tiny seats for the two hour flight.

Xander stepped off the other side, going first by mutual decision.  He walked into the terminal and grinned, squealing as he rushed over to hug Stella and Danny.  "Hi.  We're here."

"Stop him!" someone shouted.  Xander looked and then took Fraser's hat to toss it at him, knocking him down.  The transit officer looked at him, handing Fraser back his hat.  "Thank you, sir.  You are?"

"My lab's other crew," Stella said with a fond smile.  "Thank you, Xander."

"My pleasure, dear.  You know that."  He tweaked her on the cheek, then took Danny's arm to walk him off.  "So, labs?" he asked happily.  "They're nice and I've got lots of pretty guns to play with?"

"You do, but first you've got to stop and do the badge stuff."

"That's okay, we've got to pick up our personal sidearms," Xander assured him, letting him lead him that way while Greg got the bags.  They came out and found a few official SUV's waiting on him.  "Nearly as nice as Horatio said his hummers are, but more practical.  Sweet rides.  Can we take them when we go on field calls?"

"Of course," Danny agreed, grinning at him. "Perk of the job, staring down at anyone in their tiny economy cars."  He helped everyone get settled, letting Stella ride herd since he had point.  Danny looked at Fraser.  "Our Mounties don't often do the hat toss these days."

"We're not the standard Mounties," he offered.  "Ray and Ray have spoiled us terribly."

"Yeah, we have," Vecchio called.  "Please tell me I'm back in the field?"

"With Flack," Stella assured him with a smile. "Our personal slave detective."  He hugged her.  "It's okay.  We've got a lab administrator for the shift."  She patted him on the back.  "Mac heard your complaints and he's fixed it all."

Danny nodded, looking at Xander.  "You're only a part-time field tech."  Xander beamed and nodded.  "Get in!"  Everyone piled in and he got to see the baby that had been napping. "You're precious."  She smiled at him.  "What's your name?"

"Amanda, but she usually goes by Mandy," Dawn offered, patting her on the back. "She's fussy.  Sorry."  She got her hitched in like only an experienced mother could.  "Xander, we've got the house, right?  No hotel tonight?"

"No, we've got the house, it's all set up for us.  All the various apartments are set up as well."  She smiled at him.  "We're letting you live with Greg unless you want to move out on your own."  She slid in beside her daughter and buckled up.  He slid into the front seat.  The doors were shut and David had to stand there and tap a foot.  Stella laughed and got him into hers, winking at him.  He smirked back.  "So, how is everyone?"

"Doin' good," Danny admitted as he pulled out into traffic.  "Mac's growling at a case presently and it's right up your alley.  Someone tricked out a gun to make it automatic and it screwed the rifling."

"That can happen but you still usually get a firm pattern, like you would with a silencer.  You can usually match the underlying pattern behind the new one."  Danny grinned at him.  "Are we heading in tonight?"

"Tomorrow.  You can stop in and see it if you want."

"Sure.  So, field techs don't work standard shift?"

"Nope.  So you'll see some of us, some of night shift, some of Flack and them.  We'll introduce you guys around tomorrow.  The old night shift got moved to the new lab and it's pretty sweet, like Horatio's are, but I like the old home base. Besides, I'd miss having Mac on my ass."

Xander looked at him.  "If you need help with that project, I've worked up some really good ideas for wooing a very stubborn mate."

Danny coughed and shook his head. "Not that way."

"Damn.  Sorry.  We're very open about it, but we've only got Stan, Rennie, and Benny like us in the group."

"That should be more than enough for anyone," Stan reminded him patiently.  Dawn nodded at that so he flipped her on the back of the head.  "You behave and we're teaching her how ta play basketball this weekend."

"Just remember she's got asthma," she said firmly.

"Of course.  She's pitiful when she's that sick."  Stan smirked at Xander.  "You, no traumatizing people with your views on sports."

"Mac's already warned everyone, he can be as gay and loud as he wants," Danny promised with a smirk in the mirror back at him.  "Stella warned them about his views on football being just like a gay orgy, it got some laughs and we're good with that.  Mortty can wear her dog collars.  Unless the Mayor comes in then she's gotta take it off for a few minutes.  We already told her that and she agreed it'd be fine.  Mac's over our lab and it's all good ta him."  He took an offramp.  "We're right in the center of lower Manhattan.  Stan, you'll be doing Homicide with Don and Ray Vecchio.  He's at work today so I'll introduce you when we do the badge thing.  Boys, your consulate is officially downtown but your apartments are about three blocks from there.  Which means Stan's a thirteen block commute going against the standard path of traffic.  Xander, you and David live further out and it's in a good neighborhood, lots and lots of gay couples.  Mortty's livin' in the Village.  Dawnie, we've got you and Greg a nice little apartment near the station.  There's a good few hairdressers who's looking for help nearby.  Also a really good daycare and a Church daycare that's supposed to be pretty good nearby."  She smiled at that and smoothed down her daughter's hair.  "We did everything we can to make it a painless transition.  Including maps."  Xander beamed at that.  "Also, convention's in our neck of the woods this year."

"Yes!" Xander agreed happily. "If we have to work, can we go after hours?"

"Of course.  We do it that way every year it's here."  He patted him on the arm.  "Relax, Mac and Stella like you.  Everyone else will think you'll fit in and you're only a little bit strange.  The SWAT commander's been told about you by your last one and he's already agreed you're last on the on-call list, and there's no way in hell you'll be going on an assault, unless it's in our station or it's one of us personally."

"Bless you," Xander said, hugging him around the arm.  "I love you guys.  I spent one day a week with SWAT for the past few months.  Dave was getting an ulcer."  He let him go when they pulled up in front of a station.  "Oooh, another building with history."  He slid out once Danny had parked, going over to look at the wall.  "Someone put a lot of love into this building.  It shows."  Someone coughed so he grinned at them.  "Hi.  Xander Harris," he said, holding out a hand.  "I used to do construction before I went to college."

The tall, dark haired guy grinned and shook his hand.  "Don Flack."

Xander squealed.  "Danny and Stella said *so* much about you!" he said happily, letting him go but dragging him over.  "Guys, this is the Don they told us about."

"Let him go, Xander," Ray ordered.  Xander pouted but let him go, giving Don a sheepish look.  "Sorry, he's having an excited moment. You just get used ta 'em."

Don grinned.  "It's all good.  He can be as gay as he wants since we've all been told he's married."  Everyone pointed at David.  "Now I know who ta go to if we find him sulking.  Hi."  He shook his hand.  "Don Flack."

"David Hodges, Trace."

"Cool. You'll like the lab, they've just updated it on Danny and he's swearing about not being able to find anything."

"I can fix that," Danny assured him. "Dave and me, we can rearrange it tomorrow."  He waved at the building.  "Shall we?  Dawn, you wanna come with or sit out here with Mandy and be admired?"

"I can go," she agreed, smiling at him.  She pinched him on the cheek.  "You're adorable, but I'm still taken."  Greg smirked at her so she beamed at him.  "That's my man and our dogs.  Oooh, dogs!"  She turned back and David got them out, putting them in their harnesses.

Don looked at the little dogs, then at them.  "Mac knows you bring 'em in, right?"

"Yup," Xander agreed.  "Calleigh brings hers too.  They're fully lab trained. Even potted plant and Mayor's coffee cup trained," he joked, leading the way inside with his dog.  Sarah gave him a quiet bark.  "This is the new home, Sarah.  We're going to be working here."  She barked again and sniffed, but settled in to like that idea.  "Where are we heading?"

"This way," Don ordered, pointing at the front desk.  "First.  Guys, this is our receptionist.  Dora, this is Harris, Hodges, Sanders, and his girlfriend Dawn and her daughter Mandy, Mortty, Vecchio, Kowalski, and his two Mounties Benny and Rennie.  Get used to 'em."  She smiled and waved.  "Mac?"


"In or out?" he asked dryly.

"In, on a call."

"Thanks."  He walked them back.  "We're not really formal around here, but you'll have ta wear your badges or ID's at all times."

Xander raised a hand.  "For those of us who had to take the equivalencies has it been decided?  I'd rather be a lab tech if it matters."

"We appreciate that about you," Don assured him.  Xander relaxed and smiled. "Your record's impressive, but you're a tech.  Like the scene techs may be detectives too, but we all know they're tech's first.  Except Mac.  Well, he is, but he's a Marine first, then a tech, then a cop."  He shrugged and the elevator came.  "You'll have one in name only.  We don't expect you guys to carry 'em, except for Greg."  They smiled and piled on, squeezing in.  Mandy cooed at the dogs, petting them.  Then she reached over to pet Don.  "Thanks, Mandy.  It's been a while since such a cute little thing like you's made cow eyes at me."  He pinched her nose and she gave him a shy grin, then hid her face.  He winked at Dawn. "I'm used ta it.  All the girls flirt sometime."  She elbowed him, making him laugh.  "Good instincts, girl."

"Thank you."  They came off and she followed the group out, looking around.  "This is so much nicer than the basement, Xan."

"It is," Ray agreed, looking around. "Nicer than Region Three too," he said appreciatively.  "How's the detective's side?"

"Crappy but we've got computers.  Defend your desk chair."  Ray smirked at that.  He tapped on Mac's door, walking them in.  "We're here."

"I can see that."  He looked at the dogs.  "I thought you were kidding."

Xander snorted.  "Not hardly, Mac.  Besides, it'll take her a few days to find Oprah here."  He came over to look at the pictures, petting his dog.  The folder was moved closer.  "See the underlying marks, those are matchable.  The spectron can select the underlying layers and match only that."


"I can show you."  He grinned at him.  "Not a problem.  It's a click of the mouse and a few keystrokes."  Mac relaxed at that.  "So, I only get to do field stuff as a last resort?"

"Two or three cases a month, like you were supposed to be doing.  Anything serial I might put you on as a secondary CSI."  Xander beamed at his husband, who nodded.  He smiled at the group.  "Also, we've resolved the badge issues.  Since you've technically graduated, you'll have them in name only."

"Thank God," David sighed.  "I don't want to carry one, Mac."

"I understand fully," he agreed.  He smirked.  "You're on as a regular lab tech, that makes you basically an officer for life, David."  That got a smile and a nod.

"Hold on, Xander got his gold shield for stupid heroics," Ray offered. "Nearly lost it two days later too.  Shortest time in history."

Mac smiled.  "That's fine.  We heard.  I bragged and shoved it in their faces for you guys."  He pulled open a drawer, handing out badges and ID cards.  "Xander, I want your promise.  You're a lab tech, right?"  He nodded.  "You're not going to pull some Super Xander stuff?"

"Not unless I have to."  He gave him a small grin.  "I will stop it if I see it."

"That's fine.  I can agree with that.  Anytime you have to do something like that, you call me right after you call David.  Got me here?"

David snorted.  "Please enforce him calling me at all."  He looked at his mate.  "The first time you get caught in a holdup, I'm spanking you."  Xander blushed.

"Does the hat throw at the airport count?" Danny asked from the back wall.  "Nice by the way.  He's learned well from the Mounties."

"Xander!" Dawn complained.

"Sorry!  A transit cop was yelling 'stop him'.  At least I didn't tackle him and make him complain about gay boy cooties or anything."

"Point," she agreed, rolling her eyes.  Her daughter laughed.  "Don't worry, we'll let Xander teach you self-defense when you're old enough so you can beat up on all the boys who'll want you, Mandy."  She smiled at her mother, then held her arms out to Greg, who switched the dog with her.  "Hi, Nickie."  She got a bark and the dog settled down in her arms.  "Do you need Xander tonight or more paperwork?"

"Nope, as long as they've got those, we've got everything else done.  We did their pictures when we came out for orientation and the weekend off.  Everything's set for them.  Xander, I will require you to carry a gun, even though I want you to be a lab tech.  Anytime you're around I want it on you."  Xander nodded that was fine and patted his.  "That's fine. I can accept you having one of your own."

"One?" David moaned.  "Only one?"

"Only one," Don agreed. "Unless he carries a holdback."

David snickered. "You should learn this now.  Xander jumps in."  Mac nodded at that, he'd seen him doing it in the past. "Please pat my mate down, just in case?"

"He only had the one gun today, Dave," Ray offered.  "Plus a pocketknife."

David gaped at his mate.  "You're practically unarmed.  I'm impressed and proud.  I'll cook tonight."  Xander beamed and bounced on his heels.  "Good boy.  Settle down before your dog gets a bad idea."  Sarah barked at him.  "Yes, you."  He looked down at her. "What?"  She barked again.  "Okay.  Dawn, can you take the furry children outside?"

"Sure."  She walked off. "Come on, Sarah.  Let's find a corner."  The dog trotted after her.

Xander looked at Don.  "I'm really sorry if I have to jump in, in advance."

Mac nodded.  "Try to keep it down, Xander.  Also, if you go clubbing and that stuff happens, you report it to me, and I've got the forms to fill out since it still happens to Stella and Danny now and then."  Xander blushed and nodded.  "Good boy.  Now, you guys were all night shift before.  How about swing here?  That way you're working with most of us and we can move a few of the more daytime cranky people back to night shift.  They've asked to be moved. That leaves our swing open almost completely."  David smiled and nodded.  "That's one to nine, guys.  Are you sure?"  They all nodded.  "Good.  I was hoping you'd all agree. Ray, you and Stan will be on the same shift as well but there's a position opening on days next month if one of you wanted to switch down."

"We work well together," Stan assured him. "Did it for years."

"Good.  Any other questions?"

"When are we doing the house warming?" Xander asked his mate.

"Two weeks.  Give me time to unpack and stuff, Xander."

"Honey, the movers did everything but the guns and the swords."  David raised an eyebrow.  "Necessary.  Really."

"Fine. Two weeks so I can rearrange things then."  Xander nodded at that.  "Would that be all right, Mac?"

"Sure.  We'll work out the date later with the schedule.  That's the last thing.  Swing gets Tuesday and Wednesday off.  Any problems?"  No one said anything.  "Last chance?"  No complaints.  "Okay, then we're set.  Go home, come in tomorrow at noon so you can take a tour before you get to work.  David, they've all been warned you're a cranky person and only like Xander."

"I like Stella.  She's not pushy."

"That's fine," Danny agreed with a grin.  "You'll have me in there working with ya most of the time when I'm back.  Trace and fingerprints are my area."  Dave nodded at that.  "We work like Horatio's crew here.  The field techs all have their areas.  Stella and Mac do well in chem."  He looked out.  "Sheldon!"  He came in, smiling at everyone.  "This is the new swing shift.  That's Xander, his guy David.  Ray Vecchio.  Ray Kowalski.  Rennie Turnbull and Benny Frasier, Mounties.  Greg Sanders, who's one'a us.  His girl Dawn's got the dogs outside.  That's Mortty, DNA, and Greg's a former DNA guy too.  Xander's ballistics and trace, some limited field work.  David's trace."

"Hi," he said, waving and smiling.  "I'm Sheldon Hawkes, formerly the shift's ME, now a level one field tech.  Welcome, I look forward to working with you guys.  Oh, our soda machine likes to steal anything not crisp, new, and clean.  I suggest you iron things because if you bring something for the fridge someone occasionally steals it."  That got mass nods.  "I look forward to your first day tomorrow.  Have a nice night and welcome.  Mac, we've got a suspect and they're coming in."

"Gotta go," Don admitted, heading out with Danny.  "No, you drive 'em then come back."

"We can cab," David promised.  "Just drop the bags off."

"Sure.  Thanks."  They headed out to help Sheldon.

Mac smiled at David.  "It's been driving them nuts for a few days."

"I've seen those.  Greg gets even messier hair."

Greg ran a hand through his hair.  "I'm trying for respectable."

"Go back to what you had before," Xander sighed.  "Please, Greg?"

"Sure, Xander."  He grinned at him.  "Think I could make her do mine?"

"Yeah, and she's gotta do mine again soon too."  He shrugged and looked at Mac.  "Want me to show you that now before we disappear to christen various houses and find Ray a woman his mother would approve of?"

"My mother wanted me to meet a nice, soft spoken, steel backboned girl," Ray Vecchio agreed dryly.  "Oh, Maria said she had a lot of fun detonating the landmines in the lawn, Xander.  The kids all clapped."  David moaned and pinched his husband on the arm. "She said the static thingy made her pause for a few minutes but then her daughter figured it out?"

"She'll be a brilliant little girl and follow in my slightly warped footsteps," Xander agreed happily.  "I'm already corrupting her to the fun that is being a female Xander and a future ballistics tech."

"Uh-huh.  Make sure she doesn't get into the sort of trouble you do in the clubs when she starts ta date," Ray ordered.  He shook his head.  "We should probably go settle in and iron stuff for tomorrow.  Thank you, Mac."

"Not a problem. I hate to see good people wasted."  He smiled at the person lurking outside.  "Lindsey, come in."  He waved a hand.  "Most of our new swing shift.  This is Xander, ballistics and trace, his husband David, trace.  Greg, a level one and rarely DNA, Mortty, DNA, and Ray Vecchio and Stan Kowalski, our new detectives."

She smiled and waved.  "Hi, I'm Lindsey Monroe.  I just transferred in myself.  If you need help finding your way around, just ask me."

Xander grinned at her.  "Watch out for the dog, who is a girl even though she's got balls.  Her former mommy was very mean to her.  She's fully lab trained and is a good messenger and scouting dog.  We make sure she's brushed every day."

"Okay," she agreed, nodding at that. "I've heard of you.  You worked in Las Vegas."  He beamed and nodded.  "I know Nick."  She looked at David. "Which makes you Hodges."  He nodded once, smirking at her.  "Cool.  I'll tell him you're out here.  Let me know if you need help finding stuff the first day, guys."  She walked off, going back to work to tell the others about the new techs and warn them about the dog.  Which came off the elevator.  She looked at them.  "Hi.  I know you from Nick's picture.  His livejournal has a picture of him," she said, pointing at the Nick dog.

Dawn smiled and shook her hand.  "Dawn Summers, Greg's girlfriend.  You're right, that's Little Nick and Little Sarah.   Nick's Greg's and Sarah's Xander's.  This is Mandy."

"You're cute," she said, tickling the baby.  She smiled at Dawn.  "I'm Lindsey, I know the bigger Nick."  That got a smile.  "Are you a tech?"


"Let me know where you end up.  I could use some help with my mop."  She pushed the button for the elevator.  "There's a really nice place up the street for lunch breaks with him.  Stella's probably going to show him.  Don knows every hotdog vender within sixteen blocks of here."  Dawn giggled at that.  "Have a nice day, Dawn, and welcome."  She got onto the elevator, watching the dogs watch her as she disappeared.  She could believe what Nick had told her about those dogs.  She did email him then went to gossip.


Out in Vegas, Nick answered his email, smiling.  "We need to send Taylor in New York antacids," he called.  "That's where the horrible crew moved!"

"Why?" Grissom called, walking in to read the message.  "Greg moved too?"

"Greg, Ray, Stan, his mounties, Hodges, Xander, Dawn."  That got a small smirk.  "I don't know why they all moved but I'm sure Taylor will need some antacids soon since he's only casually met Xander in the past at conventions."  He dialed a number and their ballistics tech leaned in.  "They're in New York."

"I knew that.  I already sent their nightshift guy a list of Xander's care and feeding instructions, just in case Hodges decides to let him flounder so he can laugh."  He walked in to read the message.  "They went for theatric?" he asked, cracking a smile.  "Greg and Xander must've planned the move."

"Why did they move?" Grissom asked.

Bobby stared at him.  "You didn't hear?"  Grissom shook his head slowly.  "Ah.  Nick, did you hear about the upgrade situation?"

"I heard from Greg that they were having troubles and had ended up backed up so he was back in the lab for a bit," he offered, shifting to face him better.  "What happened?"

Bobby smirked at them.  "Their Chief of Police sent Xander out with SWAT then called a meeting with the other lab about the necessary upgrades we had to do.  He never told Xander or anyone in their lab.  Their whole lab went down and he blamed Xander for not being omnipotent."  Grissom moaned.  "Exactly.  He was forcing more attention on Xander.  He suspended Xander for throwing a hissy in his office," he said with a soft grin and his accent making it sound nearly indecent.  "He turned on the whole lab so most of the lab moved with Xander and David."  He patted Nick on the back.  "Poor Taylor will have to deal with Xander reestablishing his cred."

"He'll deal with it," Grissom assured him.

Bobby and Nick both looked at them.  "Gris, you know Xander does a lot of work with the gang kids, right?" Nick prompted.  He groaned and walked off shaking his head. He grinned at their ballistics tech.  "We should take up a donation of antacid stuff to send out there, like David did for us when Xander sent us food."

"You know Xander's been using his habitually bad cooking to make sure cops go to the hospital when they need it, right?" he teased.  "He dosed Greg with some fudge the last time."  Nick moaned and held his stomach.  "Exactly."  He patted him again then strolled out humming happily.  The other techs gave him an odd look.  "Xander, David, Greggy, and the rest of that group are in New York!" he announced happily.

"I'll send him aspirin," the Fingerprint tech offered.

"I've already sent out the industrial sized bottle of rolaids," Bobby assured everyone, getting some laughs.  "We should send more and warn our fellow techs about the care and feeding of Xander and Hodges."  That got some mean smirks.  "Now be nice.  We don't want to ruin it for them."

"We'll be nice," Archie, the AV tech, assured him happily.  He grinned at Catherine as she walked in. "Hodges and them are in New York."


"Politics got too heavy and they sabotaged the lab the guys were working in," Bobby said quietly.  She glared and he nodded. "Their Chief of Police, same guy who made them all get badges.  Even Hodges and Mortty."

"I so pity New York.  What're we sending?"

They got together to make a list of what they could send in the 'Xander-warming' basket. After all, if you weren't prepared for the Xander, you could end up with various problems - like headaches and ulcers.


Xander walked in his first day, smiling at his lab.  He hugged the tech in there.  "Hi, I'm a Xander."

"I heard.  I'm Chad."  He looked at him oddly.  "You're our new ballistics tech?"

"Ballistics, trace, and some minor field work."  He beamed at him.  "I'm a good boy but I get bored easily."  The other one laughed at that, clapping him on the back.  "I did my post-grad under Bobby out in Vegas. I subbed in while he had a personal crisis."

"I heard.  I've heard a lot about you.  Including your little clubbing habit.  Every now and then it hits Stella and she mopes and swears for a few minutes."

"You should hear my husband's."  He heard the squeal and grinned.  "That's Mortty.  The new DNA person."

"Well, I'm all but clear so let's go introduce ourselves.  I'm moving to nights so you'll have it all by yourself."  Xander nodded, letting him lead the way down there.  Xander looked around.  "What was the lab in Chicago like?"

"Under the precinct.  Dave's trace lab and mine were right under the upstairs bathrooms too."  That got a horrified look. "Mortty was right across the hall.  We only had a few leaks and David swore at the very slow workmen."

"I'd have sworn a lot about that."  He opened a door.  "This is DNA, trace is upstairs."

Mortty was dancing around and touching everything with a manic grin.  "Xander, come look!  I've got a *big* lab!"

"I can see that."  He came in and hugged her.  "Calm down.  Don't scare people."  She snickered and squeezed him. "Good girl.  Dave's upstairs."

"Poo.  Oooh, hey, did you get the new menu system started?"

"Not yet.  We're going out tonight to start that with Stella's help."  She smiled. "This is Chad."

She walked over to him, head tipped to the side, then she gave him a very careful hug.  "Hi.  Nice to meet you.  You've got a very good aura."  She let him go and went back to rearranging things to suit herself.  "Who else works in here?"

"Um, a few people. Most things are marked."

"I like to keep the cleaning pads on the tables, just in case so they're handy.  We've had trainees who made horrible messes," she told him, setting out what she'd need.  Then she found a plastic carrying basket and filled it, smiling at her neat handiwork. "I can live with that.  Where's Greg?"

"Already out on a call," Xander said dryly, smirking at her.  "He called to say they needed him and he was working with Danny today."  He shrugged.  "He can wander in later."

"Hold on, Sanders?" Chad demanded.  They both nodded, smirking at him.  "Oh, hell, we heard about him.  He's staying in the field?"  They both nodded.  "Why?"

"For the same reason Sheldon probably does," Xander offered.

"Oh, man!  He was like one of the best DNA techs in the country!"  Mortty nodded.  "Wow.  Hold on, you guys had trainees?"  They both nodded.

"I didn't mind," Xander offered.  "I liked getting them off to a good start.  I'm very strict about my trainees.  You guys don't have one?"

"No!  They take classes for that.  Even internships are limited to day shift."

"Well, I don't mind and if I get one I won't make you share."  Xander grinned at him.  "I'm fairly strict in the lab.  I had an actor following me around.  First day he showed up, I made him bathe off the stench of his aftershave because Mortty's trainee was deathly allergic, go shower, and come in wearing clean clothes.  I got yelled at for it, but I'm pretty strict about that stuff."

"Wow."  He waved at Mortty.  "Come down to bother us later if you're not busy."  He walked him back up the halls.  "Mac?"  He looked over and smiled.  "Xander's trained interns."

"Post and pre graduate," Xander agreed.  "About eighteen pre-graduate and two post."  Mac blinked at that.   "I don't mind it if we get an applicant.  I'm pretty tough in my lab but I'm fair about it."

"I'll keep that in mind.  Mortty?"

"She does.  David's picky about his.  They've got to be a savant and deal with him very well.  He's had a few."

"I'll definitely keep that in mind, Xander.  Thank you for offering."  Xander smiled.  "David's lab is about there," he said, pointing at a spot. "Upstairs."

"Cool.  Thank you."  He punched him on the arm and went back to look over his lab again.  He pulled out his ear protectors and safety goggles, then got to work on the open gun.  "Do we do reports?"

"I do short ones."  Xander nodded, going to do the test fire, letting Chad watch him work this one.  He came back out with the test fire and scoped it.  They didn't have a reference sample, it was a found gun.  Then Xander put it into the system with the serial number off the gun.  Chad blinked when he pulled up matches and got to work on the computer, referring back to it.  Then Xander printed off the three pages and stapled them, handing them over.  "Thank you.  That's Stella's."

"Sure."  He bundled everything up properly and sealed the box with the sample inside it, initialing it once it was tape-sealed.  He showed him the cabinets they used and then Xander went to hunt down Stella's inbox.

Chad read over the report on the screen.  It was concise, gave all the pertinent information and other matching case detail.  Including case number and suspect's not entered in the files.  "Wow.  Bobby wasn't lying.  Xander's super efficient and he knows his shit," he said happily.  His lab was going into good hands for the daylight hours.  He nearly clicked his heels.  An older guy came in and looked around.  "You're one of the new ones, so that would make you Hodges?  Since I heard Sanders was younger and out on a case?"

"I am.  My spouse?"

"Finding Stella's inbox.  He just did a report for her."

"Thank you."  He looked around again.  "Tell him he's not allowed to call up every thirty minutes to check on me.  He gets a bit paranoid now and then."

"When you're in deep love that's standard."  He smiled at him.  "I'm Chad. I'm moving to nights."  He walked over to shake his hand. "Mortty's up the hall and he said Greg was out on a case."

"I heard, he woke us up."  He smirked at him.  "There are three rules with Xander around.  You don't feed him chocolate, or he bounces.  Caffeine is okay now, but mass quantities of chocolate is a bad thing.  We've had to chase him around to take chocolate frogs from him because he was gorging on them.  Seriously," he said at the grin.  "A bouncy, hyper Xander is a bad thing on the world.  Secondly, Xander was raised by some very girly girl girlfriends.  He has no concept of why guys like sports.  He watches curling.  He calls football gay sex in teams."  Chad blushed at that.  "Basketball is 'reruns with cheerleaders shaking it like pros begging for money on the street corner'.  Hockey is 'that fun violence game'.  He usually just stares at baseball in a non-understanding way.  He swims, he jogs, and he watches curling, ice skating, and gymnastics.  Third, watch out for the t-shirts.  Some are playful, some are warnings.  If it looks like a warning and he's got a manic grin or he's sulky, pouty, or glaring, it's a warning.  We've had people run at the sight of his t-shirts."

"Okay," Chad agreed.  "I can live with those rules.  Anything else?"

"Don't let him give you the dreaded puppy eyes.  You'll cave.  Even I caved before we got together.  It's a horrible thing to make him pout."  He walked off, going to remind Mac of Xander's t-shirt habit.  "Mac?"  He looked at him. "Did you think to warn the detectives about the t-shirt habit?"

"I did," he agreed.  "Did you tell Chad not to let him have chocolate?  I told Flack and I'm sure Ray'll chase him down soon."

"Probably," he sighed, shaking his head.  "I'm clear until someone brings me something. Back cases or anything?"

"I'll show you where they are," he agreed, leading him back up there.  "You guys can just make piles for us.  Most of us come looking, especially if you're working with Flack, who is a lot like an older, more mentally stable Xander at times.  Especially when he and Danny are in a playful mood."

"I'll remember that."  They shared a look.  "Someone warned Flack about his sports things, right?  Danny said so but I thought I'd make sure."

"Yeah, we did.  There's a lot of rumors about Xander. I'm hoping it's going to be a calm first month.  No sending anyone into the harbor."

David smirked at him. "His parents came in that day."

"His real parents, as Ray put it?"

"He was stolen from the hospital by the Harris'.  His parents are the Stetsons, now in Homeland?"

"Lee and Amanda?  I know 'em," he agreed, smiling. "They're good people."  David nodded, accepting that.  "They're okay?"

"Getting there. It's still really awkward most of the time. She wants to fuss and he's scared of fussing women thanks to Willow and Buffy.  Stella might end up mothering him now and then when he's having a pitiful day but I doubt it."

"I'll keep that in mind too."  He opened a cabinet, pointing at all the samples. "The current backlog of cold cases we've reopened." David nodded, browsing the shelves.  He pointed at one. "Anything with that initial is Danny and he'll pout if you do it on him.  He likes being in here.  That one is Sitra," he offered, pointing at another.  "That one is Burns.  Aiden got burnt out.  You can do anything with her stuff but expect Danny to clam up."

"No I won't.  Dave's more than worthy of working on her stuff," Danny said from the doorway, carrying stuff in.  "It's all good, David.  Just don't work on mine.  Sistra might whine but oh well.  You're higher ranked than she is in the databases."  He smirked at him.  "Greg's got some training to go but he's good.  He's only got some rough edges really."

"He's only been doing this for a little while," Mac reminded him. "He started in the field right before Xander started in Las Vegas.  He only made level one right before he moved to Chicago a few years ago, Danny.  How rough?"

"He still asks to make sure.  He knows his shit and he's probably better than Monroe...."

"Greg doesn't like working cases alone," David told him.  "He likes having the feedback.  He's also a jokester and needs human contact most of the time.  He'll crack some really stupid jokes to see just one person smile."

"So he's like Xander only more scientific?" Danny teased.  David considered it then nodded.  "That's cool with me.  I don't mind working with a partner or without.  If he's more comfy, I'll gladly work with him."  Greg stuck his head in.  "Yes, you, goober."  Greg grinned and came in.  "Xan and Mortty are downstairs."

"I saw.  I stopped in when I heard Ray reminding him not to eat chocolate in the lab."  He grinned at the lab.  "This is nicer than the one in Vegas, Dave."

"It is. It's also not under the bathroom like the one in Chicago.  No chance of leaks or overflows."  Danny shuddered.  "Six different times in the last year.  Last time, I took Xander's bullwhip with me on day three of it not being fixed.  They got the point."

"Yeah, after Xander took it and showed you how to use it," Greg snorted, smirking at him.  "I'm not sure it was you with it once you knew how to use it or him showing such ease with it."  He looked at Mac.  "How many knives did he bring in?"

"Three, a small short katana that I can't remember the proper name of, and his two usual backups, plus his vest and target glasses," David told him.  "Plus his other usual locker stuff.  His regular carry is on his back today."

"Usual?" Danny asked.

"Xander grew up somewhere people died a lot," Greg told him. "Ever hear of Sunnydale?"

"Xander handles those things that go bump that rational people don't like to think about," Mac assured him.  "He, Dawn's sister, and Miss Rosenburg, plus a few others, took down a Special Ops group a few years back.  He's also a tactician."  Danny whistled.  "So, I can and have put him on to qualify any and all techs who have to requalify on the range, Danny.  That includes you, Sheldon, and Stella."

"Yes, Mac."

"Him or me, either one, Danny."

"Yes, Mac," he agreed patiently.  He looked at Dave.  "Do you get nagged?"

"No, I get pouted at.  Mortty nags now and then but it's mostly because she wants to be our surrogate; we're the only way she'll ever have a kid that'll understand her."  Danny blushed at that.  "Her and her sister Abby both."

"I'm having bad baby vampire thoughts," Danny said, shaking his head quickly.

"Exactly and children scare me," David assured him happily.  Greg snickered at that.  "How was Dawn?"

"Good.  She called around to set up some interviews at the local places by the daycare.  She's looking for somewhere kinda trendy instead of a lot of old lady hair.  I gave her the list Danny gave me so she's a happy camper."  He shrugged.  "We brought you much stuff and the clothing will be coming later, Dave."

"I hate you too," he quipped back, coming over to look.  "Ooh, goody.  Sex assault or simple homicide?"

"Simple homicide," Danny offered.  "We only deal in felony cases here."

"Good.  No more child molesting cases," he sighed.  "Or at least less, right?" he asked Mac.  Who nodded. "Thank you."  He opened the first one, getting to work on it.  "Xander's the one who needs the audience," he noted.

"I'm off to check on DNA and wait for your brilliance to report back to me," Greg offered, heading off.

Danny put on his coat. "I told you you'd see me a lot."  He smirked at Mac.  "We got anything for you?"

"Not yet.  Thankfully.  I've got paperwork and a budget meeting later.  If I disappear it's because I got the Borough Chief for real this time."

"Take Xander as your assistant, he seems to be able to scare politicians," David offered.

"That's a mean and cruel thought, David.  Be a bit more nice ta us," Danny teased, smirking at him.  "He can threaten 'em when they come in for a tour again since he don't understand anything we do down here."

"Wonderful.  Neither did Ray but he appreciated us."  He shrugged.  "Mac, standard hours and watch out for Xander casually sliding into overtime.  He's done it before."

"I heard, David.  I've got that covered. Tell me if it happens."  He walked off, going to make sure the others were settled in.  He found Don and Ray comparing basketball injury scars.  He looked at Ray and the smirking, casually leaning back Stan.  "Warn him about any special care and feeding instructions for your kids, Ray."

"Never, and I do mean NEVER, feed Xander chocolate," Ray warned.  "We've had to chase him around the building before to take it away from him."

"He's the only guy I know who could eat a case of chocolate frogs," Stan agreed happily.  "The t-shirts are often a warning.  If he's pouty, sulky, angry, and the t-shirt is a threat, believe it.  If not, he's playful and teasing.  Watch out for the elf ears too."

Don just nodded slowly.  "You're sure he's trained?"

"Xander's a big goofball," Mac assured him.  "If you took someone with my training and Danny's mentality, then turned them twelve, that's Xander."  Don nodded, able to picture that.  "Until he's mad, and then he's worse than I am."  Both Rays nodded at that.

"Xander's best described as the guy who does what's needed.  Oh, if he EVER calls for backup, believe it, no matter how strange it sounds.  Xander NEVER calls until things are done unless it's desperate.  The last time he did it, he had a bio bomb in his basement and was severely radiated by disarming it. The time before that was a SWAT action where half of them came out nearly dead from an explosion and another few were shot.  It was basically two other guys, Xander, and a Feeb named Ford.  If you EVER see Xander in a club and he's not surrounded by one of his crew, which is us, you do not leave him alone. People like to take the Xander, or tip the boy on occasion.  He's made more than enough to pay off his first mortgage within a year and a half."

"That stuff that happened to Stella," Don said, sitting up.  "He's like that?"

"He's the cause of it," Mac assured him.  "It rubbed off on her while they were dancing.  If he's alone out at the club, he's being naughty or escaping a bad night.  Bring him to David.  David's got his leash, it's very pretty and leather from what I hear."

Stan snickered, shaking his head. "David don't play that way," he promised.  "The only leash in that 'ship is Sarah's."  That got another nod from Don.  "It's all right.  Just remember those things.  Watch out for the elf ears and don't ever let the boy cook."

"The boy sent four cops to the hospital with literally explosive diarrhea thanks to hamburger helper and a bread he made from a mix," Ray told him.  "We've forbidden him to cook, under penalty of being arrested.  Anytime you order from anywhere for the next few weeks, gather menus for them.  David can cook pretty well."

"All the delivery places knew Xander on sight, by voice over the phone, and knew what he meant when he said the usual," Stan told him.  "I still like the horse cop he poisoned with the fudge," he told Ray. "I have no idea how he got the runs that bad either."

"That was microwave fudge," Ray told him.  Don moaned.  "Never, ever let Xander in a kitchen.  He can do chemistry experiments and things, but not cook.  Ever.  My mother even tried and it didn't work.  The boy needs help but no one's gonna be able ta do it.  Ever."

"I'll remember that," Don said weakly.

"Also, he'll try to feed you a piece of fudge or something he made if you don't go to the hospital and he thinks ya need ta go," Stan offered with a grin.  "He poisoned Greg one day when he had been kidnaped and refused ta go."

Don nodded faster this time, grinning a bit.  He could deal with strange stuff like that. "Sure.  I'll keep that in mind.  What sort of t-shirts?"

"Oh, he's got world ending ones.  He's got funny ones.  He's got a whole closet full of t- shirts that make people take notice," Ray assured him. "Some of his own making.  Like his final's shirt.  Most of the threatening ones are along the lines of 'I'll shoot you if you don't leave me alone'.  The funnier ones have things like 'sexiest elf since Legolas', 'world's hottest gun boy', and 'I make the world go round, I am gravity and I am heavy'."  Don shook his head but he was smiling.  "Just remember, if something happens around Xander, he'll stop it.  Fast.  No matter what it is.  We had gangs that ran from Xander in Chicago."

"He made a few Crypts cry," Stan offered.  "Plus one of the Latin gang guys and he bonded over Mexican food and talking about LA."  He looked at Ray.  "I wonder if he told them he was moving. If so, Welsh has got to be spitting about the increase of crime in our precinct."

Ray smirked.  "Brass warned Welsh not to lose Xander or let him get that upset.  He's paying for it."  He shrugged. "Works for me, Ma's still protected and so's Maria and Frannie."   Ray watched Lindsey walk past them, smiling when she did.  "Hey, got something for us?"

"Not yet.  Danny had a call but they called one of the other guys for it.  You're up next and we work singly," she offered with a grin.

"Monroe, he's got a very Italian mother who'd make you cook," Don warned.

Ray snorted.  "Fat lot you know.  There for a bit she hinted about me dating Stan since he had both Mounties and Benny worked with me for years.  She was kinda glad when I disputed the idea, but she pouted.  A lot.  Everyone likes Benny and his wolf.  Oh, the wolf steals food," he announced.  "He works with Harris' dog Sarah to steal food.  They can open drawers and only like sweet stuff.  Fair warning.  She responds to water, the wolf will beg and pout."

Mac shook his head, walking off.  "I remember them mugging a delivery guy at the last convention."

Lindsey frowned at him.  "The wolf?"

"Benny's wolf, Diefenbaker.  He had ta come specially because Benny admitted he's half wolf.  He's sensitive about that by the way and supposedly deaf."

"Yeah," Stan snorted.  "Conveniently.  Mention food, he perks right up."  She smiled at that, walking off shaking her head.  "She'll learn."

Don looked at them.  "Please tell me you're kidding?"  They shook their heads. Stan pointed down so he looked at the dog under his desk, who was giving his tie sorrowful looks.  He looked and dusted off the powdered sugar.  "All donuts around here disappear within minutes, dog.  Work faster."  She hopped up into his lap, sniffing his mouth, then jumped down and hopped into Stan's lap, groaning as she stretched out.

"Don't get too comfy, dog-in-law.  I'm up for next case."  She gave him a long stare. "Tough."  The dog put her head back down again, giving him a quiet 'woof'.  "Thank you."  He petted her gently. "Since I'm dating Benny and his wolf knocked her up, she's like an in-law at times.  The puppies went to a lot of labs."  Ray nodded at that.

Don burst out in giggles. "Now I know you're pulling my leg."  They shook their heads and he saw Mac shaking his.  "Please tell me you're kidding?"

"Nope, sorry," Ray said with a smirk.  "Xander brings it with him, Don.  Then again, David tries ta get him ta calm down most of the time.  You have a problem with Xander pouting and stuff, or goofing off, you bring him ta David.  That's a hard and fast rule.  If he's eating too much chocolate, hand him over in handcuffs if you must, but David handles all Xander problems like that and tries to keep the t-shirts down to a minimum."

"As long as he's not out in public," Mac promised.  "He can wear one under his lab coat."  He came back and looked at the dog.  "Lunch isn't for another two hours, Sarah.  Go lay down in ballistics.  Stay out of trace and DNA.  We don't have good filters."

"They brush him every day," Ray assured them.

"I know, but you guys had better air filters than we do and the nightshift Trace and DNA people are allergic."  He shrugged and Sarah followed him back down, letting him show her where the daddy was.  "You stay in here, my office, or in reception, Sarah."  Xander looked at him.  "We've got allergic techs on night shift in Trace and DNA."

"That's fine."  He looked down at her.  "People will sneeze, like that one trainee did."  Sarah sneezed herself and found a comfy spot to wait.  "Good girl, Sarah."  He pulled out a piece of jerky and tossed it over, making her growl and snap it up.  "I'll bring in your basket tomorrow."  She settled down and chewed.  She liked Benny's jerky. He grinned at Mac.  "Have they finished warning?"

"Don's shocked and thinking they're joking.  No chocolate binges, Xander.  Or I will handcuff you in the locker room."  He walked off, going to deal with some more paperwork.  "T-shirts are fine under your lab coat," he called as he walked off. "As long as it can be covered.  No elf ears unless they can be hidden if someone shows up."

"Yes, Mac."  He cackled and Chad gave him a horrified look as Xander took off his overshirt and put back on his labcoat.  Chad read the saying about Chinese dogs being very Ying Dogs and shook his head.  He didn't get it but he was sure Xander was going to be fun to work with.  Xander took off his coat and turned to show the back, making him burst out laughing since it said human dogs were yang dogs, that's why they kept ying dogs as pets. Then the labcoat got put back on.  "It's my puppy adoption shirt."  He grinned and got back to work.  He scrawled the name across the top of the report he was printing off then stapled it and put it in the pile.

"Yo, got anything for me?" Don yelled form the hallway.

"Sure, Don, but my husband might object," Xander called.  "But if all you want is a gun report I've got that for you."  Don smirked at him as he leaned in the doorway.  He turned and handed it over with a smirk.  "Of course, if you get David to agree, I give *fantastic* backrubs."

"I'll keep that in mind for when I cramp."  He looked it over.  "This is nice.  Compact, referenced.  Thank you.  I like this style."  He walked off glancing it over.  Pertinent, laid out well, and referenced, he loved this.  He headed to DNA.  "Mortty, do I have anything from you?"

"Not yet, baby, but if you ask nicely I'm a wonderful cook and I like bubble baths."  He blushed at that and she cackled. "Sorry, I have to try each new one.  It's how I tell which ones I can play with."  She handed over a stack of reports.  "In Xander format even.  He taught me his and I liked it more, along with necessary result sheets.  Oh, have you seen Sheldon?  I've got some for him too."

"He's up the hall working on something. I can deliver. It's among my many talents."  He took them and walked them up there.  His were in more technical speak, so she didn't quite dumb it down but she didn't expect him to do the jargon intensive thing, which was nice.  Some of the detectives were less than smart but it was good for those who had a clue too.  "Sheldon."  He looked over.  "From Mortty."

He accepted the small stack, looking through them.  "Wow.  Technical jargon!" he said happily.   He looked at the other ones, whistling.  "I like that format.  It's good for those who don't have a clue or who do."  He went back to reading his.  It was a good read, and very well referenced, plus had results sheets. He could get to like working with these techs.  "Have we gotten anything from David yet?"

"He writes the same way," Mortty said as she walked in another sheet and poked Don.  "I misplaced a sheet on that one, I was printing it, studly."  She smiled at Sheldon. "I thought I could do techie with you if you don't mind?"

"Not at all, I enjoy it," he assured her.  "Hammerback will too."

"Cool.  Is he the older guy in the morgue?"  He nodded. "I met him earlier when I was taking the tour.  He seems really nice."  She skipped back to her lab, her bells on her collar jingling.

Sheldon smiled.  "They were good choices."

"Yeah, but I was warned to not feed Xander chocolate, take it away from him if he's eating a lot, hand him to David if he's pouting, and to watch out for some of the t-shirts, some are warnings."

"Okay, good to know," he agreed.  Mortty squealed, then something crashed.  They headed back and found her backed against the wall with someone in there with a knife in her face.  Xander slid past them and cocked his gun against the guy's skull.

"Mine," Xander hissed in his ear.  "No one touches what's mine.  Or else I get mean and evil and I will ruin your life forever and ever."  The guy whimpered and dropped his knife.  "Thank you."  He pulled out his cuffs and cuffed him, then gave him a swat across the back of the head.  "Stupid, fucking, moron signal tower receiver!"  He shoved him at Don and got back to work.  "I hate idiots.  Stupid people do vex me."

"They also said Xander likes to handle things," Don told Sheldon.

Mortty snorted and walked around the broken glass.  "I've seen him make gang kids cry and beg for mercy," she said dryly, looking at them.  "I've seen Chicago's Godfather leave him alone after trying him a few times.  The time he tried to bomb Xander's house, he learned.  Xander went and dismantled three of his relative's businesses and waved each time he arrested them."  She found the broom and the spill powder, cleaning up the mess. "Sheldon, where can I find the replacements?  That's the equalizing solution.  Also, can you pop open the bottle of handi-wipes for me?  It's still sealed."

"Sure."  He put the reports down and opened them for her while she cleaned up.  "How did he get in here?" he asked once Don had drug him off.

"I have no clue, but I'm Xander's bitch."  They shared a look and she grinned.  "Hell, I've volunteered to give him kids some year.  Xander's very protective of what's his.  Someone takes me, Greg, or Dawn, they're gonna be sorry.  Someone takes David again, Ray will have to talk Xander out of killing them.  Fair warning, honey."  She got back to work, weathering the look when Stella walked in. "Reports over there, post it with your name, beautiful one."

"Did something fall?"

"Only the mental capacity of the guy who came in with the knife."  She grinned at her.  "As I'm a member of Xander's extended family, he learned that no one messes with what's Xander's.  Oh, if David's ever hurt, make him stay with him even when David wakes up and tries to send him off.  That's when Xander will go find the person and try to hurt them."  She smiled sweetly.  "Which was the other reason why the Latin gangs respect Xander and the Godfather in Chicago pisses himself when he sees Xander coming near him."  They shared a look.

Don came back.  "Mac explained it as 'take him, add Danny's mental state and personality, then deage to twelve'."

Mortty considered it, the broom pausing, then nodded.  "Yeah.  A very serious thirteen- year-old at times.  He's already got all he needs to be happy.   No one can bribe Xander with anything to make him turn.  He's got David, a house, his dog, and his job.  That's Xander's life.  Xander will interfere with anything trying to change those.  There's a reason Xander got respect from the Ghost Riders in Chicago.  He helped them broker a deal to end a fight last month."

"So, on top he's a goofy guy like Danny on a happy, playful day, and underneath he's Mac," Stella said.  Mortty nodded, smiling at her.  "Okay."  She got to work helping her clean up.  "What was this?"

"Equalizing solution.  He shoved it over and it rolled off the table."  She shrugged. "If you want my reports in a different format, tell me now.  Most of us adopted the Xander style since it saved on words and the detectives praised it for giving them all they needed at a quick look."

"I like it," Don assured her.

"I can take either," Sheldon promised, smiling at her.

Stella looked at hers, then nodded.  "I like this too.  It's very concise and to the point.  Oooh, cross referencing with case numbers and names.  Some people only use one.  I like this.  Think we can get Mac to make it standard?"

"We'll brag, the others will like it, they'll switch over. That's how most of us converted," Mortty assured her.  She found the dustpan and scooped up the mess of glass and powder. She went back to get more then took some of the handi-wipes to clean the spots on the floor.  She came up and found Mac and Danny in there.  "Idiot with a knife who was bothering what's Xander's."

"Xander told David he had done it," Danny offered. "You okay?"

She snickered.  "Baby, I grew up in New Orleans."  She turned and lifted her shirt to show off the very nice gang tattoo on her back, then put it down and turned back around.  "I don't have a problem with knives.  I'm a very good knife fighter."  She looked at Mac, challenging him to say anything.  "I walked away when it got too hard to stay good more often than not, Abby helped me.  Then I broke their asses and made 'em cry.  Xander gets respect, I get respect since most of my clan are gone. We don't have a problem with little dickless boys with tiny, pointy things.  I was going to kick his ass when Xander came in, that's why I was bracing on the table.  Xander's just very protective of what's his, which includes me and will include you guys some day soon."  She finished on a smile and handed out reports.  "There we go.  Go bask in our brilliance."  She made 'shooing' motions.  "Go, before I must turn on my music and declare this a hot clubbing spot."  Danny grinned as he looked over his report.  "Anyone wants anything different than the Xander style, let me know."

"No, I like it," Danny promised.

Mac nodded at his.  "I could appreciate more like this."  Xander walked in and handed him one, Danny two, Stella one and she got kissed on the cheek and handed the candy bar in his hand.  "Xander?  No assaulting the other techs," Mac said patiently.

"David caught me having my midmorning sugar attack and said I had to give it someone who needed some sweetness.  She was looking pissed."  He shrugged.  "We all know I've got my guy and I enjoy howling in pleasure for him.  I doubt she thought I was offering, Mac."  He walked off whistling.  "Sheldon, I'll have yours within an hour.  I'm still searching for a match."

"Thank you," he called, smiling at Stella.  "Share?"  She broke off a small piece and walked off eating the rest.  "Thank you."


Mac looked at Mortty.  "I want to test your self-defense before you think about doing it yourself."

"Sure, but Gibbs taught Abby and I both.  Plus Lee did when I stayed with them while I was in training in DC for a summer camp and something came for him."

"I know those people," Mac admitted.  "You know Abby?"

"She's my cousin but we were raised as sisters."

"Good."  He smiled at her. "I'll get a report on what he taught you and then test you."  He walked off.  "Xander, I'm testing your hand-to-hand tonight," he called as he walked.  "Should I worry about David's?"

"Someone touches David and they'll be tiny, charcoal like pieces," Xander called back.  "Ray won't stop me next time."

Mac considered that then nodded.  "Good to know."  He went to write Gibbs.  He had worked with him once upon a time when they were both still in uniform.


David tossed over a towel once Xander finished his sparring with Mac.  "You still look very good."

"Yeah, but I was holding back since he's slower," he complained.  Mac glared at him.  "What?  I trained against vampires!"

"Get back here.  Prove it."  Xander sighed but came out and really attacked, going all out.  Mac was blocking mostly but did manage to get behind him.  Xander spun and took out his legs, then got him onto his back, poking him in the chest.  "Weapons fighter?"

"Mostly.  Axes and single edged swords mostly," he agreed happily.

"Wow," Danny said, coming up to the ropes.  "Teach me that."

"Okay.  I taught Turnbull."  He nodded him in so he went over some of what he had done.  Danny wasn't bad, but he was more street brawler than a weapons guy like him.  "Sorry, I'm a weapons person instead of a bare-hand fighter," he said when Danny tagged him with a good punch.

"I'm good at that stuff," Mac offered, coming over to help Danny with what Xander was trying to show him.  Danny nodded and tried it, getting a nod and a smile from them. "Good job."

"Thanks."  He grinned at him.  "How was Mortty's?"

"She's a lot like you," Xander admitted. "She learned how to brawl in the alleys down in her home town.  Her daddy taught her well and her friends helped."  Danny nodded, getting that.  "I've seen Mortty face down some of the most aggressive Latina gang members in Chicago and come out the other side laughing and friends with them.  Never underestimate it.  She just hates to do it.  That's why I took over protective duties.  The same as Greg's a geek, not a fighter."

"It can go hand-in-hand," Danny pointed out dryly.

"No, Greg was a surfer guy," Xander told him.  "Thrill junkie and geeky, not a fighter.  He got cool points for being into heavy metal and skateboards.  He got picked on for being a geek but he managed to move around it.  I was an outcast from the word go."  He shrugged and toweled his neck off.  "I don't want Mortty to have to fight.  That's why I protect her.  Any others I should worry about?"

"Hopefully not," Mac admitted.  "If it comes to a stand situation, you're evacuating.  You're an end game fighter, Xander."  That got a nod.  "Good.  Can you do sniper duty?  They wanted to know."

"I can, but I always go for non-fatal when possible.  I don't like to hurt or kill people.  That's the second reason I'm not in SWAT, beyond my eye it's the reason that kept me from going there."

"Your eye?" Danny asked.

"My left one's glass, Danny."  Danny stared.  He nodded. "Yeah."  He smirked.  "I've been compensating since before I went to college.  Even fighting like that."

"That's tough.  Was your town gang central?"

Xander shook his head.  "You know that nice club down about three from Mortty?"  Danny nodded slowly. "From the age of sixteen until the day I graduated college, I hunted those things.  I'm officially retired and training others."  He walked off, gathering his mate and heading home.

Danny blinked at Mac.  "You knew?"

"I did.  It came out during the convention when I saw him stake something trying to move in on Stella.  I asked."  He looked at him leaning on the ropes of the boxing ring they were using.  "Danny, I need to know if you hear anything about that element moving in on him.  Chicago sent over a 'don't mess with him' order but some will, I'm realistic."

"They won't," he said, shaking his head.  "Too many heard how he reacted this morning.   Plus, it wasn't a 'don't touch' order it was a 'slightly psychotic, but good to us' message.  He stuck up for the kids there when they needed it.  Anytime a gang case got assigned, he went out on it for Ray."  He wiped his face off. "They respect him and know he's got limits."

"Would someone like Sonny respect that?"

"No," Danny admitted. "Then again, Sonny wouldn't get within a foot of Xander without having a gun in his face.  I left him a primer on the people he'll need to watch out for at their place.  By now he's familiarized himself and he'll handle it if it comes near David or Mortty."

"Good thinking.  I hope I'm worrying for nothing but he came from Vegas, where he was mostly quiet and just clubbed, to Chicago, where he broke into Ray's role of badass and proved it.  That's how he got stuck out there."

"He'll be fine.  He went down during lunch ta introduce himself to a few of the local leaders.  The Ghost Riders like him, he'll be fine. He met the local head of the Crypts there since they were meeting for some reason.  Xander and he had a few smiling insults and it was handled, they're at peace.  The Ghost Riders especially sent over news on him."  He rolled his shoulders.  "He solved two of theirs being killed in the streets and one that got killed during a negotiation.  They respect him."  Mac nodded, leaving it there.  He held open the ropes and Danny slid out, heading for the locker room.  "Thanks for the help, Mac."

"That's fine, Danny.  Do you want to requalify with me or him?"

"I'll try him this year," he said with a grin.  "Xander was calling his gun his little twinkie earlier and petting it."  Mac snickered at that.  "David did the same thing and swatted him."  He grinned and packed up for the night, heading home.  He found Xander waiting on him.  "Lose the husband?"

"He's getting menus from the receptionist.  Damned if he wants to cook tonight."  He shrugged.  "Not like I can."  Danny snickered at that. "They warned about that?"  Danny nodded, looking smug.  "Good.  I'll only force you to eat it when you're refusing to go to the hospital and you need to go."  He looked around, nodding at one of the guys across the street, getting a nod back.  "Be right back."  He walked over there, checking the traffic.  "Stewart, man," he said, shaking his hand.  "When did you leave LA?"

"When the shit got too freaky."  He looked him over, then smirked. "You look good."

"Thanks.  My husband keeps me in shape."  Stewart brayed a laugh and he smirked, looking over.  "That's my husband with Flack.  Hey, David?"  He walked him over there.  "David, this is Stewart, my tutor in Chem 3.  Stewart, this is my husband David.  I met him in Vegas during my post-grad internship."

"'Sup, dude."

"Hi," David said quietly.  "Thank you for helping him.  It's too much like cooking for him."

Stewart snickered. "He didn't tell you how he poisoned the whole dorm during a bake sale?"

"Hey, I tried to make brownies," Xander said dryly, staring at him. "I really did try."

"I know you did, Harris.  That's why we love you."  He punched him on the arm.  "Relax, man.  Your creds were established.  If we've got issues with a homicide, we come to you."

Xander nodded.  "I also accept dropped guns.  I can't promise I won't try to find their former owners, but I accept them so they're not on the streets."

"Agreed.  We heard you had that going in Vegas and then Chicago. You're cool with most of us.  Just watch out for some of the more hardcore Family stuff."

Xander snorted. "If Amigo back there hasn't warned someone I'm here, I'm going to fuss and blow up his house this time," he said blandly.

"Oh, he warned.  They think he's a crybaby."

"He was."  He shrugged. "It happens.  I'm hoping to be beneath the radar.  Let that be known but I'm still willing to help, okay?"

"Deal, man."  He punched fists with him.  "Good luck, homie."

"You too.  Live long and prosper."

"Oh, I plan on it.  My MBA does me good."  He strolled off, going back to his car.

David looked at him. "That was Stewart?  The guy who had you hanging with the Crypts in LA?"  Xander nodded, walking him off.  "I thought he'd be taller."

Don relaxed and Danny untensed.  "Did you expect that?"

"No but I heard it was possible," Danny offered quietly.  "I heard he's got a good rep and he's fair. Beats mine."  He walked off, heading for the subway.

"Get in, I'll head your way tonight," Don called.  Danny grinned at him. "I could use dinner anyway. You going out?"

"Nope, I'm dateless and open tonight."

"Cool.  Sports bar?"

"Decent."  He got in and they headed off to enjoy the manly men sports.


Xander accepted the package the receptionist held up the next day, smiling at her. "Thank you."  He took it to the lab, pulling on some gloves to open it.  Then he gathered swabs and got to work finding epithelials and other evidence of the former owner.  That always came before ballistics tests when he got sent an unknown gun. Mac stepped in and closed the door.  "I've been doing this for years, since Vegas," he said quietly.
"I heard.  Grissom told me."  He came over to watch him work.  "Where did that one come from?"  Xander nodded at the envelope.  "Dirty, used twice," he read.  "Passed on, jammed.  Not like they're going to send a good gun."

"This is a trial, Mac."  He capped the last swab and set them aside, looking inside the barrel.  "Yeah, firing pin's bent."  He got a small pair of pliers and unkinked it, then went to test it.  "Firing one."  A shot, then he came back out to register it into the system by serial number, ballistics identification, and pin impression.  He did note on that sheet that it had been bent so he had to manipulate it straight.  He came up with a few matches and smirked, printing them off to put under the gun, taking the swabs down to DNA.  "Mortty, princess, gun drop case."  He handed over the handful of swabs.  "Grip, trigger and guard, plus behind. Hammer, barrel since it looked like some burned skin."  She nodded, getting to work on them. "Thanks.  It had a few uses."

"Great.  Your test case?"  He smirked and nodded. "Who showed up?"

"Stewart, the guy who tutored me in Chem 3."  He walked back there, going to bundle up the gun and reports properly, sticking them out of the way.  "She's got the DNA and she'll work it for me."  He looked at Mac.  "Is this a be careful warning or just making sure I'm not insane?"

"More warning you.  We've got a few gangs outside the normal.  They'll try you."

"I stay under the radar and I'm known to be fair to the kids and help when I can," he reminded him.

"I know.  They'll do it for that reason.  Some of the families have their pocket gangs. They don't like the traditional ones.  We get some violence from that.  We've also had some threats from that."

"They can't and won't touch me, Mac.  If they try, there's nothing they can bribe me with.  If they try to blackmail me or take David, I'm going to expose them and whatever it is.  My life's pretty open anyway.  If they try to kidnap David they're going to be sorry but I'll handle it within the system."  Mac nodded at that.  "I usually get six, seven of these a month.  I usually register, see if anyone else needs them, then put them in the unknown locker."

"That's fine. I like that protocol.  It's good that they trust you instead of making you pay for them.  Less guns on the street for others.  Plus I'm sure you've caught them."

Xander smirked.  "Oh, yeah.  And then they usually give up someone they got it from... and up the line.  I even had a few kids who wanted so bad to establish a good reputation that they sent their just used ones to me."  He grinned sweetly as Mortty came in.  "Already?"

"Yours from last night. I'm running the new ones off to the side."  She kissed him on the cheek. "Pizza for lunch?"

"Okay.  See from where, we'll split one."

She smiled and nodded, going back to her lab.  She smiled at Stella when she came in with samples for her.  "Oooh, goodie."  She handed her a plastic tray.  Stella gave her an odd look.  "Put them in there, give me a list of what you need, and if you know what it is it's all good, and I'll get it next.  I'm a first-come-first-served unless it's degrading quickly or it's a child rape case."

"No, it's a homicide," she admitted.  "What're you doing already?  You just got here."

"Xander's well known to be fair among a good few of the street gangs and he's promised, always has, to take in any unwanted or about to be tossed guns.  He blatantly states he'll be trying to find the old owners, but he'd rather have them destroyed than see them get passed on for another go-round.  They sent him their trial one today.  Well loved by the stack of reports he had.  He took epithelial samples and I'm running those since they came in first."

"Okay."  She smiled at him.  "I know we've got a problem with those so it makes sense.  He's got street cred?"

"Oh, yeah," she said dryly.  "More than I do.  He's known to fly under the radar and keep his head down, but he's known to be fair and helpful if you need it.  He's the guy the Ghost Riders went to when their people died in Chicago.  His former tutor for Chem 3 was a Crypt and made him hang with them in LA.  He showed up last night, he's here in town working somewhere with his MBA."  Stella just blinked at that.  "They like Xander.  He's fair.  He's not pushy.  He understands and tries to when he can't immediately understand. He doesn't try to imitate or ingratiate himself.  He's built up a pretty fair rep for playing fair and honest, but if you come to him he'll help you if he can.  Xander is ever a knight in slightly tarnished armor.  He doesn't take care of it at all.  Way too many sodas corrodes you know."  She turned to get back to her samples.

Stella smiled.  "I'm going to like having you guys here.  You're slightly insane and blunt.  You admit it when things happen around you."

"Yeah, scared the shit outta us," Don said from behind her.  "You knew Stewart?"

"Heard of him.  David asked one day over lunch and Xander told him."  She shrugged and got back to work, smiling and happy.  "Do we have music rules?  I'm having a hip shaking day."

"Quietly, close the door otherwise," Stella told her. She smiled and took the vial she was shaking over to turn on her small stereo, then walked over to haul Don in by his hand and close the door before the noise started.  Stella smiled at her.  "You guys are kinda fun to work with."

"So what's that story from the guy last night?" Don asked.

"He tutored Xander in two Chem classes, especially through Chem 3 when he nearly died from being stabbed.  Stewart made him hang with his buddies in the Crypts in their territory to get Xander used to dealing with normal people he hadn't seen before.  Apparently Sunnydale wasn't very diverse.  David reminded him he told Warrick his school had had a few Asian students but nothing more racially diverse.  Stewart got him thinking outside the prior boundaries.  He also got him to see the normal people weren't all dangerous, because by that time Xander was supposedly one uptight person who thought everyone was a threat."

"Moody," Don muttered.

She smirked at him and nodded.  "Exactly, just like Mad Eye."  She grinned at him.  "Which actually kinda fits since his left one is glass."  Don looked up, startled at that.  "Yeah.  He compensates really well.  He's had it since Sunnydale fell in, fought through college with it that way, then retired the day he graduated to become a normal human being and not Super Hunter Xander."  She shrugged.  "By the way, thank you guys for putting me near the vampire bar.  They're so cute when they growl at me.  I've got to remember to get Xander to make more holy water pepper spray."  She got back to work, running the next sample while the first one ran in the CODIS DNA database.  She looked at them when they continued to stare.  "What?"

"Xander can make pepper spray?" Don asked.

"Oh, yeah, he does it really well too but mine's kinda old and wearing out.  I usually let him replace the canister once every four months and it's been six."  They both continued to stare.  "What?  At their house in Chicago Xander had a landmine system for the lawn.  Low powered and barely enough to move the dirt after the one nearly went off at full strength, but landmines mixed with some really loud alarms.  Plus he had the flamethrower over the door and a static discharge plate under the front mat for those who woke him up when he just got home, like the Mormon seemed to like to.  After the mild zing the second time they decided to leave them alone.  The guy who came after him for daring to bust his nads on a case, the guy who sent the letter bomb and the letter explaining the letter bomb, got into the landmine system and he whimpered, at least until he started complaining that he had been brought down by a gay man.  I'm wondering if he bragged about it in prison," she said thoughtfully, looking toward ballistics.

"I know Xander likes to taunt some of them about turning gay like him after prison."  Don snickered at that and Stella moaned.  "He so does," she assured them with a bright and happy grin. "The day his parents came in he did it and swore at them.  Oh, Xander needs to orient to know where the moron signal tower in town is.  Where's the local population of stupid people?"  They both pointed uptown.  "Okay, I'll tell him.  That way he can point that way when he's taunting someone about being a moron who sucked in too much of the signal tower's feed.  And in occasional cases took it up the butt from the tower."  Stella giggled at that one.  "You've heard that one before I take it."

"Oh, yeah.  Last convention he had a guy who he told that to."  She looked at Don.  "If you hear someone asking what a moron signal tower is, they've just had a run-in with Xander.  One of the rookies came in muttering about it.  Apparently he tried to stop him even though he had on his ID and badge."

"Crap," Don muttered.  "Hazing the rookie?" he asked hopefully.  She nodded.  "He okay?"

"Pouting.  He tried it with me earlier, I kissed him on the cheek and told him to let me know when the penis enlargement worked so he had a real set."  Mortty grinned at his giggling.  "He wasn't that heartened by it.  He tried Greg yesterday and Greg just gave him the 'Ray' stare.  He's learned it very well."  Stella walked off howling in laughter.  "It'll be okay, Don.  You get used to Xander very quickly and then you realize you don't know how you got along without Xander before.  Oh, and someone told you he worked construction before, right?"  He nodded.  "That's cool.  SWAT loved him for those assaults when they needed advice.  Especially when planting the explosives and not needing to collapse the building."

Xander walked in and patted her down, finding his keys.  "Need in the special bag, Mac wants me out with Lindsey."

"Um, she's real serious in the field," Don offered.

"Good, he was looking for you too."  He walked off, heading for the locker room.  He smiled at Lindsey. "Let me get my vest on."

"You wear a vest?"

"Always.  I'm like that."  He shrugged out of his shirt then into an undershirt, his vest, then his t-shirt again.  He left it loose this time, then pulled on his new CSI jacket Mac had handed out during orientation.  "This is really heavy."

"We don't worry about it except at night or the winter."

"Cool."  He looked at his shirt, then took it off and put on his new NYPD t-shirt instead, the one with his name on it.  "That should ease some problems."  He checked his boots, then his boot knife, his gun, his backup, his sunglasses, his case from the bottom of his locker, which got checked.  "I need to get some gloves."  He looked over his locker, then locked it and headed out to refill the necessary thing and grab a few more of the larger bags.  He met her outside, sucking on a lollipop.  "Sorry, I'll need my midmorning sugar rush by the time I'm done."

"Okay.  No camera?"

"I don't take good pictures so I'll let you do that.  I've got a minor in trace so I usually take that first.  Besides, the camera's being sent back since it was broken."  He waved at the cars.  "Your car, my car, or official car?"

"Your car," she decided, heading over to it.  He got in to drive and she pulled out the sheet the receptionist had sent her.  "Okay, we're heading out toward the park."

"Cool.  I drove out that way last night."  He visually checked their cases and backed out, heading that way.


Lindsey leaned in Mac's office.  "We're back. He said it was a sword by the angle of the incoming cut and it was done from behind.  I don't know how he knows, but he said so and Hammerback smiled at him for it."  Mac smiled and nodded.  She came in.  "Is something wrong with his health?"

"No, he's a sugar junkie."

"Then why did he have to check in with Hodges?"

"David is his husband and people like to try themselves against Xander."  He put down his pen to look at her.  "In Chicago, there were three badasses in their part of town.  Stan, Ray, and Xander.  Those three pretty much scared most criminals, Lindsey.  That's what they did there, here they're trying to be a bit more under the radar."

"That explains why he wore a vest."

"No, that would be David.  David said so," he said blandly.  "David is the leader in their relationship and Xander is the protector.  How did he do on the scene today?  Horatio said he did very well when he managed to catch him working one."

"He did good.  Got right down into it but let me take the pictures.  He said his was being fixed?"

"He's got his own full field kit," Mac agreed, smiling slightly.  Xander's field kit included some hunting supplies and extra clips too but he'd let the others discover that on their own.  "Any problems working with him?"

"No, he knew his stuff.  Why isn't he listed on the field tech list?"

"He doesn't want to be a field tech," Mac said patiently.  "He wants to be a ballistic tech but he had to do field work as a secondary minor."

"Oh."  She nodded a bit, accepting that.  "So what's wrong with him?"  Mac arched an eyebrow up.  "Everyone's real hesitant around him."

He smiled.  "Xander's one of those rare creatures, a nice guy who can kill," Mac offered.  "His early life was spent in a town that had a very high death rate and they've had to work with him in the past to solve some of it.  In college, some of his tutors took him to meet their gang contacts, so he gets respect from them. From what I hear, he relaxed around the Crypts because they were less scary and intense than some of the other people he knew."  She shivered at that. "So yes, Xander is a weapons's person.  He's a very good fighter as well.  He's also very protective of what's his.  A few people over the years have learned not to try for what was his.  As I've heard it, he's made some gang kids cry in the past.  It wouldn't really surprise me.  People who know Xander end up being pretty loyal if they're in his 'family' group.  He's also got this nasty habit of mining his house with weapons just in case an attack happens."  He smiled reassuringly at her.  "Xander is a big geek with a weapon's collection.  If he's having a bad day, everyone knows so don't worry about it snapping out on others."

"Okay.  I knew about the weapons, I saw him arming up to go on the case.  I didn't think Chicago was that dangerous."

"It's not but David's a bit paranoid about Xander's health since he's been hurt in the past."

"Mac, he put on two extra guns, a boot knife, a vest, and then his NYPD t-shirt."

Mac nodded.  "That's about how it usually happens, even when he was back in Vegas.  Xander is very prepared for something to happen.  Which is a good thing.  We've had techs shot and other things."

"We have," she agreed, eyes a bit wide. "It's not the norm though."

Greg tapped on the door and walked in.  "No, but Xander will always be ready to face someone down.  He had to hunt and protect for way too long to ever fully retire.  Think of him like a very strong veteran just back from the war.  Because it's always that way in the field.  I love working with Xander in the field. I know I can get lost in the evidence because he'll have my back."  Mac nodded.  "Make sure his camera always has the auto-focus on.  He's got depth perception problems," Greg told them.  "His is broken, that's why it's at the shop."

"I'll remember that.  Head injury?" she asked him.

"He's had quite a few, but no."  She nodded and walked off.  "I like working with Xander, he's a good guy in the field, but he'll crack a joke now and then."

"That's fine, as long as it's not loud."

"The last time he cracked one, even the patrol guys laughed.  How are we handling any press issues?  Xander will run.  He nearly quit over it."

"I got his full file, Greg," he promised.  "I shield you guys.  It'll be fine."  Greg nodded.  "Ease that fear?"  Greg nodded again. "Good, tell David.  Anything on your case?"

"Yes, I do," he said dryly, walking in the reports.  Mac looked and smirked.  "Not like I'm wanting to question this guy," he said quietly.  "I'd hate to be branded that way."

"I know. That's why we've got IAB."  He called over there.  "As much as I hate you, we've got one for you."  He hung up.  "Make sure Danny, Don, and Xander all know IAB is coming," he said quietly.  Greg nodded, leaving that file there.  Mac looked it over, nodding at the well laid out evidence.  Greg had made sure everything was covered.  Danny's name was on some tests but nothing else.  It was a good job.  Their IAB tormentor, Chief Hillborne, walked in already glaring.  "Here."  He handed it over. "It's a DNA match.  My new tech didn't want involved or to seem like it was going to be an issue."

"I can understand that."  He looked it over, smirking a bit.  "Sanders.  Not Harris?"

"Xander is mostly a ballistics tech," he said firmly.

"Really?  I heard you hired another gang member."

"She left it a long time ago and her home gang is mostly dead and the rest are in New Orleans."  Hillborne gave him a dirty look.  "They are.  I knew that about Mortty."

"Harris," he sneered.

"Isn't, he's respected by them.  He had a Blood tutoring him in Economics one year and a Crypt in Chem.  Xander's always played fair with them and he's got a good reputation that got passed on.  His main problem will be one of the families wanting him out of the way, at which time he'll call me and we'll handle it.  Or the aftermath if they try to hit him."

"I see."  He closed the folder, looking at him. "You can't tell me that kid isn't connected or has military service."

"Actually he came from a very bad town for homicides and he had to help protect some people," Xander said from behind him, making him turn and glare at him.  "I hate it when people talk behind my back.  You have concerns, you bring them to me.  I'm a big boy, I can make fun of you myself if you try shit with me."  He pulled off his shirt then his vest and undershirt.  "See a tattoo or evidence that I had one lasered off?"  Hillborne looked, then shook his head.  Xander put back on his t-shirt, putting the other two over his arm.  "That's because there isn't one.  Unfortunately I lived in a very dangerous town.  Sunnydale used to have a thirty percent homicide rate.  Between that and my parents, the ones who raised me, being shitbags, I've had to learn.  For your information, I'm a crack shot and I'm a weapon's person.  I'm also the sort who'll do what's necessary.  I'm surprised you haven't gotten the IAB file from Chicago and Vegas yet.  It's amusing, mostly about my clubbing issues."  He smirked.

"And the three shooting reviews I had in Chicago, plus how I had a supe who went demented in Vegas and tried to set me up.  Read, then come ask.  I do accept questions from the reverent and respectful worshipers to my name."  He looked at Mac.  "Thick, heavy sword.  Metal analysis is being done but I have the feeling it's a ren-fair or a Highlander remake."  Mac nodded at that.  "The metal seemed thin to me, not like it was folded.  I'm not sure why yet but like I said it's being run by David.  ID said...." he said, pulling the file out of his back waistband and flipping it open.  "David Ocha.  35.  His wallet had a work pass for a computer company," he said, walking it over.

"I've got a call into them since they're out on lunch at the moment.  I'm expecting at least a sheet faxed from personnel and the receptionist gave me the fax number.  The person I talked to said he was a programmer and he wasn't well liked, but he didn't hang with anyone.  By the description he sounded like David on a moody day.  I doubt this is related to work since he was wearing a kilt."  Mac smiled a bit at that.  "He was."  He shrugged.  "Another good reason to think this was ren-fair or a Highlander remake sword.  Not that some of them are bad.  They're nice swords.  Speaking of, if it's a nice sword and it goes to trial, can we buy it after the trial's done?  David's forbidding me to buy from the catalog directly," he said with an impish grin.  "Something about my office not having any more  room on the walls."

"You like swords?" Hillborne asked.

Xander looked at him.  "Of course I do. I'm a weapon's guy.  I've got swords and battle axes.  I prefer a single bladed one for size, but that's just me.  My axe is double headed."  He got back to the case review.  "Also, his kilt wasn't tied properly. I'm not sure if he was redressed or not.  I'm pretty certain he tied it backwards.  Then again, it could be him doing it or my online hunt could be wrong."  He looked at him. "David shooed me out of the lab or I'd be running the trace myself."

"No, that's okay.  Finish this one and then work on the ballistics backlog while you're waiting."

"Yes, Mac."  He headed off. "Heading there now."

"That's fine," he called.  He looked at Hillborne.  "Still think he's a gang member?" he asked blandly.

"No, but I'm wondering how he passed a psych test."

"Easy, it's not his problem."

"With those scars...."

Mac got up and closed the door, looking at him. "Someone tortured Xander a few times and the people who raised him were drunks," he said quietly.  "I'm not surprised at any of those, Hillborne.  I'd be more surprised if I didn't see any.  Xander didn't have a good early adulthood time.  He protected a lot of people and it was like homegrown combat.  He's a veteran.  Now, all you need to worry about is if Xander has to pull he'll go for a wounding shot, he's good enough to pull it off, and his clubbing issue.  It really is funny how he gets sent stuff that way.  Anything else or can you get to work?"  Hillborne walked off, silently thinking.  He sat down and shook his head, getting back to his own work.


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