Xander found the message on his windshield to come inside, groaning as he trudged in there. He signed in and headed to find Horatio in his office with John and Frank waiting. "What did she tell you? Sex in the park? Sex on the docks? Sex right before an apocalypse?"
"You nearly killing a few Feds by letting them nibble your lunch," Frank told him.
"I was in the other room working on something for them," Xander defended. "It's not my fault they nibbled on my lunch. Besides, who else were they going to call about a demonic arms dealer with seven arms?"
John smirked at him. "You didn't mention that at all, kid."
"No one asked. I thought the LA evaluations would include theirs."
"No, it didn't," Horatio told him. "I did call out there to get one from them." He handed it over. Xander snickered at the large 'he's a smartass, watch out for the t-shirts, don't eat his cooking' written across the top of the paper. He looked at him. "You could count those hours."
"No I can't. It was undercover, I can't count them because they're not lab related. Just good experience and a crossover from my work with Angel." He sat down. "What else did she tell you?"
"She blew you while Delko and Wolfe were watching her?" Frank asked.
Xander thought back. "They were there?" They all nodded. "Huh. Well, not the first time. Anya used to like to jump me wherever she could. People and little kids or animals watching never bothered her and she made real sure I wasn't ever going to be shy again. What else?"
"Care Bear convention," he defended. "She considers them terrorists."
Horatio coughed, flipping the page on the evaluation. "Intern Harris was most helpful in the apprehension of Salid Al Mufat," Horatio read. Xander groaned, covering his face. "After said man on the Watch List had taken him for his opinions on sports to try to straighten him out and to add to his personal harem...." He looked at him. "He did realize you weren't female?"
"Yeah, he was going to castrate me until I pointed out I was snipped, no kids possible." He gave him a look. "I was in Hollywood at a club with Cordy, who was still trying to be an actress. He saw me there. He heard someone talking to me about soccer and basketball and decided I was warping Cordy and that should be stopped. So he took me. Fortunately I can act scared shitless very well but I did covet his weapons collection and we talked about various missile systems for the three days he had me. The FBI agent was even nice enough to write me an excuse for my psych final I missed."
John shook his head. "Anything else we should know about?"
He looked at the list of topics to ask about then at him. "She didn't tell you about the weekend vacation Angel sent us on to get us away from him for a while? She made him groan more than I did so he sent us to tour wine country and a chocolate factory. She squealed and tried to jump into a vat, tugging me along no matter how much I tried to stop her. The owner of the plant agreed I had been trying to stop her and the cops were *very* nice when they heard her plans to pounce me in the chocolate so we could have hyperactive sex. Because chocolate still makes me bouncy." Frank turned around to laugh against the window. "Not kidding." He looked at Horatio. "I thought it'd be in the stuff LA sent since I couldn't count it for hours. I concentrated on what I could count for hours with the stuff I handed you at first, Horatio. I'm sorry if you're upset. I was a good boy with them too. I was very helpful and only snarked back at one asshole who didn't know why they brought me in. Then again it was the same guy who stole me back from Mufat."
"You do know that Delko and Wolfe might get in trouble for letting her cook for you?"
"I'm very appreciative they did. Tan's a great cook and I can spend this paycheck to fix the car instead." He looked at John, shrugging a bit. "I was asleep, Detective. I didn't even know they were there. Or else I wouldn't have let her blow me with them watching."
"You're never going to be allowed to date again, kid," Frank told him dryly.
"I want to raise dogs. It's safer, Detective Tripp. She was my most normal girlfriend to date." He stood up. "How much more teasing do I have to put up with?"
"I think Delko was looking at it as blackmail when your t-shirts gave him a migraine," John told him, staring him down.
"Everyone needs some levity," Xander corrected. "It makes the long, bad days go a bit faster and easier." Everyone's but his phone went off. "I can go back to work?"
"Horatio," Horatio answered, holding up a finger to stop him. "I'll be right there." He hung up. "I turned that bribe in to IAB here and had Rick send it back to LA so they'd know. I did point out you weren't associated with the case and he made note of that. You may have to give a statement about that." Xander nodded, going back to serious. John and Frank left. "Did you find out who the other was?"
"Yeah, she was a feature dancer Tan used to work with who called herself Sweetie Pie. I sent it back with a nice letter about how long distance relationships never worked and I wasn't going to get time off from work for at least a year."
"That'll work. Go to work, I've already told Bob we were calling you in to talk about your ex." He stood up. "We have a bank robbery."
Xander grimaced, holding his head. "That's the case."
Horatio stared at him then nodded. "Understood."
"Probably not. If I think I do, I'll call." Xander nodded, heading out to try to start his car and go to the satellite lab. He walked out, finding him kicking the side of his car. "Won't start?"
"Go work in ballistics then, Xander. I'll tell Bob on the way to the bank." He got into his hummer, watching Xander grab some things from the trunk and head back in. He called Speed's phone. "Give it to Bob." He backed out, turning on the lights and sirens when he was going forward. "It's Horatio. Xander's working in ballistics here today. No, his ex was a fugitive after she escaped her mental confinement," he said, pulling onto the main road. "She had killed twenty-one people, was convicted of killing sixteen, and they sent her for mental help, Bob. She showed up to cook for Xander and get sex last night. We needed a final statement. His car won't start. So I'm letting him work with us today because we have a bank robbery that Eric nearly got shot during. I'll send him over when Calleigh's done with him." He hung up, speeding up now that his full attention was on the road.
Xander was rubbing his forehead again, making Calleigh give him wary looks. "Gun?" he asked finally.
"We're finished with all the guns, Xander."
"No, I need a gun." He went into the exemplar to grab one, loading it quickly and coming out, staring at the elevator. It opened and he went into slow motion movement. He saw the guys coming out with automatic weapons. "Freeze, Miami-Dade PD!" he yelled, pulling up his. Others came out to stop them with him. He got one in the leg. Another one tried to break the line and got hit in the stomach. The other tried to get into the elevator. He ran after him and pounced him against the far wall, knocking him out. He pushed the button and got them off, handing him over. "Here, I think he's yours," he told Horatio, handing Calleigh the gun. "I'll start the paperwork," he said at the odd looks he was getting. He slunk back into ballistics.
"Okay, what happened?" Eric demanded.
"I don't know. He was antsy. He asked for a gun. He loaded one. He came out, and two minutes later I hear him yell!" Calleigh complained.
Horatio looked at her. "You heard him the other day, Calleigh," he said quietly. "Skater, video game? Lab assault?" he hissed in her ear. She gave him a horrified look. He nodded. "Go help him with the post shooting paperwork. Clean this area up," he ordered. "I want them in interrogation now! Alexx can have the one who's dead." They went to do that, getting back to work.
Eric stopped him by grabbing his arm. "He said what?"
"He has visions," he said very quietly, staring at him. "He had one about this the last time he was in. All he knew was skaters, video game, and a lab assault." He looked at his suit. "And me wearing black."
Eric let him go. "He's blessed."
"He said his ex Cordelia cursed him," he admitted.
"I guess it can be. This must be about the robbery." He went to help where he could. He was a victim so he couldn't directly work the case. Ryan and Calleigh had no end of evidence. He went to help Xander with the paperwork since Calleigh was busy, clapping him on the back. "You okay?"
Xander looked at him. "I hunted for nearly eleven years total, Eric. It's not the first time I've had to hurt something. The first time I've had to hurt people but not the first time I've had to fire on something. Thanks for asking though." The lab phone rang. "Ballistics, Intern Harris speaking," he said, sounding professional. "No, Speed, it's all right. The three guys were stopped before they got much farther than the elevator." He listened to him rant, groaning a bit. "Speed, really. Not even a scratch here. Here, talk to Eric. He was nearly shot this morning at the bank." He handed it over, getting back to the very long paperwork. Stetler stomped in so he pointed at the gun. "I borrowed it from the exemplar." He looked at him. "You heard me when I had it. Do you want me to include that in this paperwork or in another set?"
Stetler looked at him. "Do it regulation. Let me weed it out." Xander went back to fix one entry then went back to what he had done. "You fired how many shots?"
"Five. Then one got back into the elevator so I pounced him into the wall. He might have a concussion," he said as he typed. He had to backspace and fix a word then went on. "Before you ask, the correction was me not putting my middle name on the form. I was trying to avoid that."
"You don't use your middle name?" Eric teased.
"I don't like my middle name. Different things bother different people." He frowned, going back to reading the next section. He looked at him then pointed. "Can I just put a no there? I mean, they were in the building. What did they want me to do? Scream and faint?"
"Put that there. The review board will adore it," Stetler said dryly.
"Horatio will spank you, stay clinical and cold," Eric ordered.
Xander nodded, citing his reasons why he had to fire a weapon in the police station. When that one was done, there was another one waiting on him. "Jesus, I thought the FBI had paperwork when you gave an agent food poisoning," he complained, filling out the same information on that form.
"I heard," Eric assured him.
Xander looked at him. "I'm sorry you had to watch her blow me while I was half asleep. If I had realized you guys were there I would've stopped her. But thank you for letting her cook. I need to fix my car. It won't start." He went back to the form. "How do I up the font?" he asked finally. "I don't have my small text glasses with me." Stetler did it for him. "Thank you." He got back to work, growling at the next one. He glared at Stetler. "Can't you photocopy?"
"No." He pointed at the computer. "Finish up. You've still got work out there I'm sure."
"I probably do. I still need a ride and a tow for my car since it won't start." He got back to work. "That's why I'm here today."
"No premeditation?" Stetler demanded.
"Horatio had to give me a ride home last night, Stetler. I was dead tired and he put me to sleep on my couch. Then my ex showed up. The sex was still good while we waited for someone to come pick her up. I came in this morning to be teased over whatever embarrassing stories she had told about me and when I went to leave my car wouldn't start. Horatio told me to stay here today."
"Which is a good thing. Boa Vista was alone in evidence with the door open," Calleigh said from the doorway. "They probably would've killed her if you hadn't stopped them." She came in to give him a hug. "I know you don't like her."
"Feeling's mutual," he complained. "No mush at work. You told me I couldn't be mushy."
She played with his hair. "I know I did. You've done a good job today." She looked at the form. "Only six more," she teased.
He looked around her at Stetler. "It's the same form, can't you photocopy it already?"
"No. It's to make sure you won't do it again," he said smugly.
"Fine, next time I won't save anyone's life," he complained. He got back to work, letting Calleigh and Eric talk over his head about what was going on with that case. "My question is how did they get up here?" They all quit talking so he looked at them. "If we have to sign in each time we leave the lab to go pee in the locker room, how did three guys with guns get up into the elevator?"
"The receptionist was on lunch and no one had taken her spot," Calleigh told him. He just nodded. "She's incredibly pissed at her replacement for not showing up. She came up to throw herself at Horatio's mercy already. Good question, Xander." He barked. She and Eric both laughed, making her give him another hug. "Only a few more. Then you can go back to your own lab." He nodded, sighing a bit as he got back to work.
"You forgot, he has to give a formal statement," Stetler told them. "Especially since he saw them first."
"Duh, I saw them a few days ago," Xander said dryly. He glared at him. "First you think I premeditated it and then you ignore it? Pick a stance, dude, you're dancing like you're on hot coals." He went back to work on the paperwork. "I'm glad this isn't on paper forms. It'd denude a forest for one incident." He finally finished and hit the next button, which sent it. "There! Now can I go play with my guns?"
"Statement," Stetler said, pointing at the hallway. "We'll use Caine's office." Xander trudged that way, shaking his head at the looks he got. He followed him. "You're right, next time don't save anybody."
"I've been doing it now for years. It's a hard habit to get out of," Xander complained. He walked into Horatio's office, flopping down on his couch. "Before you say a word, you might as well get Horatio up here."
"He'll hear it later." He faced him down, then found the form he needed in the filing cabinet and a pen. "As a matter of not going on the record, when did you know this was the case?"
"When Horatio got the call that it was a bank robbery. My car still wouldn't start this morning. He caught me kicking it in frustration."
Rick looked at him. "Convenient."
"No, it's a POS car. It does this every few days. I need a new POS car with different problems. Something in the humidity gums up the engine somehow."
"Uh-huh." He made a note of that on a post-it, putting it on top of the form. "When did you know there was a problem?"
"I got antsy right before they came off the elevator. You can put it down to combat trauma and a bad shit radar if you want. It works better than my gaydar does."
Stetler looked at him. "No joking."
"I'm not. I've caught snipers the same way. I have a very good spidey sense." He shrugged then looked outside. "Speaking of snipers." He pointed. "Who's that?"
Stetler came over to look then called someone. "There's a body in a tree at the end of the parking lot with a rifle," he noted. "Go find out who and arrest them if they're alive." He hung up, watching as officers ran out. The guy didn't move. One of them climbed up the tree while they watched, then shook his head. "Someone posed a dead body in a tree with a rifle? Why?"
"Taunting. I could do this and you didn't even see me," Xander said bluntly, looking at him. "I had to study some serial killer stuff because of my ex. Have you talked to her yet?"
"I saw the tapes," he admitted, going back to the report. Alexx was on her way out there with a bag. They'd get him down somehow. "So, how long before they came out of the elevator?"
"Five minutes at the most. I started to get a headache too. So I asked for a gun. Calleigh got confused. I went to load a gun. I was in the doorway for about a minute when they came out. Masks, guns held up. No way were they dropping off evidence. So I shouted, as is protocol, and one took a shot. I shot back, got one in the leg. I got another in the stomach, that's when Horatio and Eric showed up, with Ryan right behind them. One of them got him in the chest, the guy with the leg shot got it from Horatio if I remember right, he took him in the shoulder. I think Horatio or Eric shot the dead guy at about the same time. I sorta kinda saw Horatio move out of the corner of my eye. The last guy ran. I pounced him in the elevator and ran his head into the wall."
Stetler finished making that note, looking at him. "You did shout?"
"Yeah. Miami-Dade PD, freeze. That's protocol, right?"
"That's protocol, even when it happens inside the station," he agreed, writing that down. "I'm sure the tapes will back you up?"
"They should. I guess." He shrugged. "I'm very photogenic now and then so they should." Stetler gave him a dirty look. "Sorry, can't help it. It helps ease the tension."
Stetler stared at him. "First human?" Xander nodded. "If you have to be sick, aim for the trash can."
"I've got my puke later reflexes down pat, Stetler. It happens after every fight."
"That's probably a good sign."
"I'd hope so but it makes dinner interesting some nights."
"Sorry. It's how I'm made." He looked over as Eric came in with his forms. "Were we supposed to print those out? I hit the next button and it sent them."
Stetler grabbed the phone to call someone. "Put a hold on Harris' paperwork," he ordered. "He didn't print them out for prior approval. I'm doing that now." He listened, then groaned. "I told him to put that in there," he said. He glared at Harris.
"You told me to include that," he defended. "I'm not getting the glared at look for that. It's not like you told me to print it and not send it."
"Fine." He listened. "Exactly. No, his car wouldn't start this morning. I'm going over that right now, sir. Yes, sir. Yes, sir, him. Thank you, sir." He hung up. "It was referred to the Chief. He likes you?"
"He met me after Wes had me knocked out and put into the storage closet."
"Interesting." He went back to it, taking Delko's paperwork to look over. "How many shots did you fire?"
"I think three, I haven't done a bullet count to make sure." Xander reached over to take his gun and do it for him. "That'll work since you are a ballistics tech."
Xander finished. "Including the one in the chamber he has six bullets." He looked at it. "This is a nine shooter?" he asked Eric, who nodded. "They do make a fifteen clip," he admitted, handing it back once it was reloaded. "I did not chamber one."
"That's fine," Stetler told him, marking that on Eric's form. "Get Caine's gun for me." Eric went to do that. He looked at him. "Did it look like a fifteen clip?"
"I have God's own headache at the moment. My sight's a bit blurry. It's a good thing I can touch type," he said quietly.
"No, this is instead of the puking."
"Lay down if you need to. There's only seven more questions."
"Can't you put 'see page' and a number with a question number?" Xander laid down, holding his head. Horatio walked in his gun, letting him do a bullet count. "Four shots off his clip, counting the one in the chamber." He reloaded and handed it back. "Didn't chamber one, Horatio."
Horatio stared at him for a minute. "The tylenol's in the second desk drawer, Rick." He got it and tossed it over, letting Xander take a few dry. "When you're done...."
"I have to check in at the other lab," Xander said firmly. "I'm not making someone else do my damn work. You know me better than that by now. Besides, Speed called to fuss already."
"That's fine," Horatio said calmly. "I can call and check."
"I'm fine. It's just a headache. Cordy's visions nearly ripped her brain apart."
"Why?" Stetler asked.
Xander looked at him. "Because the Powers hated her in different ways so they made it strong enough that a human mind couldn't handle it. She had to be changed to a part- squid demon to handle the visions. Mine aren't as strong as hers so I've got about ten years before my brain starts to screw itself with these." He looked up again. "I'll be fine in a few, guys. Really. Next question?"
Stetler looked. "Do you have permission to carry?" Xander tossed over his wallet, letting him dig out his firearms card. "Permission to carry concealed."
"I pointed out I was a lab tech, technically a member of the department but not totally licensed, but I am a ballistics tech." Horatio caught it and handed it back. "Was Ryan shocked when he found the three guns in the car? Because he missed one. There's one under the spare tire in that flap compartment in case I get shoved in the trunk."
"Since nothing happened back there he didn't pull out the tire," Horatio told him, smiling a bit. "Any other questions, Rick?"
He looked at the form, holding it up. "Yes. You can drive him to the other lab in a few." Horatio nodded, leaving them alone. "You better yet?"
"Slowly." He sat up, looking at him. "Next question?"
Horatio looked up as the Assistant District Attorney walked into his office. "What can I do for you?" he said politely.
"Who is the ballistics tech in the Quaram case?" He put down his briefcase while Horatio looked it up. He saw the hesitation. "One of the interns?"
"Yes, but not the standard intern." He looked at him. "This intern is running ballistics at the satellite lab. He's over half done and he's been pulling full-time tech hours," he said honestly. "He's also subbed in at the LAPD labs and with the FBI for some cases." The prosecutor looked a bit impressed at that. "I will warn you that he is a bit AHD. His attention can wander but his main problem is the hyperactivity."
"Very. Especially on chocolate." That got a smirk. "He's also twenty-eight."
"Okay. Anything I should be aware of coming from the defense's investigations in him?"
"A non-standard combat history," Horatio said, getting up to close the office door, looking at him. "He's the one who appeared in the storage closet."
"I've heard about that and why," he admitted. "His combat history is related?" Horatio nodded. "Anything else?"
"He has a personal exemplar. With artillery." That got a slower nod and a less happy look. "He's very stable. It was his life before and now he's protecting Miami while he's here," he said quietly. "He also has a disability."
"The attention problems?"
"No, he's missing an eye. He is fully rated for field work. He trained after he lost it." He called down there. "Are you busy?" He smiled and put him on speaker. "Xander, I'm here with ADA Perkins."
"Hey," Xander said, sounding a bit tired. He yawned. "Sorry, nothing's going on down here and I was contemplating using my break for a twenty minute nap. What's up?"
"You are being called on the Quaram case," Perkins told him.
"Okay. Are you going to give me the file or am I expected to bring it to reference from?" Xander asked, turning serious and less tired. "I'm not fully new at this. I had a few times of almost being called in LA and once on the stand."
"You bring the file," Perkins told him. "Wear formal clothes. Tie, shirt...."
"No tie, sorry," Xander told him. "I have strangulation issues. You'll get me neat, clean, in court clothes including nice dress shirt and nice dress pants, all pressed. Shiny shoes, matching socks, my hair done. Probably my glasses in case I need to read from the file. You won't get me into a tie even when I'm dead."
"I do think it'd be better," Horatio said.
"Horatio, I've been strangled and nearly died from it twice. You won't even get me with the top button buttoned," Xander said honestly. "I'll go in making uptight congressmen proud of my looks but you won't get me in a tie or a button cover. Sorry."
"Fine, have Horatio or someone here vet your attire before you show up," Perkins said. "We're being called at nine Tuesday morning."
"Sure, I can be there," Xander said, and a few beeps happened. "Put it into my watch alarm. Should I tell Bob I'll be late that morning since I don't have to show up here until ten?"
"Let him know it's a court appearance, Xander," Horatio said. "Has he said anything about Tanya or Stetler? Or the shooting review?"
"He's giving me funny looks from the doorway. Bob, I'm being called to testify in the Quaram case Tuesday at nine," he said. They heard a quiet voice on the other side. "No, no word on when the shooting review board is. I'll call Stetler in a minute to see." His voice came back closer to the phone. "Unless you know, Horatio?"
"I haven't heard a thing and as far as I know there's not going to be a full board, just his decision," Horatio offered. The ADA looked at him oddly. "Xander was here when we had some people bust in with automatic weapons. He got two of them," he said proudly.
"It's good he protects you as well. The lawyer on the other side is a Scott Pershings, Mr. Harris."
"Xander's fine," Xander assured him. "Highbrow, mental games, anything I should be aware of?"
"He's a bit on the odd and evil side," he admitted.
"Dear, I used to work at Wolfram and Hart in LA after Angel took over that branch," Xander said dryly. "I've seen real evil plenty of times. Evil doesn't bother me, stupid people and people who wear paisley with plaid do. Speed, spank Gerald. That's worse than my t-shirts," he called. "Bermuda shorts and a paisley dress shirt, Horatio."
"Dress code is up to Bob out there," Horatio said patiently. "Anything you'll need from here?"
"No, I keep a copy of all my reports," Xander assured him. "I know I'm not to come armed, even with a belt knife. Or a pocket knife. I'll be shiny and out of the package new that day, guys. Don't worry about it. When do you want to go over the testimony?"
"Did they prep you last time?" Perkins asked.
"My ADHD was a bit stricter at that time. It was near finals and my first time being called at all. I can run drills with Speed since we're both bored stupid out here."
"That'll work," Horatio agreed. "I'll let you get back to your reading, Xander." He hung up. "They don't have much work out there."
"I know the satellite lab has almost no work. Should I prep him?"
"Up to you. Speed will probably like having something new to do. He's prepped other interns in the past."
"Good point. What sort of worker is he?"
"Meticulous. His first day out there he cleaned. He had to clean but he did clean. He's got a major and two minors." The prosecutor looked impressed at that. "He's out of the UCLA program. He was the fifth highest rated ballistics tech in the nation in his graduating year. He writes good reports that're easily understood."
"I saw that. Why non-technical?"
"He was told that there would be a lawyer somewhere who couldn't read it," Horatio said with a dry smirk.
"Yeah, usually my underlings. I'll check with Speed the day before to make sure he's prepped." He grabbed his briefcase and left him alone, going to check with Calleigh. "Your intern Harris is up for testimony."
She smiled and shrugged. "He's more than capable of it, Doug. Don't let the goofy kid exterior and the bad t-shirts fool you into thinking he's an easy guy. He's not. I've had him back here helping the other interns when they needed it."
"Good to know. Should I worry about Speed prepping him?"
"No. He'll be fine. I heard he had to do some work with the FBI before he graduated. I'm sure he learned how not to be a smartass on the stand."
"So he's like Speed?"
"A bit," she admitted. "Only he's a happy guy most of the time, almost goofy. He's got t- shirts that cause headaches and nightmares." That got a nod. "Make sure he's got good clothes."
"He said he'd come in making senators proud."
"Then I'm sure it'll be fine. I'm wondering if he wears ugly ties," she said, considering it.
"He said he can't wear one. He's been strangled twice," he said blandly.
"Not really all that unexpected," she admitted. She shrugged. "He should be fine."
"I'll keep that in mind." He left, going back to his office. If they said he'd be fine he'd have to trust them.
Xander opened the door at Speed's knock the night before his testimony, giving him an odd look. "What's wrong?"
"I came to make sure your clothes were fine," he said, heading for the bedroom. He looked in the closet. "Xander, dress clothes?" he said patiently. "You said you had some."
Xander locked the door, grabbing another piece of pizza before walking in there. He pulled out a trunk and looked inside, then pushed it back under the bed and pulled out the other one, hauling it onto the bed for easier picking through. "Black, gray, green, blue, or midnight purple?" he asked, opening it to show the nicely folded, in plastic bags from the dry cleaner, suits. Speed gaped. "I dated a snarly, fashionable cheerleader," he said blandly. "Plus a few of the kidnapers, Speed. Patterns or not to patterns is my usual question. The dark purple looks good on me but it's got a thin pinstripe."
"Which one is the most comfortable that makes you look like a lawyer?"
Xander looked and pulled out two suits, then one from the bottom of the bag. "I'll have to steam that one since it got wrinkled." He let Speed look at them. "The medium gray and the light gray are both tested in combat. Twice in the light gray one's case. The medium blue's the one I got for my undercover work with the FBI. I have coordinating shirts, black shirts, and one off-white one if we want me to wear that instead."
"I've nearly been killed twice by strangulation, Speed. I don't own a tie," Xander said dryly. "The ADA knows this. I told him."
Speed looked at him. "Kidnaping?"
"Um, no. Faith liked to try breathplay and she broke me in. The second time I went to see her, to try to bring her back to the group, she nearly killed me and Angel saved me after I had blacked out. The other one was Angel when he lost his soul."
"Oh," he said quietly. "Any have bad memories?"
"All combat is a bad memory," Xander pointed out. He looked and pulled out one inky black suit. "That's a microfiber weave that someone was trying out. She had taken me and I haven't worn it yet. She did fit it to me." He tried on the jacket and moved his arms. "It's fairly loose and comfortable."
Speed looked at him, then shrugged. "Okay. Wear one of them that you want. You're sure you're ready?"
"I'm ready," he promised, taking off the jacket and putting the others back. He kept that one and the light gray out, looking at the dress shirts. "Black, blue? Other color? They both go with nearly everything."
Speed looked at the bag of shirts, then at him. "Did you dry clean them and leave them in there on purpose?"
"Yup, makes finding them easier." He opened that bag, pulling out a few of his favorite shirts. One got tossed in a corner. It had a large stain. "Demon goo." He looked at the black one then grabbed his blacklight out of his case, shining it over it. "Blood." He put that aside. The other black one got pulled out. It was black silk and he looked at it, putting it aside. "Black or other color for the black one?"
"The dark blue," he ordered. Xander pulled that one out, laying it in there. The two fabrics didn't look right so he put that silk shirt back and pulled out a plainer cotton one. That looked better against the more shiny fabric. He put the others back into the trunk and closed it, putting it back under the bed. Then he found his steamer, waving it. "See, I can even hang them and do them."
"H would complain if he saw how you kept those."
"Cordy did too. She claimed they needed to breathe. I told her if my suits were breathing we'd have problems when it tried to eat me or possess me." Speed snickered. "Not kidding! My green one had that problem. You can't tell where I had to stab it to kill the thing inhabiting it. The repair job is very good."
Speed shook his head, walking out, slamming the door behind him.
Xander shrugged and went to hang them both up and steam them. Then he got back to his dinner and his research on the new problem. Not like it'd give up and beg when it saw him.
Xander weathered Speed's fussing over his clothes. He looked good enough to pick up women, he was in a suit, it'd be fine. He finally got called in and took his seat. The defense attorney was setting off his bad shit radar but he wasn't sure why yet. It was making it hard to keep his mind on his answers. The ADA got him some water, making him smile. "Thank you." He finished his testimony and the defense attorney stepped up, staring at him for a minute. That's when Xander realized who he was. He had seen his profile in the system at W&H. The judge cleared her throat when no questions had been asked in a few minutes' time. Xander casually sipped his water and put it down beside his foot, looking at his phone when it beeped. He turned off the alarm and smiled at the judge. "Sorry. The boss checking to see if I was done yet." He silenced that alarm and looked at him again. "I'm pretty, but you can talk to me, not just stare," he said when nothing got said.
"I'm gathering my thoughts."
"Go ahead and gather away," Xander told him, shifting so he looked more comfortable in the hard chair, staring back.
"Mr. Harris, are you a full CSI?"
"I believe I'm about five hundred and a few hours away from that in my major and about three hundred in my minor," he admitted. "Within five months I'll be a fully fledged CSI."
The lawyer paused again, staring at him. "What qualifications do you have to do this work?"
"My training program at UCLA, my in-school internship at Sack's Academy for my ballistics major, and two others for my minors, plus I subbed in at the LAPD lab before I graduated when one of their techs was on maternity leave."
He stared at him again, staring into his eyes. "Are you a combat veteran?"
"I've never been in the military," he told him. "I have had to help defend a few places while I worked there. When a coworker took over Wolfram and Hart in LA I had to help a few times when the building was attacked by someone. Up to and including disarming a bomb."
He blinked and stared at him then backed up a step. "You worked with Angel."
"I did. And Fred, Wes, Gunn, all of us. Even Cordy." He grinned a bit. "I did a lot of hours and experiments in the lab out there. I know you work for the local branch and that the branch out there did revert when Angel died."
"It did," he agreed, staring at him again. It was a longer pause this time. He finally sneered. "Are you qualified to run tests on your own?"
"I was when I subbed in at the LAPD labs. I'm more than qualified to run a comparison sample through the computer. Technically you can train a chimp to do that part of the job. All there is to the test is lining it up properly in the view panel and hitting three buttons." The lawyer paused again, making Xander stare back. He even smirked a bit. "Do you need my water, sir? You look a bit flustered."
"No, I'm fine. I'm trying to figure you out."
Xander shrugged. "Have fun with that," he said dryly. The judge coughed and gave him a dirty look. "Really, my psychological profile has nothing to do with this case. If he's trying to determine if I'm competent to run the tests, I am. If he's trying to discredit me, going after me in a psychological manner isn't the best way and it's going to probably frustrate him later. Even if he is trying to read my mind it won't work."
"You believe in telepathy?" the defense attorney said, looking almost triumphant.
"No, but I believe you hired the man in the green and blue suit behind your employer's seat to tell you what I'm thinking by whatever means he thinks he can," Xander said, staring back. "That's the purpose of their job I do believe."
The lawyer looked then at him, looking startled. "How did you know that?"
"I did work at Wolfram and Hart in other areas than the lab," Xander said dryly.
The man glared at him. "You're a smartass."
"I'm fairly certain that's not a crime," Xander said, shrugging a bit. "It simply makes life more interesting around me. You should see some of my smartass t-shirts," he finished with a grin. The man took another step back, looking scared now. He sipped his water and put it back down, putting his glasses into his suitcoat pocket so he could rub his glass eye. He looked at his phone when nothing else was going on, getting another throat clearing from the judge. "I felt it vibrate and since he's not talking I thought I'd see what my boss wanted, Your Honor." He grinned at her. "He's the only one I have it on vibrate for." He looked at the lawyer again. "Are we done?"
"No," he said hotly, moving closer again. "Do you know what your team did in LA?"
"Saved a few people," he said blandly, nodding a bit. "We're like that. Or most of them were. Most of them seem to have died in the last few months from various problems." He stared him down, letting him see he knew why they had died. The man backed up again. He finished his water and put the glass back down so he wouldn't fidget with it.
The lawyer looked at his consultant then at him again. "Are you aware of the Panathea Complex Theory?"
Xander considered it then nodded. "Yeah, it's a paradox principle based on the Grandfather clause when someone has to go back and prevent an incident from happening that only impacts a few lives instead of mass lives. It's basically another version of the theories that the show _Quantum Leap_ was based off of," he admitted. "Why?"
"You're well versed in physics?"
"I prefer hands-on instead of theory," Xander admitted. "Again, why? Nothing to do with this case, sir. Your client's a mechanic, he deals with different laws of physics and trajectory didn't come into play so there shouldn't be any physics related to this case." He looked at the prosecutor, who looked confused. He typed something into his phone by touch and sent it, still looking at him.
"What are you doing?"
"I texted my boss to tell him this was running long since you're taking another five minute pause for thought," Xander told him. "That way he knows when I'll be in."
"I see." He stared at him. "If you had to do what my client did to save someone, would you?"
Xander looked at him. "I've had to save others before, in many ways," he said quietly, staring him down. "I don't have a preferred method of saving lives. I'm fairly practical about saving lives. If I have to jump in, I have to jump in. If I have to hit someone with a bat, I have to hit someone with a bat. A guy who was mugging one of my neighbors learned that this morning." This was getting a bit creepy.
"You were in the lead at that lab assault at the main lab?"
"I was there. I spotted them first and I fired first," Xander told him. "IAB has said it was a justified shooting and congratulated me for saving lives."
"If you had to sacrifice someone to save others, would you?"
"I'd like to think I could work around that," Xander told him. "I have in the past."
The man nodded. "Then you've looked over the book on Dionysus in the main library?"
"I read it one night while I was waiting on someone to show up with files," he said, mentally shuddering. That was on the biohazard lab at the old W&H building. "It was a fact-filled, boring read," Xander told him. "Fairly comprehensive for a confession."
"Is this relevant?" the judge asked.
"Making sure he is who he says he is, Your Honor," the defense attorney said, watching Xander's fingers tap in his pocket. "Your boss?"
Xander pulled out his phone to show him. "No, tetris. Since you have to *pause* so often."
"How did you get your phone in here?" the judge asked. "Usually they confiscate them?"
Xander grinned his most harmless and goofy grin. "I'm still on-call as a backup field tech."
"Oh. That makes sense. Do continue if you must," the Judge ordered, waving a hand.
The defense attorney coughed, staring at him. Xander stared back. "If you had to do what my client did, would you?"
"I'd never beat my ex-girlfriend or shoot her after beating her," Xander said patiently. "I'm not like that. Never was, even when one of my exes ended up being a serial killer. The girls who raised me hated it when I hit back."
"They hit you?"
"Yeah, Willow had a nasty habit of swatting and slapping. She's a girl though, they do that."
"Uh-huh," the Judge said, looking at him. "Are *they* in jail?"
Xander grinned. "Cleveland."
"Close enough." She glared at the defense attorney. "Any other questions?"
"Just one." He looked at Xander. "You know about the Adaptable project?"
"I wasn't directly involved with that. Fred had something to do with it. Not me."
"Hmm. Interesting. Yet your name's on one of the forms?"
"Probably an order form. She hated doing them."
He pulled out a form, handing it over. "Is that an order form?"
Xander looked at it, pulling back out his glasses. "No, this is a small experiment I was doing for Chem 4," Xander said, handing it back. "It was cleared by the teacher and Fred. It got me out of a few lecture classes. As you can see, my hypothesis was found valid but too dangerous to do in a regular lab. Fortunately the old building had a biohazard section that let me do it in there."
"Was it contaminated perhaps?"
"No, I made sure I wasn't in there when the germ warfare people were."
"A law firm with a germ warfare department?" the ADA asked. "I'm confused."
"It was part of the building when my former coworker and boss took it over," Xander told him. "The old Wolfram and Hart had ties back to that stuff." He looked at the defense attorney again. "As I do believe it was one of your relatives in there? You look an awful lot like Dougie Blasterns."
"He's my cousin," he admitted quietly. He stepped back. "Do tell him I said hello when you go back to see him."
Xander stared at him. He knew very well the guy was dead. His experiment had eaten him. "I don't foresee going back anytime soon."
"Perhaps you should catch up? It would be good for those still out there on your old team to catch up with what's been going on. Maybe even the caseworker at the FBI? I'm sure he wants to hear from you."
Xander just nodded at that. "I'll take that under advisement."
"Then I have no further questions for him, Your Honor."
"You can step down, Mr. Harris."
Xander nodded, looking at the prosecutor, giving him a slight shrug as he handed him the glass. He headed back to his house, calling Bob on the way. "Give me another hour? The lawyer raised a point I have to look up. No, not a ballistics point, Bob." He hung up, parking his car suddenly and heading inside the Ethereal Realms Bookshop. The owner gave him a horrified look. "A local henchman for Wolfram and Hart was just talking about something they were doing months ago and a paradox principle. I need what's coming up. Do you have the Dovoran Codex?" She pointed a shaky hand and he went to look it up, swearing in Latin as he brought it back. He handed over his credit card. "I need this."
"It's a four thousand dollar book."
Xander looked at her then pointed at the name on the card. "If you know, I'm probably familiar." She looked then went pale, charging him but giving him a nice ten percent discount. He smiled. "I'm also a seer. I hate the Powers." He walked out, going to get the prophecy from home. Something wasn't adding up. He walked it into Horatio's office a few minutes later, putting down the paper and then the book. "I need some time off in a few days to handle something."
Horatio stared at him. "Important?"
"Do you want Miami to look like Pompeii?"
Horatio just nodded at that. "When?"
Xander looked at the prophecy, then pointed at his desk calendar. "Three days. Those three."
"Agreeable." He handed him the form and Xander filled it out, signing it with a flourish. He walked off with the prophecy inside the book, heading back to the other lab once Horatio had given him a copy of it. He walked into Bob's office, handing it to him. "One of my former coworkers in LA is reopening a biohazard lab I helped shut," he said quietly. "He's stupid and going to destroy half the US. I'm being recalled." Not quite a lie. Someone was going to have to stop the lab from doing something soon.
Bob looked at him. "They make Feds for that."
"He is a Fed. The lawyer this morning works for the same government funded law firm and let it slip on the stand in code."
"Damn. How long?"
"Three days. I'll be out of town and unreachable. It butts against a weekend."
"You have leave time for interviews," he admitted.
Xander gave him a look. "Bob, I'm already over hours for the month because I'm not pulling intern hours," he said dryly. "Even if I'm only counting intern hours and using some of the extra toward the minors."
"Point. Fine. Tell Speedle. I know Caine wants him in this office."
"No, he knows Speed'll kill him if he makes him do more paperwork." He walked into the trace lab, looking at Speed. "I sucked in physics," he said quietly.
"I saw your grades," he said, giving him a look from his sample. "What's that?"
"A book, Speed. On a very obscure paradox principle. He's using it to do something bad in LA."
"Three days, early next week."
"Fine. Make sure Calleigh knows." Xander nodded, going to take his book back over there and get to work on his few samples. Speed watched him go. He was not goofy, happy Xander at the moment. He was clearly warrior Xander and it was almost scary the way he was staring and focusing. Now he knew what someone saving the world looked like. It wasn't James Bond.
Xander tapped on Horatio's door later that night. "You alone?"
"I am," he said, letting him inside. "What's going on?"
Xander closed the door, staring at him. "Someone at W&H is going to do something wrong with the biohazard lab and release it on a demon, who's going to come here to destroy Miami," he said bluntly. "It's going to be ashes and cinders. Not even as nice as Pompeii was."
"What do you need me to do?"
"I need you to make sure nothing serious changes. It should only change for a few lives out there if I do it right. Of course, it's going to be before I got here." Horatio gave him an odd look. "He also mentioned there might be need to be a sacrifice," he said quietly. "I'm not sure yet. I will try to not make it so."
"You do what you have to do so others are protected, Xander," he said gently, staring at him. "You always have."
"I've always worked around it before," he admitted. He followed him to the living room, sitting down to stare at him. "The old law firm was deep in the demonic," he said quietly, sliding something over. "If I do not show up for work, open that. I won't be intersecting with myself back then. Too deep of a paradox." Horatio nodded, putting it inside his pocket. "If I do not come back, everything, and I do mean everything, is up to you to deal with. My artillery can be used, destroyed, or kept for the next one. There's a young slayer down in Homestead. She might need some of them. The suits are yours if you want them, they're in a trunk under the bed. Speed said you'd yell at me for that but sorry. Easier that way. They won't infect and make my t-shirts uptight. Make sure Giles gets my battle axe and my katana." He stood up. "It's going to be messy but out there as far as I know. If I'm right, I'll reappear that night with what needs to happen and it'll be okay. If not, make sure I'm at that battle if I'm back. It'll be lesser but still have destruction capabilities and we don't want that to happen to Miami. The pretty people would hate it." He shook his hand. "I've loved working with you guys. Tell whoever whatever you need to if I don't come back. If I don't make it to the battle, an RPG or the rocket launcher would be advisable. I have one with a titanium and exothermic tip, use it." He walked out, heading to find what he needed to. He found the town's Overlord, nodding at him. "I'm ready."
"You can't do it, Xander."
"I can and I will or we're all ashes."
Xander held up a hand. "Even Wolfram and Hart said it was necessary. The Powers hate me. Of course they're making me do the impossible. Like surviving the battles with the First Evil, it has to happen. I'm it in this case unless you think you can unstubborn Buffy?"
"No." He snapped his fingers and someone stepped closer, looking at him. "Send him."
"LA. One day before I started to work for the FBI," Xander told her. She gave him a look. "It's this or everyone dies and the world goes too after a week of sheer hell and armageddon."
She nodded. "Then we'll send you." She came forward, taking off her gloves to touch his hands, staring into his eyes. "Good hunts."
"You as well. Protect my city." He closed his eyes and the twisting in his guts started, making him cry out as he disappeared.
She looked at her boss. "I hope he knows what he's doing."
"I do too," he admitted quietly, walking her back to his limo. He nodded at the half- demon staring at him in horror just in sight of what had happeend. "We'd all die if we didn't."
"At least he asked for leave time," he complained.
The Overlord gave him a gentle smile. "He is said to play very well just inside the system until something happens. I'm sure his boss knows."
The other one snorted, shaking his head. "Not that he'll ever admit. He's a pain in the ass that way."
Xander landed with a groan of pain, going down to one knee, holding his stomach. He panted until it passed, hearing a quiet 'are you okay' from next to him. He looked up at a familiar face, letting him help him up. "I'm fine, thank you, Professor Epps."
"Are you in one of my classes?"
Xander shook his head. "No, but we should talk. You're going to meet me tomorrow. Well, me then tomorrow."
"Um..." He looked at him. Then at his watch then back at him. "How?"
"I need advice anyway. Can we talk?"
"Is it very important?"
"Very. As in the fate of the world."
"Do I know you?"
"You will. Your brother's going to be finding me tomorrow to help him with an arms dealer. I'm CSI intern Harris out of the UCLA program." That got a simple nod. "I'm also the Last Knight of Sunnydale." The man went a bit pale. He knew it was the authority in his voice and maybe some rumors from the underground. Cal Sci had a few Watchers taking classes there and a few Sunnydale residents. "We need to talk. I have three paths and it's going to come down to a probability. Math is not my strong suit."
"Come to my office. Can...can I tell...?"
"Sure, get Larry. I liked Larry. He's the same sort of thinker I am," Xander told him.
"You know Larry?"
Xander grinned. "I will by tomorrow evening." He looked around then at him. "Let me make this so you can verify some things. Tomorrow, your brother is going to go looking for help on a case that involves arms dealing from people who aren't...normal," he said, finding a better word than 'human' since they were in the open. "As far as I know he's going to hear about me from the LAPD labs, where I've temped in recently. He'll find out I'm working with Angel at the Wolfram and Hart offices, but we took them from the organization a few months back," he said quietly, staring him down. "I'm their arms person and the whole LAPD knows this. He's going to be referred to me and I'll know this person very well. That'll happen on the third."
"Which is tomorrow," he said. "Do you...."
"Yes, I am afflicted with visions from the Powers," he said quietly, glancing around then back at him. "When he finds this is true, he's going to come to you demanding to know if you know about the other world that exists with this one. Larry does. Larry studied chaos."
He coughed. "My office."
"Sure. Or we can wait until you've made sure I'm not some random crackpot with delusions. I have a few days."
"I think we'd better get started on this now." He walked him that way. "Why come to me?"
"Because I was all over UCLA. All the time. There's no way I won't run into myself. Also, this involves the old Wolfram and Hart labs. There's people there doing very bad things. Your brother needs to stop them once I'm gone. They're a disease lab," he said, holding the door open. "You have the thoughts that I need to make sure I'm not mis- stepping and creating a huge paradox. I can use the Panathea Complex Theory, which is a chaos magic theory of smaller paradox as opposed to world-wide paradox, to solve it. I need to figure out the least sticking points I need to use. My personal way would be to go in as myself now and solve it." He opened his office door with a grin. "This one?"
"This one," he agreed, walking inside. He found his girlfriend and assistant Amita in there. "Can you grab Larry please?" She nodded, leaving them alone. He looked at him. "I don't want her involved."
"She hates me anyway," Xander said dryly. "I was raised by some very warping girly girls, Charlie." He grinned. "It's why Don'll get very mad at me for calling football gay sex in teams in about four days."
Charlie moaned, sitting down. "He's going to hate you."
"He's really going to hate me when someone nibbles on my lunch and starts off a chain of food poisoning," Xander offered, sitting down across from him. Larry and Amita came back. "Ma'am, I know you're brilliant but this is going to get into theories of chaos and it's not your sort of math. Beyond the fact that I can't clear you for this project. Can I ask you to give us a few hours?"
"I've got a very high security clearance," she told him.
"I know someone who's doing biological warfare weapons in downtown LA and their lab's about to go up." She went pale. "I need them, ma'am. It's more their areas."
"I can understand that. Do you need his brother?"
"He'll know soon. We have to do something and then bring proof to him."
She nodded. "Okay. I'll let you boys talk." She grabbed her laptop and bag, heading out.
Xander took off his watch, handing it to Larry. "That was right when I woke up this morning," he told him.
He looked at it then at him. "How?"
Xander grinned. "I'm not quite Quantum Leaping but there's now two of me. Look really shocked when you see me tomorrow night, okay?"
"Charles, are you sure...."
Xander coughed. "You studied under Sigmund Rosevelt while in high school," he told him blandly. Larry sat down looking very pale. "I'm having to deal with the Panathea Complex Theory to save all of the world, starting in this town and then Miami."
He handed back the watch. "Who?"
"Wolfram and Hart. They're behind a few things. Angel doesn't realize that some of the lab geeks down there are doing their own work to bring back the glory of the organization. I know what I have to stop so Don can come in and stop it with mundane ways. I have three ways of doing it and I need to find the way of creating the least paradox."
"Where are you now?"
"UCLA, taking a psychology test," Xander admitted. "I'm in the forensics program as one of the top ballistics techs." He grinned. "I know it's shocking but I'm also the Last Knight of Sunnydale."
"You're...." He spluttered. "You're a myth." Xander popped out his eye, holding it up. "No. No, no, you're a myth." He stood back up. Xander put his eye back in and moved his shirt collar. He whimpered. "You're still a myth."
"Who's going to be sent to Miami to handle their issues," Xander told him gently. "I'm not going to harm LA. I'm here to protect things and people until we can get this situation down to normal, mundane ways, Larry."
He swallowed, letting Charlie help him sit down again. "What's your plan? I know you can."
"I have to destroy three projects before I'm sent to Miami. Then I have to wait until my normal time and go fight the first Miami battle, which should block all the others from occurring. If not, Miami will be ashes within a month. The world will go a week later. It'll pull a hellmouth down to Miami before it dies if I don't."
Larry pursed his lips, nodding. "All right. We can help. We need details to figure out when and how."
Xander nodded, picking up a pen and a notepad. "Can I use this?"
"Go ahead," Charlie agreed, watching him write. He looked at Larry. "You know about this stuff?"
"I dabbled when I was younger. It's what got me into quantum physics," he said with a small smile. "I couldn't do much because I knew what I was attempting was impossible."
Xander grinned. "Magic is that way. You have to believe to make it work." He snapped his fingers and the lights went out. "Get down. There's going to be a few shots fired from a robbery up the road. They're running this way and Don's coming." Charlie pulled Larry with him and Xander sat in a corner, still writing in the faint light from the building's outdoor walkway lights. The few bullets went through the windows and Xander sighed, looking up. "One more...." It went through and he got up, turning back on the lights. He looked out and used the small air-propelled nail and splinter gun on his waist to shoot the guys in the back of the neck. They screamed as they went down and he went back to writing, handing it to Charlie. "Don't let me see that. I only found it a few days ago."
Charlie looked it over then handed it back with a smile. "I think that qualifies your earlier statements. Where's Don?"
"Running this way behind the LAPD guys. Actually I'm going to be called to that in about an hour." He grinned. "I'm the top ballistics intern in the city. Fifth in the country until my friends unkindly put me in a storage closet in Miami when they decided I had to move." He went back to writing. "Oh, I'll be yelling when Don moves the evidence in here."
Someone flung open the door and walked in. "Are you guys all right?" Don Epps demanded, looking at his brother.
"I'm fine," Charlie promised, smiling at him. He noticed Xander was hiding behind the notepad. "He heard something and had us turn off the lights and duck, Don." He got up and walked him over to the windows. "Are you all right?"
"Yeah, yeah I'm fine," he promised, looking at the bullets. He sighed and picked them up, taking them with him. "I'll need these for evidence."
"Sure, that'll be fine. I'll get maintenance to come board up the windows," Charlie said with a smile. "Then we'll hit the house for dinner?"
"I'd like that. Thanks, Chuck." He walked out, only glancing at the student in the corner working on something. Geeks were odd like that sometimes.
Xander looked at him. "I can easily stay at a hotel and be well out of my way. Don't worry about that one."
"Thanks," Charlie said, smiling. "There's a good efficiency close by."
Xander smirked, shaking his head. "I'm poisonous, Charlie. I do not cook. I dated a stripper because she cooked very well and she went serial killer." He finished writing and handed them to him, getting helped off the floor. He handed his business card. "Call me tomorrow after I've went back to my hovel by the college. I'll be down on stripper row. Always cheaper." That got a nod and he left, sneaking out of the building so Don wouldn't see him.
Charlie looked it over, blanching at some of it. "Damn it."
Larry snatched it to look over, then groaned. "This is very, very bad."
"Yes, it is," Charlie agreed, looking at it. "His path won't help."
"His path might help. We'll have to see." He looked at him. "We'll start on the math tomorrow? Let tonight sink in?"
"Yeah, I could use that." He gathered his things. "He said you think like him."
"It's not often I hear that," he said with a smile, taking the notes with him. He would have to give it some thought. Charlie and Don went home while Larry went back to his office to work on this very fascinating problem. If he kept it at that level he wouldn't worry about his wrong choices destroying everyone.
Xander smiled at the woman who let him into his motel room. "Thank you, Sweetie Pie."
"Do you know me?"
He nodded. "I've seen you dance." He grinned and walked inside, taking the keys. "Thanks."
"Welcome, Al." She walked off, considering it. She didn't remember him. So maybe he was a bad tipper. Then again there was something dangerous about the guy.
Xander settled in to make his own plans. He knew two were going to be messing up the chemicals in the lab. That would be the easiest fix. The other one... He'd need some of his babies. He knew what he had *now* and what he had then. He had assumed some if it had been kept by Angel. In that shorter list, there were a few helpful things. A few very scary things. And one not very helpful or scary thing. That would not work in this case but he knew Angel had liked it. Then again, he had to do this so he could go back to Miami, save Miami, and then find a real and permanent job that paid better and so he could move yet again. He hated moving. He *really* hated moving. And since he had artillery he couldn't hire someone to move him so he had to move himself in a u-haul and do it the hard way. Or learn how to teleport or make those funky portals that someone made for Connor and Gunn now and then. But that was another frustration he'd have to deal with. He would have to not kill his friends.
His life was just so full of joy.
Charlie called Xander the next night, sighing a bit when the boy answered. "Okay, you were right. You are here. The you here is cocky and mouthy and wears bad t-shirts that made my brother have a migraine." Xander laughed. "Your path won't work." He heard the boy say he'd be over in a few minutes. "Sure. I'm here. Larry's here. Amita's here but so's Millie. We'll deal." He hung up, looking at Larry. "He's coming over."
"That's fine. I'm sure the lovely ladies of our acquaintance will leave us alone again for a bit."
"The same guy?" Amita asked. Charlie nodded. "Was it just me or did he look like the guy your brother went to get help on that strange arms dealer?"
"Oh, they're related," Larry told her dryly, tossing down a card. Their new department chair looked over the edge of her glasses at him. "Don't ask, we can't tell you, it's stopping a germ warfare lab in the city before it goes up. We have to do this so we can get proof to Don."
"Good. It's good that we're not helping blow up the city," Millie said, putting down all her cards. "Why can't we know?"
"Because it's involving potentially patented chemicals and if the guy's paranoid," Xander said from the doorway. "Some of his stuff is good. Some of the stuff the other people are playing around with are still his and they're doing bad things."
"Oh, all right." She looked at him. "You do really look like...."
Xander held up a hand. "He's a relative. A cousin. We should look like each other. It's just that I'm from Sunnydale and he's from a different version of hell." That got a nod and both women left. He turned a chair around, looking at Amita's hand. He snickered and shook his head, putting down three cards. "Three please?" Larry dealt them and he looked at his hand, grimacing. "You're an uptight dealer, Larry." He put down the hand. "She's got probability syndrome." He looked at Charlie. "What won't work? Two can be stopped by chemical foulups."
"Two could but they would expect you to know what you're doing."
"Actually, half the guys in there think I'm playing around but I can make it so it's a better accident. Like with a ball that knocks into things." Charlie gave him a stunned look so he grinned and handed it over. "Fred made it. It's very kinetic." He looked at Larry. "Have you ever played Jezzball on the computer? That's how I learned some physics principles."
"I have. I used to spend hours goofing off and thinking to it," he admitted with a grin. He took the ball, bouncing it, watching as it went higher than it should have for the mild drop he had let it have. "That is very kinetic, both potential and actual."
"And if you plug it in it gasses up and knocks people out," Xander said, standing up to catch it, handing it back to him with a grin. "So...."
"It can't appear to be a very big foul up and we can't hurt the you here."
"The me here is going to be out of the lab for six weeks in about a week," Xander told him. "The me here is about to be overworked working with your brother, especially after the me here gives some poaching and food stealing agents food poisoning."
"Good to know," Don said from behind him. "What's going on? I left you at Wolfram and Hart, Harris."
Xander looked at him. "That's probably because I'm not the same Harris, Epps." He looked at Charlie. "I'll let you explain the technical details to him." He looked at Larry. "The first I can do that way. The second the only way to destabilize it is all the way across the lab."
"Not necessarily. I talked to one of our chemistry people earlier at lunch. I told him a student had found this in a roommate's idea book and wanted to know how to stop it because she thought she was a bit odd. She was seriously goth, a bit strange...."
"The usual reasons that make normal people freak out," Xander agreed. "What did he say?"
"He said," he said, puling out a note. "You can put this in there and it will destabilize it temporarily but that a burst of heat once it's in there will light it on fire."
Xander looked at the formula. "That looks familiar. Is that one of my testing fluids?"
"Two of them together actually," Larry said, handing him that note. "I looked them up for you since you said earlier that theoretical things weren't your strong suit."
"Charlie?" Don asked impatiently.
"You're not supposed to know," Charlie told him. "The Xander from earlier is still at Wolfram and Hart."
"Twins?" he snorted.
Xander looked back at him. "Colby's a food thief, did you know that?" Don nodded. "You'll be the one to stop him in about three days when he nibbles on my lunch while we're working on the semtex issue you think I have." He went back to Larry's instructions. "We have a hand held laser scanner. Would that be enough heat or not?"
"You know, I don't know." He considered it, letting Charlie come over to help. "Laser application?"
"I'd rather go with the tried and true bunson burner problem," he offered.
"Wait," Don ordered, holding up a hand. "Are you telling me he skipped back in time?"
Xander looked over and nodded. "Yes, and there's a very good reason for it. When I leave it's going to become a very nasty case for you. Wolfram and Hart are sponsored by the government, get research contracts, and are minions of hell. They're actually some very high level things you don't want to think about, as you told me earlier today." Don's mouth fell open. "The fact is, they're doing this so Angel has to take on an apocalypse in a few months that'll kill him. Most of the team will die. I got sent to Florida against my will so I wouldn't be there. The Powers hate me, that's why it's my battle to fight this time. When Wolfram and Hart take back over their lab, things are going to hit the fan that should never have been exposed to open air. Their people have been working behind Fred's back on some older biodisease and other harmful projects. I'm here to stop three things, then I have to figure out how get myself back to Miami on time to save them from the last step of their plan," he said quietly, staring him down. "Once Angel dies, you've got to bust their lab. Before they blow up LA in a giant ball of oozing sores and puss. So let me do my part and by then I'll have all the evidence you need to bust their asses and ignore any higher ups. Not even the Pentagon can say they were supposed to be creating the newest super plague."
Don sat down, staring at him. "I've barely met you."
"And you already know my rep for field work," he pointed out gently. "I'm thorough and I'm already there, Don. I can't let this go on even if I wasn't assigned to stop it. Their own people want it stopped and told me how to do it during a trial. It was kinda creepy having a minor attorney tell me I had to come back here to stop things." He gave him a small smile. "I'm used to this. You got sent to me because of my past and my present training. This is all this is. I'll leave you with a full case forensically and probably with enough evidence to convict that day. Just let me do what I have to do. That's why I came to Charlie. I can create minor paradoxes without getting into trouble but I can't create major ones that impact too many lives. I need to impact as few lives as possible, especially ones I interacted with."
"So me being here adds another point on the line?"
"And another danger. The more people I have to deal with the worse it'll get on the paradox scale," Xander told him. "So just ignore this me and deal with the younger me. You'll like him in a few days, even if you can't stand my views on sports and you want to throttle my girlfriend. Oh, they did eventually get her back. You'll understand that one in a few too."
"Okay," he said slowly, looking at Charlie.
"You're the one who told me about his ex-girlfriend," he pointed out. "She's free?"
"Yeah, about two days ago," Xander said grimly. "She snuck out somehow." He looked at Larry. "Heat?"
"Heat." He handed it over. "What about the third?"
Xander considered it. "I was told someone might have to be sacrificed. If I can maneuver it, it'll be one of the guys working on that project. It may even be to the law instead of from life. I'm not sure yet. I'll get to that point when I get there." That got a nod from Larry. "Thanks, guys. Forget I was here. Please? I can help with that." They all shook their heads. "Okay." He headed out, going back to the hotel with his notes. The younger him was happily dancing around the building by now for being recognized. Angel was giving him money to go out for a celebratory dinner with the others so he'd leave him alone and quit trying to dance with him. He sat down to log into the server with the laptop he had conveniently found in someone's car earlier in the day. He had even saved everything off it onto DVDs and put them into the car so they wouldn't be missing any files. He only needed the laptop and he'd hand it to someone locally so it could be handed back when he was done with it. Faith did have a few points when it was an emergency. Want, take, have was sometimes a way of life.
Five days later, Xander walked into the lab, getting some odd looks. "What?" he asked, grinning a bit. "We're not expecting me to play around?"
"You're supposed to be with the FBI," Fred told him.
He kissed her on the cheek. "I'll miss you when I graduate. You mother me horribly." She blushed but punched him on the arm, walking off. He found the person he needed to distract and destroy, getting to work on something. He knew how she had done it and he had figured out something else. The ball was part chemical, part demon blood. If he substituted another demon for that one... Well, there were some fire demons in the world. He made the ball and tested it, smiling when it heated up a bit. It wasn't as solid either. The others gave him an odd look. "It's less kinetic. I'm using it for chem." They just nodded and made sure their experiments weren't in the way on their end of the room. Xander bounced it at the wall, watching the trajectory. He was a ballistics tech, he dealt in trajectory every day. The ball bopped and flopped and landed in the other guy's solution, splashing the guy he wanted. "Oops. Sorry. Didn't mean for it to go that way." He came over to get it, pressing something into the ball once he had it back. Theirs was a neutralizing solution but that was fine. The ball got put onto the table and he looked at the chemical matrix being shown on the screen. "Is it carryable and can it be used in the field to take down some higher demons?"
The chemist gave him an odd look. "What? Like I'm going to always carry holy water?" Xander snorted. "I'd like something I can put into a shotgun casing and fire at the bigger things to save my artillery." He patted the ball, shifting it so the new materials spread inward. Then he let it go when it suddenly burst into flames. "Shit!" He backed the one nicer guy away from it, watching as it took over the other station and sent his experiment up in smoke. He was even nice enough to use the fire extinguisher. "That was not supposed to happen," he complained. "I'm damn sorry, George." He got a glare and the guy stomped off. He shrugged at the dirty looks. "It's not. Even if the demon blood is hotter it's not supposed to catch on fire. It must've been the stored kinetic energy. Fred's conducts electricity and turns into a sleeping bomb when it's charged." They all groaned, going back to their work. He looked at the neutralizing solution. "Did I hurt it?"
"No, it looks all right, Xander." He smiled, giving it a test with the demonic ball. It fizzled and was eaten. "It looks like it works right." Xander beamed and nodded, making a copy of his notes to see if it could be changed. "Shotgun?"
"Like the massive ones that shoot gas," he told him. "Or maybe a gas canister gun. It'll save my babies for later use." He waved the papers and walked out, heading out before anyone else saw him. He knew the building inside and out. It paid to not sleep. He did run into Spike but he grinned. "New neutralizing solution. I'm going to put it into gas canisters so we can shoot them at the demons."
Spike gave him a look. "Not like the soddin' Powers didn't send me too, whelp," he said finally, smirking a bit.
Xander looked at him then around then back at him. "The walls have ears here, Spike. Don't worry about it." He went into his lab and got the three things he'd *really* need and knew hadn't made it to Miami. He cased them up and walked them out to his car of the moment, heading back to his motel. He had also gotten into his stash of cash in the lab. He was always misplacing it but sometimes he needed it. He paid for another two weeks before pulling the cases inside and getting to work making sure they were the right instrument for the job.
Sweetie Pie knocked on the door, smiling at him. "Al, you haven't gone to the diner in forever," she chided. "You've got to eat, baby."
"I know. I'm working on something and I get lost," he said, walking her out without letting her see the weapons. He even let her treat him to dinner. It was a nice date and when he got back his weapons were gone. He summoned them back and got back to work on them. His younger self wouldn't mind in the least. When he got done he sent them back, relaxing against his pillows, watching some of the free porn channel from up the row of rooms. The in-room cameras were very nice and the one for his room was broken, as he had done when he had checked in and discovered them. He settled in to work on the new formula. It would come in handy. Maybe he'd teach Speed how to use them in case something happened when he left Miami.
The second experiment was harder. They were on the watch for a lab accident from him. He was dead tired. His self here was dead tired and he was feeling very drained from being in two places at the same time. That's why he stumbled into Fred, making her stumble into that guy. He nearly passed out this time too but he held onto the table and kept it up.
"Out of the lab," Fred ordered.
He looked at her. "Get me some caffeine, I'll be fine, Fred. It's just been a long day." She walked him out and he struggled, eventually getting her settled in the library by telling her something he had seen and been up all night researching. Which he had been. He needed it in Miami. Especially for that last battle since further research in the W&H library center said that the big demon couldn't be killed by fire. Not by any object made by man's hands, past, present or future. So he was a bit screwed with what he had told Horatio. Though it might help. And hey, that one might've been made by a woman. You never knew. So if Fred would make the weapon to his specifications using his materials, it'd solve a lot of problems. He got some coffee and went back in there, sipping it for the necessary caffeine in it. They all gave him tolerant looks since he was back to standing up again.
"Harris!" Angel snapped from the doorway. "We need you at the van."
Xander looked at him then at the time on the clock, then back at him. "You need me in about an hour, Angel. Not now. I found a future problem I'm working on before it ends the world. Don't worry, I'll be there in time to fire the missile at it. Don't get the silk panties in a twist. I'm always there." Angel huffed off. He shook his head, getting back to work on the current problem. That one experiment was in the biohazard chamber. So were a lot of other things. He frowned, looking at the window. "When did we pull DNA from me?" A few people looked horrified and backed away from him. "Um, you guys know I got fixed so none of the clubbing problems could get pregnant, right? And that any kid of mine the Powers would almost certainly kill? I mean, I mess up their plans all the damn time, guys." He looked at the still really pale tech. "Can we please kill my sample? And maybe the mold in there that's infecting Wes's?" Which was his target.
"That's not infecting anything," another tech huffed.
Xander pulled him over to show him. "Wes's test tube is sealed and fuzzy. I know Wes is a stuffy Watcher, but even Traver's sperm wasn't moldy." The man groaned and Xander took the head over the DNA project in there to destroy those two and the mold samples in the incubator. He had to grab his head as a vision started then stopped abruptly. He had forgotten he had gotten one of those today; it's why he had been late to the problem. He looked at her then pointed at the mold. "The Powers said it's an impure sample that'll create another ADAM-type monster like the Initiative had. Which will go after the lab and destroy it."
"You do a good job of that," she complained, turning the heat up.
Xander pulled out two other samples, and the dragon egg in the back, then hit the destroy switch, killing the samples completely. The mold was fried. He looked at it then washed it down the sink. He put the egg back and let the incubator cool off some before putting back the other samples. "It would destroy everyone in the building. It would start here and head after the senior partners." She gave him a horrified look. "Fred didn't tell you I saw the last of the millennium battles soon?" She whimpered. He nodded. "We'll lose some people this time too."
"Damn it, my project won't be done in time." She went back to it, letting him deal with the other stuff on his own. He didn't trust anyone in the lab to turn and talk to Don. That's why he was wearing a camera and a wire. Plus he had used Angel's access to hack everything in the database. Willow had given him an Administrative access at his request without telling the senior partners. There were files hidden that would spell the downfall of hell's attorneys. And part of the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA. But you had to take the bad with the good. He left, going to make sure he had gotten to the battle. He saw himself firing the missile and smiled. He looked damn hot with a missile launcher. Tanya had been right about that. He went back to the hotel, finding Sweetie Pie waiting on him. She was a good diversion and was great in bed.
Xander looked at the last experiment. He was four days away from being sent to Miami. He wasn't sleeping anymore. He was exhausted. His body was ready to give out. He just had to stop this one demon from rising. That's why he was playing at being invisible. What Fred was working on for the slayer corps was great. He missed Fred more than anyone else in LA. Even Cordy. The demon was starting to form in the pool of blood and melted silver. The tech doing it was glancing around, feeling him watching. He used his compressed air gun to shoot a toxin into the silver, something the tech himself had developed, watching as the demon wailed and set off the alarms. Xander got out of vampire sensing, smelling, and hearing range about the same time Spike and Angel rushed in to stop the demon.
Spike ended up killing it but he was sniffing the mixture. He looked at Angel. "Someone tampered," he said.
"The Powers work in mysterious ways," his younger self said as he came in. He shot another dose of the nerve toxin into the pool, killing off everything in it. "I should know. They keep getting my ass up when I need to study." He looked around, staring at the shielded person in the corner. Xander prayed and prayed that he wouldn't be caught. He remembered seeing himself, now, and it wasn't a good thing. Apparently his younger self had some common sense because he got the lab cleared so Fred could clean up the mess.
Xander slipped out the back way, running into Spike, who smirked at him. "What?"
"Anything else we should know?"
"No. Not until later on, after the last millennium battle," he said quietly, staring at him. "Talk to me about it later tonight. I'll know." He walked off, heading to his car. Spike had his own visions. He knew what was coming. Xander went to check in with Charlie, calling him at home. "Hey, it's me. No, I've got one last paradox to fix. Kinda. No, he specifically said a sacrifice. I don't know why." He nodded. "Please. Sure." He hung up, driving to where Charlie said to meet him, getting out and sitting on his hood, watching the trees move in the breeze. He felt someone come up behind him and looked at Don. "Hey. Did he give you any idea?"
"Yeah but he said it's in Miami, kid. My files?"
Xander wrote down a name, an address, and a short sentence. "I hypnotized her. That's the key phrase," he said, handing it over. "She and I have been having a thing. She's one of Tanya's former coworkers."
"Good. She's got everything?"
"I've checked it all. Oh." He got the laptop, handing it over. "Had to jack it."
"I pulled their files off and put them back in their car. I knew I was going to hand it back." He belched. "Sorry. Tacos for dinner."
"It happens to the best of us, kid." He put those into his car, coming back. "You okay? You look rough."
"I feel rough. The longer this goes on the less I can sleep, the more nightmares and quasi- visions I have, and the worse it's getting."
Don nodded. "When do you get to go back?"
"The day I left." He grinned sadly. "I have no idea what I'm doing about the last part."
"We had a lab assault a few days back in my time," he said quietly. "I foresaw it. I was there when it happened. I can't let them die. I can't sacrifice them."
"With how rough you look it's not looking like it's going to be anyone else." He stared at him. "I know I didn't say it but you did good work."
"Thank you." He grinned. "Horatio will be asking for an evaluation in a few months. I got hired a bit late. I also never told him about all the neat stuff I did for you guys."
"Ehh, not like you could count the hours."
"True." He punched him lightly on the arm. "The third one was taken care of earlier."
"Thanks for that."
"Welcome. Just let me leave before you trigger it." Don nodded, heading back to his car. "Tell them I'm sorry but it was a matter of national security or something."
"I'll do that. Try to rest, kid." He got into his car and drove off, heading to hand one of the local precincts that laptop. He needed to find that stripper and put a watch on her and the kid. As soon as he was gone he wanted those files.
Charlie walked up to where Xander was four days later, smiling at him. "I figured out how to get you back earlier."
"Is it going to kill me?"
"No, it won't even hurt." Xander relaxed and nodded. "Don has everything?"
"I gave him the code word to find it. It's with Sweetie Pie."
"Good." He stuck something in his arm, watching as he passed out. Then he disappeared.
Xander woke up, holding his head. "Ow," he whispered. He made himself sit up, still holding his head. "Where in the hell am I?" He saw someone come to the door of his room and coughed. "Get in here?" Someone peeked in, looking confused. "Where am I?" That's when it hit him. That sense of deja vu. He knew now. It was like a particularly nasty vision. He knew. He let things happen as they were going to, reliving it all until the lab assault.
Xander tapped on Horatio's door the night after he left/got back, looking at him. "We need to talk." He had four days left to get this finished.
"Another vision?" he asked, letting him inside. He nodded at Yelina and his nephew. Xander nodded outside. "They can hear."
"No, they can't. Not this time. There's something bigger coming up. I can tell *you* because you're going to be involved. That and I need help with it."
"How about the porch then." Xander nodded, following him out, setting up white noise machines against the door leading out there. "She won't eavesdrop."
Xander handed over the letter. "I'm got that a few days back. You saw it then. There's a part you didn't read on the back." Horatio looked at it, slumping some. "I don't know what sort it is, Horatio. I'm more than willing if I have to. I simply don't know what form it'll take. I don't want it to be you. I want you to have the weapon if I can't do it. It can't be as bad as they say. I know it can't and won't be, but we'll still need a particular weapon and I'll need Calleigh to work on it for me since it says nothing ever crafted by a man's hand, past, present, or future."
"Do we have it?"
"Fred started it. It's nearly done. I can give her the schematics so she can finish it for me. Or for you, whoever." He glanced inside then at him. "I don't want it to be one of the team. I seriously don't want it to be one of the team at all. I don't want it to be a cop, I don't want it to be family. I'm looking into what's needed but I'm not sure yet. In a few days you're going to get a leave request from me. Please okay it. I need it to solve it."
"What did you do?" he asked quietly. "You've been looking tired."
"I'll be exhausted those three days too. Let's just say I'm playing in an attic of what-ifs and you can't help with that. You can help with the weapon. I have it in the back of the car. It's inside the case Fred put it into. I haven't touched anything but the carrying handles and opened it to look at it. Can we work this out?"
"Can you minimize it?"
"If I'm right, it'll take a half-demon to do it. No one in the lab that I know of is except one person. He won't. It'll cause problems if I talk him into it. I do have a backup in one of the ladies who loves me enough to take me." Horatio nodded once. "I don't want to think like this. I'd like the weapon to be enough. I think it's a bait situation. Again, I'm still looking."
Horatio nodded, handing back the letter. "We'll do what we have to so Miami thrives, Xander."
"It's not you, Horatio. I know very well it's not you. If it was someone close me to me, I'd be having a splitting headache about it." Horatio smiled a bit at that. "So that means it's not someone I know personally or not someone I like. I just don't know what form the sacrifice is going to take. I've got someone working on it to see. He's a math genius and he's helped me in the past."
Horatio smiled a bit. "You do collect odd friends."
Xander smirked. "Watch the news in the next few days for FBI busts, Horatio." He headed back inside, looking at Yelina. "I have something in the car that I need Calleigh to finish working on for Fred. Can you grab it? It's got a no-men-touching it rule."
She nodded, going to get it for him. She even looked in the case then glared at him. "What is going on?"
"Yelina, it has a good reason," Horatio said gently from the doorway. "He's protecting us against something that's coming up. He has some odd contacts that gave him information so this could happen and protect us."
"The lab assault?" she said, looking at Xander.
"I knew it was going to happen sometime, not that specific day," he told her, lying just a bit. She stared at him. "I did not know it was going to happen at that specific time, Yelina Salas. This is to protect the rest of us and the city. Please." She hefted it inside and he closed the trunk. "The schematics are inside, Horatio. Talk to me that day?" He got a nod. "Thank you." He got back in and headed back to his apartment to finish having his headache. This was going to kill him soon.
Horatio tapped on Xander's door, finding him not in his apartment. He walked in, looking around. "Xander?" he called. He tried calling him. No answer, went straight to voicemail. "Crap. It's tonight, kid." He walked out. He had the weapon. He had Calleigh. Calleigh couldn't fire the missile. He went back to get the right launcher for it, finding it had been put on the table and cleaned for his use. He carried it out, making sure the doors were locked before he left. He went to the park where they'd need to be, finding half the lab was there. He handed the launcher to Calleigh. "I have no idea where he is. He wasn't home."
"I'm sure he'll be here in time," Eric said calmly. "He was before."
"He had to do something that made him exhausted for the last few days," Calleigh said, giving him a worried look. "Where do I shoot it at? Chest, head?"
"Chest is probably the best bet," Eric offered. "That seems to work that I've seen that one time."
Stetler stomped over. "What is going on, Horatio?"
Stetler shuddered. "Where is he?"
"That's what we're trying to figure out," Horatio admitted. He tried his phone again, getting a different voicemail message. "He's nearby, drawing it this way. Somehow." He shrugged, looking at Calleigh, checking over the launcher. "I have no idea why he said this far inland."
"Maybe it'll be able to heal if it can get back into the sea," she offered. Speed walked over reading a book. "Getting a last good book in?" she teased.
He looked up. "Xander had it sent to me last night with a bookmark. You want to hit the lower chest, upper stomach region, Calleigh." She sighed at that. He looked around. "Where is he?"
"His voicemail said he's leading it to us," Horatio said, sounding calm and patient. "Any idea why?"
"Eric's right. Any water and it'll go back to a dormant phase and slowly heal." They heard a roar and Calleigh braced herself with Horatio's help. "H, take the weapon. She can't hold it."
"I can so!" she complained.
"You can't stand," Eric complained.
Horatio took it. He knew how to use it. He had looked it up recently, just in case. He saw the demon trudging their way and paused, shuddering at the horrible looking bumpy thing that was about the size of the troll in the Harry Potter movie. He saw it reach for someone and fling her aside. She moved so she was alive. It picked up someone else and sniffed then nibbled, making her scream and die. Then he fired, blowing it's stomach and chest into fragments. Xander came jogging up and did something to his arm, bleeding on it, starting a small chant, getting louder and louder until lightening came down, attracted to the metal bits in his body. It fried the demon and nearly fried him. He was thrown back against a tree, groaning before he passed out. They rushed over to make sure. Speed pulled out something, tossing the powdered acid onto it. Xander moaned when Horatio checked him. "Xander?" Horatio said. "Come on, wake up, Xander. We need you to wake up." He felt him fading and looked at his arm. "Someone get some paramedics!" he shouted, grabbing the gushing spot to hold. "They did not mean you were supposed to sacrifice yourself, Xander. Wake up!" Someone came running. "Get him," he ordered when they stared stupidly at the demon. "He had to cut himself to kill it."
"Sure," the paramedic said, shuddering a bit. "I don't need to know that much, Lieutenant." He applied a tourniquet and they got him loaded immediately. An IV was started before his partner had gotten the ambulance moving. When they got to the hospital he pulled the nurse aside. "There was a...thing in the park. Lieutenant Caine said he had to do that to kill it. It was fried. I don't know why. I'm sure he's not suicidal. Just fix him. Caine almost looked panicked." She nodded, going to work on his arm. Plus the spot she found on his ankle that was starting to scab over. He went to write up his report. Injured while fighting in the park worked for him. It'd work for his boss. He'd make sure of it.
Xander woke up, groaning and holding his head. "I hate waking up."
"You should be thankful you did," a female voice said from beside him.
He looked over. "Go away."
"No," Willow said, leaning closer. "What did you do?"
"Solved the issue."
"How?" she asked patiently.
He gave her head a shove. "Not talking about it with you, Willow."
"I'm a Watcher..."
"And I'm a fucking conduit. Am I clear?" he said coolly. She backed off at that. He looked around, finding the nurses' call button. "What day is it?" he asked the nice seeming older woman who came in.
"It's Thursday." She smiled and came over to check him. "You've been out now for four days, Mr. Harris."
"I'm sorry I snored so loud."
She smiled. "Not really. At least not yet." She handed over a letter. "Lieutenant Caine said to give that to you if he wasn't personally here when you woke up. I'll let your friend have a potty break while you read." She glared at Willow until she left, then she looked at him. "You do brave yet stupid things."
He looked at her. "It's almost the definition of being a Xander," he said quietly, going back to his reading. He smiled a bit at the earlier stuff. "I didn't want to let anyone die. I thought I got there in time," he said a few paragraphs later.
"Nearly. One did die. The other who got slammed into a tree is fine. She's bruised but only stayed overnight." She smoothed down his hair. "How are you feeling?"
"Good drugs," he said dryly, giving her a look. "You're not going to try to kill me too, right?" She shook her head. "You're sure?"
"I'm not like that." She finished making notes in his chart. "It's about five-thirty so you'll have other visitors soon. There's been the blonde one...."
He gave her a panicked look. "Cop or not a cop?" he interrupted.
"Cop," she assured him, watching him calm back down. "You missed the funeral."
"I'll make amends later," he said quietly, getting a nod. "Usually I get chewed out more by the Powers."
She smiled and patted him on the head. "My mother's a witch, Xander. She said to tell you, not the Powers."
"Can I pass on my visions?"
"She didn't tell me that. Ask the redhead."
"I'm going to try to give the headaches to her," he muttered, cracking her up. "My ex gifted them to me. Her potential boyfriend gave them to her. It's only fair." Willow came in and he kissed her hard and fast, making her groan and clutch her head. "Yes, thank you!" he said, looking up. He snuggled into the bed. "When can I leave?"
"When your boss says you can," she said dryly. "Like it says in the letter. You have to wait on him." She walked Willow out, getting her some tylenol.
Xander went back to his reading, squinting a bit. He still had a headache. He had a really throbbing, used to come with visions, headache. He smiled at the part about Don's bust of Wolfram and Hart's biodisease lab. It was a good thing. It was bringing down the last of the old evil empires. He looked up when the room's door opened, waving at Stetler. "Come to chew me a new one?"
"I should." He closed the door, locking it before he came over. "What did you know beforehand, Harris?"
"What the lawyer tipped me off to while I was testifying." He looked at him. "I wasn't sure it wasn't going to be you."
"Have known. You don't do what I do and not realize those things, Rick." He shifted onto his side so he could look at him. "I'm sorry Natalia died. I tried to get there sooner."
He shook his head. "You did what you had to do. The loss of only a single life and one car being flattened was worth not having us turn into ashes. What were his skills?"
"He ... Part of what I did during that three days neutralized part of that."
"You were here."
"Some of it," he agreed. He yawned. "It's a long damn story, Rick, and if I tell you Willow will hear."
"I need to know, Harris. There's an inquest."
"Were you in Miami?"
"Part of it. Read the transcripts, Rick. They should give you all the hints you need. The same as they did Horatio." He handed over his letter. "Can I go home?"
"No." He looked it over, then groaned. "The lawyer?"
"One of Wolfram and Hart's up and coming boys locally." He blinked. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be." He handed it back, tucking it under his pillow. "Sleep. Caine's coming later with dinner." Xander nodded, yawning a bit, letting himself drift off. Stetler called someone from the room's phone. "He's been up and went back to sleep. I need that transcript of his testimony, Speedle. Yes, now." He hung up, watching him rest until it was brought to him, having to get up to unlock the door. He looked at him. "What did you know?"
"The night before I got sent a book in case something happened and he died. He set it up with the thought they were going to take him."
"Well, he does piss off the Powers That Be," Willow said dryly, coming back inside. "What did he do?"
"Butt out," Rick told her. She snorted, giving him a look. "I do believe she's the reason we have such a warped tech, Speedle. Arrest her on something." He went back to reading, frowning at it. "This theory...."
"In the back is a report by someone out in LA," Speed told him. "It got faxed to Horatio earlier." He walked her out and ejected her from the hospital. He smirked at Eric and Ryan. "That's Willow, his friend Willow."
Eric smirked, walking over to help her up and walk her off to talk to her. Before she warped Wolfe too. He would be even worse than Xander - OCD and talking about sports like they related to gay sex.
Ryan went upstairs with Speed, looking at Xander. "You need caffeine."
Xander blinked at him. "If you do, I'll bear babies if Willow has another magical oops with my name on it."
"If she tries that, Alexx is going to eat her," Speed promised, letting Ryan give him some soda. "How are you feeling?"
"Tired. Like I haven't slept at all."
"Sedatives," Stetler said, handing over that report and personal note to Xander and Horatio. He stood up. "Let me copy this." He went to do that and the transcripts, tucking them into his pocket. Then he handed them back to Speedle. "I'll see you in a few days at the inquest, Harris."
"As long as they let me out," Xander agreed. He finished his soda and let Speed throw out the can, getting comfortable again. "I'm sorry."
"Don't be. One life over the millions in the city is a good trade off," Ryan assured him. "If it had been a bomb instead of a demon, the inquest would be a formality." He sat on the foot of the bed, looking at him. "Horatio will be up later. Calleigh's still fuming. She didn't want to know about that stuff."
"I felt that way once," Xander said dryly, making Ryan smile and nod. "Do I still have a job, Speed?"
"Yup. We took a copy of the ER report in to Bob, who was swearing about how much time you miss thanks to IAB, your friends, and this stuff." He patted him on the foot. "Then I had to point out that IAB was because you had warped a serial killer into loving you. That your friends had died thanks to this stuff, and if he really wanted to die tonight he should've went the wrong way on a one-way street. He was not amused and stomped off to the Chief, who's already talked to Horatio, who will give you your new hours when he gets here tonight."
"Wow. Does that mean you're in charge?"
"For now," he said grimly. "That means we get to talk about your t-shirts when you come back."
"I saved the world," he said pitifully.
Speed patted him on the head again. "I know you did. I'm very happy you did it. Your t- shirts still give me headaches and thoughts I don't need."
"Let Ryan wear some to the other lab?" Xander offered.
Speed smirked. "You're evil."
"No, just slightly warped." He yawned. "Sorry, guys."
"Not a problem," Speed promised, letting him fall back asleep. He looked at Ryan. "You can do that. It's a good way to lighten some spirits."
Ryan grinned. "That would get rumors started that we're dating."
"No, you can tell them that you're babysitting Xander's t-shirts so they don't feel lonely while he's in here."
Ryan snickered. "That's evil."
"Well... only a bit," he admitted with a wicked smirk. Horatio walked in. "He's back asleep again."
"That's to be expected," he agreed, looking at Speed. "No mean ideas, Speed."
"Xander told Ryan to babysit his t-shirts."
Horatio groaned, shaking his head. "I don't think it'll be necessary. He can go home in a few days." He sat down, looking at his arm. "Is he healing?"
"The nurses said last night his arm was doing better than expected," Ryan reminded him.
"Which means he can get out for the inquest Stetler just told him about," Speed said, handing over that report. "He has a copy and of your letter."
"That's fine." He read it over, humming at a few things. "It apparently was very important to destroy that lab and them." He handed it back, looking down at Xander. "Where's Eric?"
"Willow was here," Speed said with a bright, cheery grin.
Horatio sighed, calling him. "Don't do more than rant at her, Eric. Yes, I'm sure. Because she has a bad habit of doing things to people. I'm sure she's done many things to Xander to make him the way he is." Xander squinted at him then nodded. "He's agreeing with me."
"Being a puppy is fun," Xander said dryly.
"He said being a puppy was fun, Eric." He hung up with a small smirk. "He's ranting at her about other things now." He came closer. "How are you feeling?"
"Tired. Like I haven't slept."
"It's the sedatives," Speed promised.
"Can I quit taking them?"
"Hey, nurse?" She came in. "Can we get rid of his sedatives?"
"The doctor said...."
Xander looked at her then at Horatio. "I'm going home."
"You need to be here, Xander."
"I'm going home. I miss my menus. I can nap on the couch." He pouted slightly. "Did you go take my artillery?"
"A few things," he said dryly. "I left most of it since I knew you'd be all right." Xander pouted. "They're in a safer storage area, Xander. "
"I'm going home," he told the nurse. "Can I please have underwear back before someone tries to kidnap me?"
"They'd do it because of the pout," she teased. "You really do need to be here, Mr. Harris."
He shook his head. "I'm awake. It's too long after it for a concussion worry. My arm will heal. I'm probably making a lot more blood at the moment." He sat up. "Please get my things?"
"I don't think it's wise."
Xander kissed her, then grinned. "Now please. Before one of my stalkers gets up here or my ex hears and comes up to baby me after she breaks out of her mental confinement." She looked at Horatio, who stared Xander down. "I love you, boss, but I miss my menus. I'll be a good Xander. You can come check on me there and help Ryan babysit my t- shirts."
Horatio sighed. "If he's adamant we can't stop him."
"Are you *sure*, Mr. Harris? You still are very sleepy."
"Drugs," he pointed out. He swung his feet around. "Besides, I've got to talk to people soon."
"I'll see if we can discharge you." She went to call the doctor, who was not thrilled with the idea. She came back. "Can you wait two hours?"
"No, you'll feed me slop. I want my menus."
"You don't want your leftovers?" she teased.
"He's poisonous in the kitchen," Ryan told her. "It's better he order."
"Since he gave so many agents food poisoning when they stole his lunch one day, it's now illegal for Xander to cook," Speed said. "If they hear about him cooking they'll arrest him."
She walked off giggling. She came back with the papers and Xander's bag of things. "You still don't have any clothes. They were taken as evidence."
"Good thing it wasn't one of my favorite t-shirts," Xander said grimly, taking his bag. He looked at himself then shrugged. "I'll do in this if I can." She nodded and got him some foot covers for his feet, letting him sign himself out and go home with the antibiotics and sleeping pills if he needed them. Horatio was even nice enough to drive. He looked at him. "I know I'm in deep with IAB, boss," he said once they were alone.
Horatio shook his head. "I don't think so. What did Rick say?"
"That he'd see me at the inquest. Ryan thinks it should be a formality."
"It probably should be. She had no reason to be at the park. Unless you called her?"
"No, but it would've drawn halfies to it."
"Yeah, I think that's why she hated me." He yawned. "Her and Ms. French both."
Horatio looked over, smiling at the tired boy. "We're nearly there."
"Okay." When they got there Xander wobbled inside, waving at his landlord. "I'm alive. Feel like shit but I'm alive."
He gave Horatio an odd look. "Should he be out? He's very pale."
"No, but he wanted to come home," Horatio told him. "He said he missed his menus." He handed Xander the spare set of keys Tanya had made. Xander gave him an odd look. "Your ex had them made. Eric confiscated them and I took them from her things."
"Thank you." He opened the door and walked inside, going right to his couch, petting his menu stack. "Good, Mom."
"I'm sure someone will bring you food soon," Horatio said, going to get his inventory list. "I marked on here what I moved for you and where, Xander." He took it and grinned at him. "It's much safer. It has multiple levels of security. Rich people use it for art. Speaking of, did you ever call Wesley's attorney?"
"Nope." He found that number and called since he was being nagged. "It's Xander Harris.... I just got out of the hospital, woman! Yay me! Sweetie, I saved the fucking world. I was a bit busy," he said dryly. The phone was handed to another person. "It's Xander, Ralph. What did you want?" He listened, then snorted. "Excuse me?" He nodded once. "And that would include..... Well, no, I just saved a lot of lives a few days back. I'm just now out of the hospital." His mouth fell open. "Excuse me?" He whimpered. "Family..... Or Gunn?" He handed Horatio the phone. "Here, you speak bureaucrat better than I do. He's giving me a worse headache. It's worse than visions." He snuggled in under his throw, closing his eyes.
"This is Horatio Caine. Yes, that one, his supervisor. He did. He's trying to go back to sleep." He walked the phone into the kitchen, taking some paper to make notes. "And that would include...." He wrote that down as well. "I will let him know. Thank you." He hung up. "You're getting more swords."
"Yippee," he said blandly.
"Plus his bank account."
"Should be about twelve cents. Angel didn't pay well and his father disowned him."
"You're getting what was supposed to have gone to the others who are no longer with us."
Xander glared in there. "I don't want to talk about that."
"I'm sure you'll tell me about them some other time, Xander," he said more gently. "That way they're remembered." Xander nodded, hiding his head when someone knocked. "You're also getting whatever his father left him. That's not listed." He went to answer the door, getting out of Calleigh's way. "He's hiding."
"I can see my turtle intern." Xander peeked out at her. "I should spank for making me build that."
"It said no man could."
"Because they come with funky clauses like that. That's why I had to get a grenade launcher for Buffy to use in a mall." He grinned slightly. "You did look hot with it."
"I couldn't even stand up with the weight of it."
"It was a bit heavy," Horatio agreed.
"Not your fault, Xander." He sat down, smiling at her. "He missed his menus."
She snorted. "Yeah, like Speed hasn't called Alexx." Xander hid again. She rolled her eyes. "We'll be there with you at the inquest, Xander." He gave her an odd look. "We're being called in too. Stetler already said so."
"No, don't be. It had to be done and we'll miss Natalia."
Horatio coughed. "That's something we have to talk about tomorrow." Speed tapped then walked in with a pizza box. "No Alexx?"
"Tomorrow." He put the box down in front of Xander, watching as one pale arm came out to slip into the box and grab a piece, bringing it back under the throw. He smirked at that. "Hiding from Calleigh or Horatio?"
"Me," she said with a smile. Then she bopped him on the arm. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine, even if Horatio is making me do hellish amounts of paperwork."
"I can help with that if I'm not fired," Xander said from his hiding spot. "I love you guys. I'll let Ryan babysit my nicer t-shirts."
"Eric will complain," Speed said, sitting down in the spare chair. "Now that you're home, are you better?"
Xander peeked out, nodding. He finished the crust and let out a small burp. "'Scuse me. I've got to write back to the stripper too. Tell her I wasn't the one who wrote the last letter. Now I know why she sent me enough to come back to LA." He went back to his hiding spot. "It was very sweet of her."
She gave him an odd look. "You slept with her?"
He looked at her. "I had to hide and not see most anyone I knew for a few weeks," he defended. "She was working at the motel I was hiding in." He hid again at her look. "Sorry. I know I need to go to the pound to pick up a dog or three. I'll call her later."
Calleigh huffed, leaving them alone, going home to worry about what this last girlfriend would be doing.
"Was she good?" Speed asked.
"Tim!" Horatio complained.
Xander grinned at him, nodding a bit. "Very. She's very flexible. She can't cook either. I think I set her up to date one of Don's agents too." He went back to hiding at Horatio's odd look. "He could use the date. David's even more uptight than Stetler is."
Speed shook his head. "I don't need that image." He got up, grabbing a few slices of pizza to go, taking them home to find something to take that out of his head.
Horatio smiled, coming over to tuck him in. "I'll check on you tomorrow, Xander." He nodded, grinning at him. "You rest." He left, locking the door behind himself. He went back to his office, finding Rick lurking with Frank. "You two are going to pounce me together?"
"Wolfe's going odd. He wanted to know if we were together in that special way," Frank told him.
"Xander offered him the right to babysit his t-shirts," Horatio said with a smile, taking off his sunglasses. "Yes, Rick?"
"Your office," he ordered.
"Fine." He headed that way, finding his boss in there. "Am I in trouble?"
"Checking on the boy," his boss said patiently.
"He checked himself out, went home, and is napping on the couch with the pizza Speedle bought him," Horatio told him, sitting down behind his desk. His sunglasses got put down so he wouldn't play with them. "He is worried about the inquest. He said he was very sorry that she got hurt. He had no idea she was there."
"Nope, we've got an issue there," Frank told him. "That's why I was lurking. Valera and I were saving down her stuff off her computer. Found transcripts from a few chat sessions with some Feds." Horatio gave him a stunned look. "Yup, looked like she was your issue but one did mention another source locally."
"I'll want those," Stetler said.
"Tell Valera," Frank told him. "I'm just the messenger."
Horatio called down there. "Miss Valera, please bring those to me and make a copy for IAB. Thank you." He hung up, looking at his boss. "Well, that's interesting."
"Very," he agreed. He smiled a bit. "Your boy shouldn't worry, Horatio."
"I think it speaks well of him that he is worried and that he was truly sorry she died," he said, looking at his boss. "I'd worry if he wasn't."
"Good point. Though with his history...."
Frank shook his head. "Even Vets who were in hard, prolonged combat don't like having to do stuff that risks or costs lives if they've not been warped by it," he pointed out. He got the door when Valera knocked, smiling at her. "I was the messenger of good tidings."
"I love you for it, Detective." She pinched him on the arm and handed over copies. "Here you go. All the chat sessions I found. A few letters and emails that she had saved down. I'm sure you can get into her account. It does hint at a prior source, that's why they sent her." She handed Stetler a post-it note. "That's what was on her desk because she had been doing some online banking and shopping recently. I'd suppose that was her bank or shopping log-in." She looked at Horatio. "How's the boy?"
"Sleeping on his couch. He's quite stubborn," he said with a small smile. "Thank you, Valera."
"You tell him most of us don't blame him for it."
"He didn't know she'd be there."
"She got a call," Valera told him. "I don't know from who but it made her rush off. Someone knew." She shrugged. "Better one person than all of Miami." She left, going back to cleaning up her lab.
Horatio looked at his boss. "We'll look into that before the inquest."
Stetler coughed. "No need. I know who made the call." Their boss looked at him. "I've already traced that link. It was not Harris." That got a nod and he left them alone. Frank followed him out since his mission was done with and Stetler still had business. "Are you keeping him?"
"If at all possible. His work has been exceptional. He's worked extra hours. He's filled in when we needed him to. I would suggest we leave him out there. He seems to like that lab." He smiled. "If Calleigh needs a new tech locally I would suggest she get him first. You knew?"
"One of us can always tell another," Stetler admitted, standing up. "I'll follow up into this mole business, Horatio." He left, going back to his office.
"That is very interesting," Horatio told himself, filing it away for future reference.
Xander woke up that night, looking at the body next to his. "You're still dead," he noted.
"I do realize that, Xander," Wesley said, sitting down at the foot of his bed. "By the way, Winifred said hello and to tell you she loved how you solved it with the ball." Xander gave him a small smile. "You do know that I had your best interests at heart?"
"Then you would have stuck me in a motel, Wes. That made it so I nearly had no career. Nothing that I had trained so hard for."
"It was a misstep," he said, nodding and looking at his hands.
"The t-shirt was even worse."
"That was Connor's idea."
"Figures," he said dryly.
The ghost looked at him. "I'm not here seeking forgiveness, Xander. I do need to pass on a few messages. Yes, the dead can hear you swear at them; I know you were wondering." Xander smirked at that. "I left you my things for a reason. I changed my will after I sent you. I barely got the changes done in time really." He gave him a gentle smile. "I knew what you had seen about the last battle and who hadn't been there. I was hoping more of us would have survived." He shifted some. "Besides, I want you to have it. Not like Connor would appreciate anything but my swords. Gunn needed to lighten up and my bike does that well enough for him." He gave him a gentle smile. "Plus I have no idea what my father left me when he died."
"Apparently a few things, I haven't gotten into it with Ralph. I let Horatio talk to him. My head still hurts."
"As it shall for a few more days. By the way, you spread the visions but you'll still have some. That was the second message. The Powers are not pleased that you tipped the balance by having Wolfram and Hart taken out."
"Too much evil, not enough good guys. It probably rebalanced it again."
"Probably tipped it a bit to the side of good," Wes corrected. "The slayers will have one who breaks a leg or something shortly."
"Maybe Buffy'll have kids."
Wesley looked at him. "Don't wish that on an innocent."
Xander shrugged, giving him a look. "Someone's got to."
"Poor thing. She okay?"
"Buffy kicked her out. She's safe, which is more important at the moment. She'll be fine and I've already sent Angel to nag her to go to LA with her daughter." He gave him another smile. "Now then. We must talk with Ralph ourselves. Soon, Xander." He nodded at that, grimacing some. "I wouldn't worry so much about this inquest either. It's not like you could have stopped the demon some other way and you nearly died."
"Someone else did die."
"Well all go sometime," Wes said dryly, giving him a look. "It could have been much worse."
"I still don't like the sacrifice one to save many theory."
"Nor do I, lad. She's the one who didn't run. She stood there staring at the demon in awe. It ate her. She didn't move even when it batted aside the human." He smirked. "Most sensible beings would have at least tried to run."
"I know I wanted to." He looked at him. "Why else are you here?"
"It was me or Cordelia and she was going to complain about your t-shirts and letting others be warped by them."
"Everyone could use some levity."
Wesley smirked. "Keep that innocent look, Xander. By the way, do consider using a surrogate some day. Even though your DNA samples at Wolfram and Hart are gone, it could do a lot for the world if you had a child."
"Who would be a what?"
"Oh, no, lad. They want nothing more to do with you unless it's about their world ending." He smirked. "They really do not like you. Even worse than when Dracula was in." He stood up. "Now, eat the pizza, dear boy. Call Ralph in the morning. Tell him I said hello. Tell Connor I said the same thing."
"Sure. Anything else I should know?"
"Oh, yes. There is love for you down here but do not try to hit on the nice redhead."
"Um, he's my boss and dating someone," Xander said dryly. "I don't poach and he's a lot like a big brother."
"Good." He faded out. "Eat something, dear."
"Yes, mother." He sat up, grabbing a slice of pizza to eat, looking at the time. Middle of the night. So of course nothing would be on tv and he wasn't sleepy anymore. "The drugs must be gone now." He got back to his pizza, going over the inventory of artillery again. He wondered how big this other storage area was. He'd have to ask Horatio, see if he could put the other stuff there or why he hadn't put the other stuff there. He finished that slice and got up to get some soda, finding a DVD he wanted to watch, sitting down to do that. When it was closer to dawn than not he called Ralph. The guy was a vampire, he'd be up and cranky but at home instead of out partying. "Ralph, Wes said hi." He listened to him splutter. "He showed up to talk. Said Fred missed me. Said you found out what his father left him? Because he nagged, Ralph. You know I normally wouldn't give a damn." He sat up, frowning. "Excuse me? Want to repeat that?" He heard laughter from above him and looked up. "You knew, bastard."
"It will protect you," Wes's voice floated out.
Xander sighed, listening to the vampire attorney. "Wonderful. No, I'm still in Miami, Ralph. Find a way to bring me the details and all the paperwork stuff. Because I've got to go to work in a few days? I've got an inquest in a few days too." He nodded. "No, I think I'll be okay without it. Because it was about the huge ass demon, Ralph. Yeah well, it ate someone too." He listened to him. "No, I'll be fine without a lawyer. It's like a shooting review board. Which I've already had one of." He nodded. "Thank you. Yeah, I'll be here. No, that's work. Don't send it there." He hung up, going back to his movie. He had to think. When it was later he decided to call Horatio. "If you see the vampire lawyer it's Ralph about Wes's family estate stuff. Well, Wes may've been disowned but he was the only child and his father died without a will. The Brits loved him enough to give it to him about eight months before he died."
He grimaced. "He said Wes hadn't finished signing forms. He was signing without reading basically. No, I told Ralph he could not fax things to work for me to sign. When can I go back? After the inquest is fine," he sighed. "When is it?" He smiled and made a note. "Thanks, Horatio. Oh, I reminded Wes when his ghost showed up that I see you like a big brother because he got naggy and suggested we date." He heard the shocked silence and then the cackling at that idea. "Yeah, so I told him no. But if he sics Fred or Spike on you to suggest it, give them good reasons. I know you're dating someone. That's a good enough reason for me." He hung up, snuggling back into his throw and pillows, eating another piece of pizza while he watched the morning news. He thought about doing his usual PT but his arm was still not healed well enough and he had a headache again. Sometimes Wes did that to people.
Xander came in the morning after the inquest, looking at Speed. "Morning."
"Morning. You don't look happy to have been cleared of all guilt."
"The woman who got smacked is trying to sue me."
"Me too. The prosecutor on the board pointed out that she should have run too." He sat down. "They suggested I settle with her or else it'll come out in court records. I was almost mean enough to sic Willow on her." He grimaced, going to put his lunch in the break room and then head to his lab. He looked around. "Did Calleigh steal things?"
"Just the one microscope that broke," Speed called. "Work Trace today, Xander." He nodded, going to do that. He called Horatio. "Xander's in his usual ten minutes early and working Trace since he doesn't have a comparison microscope. When is his coming back?" He smiled at the answer. "He told me he's being sued. He suggested Willow actually." That got a cackle. "Exactly." He listened to him, leaning back. The paperwork on the desk got a look. "Yeah, I've got those. I do a lot less out here than you do, Horatio." He smirked at that. "Who's coming out here to run it when I'm cleared for field work finally?" He nodded at that. "That'll work. Gerald and I have had a few talks. It'll be fine." Xander came in with a long string being held up. "What's that?" He hung up.
"I don't know. I found it in your microscope and no samples out or in there. I was hoping you knew where it came from."
Speed looked at it. "Is that fuse cord?"
"No, silk." He put it down carefully on top of an empty plastic bag. The bag bubbled. "Is that what happened to my poor microscope?" Speed nodded. "Huh. Gerald?" he called, carrying it back to trace. "Was your lab tampered with?"
"No, Xander. They knew better."
"Charming." He ran a sample, bringing the report back when he got it. "HCL soaked silk cording. You're out of things to do so I'm going to clean your lab while you figure out how hydrochloric acid got out onto a rope." He went back there.
Speed looked over the report, faxing it to Horatio's office. He could deal with that. Or Stetler, he liked to bring bad officers to heel and make them beg. It was his most fun memories ever probably. He went to get the security footage from Gerald. "Who broke in?"
He shrugged, pointing at that monitor. "I'm running the traffic cams."
Speed sat down over there to run the security footage, finding who it was. He gave Gerald a look, then patted him on the back. "Jealous?"
"No!" he scoffed. He glared at him. "You know I loathe the both of you. You came in and destroyed my calm little center of my world. My work area, my quiet times, all of it had to be rearranged and it's not right. It's my rituals."
Xander leaned in. "Gerald, I could care less about your lab, man. If you want to hang out in here, hang out in here. Not like I'm going to be upset." Gerald got up and huffed off. "Him?"
"Yup." He called him. "Come here please. Yup, we know." He hung up. "You going to wax the floors?"
"Another word for intern is slave," he said smugly.
"Uh-huh. Keep it up and I'll salve the pain of her loss by going out to club and celebrate her life," he shot back, making Speed's eyes go wide. He went back to Trace, but he did find the buffer and the wax to do the floors. They could use it. Horatio came in, not taking off his sunglasses. "What happened to our janitor?"
"Bob," he said dryly. He went into AV, finding Speed replaying the footage. "Did he think you wouldn't check?"
"Apparently not." He looked at him. "He claims we upset his routines and rituals by being here."
"You might have, it still does not excuse him destroying property or trying to tamper with evidence or machines." He took off his sunglasses, looking at Speed. "Wesley suggested Xander and I date but he did tell him he thought of me as a big brother."
Speed glared at him then out in the hall. "Good thing."
"He kept that idea from going forward," Horatio soothed, patting him on the back. "Even though Rick did get a visit from Winifred." Xander leaned in, giving him a horrified look. "She thinks we're all such adorable boys and you should date a nice boy from the lab."
"Which leaves Ryan or DC."
"Tyler, the AV tech on nights," Speed offered. "There's a few others." He looked at Horatio. "Why did she show up?"
"She told him to tell Xander to come pick up her things too. That her science collection and notes would better be served down here."
"Then I'd need to buy a house with a lab," Xander said, going back to his floor buffing.
Horatio smiled. "It appears Wesley's family left him everything when they died and it all went to Xander when Wesley died."
"Good," he said slowly. "And?"
"That would include a British estate."
"And an older title," Xander called. "Technically I'm a Sir Xander now. Not much different than I was before really." Speed came out to give him an odd look. "Knight is the proper title of people who jump into the fight without having a born skill, like a slayer." He gave him a look. "I'm well known as the White Knight or the Last Knight of Sunnydale." Speed shuddered. "Now I can formally joust and all that stuff though." Speed went to find his antacids and take one, then went back to AV. "Hey, Horatio, this wax has a purple tinge to it."
"We noticed. It's still good, Xander."
"The floors are green, Horatio. Even I'm not that bad at matching colors."
Horatio laughed, coming out to look. "I'll have them send you a different bottle of wax." He patted him on the back. "I have a few papers Ralph brought down for you to sign. He's local and faxed them to me." He went to get them from the hummer, handing them over. He found Gerald cleaning out his locker and walked him out to the hummer, locking him inside it. He called Stetler on the way back. "I found who tampered with the satellite lab's equipment. Locked in my hummer. Thank you. I'll meet you there." He hung up, letting Xander finish signing things, using him as a witness. Then he walked off, taking it back to the lab with Gerald. He handed him over to Frank. "He goes to Rick."
"I heard. The boy?"
"Waxing the floors out there." He followed them inside, handing the receptionist the papers. "Fax those back to where they came from please?" He took his messages, handing her one. "To him." He found one of the janitors on his way inside. "Please send the satellite lab a bottle of clear floor wax? They have green floors and some of that purple tinted wax. One of the boys is complaining." That got a nod. He finally made it to interrogation, listening to him tell Rick why Xander and Speed were bad for destroying his rituals. He noticed Ryan Wolfe in there. "OCD guide?" he asked lightly.
"Basically. Making sure I don't want to do the same thing. As long as they leave my locker alone I'll be fine." He looked at him. "Who's on for field work that way?"
"Speed will be cleared in another two weeks. Xander has it as his minor."
"Interesting. Eric had one that way. He was going to call out there to see." He looked at Gerald, who gave him a horrified look. "What?"
"No! It's wrong! Xander cannot go into the field! He'll get taken again, dammit!"
Ryan snorted. "Xander? Not hardly. Work is different than clubbing."
"He was rated quite highly by the FBI and San Diego when he did field work for them," Horatio said mildly. Rick gave him a horrified look. "He's the one who gathered the information for Agent Epps."
"I realized that. Can he count the hours?"
Horatio shrugged. "I'm not sure it'd be appropriate and we're still looking at next year's budget." He smirked at Gerald again. "You do know this means I've got to move Tyler or DC down there, don't you?" He whimpered.
"DC and Xander are friends," Ryan offered. "He can even try to unwarp Xander a bit more."
"I heard why Delko had a talk with Rosenburg," Rick sneered.
Ryan smirked back. "Because he thought she might warp me like she did Xander. Then I'd be warped *and* have OCD." Horatio shuddered at that and Gerald burst out crying. "Instead I'm babysitting some of his t-shirts." He moved his track jacket to show it off. Stetler went pale so Ryan walked out, going to leave his jacket in his locker.
"Mr. Wolfe, change!" Horatio yelled after him. "Not even Speed allows Xander to wear that one!"
Calleigh looked at his t-shirt and whimpered. "Ryan! Did Xander warp you? Come on, let's get you some tea once you change that t-shirt." She walked him off to make him change it, sending it back to Xander with a reprimand she wrote out while the tea water was heating up. Then she came back to make sure Ryan was going to stay normal and not Xander-ish. She was with Eric on this one. Ryan was not allowed to turn into Xander!
Xander grinned at Speed that night when he flopped down at his table at the higher end club. "Hey."
"Hey. What did Wolfe do?"
"I gave him babysitting rights to some of my t-shirts."
Speed looked at him then swatted him. "No more bad thoughts, Xander, or we can't keep you."
"I'm being kept? I know you're dating someone and I'm definitely not for getting between couples," he babbled, getting up and heading out. "Don't worry about it."
Speed groaned. "Have to talk to him tomorrow about his later job." Horatio and Eric came in to join them, making him smile. "Morning."
"Where's Xander?" Eric asked. "I wanted to swat him for letting Wolfe wear his _by reading this shirt, you have given me brief control of your mind (now you'll be just like me)_ t-shirt. It gave DC nightmares during his afternoon nap, which I had to wake him up from because Valera didn't want swatted by him fighting off the sweater vests."
Horatio smiled and pointed. "I do believe he's picking out his next stalker."
Eric went out there, going to swat Xander. "Do not let Wolfe borrow your t-shirts anymore, Xander. You gave DC nightmares during his nap."
"He gets a naptime?"
"Yeah, Gerald got soap opera time," he said dryly, going back to his table. They were there to make sure Xander wasn't kidnaped. Again. Of course, they were doomed to fail because even three officers could not keep Xander in visual range at all times.
Horatio walked Xander into the main lab the next morning, handing him to Frank. "Hold him." He went to help Speed and Eric with the prisoners, walking his into the interrogation room. Speed brought his two, Eric his struggling one. Then he slammed the door and left them in there to finishing snapping at each other. John and Frank both gave him odd looks. "Two sets of twins who were fighting over who got to keep him. That's how we found him. Xander suggested they get out of the cars before the set of redhead twins made the others crash by ramming them so they could get him back." He walked off.
Xander looked at Frank, shrugging a bit. "Not a clue. All I wanted was out. I flagged down an officer who was not amused." He headed for the office but Speed handed him back to John. "What!"
"Statement, kid," John said, shaking his head. "What sort of presents did you get this time?"
Xander frowned, starting to pat himself down. He walked into the bathroom so he could strip and get everything out of his underwear, then put it with the things in his pockets, handing over the paper towel he had been using to lay things on. Then he grinned and walked off. "They'll help you. It'll stop the fights."
"Uh-huh. We still need yours," he called after him. He saw Ryan wobble in. "Did you get taken?"
"No, I got mugged." He held his head. "Someone wanted my wallet until they saw the t- shirt. Then they kindly called an officer and told her I was wrong somehow and dangerous."
Frank looked at the t-shirt - always a pallbearer, never a corpse - and growled. "Go take it off, Wolfe. No more borrowing Harris' t-shirts!"
"I didn't. I found this one."
Xander came back, looking at it and grinning. "Can I buy it?"
"I paid twenty-five." Xander handed over some of the money he had been handed, giving him fifty and took the t-shirt off him there. He walked off happier, going to find a ride to his lab. Ryan looked down at his undershirt. "Let me find something to wear." He walked into the locker room, going to his locker. He knew he had a few spare shirts in there. But hey, he had made lunch and dinner money. He came out tucking in his new shirt, watching the two detectives watch the two sets of twins argue. "Want popcorn? I can go remove the cuffs."
"That'd be a match for pay-per-view," John muttered. Frank slugged him on the arm, going in there to break up the snapping and 'he's mine, bitch' fight. "Pity." He went to catalog the stuff Xander had pulled off himself, handing it to Horatio once it was in an evidence bag. "He went back to work after buying Wolfe's t-shirt off him."
"Thank him for me," Horatio said blandly. "Did you get the twins straightened out?"
"Frank's in there. I was watching," he said with a smirk, going back to that. Yelina was watching too. "One set had Xander, the other was trying to get him instead."
"Ah." She just nodded, sighing as she walked in there. "None of you fake little girls are woman enough to deal with Xander on a full time basis. I met his last girlfriend. She couldn't walk some days."
"There's two of us, old lady. He can wear us both out."
Frank snorted. "He'd have to wear all of you out. And he'd still need more. The kid is the source of viagra according to his ex." They all groaned at that, but started to look at each other. "Not that you'll find out from jail, ladies. By the way, Detective Salas is the one we're trying to set Xander up with. She's even nice enough to cook for him since the kid can't."
"I've got a housekeeper," one of the blonde ones said smugly to Yelina.
"Our mother would more than happily cook for him too," one of the redheads told her. "We're worth a lot of money."
John leaned in. "Xander already has an estate in England and he's a Knight by heritage. You're both poorer than that and not worthy of it." He closed the door and went back to watching from the hidden room.
Frank looked at Yelina. "He's a knight?"
"His friend Wesley left it to him."
"Good to know. I'm sure he'll look great fox hunting." He went back to the report. "Any other qualifications you think you have since Xander likes guns?" They slumped down, frowning some. "He's our best ballistics intern ever, kids. The ladies around here take him shopping and everything." That got a redhead pouting. "He's from near LA too." That got two blondes pouting at him. The other redhead gave him a pitiful look. "He's training to take over Caine's spot and that means long hours." She pouted too, looking down. "Good." He finished his report, handing it to Yelina. "Have them escorted please?"
She looked outside, waving in some officers. "They wanted Intern Harris as their own. Take them." She handed over the forms.
"Which one is Harris?" one of them asked.
"The ballistics tech out at the satellite lab," Frank told him.
"Oh, the strange one who thinks football is like gay sex. Did he ever explain how he got that one?"
"Yeah, go ask Cooper. He explained it to him and Valera," Frank said with a grin. That got a nod and they went to do that after they walked the ladies down to booking.
"That's so mean," Yelina chastised.
"Wolfe had his t-shirt bought by the kid this morning," he said dryly, getting up and going back to his desk. "What'd he get this time, John?"
"Three grand, six phone numbers, and a ruby tie clip."
"He won't wear ties, he was strangled a few times," Yelina told him, going back to her own desk. Frank and John both stared at her. "Horatio told me why he wouldn't wear a tie. Apparently his first lover did it and then another person strangled him to try to kill him."
"When can we drag the kid to the pound?" John asked Frank.
"He said when he decided where he was going to end up. He told me he got an offer from Chicago the other day."
"Does Horatio know?" Yelina demanded. Frank shrugged so she called. "Horatio, Xander's getting offers from Chicago to work for them? Frank said so. Yes, I do believe you should react faster."
"He's meeting with them after work," Frank told her.
"Frank said he's meeting with them after work." She smiled and hung up. "We'll make sure he stays here."
Horatio walked into the meeting room, smiling at the two people in there. "Xander." Xander looked at him, looking confused. "It's only fair that you hear Miami's offer as well."
"The Chief wants to keep you, Xander." He sat down next to the detective from Chicago. "I know your labs are rebuilding and I do have another intern that would do very well for you. He's been trained by our Calleigh and some by Xander as well." He texted him, getting him running in. "Brad, this is ...."
"Detective Vecchio, Chicago." He shook his hand.
"Wow, you guys are seriously rebuilding. It's supposed to be a great new lab, Detective." That got a smile.
"Brad is on the normal internship schedule, Detective, and he is rated seventh in the country." Ray nodded, walking him off to talk to him. Horatio looked at Xander, sliding over the paperwork from his pocket. "The Chief wanted you to have that."
Xander looked at it then at him. "It's more money."
"It is. You'd also stay at the satellite lab. It would be yours. You would be Calleigh's second. Her lab tech would come behind you." Xander gave him a stunned look. "You've proved yourself, Xander." He tapped the papers. "The salary is top notch, in line with New York's and the federal ones. You're third in command out there already. I know Helen from night shift wants you to stay. She's taking over the satellite lab when we get Speed back." He smiled at him. "You'd be getting Tyler from night AV, she's already decided on that. Trace will be determined by Speed personally. You and Helen will be working out the t-shirt thing yourselves." He stared at him. "We want you to stay for other reasons as well. You're a great tech, Xander. We love having you in our labs," he said quietly. "The Chief was thinking we might need you but I want you to stay because I want *you* to be here."
"Wow, forty-eight is a bit low but it's still a great salary," Brad said a bit loudly.
"They're in a lower budget city," Horatio called over. "With the remodel and the rebuild, plus the problems they've had with the mandatory retirement clause recently that will go up fairly quickly, Brad." He got a smile. "It's a very good lab in the making. They need top quality techs to make sure it stays that way. You are one. I would not recommend Charlene for an 'A' level lab like theirs will be. They have also called down to see how bad the paperwork is for federal levels." That got a nod and Brad looked at him and signed right then. He smiled. "I think you'll like them."
"When are you done, kid?" Ray asked.
"Three more months. I'm already pulling overtime. Calleigh left me alone in the lab all last week, Detective." He grinned. "Do you guys really have Mounties?" Ray moaned. "I think that's really cool and I'm looking forward to working with some international cooperation. Horatio scares them."
"They come in pushy," Horatio told him. "I'll gladly work *with* others."
Ray smirked at him. "I still need evaluations from you." Horatio pulled them out and handed them over. "He's a good tech?"
"Very good. Give him a trial weekend, Detective Vecchio," Xander told him. "He's on my level of good and even Calleigh agrees he's more than ready to lead his own lab. He'll do it more quietly and won't have to deal with the strange crap I would."
"I like that even better. I've got a Mountie for that." He looked over the evaluations. "Field time?"
"I've had to help gather at a mass shooting event," he admitted. "I did take the mandatory four classes we all have to have and I'm not against taking the others I need to make it a minor if you need me to," Brad said happily. "I really like that you guys have tuition reimbursement. I've been taking classes toward my doctorate in physics online after hours." Ray looked impressed at that. He leaned closer. "Xander has to deal with the strange stuff. He was sent down here before he got hired to do that," he said quietly. "I'm not like that. I'm a good Baptist boy and I know enough to handle things. I'm also borderline on the gun nutjob scale according to Calleigh. I'm every bit the tech Xander is, Detective Vecchio, but I can cook and I won't poison people with it."
Ray smiled and nodded. "I'll run you past my boss tonight. He's got next level approval and then our hiring board."
"I have a clean record, no blips, one missed day for a traffic accident I made up that weekend. No shooting reviews because I wasn't there the day the lab assault happened. Though if I had been I would have jumped in. You'll also find I'm in the Reserves now." That got a nod and a smile. "As a lab tech, not anything that'll get me sent into combat. I have an external contract with an R&D facility in Lansing, Michigan that I can guarantee will bring some notoriety to the lab and some money and grants as well. I have federal clearance due to that and I do know the people who do the lab evaluations for the federal standard. One of them also helps the lab I help with. I think I can get him to help with the federal level paperwork to elevate us."
"I like you more and more. You okay with odd, bouncy people and wolves who steal food?"
"I'd hope the wolf wouldn't be in the lab," he said dryly. "But I'm used to Xander and he's hyperactive. Bouncy doesn't scare me anymore. I like dogs as long as they're outside the labs so I wouldn't mind meeting him as long as he's friendly."
"He works with our Mountie."
"That's fine," he agreed happily, smiling at him. "Everyone needs a partner. It keeps you from being bored on the long days."
"We don't get much of that. Come on, let's go call my boss." He walked him off. "Thanks, Caine."
"Welcome, Detective," he said, smiling at Xander. "If you had warned me we could have done this without the bit of theatrics."
"I, um, thought you guys wouldn't want me to stay."
Horatio stroked his cheek. "We want you to stay, Xander. Club problem, artillery, and all. You can even turn your lab into your dream lab." Xander beamed at that. "You can work field hours down there if you need to, or trace hours. I want your lab to be fully on it's own by the end of two years. Possibly all but DNA capabilities. All right?" Xander nodded at that. "So you're the first step in making the satellite lab as good as our main one."
"I can bring in my own guns?"
"If you and Helen can work it out. I do know you're due for a lab upgrade."
"Not glass like you guys had?" he asked hopefully.
"No. That was Natalia's grant," he said dryly, shaking his head. He smiled. "Plus we'd be more than willing to let Alexx cook for you more often."
"I know. One of her children had chicken pox." Xander brightened up at that. "She does like you, Xander. I promise she does. We all want you to stay."
"Does Helen know she's coming over?"
"She'll know tonight. We're having a meeting in about an hour. So finish looking that over and sign it please."
Xander went back to reading it over. "No tuition reimbursement?"
"It got taken out a little over a year ago as a money saving measure," he said blandly. Xander shrugged. "I know, you're not really here for the money or the education, Xander." Xander looked at him. "We like you for who you are and what you can do outside and inside the lab. We appreciate you and your artillery knowledge, all your skills."
"Miami shouldn't have many more problems."
"We still want you even if another demon never comes here again."
Xander smiled and nodded, taking his pen to sign it. He handed it back. "I get to tell Helen you said I could wear my t-shirts?"
"That's between you two. I'll mediate." He smiled, tucking it back into his pocket. "Brad will do much better for what Chicago needs. They need someone who'll rebuild their lab and he's got the contacts they need. We need you." He stood up. "Come on, we'll do that meeting and then Speed's fixing dinner." He nodded, following him out. He looked at the suit. "You do look nice in that."
"I can't work in it."
"Hmm. Some can't." He put on his sunglasses, walking him outside to the hummer. "Are you finished with Wesley's paperwork?"
"Yeah, so now I have to find somewhere better to live. My rent's paid to the end of the year's lease but I still need to find somewhere better to live. I'll use that as storage until I get it. Fred sent me books too."
"I'm sure we can give you recommendations of good places to live. Eric and Speed have both had more than a few apartments down here. Somewhere with air conditioning even." Xander gave him a hug. "It'll be fine, Xander. Now, let's go talk to the others." He started the hummer, backing out and heading to the meeting with the chief. He handed over the forms, getting a smile and a nod. "Brad signed on with Chicago if they'll accept him. They were quite impressed with his contacts and plans to help them rebuild." He sat down, letting Xander pick his own seat. He looked at Helen. "Speed picked you personally to run the satellite lab."
"Wow." She looked at the Chief. "You agree?"
He smiled. "I leave the labs to Horatio's good sense, Helen. He thinks it can be a fully functional lab within a few years' time."
"That is what I have planned so we can take some of the stress off ours," Horatio agreed, staring at her. "You're due for a lab upgrade out there anyway. You will be keeping Xander." She gaped at that. "You can have Tyler, I know he was approached about going out there when Speed asked you for a recommendation." Tyler smiled at him. "It's not hard at this point in time but we will be giving you more control over your part of the county as things progress."
"It won't bother me. I know Gerald had a lot of down time."
"No, he watched a lot of soaps," Xander told him, waving a bit. "Hi, I'm Xander."
"Tyler. DC told me he had met you." He shook his hand. "He told me a lot about you," he said with a small smirk. "We're all good as long as your t-shirts don't give me a headache, Xander. I'm a nice guy." Xander grinned at that. "Lieutenant, how full? Fingerprints? Trace?"
"Both and Xander can sub in trace when we need him to. He's also rated to do backup field work," Horatio told them, getting a smirk from Helen. "It was his second minor. He did his hours in San Diego and with the FBI on a few cases that he probably can't count for hours but it was field work in my opinion."
"Wonderful. So I'll get my whole lab, have you helping me rebuild it, and we won't have the ugly glass teeth?"
"That was not our plan," the Chief said dryly. "Her federal funders and minders made those decorating decisions. I'd rather have blues and calming colors instead of green glass canyon walls."
She smiled. "Okay." She looked at Horatio. "The downside?" Xander raised his hand. "I've heard a lot about you, Xander. You're not a downside."
"My clubbing problem can be."
"We'll work on that with you. For right now, do what you've been doing."
"This morning we had to save him from two sets of twins who where fighting over him," Horatio told her. She giggled at that, just nodding. "He also has a personal exemplar that he might be willing to keep in the lab without donating it to the lab while he's with us."
"That's fine with me, Horatio." She looked at him. "We'll go over that. What does your lab need?"
"Everything. I have one really old matching system and Gerald destroyed my comparison scope. The firing pen being added onto the outside of the building doesn't bother me."
"I want to tour it, I want input into what we're upgrading, and I want authorization on techs," she told Horatio.
"I think that's reasonable. Speed is going to pick his successor for Trace."
"He's reasonable about it. Field?"
"When we get you up to that, we'll send you a few to work with Xander and possibly later on interns of your own."
"I like to teach," Xander told him.
"I noticed and you did a good job with Brad, Xander. Charlene... Well, she wasn't willing to be taught." He smiled at him. "You'll get interns within five years." Xander beamed and nodded at that. He looked at her again. "Speed's coming back to my team in two weeks."
"I can move by then," she promised. "Because I live out in the 'glades on the other side of the city."
"As long as you can get to scenes in a reasonable amount of time," Horatio told her. She nodded at that. "Speed did say there's not that much going on out there so you should be able to keep going into the field if you want."
"I could like that. He told me he's been bored stupid enough to watch soaps himself a few times." She smiled. "Just the one shift?" He nodded. "We start when?"
"Ten," Xander told her. "It's even clean."
"That's a good thing. I heard what you guys found." Tyler shuddered. "Exactly." She looked at Horatio. "I can agree to that. Having Harris there as a second in command will be fine with me. Tyler, you mind?"
"Nope. I'm a simple lab tech. If Speed picks Johnson he won't care either. Patrick might kick up some crap but that'll settle down."
"Which one is he?"
"The blond sneering guy in the main lab on day shift."
"Oh, him. Yeah, I saw him the weekend Speed pulled me up there to make sure I could use the real machines. You might tell him the one machine won't be back for another three days," Xander told her. "Or have Speed remind him that we've got nearly nothing out there."
Horatio nodded. "Their mass spec is in the shop. It blew a fuse."
"How far are they behind us?" the Chief asked.
"They got the materials we had during the last tech upgrade. Including our old counters and flooring it looks like." Helen gaped. Then gaped at Xander, who nodded.
"I need a new scope," he agreed.
"Damn," Tyler said in awe. "Yeah, we need an upgrade. I'm sure we can make it good, Lieutenant."
"And I used to work construction so I can help," Xander offered.
"I had forgotten about that," Horatio said with a smile. "I'll have the boys come over to help you celebrate tonight so they can help you find a better place to move, Xander." He nodded at that. He looked at the Chief. "As long as there's no problem with hiring him?"
"Not on my end." He signed the paperwork and handed over the envelope from his pocket, smiling when Horatio handed it to the boy. "Your signing bonus. It's meant to help you move down here, son." He looked at Helen. "It's a task but it'll put you on the level with your boss and this one."
"Agreed!" she told him. "We won't be split for non-felonies?" Horatio shook his head. "That's fine then. We're in the low threat count part of the county. So we'll be taking over within two years?"
"That is my plan," Horatio agreed. "I've already secured the grants to update you. Miss Boa Vista led to a lot of opening doors." Helen gaped, then gave him a dirty look. "She was the mole," he said quietly. "I can and have talked to the people over her about things and they've agreed that something should be done to update our lesser lab."
"Then I'm all for blackmailing the feds," she said dryly. "Let me know when I can start picking out colors, tiles, and machines."
"I'll do that." He looked at his boss. "We'll have a planning meeting a month after she starts? That way she has time to go over Speed's update list and add to it?"
"That's reasonable. Can you move Wolfe down there? He can work trace."
"I'll suggest that to Speed tonight."
"That would cure some problems too," Xander told him. "Like that reporter brat that he used to date."
"Again a good reason," Horatio said with a smile. "Plus you and Ryan get along well." Xander nodded. "How are you in fingerprints?"
"Baseline. There and DNA."
"That's fine. We'll keep DNA with Miss Valera. She'd pout otherwise. Alexx can do the autopsies as well. She'll pout worse." That got a smile and a nod. "That would push Xander back to third in command. If Tyler didn't care?"
"Not for me to run a lab, Lieutenant. It scares the piss outta me."
"That's fine then. Helen?"
"That works for me," she agreed. "I like Wolfe and I'm sure we won't have problems like Bob had." She looked at Xander. "Should you have to do something in your *other* major, I need to know first, even if it's on the way to handling it. Am I clear?" He nodded. "Good. I also want a personal threat index on who I have to worry about showing up for you."
He pulled out his wallet, handing it over. "That's Buffy and that's Willow." He looked at her. "I'll run. I nearly did when Willow was there when I woke up. It's why I got out so soon."
"I tried to have her banished, she kept sneaking back in," Horatio admitted. "Eric had a talk with her, Xander. I'm sure she'll rearrange her thinking. He's promised next time she's going to be talking with Calleigh and Alexx." He patted him on the back. "We can also take you to the pound." Xander beamed at that. "Or you could date Mr. Wolfe and we'll still take you to the pound. He seems to appreciate your t-shirts since he was wearing a few."
"Speed likes my sarcasm ones."
"As do I," Horatio said dryly. "Anything's better than your elephant one."
"We'll go through your closet," Helen told him. "Though you do look nice."
"Chicago came down to talk to me about their program."
"Ah. You dressed up. I like that. Keep a suit in your locker for sudden court appearances. It's always easier." She looked at them. "With your leave, sir, I'm off to celebrate with my girlfriend."
"Go for it," the Chief said happily, shaking her hand. "Congratulations."
"Thank you, sir. Am I telling my boss?"
"I will gloat on your behalf," Horatio promised. That got a nod and she left. He smiled at Tyler. "Whenever you can I'll expect you out there. Since Gerald got fired it's been Xander and Speed for the last few days."
"I can report there tomorrow morning if I can have tonight off," he offered. The Chief nodded. "Thank you, sir, and you too, Lieutenant. I'll see you tomorrow, Xander. Congrats." He walked out smiling. It was a serious raise in status. Plus it was a lot easier of a job. Gerald only did an hour's worth of work a day.
Horatio knocked on Xander's door. "The nightshift supervisor is not happy with me. She's threatened to dent my hummer and run over my sunglasses."
"I'll spank her if she does," Xander promised, letting him inside. "They're suggesting areas to look." He led him back to the table, smiling at Speed. "They want to run over his sunglasses and dent the hummer."
"We'll make the evil bitch sorry," Speed promised with a smirk at his lover. "He said he doesn't want a house."
"It is a big investment but how about a townhouse?" he suggested.
"There's some fantastic ones down there," Eric said thoughtfully, logging onto a realty site down, selecting that area of the city. "Here's a good one. 3000 square feet, two floors. It's in a very nice area. It's got reasonable payments as long as you make a good down payment." He let the kid see it. "It's not spacious but it's looking okay."
Xander looked at him. "I have that much in the bedroom, Eric. I need storage." He looked at Horatio. "Why didn't you put the rest down there?"
"Because the rest is illegal and I can't put that there. They want inventory lists." He gave him a look. "Find him something we'd all like to come over and hang out at, Eric." He found another one, letting him see it. "That is spacious by Miami standards."
"That's spacious by LA standards," Xander said dryly. He looked it over. "It's being refinished?"
"Probably the floors," Speed said, calling the number. "Hi, this is Detective Speedle. I'm helping our new ballistics tech look for a townhouse. You have one listed... That one." He listened. "So what's wrong with it? At that price?" he snorted. He nodded slowly then smirked at Xander. "Two whole floors have to be replaced thanks to the last tenant dying from multiple stab wounds. A domestic."
"I can banish ghosts," he said quietly.
"He said he can have it reblessed." He listened. "Yes, he's a ballistics tech, he would have guns." He smirked a bit. "Where is that one?" He typed an address into the search function, coming up with the listing. "No, he's working at the satellite lab." He nodded, typing in another address. "That looks nice. What's the catch?" He smirked at that. "He'll have pets." He nodded, going to another website to look there "I can do that. Thank you." He hung up. "One is now listed as a no violence community. No guns permitted or they can have you removed from the community. The other was no pets." He looked up the area and found a few he would like. He looked at Xander. "Do you want something you can work on or something you can move in and it'll be perfect?"
"Umm.... I don' want to come home after a full day at the lab and put in eight hours working on the house but mild painting and stuff is okay." Speed showed him one. "That's going to take a hell of a lot of work and I doubt you can move in with it like that." He looked at the others, smiling at one. "I like this one."
"That's way too low of a price," Eric warned. "That means it's going to need some work."
Xander got into a chat room then logged out and went to call someone. "It's Xander. I'm staying," he said happily. "At the satellite lab. Yup, down there. That's what I'm doing. I need space for a dog or two and the weapons?" he suggested. He nodded, taking notes. "Rent or buy is fine, dear." He nodded at that, finding the last one made his soul hum. "What's that one like?" He smiled. "I can do that." He hung up, looking at them. "The local pagan network has a good place to start looking and three other good suggestions and one that kinda sounded flat to me."
"We can look tonight before we go out to dinner," Speed promised. "Go put on more you clothes, Xander."
He went to do that, coming out in a nicer pair of jeans and a simple tight t-shirt. He grabbed things and headed out with them. The first one that Xander thought might be nice was making their hairs stand on end. Literally in Horatio's case. Xander talked to the landlord, who told him where to go. He went to that building next and it was a lot nicer. A bit more grungy but nice. The next one was run like a hippie commune, all peace and light. Xander nearly shuddered at that so they moved on without going inside. The last one was a black building. Black windows. Black stone work. Some gothic arches. Xander rang the bell for the manager, and they all backed away from the man when he came to the front door of the building. "Hi, Xander Harris."
"Knight," he said respectfully. "Are you handling my tenant up on three who's trying to summon a ghost?"
"No, looking for a place to live. I'm staying at the satellite lab locally."
The guy smirked and nodded. "We only have one small apartment open but I know of somewhere safe that won't hinge on your reputation." He called someone from his cellphone. "I'm sending you a possible tenant. With the police department, a lab tech. He's my sort but retired." Xander nodded at that. "He's got a good rep as a nice, goofy kid. His boss and a few coworkers are with him. Thanks." He hung up, writing down an address on the piece of paper Xander had. "Go there." He walked back inside and closed the door.
Xander shrugged and they went there. It was ten blocks from the lab. It was in the middle of a shopping area. It had a college nearby so it had a lot of fast food and delivery places. Including Xander's favorite pizza place for lunch and organic mushroom pizza. The woman was waiting on them. "Hi, Xander Harris." She blinked at him then stared in awe. "You've heard of me?"
"You're ... Damn!" she said finally, smiling at him. "I've heard about your artillery collection, sir. I'm impressed."
Xander beamed. "I signed on with the local crime lab, with the satellite lab."
"Wow. So you need what?"
"A place to live and store the guns," Speed told her.
"Oh, hell yeah! I've got a four bedroom and a five bedroom." She led them up there, letting them see. It was a nice building. It had an elevator. It was quiet. Someone had some music on but it was still quiet. She let Xander into the first one. "Sorry, I just kicked out a few frat boys."
"That's okay, it happens I guess," Xander said with a smile, looking around. He liked it, it was okay. "I don't need a great kitchen except for a fridge. I can't cook."
"The five bedroom is nicer and it's the top floor. Rents for fifteen hundred a month, all utilities included." She took them up there. "We're mostly college students so you'd be the wiser older one they could come ask questions to about work and the real world if you wouldn't mind." Xander shrugged at that. She watched him look around the space. "So how long have you been in Miami? You only get a tan like that down here."
"A few months," he admitted with a smile. "I've been living in a not so great area."
"He's been living on the edge of a project," Eric told her.
She nodded. "Miami has those." She smiled when he came back to look over the kitchen. "Why not one of the pretty places downtown?"
"The satellite lab is up the road and I'm going to have a dog," Xander told her. "It's safer than me dating. I dated a stripper and she went serial killer."
"Oh, sweetie." She hugged him. "What's bothering you about this place?"
"No bathtub. I like bubbles now and then. I was raised by girls."
She smiled and nodded, winking at him. "Come with me." She led him out and up the road, into another building. "I technically own this one too but I'm selling it." She let him look through the three apartments. He cooed at the bigger one, running a hand over all the wood paneling. "It's a bit out of date for outlets and things. I never got around to replacing them or the appliances."
"How much is the building?" Horatio asked her.
"I'm asking three hundred thousand even for it."
Xander looked at her. Then nodded. "Okay." He beamed. "I've got some others who could probably move in here from the lab. I know Ryan was thinking about moving." He looked at Horatio, who nodded. "It'd be a good investment, right?"
"It would be," he agreed. "Do you have that much?"
"Um, yeah, once I get the stuff from Wes's family," he admitted. "They translated it from British money and it was closer to six large without the estate."
Speed gaped. "Excuse me?"
"Wes's father was a heritage titled knight," he told him. "Wes was the only child and he died without a will. It went to Wes and Wes's will left it to me. Though his motorcycle went to Gunn."
"Wow," Eric said. "What's in your bedroom?"
"Actually, if you can go get that I can put a good down payment on it tonight." Eric nodded, heading to go get it. He smiled. "Take cash?"
"Sure. You have that much cash?"
"I've been kidnaped a few times, and people like to kinda tip me in the club," he said sheepishly. He shrugged a bit, giving her a kicked puppy look. "I don't know why but I made three grand last night."
"Wow." She gave him a hug. "We can start the paperwork tonight. When will you have the rest?"
"Within the week. They're moving it to my bank down here." He called his bank's customer service people. "Hi, I need to know what my account balance is. Not off the top of my head. I know the last four." He smiled. "Xander Harris. Alexander technically." He listened. "12228 is my passcode." He nodded at the balances. "What got put in?" He looked at Horatio. "You took the stuff in the baggies to the bank?"
"I did," he agreed. "I don't want it in my desk, Xander. It's dangerous. Anyone could've taken it."
Xander looked at her. "I can pay you the rest by the end of the month then. Thank you, ma'am. Anything noted on the new accounts?" She went to look and told him that. "Thank you." He hung up. "They're in the process of setting them up and the trust. So by the end of the month?"
"That's fine, dear. I can do that." Eric came back, handing her a briefcase. "Classy."
"Wes. My former friend."
She looked inside, settling in the kitchen to make note of it. She nodded, calling her real estate agent. "I'm selling the old building to someone. He's with the crime lab. He's put down a hefty down payment with me and he'll have the rest by the end of the month. An inheritance. No, he's moving into one and he'll be offering another one to someone else." He nodded and smiled at that. "That'll work. I'll have the paperwork to you with the last payment, Xander?"
"That's fine. Can we draw up preliminary?"
"Sure." She heard her realtor say that. "Fax it to me at home. Yup." She hung up. "Come back to my place and we'll do that." She walked them back up there, taking the fax to let them both read and sign it. Then they went out talking about what to have for dinner to celebrate. It was a nice thing and she owed her friend a snack. She sent one of her college girls to him. He'd appreciate that.
Xander smiled at Ryan when he walked in the next morning. "You're early."
"I know. I came to see what Speed needed me to bring. Plus to scope out real estate on the drive back."
Xander smirked. "I'm buying a building by the college. It's got a spare three bedroom apartment. It needs some updating. I'm a cheap landlord. You mow the grass, pay me a little bit, and we'll split the utilities?"
"I'd have to see it. Eric said you were getting a nice place."
Speed leaned out of trace. "Very nice. Lots of wood. The spare's a three bedroom. Two smaller and one nice bedroom. Older outlets. Nice kitchen. There's another apartment in the building for storage or for later interns if you have to and want to. He'll be the landlord. It's seven blocks from here."
"Cheap rent," Xander teased. "Say, eight hundred a month?"
Ryan nodded. "I can do that." He smiled. "Let me see it when you sign papers."
"As soon as I get the other stuff from Wes."
"Why don't you use what we rescued you with last night?" Speed complained.
"Because it's wrong to prey on their delusions. That's why I don't cash those checks, Speed."
Tyler strolled in. "My new family," he said proudly. "Hey, Wolfe."
"Tyler. You're being switched down here?"
He nodded. "Yup, effective today. Where's my ancient machines?" Speed pointed. "Locker room?" Xander pointed. "That'll work."
"I'm on your other side and one wall is against the end of my firing pen," Xander warned.
"That's fine, Xander." He went to look and whimpered. "He wasn't joking. It's ancient! We got rid of this stuff in the main lab eight years ago!" he complained.
"Yeah, it came here from there," Speed agreed. "Remember, getting an update. Soon. All you have to do right now is the traffic cams."
"Uh-huh." He settled in to do that. Then he switched monitors for a less grainy one. That way he could get to work in a good, timely manner. He even clocked in when it was time. "Why do I smell wax?"
"Because I buffed it two days ago," Xander called. "We don't have a janitor."
"Yay us," Tyler said dryly.
"That's okay, we've got the time to clean our own labs," Speed assured him, nodding at Trace. "You need everything, Wolfe."
"What am I bringing my first day?"
"Your stuff. The mass spec will be back then." That got a nod and Ryan left, going to make his lists back at the main lab. He looked at Xander. "Need help moving?"
"I can't hire someone to move the artillery."
"No, dumbass, that's what friends are for," Speed said dryly. "Plus you could probably buy all new furniture."
"I like my bed. Not the frame but I like the mattresses. The couch's lumps are all nicely worked to where I can sleep on it too."
"We'll figure that out when you get the final papers and the keys," Speed told him, going back to work. "We have nothing. You?"
"Nope," Xander said grimly, going to read in his lab while he sharpened a sword. Tyler came in a few minutes later, giving him an odd look. "Sorry, I like to do things while I read."
"Take up knitting."
"Sorry." He put it aside.
"Let him close the door," Speed called. "You get used to the sound, Tyler."
"If you say so." He went back to his lab, printing off and forwarding a copy of what needed to be done. Then he got to work taking an inventory and making his update list. Helen would not be happy with him. He did turn on the Price is Right for some noise while he worked but that was fine and Xander came over to help him lift things out of the way. The lab was stuffed with spare monitors and machines. "Can we get a computer tech down here to look at the extra systems?" he called.
"Sure," Speed called back, making the call for him. One of the geeks from computer services came in at one to look over things. Speed smiled at him. "The boys are out at lunch." He walked him over there. "Gerald was hoarding old stuff. Tyler wanted to know what was on them and what we're doing with them."
"Sure." He sat down with a spare monitor to plug in the first system to get to work. He blinked. "It's all... Porn," he said in awe. "Wow." He opened another file. All the pictures were porn. All the files were stories. Xander and Tyler came back. "Guys, this one's got eight gigs of porn."
"Wow," Xander said. "Worse than my small collection."
"Mine too," Tyler said. "The others?"
"I only just got here, guys. Let me transfer this over and burn it down." He got the spare terminal from Tyler and got to work on that. This one only had a floppy drive but it had a spare USB port so he could plug them in for the transfer. Once it was clean he carried it outside, coming back with some spare burnable DVD's. The next one was the same way. By the end of the day he had seven hundred gigs of porn to take back to the office and a lot of old, spare equipment they could use for parts. "Boss, I found the porn link and stealer," he called. "I need help carrying too." A few of the other guys groaned but came to help. "Gerald, down in the satellite lab, had a bunch of old systems in there shoved in the corners. It was *full* of porn! Seven hundred gigs of porn!" he told his boss, walking out with him to grab some of the ancient equipment Tyler had told him he was not going to have in his lab. "When they fired him they moved Caine's first AV tech, Tyler, down there. Speed called for him. I logged in and it's all porn. Most of the systems are full." He hefted in a desktop system. He came back out. "By the way, I let the guys have copies of what I found so they could see if anything was their sort of porn. I didn't figure you'd mind but I did warn them not to use the work systems."
"Thanks for that," his boss said, shaking his head. "I wondered why AV was requisitioning this old crap." He carried in more. "You wiped them?"
"Yeah but I saved everything down on DVD for us to find who downloaded it originally, boss. Tyler apparently doesn't have a whole lot to do down there."
"That's probably why he had seven hundred gigs of porn," he said dryly.
Xander smiled, letting Ryan into the other apartment. "I spent this weekend updating the outlets and making sure the wiring was all right for you. It's not hazardous. It was replaced about five years ago but they didn't do a socket upgrade."
Ryan looked around, smiling at the cozy feeling rooms. "This is nice."
"It is, that's why I bought the building," Xander said happily. "I've already moved most of the artillery upstairs. Oh, Tyler found Gerald's porn stash." Ryan laughed. "Seven hundred gigs on all those old systems he had in the corners and things." Ryan gaped. "So I printed it out and bound most of them. It's something to do on a boring night if you wanted to borrow them. I probably won't use them but it's nice when you're lonely."
Ryan nodded. "I'll remember that. Your dog?"
"Going on my next Saturday off." He showed Ryan the fridge. "We can upgrade that. I'm getting a new one with more storage area for mine since all I do is order and microwave."
"I can cook and we'll work that out, Xander. I heard about your menu collection having a name."
"Well, it does remind me of my mother. Not like she could cook either." He showed him around his. "This is mine. Eric swears up and down he's going to help me move." That got a laugh and a nod. "So I can help you if you need it."
"Don't worry about mine. I can hire the real people since I won't have anything they'd object to." He saw the bookcase of slimline folders and shook his head. "That's just strange."
"Yeah, he had some strange tastes too. Some alien stuff. Some barely legal stuff. Some woman and unicorn stuff." He shrugged. "I got rid of anything where someone was underage and the nasty stuff." He showed him the storage area. "We can share this one I figure."
"It's a good space. Maybe sometime we'll let an intern have it cheaply."
"I got told I'd have interns within five years," Xander said proudly.
Ryan gave him a hug. "It'll work out fine, Xander. Need first and last?"
"Nah. I trust you. Pay me monthly, Ryan. If you damage it, you fix it."
"Thanks." He paid him and took the spare keys. "Front door?"
"Yup. That door locks, then your door." That got a nod. "Make sure they work. I changed the locks last night." He did that, nodding and putting them into his pocket. "We should celebrate."
Ryan smiled. "We'll celebrate when we're all moved in. Let me get stuff to clean. Need wood polishing stuff? I've got some."
"I've got stuff. Don't worry about it." Ryan nodded, going to get some cleaning products and come back to clean his place. Xander went to deposit the check and figuring out what he'd need to buy for the new place. Then he went to rent a truck. He found Speed and Eric waiting on him. "We're going to really help me move?"
"Unlike the girls, we do things like that," Eric told him. "Did Wolfe like the other place?"
"Yup. He got the keys today. He's cleaning happily." He helped haul down his bed and the trunks under it. He didn't have that much stuff. It only took them three hours to move everything. He took down the fake wall, letting them heft down the last few pieces of artillery too. The landlord came back up. "I'm leaving the bed frame, the couch, and the old recliner."
"That'll work," he agreed. He walked him around it. "It's still cleaner than when he rented it." He handed him back the rest of his rent and deposit. "You know, I'm selling this one."
"I'll keep that in mind," Xander said happily. He handed over the keys and did one last turn around, making sure they hadn't left anything. Then he headed over to the new place and got to work unloading things. They were done by dinner time so he yelled over to Ryan. "We're ordering. Want to join us?"
"Sure," he called back, coming over once he had his rubber gloves and mask off. "The bathroom needed some serious bleaching. Yours?"
Xander shrugged. "I use the industrial stuff, Ryan. It ate the grout for me. I've replaced it already but it ate the grout."
"I might need to borrow that." Xander got him the bucket of things he cleaned with, letting him drag them to his apartment then come back. "What're we getting?" He looked around. "No couch?"
"He left it," Speed told him. "H is taking him couch looking in a few hours." He smirked. "Plus fridge looking and microwave looking." Xander nodded. "You can go too."
"I do need that and a new stove. Speaking of, the stove doesn't work, Xander."
"We can replace that too," he promised. "Pizza, Chinese, Russian, Greek? Sandwiches? Pick something, guys. Mom's on the counter." Eric and Speed looked through it but Speed called Alexx, who came over with Calleigh and food for them. They sat around on the floor until Horatio got there to join them and then he and Ryan got taken furniture shopping. Xander came out with a lot of nice stuff that would be delivered in the morning before he went to work. And his new laptop they stopped to pick up. They settled back in, talking to each other.
Alexx looked around the living room. "This is really a nice building, Xander. How much did you pay for it?"
"Three hundred thousand," he said happily. "The old owner rents to college students up the street."
"She had 'pity cuddle the Xander feelings'," Eric told her with a grin.
Speed pinched him. "She heard about him and wanted him to have a good place for his guns," he countered.
"Why would she have pity cuddle feelings?" Alexx asked.
"For the same reason he gets stolen from the clubs," Eric told her.
"I still don't believe that," she said dryly.
Xander grinned. "We can take you out with us some night, Alexx."
"No endangering her, she's like my mother," Speed said, swatting at him. "Calleigh, get him for me, he's out of range."
She swatted him. "There, because you deserve it. The last time I went with you I came home with new earrings in places that good girls don't talk about."
Alexx gave her a look. "What?"
She blushed and shrugged. "His psycho posse, Alexx."
"That's why we're taking him to the pound next weekend," Speed assured her. "Wolfe, remember, you're to call us if he starts to date."
"Yes, Speed," he said dryly, shaking his head as he laughed. "It can't be that bad."
Horatio looked at him and nodded. "Yes it can. We three went with him and had to save him from two sets of twins who were fighting over kidnaping rights, Mr. Wolfe."
"They were cute," Calleigh said.
"See, now, my last last one, when I went to fix things, hasn't done anything," Xander told them. They all gave him horrified looks. "I had to hide and I ran into one of Tanya's former coworkers. We had a lot of fun. Plus she hid the evidence for Don."
"I'll make sure she hasn't done anything like take the FBI hostage," Eric said, shaking his head lightly. "We could go out tonight."
"I'm not the sort to go out and do some wild clubbing," Alexx told him.
"You can be the mom with me," Calleigh offered. "Someone's got to watch Xander's back."
She smiled. "Let me call the husband. He was having one of those 'leave me alone' nights anyway." She called him. "Baby, it's Alexx. I'm with them. They're suggested we go out to help Xander celebrate moving his first owned place. Up to you." She smiled and nodded. "That's fine." She hung up. "He'll call a sitter and meet us wherever."
"I call the dance club," Speed said. "That was a nice, low key place," he said at Eric's look. "Calleigh and Wolfe will feel comfortable there and Alexx can seduce her husband shaking it to the higher class music."
"Less chance of weapons coming in too," Calleigh pointed out.
"I don't care either way but I need to shower and change," Ryan told them. That got a nod and they went to do that, meeting up at the place they had last rescued Xander from.
Frank looked at his watch then around the crime scene. "Where is everyone?" He called Horatio's phone again. "Where are you?" he demanded. He listened to the female voice. "Excuse me? I know he's not dating you." She sneered something and he snorted, snapping his fingers at the patrol officer there. He wrote down a message, getting a horrified look and him running to report that. "Listen, lady, I need Horatio here to do his job. Yes, the redheaded one. I need him on this crime scene before the body walks off. Now, you think you might let him go sometime soon?" She sneered something else. "What do you want in return? No, the boy's not a toy. No, Wolfe is not. Neither's Delko. That one?" he snorted, holding his head. "No, you can't have Harris either." Someone pulled up with a squeal of brakes and jumped out. "I'll let you talk to someone who can talk to you about how bad they all are for you. Well, Harris has a serial killer ex," he offered. "Horatio's had a few. Delko's dated a good few women, including one who was going around hurting others. You sure you want them? You know what? Let Alexx and her husband go. Let Calleigh and Speed go. Then we'll work on the others. I can be reached here. That's fine as long as they're okay." She hung up on him and he looked at Stetler, who was passing that on. He finally got a nod. "They out?"
"SWAT was already rolling while the trace started. They're staring at the building and got them as they came out. Woods and her husband. Duquesne and Delko. What did they do?"
"I have the feeling Harris was involved," he said grimly. "She mentioned him." Stetler groaned, calling over there. He finally laughed and hung up. "What's so funny?"
"They went out to celebrate Harris buying and moving into his first owned place. Calleigh looks stunned and she needs medical to get rid of a few things that were pierced onto her. Woods was muttering over and over how she hadn't believed the boys."
"Let Hagen steal him back."
"Hagen's there too. He's negotiating." He looked at the scene then at him. "I'll get Helen."
"Sure. Thanks." He went back to taking notes on what he could see. Helen and the other ME got there fairly quickly. "They told you about Harris' clubbing problem, right?" he asked finally.
Helen smiled and nodded. "Yup. That's how he bought the small apartment building and is letting Wolfe live there cheaply." She got back to work. "We have a stabbing. No bullet in the tract," she announced. He nodded, making notes on that. She looked at Stetler. "Got an update?"
"They let Speedle go so he could get his shoulder checked out. He was complaining of pain from the recent gunshot wound. No word if it's a ruse." He listened, walking back to his car to call his boss over the radio. "I want to debrief them." He hung up, going back to his listening. She was demanding sex from Harris in return for letting them all go? "Take one for the team, brat," he muttered. He heard Hagen agree to it. Then Horatio and Wolfe got free. SWAT poised to go in and Xander came out ten minutes later, handing her over. She was crying and begging him to do it again. He put his head on the steering wheel. "Why me?" He looked out at the others. "They're all free. She's in custody. She still wants Harris." He started the car, heading to the hospital. He stormed in and Speed turned his water pistol on him.
"Bad IAB. Bad! Go away! Not right now!" Stetler shrieked and danced back away from the holy water that was burning him. "We don't need this right now. We've got to get Xander to quit pouting at the nurses. Go away for another hour." He walked back into the room, sending the nurses out pouting. "You can't come back either. Get a different one." He glared at Xander, who shrugged. "You can go back to clean your guns once you're checked out. Quit pouting before you make them take you."
"I'm sorry but I'm feeling pitiful."
"I can tell." He gave him a hug and let Horatio have him when he came in with the doctor. He handed over the squirt gun with a smile. "Here. He didn't like being wet." They finally got Xander free, taking him off to debrief them. They had no idea what he had done to her but she was still begging for more through the drugs.
Horatio smiled as Ryan pulled in to where he and his boys were waiting on him, waving him over when he got out. "We should talk about you watching over Xander."
"I got the point why I need to," he promised. "Has her husband called to complain again?" He sat down at the picnic table.
"Twice," Eric sighed. "The Chief made us talk to him the last time. He could not believe his wife had done something like that."
"Would not, not could not. He said she had cheated on him before," Speed corrected. He looked at him. "We're all taking him to the pound in a few days. We'll try to get something that won't annoy you or that you can play with too, but we need you to tell us when he's being bad."
"Either that or we need to find him a good boyfriend," a male voice said as he walked over, taking off his sunglasses. "I thought LA was bright."
"You are?" Horatio asked.
"Charlie Epps. Xander came to me when he needed help." He shook his hand with a smile. "I can tell you that a good boyfriend would wear out some of it. A girlfriend might not be able to. He did tell me that he had been taken while with Tanya the night we talked over beers." He smiled at Ryan. "He mentioned all of you and how good of a team you were."
"Yeah but it sucks because I don't know anyone who could date the boy," Ryan complained. "They're...." Horatio gave him a look.
Charlie grinned. "I noticed. Don't worry about me. I know a few Feds who're pretending not to be together too, Lieutenant." He relaxed at that. "I've studied what we have from Xander, including some of his sweat samples."
"I ran a few too," Speed admitted, handing over the notes he had taken. "This is what I found."
Charlie compared it to his notes and pointed at something. "When he's tired this one goes higher. Isn't that an attractor?"
"It is," Horatio agreed, taking it to look at. "So, tired is bad?"
"Tired is apparently very bad for him, but I'm sure you know he doesn't really sleep. Neither of the ones I've met slept very much. They both had nightmares and his temporary girlfriend while he was back in time to fix that situation said the same thing. She wasn't sleeping very well because he kept waking up."
"Would therapy help that?" Eric asked Horatio. "I know you have the same thing."
He shrugged. "For some it does. For some it doesn't." He handed Speed the notes. "Any other suggestions?"
"Give him something to love other than his weapons. It can only help him."
"He's getting a dog next Saturday."
"That'll help. I still think a boyfriend would help more. Someone that can talk Xander down when he's in a bouncy mood. Someone to take the chocolate from him." They all groaned. "It'll be fine but it's something we've got to deal with now and then, guys. It'll never fully go away unless it's really a curse that was laid on him and then it might be cured by passing it on to someone else."
"Then wouldn't a girlfriend be the natural choice?" Ryan suggested.
"No. Because he has some very strong reactions to women," Speed told him. "He shied away from Alexx and Valera both, Ryan." He looked at him. "What's the other reason you came down?"
"I came down to tell him what I had found out about that but he said to come talk to you guys since you're holding a meeting about him." Horatio shook his head but he was smiling. "Xander is very good at strategies. Don found that out. Don still can't stand his theories on sports but we all came to love the kid after a few day's exposure to him."
"He is like the cuddle virus," Ryan admitted. "After exposure you want to cuddle him. Some women must take that to the level of shopping instead of tactile contact."
Speed shrugged. "I have no clue but I'm not really pleased that she made him go shopping with her at gunpoint to buy me new t-shirts and pants." He looked at Charlie. "Any other good ideas?"
Charlie shook his head. "No. Sweetie Pie was most adamant that he find someone good to love. That he deserved it. She wasn't going to kill his friends but she did want to take cooking lessons so she could take care of him. When he called her to talk about the first letter someone else supposedly sent it made her week and she went on a baking binge. Since he wasn't there and she knew he had worked with Don, he got seven dozen butterscotch chip cookies delivered by her on her way to work one night. In costume no less. The guys teased him horribly for weeks." They all smiled at that. "She understands now and she'll find someone like him out there to mother and take care of."
"There's others like Xander?" Eric asked.
"Statistically speaking no one is absolutely unique," Charlie said, standing up again. "So I'll let you guys do that while I help Xander balance his checkbook. He's struggling with it because of the seven accounts and the stuff that's in Pounds versus dollars." He waved and headed off to his car, going to Xander's place again.
"Okay, so we need to find Xander a boyfriend. What does he like in guys?" Eric asked. Horatio pointed at Speed behind his back. "Really?"
Speed swatted Horatio. "Yes, he likes them slightly sarcastic, like his t-shirts. They've got to get all the jokes on his t-shirts. So if you wanna go for guys...."
"Never considered it," Ryan admitted.
"Think about it, it's not that bad," Eric offered. Horatio swatted him. He grinned. "I didn't think about it before you two," he reminded him.
Horatio smiled but it was Speed who quipped, "It's the hair, Eric. It draws them like magnets." He looked at him. "We could decide Xander's a toy."
"He needs and deserves a steady, loving relationship," Horatio reminded him.
"We could..." Speed said, considering it. "There's a lab techs' convention coming up, H."
Eric grinned. "Bring him, let him see if anyone strikes him, see if they can get together and then we poach?"
"We could use some new good techs," Speed agreed. "Because I'm about to kill the one in the main lab and the one on nightshift in non-felony." He looked at Horatio. "Would that work for you?"
He smiled. "If he found love that way I would expect him to come to me about getting his lover transferred down here. Especially once we got the satellite lab up to snuff and handling their own area." They all smiled at that. "So let's see what we can do about that." He called Xander. "It's... Yes, it's all of us, Xander. We were thinking that you might like to go to the lab tech's convention coming up shortly. Because Speed thinks there's some there that you might like to meet," he said honestly. "If so and you do find one you want to be in a serious relationship with, I will expect them to allow you to bring them down here. I know I said poaching was wrong but for the cause of love we'd allow it." He smiled. "That would be fine, Xander. Of course. It's in three weeks, Eric?" He nodded. "Three weeks. We already have people going so I'll let you go instead of Eric or someone. I'll check the logs and make sure you can have a bed." He smiled and nodded. "That's fine, Xander. No, enjoy the night with Charlie and we're not setting you up with Ryan. You're right, he'd take over cleaning your guns on you and you'd hate that." He smiled as he hung up. "He cleans his as meditation."
"I clean mine as an OCD ritual," he agreed. "It'd be the same thing but I'd help and he'd hate that." He stood up. "So, we're agreed, finding him a boyfriend?" They all nodded. "I'll listen around. Maybe someone locally will do it for him. Someone in patrol or somewhere." He shrugged and left, heading back to his car and then his new apartment. He was still unpacking his clothes and it needed to be done so he could go to bed.
Speed found Horatio's phone and called a number in it. "Mac, Speed. No, no big issue. A bit of matchmaking. We have a very lonely young tech down here who desperately needs someone to love. He's going to the lab tech's convention in a few weeks. We're not sure. He's had some trouble with women. A serial killer, a few who were willing to kill him, things like that. Yeah, Xander." He smiled at Horatio. "That's what we're working on. Who do you have going other than Stella?" He blinked. "Danny's nice from what I remember. Sure. Let Stella in on it because only Eric's going and we're the first good taste he's shown in lovers ever. Thanks, man. He likes them a bit sarcastic. A bit on the odd and goofy side. Yeah, likes his t-shirts, likes dogs. Thanks, man." He hung up, handing the phone back. "Stella's going and she is an excellent matchmaker." He gave them a smug look before standing up and heading for his bike at a stroll. "Heading home, guys? Or will it be only me in the tub?"
Eric bounced up and ran for his car. "Race you home."
Horatio gave them a fond smile, following along in the hummer. Sometimes Speed was very naughty.
Mac pointed out the boy to Stella, making her coo in happiness. "Remember what you found out from the Miami crew," he said patiently, watching her walk away.
"Xander?" Stella asked.
He gave her a sheepish look. "Eric said I'd be meeting a Greek Goddess here and he told me I'm here to see if I like anyone."
She put an arm around his shoulders, walking him off. "Which is why they called me. I am very good at matchmaking." She smiled at him. "Plus we'll be in some of the same lectures since I need to do some ballistics work and I do a lot of trace stuff. This gives you someone to pal around with." She winked and he grinned back, nodding. "Good. Now, what do you like in guys?"
"See, that's the problem. Did you hear about my ex-girlfriends?"
"Oh, yeah. I agree, girls are bad for you. As long as I don't turn bad too, it'll be okay. So no lusting after me." He grinned and nodded at that. "What do you want?"
"Someone who'll like me? I've got a dog now, a bigger weimaraner and something mixed dog. So they've got to like dogs. They've got to get my sense of humor and not try to change me. It's too late to change me. If they really like sports they're probably going to hate me."
"Any sports you do like?"
"Curling?" she asked, giving him a look.
"Yeah, I found it on tv last night and it looked pretty interesting."
"Okay. Any others?"
"Horse jumping is pretty. Like slow motion dancing." She nodded. "I'm a bit sarcastic now and then. Some of my t-shirts induce headaches." He let her see his current one, which was one of those.
"I was trying to ignore that." She pinched him on the ear. "We'll see what I can find. I know a good portion of the ones here this weekend. Do you mind pretty, older?"
He shrugged. "Likes me, likes my sense of humor or at least can put up with me and it."
"You deserve someone who'd enjoy it." She smiled at her teammates. "Let's introduce you to someone. I work with them. They're chuckleheads." He nodded, letting her lead him over. "Guys. This is Xander. He's from Miami's lab. He's their prize ballistics intern that they signed to their satellite lab."
"We're expanding and they need someone world class," he said with a sheepish smile. "Hi."
"Hi," the blond guy with glasses said, smiling back. "I'm Danny, this is Don. Stella packed him so he could do some of the ballistics lectures with us. He likes guns."
"I love guns. I have a personal exemplar," Xander said happily. "Plus some artillery."
Don gaped at him. "They let you get away with that?"
"They're my babies with my dog," Xander told him.
Don looked at the kid then smiled at his t-shirt. "That' s evil." Danny looked at the shirt then took off his glasses to rub his eyes. "I know someone who'd like that. Where'd you get it?"
"A speciality shop in LA. He used some people's sig lines with some other sayings he found online to make some really neat t-shirts. Horatio said I could bring the ones he won't let me wear in the lab anymore. I kinda sorta caused a migraine problem one weekend."
"I can see why," Danny said, walking off shaking his head. "Let me get something to drink. Xander?"
"Soda, no ice?"
"Sure. I can do that."
"So, you like sports?" Don asked.
Xander gave him a hesitant look. "I was raised by some very odd girly girls. I like curling. I found it last night. I like horse jumping. It's like a ballet in slow motion over each jump." Don smiled at that. "I can't stand the normal guy sports. Most people are warned about me and my views on sports since I think football is like gay sex and cheerleaders look like hos."
Danny spluttered, turning around to cough. Mac walked him off. "Ignore him," Don said. "They can look like hos. Especially with some of those costumes." He'd ignore the first part before he burst out laughing and hurt the kid's feelings.
"I've got a few in the porn collection we found from our old AV tech. He was hoarding old computers and loading them up with porn for his own pleasure. They found seven hundred gigs of it when they fired him for trying to drive me and Speed out of the satellite lab. He was a bit OCD; apparently I upset his ritual Gods."
Don pulled him away from Stella. "Come on. There's some guys you should meet." He grinned at Stella. "If you don't mind?"
"No, go ahead. I'm under orders to introduce him to some nice people this weekend. They're hoping he finds someone cute to write to."
"She's under orders to help me find a boyfriend," Xander told him, making him laugh as they walked off. "So, you're not a tech?"
"No, I'm a homicide detective but I kinda like guns. They're neat and it's always good to learn the new things coming out onto the street." He grinned at him. "Are you attending or teaching any of the lectures?"
"I'm attending. I only graduated my internship a few weeks back."
"I used to work construction before I lost an eye. So now I'm a ballistics tech with a minor in trace and a minor in field work."
"Wow. That takes some brains."
"I had tutors for the theory only classes. I had a Blood who tutored me in Econ. He was very nice about putting it in language I could get." Don gave him an odd look. "I'm kinda like that now and then. I'm not really book smart, I'm a hands-on guy. That's why I'm putting a back porch on the new house I just got."
"You bought a house?"
Xander beamed. "I bought a small, three apartment, apartment building. I've got the bigger one. I'm renting one to another tech who's moving to the satellite lab and then we've got a storage one. My dog loves it. He plays all day long in the bare rooms I haven't furnished yet."
Don nodded. "It sounds like you're settled."
"I like Miami. Plus I kinda deal in strange stuff," he mumbled, looking down.
Don tipped his face up. "What was that? I quit mumbling as a teenager."
"I kinda dealt with strange stuff before and now I'm kinda on the hook for some of Miami's defense against it," he admitted quietly, glancing around. Don gave him an odd look. "Sorry, I shouldn't have told you that."
"No, it's okay. It's good to know who to call when that happens."
"Xander!" some woman squealed, making him flinch and look around. "Awww, sweetie!" She gave him a hug. "How have you been?"
"I've been pretty good, Petunia. Have you met Detective Don?"
"Flack," he supplied, smiling at her. "Stella just introduced us."
"You know the pretty one?"
"Yes but I work with her so I admire her for more than her hot ass," he said blandly, cracking her up, earning a swat on the chest. "You work in Miami?"
"LA. Xander temped in for us while he was in school. Such a sweet boy." She smoothed down his hair. "There, better, dear. Now, has someone been cooking for you?"
"Now and then Ryan does. He lives across the hall. He's my lab's new field guy. We're getting ready to move our satellite lab into a full lab for our area so we've got our own field guy and I'm running the ballistics lab down there," he said proudly.
"Well! That poor Horatio. Having to poach makes us hate him." She kissed him on the cheek. "I'll send you cookies, dear." He dug out a card, letting her have it with a smile. "I'll send you some great cookies." She hurried off to find someone from Miami and warn them off her staff.
Don smiled. "Do you often get offers of cookies?"
"I'm poisonous in the kitchen. I once gave food poisoning to nearly a whole floor of FBI agents I was working with because one stole my lunch and let others nibble." Don gaped then burst out laughing. "Unfortunately not kidding," he admitted dryly. He grinned and waved at someone. "Hi, Griffy."
"Xander." He smiled at Don. "He did his field work internship with me. Where are you heading after Miami?"
"I'm in charge of their satellite lab's ballistics department and Horatio's getting ready to make us do our own work."
He laughed. "Good to know. Who came up?"
"Eric and he's not poaching. We're here to find me other friends. Oh, Willow showed up."
Griffy growled. "Is she living?"
"Eric and she had a talk before she warped one of the other techs. Have you met Detective Flack out of New York? He works with Stella."
He smiled and shook his hand. "You're a braver man than I am. That woman scares me."
"She's good most of the time. Now and then, she yells," he admitted. Danny came over. "This is one of our field techs, Danny Messer. Danny, this one is a guy Xander did his internship for field work with."
"I know Griffy. Not too many of us real blonds here," he teased, shaking his hand. He looked at Xander. "He's the one you bragged on?" He smirked and nodded. "Wow. Horatio was wise." He grinned at him. "We've got a symposium on AV stuff coming up in a few, Xander. You coming?"
"I wouldn't mind." He let himself be escorted by Xander. He was a cute kid. They ended up sitting with some guys from Vegas, one of whom Xander nearly knelt at the feet of. Then Xander settled in to talk to him again. He was a nice, sociable guy.
Don walked into Mac's office Tuesday morning. "Did I see Xander taking on something with six arms after the 'using guns as leggos to build bigger guns' lecture?"
Mac nodded. "Yup. By the time I got there he had it down and handcuffed in strange ways and needed a sword." He grinned. "What did you think of him?"
"He's... He's a sweet kid. Kinda strange. A bit damaged. But a sweet, nice guy."
"Who's twenty-eight and one of the top techs in his field," Mac told him. "Especially in ancient weapons and artillery."
"We talked about that Sunday night." He sat down. "He was a great kid. Why were they trying to set him up?"
Mac tossed over a file. "That's his last long-term girlfriend."
"Elizabeth Huntress, AKA Sweetie Pie." He read it over, whimpering some. "She did what?"
"She wanted her Xander back so she went after the people who sent him to Miami," Mac said dryly. "He had another one who turned serial killer, Don. He's switching teams sexually and Horatio wanted him introduced to some nice people in the same field. That way he can poach legitimately."
Don handed it back. "What did he do to them?"
"All that says is that she wanted his tongue back."
"Huh. I want lessons in what he does but I'll stop before they go psycho." Mac tossed over something else, a CD. "What's this?"
"From Miami. About him. Stella adopted him and she asked for a list of things he liked to eat since he is literally poisonous in the kitchen."
"He told me about poisoning a bunch of agents. Why was an intern working with the FBI?" Mac handed over a newspaper story. He read it then looked at him. "He was helping them bust?"
"He used to work with them when a friend owned it. When the original owners took it back, things went back to bad and Xander helped them gather the information. He's a very good tech, Don. He'll be training the next generation some day or we'll mourn him every year after he saves Miami again."
"He, um, told me about that stuff too." He handed it back. "Think he and Danny would get along? I know he spent all weekend spluttering."
"Did you manage to get a picture? I didn't." Don found it on his phone, handing it over so he could laugh at the totally flummoxed, open mouthed shocked look Danny had on his face. "That's a good one." He plugged a cord into the phone to download it to his computer. "Do you really think they're suitable? You two seemed pretty tight."
"Me and one of the Vegas guys," Don admitted, shifting some. "It'd mean moving, Mac. He bought an apartment building. I'm going to keep in touch with him; I'm sure he could use some new friends. His old ones were enough to make me want to shoot 'em."
Mac nodded. "Horatio's said the same thing a few times. Especially after meeting that one." He smiled gently. "If you two do work it out that way, Don, we'll miss you."
"You know, they say someday the whole east coast is going to be one big city," Don teased. "Besides he's more Danny's type."
"Danny's got other things on his romantic mind," Mac said dryly, staring him down, getting a blush. "When we're all one big city, Horatio can have us both, Don."
Don got up. "I'll think about it, Mac. My parents would nag."
"It doesn't mean you can't have grandchildren," Mac reminded him. "Plus it would get you out of your father's shadow. Miami takes in strays."
"I'll remember that." He headed back to his desk to write Xander an email at his private address. His boss caught him and gave him a dirty look. "A ballistics tech with a speciality in artillery I met, Captain. A nice kid. Works out of Miami's secondary lab."
"Not the main one?" he snorted.
He looked at him. "They've got Duquesne, they don't need Harris there. Besides, they're upgrading their secondary to take over as a regional lab. They need him there to run those things." He finished the email, smiling when he reread it. Then he sent it. He did like the kid. He was a nice, good kid.
Xander coughed before walking into the meeting area. "Someone called for a serial killer knowledgeable tech with a speciality in funny cults?"
Mac smiled but Stella got up to hug him. "Xander! Where have you been for the last week? Horatio was trying to find you."
"I was back in LA for a problem. Don't ask, please. It was handled and it won't happen again. The world is once again safe." He grinned. "So, what's this serial killer's beef with people? Also, define funny cult?" He walked in, sitting between her and Danny. "Hi, all. Hi, Don." He grinned at him. "For those who I don't know, I'm Xander, I'm a CSI out of Miami-Dade and Horatio sent me since I know a good bit about serial killers and odd cults. I've known these guys now for almost a year. What's going on? All he told me was that Stella needed me before she got taken too."
Mac slid over the file. "It's an odd fertility cult. We can't find much on the origins of it."
Xander looked it over then smiled. "I think I can help with that. You guys don't have access to some of the same databases I have thanks to some former friends." He pulled out his laptop, logging in. "Wi-fi?" Mac nodded. He logged in and got to work on the Watcher's database Willow had been setting up. He found three entries. "Okay, we have three possibles by description." He looked at the name. "That doesn't correspond to any major name." He looked at each one, doing a name search within those records. He came up with one. "Here we are. Hittite." He slid it over to Mac. He looked at Stella. "From what I saw at first glance, you don't fit. You're not virginal. You do kinda look like their Goddess, which might be the reason behind you being in danger, but otherwise you shouldn't be on the lineup."
"Virgins are hard to come by in New York," Danny said dryly.
Xander shook his head. "Then they're not following the ritual. That means they're probably using it to cover something up. They found the ritual and it spoke to something that they were already doing. It's their excuse basically. Like asking a kid 'if your friends jumped off a bridge, would you' and the kid saying yes because he's suicidal anyway."
Mac slid it to Don. "Does that look reasonable to the scenes to you?"
He read it over, nodding. "Yeah, down to the letter." He looked at Xander. "Where did this database come from?"
Xander grinned. "There's groups of people who have studied the strange, odd, and unusual for generations, Don. Their newest incarnation made that one. The old one got blown up about seven years ago now in London." Mac gaped. He smirked. "I worked with the current head of the Watcher's Council," he agreed. "Back in Sunnydale." He looked at Don. "So if they're using that for their reason then we can backtrack to the points behind the ritual, find why it's their excuse."
"Which would help us with a profile and would keep Stella safer," Danny agreed, nodding. "Okay, can you do that or do we need a profiler?"
Xander grinned. "I'm an okay profiler. I had to learn to stop Tanya. No one believed she could kill anyone, she was too nice and sweet." He shrugged. Someone else came in and sat down so he looked at her, smiling a bit. "Hi, CSI Xander Harris out of Miami-Dade. Horatio sent me up to help with the cult case. You are?" He smiled at the other guy. "And you, I didn't mean to be rude. My former friends would try to kill me again for it."
"I'm Lindsay and this is Sheldon," she said, shaking his hand. "Are you a field tech?'
"Ballistics with a minor in trace and field work," he admitted with a goofy grin. "I'm a decent profiler because of an ex-girlfriend." He looked at Mac. "So we know how and the ultimate reasons they're using. Is there anything in that ritual that we can find singly to spot them? I know some rituals have special components and some are really expensive and hard to find or make. What have they been using? I need body purification and procurement, how they're preparing it after it's purified, what they're using as a weapon. Hopefully I can narrow down something to give you an idea of where they're getting something specific so we have a lead or six."
Mac nodded. "Let me get that for you, Xander. Where are you staying?"
"Some flea bag place. Horatio said it can't cost over a hundred a night or they won't pay for it at all."
"You can have my spare room," Don offered with a grin. Xander beamed back. "How unique would some of that stuff be? I remember you said you were working on a potion for someone."
"I was and it came out okay. I needed it in LA when I went. I had to ship it but it went well enough." He shifted a bit in his chair. "Some things are common. Like if they're washing them it could be purified water, holy water, or regular water. Some things are in a lot of traditions, like some of the purification herbs. There's still a good size pagan community up here and even with that there's only going to be so many getting those sort of herbs. You don't do a purification every day or even every ritual or every sabbat. The thing that'll narrow it down is the combination. Like the Native Americans use certain purification herbs that the Wiccans do and the Druids do, but the Druids have a specific style of using it and how it's wrapped and/or bound. The Native Americans smudge a different way and they use other herbs in the same context and at the same time usually. So we can weed it down by the connections that come together. I know there's about eight *good* herb shops in the city. There's a ton of others and poser shops, not to mention Chinatown's herb shops for their needs. What'll get us the clues we need is the combinations that they're using. Plus probably the weapon. It's got to be unique. Back then they were stone, sometimes bronze, sometimes now and then silver. Fairly rare. Unless they're *highly* rich they're not using an authentic one but that doesn't mean that they couldn't have one built or crafted, or done it themselves."
"Which would point to other places to look," Stella agreed. "We know it's a granite blade. Some of it flecked off in one wound." She let him see the pictures.
"Double sided, flat blade. Not that hard." He sketched it out then put his own dagger next to it. "Okay. Modern daggers have a slope. This one clearly doesn't. It's a slit. Which means it's pretty crude. Granite is tricky to work with but, speaking as someone who did construction, it's damn hard to find somewhere you can get granite to carve. Unless they went to a countertop place?"
"We can check artist supply places for those who do statues," Mac said, nodding. "I had checked the countertop suppliers. They identified it as Italian Granite?"
"'Spensive," Xander said with a nod. "Closer to their area too. Probably trying to make it look as realistic as possible. Hittites were in the Greek/Macedonia/Middle East area. Don't ask me which one right off the top of my head, I'd need a map. So unless they could find granite from that area, Italian would be the next best fit. Or Egyptian."
"So they're trying very hard to stick to the ritual," Danny said.
"It's like it gave them a reason to feel and think the way they do. Like if you're a person who likes shoes and you find a group of friends who like shoes, you don't mind as much when you buy the three grand pair of shoes that leaves your family without rent money."
Danny nodded. "Seen a few of those. Dated one."
"Don't get me started on the one I nearly married," Xander said dryly. "I bought and paid for everything even though she did work. Down to her birth control." That got a shudder from Don. "Sorry, I left her at the altar and she died a few years later. It's down to where I have tolerable memories instead of painful ones of her."
"I've been there," Mac admitted. "That gives us some leads. Can you get us a list of herb shops?"
"Yup, but going in there without someone who has a clue will get you turned around or ignored. They will talk to me. I'm one of their people."
That got a nod. "Then I'll let you work with Don and Danny on that angle. Let me get you what we have on what we do know of the body ritual and the chemicals we've found." He got up. "Come back together after dinner, people. Let's get back to work." They left, leaving Don and Xander alone.
"You look tanned," Don told him.
Xander gave him a sheepish grin. "We had to take something on during the day on the beach and I ended up shirtless. It's because I was sunburned."
Don laughed, nodding. "I've been sunburned from chasing guys before. How's your lab?"
"We're mid-update, that's why I have the time to come up right now. Not that we don't have one taking on childless couples because his God demanded that everyone be fruitful and multiply, but Horatio has that one well in hand." Don nodded, still smiling. "You sure? I can stay at a motel."
"Nah, I've got the room. This way you eat real food for a few days. It'll do you good. You've lost weight."
Xander looked down then at him. "My clubbing problem came back. One of them had me for a week and refused to feed me things I wasn't allergic too. I ended up puking for days and days, even when I got free and was in the hospital. Oh, Don Epps and his people said hi."
"That's cool. You worked with them?"
"Yeah. It was a people and weapons importer smuggling things in. We took it when they landed. Then we had to go after the things in charge. Don did the mundane and I did the other stuff. He hates the other stuff and Charlie's math got a bit knotted at some of it. I had to put him on with Willow one night to help him figure out where it went funny."
"I guess that helps." He patted his hand. "No chocolate but have a soda. You could use the calories. I'll be back in a few." He got up, heading to his desk.
Xander got a soda from the machine and sat down to make the lists Mac would need. He did write an email to one of them to warn them he was in town. They had weapons and he wanted to look and probably buy. He had been saving up to buy a new baby. His babies need more friends and the department wouldn't buy him more. He wrote Horatio a status email and made sure his dog was all right since Speed was watching it for him. He got back an automated message saying their servers were down so he called. "Hey, boss. I'm in New York and helped Mac some. Waiting to see what sort of funky herby things are going on. How's my dog?" He smiled. "He sleeps with me, Horatio. I'm sorry he shoved that one out of bed." He laughed at the next comment. "I tried to write an email but the servers were down?" He nodded. "That's fine. How's my lab?" He listened. "That'll work. No, I'm staying on Don Flack's couch. He said so. He also agreed with Alexx; I'm still too thin. Nope, handled, it's done with and the ways they were doing it were closed off. Charlie got to learn how they were operating so he can predict and figure it out next time. Willow had to give him some information to help him with that but they got along pretty well. Even if he did growl at her while he typed." He sipped his soda, leaning back.
"Well, I'm going to visit the gear shop up here....." He laughed. "I'll take that under advisement, boss. Yup. I'm helping and I'll be back as soon as I can. When will our lab be done?" He smiled. "Hopefully we'll have them by then. How's the other guy?" He listened, then slowly nodded. "Horatio, he's biblically based. Use it to reason with him. You need a biblical person. Someone who can quote it without preaching. Yeah, that stuff. If God's calling him to give him targets to take out for profaning his laws? Well, hand him his cellphone and have him prove it. If there's a caller, then you can figure that out. He would need different treatment if he's talking to God or if he's doing it for shits and giggles." He smiled. "Sure. I'm up here if you need me. Hittite actually. Fertility cult. Probably started around a millennium turnover. They're like that and crop up around those points. Sure, I'll be available. Roaming and all, boss. Love you too." He hung up and got back to work on the lists. He felt someone staring and looked back, waving at the confused looking guy. "I'm up from Miami-Dade to help Mac and them."
He looked at him. "I've never seen you at the conventions."
Xander grinned. "I'm at a good many of them. I met Stella at one. She's still trying to fix me up with someone nice who can cook."
"You're Xander!" he said, suddenly getting it. "CHAD!" He came out of his lab. "Harris is here from Miami-Dade, man!" Chad ran in to talk to him and shake his hand, making him smile. He walked in too. "I'm Adam. I'm a Trace guy."
"That's my first minor," Xander said happily, shaking his hand too. He beamed at Chad. "I'm going to the strange stuff fighters' gear shop while I'm up here. Wanna go? I haven't had anyone to talk about guns with in forever. Calleigh gives me fond looks and sniffles when I talk about my babies and exemplar."
"Sure," he agreed. Mac walked in. "Mac, you should've warned me we were getting a God in the field." He gave Xander a hug, getting one back, then he left. Adam waved.
"It was great meeting you guys and since I'm up on the ritual homicide case we'll see each other. Maybe even get to work together." Adam beamed and nodded, going back to work.
"I think you made their month," Mac said. He took the list Xander printed out on the printer in there. "That'll help now and in the future. Can you set them up to talk to some of us?"
"Sure. Who? Stella, Danny? Hawkes? No offense but they don't really like uptight. You'd scare them and Lindsay would scoff. We don't like that."
"I can understand that. I'll let you take Sheldon so you can introduce him." He patted him on the back. "How's Horatio's case?"
"God's calling him on his cellphone to give him unworthy targets who snub his mandate of 'be fruitful and multiply'. I told him to have him call him and prove it. We'd have to treat him differently if he's talking to God for real or if he's just saying he is."
"That's a good way to figure that out," Mac admitted. "It'd also keep him talking to you." He smiled, walking out, going to email Horatio. He got the same auto message. He'd send it again later. Their own servers went down all too often.
Xander walked into a store. "Really, seven hundred gigs. And of course I'm a CSI so I'm curious, so I printed it out for later use or research. Gotta keep in practice when you're single," he told Sheldon, who laughed. Don just rolled his eyes, he knew he did. He looked at the saleswomen, smiling at them, pulling his ID card from Miami-Dade. She went pale. "Hittite rituals?"
She swallowed. "We don't let them here. We only serve those who have positive purposes, Knight."
He grinned. "Good to know," he agreed happily. "Who on the list would be selling these?" He handed over the list.
She looked then at him. "Kendra." He stiffened at that name. "Not the one you fought with. No one was that stupid, Knight."
"Thank you." He kissed her on the cheek, then the other cheek, holding her hands. "Many blessings on your child." She gave him a horrified look, holding her stomach. He winked. "By the way, this is Sheldon Hawkes. He's a Doctor and he works with the local crime lab. Out of Taylor's team. So if you get something, give it to him? He's an okay guy who likes to learn new things. He won't sneer unless they deserve it."
She nodded, shaking his hand and kissing him on both cheeks. "Welcome to our people, Sheldon. Come back when your soul's not so burdened with this case and we'll speak. I'll give you the materials you need to understand and introduce you around."
"I'd appreciate that. I don't know much about alternative lifestyles or religions, or even the older ones."
She smiled. "Nice save." She patted him on the cheek. "You'll do fine, dear. Come back when the case is over with and we'll have a tea party to introduce you around."
"I'll do that." He handed over his card. "If you need us before then."
"Thank you." She smiled at Xander. "Her store is the one on the second page of your list." He looked and she pointed. "Hers. She sells to anyone and I know she had to order some of that from us." He nodded, squeezing her hands again before leaving. She watched them walk. "The Goddess gives me some fine visions." She stroked her stomach. "And a pain in the back soon." She sighed, calling her doctor. "I need to come in and be seen please? I think I'm pregnant. Someone told me I was. Yeah, he'd know. Thank you." She wrote down the day and time, spreading around the news of who was searching and what was going on.
After a longish drive, it would've been shorter without traffic, they finally got to the other store, Xander leading the way inside. The woman in there sneered. "Lock it down," he sneered back, glaring at her. A few others hissed at him and he glared at him. "I am Xander Harris. I am the Last Knight of Sunnydale. I got called up on a ritual homicide and I hear you know the people."
She blinked. "Excuse me? Sunnydale fell...." He pulled out his glass eye, making her shudder and look away. "You're her knight." He put it back, nodding a bit when she turned back around. "What's going on?"
Sheldon smiled. "Sorry, traffic got to him. We know the person is using these herbs. The first shop we visited said you had ordered some of them through her?"
She looked then went pale. "Montgomery." She winced. Then she sighed. "I know of two guys who've ordered all this and more."
"Either one with a flat bladed granite dagger?" Don asked. "Italian black and white granite?"
She nodded. "They're probably working together." She pulled out her receipts, finding them both. "Here, Detective."
Xander smiled. "Thank you."
"Welcome. Need something for your nerves?"
"Um.... Not quite the problem. I need caffeine." He grinned. "I'm like that. Oh, this is Sheldon. He works with the Manhattan Felony crime lab. He's going to be the guy Mac sends in because he loves to learn about things and he has no idea what you guys believe so he's a good neutral palate to build up and teach when he has to come to you guys for herbs."
"Where are you stationed?" one of the hissers asked.
He smirked. "Miami."
She shuddered. "We've heard there was one down there who was protecting them." Xander wiggled his fingers and grinned. "Fair deal. Welcome, Sheldon. We'll talk when this terrible case is over with. I hope you can arrest both of them."
"I hope so too. One of them seems to want my coworker."
"The curly haired one who looks like the daughter of Apollo?" the shopkeeper asked.
"Stella," Don said, nodding a bit, looking at the receipts. "This one doesn't have a name. Do you know it?" She wrote it down for him. "Thank you, miss."
"Ma'am." She touched her bracelet. "For some, rings are outdated and a sign of possession."
Xander kissed her on each cheek. "Thank you for your help. I won't bother you but let Sheldon help and know when you need him. He'll call me if he needs me." She nodded, exchanging cards with him. "Thank you." He walked out with them. Then he came back. "Which one carved the dagger?"
"Montgomery," she sighed, frowning. "He got a chunk off an artist trying to be Michelangelo."
"Thank you." He left, heading out to the car. "I'll introduce you to the town's overlord before I go, Sheldon. He'll make sure they come to you too." That got a nod and a grunt. He looked back. "You okay?"
"She was kinda scary."
Xander grinned. "The first one was into chaos magic. That's scarier and more dangerous. She's a Druid."
"Wow. Then I've definitely got some questions to ask her." He buckled up and they went back to the station to research those two people. Only one was in any system. He had a former cabbie's license. It did give them a place to start however. Which was what they needed. Plus Sheldon got to tell Mac about what he had seen and learned so far. There were some strange people in New York City. He hadn't learned that before at all.
Later that night, Xander came out to get some water, running into Don coming back from the bathroom. "Sorry."
Don smiled. "Why are you up?"
"Go to sleep, Xander."
"I can't sleep tonight. It's one of those nights. I'll sleep in a few days."
Don took the water, putting the glass back and walked him back to his bed, tucking him in and sitting next to him. "There, now sleep." Xander gave him an odd look. "It helps when I've got nightmares after bad cases and scenes." Xander hesitantly snuggled in. "I like to cuddle. It's okay."
Xander gave him a sheepish grin. "I know you're straight."
"You need the cuddle. Come on." Xander tucked him in with him and snuggled up on his chest, falling asleep a few minutes after he got comfortable. Don stroked his hair, smiling at the younger guy. He looked so young when he was asleep. Even if he had seen him staking a vampire earlier when taking Sheldon to meet the overlord had turned into an attack by a former classmate. He was scary but sweet. Don wanted to cuddle him and make him better all at once. Unfortunately Xander didn't need someone like him. Xander needed someone smart like Danny. Or like Stella was. He could see him and Stella together. He fell asleep comforted, not having any of his own nightmares that night.
Don looked at Mac the next day on their newest crime scene. Xander was with them and finding things the guys had missed before, considering it part of the usual trash you find on the city's streets and sidewalks. "He's not too bad."
"I'd poach him from Horatio but Horatio swore vengeance Xander style if I tried," he said quietly. Don gave him an odd look. "It's clear you finally got a good night's sleep. First time since this case started," he said quietly.
Don shrugged. "He had nightmares so I sat next to him for a while. Ended up falling asleep." Mac gave him a look. "He needs someone smarter."
"He needs someone who loves him," Mac countered. "Smart is fine, and you are very bright, Don." He looked around. "He needs someone who can keep up with him. Where did Xander go?" he called.
"I'm not Waldo," Xander called, coming back from the truck. "I needed a few more bags." He got back to work. "I think we scared them. They didn't clean the body as well. Just hosed her off this time." He looked up. "Have we not found any males?" Mac and Don both shook their heads. "Huh. That is something we need to look into." He got back to work. "Anything new on the others?"
"No," Don admitted. He came over to look. "Are those cooking herbs?"
Xander shrugged. "You ask like I know how to cook."
"Rosemary, thyme, oregano?" Don offered.
"Um, thyme probably. Rosemary wouldn't be out of line. It also has some ritual and healing uses. They've been using a lot of healing herbs in the final wash. I'm not sure why yet. If it's an apology, to keep them from dying, or whatever."
"It's something to add to the profile," Mac agreed, coming over carefully. "That is rosemary."
Xander held up a stem. "It's been stripped. I get all my stuff prepared for me when I need to do potiony stuff."
"It comes like that in the store," Don told him, taking that bag to look at. "It looks like it was cut fresh, Mac? That bit of discoloration in the center?"
Mac looked at it, nodding. "That would mean it was cut fresh. They probably have a pot in the kitchen. I know my wife used to." He finished sealing the bag for Xander and watched him work. "What's that pink thing?"
Xander looked then at him. "Barbie shoe. Want me to bag it too?"
"Just in case it means something to them or they carried it with the body," Mac agreed. Xander bagged it and sealed it, handing it over.
"The crap you find on our city streets," Don complained.
Xander grinned. "I found a chewed up and pooped out five hundred dollar bill at one scene. Done by a llama. Not part of the scene, not even related, she had been walking her llama the night before and let it crap. The treasury was not happy when we handed it over to them. It had been part of a bank heist a few months back. She had bought a llama for a pet with some of her share."
Don walked off snickering. "Okay, you guys get nearly as bad as we do. How's the fertility guy you guys have?"
"God did call. God got a wake up call when Horatio and SWAT broke his door in," Xander said dryly. "God's not real happy with Horatio at the moment. He was a minister who was going on about the white birth rate falling thanks to immoral activities while the immigrant and so-called lesser people's birthrates skyrocketed and intermixed."
"It's good to know you guys get just as many crackpots as we do," Don complained, shaking his head, but he was smiling.
"Yeah, Horatio said to please keep them to yourselves next time. That one apparently traveled down to our land to get away from that winter stuff I keep hearing about."
"You've never seen snow?" Don demanded.
Xander looked at him. "I'm from near the desert, Don. The only time I've seen snow it was a hellmouthy event where I turned invisible and you don't like to hear about those so I won't share so you don't have to run away." He got back to work.
Don frowned. "I don't mind."
"You run when I talk about that stuff."
Don rolled his eyes, walking off.
"I don't think he really minds, Xander. I think you freak him out a bit," Mac offered gently.
"I do that a lot. It's what keeps me from dating someone nice," Xander said grimly. "Which is pretty lonely. I almost considered asking Ryan out but he's very straight and comes over to steal some of Gerald's porn collection now and then." He handed over another bag. "I have no idea what that is but it's a big leaf."
Mac looked, then smiled. "This is not native. I've seen this in the Middle East. This is an olive tree leaf."
"Cool. Many of those in the city?"
"No and it's fairly hard to find them." He went to call Sheldon to start a search on any olive trees in the city. They were in the wrong climate for them to produce outside of a greenhouse.
Xander grinned at Don, then picked up something else. "I love helping. It's why I used to jump into things."
Don smiled gently. "The world's a better place because you did, Xander." Xander gave him a smile that made his stomach clench. He had to ignore the voice screaming at him to kiss him. Over a dead body was not the place for this. "Dinner after work tonight?"
"I can order."
"I meant going out, Xander."
Xander blinked at him. "You mean... us? Like us going out to dinner?"
"Yes, Xander, like a date," Don agreed, watching as Mac walked off again to give them some privacy. "Wherever you wanna go."
"Hotdogs? You guys are supposed to have some of the world's best."
Don grinned a goofy grin and nodded. "If you want. After work tonight." He walked off happier, punching Mac on the arm. "Behave."
"Not saying anything," he promised but he was smiling. Sometimes Xander was such a guy and sometimes he was like a late teenage girl. A date to go out for hotdogs?
Xander grinned at Don across the park bench later that night. "These are really good."
"They are," Don agreed. "I don't often go all the way down here for 'em but they're really good." He ate another bite. "You wanna do anything after this?"
"There's a curling match tonight on ESPN2. Want to watch it with me?"
"I know nothing about that sport," Don admitted.
"Well, it's like shuffleboard played on ice but there's a guy with a broom to help make sure your weight goes where it's supposed to go."
Don looked confused at that. "On ice?" Xander nodded. "Ever watched hockey? It's one of my favorite sports. Since you like ice."
"It can be a brutal game, but it's a good one. Tension, drama, team sports." He finished up his hotdog, wiping his mouth and sipping some of his beer. Xander had decided to have one of his rare beers tonight. Just one but it was half-full. He was a bit nervous.
"Are we talking like Roman Colosseum brutal? Like with gladiators and lions that the PETA people would complain about the treatment of because they're kept starved so they eat the guys with the puny swords? That sort of brutal?" He finished his second hotdog and wiped his hands off while he chewed.
"Not quite that brutal. Like fist fights, the occasional stick to the head, that sort of brutal."
Xander swallowed and sipped his beer. "Sounds interesting. If we can find one I'll let you show me. See if I like it. I like ice skating, not ice dancing, but ice skating is pretty. Pairs is kinda sexy and stuff. So apparently I like ice sports."
Don grinned. "Sure, we can do that. It's the season so I should be able to find one. I've got the extended Rangers package."
"Do you think Mac could've been a gladiator?"
"Maybe," he said, considering it. "Some people believe in past lives and maybe in his past life he could've been one. The Mac today would've complained about the lion's treatment too. It's mean to kill animals for sport. Hunting's something different but just for a good show? Nah. He'd complain."
"Maybe you're right, in a past life," Xander agreed.
"You ... haven't seen anything like that, right?"
"No," he scoffed. "The only ones I have are macro, dangerous things. I haven't had one in months. Not since I had to stop Horatio from doing something stupid one morning. He was turning on his hummer and didn't wonder why the radio came on when he stuck in the key, even though he doesn't listen to the radio in the hummer. It was a bomber's signature and we had warned him but Eric had balled his brains out the night before so he was being dumb and not paying attention."
Don coughed, taking Xander's beer to finish so he could calm his blush down. "Wow. Delko and Caine?"
"That's one... hot image," he decided, making Xander nod. "Awww, do you get to watch?"
"No, if I hang out with them too often Alexx decides I'm trying to take one of them from Speed and she turns mean so I can't make her boy hurt. Even though she knows I'm not going after them, because I'm not a poacher. I'm very anti poaching but she doesn't always listen to that."
"Most guys are anti poaching," Don agreed. "It's impolite."
"I've got a better sense of self-preservation than that," Xander joked. "Even in the clubs."
Don snickered. "Have you been going out?"
"No, the new Chief of Internal Affairs told me I'm not allowed to go out alone. Which I agree with but we've been too tired thanks to the shifting workloads from the update so I haven't been out in a few months."
"Can't you go work with Calleigh?"
"She threatened me if I came into her lab and took her work." He smiled gently. "I think she's having an unholiness problem."
"Unholiness problem? She's possessed?"
"No, she's having a problem that's going to require me to go to a domestic dispute homicide since I'm not involved in their lab," Xander said grimly. "I think John had an oops and she's going to kill him when she figures that out."
"He'll marry her. You said he's a stand up guy."
"I don't think she'd want that. They're fighting again. Have been for months. So I might get a call to go to the domestic homicide scene sometime this month. I hope not. I like John. He's a neat guy. It'd have to be me and Stetler who answered it. Ryan's off field work for six weeks with his broken ankle. He wouldn't be able to collect things." He checked his phone, then held up a finger, calling Horatio. "It's me. Well, Don took me out for excellent hotdogs and a beer. Then we're going to go home and watch ice sports. I'm going to show him curling and he's going to show me hockey." He smiled. "No, wondering if I was going to be called when Calleigh kills John. Yes she will. Yes, she will, Horatio.
"Because she cried that the machine was out of chocolate the last time I saw her and they're fighting again. Yes she will and I'm not part of your lab team, who wouldn't be allowed to answer it if she did kill John. With Ryan laid up and Helen being in Hawaii I'm worried I'll be out of town and you'll have to go to one of the lesser techs in non-felony who won't like or appreciate her." He listened to him calmly tell him it wasn't a problem. "Horatio, unless she miscarried or she's told him...." He burst out laughing. "Yeah, she is. Trust me, she is. Have Alexx pull blood work tomorrow. If she hasn't figured it out I don't know why but yes she is or she's having severe hormone swings for some other reason, Horatio. We're thinking three weeks. I'm with Don. Worried I'll have to come down to a domestic homicide scene with Stetler." He nodded. "Okay. If you say so. Night." He hung up. "He said she's not."
"He'll have her do a test tomorrow." Don patted his hand. "Get another and walk around with them?" Xander beamed and nodded, going to buy this round. It was cute. He had bought one, Xander had bought the first, and then he was getting this one. For him having asked Xander out, it was a really cheap date on his end. Instead he got them drinks and walked off with him to eat and chat about the stuff going on in their lives. Xander showed him pictures of his dog, making him happy. He sounded like a good dog who slept on the bed, even if he did push Horatio out of it.
Xander looked at Don's commander, giving him a confused look. "Why did you want to see me, Captain?"
"Shut the door, Harris."
Xander shut the door, looking at him. He read body language very well. "You know, Horatio does that 'are you stupid' look over the edge of his glasses so much better." Gerrard gave him a horrified look. "What did you want? Yes, Don and I are friends. And?"
"No, I'm bi. I've had many women. They all turned into serial killers or wanted to kill my ass. And? There's no law saying lab techs can't be bi."
"There is in the NYPD."
"Then it's a good thing I'm Miami-Dade, huh?" he said dryly. "I'm not saying anything about Don's and my friendship. You want to know something, you go to Don."
"I want you to leave him alone. He's got a promising career." The door opened and Danny stepped in, Stella closing the door. "What do *you* want, Messer?" he sneered.
"Your ass on a telephone pole, but that's just for starters," Danny said, sneering back. "I'll say this once, Gerrard, and we're all agreed down in the lab. You try to start shit with Don or Xander because of them being friends and I'll make sure your discrimination suit hits every single paper in the country. And yes, there will be one."
"Danny," Xander said.
"Hush." He looked at him. "We like you two. It's cute." He grinned. "You watched hockey and didn't call it funny names?"
"Less graceful than ice skating but more exciting than curling."
"Cool. It's a good guy sport." He patted him on the arm then sneered at Gerrard again. "You start shit with Flack and I can also promise you Mac's going to his dad. Let's see how well your badge gets worn when it's up yer ass." He walked Xander out, smiling at Don when he walked in. "Your Captain wanted to talk to Xander about hockey games."
"Really?" Don asked. "Xander?"
"I told him our friendship was none of his business, Don. It's not."
"It's not," he agreed, smiling at him. "Or anywhere it might be going."
"Or has gone," Xander admitted quietly, giving him a shy look.
Don beamed. "Good ta know. There's a Rangers game tonight if we get free."
"I'll buy popcorn so you can throw it at the guy in front of the net?"
"Sure, I like throwing popcorn at the goalie." He smiled, patting him on the arm. "Let me go talk ta my boss for a few." He walked in there, slamming the door. Xander tried to hang back but there was no screaming coming out so he guessed it was all right to leave them.
"C'mon, we've got a good lead," Danny told him. "We found one through a collection agency database." He walked Xander off with him. "Have you met his dad yet?"
"No but he called his Mom last night. I think she's coming for dinner later. I hope he remembers that."
"It'll be fine. His Ma's like my Ma. She'll cook up everything and then nag you ta eat because you're too skinny. Both of you." He patted him on the back, leading him back to Mac's office. "Had a talk with Gerrard."
"Interesting. Do I have to go clean up a fight?" He looked at him then at Xander. "Tell me he didn't."
"He tried," Xander admitted. "Don's in there and there's no screaming." Mac got up and hurried off. "Don doesn't yell?"
"It's not the yellin' ya have to handle. It's when Flack gets quiet on the other side of the yelling that usually means someone's gonna at least be punched in the nose. You'll meet his dad for lunch probably." He patted him and found that report, handing it to him. "Isn't that our guy?"
Xander looked and beamed. "It's one of them. Though the lack of males bothers me. I'm wondering if they want them all to be their kids or if they're keeping the males or dumping them outside the city."
"We'll find out," Danny promised. They went to find the guy, him paging Mac and Don on the way out. Just so they'd know. They got there and rang the bell, but Xander coughed and pushed him out of the way before he fell down. Danny hit his emergency switch before he passed out too.
Don kicked in the door, walking in with his gun drawn, Mac and Stella behind him. "NYPD! You're sorry bastards, give it up now!" he yelled. No answer, no movement. "Damn it. They're not here." He kept going just to make sure. "Mac?"
Stella went to look at the bills lying out. "They have two storage areas," she announced, waving those bills. Mac took one, Don took the other and they headed out. "Don? I'm going with you."
"Sure. The more the merrier. Mac, we going together?"
"We are." He looked at him. "Let me get Sheldon and Lindsay plus a few of the others I trust." He called in for backup and announced which site they were going to. They got there and it was a charnel house. There was blood and parts everywhere. Stella had to run to get sick. They had her picture over the altar.
Don looked around. "This isn't where they're keeping people, Mac. This is the ritual area. Xander said they're probably apart because no guy could get it up with this around." He looked at him. "Guys, secure this, get Hawkes here now!" he yelled, heading for the car, Mac behind him. "You two, follow." He got in to drive, starting the car before Mac got in and heading to the other address. It was halfway across town. This was not good. They got there and they had local backup thanks to one of the other detectives. The local boys were sitting on it and waiting on them, with vests on. "May not need those but good idea." He walked up to the door. "We try?" he asked quietly. One shook his head so he tried the knob. It was unlocked. "Sloppy."
"It works in our favor," Mac reminded him. "Focus, Don." He led the way in, looking at the newly built antechamber. There were wallboarded stud walls, wallboard on the interior side. He moved slowly and carefully, making sure there weren't any alarms. He heard a grunt and checked the opening, gaping in horror. He turned in, gun out. "Freeze, NYPD!"
"Fat chance," Xander said, dodging the guy trying to stab him. "Make him stop, Mac. Before I lose it and kill the bastard for trying to undo my clothes."
"I mean it, freeze!" Don ordered coldly. "We will shoot you."
"He's mine! The Gods demand! He came to us to be sacrificed! He is one of us!" he shouted, stabbing at Xander again. "He has proven himself a worthy gay warrior to pass on his seed!"
"I'm fixed," Xander said in a 'hello!' voice. "No seed coming outta me. It's all rotting, the way it should be." The man snarled and lunged again but Xander ducked under him and came up inside his arms, kneeing him and then cracking a rib to send him crashing down to the ground. He panted, spitting on him. "Bitch, you have no idea what you just tried to play with. You're damn lucky I'm still partially high or I would've been cleaning your guts from my nails when they got here." He spat again and Mac walked him off. "Danny's behind the other fake wall," he said, pointing and wobbling. "They gave us very good drugs. Did you know Danny snored in two keys? He said he was tone deaf."
"He only snores like that when it's an opium derivative, Xander. Need medics?"
"As long as I can get back to watch the hockey game and meet Flack's mom. Danny said she might even spoil him and cook."
Don smiled. "Probably. C'mon, Xander. I can't work this since you're here. Guys, go find Messer and any other survivors!" They hurried the way Xander had pointed.
"Watch out for the trap door!" Xander called. "It leads to rats! I threw the other one down there!" He grinned at Don. "Hi."
"Hi. You're really high, huh?"
"Yeah, it came out of the doorbell." He passed out, letting Don catch him.
Don carried him out, putting him on the trunk of the car until ambulances got there. The fresh air would do him good. So would the light drizzle that was starting. Mac brought Danny out and put him on the hood. "He good?"
"He's just as passed out."
"The guy in the rats?"
"We'll have to do a dental identification. They were starving," Mac said grimly. "Sid's going to complain for weeks and Hawkes will give him that 'interesting' look." The ambulance pulled up. "There's eight other people in there, all drugged and bound. These two are cops, one ours, one Miami's and a consultant on this case. By the way Danny's snoring it was something made from opium or morphine. He only snores musically when it's that way." They nodded, calling for reinforcements while they looked at those two and one went inside to check the others. He looked at Don. "Want me to call your Dad?"
"No, I think we've both talked to my father too many times today," Don said with a small grin. "He's gonna bitch and swear at me for later on I'm sure for you calling him on Gerrard."
"Danny said he'd make him shit his badge," Xander said weakly, swatting at the paramedic. "Get off. Not yours!"
"Xander!" Mac snapped. "You're going. You cannot leave until they tell you you can, and I'm telling Horatio!"
Xander whined. "Mac!"
"Tough," Don agreed. "You're going to the ER and I'll be there."
Xander blinked at him. "I'm not a princess."
"You did a pretty good princess faint," he teased with a grin.
"That's from where I got proclaimed to be the princess of ballistics by my classmates," he said with a small pout. "I'll be okay. All I need is a nap."
Don shook his head but he was smiling. "Fat chance, Xander." He helped load him onto the gurney, following them both into the ambulance. "I'll make sure Danny stays until you can come for the debrief, Mac," Don promised, heading off with them.
"I hope he has extra handcuffs," Mac muttered, going back inside. He found his boss storming in a few minutes later. "They were keeping the men hostage, sir. They'll be fine. They're going in the next ambulance. Messer and Harris both went already."
"Harris?" he asked.
"The consultant Horatio loaned us from Miami, sir. One of the suspects had woken him up; we got here in time to find Xander defend himself against a man with a sword. He eventually broke his rib and kneed him in the balls to get free before passing out. The other he fed to a drop pit of rats." He let him see, weathering the horrified look. "We didn't set that up, sir, they did."
"Is this your ritual case?"
"It is. Xander was instrumental in helping us solve it, sir. Even if Captain Gerrard doesn't like him because he's bisexual and from Miami's lab."
"I heard your boy offered to let him crap out his badge."
Mac looked at him. "It was more polite than my own offer, sir."
"I heard from Flack's father too." He gave him a look. "Flack and this boy?" he asked quietly, glancing around. Mac shrugged. "No comment?"
"It's not my duty as his coworker or friend to comment or speculate. I do know Don went with both him and Messer to the ER."
"Good. Probably better than him twittering here or spitting on the bodies." He walked off shaking his head. "The other scene you called in?"
"Their working area, sir. Where they killed people. Sheldon should have that well in hand."
"Good. I'll make sure."
"Sir, it made me gag," Mac warned.
"I'll stand outside and make sure, Mac." He walked off smiling a bit. Flack Senior was going to be impressed at his boy's choice from what he had heard. Taking on someone with a sword? He had to at least be tough.
Xander limped into the station, glaring at Frank. "Do. Not. Say. A. Word," he warned. "I tripped coming off the plane." He left him laughing and headed for his boss's office. "Reporting back, finally, Horatio," he said before he walked in. Speed smirked at him. "No Horatio?"
"At the hospital with John. She went for him with her nails last night. He's fine but a few needed stitches and he was stubborn. By the way, she wants to kick your ass too."
"The guy who wanted me to father a new race of people for when the rest of you were destroyed wanted it too." He flopped down with a groan. "Tripped coming off the plane," he told him.
"Ah. How was New York?" Xander gave him an arched eyebrow look. "I've heard we're getting a new detective?"
Xander just smiled. "No comment. The same as you told me." Calleigh stormed in. "Can I babysit? I'll even help you decorate the nursery so the baby's very Xena-like and strong but she bathes and does more than fish."
Calleigh gaped then burst out crying and stomped off to complain to Alexx. Alexx came up glaring at him. "Don't be mean to her!"
"I offered to babysit and help her decorate the nursery," he defended. "Don't you dare swat me either. I'm under orders to rest for another day before I go back to work."
"Why?" she asked patiently.
"The guy with the sword who wanted me to father a new race of mankind when the rest of you got destroyed by God for being unclean and filthy whores according to him." She gaped.
"That was a direct quote from the guy who went after him with a sword to prove if he was a warrior or not," Don said from the doorway, waving at Speed. "Hey. Don Flack, the new Detective Third Grade." He smiled at Alexx. "He was very good. He was unarmed. That's why the NYPD gave him a commendation and a reward for helping solve the case. Plus offered him another two grand a year and any lab spot he wanted within the city's labs." He got poked and smiled at Horatio. "So, I hear you're the Mac-like boss but you give looks over your sunglasses. Don Flack, Detective Third Grade. Just transferred in."
"Welcome to Miami," he said with a smile, shaking his hand. "Have you met our ME, Alexx Woods?"
"She hadn't introduced herself but I'm sure it was to make sure I wasn't stunned by her beauty." He shook her hand. "Hi."
"Welcome to Miami." She looked at him. "You're a New Yorker."
"Born and bred. Third generation NYPD."
She gaped then blinked at Xander. "Baby...."
He gave her a look. "You're mean and you know damn well I'd never steal what Speed has. Grumpy."
"It's the pain talking," Don told her. "He's got two cracked ribs and he's supposed to have another three days bed rest before doing lab only work for a week, Horatio."
"No, the doctor said I had to rest *one* day before I could go back to work." He grinned sweetly at Horatio. "How's my lab looking?"
"Halfway done," Horatio admitted. He looked at Don. "Do you have his discharge orders? I know to check them after the last time he got hurt." Don handed them over, letting him look at them while Xander pouted. "I do see you're supposed to be off the rest of this week, Xander. Especially since Frank said you're in a bad mood."
"Speed stole my dog!"
"We'll help you pick out a new dog," Don promised, grinning at him. "Coincidentally I start Monday too, bossman. So I'll be borrowing Xander's spare bed for a few days." He walked in and helped him up. "Come on, limp along. I still don't see how you tripped coming off the plane when you fought off the guy with the sword while you were drugged and nearly overdosing so he wouldn't feed you to the rats too."
"Don," he complained. "They already think I'm strange."
"Uh-huh." He smirked at Horatio. "Did Mac tell you what our boss offered him if he'd stay in New York with us?" He walked Xander off, taking him home to help him settle in. They'd go to the pound later and pick out a new dog for him.
Horatio looked at Alexx, shutting her mouth for her. "Yes, it is what you think. He transferred in to be with him. No, Ryan has no idea yet. I'm sure he'll meet him tonight."
"Probably when he complains about the noise," Speed said dryly, leaning back in his chair. He called Mac, putting him on speaker.
"Detective Mac Taylor."
"It's not nice to poach, Mac," Speed said.
"I had to try, Speed. He made Danny work with him and they got along right off the bat. Even if his t-shirt did give Danny a few nightmares and one made Lindsay bang her head into a wall to stop the bad thoughts. He made Stella giggle and Hawkes was appreciative because he let him learn new things. My whole team loved him."
"Don't listen to him," Danny said more faintly. "We'd rather have Don happy and let Xander bounce into him. Don fed him candy last night."
Speed snickered. "I'm sure he knows not to now," he offered. "What did you guys offer him?"
"Sixty a year, any lab he wanted, any assistant he wanted, as many interns as he could ever want, and the right to include his artillery collection into his exemplar here as long as he donated it."
Horatio growled. "We pay him very well, Mac, and he's third in command in his lab once it's finished. Though I am glad we stole Don from you."
"He's happy. As long as he stays happy you're welcome to him," Mac promised. "If he's not, his father's vowed to come destroy Miami and Xander."
"Of course he'll try," Speed said dryly. "But Xander seems to be able to stop those."
"Well, the Flack name is legendary around here," Mac said dryly. "They in?"
"Xander tried to say he could report for duty tomorrow," Alexx told him.
"He tried that up here too. Don fed him chocolate and made him take him out to a street fair since he wasn't supposed to be working normal cases while we waited for the arraignment and his citation and reward," Mac told her. "Don's the same way, Horatio. Fair warning."
"Him and John Hagen both," he sighed. "Thank you for watching out for Xander for me, Mac."
"It was great. He walked in, got down to business, told us what he needed, got us leads once we got it to him. Gave us a way to question others later by introducing Sheldon. If you *ever* lose Xander, he's mine, Horatio. I don't care what he's done or who he's killed." He hung up.
Horatio smiled, looking at the people in his office. "It looks like some of the insanity will settle down."
"Xander said that Don introduced him to a guy's sport he likes," Speed told him. "He likes hockey. He even gets Don to watch curling with him."
Alexx shook her head, walking off sighing. "Calleigh?" She gave her a pout. "It's the hormones, sugar." She closed the lab door to share the new gossip, making her happier.
Ryan came home that night after an exhausting day of a really nasty dumpster scene. "I'm back," he called. He heard Xander giggle. Then he heard a dog bark. He smiled. "Must have a new friend. He opened his door, tossing his things inside before knocking on Xander's door. A tall, dark haired guy answered. "Friend from LA?" he guessed.
"Boyfriend from New York," he said dryly.
"That's Ryan. He's the tenant and coworker I told you about," Xander called from the kitchen. The microwave went off and he carried out the plates, sitting down. "Come meet Chuddley, Ryan."
Ryan came in, smiling at the blond setter. "Hey, Chuddley." He let him sniff his hands, then petted him. "You'll love it here. Xander spoils everyone."
Don smiled at him. "Xander deserves some back too. Sorry if we keep you up. I gave Xander caramel earlier."
Ryan looked at him. "You're a brave man," he said dryly. "If you hurt him, I'm writing all his exes that are still alive. Clear?"
"Crystal. Though Tanya likes me. She called." Ryan smiled, walking out shaking his head. He closed the door and came over to play with the dog while he nibbled dinner, then cuddled into Xander's side once he was done. He was under orders to make Xander eat or tempt him into it. If he didn't gain five pounds the doctor said he couldn't have sex until he did. So he'd let his boy eat then play with him. Xander grinned, snuggling into his side. "I do like this building."
"It was relatively cheap. She had even heard of my ballistics brilliance." Chuddley hopped up to take Don's free side, letting him pet his head and side while he watched tv with them. He pointed. "Wait, he's going to lift her." They watched the pairs skaters do a lift. "I still think that's got to hurt. That's right on the pubic bone."
"Like anything, with practice comes numbness."
"That's right near the clit though. Wouldn't that make it harder for her to get off?"
"Not real sure," Don admitted. "Have to ask your ME or Calleigh that."
"She might cry on me."
"Then ask her boyfriend. He could probably use the laugh." He grinned at him and stole a kiss. "Anything else we have to do tonight?"
"I've got to clean my babies tomorrow since I'm not working tomorrow. Since someone narked."
"Sheldon faxed it down earlier with instructions that said if you did not gain five pounds in the next two weeks you could not have sex until you did."
"Damn. Meddler," he complained.
"Yeah. So, want seconds?" Xander kissed him, crawling into his lap to have him. "I don't think I'm nutritious."
"But you're filling and tasty and a bit naughty for me to eat," Xander teased.
Don moaned. "I love the way your mind works, Xander. Please eat me, babe." Xander let out an evil little chuckle and moved down to tease and tempt him until he could suck him and swallow him down. Then Don decided to do as best he could. He'd learn how to please Xander soon enough. Then he'd make him scream like some of the people on Ryan's porn that he was watching. "We need to fix him up."
"He was dating a reporter before."
"Well, maybe Lindsay...." Xander shut him up the easy way and made him focus on him instead of the noises from next door. It was damn good.
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