Xander walked onto his first day on the new site, looking around. He looked at Merle, nodding at him. Looked at Trisha, nodding at her. Then he looked at the gathered crew. "Guys," he greeted. "As some of you know, Boris had to beg and plead for me to come back. He did so because this site has to be finished on time, without any problems, and if it can't be done, then I'm to make sure of it by warping time." Everyone gaped at him. He shrugged. "I know you guys can do it. I've seen you guys running ahead in the past. I will have this site running on time. I will have a peaceful site this time. My crew and I are going to be having a short meeting after the official one." Everyone nodded. "Good. Merle, Trisha. Which one of you is taking which spot?"
"I'm taking the auxiliary buildings and Merle's doing the main one," she admitted. "You're doing all the interiors?" He smirked and nodded. "Sure, Xander." Everyone gaped at that. "Yeah, that's him. He's the one who handled the situation at the abuse shelter. Boris had to get down on his knees and beg for him to come back. I wouldn't disappoint him."
"Then again, he's a good guy to work under," Brad called from the back of the crowd. "Hey, Xander."
"Hey, Brad. I'm having you running framing under Trisha while we're working two teams." He beamed. "Good boy." He looked around. "Do we have the plans? Do we know the plans?" Everyone nodded. "Good! The lunch cart?" he asked Merle.
"Will start today at ten, will have a credit if we're two or more weeks ahead," he agreed. "Just like you did your guys and suggested for the others."
"You mean if we run ahead, lunch is free?" one guy asked.
"Three dollar credit," Trisha told him. "That's enough to get a cheap lunch or to mostly pay for something more extensive." Everyone muttered something about that. "Only if we get two weeks ahead of the official schedule. Which isn't hard. We've done it under Xander before."
"It's not hard," Brad called. "The first week is listed as doing the first floor on one building." He pushed his way forward. "How bad did he have to beg?"
"Lots and lots," Xander said dryly, smirking at him. "Let me toss my stuff onto my desk. I'll meet with my crew now if we've got materials?" Merle shook his head.
"No?" Trisha asked.
"Noon. I called."
Xander groaned. "Why me?" he sighed. "Okay. Let me toss my stuff onto the desk. Home Depot, Merle?"
"Thanks." He walked into the office, going to call and use the pointy stick of encouragement. "Hi," he said when someone answered. "I'm the interior crew chief on the Lakeside Hotel site." He listened to her. "Honey, we've had this ordered now for over a month. Where was it?" he asked sweetly. "Because, I'm not going to put up with a backlog at this site," he said simply. "This is my site. I'm running it on time, honey. We put in the order with a timeline for necessity. Ask me if I care," he snorted. "Honey, if you make us fall behind this time, the company will be canceling our contracts with you. Since we work ten crews around the clock all year round, we do a good bit of business with you. MIB concepts," he said firmly. "Yeah, us. Now, you were supposed to have this stuff here three days ago. It was supposed to be checked in and waiting on us today. If it is not here within an hour, I will be pressing for our contracts to be canceled. I have already been told he's considering it. So either you make good on schedule, like we agreed upon when we signed the delivery orders or I'm going above your head. After all, three's a Lowes around here too." He hung up and walked out wearing his belt. "You guys relax for about an hour," he called. "It should be here then."
"They told me noon," Merle said.
"I told them it's going to be here on schedule from now on and it'll be here in an hour or we're canceling this order, every other order, and going through Lowe's. She sounded rather panicked at that," he said dryly. "My crew, let's head to the new hole." He pointed and they followed him. He turned to look at his crew. "As my former crew can tell you, I will be working with you. I'm going to be pulling just as long of hours and all that good stuff. We're all the sort who you talk to if you've got a problem. I tell jokes, you tell me if I insult you too badly. Got it?" Everyone nodded. "Good. I don't care who you are, what you are, what you date, or if you're sleeping with anything other than kids or non- consenting animals. I have a major squick against those who sleep with dead people but I personally think they're beyond consent so they probably don't mind, but I'm not going to go do a seance to find out." That got some snickers. "We clear on that?" Everyone nodded. "We can all tell I'm furry, I can also tell you I have a spouse. He's a tan furry person. If you've got a problem with that, I'd move to another crew. I like my husband, he occasionally shows up for lunch. Got it?" They all shrugged and nodded. "Good. Now, I know we can get us ahead. I'm tired of paying for my own lunch too. I know we can because the people who made it gave us a *lot* of room. As long as we're very far ahead, I give very good breaks. If we're getting tight, then I tend to get stingy and count minutes. Do we have any questions?"
"Sir, steel construction?"
"Yeah, but that's Trisha's crew's job," he noted. "That's mostly the other buildings. The main one is wooden with minor steel framing for security reasons. The glass is being put in by the glass people. There's a crew for that. They're coming in two months. In two months, we have to have everything ready for them. Or else it costs the company about thirty grand a day, which we'll have to pay out of our pockets. And he did say *our* pockets. Now this is an all-day site. We'll be here from eight to five. There's another crew coming in at six and working until three. Then there'll be a group coming in to clean up the mess we made during the day. Again, we can have a radio if we can agree to it. We can also have a lot of fun. I like having fun. I'd rather have fun than have bombs like we did on the abuse site. Any other questions?" One guy raised his hand. "Yeah?"
"How soon before we're doing more than framing?"
"By my estimates? Maybe three weeks. Then Merle's crew will start doing framing while we start on the plumbing and wiring. They're due to be about two floors ahead of us with the framing. Can you frame?"
"I run plumbing better," he offered.
"Do you want moved for a few weeks?"
"I'm gonna leave that up to you."
"He can heft and tote," Brad offered. The guy nodded. "Then that'll help the rest of us a lot. It could be less than three weeks. The last one I worked with Xander on it was more than a week and a half. He will dig in with us." Everyone smiled at that. "What first?"
"First, we get the shipment, then we move on the first floor of the main building. Has the night crew poured the concrete?" They all shook their heads. "Is it dug?"
"It's not," Brad admitted. "There's a basement?"
"I thought so, for the pipes and things. I thought the cleaning area was underground too." He walked over to the plans, finding the page for that one. "Merle, the basement's not dug!" he called. "Call Boris!"
"Basement?" Trisha asked, coming over to look at it. "Oh, hell, those are to be underground," she agreed. "What else is missing?"
"Pipelines. Concrete. Truck," he said, pointing at the one coming up the road. She went to check the truck in. "Make sure it's got the concrete!"
"It's the steel and wood," she called. "No concrete."
Xander sighed and looked at Merle, then at Trisha. "Need your truck, babe." She tossed over the keys, and he went to straighten this mess out. He got to Home Depot a few minutes later and strolled right in to the contractor's desk, reaching over to find his file. He pulled out their first order, then slapped it on the counter, glaring at the young woman there. "We're missing stuff." His phone rang. "Yeah?" he answered. He listened, making notes on the paper. "Thanks, Trish. Love you. Second truck?" He sighed. "Sure. Get someone there to dig that." He hung up and put his phone back in the holder. He turned the paper around, pointing at the things. "This is what we got," he told her. "This was supposed to be our *first* order, not the whole thing. It was to be to us three days ago. Go get your manager, now." She nodded, calling him. Xander handed the manager the paper. "The numbers I wrote on there are the ones we received. This was our first shipment, due to be there three days ago. We need it today. We're starting today." He went pale. "We've had this order in for over a month now. Now, we at MIB concepts are really tired of this. We're having one of those summers where you guys are now costing us money. Unless you want us to cancel this order and go to Lowes, right now, I'd make sure that stuff gets to our site by noon. As I told her, it was due there three days ago."
The manager looked it over. "We may have a lot of this in stock," he admitted. "I don't know what the holdup is. I'm going to check it out."
"Good," Xander agreed. "Because I'm a tight ass. I'll call you if we need our next shipment early, at least a week ahead of time. I have in the past and I'm going to keep doing that. I will not stand us being this backed up. I am the tight ass of the universe about our deadlines. If you can't make them, tell us now so we can order directly from your suppliers or Lowes."
"Give me ten minutes, sir. Do you have a truck?"
"Small pickup truck. I can take the cement now if you have it."
"Yes, sir," he agreed, going to do that. "The shovels too?"
"Yes, unfortunately. Our basement level wasn't dug either." He sighed and went to get a drink from the coolers up front. He paid for it and called his boss. "I'm at Home Depot about our orders. The basement?" He listened to Megan reporting on the progress. "Fine, we'll be digging today." He hung up and went to get a cooler and a few cases of bottled water and juices. They'd be needing them. The manager found him and he pulled the truck around to get the concrete, the shovels, and the cooler and fixings in there.
Xander walked in and calmly announced, "I ache."
"Why?" Vinnie asked, pulling him down in front of him to work on his shoulders. He heard the wince and hiss, easing up on him. "You're tense. What happened?"
"Basement level wasn't dug, shipments were supposed to be there three days ago. I got to go chew Home Depot a new one." He looked over as Throttle came out of the kitchen. "I ache."
"I figured that's why he was giving you a shoulder rub. That bad?" Xander nodded. "Problems?"
"Stupid people. Home Depot stupid people. Earth digging demons who never showed up. Stupid things that are going to hinder our timetable." He groaned, tipping his head forward. "You're good."
"I know I am," Vinnie teased, going back to his working. "Get it straightened out?"
"Oh, yeah. And the shed for the supplies. All metal and locking. I stayed to talk to the night shift guys and they're not happy either. They at least got the easier job. The earth demon came with them. They're going to be doing some concreting tonight."
"At least they're working hard," Vinnie offered, working the knots harder. "You dug all day?"
"Most of it. It took me until ten to get back there from Home Depot." He groaned and moved his neck. "Thank you."
"Welcome, bro." He patted him gently. "How about tomorrow?"
"The basement had better be dug, some of the concrete had better be done and the pipe holes had better be started," he said firmly. "Otherwise we've got to dig the pipe holes tomorrow, then crack the concrete to stick in starter pipes. Which means I'll be cracking skulls tomorrow night. They left us room but it's already starting."
"Wonderful," Throttle sighed. "Long days?"
"No," he snorted. "I will crack skulls." He pulled him down to kiss him. "Did we have plans?"
"Long hot soak?" he suggested. "I didn't plan on doing anything other than reading tonight."
"I love you," Xander sighed, giving him a better kiss. "I love you so much." He let Throttle help him up and down to their bathroom. "I'm bathing, it'll be all night. Find another one," he yelled.
"Sure," Dawn called back. "I'll tell Rimfire when he wakes up from his nap. Happy bath."
Xander walked in there and started the bath, putting in some of the salts. He stripped down and his clothes were taken. "I've got loose cash in there."
"I'll check your pockets," Throttle promised as he walked them off.
"The others are in my saddlebag. I stunk."
"I'll get those too," Throttle promised. He shook his head as he checked the pockets. His boy was odd. He tossed those into the basket and went to rescue the other stuff, finding it damp and stinky. He grimaced, carrying it inside. He barely managed to check the pockets and some of his shirt was already stiff. He tossed those into the basket and went to put them in the wash. That was too nasty, even for them. He did one last check of the pockets as delicately as he could, finding a few more things in there, then they all went into the wash.
Xander was woken up at four by a poke in his side, taking the phone with a growl into it. "What?" he snarled. He heard the comment. "Getting up, will be in," he muttered, hanging up and getting up to find something to wear. He finally found jeans and a t-shirt, figuring he could come home later and put on real clothes, heading out to his bike. "Morning," he yawned. "Let's go, work called, something happened." He finished yawning as he climbed on, letting his bike steer for the first few minutes while he put on his helmet. He finally made it to the site, nodding at the guard as he rolled inside and parked by the trailer. The guard followed, leading him to where he had seen the problem. Xander looked down at the spot, then groaned. "What is that?"
"I don't know, sir, but it's wrong."
"It is," he agreed. "Very, very wrong." He looked down, tossing a pebble down there. It bounced so the concrete was at least mostly hard. "Is it a worker?"
"Everyone left, sir, and the cleaning crew won't be here for another hour. I just came on shift."
"Fine. Call the cops. Or go flag one down. We'll see what's going on." He found the ladder and walked down slowly and carefully, noticing it was sinking into the ground. "We'll just have to recoat this section," he decided. "It'll be worth it." He saw footprints before stepping off, heading around them to stand on the other side of the body. He looked at the mess, then shook his head. "That's not making any sense. He laid down?" He nudged the body with a toe, getting a small moan. "Get him an ambulance," he called. A cop came to the edge. "I'm the interior day crew lead. It looks like he climbed down here and laid down in the wet cement but that doesn't make any sense. He did groan when I kicked him."
"Fine," the cop agreed. "Let me get someone from the CSU down here and an ambulance. Name, sir?"
"Harris. They know me," he sighed, shaking his head. "You might need a rope since he's still breathing."
"I'm sure we can rig a travois or something. We did in the boy scouts." He radioed dispatch and soon got people coming. The paramedics came down the ladder first.
"Mine are the ones that take the wide arc," he called, pointing at them. "Just so we don't mess up anyone else's." They nodded, following his. "Don't worry, we'll be relaying this floor again tomorrow. He groaned when I nudged him." He backed out of the way, getting onto a more solid surface. "It's setting up, you might want to be careful."
"Yes, sir." They removed the guy without doing more than flipping him over quickly, then lifting him back to the ladder. The cop helped pull him up and Xander followed. By then the CSU unit was there and the paramedics let them have a quick look, along with the guard, who said he wasn't one of them.
Xander looked at the guys, pointing at the tracks. "Mine and the paramedics are the arcing ones. The other ones were the only set when I got down there. I checked him to make sure he was still alive. It looks like he went down there and laid down, face down, in the damp cement."
The lead CSU nodded. "We've seen some freaky stuff recently." They climbed down, taking pictures from the ladder. "Yours are the ones that go wide?" he made sure.
"Yeah, those be mine. Need the field lights turned on?"
"Please." Xander went over and flipped on the field lights, making them yelp. "Thanks. Those are really bright."
"We work two crews," he admitted, coming back to the edge of the hole. He yawned again. "I was sleeping. I'm due in within four hours. Let me call the boss to get him down here so I can go back to bed."
"Sure. Just give a statement to the cop."
Xander looked at the cop. "The guard called, said he found a body." The cop sat down next to him to write all this down. "Woke my tired ass up. We spent most of the day digging yesterday." He yawned again. "Four am, I hate these calls." He stretched, and caught himself before he fell in the hole. "Don't wanna do that." The cop chuckled lightly. "So anyway, I ride down. I parked next to the trailer, that's my bike, and I come down here. I look down, see the body, groan, head down the ladder. I make sure my tracks aren't near whoever else's were down there. I strolled over, nudged him with my foot, he groaned, I yelled up at you. You called people, they came." He yawned again. "Need me for more?"
"Want a ride home, sir?"
"No, I'm good. My bike knows the way home." He got up with a groan. "Have the guard call me, I'll have him call the boss. At least he'll have a few hours." He wandered off to his bike, pausing at the guard shack on his way out. "Call Boris, tell him about this. I'm headed home." The guard nodded so he drove off. "Okay, big guy, you know the way home. I'm only holding on for appearance's sake." The bike took over, getting him safely home and into the garage. Where Xander fell asleep on him.
Throttle got up with the alarm clock. Usually Xander hit it pretty quickly since it was on his side of the bed but this time it kept going and going and no Xander. He realized he was alone in the bed and got up, slamming a fist into it to make it quit sounding off. "Hate alarms," he complained, getting out of bed. He wandered upstairs, but no Xander. He wandered into the bathrooms, still no Xander. He heard a gentle snore and headed toward the garage, finding him asleep on his bike. He stopped to admire the sight, even went to get a camera. Still Xander didn't wake up. So he took a few pics then put the camera aside. He walked over, going to shake him awake. "Hey."
"Hmwasisit this time?" he demanded sleepily.
"Why are you on your bike?"
"You know, I resemble that remark," Throttle joked.
Xander gave him a bleary glare. "Shut up, you do not." He sat up, stretching. "Someone was so damn stupid he walked down into the site and laid face-down in wet concrete. The guard found him and called at four. What time is it?"
Throttle kissed him. "Your alarm just went off."
"Fine." He grabbed him for real kiss. "You're not stupid. I'm stupid. You're not stupid. Don't say that again and I won't say that word you hate." He got off his bike and went to change clothes, or at least put on underwear and socks. He sat down on the bed once he had the necessary items, and blinked a few times. Fortunately he had that backup alarm that went off half an hour before he had to be at work. Otherwise he'd have slept for a few more hours. He finished getting dressed and went upstairs, working on his belt the whole trudge. He accepted his sodas and his kiss from Throttle, and his breakfast hot pocket from Dawn. He grunted and headed back down to his bike, getting on to ride to work, eating on the way. He passed a cop but the cop only gave him a second look. By then he had the rest of the hot pocket in his mouth and a for-show hand on the handlebars. He pulled into the site during his second soda of the morning, grunting at the guard. "Any more weirdos?"
"Just the boss," he said cheerfully.
"Fuck the boss," he complained, parking next to the trailer again. He trudged inside, glaring at Merle. "Why did he call *me* at four?"
"It was your turn," he said with a small grin. "You can nap on the desk. We'll be pouring another layer of concrete where you guys messed it up."
"You'd rather I had left him ta die?" he asked sarcastically. Trisha came in, looking cheerful this morning. "Go out there and kick my crew's ass for me. I'm too damn tired to do it today." He flopped down and put his head down, going back to his nap.
"What happened to him?"
"Outside," Merle said quietly, letting her put down her stuff then leading her out. He pointed at the wrecked concrete. "Someone came in and laid down in it, face down. They called Xander at four this morning."
The other workers gathered around. They all groaned.
"Someone so thoughtfully laid down in the concrete last night," Trisha said. "Xander's having a nap since he got called out of bed to check on the person's stupidity." They all groaned. "We can put a second layer on easily enough. Scratch the surface to give it something to cling to. If we work fast, it might not be so bad." Everyone nodded, going down there to do that.
"Still partially soft," one guy called.
"Good, dig in grooves and let's make a new batch," Trish yelled back. A few of the guys went to start on the cement mixer while they got the base ready. Trish watched, then looked at Merle. "It's starting again, isn't it?" she asked quietly.
He shook his head. "Not with Xander here. He ran the abuse shelter site cleanly, even with bombs, and nearly had it on time. We can do it with this one." He looked over as a cop came to the guard house, going out to talk to him. "Anything new on that guy?"
"Yeah, he said someone named Xander told him to lay down in the cement. Ordered him to."
"Not our Xander."
"No, I didn't figure it was," he admitted. "He said this guy was dark haired, normal human looking, and fairly pale. I don't know who he was." He looked at the site. "I don't know what's going on."
"I'll bring it to our Xander. He's pretty good about this stuff," he admitted. "Thank you, officer."
"You're welcome." He walked off, going back to his car.
Merle waved, smiling, then went to wake up Xander. He jumped when he door slammed actually. "Is there another Xander running around the city who can compel people?"
"Only if we've had a breach from another reality and the vampire me is running around," he said dryly. He rubbed his eyes. "Why?"
"Because the guy said some guy named Xander ordered him to lay in the cement and he did."
Xander called Cleveland. "Did we have a realm breach and not tell me that the vampire me is running around!" he demanded. "Yes, Buffy, him!" he said mock-cheerfully. "Then go kick Wes's ass and wake him up! He owes me for stopping Giles and not killing him on sight." She took the phone with her, nibbling the whole way. "Long night?" Her smart answer made him groan. "Well, we had a guy here who said a Xander *compelled* him to lay in the wet concrete of our site. Yeah, just like a vamp compelly thing," he said grimly. She hurried up, he could hear her. She yelled it at Wes as she kicked his door in, finally getting him and Fred up. Wesley complained and told her it was nothing. Xander snorted. "Kick his ass, Buffy. It's not nothing. We're still dealing with Wolfram and Hart wanting my boss's business. So I'm guessing they're after me and Faith this time." Wesley stuttered something when Buffy repeated that. "So, where is my doppleganger and how do I send his skanky ass home!" Buffy repeated that verbatim and Fred whimpered, he could hear that. Wesley repeated something and Xander found a pen, taking notes on the back of the blue prints. He hung up mid-protest and got up. "Going to go kick me a lawyer's ass yet again," he complained. "Be back later."
"You could take help," Merle suggested.
"Oh, I am." He walked out, then tossed his tools back inside. He got onto his bike and put on his helmet, calling home. "Guys, do we want to see the vampire me before or after I smoosh him and Wolfram and Hart flat for bringing him here?" He started his bike. "No, I'm going there now, Charley. If the guys want to help me whip lawyer tail, they can come help." He drove off, heading for the local offices. He was sure his vampire self was there at this moment. Where else would he be? He called Boris just in case. "You don't have my vampire self, do you?" His boss spluttered. "I didn't think so. No, I'm going to go blow up Wolfram and Hart. I figure we have a lot of practice at it in the group." He hung up and went on, merrily taking a short drive to give everyone else time to get there.
Oz looked at the noon news, which was reporting on a building blowing up, frowning mightily.
"Today, Wolfram and Hart, an international law firm, had a mysterious explosion at their Chicago headquarters. Our live crew earlier caught it on tape as the building seemingly exploded and crumpled in on itself."
"It was like one of those scenes where you demolish a building with explosives," the field reporter said from her camera. "First we heard a smoke alarm and the report of an automated fire alarm going off. Then we got here and there was some smoke. Then, as the fire department pulled up and the last people exited the building, the building just seemed to fold up slowly, floor by floor until it was just a pile of rubble on the ground behind me." She got out of the way so they could see the rubble. "Wolfram and Hart's spokesman said he didn't know what happened but a full investigation would be conducted and whoever had done this would be paying greatly."
It switched back to the main reporter, who was smiling. "At least no one was hurt and the fire department spokesman said it was the most orderly and neat explosion he had ever seen," she reported. "If you have a tip about what happened, please call the Chicago PD and leave a tip. Remember, they need your information, not your name."
Oz dialed the number on the screen. "Hey, I work construction and it looked like a structural problem to me. I've heard that they've had a lot of work done recently and I'm guessing it was for a good reason and not good enough. After all, they're stingy lawyers who tried to have us work for minimum wage." He hung up and got comfortable, watching as the reporters happily reported on the Nub's most recent score. "Hey, no mice," he said in appreciation. He checked to make sure the phone was hung up, doing it again just in case.
When Meg came in, he pointed at the tv. "I heard and saw. Did you know there's a vampire Xander?"
Oz groaned, holding his head. "Yeah, I knew. I hate that I know, but I know. Cordelia made him. Bad times, man, very bad times." He pulled her down to hold, sniffing her. "Meg, birth control?"
"Um, pointless," she said sheepishly.
"Fuck!" She got away from him and went to hide with Charley. If Oz was swearing, it was world-ending.
Charley looked over as Meg came running in and hid behind Vinnie, babbling too fast for even the vampire Xander Xander had saved to understand her. "Meg?" she asked. "Calm down, it'll be okay. No one's going to hurt you."
"Oz just said fuck," she moaned. "It's bad."
"Oh, shit, what happened now?" Xander demanded, staring at her. "Another apocalypse demon? Another apocalypse? Faith coming to live with us?"
"No, I'm pregnant," she moaned.
Vinnie squealed like Anya and grabbed her to hug. "Ooh, baby Meg's!"
"But he swore, it's a bad thing!" she told him.
"That's because he's not sure if the baby would be furry or not," the vampire said patiently. "Though I'm pretty sure it's a not situation." He glared at the white mouse everyone was calling by *his* name. "Who are you?"
"You, I just changed differently." He grinned and showed him, making him howl and struggle. "How did you get here?"
"Hell if I know. I was torturing Puppy and there was a big blue light. I landed in the middle of this room and the guy there said I was going to come make your life a living hell because you're a *good* guy," he sneered.
"As we all are," he said, punching him and knocking him out. "I'm tired of my alter ego. We need a small, tiny, dark room. We need some ropes or some of Oz's chains. Or else I'm going to stake him a lot."
"Sure," Throttle agreed, picking up the vampire. "Blanket?" Vinnie tossed it over him. "Thanks. Let's put him in a bathroom." He carried him over to the bathroom by the garage, setting him in the bathtub and backing out slowly. Just because Bringers said they tasted funny didn't mean this one would think so. He closed the door and let Vinnie lock it with the padlock he had found. For some reason, Xander had put an eye and flap on this one. They hadn't been sure why before. Now they knew. He walked off, letting the vampire stay in there. It had water, a toilet, and darkness. It was fine for now. He went to calm Xander down. He was still vibrating, and hugging Meg when he got back there, but mostly still vibrating. He hugged them both. "Congrats, Meg."
"Thanks, Throttle. Does this mean I can hide over here until Oz calms down?"
"I doubt he's that upset," Xander assured her. "If he's still mad, I'll go kick his ass for you."
"Thank you." She kissed him on the cheek and went into the bathroom to clean up. She hated crying but Xander's shoulder made a good spot to do so.
Xander looked at Throttle, then grabbed the phone, calling Oz. "Oz?" He frowned. "Sorry, didn't hear it ring, sir. Let me give you to Charley." He held it out. "One of those freak occurrences where it rings as you pick it up."
"Last Chance Garage," she greeted happily. "No, we were about to call a friend's boyfriend to let him know she was here. What's up?" She listened and nodded, looking at the garage. "Well, I've got a small tune up in front of you, but bring her over," she agreed. "It'll be fine. No, if I'm not here, I'm always next door. Sure. Thanks." She hung up. "Bike who needs a fix." She called Oz, getting a growling being. "Meg's here. She was scared you hated her and wanted to turn furry. No, she was just crying. You might want to come over. We've got the vampire Xander hidden." She hung up as someone drove up to the garage's doors. "Hi, can I help you?' she asked, wiping her hands off as she went to meet with the blond guy driving the classic GTO. "Hi, Charley."
"Hey, heard great things about'cha, I'm Stan." He shook her hand. "It's being odd. My dad and I rebuilt her and I don't know what's doing it."
"Turn her over, let's listen." He did so and revved the engine, smiling. She waved at him and he turned it back off. "I know what that is. It's fairly common and easily solved. I'm um, kinda backed up with jobs at the moment. I can do it by tomorrow morning?" She heard Vic wail and sighed. "The least of which being the son."
He grinned. "Not an issue. My partner can drive us on high speed chases taday." He grinned at Xander. "Hey. She's good. I couldn't figure it out at all."
"She's good about that," he agreed. "He's one of the cops I had to go warn." He went back inside, going to pick up the pitiful one. "Hey, quit, it's not like we abandoned you," he teased, picking the baby up. He took a sniff and grimaced. "I'd wail too, kid." He set him down to change the nasty diaper, then got him cleaned up and downstairs. Daddy looked at him as he came out of the kitchen. "One nasty butt cleaned." Meg cooed and took the baby to cuddle, sitting down on the bench with him. "I should get back to work."
"Probably so, yeah," Throttle agreed. He looked at him. "What should we do with the vampire?"
"I'll figure that out while I'm dealing with stud walls." He walked off, going to get onto his bike and head off to work.
"Hey," Kowalski yelled, coming out. "Was that you?"
"Was what me?" he asked.
"Wolfram and Hart."
"Hell's lawyers?" He smirked. "Think you can take another lesson in strange already? Have Throttle call Dawn to teach you about W&H and their pact with hell and the strange and deadly." He winked and rode off.
"That's not helpful," Kowalski noted. He went back inside to see how much it was going to cost him. "He said to ask someone named Dawn why the lawyers today got bombed. Anyone know who she is?"
"Dawn!" Vinnie yelled. Vic chirped in Meg's arms. "No, not to spoil you, son. He wanted her."
Dawn strolled in, looking very tasty if she did say so herself. "Yeah?"
"Xander said to explain W&H to him," Vinnie ordered.
"Sure. Hi, Meg and Vic." She tickled him and noticed it looked like she had been crying. "Who did it and can I kick his ass?"
"I'm pregnant and Oz swore," she sniffled.
"Then he's a toasty little furry man, I will not put up with it." She walked the cop off, going to call Oz. "What the hell were you thinking!" she yelled. "You made Meg cry in her condition! I swear to any and all Gods I'm gonna kick your little redheaded, computer programming ass, Oz! You don't do that to your woman! Now get your ass over here now!" She hung up and calmed herself, letting out a little sigh. "I feel better now. So, Wolfram and Hart, right?" she asked, leading him up to the library. She found Angel's journal and handed it over. "The last one who dealt with it, his diary. Watch out for moping."
"Sure, um, thanks," he said, going back down to call his partner to come get him and bring him back to the station. Now they had some clues, maybe. Hopefully. His partner pulled up a few minutes later and he got in, reading the diary as he drove.
"The diary of the last guy who had to deal with Wolfram and Hart. It was in LA a few years back. Some guy named Angel. Depressed mook sort. Probably wore all black and stuff."
"This'll help us how?"
"They said something was going on with the lawyers, kept saying they were Hell's lawyers. I thought they all were, but I guess they're not making it up," he said a few entries later. "They do that magic stuff too." He flipped forward. "They do a lot of that stuff."
"Were these guys always around and we just never noticed?"
"They've got their own society. Like the priests usta," Kowalski offered. "They keep ta themselves most of the time. That's why we can't find a good non catholic priest in the city anymore."
"Benny can. He said something about needing to find a Santeria priest or something," Vecchio said.
"Cuban or somewhere around there. Native plus Catholicism. Saw it on the Discovery channel. Like Voodoo."
"Oh, great, just what we need. What next? We find Benny sacrificing chickens?"
"I hope not. He'd have to clean up the mess for days if he did, and Dief would probably try to eat most of it." Kowalski snorted. "Hey, these guys keep trying ta call people back ta life." He skimmed another page. "This guy's talkin' about vampires and bein' soulless. I'm gonna have nightmares for weeks."
Vecchio pulled into their precinct's parking lot. "So hand it over."
"It's a loaner, not a giver."
"Fine." He parked and got out, heading up to his desk. "Stanley's car's in the shop," he called as he walked in.
"Which one?" Frannie, his sister and the civilian aid, asked.
"The Last Chance. He went to spy on that Xander guy again. Got given a book." He flopped down, looking over as their faithful mountie companion joined him. "You're not gonna go do the voodoo stuff, right?"
"I was finding a Santeria priestess, Ray, not a Voodun one, and no it wasn't for personal interest, though I do find them fascinating. I was finding them for one of our visitors." He looked at Stanley as he came in. "What's that?"
"Here, summarize why Wolfram and Hart are so bad. This is the last guy's dairy. He's enough ta make me wanna slit my wrists," he complained, handing it over and walking off to get some coffee.
Constable Fraser sat down to start at the beginning. "I've heard of him. I did some checking on that former group for my own edification. They mentioned this group in LA as well. Interesting."
"Someone's heard of this guy?"
"Peripherally, Ray. He was part of the Sunnydale group, which Mr. Giles used to head apparently. It's said that even though he had no reason to fight, he still did and he did it very well." He went back to his reading. "Angel, the person who wrote this dairy, had been in Sunnydale but escaped his long-time love that he couldn't have and set up shop in LA to save others. He ran into many things, including a demonic law firm repeatedly."
"That Dawn chick said that Wolfram and Hart were Hell's lawyers," Stanley admitted. "Ya think they meant seriously?"
Fraser looked at him. "With the proof we've seen in the last few weeks, do you honestly still doubt?" he asked gently. Stanley shuddered and went back to his desk. "Any news on that man who was ordered to get into the concrete?"
"Nope," Vecchio admitted. "He should be fine. He was released earlier."
"I'm thinkin' that the Xander we know handled the other one," Kowalski admitted.
"Hopefully," Vecchio said quietly. "I don't want to know what could order someone to die and make them do it without blackmail, a weapon, or force."
"Compulsion," Fraser said, sitting upright. "If we're dealing with the supernatural here, there are many creatures who can do that." He saw a small redheaded man walk in the door and watched as his wolf started to growl. "Down, Diefenbaker."
"It's cool. Natural wolves should react to me," Oz told him, handing over a disc. "The compressed version for your records. Whoever did it, if they didn't do it by accident while trying to summon something or something else bad, did it for a good reason." He took the diary and walked off, going to take it back to the garage.
Fraser got up to look over these new records, frowning at what he saw. "If this is true, we may be able to get them kicked out of Canada," he admitted. "I'll be back later." He hurried off with the disc, going to make a copy and tell his superior, once he wrote it up in a report format that didn't mention magic in the least.
The two cops groaned and shook their heads. They weren't sure they wanted to know anymore.
Xander rode back onto the site, finding his boss' car in the driveway and the office a bit more smokey than it should be. "Ran inside without an umbrella?" he asked, sitting behind his desk to start on the paperwork.
"Good job, Xander."
"Thanks. The guys didn't wanna play with me this morning," he said dryly, pulling out the paycheck records. "There's a vampire me at the house if you wanted to see how bad I'd be."
"There is?" his boss asked. Xander smirked at him. "Why?"
"Cordelia made a wish once," he said fondly. "There was a vampire Willow too but I don't think she's here. She's a leather sex girl if you hear about her."
"I'll ask around tonight. That's too scary for words, Xander." He shook his head. "How are you going to send him back?"
"Not a clue," he said fondly. He grinned and went back to work. "Sorry about the absence."
"No, it was reasonable, I like that. Good job with the body this morning too. I'm assuming compelled?"
"Yeah, by the vampire me. He's being mean."
"Huh." He took out the tape recorder in his pocket and turned it off, grinning at him. "So, how about you stay?"
"How about I stake you?" Xander asked, staring up at him. "I'm sure you have a will leaving the company to someone, namely me." He pulled it out of his desk drawer and handed it over. "Here, your copy so you can hide it in your house." He beamed up at him. "Thanks, boss, I needed a company."
"You bastard," he said fondly, reading it. "You absolute bastard. You'd kick Megan and her wife out?"
"No, but I'd make them fix the wreck you live in. It's pitiful." He went back to work. "Remember, you try to blackmail me, I call something down on your head, and I've already got that filed in numerous places."
"If you wanted the company I would have given it to you if you had slept with me," he snorted, handing it back.
"Sorry, vamps were Buffy's thing, I'm more a furry guy."
"So I can tell. Does Throttle know you went that evil?"
"Um, nope, but Dawn does." He chuckled evilly. "My husband thinks that I just turn bad every now and then. Sorta like you and the blackmail." He picked up the recorder and dropped it on the floor, stomping on it a few times before throwing it in the garbage can and dropping a lit piece of paper into it. He watched while the tape burned, then went back to his paperwork, handing it all over. "There you go, first week's paychecks, boss."
"Xander," he sighed, shaking his head. "Can't you just enjoy my company?"
"Sure, if you call my husband in and have him watch you flirt. He said he was going to drill a hole through you with his fist the next time you tried to hit on me. By the way, that liquor and beer went to his mother on Mars so she could bargain with it now and then for the big things."
"That's fine," he agreed. "Need anything else?"
"We send monthly small shipments up now that we've got the teleporter. Food, dry goods, water. Things that she can use so she and the families don't starve. That leaves more for everyone else on Mars and this way we know they'll be fine. We talked about it my last day back. Speaking of, I've got to send up stuff tonight." He used his desk phone to call home. "Hey, babe, go shopping for the mothers tonight. I told her I'd start sending her stuff about every month so she didn't have to shop for anything like food. I figured it'd be easier on her and the others if she didn't have to. The list's on my computer. Look it over, print it off, add to it if you have to. Thanks." He hung up. "Gotta love a bored Vinnie."
Across town, a guy hung up his phone and looked at it before looking at his wife. "Some guy just called me babe, asked me to get his shopping list off the computer, look it over, add to it, and go shopping for his mother."
His wife shrugged. "Probably a wrong number. Unless you've been stepping out of me?"
"I'm not gay," he snorted. "Or don't you remember what we did last week?"
"Not really," she admitted. "It's so infrequent and usually kinda boring anymore." Her husband stomped off.
Xander walked in and looked around. "Did you already send the stuff up to the moms?"
"Huh?" Modo asked.
"I called Vinnie earlier, asked him to take my grocery list and send it to the moms."
"I don't remember that," Vinnie said from his spot on the couch with his son. "Maybe you dialed that number you did the last time, Xander. He's got to think you're really strange by now."
"Maybe," he admitted. "Okay, we're going shopping for the moms, I arranged with Stoker and them to send them food about once a month so they wouldn't have to go shopping and so they could leave more for everyone else. My shopping list is on my computer, someone go rent an SUV." Everyone stared at him. "Now," he ordered.
"Going for the rental," Dawn called.
"I'll print out that list and look it over," Modo promised. "You go change. You're sweaty."
"Sure, make me go get pretty for the boys and girls at the grocery store. You know, it's supposed to be a place to pick up dates." He wandered down to his room, ignoring the growling his mate was doing.
"He's teasing," Vinnie reminded Throttle.
"So?" He went to pounce his mate, making sure he knew he was his.
"Honey, do you mind if I blackmail my boss? He was trying on me earlier."
Throttle stopped before he could pounce, looking at his husband. "What?"
"Boris was trying to blackmail me earlier," he said patiently. "I destroyed the tape, but I have a fake will of his just in case I have to stake him some day."
Throttle shook his head. "That's fairly illegal."
"Yeah, but so's blackmailing me by asking about the building and then taping it."
"Xander," he said patiently, starting to scowl now. "We are law abiding mice."
"I know, but it'd save all those jobs and I'd eventually give it back to Megan and her wife."
"Shit," he sighed. "I knew you'd say that. I don't know why I told you."
"Because you knew I'd be disappointed if I found out after the fact," he said firmly, staring him down. Xander gave him a sheepish look. "Not working."
"You'll destroy each and every copy of that one, right?" he demanded. Xander gave him a helpless look. "Xander," he said firmly.
"If I do, then we'll all end up out of work. He doesn't have a will. I know he doesn't have a will, Megan's wife was moaning about that and she used to be a lawyer. If I do that and he dies before then, which is possible due to Wolfram and Hart, we'd not only have to watch out for Faith and Fred, we'd have all those people out of work and all those jobs unfinished and the lawsuits for fees already paid and things. He owns more than the construction company. He owns an electronics company too. He employs about sixteen thousand people. He also said that if I slept with him and asked him for it, he would have given it to me."
"That's still highly unethical and illegal. I can't believe you did that!" he complained, stomping off.
"I wasn't going to use it unless there was an emergency," he called after him. "It wasn't really a ploy!"
"It's still wrong!" He stomped upstairs, looking at Modo. "My spouse made out a will for his boss. He may have even filed it places."
Modo groaned, "oh, momma," and sat down, holding his head. "He's usually a good boy, Throttle. You know that."
"I know, but still!"
"So call Boris and tell him," Vinnie said from his spot on the couch. "He said it wasn't an evil ploy."
"Good idea." He called Boris' home number, getting the vampire there for once. "Boris, Xander told me that he's made out a will for you. He said it's not an evil ploy, and that he's sorry. You might want to replace it." He listened to the vampire tell him that Xander had already told him, he had seen a copy, and it was a good idea. "Huh?" The vampire calmly stated his reasons, including the fact that the construction business took some conniving now and then. Besides, he said Megan didn't want it and someone had to look out for his workers and Faith; since Xander had volunteered and all he'd let him have the headaches. Throttle hung up with a moan and sat down. "He liked the idea when Xander proved he had done it earlier."
Modo reached over to pat him. "Think of all the good he can do with it," he soothed.
"He just nominated himself as Boris' son, Modo. That's a disturbing thought."
"I'm back," Dawn yelled. "They're cranky but let me do it."
"Thanks," Xander yelled. He came up the ramp. "List?" It was handed over. "Fank you, Modo. Throttle, I did it more to tease him but if he likes it I don't really mind all that much. With Wolfram and Hart breathing down both our necks it's good to have a bit of insurance. Besides, this way he doesn't have to work to turn me or to bed me." He waved the list. "Wallet?" Vinnie tossed it over. "Am I shopping for both mothers by myself?" The guys all got up and found their boots, following him.
Stoker looked up as the teleporter went off, gaping at the boxes. "What the cheese?" he demanded, getting up to look at it. "For our mothers, from some dutiful sons, as promised, Xander," he read the note on top. "At least it's after hours." He went to call both mothers to come and get stuff. The teleporter went off again, landing another few cases of stuff on the floor. He hauled it out of the way, waiting on any more. No water had come up yet. Xander knew they needed water. The teleporter fizzled on the next load, making him wince, but it was hopefully because it was full of jugs of water and juice. He hauled those shipping crates out and looked at it. "Any more?" he asked it. A simple letter appeared, addressed to him this time. "Ohhh, gee, thanks, they remembered me," he said sarcastically, sitting down to read it while he waited. He saw one of the little kids playing messenger and guard looking in. "Throttle and Modo promised their mommas they'd send food so they didn't have to shop at the markets and others could have it," he told her.
"That's so cool of them. I want a son like that some day." She came in to look. "They sent lots of water too."
"They did," he agreed. "Mostly drinkable from the labels, and some juice for the kids." He grinned at her. "Xander's spoiling them."
"He does it very well. If he has kids do you think he'd let me date them?"
"Possibly, but hope the kid doesn't have his daddy's evil streak. Xander just volunteered to take over his boss's construction company by making out his will for him and trading it off when his boss tried to blackmail him."
"Sounds like he's unhappy with his job. Why would he want to keep it?"
"Because the guy employs so many people it'd throw a lot of stuff out of whack," he admitted. He looked over as Modo's mother pushed the door open. "I hope you brought a cart."
"Of course I did. The boys are so thoughtful to not make us shop." She looked at all the supplies. "That's all?"
"No, there's more, but they're not sure it'll fit yet," he admitted. "That's only half. They bought double of everything, and a few cases of diapers for the twins. Plus some vitamins for them. So I'm guessing unless you find those, that's Throttle's momma's batch."
"She's on her way. I'll switch carts with her," she offered, going to get her bike and back it in here so she could load the cart, which she'd then attach to the back of Throttle's momma's bike. When she got there, they switched out and then got their stuff loaded up after stealing Xander for a hug and a kiss each. He was even nice enough to be holding the baby when he came.
Stoker looked at him. "You know you hurt him each time you go slightly evil, right?"
"Yeah, but I don't do it often. I've only got one slightly evil thing left to do and that's torment Giles." He grinned sweetly. "It's necessary. He tried to kill me and claimed I was a traitor."
"He's still a human, kid."
"Yeah, and he's a human who tried to have me killed and then made it my duty to sacrifice myself against that demon. All because I'm furry now. Fuck him. Throttle understands this one. He didn't understand about the will thingy but my boss said he liked it and agreed. Besides, he was trying to blackmail me into staying." He patted the baby's back, smiling at Spike as he came out of hiding. "Hey, Spike."
"Bitch," he said, pointing at Vic. Xander swatted his ear with his tail. "Hey!"
"Do not swear like that again, son," Stoker said firmly.
"Meany," he said with a glare for them. Xander tossed over a book and Spike stuck his tongue out but sat down to read it. "Choo choo?"
"Yeah, it's a choo choo," Xander agreed.
"Don't swat my kid," Stoker sighed.
"Did I hurt him?"
"No, but that's my job." Xander gave him a long stare. "Never again, kid."
"Fine. I'll tell Vinnie what he called his precious firstborn too."
"Sure. Speaking of, momma, go ahead and send Xander home. I'll send a note back to Throttle tonight."
"Sure," she agreed, going to do that since everything was done. She hoped. She didn't have any more room. She smiled at him. "He needed it," she said with a wink. "Good job. Just like I used to do with Modo." She waved at the baby and sent him back. She looked at Stoker. "Throttle would've done the same thing."
"I know, but Throttle was my second in command, Xander isn't. I don't let everyone do that to my kids."
"He's not an everyone, Stoker, he's family to you since he married her son." She swatted him gently. "Someone needed to. You're not stopping him." She walked out, going to her house so they could unload and switch carts back.
Stoker looked at his son. "You really shouldn't swear. It's not mannerly." Spike spit at him and went back to reading his book on trains. "You're going to have to grow manners sometime soon, son." Spike giggled madly. He swatted him himself, making Spike growl and glare at him. "Tough, I am your parent." Spike burst out crying but he left him there. He wasn't going to put up with a fit. Not tonight. He wrote the letter back, telling Throttle what had been said and his own feelings on the subject, then sent it back through the teleporter. A smaller case of water appeared and he grinned since it had his name on it. He took it and his son home, going to treat them all to a nicer dinner tonight, as long as he could keep Switch from cooking.
Throttle's momma looked at the canned vegetables, frowning at them. "I don't remember anything that looked like that. I wonder what you do with these things?" She found the letter Modo had written about what each tasted like and decided to sit some of it aside. She probably wasn't going to like those peas, but someone surely would. She set aside the sauerkraut too, that sounded odd. She'd get Modo's momma to try it out for her and see. Or maybe they'd trade. Peas sounded like something she'd want.
To Part 46