It only took six days for a Xander-ish thing to happen.  He, Don, Danny, and David were outside on the front stoop taking a break in the sunshine, Xander having lunch.  Someone screeched up and Xander pulled on instinct, getting the person as they started to shoot.  "Mother fucker," he muttered, blowing a tire as it turned, making it flip.  He looked at the others.  "David?"

"I'm fine.  I ducked.  Danny, Don?"

"Good," they assured him, coming out of their areas.

"You stood in the open?" Don demanded.

"Not like I could've made it to safety," Xander countered, letting the patrol officers lead the way over to the car.  He wasn't wearing his vest.  "They alive?" he called.

"Yes, sir, one is."

"Damn it," Xander sighed.

"Looked like it was the crash, sir," one of them reported, then looked at him. "Aren't you the ballistics tech?"  He nodded.  "You pulled?"

"Of course I did," he said, glaring at him.  "Are they clear?"  They got nods so he got down to look at them.  "We're going to need a collar for this one and probably Rescue, guys, he's upside down.  It'll hurt him worse, if not kill him, to remove him."

"On its way, sir."


"Xander then."  He looked at the detective, who shrugged.

"Yes, I'm qualified to make this call," he noted without having to look "David?"  He held up his gun and David took it.  "Thanks.  I know I hit the tire."  He checked the driver, then removed his gun out to beside the car.  "I don't care if he's dead," he noted.  Paramedics came up.  "Guys, his pulse is thready and he's breathing hard.  It flipped as it turned."  That got a nod and they came over.  "Okay, people. Let's do the tape and stuff," he demanded, waving a hand.  They ran off to get the necessary stuff.  David handed him his case.  "Thank you , dear."  He stole a quick kiss.  "Save the rest of my lunch if possible.  I'll eat it later during my interview."  He got down to work, taking the dead guy's fingerprints.  "Get me a camera quick?" he demanded.  Don handed one over.  "Thanks."  He knelt down to take pictures.  "Guys, two shots please?"  They moved out of frame, letting him have them, then came back to get back to work.  "Thanks.  Which hospital?"

"St. Vincent's is closer.  What happened?"

"Drive-by," Danny called.  "Xander popped the back tire as it turned."

"Nice shot," one paramedic said, looking at him. "You're a CSI?"

"Harris," he said, waving with a small grin.  "I'm not usually in the field.  I'm the ballistics tech and part-time field.  I've got some basic field medicine training."

"Okay."  They got their patient ready while Xander continued to work the scene, then they all had to get out of the way of Rescue so they could get the guy out.  Xander looked at Danny.  "There's an envelope lodged underneath his leg.  I'll get it once we've got someone to move the body."

"We usually don't have the ME come out."

"That's fine, but I'm still not carting the body," Xander said dryly, giving him an odd look.  "I don't like dead bodies."

"Fine," he said with a small grin, looking at the pictures.  "The flash isn't on."  He flipped the switch.  "There.  It'll be fine.  We can lighten them if we have to."

"Pretty standard."  Rescue got the door off and removed the survivor, then he and Danny got back to work on the scene.  "Guys, body?"  They came over to remove him and laid him out into the bag someone brought.  "Thanks, guys."  He got the envelope and bagged it, then got back to work, taking new pictures since his old ones had been so dark.  "This is why I usually let someone else do pictures," he admitted.  "That and my depth perception doth sucketh."

Danny snickered. "I'm not surprised with that eye injury of yours."  He bagged something.  "He wasn't wearing his bandana?"

"Maybe it didn't go with his shirt," Xander quipped. "You've gotta be aware how you accessorize."  Danny gave him an odd look.  "What?  I always accessorize with leather or knives."  Danny just shook his head and got back to work.

Don got a nudge from one of the officers, walking off with him.  "Whatcha got?"

"A question.  He kissed the other male tech?"

"Yeah, they're married but Harris is tougher than about half of us."

"Oh.  So he's one of those butch gay guys?"

"I can hear you," Xander called, glaring at him.  "You wanna box with me, little boy?"  He shook his head quickly.  "Yes, to put rumors to rest, I am gay.  I'm married to David.  Most of my old precinct came to our wedding.  Also to put rumors to rest, I'm gay because I used to draw serial killers and psychotic women.  After having three stalkers, two serial killers, and a very nasty, bitchy cheerleader, plus a nympho, I went for guys.  You'd do it too if you had my history of exes."  He stared him down.  "If you have a problem with me being gay, just be socially polite and I'll get the point.  If you don't then I don't have a problem, but fair warning if anyone touches my husband, guys.  Got it?"  That got another nod. "Good."  He smiled sweetly. "Any other questions, ask me."

"Okay.  How long have you guys been married/"

"Nearly three years now," Xander said with a sappy grin.  "I'm still figuring out what to get him for our anniversary.  The girls who raised me said that stuff was important."  He got back to work.  "Hey, Danny, where can I go to find a good curling or gymnastics event on a bigger screen than mine?"

Don shook his head.  "Forgive him, he got raised by girly girl friends."  The cop just nodded at that.  "Xander, I have no idea.  Call your Mounties."

"I did, that's why I'm asking."

"Oh.  We'll figure it out.  When's the next one going off?"

"Two weeks or so," he said, bagging a hair that didn't belong to either of the passengers.  "Shoulder length and blonde," he reported.

"Car's probably stolen," Danny agreed.  He looked at him. "You're really open."

"That's because I'll stomp anyone who hurts my mate.  You can say shit to me but if you go near David I will hide a body."  Danny nodded wisely at that.  "The same as I would if someone hurt Mortty or Greggy."  He got back to work.  "More blonde."  He made it to the glove compartment and opened it, pulling out the registration.  "A Belynda Mysts.  East Village.  Probably changed it."  He looked around then grabbed the keys out of the ignition.  "Danny, can we flip it yet?"

"Nearly done."  He bagged one last sample, then they both crawled back out and nodded. "Let's flip it," he ordered.  The cops came over to help them flip it back up.  Xander went for the trunk.  "You don't think....."

"I do think, it's classic," Xander offered.  He opened it and looked. "Blood, no body."  He held out a hand but Danny came back to take pictures. "Thank you."  He swabbed some of the blood once Danny was done, testing it off to the side.  "Human."  He took more swabs.  "Danny, there's at least two different samples," he offered quietly.  "We've got fresher and more dried."

"Wonderful.  Get samples of both."  Xander nodded, doing that, and scraped up some that was truly dried.  He started to tape lift hair samples.  "We've got blonde, curly and dark, and long afro."  He held that one up.  "Someone's got serious 'fro going on."

Xander looked, then shook his head. "I never understood that hairstyle.  It looks like you're wearing a helmet about half the time."  He lifted off a few other samples.  "I've got skin flakes," he said, looking at it. "Mortty may love me enough to work on my neck tonight."  Danny grinned at that. "I give wonderful backrubs and arm rubs but she's got magical fingers for neck stress."

"I'll remember that."

Mac pulled in and parked, then got out. "What happened?"

"Some idiot didn't like my sandwich so they were trying to shoot it out of my hand," Xander called.  "I popped the tire and the car flipped.  David bagged my gun."

"Thank you."  He came over.  "Body in the trunk?"

"No, but probably multiple samples," Xander offered quietly.  "Some's more dried than others. Registration's in my case, in an envelope."  Mac went to get it.  He looked at Danny.  "This is how I keep getting sucked into the field."

"I can see that.  Next time go for cover or I'm letting Flack yell at you in front of Mac."

"No time.  Besides, I had a clear shot for the tire and the gun barrel.  Mac, did someone take the rifle?"

"Yeah," Don called.  "David took it to your lab.   What happened to the barrel?"  Xander held up a hand.  "You're that good of a shot?"  Xander looked over and nodded. "Then why didn't you go for cover?"  Mac moaned.

"No time, Don.  Besides, I had a clear shot and they were aiming for you."  He got back to work, humming quietly. "The only sucky part of this job is not being able to listen to music while you're hunting for trace."

Danny smirked at him.  "I thought it was dumpster and trash barge cases."

Xander gave him a long look then grinned. "I'm a part-time tech, Danny.  It had better be multiple bodies if I'm called to a trash barge."  He got back to work at the laughs.  "What?" he asked with an impish grin. "I should be an elf tomorrow since Dawn's cutting my hair tomorrow night."

"You do that," Danny agreed, smiling and shaking his head.  "I like working with you."

"Thanks, love.  Like you too.  Ooh, hey, heard a new joke about a dog...."

"No," Don called.  "Not that one."

"Sorry."  He winked at him. "I made him blush.  He's such a cute little boy."

Danny snickered, leaning on the bumper.  "Thank you, Xander.  I needed to relax," he said finally.

"I know."  He smirked and got back to work.  He finally straightened up.  "You see anything?"

"Nope.  Let's check the rest of it."

"Can we drag it into the garage?"

"We can," he agreed.  He waved a hand. "Make it disappear into our garage, guys."  The patrol officers nodded, calling for a tow truck.  He looked at him.  "Good call."

"I need a soda and a bathroom break before the shooting review questions."  He walked over, bagging all his samples envelope and bags into one larger bag, then handed it to Danny.  "Here you go.  The registration?"

"I'm working on it," Don offered, looking at the case, then at him.  "I know their kits don't have some of that.  You've got six different colors of fingerprint powder."

"I stocked my own."  He shrugged and closed it up, then bagged his gloves, handing that bag to Danny as well.  "There you go.  I'm headed inside for a bathroom break since I can feel the ominous blight that is IAB."  He headed inside, dropping his case in his lab.  He wrote a note on the rifle that he had shot, aiming for the upper barrel, looking at his shot.  "I need more target work," he noted.  "Not too bad."  His gun was bagged so he made a note it was his sidearm, then went to the bathroom and to get a soda.  He came out and found Hillborne in the middle of the hall. "I'm ready if you are."

"You volunteer?"

"I've got shit to do, Hillborne.  Why do I want to do this on your lame, slow schedule?  Unfortunately, I've got samples that're backing up at the moment."  That got a sneer and they headed for an interrogation room where Xander sat down and opened his soda.  "Sorry, the rest of my lunch.  I dropped my sandwich."

"Fine. Are you gay?"

"Technically I'm probably bi since I used to date horrible women.  But yes, I'm married to David if you're that interested.  Did you need to know sexual positions?  It's not like me taking it up the ass affects my judgement in the field or the lab."  He took a drink and stared him down, getting a sneer. "I'm a nice guy until you push me."

"Fine.  What happened, in chronological order."

"Okay.  I was taking a late lunch, I had a rush from SWAT earlier, a shooting victim and they needed it processed for poisons and anything else on it.  I called David, he was taking his mid-shift smoke break with me on the front steps.  Don and Danny came out to get some sun for a few minutes too.  We were talking and joking.  Car screeched up, literally.  Squeal of brakes alerted me.  I pulled, they fired, I fired at the driver, then the gun barrel, aiming up it to get the person behind it.  I ended up hitting the middle of the barrel.  As the driver turned, I took a tire shot, it flipped since it was mid-spin.  The patrol officers came out and they cleared the scene, then I went over to check for survivors since I've had some field medicine training here and there over the years.  Driver was dead, shooter wasn't. I started processing the driver while waiting on the paramedics, taking some fairly dark pictures when I got handed a camera by someone.  Danny came over to help me process.  The living person was removed, they removed the other body, we went back to processing.  We flipped the car when we had as much as could and got into the trunk, finding multiple blood samples, which we processed, then we had it towed in."  He took another drink.

"You said processed?"

"Pictures taken, samples collected in an appropriate manner, multiple ones from the same blood spot if possible."  He took another drink then looked at him.  "We did find a bandana on the seat beside the shooter, I made a joke about it not going with his outfit to make Danny relax."


"Because right after being shot at you're supposed to be tense.  That's why I'm gulping a soda and had a bathroom break."

"If you need to puke, aim away from me," he said firmly.

Xander looked at him.  "I saw my first dead body at sixteen," he said quietly.  "If I puke, I better have eaten my own cooking or something equally as poisonous."  Hillborne gave him a confused look.  "I can't cook.  I've given myself food poisoning with microwave nachos."


He was starting to get that 'confused with the Xander' look that had been so epidemic during his time in Vegas, and Xander decided to take it a bit easier on him this time.  Mac would probably yell at him if he caused this guy to have a heart attack.  Besides, it was a bad way to start off in a new city.  "You know, David never did figure that out," he offered, taking another drink and tossing the bottle out.  He looked at him.  "Do we need to go over it again in more detail?  My gun was bagged by my spouse. It's in the lab with the rifle.  I noted on the rifle's bag what I had been aiming for and that the other gun was mine.  Don didn't get off a shot, at least I don't think so. I don't remember hearing another shot."

"Why didn't you duck for cover?"

"I can't roll backwards and hit the ground on my feet, there wasn't any more time, and I had a clear shot to the gun.  That's how I was trained, Hillborne," he offered quietly. He looked at him. "I grew up in Sunnydale.  Look up the old stats from before it fell in.  Please."  He stood up.  "Anything else? I've got another ten or twelve guns besides mine to process today.  I'll leave mine for Chad if you don't do it or Mac doesn't do it."

"You're fairly cold about this sort of thing."

"Not like it's the first.  There's a reason Chicago had me with SWAT now and then.  Look into my record, Hillborne.  I can't stress that one enough.  You're making rookie mistakes to try to inspire fear and there's very few things I fear in this world," he offered quietly.  "I'm not the average guy with a badge."  He walked off, heading to get another soda and go back to his lab.  He found Mac in there.  "Hola.  I'll work on the other stuff while you do that."

"That's fine, Xander."  He looked at him.  "You all right?"

"I'm fine, why wouldn't I be?"  Mac gave him a 'get real' look.  "One of the reasons I retired from hunting was because I was starting to expect the outcome, Mac.  That's not a good thing and it's not overconfidence before you say it.  I know I'm mortal."  He pulled on his jacket and cleaned his hands off with the special soap.  "I'm wearing my elf shirt tomorrow with the ears."

"Thank you for the warning. What about your other case?"

"Danny's got the metal analysis, he went to the books to find out what sort it was.  He was doing that last I knew. I was right, it was a reproduction piece."   He cut open his next sample, pulling out the bullet to look at it. "You're bronze," he said, frowning a bit.  "Why?"  He walked over to the second scope to get to work on it.

Mac looked at him for a minute longer then got back to work.  "What were you aiming at to hit the gun?"

"The top of the barrel.  With wind and movement it should've hit up near the stock or the shooter if I was lucky.  Hitting the gun would've made him jar or drop it.  Hitting him if I aimed too high would've stopped it too.  I fully admit I need target time because I was about five inches off.  Where is the range?"

"I'll show you on the way home.  Danny said you could get him through his qualification this year."

"That's fine.  Coming out to the housewarming Sunday?"

"Of course."  He smiled at him.  "I want to see your weapons."

"Sure."  He shrugged and got back to work.  "Bronze means that you don't get good rifling. I'll have to remember that."

"It's too soft," Mac agreed.  "I've never seen one in bronze."  He came over to look in the scope.  "That's not even bronze coated, it's pure bronze by the core."

"It is, unless they formed it around a more solid kernel," Xander agreed, looking at him. "Pulled out of someone too."  Mac shook his head, walking off.  Xander got to work typing up the report since he couldn't match the squished pattern. "Whose was this?" he muttered, finding the name on the envelope.  He resealed it and properly signed it before going to find Stella.  He tapped her on the shoulder then looked at her, holding up the report. "Bronze?"

"Bronze what?"

"Bullet.  A pure bronze bullet.  At least what we can see of it. I didn't crack it to check the core but I can if you want.  Bronze is too soft, it squished over the pattern.  I'll figure out if I can match it if you bring me the gun with the bullets still in it, but right now, you've got a soft bullet. Sorry."

"No, that's okay.  Can you buy bronze bullets?"

He considered it then shook his head. "Not unless it's a speciality shop."  He pulled out his ID case and dug in the cards, finding one.  "Ask him," he said, handing it over.  "Tell him I sent you.  He's nervous around badges but he heard of me."  She nodded.  "Just don't go in with a 'tude, honey.  Be your nice, sweet self.  He'd like girls like Calleigh."

"I'll keep that in mind."  She wrote down the information and handed it back.  "Thank you, Xander.  Are you okay?"

"Not the first time I've hit a tire, Stella.  Really."  He walked off, heading back to his lab.  Hillborne was in there with his IAB file from Vegas.  "Happy reading.  Ecklie's still probably screaming at his padded walls."

"What did you do to him?" Mac asked, looking at him.

"He got spooked when the Feds started to show up over the Initiative mess.  Then came the day of the music.  I had on comedy, he complained. I switched, he complained.  I switched to country, David complained and confiscated.  I switched to Disney, he had a heart attack, a mild one."  He grinned.  "Then he tried to set me up.  Tried to have SWAT raid me too.  Fortunately I was with Jim Brass and they knew him and a few knew me."

Hillborne looked at him.  "This clubbing thing of yours."

"If I had a clue I'd stop it," Xander promised. "I always complain when they hand me stuff.  Nearly as much as my husband does."

"Hodges upstairs?"  Xander nodded.  "He share your skills?"

"David hates guns.  Most of the guns in the house are in my office.  Except for the one I keep in my bedside table and whatever I take off that night since we don't have kids.  Not like my dog's going to shoot herself by accident."

"Oh, I don't know, Sarah's pretty smart," Mac offered.  "She could probably figure out how to shoot an intruder."

"Possibly," Xander admitted happily.  "Maybe I'll try to teach her that trick."  He sat down on his stool, looking at him.  He had the Chicago file now, it was thicker.  "You're allowed to ask questions.  The guy I dealt with over the club stuff came to me a few times to have me prove someone innocent that he knew was being set up."

"I'll keep that in mind."  He looked at him again.  "You're a marksman?"  Xander nodded.  "The rifle shot?"

"About five inches higher than I had planned, but it was kinda windy and sudden. I'm going to go back to the range soon.  That and have my eye checked."

"Eye...." Hillborne trained off, then turned to look at the smirking young man.  "You only have one?"

"You do?" Don asked from the doorway.  "Since when?"

"Since I was about twenty-one and someone popped it with a really dirty fingernail, Don.  Hurt like a bitch too."  He looked at Hillborne again, that same smug little look on his face.  "I learned to compensate thanks to my former life in Sunnydale and LA.  After four years of protecting others you do that."  Hillborne dropped the files.  "Those get out and I will cap your ass," Xander assured him.

"It mentions gang interaction."

"I stay beneath the radar, but I'm the sort of guy who doesn't play, doesn't imitate, but I get shit done and I'm fair.  I don't judge anyone on who they are.  The guys in Chicago knew I was fair and they requested me in some homicides to keep some peace.  They knew I'd get whoever did it and it wouldn't turn into a battle because I had no allegiances.  I also helped the Ghost Riders out there since they were working on negotiating turf to keep from a few battles."  Mac gaped at that.  "Also, I've been running a 'send me your used guns and I'll deal with them' program since Vegas.  They know I'm going to search for former users of the weapons and all that, but they won't be on the streets.  I blatantly state I'm going to be looking for former owners but it gets some of them off the streets.  I usually get six or seven a month."


"He got one as a test and I watched how he handled it. He took DNA and trace samples, had them run, searched for history, then put it into the 'found gun' pile.  What I'd do.  I like that idea."

"I see."  He looked at the boy, then picked up the files, going through them both more carefully.  "Military service?"

"Survival of the fittest," Xander said dryly.  "I left the survival game the day I graduated."  He leaned against the worktable next to him.  "It was a nasty habit, that survival stuff."  Hillborne nodded at that. "Somewhere I still have a sealed Federal file where my friends and I ran into a covert Special Ops program in Sunnydale and we destroyed them."  Mac blinked at him so he smirked and waved. "Yes, I helped take down the Initiative, Mac."  Then he smiled sweetly.

Don just stared at him, blinking.  "If you went into the military, could you count that?" he asked.  "Or do you have an equivalent of service time?"

Xander considered it then looked at Mac, motioning him over to whisper in his ear since he knew how he had the combat experience.  Mac nodded.  "Ten years, Don.  Including some reserve service now and then and SWAT actions.  Full time combat veteran."  He looked at Xander.  "PTSD?"

"Ask David.  I have nightmares.  Like I said, I had to retire because I was expecting the outcome."  He stared at him.  "Yes, I know I'm fucked up, but hey, that's life."  He looked at the reading IAB officer again.  "Any other questions about my prior service or anything like that?"

"No.... well, yes."  He closed it and looked at him.  "Are you dangerous to others?"

"Only if they touch David."

Hillborne blinked at that, then looked at Taylor.  "You gave me that answer once with your wife."

"Same sort of survival instinct."

"I live with very few needed things," Xander said calmly.  "My job, my spouse, and my sanity.  There is nothing that you can bribe me with to make me do something for you, not do my job, or to make me go into hiding for the most part.  As long as I have my spouse, my job, and my dog, I'm pretty content with life.  That's why I'm a *lab* tech.  Don't make the same mistake that Chicago made.  I may be on call for SWAT but I'm not SWAT.  I like being a lab tech. It makes me happy and content.  Yeah, I do field work now and then to keep my hand in and to keep my skills sharp.  Two, three cases a month.  I'm a ballistics tech with a minor in trace.  Oh, Mac, I need to start pulling some trace hours now and then to keep sharp."

"Sure, whenever you're clear you can help up there."  He clapped him on the back.  "You will search for cover when shot at, Xander.  Even if you have the perfect killing shot."

Xander looked at him.  "I don't go for kill shots, Mac, I go for injury and disabling shots.  The only things I kill are non-human and trying to kill others unless I'm forced."

"Good.  I like that."  He looked him over.  "How many guns are you wearing?"

Don smirked at Xander, looking him over.  "Ankle.  He switched the one on his back out."

"Actually, I'm wearing a double holster. It was my last birthday present," he said happily, turning to let him see it.  "See?  David had it made for me since I like my guns back there instead of on my side.  It's a less awkward draw for me.  My ankle piece."  He started to unload himself on the table.  Dagger off his skin holster from under his waistband.  Another one from his other ankle holster.  One from each of his sides.  His pocket knife.  Don gave it an odd look.  "For work stuff."

"You're the sort of guy to pull a gun outta your ass," Don said, looking amused.  "Does your office look like an armory?"

"No, he decorated in swords in there," David said blandly from the doorway.  "The guns are kept in the safe.  Which he doesn't lock."  He walked in and looked at the weapons, then looked at his mate.  "Baton?"  Xander snapped his fingers and pulled it out of the sewn holder inside his pants leg.  Don whimpered at that, walking off shaking his head. "Every day.  Remember that."  He waved a hand.  "Put it back, quit showing off."  Xander stuffed things back where they went, letting Mac look at his skin-colored, soft fabric holders he was wearing.  "A few times I wondered why he didn't get those pierced to hold it in place."  He looked at Hillborne.  "Are you done with him?  I could use some help."

"Take him," he agreed weakly.  Xander got finished and headed up with David, leaving them alone.  "Are you sure you want to keep him?"

"Yes, I am.  I understand the kid very well.  Xander's a very nice guy until you try to hurt his spouse or his dog.  He's got the same sort of reactions I have.  His triggers are very well understood by anyone else with combat experience.  His husband, his dog, and doing it in front of him."  He saw Xander go stomping and pouting past.  He rolled his eyes when Hillborne looked.  "Xander?"  He came back, still pouting.  "Did David yell?"  He nodded, heading back to DNA with the samples.  "According to Grissom, who watched him while he was doing his post-graduate internship, he was worse when he was trying to date women.  David has calmed him down, a lot.  When he got to Chicago, they enacted the mandatory retirement clause.  He was doing eighteen hour days seven days a week for the department there," he offered quietly.

"With pneumonia," Greg called.  "Then he came out when we got bombed and solved ours while he was recovering, doing the same amount of hours."  He walked in.  "Xander is the guy who'll do what's necessary, even if it's not technically the best idea.  Get over it."  He looked at Mac.  "This case of mine sucks.  I wanna hit the victim."  He stomped off again.  "Xander!"

"Helping David."

"Meet you up there," Greg agreed, heading that way.

Mac smirked at him.  "Ray put it best.  Take my instincts, Messer's playful nature and mental capabilities, then deage it to an early teenager for the jokes he tells.  That's Xander."   Hillborne groaned.  "He got the guys out there to relax right afterward."

"Fine.  I'll have to note he didn't take cover but appropriate discussion was had on that subject and retraining was attempted by supervisory forces."

"I'm sure David will be talking to him later," Mac agreed. "It's not like we have good cover outside anyway."

"Point," he admitted, shaking his head.  "That clubbing stuff...."

"Is the same thing that happened to Stella.  It rubbed off Xander onto her.  I can handle reporting that stuff."

"Thank you."  He looked around the lab. "Is he a good tech?"

"One of the best in the country.  He came in trained enough to run Bobby's lab when he had to be with his mother.  By himself.  His in-school one was done at a military academy.  He's more than good enough."

"Fine.  He's on to make sure people qualify?"  Mac nodded.  "I'll leave this in your hands, this time."  He walked off with the folders.

Mac relaxed.  That was one hurdle.  IAB *liking* someone?


Mac leaned into Xander's office.  "Is Sarah here?"

"Locker room last I knew.  She followed Stella in there when she went home.  Hopefully she's not drinking out of the shower this time."

"Thank you.  We've had a lost child reported and he's crying."  He went to get the dog, bringing her down there.  "Hey," he said, sitting beside the child.  Sarah looked at the kid then barked and wiggled closer, licking him on the cheek.  The kid stared at him, then petted her. "This is Sarah. She belongs to one of officers."  He smiled at him.  Sarah barked and wiggled, jumping down when he relaxed his grip to trot over to someone.  "Lee.  Sarah?"  She came back, climbing up beside the kid.  "Why don't you pet Sarah for a few minutes?  Then we'll talk when you're a little bit calmer, okay?"  The little boy nodded, staring at the dog as he petted her.  He looked at the agent, smiling a bit.  "Xander's in Ballistics."

"I need a favor and need to borrow him."


"A problem," he admitted after a hesitation.  "A case," he expanded at the long stare.  He pulled Mac out of the way.  "Not out here.  You've got clearance so I can tell you and him at the same time."  He looked at the boy then at him.  "Can his husband watch the kid?" he murmured.

Mac chuckled.  "David's child-phobic. To him they're like mold."  He walked back over, smiling at the officer watching the boy.  "That's Xander's Sarah."

"I wasn't trying to figure that out.  I think I know him."  He sat down and tapped the boy on the arm, getting a smile.  "You live on my block, right?"

"I live upstairs from Officer Rod."  He gave him a hopeful smile. "Do you know Officer Rod?"

"I probably do.  I know a few Officer Rods.  Do you know which department he's in?  Does he wear a uniform, like me?"  He pointed at his uniform.  The kid shook his head.  "Does he wear a tie?"

"He wears pants that stick out way far on the thighs and look really funny," he said.

"Motorcycle or horses?" Mac asked.  "There's one in each."  The kid frowned at him.  "Does his ride have a name or does he have a partner?"

"Officer David comes over now and then," he offered. "She's pretty when he's in a dress."

"I know him," Mac agreed, smiling at the little boy. "Let me call his supervisor so he can come see you, okay?  Make sure we've got the right one?  And maybe he can call your parent?"  The boy nodded and continued to pet the dog.  He looked at the officer, arching an eyebrow up, getting a wink and a subtle smile.  "Can you watch him for a few?"

"Sure, Detective Taylor.  Sarah and I are very good guardians for him."

Mac smiled and walked Lee back to his office, calling the Mounted Patrol office.  "This is Detective Taylor, CSI at the twelfth.  We've got a young boy here who said he lives upstairs from an Officer Rod, who wears baggy pants, and knows an Officer David?"  He smirked.  "Yeah, that's about how he described it.  I recognized David.  Can you send Rod over?  With his horse is fine if he wants.  Sarah the Dog might like that. Thank you."  He hung up then paged Xander to come to his office.

Xander walked in.  "What's up?  Sarah run off after the kid when he went for a snack?"

"No.  They're by the entryway on that bench and we found an officer who lives near him."  He pointed at Lee, who was in the corner on Xander's blind side.

"Ah."  He looked at him.  "Hi, Lee.  What's up?"

"I need your help."

"Depends on what it is," Xander said firmly.

Lee looked at him.  "We have a suspected information courier in town to hand off some really important information. I need help tracking and taking him down."

"Again, it depends on what you need me for," Xander pointed out.  "I'm a lab tech.  Not a cop. Definitely not an agent.  Need me to dart him?"

"I'd prefer you to help me find him and capture him.  Darting would possibly be okay."

"Do you have any idea where he is?" Xander asked hesitantly.

"Some.  We know he's at a hotel under an assumed name.  We know the assumed name."

Xander held up a finger and went to the locker room, coming back with a black zippered bag.  He pulled out the laptop and fired it up, then input a special password, getting a different screen than even David saw.  He motioned his father closer.  "Assumed name?"  It was typed in.  Xander hit the 'search' button, finding him in the city.  He looked at it, then at his father.  "Says he's downstairs in the morgue, dad."  He smirked a bit.  "Mac, this case?"  He came around to look.

"Who made this?" Lee asked quietly.


Lee gaped.  "That little redheaded girl in your background?"

"Yeah.  I was wondering, is my secret file still floating around with the really badly done profile or just the 'don't touch me or else' file?"

"Your secret file is in a few hands.  The don't touch notice is in your public profile in the FBI's database. Along with your marksman rating, the fact you're missing an eye, and your rating as a tech in all three fields."  He smirked at him.  "Where might Miss Rosenburg be so I can offer her a job?"

"Cleveland.  With the slayers.  She's just about to go off probation for kidnaping me."

Mac moaned.  "She did what?"

"She decided David was bad for me because I got injured a few times on the job so she kidnaped me from the hospital by claiming I was her husband and had some faked papers saying she was bringing me closer to home.  I called Ford, he came down on her and they offered her and Buffy probation for it."  He looked at his father. "She might do it if you give her a good set of reasons.  I wouldn't use the 'serve your government' route.  Not like we like most of them after the Initiative and the inquest she and I got sucked into afterward."

"I saw that, we cleaned up after the inquest," he admitted.  "Had I known then what I know now, I'd have had you stolen, kid."  He patted him on the cheek.  "Mac, who has this case and can I have it reassigned to Xander?"

"It says Danny has it by himself."  He paged him, bringing him jogging.  "Danny, door."  He shut the door but leaned against it. "This is Special Agent Stetson, you've never met him nor will you ever meet him," he said firmly.

Xander looked at him. "This is my biological father.  He's a covert Fed.  Your case was his case.  You wanna switch?"

"Which case?"  Xander waved him over so he looked.  "He was mugged."

"He was carrying a packet of information on a new movement in Asia," Lee said quietly.  "This can go no further."

"Of course not.  Are we talkin' people in suits showing up in the middle of the night like MIB?"

"I don't usually have to send my agents out to do that," he said with a small smile.  "Yet."

"Point taken.  Yeah, that's fine.  I can help Xander and keep my hands off.  Not like I don't have others I can have him help me with."

"Good, thank you for understanding."

"Not an issue.  Not like I want visited and mind wiped.  I might go odd."  Xander snickered at that.  "I'm guessing that's what happened to him."

"No, these two happened to me," Xander said, handing over the picture in his wallet.  "If you see either of them, run the other way and please warn me, David, Greg, and Ray and/or Stan so we can all hide."

"Are they dangerous?"

"Only to your sanity.  To me, probably more so."  He took the picture back.  "The blonde was Buffy, the other's Willow."

Danny blinked at him, then nodded once.  "I'll call you as I'm running away."  Mac gave him a look.  "Stan told me about 'em and how they warped him.  Willow's the cause of the football being gay sex talk a few weeks back that made most of the precinct search out a beer for dinner."

"I said I was sorry," Xander whined.  Everyone in the room stared at him. "I haven't done it on purpose since I almost made Welsh have a heart attack or a stroke, the last time."  He canceled out the computer and logged off before shutting down, then put it back into the bag.  It was closed and locked again, then Xander put it over his shoulder, one hand holding the straps.  "Let me put this back while Danny gets that file and we'll go over it.  Well, I've got to make sure I've got the lab in a 'safe' manner so it'll take me five."  He headed off.

"Any idea what's in the bag?" Mac asked Lee.

"Unless Amanda sent it to him?  No.  Danny?"

"Not like I had a clue about any of this.  All I know about Xander is that he's warped, he's a marksman, he REALLY likes guns and knives, and he's married to David with a dog for a child."

"His grandmother will be nagging about that soon," Lee assured him.  "She already is nagging Amanda."

"Abby and Mortty have offered," Mac assured him.

Lee considered those children. "My mother-in-law nearly had a heart attack when she met Mortty the first time. Started going off about satanists and things.  Then Mortty got her calmed down and now she's praying for her to become normal.  I doubt she'd let that happen."  He looked over as Danny left.  "Are they considering it?"

"David considers children like mold," Mac assured him.  "He's not looking forward to it."

"Pity.  Xander would make a good father."

"That's why I have a dog," Xander said as he walked back in. "I get my spoiling out of the way by taking care of Dave.  By the way, Mac, he's better now.  He should be in by tomorrow."

"What happened to him?  Did he get hurt on the job?" Lee asked. He kind of liked his cranky son-in-law; reminded him of Gibbs in some ways.

"No, I made him some cookies.  I don't know how I did it since Dawn was watching me."   He sat down with a sigh.  "I guess that's like how I got food poisoning from microwaving nachos."

"I still say someone in that magic shit did somethin' to ya," Danny offered as he came back in with the file.

"Possibly, but Willow swears up and down it's not her doing.  Tara loved me so it wouldn't have been her, and Dawnie thought I was better than cheese in those days."

"I don't need to know about that stuff," Lee assured him.  "We're forbidden from using it."  He looked at the case file, then groaned.  "Somewhere on him was some manner of carrying digital information."  He looked at Danny.  "Has the body been claimed?"

"Not yet.  Xander, go for it and we'll switch later."  Xander nodded, leading Lee off.  He looked at Mac.  "He doesn't look much like him but they've got the same height."

"He looks more like his mother.  I ran into them on a few cases in the past, got loaned out and the like."  He sat down shaking his head.  "Just don't ask, Danny.  They're a very small covert agency."

"Think he'll try ta get Xander?"

"Possibly but I'm hoping not."  He gave him a look. "I can't see Xander being a covert ops agent, can you?"

"Some days.  Then you've got the t-shirt days."  He walked off, heading back to his lab.  Xander would come help him later if he could walk.


Xander led the way into the morgue.  "Yo, Doc, 'sup?"

"Xander," he said, smiling at him.  "How's your shoulder?"

"Just fine, still a bit stiff but David spoiled me rotten."  His father gave him an odd look. "I fell changing a lightbulb in his lab."  He pointed at the drawers.  "I took over Danny's mugging case on this guy," he noted, handing over the files.  "This guy's a Fed and he swears up and down he's got some form of information device on him."

"I didn't see anything."  He found the right drawer and pulled the body out for them to look over in a corner. "I did a complete autopsy, he was shot in the neck."


"Upward, someone much shorter than he did it," Hammerback noted calmly.  He looked at Lee, then at Xander.  "Your father?"  Xander just smirked at him and went to look.  "I'll have his effects pulled, Xander."

"Thank you, doc.  Did David call you or Sheldon about seeing why the cookies were poisonous?"

"I believe he called Daniel, but I know he didn't call me," he offered as he walked over to get the bag of personal effects.  He brought it back for them.  "I did put the bracelet he was wearing in a separate baggie, Xander."

"Thank you."  He grinned at him.  He pulled on a set of glasses and got to work starting in the scalp.  "Have we had anyone call in to ID him or anything?  Anything under missing persons?"

"Not that I've heard," the doctor said quietly.  "Is he American?" he asked Lee, who shook his head.  "Should I worry about him being stolen in the middle of the night?"

"No, they're letting us do that."  He shrugged and opened the bag of effects to look through it.  He did look at the bracelet.  "When I first started out, you needed something this size to hold information capsules."  He checked the links, none of them opened.  "No film in here."

Xander gave him a horrified look.  "Lee, Abby had a case where they had a small gold heart as eye jewelry and it contained files."  He gave him a horrified look.  "Yeah.  Think tiny.  The charms could hold the information if necessary."  He got back to work.  "Think we could shave him, Doc?"

"If you want, as long as no one would object."

"They won't.  He'll probably be cremated unless they're hiding a family of his from us.  As far as I know he's single."  He pulled out his phone and made a call.  "We're doing a body search, make sure no one's going to complain about him being shaved."  He listened to his wife call someone else.   He smiled at his son.   "Amanda said hi."

"Hi!" he called, waving one hand.  He looked at the doc, who got him the clippers.  He grinned and chuckled a bit evilly, looking at Lee.  "Tell her to tell my grandmother David doesn't like kids.  Tough.  She's got a furry grandchild."

Lee smiled at her comment back.  "Mom said that she'd accept Mortty giving you one but she'd turn the child normal."

"Then it definitely wouldn't be my kid.  My kid'll be hunting vampires by the time he's ten," he quipped. The ME looked at him.  "Well, not real ones," he offered with an evil look.  "He'll be able to but I'd never let him do it for real.  Do you know how often I got hurt doing that and how many concussions I've had?"  Lee nodded so he turned on the clippers, shaving off all the dead guy's body hair.  Even his pubes, which made his father shudder and turn away.  "I'd hide it there.  No one would search."  He turned off the clippers and handed them off, then blew the hair off his glasses and got back to his examination.  "Small scars," he noted.  "He's done it like Abby's case in the past."

He kept going over the front.  He did finally find it, at the base of the penis.  "Ow," he said, then shook it off.  He looked at the doc, who was with his next body, then went hunting for tools.  "Found it, doc," he said as he made a very simple slice next to the small gold disc.  He slid the blade under it, clipping out the small area of skin so he couldn't damage it.  He put it on the petri dish his father was holding out.  Then he got to work finding another one.  He and one of the morgue techs flipped the body, finding the other one on his inner thigh.  "Another owish spot," he complained, digging out that one as well.  He checked behind and inside ears, inside the nose.  Everywhere but inside his rectum because he wasn't about to go there.  Then he stepped back and let the morgue tech put them back.  He looked at the small dish, they had found three overall.  "Abby said hers had two simple files."

"He was supposed to be carrying video proof of a new cell."

"Maybe that's where they're hidden," Xander offered. "Thanks Doc."  He nodded and they headed upstairs with them.  He walked into the AV lab.  "Federal case," he ordered.  "We've got small storage devices."  The tech looked then gaped at him.  "That's what I thought.  If I call someone and have her walk you through the process she used to access something like this in the past, can you do it?"  He nodded so Xander dialed Abby's number from the card in his wallet.  "Abby?  Xander.  No, but I've got three mini-storage discs from a dead spy.  Lee's here.  Yeah, one at the base of his cock, one inner thigh, and one between his big and next toe.  Please.  Our tech here hasn't ever seen one and I remembered your case, so I thought maybe you could tell him how to access them?" he asked hopefully.  "Thank you."

"Let me switch to a headset," he offered when he took it.  He switched them out and slid his headset into place.  "Can you hear me okay?"  He took it off mute and repeated it, getting a 'sure can, sweetie' said happily in his ear.  "Okay.  They're three extremely small gold discs.  I've got to excise the flesh still around them since Xander brought me divots."  He followed her instructions, writing them down as he did them.

Xander looked at his father.  "I'm headed back to ballistics to make sure I've got it ready for next shift, then heading up to see which one Danny wanted help on," he said quietly.  "He can page me."  Lee nodded so he disappeared.  His last sample was sealed and the report was mostly done so he finished that and printed it off, going to deliver stacks of his day's work around.  He ran into Don and most of them were from his last case.  "Yours, Sheldon's since he's out interviewing, Stella's because she's out with a new one, Lindsey's since she's off today, and Mac's since he's hiding in his office from the Fed case my father brought."  He walked off, going to find Danny, and they exchanged reports. "What's this?"

"Blood tox on the vic.  What did you find?"

"Tiny gold storage devices," he said with a smirk. "We ended up shaving him to find 'em."  He looked it over, then at the rest of the case's reports, frowning a bit.  "He was wobbling home drunk?  What sort of spy was he?" he complained.  David's head slowly came up from his scope and he stared at him.  "Dad's downstairs in AV.  He asked me to help him find this guy's stash."  They shared a look. "I promise, no Super Xander stuff, David."

"I had Abby fax me a report on your father's career.  Remember that Jim guy and the stuff we've heard about him from their techs?"  Xander nodded, beaming.  "Worse.  Much worse.  You do that stuff and I will chain you to the bed for the rest of your very short life."

"Yes, dear.  When did you get in?"  He came over to kiss him gently and calm him down. "I promise, nothing I wouldn't do as a field tech."  David pinched him.  "OW!  Bastard!"  He rubbed the bruise.  "Don't abuse me.  He was talking to Mom and Grandmother."  He frowned at him.  "I'll be a good boy.  Nothing Mac wouldn't do, okay?"

"Fine," he complained.  He got back to his sample.  "Can I know anything?"

"Up to him."  He came back over to look at the results again.  "This doesn't add up."  Lee came in.  "Any luck?"

"Abby said one's encrypted.  She's getting permission from Gibbs to come up for the night."  He took the lab reports, looking clueless.  "Okay, these mean what?"

"Well, he drank a lot of gin," Xander said, pointing at them when he put them on the table. "His blood alcohol level was .13.  It was gin by the way his blood was reacting and other indicators. He had eaten a hearty meal with it, looks like stroganoff with shrimp for some reason."  He looked at the rest of them. "That's a sexual activity report.  He'd had sex with a woman, that's her DNA profile because he was apparently not a condom sort.  His brain had a small tumor growing but nothing that should've impaired his judgement according to Hammerback," he said, tapping the autopsy report.  "Plus he was so unfit it wasn't funny.  Any running and he'd probably have died within a block from it. This one says he's got Hepatitis B.   That one says that the bullet that killed him was a thirty-eight, no matches in the system since I remember writing it.  And this last one says that his ID led back to a brick wall."  He looked at his father, who looked stunned. "Forensics can be used like a weaker level of profile.  We're usually more accurate than the person who did mine for the Initiative."

"Thankfully.  They were stupid and said you were a tag-along."  He looked over them again, then at his son.  "You do this on every case?"

"No, I don't have to on every case.  Some cases are a lot easier than others.  Then again, I only do a few cases a month by choice.  I don't want to be a full-time field tech, father.  I like being me.  It's who I am and who I am is a ballistics tech."  Lee nodded at that.  "This is pulling out all the stops."   He tapped one report.  "Something's off about this one.  How did he get Hep B and still be in the field?  With his medical conditions he should be on medicine for it."

"Maybe he didn't know," Danny offered.

"Abby said they have to take physicals at least once a year, even her," David told him, coming over to look.  "You're right.  No evidence of any medicine in his system.  His heart condition might've needed one too."  He handed that back to Xander.  "That'd be something to ask Sheldon or Hammerback."

"Sheldon's out interviewing and Stella's bringing Hammerback a new body," Xander said thoughtfully, looking at his father.  "Unless you've got a consulting doctor?"

"No, we borrow Jethro's Ducky when we need one in my group."  He called down there, putting it on speaker phone.

"Doctor Mallard's office," a young, male voice answered.

"Palmer, put Ducky on," Xander ordered.  "It's a fed case and Lee needs an opinion on something."

"How did you know who I am?" he demanded.

"You threatened me over hanging out with Abby, dipshit.  Do it now."  They were put on hold and an older man came on.

"Doctor Mallard."

"Hi, Ducky, it's Lee, Xander, David, and their coworker Danny."

"Oh, hello, boys.  What can I do for you?  I wondered why Mr. Palmer had walked off sulking."

"He asked how I knew him.  I reminded him," Xander said dryly.

"Ducky, if I send you an autopsy report can you tell me what he should've been taking?  Fitchers died and there's no medicine in his system but the reports say he's got Hepatitis B, a heart condition, and a small brain tumor."

"All it showed was a lot of gin," Xander added.

"Of course I can.  Send me the full reports, including details if possible."

"I can get them from the ME," Lee agreed.  "Thank you, Ducky.  Usual fax number?"

"That would be fine, Lee.  Xander, do pop in the next time you're down, dear boy.  I heard you moved to New York and I expect you've had some fun."

"No he hasn't.  I've kept him out of the clubs," David assured him.  "Plus I think it's wearing off finally."  He smirked at his mate.  "No one wanted to hit on him recently."

"Yeah, I'm almost feeling unloved," Xander teased back.  David pinched him again and he yelped. "Hey!  You already gave me a bruise!"

"No playing, boys," Lee said, shaking his head at Danny's smirk at him.  "I'll get those and send them down as soon as I can, Ducky, and I'll try to talk Xander into coming down for at least a weekend sometime soon.  Thank you." He hung up and headed back to the morgue, smiling at the ME when he looked over.  "I need to get the more full report.  An anomaly came up."

"Which one?"

"Well, no one knew he was in that bad of health.  There was no medicine in his system, and we're making sure it's a DNA match as well.  I hadn't seen him in five years but he really let himself go."

"Drinking that heavily can do that to one," he agreed, walking over to get him the full report.  "When Xander said a Federal Case I thought it might be needed."

"I only need to fax it.  We have Ducky check on anything like this."

"Mallard?  I've heard of him."

Lee smiled. "He's the ME for the DC NCIS branch.  He's a fascinating old guy, but a great ME and doctor.  He's the sort of doctor we spies go to when we're sick so he'll know who to call to get his medical records to compare."

"I'm not insulted.  In cases like these I'm usually happy if the bodies don't disappear in the middle of the night."

"No, if I have to make him disappear, I'll leave you an order to have him transferred to a mortuary."  Hammerback smiled at that and handed over the folder.  "Thank you for being so understanding."

"Not an issue.  Thank you for not being pushy."

"No, that's the FBI," he admitted, smiling before walking off.  He headed back to Mac's office.  "The fax machine?"  It got pointed to. "I'm sending it to Ducky.  We had some anomalies."  He looked at him while he was sending it.  "Did you know you could use something that looked like a baby's charm or earring to hold data?"  Mac slowly shook his head.  Lee nodded. "Yeah.  We found three of them by shaving the guy.  Oh, it's Fitchers if you ever worked with him."

"I've heard of him.  That small?"

"Yeah.  Apparently Abby had one that was being worn as eye jewelry."

"Now that's small," he admitted, getting up to go look.  He walked into AV, looking at the discs.  "I'd like to know what those are, just so I can update myself," he requested quietly.

The tech smiled at him.  "Someone named Abby's coming up to help me with them, Mac.  Xander had me call her to decode them.  Aren't they tiny?  I'm wondering if they're Japanese or Indian made."

Mac looked at one under a microscope.  "There's nanocircuits too.  Man, I'm out of the loop."

"Yeah.  She said she'd bring references on that stuff.  By the way, I'm heading to my convention this year.  I'm apparently really far behind."

"Give me the leave papers when you're done with them," he promised, clapping him on the back.  "Cover those so no one sneezes in the hall and makes them fly off."  That got a smile and they were all covered. He walked off to check on Xander and Danny.  "Did you decide what you're trading Xander for?" he asked Danny.

"He offered ta help me with anything I wanted and to take that one outright from me," Danny said with a grin.  "How tiny were they?"

"Abby told us about one that was worn as eye jewelry," David told him.

Mac looked over. "You made it out of bed?"

"I quit puking earlier.  Thought I'd give working a shot," he said sardonically.

"Sarah find Oprah and bug you to death?" Danny teased.

"Our nearest neighbor's daughter is a cheerleader and they're having a meeting in the back yard."   Danny shuddered at that.  "They're cute fourteen-year-old girls but still.  Not even Dawn could squeal at that cuteness."  He bent back down.  Then he groaned and held his stomach.  "Go shoo off the eating people, please?"

Danny hurried out.  "Guys, David's in and he's still sick.  No eating near him!" he called.  Don turned and walked the other way with his sandwich. "Thanks, Don.  His neighbor has cheerleaders over."  Don smirked at him.  "Fourteen-year-olds."

"Never mind.  I might've taken him home if it were real ones."  He finished off his sandwich and came back.  "He okay?"

"No.  He smelled the food and doubled over."

"Sorry, Dave," he called.  "Didn't mean ta make ya puke again."  He looked at Danny.  "My mugging case?"

"The Fed case?" he said with a smirk.

"It's a what?"  Lee came out and he looked at him.  "Oh, shit.  Xander said Mac was hiding from you but I hoped it was another case."

"Unfortunately not.  He was a courier."

"Damn.  Okay.  I'll hand over what notes I have.  Let me get back to my desk."

"Thank you."  He smiled at him.  "I don't try to be pushy."

"I noticed.  So, you're Xander's father?"  He walked closer and David ran past them.  "Sorry, Dave."  He looked him over, then into his eyes.  "He must look a lot more like his mother but he's got your build."

"My stepsons are a lot mor stocky, like their father," he agreed, smiling at him.  "You'd be Flack, right?"  Don nodded.  "Xander's emailed us about you and his other new friends.  He said you're incredibly tolerant, trained that way by having to deal with Danny in a bad mood?"

Danny snickered at that, walking off shaking his head.  "Yeah, I trained him real well," he agreed.

Don looked at Danny's back. "Not yet you haven't.  Do I sound like I bark?"  He looked at Lee again.  "Sorry about him.  It's been one of those days, ya know?"

"Definitely but mine usually include a run of at least four blocks with people after me."  Don nodded, understanding that one.  He watched as David came back.  "Want me to drive you home, David?  I'm dead in the water until I can get some more information and for that I'll have to borrow Xander to break into his hotel room."

David looked at him. "You're overestimating Xander's skills."

"It's under CSI control I'm sure.  That means he can get me in there."

David stared at him then moved slightly closer.  "Lee, if you try to take Xander back to DC with you, there will be a funeral.  Do we have a clear understanding?" he asked quietly.  "Xander is mine and Xander likes being a ballistics tech.  He hates what happens in the field when things go wrong.  He has for many years.  After the last shooting he ended up swearing and unable to sleep all night for killing that one when the car crashed because of his shot.  You will not get Xander into your job or into the field more often.  You may borrow my spouse now and then, borrow his expertise and his skills, but you are not to let him get hurt, or else I will carve you up into so many pieces not even Mortty and Greg will be able to find enough DNA to match you."

"I'd never hurt him."

"Not intentionally but you've lost how many people in the last year in your sort of agency?" he pointed out.  "The only time I turn into an evil bastard is when Xander's injured.  You hurt him and I will destroy you and his mother both.  Are we clear?"

"We're clear," he agreed, looking at him.  "I don't think it'd suit him anyway, David."

"I don't care because there's others who do.  Including Jethro's boss."  He walked off, heading back into the lab.

Don blinked.  "I've never considered David to be the scary sort before.  Sarcastic, mean, and a bastard now and then, but never scary."  He looked at Lee.  "Xander's happy with his life."

"I know.  The same as I know he's right and that there are people in Homeland who'd love to have him in their custody.  I doubt it'll happen with his injury, but it was suggested by a few people."  He looked at Don.  "Can I get those notes?"

"Sure."  He walked off, going to get them for him.  It was hard watching the fatherly instincts fight with the field work necessities, but he was handling it so far.  There was no way Xander was going to be doing anything dangerous, not with that threat on Lee's mind.


Xander limped into the office and sat down across from Mac's desk that night, making him gasp and drop his pen.  "I'm fine," he reported, slurring a bit.  "A bit banged up.  We got him."  He yawned and tossed something over.  "That got sent to me by someone.  I don't know who."  He hissed and shifted some.  "I need someone to get me home.  I lost my wallet somewhere."

"Your badge?"

"No, that I've got, but my ID card was in there, along with a few credit cards."  Mac nodded, making notes about that.  "Fortunately the driver's license has the wrong address on it.  Pictures of everyone but no correct addresses and it was my thinner, field one so it didn't have my stash of cards from helpful places and folks."  He yawned again. "Lee's taking the guy back tonight but he'll be back in two days to wrap everything up.  He said they'd be coming to claim the body then and probably be bringing my mother as well.  Did David threaten him?"

"Yes, he did," Mac said quietly.  "Don said it was the first time he'd ever seen David as the scary sort."

"David's overprotective of me.  I really should clean up before I head home."  He stood up with a wince.  "Before you ask, I fell."

"From what?" Don asked from behind him.  "The Eiffel Tower?"

Xander looked back at him.  "I landed funny when I ended up going over the side railing of first floor fire escape and then fell over another body, which I called in while we were chasing the woman who did it."  He tried to shift an arm and winced.  "And right now, I want a hot shower."

"You need the emergency room."

Xander looked down at himself, then shook his head.  "I'll be fine with a shower and some tylenol."  He looked at Mac.  "Since you live out my way can you get me at least most of the way home?"

"I can take you home," Don promised.  "Come on, Xander."  He led him back outside.  "Did you jump or did you get pushed?"

"Technically I jumped.  She had help at that point and that guy was caught there. Then she took off running and we had to chase."

"Crap."  He looked at him.  "You've got a small head injury."

"That was when I tripped over the dead body and fell against the side of a dumpster.  Night shift is probably loving us."

"I should tell David."

"You do that, you won't see my smiling face for weeks. I'll be pouting," Xander countered.

"At least you wouldn't die from the infection you'll be getting in that cut."  He let him into his car.  "Come on, let me get you checked out.  I'll call David when you're done.  I'll even call him now and say that I've got you to do the last few things.  Nothing specific."  Xander looked at him.  "Seriously."

"David's got Xander-trouble radar.  I'm sure he's already realized I'm a bit banged up."

"A bit banged up is a fat lip and a black eye.  This looks like you went a round with King Kong."  He smirked at him.  "You're going or I'm going to call David and tell him what you look like."  He pulled out his phone and took a picture, then tapped in the address it'd need to go to.  "Your choice."


"You bet.  Ray and Stan might let you get away with it, but I'm not that nice."  He sent it.  A minute later he got a 'ER Now' text message back.  "I'm right."  He showed it to him and Xander groaned.  "Come on.  Let's go."  He closed the door and walked around to get in so he could drive, taking him to the usual ER that they all used.  David knew that as well.  Greg was there when they got there. "You doing night shift?"

"No, David called since I'm closer."  He looked at Xander, walking around him.  "You hit what with your head?"

"Dumpster when I tripped over a DB."

"Uh-huh."  The nurse came out to examine him, finding his badge.  "He's a criminalist, like me.  He got hurt chasing someone."

"Job injuries are horrible in your field," she agreed gently.  "Any dizziness?"

"He'll lie," Don assured her.  "He didn't want to come."  She gave him a look. "He has in the past."  Greg nodded at that.  "His buddy there can tell you alllll about it."

"He hates doctors," Greg agreed. "Especially since he got irradiated a few months back."

"It's almost been a year," Xander defended.

"I'd smack you but I'm not sure it wouldn't hurt you more," Don said firmly.

"I can take him back," the nurse promised, taking him back to an exam room.  "Are you taking anything?"  He groaned and nodded, taking the form to fill out.  He tapped the phone number and she called.  "Should I lie?"

"He screams."

"That's fine.  I've dealt with some drama queens before, Mr.  Harris."  She called out there, helping him lay down since he was obviously having a dizzy spell.  "Hi, this is St. Vincent's ER is a David Hodges there?"  She smiled, he wasn't screaming yet.  "No, he's mostly fine.  A bit banged up."

"That's what I said.  Don got pushy."

"Yes, well, pushy friends are good for you," she reminded him.  "No, I do need to know what he's taking."  She made notes on it.  "Does he have a usual doctor?  All right, we can get his file from there.  Thank you, Mr. Hodges.  Of course.  Right away if we need to keep him.  Thank you."  She hung up on the sound of something glass breaking.  "He was trying to stay calm."

"Which means he'll yell at my father later."

"You got into it with him?"

He looked at her.  "He borrowed me.  He's a Fed."

"Oh.  All right, Detective."  He winced.  "Leave off the title?"

"Please.  I'm a ballistics tech mostly."

"All right then."  She checked him over again.  "Let me call the other ER to get your medical records from there.  They should have a good list of what's happened before."  She went to do that, amused when it got faxed over with the warning about his spouse being a screamer.  A middle aged man was waiting with the group when she went back out there to update them.  "The doctor should be seeing him any minute now, Detective Flack.  I've gotten his medical records from the ER he used in Chicago upon advice of his husband."  The middle aged man got pointed to.  She smiled.  "Your authorization to treat is in this file.  You can come back while he's examined.  He said his father borrowed him?"

"Yeah, and then he ended up getting hurt, again.  He's going to be lucky if I don't rip him apart at the chemical or molecular level for letting him get hurt."  He followed her back, looking Xander over critically.  "Head injury?"

"Tripped over a body while chasing someone," Xander said weakly, smiling at him.  "I'm okay, really.  Just a bit sore and achy mostly."

"You'll probably need some stitches for that cut and we'll be looking at your hip and shoulder as well," she assured him.  She looked at him.  "Shirt and pants off, you can keep on your boxers."  She got him a gown and handed it over, then left again to integrate the file into his new chart.  The doctor glanced over it, then read it more slowly and carefully.  "He tripped over a dead body and hit his head on a dumpster," she told him.  "He was on loan for a federal case.  He says he's a ballistics tech but he's wearing a detective's badge.  He's like that Messer guy we had last month."

"Thank you."  He went in there, finding David look him over for more bruises.  "Did you find anything he didn't admit to?"

"No, I'm finding reasons to kill his father for borrowing him for a case," David admitted.

"Dad's limping worse," Xander offered.  "Plus I was faster than him."

"That's because he's old, Xander.  Very old."  He got out of the doctor's way.  "I'm his husband David.  If you see as much of him as Chicago used to, we'll be very good friends."

"I saw."  He looked at Xander, who gave him a pathetic look.  "I've seen kids who do that as well, right before they have to get a shot."

"No, then he'll try to hide," David assured him. Xander frowned at him.  "Mac knows you lost your ID?"  Xander nodded.  "Good.  Hopefully it'll turn up.  Your card file?"

"I brought my field wallet with me.  Thirty bucks, two cards, my ID, and my license and power of attorney thing we had laminated."

"Good.  Where's the other one?"

"I think I put it in my locker but I've got a pounding headache," he admitted quietly.  "I hate head injuries."

"How many have you had?" the doctor asked.

"In what time frame?" Xander countered.


Xander thought back.  "Ten in high school, four in the next two years. Three or four during college.  One in my internship year, three in Chicago.  Now this one.  Twenty- four?"

"Twenty-two or three," David said calmly.  He and the doctor shared a look. "Please."  The doctor nodded, starting to make notes about the tests he wanted to run.  "Congrats, dear, it's the big whirly machine again."

"It always makes me nauseous to watch it run," he complained.

"Yay."  He came over to stroke through Xander's hair.  "We're both off tomorrow anyway," he reminded him gently.

"He'll still be here," the doctor assured him. "With that many head injuries, we'll need to observe him."  He looked at David.  "The nurse said he's a ballistics tech?"

"He is, but he's called into the field now and then.  Hence all the shootings."

"It's not every time."

"No, in Chicago it was one out of every ten or twelve times you got hurt," David agreed.  "Here, it's one out of every four so far."  Xander pouted.  "No more field work for a while, okay?  I can't take this."  Xander nodded.  "Thank you. You're giving me an ulcer, again."

"Not my fault I tripped over him."

"You could've said no," David reminded him.  Xander gave him a look.  "I know it was your father, Xander, but you still could've said no."  He went back to petting him.  "We'll have this fight when you're better and I'm more calm."

"I'm surprised you're not screaming yet," Greg said as he walked in.  "His clothes are where?  Night shift wanted them to search for evidence on the DB he tripped over during the chase."  David pointed at the neatly folded pile.  "Thank you."  He pulled out a bag and put them into there.  "I'll have someone swing home to get him something to wear home."

"He's staying overnight," the doctor assured him.

Greg looked at him.  "Need my handcuffs?"

The doctor looked at him then smirked.  "We've got plenty of restraints.  Thank you anyway, Detective."  Greg just beamed and headed off again.  He looked at Xander.  "You'll find we're not quite as tolerant as your old ER was.  No removing bullets in the ER.  No letting you go home with a mate when you obviously need to stay, and definitely no letting you two have sex in your room tonight."

"Sex isn't my main concern, that was him wanting comfort," David told him.  He looked at his mate, then at the doctor. "He's got a pretty good pain tolerance as well."

"It says that."  He got back to work, then came over to do the exam. "The bruises on his arm?"

"I pinched the hell out of him at work a few days ago."

"Did it help?"

"No, apparently not."

Xander looked at them.  "Keep it up, watch me walk out," Xander pointed out dryly.  "Remember, I will fight back."  David glared at him.  "I'm fine!  I could use the stitches on my head and the antibiotics since it was a dumpter that my head hit.  I can agree with that.  The rest, I can use some tylenol and a heating pad."

"Ice," the doctor reminded him.

"Heat works better on mine.  Ice makes me ache more."  He looked at his mate.  "David, I love you, but tough.  I'm *fine*.  Now, if we're going to have this fight here, you're going to end up screaming, I'm going to walk out, and then we're both going to pout for weeks.  It wasn't my idea to trip over the body.  It wasn't my idea to chase either of those people or to go over the railing of the first story fire escape."  David groaned, rubbing his head.  "Okay, that was my idea, I felt I'd fall if I had to hurry down the ladder and I landed okay but my hip started to twinge after that.  I landed on top of the guy then we chased the other person.  That's when I tripped and fell.  Which again, accident.  Not like I saw the body in the dark alleyway."

"You need your eyes checked again," David said quietly.  "I've noticed that."  He stepped closer, looking down at him.  "Quit, Xander.  I'm supposed to fuss and worry about you.  You do stupid stuff for a job."  Xander moaned.  "Stop," he ordered more firmly, but staying quiet.  "This keeps happening."

Xander looked at him.  "I don't plan it to happen, David.  I didn't get hurt when someone was shooting at me.  I didn't get hurt when I had my field cases.  I got hurt on Dad's case.  Minor injuries that I could've gotten in the back yard."

David's fist clenched and he leaned down, kissing him on the forehead.  "We'll discuss this when I'm calm," he said, walking out.

Xander thumped his head on the bed.  "Can you please hurry up so I can chase him?  I'm not staying.  I know how to handle a concussion."

"Shut up, Detective."  Xander flinched at that.  "He's right.  With your medical record, I'd probably have tied my spouse down by now."  Xander glared at him. "No matter what horrors your past contained to give you that many injuries, he's got a right to worry.  That's what spouses do."

"Just stitch me up."

"Fine."  He went to get the necessary supplies. "We still need to do a CT."

"Stitch me up," Xander ordered calmly and coldly.  "Now."  The doctor nodded and did it for him, then wrote him out the antibiotics prescriptions.  Xander concentrated on the magic he had, bringing his bag out of the trunk of the car and flying into his hand. He slid into something comfortable and stood up, doing up his shirt.  He was standing straight by sheer willpower, but he was fine with that.  He finished doing up his shirt, reattached his badge, put on his holster, then walked out, dodging around the waiting people when he checked out.  He caught Don's eye and nodded outside, then headed that way.  He bag was tossed into the back seat of the car, since David hadn't locked it, and he went for a walk.  Fortunately his subway pass was still in there.  He headed for the nearest entrance, then down into the darker depths.  The transit cop there gave him a look.  "Fight with the spouse," he muttered as he walked past him.

"You all right?"

"Pissed.  I got hurt chasing someone so he's pissed."  The cop gave him a startled look so he looked at him. "I'm Harris, ballistics tech."

"Oh, I've heard rumors about you being gay."  Xander nodded.  "Thank you, detective."

"Just Harris.  I don't need a rank."  He headed down, deciding to ride around for a while.  He saw it when some thugs got on but didn't pay that much attention to them, just noted their presence.

"Hey, lookie here, it's a copper," one of them sneered.

Xander looked at him, his eyes cold, glassy, and bored.  "And?  What?  You wanna kiss the badge?  Go sit down, kids."  He went back to his watching the walls.

"You know, it's not safe down here for guys like you," his friend sneered, moving closer.

Xander stood up and looked at him. "Little boy, back down.  I'm headed off to cool down from a fight with my boy.  So just back off and live and let live.  I'm not in the mood for this."  They laughed and one took a swing.  Xander got him down, then kicked the next one, working out some of his stress.  The third one was backed against the doorway.  "You want it too?"  He shook his head quickly.  "You sure?"  He nodded.  Xander noticed they were coming into a station.  "Good."  He pulled the emergency cord once they pulled in, which made the driver radio for help.  The transit cops ran in.  "They decided to jump me," he said, sitting down again.  "Little punk bitches," he told the third, staring him down.

"You'd better watch it, I'm connected," he sneered.

"Yay.  You've got friends, I've got friends.  I've also got an arsenal at home."  The guy went pale.  "That's right.  I'm like that.  Let's feel lucky I didn't want to do paperwork tonight, okay?"  He looked at the transit cops, who were looking very hesitant.  "Harris, ballistics, twelfth," he said, showing his badge.  "My ID got lost earlier when I was chasing someone."

The transit cops called in for someone to pick the guys up.  One of them moved closer.  "Are you all right, Detective?"

"Just Harris, please.  Ranks are annoying."  The officer gave him an odd look.  "Not like I wanted it.  My last posting made all the lab techs take it or else we'd be fired.  I'm a lab tech.  Ballistics."

"Oh.  You're the guy that came in from Chicago!  We heard you came in with most of a new shift for the labs."  Xander nodded.  "Why are you out so late?  Bad case?"

"I was on loan for a federal case, I ended up chasing suspects, where my ID got lost when I tripped over a DB in an alleyway, and then my husband and I had a fight in the hospital over this stuff happening to me. It's not like I ask," he complained, sitting down again and pouting.  "I don't ask for people to shoot at me.  I don't ask for people to put radiating bombs in my basement.  I don't ask for people to come up and try to stalk me or challenge me.  But suddenly it's my fault I get hurt?"  He looked at him.  "That's not fair.  We had a fight and I stomped off."

"My wife doesn't like the job either," he said wisely.

"Someone put a radioactive bomb in your basement?" the other officer asked.  Xander nodded.  "Why?"

"To prove a point.  I disarmed it and spent three wonderful weeks in a plastic radiation bubble because I kinda glowed a bit."  They shuddered.  "Does your wife complain?"

"My ex did," he admitted.  "The job and the dangers drove her off.  If you love your guy, you might wanna work this out.  Not saying he'll leave but it's a major stress."

"I know.  Not the first time we've had it," he sighed, rubbing over his face.  Other officers came in and he waved.  "They tried to jump me, I fought back.  I was probably wearing out some of the stress from the fight with my husband."

"Sure, Harris," one agreed, nodding at that.  He smirked at him.  "Don't realize you were heading back to work?"

"No but it makes sense.  I should go do that."  He looked at the third one, cocking up an eyebrow.  He ran.  "He was a spectator.  Didn't jump in."  He stood up.  "Can I catch a ride?"

"Sure," one of the new ones agreed.  "Chad's off tonight."  That got a gentle smile.  "You and what's-his-name have a fight?"

"I got hurt chasing someone.  Not the first time but we're both mad."  He sighed and helped them lift the guys, wincing a bit.  "I'm fine.  I tripped over a dead body and jumped off a first story fire escape."

"Ow."  They all hissed at that.

"Where were you before?" one of the transit cops asked.  "Since you just transferred in."

"Chicago."  He grinned.  "Most of my crew came with me from the twenty-seventh and I'm trying to stay lower profile than I had there."  He shrugged and helped lead the bodies out to the patrol car.  "Thanks, guys."  He slid into the back with them, smiling.  "This is why you should've just backed off."

"You let the other one go free?"

"All he did was watch and gape in awe.  Up to you if you name him or not.  I'm known for being fair to thugs, even ones who jump me."  The cops looked at him.  "I had to deal with a lot of gang activity.  I'm always known to be fair and just.  I don't care who you are: star, president, or banger.  You're a human I treat you like it.  You're not a human I treat you like that."  That got some smiles from the officers.  "What can I say, I had a good rep with the kids out there for being fair."

"I heard you did, Harris.  Good job with staying out of trouble too."

"They jumped me.  Not my idea.  I warned, they still came."

"Point," they agreed from the front seat, taking them off.

"You wanna do the paperwork?" one of them asked.

"Not really but I can if I have to," Xander offered.  "Not the first time.  Trust me."  That got some smiles so he shrugged, then winced.  "Ow."  He rubbed that shoulder.  "Tackling is bad.  Remind me of that in the future, okay?"  That got a nod.  "The fed case I ended up chasing suspects earlier.  Hence me and David having a fight in the ER and me stomping off."  He looked down at his hunting clothes then shrugged.  "I'm good enough for the office."  They pulled in and he got out, hauling the guys inside.  "Thanks, boys!"  He walked them back to the office area, sitting them down and handcuffing them to the chairs before doing anything else.  "Let me get this done so the block doc can look at you guys," he muttered as he sat down at a desk and pulled up the computer files system to find the forms.  He logged in and got to work.  "Name?" he asked the first one.


"Like the spell in the books or spelled differently?"  He gave him a look.  "Or is that an adopted one?"

"Adopted," he admitted sheepishly.  "Who are you?"

"CSI Harris, out of Chicago."  He stared him down and the kid shivered. "I take it my rep got handed over?"  They both nodded.  "Good.  Then next time don't be so stupid.  They have video surveillance on those things.  Now, name?  The longer you make me type the longer it is before you get an ice pack."




Mac walked into work the next morning, finding the labs mostly quiet.  He always got here early to handle the first case of the day.  He did a turn around, noting the few techs who were staying late.  Including one he knew he had sent home.  He walked into ballistics.  "Xander?"  Xander grunted, still staring into his microscope.  He noticed how he was standing.  "Did you take anything?"

"Six tyelnol over the last eight hours," he mumbled, frowning now.  "I hate the near misses."  He printed off the view to include in his report.

Mac came over to look.  "If you shift it....."

"It's got an extra line."  He waved a hand.  "Go ahead and try."  Mac tried and shook his head, frowning at it.  "That's what I'm saying.  I hate those."  He looked at him.  "Yes, I'm fine. I got stitches, David's probably gotten my antibiotic by now.  Not that I think I'll need it.  I'm fine, just a bit stiff."  He saw the look over his clothes.  "It was in my bag in the trunk.  David and I had a fight in the ER about my problem with people wanting to hurt me.  I walked off after he did.  So I came back to clear some of our backlog.  I'm fine to work."  He took the picture out of the printer and got to work on the report.

"How many have you done tonight?" Mac asked, looking at the stacks of reports.  "Xander?  You left last night at nine."

"I know that.  I was out of the ER by eleven, and back here by midnight.  I'm still fine to work."

"You're not fine to work and it's your day off."

"Not like I'm going home at the moment," he said bitterly.  "I don't want to have a fight with David.  I don't like fighting, he doesn't seem to get that."  He kept going, typing about as fast as usual.  "I'm fine, Mac.  Thank you anyway."

"Uh-huh."  He made Xander stop, saving it for him, then made the kid look at him.  "He's got to be sulking."

"He called a while ago and demanded to know where I went."  He stared at him.  "I don't do it on purpose. I don't like when it happens, but it does.  I'm trying to stay out of trouble and it's not *my* fault that I had to chase someone down and ended up tripping over a dead body!"  He got free.  "How in the hell is it my fault?"

"It's not," he agreed.  "Though you probably shouldn't have been chasing someone."

"They were tossing the room when we got there.  Not like Dad's as fast as he was when he was my age."

"Point," he agreed calmly.  "I'm not either."  He patted him on the cheek.  "Go home, Xander.  After you finish this one."  Xander shook his head and got back to work, rereading his last paragraph. "I mean it."

"I'm fine."

"That's an order, Xander."

Xander looked at him.  "You want to make me go wander in the park, that's up to you; at least I'm making sure we get caught up.  I'll go home later."  He got back to work, finishing that report and marking the picture with a purple marker then stapling it to the printed report so it could go into the correct pile.  He reached around Mac, getting another sample. "I'm sure you've done this before," he noted calmly.

"I have and I regretted it when my wife was killed."

Xander looked at him.  "David won't be dying today.  I know when he's going to die. I have friends who can tell me that.  Besides, he'll be here within the hour.  He knows I came here to work. He called the desk phone instead of my cell.  Now, shoo.  You're cutting my productivity."

Mac sighed and left him alone, letting Xander get back to the next match.  He went back to his office to call David.  "Dave, Mac.  Yes, he's here.  He's apparently been here since about midnight.  I don't know what he did in that spare hour.  I didn't ask.  No, he didn't look any worse than last night. A whole stack of reports waiting on people."  He smiled.  "He said he didn't want to fight.  David, it happens.  I know he's a lab tech.  I'll try to keep him out of the field if I can," he promised at the assertion that it was only that part of the job. "Do you think it'd help?"  He saw Don walking his way reading something.  "Hold on."  He put him on hold.  "What's wrong?" he asked when Don walked in.

"Xander does real reports too."  He handed it over. "Night shift patrol supervisor.  Some kids jumped him on the subway.  He did the arrest reports."  He grimaced.  "He didn't turn in the guy with them?"

He dialed Xander's office. "There was a third suspect?"

"He gaped and stared.  Didn't taunt.  I let him go since he ran."  The phone line was cut.

Mac and Don shared a look.  "That's probably how he got his rep for being fair.  Most of us would've arrested the third guy and all their friends for watching.  He in the park?"  Mac shook his head.  "Dave woke me up earlier looking for him when he didn't come home."  Mac pointed at the hallway.  "Oh, tell me he didn't come work it off."

"Yup.  You've got a nice stack."

"At least it's helping you and me both."  He walked off with the arrest report.

Mac considered it then went back to David.  "David, I do know what happened. Xander took a ride on the subway and stopped some kids getting into a fight.  No, he's here.  A large stack on the desk.  Because he said he didn't want to fight.  Think about it, David, with his past life, it could happen at home.  You know that."  He listened to his complaints.  "David, what would've happened if Xander hadn't handled it?" he asked quietly.  "It's not like he asked to have someone shoot at him.  It's also not every case.  It's not even a great majority of his past cases from the review I did before the hiring board.  He's only had three shooting reviews in his file."  He smirked at the 'of course, they hated talking to him and just asked him informally' complaint.  "No, those would've been noted too," he assured him.

"There was one of those noted and it was while he was recovering from the guy who stabbed him in the thigh.  David, I don't send him out on anything that could be considered dangerous.  You know that.  I send him out on the most innocuous things.  I'm going to keep doing that if he wants to keep doing field work once or twice a month.  So far, nothing that's happened has been case related.  He tripped, David.  I got a report from Lee this morning in my email.  He tripped.  Lee admitted Xander was about a half block in front of him.  He also called it in as he continued on.  I know that, and I know Lee's personal message agreed he didn't want Xander in the field either.  So just calm down and think.  David, it can't be as bad as when he was hunting," he said quietly.  "You and I both realize that. There's no way he wasn't hurt more back then.  Now, he's channeling it in a socially acceptable way and it's not the standard thing.

"He doesn't get shot at every case.  It doesn't happen every month.  Yeah, he had a bad run in there.  We run the same risks here though.  He could be attacked coming into work or in the lab.  You've seen lab assaults.  You were in one or two.  Plus a bombing.  It's the same risks you run because you're one of us too.  So let him handle it.  He's good at that.  He doesn't do it to worry you and he's not doing it on purpose.  I swear he's not doing it on purpose, David.  No one here is going to challenge him that way.  No, they tried to jump him," he admitted at the wise question.  "Xander let the one that was just watching go.  Don got told."  He smiled at that complaint. "It could be a lot worse, David.  Think about what he could've turned out like with his past."  He grinned.

"Definitely.  Sure, I'm trying to send him home and he's ignoring me."  He smirked a bit evilly.  "As long as it doesn't end in a divorce.  I know that's on his mind.  Because I know how Xander thinks, David.  The one thing he's scared of having happen is you to abandon him.  Therefore stay calm.  No, that probably scared him since I heard you were a drama queen when he got hurt.  Thanks."  He hung up and got to work, watching as Xander walked in and delivered a stack of reports.  "Thank you.  Go home."

"Bite me."  He walked off, heading to the detective's area.  He put stacks down on each of the desks.  "Vicaro?" he asked Don, who pointed.  "Thanks."  He dropped that stack there with his name on top of it, just in case.  Then he went back to drop Danny's and Stella's in their lockers.  It wasn't that hard to pop them.  Stella came in and frowned at him so he handed her her stack with a grin.  "Didn't know where to leave it since you said to not put it on your desk."  He walked off, going back to his lab and the lesser stack of work they had left to do.

She looked at the stack, then put it into her locker and walked out, heading to Mac's office.  "What happened to Xander?"

"He was chasing a suspect and tripped over your body last night," he noted dryly.

"I realize that.  Why is he *here* today, now?"

Mac looked at her.  "David yelled."

"Oh.  Okay.  Worried spouse?"  Mac nodded. "It happens."

"A few times now.  He'll be here later to have a traditional screaming match, like usual, and feed his mate since he probably had a candy bar for breakfast."  He smirked at her.  "Where were yours going?"

"He had popped my locker and was putting them inside when I walked in," she admitted.

"You and Danny both told him not to put them on your desk." He smiled and got back to work.  "Give him a better target."

"Sure, Mac."  She walked off, going to gather the reports.  There were a lot of people coming in to find paperwork apparently.  She found Danny sitting down staring at his.  "Xander and David had a fight."

"I heard from Don."  He looked at her.  "Did he magically put them in there?"

"I don't know how he popped the locks, but he was doing it to mine.  Mac suggested we give him a better place to put them for us."

"Yeah," he snorted, getting everything he needed and heading out with the reports. "Xander?"  Xander glanced over from his latest comparison sample.  He walked in, smacking him on the back of the head.  "Don't get into my locker again."

"Then give me somewhere else to make sure you'd get 'em."

"Fine," he agreed. "My lab coat in the trace lab.  Pick a pocket."

"Deal." He pointed at the single report on the table.  "One last one for you and Monroe."

"Gee, thanks, I mean that," he said dryly, looking through them. "How long have you been here?"

"Midnight, since the kids who jumped me got arrested."

"Kids who jumped you?"  Xander nodded, making notes on his computer now.  "Why?  And where?"

"Subway.  Dave and I had a fight so I walked off.  I got 'em down and cuffed, called for backup, they got arrested, I did the paperwork so the officers didn't have to, then came up to work."

"Okay."  He considered it.  "Why did you two fight?"

"Because I got hurt being in the field."

"That happens."

"Tell that to David, he'll remind you it happens a lot now and then."  He finished off, saving the report then went to check for matching cases.  "We needed to clear the backlog anyway.  I've only got a few more samples and then I'll go up and help in Trace for a while. I could use the refresher hours."  He didn't find anything on the bullet or the gun so included that in that report, then printed it.  He handed it over.  "Another for Mac."  He bagged up the sample and went to the next in his stack.

"Go take a soda break," Danny ordered.

"I'm fine."

"Do I care?  Go take a piss and soda break."  He pulled Xander away, closing the lab up on his way out, dragging Xander with him.  He pushed him into the break room. "I doubt you've had a break all night, take one."  He went back to gather his things up, including the new one for Mac, then headed to hand it to him and back to work.  "He's taking his first break.  He said he's only got a few left and then he's heading for Trace."

"That's fine.  There's a good place for them to have their fight later," Mac promised, looking at that one.  "I had hoped that one had a match."

"I was watching as he searched, nothing came up," he offered.

"It happens," he agreed.  He looked at Danny, then down toward ballistics.  "He's still on break, I'm impressed. Thank you."

"He only has three more samples in his stack, Mac, and we both know how backed up Chad's been."

"He'll be happy when he comes in tonight," he said with a slight smile.  "Happy techs are nice."

"They are, but now I've got tons of shit to collate into files."  He went to do that, finding Stella doing the same thing at her desk.  "Xander's nearly cleared the backlog."  She gave him a horrified look.  "Yeah."

"Damn," she said, shaking her head.  "Flack's going to be buried under paperwork."

"Not funny!" Don called from the doorway.  He walked in.  "Have either of you noticed a few of them have David's name repeatedly in them?"

"I had, but that stopped by about my third one."

"So he worked it out," Danny agreed dryly.  "We can always make him find and replace those and reprint 'em if we have to.  He saves all his reports."

"Good.  At least I've got tons of suspects for today.  Where is the kid?"

"I made him take a break."  He shrugged and smirked a bit. "He hadn't taken one yet."

"I'm wondering what he was wearing," Stella offered.

"He somehow had clothes that came from the car," Don admitted dryly.  "He took stuff out of that bag, including a different gun."

Danny smirked.  "Mac went nuts over his collection at home," he reminded him.  "I'm sure he could wear a different one each shift for a month or so.  Plus a new knife."

Don shivered.  "Let's hope he doesn't decide to use them on someone."  He walked off, going to send out people to arrest others for him.  There was no way he was picking up twelve suspects by himself.  But hey, his boss would be impressed with his diligence today.


Danny looked up as David came in, then pointed at where Xander was squatting down to check on something in the microwave.  He nodded and David shook his head, slamming the door.  Xander jumped and looked at him. "I can go."

"No, it's fine.  I just wanted to make sure he still had a fear reflex," David assured him, staring at his mate.  "You pissed the dog off."


David moved closer, staring into his good eye.  "You need your eyes checked, your aim's been off," he said quietly.  "I won't have you getting hurt."  Xander gave him a sheepish look.  "Are we understood?  Next time you get hurt, I'm sending you away."

"I don't do it on purpose, David."

"I don't care, Xander.  It still keeps happening."  He patted him on the unbruised cheek.  "If it keeps happening, I'm going to have Mac make sure you're only in the labs.  Understood?"  Xander nodded, looking down. "Good.  I like it when you understand."  He made him look at him again.  "You're getting your eyes checked."  Danny slid a card down the table and he smiled at him. "Thank you."  He looked at his mate again.  "What are you doing instead of eating and sleeping today, our day off?"

"Clearing some of the backlog.  Come see."  He pulled him over to the microscope then pulled the slide out of the microwave, putting it back.  "It's fluoresces when heated. By the way, this one's got a lamp problem so I changed it out."  He grinned at him.  "It's a type of algae but the books don't list it."

"And what do you call that on the report?" David asked, crossing his arms and smirking at him.

"Unknown algae sample with characteristics given if I can't get someone at the local college's biology department with a clue.  Of course, only after I do a search online."

David patted him again, smiling. "Very good.  I trained you well, Xander, but you still haven't eaten.  Write the report, turn off the scope, and let's go."

"Yes, dear."  He gave him a grin.  "I did about twenty things for you."

"I'm proud but you still didn't eat and you made me worry all night about where you were.  Next time change the message to 'I'm alive' or something."  Xander blushed and nodded, getting down to write the report, including a picture of what the microscope showed.  He slid it over to Danny, who just smirked.  "Thank you for keeping track of my naughty little boy here, Detective.  I'm going to take him home and make him sorry for running away, again."


David hit him on the arm. "Shut up, Xander.  You did."  Xander sighed and nodded, trudging out.  David copied down the name and address, then handed the eye appointment card back before following.  "What do you want for lunch?"

Xander looked at his watch. "It's lunch?  Already?"  David nodded, so he sighed. "I'm sorry.  I was going to call when I took my next break."

David pinched him.  "I'm sure you were but you got lost.  Again."  They stared at each other.  "We're clear?"

"Yes, David.  You know I don't do it on purpose."

"I know.  Which is why you're not more than worrisome and irritating when you do get hurt. Which is why I still put up with you."  Xander nodded, hugging him.  "Thank you.  Now, it's more than past time for you to eat and sleep.  Let's go."  Xander nodded, letting himself be taken home.  "Do I have a backlog?"

"Only the cold stuff that's in the cabinet," he offered.  "I did a few of those while Danny watched me.  He said you trained me very well too."

"I did. You're a testament to mine and Bobby's training skills.  Doesn't mean I like interns."  He took Xander out to the car, taking him home.  "So, punks on the subway?"

"Yeah, three punks, two jumped me for having a badge.  By the way, they found my wallet with the DB so I've got my ID back.  Stella got called out on it and she found it.  Then she came to get a DNA sample for the dumpster samples."

"Good.  Anything else happen?"

"Yeah, the third punk wasn't really involved, he just watched.  So I gave him the option, he ran."

"Which was probably smart. Well, he'll be able to bail his buddies out and your rep will grow yet again.  Let's try not to get as bad as it was, okay?  The day the Crypts all came into the station about one of their girl's being killed made a lot of the cops search out hard liquor for dinner."

"I know.  I'm being a good boy."

"I know you are."  He patted him on the knee, then signaled a change of lanes and headed for the house.  "I'm cooking."

"Okay.  If you feel like cooking."

"I do.  I had to do something last night since I couldn't sleep and the house was still clean."


"Call, Xander.  How's your head?"


"Any further dizziness?"

"No, not yet.  We'll see about later."

"Good, and then you're going to have a CT later tonight.  The ER arranged it for you and I've already called our old doctor to get a recommendation.  You've got an appointment with the new one next week.  I gave Mac the paperwork since it'll be early Thursday.  No other times open this month."  Xander groaned.  "Suck it up."

"Yes, dear. I'm sorry."

"It's all right," he sighed.  "I know you don't do it on purpose to worry and annoy me.  Just try to keep it down.  Okay?"

"Yes, dear."

"Good.  Thank you."   He pulled onto the bridge and ran into a wreck.  "Fuck."

Xander giggled and called dispatch.  "This is CSI Harris, there's a wreck on the Brooklyn Bridge.  Has anyone reported?  Heading out.  No, no lights or sirens from where we are.  Looks like a third of the way across on our side, heading away.  Thanks."  He hung up and looked at him.  "No one had called it in."

"Which surprises me with how many cellphones are probably on this bridge at the moment," he noted, looking at his mate.  He kissed him.  "I still love you, even when you do vex me and start to partake of the moron signal now and then by not calling. You ever forget to call me again and I will kick your ass out.  Understood?"  Xander nodded.  David smirked and gave him another kiss.  "Good boy.  After you've rested I'll reward you."  A siren went off on their other side and he looked but he couldn't move.  "Good luck with that," he noted dryly.  The cop car inched up as people tried to get out of his way.

"I should go look."

"You're not licensed as an EMT or a doctor, you're not required to, and you're injured.  With your luck, you'll fall off the bridge in a bout of dizziness."  Xander smiled at that, slumping down some.  "Good."  The cop cars finally made it closer to there, followed by an ambulance.  He saw some people getting out and grimaced as he got out to look too. "Eww.  There's a head on the pavement."  He heard another siren and got back in, closing the door and locking it.  "At least it's not one of ours probably."

"Good.  Though my lab is perfectly clear and cleaned up."

"Congratulations."  He gave him another kiss. "You're still in trouble for not calling."

"Yes, dear."


That night, Chad, the other ballistics tech walked in and saw three boxes on his table.  He frowned, going to the usual storage cabinet, it hadn't been nearly full when he left.  He opened it, staring in horror.  Then he paged Mac, who came walking in a minute later.  He pointed.  "Someone stole some!  We're missing evidence, people are going to go free!  We're so screwed!"

"Xander and David had a fight," he said calmly.  "He was here from midnight last night until about ten this morning.  He also cleaned."  Chad gaped.  He nodded.  "That's all you've got."

Chad hugged him then danced around.  "I love you for hiring me a Xander of my own!"  He hugged him again.  "Thank you, Mac!"

"Let go," he said tolerantly, patting him on the back.  "Keep us clear if possible.  Xander's got a slight head injury.  He tripped over a body and hit the side of a dumpster with his head.  David called to say his CT did show a concussion but not a bad one.  Also, some of his reports earlier mentioned David. You might get Stella or someone in here asking for a reprint for a DA."

"Sure.  It's easy enough to find and replace his name."  He beamed and hugged him again.  "I love you!"

"Chad, I'm not like that."  He patted him on the back and walked off to the laughter.  Happy techs were a good thing.  He headed up to trace since he had been paged up to there too.  He saw the amused look.  "David and Xander had a fight so Xander came in to work.  He cleared up some of the backlog from ten until about two."

"I realized it had to be him when I saw the reports.  No, it's this one," she said, handing it over.  "Partially Xander and partially Messer's styles. I looked at the sample and they're right but I thought that was in the books."

Mac looked at the picture, then at the reference page, then shrugged. "It does look different.  See if you can tell first."  She nodded, taking the report back.  "That was at about two this afternoon and he pulled that case yesterday, a head injury, all night clearing up ballistic's backlog, then came up here."

"Ah.  No wonder Danny was still grinning when I came in.  Xander must've been loopy by then.  Should I check the other ones?"

"No, that's why I let Danny work in here until he left."  He walked off, going to get the other reference books.  That hadn't looked the same.  A few hours later he heard her complaining as she stomped past; so Xander had been right.


Lee and Amanda came off the plane ramp, looking around.  Xander waved so they walked over and she hugged him, looking him over. "At least you look better than your father did when he made it home."

"David complained, we had a fight, I walked off and did lab work all night," he admitted, scratching the back of his head.  "Come on. The only reason I got through security was that I was escorting a high level Fed about a crossover case."  They nodded, following him down.  Back at the security outpost, they ran into running people.  "Crap," he muttered, looking at the transit cops.  "What's going on?" he called.

"Bomb threat, sir!"

"Fuck."  He called it in.  "Mac, I'm picking up Lee and Amanda.  Bomb threat here.  Want me here?"  He listened.  "Yes, I do know how.  No, I'm in the good but not fast category.  I could've sworn I handed you that list."

"He and I both," Lee called.  He pulled his badge for the guards, who pointed.  So he walked them that way.  He took the phone.  "Mac, tell David I insisted so he doesn't get into trouble, okay?"  He hung up and handed the phone back. "It's nice that they worry about you."  They made it to the outer line and Xander pulled his ID, Lee and Amanda pulled theirs.  "Junior and I here are both qualified to build and destroy if needed."

"Let me check, sir.  SWAT's on the way now."  He went to tell the scene commander.  "Sir, we have a native Detective Harris here and two Feds from Homeland offering to help?" he offered quietly.

"Harris?  Where do I know that name from?" he called.

"Harris, from Chicago," one of the guys called.

"Ballistics tech with a background in explosives.  Undid the dirty bomb in his basement and got totally radiated for almost a month," another offered.  He looked at the other guy.  "The Feds his parents?  I heard his parents were."

"The guy called him Junior."

"Let 'em in," the scene lead ordered.  He went back, letting the in, so he gave them a long stare on the way in. "You are?"

"Harris, CSI, Ballistics, Trace, and Explosives," Xander said, shaking his hand. "Lee and Amanda Stetson, Homeland."

"Wonderful.  Incoming?"  They both nodded.  "That federal case Taylor got recently?"

"We borrowed our son," Lee agreed, smiling a bit until Amanda elbowed him.

"Forgive him, not enough coffee on the flight.  Can we help, Captain?"

"We're scoping it right now," he offered, letting them see the video screen.  He rewound it and let them see it all.

Xander looked, then pulled out his glasses.  "First, that's the secondary.  Primary trigger's underneath," he offered.

"Is that a canister of gas?" Lee asked, pointing at something.

"Someone wanted a redundant backup," Xander agreed.  "Can I get a vest and some tools?"  They were handed to him.  "When's the other bomb expert getting here?"

"Ten minute ETA."

"Cool.  Thank you."  He walked out there.  He squatted down in front of the bomb, looking at the other guy.  "Hey, I'm Harris."

"Okay.  Why are you out here?"

"Because I've seen these before.  The primary's underneath, with the gas canister."  The guy groaned. "Help me flip it, kid."  They carefully flipped it, Xander having him keep a finger in a very important spot.  "Okay."  Lee came out and handed him a headset.  "It's Harris.  Yup, me.  Well, you said you loved me, dearest.  Nope, we've got a canister, a thermal heating coil, and then a secondary trigger up top."   He flipped it back over, to look then shook his head.  "By definition, not by name please."  He listened to it.  "Nope.  The other one.  Good, you got live feed?  Thank you."  He nudged wires out of the way, finding the one he wanted.  "Trigger, battery, then gas, right?"  He nodded, doing those three, then flipping it over suddenly, getting the balance switch, the timer, and then the battery on that end.  "Screwdriver," he ordered, getting handed one.  "Philips, not flat."  The head got changed.

"Thank you, dear."  He opened the small battery cover, noticing the wires.  "Ooooh, someone was a *smart* boy!  Plastique, my favorite squishy ball!"  He got it undone too and put it all aside.  "Okay, someone get me evidence containers?" he called more loudly.  He got to work dismantling it to make sure they hadn't included any more surprises, finding a small one.  "Hmm, thermal coil was rigged backwards.  Someone obviously doesn't fix his own air conditioning."  When the bomb guys got there, he handed over the evidence containers, then the headset, then he let Lee help him up so he could dust off.  He looked at the top bomb guy.  "We all know I'm good, not fast.  Thermal coil was inserted backwards.  Plastique's in the opaque container, looks regulation gray so maybe not homemade.  Gas container feels full and cool to the touch, can't tell you what it is."  He shrugged.  "Need me for anything else? I'm dropping the 'rents off at their hotel so they can wrap up the Feddy case they called me in on."

"Who are you?" another of the guys demanded. "We do paperwork around here, boy."

Xander looked at him, then smirked.  "I'm Harris, ballistics under Taylor, and I do paperwork too.  Probably a lot more than you do every day.  Remember, I'm the one who comes to get your guns when you have to shoot someone."  He looked at the commander, nodding at him.  "Speaking of, I'm good for midnight calls," he offered more quietly.  That got a nod.  "Wouldn't be my first time."

"How many people have you shot?" the loud guy demanded, sneering at him.

"This year?  Four.  Last year?  About twelve."  They gave him a stunned look.  "I do field tech work too, including some really nasty serial cases.  That's why my husband hates to see me coming to pick up anyone or out of the lab.  But I'm good for that."  He looked at the commander again.  "Standard report, describing what I did?"  That got a nod.  "I'll email it from my couch."

"Thank you, Harris."  He shook his hand.  "Going with the Feds?"

"The 'rents.  They borrowed me for a case.  We're on cleanup for that one."  He walked them off, calling the station.  "Redundant backup guy.  Gas canister, small node of nastiness in another one, and then plastique on the battery.  Well, it would've only given them two minutes, Mac.  You can't make it from the entrance back here in two minutes.  Besides, I needed something to do today."  He grinned.  "Sure.  You tell him that.  He knows not to let me come to the airport."  He hung up and walked on, grinning at them.  "I'm a good boy most of the time."

"Keep telling yourself that, son," Lee said, clapping him on the back.  "It took me nearly two years to make Amanda see I was right, it just kept happening to me."

"What about me?" she complained.  "You just happened upon me one day and coopted me, then refused to have me trained."  He blushed at that, giving her a sheepish smile.

"So that's where he gets that look from," Don said as they walked outside.  "No wonder you told me to wait in the car."  Xander just smiled sweetly.  "What was it?"

"Redundant backups out the ass."  He shrugged.  "Twelve minutes, ten to get people there and then inside."

"Better you than trying to rebuild," he decided. "David won't be happy."

"That's why David made you come with me," Xander assured him patting him on the back.  "Come on, let's drop them at the hotel, then we'll feed you tonight, Don."

"Good.  David said he's ordering."

"Quite possibly since I can't cook."  He noticed Amanda looking around. "Problems?"

"Hoping there's no more."

"It happens," Don assured her.  He got them into the car and buckled in, then headed to their hotel to drop them off.  Then he took Xander home, presenting him to his mate.  "This happen a lot?"

"Only at airports when he's picking up or dropping someone off," he admitted. "If we're flying out for fun it never happens."

"Hey, I didn't even get tipped at the club," Xander defended.  "Not even a phone number."

"I'm surprised," David said facetiously.  He pulled Xander inside.  "What did we want to order tonight, Don, and did you want to play Scrabble or Trivial Pursuit with us?"

"Eighties," Greg offered with a grin.

"Trivial Pursuit's fine and I'm good with whatever."

"I was going to call out for Mexican," David told him.

"That's cool.  I'll eat about anything."  The menu was handed over so he picked out what he wanted and paid for it, then sat down to look at the board.  "You know, usually the other CSIs just go out to drink."

"We learned not to club thanks to Xander," Greg assured him happily.  "But if it's truly slowing down now, maybe we can go back to that."  He grinned as Abby came down the stairs.  "Did you decode that stuff?"

"I did and Lee's already got the fax back at his hotel."  She hugged them all.  "Hi, I'm Abby."

"I figured as much since I didn't think that you were Mortty," Don offered with a grin.

"Nope, she's my cousin but we were raised as sisters."  She sat down between him and Greg.  "David, did you get me something?"

"I did," he agreed. "I went on what Mortty usually eats."

"Cool."  She beamed at Xander as he came in.  "Nice job with the bomb."

"Thank you."  He sat down on the floor side of the coffeetable.  "I want black."  That piece was handed over.

"I get green, Don, blue?"  He nodded so he got that one.  "David's usually brown so Abby gets blood red," he offered with a grin.  She smiled at him and bounced a bit.  "We'll play by normal rules since Don's not as big of a geek as we are.  Though extraneous information is always helpful," he offered.  Don looked confused.  "Geek rules state you have to over answer and offer a trivia bit if possible."

"Wow."   He had no idea that geeks had special rules for games like Trivial Pursuit.  The official rules never said anything about special rules for geeks.  "I can do that in some of the sports stuff, but not the science stuff."

"We'll excuse that this time," Xander promised with a teasing grin.  "We should do this with the other geeks on shift," he said when David came out with drinks.

"We can do that some day we have the night off," he promised.  The dogs came out and ran to sit in Abby's and Don's laps.  "Comfy?" he asked.

"I was going to ask the same thing," Don said, looking down at Sarah, who gave him the biggest begging eyes.  "Sure, you can have my lap, Sarah."  She snuggled in and woofed happily at the Nick dog.  He shook his head.  "She's a good guy ta have around the office.  Even if Vicaro can't keep food in his desk."  Xander giggled at that.

"No, that was mine," Greg admitted.  "Nick there came in dragging his beef jerky.  She does Rennie's jerky as treats, but she's a sugar hound.  Creamy filling and jelly are her best friends."

"I've noticed.  She licked my tie the other day to get some off for me.  Which I thought was very nice except for the part where she pounced me from the front desk."

"I heard, she got tucked into my lab that day.  So, did Chad dance around and sing?"

"He grabbed Mac and professed his undying love," Don said with a smirk. "How's Trace doing?"

"Only cold stuff and current caseload," David said happily.  "Plus one really frustrating algae sample that Xander ran into.  No one knows what it is."

"I know it's not native unless it's mutated," Xander said, looking at him with a grin. "It's from Horatio's area and further south.  Topmost border is the islands off the Carolinas."

"Interesting.  Did you fax down a description?"

"I did and Calleigh wrote that she'd ask Eric since he's a diver and has to deal with that stuff.  I'm expecting one within a few days since it said it's common around boating marinas, it attaches to oil and stuff."

"To eat it?" Don asked.  Xander shrugged.  "Let me know.  It could impact that case."

"Which is Ray's," Xander promised with a grin.  "Did you get some bad guys?"

"I got so many bad guys the judge complained," he agreed happily. His phone rang so he looked at the number. "My dad."  He flipped it open. "Yeah, Dad?"  He listened, then shook his head.  "No, I'm having some time off with our new techs.  Trivial Pursuit, geek rules."  Abby grinned at that and wiggled some, making the dogs bark.  "No, no alcohol involved, dad.  Why?"  He rolled his eyes.  "Of course I know Danny, why?"  He groaned.  "Thanks for the warning."  He hung up and called him. "Stay inside.  Someone's hunting for you."

"If he's already out, have him come here," David ordered calmly.

"If you're already out of the house, come here, Danny.  No, I'm at Xander's."

"We've got the spare room and an arsenal," Xander agreed.  "Even if it's gang thugs."

"Come here, Danny.  Don't matter, get here now.  Cab if necessary but get here."  He hung up.  "He's out with Stella and them."  He called Stella's phone. "My dad just called, someone put out a hunt for Messer's head.  Get him to Xander's now. They said they'd hide him at least for tonight."  He hung up and looked at them.  "Sorry about that."

"Not the first one," David assured him, pointing at Greg.  "They wanted him for finding out who had gotten one of their boys."

"I let the third bitch punk kid go for not jumping in, just standing there in awe," Xander offered.  "I'm known for being fair."  Abby nodded, having heard that.  "Oh, Mortty came out with her tat at the office."

"She said so. She said Mac took note but nothing else.  Anybody try anything?"

"Not yet," he promised. "If so, I've got her back.  They all know this by now."  She nodded, grinning at him.  The food came so David got up to get it, tipping him nicely, bringing it back to hand out.  "Danny can have my nachos," Xander promised.  David smiled at him and put them aside.  He saw a patrol car pulling up and got out, waving Danny inside.  "Hi."

"What the fuck?" he asked quietly.

"Don's dad said you're being hunted.  I've got the better fall back space and David said so."  He waved at the car, getting a nod as he closed the door.  They headed off and he walked him into the living room.  "I let you have my nachos."

"Thanks."  He sat down, looking at Don.  "Who?"

Don looked at him.  "Who do you think?  Sonny got shot by someone and they wanted to make sure it wasn't you or yours."

"Not as far as I know or care."

"Good.  You're still being safe tonight."  He pushed over his extra burrito.  "Eat, play games with us."  Greg handed him the extra little circle.  "Thanks, guys."

"Not an issue.  We've had to do this before when Ray got hunted," David assured him.  "Xander, no landmines in the lawn."

"Yes, dear.  Can I put back on the nozzle?"  David looked at him so he gave him a very sweet grin. "Only sleeping gas with holy water spray."

"Fine."  Xander squealed and got up to install that then came back to eat some dinner once everything was hooked up.  "If any of you catch him drafting weapons ideas at work, confiscate it and hand it to me," David ordered firmly.  "Xander's horrible about it."

"Sure," Danny agreed, smirking at him and nodding.  "How horrible?"

"He changed some landmines so they barely threw dirt and mined the last house's lawn," Greg offered, smirking back.  "Then there was the flamethrower over the doorway to scare off the Mormons who kept waking him up just as he got to bed.  The static generating switch that ran about five volts through you under the doormat.  The rubber ball shooting cannon out of the old tower window."  David moaned at that.  "A few trick bricks that exposed a small trigger and targeting system for a taser system he had installed.  The arsenal, the knives and swords, oh, and let's not forget his cooking.  We did use that offensively twice against some people who refused to talk."  He smiled sweetly at them.  "Never, ever eat Xander's cooking.  It is toxic, worse than anything you've heard.  What Dave went through with the cookies?  Nothing compared to the guys who ended up in the ER thanks to bread from a mix and hamburger helper.  With hot peppers."  Danny moaned at that.  "So far, Stan can eat his cooking, Xander can usually eat his cooking, anyone else?  We're kinda thinking it's a small club of people with cast iron stomachs."

"How bad can it be?" Danny asked.  David got up and got him a cookie, handing it over.  He nibbled.  "Allspice?"  He ate another bite, then grinned.  "Funny flavored but okay.  I'll remember that for when we've got people who won't talk but'll be there for a while."

"Yeah, me too," Don agreed, digging into his normal food.

"Man, he lasted longer than Stan did," Greg said in awe, giving Danny a look like he was the Geek's God.  "Okay, I now officially bow down to you for being able to eat Xander- cooking."

Danny just smirked.  "I've had worse.  I couldn't cook worth a damn until my girlfriend showed me.  Took her months of food poisoning to do it too."

"I gave up after six weeks of it," David assured him.  "Even Ray's mother couldn't make him cook."  He and Xander shared a look.  "No, you can't date her, I don't share."

"Why would I want to?  She'd turn stalker and possibly a serial killer," he said blandly.  "Like the others did."

Danny patted him on the back.  "You have the best reason ta go gay of anyone, Xander."  Xander just beamed at him.

"Thankfully the present wielding fanclub leaves him alone now," Greg said happily, taking a bite of dinner.  "Okay, let's get started, people.  Roll to see order."  They rolled to see who went first.  "Geek rules apply but Don's exempt unless he can hold up the trivia requirement."  Danny gave him an odd look.  "You don't play by geek's rules?"

"Not in quite a while," he admitted, grinning at him. "Not since college."

"Well, here we do," Xander assured him.  "That's why I married myself a geek, who is incredibly understanding and puts up with me."  He smiled sweetly at David.  "I still have no idea what to get you for our anniversary tomorrow, honey."

"I'll give you another week," he said blandly.  Xander kissed him and he smiled.  "Not in front of those who're het."

"Anyone mind?"

"As long as you don't try ta slip me any tongue, we're all good as long as it doesn't get to groping," Don said happily.

Danny looked at them. "It's your house, grope away.  He'll blush and he'll find someone tonight if it gets him that hot."  Don swatted at him so he chuckled evilly.  "Is that tagging me for later?"

"No!  Mean bastard!"

Danny just smirked.  "Thank you."

Abby giggled, hugging them both.  "No one does bastard like Gibbs, guys.  So behave before something happens and he's got to come save me."  They all nodded, leaving it there.  She dealt with federal bastards, they were only local bastards.


Xander walked in the next morning, his shirt tucked in and everything in place.  David gave him a long stare. "What?"

"You changed shirts."

"I spilled coffee on it.  It's in the back seat."  He stole a quick kiss with a grin as he walked past him.  "You can check if you want."

"No I trust you," he assured him, watching him walk off.  He went to find Mac.  "Who's hunting Danny and what did Xander just do?  He's a bit too happy, he's got that hunting look in his eyes."

Mac looked up at him. "Let me call and see."  David nodded, sitting down to stare at him.  "In private?"

"If he's in trouble, I have to know first."

"I doubt he would be."  He called the hospital, he had a nice contact there from all the times they've had to visit someone.  "Hey, it's Mac.  Was my ballistics tech there earlier?"  He listened, then nodded once, smirking a bit. "Thank you.  He okay?"  He nodded.  "Good.  Thanks."  He hung up, calling Xander's lab.  "What did you do?"

"I had a talk with him in a reasonable, non-threatening manner about how I'm the bigger badass, Danny was like my big brother, and I could easily consider him killable since he's obviously not a human being.  He didn't believe me so I gave him a reference.  His boy called, came back pale and squishy, then whispered in his ear.  The guy gave me a horrified look and I reminded him I was still a cop and a good boy most of the time, as long as you didn't threaten those I consider family, and that should he try to challenge me, I'd be very upset with him.  I left it there.  Why?  Did he call to make a complaint?"

"No, but your husband wanted to know what happened."

"You know, my husband can actually *ask* me those things, Mac.  That's one of the reasons why I married him.  Of course, that means he's going to be tied to the bed tonight and begging for not asking me himself.  Love you, hubby, but you know you can ask me anything."

"Did you threaten him?" David asked quietly.

"No, I made very simple statements.  If he touched anyone I considered my family, he was going to not like the consequences.  If he touched anyone who was my direct family, he was definitely not going to like the consequences.  Since he was already pale and squishy himself by then, he decided I was a bit right.  Anything else?  Chad left me two."  No one said anything.  "Then I'm getting back to work."  He hung up and got back to work.  He looked over when Danny walked in and closed the door.  "I pointed out you're like my big brother and that no one touches my family, and if you yell, I'm going to tie you down and tickle you until you beg."  Then he grinned and hugged him.  "Punks like that annoy me.  I haven't had anyone to threaten and taunt in a while, thank you."

"You did what!" he demanded.

"Produced credentials."  He gave him a long stare, then closed the blinds.  "Danny, do you know anything about the world that Mortty and I live in now and then?" he asked quietly.

"No.  What world?  Those roleplaying people?"

Xander snickered.  "You know that club by Mortty, the one that keeps having the awful smell?"  He nodded, he had been there before. "Where do you think that smell comes from?"

"It's a goth place, they probably have blood samples all over the floors and walls somehow."

"That too."  He nodded.  "Come with me on lunch, Danny.  There's a reason why David's so damn scared of me going off on someone like that guy."  Danny gave him a steady stare.  "Ever hear of Panchenkos?"

"I have.  I know that place," he agreed quietly, moving closer so he could sit on one of the stools.  "How do you know it?"

"I'm known down there in the back room, the one where the negotiations are done.  I'm known for being fair and protecting a very few people like they're my family.  Everyone knows I'm fair about that stuff. I don't care who you are, you come to me and I give you what help I can.  That's why I get given drop guns."  Danny blinked at that.  Xander nodded and patted his latest set.  "Two this time.  They know damn well I'm going to go after someone if I find an owner but it's worth it to them.  The same as I'm the guy they liked to come to for things like family members getting killed and everyone discounts why."

"I've heard that rep when I checked," he agreed.  "It's said you're very fair about stuff."  He shifted some. "You went to face down Sonny for me?"

"I consider you a very good friend, bordering on family.  I have since I met you.  The same as I'd do it for Stella and probably Don.  I did have a talk with someone for Horatio and Calleigh.  Someone was going to use her to get him.  I stopped that fairly quickly.  That's the sort of guy I am.  Some little bitch like Sonny?  Not my favorite topic of discussion but nothing too terrible either.  Let's face it, I've got a female friend who's five-four, blonde, cute, and nice, who can kick his ass.  I pointed this out.  They checked my references and went pale and squishy due to things like the bar down by Mortty's house.  Or like Dismortia."

"I've been in there by accident," he admitted quietly.

"I hunted those things for nearly ten years," he offered gently.  "It was that or death in my former town.  Now I'm training others, like Rennie if it ever comes up.  I gave him a reference in that world.  Who happens to be a dealer they'd probably have heard of.  He backed my ass up and they're still pale and squishy.  If they come near you, they're going to be sorry motherfuckers.  I'm enjoying retirement.  I made it very clear I'm not going to act unless they come near me and mine.  As long as they stay away, I stay away.  It's called a peace pact."  They looked at each other.  "Do you understand a bit more now?"

"I did before but I didn't know you could back it up."  Xander nodded, pulling off his t- shirt to show him.  "Damn."  He pointed at a scar.  "What was that?"

Xander looked.  "Whip.  Tentacle whip."  He shrugged and put it back on.  "Nothing new in my life really.  Just kinda nasty.  Another reason I gave up women, I dated women like that for some reason."  Danny snickered at that.  "I did!  While I was in Sunnydale, that's all I ever drew.  Demons and borderline psychos.  Since I left, it got worse.  Then the clubbing stuff happened so I have no idea where that came from.  But hey, since it's stopped, I can go out again.  You busy tonight?  David said it's okay as long as I don't go out alone."

"Did you have any normal childhood?" Danny asked quietly.

"Some.  Not great stuff but some.  I survived, Willow survived.  Buffy survived with our help.  We lived and learned.  But that's why I do occasionally go back to goofy teenager.  I did take the two mandatory psych classes."

"That's fine.  We're good, just tell me so I can talk you out of it.  I doubt it'll help any."

Xander smirked.  "I sicced an imp, a harmless little imp, on them if they came near you.  They can't do more than scare the piss outta them, but it will do that.  They disappear when you make a move toward 'em.  They like to pop in in the middle of the night and scare the shit outta you then disappear. It's how they get off."

Danny smirked. "Is this your version of evil?"

"No. I don't do evil very well."  He grinned sweetly.  "Now shoo.  Tell me if he comes back."  Danny nodded, leaving him alone.  Xander got back to work, whistling happily.  He called up to the office. "Hey, Mac, on the days when there's a curling match I wanna watch, can I bring in the tiny tv and an antenna to watch while I work as long as I don't slack off?"  He smiled.  "Thanks."  He hung up and pulled it out of his hidden spot, plugging it in and setting the antenna so he could get the game later, for now he had five guns to do.


David looked up as Lee and Amanda walked up to the table he was waiting at. "Hey."  He waved the waiter over, getting them drinks.  It was a nice martini bar, more his style.  "Xander's out clubbing with Danny tonight."

"That's fine," Amanda agreed, smiling happily.  "So, how have you been?"

"Better now that Xander's not hurt."  She sighed and nodded.  "I really don't like that stuff, guys.  Xander gets hurt enough without it.  Family is one thing, but I don't like Xander being hurt."

"Me either," she agreed, patting Lee's hand.  "He got into trouble for not asking for backup beyond Xander."

"Good.  So we can come to an agreement?"

"Sometimes you can't help it," she reminded him, "but for the most part, yes.  Lee is too old to be chasing people down, the same as I am. He's not to jump off fire escapes and land on people. He's not to chase people down dark alleys.  He's not to get his son to do those things since he's a *tech* and not a cop.  Backup is a good thing."

"Thank you for being reasonable," he sighed, smiling at her.  "Now can you get your mother off the subject of kids?  She called earlier today and said she's going to introduce him to a nice girl to surrogate for us.  I pointed out we had one of those if we wanted kids and I don't want kids.  She yelled and I hung up on her."

"She called to complain about you," Lee assured him happily.  "I pointed out not everyone wanted children.  She said it was blasphemy and it would happen or she'd have someone hit on him in the club some night.  I reminded her strongly that Xander didn't screw around on you.  She's a bit hysterical at the moment for some reason."

"Actually, any kid of Xander's has a better than average chance of ending up being a slayer," David said quietly.  "I never want to watch him bury our child.  There's much too much danger in his life as it is."  His phone rang.  "Hodges," he answered, listening and smiling.  "Sure, Xan.  No, we're at the martini bar.  You'd have to clean up with what you left the station in, dear.  Thank you."  He hung up.  "Danny's making him leave the old club.  I'm not sure why.  He's going to change into stuff he's got in the trunk then come here."  He smiled as his coffee was put down with their glasses of wine, tipping the waitress. "We've got my husband coming.  Early thirties, dark hair, glasses."  She nodded, walking off to tell the hostess that.  He sipped his coffee.  "I'm wondering what happened."

"I haven't heard anything," Lee offered.

"Me either," Amanda agreed happily.  She wouldn't mention what she heard about earlier.  David looked at her.  "How was he when he got to work?"

"I already knew about that. He and Danny made peace with it and I doubt the little punk's going to come anywhere near him.  In our relationship, I'm the steady one and he's the scary one.  At least until someone hurts Xander. Then I turn into the scary and overprotective one."  Lee nodded at that.  "Next time, don't let my husband get hurt.  Before I sic Buffy and Willow on you."

"They're on their way up, they wanted to see him," Amanda offered.  "Our son that works with us has been monitoring them and said so."

David moaned and nodded.  "Thank you for the warning. I'm going to let Mac handle them if Ray can't.  Or maybe Don'll charm them into going shopping."  His mate was walking in wearing a silk shirt and leather pants, making him moan.  "I thought I said to change."

"I did.  I needed to change my shirt."

Danny walked up to them and smiled at someone before taking a chair from their table and sitting down.  "Does that stuff that happened ta Stella happen often?"

David nodded slowly.  "We thought it had stopped, that's why I let him out with just you.  Why?"  He took another drink of his coffee as a check was pushed over.  He blinked at it.  "Xander, who is this person?"

"Some blond guy who wanted his butt," Danny complained.  "Hence me gettin' us both outta there.  He said it was good for the next three days when Xander complained.  Oh, boy, did he complain.  The guy threatened to take him home if he didn't quit pouting while he complained.  Said his husband obviously needed to have him more often," he offered more quietly.

"No, I get plenty," Xander assured him, smiling as his coffee was put in front of him and a beer was gotten for Danny, per his instructions at the door.  "Thank you."  He paid for them with a nice tip, earning a smile. "He was pretty but not nearly geeky enough for me," he assured his mate.  "I tried telling him I was married. I told him you were a great guy who cooked for me.  He was giving me the 'I'm going to kidnap you' look so I quit complaining. I called Mac on the way over. He said to bring it over tomorrow.  He'd try to dissuade him."  He dug into his pocket, handing something else over.  "That got dropped on me as I walked out.  I have no idea who it belongs to. I was going to put it in lost and found tomorrow."

"Thank you."  He pushed the gaudy ring back over.  "We need to go over the last bling file too."  Xander winced.  "What?  You don't want to sell it?"

"A few pieces were kinda nice. I was hoping I could keep those," he offered hesitantly.  "In case I needed bling?"

Danny snorted. "How bad can it be?"

"We paid off our mortgage in a little over a year," David told him.  Danny gaped.  The couple both nodded.  "He got worse in Vegas the night we all went out salsa dancing together."

"Please no," Xander whimpered. "Please no!"

"Of course not.  I'd never do that to my poor mental state."  He kissed him on the cheek. "Drink."  Xander took a sip of his coffee.  "I wonder why it turned off for those last few weeks?"

"Not a clue," Xander admitted. "Stress of the move?"

"Maybe," Lee agreed, looking at his wife.  "Didn't you get that a few times?"

"Only on assignment," she reminded him.  "There was this one diplomat who refused to leave me alone."  They all smirked at that.  "That sort of thing?"

"No, Xander gets given gifts," David said, showing her the check.  "Sometimes it's in appreciation, sometimes it's people hitting on him. I have no idea why. All I know is that it happens."  He looked at his pouting mate. "I know, you wanted to go out and have some fun," he sighed.  "We'll see if we can stay in the higher class places but you've got to change."

"I only had shirts in the car."

Danny smirked at them.  "I can go home with him on the subway," Danny offered.  "Meet you guys somewhere."

"The subway stops about six blocks from the house," David told him.  "We can swing by the house and still do an hour at a nice club."  That got a round of nods.  "Are we driving you two as well?"

"How about we head to a nice club and you join us?" Amanda asked with a smile.  They nodded.  "There's a nice one called Romance?"

"I like that one, it's got a decent enough floor," Danny agreed.  "Bit light and sweet but nice."

"Okay," Xander agreed.  "I got the urge for a pounding beat out earlier."

"You certainly did," Danny agreed.  "Twice someone tried to take him off the floor and he refused. I ended up dancing with him so they'd leave him alone."

"That's what I usually do," David agreed. "I'm not a great dancer but now and then I have to improvise or lose him to someone who wants to take him home."  He looked at his mate, who gave him a sheepish grin. "Keep that look up."  He finished his coffee and Xander finished his, standing up.  "Danny, you can come borrow clothes if you want."

"Sure.  Thanks, guys.  See you two in a few minutes," he promised, taking the check and putting it in his pocket, making David smirk.  "That way it's not lost."  He followed them out.


Mac looked as David walked into his office the next morning with a box.  He moaned.  "Oh tell me it didn't come back."

"It did and Willow's in town," he complained. "She helped it by trying to auction him off.  I smacked the hell out of her for you."  He handed him the box, then the stack of checks from his pocket.  "It was nice how two of the gay beefcake strippers saved us from the mob she worked into a frenzy."  Mac let out a small whimper. "I honestly thought it had stopped. But no, they were teaching Xander some of their moves and people got interested.  I'm never letting Xander drink ever again."  He stomped off, then came back and pulled the other check out. "The first guy that Danny had to stop."  Then he stomped off again, pouting. Xander walked into his lab, hugging and kissing him.  "I know it's not your fault," he sighed, squeezing him. "It still sucks that your mother handed you her pile too."

"At least we know where it comes from. Dad said stuff like that happened to her too, she's a trouble magnet."

"Then we're never having children. It'll either be a slayer or someone who starts a cult."  Xander grinned at that. "Okay?"

"Sure.  Not until you're ready."  He gave him a gentle kiss and went back to cuddling him.

"Not in the lab!" Monroe complained.

"Shut up!" Xander snapped, glaring at her.  "Someone upset David horribly by trying to take me and tip me for a few dances.  I have every right to calm my mate down.  You don't like it, go help Mac sort jewelry and cash."  She stomped off.  He kissed him again, earning a smile.  "She's just gotta get used to the fact we're gay. I'm not going back to women and I'll be damned if I won't turn psycho stalker bastard if you try to leave me."  David smiled at that, giving him a squeeze then letting him go.  "You okay now?"

"No.  Has anyone seen Danny?"

"I put him into the cab to send him home," he reminded him. "Other than that, no."  Don walked in and just looked at them.  "What?"


"Well, yeah.  But they only had me for an hour," he offered quickly.  He pulled off his shirt, showing it off.  "Mortty helped me to make sure it'd be okay this morning."

"Good.  Now, why is Mac moaning into the phone?"

"People gave him stuff, again," David said bitterly.  "Hence me getting a cuddle and Monroe stomping off."

"She's uptight.  Yay her.  You okay?"  They both nodded.  "We sure?"  They nodded again. "Good. 'Cause Xander's got no work left from Chad."  He handed over the note that had been on the desk.  "I checked down there first."

Xander read it and smiled. "Good.  Honey, need help?"

"Sure."  Xander went to find his clean lab jacket and come back up.  He looked at Don.  "We poured a giggling, happy Danny into a cab."

"I heard.  He called to moan about the hangover and briefed me at six when he got up ta puke.  He said he got a few too."

"It happens to everyone but me."

"You don't grin and act happy."  He shrugged. "You sure you're okay with someone tryin' ta mark your boy?"

"No, but I can't make him have it lasered off already.  I may have him cover it in a few months. Until then, I'll have possessive, claiming sex with him to make sure he knows he's mine."  Don smirked and nodded.  "We're okay.  This happens a lot."  Don nodded, leaving him alone.  "Tell Stella."

"Of course I did. She's already helping Mac with his headache," he called back.  He walked into Mac's office, looking at the piles of things spread out.  "Xander got David out of his funk already.  They're both in Trace since Chad wrote him a note saying he had left him clear."  He looked at the stack of checks, then whistled.  "Nice."  He grinned at Mac.  "Danny come in yet?"

"Danny was out with them?" he moaned.  Don nodded.  "Why?"

"I don't know.  I'm guessing they still thought it was gonna be okay and that it had stopped.  Apparently someone was wrong."  He shrugged. "I guess it happens to 'em."  He looked over as Lindsey stormed in.  "What did you do?  Go run around the block twice?"  He nodded at the jewelry.  "Don't you usually make Stella put it in lost and found for a few weeks?"

"Yes, I do," he agreed. "I'm letting her estimate worth."

"Quite a lot," she said dryly.  "Where is Xander?"

"Trace, hugging his husband and kissing on him in the lab!" Monroe complained.

"He was getting him calmed down," Don assured her, rolling his eyes.  "All that stuff got given ta Xander last night when he and his parents and them were out at the clubs.  He was reasonably upset that someone was tipping his mate for existing."  Danny walked in, already frowning.  "You're early."

"I figured there'd be paperwork and Hillborne."  He dumped a small bag on the table.  "I was told to give that to Xander."  He walked off grumbling something under his breath.

"You thought it was bad when it rubbed off on me?" Stella complained, smirking at Mac.  "Maybe we should let Flack dance with him, see what he brings the department."

"I'm not that easy," Flack announced, smirking back at her.  "Besides, I'd look horrible in that much jewelry."

David walked in and looked at the new bag, shaking his head with a moan.  "That can stay Danny's and the stuff his mother gave him can stay hers," he told him.  "Also, we've got to get rid of the rest of the bling box at home.  Anyone need some jewelry?  We've mostly got women's stuff."

"Hold on, his mom?" Don asked.

"Oh, you didn't hear," he said bitterly. "It comes directly from her.  That's why she's a spy.  His father saw her one morning and made her help him with an information drop or something. Didn't give her a choice.  Then she kept getting kidnaped and haunted because he didn't train her.  And then, she passed it on!" he shouted, glaring now.  "To their son!"  He stomped off.

Don looked at Stella.  "Any idea how you two do it?"

"Not a clue," she admitted.  "No particular thought, no particular outfit, though I learned not to wear what he danced with me in after the time I nearly got snatched and Aiden had to go thug to save me, and nothing in common.  I tested it and I can't figure it out."

"David probably has too," Mac said tiredly.  "Stella, where did I put your forms?"  She got them for him and started to fill out the list part, letting him fill out the top part.  "Any idea which club it was?"

Don called Danny.  "We need a club list for the stuff."  He hung up and shook his head, mentally coveting the money.  "Think Xander would adopt me as his kid?"

Stella looked at him. "Maybe, but then you'd have to become a puppy like Sarah."

"I've already got balls," he shot back, making her laugh.

"Hold on, his dog is female?" Lindsey asked.  "I thought he just named it Sarah as a tribute."

"No, her first owner decided to add balls.  Said she was a transgender dog," Don said dryly, smirking at her.  "You know damn good and well Dave and Xander don't cuddle in the labs unless it's been a bad day.  So quit harping and either help or go work."  She walked off complaining.  "Ten bucks there's a rumor that David's his pimp by lunch," he said dryly.

"Not even. I went and complained about how Xander was the cause of Stella being gifted that way," Danny said from the doorway, handing over a list.  "From the time we went out together, the description of the guy who gave him the check the first time, everyone else I could remember and what they gave him.  What was given to his mother instead, and what got handed ta me for him.  Let me tell you, I felt like a pimp there for a bit."  He walked off again. "I'm going to make sure everyone knows David didn't sell or rent his boy."

"Thank you," Mac called after him.  "Can't we just let IAB do this?"

"They told you to do it," Stella reminded him dryly.  "I wonder if he pouted when he complained again.  Last time I saw it in action he pouted while he complained and they donated more."  She smiled at Mac.  "Can I watch him give Hillborne a coronary?"

"Please do," Don agreed happily, smirking at her.  "If not, maybe we'll let you two go out together and watch him have one from that."  He finished his part of the list, which was the money portion, handing it back. "There you go," he offered, standing up.  "At least some's unisex.  Unless Xander likes going out in drag?"

"He'd make a *horrible* girl," Mortty said from behind him, making him smile at her.  "I checked the front desk since Danny said something about him clubbing.  The receptionist wasn't sure why but I told her if anything came for Xander that wasn't a gun to hand it to David or Stella first."  She waved.  "Don, you and I can both be adopted, but now and then we've gotta bark."  Don chuckled and hugged her.  "Thank you, studly."  She poked him on the stomach.  "Xander usually even buys lunch on these days."  She walked off with him.  "Sorry, I've got results for him.  I'll hand him back when I'm done with him."

"Why hand me back?" he joked.

She looked up at him.  "I wouldn't normally but I figure you've got a girlfriend somewhere.  You're much too fine to be left all alone in this big city by the slutty women society."

"Nah, I dabble in their union but otherwise I'm not dating.  No one would ever have a real thing with me."

She looked at him.  "All you had to do was ask, Don.  As long as you don't make me change who I am, you're a hottie and I'd love to worship your studliness."  She grinned and pulled him back to her lab.  "But until you've totally fallen for me and are wanting me to do naughty things that should make a good girl like me blush, I've got DNA results on three of your cases," she assured him, happily bouncing along with him in tow.  "Did you like Abby?"

"I think Abby was adorable," he assured her, smiling at her back.  "The same as I think you are, but you shouldn't get a guy's hopes up."

She stopped him and then turned, kissing him as best she could.  Then she gave him a smile.  "Dinner tonight, Don?  Or tomorrow?  Whichever's better for you. I get off at eight and then hopefully again by midnight."  She continued to haul him along, ignoring Danny's amused chuckles into the folder he had been carrying and Lindsey's shocked look.  She opened the door.  "Because I'm a very chivalrous young woman, all pretty men should go first.  That's why I always let you and Xander take point."  He blushed and walked in.  "I'll back off if you want."

"I'll take you out but if it gets awkward you deal with it."

She snorted. "I don't do awkward.  You're either a friend and very dear to me or not.  You're up there with Dave and Xander."  She got the results and handed them to him. "Plus one really happy making thing?"  She turned on her monitor, showing him the match.  "The DB that Xander tripped over had his DNA inside him."

He looked.  "Rape victim?"

"No.  His natal DNA, dear.  He's put down as being a rape suspect?"

"On a number of cases.  Mac!"  He came jogging in and Don pointed.  "Stella's DB that Xander tripped over."  She came in and looked over Mac's shoulder.

"Justice was served," Stella agreed happily. "I thought it was him.  Anything on his sex assault kit?"

"Nope, not a thing but his blood and no lube."  She handed that result over to her.  "Justice very served and they either used a condom or a toy."

"I'm feeling giddy," Don said happily.  "We've been trying for years to get him."

Stella patted him on the back.  "We still have to find his killer."  She looked at Mortty.  "Would Dave have gotten to those yet?"

"Yup, yesterday.  I think he said something about stuff from the park. You've gotta ask him.  Since I'm not across the hall I don't get the good gossip.  Did we lock the office?"  Mac hurried back there to do that.  She smiled at Stella.  "I thought that'd make for happy news since he was suspected in so many rapes but not caught."

"I know someone who'll be ecstatic," Stella promised. "Thank you, Mortty."

"Not an issue.  We love you guys."  She hugged Stella, then Don, not even getting a grope in.  "See, I can be a good girl."

"You can," he agreed with a smile.  "Did you wanna go somewhere fancy?"

"McDonald's is fine with me," she promised.  "I'm good with wherever."

"I've got more class than that," he promised, patting her on the cheek and walking out with his new reports.  It was a happy day for him.  Even if he did have to find who killed the rapist.


Amanda listened to her mother complain. "Mother, stop.  Just stop.  He said he's not having children, probably ever but anytime soon definitely.  He and David agreed they don't want children.  It's much too dangerous.  People like to kidnap him, mother, that's why.  While we were clubbing with him, us, his husband, and a friend who's an officer up there, he was taken from the club.  Long enough to be tattooed."  She smirked.  "I thought you might say that.  No, mother.  They don't want children."  She put her on speaker phone so she could rub some feeling back into her ears. "Mother.  He doesn't want children.  Xander said he doesn't want children. David's pathologically afraid of children.  They have a dog, they said that's all you're getting from them."

"But why?  They should be giving me great-grandchildren."

"Mother, just stop it! That's their decision.  Not everyone wants children.  With Xander being a father that child would have a lot of danger in its life.  Mortty and her cousin Abby have both offered but they're very firm on the point that they don't want children. Ever.  Nag the other boys."  She looked at her older son as he came in.  "Hi, Philip.  How was your weekend?"

"Apparently better than yours. What happened?"

"You know your mother's problem with people who want to kidnap her?" Lee said from behind him.

Their son nodded, smirking at him.  "Not really," her mother said over the phone. "You kept that away from us, Lee."

He glared at the phone.  "It's worse in your brother.  Kidnaped, tipped by women who wanted to kidnap him.  He walked out of the last club with about eight grand plus jewelry for some reason.  They wanted him to have their jewelry.  And he still got kidnaped."

Philip shook his head.  "Better him than me.  He'd make a horrible spy then."

"With his injuries and the amount of danger already in his life, he doesn't need to add ours," Amanda assured him. "We can borrow his investigative skills but not in the field.  We promised David we'd never put him into danger again. Xander's a very nice young man but he's got that streak of danger already in his life."

"If we had known about him during the Initiative inquest, we'd have taken him then but it was still five years after he started hunting things like that," Lee offered.

Philip shuddered. "Jamie's going up there to introduce himself.  I'll make sure he knows that Xander's the same sort of danger magnet mom is."  He waved.  "Later, Grandma."  He walked out shaking his head.  Once he was safely back in his office he called his brother.  "Our little brother is just as bad as Mom and you about attracting danger, but he's a hunter.  No, like Initiative hunter.  Like ask Gibbs hunter.  Yeah, he knew him.  He came over to talk to Mom and Dad about him.  No, he's a ballistics tech.  Yeah, I've got his full file, including what Jethro sent over about him, plus what Abby sent.  No, like with mom, dad, his husband, and another officer with them, they still managed to kidnap him long enough to tattoo him according to dad.  Oh, and Grandma's on a rip to get more babies.  Watch out."  He hung up and printed off the full file for his brother, who worked for NCIS on another team.  Then he sent it over there by courier.


Xander walked into the interrogation room, looking at the man across from him.  "How stupid are you to loot a cop's house?" he asked blandly, moving closer, reading the file.  "I know that you've had carnal relations with the moron signal tower before, but you looted my house."  He dropped the folder in front of him. "Then you tried to sell me back my own gun."  He leaned down, getting in his ear.  "Do you even know who I am?" he hissed.  That got a quick head shake.  "Pity.  Maybe if you listened to the gossip you wouldn't be in here.  Now, where's the rest of my ammo and stuff?  I want my swords back."

"S..Sonny told me ta crank ya," he said, looking at him.  "I promise, not my idea!"

Xander patted him on the back. "Will you testify to that?"

"He'll kill me!"

"If you don't, I'm going to tell the whole cellblock that you robbed a cop's house and tried to sell him back his gun."  The guy swallowed.  "Quite a few in there have heard about me.  Remember me, idiot.  You don't fuck with what's Harris'.  Don't you get it yet?"  He handed him a paper and a pen.  "Write it out for me, including where they are now.  Or else I'm going to get pissed and make your life a living hell.  Because, you know that statutory case probably never got told to anyone else in there."  He swallowed and nodded, writing it down.  "Good boy."  He patted him on the head. "You got the mark or are you freelance?"  He looked at the tattoo.  Then he smirked. "You just wave that so proudly.  Don't worry, Sonny will be very proud when he joins you."  He walked out, taking the confession with him.  He handed that and the file to Mac, then walked out with Don.  He even took the keys since he knew the address very well.

"Backup?" Don asked.

Xander looked at him.  "I won't need it, you can stay in the car."  He got in to drive, making Don dive in since it was his car. He took off, humming happily as he drove.  He pulled up in front of the warehouse and climbed out, heading inside once he kicked the door in.  "How fucking stupid are you to make my gay ass come back down here?" he asked fondly, pulling his gun.  "You forget so quickly.  How in the hell did you make it this far?  You had him sell me back my own gun?"  He turned and hit the guy trying to come up behind him.  Sonny picked up a piece of rebar.  "You wanna go that way?  More than happy to oblige, little bitch."  He put up his gun and held up a hand, then when one wasn't tossed, he pulled his pantleg and got his own, letting it slide back down once he had a good look at the knife on it.  He snapped it open, then took on the person behind him, then lunged for Sonny once he moved, who backed up and tried to block, but Xander was well trained for a reason.  "You'd think after ten years of hunting things I'd be slower," he sneered.  "Can't even beat a gay man?  Does that mean you enjoy taking it up the ass like I do?" he taunted as he got him again.

The second bodyguard he usually had came rushing out and Xander threw a knife at him, making him fall, holding his thigh.  Then he went back after his main target, getting him onto his back and trapped, his own rebar against his throat.  "What's wrong, little girl?  I can go a few more rounds.  Next time, listen when you're warned. You're about to learn the hard way why you don't mess with me and mine."  He punched him, knocking him out. Then he got up and put his pole back as soon as he had it collapsed.  He walked over and gathered his knife, wiping it off as he put it away.  "My other swords, daggers, battle axes, and guns?"  One shaky, bloody hand pointed.  "They'd better be in perfect condition or else I'm going to make you fix them before I arrest you. See, they're like my kids.  Them and my dog."  He knocked him out too.  He walked over to the door and waved Don in.  "They're down and very sorry."

"What did you do!  We can't beat up on the thugs!"

"I didn't.  They came after me.  I defended myself.  I never throw the first punch.  The last I'll cop to, but never the first.  That's very well stated in the files."  He called Mac.  "Found my stuff.  No, they attacked me when I walked in.  Well, one got hit when he tried to come up behind me.  Sonny came after me with some rebar but I knocked him out.  Then the third guy tried to flee so I ended up doing a very pretty knife toss since it was more handy than my gun, but they're all down. Yeah, they could probably use medical support.  No, I'm going to check over my guns.  Yeah, they said it was all of them.  If there's any others, I have no clue. Yeah, we can do that.  You have my list with the theft report, Mac.  Including pictures of the non-guns. Sure.  Want to do that here?"  He grinned.  "Well, Don's still staring in open-mouthed awe.  Mac it says very clearly in my file that I never throw the first punch, but I always throw the last one.  Especially when they're like my kids.  Sure.  Got the addy from the file I handed you?"  He hung up and nudged Don.  "Handcuffs since I don't carry any?"

Don glared at him. "You don't carry handcuffs?"

"Like I have room with all the ammo and stuff I carry!  There's two sets in my case but that's in the back of your car.  Along with spare clips and things."  Don stomped out, going to see that for himself.  He smiled at the three thugs.  "Bring me my camera too so I can start documenting before Danny gets here!"

"Danny won't be allowed!" Don yelled as he came back in, putting the case down.  "Neither are you."

"Yes, sir."  He skipped over and looked down at Sonny, squatting beside him. "How does it feel to have been beaten by one of the gayest of the gay?"  He moaned, blinking at him. "Yes, you, princess.  How does it feel to have been beaten so badly by a gay man who takes it nightly up the ass?  One who's even a slightly bondage slut?  Are you trying to be as bad as me?"  Sonny lifted a hand and Xander patted it.  "I know, you wanna be just like me. That's fine, I'm sure some of the other guys I've arrested can show you how to be just like me and take it up the ass nightly.  And every afternoon you can be snuck away."  Sonny moaned and let his hand drop, muttering something.  "Awwww, are you *praying*?" he cooed, patting him on the head.  "What a *good* idea!  Such a good boy to remember how your mother raised you since it's all that might save you.  Even though God won't save you from me for taking my weapons."  Then he grinned at him. "But remembering your manners your mother beat into you would be a good thing, juries like that stuff.  When they hear how you came after poor little gay me with a rebar, I'm sure they'll like your manners a lot.  Too bad you didn't listen to the rumors that said how skilled I am with various weapons."  He smiled at the other guys.  "Or with knives."  Mac and Stella came in.  "Oooh, come here, sweetie.  Come look.  He's remembering what his mother taught him and praying.  Isn't that so cute!" he cooed, patting him on the head again.

"Kill you," he mumbled.

"I'm sure you'll try, but bigger real mafia guys have tried and failed.  Hell even the one that put the radioactive bomb in my basement failed, sweetie.  But don't worry, I'm sure someone there will *love* to show you how to be more like me and tougher for taking it up the ass all the time.  After all, that's the real sign of being a real man, being able to take it and enjoy it because it feels good."  He stood up when Mac made him.  "Don't worry, I'll be sure to tell everyone how you came after me with a rebar.  And how you failed because you didn't listen. I'll even get to use you as an *example*."  He walked off whistling, heading out to the car with Mac pushing him slightly.  "So, when can I have my guns back?"

"As soon as we know they're yours. He did what?" he growled, glaring at him.

"He picked up a piece of rebar. Not like I was gonna shoot him for it."  He shrugged.  "I pulled out my collapsible staff since it wasn't fair to shoot him for having rebar, and I took care of him.  Like is mentioned, I never throw the first hit, just the last one," he said, smirking at him.  "Next time, he'll listen better and no one's going to fuck with me and mine.  He's a very good example."  He smiled sweetly at him.  "She can use my case if she wants.  Just have her leave the spare clips in the bottom."

"Sit in the car, Xander," he ordered, heading back inside. He came back out. "I can't cover for this."

"Hillborne and I won't have a problem.  Should I call him myself?"  He pulled out his phone and dialed the number down there.  "Hi, can I please speak with Hillborne.  Harris.  Yeah, he'll be swearing soon.  Get him something for his tummy.  No, look at him and tell him that Sonny Sassone tried to take my weapons from me, and had someone try to sell one back to me.  When I came to get it back, he picked rebar so I went staff against rebar with him.  I never hit first.  I may taunt but I never hit first," he said sweetly.  "At the scene.  No, I made Flack wait in the car.  Why would I need it for three thugs, Hillborne?" he asked dryly.  "Okay, you've went over my file how many times?" he asked fondly.  "Yeah, sitting on Don Flack's car.  I made him stay outside.  No, I went in saying I was going to scout it but I went in.  I hit one who was trying to come up behind me.  Sonny picked up a piece of rebar.  I didn't think it'd be polite to shoot him for it since I had my collapsible staff on me, so I used it instead, drove him to the ground so I could knock him out.  No I don't carry cuffs.  Because I don't need them except in the bedroom?"

He smirked. "Hey, I told her to get you something for your stomach.  No, the third guy tried to run so I threw a knife at him since I still had my staff in both hands.  Less chance of losing the main thug.  Of course I am. Especially with my new glasses.  I don't know but they said they were all mine.  There could be more here but if I'm missing some promise me I get to ask him.  Please?" he whined.  "Fine.  Sure, come here, see if I care.  No, Mac's still glaring at me from the doorway.  It's not like Mac's the sort to cover for us," he pointed out. "Mac's way too straight for that.  No, I taunted him about having a gay man who takes it nightly beat him and about how when he's taking it up the ass nightly he'll learn how to be a real man too."  He smirked. "I'll be here.  Sure.  Bring the recorder.  I'm sure he's got surveillance here somewhere."  He hung up and looked at him. "He's on his way."

"Just stay out there," Don ordered.  "No wonder Ray has antacid for breakfast."

"I warned him," Xander reminded him. "He didn't listen.  Pity.  I'm sure the next one who tries to hurt David and my dog will learn."  He sat on Don's hood, looking toward the sounds of the sirens.  He pointed at the doorway.  "I'm waiting on Hillborne," he told Sheldon and Monroe when they showed up.  She gave him a long look.  "He came after me with rebar.  I didn't want to do the shooting paperwork since it's not fair to shoot someone who's only got a staff. I still won."  They headed inside.  "Mac's got the list of what they stole from my house!" he called.  He smiled at Hillborne when he pulled in, waving at him.  "Hi."

"You did what?" he demanded coldly.

"He picked up a rebar rod.  It's not fair for me to shoot him for having a staff when I've got one on me and I'm better at using it.  He's clearly a weapons fighter, probably with bats from what I've heard, so it was a fair fight.  Mostly.  He knew I had combat experience.  I warned the guy and he didn't listen.  That's why he robbed my house and tied up my spouse."

"How did you get involved?" he demanded, moving closer.

"He sent one of the guys to sell me back my own gun," he said fondly, smirking at him.  Hillborne moaned.  "He's the guy who I interrogated, properly, and got the addy from.  I handed Mac the file and his confession. Then I came out here with Flack, who I made wait in the car since the pussy bitches don't really scare me."  He looked off to the other side, nodding at a gang member that way.  He came closer.  "It's cool. He won't hurt you."  The guy came over and clasped arms with him.  "What's up?"

"You're Harris?"

"I am."  He grinned. "Sonny ignored the warning I gave him about leaving me and mine alone.  Pity."

The guy nodded. "Cool.  This isn't his only warehouse ya know."  He smirked at Don as he came back.  "Tell him?"

"Please.  I know some people who'll be dancing later.  Let them know that the big, bad, hunting gay man took him down.  Pity about that but he knew I had experience in all sorts of weapons and he picked up rebar?"  The guy burst out laughing.  "Yeah, so pussy bitch of the block soon.  Bad choices.  Definitely a moment of sucking the cock of the moron signal tower.  Oh, well.  Live and learn.  My swords there or here?"

"Here, man.  We were wondering why he had a thing for heavy metal."

Xander grinned. "I love my swords and stuff. They're like my babies."  He threw his dagger at someone trying to take the hubcap off the official SUV.  "Don't do that!  Not with cops standing right here!  Dumbass!"  He ran off.  Xander slid off the hood and went to get his dagger back from the ground.  Then he came back, wiping it off again.  "Yes, I am a good shot," he told the other gang member.  He grinned sweetly.  "Any issues?"

"Nah, man, you're cool with us."  He punched fists with him and looked at Don.  "You want his other cribs?"

"Please.  I like Xander but some days he frustrates me."

"Not his, Sonny's."

"Yeah, I could use that too," he agreed, walking him off to get a list of them and who was probably there.  The gang kid smirked as he walked off. "Thanks, man."  He glared at Xander.  "You do not go in without back up!  I am telling David."

"David told me to kick his ass for tying him up and trying to kick the dog."  He looked at Hillborne, giving him his best puppy eyed look.  "Can we go back so I can check on my boy?"

"Soon."  He finished making his preliminary notes.  "Walk me through it, Harris."

"They're still processing."

"I doubt it'll matter."  He walked him inside.  "You were where?"

"I kicked the door in, came to about where you're standing.  The light's shifted a little bit and I was in the pool of light.  Then I mouthed off, reminded him it was a bad idea to try me.  He picked up rebar, I pulled my staff, letting him see the dagger on my ankle, then I went for him. The guy behind me got knocked out. The second bodyguard came out when I had Sonny down with both staffs at his throat, and I tossed the dagger at him, same one I tossed earlier."  A hand was held out so he handed it over. "Just wiped off."  He looked around.  "He was trying to escape when I tossed it.  I taunted Sonny some more, got Flack, asked for handcuffs since I don't routinely carry any.  He went to get my case since I told him I had two sets in there.  I called Mac, who growled.  Mac got here and growled in person, I called you."

"So, you put up your gun to pull a different weapon and go after him that way?" Hillborne asked.  Xander nodded.  "WHY!"

"Because it's not fair to shoot someone who's only got a staff.  I try not to use more force than I have to, Hillborne."  He got given a round of dirty looks by everyone.  "Did you guys want to quip and say I hadn't been to the gym this week and needed my weekly spar?"

"No, but I almost expected it," Sheldon offered.

Hillborne glared at him then back at the idiot in question.  "I don't know where to start, Harris, I really don't."

"I never throw the first punch, Hillborne.  I never have and I never will.  Hell, I even warned the guy to leave my family alone since Danny's like a big brother.  He brought it on himself.  Besides, I missed my arsenal while he had my poor babies."  Everyone gave him another odd look.  "I'm a *gun* tech, people.  I like guns.  Guns nice."  Lindsey whimpered and got back to work.  "When can I have my babies home?" he asked pitifully.  "I'm going to have to clean and polish them all to make sure he didn't scratch any of them."  Sonny moaned where the paramedics were strapping him down. "You better not have!" he called.  He was drug out with the others and taken off with an officer.  He looked at Mac, then Hillborne.  "What did we expect me to do, people?"

"Not be Rambo," Hillborne complained.

"I'm not, I speak much more intelligently.  I have to since I got good grades in college, right?"  Hillborne moaned.  "I knew what I was doing."

"That may save you," Hillborne said.  "Go back to the office and wait on me, Harris."

"Yes, mother."  He looked at Mac.  "I stopped the guy trying to take your hubcaps too.  Nice dagger into the dirt beside him got him scared.  Don got information on some other warehouses as well."  He walked off, going to put Don's keys back into his car, and then take a cab back to the station.  He walked in and found David tapping a foot.  "I got him.  Our babies are coming home.  Hopefully unscratched."

David walked closer, looking him over.  "You don't smell like gunpowder."

"He picked up rebar," Xander said.  "I'm not going to shoot someone who's not pulling a gun on me.  Not like he could've killed me with rebar, dear.  I'm better than that.  Really," he reminded him at the heated look. "You've seen me with my staff."  David hissed and walked off.  "Sorry!" he called, following along pathetically behind him.  "I'm sorry I went alpha bitch on him, David, but he hurt you and he took the arsenal!" he complained. "He deserved it and I didn't use more force than I needed to! I was a good boy!  I brought Don with me, even though I did make him sit in the car, I brought back up with me this time!"

"Shut up, Xander, you're digging yourself deeper," Greg called from somewhere.

Xander pouted, following his mate back, looking like someone had kicked him again.  "I'm sorry."

"You're going to be when we get home," he promised.  "If you're not in jail thanks to IAB."

"Mac made me call Hillborne myself and confess."  Danny walked in and looked at him. "He's very sorry he touched what was mine.  He picked up rebar."

"Did you shoot him?"

"No, he didn't have a gun."  Danny moaned and held his head, then slapped him really hard before walking off.  "What?  I only use as much force as I have to."

"He needs drugs, David!" Danny yelled back.

"I don't think they make drugs for being a Xander, otherwise you'd have been on them already," David said drolly, glaring at him.  Xander wilted, giving him another pitiful look.  "Don't even try."

"I'll be down in the break room," he said, walking off, still looking pathetic.

David dialed Ray's cellphone.  "Do they make drugs for being a Xander?"  He listened to him.  "No, the idiot pulled out a staff and put up his gun because the other guy picked up a rebar!"  He listened, calming himself down.  "I know.  I know that.  I don't care, but I know he's like that, Ray.  No, yes.  Hopefully or else he'll scare someone buying new copies of what we lost. I already can't take him to a gun show. Last time he asked about LANS rockets!" he complained.  "I know he's a ballistics tech, Ray, and I know that means he likes guns. I don't care!"   He calmed himself at the quiet words.  "No, break room."  He hung up and put his head down, calming himself down before he did something like shouting at him at work.  He didn't want to make Xander cry but he needed to stop this.  Unfortunately this was something his father would've done so he didn't have any help there.  He decided to go for the older backup.  He called Vegas.  "Jim, David Hodges.  Please, take my mate back!" he whined.  "Please?"


Mac looked at Xander when he came in the next morning.  "Hillborne said that with your history and that file they had on you, he wasn't surprised you did something that dumb.  He showed me why, which is why you're never going into the field alone ever again.  Any time you have to do a field case, you will be going with myself, Danny, or Stella.  Understood?"  Xander nodded, just looking normal.  No happiness, no sneering, no smirking.  "You will never do something like that again.  You will carry handcuffs from now on.  Even if they're in your case, I want at least a pair on you.  Hillborne said the tape backed you up.  Fortunately."  He stood up.  "I will not have to have this talk with you again, Xander.  Correct?"

"No, sir."

"Good.  I am the alpha in this department. All threats are cleared through me from now on.  Sonny told us how you had warned him and he hadn't listened.  He said how you taunted him.  Which I don't think anyone can count against you as police brutality.  His lawyers are hoping for a major deal with what we found in the other warehouses.  You are suspended to the labs for the rest of this month and next.  Unless it happens right in front of you or we're suddenly all sick, you're not going into the field.  Understood?"

"Yes, sir.  Sorry, Mac."

"I should put you back but unfortunately the mayor thought it was cute."  Xander shuddered.  "I've already told him he doesn't award or reward you without you hiding.  He's aware of why.  Thankfully."  Xander nodded, hanging his head.  "As of this moment, I'm very pissed.  I'm not sure why you did it.  Was it because of David and your dog?  The weapons?  The fact that he tried Danny the night before?  That he stole from you?"

Xander looked at him.  "E, all of the above?"

"Okay.  I can understand those reasons.  That's why you're supposed to TALK to me, Xander.  If you had told me, we could've done a better job and not have you get in trouble."

Xander stepped forward.  "Better me than Danny, Mac.  Think about it."  Mac moaned and nodded.  "This way he's completely in the clear.  Hillborne knew I'd do something like this the moment he heard my guns had been stolen.  I'm pretty sure of it.  The guys in Chicago knew.  The guys in Vegas knew."

"I realized a bit later, after you handed me that file," Mac admitted.  "I was hoping you'd trust me, Xander."

"And I do, but he fucked with me, Mac. That's why I left Don in the car in case something really went wrong."

"Xander, a unit is like a strike team."

"And I've got commando history, Mac.  Strike team with Buffy and Willow?"  Mac shuddered at that.  "Exactly.  I'm way used to acting on my own.  Teamwork is good, I can do teamwork, but I'll still always take point.  Even injured I'd take point.  It's the way I am.  Unless the people around me are way more trained, I take point."

"I realize that now.  Your father sent me the extended profile the Director at NCIS had done on you since you had ranted so much about the Initiative's being incorrect.  It was interesting reading.  Do you trust anyone?"


"Anyone else?"

"My dog.  It's like layers of trust.  Yes, I do trust you enough on the streets to have my back.  I'll still take point from anyone but you in the lab."

"Fine.  From now on, you'll be going out only with the senior people."

"I can go with Sheldon.  I respect Sheldon, Mac, he's a good guy and he's got more than enough sense if something happens.  The same as Greg and I work very well together."

"I realize that.  I don't want them learning bad habits from you."

"Mac, would you have went in with a strike team?"

He considered it, sitting back down.  That did put it into a different light, something he could understand a little bit better.  "Probably not more than someone I trusted at my back.  Don and Stella most likely."

"You had the training to work in strike teams.  In a SWAT team situation, unless I'm told otherwise, I take rear position so I can't fuck up anyone else's job.  Other than that, I learned how to hunt alone and follow Buffy around like an obedient puppy and audience for her quippage."

"I understand.  Can I trust you not to take someone like Sheldon into a dangerous situation?"

"A crime scene's supposed to be cleared, Mac.  If something happens I'd rather have me there instead of someone who couldn't shoot."

"Good point.  I'll consider it.  For the rest of this month and all of next, you're suspended to the lab.  No privileges of any kind.  Including the tv and music."

"Yes, Mac," he sighed.  "I understand.  Am I in trouble further?"

"IAB cleared the use of force as reasonable.  The use of the staff wasn't, but he explained you by handing that part of your file over.  They're not sure you should be in the field at all."  He stared Xander down, watching him slump. "I understand, Xander, but you're still retired.  Train now.  Baby your husband before someone takes him from you," he said quietly.

"Why do you think the first thing I did was establish my rep, Mac?" he asked gently.  Then he left, going to his lab.  He found David in there, arms already crossed. "I'm suspended to the lab for the next two months and I'm only allowed to go out on cases with certain people."

"Good.  You're still in deep with me, mister."

"I understand."  He gave him a tentative hug and David sighed, hugging him back like normal.  "I'm sorry."

"I know, Xander.  Trust me, I realize why you do these things.  No one touches what's most important to you or else your world is rocked.  I get that.  We're the stable foundation of your life.  I fully understand that stuff.  It doesn't mean I like it when something happens, okay?"  Xander nodded, hugging him again. "Good boy.  At least you're not in real trouble."  He patted him on the back. "Let go."  He got off him. "I have other bad news. Willow and Buffy are coming this way sometime this week.  Danny didn't get them to go home."  Xander stiffened and he watched him scent the air. "I didn't tell her which precinct you worked at.  This may be where your rep is a bad thing though."

"If they come, I'm running and hiding."

"You hide from something?" Stella asked from the doorway.  "What?  So I can stock up."   Xander pulled out his wallet and showed her the picture. "They're cute.  Who are they?"

"Buffy and Willow, they who screwed me up and taught me to hunt," Xander said grimly.  "If they show up, I'm heading in the other direction.  I don't care.  You won't find me."

"Sure."  She patted him on the cheek.  "When you're finally allowed in the field again, I'll make sure you're bringing reasonable things.  Your case is a bit scary."

"What else did he have in there?" David asked.

"Six spare clips, two pairs of handcuffs, three throwing knives, and another staff."

David frowned, looking at his mate.  "Only six?"

"I'm not carrying the gun I can't switch out clips on anymore.  It's at home under the couch.  The ones I carry I can interchange clips so I don't have to carry two sizes or types."

"Oh, okay."  He nodded, looking at the bemused looking Stella.  "He had one he had to change out with specific clips.  He carried that and had to carry more spares.  He's needed them in the past."

"I guess he would."  She walked off shaking her head.  Mac gave her a look.  "He told me why he's only carrying six spare clips in his field case."

"He can interchange?"  She nodded, frowning at him.  "I carry three spares and a flat of bullets in mine, Stella."  She walked off muttering about military mindsets.  "Sorry, it's been trained into us.  That's the one thing I understand about Xander."

"Ooh, you know the Xander?" a female voice asked.  Mac turned and looked at the petite blonde woman.  "Where is my Xander buddy?"

"In the lab," he offered, pointing.  "That way, miss.  Do you have a visitor's pass?"

"No, should I? I never had to get one when I went to bug Xander in Chicago."

"You should have one, just for security reasons," he agreed, leading her back to the reception desk.  He turned and saw Xander's horrified look, then his sprinting in the other direction.

"Get back here, Xander!  I'm going to kick your ass!" she yelled, taking off after him.

Don tripped her.  "You are?" he asked dryly.  "Besides trying to attack a detective?"

Danny came out of the lab.  "That's a Buffy, Don.  Where's David?"

"I don't know.  I saw Xander go running past and thought it might be an emergency.  I've never seen him run that fast.  Not even when he ate his own cooking the last time."  He pulled Buffy up and looked at her, then handed her back to Mac.  "Where should we start looking for him?"

"He'll have to come down, Willow made good cookies for him," she complained.  "Meany."

"Grow up," Danny told her.  "Obviously he didn't wanna see you, or he wouldn't have taken off running like you were demonic."  He walked off, going to hunt the Xander.  He stopped in David's lab.  "Buffy's here."  He shuddered.  "Where would Xander be hiding?"

"He's a climber in these situations.  He'll come down when he's hungry, like a cat would."  He gave him an odd look. "The other one?"

"Don only tripped the blonde."

"Damn."  He walked out with him, going to find the pouting Buffy.  "Buffy, is it an emergency?" he asked firmly.

"You guys moved closer, we wanted to visit and make sure he had the hunting schedules down already.  We have maps and stuff."

"Xander isn't allowed to hunt.  If you want a hunter here, send one of the baby slayers. Xander is *retired*.  Like he was his last year in Chicago.  He told you that. I told you that.  Ray told you that.  Xander told you a second and a third time, I know he did, I was standing there."  She glared at him, hands on her hips.  "Just go away, Buffy.  He doesn't want to see you."  He noticed the person sneaking past.  "Someone stop Willow."  Don went to grab her, making her shriek and try to stake him.  He walked out and took the stake, then slapped her, hard.  "Don't start, Willow.  You've already made Xander run and hide."

"I can get him down," she said firmly, sneering at him.

"I'd rather have him hide then have another violent episode this week," he shot back. "Mac, is Greg out?"

"Yes, he is.  With Sheldon," he admitted. He came over to take the stake, then look at Don's chest.  "You okay?"

"I'm fine.  Thanks."  He glared at her.  "No wonder Xander doesn't like you."

"We're his best friends," she sneered back.

"Bet me," David snorted.  "Best friends don't make you run."

Danny looked at the girls.  "And I thought Sonny was bad," he snorted, walking off shaking his head.  "Xander, if you come down, I'll protect you from the scary bitches," he called.  He heard something shift in the ceiling and looked up, spotting his nest.  "How in the hell did you get up there?"  Mac joined him, looking up.  "How in the hell?"

"Across the rafters, after going up that access port in the airflow system," he said quietly.  "It's a beautiful sniper spot."  He shook his head.  "We'll get him down later."  He clapped him on the back.

"Can we stick her in tha room with Sonny?" Danny asked, grinning at him.  "Might teach him better ta be beaten by a girl."

"That's mean, Danny.  That's an evil Xander thought," he said patiently.

"Suits me," Don promised, smirking at them.  "He moved from there yet?"

"Yeah, he's heading up further," Danny admitted, pointing at the spot of shadow. "That's him or we've got a chimp loose in here."

"Oh, let me," Willow complained.  David knocked her out with a very nice Vulcan neck pinch.

"Pays to be a geek," he said, stepping over her.  "I'm going back to work.  He'll come down when he's hungry."  He headed back to his lab.

Stella and Lindsey joined the group. "What's going on?"  She looked at Willow, then at Buffy. "You're the two in the pictures he said he'd run from.  Did you hurt him already?"

"No, he's climbed up into the ceiling," Danny offered.  She smiled at that so he pointed. "That's his nest."

"I can't get up there."

"I can," Mac assured them all. "Don, please escort the young women out of my lab."  He nodded and walked them out, letting her carry Willow until she woke up.  "Have them banned!" he called.  "Someone call Ray and Stan to warn them."

Danny called Greg's phone.  "Greg, Danny.  Blonde and redhead girls just showed up and made Xander run. Yeah, them.  The redhead tried ta stake Don, does that count?  No, ceiling.  Thanks."  He hung up. "He's got Stan with him."

Stella hung up and walked closer again. "Ray's hiding at his desk and is praying for temporary invisibility.  Should we call the consulate?"

"No, they will," Mac assured her.  He looked up again.  "Are we sure he'll come down when he's hungry?"

"He could've had a candybar in his pocket," Stella admitted. "It was either that or he was carrying a small sex toy.  Knowing Xander, it could've been either."

Mac gave her a look. "I'd hope not."

"Me too but then again this is Xander we're talking about.  He might've given it to someone."

"Eww," Lindsey complained.  "Who were those two?"

"You know how Xander got warped by some girls?  That's why he's got the violent streak and why he doesn't understand sports?" Stella asked.  Lindsey nodded slowly. "They're the reason.  Buffy and Willow.  Willow's the redhead.  They were his best friends and practically raised him in Willow's case."  Lindsey moaned.

"Which is probably why Xander's such a brat at times, but he makes a good face masque," Danny offered.  "He did one for me and it was great."  He walked off, looking happier now that he understood Xander just a bit better.

Don came back.  "He grew up with those two twats?"

"Be more politically correct," Mac ordered.

"I can't, not with them.  Bitches isn't strong enough.  They wanted to hang around or sneak in to make him come down.  They were talking about that magic stuff and stuff like that to bring him down."

"I doubt it," Mac told him. "Xander, it's safe," he called.  Nothing.  "Okay, come down when you can.  Guns are going to start backing up soon."  He went back to his office.  "Stella?"  She followed. "Anything yet on the cabdriver case?"

"Not yet," she admitted.  "I'm waiting for reports."

"Let me know.  See if David can coax him down later."  He went to write Grissom to see if he knew more about Willow and Buffy, just so they had a more complete briefing.

Danny and Don shared a look, Danny going to place the order. When the pizza came, he walked it into the lab and put it opened on the table.  "Yo, Xander, got your favorite pizza," Don called.  "You gotta come down ta get it though!"

"Shit!"  Don walked into the lab, noticing the box was gone.  "How did he do that?"

"Willow was muttering about magic making him come down.  You don't think...."

Mortty coughed and nodded.  "It is.  Xander can do very limited stuff with it.  Basically he can open a door and get stuck keys.  David doesn't like him to practice except for driving off his ex whenever she comes back. Willow is a power user and she makes bad mistakes now and then.  If she had gotten Xander down, he'd have died from hitting the floor.  Where are they staying so I can avoid them later tonight?"

"Downtown," Don offered.  "The Regency."

"Crap, that's on my way home," she complained.  "Guess I'm going the long way and staying inside tonight.  Either of you two wanna come over to watch movies?  That way they don't attack me this time?  I protected Xander last time and ended up with a concussion and a sprained neck."

"Yeah, I'll be there tonight," Don assured her.

"Why'd they come after you?" Danny asked.

"They wanted to know where he was."  She shrugged and went back to her lab.  "He won't be down until David calls him to go home now.  If then, only when he thinks it's safe."

"Not good, not good, not good," Danny sighed, shaking his head.  The box reappeared and he smirked since half of it was still in there.  "Thank you, Xander."  He took a few slices and let Don take his, then they went to eat.


Mac walked across the last span, finding where Xander was hiding and watching, sitting beside him. "They're back at their hotel."

"Willow's tried to summon me twice.  She can't with all the cold iron around me."

Mac nodded.  If he said so.  "I can have them sent home."

Xander gave him a look. "You can do that?"

"I can."  Xander hugged him.  He patted him on the back.  "I know it's hard, Xander."

"They're going to torture or kidnap me again."

"They won't."

"They have!  I'm not part of their world anymore and they don't like it."  He pulled back, looking at him.  He rolled up his sleeve.  "That's not a knife cut, Mac."

"I realize that, Xander.  Claw?"

"Tooth."  He put the sleeve back down.  "I can't live like that anymore.  I can't die like that.  I'm not ready to leave David yet."

"I get that part.  The same as I understand that's why you make sure no one's going to hurt him because they don't want to cross you.  Once you told me that, so much more clicked into place."  He patted him on the back of the head.  "It'd be safer if you were on the ground and surrounded by other stuff that would keep you safe.  Otherwise you could fall."

"They've tried that once too."  He snapped his safety line. "Not the greatest, but plain rope works too.  I'll have bruised insides."

Mac nodded, looking him over.  "Are you okay?"  He shook his head.  "David's worried sick since you didn't come down yet."

"Danny and Don got a pizza.  I stole half."

Mac grinned at that.   Xander sounded like a pouty little kid at the moment.  "I heard.  You should still come down.  David can protect you.  If not, I'm sure Dawn can."  He gave Xander a nudge when he saw him staring into space.  He looked where he was staring and groaned.  Buffy.  Wonderful.  "Miss Summers, how did you get up here?"

"This is what I do for a living," she noted as she came over. "Xander, it's time to come down and come home."

"Bite me."

"No, you have gay boy cooties.  It's time for you to come home.  Now."

"NO!   Go the fuck away!  I like my life!"

"Now, mister!"

"No, Buffy, I've got a life!"

"How can you call this a life!  No one here understands you!  They humor you!"

"No, I understand him.  I'm a combat veteran and I do understand him perfectly well.  Maybe not all his motives, but I understand his actions and Xander can easily tell me when something comes up.  He warned us when he heard you two might be coming this way."

"Yeah, and you can so understand what he's been through."

"Combat is combat.  No matter if it's saving your high school's graduating class or your unit in the field, Miss Summers."  She gave him a sneer and he stood up. "I think you should leave.  You're trespassing."  She walked closer. "Miss Summers, I want you out of this building or else I'm going to arrest you.  Your choice."  She snorted and took a swing, which he blocked.  He had his balance on the beams.

"NO!" Xander shouted, standing up.  He had to undo his rope to do that.  "Stop it, Buffy.  Now!"  He pulled his gun, pointing it at her.  "Go the fuck away.  No one here wants to see you.  Not me, not Dawnie.  No one!"

"You won't hurt me."

"Why not? You hurt me."  He cocked it.  "Go, now.  I may hit you to wound you but it'll still hurt like hell."  She sneered and moved in on him but Mac caught her.  "Mac, move."  He moved out of the way.  "Go home, Buffy.  New York's managed to handle itself this long, it can keep going that way."

"I'm not leaving without you. It's time you came home and did your real job."  She threw a punch and he ducked, then struck back, knocking her backwards and off balance.  She managed to catch herself.  "You think you can beat me?  I'm not some street thug with bad taste."

He shrugged, putting his gun back.  "I don't care, Buffy.  Go away.  I'm not going anywhere with you.  If you try to kidnap me again, this time you'll go to a federal jail for it.  Ford's already passed on the information to the local office and guess what, my real parents are feds."  She snorted and shrugged, glaring at him.  "Your choice, just go away.  I've been up here all day because of you."

"Too scared to come down?  Think your boyfriend will spank you for it?" she taunted.

"No, I'm fully planning on being spoiled rotten later by a long, hot bath with him. David knows I like tactile expressions of comfort and love."  She shrieked and moved for him, but Mac tried to get in the way. She tossed him, and Xander reacted, catching Mac instinctively by magic, glaring at her.  "Out, Buffy."

"You'll drop him."

"Not yet I won't."  He looked down, then whistled sharply, bringing someone running. "I can't hold him forever."  He ran off to get help and he sneered at her.  "Go away, Miss Summers. You're not wanted here by anyone, nor are you needed."  She came at him and he blocked her shot, pushing her face first into a beam.  He kept the mental strain of the magic and blocked her shots as well as he could, still getting tagged a few times.

"Let him go!" Don shouted.

Xander slumped and let him go, then hit her back now that he had the focus to do that.  She shrieked and came after him again but he was better than she thought.  He always had been.  He got her down and had one knee in her back, one hand pressing on her neck.  "Don't make me hurt you, Buffy."  He patted himself down.  "Fuck.  I could use some cuffs," he called.

"Catch," Stella called.  He looked and caught then punched her out as he brought them over with his touch of magic.  He got her cuffed and hauled her up so they could both come down.  She walked over to where they were going to end up, taking the young woman from him. "Mac's fine."

"Good. I didn't think I could catch him," he panted, wiping off his forehead.  He looked at Don.  "Are you okay?"

"I'm fine.  I haven't been hiding from homicidal little brats all day."

"No but I felt Willow trying something."

"Ray fixed it with Dawn's help."

"Thank you."  He gave him a hug, then gave one to Stella.  "Mac?"

"Being looked over. did you do that?"  Xander went pale and backed away. "Xander, stop!"  He froze.  "I'm not mad, I just want to know.  This isn't a reason to run."  He nodded, and turned, running away.  "Crap!  David!  He's running!"

David whistled.  "Freeze, Xander!"  He froze and gave him a horrified look.  "Come here."  He came over, giving him a hesitant hug.  "They already knew, and almost no one saw," he whispered. "Just tell them the truth.  Not like Dawn didn't put on a light show earlier with hers."  Xander shook his head.  "Do not take off running, Xander.  I won't put up with it."  Xander whimpered.  "I mean it."  Xander slumped and nodded.  "Good boy, come on."  He walked him back down to ballistics, which would calm him down more, even though Mortty was bouncing around frantically.  He sat her down then sat Xander next to her, watching as she hugged him.  "He had to catch Mac magically."

"And handcuffs," he admitted.

"That's okay, at least you caught him.  It could've killed him to fall from that height," Don said as he walked in.  He looked him over.  "You okay?"  Xander nodded.  "You sure?"

"I could use a potty break."

"Not alone you're not.  Mac's trying to figure out how you managed that."  He clapped him on the shoulder. "C'mon.  I'll escort you around.  Mac's fine, he's behind his desk."  Xander nodded, going with him to the bathroom then to Mac's office.  "One saving person."

"You did good, Xander," Mac assured him calmly.  "I just wanted to know how you managed it."

"Magic," he said weakly.  "I can't hardly do anything and I'll never do it in the station again, Mac, I promise."

"Whoa," Don said, holding up a hand.  "If it's necessary, you do it.  Like to save someone else, you definitely do it, kid."  Xander gave him a scared look.  "We'll cover for that shit.  Just do what you have ta do ta save a life.  Got me here?"  Xander nodded, swallowing.  "Good."

"I agree, Xander.  In that circumstance, magic is appropriate.  Nowhere else, but it's appropriate to catch someone who's going to die."  Xander nodded, looking behind him.  He called ballistics.  "David.  I've got him."  He hung up and David walked in a few minutes later.  "You and I are in agreement, right?  If it's necessary to save a life, Xander can use any means at his disposal?"

"I agree.  To save a life, and I don't mind him catching the handcuffs.  She was too dangerous not to confine before dragging her down."  He stroked through Xander's hair.  "I agree with today's use," he said, calming his mate down until he rested against his side.  "You need to eat."

"Bubble bath?" he asked quietly.

"If that's what you want for dinner, I can do that," he promised, smirking slightly at him.  "You're still going to eat.  No matter what else you do."  Xander swallowed and nodded. "Good boy.  You did very good today.  I'm proud that you chose not to take them on earlier and that you ran.  It was safer."  Xander nodded, wrapping his arms around his mate's stomach to hug him properly.  "Good boy.  Mac?"

"We're fine.  Chad's only got eight that came in today.  He'll leave the dropped guns for Xander."  Xander nodded, looking at him.  "As long as it's necessary, no other reason, Xander."

"Yes, Mac."

"Good boy.  Now go home, come back tomorrow without the homicidal women after you."  Xander nodded and he leaned back once they were gone.  "I was scared."

"You were scared?  We weren't sure how you were hanging," Don told him.  "Did they teach him that?"

"No, they taught him other things," Mac said quietly.  "They're the ones who started him hunting.  The redhead was the one who basically raised him.  They were also responsible for him being kidnaped from Chicago once.  They claimed they were worried about him since he had gotten so badly hurt on the job.  The FBI report said they told him it was because his husband was endangering him.  She wanted him to come back to work with them again, said he was only being humored here."

"Ya know what, I ever get into a standoff with anyone, I want it ta be him and you, Mac.  I know you two'll make sure my butt gets home that night."  He stood up and walked off, wondering how in the world you called people like that friends.  He ran into David and Xander in the locker room.  "He showering now?"

"Recovering from puking.  He was going to shoot Buffy to make her leave Mac alone," David said quietly.  He stroked Xander's back gently. "He'll be fine but I didn't want to let him do that in the car."

Flack nodded. "I can see that.  Xander?" Xander looked up at him.  "You consider me and Danny and Greg friends, right?"  He nodded.  "Do you consider us the same sort of friends?  I mean, you know we won't hurt you that way, right?"

"Willow and Jesse were all I had growing up, and he died," Xander said quietly.  "She raised me, Don.  I know it's fucked up but it's like hating your parent for fucking you up.  Some part of you still likes them for some reason."

"I get that," he promised, sitting beside him.  "Just make sure you know what real friends are.  Because, like I told Mac, if I ever get into a standoff, I want you and him at my back.  You two'll make sure I get home."  Xander nodded, giving him a hug.  "I know, it's been a hard day.  Hurry up and go home so you can be cuddled. Come in tomorrow wearing a smart t-shirt."  Xander nodded and stood up, letting David walk him off.  Don shook his head.  He knew Xander's real parents hadn't known about him, but he wanted to kick his other parents' ass, hard.  Multiple times.  Then take a beer break and start again.  He understood why Ray couldn't explain how you got along with someone like Xander.  You just did.  He called Ray to update him.  "It's me, Ray.  Xander's down.  She went up after him and Mac was up there trying ta talk him down.  She attacked Mac. So, this magic shit, you got any clues?" he asked.  He heard the wise words of 'ignore it' and chuckled.  "He caught Mac that way.  He would've fallen and died.  Then he caught a pair of handcuffs too.  No, she attacked Mac up there.  Yeah, now I understand Xander a bit more.  I still like Danny's suggestion of putting her and Sonny in a cell together."  He smirked at the evil chuckle.  "Which one would you think would win?"


Xander walked in the next day but everything seemed normal so he wasn't going to panic.  Yet.  He walked back to his lab, seeing the samples left out for him and moaned, writing Chad an 'I'm sorry' email telling him why he had been hiding.  Then he got down to work.  He'd have to clear everything today for Chad.  He was letting Mac down and he knew this.  Mac walked in and he swallowed.  "I'm sorry I freaked out that way yesterday."

"I understand why.  It's not a problem, Xander."  He walked in to look at the small stack. "Is that all?"  Xander nodded.  "All your guns and everything back in place?"

"All but the three that weren't found. Plus one of my battle axes."

"I'll keep an eye out for them. They're searching his house today.   The search warrants finally came through."  He clapped him on the back.  "We all have bad days. You'll make it up to me today and we'll be fine because next time you'll hide where I can find you first and talk to you.  Got it?" Xander nodded, looking at him. "Good boy.  Nice job hiding too.  That nest is in a nice spot and I only spotted that one."  He clapped him on the back again and headed out.

Xander relaxed when nothing else happened for the next hour.  No sudden noises, no one shouting, nothing like old friends showing up.  Eventually he finished relaxing and let his guard drop.  David came in about an hour after that, giving him a look.  "I'm okay."

"I can see that.  How long did it take you to relax?"

"Until about an hour ago.  Why?  Is something going on?"

"No.  Perfectly normal day so far. Greg's out on a call, just left with Lindsey.  I'm getting backed up and you've got how many samples?"

"Four more.  I'll come up as long as Lindsey doesn't bring me anything."  David smirked and strolled off, getting a bottle of water on his way back.  He got back to work, going at his usual nice, calm, pace.  When he got done, he called Greg.  "It's me, David needs me so if you've got a sample for me, let me know when you get back."  He hung up and headed upstairs to help David, finding Mac and Stella in there.  "Still need me?"

"Yup," David assured him, pointing at a microscope.  "Eric sent back another sample of that algae.  Make sure it's the same stuff. The report's in the envelope.  Then finish that report and help us with the multiple homicide from hell."

"Yes, David."  He got to work comparing the two samples.  "It's a match."  He called up his report and found the envelope, smiling since it gave proper name and references to look in.  He typed in what he needed then put the envelope and the slide together so pictures could be taken for the reference library.  He made a note of that and put the report next to it, then got to work with the other stuff.  "Cat fur?"

"Ten cats in the house.  Twelve bodies, none nibbled on.  Mostly kids."  Xander tensed up.  "We're not sure why, Xander.  The cats were fine."

"Crap.  Did we do the usual for carbon monoxide and things?  I thought I read recently that cats could live through more of that than humans."

"Already checked, yes they can, and not the COD," Stella told him.  "Cause of death was poisoning. Specifically rat poison."

Xander frowned.  "Saying that their cats weren't doing a good enough job?"  Mac and Stella both frowned at him.  "It sound symbolic to put rat poison in a house full of cats."

"It could be," Mac agreed.

"Or it could mean that they ratted someone out," Stella pointed out.  "Remember, that one neighbor said that one daughter was always a bad tattletale."

"The evidence will tell us one way or another," Mac agreed.

"Well, did we find out what it was in?" Xander asked.  "Food or not food?  Rubbed on the silverware like a polish?"

"That's that pile," David said, pointing. "Food samples from everything in the house."  Xander nodded, going to do that.  He smirked at Mac.  "It's a good place to start."  He glanced over but Xander was taking small samples and handling them while he made note of what was in them, numbering and labeling each of the containers. "Are you going to mass spec it?"

"Yeah, three samples from each.  That way I don't have to worry about stuff like the gravy not having soaked in equally.  The other test would tell us where it is, but this'll tell us if it was an ingredient or just applied."

"That's right, it does come in a powder and a liquid," Stella agreed.

"Plus a gel form.  We use that around the house since Sarah winces at the stench," David offered.  They got back to work while Xander found the evidence of where it came from.

"Holy crap, someone defiled the sacred godly power of chocolate," he said finally.   Mac and Stella both gave him an amused look.  "Can you think of anything else that can magically cure a bad day just by taking a bite? It's a godly power.  Plus chocolate was sacred to the people who invented it.  You could even buy prostitutes for chocolate way back when down there.  I don't remember if it was the Mayan or Aztecs, but I know it was sacred to one of them. The emperor dined on it every day to get close to their Gods."

"No more food channel, honey.  You're turning into that scary walking Xander'pedia again."  Xander just smirked and got back to work, separating out everything that had chocolate.  David looked over there.  "That's roast."

"It's got mole sauce on it.  That's chocolate based."

"Why would anyone want to put mole sauce on pot roast?" Stella asked.

"They eat like Xander," Greg said as he walked in with a few bags.  "Bad news, Xander.  One bullet, no gun yet."

"Let me finish this run and I'll get it, Greggy."

"Okay."  He walked over and slipped it into his pocket.  "Ah, the multiple kitty case.  Where was the poison?"


"Any particular type?"

"Mole sauce usually has dark chocolate, or the recipes I've seen have.  The other stuff was semi-sweet so maybe chips?"  He looked at him. "I'm not sure.  Did you gather them out of the cabinets?"

"I hadn't, but we can do that if Mac and Stella wants," he offered, looking at the bosses.  Who nodded.  "Anything else?"

"Not yet.  Just chocolate so far.  Remember to check the trash too.  They had a lot of chocolate in this meal. Pudding, but that's a mix and there's none in there.  Mole sauce, cake, which did have some in the icing and the cake itself.  Plus garnishes on the veggies."

"Okay."  He walked off, going to do that for them.

"Xander, go run that bullet and come back."

"If I do that, I risk carrying contamination back up here," Xander reminded him.  "We don't want contamination from ballistics in this case."  He got back to work. "It'll only take me a few minutes to run it once I'm done with this, Mac.  Then David can run the various chocolates."

"Would you melt it or not?" Stella asked.

"Most of the applications were melted chocolate but you could try solid since it was in the garnish as well.  Unless we have proof that they used melted drizzle to make the garnish.  You can do that, I saw it on a food competition show."

"Watch more food network, Xander.  Good job," Mac praised, smiling at David.  "Sometimes we need factoids like that."

"If he watches more food channel then he also watches more animal planet, specifically the one where the baby animals are born, and that grosses me out," David complained.  Xander nodded at that.

"You know, you came out that same way," Stella teased.

"I know, which is one reason why I shudder at the thought of children. Besides the mess, the work, the screaming, the illnesses, and did I mention the mess, there's the ickiness of childbirth and then the later sickening diapers.  Even if Xander somehow grew a vagina and appropriate parts, there would be no children."

"If I do suddenly start to grow girl stuff, can I grow breasts that make men stare in awe at the power of them?" Xander teased.

David looked at him.  "You do that, you're still taking it up the ass," he assured him.

"Boys," Mac said, sounding strangled and blushing bright red.  "Please.  Discuss that after work?"

"Sorry, Mac," David said, looking at Xander.

"Sorry," he said, giving him a sheepish grin. "I'd be cute though and I'd use them to make stupid criminals stare and confess to them."

"I've done that once or twice," Stella admitted.  "Good breasts can make certain types of men stupid."  Mac gave her an odd look.  "They can.  You ever try to question a guy on the beach during bikini season?"

"Have you?" he countered.

"Why do you think I keep the slutty red shirt in my locker, Mac?  Just in case I need it for the stupid people."  He shook his head quickly.

"The look on his face is nearly as bad as the 'confused with the Xander' look that happens around him now and then," David quipped.  "It usually starts with a Xanderism and then gets stuck in someone's head. Stan's the worst about that."

"Can I tell him?" Xander asked excitedly.  "No one's had the 'confused with the Xander' look in weeks, dear."

"As long as it doesn't go near the Ecklie record, you can tell them about this conversation," he promised.  He heard a crash and turned, catching Xander.  "Fuck," he muttered, checking him over.  "Get Dawn," he ordered.  "This isn't normal."  Mac called Dawn, Stella came over to help.  "It's magically induced. I felt the tingle of magic, that's why I turned."  He looked up.  "Get the samples back."  She nodded, moving the samples back to safety then getting the ballistics one.  He pulled out Xander's cell, searching for a number.  "Are you in Cleveland?"  He smirked.  "Get the bitches, they just knocked Xander down into his own head.  Yes, this is David, I don't care, just do it."  He hung up and put the phone into his own pocket.  Xander moaned and shifted so he grabbed his hand to stop him.  "I've got you, you're safe," he whispered.

"Dawn's coming as soon as she's done with her current client," Mac promised.  "Is there anything we can do?"

"Knock the redhead around some?  Killing her could lock him this way."

"They're back home as far as I know," Mac admitted.  Dawn suddenly appeared.  "Interesting."

"Not now, Mac."  She got down.  "We're not doing this the easy way.  She knocked him back for a chat.  He's basically in a dream quest state."  She got to work, bringing him back around.  Xander moaned and she smiled.  "Talk to him, wake him up like normal.  I've got a perm to do."  She disappeared.

David looked down.  "Xander," he said quietly.  Xander groaned and blinked at him.  "Hi. You back?"  He nodded, looking at him.  "Speak?"


David smiled, nodding.  "You are back.  Can you sit up?"  Xander sat up, holding his head.  "Magic headache?"  Xander nodded.  "Dawn had to bring you around."

"She wanted to tell me why they wanted me back. I was sitting there with my fingers in my ears going 'lalalalalala' over and over."  He used a stool to pull himself up, standing.  "Okay, I'm going to go match this bullet, then take a break for a nap for lunch.  Come get me when lunch is over with."  He walked off, going to do just as he had said, though he'd be napping in the firing pen because it was soundproofed and the floor was nice and cool.

David looked at his bosses.  "I'm finding myself more and more in favor of Danny's plan to put Buffy and Willow in the same cell as Sonny and see who wins."

"That's an evil Xander thought," Stella said firmly.

"Well, we have been married for a while.  How hard should I hint about what I want for our anniversary since he's still stumbling a few days after the fact?"

"Drop a fairly blatant one without outright saying it," Stella told him.  "What did you want?"

"A nice, calm, romantic dinner out somewhere nice and a spa treatment for a massage."

"I'll make sure he gets the hint later," she promised, smirking at him.  "You really are a softy now and then, David."

"Don't tell anyone but he's spoiled me for anything but really good backrubs."  He checked the clock then got back to work.  "I'll wake him up in a half-hour."

"I'm sure someone storming in for a soda will do it," Mac offered.

David looked at him.  "He's somewhere down in ballistics, Mac.  Probably the firing pen."  He snorted, shaking his head.  "It's quiet, cool, and no one would think to look for him there."

"You can figure that out later," Greg said as he came in.  "What happened?"

"The twin menaces to Xander's mental health charmed him to have a little virtual brain talk."

"Ah.  I'm liking Danny's idea to put them in with 'I get all the bitches' Sonny and his boys to see if he can't beat their asses for them to bruise their egos.  Because I truly believe they'd do it for each other.  He'd remind her she's a girl and she'd point out he was just as much of one when she kicked his ass."

"We let them leave since Xander didn't press charges, and you can't put a female in a male's cell," Mac said firmly.

"Yeah, the only way was if we counted them all as dangerous inmates and put them on the higher security transport," Stella agreed. "That's basically a big steel box on wheels."  Mac gave her a dirty look.  "It is the only way to do that."

"He still didn't press charges as long as those two went away and left him alone."

"Which they didn't," David noted.  "Fortunately there's a clan of very gay vampires who adore Xander and have promised to turn him if he's ever that injured.  They're in Cleveland right now."  He smirked at Greg.  "They weren't happy with the blonde at all for picking on their cheerleader."

"Sorry, I just had the picture of Mortty, Abby, and Xander all being goth cheerleaders in little black leather outfits and black pompoms."  He walked out, fingers pinching at the headache behind the bridge of his nose.  "Sheldon, man, *please* give me a thought that'll take David's last one out of my head?" he pleaded when he ran into him.

"What thought?"

"Goth cheerleader Xander with Abby and Mortty.  Complete with short black leather skirt and pompoms."

Sheldon shuddered.  "We found out what killed out dead victim earlier.  His stomach exploded when he ate too much."

Greg hugged him.  "I love you, man."  He walked off once he had the folder, taking it to look at the gross pictures instead.

Sheldon walked into Trace.  "Do I need to know why he had that bad thought and felt he had to pass it on?"  David smirked and raised his hand.  "You're mean.  I'll have to remember that."  Stella cackled.  "Never mind."  He walked out, going to the morgue to see if he could help for a bit.  He definitely needed a better mental image before that one got stuck in him.

The ME looked at his former coworker, raising an eyebrow.  "You look like you just got Xander'd."

"No, I got a nasty mental image that David gave to Greg.  About Xander but not directly because of him."  The ME made 'go on' hand motions.  "Somehow it came up as cheerleader Xander with goth outfits, including skirts, with Abby and Mortty."

The ME considered that, then smiled.  "I could see that.  Xander is very energetic, especially if you fed him some chocolate first."

"I wanted that image *out* of my head, Sid," he complained.

"Sorry.  Well, I do have spiders that've nested in a diabetic's infected pustule.  You can help me with that."

"Thank you."  He walked over to help him kill the spiders and pick out their remains.  He was sure things would go back to normal soon.  Things with Xander went in cycles from what he had heard.  It'd be quiet until someone tried to attack the station or David again.  Then fierce, defiant Xander would come back and make them all worry until it was fixed, then they'd baby him and go back to normal.  "Those two girls who warped him showed up."

"Wonderful.  Were they arrested?"

"No, he wouldn't press charges and Mac said he wouldn't for one's assault on him as long as they went home immediately."

"One of them assaulted Mac?" he asked, staring at his friend.  "How?"

"I'm not sure. She's five-four, blonde, and perky, but he came out with some bruises and so did Xander.  So apparently there are things that're scarier than Mac when he's mad."  That got a gentle smile.  "You missed it.  Xander took off running in the other direction.  Headed up into the ceiling and sat in the rafters watching for them all day."  The other ME chuckled.  "Seriously.  It scared the hell out of me to see Xander fleeing in fear.  I'm going to do the same thing next time.  Mortty said they attacked her back in Chicago to try to find Xander.  Anytime Xander flees and I'm there, I'm running behind him like I'm going for a medal."

"You can always hide down here in a drawer, Sheldon.  You know that."  That got a grin.  "Is the boy okay?"

"He's napping in ballistics.  In the firing pen.  I almost walked in on him until I heard the snore. Greg's dog is sitting watch on him since I put him in there."

"Good.  The other's down here," he said, pointing at the one who was watching them, head tipped to the side.  "She is quite a dog.  If any of her litter come up for adoption, I'll see if I can have a dog."

Don ran into the room.  "Sheldon, we need you up in Trace.  Someone just mailed David a bomb.  Xander got it undone in time but he nicked his hand with the knife.  You know how he is about hospitals."

"Sure."  He grabbed some gloves and a sterile stitching pack, just in case, and headed up to help.  Yes, life was definitely more interesting with Xander, and he realized he was probably bored before he had met the guy.  Because he surely wasn't now.

The End.

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