What if there was an announcement of a new ballistics area.  deamon Ballistics.
What if CSI gets a specialist named Xander.  what if included in deamon ballistics classes is weapons training and blessing and decursing training.

Possible scenes/ideas

Hazards of Deamon ballistics.  Sometimes the dead dont stay dead.

That nice innocent book that is smoking is actually a deamon coming out to devour you and you should get your silver blessed weapon ready.

Yes deamon goo looks bad smells bad and wont get off your clothing.

Hitting the red button will not cause an alarm to go off.  But it would cause a certain witch to come and kick the deamons butt with magic.   DONT play with the button.  "but you do"   yes and I have coffee when i do ....i am special...she likes me.

Why, thank you, Dragfox.  I think I'll take this challenge......  Ooooooohhhhhhhh



Xander walked into his advisor's office, looking around at all the books.   Then at his favorite teacher.  "What's up, Professor Destra?"  She pointed at a chair so he sat down.  "Am I flunking something else?"

"No.  Not yet," she admitted.  She studied her prize student.  "There's been a speciality open up that I think would suit you."  He opened his mouth.  "Ah!"  He closed his mouth.  "It's not offered here, Xander.  It is right up your alley, and will include ballistics and strange weapons."

He shuddered.  "I heard something about a demonic speciality."

She just nodded.  "Yup.   Like I said, right up your alley."  He whimpered.  "I know you want out of that business, that you plan on retiring even, but this wouldn't be quite the same.  This would be doing the CSI side of it.  Figuring out what did it and if necessary hunting it down to capture it."  She held up her hand again when he opened his mouth.  "Hear me out, Xander."  He slumped but nodded.  "Right now, what's keeping me from recommending you is your chemistry and physics grades.  It would be a team effort.  You'd be paired up with someone once you passed. I'm not sure how they're picked before you ask.  I do know that you've got a heavy advantage over most of the other students.  It would also be a job where you'd be doing some traveling most of the year to different scenes.  Possibly even internationally if you got a good enough rep.  I do know that you'd take everything you learned here and then apply it to that field as well.  It's really a higher speciality because you'd have to know what you already know and then the CSI classes you've proven you excel at.  I know one other teacher is thinking about recommending you."

"Okay, and while that's nice," he noted, "I hate demons.  I don't want to work with demons.  I want to retire from demons.  I don't want to hunt.  I'm getting too old to hunt."

"This wouldn't be what you've done in the past, Xander.  It would be, basically, like being a link between your current job and the one you're training for.  You could even settle in a high demon area but you'd be called on for the strange crap cases that none of the rest of us like.  You'd get a lot more into cults, all that stuff that you've seen in the past."

"But I don't want to do that anymore," he said, hopping up.  "I don't want to know demons, work with demons, deal with demons, any of it.  I want to be a nice, normal boy, Prof.  One who can find a decent dog to raise instead of dating."  He stomped off, going back to his apartment to sulk for a bit.  He hated demons.  Why wouldn't they leave him alone?  Really, all he wanted to do was be a normal Xander now.  It had been too long since he'd been a normal Xander and he wanted this fairy tale nightmare ride to end!


Professor Destra walked into the police station, looking at the young man sitting in a chair holding his head.  "What happened, Xander?"

He looked at her.  "Bad shit," he said dryly, giving the officer a look then her again.  "They caught us solving bad shit this time and jumped in."

"We have six officers in the hospital," the officer told her.  "We can't get a straight answer about *why* they went to the hospital.  All we get from him is what we got from that one detective who went off the deep end about demons."

Xander snorted and looked at him then around.  He whistled then muttered something.  Someone came out of the file room, giving him a dirty look.  "Would you like to explain what we were doing earlier?" he asked him.

The junior officer looked at the older one then the teacher.  "No."  Xander's growl was very well heard by the half-demon.  He glared back.  "I'll have to move."

"Hell, boy, they want me to go do demonic ballistics," he said dryly.  The demon growled back.  "Choice, man, really.  I can take it from you."  The junior officer drug the other two into a conference room and let his illusion drop.  Xander looked back at the terrified squeak.  "He's not dangerous."  The senior officer came out pale and shaky.  "Unfortunately among them there's bad assholes.  I'm retiring from dealing with the bad assholes the day I graduate."  He glared at his professor.  "No matter what you want."

"I just think it'd be better for you, Xander.  A lot more interesting.  You could even settle down somewhere and do that as a sideline."

"I still just want to be normal, Prof.  I'm sick and tired of dealing with the strange shit that flows from the asshole of the universe!"

"Calm down," the officer said, sitting down again.  "What happened?"

"The green and blue thing that threw most of your officers was trying to bring more of his kind here so they could mate, eat people, and gradually take over the city within weeks.  He was a forward scout and by stomping him they won't come here."

"Okay," he said, nodding at that.  "Where are you from, boy?"

"Sunnydale," he said dryly, giving him a look.  "Now you know why I want to be *normal* and forget all that stuff."

"Kid, you doing it would save normal people who can only pray from doing it," he said dryly.

"Yeah, but I'm too old to do that.  I started at sixteen.  I'm nearly twenty-seven."  The officer nodded.  "This is a young kid's game.  Like all high impact sports.  I don't want to be forty and hunting demons and vampires.  Actually I won't make it to forty if I keep hunting demons and vampires.  I'm already ancient by industry standards.  Our average lifespan is eighteen months after you start hunting."

"Good point.  I can understand that," he agreed, nodding a bit.   "But better you being able to handle it and tell the rest of us what we're doing to help you than no one having a clue."

"You could take it as an extra speciality, Xander," the professor agreed. "Then go be a ballistics tech with a special specialty in an area where we need it.  By all means, I want you in ballistics.  I want to look at my students in ten years and add your picture to the wall of Gods of Guns.  I want to send the next you to you to do internships and for you to finish polishing.  Before then, I want you to take this specialty class.  It'll be two years.  You can count it as an extra internship.  You can do hours in a normal ballistics department during it if you can arrange it.  Please, Xander.  They need you."

Xander slumped, nodding a bit.  "I hate you both."

"I know, kid," the officer said, patting him on the back.  "Was it poisonous or anything?"

"No, just cranky.  Forward guards don't get laid."  He looked at him.  "Nothing other than the trauma from the walls in their cases."

"Thank you."

"Welcome.  Can I go?"  He nodded so Xander stood up and walked out, shooting a glare at his professor.  "I still hate you."

"I know, but it's necessary.  You *know* who'll be doing it if you don't.  You know all the posers and all the idiots who'll be doing the job if you don't.  You also know that they'll all die, even with partners.   You're one of the few who can do this and then *teach* it later."  Xander frowned at her.  "Yeah, you, teach.  You can probably already teach some of it."

"Point," he muttered.  "I'll do that and then come back for my last semester.  Deal?"

"Very," she promised, smiling at him.  "That's even better than my idea."  She patted him on the lower back.  "We'll miss you."

"If I'm as good as you think it shouldn't take two full years."  He gave her a look.  "You tell Angel and weather the laughing because I'm not."

"I can do that."  She watched him get into his car and drive off.  She went to Wolfram and Hart; she had talked to Angel in the past about his work schedule being in the way of his class schedule.  She found him inside already brooding.  "The officers will probably be fine," she said.  He jumped and glared at her.  "That won't work.  I've seen psychopaths doing it *so* much better, Angel."  She smirked.  "Have you heard anything about that new CSI program out of San Francisco?"  He slowly shook his head.  "It's a demonic CSI speciality."  He groaned and hung his head, shaking it.  "I'm recommending Xander go and then come back for his last semester with us.  Purely as a specialty load.  That would mean he'd have one or two years there."

He looked at her.  "He doesn't want to stay in the field."

"He wouldn't be.  He'd be a CSI with an extra speciality in slime and goo."  She smiled.  "He'd be the one to liaison between guys like you and people like me."

"He'd still hate it."

"It took me a good few times to convince him and then twist his arm, Angel.  Will you support him going?"  Angel shrugged and turned around.  "Without picking on him about it since we are forcing him to go?"

"I won't laugh."

"He said you would.  He's actually worried about it."

Angel looked at her.  "He's a bit needy, Professor."

"Yes, we all realize why."  She stared him down until he turned away again.  "You can probably still borrow him when necessary."

"I'll remember that.  Two years?"

"The program is slated to take two years.  He's got a good head start.  Some year I want him to teach others, Angel."

"That'd probably be a better idea," he agreed dryly.  "Though I think he'd lock up and babble in front of students."  He shrugged.  "I won't fire him for it.  I might even keep paying him."

"It's in San Francisco.  Two years with him there handling the issues."

Angel looked at her.  "Think I could send someone else up to take it?"  She shrugged.  "If so, I'd pay to get both of them out of my hair."

"They making you use too much gel?" she taunted with a smirk.  He rolled his eyes and walked off.  "I'll check that out for you."

"Thank you.  Tell him he can go.  I'll see what I can do about getting him housing and things."

"I can do that."  She walked off, calling Xander from the car.  "He didn't laugh.  He made one of the same points you did and he wanted me to see if he could send someone else up there as well."  She smiled.  "Exactly.   He said he'd try to find you somewhere to live and all that.  I'll get the specifics tonight, Xander.  Of course.  See me then."  She hung up and drove home happier.

Odd, Strange, and Frightful Ballistics.

Xander settled into his seat the first day of his new classes, sighing as he looked around.  There were definitely a lot of targets in this group.  Willing targets.  The sort that vampires would find tasty.  He looked over as the teacher came in, opening his new notebook.  One of the other students immediately raised their hands.

"Professor, the book for this class was suspiciously small.  Are there going to be supplemental texts?"

"Yes, there are, though not many.  Not much has been written on this subject."  He cleared his throat.  "Let me start off by saying that there is no such thing as demons, only things that are yet to be explained."  Xander burst out giggling and nearly fell on the floor.  "Young man!  Who are you!  I will not tolerate dissent in this classroom."

Xander calmed himself down and smirked.  "I'm Xander Harris, from Sunnydale."  The man blanched.  "I can counter your premise my whole damn life, especially since tenth grade when I started to work with a slayer or four.   Or more in the last year of Sunnydale and then I moved to help Angel in LA."  He stood up and took off his shirt.  "I dare you to find the three human bites among those."

The teacher went pale and backed away.  "No, it can't be."

"Oh, shut up," another student said, glaring at Xander.  "If he's an idiot, you teach."

"If I teach, you're all going to be starting off in a different area, and I'll get a Watcher here to help."  He looked at the teacher again once he put his shirt back on.  "So, we're learning what about figuring out what's known and unknown?"  He sat back down.  "Because, granted, there are things that aren't classified yet, even by the Watchers's Council."

"You know of them?"

"As I said, I worked with a slayer.  There's always a watcher around.  I worked with Rupert Giles for years.  Then Wesley in LA."

He swallowed and nodded.  "I can teach you how to determine the classification and when things haven't been found.  I want put in touch with the Watchers," he ordered.  Xander pulled out his phone and opened his phone book, handing it over once he had an entry highlighted.  "Magic Box?"

"That's where all the slayers moved when Sunnydale fell in.  It's in Cleveland.  The new bad is there."

The teacher shook his head but wrote down the contact information, including the notes of who not to ask for when he needed information.  "Thank you, Mr. Harris.  Why are you taking this class?"

"I got told it was mandatory."  He shrugged.  "Can I test out?"  The teacher nodded and pointed at the door, making him grin, grab his things, and leave.  He went to find his new advisor.   "Hi," he said, leaning into his office.  "Professor Kimmerl just said there's no such thing as demons so I had to correct him."  He gave him a sweet smile.  "He said I can test out.  What's my next mandatory class?"

"You can't test out."

"Dude, I'm from Sunnydale.  I worked with slayers.  What's my next mandatory class?"

The teacher looked at him. "Prove it."

He pulled out his resurrected ID and handed it to him.  "That's my Sunnydale driver's license.  The picture on the back is my best friends.  If you know the world, you know them."  He looked and groaned, then nodded.  Xander put it back into his wallet.  "So, what's my next class?"

"Let's test your levels."

"Sure, I can do that."  He followed him up the hall of the small building they had taken over for this academy.  He waved at the two teachers he knew.  "I got talked into it as an extra speciality since I'm a ballistics tech in training," he called at the opening mouths.

One of them jogged after him, stopping him.  "You are?"

"I am."

"You play with guns?"

Xander smirked.  "I'm training to be a CSI, Willow.  I play with guns, evidence, chemicals.  All that."  He gave her the same sweet grin.  "Kimmerl wanted to talk to Giles.  I gave him the number out there."

"I'll talk with him later.  I heard he didn't think they were real," she sighed.  "Okay, what're you doing now?"

"Testing out of the first class since I nearly made him pass out."

"Yeah, that'll work.  Any bad areas?"

"I have to have tutors in chem and econ, physics is pretty low for me," he admitted.  He shrugged.  "I'm still best at hands-on, that's why I'm a ballistics tech."

"Good!"  She beamed at the other teacher.  "He's my bestest buddy."

"Who you decided wasn't worth your trouble," he said sweetly.  "And I'm still very pissed at you and ready to feed you my cooking."  He walked off with the teacher.  "Sorry.  She thought I was dryer lint a few times.  Great friends to have.  That's why I'll raise dogs instead of date."

The teacher looked at him.  "That's fine."  He let him into another classroom.  "We think he can jump ahead."

"No jumping," the teacher said, not looking up from his reading.

"This is Mr. Harris, he worked with Professor Rosenburg."  The head slowly came up to look at them and Xander wiggled his fingers in a wave.  "He just sent Kimmerl's ideas out the window."

"Pity.  That'll work.  C'mere, boy."

"Do I look like your slave?" Xander snorted.  "Which class are you teaching?"

"Demonic biohazards.  Chemistry for demons."

"Ewww.  More a Fred class than mine.  I'm a ballistics tech."  He walked in there anyway, grabbing the book that was held out.  "Huh."  He sat down to flip through it.  "I didn't know you could separate the two types of slime out that way.  Will it help it come out in the wash?"


"Pity.  Anything that does?"


"Fire pretty but clothes expensive."  He looked at him.  "I had a tutor during chem.  I'm a hands-on guy.  That's why I'm a ballistics tech."

"That's fine.  You can do that."

"Good."  He went back to reading it, frowning at one section.  "Banishing potions work?"

"On some classes," he said dryly.  "You'll have that class this afternoon."


"Right after magic," he finished.

Xander looked at him.  "Magic bad for Xander's.  Very bad for Xander's.  Even if I can find the remote, I shouldn't.  Besides, Willow and I don't get along that well anymore.  She had special girl syndrome."

"She still does," he agreed dryly.  "We'll be testing everyone to see who can.  Then you'll be taking necromancy lessons if you can."

"From her?"


He sighed in pleasure.  "Thank you."  He went back to reading it.  "Did anyone tell Giles she's teaching magic?"


Xander pulled out his cellphone, calling out there.  "Hey, Dawn, can you tell someone out there that I found Willow in 'Frisco. That she's teaching magic to scientists?  Oh, and I gave someone Giles' number since it's a demonic CSI class.  Thanks, sugar."  He hung up and went back to reading, his phone going back into his pocket.  A few minutes later Willow shrieked in outrage.  He looked at the door and it closed and locked itself, then he went back to reading.  He even ignored her pounding on the door.

"Xander, I'm doing good for the world!" she shrieked.  "How dare you turn me in!  Let me in right now, Mister, before I teleport in there and kick your hiney!"  She suddenly stopped and he sighed in pleasure.

The teacher looked at him.  "Take the book with you, go see Professor Mubbins.  He's in the attic."

"Sure.  Once she's gone."  He looked at him. "Not like I can teleport.  I can find the remote."   He heard boots stomping off so he got up and went to check the hall then left.   He walked up the main staircase, looking around the second floor practical application classrooms.  He found the teacher in the attic napping and coughed from the doorway.  The teacher looked over at him.  "I got sent up here.  I'm Harris, I'm from Sunnydale, unfortunately."

"Can you do magic?"

"I can find the remote, shut a door, and if I'm really frantic use latin to set books on fire," he said dryly, leaning in the doorway.  "The demonic chem teacher sent me up here after I busted Rosenburg for teaching magic."  He snickered at that.  "I better than most know what she did before.  She's still scary.  She's still sucking up bad magic.  I want her leashed.  Before she turns me into something again," he finished blandly.  "So, necromancy?"

"Comes in handy now and then."  He pointed at a stack of cases.  "Pick it up, fill it tonight from the shop on the card, then appear tomorrow."


The teacher snorted.  "Go rob a few graves, kid."

"I'm not like that, thanks anyway."  He looked at the case, then at him.  "Your cases are smaller than the ones for field CSI."  The teacher sat up and stared at him.  "I'm training to be a ballistics tech with a minor in trace and field, Professor."

"Take the black case, fill it with the list inside, Mr. Harris.  Then report to the second floor and tell the teacher who you are."  He nodded, walking out with the case.  He groaned, looking up.  "At least he's qualified," he mumbled.

Xander leaned into the second floor room, watching the teacher doing katas.  "Apparently I'm skipping around my classes today."

"You are?"

"Harris, from Sunnydale.  Ballistics tech in training with a minor in field and trace."

"Oh, shit."

"Basically.  I've already had a talk with Kimmerl because he thinks there's no demons, with the chem teacher and gotten my book there, busted Rosenburg with Giles, and got my kit from upstairs but I have to fill it.  Do we offer grants and things here?  Angel's only paying for my apartment and tuition."

"Yeah.  Financial aid would do that.  How are you in physical brawling?"

Xander walked in and put things in the corner then pounced him to show what he could do.  The guy snickered but let him go.  "Weapon's fighter.  I like guns."

"That'll work," he agreed.  He backed off and bowed, Xander doing the same.  "Good.  We can work on your limp spots and your left side weakness."

"I'm missing an eye, I compensate *very* well.  I jumped into the last battle in Sunnydale without it, that's how I learned to compensate."

The teacher nodded.  "Then you'll definitely do.  You want to do this full time?"

"Nope.  I wanted to retire.  Professor Destra said I could do this as a specialty on the side when needed and then teach it some day.  She pushed and shoved me up here, even blackmailed me until I came up here, even though I wanted to retire."

"That'll work.  We could use your experience," he decided.  "I'll walk you down to financial aid, kid.  You'll probably only have a year here."

"I keep hearing about partners...."

"Yup, you'll get your own White Lighter from the Powers."

Xander gave him an odd look.  "Why would I need a seer?"

"You know about them?"

"After Sunnydale I went to work with Angel."

"Oh.  That explains a lot."

Xander shook his head.  "I dated Cordelia in high school."

The teacher patted him on the back.  "Ever think about guys, Xander?"

"Yup, but I think I'll go somewhere and raise dogs.  It's safer."  The teacher nodded in appreciation so he grabbed his stuff and walked out with him.  "When will I get my new schedule?"

"Probably tomorrow."  He walked him down to the bottom level and into financial aid, making the woman in there smile.  "This is Xander Harris, formerly of Sunnydale."  The woman dropped her pen.  "Angel's only paying for his tuition and housing.  Can we work on grants and things so he can buy his equipment?"

"We can do that," she agreed happily.  "Come this way please, Mr. Harris."  He smiled at the teacher and waved then followed her to her office.  He put things in the spare chair and sat across from her.  "Now, what sort of expenses were you looking at?"

"Food?  Supplies?  Angel pays for my apartment but my car is a POS that's got to be fixed too."

She nodded, settling in to look at his financial aid history.  "I see you've been taking two grants and the rest was privately paid?"

"I annoy Angel.  He sent me to school so I'd be nearby if he needed me but out of his overly gelled hair."

She smiled and nodded at that.  "Then we've got a few options for you."  She called someone.  "I have Mr. Harris here, I need to know how long he's going to be here.  Because he's already got his chemistry book and the kit from Necromancy."  Xander nodded.  "He came in with the PE teacher."

"I made Kimmerl go pale and shaky," he offered.  "I would like to meet the other teachers to make sure that I don't need to take them too."

She smiled and repeated that.  Then she nodded.  "I think we can work that out.  Thank you, sir."  She hung up and started to type.  "Okay, what we can do, based on your financial statements, is apply for two loans and a grant.  The loans would have to be paid back within two years of graduating."  Xander nodded at that.  "The grant isn't going to need to be paid back."  Xander grinned at that.  "Now, you can't get as much as you normally would be allowed but that's because you've already paid tuition.  However, it looks like I can do three things more."  She looked at him.  "There are private source loans," she said quietly.  "They're through the bank itself, based on credit ratings, and are for up to thirty thousand each."

"How much for the others?"

"About seven thousand all together."

"Then I'll leave the other ones for now."

She looked at him.  "Look at the list in the case, Xander," she said gently.  He looked and hissed then shuddered.  "Exactly."

"Then I'll take one up on it.  Over a few years of payback, right?"  She nodded.  "Then I could probably handle that."

"Good."  She typed into another screen and nodded.  "We've got that process started."  Her computer beeped and she smiled, printing off forms.  "I love instant answers.  Sign please?"  He signed on the correct spots after reading.  Then the others she printed out.  "There you go.  You should have them within a week, Xander.  The necromancy teacher can be held off that long and you only have him once a week probably."  She patted him on the hand.  "There you go.  Come back here in a week and I'll have things for you."  He nodded, gathering things and heading to his car.  He went to get a quick lunch and come back to go to the registrar, that way he could see what else he was going to be taking.  She smiled.  He was such a *nice* boy.


Xander looked up as he walked into the Hyperion for his holiday break, looking at Angel.  "I hate San Francisco.  Have I pointed this out yet?" he asked.

Angel snorted.  "Get over it, Xander, it's only for two years."

"Try one more semester.  I'm down to the physical classes since I managed to pass demonic chem."  Angel gave him a horrified look so he produced the book.  "I'm also learning necromancy.  Got any reference books around here?"  Angel gave him a horrified look with a whimper and shook his head slowly.  "Pity.  Means I've got to spend more of my student loan on books," he complained, heading for his room.  "I'm going to nap.  My neighbors are noisy lesbians.  Hi, Fred, Hi, Wes, Hi, Gunn!" he shouted as he walked, slamming his door and locking it.

Angel sat down holding his head.  "What are they doing to me?" he moaned.  "They're teaching him *necromancy*?"  He looked up.  "Do I really need this!" he demanded.

Fred leaned out of the kitchen.  "Yes, you do."  She disappeared again.

Angel glared at the kitchen doorway then called Cleveland.  "Giles, it's Angel.  Can I send Xander to you now?" he asked.  His teeth gritted together at the 'no' and the reason.  "They're teaching him necromancy, Giles.  Yes, that class set.  No, he's back for the holiday because he said his neighbors are noisy lesbians."  He held his head and whimpered. "Please?  Why can't they suck it up and get over it?  He's more than a tag along.  Really!  I'm pretty sure we've proved that.  Can't you *make* them take him back?"

Wesley came out of the office, taking the phone.  "Rupert, he's distressed because Xander is learning quite a lot.  His grades were very good, even in demonic chemistry.  Yes, the various properties of demonic slime and goo.   Plus some hunting techniques, necromancy, a few other demonic classes.  Exactly.  Xander, what are you taking next semester, Rupert wants to know."

"Forging and metal smithing for sword and weapon repair, chem 2, my other PE class, my practical exam is in March, and then we're going to get partners.  Oh, and my advanced magics and demonology classes."  His door shut again.

Wesley smiled.  "He's got another section of demonic chemistry, another hunting practicals class, a weapons repair and forging class, and advanced magics and demonology next semester, then his practical exam for graduation in March," he said proudly.  He smiled.  "He probably could use some reference texts, yes.  Well, Angel isn't giving him much of a stipend.  Enough to live on, barely.  Actually, the last I heard he ended up taking out a small loan for supplies.  They made them buy their own magic supplies and reference texts.  Exactly.  It could, yes.  Though I'm not sure how it would work with the investigative classes really.  No, he'll be coming back here to do his last semesters in the CSI program."  He smiled and nodded.

"Exactly.  They say great things about him.  I know his teacher was hoping that some day he'd be teaching the subject to others, Rupert.  That would be more than acceptable. Is Miss Rosenburg over her issues now?"  He chuckled. "Of course not.  The girl is nothing but blind, Rupert.  It's too bad she's not more like her mother.  I remember Joyce was very loving and accepting of her daughter.  Good.  Of course.  He'll be here for at least a few days.  No, he's complained a few times about his current neighbors being noisy.  Of course we'll be here.  I'm sure he'll appreciate the gesture and it would make a wonderful holiday gift.  We'll be here, Rupert.  You as well."  He hung up and looked at Angel.  "Xander, he'll be sending you some reference texts he doesn't think he'll need," he called.  "It'll be your holiday gift."

"Sure," he called back.  "Wake me for dinner."

"I can do that," Wesley agreed, heading for the kitchen.  "Fred, make sure we wake Xander for dinner, dear."

"Sure," she agreed happily.  "How were his grades?"

"Lower than he had hoped but he said he didn't have a tutor this time."

"So what he went through before," she decided, nodding and going back to her chopping.  "How was Willow?  I know he said she had been teaching there."

"I heard he had turned her into Giles for doing more magic," he said with a small smile for Gunn when he came in.  "Xander's back for the holidays."

"Good!  Is he out bothering Angel again?"

"Napping.  He's said his neighbors are a bit noisy.  Called them a charming couple of girls."

"Oh, yeah, he said they were having lesbian orgies. Forgot about that.  Anything new?"

"He told Angel what he was taking and gave him a migraine."

Gunn snickered.  "Good for him."  He went to check on Angel.  "You gonna die for real?"

"No," he moaned, one hand covering his face where he was lying on the couch.  "I hate him."

"You don't, Angel.  You really don't.  Remember, he'll be teaching the guys who do our jobs in a few decades."

"Only if I don't use him as a snack."

"If you did, you'd have to deal with the group in Cleveland."

"Point."  He moved his hand to look at him.  "I should go out of town on a case."

"You could take him with you."

"No I can't."

"You could.  Remember he's training to do that stuff."

Angel sat up suddenly and went into his office, coming out with a folder.  "Harris!" he bellowed.  Xander came down the stairs yawning.  "Here, up your new alley.  Go figure this one out and solve it."  He handed over the file.  "It'll be a good vacation."

Xander looked at it then nodded.  "It's not that hard."  He went out to his car, coming back with two cases and a bag.  "Let me change."  He walked up to his room and came down in something more formal than jeans and a loose t-shirt, a better t-shirt and dress pants, plus cleaner sneakers.  Angel gave him an odd look.  "Not like I can afford to shop.  Do you know how expensive necromancy is?" he quipped.  He went into the magic supplies to refill both cases and then he grabbed his cellphone from the charging plug and walked out again.  "Be back tomorrow.  Save me leftovers, Fred," he called as he walked.

Angel whimpered.  He'd still be back?  Why him!


Xander walked into the station he needed, looking around.  "Hey, Griffy?" he called when he spotted the guy he had done his field practical hours with.  The older man gave him a horrified look so he motioned him closer and handed over the folder.  "I got nominated for a *third* minor," he said dryly.  "You needed this sort of help?"

He looked at the case then at him.  "They're doing a forensics minor in this?" he demanded loudly.  Xander smirked and nodded.  "Oh, damn it!"  He walked the kid off, taking him to his boss's office.  "Did you know they're doing a forensics minor in strange crap?"

"Yup, out of San Francisco," the boss said, looking around him at Xander.  "You?"

"I got nominated," he said dryly.  "And then pushed by Prof Destra."  He shrugged. "I even got to skip classes, Dirkum."  He grinned sweetly.  "It's one of three things.  I can tell you within a few hours and probably give it to you."

"I'd rather you just made it go away after we get back the hostage."

"If it's two of the three, your hostage was a snack," he said bitterly.  "The other one....  Probably a sacrifice.  But I can check."

"That'll work.  What're they teaching you?"  Xander pulled a brochure out of his pocket and handed it over.  He looked it over then at him.  "Flakes?"

"People who're doing what I used to do.  I got told I could liaison, ride in to save the day, and then go back to doing my real love, playing with guns and explosives."

Captain Dirkum just nodded at that.  "Sounds like it's right up your alley, kid.  Griffold, go get the case from Petria...."

"Just call Petria, I can work with her," Xander reminded him.  "She thinks I'm a cute little kid with a tragic need for cuddles."

"You are," Griffold agreed, shrugging at his boss.  "You sure, boss?"

"I'm sure.  At the very least we need to know."  He called Petria into his office, giving Xander a strange look.  He handed over the brochure.  "Who called for you anyway?"

"Angel wanted me out of his hair."

"Oh, that guy.  I heard he got six officers smooshed into a wall," Griffold said, rubbing over his thinning blond hair.

Xander looked at him.  "The officers rushed in to try to handcuff and subdue the eleven foot, sex starved, forward guard demon who was going to set up a nest so the others of his kind could come screw, lay eggs, nibble on people, and then move on after they had destroyed the city's population.  We did yell, they didn't listen."  He looked at Petria when she came in.  "Hi," he said brightly.

"What do they teach you?"

"Demonology, how to tell demons through chemistry, hunting skills I mostly already had.  Necromancy," he admitted dryly, shrugging a bit.  "Fun stuff."


"You'd be surprised how often we see it."  He waved a hand.  "Show me what you have so I can narrow it down.  Then we'll see if it's a people eater or a people sacrificer."


"Let him try.  It can only help.  He was good in his field hours."

"Fine, Xander.  Come on."  She led him back to where she was working, letting him have everything.  The first thing he did was go to his car to grab a case and a book, bringing them both back.  He took a few small samples and started running chemical tests, checking it against a big chart he had stuffed in the book.  "New studies?"

"Before I figured out what they were by sight or trial and error of killing it.  Or Giles told me and then I went to kill it," he admitted, looking at her with a smile.   "The next one will either explode, fizz, or do nothing."  She pointed at the corner and he went to do it over there, watching as it spewed then fizzed.  He checked the chart and frowned, then to another page in the book, then he grinned.  "Hey, it's not even supposed to be on this plane.  I'm impressed.  Someone called it here to sacrifice her.  Good news is that it can't happen until the new moon."  He closed the book and grabbed a few things out of his case, following her out to the car.  "Don't touch my stuff," he told Griffold.  "You won't like that case."  He got into the passenger's seat when they got there.  "Let's start at the scene.  The thing's only four feet high and it's got very limited magic to float someone.  So it'll be close by but underground.  It needs rocks around it to recharge."

"Okay," she decided, starting the car and heading that way.  She drove them to the scene and let him have it first, watching him pull a small vial out of his pocket and watch it fizz.  Then he followed it, dropping a drop every few feet.  "What's that?"

"Holy water."  He grinned at her.  "Some movies were right."  He kept going, having to search to find the trail when he lost it.  He found it and led her down to a basement, then searched around with the flashlight until he found the entry way.  "Think you can crawl?"

"I can if you can."

"That's why I wash, baby," he quipped, making her laugh.  They crawled through the opening and hit a wall.  He walked them back out and found the other one.  "Sorry, air hole."  He got down and into it, leading the way.  He came out in an underground cavern and snapped on his flashlight, looking around.  "Huh."  He slid out of the hole, landing on the ground, turning to help her down.  He pointed.  "Voila, victim.  What about the demon?"

"I don't care!"  She came over to check the victim, undoing her properly.  "Can we get her back up there?"

"Got rope?"  She nodded, pulling some out of her pocket.  "Then climb back up there and drag the end after we make a harness."  She did that and he steadied the unconscious woman until the give ran out, then he hefted her up and let her drag her back through the tunnel.  He turned and found a growling pair of demons.  "Eww, did you clone yourself?" he said, looking disgusted.  "And gee, are you mutants?  You're supposed to be taller."  The demons rushed him and he kicked one then smacked the other one into the wall.  He pulled another vial out of his pocket and snapped it open, tossing it onto them when they regrouped.  "See, and I *knew* banishing potions wouldn't work!  Such a myth!"  He pulled a long knife off his back and cut their heads off when they rushed again, then shook the goo off and crawled back out, trying to get it off his shirt.  "I need more clothes," he complained when he came out.  "Got a bit of lighter fluid so I can burn the blade clean?" he asked, ignoring the paramedics.

"Nope, not here.  Back at the office."

"Thanks."  He looked at the paramedics.  He looked at the victim and pointed.  "That goo there is what's keeping her down.  Clean it off, give her fluids, get her baptized if she's Christian or something similar if she's not," he said slowly and clearly.  "Then expect her blood pressure to wobble, a lot.  It does that.  Got it?"  They gave him a look so he wiped some of the goo off his shirt.  "That's their spit, junior."  They loaded her and took her off.  "Watch out for her blood pressure," he called before the door closed.  He shrugged and got into the car, letting her drive him back to the office.  She found someone to burn the blade clean for him and he went to change shirts in the changing room.  Then he came out to work on a report for her and his teachers.  He handed her a copy, gathered everything up, then winked and went to get his blade back.  He hugged Griffold one-armed around the neck.  "Good seeing you again.  After I do this minor I go back to my real education," he said dryly.  "For tonight I'm going to go find a ho.  Call me if you need me.  Not like my number changed."  He headed to his car, going to check into a cheap motel that had hookers working around it.  He needed to get laid.  It was time for a celebration.  It had been a while too.   His last one had turned serial killer so he had been abstinent for good reason.


Xander walked in his first day back, handing his teacher the reports he had written over break.

"Xander?" his chemistry teacher called, waving the small stack.  "What are these?"

"Angel decided he wanted to goof off this holiday," he called as he walked.  "So I got some field practice."  He shrugged at the other teacher, handing her a copy too.  "Yours, m'lady, since it's in your areas."  He went up to the practical classroom, finding the cleaning solution up there so he could get down to work on his leather cudgel.  "Angel didn't have leather cleaner," he said when the teacher came in.  "He got lazy over the holidays."

"I see.  What did you do?"

"Saved a sacrificial victim or three, stopped a small vampire uprising, saved two cops' lives using regular skills by disarming the bomb my admirer was using to try to lure me to her.  The little things that made my holiday nap worthy," he quipped.  He finished cleaning it and wiped it off, then put it on the windowsill and opened the window a crack.  "There, I'll let that dry."  He turned to look at the teacher, crossing his arms over his chest while he leaned on the wall.  "So, what am I doing this semester?"

"About what you did last semester until your practical test."  The other two advanced students walked in and he nodded at them.  "We'll be starting in here this semester.  Xander, you'll need to use the locker room for a shower probably."

"It happens.  I did it after swim practice too," he said, shrugging a bit.  He nodded at the female student.  "How's Cleveland?"

"Sucky and depressing while being surrounded by bitches," she said bluntly.  "How was LA?"

"Angel got lazy and sent me to do his job."

"Ehhh.  He tried to get them to bring you home."

"Cleveland will never be home.  The two main bitches think I'm helpless, weak, and incapable of wiping my own ass."

"I got many versions of that lecture.  When they found out I'm taking this with you they all demanded that I make you sit in the corner and watch because you were so helpless."

Xander snorted.  "Like guns?  You can go back to UCLA with me."

"No thanks.  Not my thing, Xander."  She looked at the other student, who was a cocky brat of a young man.  "How was your holiday?"

"Fine," he said, glaring at Xander.  "You're showing off."

"No," he said slowly, staring him down.  "I gave the reports I did to the teachers so they could see what I had done and check to see how I had done.  Remember, I'm going to be a *real* CSI.  I'll be a lab tech but yeah."  He looked at the teacher.  "When do we get our partners?"

"After you pass."

"That'll work."

"What?  Think you can skip that too?" the male student sneered.

"Can I just take him to Alvarez, Mexico for our test?  We should be able to get out of the city for ours since we're ahead.  I'll even promise not to have him eaten."  The teacher snickered but shook his head.  "It would prove we could do what we needed to do and they are having a sacrificial cult case," he pointed out.

"They are," he agreed.  "One of the teachers went down there over the holidays."  He looked at the other two.  "I like the idea of going out of the city for your practicals.  We'll see what we can pull up, kids.  Now, let's see what you learned and forgot over the break."  They came over to face him and then Xander pounced the true slayer in the group while the other guy tried the teacher.  Xander winked at the girl and shoved her at him, letting her take him on while he looked at the teacher.  "Slayers are like that," he said dryly.  She laughed and got him down, handcuffing him then walking over him.  He pulled her over and kissed her, making her moan.  "Good girl," he praised, grinning at her.  "Nearly as good as Faith did."  She snorted but smacked him on the arm lightly before going off again.  He looked at the teacher.  "So, what am I doing this semester?  More compensation work?"

"Yup, you need it, Xander.  C'mere."  Xander sighed but pounced him and they got to work on his liabilities.


Xander drug his fellow student into the school that March, all the way up to the physical education classroom.  He dumped him on the floor then walked over him.  "He's an idiot.  He jumped in without thinking or investigating.  He was right with what he thought but he didn't stop to think about why or who or how and he nearly got the hostages killed.  Then again, we did solve it and I did get the hostages out of there while he got to thump his chest and beat the human cult up."  He shrugged at the teacher.  "So, the teacher you sent with us is napping in the back of the car.  He wanted me to do the same thing the idiot did, even though I pointed out I was going to *investigate* and that I was in *forensics* for a career.  So he'll probably say I was a coward.  Again."

"I know you two don't get along, Xander.  We had another watcher.  Did they get arrested?"

"Yup.  I gave the PD down there enough evidence to keep all but one of them for capitol murder and that one they'll get if they get someone to roll over.  I went over the case in detail with the detectives down there.  I told them which ones I would try to break first.  I also pointed out the one they didn't have direct evidence on was in the hospital thanks to jumpy boy there.  We managed to save their last four victims.  The fifth was working herself into an asthma attack and the paramedics didn't get there soon enough, she went off too far and CPR didn't bring her back."  The body on the floor groaned.  "He decided to sneer in the car so I knocked him out.  I didn't want to listen to his shit today."

"I can see why.  Did you do a report?"  Xander handed over a CD.  "Thank you.  His?"

Xander snorted.   "His report's going to be pretty short.  The local lab had it narrowed down to three spots, he picked one and rushed in.  It didn't work so he went to the next one and rushed in.  I got there ten minutes later because I had been in the lab doing the work, and then I saved the hostages while he got into a pointless fist fight instead of gassing them or something equally good and nice or legal.  They said they'd ignore him and his actions."

"I understand why he did it.  Sometimes testosterone is a great thing."  He nudged the other student with a foot.  "Do you have a report?"

"No," he moaned.  "Should I write one?"

"Yeah," he said patiently.  "Go do that and wake up the teacher while you're gone."  He nodded, glaring at Xander.  "He's in forensics.  He did what he was supposed to do.  He's not a slayer and we do remember how she died?"  He groaned but went to wake up the teacher and write his own report in the computer lab.  He looked at him.  "Anything demonic?"

"Praying to one," he said, leaning on the windowsill again.  "Nothing more than that.  The demon they were praying to was a wish-giver.  They wanted immortality.  I broke the altar to release the portion they had managed to trap.  It's in the report, teach."  He nodded, going to his office to read it.  Xander settled in to clean the weapons.  It was soothing for him to do that.  The teacher that had went with them walked in.  "He's writing his report.  I already handed in mine."  He looked up at the continued oppressive silence.  He snorted.  "I've seen vampires who did that better, dude.  Minions even.  I'm a CSI in training," he said dryly.  "I'm supposed to look at the evidence, not rush in like some comic book superhero.  I'm too old to be a superhero.  I'm twenty-seven, not twenty-one.  I may look good in spandex, but I've got brains.  I also made sure they were going to jail for what they did.  All but one and they only needed someone to name him to keep him.  This is my *job*," he said when he continued to stay silent.

"It is," the PE teacher agreed when he came back in.  "I called, they're more than willing to write you a reference, Xander."

"Thank you.  I've got to finish my studies at UCLA then I'll have an internship.  I wouldn't mind one for that."  That got a smile and a nod.  "Thanks, teach.  Did I pass?"

"Yup.  You know you're not Blade.  You know what you're doing.  You can figure it out when you're not sure.  The only thing holding you back is your chemistry and necromancy grade."

Xander stood up, dusting himself off. "Then ask the Powers for my partner to be someone who's good in chem and potions," he noted dryly.  He got a shocked look.  "They're not all people who had simple jobs.  I'm sure there's at least one scientist among their applicant pool."

"There probably is.  We'll be making prayers tonight."

"Can I make my own?  The Powers like to screw those of us from Sunnydale and I'd rather not end up with someone I can't stand."

"You can be there when we do," the other teacher decided.  He looked at Xander.  "Some day you'll be teaching here."

Xander gave him a cool look.  "You'd better hope it's not for years yet.  I want to be a ballistics tech.  I'll do this on the side when necessary but really!"  He looked at his more favored teacher.  "When?"

"Ten.  Altar room.  Wear stuff to work with.  Go home and start thinking about it so the prayers get to them with qualifications."  Xander nodded before cleaning up his stuff and heading out.  He looked at the other teacher.  "How was he?"

"He was thoughtful, a bit slow, but he didn't jump in.  He didn't act like a stupid person in spandex.  He did it forensically and showed the lab there a few things.  He'll make a great CSI somewhere."  That got a nod.  "His partner's going to have one hell of a battle however."

"It happens," he reminded him.  "Your own hates you most of the time."

"True."  He went to check on the other student, finding him staring at the monitor.  "Done yet?"

"I'm not sure how to write this up, sir."  He looked at him.  He pulled up a report Xander had written for a class, letting him see the style.  "He writes what?"  He read it more clearly then nodded and went back to his own.  "Will I have to do this often?"

"Depends on the department you end up working with, son."  He patted him on the back and went to prepare himself for his own prayers.


Xander looked at the three cloaked figures then at the teachers.  "Okay, I'm going to jump in here.  The mystic has very little tolerance for me sometimes and I'm not thrilled with it either usually.  I'm a CSI in training, a ballistics lab tech with a minor in trace and field.  I suck at chem sometimes, I can do it for work things but there's still times I need to look at the reference books.  I'm hoping whoever gets me has a bit of skills in that area to compliment my own and they're prepared for me to work some really long hours.  Being a CSI can be like that.  I'll try to stay in the lab most of the time but I do want to go into the field now and then."

"So, a one-eyed ballistics tech with a lot of battle experience or a warrior who wants to jump in," a male voice said dryly.  "What choices."

"Hey, we almost had a slayer but she died three weeks ago from having sex with the wrong person," Xander said dryly.  "I got her killer too.  You should also know I have a good handle on the serial and psycho stuff.  I draw them.   Often.  Them and people who want to pay my butt.  Also, I do not cook."  The teachers gagged.  "They can tell you I don't cook.  They tried.  One teacher declared it a poison that could kill two classes of demons.  So either live on take out or you can learn, whatever, because I live on take out and ramen noodles."

The three figures looked up the ceiling.  "He has one," one said.

"Thank you.  The other one?"

The middle figure stepped forward.  "I'll take on the young warrior and teach him caution and patience.  It'll be a hard job but it's a good one."

The other student bowed.  "Thank you for your help.  I hope we can work together."  She punched him on the side of the head, knocking him down.

"He doesn't always need it," Xander said, glaring at her.  "Don't make me save him; he'll get pissed at me.  Again."

The figure laughed and backed off, letting the one on the right go baby him and walk him off.  "We'll work on it and figure out how to work together," she soothed.

A new figure appeared in a white toga.  "This is not my fashion statement of choice!" he yelled, glaring his dark eyes at the ceiling.  "Do you mind!"

"Well, it could've been a lot shorter toga," Xander offered dryly, waving when the guy glared at him.  "Hi.  Xander Harris, future ballistics tech."

"Oh, no.  That'll intersect in my old life," he complained, looking up again.  "Don't torture them that way!  They don't deserve that!"

Xander coughed.  "It might help them.  Then again, I don't know your friends.  Did yours like you?"  The guy gave him an odd look but nodded.  "Better than mine then."  He shrugged.  "You can talk to me if you want, then turn it down.  They get a bit cranky when you don't go along with their plans.  They're still mad at Willow for trying to end the world in grief."

The guy blinked at him.  "Huh?" he asked finally.  He got a head-splitting headache and grabbed it, letting the kid sit him down and start to work on his shoulders.  He blinked at him.  "They hate you.  You know that, right?"

"Yup.  Have."  He kept going.  "That's why I came to ask on my own, so no one deadly would be given to me.  Otherwise I'd get someone like Jack from Profiler."

The guy patted him on the hands.  "Let go, Xander."  Xander backed off.  He looked at him. "You want to be a ballistics tech?"  Xander nodded.  "Are you sure?"

"I've already all but completed my studies.  I've got to go back for my last semester and then my internship.  I've got a minor in trace and field stuff."

"So I get a one-eyed gun freak for a partner?  A CSI when I used to be one?" he asked quietly.

"Can you explain quantum mechanics to me?" he asked, looking a bit confused.  "Even the tutor didn't help."

"Sure, I can do that," he said, patting him again.  "Can we go get me jeans and underwear?  Commando is fine but the toga's got to go."

"You can borrow some of mine until we can go shopping for you," he offered with a grin, helping him up.  "So, wanna talk so you can make sure you can put up with me?"

"I already saw most of your life and if you go near that blonde twat again I'm going to beat her."

"Okay," he said with a manic grin.  "Did they tell you why I draw people in the clubs?"

"Nope.  I saw it happen but I don't know why."  He looked at the teacher.  "What am I supposed to do all day while he's working?"

"Go back to school?" he offered, then shrugged.  "Become a librarian?"

"Um, no.  I love books but it's a passive love."  He looked at Xander.  "What about you?"

He shrugged.  "I'm thinking about how to get you documents and all that stuff so you don't have to rely on me.  Internship paychecks are usually only about two grand a month."

"I remember.  Sure, we can figure that out.  You need me.  I have common sense."

Xander shrugged again.  "If you say so.  Like dogs?"

"I like dogs.  Dogs are better than your last girlfriend or the whore you picked up who's now trying to find out who you are so she can stalk you."  He patted him on the back.  "Let's go.  I need a shower and clothes."  Xander nodded, leading him out.  "You sure you want to be a CSI?  Lab or field is a lot of long hours and a lot of frustration now and then."

"I know.  I've already done my in-school internship, plus all my practical hours.  I have to do three ballistics classes then I'm done."

"Can you stretch it for an extra semester?  Most internships start in June instead of January and you'll be without anything to do for that time."

"I can do that.  I think."  He shrugged. "We'll figure it out and I've taken out a few loans here to pay for supplies."

"Will you get in trouble?"

Xander looked at him.  "I paid off two of them.  Including buying a few new shirts."

"That clubbing stuff," he said wisely.

"Yup.  Might as well use it since I can't seem to make them stop."

"Point."  He followed him out to his car and looked at it then at him.  "This will need changed sometime soon."

"After the last loan is paid off...  What's your name?"

"Speed.  Tim Speedle my last life but I went by Speed," he said quietly.

Xander swallowed then walked around to hug him.  "Welcome back, brother."  He went back around to drive.

Speed got in and looked at him.  "I probably can't go back to the lab."

"I won't look in Miami for an internship."

"Thanks."  He watched the city flow past.  "We'll be doing the demonic stuff on the side?"

"Yup.  I wanted to retire from that stuff but my professor said I had to keep going now and then to save others."  He pulled into his parking lot.  "The blue building.  There's no parking closer."

"That's fine, I can run."  Xander reached into the back seat and got him a trench coat.  "Even better.  Thanks, kid."

"Welcome, Speed."  He got out and they headed inside, him opening the door and letting him into the apartment.  "Sorry it's so tiny.  Angel pays for it."

"It's fine, kid.  You're in school.  It's nicer than a dorm."  He gave him a look.  "Clothes?  Shower?"

"Shower's on the other side of the kitchen and clothes are in the kitchen in the basket.  I did laundry earlier."

"Thanks."  He looked in the basket, finding a pair of boxers and a pair of jeans, plus a band t-shirt that wasn't too hideous.  He went to take a shower, smiling at the girly shampoo and body gels in there.  The Powers hadn't been kidding.  The guy had been warped very far to the girl side of the spectrum. Nearly all the way to girly guy.  He'd have to help him with that too.  That and clothes.  Because there were some hideous shirts in that basket - even before the demon ooze and goo had gotten them.  He got the shower just right and got in, sighing in pleasure.  He had missed his showers while he was dead.  He came out twenty minutes later with the towel over his head and Xander watching comedy shows on tv.  He flopped down next to him, blinking when the boy cuddled.  "I'm not sure that's in the handbook," he said quietly.  Xander yawned but didn't move so he looked down, realizing he was asleep.  "Huh," he said quietly, grabbing the blanket off the back of the sofa to cover him up.  He carefully wiggled the remote out of his hand and changed the channel, nearly waking the boy, but he stayed asleep.  "Long day?" he asked quietly.  Xander snuffled and slid down to rest on his thigh, covering himself completely.  "That's fine, you can do that this time.  Then we'll work on personal issues together, see where we can compromise."  He found what he wanted on the Discovery channel and settled in to watch it.  Another thing he had missed while dead.  He really would have to put off being dead again for a while.


Xander walked back into his main advisor's office, dropping his certificate on her desk.  "Happy now?"

"How's your partner?"

"He said I can't talk about him with you because you probably knew who he was in his past life."

"Like a friend?"

"No, like he used to work in a lab," he said dryly.

"Oh, that makes sense for you.  How was it?"

"Strange."  He gave her a look.  "I'm still going to be a ballistics tech, just one who gets bothered by crap now and then.  Anything else?  And by the way, do we like me stretching things out until normal graduation?"

"I do and two of the classes you need aren't offered until the spring semester anyway, Xander," she said patiently.

"Good, then figure out what the hell I'm taking," he complained, handing over the class catalog.

"You could do one on cults."  He gave her a look.  "Officially."

He groaned.  "I don't wanna," he whined.   "Not my thing, Prof."

"I know, Xander.  That's fine, we'll figure it out.  How about a few hours of doing a research project?"  He looked iffy on that.  "You could work on some stunning ballistics examples...." she started.  He rolled his eyes so she grabbed a magazine off her desk and handed it over.  "Prove 'em wrong, Xander.  That'll be ten of your hours if you want."

Xander looked at the folded over article then at her.  "Is it wrong?"  She nodded.  "I can prove it?"

"You can and probably have in the past as a practical matter."

"Okay but I've got to apply for more financial aid this time."  She gave him a look. "Angel's stingy and I'm supporting us both now.  Partners are more expensive than puppy dogs."

"You know where that office is?"


"Then go for it.  Tell them you're on your last year, get all that you can, including loans, because remember, you'll have to move for a year and then move again on a crappy salary."  He nodded, going to talk to them, bringing the magazine with him.  He came back and handed over a class signup form, letting her fill it out for him and sign it.  Then she made shooing motions.  He grinned and walked out, going to register and then beg the nice financial aid ladies for money.  Then he'd go talk to Angel about paying him directly this time instead since he did have to take care of Speed too.  He probably understood what it took to take care of a White Lighter of your own...or at least Cordy should've already broken him in on that issue.


Speed looked around as he walked into the law firm.  Then smirked at the receptionist.  "Is Angel in?"

"Do you have an appointment, sir?"

"I'm Xander Harris' partner.  He'll see me."

She called up there then looked at him.  "He said he didn't know he was dating."

Speed smirked and nodded.  "Of course not.  Angel, now," he ordered close enough for him to hear him.  He heard the pained grunt and she buzzed him onto the elevator.  "Thanks," he called right before the doors closed.  He walked into the senior office, noticing most of them were there.  "Yes, I got assigned to Xander.  I'm Tim Speedle, formerly from Miami's Felony Lab."  They all gaped and he nodded.  "Yeah, I'm where Xander will be some year.  What a shock it was to be pulled back too."

Angel spluttered then glared at him.  "Prove it."

Speed gave him a look then he smirked evilly.  "Well, let's see.  I saw most of his past.  I know what happened when you rescued him from Faith, Angel."  He went paler.  "Are we good now?"  The vampire nodded so the others agreed.  "Good.  Then we should talk about protecting the boy."

"Isn't that your job?" Gunn asked.

"Not that way.  In the next year, Xander's going to have to move at least once.  He'll graduate then go to an internship for a year and then probably have to move again.  That means he's got to move all his weapons and books that way, plus him and me."  They all nodded at that.  "That also means he's going to have to do a bit of clothes shopping and other things.  Are you going to need him for the upcoming problem?"  They all looked stunned.  "Duh, people, I'm his White Lighter," he said sarcastically.  "Of *course* I know."

Fred raised a hand slowly.  "I can help Xander look a bit better."

"Fred, sweetie, no offense, but he's got to ride the line between dress clothes and comfortable clothes for the lab," he said gently.  She smiled and nodded.  "We'll let you help where we can."  She beamed and nodded faster.  "No, Wesley, he can't wear leather or tweed."

"I doubt he'd want to."

"You'd be surprised on the leather issue.  Especially with the new certificate he just received."  He looked at Angel.  "Not to be rude, but do the Powers have any idea what I'm supposed to be doing in this new life while he's at work?  If I go back to the lab, my former friends are going to be pissed as hell."

Angel shrugged and looked at Fred.  "I haven't heard anything, have you?"

"Yup.  Not from them but Xander asked the same question.  He said something about his wardrobe being sorted into ugly trash bags?"

"That's the only thing that fit some of his shirts.  I used to be grunge, but really."  They all smirked.  "I'm working on it with him, guys, but I do need to know if I'm supposed to be working and able to support myself or not.  'Cause he's going to be making shit wages for at least two years.  During which time we'll have to move at least twice."

Angel nodded slowly.  "I can see my way fit to suddenly find something that he can use for cash," he offered.

"That could help but I need to know if I can work or not."

"I can take you to the Oracles so you can ask," Angel offered.  "Don't you have a connection?"

"No.  Not yet.  No visions other than his past.  I don't think he's going to need me to have visions.  I think he's going to need me as a voice of common sense and caution now and then."

"That might help, yeah," Gunn agreed.  "The boy's a bit wild in the clubs."

"That's just one problem.  By the way, anyone stop the ho he slept with over the holidays?"  Fred squeaked.  "Not like he's going to go for a real thing after the last one, Fred."  He looked at Wes.  "Can you check into that?"

"I can and will."  He made a note.  "Do we know her name?"  Speed handed over the note from his pocket.  "I'll call around tonight, Speed."

"Thanks, man.  She worries me."  He looked at Angel.  "When can we go talk to the glowy pains in my ass?"

"Head," Fred corrected. "They give headaches."

He looked at her and shook his head.  "No they haven't.  They gave me Xander, who cuddles.  Who has some serious issues thanks to the girls in his life."  They all laughed at that.  "Figured you had seen it.  Okay, when?"  Angel got up and he waved then followed him out and down into the tunnels under the building, ending up a few blocks away under an old post office.  They walked through the portal and he looked at the two glowy figures.  "Yo, can I maybe have a short instruction manual on the care and feeding of Xander and being a White Lighter?"  They looked shocked, one went to horrified.  "Yeah, me, people.  Am I allowed to work?  Do I get to tell the former friends that I'm back?  How much do I have to guide him?  Am I getting visions?  Am I going to make him take care of us both financially?  Do I get a say in where he goes for his internship?  Gotta know these things and you never clarified anything for me."  He moved closer and the female figure backed off.  "Not like I'm violent.  That's Xander."  He looked at the male.  "Let's start with the easy things.  Am I working?"  He shrugged.  "Can I work?"  He nodded.  "Do I tell my former friends and relatives?"

"Will they understand?" she asked.

"Depends on which one but Xander could do a lot in Miami."  He looked at them.  "Is he expected to make enough to afford things for both of us?"  They shook their heads.  "So I am allowed to work?"  They nodded.  "Can I go back to the labs?"  They shrugged.  He sighed.  "Okay, let's move on.  Am I going to be getting visions for him?"

"No, he will do what is necessary.  His field will make them come to him," the male figure said, smiling because he had an answer.  This one was as strange and offputting as his partner was.

"Good.  That's one thing.   How close am I supposed to be?  Am I supposed to be buddy close, best friend close?  Lover close?  Do I get to fix his girl-given problems?"

Angel coughed.  "Please," he begged.  "Before he warps others into calling sports funny names."  The Powers looked at him and he shrugged.  "He creeps me out," he defended.

Speed looked at him then back at them. "Good thing you didn't make him Xander's White Lighter.  Huh?"  They both shuddered.  "Do I have any restrictions with Xander?"

"None.  You are there to aid him in what must be done," the female figure said.

"The world must continue and bad things must not be taken lightly by those who do not know," the male agreed.

"Uh-huh.  Is Miami forbidden to us?"  They shook their heads. "Anywhere that is?"  They shook their heads again, looking amused.  "So, if I put him in a little gold toga and bent him over the furniture every day at ten in the morning, that'd be fine with you guys?"

"That would be amusing for many but you would end up as his others have if you were not careful," she warned.

"Great.  What does draw them to him?"

"We showed you that."

"Huh.  Okay, I can figure that part out," he decided.  "Can it be countered by anything?"  They shook their heads.  "Fine, I'll deal with it.  It'll be a nice addition to the family income.  Can he have kids?"

"He had himself fixed," Angel said grimly.

"A good thing with his past," Speed decided.  "Am I missing any important points?"  They both looked amused.  "If you don't tell me, I won't know and then you'll lose him, possibly to the same sort that he draws."

"He will survive.  The boy is like that," she pointed out.  "You are there to caution him and act as what he lacks."

"Sure, I can do that.  Thank you for the few minutes.  Wanna give a donation to our household accounts?"  They looked at each other then at him.  "Someone's got to earn enough to pay for the apartment and those things, things like food.  We don't want him to count on getting paid in the clubs.  That makes him a whore."

"I'll make sure your rent's paid this year," Angel promised.  "Plus reasonable expenses.  I'm not paying to restock his necromancy kit."

"That'll work," Speed agreed.  The Oracles nodded and they found themselves back in the tunnel.  He checked his watch and pulled out his phone. "I've been with the Powers, relax."  He hung up and looked at Angel.  "Okay, what else are we working out between us?  Because you creep me out with the way you want Xander for your own."

"That's my bad side."

"Which is why I'd like to take him away from this area.  That way there's no temptation if you slip your soul and he's farther away from any connection to those who hate him."

"They don't."

"They do, Angel.  I saw all of it.  Just like I was standing there with you guys."  He gave him a pointed look.  The vampire shuddered and backed off.  "Good.  Now that we have that settled are you going to need him this upcoming battle?"

"If so I'll call early on in it."

"Good, no more missing tests for those things.  It's lowering his grades and his grades will get him into the better internships so he doesn't get stuck in South Dakota or somewhere equally as glum and without dating potential."

"You're going to let him date?"

"I'm not sure if I'm ready to ride his ass into unconsciousness every night or not yet," he said dryly, walking off.  "This way?"

"Yeah, that way will lead to the surface.  Is it after dark?"

"Nearly seven."

"I'll chance it."  He followed him up then decided it was still too bright so he headed back down to the tunnels and back to his office while Speed went to Xander's apartment.  Fortunately Xander didn't want to live at the Hyperion.  He had a lot to think about and not having the boy far away from there would make it a lot easier.


Speed walked in and found Xander eating mexican food, rolling his eyes.  "Want me to cook dinner?"

"If you want.  I'm satisfied."  He ate another bite but Speed took it away and put it in the refrigerator on him. "Hey!"

"Tough.  You need to eat real food, Xander."

"I didn't know you were supposed to be my Mom too."

"Voice of reason stuff," he complained.  "You can't live on take out."

"I have for twenty-seven years."

Speed looked at him.  "You can't anymore."

"I think we both know what'll happen if I try to cook," he said sarcastically.

"Yup."  Speed held in a shudder.  He had seen that too.  He pulled out some basics that he had bought and got to work making a simple dinner, eggs and bacon with toast.  "How did sign-ups go?"

"Good.  They can do financial aid this semester and next.  How was Angel?"

"Pissy, the usual.  He did say he'd start paying your bills to you instead."  That got a small smile.  "I talked with the Powers for a bit, clarifying some things.  I shouldn't have too many visions.  You won't have to worry about excluding an area for your internship."

"Do you want to go to Miami?"

"I think Calleigh would calm you down and Alexx would mother you to death, plus you'd kick Eric in the ass," he admitted.  "Or Horatio, either one could use it."  A thought hit his mind and he finished up his current task so he could write out a note.  He handed it to Xander.  "Here, copy that and I'll give you the address to send it to later."

"Sure."  He got to work on copying the note in his better handwriting, that way it was readable.  "I'm on for some project and research hours this semester.  Two of the three I need aren't offered until spring."

"Good, it'll counteract some of your lower grades."  He flipped the eggs and started to plate things, then decided he really needed to wash the plates.  They were dusty.  He cleaned them off, getting them nice and dry before putting the food onto them.  He brought out the plates and sat down next to his buddy.  "Here, eat real food."  Xander took his and let him see the letter.  "That wording will work too.  Send it to H at the lab please?  Address is in my phone book."  Xander got up to get it and find a stamp, then put it in the outgoing mail.  Really, Horatio needed a swift kick sometimes.  Xander came back to sit down beside him and eat his own dinner.  "Do you want to go somewhere warm with sand or maybe New York?"

"New York's got a lot of paranormal activity.  They'd only let me do that stuff and I want to be a ballistics tech."  He glanced at him.  "You've worked with a few labs."

"I have.  Mac Taylor is a perfectionist and very nit-picky about things.  He's a former Marine too.  So he's very straight and narrow.  He might not like your other degree.  Las Vegas has a good lab.  Or there's some nice Federal labs."  Xander shuddered.  "I know, they've had some credibility issues over the last ten years.  Miami is a nice lab but I'm not sure it'd be safe for me to be there."  He ate a bite and thought.  "I'd like to see them again.  I need to kick Eric's butt again.  I wonder who sold my bike."

"Probably your parents if they're living."

"Probably," he agreed, sighing a bit before eating another bite of dinner.  "Any labs you don't want?"

"I want somewhere I'm not going to be bored.  I want somewhere I have cases but I'm not swamped so much all the time that I'm always exhausted."

"That's part of being an intern, the shorter hours."  Xander snorted at that and stuffed his mouth again.  "Good point, you'll jump in there too."  He finished his dinner, putting the plate down on the floor next to him.  Xander finished his and tried to cuddle.  "Xander, are you really ready to sleep with me?"

"No," he said hesitantly.  "Why?"

"Because you're cuddling like a girl, Xander.  Girls cuddle when they want sex."

"I'm not a girl and I'm touch deprived.  Even the school's shrink said so."

He gave him a short hug and that was good enough for the boy.  He'd have to work on that with him too.  Either that or he'd end up being an extra scruffy teddy bear.  "What's your project on?"  Xander got up to get the journal and hand it over, curling up next to him again while he read.  "This is pretty easy to prove."

"Yeah but for a student even easy is good."

"Easy is great," he agreed.  "We'll see what we can work out."

"I'm pretty good at research and this is physical testing."

"True.  Want to do one in Trace too?"

"I could but would I have the time and all the stuff I need?"

"Yup.  I was working on something and you can finish it for me."  Xander beamed at him.  "I wasn't even a quarter of the way done, Xander.  I was too tired.  Enjoy the shorter intern hours, really."  He gave him a pat.  "Go get some paper and we'll outline how to start."  Xander bounced around to get what he'd need and they settled in to talk experiments and methodology of testing.  It was good they understood each other.


Speed, ever the sneaky one, decided that someone in Miami should hear about his mentoring case.  That's how he was considering him at the moment.  An extra cuddly, fluffy, semi-violent, sexually frustrated mentoring case.  So he mailed both final reports to Horatio along with a grade summary and a nicely typed letter - because Horatio would recognize his handwriting - asking about upcoming internship positions in ballistics.  It would make good holiday reading for Horatio since he hardly ever did anything for them. Xander liked guns more so he'd want one in ballistics.  Not that he had a problem with it.  Calleigh would love his little gun nutjob cuddlesome one.  Someone down there might even start making Xander bears for them to cuddle.

He was a great cuddle.  He pulled his mind away from that and checked the packet again before sealing it and mailing it down there.  Then he went to bother Angel some more.  Xander was right, Angel taunting was one of the best therapies in the world.  It was better than chocolate ice cream or eclairs.  It might even make those women who have PMS happy to taunt Angel.  There's an experiment he and Xander would have to try sometime.  Angel taunting - the new prozac!   He made himself quit thinking about that too.  If he showed up too happy Angel would send him down to help Fred in the biolab and he'd get in trouble again.  The last time they'd made synthetic happy gas and the disease vultures down there were not pleased with them.


Xander looked up as his advisor leaned into the lab he was working in a few weeks later, a few weeks before spring break.  "Did I screw up and forget a test again?" he asked, going back to his current project.  He hated Chem 4.  He really hated Chem 4.  Even with Speed tutoring him at night he hated Chem 4.  The only worse thing would be a combined quantum physics and chemistry class.  Quantum chem or something - all about the particles we only *think* we might see some decade in the future.  An envelope was put down beside him and he put down everything to look at it, even turning off the burner under his vial.  "What's that?"

"That is yours."

Xander took off his gloves so he could open it, staring at the invitation letter and the information packet behind it.  "Um, how did they hear about me?" he asked, looking very confused.

"Well, either they got an advanced copy of the journal you sent your project  to, or...."


"Tim," she agreed, smiling at him. "He probably gave him a head's up and sent in a letter asking about openings."  She patted him on the back. "That is one of the four best spots in the country, Xander.  You should consider that one.  You'll be working with one of the Goddesses of Ballistics."

"Tim's got family down there," he said quietly.


"Point," he sighed, looking it over.  The stipend was nice.  The perks were okay.  The caseload was manageable according to Tim.  It was a great team to work with and he could easily be Tim's instrument of ass-kicking.  He put it down.  "Any others come?"

"Not yet.  When did they say it was being printed?"

He shrugged and pointed at his bag, then went back to his current experiment.  It fizzed nicely when he finished adding in the drops and shook it.  Then he heated it and it turned a pretty purple color, and then it tried to explode so he added the last ingredient.  It quit trying to bubble up and he smiled.  "Ah.  Perfect."  He poured a bit onto his test sample of goo and it dissolved.  The fabric stayed.  It didn't bleach out.  "Yes, I've found a way to get goo out of my clothes!" he said happily, hugging his teacher.  He capped the formula and took everything to his teacher to prove he could do what he needed to do.  He even had some spare goo and some spare dirty shirts in his car that he picked up on the way.  He loved necromatic chemistry!

Professor Destra could only shake her head and go back to reading the letter saying when his articles would be published.  It was very prestigious for her little gun nut.


Xander came in that night smirking and happy.  "I passed Chem 4.  He said I never have to come back again since I figured out a way to get demon goo off my shirts," he called.  Speed came out of the laundry area.  "I did."  He beamed.  "Miami?"

"They could use you and I can use you to kick their butts."

"Are you *sure*?  They'll find out, Tim."

"I'm sure they will," he agreed.  "Eventually.  You're sneakier than that, Xander."  He went back to finishing up the laundry.  "Besides, as much as I complained about the humidity, I miss all the fake tits in bikinis all day long."   They shared a look and Xander bounced into him for a hug then he went back to his bedroom to get his own laundry to do.   "You need to figure out what you're wearing for your interview.  Horatio will be at that convention."

"I've got clothes."

"You have hideous pieces of cloth, Xander.  That's not clothes.  Find real clothes before I sic Fred or Wes on you."  Xander came out of his room carrying something.  Speed looked at it then shook his head.  "No way in hell anyone will take you seriously in that, Xander.  Remember, you're not a movie character.  You can't go to your interview dressed like Van Helsing or anything like it.  Go find *real* clothes."

"I have dress pants and shirts.  I'll even iron.  I'm not going to pretend to be someone I'm not to get an internship spot.  I won't go high on sugar, but I'll be myself and part of being me is wearing my own clothes."

"Don't make me cut them into rags, Xander."

"If you do that I'm going to have to go naked to class.  There's a few who might like that but you keep warning me off them."  He gave him a look and went to pull an outfit out of his closet, holding it up.  "This?"

"Nope.  Remember, the convention is three days long.  He's going to be seeing you all three days and so will other prospective employers for after your internship.  You need to make a *good* impression."

Xander looked at him. "Since when did the narrow budget we agreed on include clothes?"

"Point but we need to get you dressed better, kid.  Trust me, I was there once."

"I'm still not turning into someone I'm not for this."

"Then we'll shop together so you can have some right of refusal."  He went back to sorting the clothes.   "How did my shirt end up with demon ick?"

"The episode of Angel taunting that got a bit extreme when we had to disarm the bomb during the attack?"

"Oh, yeah.  I was trying to forget that."  He shook his head.  "We really could use some new clothes."  Xander sighed and went into his room, coming back with the box of stuff he had been given in clubs.  "What's....  Ah.  That's a plan.  We can do that."

"Don't you mean I can do that since you still don't have a new ID yet?"

"Probably."  He looked at him.  "Angel's contacts don't include someone who does fake ones."

"That's why you go to Gunn for those things.   He's got much more realistic ones.  Or Spike."  He shrugged.  "That's probably better anyway.  We'll hit the bar tonight."  He walked off again.  "I'm still not wearing uptight asshole clothes."

"We'll see."

"No we won't.  I'm not wearing uptight clothes.  I'll look even worse in them and definitely make a bad impression."

"You'll do fine," he sighed, shaking his head.  He looked up.   "Can he have just a bit more self esteem?" he whispered.  "Please?"  Then he finished the laundry tasks and went to start on dinner.  He didn't want to know what the kid had for breakfast or lunch but he would be eating real food for dinner.  Even if he had to tie him down and force it down his throat.  Though, he never had to do that with Xander.  He was a bit of a bottomless pit who appreciated even the most easy food being cooked for him.


A few days later Speed woke up looking at one of Xander's teachers.  He had met her at a conference long ago.  "Hey, teach," he said weakly.  "One of his dates?"  There were only so many rooms that were that white, sterile, and smelled that bad.

"Someone at a club."  She leaned on the bed's railing.  "Mr. Speedle...."

"Destra made Xander go to the daemon ballistics school for a year," he said blandly.

"Do they know down in Miami?"

"We're going for his internship so I can kick asses," he admitted.

"Then I won't make a very strange call."  She stroked down his hair.   "Do you have any idea where our prized ballistics trainee is?"

"Ask Angel, he can have him tracked."

"I can do that," she said, smiling at him.  "You let him go out clubbing?"

"Yeah, he needed stress relief.  We leave for the convention Thursday.  He's got an interview with Horatio."

"Ah."  She nodded and went to call Destra, who was putting pressure on Angel to do something.  "His...friend said Angel could track him."  Destra said that to Angel and she heard him groan but say something to someone else then Detra got told where he was.  "Meet you there.  Want me to call backup?"  She walked off nodding.  "Okay.  We can do that."  She hung up and called her buddy in the PD.  "It's Sherril.  Harris has been taken again.  We think we know where he is.  Detra and I, dear.  Yup, there.  How did you know?"  She smirked.  "Call Destra for us please?  Our poor little gun nutjob is going to a convention tonight and needs rescued."  She hung up and hurried.  The boy got into so much trouble!  Couldn't Speedle stop him?


Xander looked at the clothes on the bed then at his partner.  "No."

"Put it on."

"It's a suit."

"Yeah, and you're going to be interviewing, Xander.  Trust me, Horatio will like that.  Also, don't babble.  Put on the clothes.  You can change and have fun later.  They won't be that uncomfortable."

"Who fitted them to me?"

"The same twat who kidnaped you this time," he said, glaring at him.  "Get dressed."  Xander sighed but got dressed in the requested clothing.  Speed didn't make him put on a tie but he did make sure he was presentable.  He even handed him the small portfolio.  "There, better.  Brush your teeth?"  Xander put down the portfolio and went to do that and fuss with his hair.  Speed unfussed his hair and handed back the portfolio.  "There.  Go."  Xander sighed but trudged out, making Speed sigh and shake his head.  Maybe it was time he put on a disguise.   He found the bottles he had gotten out of the store late last night, taking them into the bathroom.

Xander walked into the conference's main area, smiling and taking his sticky name tag.  "How do I put this on so I don't look geeky?  I'm interviewing later," he asked quietly.  She stuck it on his jacket pocket with a smile.  "Thanks.  Have you seen Lieutenant Caine?"

"He's the redhead in the corner talking with the uptight guy," she said with a small point and a grin.  "Good luck, Mr. Harris."

"Thanks.  I'm nervous as fuck," he admitted, walking over there, psyching himself up.  He almost detoured to get something to drink but he didn't want to have to deal with that if he got nervous.   He watched them talk like old friends, catching his eye.  He got nodded over and walked over with as confident of a smile as he could.  "Hi, you said you wanted to see me during the convention and I wanted to see when a good time was, Lieutenant."

"Hmm."  He looked him over.  "You're Mr. Harris?"  Xander nodded and grinned a brighter grin.  "Did you make it to the event last night?"

"No, unfortunately our flight out got delayed thanks to someone being a bit forceful with me for the last two days."  He and the other older guy both gave him odd looks.  "I was in  handcuffs being called 'baby boy' by someone who wanted to mother me.  It's happened before.  Anymore we laugh at most of them.  Um, probably shouldn't have said that," he sighed, shaking his head.  "Anyway," he said, grinning again.  "I didn't get in until nearly ten last night, long after the reports, the interviews, and the annoying brat picking on me."

"Girlfriend?" the other guy asked.  Xander shuddered.  "I see.  Gay?  Not that it's a handicap in the field."

Xander looked at him and grinned.  "My last girlfriend went serial killer.  I'll raise dogs."  Horatio smothered a laugh at that one.  "I will.  I have a roommate and a friend who picks on me about those things."  He shrugged.  "It happens."  He looked at Horatio again.  "When would be a good time to come babble at you?"

"How about after the ballistics panel this afternoon?"

"Sure."  He checked his schedule.  "Um, never mind.  I can't.  I'm scheduled on the strange crap panel," he complained.  They both stared at him.  "Professor Destra talked me into it.  It only took a year and it got me out of LA for a while.  I'm supposed to be helping weed out future applicants."

"Why did they make you go?" the other man asked.

"I'm from Sunnydale.  It had a lot of that."

"Oh."  He sipped his drink then looked at Horatio.  "Didn't think you had that sort of problem, Horatio."

Xander snorted.  "New York has a lot more, Mr. Taylor, and no, I don't want to do that as a profession.  I want to be a ballistics tech with a minor in trace and field.  I like being a ballistics tech with a minor in trace and field work.  The same as I can bring explosives and construction knowledge plus ancient weapons to any good lab."  They both looked stunned.  "That's just something she decided I should do to make myself more attractive to labs.  That way they knew who to go to when something like that happened.  Though, two of my fellow graduates did end up in New York to help your department, both unofficially.  Have you met Brad yet?  If not, he's got an ego and he thinks he's Blade.  Watch out, he's not that good with a sword."  Horatio didn't bother to hide his laugh this time.  "He's not."  He shrugged.  "It happens.  I don't want to use it but if I have to it's there.  I'd much rather be the department's odd little ballistics tech who raises dogs."

Horatio smiled at him.  "I think we can talk now, Xander."

"I'm sorry, I didn't want to break up your talk."

"We talk all the time," he promised, walking off with the boy.  "Calm down and relax."

"Sorry, I usually take caffeine to stop the bounciness but I got dragged out of bed by my roommate.  He's grumpy this morning."  He looked at him.  "I'm really not going to rely on that other certificate unless something bad is going to happen.  I wanted out of that life, sir."

"Horatio, Xander."

"Horatio then.  I'm also really sorry if I'm making a bad impression.  I know I babble.  Hell, Timmy had to make me wear a suit instead of something more comfortable.  Shouldn't have said that either," he moaned.  He handed over a sealed envelope.  "Tim said to give this to you when I stuck my foot in my mouth."

Horatio smiled and took it to read, nodding at it.  "These are good qualifications and the lack of people skills is something that you see in a lot of college students.  You're how old?"

"Twenty-seven, Horatio."

"A bit older than normal."

"I was working until I got injured then Angel sent me to school to get me out of his carefully gelled hair.  That way I'd be on call for emergencies with the group but not physically there to taunt and annoy him.  He needed it," he said at the odd look.  "He's a bit too serious and he broods about his past and things.  We have to taunt him now and then to make him lighten up before he becomes known as a cause of depression."

Horatio went back to the letter.  "Your roommate wrote this?"  Xander nodded.  "Is he in the lab?"

"Biochem," he lied.  Horatio gave him a look and he shrugged.  "That's all he said I could say.  That's his thing.  I'm staying out of it."

"Probably a good idea."  He put it into his pocket.  "What's in the portfolio?"

"Oh!"  He opened it and handed over the folder of information he had put together.  "This is a sample of some of my favorite reports, and a few that were more technical.  Also my up-to-date grade summary, and a profile on me."  He handed it over.  "That way you can look over my work and see which teachers did what for me.  That's also my reports from my internship and field hours plus recommendation letters from them.  I did not include the other studies in there.  I don't want to rely on that even though I know I'd have an instant in with some departments.  I want somewhere that's got a decent case load.  Somewhere I'll get some variety but I won't get so much variety I never make it home.  I'm the original jump in guy, Horatio.  That's why I took my field work minor.  Now and then I wouldn't mind being backup in the field.  I don't want it permanently, I want to be a lab tech, but I know that sometimes you've got to go out and collect.  It also gives me a bit of a stretch now and then to use more of my brains."

"It does.  Quite a few of our lab techs are rated to go into the field," he admitted, finding a quiet spot to sit down with him.  He looked over the folder.  The reports were concise.  They were well written.  The more technical ones were the same way, just tech-speak instead of plainer english.  He went to the in-school internship reports, reading them over. "A military academy?"

"That's where they tested a few new weapons.  I also got to do a lot of bullet matching.  I'm good at eyeing general matches to type of gun.  I used to go to all the pawn shops to work on my identification skills with the gun manuals."  That got a small smile and a nod.  "Some of them know me very well.  Also, by going there, I got to play with some artillery.  I also got to lead our Ballistics classes in a blow up and reconstruct project using a rocket."

Horatio looked at him.  "Have fun?"

"A lot," he admitted with a bright and happy grin.  "I'm the only one who could hold the thing.  Construction worker muscles are good for that."

"They are."  He went back to the reports.  He knew some of the techs mentioned, most of them were here this weekend.  He stood up.  "Let me talk to them and I'll see you Sunday?"

"Baring someone else taking me, yes."  He smiled and shook his hand.  "Thank you for letting me babble at you."

"It's not a problem, Xander.  I don't mind being babbled at for the right reasons."  Xander nodded and bounced off, going to his first panel while Horatio went to put the folder in his suite so he could look it over later.  He came down and found his ballistics person looking into the room where the young man was.  "The one in the pearl gray has applied to be your intern," he said in her ear.  "He's a bit self-conscious and he babbles, but he's rated very high."

"Who is he?"

"Xander Harris, out of UCLA."

"Professor Destra called me and said she was sending her chick to me."  She smiled at him.  "She said he's very good.  They all call him their gun nutjob out there."  He smiled at that.  "She also said to ignore the strange things unless he brought it up."

"He went to that program in San Francisco."

"He can hear you and Destra made him," Xander said in a sing-song voice.  He looked back and then gave her a look of awe, coming back to kneel at her feet.  "Prof said to bow to you if I met you, ma'am, that you're one of the Gods of Ballistics.  She said some day my picture would end up on the same wall but until then I should learn all I could from you or the others she found worthy."

She blushed.  "Oh, stop," she said, pulling him up.  "I don't need worship, Xander."

He grinned.  "Yes you do.  You're amazing."  He gave her a gentle hug.  "I was raised by very girly girls.  My roommate said to warn you about that."  He beamed and pulled something out of his portfolio.  "Professor Destra said to give you that after I bowed to you.  She said you've been looking for that for your private research for a few years now."

"Thank you.  Now, go be a good boy."  He beamed and nodded, going back to his seat.  "You know the ones Professor Destra takes a personal interest in," she teased.  "Can I see his folder?"

"It's in my room," he promised.  "We'll talk to the ones who wrote him letters together."  She nodded and went in to get ready for the panel.  She was sitting on it.  The others piled in and she smiled at them.  "Let's get this one started so you're not backed up," she ordered.  The moderator hurried in and sat down.  "Hi, Bobby."  The boy came up and bowed to him too then went back to his seat.

"Ah, someone out of UCLA," he said with a grin.  "Which one are you?"

"Xander Harris."

"I heard about you," he said with a grin.  "You coming to my lab?"

"My roommate wanted to go to Miami but I'm not against Las Vegas by any means.  I've got an interview with your boss later tonight, sir."

"Bobby, son.  You're one of us by now."  He grinned at her.  "I'm jealous."

She grinned at him.  "Ladies first."

He pouted.  "But I've got more interesting cases."

"We've got all the guns coming from out of the country and a lot of crossover cases."

He nodded.  "True, we get a lot of 'I shot her because she was unfaithful' and drug crime at the moment."  She beamed at him.   "How is Miami?"

"Warm, sultry, the usual.  Vegas?"

"Warm and dry, bright.  The more glitz they add, the darker the rest of the town gets."  She nodded that she understood.  One young woman came up and bowed to him then went back to her seat, blushing hard.  "Hi.  Texas?"  She nodded quickly.  He grinned.  "It's okay.  We've got a few professors who make their students pray to our pictures, guys.   Some day some of you will be great and be sitting right up here looking at the other interns."   They both smiled.  "This is ballistics internship.  So let's start with some general knowledge.  I'm Bobby, I'm senior ballistics tech in Las Vegas's lab.  This is Calleigh Duquesne out of Miami's felony lab.  She's a field and a ballistics tech.  We have both trained interns and we're here to give you some realistic looks at what to expect.  So, first question?"

Xander raised his hand.  "I know that there's the myth about thirty hour weeks during internship but I also know I plan on working at least forty.  How often do we go over the sixty hour a week mark during our internship?"

"Damn, boy," he said with a grin.  "Most interns get thirty.  We're pretty strict about that unless it's a very bad case."

"I've got a major and a minor," he admitted.

"Then you'll be doing thirty in your major and probably go jump in on your other one every now and then," he agreed.  "What's your areas?"

"Ballistics with a minor in trace and field work."

He blinked.  "If she doesn't want you, I do.  Ignore Grissom, he doesn't understand people and I'll be there during your interview.  Our Trace guy could use the help."

"Mine, back off," Calleigh teased.  "Xander, it's not uncommon to jump hours up sometimes but it's not mandatory and we do try very hard not to overwork our interns.  You're there to learn from us.  For the first few weeks you should expect to stare in awe as we work."

The woman who had bowed snorted.  "I'm sorry, ma'am, but some of us are post-graduate intern candidates.  I don't expect to watch anyone have to do the work unless it's something I don't know.  I know my teachers expect me to be able to step into the lab and be competent within minutes."  Xander nodded at that.

"We like that," she assured her happily, "but we'll still make you watch, clean, and slowly get used to you and make sure you know your stuff by looking over your shoulder, guys.  We'd never just turn over our lab on the first day without support and watching over your shoulder."

"We were told to expect at least one case check a day," another male said.

Bobby nodded.  "Depending on your level of competence.  I check every five or ten cases.  I also go over where you screwed up and help you learn how to write reports.  I needed a lot of work with that."

"UCLA had a seminar on that," Xander offered with a small grin.  "Professor Destra beat it into us."  That got some nods from his fellow students.  "I know we won't be handling the big cases on our own but would interns be able to play backup on those?"

"You could.  Interns in the field that run into them are usually put on as secondary field tech," Calleigh told him.  "We're more than happy to let you guys watch but you have to understand, those cases are stressful and you'll get barked at on some of them because we are."  They all nodded.  "We don't like to admit it but the lab does have a political side.  Usually a good boss will play that for you."

"One can only hope," Bobby agreed.  "The closest I have to come is grant applications now and then.  Take a class in that if you can, guys.  It'll be worthwhile somewhere down the line.  Even as a continuing ed class."  They all made notes on that.  He smiled at her.  "You've worked a lot of high profile cases."

"Yup, including ones where I didn't get to go home for days and ones where my boss's boss was going around him to chew on me for faster results.  We also need to warn you not to talk to the press.  Doing it once is a mistake.  Doing it twice will brand you.  You'll want to stay away from them unless you're specifically asked to do so by your boss."  They all nodded at that.  "I'm sure you all know not to share information by now but you do realize how hard that is?"

"You can still talk about it in general terms but without specific information, right?" Xander asked.  She nodded, smiling at that.  "The same way nurses and doctors would.  I had this little kid shot today, I need a cuddle."

"That's appropriate," she agreed.  "You'll probably end up dating an officer at least once in your life, just because they'd understand, but no matter who it is you can't give names or information on the case; if you're frustrated you can't tell them why to work it out.  There's got to be a wall between work and your relationship.  That's one of the things we all find hardest to manage."

Xander nodded.   "That's something we probably all end up dealing with.  We can vent to our work partners?"

"Them?  Yeah, they'll probably feel the same sorts of frustration.  Now, being a lab tech leads to a lot less of that.  You don't have to go process the nastiest and heart-tearing scenes.  You only see bits and pieces of it.  That's why we'll come lean on you guys now and then.  You'll be a bit more objective."

The female from Texas raised her hand.  "How did he get a minor?"

"It was offered and I took classes," Xander told her.  "Just like you did for your major concentration."

"Oh.  Should we have one of those?"

"It's not necessary.  Some labs prefer their lab techs to only have *one* speciality.  That keeps them from trying to do too many things at once.  Some labs need you to have a minor to cover areas that they might be weak in.  There's a few labs that have two or three techs so they have to be multi-speciality and very good."

"I know Grissom likes single area techs for the lab, but if you want into the field eventually you'll need it," Bobby told her.  "Do you want to go into the field?"

"Um, no thanks.  I tried one class and I nearly got sick on my first scene."

"A lot of us did," Calleigh assured her with a gentle smile.  "Xander?"

"Um, no, but then again I saw carnage before college," he said dryly.  "My high school graduation had a gas main explosion that took out the school during it," he offered when they all stared at him.  "We were about fifty feet away outside."

"Oh.  So you've seen injuries in the past."  He nodded.  "Have you ever gotten sick on a scene?"

He looked at her.  "Not on a scene but I have seen things that made me hurl."

"That'll do," she agreed happily.  "I've had a number of those."  That started off a new line of questioning and she watched her new chick and paid attention to what he wanted to know.  After they were done and she had answered a few more personal questions, including referring three of them to the clothing lecture that afternoon, she went to find Horatio and get the boy's folder to look over.  "Interesting."  He looked over and smiled.  "He's been in the field?"

"I was going to start with Griffold.  Want to come have coffee with us?"

"Please."  She followed him out, still reading the folder.  They found him waiting on them and he had another envelope.  "On my prospective chick?"

Griffold looked at her then snorted.  "Calleigh, we love you, but Xander's not anyone's chick.  He's very, very strong.  During his six weeks with me I spent four of it watching him work beside me instead of behind me.  The boy pulls his own weight and jumps in."  They both looked impressed.  He leaned on the table, tapping his envelope.  "These are my weekly progress report.  Xander's very strong.  He's confident in his work but he and people don't always get along.  I had to cover his mouth six times the first day to get him to quit babbling at me.  Also, no chocolate.  The boy will *bounce*.  Tigger has nothing on Xander on chocolate."  They both smiled at that.  "Other than that and the strange crap certificate, he's going to be one we either mourn for losing too soon or one of the ones who teaches the next generation in twenty years so we get more like him.   Also, fair warning, the boy's case is a bit scary.  He's got a throwing knife, another knife, a spare gun, a few spare clips, and then all the other stuff we carry around in there.  His last week we had a high profile case so I put him into the lab for his own safety and security but the boy knows his shit, guys.  He's been kidnaped, he's been injured, and he's compensated for it," he said quickly at the opening mouths.  "I didn't think he could work in the field with it but yeah, he's great at it.  He's fully compensated for it.  He trained with the injury and all that.  He definitely proved he could handle it no matter what happened."

"What injury?" Horatio asked.

"He didn't tell you?"

"Not yet."  He stared at him.  "How bad?"

"Most techs would've given up and retired to hide and cry."


"Eye.  Doesn't hamper him and he's had it since before he started school, Horatio.  He's damn good even with missing one."  They both gaped and he nodded.  "Yeah, and that strange crap certificate came with a PE class in self-defense so he learned even better how to compensate.  He never made an excuse for it.  I went over his first few ones after he told me that first day and I didn't find anything he missed.  His lab work is exemplary.  It doesn't hinder him any.  Due to the strange crap he's got a combat history to rival mine from Desert Storm but that doesn't usually come out either unless he's protecting someone.  Poor little guy.  We had a gang roll up on our scene to try to intimidate us.  Xander ended up with his gun in the guy's chest smarting off to him."  He sipped his coffee then smiled.  "He's got cred and he's got balls, but the boy's got skills mostly.  I want him back.  Our whole department wants Xander back as a field tech but he's insistent that he's a lab tech first and field tech when necessary, not all the time.  He doesn't want to go into the field more than a few cases a month.  The boy's had a hard life and it shows in his scar pattern," he said at Horatio's thinking look.  "Heard of his former town?"

"Not really."

Griffold pulled out something and handed it over.  "Copied that off our local servers.  Every now and then we had to deal with something from Sunnydale, and most of it would be handled by that new strange crap certificate's people.  That's why Destra made him go.  She had to literally force him to go.  Then the boy came down after his first semester to start handling things forensically that were in that same category for us."  He smiled and put down money for his coffee.  "If you don't want him, we do.  We'd love to have Xander back.  You'll hear the same thing from everywhere else he worked, including the LAPD because he was doing some of the strange crap for them and temping in the lab in ballistics this last semester.  He's got an open invitation from what I hear."  He strolled off, smiling at the cute bunch of interns following one around.  He looked at her.  "Aren't you gaggle of kids supposed to be somewhere?"

"Interviewing but we can't find the room."

He looked then pointed. "In there, dear."

"They moved it, sir."

Griffold looked around.  "Hey, Petria, where's Interviewing at?"  She pointed at another door.  "There you go."   They walked that way, still behind that one leader.  He shook his head.  "Someone's got to stand out better."  He went back there.  "One last thing.  The boy could use clothing help.  He's got a hideous shirt collection, Horatio."  He walked off again happier.  Fair warning and all that.  No one should have to be subjected to Xander's shirts first thing in the morning.

Calleigh took the folder to look over, handing it over when she was done, sipping her tea.  "Well."

Xander got up from his seat and sat down across from them.  "I wanted to retire from that life.  Destra said I couldn't and I'm only on-call for that.  That strange stuff is not my life and he's exaggerating about my shirts."  He got up and walked off, going to find something to nibble on.  His stomach hurt.  He *knew* that was going to come back to haunt him.

Horatio finished reading it and looked at her.  "Do you think you can handle him?"

She looked at him, finishing her tea.  "Yes, I do.  I think he'll make Ryan stop being a pain.  I think he'll make Eric groan but play again and I think you could use the levity too, Horatio.  We can definitely keep the strange stuff down most of the time."  He smiled and nodded.  "How did he apply to us?"  He handed over the articles and she gaped then looked at him. "He wrote these?  I read them last month."  He nodded and smiled. "This was his application?"

"This, a nicely typed letter, a grade summary, and no mention of his last certificate."  He sipped his coffee, letting the waitress take the empty cup Griffold had left and the money.  "Thank you."  She smiled and sashayed off.  "He's a good choice, but a bit odd."

"Yeah but we can fix odd.  Hell, we fixed Speed."

"True, we did," he agreed, smiling at her.  "We can fix him too I'm sure.  I'm worried about that warped by girls thing that I've heard about."

She shook her head.  "We'll figure it out.  Have him come down to fill out paperwork so we find out if he can deal with Eric and Ryan?"

"That might be for the best," he agreed quietly.  He finished his coffee and put his cup down.  "Are you sure?"

"He asked intelligent questions.  He asked how many times he'd be over his hour limit.  We could use another hand in trace now and then.  I could use a competent hand in ballistics.  We don't have anyone to deal with the strange stuff when it happens and I don't want to ever again."  He smiled at that and nodded a bit.  "You don't want to either.  I say we call Destra tonight to get his full file."  He handed over a CD.  "It was in there?"

"She sent it with him."

"Then let's go run it."

"We can do that."  He followed her back up to the suite to run it on his laptop, watching the tape of him working in the lab, in the field, and taking over a few scenes from the senior techs.  She laughed at that one but not in a bad way.  He would definitely be a credit to Miami.


Xander was pacing back and forth in front of Tim that night after diner.  "I know I screwed it up.  They told them about the strange stuff and Sunnydale.  Griffy did too."  He let out a miserable sounding sigh.  "I don't know what I'm going to do.  Bobby probably heard about it by now too."

Speed stopped him and looked at him.  "Quit."  Xander pouted.  "Calleigh grew up in New Orleans."  Xander relaxed at that.  "It'll be fine.  I promise it'll be fine.  You'll get Miami and we'll do great things in the city."  The boy gave him a hug and he let him sink against his chest.  "Shh, it'll be all right," he said quietly, giving him a squeeze.  "It'll be fine and you'll get Miami.  You won't end up living off takeout in South Dakota at a slower lab where you'll end up bored half the time.  Horatio would've let her handle it if he didn't think you were worthy of the lab."  Xander nodded, looking at him.  "Okay?"  Xander swallowed and nodded.  "Good boy.  Now, what's on for tonight on the conference schedule?"

"A fussy food, wander around, talking thing."

"Then go get dressed.  You're probably late and you still need to make a good impression in case you don't want to stay in Miami."  Xander nodded, going to put on the clothes he had laid out earlier.  He came out with them held up.  "Yes, that.  You can show some more personality at this one.  Not all the way but closer."  Xander sighed but went to put on the dark jeans and comfy dress shirt, plus his dark sneakers.  He messed up his hair and grinned, heading out to go down there.  Speed shook his head.  His poor partner was a wreck now and then.  He hated what those girls had done to him.

Xander walked into the talking time, smiling at Bobby.  "Hi."

"Hi.  You look much more comfortable."

"My roommate said I had to wear a suit earlier but I could wear real clothes now."  Bobby snickered at that.  "Do I still get to interview with you?"

"Horatio's warned us all off," he said with a gentle smile, pointing at Calleigh.  "Don't hang onto her but you can go say hi and then go chat with the other students.  Get something to drink too.  It gives you an excuse to get away from boring people when you need a refill."

Xander grinned and got a soda from the bar then casually walked around, hugging one of his teachers when he ran into her.  He nodded at another one who had vowed he'd be a one-eyed, armless tech if he ever hugged him again, getting one back.  He smiled at Calleigh and adjusted where her hair was coming down.  "That way it stays up for you," he said with a gentle smile, walking on.

The guy she was talking to watched him go then looked at her.  "Who's that?"

"That is an intern candidate," she admitted, checking her hair with a gentle pat.  He had fixed it.  "He was raised by girls."

Professor Destra came over to hiss in her ear, getting a giggle.  "Really.  He's sent whole sections of the department to the advil bottle with his problems from them.  You may not ever get him unscrewed from that."

"Prof," he whined.

"Xander," Calleigh said, giving him a look.  He pouted and she caved.  "We'll talk about that when you come down for the last formal interview in a few weeks."  He squealed and hugged her then his professor, then went to tell the ones he went to school with.  "He's very excitable."

"He is," Destra sighed, shaking her head.  "Watch out for his t-shirts and his sports stuff."

"He likes sports?"

"He has no idea about guy sports.  Xander?"  He smiled and bounced back over.  "Tell her about football?"  He blushed and mumbled something, making Calleigh blush but laugh and nod.  "Who dressed you tonight?"

"Tim.  He said I could be more like myself this time.  Can you spank him for me?  He hid my t-shirt collection agin."

"No, I can't spank your roommate for hiding your t-shirts.  Only for making you late to class because he made you eat real food, dear."  He shrugged and walked off again.

"Xander, don't you dare wear your octopus shirt around me again," Griffold called from his corner of the room.  "Or the others with sayings."

Xander pouted at him.  "But they're nice."

"I don't care, boy!  They cause headaches!"

Xander stuck his tongue out at him.  "I'm sending you my last girlfriend because you said that."  Griffold went pale.  He gave him a smug look and went back to his conversation group but one of them smacked him on the forehead with the heel of her hand.  "Hey!"

"Women are bad for you, Xander.  Go find a dog already."

"Not like we went on *dates*," he muttered.  She gave him a horrified look.  "Sometimes I've got to deal with that urge too," he defended.

"Professor, Xander was sleeping with a woman," she complained, walking over there.

"I'll arrest her when I get back," Griffold promised, shaking his head.  "Has she killed anyone yet?"

"Went to threaten Angel to get me back," he said dryly, shrugging a bit.  "I only saw her twice, Griffy."

Griffold looked at him.  "The last one you slept with turned into a serial killer, Xander.  No more women.  Go to the pound, get a dog.  It's safer for the world."  Xander pouted but blushed some.  "Please?" he begged.  "Or do it outside my territory?"

"That's a skill," Horatio said as he joined them.  "Serial killer?"

"She wanted to kill the girls who raised me so she was using surrogates over and over again.  It took me and Professor Sherril to get the LAPD to go after her."  Destra moaned and nodded.  "They thought she was very nice, if a bit dense.  Then again, I didn't date her for brains," he said, frowning some.  "More because she could cook and her body."

Destra looked at Horatio.  "Do not ever eat anything the boy fixes, Horatio.  Promise me you won't or else we'll give you a wonderful funeral.  He nearly killed three teachers with brownies," she said at Calleigh's curious look.  She giggled and Xander nodded.  "Yes, my little gun nut there is poisonous in the kitchen.  We don't ever let Xander cook and if we cook that much food, we bring him some so he has something other than takeout."

"Tim cooks."

"I know he does.  He's made you late to six classes by making you eat," she countered. "I *will* spank him for that."

"Can you make him undye his hair?  He looks strange as a blond guy.  I saw him and wondered if Buffy had a sudden sex change at first."

"I'm telling him you said that," she said with a mean smirk.  He shrugged and smirked back.  "Fine.  Be a good boy."

"Not like I'm going out tonight."

"Point.  Go play, Xander.  Take Sascha and make her play."

Xander looked around, spotting Bobby laughing in the corner.  He grabbed Sascha by the wrist and walked her over there.  "Bobby, this is Sascha.  She's right behind me in the standings.  She's more than capable of doing everything in the lab all at once because she's an incarnation of the Goddess with bad hair, and you could use her.  Really.  She needs to go to a great department."

"I'm tied with you in three classes," she reminded him.

"You're still behind me thanks to me testing out of Chem 4," he said smugly.


"I figured out how to get nasty stuff out of my laundry with a new potion."  He shrugged and walked off again.

She frowned at his back but Bobby chuckled.  "He's very blunt."

She smiled at him and nodded.  "He is and he still does better at the hands-on stuff than the lecture classes.  Had to have tutors in chem to put it back into things he understood.  The Crypts were a lot nicer than I thought too."  He gave her a horrified look.  "One tutored him.  One other gang member from a different gang tutored him in Econ.  Xander is very original but I'm a normal tech," she said dryly.  "He's right though, I'm every bit his equal, just sane."   He grinned and walked her over to his boss to talk to her with him and Taylor from New York since they were together.  "Don't mind us, I'm the sane special one out of UCLA," she said with a small grin.

Mac looked at her.  "Crazy has it's own brilliance in the lab," he offered, shaking her hand.  "Mac Taylor, New York."

"I interview with you tomorrow, sir.  Xander wanted me to talk to Bobby about their internship as well."

Grissom smiled.  "I saw.  He's very unique."

She looked at him.  "Xander is a warping influence.  You start to like him, he worms his way into your chest cavity so you can't do without him, and then you realize you understand him suddenly one day at three in the morning.  Then you start to wonder if he's turning you into him.  Fortunately I like the little guy.  He's a nice kid."

"He's older than you," Bobby reminded her.

She looked at him.  "He has leggos.  He's a little kid."  They all smiled at that.


Horatio walked into the meeting he had called Monday afternoon.  "Sorry I was absent this morning."  He put his sunglasses on the table, smiling at Calleigh when she slid past him.   "Your apartment okay?"

"My apartment's fine," she said happily.  The other two in there gave her odd looks.  "We have a new ballistics intern if you two can put up with him."

"Did he take too long deciding to come here?" Eric asked dryly.

"No, we had to help get him back from the lady in the club last night," Horatio said, then he shook his head.  He sat down.  "Xander is very... unique."  Calleigh giggled.  "He's also got a problem with women who want to hurt him."

She nodded.  "Three women tried to take him from us; we were there with him and a few of the other techs relaxing after the conference.  He tried to leave but I made him come with us.  It was okay until one tried to dance with him and then paid him like he was a stripper."  Ryan gaped.  Horatio nodded silently.  "After two more of them tried to pay him for being cute and nothing else, because we were all watching by then, one of them pulled a gun and drug him out.  The officers took a few minutes to follow but we found him very early this morning.  Still fine but there's been a few of these apparently."

"Any other special qualifications we should know?" Eric asked, smirking some.

"Actually, Mr. Harris is the one who wrote both articles you were reading last month, Eric.  I let you read his senior research papers," Horatio said, giving him a look.

"Hold on, they were in two different fields," Ryan said, sitting up straighter.  "He's got two majors?"

"Major and a minor," Calleigh said happily.  "Well, three.  He's a ballistics tech with minors in trace, field work...."

"And he took that paranormal classification certification," Horatio finished.  "His teachers forced him into it since his former town had a reputation for that sort of thing.  He doesn't like to talk about it or anything like that.  He said he didn't want to use it.  He wants to be a lab tech in ballistics and trace, but occasionally go into the field."

"So we've got one tech with multiple areas so he can work more hours and help a lot more," Eric said.  They all smiled at that.  "Any other good finds?"

"Three others.  One QD tech, one computer tech," Calleigh offered.  "One other field tech."  She pulled their profiles out of her bag and slid them down to them.  "They're who we agreed on.  Xander was pretty easy.  He's a nice kid.  He's twenty-seven.  He was raised by some very girly girls."  Ryan snickered.  "He's got a problem with sports.  His roommate is trying very hard to unwarp him but he called basketball 'reruns with hookers dancing on the sidelines'."  Eric snickered at that and nodded once, going over the kid's profile.  He sat up and looked at them.  "Exactly."

"I know this kid from somewhere."

"You could know him from his former town," Horatio offered.  "He said he's originally from a town called Sunnydale?"  Eric went pale.  "That's why they made him take that certificate, Eric.  Again, he doesn't want to use it."

"Sure, I can take that.  How odd is he?"

"He'll be coming down in a few weeks to fill out paperwork for us," Horatio offered.  "That way you two can meet him and make sure that we can all get along."

"Sure," Ryan agreed.  "I'll do my best to get along with everyone.  I'm sure he's competent if you guys think so.  Is he working with us in the field?"

"He is."  He passed down another set of forms.  "Those are his in-school and field reports."

They went over them, Eric looking at them.  "He's well liked?"

"We got told repeatedly that if we didn't want him they all wanted him back," Calleigh said happily.  "They also said he jumps in, takes control when he feels he can or should, and he's not some stupid little frat boy who'll give us problems.  He worked construction before he got injured and got sent to school."

"He also has explosives experience in a lesser manner," Horatio offered with a small smile.  "He's a very interesting young man but we have been warned about his t-shirts and how those girls had warped him.  When he gets here we'll all meet as a team with all the new interns and then figure out if we can stand them.  Eric, I foresee you and Xander having a few problems.  You're very macho and Xander laughed at someone who tried to out- masculine him at the conference."  Eric shrugged.  "Good.  There is one last point.  The boy's last girlfriend...."

"Um, one before this last one," Calleigh corrected.

He looked at her.  "I talked to him about her.  He had rented some attention a few times from her," he said blandly.   He looked at the snickering boys again.  "They both ended up being homicidal.  His last true girlfriend ended up being a serial killer trying to kill his friends repeatedly."  That quit the snickering and both boys gaped.  He nodded.  "He swears he's going to find a dog to raise instead of dating.  The prostitute he was renting ended up threatening others to get him back after a few times with him.  It can only lead back to whatever gets him paid and snatched from the clubs."

"Is he single?" Ryan asked.  "I mean totally."

"He has a roommate but they're not partners that way," Calleigh told him.   "He said he's a nice guy but what he said about him made me think he's a bit pushy and a little bit uptight.  He dressed Xander the whole conference.  He makes him eat.  Oh, that's what we forgot.  Xander *can not* cook.  We were told by multiple sources he's poisonous.   Sent multiple victims to the hospital for food poisoning poisonous."  Both boys nodded.  "His roomie cooks for him, he dresses him because he didn't like Xander's t-shirts.  We were warned about those too.  His roommate apparently sent down the application packet for him.  He's a bit pushy from what we heard but it's a new thing.  Since he went to San Francisco for that certificate."

"His roommate also seems to have some lab experience.  All we know about him is that his name is Tim," Horatio added.  "Plus that he cooks enough and made Xander eat a few times in a way that made him late for classes."

"Can we talk to him first?" Ryan asked.  "Before he comes down?"

"I don't see how he'd mind," Calleigh offered, looking at Horatio.  "I have his email and phone numbers."  He shrugged so she copied them down and handed them over.  "There you go.  They said that you learn to appreciate Xander very quickly and then figure out he's warped you a bit but it's not too bad."  She finished with a smile.  "Other than that, our new field bunny is uptight, wears a bowtie, and is analytical.  Xander called him a Vulcan Borg."  Horatio coughed at that.  "I asked, he's met him before."

Horatio nodded.  "Xander reads people pretty well but he has a casual regard for violence.  This morning one of the officers tried to grab him and he put him on his back then looked down at him like he was confused when he complained."

"So it'll be an interesting internship?" Ryan asked with a small grin.  Calleigh nodded.  "Sure.  I welcome the help.  It'll be nice to work with him."

"Good," Horatio decided.  "Do we have any other qualms?"

"What sort of clothing help will we need to give the others?  I'll laugh at the bowties," Eric pointed out.

"If they become an issue we can hint and offer advice," Horatio offered.  The boys all nodded.  "We might want to help Xander as well.  Tim keeps hiding his t-shirts and dressing him."

"We can do that," Eric agreed.  "Maybe go over before he starts or something?"

"That might work but his roommate's skittish," Calleigh offered.  "He was at the conference too but no one saw him.  He didn't come down to go out with the boy or anything."

"Sounds parental," Ryan offered.  They all nodded at that.  "Sure, we can help the boy be more normal."  He went back to the other profiles.  "This one, is she going to be a problem?  It says she has problem working with men."

"She's been working on it and it's not a lab we have to go into every case," she reminded him.  "We're working on it.  She thinks it'll be okay but she won't trust any of you."

"I can start there and work on changing her mind," Ryan decided.  "I'm usually pretty harmless."  Eric gave him an odd look.  "I'm perceived that way."

"You are that way."

"Unless you two plan on kissing and making up in the middle of the halls, stop it," Horatio ordered.  They both settled down.


Xander walked out of the airport and grimaced.  "Eww, humidity.  I'll wrinkle."  He shrugged and went to grab his bag and his rental car.  He was the advanced guard.  Speed was coming with the rest of their stuff.  Thankfully he had packed all his favorite shirts so Speed couldn't remove them or accidentally forget them back in LA.  Speed had even arranged for the apartment.  It supposedly wasn't that scummy and not that far out.  He pulled out his directions and headed to the new place, finding it was a run-down older house in an ethnic area.  He shrugged and parked in the driveway, getting out and heading to the front door.  The keys worked and he smiled at the man waiting on him.  "Hi.  Are you the landlord?"

"I am.  Are you Tim or Xander?"

"Xander."  He smiled and shook his hand.  "Is everything ready for us?"

"It is.  Tim said you liked to paint and things?"

Xander grinned.  "I worked construction for almost three years before I lost my eye."  The man beamed at that.  "Let's see what you wanted me to fix up for you."  They walked around the house, finding the peeling wallpaper, the faded paint.  The floor in the kitchen that needed replaced.  All easy repairs.  He found one wall that needed some stud work but that was easily done too.  He sat down to write out a list of what was needed, making a copy for him and signing them both.  The landlord signed them both and showed him where he had gotten supplies for him to use.  "I can do that."  They shook hands again and the landlord left while Xander went to get his bags and start on the kitchen floor.  That was better done while Tim wasn't around.  He had three days before he had to report to the lab.  He had five before Tim got there.  So he had plenty of time.  He could get most of it done by then as long as the tiles stuck like they were supposed to.  He heard a knock and frowned, going back to the door to give the woman standing there an odd look.  "Yes?"

"Are you renting here?" she asked, her voice heavy with an African accent he couldn't identify.

"Yes, ma'am.  I'm Xander.  I've got a friend coming down here to study named Tim.  He'll be here in five days."  He smiled and got out of the way so she could step inside if she wanted.  She smiled and walked inside, patting him on the cheek.  "I'm here getting some things settled before he drives all our stuff down."

"Are you two together?"

He shook his head.  "No, ma'am.  I have a habit of dating bad women who like to hurt others."  She laughed.  "I do."  He shrugged. "I don't have anything to offer you.  I just got in."

"That's all right, Xander."  She smiled at him.  "You will be safe?"  He found his ID and showed it to her, making her stare in horror.  He nodded.  "Oh, my.  An officer."  He nodded.  "Well.  I'll warn those that should know to leave you alone."

"Please.  I'm a ballistics tech.  That means I play with guns for a living.  So if they want to get rid of their guns, I'll accept them but I would try to find their owners and users.  You can tell them that and that I did learn some from some gang members out in LA."

"I'll do that."  She smiled.  "You should come for dinner."

He blushed.   "It's been a long day and I'm not really dressed.  Can I come tomorrow instead?"  She beamed and nodded, going back to her house to start calling her friends in the neighborhood.  He closed the door and went back to his checking the supplies.  His ID got tacked to the front of the fridge and he got down to clean the floor so they could put the new tiles over the old linoleum.  That's what the landlord wanted him to, even though he'd normally pull it up first.


Xander walked in for his first day, making Horatio give him an odd look.  "Not good?"

"Not too bad," he offered.  He nodded and Xander signed in, showing his new ID, getting a smile from the receptionist.  "Come on, Xander."  Xander bounced after him, finding his locker and putting his gear in there.  He unpacked quickly and pulled out his glasses and first lab coat, putting it on to follow him.  "Good."  He looked at him.  That shirt could only be described as loud.  "Button the coat, Xander."  He did that, giving him a sheepish grin.  "It'll be fixed I'm sure.  We'll guide you there."

"Tim won't be in for another two days," he offered, getting a nod.  He squealed and hugged Calleigh, getting a smile back.  "I'm here, where am I working, boss?"

"Right in there.  Thank you, Horatio.  Go find the other missing chicks?"  He nodded, leaving them alone.  She looked at him.  "What shirt is that?"  He opened his coat and she blinked then looked at him.  "Tim stayed back in LA?"

"No, he's driving the truck.  He'll be here in two days."  He buttoned it back up and followed her into the lab, cooing over the exemplar wall, stroking the pretty guns.  After that worship he moved to look at the envelopes.  He sorted the pile and put the ones with her initials aside, looking at her.  "You had signed off."

"Some of those I collected."  He held up two and she nodded.  "Add those back into the 'do' pile.  I haven't gotten to them yet."  He did that and checked the others, finding another one he looked at the first envelope and then the example on the comparison scope.  He pointed.  "For the Patrick case."  He found it and carefully slit it while she watched then compared it.  He frowned and looked again, putting on his glasses.  "Shouldn't be that hard."

"Your right scope lens is cloudy."  He looked around, finding a wipe to clean it for her.  Once that was done he went back to examining it.  "Ninety percent match.  They're a bit stretched and the bullets aren't quite the same size.  Was it a reload?"  She came over to look then at him.  He held up the envelope.  "Not the right one?"

"No, the right one.  That's a forty-five."

He looked again then at her.  He looked at the wall then pointed.  "The one in the envelope is one of those.  The original is a baretta."  She looked stunned.  "I trained myself in gun and pawn shops, boss."

She looked again then looked at the manual he pulled out of his pocket.  It had been folded inside.  "You're right."  She smiled at him.  "Good work.  Let's get you set up with an ID and password on the system so we can do a report, okay?"  He nodded, shifting so she could get into the computer while he made notes on some papers in his manual.  She frowned.  "The system's locked."

"Happens a lot when you need it," he quipped.  "Do we tell the boss?"

"We probably should."  She went to find Horatio and let him know.  "I can't get Xander an ID in the system, Horatio."

"Have him use yours.  It's down for maintenance."

"I can't log in either."

He sighed and called.  "Do what you can."  She nodded, going to do that.  "This is Lieutenant Caine in the lab.  Our people are locked out of the system?  Well, we do need it to do our work," he said dryly.  "Plus it's new intern day so we'll need to set up new ID's."


Eric followed Xander home, smiling at him.  "Tim made a good choice," he offered as he got out.

Xander grinned.  "Thanks.  Let me make sure he didn't suddenly show up.  He's kinda paranoid."  He peeked in.  "Tim?  You here yet?  One of my coworkers is here!"  No answer.  "I guess it's okay."  He let Eric inside and followed.  "I've got sodas in the fridge."

"Thanks."  He went to get one, looking at the new floor.  "Doing work for the landlord?"

"Yeah, he knocked four hundred a month off," he said happily.  He heard a footstep out back and looked then smirked.  "The neighbors are wandering around."  He led him back to the living room area.  "So, why did you follow me home today?"

"I won the coin toss to help you with your shirt for tomorrow," he said with a grin.  Xander rolled his eyes.  "Not very professional, Xander."

"It was my first day.  Be happy I didn't wear a sayings t-shirt."

"That might've been better than the loud one you wore today.  Let's go look."  He heard a truck and looked outside then at him.  "Tim?"

"Probably."  He leaned out the door.  "Hey, Tim, one of my coworkers is in to look at the clothes.  I wore a good shirt today.  By the way, the neighbor on the right wanted to meet you since I said you were a nice boy."  He closed the door and led him upstairs.  "Before you ask, he's picky.  He'd never let me arrange things.  He'll complain and grump."

"I knew someone like that, but he died," he sighed, following him into his bedroom.  "A bit goth."

"Well, yeah," he admitted. "I'm a night baby.  I need to find some really good sunglasses."

"Ask H's opinion.  Sunglasses are his thing."  He heard the door shut and then another door fairly quickly.  "He's hiding from me?"

"Probably."  He grinned and opened his closet, pulling out one of his favorite t-shirts.  Eric read it then frowned, then rubbed his forehead.  "That's the one I wore on my first day at the LAPD labs when I was temping," he said proudly.

"Please don't wear that in ours?  Unless you're going to do it to a suspect?" he suggested.

"Can I do it to Horatio first?"

"Sure," he said, nodding at that.  "I wanna see his face."  He dug into the closet to find one *decent* shirt, finding a few plain, dark ones.  "What about these?"

"Too tight.  They restrict range of motion."  He pulled out a shirt with a picture instead of a saying, giving him a hopeful look.

Eric looked then at him.  "Ryan would kill you if you wore that."  He put it back and shook his head, finding a mottled dress shirt.  He pulled it out to look at it.  "What happened to this one? It's silk?"

"Demon goo."

Eric paused then looked at him.  "Excuse me?"

"Demon goo.  Pain in the ass to kill too," he said dryly.  "About knee high, likes to eat people, and spews this really nasty, smelly, sewage looking blood."


"I'm still retired but you asked about the stains."

"I did.  I won't do that anymore."

"That's the only one.  Tim's got a few more but that's the only one I have left.  The others with stains are laundry errors or from the various problems in clubs and things."

"Good to know."  He put that shirt back and dug into the boxes, giving them a horrified look.  Xander pulled him out and sat him on the bed, looking at him.  "Why?" he asked, looking pitiful.

Xander shrugged.  "I like them.  They're cute."

"They're horrifying!"

"No, that was the woman I nearly married."  He grinned and bounced down to get Eric another soda.  He saw Tim lurking in the kitchen.  "It's Eric."

"I saw."  He gave him a pat and some aspirin.  Then a bag.  "Here, wear that tomorrow, kid."  He went back to moving stuff into the basement from the truck.

Xander went to hand them both to Eric.  "Tim got it for me."

He looked at the shirt.  It was a nice, normal, simple button-up shirt.   "I like that."  He took the soda and aspirin to cure the headache then went to match it to pants for him.  The kid clearly needed to be warped in other ways by the girls who had raised him.  "Did they not take you shopping?"

"All the time," Xander moaned, sitting down, legs crossed 'indian' style in front of him.  "I was the bra approval committee."  Eric gave him a gentle, soothing pat.  "Thanks.  I don't usually care as long as I'm comfortable and clean.  Tim likes things that aren't comfy."

"You'll figure it out, Xander.  We each have to find our own style."  He smiled.  "I'll lend you my younger sister if it'd help."

"I'll have flashbacks.  Then I'll have to go out to get cuddles to get them out of my head, then I'd end up being hunted the next day."

"How many times have you been taken?"

"This year?" he asked, looking a bit confused while he counted.  He texted that to Tim, getting an answer back.  "Since I started rooming with Tim when I got back last summer, twelve times for at least two hours."  He grinned at him.  "Wanna go out with me?  He said I have to go out with others."

"Sure," he decided.  "Go change into clubbing clothes."  Xander pulled down some jeans and a shirt he hadn't looked at, going into the bathroom.  He went to snoop in the pictures he had lying around.  He held one up when Xander came out.

"Willow.  Is this okay for Miami?"

Eric looked and gaped.  "Yeah, that'll get you laid for sure."  He nodded.  "Follow me to my place so I can change."  Xander grabbed his wallet, pocket knife, and keys, following him out.  "Hey, Tim, we're going to hit the clubs.  I'll have him home at a reasonable hour."  He heard a grunt of acknowledgment from the basement so it was fine.  The overprotective parent/roommate wouldn't have to worry too much.  "So, what's your poison of choice?"

"I don't drink," he admitted with a shy grin.  "I had horrible examples."  He opened his car door.  "Can I drop this off at the rental place and get a ride?  Mine's attached to the back of the truck. Or should be unless Tim sold the POS on me."

"Sure.  Let's do that."  He slid into his driver's seat and watched as Xander started his rental car.  He shook his head.  Moving was always chaotic but he decided the boy was good at chaos.


Eric stumbled in the next morning, looking at Horatio.  "I'm so sorry, H."

"What happened, Eric?"

"I lost our ballistics intern," he said miserably.

"I see.  What did you two do?"

"Club," he whimpered.

Horatio nodded.  "It seems to happen to him.  What do you remember?"

"A hostage situation.  I got knocked out after Xander got the person down and handcuffed...."

"Hold on.  Let's start from the beginning.  Where were you?"

"Club Nova."

"All right."  He led him to the detective's squad, finding their missing intern in a room, feet up on the table, kicked back, and he even waved at them.  "Someone found him."  He leaned in.  "Xander?"

"Do you know that hyper little bastard!" a male voice complained.

Horatio smiled.  "Frank, this is Xander, our ballistics intern.  What happened?"

"Hostage situation at Club Nova."  He looked at Eric's clothes then at the boy.  "You, here, now, kid."

Xander stood up and walked out.  "You told me to take a nap, Detective."

"I thought you were high," he said dryly.

Xander grinned.  "No, I'm naturally high on life."  He gave him a hug.  Then Horatio a hug.  "Did you get the one I put under citizen's arrest?"  Frank moaned and stomped off.  "Because she had the glock nine-mil," he called after him.  "She's also the one who robbed the register and shot the bouncer."  He looked at Horatio.  "He told me to take a nap."

"I'm sure he did.  What happened, Xander?"

"I was on the floor, impressing some people, making others giggle, like usual."  Horatio nodded and Eric nodded faster.  "He was there.  Heard a loud bang, looked over and moaned. My dance partner scurried for the back exit while I went to do what I should - stop the loony bitch saying the Martians needed the money to come colonize and have a nice house out in the Gables."  Horatio gave him an odd look.

"She did," Eric admitted.  "I started to move on her, letting Xander play distraction. Then one of the patrons must've moved because it made her jump and she swung to hit them, which knocked them into me."

"Which knocked him out but I used her distraction to pounce and get her down, putting the gun out of reach and someone handed me play cuffs.  Which I used.  Someone had already called the patrol guys so I told them what happened and who Eric was and that he should probably go to the ER.  I found myself *here*."

Horatio sighed and nodded.  "Frank?" he called, going to find him.  "Why was he brought in?"

"He said he was with the lab, didn't have his ID on him, we wanted to make sure.  Computers are still down."  He gave him a look. "That's the guy Calleigh coos about?"

"It is."  He smiled.  "He has a bad habit of being taken from the clubs, Frank.  Did we arrest the young woman in question?"

"Yeah, she's already been sent for a mental scrub at the hospital."  He grimaced.  "You're sure he's one of you?"

"He's actually got a minor in field work too."

"He's a flake."

"Now and then.  Xander?"  He came bouncing over.  "Go change.  Come back.   Did you sleep any?"

"I'm fine.  I'll have some coffee and I'll be fine.  Be back in an hour, boss."  He bounced off, going to catch a cab home.

"The weekend I met him, we were out on Sunday night at a nice dance club," Horatio said quietly.  "Calleigh, myself, and a few others relaxing and having a nice, pleasant time.  Xander shows up, almost left but Calleigh told him to stay.  So he did.  He got paid three different times for dancing with someone, even though we all heard him complain.  We had to rescue him twice from attempted kidnapings, and the one time we turned our back on him for ten minutes he was taken, Frank."  Frank moaned and shook his head.  "That's beyond the fact that he's a genius at ballistics, artillery, and trace, with construction and explosives training and he's got a minor in field work."

"I'm not working with him."

"He'll be on second, Frank, and he's a lot different in the lab.  He's much more serious and less ...enthusiastic."

"Good!  Anything else I should know?"

"Yeah, his last two women turned homicidal," Eric complained as he joined them.  "His roomie's in, showed up last night."

"Good.  Then maybe he'll feed the boy breakfast too."

Frank looked at him.  "He's how old and can't cook?"

"Not *can't*, shouldn't.  He's poisonous.  We've all gotten letters from techs we know from conventions in other cities who've worked with Xander and warned us not to eat his cooking.  Apparently his friends in Cleveland used it on someone they were interrogating for some reason, H.  That was the one Ryan got."

"Interesting."  He shook his head.  "Did anything else happen?"

"Not a clue.  I wasn't that close to him."

"Then we'll deal with it.  Tell Calleigh on your way to change."  Eric nodded, going to do that.  He looked at Frank.  "He's very good at his job."

"I guess he's allowed to have fun too," Frank complained.  "Teach him to carry his ID, Horatio."

"I will, Frank.  He only started yesterday."  He walked off, going to his office to weather the many calls he'd be getting about Xander through the day.   He saw him bounce in forty minutes later and smiled at the nicer clothes.  Tim definitely had a good handle on what to put the boy in.


A week later Calleigh sat down with Eric and Ryan for beers after work.  "I love my gun freak, but someone needs to help him with his clothes.  If Tim dresses him he fidgets because he's uncomfortable.  If he dresses himself a lot of us get headaches."

"I offered to lend him Marisol," Eric told her.  "He said he used to be his friends' bra approval committee."  She shuddered at that.  "He did the same thing.  Claims he'd have flashbacks."  They both looked at Ryan, who got along pretty well with the boy overall.

"He called my sweater vest yesterday cute," he reminded them.   "I can't see him shopping where I do."

"Ryan, you need to shop anyway," Calleigh said gently, patting him on the hand.

He smiled.  "Keep it up, he promised I could look at his leather pants this next time, I'll ask him to wear them to work."

"No, that might get him more attention from the wrong sources."  Eric grunted and nodded.   "Maybe we should ask Valera?"  Her phone rang and she looked at it.  "Speaking of...  Yes, Xander?" she answered, smiling at his cheerful voice.  She gulped her beer.  "Excuse me?"  She nodded once.  "Put her on, dear.  Yes, this is his boss, CSI Duquesne, ma'am.  Why do you have my intern?"  Both boys groaned at that and she held up a hand.  "While that's very nice of you to make him quit wearing t-shirts that promote headaches, it's still not right to kidnap him.  No, ma'am, he's a lab tech who goes into the field on occasion.  I don't think that'd be appropriate," she said gently.  "No, he has to be able to crawl, run, jump, and pounce in it.  That's very nice of you.  Perhaps we should come help?"  She hung up on her.  She sighed and called Horatio.  "Are you at work?  Because the boys and I have had a beer and Xander's present kidnaper just called to complain that she was taking him shopping due to his t-shirt.  Handcuffs.  I don't know but he called on his phone.  Might be, yeah.  Want backup?  I've only had the one and they've only had a half of one.  Thanks, Horatio."  She hung up.  "He's going to deal with it."  She got herself another drink from the pitcher.  "He said not to worry."

"Uh-huh," Ryan complained.  "What was she trying to put him in?"

"Librarian clothes as he called it."  She took a sip of her beer.  Both boys looked at each other and finished their first one, letting Eric pour them another round.  Horatio had tact and could handle some stupid, delusional person.  If not, Miami had an excellent SWAT team.


Horatio walked into the store, badge out.  The salesclerk pointed and he nodded, heading that way.  He had to stop, hands going to his hips when he looked at Xander.  "Not acceptable for a lab setting, Xander."

"Yell at her," he complained.  "Not like I like librarian clothes!"

"Ma'am," Horatio said grimly, staring her down.

"But it's better than his shirt."

"No, it's not."  She held up his shirt and he felt the headache start.  "It's still not.  He can't wear either of those at work."  She pouted.  "I'm sorry but he can't.  Ties aren't allowed in the lab because they get in the way or can drag through evidence.  Plus he has to be comfortable.  He's on his feet for eight hours a day, or he's in the field where he'll be getting dirty when he crawls around looking for evidence."  She looked at his suit then snorted.  "I'm his supervisor, ma'am.  Now, let's remove the cuffs please before I have to arrest you."  She pouted but did that and Xander went to change, snatching his t-shirt.  "I'll give you a warning this time, ma'am, but do not do it again or I will arrest you on kidnaping a member of the police department."  She pouted but nodded as she sulked off.  He had her license plate number and name in his hummer in case it became pertinent later.  Xander came out and he held up a hand.   "If you *ever* wear that shirt in the lab I will spank you, Xander," he said quietly.

"I'm not on duty, Horatio."

"I know that.  That's the only thing saving you at this moment."  He looked around the store.  "We need to talk about your clothes anyway."

"This store is way too uptight for me."

"That's fine.  We'll go somewhere more your style.  You can wear jeans, I don't mind that, but your shirts are atrocious and we will be fixing it."  Xander pouted but nodded, letting himself be walked out.  "Where did you leave your car?"

"LA apparently.  Tim said Fred bought it so she could do experiments on it.  I'm going car looking tonight.  That's what I was doing."

Horatio sighed and nodded.  "We can handle that later on."

"I'm a big boy, Horatio."

"It's either me or Frank, Xander."  Xander pouted.  "Now, let's go where you want to go.  That way I can help you see what is and isn't appropriate for the lab."  Xander pointed at a store up the street and he looked at him.  "It's Miami, Xander.  It's never that dark here."

"Sue me, my past was always in the dark.  I need sunglasses too."

"I can help you with that."  He walked him up there, letting him show him what he'd normally wear together.  The boy came out in a few outfits and he had to admit they were cute.   "Can you wear those during the day?"

"Not like ballistics isn't cold most of the day," he countered.  "For in the field I've got a simple, plain black t-shirt or two in the locker.  And yes, I'm used to heat.  Remember I'm from near the desert."

"True, but we do have humidity."

"I noticed!  It's like a sponge some mornings when I get up."  That got a smirk and a nod.  "Can I try?"

"That would be acceptable, Xander.  So would the blue shirt behind you."  Xander looked then shook his head.  "No?"

"No, I have one of those, only mine's a bit closer to silvery blue, and it gets me taken all the time.  I don't want certain other tech's attention that way, Horatio.  I'm wondering if she's going to become a problem.  I was going to ask Ryan about her tomorrow."


"No, not her.  She's seriously turning into a mother hen.  Is she like that with everyone?" he asked, leaning on a clothing rack.

"Not really.  She does go out to club now and then.  Maybe you should go out with her?"

"I'll have dogs."

"Not that way, Xander."  He looked at the rack of sunglasses and handed over a pair.  "Try those."  Xander tried them on and he looked.  "You look like every vampire stereotype in the world."

Xander looked over the rim of them at him.  "I'm not wearing leather, Horatio.  You'd be surprised how many in Sunnydale did."  That got a small smirk.  "Really."  The salesgirls and their many piercings looked over at him.  "I'm from Sunnydale and LA," he said with a grin and a wave.  One shuddered.  "Exactly.  Think this is okay for work?"  One went to find him a vest and he smiled, trying it on.  "That's for off-duty," he decided, going to change back and pay for it.  He smiled at Horatio.  "See, much more comfortable."

"True, it was.  You didn't fidget at all.  Let's try another store, see if you can find something you like at somewhere more mainstream?"  Xander shrugged and he walked him into somewhere more hip than he would normally shop.  The salespeople looked at Horatio's suit then Xander's t-shirt and bag.  "He's our new lab tech," he explained to one.  Xander headed for the button-up shirts.  "Xander, try the other rack," he ordered.  "They're cotton and it'll be more comfortable."  Xander went to look then grimaced and shook his head, walking off to the back of the store where all the off-brand shirts were kept.   He looked and hesitantly pulled out two.  He held them up and Horatio looked at him.  "Over what?"


"That could work," he admitted.  "Try for something a bit less colorful?"  Xander put one back and held up a single blue shirt.  Medium blue.  The salesclerk got him a different shade in the same line.  "That's a better color for you.  Shop like you would for the girls going for you."

"They never bought me stuff."

Horatio considered it.  "For some reason that doesn't surprise me.  Okay, let's try with fabrics you'll like after you wash them a few times.  That way they're not stiff and they're comfortable."  Xander nodded and went to look around some more, finding a few more shirts.  "I like those," he decided.  Plain, no prints, colors that would look good on him, but still dark.  "Anything lighter?  You'll still roast outside, Xander."

Xander shrugged. "I look sucky in pastels, Horatio."

"Try for basic white?"

"Um, no, because some of the scars show through and if I've got an injury or something that'll show through too."  Horatio raised an eyebrow.  "It would.  That would get me fussed over and I'd have to swat hands."

"True, but those are the days you call off work."

Xander frowned.  "No I don't."  He found two white shirts that he held up.  "These okay?"

"Those are fine but one's the wrong size for you."  Xander checked and got everything in his size.  "Better.  Now, pants?  Do you need more help there?"

"No, but I need better sneakers."   Horatio just nodded at that and led him out to the hummer once he had paid.  "You can wash them and they soften up?"

"They do," he agreed, smiling at him.  "Like you would jeans."

"I buy out of thrift shops.  They're already soft.  I should go do that."

Horatio decided that was most of his problem there and nodded.  "Maybe you should consider buying new, Xander.  After all, we want to make a good impression when you go into the field, right?"  Xander gave him an odd look.  "I like thrift shops.  Just not for work purposes."

"I guess," he sighed.  He led him into a store that advertised jeans and looked around then at the saleswoman.  "I need new ones for work.  I'm a lab tech."

"Dark, light, faded, boot cut, straight leg...."  She heard the small whimper.  "What do you usually get?"

"Thrift shop."  She smiled and came over to look at his current pair, leading him to one she liked.   "Wow, much more expensive than I'm used to."

She patted him on the back.  "I know but now and then you've got to buy new, even if thrift stores do good for the city."  He sighed and went to try a few pairs on.  She added another set in another style for him.  "Try those too.  They're a bit looser and less stiff off the hanger."

"That's the purpose of washing them before you wear them," Horatio reminded her.

"Oh, I'm sure it is but he'd have to do it thirty or forty times before they're as soft as his usual ones.  I did the same thing through high school and my goth phase."  She smiled and went to find a few other pairs.  "Can he wear colors at work?"

"He can.  I don't mind as long as they're not pornographically tight," he said, eyeing Xander when he came out.  "Which those are approaching."  She stared, her gum falling out of her mouth.  "Xander?"  He looked over from checking his butt out.  "A bit too tight unless you want to draw someone?"

"Not my fault I have a big butt," he complained.  He went in to try the looser ones and came out.  Not much better.  "Maybe they'll stretch while they wash?"

"Perhaps," he agreed.  "Maybe a bigger size?"

"Then I'd need a belt," he complained.  "I don't like belts.  They're never comfortable."  He went to try on a bigger size in that style since they were softer.  He came out and the girl shook her head with a small moan.  She went to get him something to truly highlight his body, that way Horatio could compare the two.  When Xander came out that time even the older guy had to stare in awe.  "I think these are a bit too tight," he teased.

"Maybe but I needed happy mental places to go tonight," she quipped, smiling at him.  "Use it for clubbing."  He nodded, then went to get the others.  He could wash them soft.  Speed could tell him how to do that.  She smiled and even gave him a discount but the older guy could only stare.  She definitely had her happy thoughts for the night.  They were cute together too.

Horatio pulled his mind out of the gutter by the time they got back to the hummer.  "Try for less tight," he said gently.  "That one you're worried about would definitely try something in those last ones."

"I know those aren't for work," he agreed with a shy grin.  "Those are for going out to find the next woman I can turn evil."

Horatio nodded.  "Get a dog, Xander."  He grinned and nodded, letting Horatio drive him back to the house.  He looked at it then at him.  "Nice choice."

"We're doing some mild renovations to get the rent knocked down.  Tim arranged it."

"Good.  You'll have to invite us over after they're done."  He watched him get out and get his bags, then walk inside.  He had to shake his head clear of that image again.  Maybe he had helped?  Otherwise that t-shirt was going to drive him insane that night.  He definitely needed something to take that out of his mind.  He went home to watch a movie, hoping it would help.

Xander walked into the house and closed the door behind himself.  "Got taken while car looking.  She hated my t-shirt and tried to dress me in tweed," he called, heading to his room.

Speed came out of the kitchen.  "Tweed is better than that shirt but at least it wasn't the worst of the lot. That one's only mildly annoying."

"Horatio came to rescue me."  He came back down.  "I have sunglasses."

"Good.  What else did you buy?"

"I took him to my sort of shop and got a few things I look good in.  He agreed they'd be fine at work even if they were a bit dark.  Then he made me buy more dress shirts and jeans, all of which should be washed until they're softer according to him."

"The washer works."  Xander grinned and went to get them, coming down with both bags.  He even helped him sort them.  They started the first wash load and he drug Xander into the kitchen, making him sit down and eat.  "Did you get any car ideas?"

"Can I really afford a new car?"

"Yeah, we'll use the stuff you get given at the club to afford it along with what Fred gave you."  Xander nodded, taking his plate.  "Thank you for calling someone."

"I asked and she said I could call my boss to clarify what was appropriate at work.  Calleigh and she talked for a few before she hung up."

"Ah."  He nodded and gave Xander a hug around the shoulders.  "It'll be okay."

"If you say so."  He dug in, going to restart the washer when it went to the first spin cycle.  That way it would agitate more and get them softer.  Then he came back to finish his dinner.  "This is good, thank you, Tim."

"Welcome, Xander."  He smiled at him.  "We still have to deal with the 'I got given' box."

"I turned the non-money stuff over to Keergan out in LA," he reminded him.

"I called him today and he said it was over the thirty day limit for everything but one thing.  That one got claimed as stolen and he told the insurance company how you had come to get it when he handed it to them.  Then he showed them documentation where it had happened in the past so they didn't try to say anything.  Speaking of, did you tell Horatio about that stuff?"

"He saw me try to hand back money."  He ate another bite then got up to get more.  He came back.  "If we have to, we can have Keergan call out here I guess."

"I told him you were working with the lab down here.  He said he could do that this week to make sure they didn't need the files."  He ruffled his hair.  "You need a trim tonight too."

"I've barely got any cash left, Tim."

"Xander, you've got the sock drawer."

"Point," he mumbled.  "I'd like to save some of that since the rent's going to come due soon and I've got to pay off that one loan I took."

"That doesn't have to start being repaid until nearly Thanksgiving.  Six months."  Xander nodded.  "So we'll work on saving some of the payments in case you get a crappy month of paychecks."  Xander nodded again, finishing his dinner and getting up to do dishes.  "Have you gotten any indication of needing to hunt?"

"Not yet.  I found out where the local overlord hangs out on Sunday nights so we can pop in on him then if you want."

"Might be a good idea," he agreed, sounding happier.  "Miami's a pretty calm city for most of that."

"Hopefully.  Should I start worrying about post-internship stuff?  Right now they seem to do a lot of tolerating me.  Horatio had that look tonight when he showed up."

"Give it a few weeks, Xander.  Most people really appreciate you after a month of exposure."  Xander nodded, taking his plate to wash once he was done.  He got up and cuddled him.  "It'll be okay.  You're making a great start," he assured him.

"Calleigh took Ryan and Eric out tonight for beers to talk about me," he said quietly, slumping.  "I know I did something wrong."

"She's probably complaining about your clothes."  Xander looked at him.  "Really.  If she didn't like you, you'd know.  She's the sort to send you away."  He nodded, going back to his chores for the night.  Speed gave him a squeeze.  "You're doing fine, Xander.  I promise you are.  You're doing really good.  My first day in the lab I made mistakes.  They still loved me."  Xander perked up a bit at that.  "You grow on people.  They figure out they love you after a few weeks or months with you."

"Frank Tripp hated me on sight."

"He's a bit uptight.  You'll grow on him too.  I promise you will."  Xander nodded and finished cleaning up.  "Now, let's go work on that one pile of crap called your closet."

"Nope.  You stay out of my closet."

"Fat chance," he snorted, heading that way.  Xander got a soda, he heard the fridge door open.  He also heard someone knock and groaned.  He was in plain sight.  "Xander, door," he called, scurrying up the stairs.

Xander came out to find Ryan standing there looking confused.  "What's wrong?"

"Was that...."  Xander glared at him.  "Xander."  He walked him inside and slammed the door.  "He's alive?"

"Way to state the obvious," Speed said from the top of the stairs.  "You wanted what?  And you're who?"

"That's Ryan, he replaced you," Xander said bluntly, walking past him.  "You two fight, I can't stand to be around domestic disputes."

Speed glared at his back.  "Not like I was dating him."  He looked at Wolfe again.  "He got me in San Francisco before you ask."

"So you're the mysterious Tim."  Speed nodded.  "Wow."

"I can't go back, Ryan."

"No, but you could tell them.  Eric's a miserable bastard who can't seem to connect with other human beings anymore."  He came up the stairs to look at him.  "So are you two...."  Speed shook his head quickly.  "Pity.  Calleigh suggested I come help him with his clothing stuff."

"I try," Speed sighed.  "A lot. Very often.  He likes going to the thrift shops."

"They're good for society and cheaper," Xander called from his room.  "For what I paid for one pair of jeans tonight I could get most of a wardrobe to be slimed on."

"They're still ugly," Speed countered.  He looked at Ryan again.  "You took my place?" he asked quietly.

"Poorly as I've been told many times but yeah," he admitted, leaning against the wall.  "Can I at least tell Eric?  He was destroyed, Speed."

"It'd hurt him more to know," he pointed out.  He stood up.  "C'mon, since you know.   You can help me sort out his clothes."  Ryan came up the stairs to help them, finding Xander arranging his clothes in his closet.  "No leathers at work," he ordered.

"That's the play side."

Speed looked then at him.  "No playing with the leather anyway, Xander.  You'll get taken again and this time no one will be able to find you."

"Yes they will.  You put the GPS transmitter in those."  He went down to restart the washer when he heard the buzz, then brought Ryan a soda.  "Here, all we keep in the house."  He went back to hanging up what hadn't been washed.

"Horatio let you go goth?" Speed asked.

Xander looked at him.  "I'm comfy in them, Tim.  Not like the ones you keep making me wear.  That's me."

Speed gave him a pat on the head then smacked it.  "We'll see.  You still have to conform to some standards."   Xander took out the shirt to pull on, letting him see.  "That'll do but you look like an undertaker."

"Shoot me, I used to skulk around cemeteries all night," he said dryly, taking it off to put it back.

"Where did you get that scar?" Ryan asked, pointing at one.

Speed looked then shrugged.  "It's one of the ones he won't talk about."  He stepped in to fuss with a few shirts.  "These can be washed softer too."

"They've already been washed softer, they're still itchy and constraining.  Can I wear normal t-shirts?  Ryan gets away with it."

"I get told I look like a Miami Vice reject," Ryan told him dryly.

Xander shrugged.  "So?"  He frowned at him.  "How do I get Natalia off my ass?  She was staring."

"Tell Horatio.  Let him talk to her," he offered.  "Then again, Eric and I have both taken her out on dates."

"If I do that she'll go really evil and end up trying to kill people," Xander told him. Speed snickered but nodded at that.  "See, he can tell you.  I did it to a pro I took out twice," he said at the amused look.

"We heard before you came down," he admitted.  "Wear what you're comfortable in that won't draw attention to you, that you can work in, and that you can go into the field in if you have to suddenly.  That's what I was told when I asked."  He sat on the foot of the bed.  "If that's dark clothes, then you can roast outside."

"Maybe.  I'm from near the desert."

"Yes, but we have humidity here," Speed reminded him.  "I'm from upstate New York, we had snow and humidity most summers and I still wasn't ready for Miami's humidity."

Xander nodded.  "We'll see."

"That's reasonable, as long as it's not your octopus t-shirt."  Ryan gave him an odd look so he pulled it out.  Ryan whimpered.  "Exactly."  He put it back on the 'play' side.  "For tonight he's got to have a hair cut."

"I'm still trying to save some, Tim."

Tim opened the boy's sock drawer and pulled out the cash in there, handing him a hundred dollars.  "Take Ryan to find a *good* thrift shop, get some new underwear, and then get a haircut."

"Yes, Tim," he sighed.  He looked at Ryan.  "He's horribly parental sometimes."

"Yeah, but now and then we all need it.  Alexx nags me about my hair too," he admitted.  Speed looked at him then smiled suddenly.  "It took her nearly forever but she decided I needed the babying."

"I get Maxine doing it," Xander admitted.  Speed grinned at him.  "Speaking of, she wanted to meet you.  I told her you were being person-phobic."

"That's reasonable."  He gave him a pat.  "Go.  Now.  Before the hairdressers close."  Xander sighed but let Ryan walk him out.  "Take him car looking too," he called after them.  "His POS was sold to someone for an experiment in LA."

"Sure, Tim," Ryan called, grinning at Xander.  "How did you get the stuff in your drawer?" he asked before they walked outside.

"I get paid in the clubs no matter how often I complain," he admitted, locking the door behind him.  He saw a box on the porch and stopped to look at it, then he put it carefully inside.  "Tim, that's a gun.  Remind me to take it to work with me tomorrow."  He relocked the door and bounced down the stairs to Ryan's car.  "I told them I was a ballistics tech," he admitted once he was inside.

"That's fine.  I'm sure it's a good thing to get them off the streets."  He started the engine and looked at him. "You get paid in the clubs?"

"Yeah," he said, looking miserable. "I complain when they do it too.  It totally sucks.  I feel like I'm an incubus or something."

"We'll have to experiment with that.  Maybe there's a way to stop it."

"Maybe."  He buckled up and Ryan backed down the driveway, taking him to get a haircut first.  Then they could do the other stuff.  He knew a few good thrift shops.


Calleigh looked up as Xander walked into the lab, blinking at him.  His hair was fussy hair, spiked here and there, almost messy bedhair looking.  He had on sunglasses.  He had on black jeans and a dark blue t-shirt.  "Long night in the club?" she asked.

He took off his sunglasses and put them onto his desk.  "Nope.  This is me.  Horatio said I could be me and not some uptight, stick-up-the-butt person.  Therefore I'm going to be me and me is comfy in this."

"Okay.  If you're comfy.  Aren't you roasting outside?"

He looked at her.  "Not yet.  We'll see.  Am I scheduled for field or trace hours next week?"

"I don't know.  We never talked about it."  She looked around.  "There's Horatio with Maxine."  He went to ask himself and she watched Maxine's look of shock.  She giggled.  It was so cute!  Maxine was doing mommy duty instead of Alexx and fussing over his hair until he swatted her hands and ducked away.  Horatio was trying not to laugh.  Maxine finally left and Horatio walked him back into the lab.  "She's good, someday soon she'll rival Alexx's mothering," she teased with a bright grin.

"Alexx doesn't mother me," Xander reminded her.  "She's scared of me."  He looked at Horatio.  "Trace hours?  Field hours?  If I need to I can count some of the time I was temping in LA's ballistics center for lab hours here, boss."

"I know that, Xander, but I'm not sure you're ready for the field."

"If this is about my eye...."

"Yes, it is.  You know what happened at the last one Ryan went on?" he asked carefully.

"Yeah, and I also know I was tutored by a Crypt for two classes and a Blood for another.  I also know I'm one of the better and more cautious people and if you put me in the field then you've got a very protective person as well."

"Point," he agreed.  "I'd rather we do this after the Mala Noche threat was ended."

"Boss, being logical, with an apology to all Vulcans in this lab, they won't ever fully go away.  You can't decimate a street gang like a cheesecake.  There's always one last slice."  He nodded that was true.  "There's been threats before.  Always, since we started putting people into the field there's been threats to field techs.  I can handle those threats, I'm more than capable of handling those threats, and gee, I'm also trained to handle those threats.  That's why I did the hours with Griffold in San Diego.  That's why I got pushed into the classes in San Francisco too, because I am a field person now and then.  Not all the time but now and then I could use the exercise.  Especially since we've been low on gun crime this last month and I've spent the last three days cleaning on her and pissing her off."

"You have?" he asked, looking at Calleigh.

"I came in yesterday to find him mopping."

"Not like I had any new evidence to process and Ryan shooed me out of Trace again."

Horatio nodded.  "We can definitely get you more Trace hours, Xander, but I still don't want you in the field in this situation because of the danger present."  Xander walked over to the computer and got onto the internet, the only thing that didn't take a password in here.  He pulled up a file and got out of the way so they could see it.  Horatio went pale.  "What's that?" he asked quietly.

"Me two weeks after I lost my eye," he said blandly, staring him down.  "One of the slayers taped it.  I think I can handle being on a scene with people staring at my ass while I work and if someone tries to shoot me I get to pounce and deal with it."  He shrugged.  "I'm fully trained to do that.  I'm not asking for much.  One, two cases a month, boss."

"Fine.  The next non-high profile, non-Mala Noche case you can go on," he decided, closing that window.  He looked at him.  "Did you get any physical therapy for that?"  Xander pointed at the computer and gave him a look.  "Fine.  We'll make sure you can do that now and then, Xander.  I'll also talk with Ryan so you can do some hours in Trace."

"Thank you!  That's all I wanted.  I'm not a baby and I'm not Sophia down in QD.  I have sense, common and otherwise."

"You do," he agreed, looking him over.  "I like that outfit."

"Thank you."  Horatio smiled and left them alone.  He looked at Calleigh.  "I'm not a baby."

"I know you're not. You're not even a baby tech.  The field's still dangerous."  Xander gave her a look.  "It is.  Things can sneak up on your blind side."

"Calleigh, I'm realistic enough to know that you're not going to send me into the field by myself the first few times.  That's beside the fact that I lost my eye before I started school and I fought for years without it."  She went pale.  "I've got good compensations for my eye.  I have for a very long time.  I should've been in the hospital during that battle and I wasn't.  I wasn't even on pain killers.  So no, I'm very well compensated."

"Have you talked to Ryan?  He nearly lost sight in his."

"Yeah but that was after he trained.  If he wanted to, he could take a year off and learn how to compensate as well," he noted dryly.  "Just because it's screwed up doesn't mean we can't do the work, boss.  Really."  He looked around and got to work on the single sample they had delivered overnight.  He had finally gotten a computer ID last night by going to computer services himself to get things set up for himself since the lab's computers were still screwed up.  They showed him how to log in anyway so he could get to work on his backlogged reports.  When he was done he spelled and grammar checked then printed and handed them over.  "Yours."  She nodded, going to check them and hand them out to whichever tech they needed to go to.  He called Tim.  "It's me.  No, just checking in. I know it's early, Tim."  He smiled.  "Yeah, we did."  He sighed, leaning on the table.  "I don't know.  Thanks, man."  He hung up and looked around.  "I can smell you, Eric.  What do you need?"

"Some help in Trace since H just reamed us a new one for keeping you out of it," he admitted, leaning in.  "Tim?"  Xander nodded. "You okay?"

"I hate having to keep proving myself over and over; I thought I was mostly done with that since I'm out of school," he admitted.  "My prior work should speak for me by now, right?"  Eric nodded.  "Then why can't they take the six weeks in San Diego, the temp stuff I did in LA for the last semester in ballistics and the field, and all the other stuff?"

"Because this is Miami and you've got to do it at each new post.  Your past work got you here.  Now you've got to prove you can hack it here in Miami."

"Yay.  I can't do that if you don't give me a chance," he said dryly, giving him a look.  "I've hacked worse than Miami.  My last scene in LA was down in South Central at a gang war."  He took off his coat and followed him, going to find the one he had stashed in Trace.  "This way there's no gunpowder residue," he said at the odd looks he got.  He put on his glasses and checked the envelopes.  "What sort of case was it?"

"Drowning," Ryan said.  "You want fingerprints?"

"Nope.  I'm a trace and ballistics tech, Ryan, not fingerprints.  I'm good enough at fingerprints to run a scan, but not that spectacular."  He got to work and found the slide he was doing was mismarked.  "This is a soil sample at a drowning?" he asked.  Eric frowned.  He let him see.  "Soil, dark, heavy soil.  Where was it found?"  He got to work processing the major components in it so they could see where it had come from.  "Hmm.  Would that be swampland soil?  I'm used to beach and desert, plus city soils."

Ryan looked then nodded.  "That probably would be.  Eric?"

"That does look like it.  Thanks, Xander."  He took the printout from him and Xander logged in over there.  "How did you get an ID?"

"I went to charm Cindy in computer services and begged."  He gave him a look.  "She said to pinch you but I pointed out I'd never date a coworker."  He got to work on that part of the report, finding the other samples from the same case so he could include them in the same report.  That first sample was put back properly and he got to work on the next one, moving around Ryan when necessary since he was working slower.  By lunch he had a comprehensive report and had it handed to Eric on his way out to get food from the lunch truck that came by every day.  He saw Frank's look of horror and gave him a look back.  "What?  I have to eat."

"I'm sure you do.  What are you wearing?"

"I'm comfortable, Detective.  Ask when I'm not."  He paid for his lunch and went back inside to eat, getting a soda out of the machine as well.  Then he dug in and zoned out for a little bit.  At the end of his half-hour he put it into the fridge and finished his soda before washing his hands and coming back to the lab.  Eric was in there reading the report.  "Not a format you like?"

"No, I love the format.  We've got contradictory evidence with what Ryan did."

Xander sighed and put on his jacket then his glasses and gloves, going back over what he had found and how.  It was still correct and Eric tested over his shoulder to make sure of it.  They ended up correlating the two types of dirt and the conflicting water samples to a spot where a run-off came out into a canal and that gave him a better place to look for the primary crime scene so he headed off.  Xander finished cleaning up in there and went onto the next case.  Apparently Ryan was in the field.  Calleigh came in giving him an odd look.  "What?"

"Weren't you going with Ryan?"

He looked at his phone on the table then her.  "No one told me if I was.  Am I?"  She called Horatio, who said he had decided not to today, to give him Trace time.  "No?"

"No.  They decided they didn't need a third tech.  Where's Eric?"

"I found out where his body went into the water."

"Oh."  She nodded and came in to watch over his shoulder.  "You know, we all had to do this."

Xander looked at her.  "You came out of the PD, Calleigh.  I came out of a program designed to train techs.  That's why we had both internships."  She nodded that she understood that.  "The same as I don't have to go through the academy."

"You're probably not eligible."

"I know that."  He gave her a look.  "I nearly went SWAT except for that injury."  He looked over when Alexx came in.  "Got something from a new body?"

"I do.  Where's Eric and Ryan?"

"Alexx, I am a minor in trace," he said, taking it to get to work.

"Uh-huh.  Do they know you're in here?"

He glared at her.  "I'm more than competent to be in here and to someday run this lab, Alexx.  If you have doubts about whether or not I'm capable and able to run samples the correct way you can ask them or any of the other labs I've worked with.  I'm not the standard stupid intern."  He got back to work, ignoring the shocked looks.

"Someone woke up grumpy," Alexx said.

Xander looked at her. "No, I woke up perfectly happy this morning until I got here."  She backed off and nodded at that.  He went back to the sample, frowning.  He sniffed it then looked at her.  "Where did you find the apple scented lubricant?  This stuff quit being sold a few years back due to the company going out of business."  He ran it anyway to make sure and it came up with what he thought.  He traced down the sources of it and frowned.  "Out of business for two years now."  He looked at it.  "I wonder if you can do an age test on lube?"  He frowned and texted that to Tim, who sent back a simple 'no'.  "Huh."  He put his phone up and changed gloves since he had touched something not sterile, writing the report for her.  "Here you go, including manufacturers of it originally.  If it's not from their original stock someone has their old formula and is trying to restart it.  I can research where to find lube so we can call and see if there's a new company."  She shook her head, walking off.  He looked at his other boss.  "Should I anyway?"

"No, we can if it becomes necessary.  You didn't have to snap at her."

"And I'm still not two and I don't need to be treated like I'm two," he said bluntly but quietly.  "I'm more than capable of doing the work, Calleigh.  Really."  He got back to his cleaning, making sure the lab was sanitized for the next batch of evidence coming in.  He finished logging in that sample and put it aside with another copy of his report for Ryan to check then went to ballistics to check it.  They had new samples over there so he changed coats and gloves, getting to work on them, including the test fires.  By the time she had finished complaining to Horatio he was already comparing the second sample and frowning.  "I may be wrong but this isn't a gun I'm familiar with.  Is this a Kemper?"

She looked and frowned.  "No, it's not.  What is that?"  She looked at the gun then at him.  "I haven't seen one of these."  She sat down to search it out while he logged the bullet into the system and searched for matches.  She heard the beep and looked over.  "Does it say what it is?"

"Custom designed for an assassin.  Assassin died last year according to the notes.  The gun was supposed to be destroyed last year in Chicago."  He printed off that note and handed it over.  "We have to report that, right?"

"It's nicer if we call them first."

"True."  He leaned on the counter while she did that.

"This is Calleigh Duquesne, a CSI down in Miami-Dade's labs.  We just found a gun that the system said you guys had destroyed last year."  She read off the case number so they could look it up.  "That's what we were wondering."  She made notes on the back of the note he had printed off, nodding a bit.  "Thank you for your help.  Of course we will.  We'll add a note to this one.  Thank you for your help."  She hung up and looked at him.  "They're listing it as destroyed too."

Xander opened a comment box and added on a note, clicking the little box to add to the administrator's inbox.  Then he let her proof it, letting her change a few word choices for him.  He sent it and they got an error message.  They corrected the note length and did it again, making sure that box was checked.  Her computer beeped with an email so she went to handle it while he went back to logging in the gun.  When he got done the comparison was done between the bullets and the new test fire.  He slapped himself on the head.  "I forgot the gun someone left on the porch," he moaned.  "I'll bring it in tomorrow."  He got back to work frowning at it.  "We use slightly wider ammo, Calleigh."  She came over to look.  "Usually I'd put that in my report."

"Please do."  He nodded, taking measurements to make sure his idea was correct then got to work on his report.  He handed it to her once he was done and she walked off to tell Horatio.  "Horatio, we have a destroyed gun," she reported.  He looked interested at that.  She let him see the report.  "We also use a slightly wider bullet.  Still within the same size but it's the difference in manufactures' specs.  He looked that up too."

"Interesting.  I got a call from Alexx."

"She did talk down to him a bit," she admitted quietly.  "Asked him if he should be in there."

"I'll talk with her."  He went to the conclusions section.  "We're sure it's the same?"

"Yeah, it's the same it's just the edges are shifted out.  That's not that uncommon a phenomenon.  It's a brand of ammo thing."  He nodded, handing it back.  "He's very efficient, Horatio."

"I'm sure he is."  He smiled at her.  "I'll talk with him."

"No, don't.  He had a point.  He's not Ryan.  He had to do scenes in school.  His in-school may've been at a military school but he did temp in out in LA and he did do his field hours in San Diego.  He's at the same place Ryan was when you hired him.  Maybe we can give him a bit more leeway than the usual intern.  He's not out partying or things."

"He's not but he's still an intern."

"Yeah but he was more than thorough on her sample.  He's not a little kid and it's hurting him that we think he's twenty-one and looking forward to spring break."

"I empathize.  He's still an intern."  He saw Xander come out and head for the bathroom.  "Are you clear?"

"I have been clear.  He's been doing things before I get here, Horatio.  I haven't had more than four samples in a few days.  He's done most of them.  I've checked over his shoulder and it's all been perfect so far.  Let me start going into the field so he has ballistics for me."

He looked at her.  "Next week."  She nodded, going to her lab to make sure everything was cleaned up.  He went to waylay Xander, giving him a disappointed look.  "You should apologize to Alexx.  She didn't know you weren't a single lab tech."

"Why not?  Everyone else did and I told her that."  He leaned against the wall, staring at him.   "When I introduced myself to her I told her that."

"While that may be, it still hurt her, Xander."

"And my feelings don't matter?" he countered coolly.  Horatio glared at him.  "She all but insulted me and said I was in there joking around and touching stuff I didn't have a clue about."  He stood up.  "I'm not a stupid little kid, Horatio.  That's all I expect, to not be treated like a stupid little kid.  She did.  I'm sorry as hell I hurt her feelings by being blunt but I felt the same way when she said it.  If she does I will."  He walked off, going to check in ballistics.  "Need me?"

"No, go check Trace."  He nodded, taking his glasses in there with him.  Ryan and Eric were coming off the elevator so he'd have something to work with soon.  She called Alexx.  "You hurt my intern's feelings," she said quietly.  "Xander's not a little kid, Alexx.  He's done hours like we would all week.  I heard him say if you would apologize for hurting his feelings for treating him like he's stupid he would apologize as well."  She sighed and nodded.  "Then you two need to work that out.  Because he's a nice boy, Alexx.  Even when we do treat him like the average stupid intern who didn't listen in class."  She hung up on her and went to get into her reports so she could clear her backlog as well.

Ryan looked at the lab and sniffed.  "Cleaned?"

"Yeah.  I got done with the sample Alexx brought up."  He looked at him.  "Apple lube that went out of business two years ago."

"I'll keep that in mind.  My case?"  Xander shrugged.  "Okay.  Where is it?"  He pointed at the stack waiting for him, getting a smile.  "That'll work.  I'll check it before I go home tonight."  He put the new samples down and Xander regloved, getting to work with him.  "What did you clean with?"

"The stuff under the sink for cleaning the lab."  He looked at him.  "I'm not OCD, Ryan.  I'm sorry but I use the official stuff."

"That's fine.  I know we can keep the lab clean together."  They got to work across from each other.  "You okay?" he asked quietly.

"Depends, did they treat you like you were stupid when you came in?"

"No.  Then again I came in a full tech."

Xander looked at him.  "I have my diploma and field hours to prove I am too, Ryan."

"Point.  That's why I only check over your shoulder now and then."

"I welcome it.  I also know when to ask questions.  Like is this part of a bomb?"  He held it up and got a nod.  "Are we recreating and should I do fingerprint duties too?  I can pull them but I'm not great in that area."

"If you can."  He watched Xander work.  "Slower with the brush," he said quietly.  Xander worked slower at it, nodding at his style.  "Find any?"  Xander held it up and let him see a section.  "Hmm.  Oil.  Did you get a swab of that?"

"Before I started."  He moved that swab out of the way.  "I also swabbed around for explosive residue.  It'll help determine where in the bomb it came from."

"I don't do much with bombs."

"I have."  He frowned and looked at it.  "There's almost a print here on the end," he admitted, letting him see.   "Should I even try?  It's only two lines."

"Go ahead and pull it anyway, just in case we can find the rest of that section and find the rest of it."  He watched Xander open a lifting strip.  "Stop."  He came over to help him.   "This is a depth perception problem," he said quietly.

"I don't have that problem on most surfaces," he admitted.

"That's fine."  He got it for him and labeled it, putting it aside.  They got back to work, him watching Xander now and then to see what he was doing.  He was laying out the parts in a pattern of some sort.  "You think that's how they went?"

"I do.  I've seen the design in the manuals."  He grinned.  "I've only had to use bigger yield bombs, not pipe or envelope bombs."  He got back to work on his next section.  "Can you lift this one too?  It's on this bent part and underneath."

Eric leaned in.  "Why can't you?"

"Because I'm weak in fingerprints, Eric. That's my weakest area."  He let Ryan see.  "I can't get my fingers in there."

"I use the end of a swab then the swab itself to apply pressure and smooth it over the print."  He showed him how he did it, getting a nod from Xander.  The next one he got himself.  "Slower.  You can smudge it."

"It's already smudged.  It was on the metal," he said at Eric's look.   He let him see. "See?"  He ran his next swab's contents and made note of what he was doing, then bagged that piece and looked it over, putting it next to the piece that it probably broke off from.  Eric looked at it and shook his head.  "No?"

"No, the flanges won't fit.  It's part of the end cap definitely."  He came over to look and compare, finding the spot.  "Here, it goes next to this one," he said, putting it down.  He put on a pair of gloves and got to work with them.  "Why were you temping in LA?"

"I was on my last semester.  I had already passed everything but a chem and an english class.  Their secondary ballistics on night shift was out on maternity leave for most of the semester so I offered to temp in.  I had worked with them during school now and then when they got overloaded or on teacher's special projects.  Whenever they called and needed help.  They've got a lot more gun crime out there thanks to the heavier gang violence in parts of the city.  So I did a lot with the ballistics center out there.  Except when the FBI came in and demanded we do things right then.  Then I got removed and another tech put on with the explanation I was an intern.  They agreed it would be better when it went to court."  He shrugged and got back to work.

"I also went out on field calls anytime they were short, which is how I planned on doing that here.  When we're short, when we need extra hands.  Not more than two or three a month."  They both nodded at that.  He looked at them.  "My last scene out there was the day of graduation.  I was nearly late to graduation because of it.  Three-sided gang fight over who got what block.  A meeting went to hell."  He got back to work, leaning on the table to look down at something.  "Can I have the magnifying glass you have, Ryan?  The one over here has scratches on the extra mag bubble."  He handed it over and Xander looked.  "Your action switch, guys.  It's melted in."  They came over to look so he let them.  He frowned at the design.  "That's not like the manual at all."   He frowned, moving to look at the specs.  "Oh, shit I know what that is."  He removed some things and shifted them out of the way.  "Can we tape this together?"

"In a few, Xander.  Sketch it out for us?" Ryan ordered.  Xander nodded, taking a piece of paper to sketch it out for them.  He slid it over and they looked then at him.  "Is that construction worthy?"

"No, it's too light to take out more than a porch support or something like that.  You'd use that size to take out a porch, maybe a window.  Now, if they moved it around this way," he said, changing a few things in another sketch.  "That would pack all the bite on one side and the minimal blast on the other side would act like how you chop trees down, as a guiding cut so it'd fall the right direction."  They nodded, getting back to work.  Xander took swabs of the interior portions they had found, going to gauge strength to see how the explosives had been laid out.  "Hmm."  He showed them.  "This is the left, this is the right chamber.  With it being nearly even, they wanted it to go up then down, not fall in a direction."

"Which is basically what it did," Ryan admitted.  "Would you need two action switches?"

"Yeah, unless you had them serially wired.  So one going off would set the other off.  Then the second's action switch would be set off by the explosion of the first.  How far apart where they?"

"About ten feet.  We found some wire between them," Eric offered, finding that bag to let him see it.

Xander nodded. "Serially wired.  You had the one setting off the other.  Probably a few second delay."

"The witness next door said he heard two different explosions.  Thought something had blown up in the first one," Ryan said, looking at Eric.  He took the wire to find epithelials and fingerprints.   "Thanks, Xander."

"Welcome."  He got back to work on his report, including the proper name for the type of bomb and the probable way it was wired.  When he was done he printed it out.  "My shift's done, you do you need me to stay?" he asked Eric since they were alone.

"No, thanks, Xander.  I'll be heading out in the next hour anyway."

"I can stay, Eric."

He grinned.  "You've probably already cleared your hours for the week, kid.  Go home.  Let Tim feed you."  Xander nodded, hanging up his coat with his name on it, heading to check in ballistics.  He shook his head when Calleigh sent him off too.  "H!" he called when he saw him.  He came in.  "Xander identified the type of bomb and how it was laid."  He let him see the sketch and the evidence.  Plus the report when he hummed.  "I told him to head home since his shift was done and we're nearly done too."

"Any suspects?"

"Waiting on fingerprints and DNA.  We've been pulling off very small partials."  He let him see the last one he had pulled.  "It looks like he was gloved but there was a tear."  Horatio nodded at that.  "Wolfe's in DNA waiting to see if we have anything from the wires since there was a small spot of blood on the end of one, like he had stuck himself with it."  That got a small smile.  "Did you know his temping in LA included field hours?"

"I didn't.  I didn't get much of a report from them."  He looked at him.  "Do you think he can handle it?"

"He asks questions when he has one.  He's not any worse than Wolfe when he got here, H."  Ryan walked in.  "Think you can work with Xander in the field?"

"I think I can but I think if something happens he's going to jump in worse than he did here this week," Ryan admitted, grinning at him.  "He probably draws faster than I do too."

"Probably," Eric agreed.  "We get anything?"

"We have a blood match to the small spot on the wall from the attempted self-defense, no match in CODIS so she's expanding the search to the other databases, including military just in case since I told her it came off the bomb.  We'll know in the morning.  Do we have any pieces left to process?"  Eric shook his head.  "Can we recreate?"  Eric pointed at where it was mostly done.  "So the explosive was against that side?" he suggested, coming over to look at the taped pieces of metal.  "Huh.  What's this missing section here?"

"Xander said it's where the melted action switch went but it's too melted around the edges to fit in."  He slid it down.  Ryan looked at it and got out of Horatio's way.  "He said they were serially wired, H."

"I saw in the report, Eric."  He frowned and nodded.  "This side was next to the victim?"  They both nodded.  "That would explain why the majority of the damage was from the falling ceiling and only one side had severe explosion related damage."  He stood up.  "Good work.  Let me know when you have a suspect."   They nodded and he left them to get back to work.  He had to think about his new intern.  He called his house, getting the machine.  "Xander, call me when you get home?  Apparently I'm missing some of your internship reports from LA.  I didn't know you did more field hours there."  He hung up.  A few minutes later the receptionist for night shift walked in a stack of papers.  "What are these?"

"From LA, sir.  About Xander's internship out there?"  She smiled as she handed it over.  "He looked much better today.  Don't you think?"

"I do.  I'm glad he found an outfit that was acceptable.  Did you take down what number they came from?"

"Out there, sir.  The coversheet is LAPD."  She walked off, going back to her desk.

He looked at it, it was the LAPD one.  So apparently he had called someone.  He leaned back to read it over.  He had temped in for ten weeks of someone's maternity leave.  He had four field cases during that time.  Mostly overflow situations, which was what he said he wanted.  One of them did note that he had a problem with a fingerprint on a particular surface, then the addendum said that he had been running a fever of 103 that day and shouldn't have been in the field but that was the only way they knew he had been sick.  That raised an eyebrow but he kept going.  Those went into the folder with his other ones and he went back over the ones from San Diego.  They were objective, spelling out where Xander had problems, and how he liked to jump in if there was a problem.  The final report listed him capable of field work by himself if necessary.  "Interesting," he murmured, going back over his other internship files.  They all said the same thing.  No wonder he had reacted.  They all told him he was ready to do the work without much supervision and his lab were treating him like they would any normal intern.  He called Calleigh.  "First case tomorrow is yours.  I want to see how he handles ballistics when he's alone."  He hung up and filed the folder again.   He would definitely have to monitor the boy's first few times into the field.  Next week.  Let's give him authority slowly to make sure it didn't go to his head.  He got up and went home.  There wasn't anything else he could do tonight.  Not until DNA came up with something or not.


Xander walked into Horatio's office the next afternoon, handing him a letter.  "From Tim."  He walked out again.

Horatio shook his head, opening the letter.  He frowned at the simple message of 'he's supposed to have _how_ many hours?'   He counted it up and frowned, looking down at Xander's lab.  He had some quiet music on in there, nothing that bothered anyone.  He was working hard.  They had pulled a smuggling case this morning with guns and he had already cleared that case and Calleigh's case.  She would be checking over his shoulder that night.  He looked at the note again then went to get the sign-in sheets from reception.  "May I have the sign-in sheets for the last two weeks?"

"Is one of the interns skipping hours?" she asked, handing them over with a bright smile.

"Just checking."  He did the metal math.  One of them had been under by two hours thanks to a car accident but she had made them up this week already.  He took a post-it and wrote down the names and hours, making a note it was without lunch included for himself in case he forgot.  Then he did Eric's hours.  He was a good benchmark since Ryan's OCD made him stay late sometimes.  He did Calleigh's as a check against them.  He handed them back and walked the post-it off, holding it up so Calleigh could see.  She nodded, giving him a 'so' look.  "He is only supposed to have thirty plus time in trace," he noted.

"He worked most of yesterday in trace."

"He hasn't take a day off since he got here."

"Really?"  She frowned.  "No, he wasn't here last Tuesday morning when I was."

"Eric managed to lose him in the club.  Frank had him in interrogation waiting to see if he was a lab tech," he said dryly.  "I sent him home to eat after that.  That's already factored in."

She tapped a foot.  "Take it up with the boy, Horatio.  I'm not his momma."

"You're not, but we do have to monitor those things."

She patted him on the cheek with a bright grin.  "That's why you're the boss and have to do the paperwork."  She got back to work, ignoring Eric's snickering.  "He's worked the same amount of hours you have, Eric."

"Really?  I'm impressed then.  Can we pay him more?"

"No, Eric," Horatio said, going to talk to Xander.  He found him mopping.  "Clear?" he asked.  Xander looked over and nodded, turning off the music.  "It's not a problem, Xander.  It wasn't bothering anyone.  Did you look at the note from your roommate?"

"No.  I figured it was him asking when I got a day off."

"You should have two a week as an intern.  You should only be working thirty hours a week plus maybe ten or fifteen in trace."  Xander snorted and got back to his mopping.  "That is the way the program is designed."

"And again, I've worked before.  I'm not some kid who's never held down a job, Horatio.  That's why those rules were made."  He pointed at his stack of folders.  "I've been waiting for someone to come in looking.  Those are Ryan's smuggling case and the smaller one is Calleigh's newest case so she can check over my shoulder.  Do they need me in Trace?"

"No, they're all working there and chem," he admitted, moving closer.  "I still have to make you conform to the hours restrictions, Xander."

Xander looked at him.  "If I work overtime without pay that's my problem, Horatio.  Not yours.  It shows I know what a real workday is.  By the end of the internship all of us should be able to pull a full day's work."  He wrung out his mop and went back over the spot to clean up the dirty water he had created, then did it a second time.  "Nightshift had a powder spill back here so I'm cleaning it up."


"No, I tested it when I saw it was white powder.  Baby powder."  He finished it and went to dump the water and run clean so he could do a sanitizing mop as well.  He came back and found Horatio checking his day's work.  One report was already out to the side.  "Did I notate that one wrong?"

"A bit oddly."  He watched him finish mopping while he finishing checking on him.   He brought it over when he was done, letting Xander see where he had the problems.  "I'd rather you put that part into more scientific notation," he said quietly.

"Of course."  He walked over to the computer to do that, finding the report and pulling it over to reference the odd sections.  He fixed it and spell and grammar checked it before handing it over.  "That better?"

He read it over and nodded.  "Much better, Xander.  Thank you."  He smiled at him.  "You should still only be working thirty hours a week."  Xander gave him another look.  "I mean it."

"Boss, not like you have to worry about paying me overtime."

"I don't care.  The rules are there for your protection, so we don't overwork you."

Xander snickered.  "Horatio, this has nothing on working a full day of construction ten miles from the desert.  Please! I can and am pulling full time hours.  You need me to anyway."  He closed that report and looked at him.  "This is the job, boss.  Even if I am an intern."

"Yes, but that's the problem, Xander.  You are an intern.  If you were a normal tech it wouldn't be a problem.  I can get in trouble from my boss if you go over your expected hours."

"Then have him come to me.  I'll point out that I'm not some little kid who's never held down more than a fast food job, that I expect to be working full time hours, and even if I'm not paid for them this is how real workers are."

"He won't go for it, Xander."

"He will when he's reminded he doesn't have to pay me more than the thirty-hour stipend.  Free labor gets most bosses.  It did when I was one."  Horatio gave him a look.  "I was crew chief for just over a year."

"What would your workers have done?"

"Begged for a real paycheck.  I'm not."

"I noticed.  It's still not allowed."  Xander huffed and sat down, staring at him. "You're supposed to use this extra downtime to find out where you want to go after you finish with us."

"I've already made my preliminary list.  Tim's looking up various labs for me since he's not doing much right now."

"Interesting.  When are you sending out letters of interest?"

"Probably late next month.  He said that'd be a bit sooner than usual but that it should be fine and make me look good instead of overeager."

"What sort of work did Tim do before?"


"In what field?"  Xander shrugged.  "You two never talked about it?"

"He doesn't like to."

"I see.  Why don't you and Tim bring over your final list of choices?"  He watched for a moment of panic but none showed up.

"He's running them by Ryan."

"Mr. Wolfe has met your roommate?"

"He came over the other night after you dropped me off.  Tim couldn't hide fast enough."

"Ah."  He nodded at that.  "Perhaps he'd like to get to know your other coworkers?"

"He hates people," he reminded him.

"It might make him worry less."

"Maybe but probably not.  He tends to get a bit flustered when people come over. Besides, we're in the middle of wallpapering for the landlord at the moment."

"It's taking some of his rent off," Ryan said as he walked in.  "Calleigh was just in the gun locker, she said there was one without a case tag?"

"Someone left it on my porch."

"Oh.  Did we get anything off it?"  Xander found that report and handed it over, plus the others.  "Thanks.  Smuggling case?"  Xander grinned and nodded.  "Thanks for getting that done for me, Xander.  Anything else?"  He held up the other ones.  "I'll drop them off."  He went to do that, taking the one from Horatio's hand as well when it was held out.  "Thanks, boss."  He went to hand over everything.  "It was left on his porch this morning, Calleigh.  He said his neighbor knew he was a ballistics tech."

"Huh," Eric said, looking at him.  "You went to visit?"


"What's his roommate like?"

"A bit mean, more of the snarky mean.   He's got a good nag on him about Xander's clothes and things.  Did you get to see his club problem in action?"

"Twice," he said dryly.  "He referred the desperate women to me to discourage them.  I pointed out I'm a cop, he's one of ours, and they could not pay him.  They both stomped off and did it anyway, even though he complained."

"What?" Calleigh asked.

"The boy was out on the floor, dancing.  He's not horrible at it but he's no Dance America star or anything," Eric told her.  "He started dancing with this one girl, apparently she got turned on and decided he needed paid.  He refused.  She got insistent.  He sent her to me, I discouraged her.  She did it anyway.  He was complaining about making two hundred bucks right before the woman with the gun came in and I got knocked out."  He took his reports.  "Thanks, Wolfe."

"Welcome, Eric."  He looked at Calleigh.  "Tim made him take some of it to get his hair cut too.  Made him buy new underwear too.  He does nag.  He mother's him worse than Alexx can."

"Do you think they're together?" Eric asked.

Ryan considered it then shrugged.  "Maybe.  Or maybe moving there but not there yet.   Have you noticed Xander is extra cuddly?  I'm guessing it's what the girls did to him."

"Maybe," Eric admitted.  "As long as he doesn't hug me."

Calleigh snorted.  "He gives very good hugs, Eric.  He's done it to me twice now."  She smiled at Ryan.  "So, give.  Tim's keeping himself mysterious.  Is he disfigured from a lab accident?"

"No, it's more emotional pain," he told her.  "He goes out now and then with Xander.  Said he can't go out alone or else no one will ever find him."  He bent down to examine something.  He was quickly running out of ways to explain Tim to them without telling them who he was.  "Oh, he said he's doing strange stuff tonight for some reason.  He gave me a warning."

"Good to know," she decided, getting back to work.  She would nag Xander for information on Tim tomorrow.

Eric looked out at Horatio when he walked in.  "We're nearly done with this part of the investigation.  Want us to narrow down suspects tonight or tomorrow, H?"

"Tomorrow.  Go home soon, kids."  He went to his office.  He called a contact out at the school.  "Professor Destra, Horatio Caine.  No, he's fine so far.  A bit pushy.  He won't keep to interns hours.  Over.  Sixty this week so far," he admitted.  She giggled and only said 'sounds like him'.  "I'm worried about his roommate.  He seems to rely on him a great deal.  Do you know anything about him?"  He listened to what she said.  "It sounds like a personality clash.  No, he had a bad few days.  No, nothing like that.  Having to get pushy to get hours in Trace and wanting to go into the field."  He listened to her opinion of him doing that.  She had taught the field work classes.  "I did get something from the LAPD about his last time with them, the temping he did last semester."  He smiled at her assurance they were all gruff and lacking praise over there but the fact he had gotten a commendation for saving an officer's life made him happy.  "So you think he's ready?"  Her 'he's already been cleared for it and is past ready' made him nod.  "He wanted us to quit treating him like we do the other interns."   Her rant on that subject made him smile.  "As I pointed out.  Thank you.  Of course."  He hung up and leaned back to do some thinking about what she had said.  The boy had always distanced himself from the others with his maturity.  He had never shown any inclination to do the stupid college student things the others did.  Even over Spring Break.

She had said something odd.  He had worked full time while in school?  That wasn't in his file.  He called Xander's house.  "I had a question," he said at the curious grunt.  It sounded like someone was eating.  The phone was handed over with a quiet word he almost heard.  That voice made him frown.  "Xander, you didn't list a job while you were in school on your application."  He looked at it again.  "You did?  The job title is listed as yes?" he asked dryly.  He listened to him list all his job titles and duties.  "No, if they're not clearly spelled out then you didn't have to put it down.  I talked to Professor Destra.  Yes, about your stubborn nature.  Because you can't go into the field if you can't follow the rules, Xander.  One of the rules is your internship hours."  He heard the growl and smirked.  "Tough, Xander.  Those are the rules and we will follow them since you are an intern, like it or not."  He heard someone talking to Xander, calming him down, and nodded at the helpful suggestion but that voice was still setting off odd feelings in his head.  "Now, when you come in tomorrow we're going to work on your schedule starting next week.  If you can prove to me that you can do what you're supposed to then I'll allow you to start working the odd field cases."  He heard Tim again and Xander's sullen 'fine' made him happier.  "Thank you.  I'll see you tomorrow."  He hung up and went to head home. That boy was good for his lab but he was going to go insane if he had to keep butting heads with him.


Xander walked into the bar later that night.  It had taken him three hours of complaining to Tim to get ready to come here.  He was sure he could butt heads with Horatio in the morning but for now he had other purposes in life.  He looked at the bartender.  "The overlord?" he asked quietly.  He pointed at a corner booth.  "Thank you."  He glanced around then looked at him.  "He's in Miami?"

"The chits made him come according to him," he said dryly.

Xander kissed him hard.  "There, go do that to Spike to distract him for me please?  I don't want to deal with anything Sunnydale tonight."  He slid over a tip before walking out through those dancing.  He ran into a familiar female and kissed her too, whispering in her ear.  "Give that to Spike for me," he hissed.  "That way he only sees you."  She smiled at him.  "Please, Dru?  I'm here in peace and I don't want to deal with him."  She swayed over to her Spike and sat in his lap to kiss him.  He continued his trek, looking at the shocked and horrified demons.  "Yes, I'm here in town on an internship," he said dryly.  "The same as my professors made me get the degree out of San Francisco, but I'd rather be retired. So unless the world is bending over and begging for lube and a condom to be used before it gets plundered, I'm retired.  That good with you guys?"  They all nodded slowly, still looking horrified.  "Thanks.  By the way, if we need my other certificate, I'm available at night.  I'm sure someone knows where I live by now."  He pulled out his card and handed it over.  "My cell number.  My partner answers the other one.  Need anything more from me?"  They all shook their heads.  "Good, then I'm going back to my retirement."  He walked out the back door and headed around to the car, handing Tim the tape he had made.  "I'm done.  Spike's in town with Dru."

"Fuck."  He started the engine and backed out, heading out for the night. "You want to club?"

"No.  Not really.  You?"

"I could use some fun.  You can watch my back tonight."  He pulled into one he liked the looks of, letting Xander pay the cover.  "Any real problems?"

"I kissed the bartender and Dru so they'd go kiss Spike and distract him.  I don't think he even smelled me," he offered once they were inside.  That got a smug look.  "Not like I want to deal with that shit.  I'm retired. I made that clear to the overlord too.  I'll handle it if the world is asking it's rapist to use a condom and lube.  I'll handle it if it happens around me or to the lab.  There's an overlord for the rest of the mess."

"Works for me," he decided, taking him out onto the floor.  "Relax."

"I can't.  Calleigh's here," he said, nodding over to a darker corner.  "If not, she's got a naughty sister."

Tim looked then moaned and nodded, taking Xander back to the car.  He did not want to meet his former friends, not yet.  "That blows that theory."  Xander nudged him and pointed in a direction so he went that way.  They found a club out in the middle of nowhere that wasn't too crowded but had good music and was actually a gay club.  None of his team would be found dead in one so he was safe.  They got down onto the floor and let loose for now, him watching as Xander let the frustration bleed out of him into the air.


Horatio looked over as an officer came in.  "What's wrong?"

"Sir, Stetler just pounced your intern outside and started to scream at him?"

"Probably about something that happened at a club," he sighed, going to handle that.  "Enough!" he ordered at the continued yelling.  "We do not air these things in public, Rick."

"Your boy...."

"Has had this problem since he was nineteen," Xander assured him.  "The same as those reports you got sent from LA were them making sure that's what it was.  You can come watch me too if you need to.  Delko has twice now.  Wolfe has once too the night we went out.  Nothing happened that night thankfully but it still happened.  I turn every single one of them down.  I protest.  I try very hard to give it back and to make them go away.  Unfortunately I can't be a hermit because I'm a social person!" he finally yelled.  "It's not my fault they want to bury my ass as a present!"  He stomped off.  Two officers got out of his way.

Horatio looked at Rick.  "May I see the reports?" he asked quietly.  They were handed over with a glare and a thinned-lip look.  He looked them over then nodded.  "I've seen it happen.  The night he and Eric went out he tried to help him get away from them as well.  It's why he's been kidnaped a few times, Rick."  He handed it back.  "I saw it at the conference as well."   The glare got turned up.  "It is not his fault.  It is not something he can control."

"He can not go out clubbing," he sneered.

"One night I had to rescue him because he was looking for a used car and some woman kidnaped him to make him buy new clothes, Rick.  She had him in handcuffs.  She had a gun on him at first."  That got a gape.  He moved closer.  "It is not the boy's fault.  He does everything he can to make them leave him alone.   He managed to get taken during the conference as well.  We spent part of the last night there searching for him."   Rick stomped off. "I can have him start reporting when it happens if you want," he called after him.  Then he went to find Xander.  He couldn't find him or his car.  "Boys, did you see my intern?" he asked one of the guards.

"He's in the gym beating the crap out of something, Lieutenant.  Bad personal news?"

"Someone gave him something at a club and it's causing friction," he said quietly.  The officer smirked.  "Not that sort, officer.  Someone gave him a check."  He walked into the gym, looking around.  One of the guys pointed at the room with the boxing ring and the heavy bags so he went back there.  He saw Xander was indeed working out his stress and frustration on the heavy bag.  He looked very good at it too.  "Xander?" he called quietly.

"If this keeps up, I'm quitting and going to Canada," he said while he worked on his anger issues.

Horatio came in further, watching him.  "Calm down.  He was making sure you weren't doing illegal things."

Xander glared at him.  "No he wasn't!  He flat out accused me of being a pro, Horatio.  Said I was an ugly one too and asked how much I charged."  Horatio moaned.  "I'm filing a complaint about him later.  I'm working on my anger before I do that.  Anything else?  I need to be alone or else I might lash out at others."

"I know you did nothing illegal, Xander."

Xander snorted and turned to fully face him.  "If you actually gave a damn about me that might mean something.  It's nice that my supervisor knows I'm not a dirty officer but do I care at the moment or is it helping?"  Horatio looked stunned.  "Then the answer is no and I need to finish wearing this out.  Apparently coming to Miami was one hell of a mistake.  Tim is not picking the next spot."  He went back to it with a vicious side kick at the bag, muttering the whole time.

"We don't feel it is, Xander," he said calmly.

Xander snorted.  "Clearly you do, Horatio.  You don't appreciate me or my skills.  You keep trying to make me like every other little robot intern on the planet who's unsure of their skills."  He backhanded it and weathered the pain when his wrist popped and started to swell.  It was okay, he'd get over it.  He didn't use that hand anymore but it was fine.  He still had another one and two feet.

Horatio watched him, then moved closer.  "Xander.  Stop."

"Nope.  Not done yet.  I haven't worked out in a few weeks.  I have to fix the ceiling so it'll hold the heavy bag."  Horatio grabbed him and he flipped him, staring down at him.  "It's never wise to grab someone while they're mad and trying to get it out of their system before they hurt someone," he pointed out.  "I'm sure if you were in here Eric wouldn't have grabbed you."  He walked off, going to the locker room, where he grabbed his sunglasses.  He found Calleigh in the lab.  "I'm off today, right?" he asked before walking off.  It wasn't that hard to go out and get into his car then head downtown.  He walked into the main office and looked at the secretary.  "Where do I file harassment and illegal conduct charges against an officer?"

"IAB, sir."

"It was one of them," he said coolly.   She pushed a button on her phone.  "Thank you.  I don't mean to take it out on you."  She smiled at that.   An older man walked out of an office.  "I'm CSI Intern Harris," he said, holding out his good hand.  "I need to file a misconduct and harassment complaint against an IAB officer Stetler please."

"This way, Intern Harris."  He let him into his office, watching him sit down.  "What happened?"

Xander wrote down a phone number.  "Call him and ask him for the files from LA please.  I have some sort of unnatural gift that bothers the shit out of me which Stetler used to accuse me of being a prostitute in front of the station at the top of his lungs.  In front of other officers."  The man moaned.  "Among other things.  That's the number to the IAB office out at the LAPD.  They've handled that issue in the past and have multiple accounts of it.  They sent them to Stetler for some reason.  He used them to jump me on my way in this morning."

"Let me call to get what they have and we'll see what we can do to rectify this situation."

"I'm thinking a shotgun up his asshole at the moment," Xander admitted.  "Since he just made it impossible for me to work with any officers on the force and I do have a minor in field work, sir."

He nodded.  "I can see how that's a problem, son.  Calm down."

Xander stared him down.  "I am calm," he assured him.  "I spent a good thirty minutes on the heavy bag before I came here.  This is as calm as you're getting because if I get angry again something's going to rip him to shreds."   The boss looked stunned.  "I also was forced to get the small certificate from San Francisco's new school, sir.  I'm sure I can call in a favor or three."

"All right, I can see this is distressing you.  We'll figure out what we're doing, young man."  He called out there.  "This is Chief Johnson, Miami-Dade.  I have a CSI Intern Harris here...."  He nodded. "That's what he said.  Please.  Our IAB office had some questions about him and he's here to talk about it.  Thank you, sir.  Your name?"  He wrote it under the number.  "Thank you for your cooperation."  He hung up.  "They offer you money?"

"Money and jewelry in the past with some limited ones taking me for their own perverse pleasure, which seems to be shopping most of the time."  That got a single nod.  Xander shrugged.  "I don't know why and I'd like it to stop.  I can't stop it and I'm one of those people who need to be around people or I go insane.  If I go insane I'll help destroy the world."

The Chief smiled and nodded.  "I know others, son.  Let me get the forms they're faxing over.  They had our fax number."  He went to gather them, bringing them and the complaint form back.  "Okay, what did he say?"  Xander slumped and repeated it.


Calleigh looked up when Xander came in that afternoon.  "What the hell are you doing?" she demanded quietly.

He glared at her.  "I got jumped by Stetler this morning before I could make it into the building, where he decided to put me down in front of all the officers who could hear within three thousand feet."  She went pale.  "He also called me a whore and other things.  So I went to blow off some steam then I went to file a complaint against him.  Now, what am I doing today?  Here or trace?" he asked calmly.

"Horatio wants to see you first."

"I don't care."  She gaped at him.  "He tried to interrupt me while I was calming down.  He actually tried to grab me while I was working it out of my system," he said coolly.  "I'm trained to kill people."  She sat down and he put on his coat.  "Now, where are we in today's lineup?" he asked.

"Um, one in the scope I'm working on.  Go do the test fires."  He nodded, taking the two guns that way to do that.  She called Horatio.  "He's here.  He said he just got done filing a complaint against someone?"  She nodded.  "He said that."  She glared toward the firing pen.  "No, he's doing test fires.  He said he wasn't, Horatio.  Because he said he's trained to kill people and you tried to grab him when he was trying to keep himself from following his instincts."  She hung up.  "Xander, Horatio's on his way down."

"That's fine.  I'm here.  Firing one."  He did that and came out with the bullet, going to get to work on his scope.  She left and Horatio walked in, closing the door.  "By now you should have realized that grabbing me was probably not the best idea."  He glared at him.  "I'm trained to kill and I have combat experience, Horatio," he noted quietly.  "You knew that."

"I did.  It was wrong of me to grab you that way, Xander.  I'm very happy you only threw me.  Now, let's talk reasonably."  Xander sat down, arms crossed when he looked at him.  "Thank you.  You do know I believe you.  That I've seen this problem of yours in action."  He nodded.  "Then why did you lash out at me this morning?"

"Because you 'poor babying' me didn't help any, Horatio.  It sounded a lot like you were on his side but saying platitudes to be nice."

"I don't do that."

"Sorry but the people I was raised by did.  I heard enough of that before."

"I can understand that.  I also know you're still angry and frustrated."

"How in the hell am I supposed to be able to work with any of those officers and get any damn respect when he did that!" he shouted.

"I know, Xander.  Calm down.  I did tell one officer the truth.  You had been given a check in the club and not done anything to earn it.  By now that story has been sent around too.  It will mitigate what Rick yelled at you."

"I filed a complaint anyway," he said dryly.

Horatio nodded.  "That's not an easy path to take."

"You'd rather I have him eaten?"

"No," he admitted, moving closer, giving him a sideways look.  "I'd rather that you calmed down, Xander."

"I am calm."

"You're not calm.  Your body posture says that you're not calm.  I think we need to clear some things up but I can't do that until you're calmer," he said gently, quietly and slowly.

"You're talking to me like I'm a toddler again," he noted dryly, putting his hands on the table.  "I don't need a time out either."

"You could probably use one," he said, staring him down.  "Fine, we'll hash this out like I would with the boys.  Your conduct this morning and the things you said were out of line."

"No, they were the truth, Horatio."  He stood up and pulled out Calleigh's copy of the reports.  "You never counted hours, did you? Tim did it on me the other night.  Except for about fifty hours of trace for my minor I've done enough hours to get out of my internship."  Horatio frowned at that.  He nodded. "Yeah, me.  Jumping in works that way, Horatio.  You don't appreciate my skills.  You don't, they don't, no one here does.  You don't appreciate me either.  I tried damn hard to be impressive enough to earn respect.  I didn't.  I never have.  To this damn day.  Why in the hell should I put myself through this?"

Horatio put down the folder, staring at him for a minute.  "There's still things you could learn."

"You're right but you're not interested in teaching me."

"If this is about your disability...."

"You wouldn't even know about it if I hadn't told you," he interrupted.  "Next time I won't make that mistake.  I knew I had a small battle on my hands because of it but this is ridiculous.  Any other intern, you don't check every case.  By now you should be checking every five or ten.  You're not, she's not, and Ryan is the only one who is, probably because he's so backed up at the moment.  So either you think I can't do the job or you think that missing an eye makes me some sort of special needs case who can't handle a real job.  Again, something I tried to counter by being my usual impressive self.  I got enough of that from the girls I left when they went to Cleveland, Horatio.  I'm a fucking tech, treat me  like one.  Outside of a physical you can't tell I'm missing an eye.  No one can.  Not even night shift when they asked me to stay over one night and I ended up going out into the field to help collect samples and bullets."  Horatio frowned at that.  "Maybe you should ask her.  She at least treated me like all the other grunt labor.  You treat me like I'm Rainman.  Hate to break it to you, boss, but I'm not.  One glass eye does not automatically rot my other skills."

"I can understand that, Xander.  I don't mistrust you in the field.  You said you wanted that to be your minor."

"It is!  Doesn't mean I can't do it!"

"Calm down."

"No!"  He sat down again.  "No, I'm sorry, but no.  I have no reason to calm down.  Find one thing I've done wrong.  Anything.  Yes, I dumbed down a report, oooh, that's a damn bad thing," he said facetiously when Horatio opened his mouth.  "I've fucking well walked into hell, literally, Horatio.  I think I can handle going into the field when there might be a mafia or gang hit on the lab.  The same as I'm pretty sure I can do a hell of a lot more than you think but you never ask."

"I would but I keep getting odd things shoved at me."

"Welcome to my life!" he snorted.  "What do you think I did to earn my combat experience?"  Horatio nodded at that.  "Coming to Miami was a mistake.  Tim's not comfortable here because it's got bad memories for him.  You guys don't appreciate me or my skills.  Hell, if Sascha wasn't out there she'd be better here.  At least then Calleigh would know how to interact with her.  She's afraid to joke and laugh with me.  The only person around here who doesn't make me feel like I'm wearing a sign that says 'I'm retarded, watch out for me' is Ryan.  He's got his own version of it though so I guess it's outcasts forming a solidarity pack."

"I don't want to treat either of you like that."


"Really."  He looked at him.  "What happened to your hand?"


"It's swollen and looks broken."

Xander looked then shrugged and looked at him.  "It's fine.  I can use the hand if I have to.  It's not getting in the way of work.  Most likely it's a dislocated bone in my wrist."  He shrugged again.  "I've had worse and still went to work with it."

"Most techs would have went to the ER and gotten at least a brace," he said quietly.

"Yeah, well, I'm not most techs, Horatio.  There's the one area I'll never fit in.  I'm not going to lose my sense of humor and fun.  Hell couldn't do it, a lab sure as hell won't."  That got a grim look.  "Yes, I got told to quit telling bad jokes the other day.  Not even sexist ones."

"I heard about that.  Natalia can be a bit picky," he admitted.  He cleared his throat.  "I wanted you to come in today so we could work on these issues you're seeing, Xander.  Yes, you're probably ready for more responsibility but I did not realize you had already done all your internship hours."  Xander shrugged.  "It would matter."

"Not to you it didn't.  You knew I had temped in."

"I did.  I'm very proud that you did."  Xander gave him that 'don't bullshit me' look again.  "I am.  Not many techs could or would have done that."

"I got bored and it was a small paycheck."

"Which is reasonable."  He cleared his throat.  "We both have a lot of things we need to work out.  The first being that I don't see you as handicapped because of your eye.  I am wary about whether or not you can handle being in the field if something were to happen."

"It did with Griffy and I still managed to protect him."

"I heard that."  He moved a step closer.  "Can you please finish calming down now?"

"I am.  This is as calm and happy as you're getting today."

"Fine.  I can agree that this morning was a horrible event in your career."  Xander tapped his fingers on the table.  "It was.  I'm sure it won't impact things."

"Really?  Because one of the guys on the way in after I got done didn't ask how much I charged?"  Horatio nodded at that.  "Yes, I shot back at him as well."

"Thank you.  It would probably help you a lot if we could get that rumor started."

"Can I behead him for it?"  Horatio shook his head.  "Then it won't stop.  He can do it behind my back and behind yours.  The same way he has you and Eric."  Horatio frowned at him.  "A few of the patrol guys took me aside my first weekend here to talk to me about some of the rumors going around about the lab.  They all said they didn't believe it but they still felt the need to warn me."  He stood up again.  "Decide, Horatio.  I'm a damn good tech and you're not using me.  You don't appreciate my skills in the least.  I'm like some well-learned robot to you most of the time so far."

"You're not."

"I am."

"You're not, Xander.  If I had remembered you had explosives experience I would've taken you to help gather at that scene."

"Who put the model together, Horatio?"

"Ryan said you did."

"Ryan also said that you told him he had done good doing it.  Which was your first compliment to him in most of three months."   Horatio swallowed and nodded.  "I'm not asking for special treatment, boss.  Just acknowledge that I'm there and doing the work maybe?  That I have some damn bit of sense and maybe that I might have a clue?"  His phone rang and he looked at it.  "What?  Not a good time, Timmy.  No, I'm not a happy camper," he said blandly.  "Why?"  He groaned.  "Can't the overlord take care of that?   Fine.  Whatever.  Have it waiting on me when I get there."  He hung up.  "The other speciality is calling for me.  Something's downtown at a hotel eating things.  Am I excused?"

"As long as you get that wrist looked at."

Xander snorted.  "You're still not my father, Horatio.  It's nothing.  It's not like it's something digging into my back to pull a lung out without breaking ribs or something."  He took off his jacket and walked off shaking his head.  Ryan opened his mouth.  "Other speciality calling," he noted dryly.  "Then I'm going to get fucking drunk and forget that I'm alive."  He stabbed the button for the elevator, taking his hand back when Ryan took it to look over.  "It's fine."

"It's broken."

"It's a small bone dislocation.  It's fine."  He got onto the elevator and headed down to get into his car and head off.  Tim met him at the house with his usual sword and case.  "Thank you."


"Is fine."

"Okay.  I'll look at it later."

Xander looked at him.  "Find us another city, okay?  Somewhere they actually like and appreciate me."  He got back in and slammed the car door, heading down to deal with the issue.  The hotel's manager gave him an odd look.  "People and sofa eating thing?" he asked dryly.

"Upstairs, second floor in the tea room, sir."

"Thank you."

"There's two officers in there with it to keep it from coming out."

"That's fine."  He walked up there, tapping on the door before walking in.  He looked at it.  "You in heat?" he asked dryly, dropping his case.  He slammed the door when the demon roared and lunged for the officers, jumping between them to cut the thing into bait chunks.  When he was done he went to his case to get a cloth to calmly wipe off his blade then a bag for the chunks.  He tossed it at one of the officers.  "Pick it up so we can finish killing it.  Otherwise it'll pull a T3 and regenerate."  The officer whimpered so he came over to do it for them.  When he was done he put the sword back onto his back, picked up his case in his bad hand, his bag in the other, and walked out.  "All done, carpet should be cleaned.  Use peroxide then like normal once all the crap's gone," he told the hovering manager.  He nodded.  "Should be fine.  He was halfway through a chair when I walked in."  He dumped the bag and case in the trunk of the car and headed out to dispose of the body parts in the Everglades.  Nothing would eat them but the water would keep it from regenerating and maybe the leeches would like them.  He finished shaking out the bag and got back into the car, heading for the house.  He walked in and to the fridge, taking one of Tim's beers, then headed to the basement to work on the ceiling so he could put up his heavy bag.

Tim locked the doors and went down to follow him.  "What happened?"

"Someone sent Stetler the file from LA.  He called me a whore in front of the station at the top of his lungs.  That was the start of the good day.  Where are we moving to?"

"Are you sure we have to?"

"Probably should.  Not like your buddies like me, Tim.  They don't appreciate me, my skills, or anything about me.  Since I just had to slay something in front of officers it's only going to get worse," he said with fake cheer.  "So I'm going to do this and then I'm going to get drunk for the second time in my life."

"No, don't."  He came down and held the boy, letting him struggle for a few minutes but he eventually calmed down.  "It'll be okay, Xander.  I promise it will."

"Why did we come down here?"

"It's a good lab and you could use the other skills they could teach you."

"I'm an outcast and the only person who actually likes me is the other lab outcast.  I'm not learning more than how to be pissed at people and how bad working for a department can be."  Tim gave him a squeeze.  "Can we move to Canada now?"

"We'll try it when you're done with this internship.  You're stronger than this, Xander."

"No I'm not.  I'm too damn tired to fight anymore.  That's why I wanted to retire."  He got free and went back to working on getting his heavy bag up.  Speed took his hand. "I dislocated the little bones this morning when I was beating the gym's heavy bag."

"That's fine."  He heard someone pounding and groaned.  "Go get that?"

"Nope."  They kept going.  "If they break the door they're going to fix it."  His phone rang and he looked at it.  "Looks like it's Eric."

"I need to talk to him anyway," Speed muttered.  "Answer it."

Xander answered it.  "What, Eric?  Is someone dying?"  He listened to him.  "I don't care at the moment.  Gee, do you?  Really?"  He hung up and handed over his phone.  "You talk to him.  I'm tired of this damn city."  He finally got it braced so he could hang the bag and did that, starting off slowly working out some of the stress and frustration.

Speed sat on the stairs, texting a message to Eric's phone.  He knew Xander needed the swift kick solution but he wasn't the only one anymore.  He got one back and snorted, answering it.  Then he turned it off and watched his partner work out the anger and frustration.  He needed to.  He'd break later on but for now Xander needed this.  He heard someone else knocking and groaned.  "Xander, door."

Xander quit moving and looked up then went to answer it.  "I'm not dealing with people right now, Ryan.  I don't care.  I haven't cared all day.  So leave me alone before I have to kill something else."  He shut the door and went back to the basement.


To part 2: