Note: This GHS version is a what-if verse. What if Xander hadn't gone home to Sunnydale because the girls didn't want him.  Same rules of GHS apply.  Crossover with Buffy/Highlander and a lot of smut.

Protect Me?

Xander came off the plane happy and smiling, bouncy and relaxed.  He was calm and it felt  nice.  He saw Don and almost tensed up but it wasn't really worth it.  Adam had helped him see what was worth getting stressed over.  He shrugged and hugged him.  "I'm back."

"I can see that."  He looked him over.  He was okay looking.  "Any problems?"

"No, Adam cut off his head."  He walked off with him, ignoring the strange look he got.  He grabbed his bag and headed out with him, finding the car in the police only parking area.  "Did you make them let you park here?" he teased.

"I did. It's a perk of the job," he admitted, sliding in to drive.  Xander slid into his side and they headed back to the condo.  "You good?"

"I'm fine.  I'm happy.  Adam agreed with me.  I'm to make myself happy so I don't keep getting sick.  Pushing it down means I get attacked more.  So I'm to lounge tonight in a bubble bath and then eat some chocolate for dinner.  Which is in my bag.  Then I'm to work myself off before bed.  We set up everything at the convention so I'll get everything working again."  He smiled at him.  "Then I'm going to find my ass a boyfriend.  Someone who'll take the place of the toys."

"Sure.  You need me to move?"

"Nope."  He hugged him around his free arm. "It'll be fine, Don.  I still need you there."  He settled back into his seat and squealed when they ran into a parade, getting out to watch from beside the car.

Don got out and leaned on his roof so he could study the kid.  "How did Adam get the fighting stuff back under control?"

"He did the same thing for different reasons.  It'll come out when needed but not all the time."  He beamed at him.  "Want to go to the circus?  I've never been."

"Sure.  I've got today and tomorrow off.  We'll see if there's tickets.  Get back into the car.  It's nearly done."  Xander slid back in and Don looked at him.  He was much more relaxed and much more gay.  Xander wasn't the normal boy by any means.  He was languid and calm, he was almost graceful when he moved.  He was happy, that was a big improvement. He eyed the traffic. "It's going to be an hour, maybe an hour and a half before we get home.  Wanna hit dinner?"

"If you want. I can nibble."  Don nodded, pulling into somewhere closeby that he had eaten at when he was younger.  "Is this a diner?"

"Yup.  They used to be all over the city back in the early days."  He got out and Xander followed.  "Who's getting dinner?"

"Up to you."

"I'll get it this time. I figure you probably spent a lot on vacation."  Xander shook his head.  "No?"

"No.  I got spoiled on vacation," he said with a happy grin as they walked inside. He paused.  Don tugged on his sleeve, making him follow.  "Okay."  He settled into the booth across from him.  "Adam had a visitor in and he spoiled me."

"Wonderful.  Who?"

"An old friend who thought I was cute and he's local."  He smiled at the waitress.  "Having a bad tips day?"  She nodded, grimacing some.  "Well, I'll get the tip then."  She smiled at that.  "Can I have a plate of onion rings and some ranch dressing?"

"Anything to drink?"

"Coke."  She wrote that down and looked at Don, who was staring at him.  "What? I'm having chocolate for my real dinner."  The waitress giggled at that.  "I am.  From a bubble bath even."  She smiled and patted him on the head.  "I deserve to spoil myself. I was a good boy. I didn't even jump into the middle of the orgy room at the convention."

"I'm proud," Don assured him.  "Give me a burger, the works but mustard, and a coke."  She nodded, taking it off. "I'm stealing a few of your onion rings."

"That's fine."  He grinned and pulled out his phone to check for messages, finding one.  "Oooh, Russell called."  He dialed in and listened to the message, giggling.


"Tomorrow night.  He thought I'd be tired tonight."  He called him back.  "Can you tell Russell it's Xander?"  He looked at Don. "You mind if I go out tomorrow night?"

"As long as I meet the guy."

"Sure."  He smiled. "Hi, Russell.  Yup, I'm back and my protector said we're clear for tomorrow night if you wanted to go out.  Of course."   He smiled at the waitress, pulling out a twenty for her tip and handing it to her.  She beamed and Don's food was placed nicely in front of him.  He paid the check ahead too.  "Yup, we can go there but you'll have to explain some things to me.  Sure, if you're up to explaining."  He grinned shyly.  "If you want.  Yup, that's where I am and Don said he had to meet you first but otherwise we're good.  That's fine.  See you then."  He hung up.  "Seven.  He'll come pick me up and we're going to the Masters' exhibit at the museum."  He dunked his first onion ring once Don had a handful, nibbling contentedly.  He shifted to sit sideways, watching the patrons.  A few were giving him odd looks.  "Yes, we exist," he mouthed at one, getting a shudder.  He nibbled another one and looked at Don again.  "So, how noisy was the group while I was gone?"

"Football game got a bit noisy and the neighbors complained but otherwise we were good the whole time, Xander.  No new holes in the walls or anything."  Xander smiled at that. "What did you do while you were in Chicago?"

"Well, let's see.  I staked something trying to eat Ray, Adam's boyfriend.  He's nearly as high on the scale as I am.  I ran into Oz, who was very cool with me," he said happily.  "He might be coming to visit soon since the girls drove him off too.  Adam and I had a lot of long talks the first few days so I could straighten out the inner tough guy that wanted to kill you one morning when you woke me up."  He ate another onion ring, making Don snicker.  "Seriously."  He looked at him.  "Sneaking up on me, even at home, is bad."  He sipped his coke and smiled at the waitress, then at him.  "Russell came up Wednesday to talk to Adam about an antique.  He took me to dinner Wednesday and Friday.  He has very good taste and obviously has a clue about us and our nibbling habits.  The first night we went to a salad place and he spoiled me with cheesecake."  Don smirked at that.  "He did. He does antiques in town."  He nibbled on another one once it was properly dunked.  "He's also a fantastic kisser."

"Share those details in private, Xander," he said quietly.

"Yes, Don."  He finished that one and took another drink.  "Eat.  You were hungry."  He grinned.  "Russell and Oz went with us to the convention.  Oz apparently used to be a keeper and he kept me from jumping into the more fun activities.  There's a few in town that I can go hang with for support when I need it.  Actually, there's a number of us in town.  I arranged it so I've got spa time twice a week.  Full treatment to ease the ache of being me.  I did a lot of smut trading at the convention. A few others were trading and I printed some of mine off for them.  They liked it," he said proudly.  Don grinned at that.  "We had mass outings to the mall and the ice cream shop.  It was a really cool convention.  None of us slept the whole time. There was one room just to get cuddles in.  I spent half a day in there."  Don nodded, taking a bite of his burger.  Xander took a sip of his soda while he chewed.  "The other rooms were kinda fun too."  Don choked.  "I waited."

"Thanks," he said, wiping his mouth.  "Tell me you didn't....."

"I did but that's okay.  I met two very nice guys and Russell said that's just how we are and he took me dancing that night, and then we had a good night together."  He took another sip and shrugged at the inquisitive look from the waitress.  "He's fine."  She wandered off to the other end of the counter again.  "We had a great time.  Ray and I are good friends.  We understand each other perfectly.  He's a cop in Chicago."  Don looked amused at that.  "Adam's keeping him sane at the moment. He's a level eight."

"You guys have ratings?"

Xander nodded.  "I found that out from Adam.  There's levels assigned to how much of one of us you are and what attributes you push to the fore when you're being yourself.  I'm the first level ten in nearly a decade.  Natural one, not one pushed that way.  He told me in older times I'd have been snatched from my home as a younger teenager and carried off by some harem lord for someone's pleasure."  Don snickered at that.  "Seriously.  That's how the group started, with a bunch that were corresponding for support and ideas."  He grinned at him.  "Ooh, Oz said he's coming up in a week.  So you'll get to meet the Oz."

"Maybe he'll tell me what you won't about home?" Don suggested.

"Only if he wants my foot up his tail."  He stared him down.  "You don't need to know, Don. It's not relevant and it's my past."  He ate his last onion ring.  "Hurry up.  I need to see if we can get tickets."  Don nodded, finishing up his lunch. "How was work?"  Don shrugged.  "Same old same old?"

"Yup.  People died and I got to see why."  He grimaced.

"You could transfer to a nicer job," Xander offered.

"I like homicide.  I like the guys I work with.  I just wish there were less bodies."

"Ah!  Never say the w-word."  He frowned.  "Bad things can happen when you do."

Don looked at him. "Okay, that one you're explaining when we get home.  That's just odd."

Xander nodded.  "Sure, but you'll have to hear about two of my exes."

"Sure.  Can't beat some of mine."  Xander gave him a long look.  "Oh really?"

"Really," he agreed.  Don finished and they cleaned up the table a bit, making the waitress smile and wave at them as they walked off.  The traffic had cleared up some but not too much, because the city was nothing if not crowded with traffic.  They made it home and Xander looked at his room, then at Don.  "Wanna talk while I soak?"

"No.  Sorry. I only go into the bathroom with another person if they're there to hold my head as I puke or I'm their lover and showering with them for fun and games."  Xander giggled at that.  "Get yourself some ice cream and come out here."  Xander bounced that way and came back with bowls for each of them, his with extra fudge sauce. "Now, give, what's this against wishing things?"

"Sunnydale should've been named the town where the improbable came up to nibble on your ass for shits and giggles.  My ex, Cordelia, made a wish to a wish demon that Buffy had never come to town.  And wham, instant alternate reality with vampire us and major darkness.  I was a mean and snarly vampire who liked to torture.  Of course, getting out of it we smashed the wish demon's power center and I ended up taking her to the prom," he admitted, licking his spoon before digging it in again and taking another bite.  "She told me all sorts of ways she had tortured men for women in the past."

Don blinked.  "Let me get a tape recorder."  Xander shrugged.  Adam had told him to relax about this stuff and tell them. If they didn't believe, oh well.  Don set up his tape recorder. "Okay, with more detail this time?"

Xander grinned and took the tape recorder into the bathroom to narrate while he soaked. Adam had told him to soak and have chocolate for dinner.  Ice cream counted since it was indian summer.

Don slowly ate his ice cream, listening as the story unfolded from the bathroom.  He shook his head a few times.  That was going to Mac first thing tomorrow.

"I need a new tape," Xander called.  "Please?"

"Sure."  He went to find one and handed it over, taking the old one, marking it for Mac's benefit.  Because either Xander was insane, this Russell guy had balled his brains out, or that was the truth and the world was more wrong than he had thought.


Mac looked up as Don walked in.  "Aren't you off?"

"Yeah, I'm taking Xander to the circus for the first time ever."  He laid the four tapes down on the desk. "He said you could have more whenever you were ready."  He walked out, heading back to the car and the humming Xander.  He was humming along with the radio.  Kind of off-key but he was allowed. Don took off with him, taking him to enjoy something everyone else got as a little kid.  It only made him want to beat the kid's parents more.  He was definitely having big brother feelings today since he now knew why Xander was so insane.

Mac pulled out a tape recorder and started the first one, listening to the story.  He got some headphones after a few minutes.  This was personal things. He rewound it fully and put it onto the other side, starting it over.  This one started at the beginning, how he had met Buffy.  The boy told the story very well.  It was engrossing.  Stella came in and he paused it.  "What?"

"What's that?  New evidence?"

"Xander on Sunnydale."

"Can I hear?"

"No.  Not without his permission.  The tape said he knew Don was going to give it to me."  He gave her a slight grin.  "Anything new?"

"Not yet.  When did you get those?"

"Just now.  Don popped in on his way to the circus with Xander.  His first ever."

She smiled.  "Good.  Anything else going on?"

"Not that he said."  He unpaused it and went back to listening.  At the very least he'd know how Xander was trained so he could gauge what sort of threat he'd be.  Because it was not sounding like a happy story.  He made mental notes to ask him about things when he popped around tonight.  At least until someone new walked into his office and closed the door.  He clicked it off.  "Who're you?" he asked calmly.

"Oz. You haven't gotten to that tape yet probably."  He looked at Mac.  "Xander's friend."

"He never mentions you."

"We're not that tight at the moment.  He and I had a falling out over my girlfriend and him kissing a few times."  He crossed his arms and stared at him some more.  "Xander is a precious and damaged soul, Detective.  He is one we will protect.  No matter what those girls do."

"You sound like one of those who want to own him."

Oz smirked.  "I'd make a horrible keeper for Xander.  Much too permissive."  That got a shrug.  "Then again, you'll never get him to heal.  The pain's soul deep. It was before we got there.  You didn't listen to what he told Don the first time they talked about Sunnydale."  He tipped his head to the side.  "Now then.  Where might Xander be?"

"The circus."

"Good.  That and Russell taking him out tonight are good things.  We'll see how this experiment turns out, but do be aware those of us who also escaped are watching the boy.  If necessary, we'll save him from you as well.  Have a good listen. I know he wasn't fully honest.  He was minimizing his own impact."  He left, heading out to stalk Xander for a while longer.  He was very good at it.  He should be after so long hunting.

Mac went back to his listening.  Not too many people would threaten someone like him for no reason, especially if they had a recent falling out and he didn't want to own the boy.  Something odd was going on there.  He came to the biology teacher and blinked.  Never mind, odd was normal for this one.  He rewound it to make sure he was hearing correctly. Yup, she had turned into a giant bug who wanted to eat him.  Interesting.  Maybe he'd share it with Sheldon too, just in case it was something dangerous since he seemed to know more than the rest of them.


Oz ran into one of his own people, staring at him.  "Danny."

"Oz."  He looked at him, controlling his nervousness.  He was at work, him being outed here would be a very bad thing.  Mac would climb all over his ass if they ended up in a fight.  "Why are you in my city?"


Danny groaned.  "How did you know?"

"Know what?"

"Don and I are best friends."

Oz smirked. "Xander and I were classmates and friends.  I was dating Willow."  Danny groaned at that.  "He's going out with Connor tonight."

"I'll ease up on him with Don."  He rolled his eyes. "So, big problems?"

"No, small ones.  He will need one of us who can protect him.  Any idea if this Don guy is?"

"Pre.  He's also a gunshot waiting ta happen."  He glanced around again then moved closer.  "Why else are you here?"

"Xander's special," he told him simply.  "Besides, me being here means those girls can't be."  Danny nodded once at that.  "I'd like to meet this Don guy.  I met your boss, he was listening to the Sunnydale Tales as narrated by Xander."

Danny smirked at that.  "Well....  Hold on, Adam.  Methos?"

Oz nodded, looking smug.  "Head of the National Chapter of GHS.  Devi called him on my boy."  He looked him over.  Danny wasn't an old immortal.  He was barely two hundred.  "You think you want him if he and Connor can't make it?  He's not like Heather so it might be temporary."

"Yeah, and he's got a huge target on his head," Danny agreed dryly.  "Xander recently told us he didn't care if we didn't like him or not.  That we all considered him like Don's little brother."

Oz nodded.  "Yeah.  His parents and I had a talk recently about his self esteem and that stuff.  Look at his legs sometime."  He glanced around again.  "You think?" he asked again.

"Xander's a preimmie and he's prone to being kidnaped, Oz.  How hard would it be?"

"Point.  Adam said he was beautiful at the convention.  Piled into the cuddle room.  Nearly got lost in the orgy room but Ray made him come out.  Another pre who's one of them.  He's Adam's boy."  Danny snickered at that, leaning on the nearby building.  "He's cute.  Blond, perky, smartass.  Tough.  He and Xander both have the same viewpoint about the world - fuck it and if you can't, kill it."  He smirked even more evilly.  "I would consider it a personal favor if you watched my boy, Danny.  You and he think alike.  Similar backgrounds."  Danny nodded at that.  "Plus, he needs someone to make the world go away and leave him alone now and then.  Connor realizes the world comes knocking to him.   The world loves him for the wrong reasons.  Xander needs better."

"If he comes to me.  I'm not going to jump in.  I'm a cop at the moment."

"I'm in college, wanna trade?"  Danny snorted and shook his head.  "Adam got him back to his base personality, that flighty, happy, bouncy kid.  You'll do him good."  He nodded politely and walked off.  If the circus was in town, he wanted to see what Xander thought of it.  He did like the kid. He was life and energy and determination.  Plus really stubborn.  He liked that in his friends and possible lovers.

Danny considered it, then paged Don to let him know that Russell was an okay guy.  No matter what he heard.


Don looked at the man Xander was letting in.  He was definitely older than he was.  His eyes spoke of untold traumas.  His skin was lined and getting worse.  He nodded from the couch.  "Hey.  You must be Russell?"  This guy was making his nerves tingle, like static electricity going over him, like putting on a sweater just out of the dryer in the middle of a thunderstorm.

"I am.  Russell Nash," he said, shaking his hand. "You're Xander's protector?"

"The kid needs one," he agreed.  "What do you do?  All Xander said was antiques."

"I do appraisals and some selling."  He sat down, letting Xander go finish changing.  "Xander, the blue silk?"  Xander beamed and went to put that on.  "Sorry, I'm taking him out to a French restaurant tonight."

"He could use the food.  He's basically nibbled on treats since he's gotten back."  Russell smiled at that.  "I'm guessing he told you I'm a detective?"

"He did.  He said many nice things about you."  He smiled at the boy when he came back in midnight blue silk pants and a silk shirt.  "Ready?"

"Sure.  If you two are done sizing each other up?"

Don smirked at him.  "I know I carry the bigger gun."

"Guns aren't always the answer," Russell reminded him.  "The world got on for many centuries without one.  Swords are a particular favorite of mine."

"I heard."  Nash gave him a look behind Xander's back.  "Fortunately you've got someone to vouch for you."  Xander looked confused.  "Danny knows him somehow."

"Oh.  How?" he asked, looking at his date.

"I helped in his education."  Xander grinned again.  "Shall we?"  Xander nodded. "I'll have him home at a reasonable hour."

"That's fine.  He never wakes me up when he comes in late."  He watched them go, his feet still up on the couch.  There was something seriously wrong with that guy.  Someone else knocked on the door.  He groaned as he got up to answer it, finding a young redheaded guy standing there.  "Boy Scouts?" he guessed.

"No, Sunnydale."  He walked in and Don looked then shut the door.  Oz looked at him. "I'm Oz."

"He's mentioned you a few times," he admitted, sitting down again.  "Want something?"  This was another one who was setting his nerves off like his favorite sweater did.  Maybe he was getting sick or something.

"No, I'm good.  I'm checking to make sure Xander is."

"Tell me you don't want to kidnap him," Don complained.

"No.  Me being here keeps Giles, Buffy, and Willow there."

"Thanks.  Much nicer.  I take as good care of him as I can."

"Good.  I like that."  He studied him for a few more minutes.  "Things often go oddly around Xander.  Remember if that happens you can talk to the rest of us.  Sometimes even Xander has to look things up."

"Such as?"

"Just a general warning.  Demons are still attracted to Xander."

"He said you went furry and growled."

"I do.  That side of me wants to roll over for belly scratches from him.  Xander's a uniter and a person that leads.  Others follow him because he's charismatic.  Russell's the same way."

"You know him?"

"I do."  He smirked some.  "He's okay, no matter what you heard.  It was a misunderstanding."  He moved closer.  "I'm here to make sure you're not going to take Xander for your own."  Though, he would definitely be protective of the boy.  He already had that stubborn as a mule look about the kid.

"I like the kid but he doesn't need my traumas on top of his own."

"True, but that doesn't mean he can't handle it.  You might study the keeper's manual a bit more closely, Don.  You're doing the job.  For now.  Personally he needs someone with a lot more energy.  Someone who needs to have fun and relax.  Someone who needs to be cheered up and on."


"No.  I met him earlier.  He was very...there.  Grief flows around him still.  Besides, he won't last long enough for Xander.  Xander's going to be going for a very long time."

"You think he'll be turned?"

"It's possible," he admitted.  Not likely with the way the boy was.  "Some day you'll understand more but I have to be cryptic now.  It's in the contract.  Just think about those who could use someone like Xander in your circles.  Because the one I would choose with you is there."  He let himself out and headed back to his hotel.  He trusted Connor to watch over Xander.  Xander had the focus to be the next Connor, the next standard bearer.  Both in GHS and among the immortals.

Don considered it, then got up to do some more searching like the detective he was.  Because something really wrong was going on and it was making his hair stand on end.  There was no way that boy was normal.  He was even worse than Xander at not being normal.  That meant he'd be getting Xander in more trouble.


Xander came in from his date smiling and happy but Don could tell he was thinking.  He looked the boy over, not too rumpled.  Didn't look like he had redressed in a hurry.  "Was it a good dinner and show?"

"It was."  He sat next to him and cuddled in, getting a weary sigh.  "Sorry, cuddling is important to me, Don.  I won't if it bothers you."  Don pulled him back when he started to move.  "Are you sure?"

"Yeah, it's all right today."  He looked at him.  "I met Oz."

"Really?  I didn't think he'd be here already.  Where was he?"

"Here.  He popped in on Mac earlier too."  Xander let out a small grin at that.  "Just walked in."

"Oz is fairly direct and calm.  What did he say?"

"He said he was checking up on me to make sure you were okay and that I wasn't planning on stealing you."  Xander grinned at that.  "So, what went on tonight?  Without sex details if there were any."

"No, no sex.  We went to dinner, we rode around in a carriage through the park.  He said it's really pretty in winter so we might go again around the holidays.  He took me to the art show.  We agreed that I'm not really his type but that I'm fun and a good distraction because he just lost his last wife."  He wrapped his arms around him.  "Don, I've been thinking."

"Should I run for cover?" he teased.

Xander gave him a squeeze.  "Might help.  Do I want to keep solid assets or should I change it all out to cash?"


"Some of my tips were in jewels."

Don looked down at him.  He hadn't listened very hard when Devi had said anything more than he was financially secure.  He had thought the kid had already changed it over for ready cash.  "Excuse me?"  Xander looked up at him.  "Jewels, like jewelry?"

"No, like raw, cut gemstones.  My sarthna demon client, they're earth demons, paid in them and tipped in them.  I've got a lot of them."  He snuggled in again.  "Oh, Devi saw me and tried to get me to take on a special request," he said quietly.  "Russ threatened to cut his head off for me."

"Good.  I'll yell at Devi tomorrow for you."  He considered it.  What was with this circle of friends that included Russell Nash and this Adam guy and why did they have a thing with chopping off heads?  "I have no idea what to tell you about those or what to do with them.  Would anyone at the bank that's holding them know?  Because I haven't seen any laying around here."

"They're in my bottom dresser drawer.  I'm using the demonic banking system at the moment."  Don moaned at that.  "I get good interest and Devi set up my account."

"You're switching.  Normal human ones, Xander.  Things that won't get funny looks."

"I have no idea how to do that."

Don patted him on the head.  "When I go in tomorrow I'll drop you at my bank, see if they can help you.  They're nice and I get pretty good interest.  They've got my retirement fund too."  Xander nodded and snuggled in better.  "You okay?"

"Kinda depressed.  I went from having a cuddly pair of people who think I'm neat to coming back here to only Russell and you guys.  Russ is great, but he's not going to stick around.  I need a real boyfriend."

"You do, kiddo."  He stroked over his head.  "I can't believe you're hiding gemstones here."

"They're in a lock box.  It's built into the bottom drawer."

"Let's go look at these."  Xander nodded and he followed because he couldn't be talking about *real* gems, right?  Xander found the keys and sat down, pulling out the drawer all the way and opening the metal top.  Don stared.  "Those are... rubies and diamonds?"

"A few sapphires.  He said I look great in them.  A few emeralds."  He held one up.  "This one's got something in it but I don't know what."  Don held it up to the light then handed it back.  "I've got these, the money in the standard account, an investment fund with them, and a few hidden things that I'm hiding from myself so I don't have to think about it."  Don sat down next to him and hugged him again.  It was keeping him from pinching the kid or himself at the moment.  "I'm okay but there's things that happened that I don't want to think about," he said quietly.  Don nodded against his neck.  "Wanna help me plan what I'm doing next?"

"I don't deal with money that way, Xander.  I have no idea who could."  He looked down in the box.  "Stella would love you forever and ever if you let her play with them though."  Xander gave him a shy grin.  "You know they actually like you for you, right?"  Xander shook his head.  "They do, Xander."

"They don't, Don. It's pretty clear they tolerate me because I'm hanging around you."  He gave him a nudge.  "As long as I treat you nice and wear out my spoiling instincts on you, they'll continue to tolerate me and treat me nicely.  If not, I'll get snarked and verbally bitten at."  He closed the box's top and relocked it, then slid the drawer back in, looking at him.  "There's another box of stuff I got given under the bed."  Don let out a small moan so Xander found it and handed it over.  "I have no idea why I was given female stuff."

Don looked, looking at the earrings, necklaces, and stuff.  Then he pulled over the phone on the desk to call a friend.  "Aiden.  Come over.  Yeah, I know what time it is and when we've got to be in tomorrow.  No, Xander's going through the tips he got and he's wanting to get rid of it, but I have *no* experience with pawning stuff and you worked with a few of them a few times.  Please."  He grinned.  "No, I moved in to protect Xander. Didn't you hear the gossip?"  He smiled. "That's where we are.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "She's only up about ten blocks, she said to give her enough time to put on clothes."  He put the shoebox down and looked at him.  "This is dangerous.  We could've been broken into."

"You're the only one who knows it's here," Xander offered.  "I bolted in the lockbox myself after I got the drawer measurements.  I went to a safe retailer to get it.  He did the holes for the mounting screws."  Don nodded once at that.  "I told him it was for important pictures and things."

"That's fine.  It's a good cover."  He pulled him over to hug.  "You're right, you gotta do something.  This isn't safe and it's not doing you any good here."  He pulled back.  "I trust Aiden with my life. Understand?  She and Danny are my buds."

"Okay," he agreed.  "I can put up with being treated like the annoying little brother again."

Don smiled. "Good."  He went to answer the door at the quiet knock, letting Aiden and Mac in.  "She brought you?"

"She said that Xander had some things that he should probably get rid of.  I was hoping for evidence."

"No, more like jewelry and gems and shit."  Mac blinked.  "Yeah, shocked the hell outta me."  He led them back to the kid's bedroom, handing Aiden the shoebox.  "Let Mac and Aiden into the drawer, Xander."  He handed over the key and pulled out the drawer, moving onto his bed.

Aiden looked around the room then at him.  "This is nice."

"Thank you.  I have good taste now and then," Xander offered with a small grin.  "You can sit on the bed.  It was made back in the fifteen hundreds.  It's a family heirloom."

She settled on the end, going through the box while Mac and Don got into the drawer.  She looked then hissed and looked at the kid.  "Do I wanna know?"

"He did a special contract at a special brothel for six weeks," Don told her.  "Those were tips.  Both boxes."

"Tips?" she demanded.  Xander nodded.  "You got a ten carat diamond as a *tip*?"

"No, that drawer's four tips and an apology for trying to kidnap me put together," he admitted quietly.  She stared at him.  He shrugged.  "I went really high priced. I was trying to figure myself out.  Sorry if it freaks you out or anything."

She swallowed then shook her head.  "Sometimes we gotta do what we gotta do, Xander."  She looked in her box again.  "Why girl stuff?"

"I'm not sure," Xander admitted.  "All I know is that it was given to me.  I'm not going to wear it and I started to think earlier about turning some of them into colder assets, like cash.  Things that are easier to live on and move around when necessary."

She looked at him.  "No way in hell you're escaping."  She went back to looking.  "You want the truth?"  Xander nodded.  "A pawn shop'll probably give you about a grand for the whole thing."  He shrugged at that.  "But it'll probably be broken up or sold to people who won't really appreciate it.  Or I can buy it off you at the same price but have to make payments on it."

Xander looked at Don, who shrugged.  He looked at her.  "You'd wear it?"

"Sure.  I like jewelry.  I like it a lot.  Some of the more delicate things I might sell at a later date, they're not really me, but it'd take care of a hell of a lot of holiday presents for people like Stella."  He grinned at that. "So?"

"Okay.  As long as it's fair."  She nodded.  "What about the other ones?  Should I leave it this way or should I sell them?  Where do I sell them?"

She patted him on the hand. "Stella and I have contacts from a few robbery/homicides.  Give us a day.  Then we'll let Don escort us and you there to do that.  You should keep some, just in case.  They're a good investment."  He nodded eagerly.  "But you're a young guy and you could probably do the IRA stuff easier at your age.  Hard investments like houses and jewels and coins are for older folk.  Ones with a lot more financial insight than any of us in here probably have."

"So they could probably tell him which pieces to keep as investment pieces and sell the rest?" Don asked.  She nodded.  "Any idea where?"

"Let Stella and I talk to a few guys first," Aiden ordered.  "That way they know we're coming, they know they're going to be shown some really pretty things, and we're able to help him move them.  Then you're taking us all to a bank to put the check into a new account so they can set things up."

"He's got stuff at an underground bank," Don told her.

She hissed.  "Is it insured?"

"Under penalty of death," Xander told her.  "No one's going to break in."

She sighed.  "There's a good thing about insurance, Xander."  She patted him on the hand.  "You'll probably want to move it."  He nodded and shrugged again.  "Okay. At least you're not gonna be difficult to work with on this stuff.  I should probably ask Danny if he knows anyone too," she said thoughtfully. "He's got some gutter level contacts if ours don't pan out.  Mac?"

"Huh?"  He looked back at her.  "Staring.  Xander?"


"From what?"

"An earth demon.  A sarthna.  They're kinda like moles, they dig and collect stuff.  He always paid in gems."

Mac shook his head quickly and locked the box again.  "More than I needed to know."  He looked at him.  "I met you friend Oz today."

"Don said you did.  Did you like the Oz?"

"I did, when he wasn't threatening me.  He seemed to have your best interests in mind."  He coughed.  "How many more tapes would there be?"

"In my bag, which is behind you, is the small stack.  I even marked them in order and used the right sides this time.  Ray got onto me about that."  Mac found the bag, digging out the tape stack.  He came up with a few loose ones.  "One's my will in non-legal format.  Adam said I should just in case something happened to me.  One's a message to be played if I'm kidnaped and killed.  The other's probably the smut I was working on."

She looked at him.  "Smut?  Like porn smut or like romance smut?"

"Like gay sex porn," he said happily, digging out something from the bag and letting her have it.  "A lot of my GHS buddies at the convention said I did really good.  Don said I need more work on my characters, but I kinda like writing."

She read through the first one, fanning herself.  "Now I know why some women like gay men," she said finally, looking at him.  "So, are you and Flackie...."

Don snorted and shook his head. "I'm his protector, Aiden.  I refused to go there.  Even though he did say it could happen if I protected him."

Xander grinned at him.  "At least you'd be a closer boyfriend.  Russell's going to Moscow later tonight."


"He's got an insane cousin who's there tormenting someone.  He's going to go cut off his head."

Don looked at him.  "You're joking, right?"

Xander shrugged.  "I don't know.  That's what he said and Adam did behead that one guy who was trying to rape me in the restaurant.  They like swords as much as I do."

"I'm not surprised with your past," Mac admitted patiently.  "Did the police out there give him any trouble?"

"No.  I'm not sure if it's because he's dating Ray, who's a cop, or not, but no.  I know he called someone and they came to take the body away.   He answered a few questions and that was about it as far as I know.  We did it all from the couch that night.  Ray and I were snuggled together on one end while he answered it over a phone call."  They all looked stunned.  "Not good?"

"Definitely a different procedure than we use around here," Don told him.  "Ray's a cop?"  Xander nodded.  "Which unit?"

"Violent crimes.  The twenty-seventh.  He's a really nice guy.  Blond.  The other Ray's a bit more snarky and sullen now and then.  He said the Mounties there keep ruining his things and he's still pouting at their friend Benny for ruining his last Armani suit."  Mac blinked at that.  "But Ray's really nice and he's kinda bouncy, like me, and he cuddles so great.  The first night, we talked about our training and he decided he wasn't jealous that Adam had trained me too.  Or how I was trained.  He just snuggled in and said it made us like cousins or something."  He bounced a bit on the bed.  "Oooh, and he's nearly as good as I am at blowjobs but I got to teach him something.  Plus he's *really* great at leg rubs."

Don nodded at that, mentally blocking out the blowjobs part.  "It's good you've got a new friend," he agreed.  "He sounds like a stand-up guy."  Xander beamed at that.

Aiden looked at him.  "You're gay, Xander?"

"I'm probably bi. I had women in the past but it wasn't the same.  Being on top just doesn't do as much for me as being the one sank into and being held while I'm being pounded and played with.  Then again, that's what makes me a GHS slut."

"It is," Mac agreed dryly.  "Quite a few of you are bi but mostly bottoms."  He stood up.  "I'll let you ladies handle this, Aiden.  Tell me if you need any of my contacts."

"Sure, Mac.  Thanks."

"Not a problem."  He took the tapes with him, leaving the three unbound ones there for the kid.  He would go home and ignore anything sexual again.  There were some things he did not want to know.

Aiden giggled. "I think you shocked him, Xander."

"It happens," he admitted, grinning at her.  "So, what else should I do?"

"For tonight, sleep," Don told him, getting up. "Aiden?"

"I'll pick these up tomorrow, once I can hit the bank."  Xander nodded and put them into her hands.  "You're sure?"

"You're a cop too and Don said you're one of his buds so it's good enough.  I'm assuming you've got to be honest since he's such an honest cop and that's why I got sent to him."

"Sure.  If I don't see you directly tomorrow I'll give Don the money."  She kissed him on the cheek.  "You sleep tonight."

"Yeah, after I play," he admitted with a sly grin.  "I need some play time."

"Fine.  Just don't keep me up," Don ordered.

"Have I been?"

"No, not usually.  A few times."  He looked at the younger man.  "You're loud now and then."

"I don't like gags," he said, pouting at him.

"Try to keep the loud times for when I'm at work."

"Then the neighbor's kids are asleep.  Maybe I'll figure out how to do a soundproofing spell.  Or something. I'll try really hard, Don."

"Thanks, Xander."  He walked Aiden out, giving her a sideways look before he opened the door.  "This is a happy him."

"Happy is good.  He looks good bouncy and happy."  She smiled and kissed him on the cheek. "Stella's gonna drool when I tell her."  She skipped out, heading home then to call Stella and warn her.  Stella had tomorrow off so it was fun to tease her.

Don listened to Xander as he got ready for bed, then settled into his little enclosure in there.  There were a few moans but nothing too loud tonight.  He grabbed a beer and went to his room to settle in and read.  The kid had managed to shock him again, and spread way too much sexual information to him.  He didn't want to have those thoughts.  Really.


Danny walked up to where Xander was having coffee, tapping him on the head.  "Hey."  Xander waved at him.  "The girls came to me about your hard asset problem.  Keep a third just in case something happens.  Even if they're not very high value."


"Because sometimes emergencies happen and you've got to act pretty fast, Xander."  He looked at him.  "Emergencies like at home and things."  Xander nodded at that.  "Oh, the missing person's warrant wasn't canceled. Mac checked on it today and called out there.  They're demanding contact information.  He gave them Don's desk address."  Xander shrugged.  "You okay with that?"

"They probably want money."

"Probably."  He pulled out a chair and sat across from him.  "What's going on today?"

"I'm going to yell at my old boss for wanting me back."

"Need help?"

"Don's supposed to come help me but he said he's presently beating someone with a hose to get them to confess."

"Probably not literally but you never know," Danny said dryly, making the boy grin.  "If not, I can be here."  That got a nod and he sipped more coffee.  "Did Don take you to the bank?"

"Yup, and I transferred all but one account over.  My investment account is pretty locked right now and I don't want to pay penalties.  I even got the hidden accounts and the lockbox at the old bank transferred over.  They were really nice and understanding.  Especially after they saw the hidden, emergency accounts I had set up that about tripled my worth."  Not entirely true but he wanted to have some things hidden from everyone just in case.

"Tell them the truth?"

"That I'm a trophy boyfriend who got traded in for a younger model."  He took another sip.  His former pimp sat down with them.  "Hi, Devi."

"Hi, Xander.  Are you sure?"

"My protector wouldn't like it very much and I really don't want to do it anyway, Devi.  I'm happy now.  I don't need the money.  I only did it to find myself and I'm through with that phase."

"I understand, kiddo, but I really could use you.  They're important clients and they asked for someone like you."  Xander shook his head.  "Please?"

"Nope.  Sorry."

Danny looked at him.  "Him doing that would upset his protector.  You know Don's a great cop, that's why you sent Xander to him."

"True," he agreed.  "Unfortunately I'm over a barrel here.  I wouldn't say anything about it, kid, I promise."

"No, Devi."

"Please?  I'll give you sixty percent this time."

Xander looked at him.  "Nope.  Because that just made it clear I wouldn't be coming home."  Devi flinched.  "I can help you eliminate the threat if you want.  Blackmail?"

"Higher ups who are demanding a tribute."

Xander snorted.  "You need help solving that problem?"

Devi considered it then looked at him. "You're not her."

"True, but I'm better in many ways.  Including being a lot more creative."  Devi opened his mouth.  "Before you even think about trying to take me, everyone in Don's friends knew I was going to see you today," he lied.  Danny nodded to back him up.  "This way nothing funny could happen."  Devi moaned at that.  "I can help you fix it."

"I doubt even your blonde friend could."

"You'd be surprised at what a bit of Sunnydale ingenuity can lead to," he said blandly.  "I'll solve it for you but I'm not going to be a sacrifice.  I'm over that phase too."

Devi swallowed.  "If I even tried, they could kill us all."

Xander smirked at him.  "Do you know how many times I played bait?"  Devi moaned at that.  "Take it or leave it and I'd have to stop anyone new being sent over.  It's a calling you know."

Devi glanced around then nodded.  "Okay but you won't do it."

"I can.  I have in the past."  He looked at him.  "When, where, and how taken?"

"Neck, I'll send you an email for the meeting spot."  Xander nodded, getting up and walking off with Danny behind him.  Devi called, making arrangements.  If the kid won he'd be free.  If the kid didn't win, his tithe would be paid and he wouldn't have to pay anyone anything.

"I'm not so sure this is a good idea," Danny told him.

Xander looked at him.  "This is what I did in my past life, Danny.  Just because I'm a bouncy, happy slut now doesn't mean I can't still fight."  He headed back into the condo with Danny behind him, finding the phone ringing.  "Yup?" he asked, listening to Oz's quiet voice.  "No, Devi, my former boss, just came to me about taking out someone who was blackmailing him.  As far as I know I'm free for dinner.  Sure.  Come by here since I heard you already know the place."  He grinned.  "See you then, Oz."  He hung up and went into his bedroom, coming out with the sword he had been given once to guard someone's back during a blood debt fight with a demon.  His client may have died but he had gotten the demon first.  Xander had to get him a few times when he was possessed but he was happier and with his family now. He checked the sharpness and went to find the whetstone, finding it in the kitchen.  He and the sword sat on the couch to sharpen it while Danny watched in horror.  "Yes, Xander likes swords."

"Can you use that thing?" he demanded, sounding authoritative.

Xander looked at him and nodded.  "Yeah, I've used other swords in the past.  I prefer a lighter blade but this is the one I have."

"Short sword lighter blade?"

"Single edged or battle axe," he countered.  He went back to sharpening.  Danny left and came back an hour later, tossing him a blade.  He looked it over and cooed at it.  "Ooh, this is nice," he praised.  "Where did you get this and do they have more?"

"The owner gave it to me, said I'd find someone worthy someday to use it since it's too light for me."  Xander nodded, getting up to take a few practice swings.  Danny watched, he was clearly untrained with it.  He picked up the other sword.  "Let's make sure you can use it," he ordered, lunging at him.  The kid blocked, mostly by instinct.  He had field training not real training.  Danny backed off.  "You shouldn't go alone."

"Not like they'll take a sacrifice with a bodyguard.  Remind Don my will's on my dresser if I don't come back in a reasonable amount of time.  Thanks for the loan."  He blew a kiss and headed out.  Devi met him at the doorway and led him back to the room, sending him over.

Danny called Don, then Oz.  "The idiot went to stop someone who was blackmailing Devi," he told his friend.  "No, I have him Parson's blade.  It's too light for me.  The kid needs work, Oz."  He listened to him being calm and reasonable.  "No!"  He calmed himself.  "I don't care.  It's not that desperate."  He listened to Oz's reasons, growling at a few.  "You're sure?  He's just like that?  He's done this before?"  He sat down and held his head.  The kid had done this sort of stunt before.  Don should be protecting the kid from his own instincts.  Don slammed the door and walked in.  "Thanks."  He hung up and looked at him.  "He wouldn't let me go with him."

"He went where?"

"Devi was being blackmailed by a higher thing.  They wanted a sacrifice.  Xander offered to solve the problem but not go as a sacrifice."  Don moaned and sank into a chair.  "I gave him a lighter blade.  This one's too heavy for him."

"Where did that one come from?" Don demanded.

"His room."

Don got up and went to check the boy's room for other surprises.  Danny followed, looking at what the kid had.  Two magic books, one boot knife, and a pistol later, they came out of the closet with an unhappy pair of cops.  "Think it's registered?" Don asked, looking at the gun.

"Go check."  He went to do that from the phone.  Danny called Oz.  "Anything yet?"  He listened, then sighed in relief.  "You're sure?  Thanks, man."  He hung up. "He's all right and back now."  He walked out to the living room.  "He's on his way home.  Oz was watching his back for us."

Don looked at him, hanging up.  "It's registered."  He put it down after unloading it, then picked up the sword to look at.  "Is this real?"

"Very.  He was sharpening it."  He sat down to look at the edges, then grimaced.  "He needs to finish sharpening it before it hurts the blade."  Don gave him an odd look. "I used to go nuts over these things."

"Is that why you had a sword?"


Don moaned and slumped in his chair.  "Would it be wrong to handcuff him to his bed?"

"Probably," Danny admitted, smirking when Xander came in. "You good?"

"Really tired and sweaty.  It was a bully."  He cleaned off the blade again and handed it over properly.  "Thanks for the loan.  Hi, Don.  Need the bathroom?"

"Sit," he growled.  Xander gave him a cautious look but sat on the couch.  "What were you thinking?"

"This is what I do, Don," he said calmly.  "This is what I have been doing and what I'm trained to do."  Don glared at him and he wilted.  "It is."

"This is not the hellhole you grew up in, Xander. You do not have to jump into that sort of action here.  There's others who do those sort of things."

"Yeah, me."  He gave him a look.  "It's part of the calling, Don.  Not like I wanted to jump in but if I didn't, no one else would've stopped him and some other guy would've been taken and given over as that sacrifice.  Now it's solved."

Don thumped his head against the back of the chair.  "Not the point."

"It is the point.  Maybe you should listen to those tapes."  He got up.  "I'm sorry if you're disappointed, guys, but this is who I am.  The same as I'm still this bouncy, happy guy.  Sometimes I've had to hunt."  He shrugged and went to clean up, babying the few scratches he had and the sore spot on his scalp.  The hair grabbing demon had been the first to go. He hated things that grabbed his hair and tried to make him suck them.  It really wasn't polite.

Don called Mac once he had calmed himself down.  "I want those tapes.  Xander said I should listen to them before I have his ass committed for jumping in to save others."  Mac told him where they were. "Thanks.  Danny and I are heading there, then back here if you need us."  He hung up and took a calming breath before he lost his temper.

"I'll go," Danny offered.

"They're in his bottom desk drawer, rubber banded and in order."  Danny nodded, going to retrieve them while Don finished calming down.  Because he was ready to go in there and spank the kid for doing stupid shit like this.  Apparently he was still suicidal, just like when he was at home.  Someone was going to have to talk to the kid and he was playing big brother so it looked like it was going to be him.  Xander came out rubbing his scalp, heading to get the ice pack.  "Hit?"

"Yanked.  Think I should grow my hair longer or cut it?"  Don gave him an odd look.  "Never mind.  We'll talk when you've listened to them."  He saw his gun then looked at him.  "I registered it, it's legal."

"Can you use it?"

"Yup. The guy who did the paperwork for me made sure of it.  I told him to not sell it to me unless I had a good grasp on what I needed to do with it."  He reloaded it and went to put it back, then came out to finish sharpening his sword.  Don gave him a glare after a few strokes.  "Sorry, I find this calming.  It's a repetitive action and a comforting sound to me."

Don groaned, getting up to go to his room before he screamed at him.  Danny came back and handed over the tapes, letting him sit down to listen.  He put on his headphones and put the adapter into his tapedeck since these were micro-cassettes.  Then he laid down to listen and try to calm himself down again. By the end of the first tape, he realized it wasn't Xander's fault.  Whoever had control of the group hadn't given enough of a damn and saw him as a handy sacrifice as well.  That's the only explanation he could find.  A few hours later he heard a knock and prowled out there, finding Oz.  "Good, you're here.  We're gonna talk."

"I was going to take Xander to dinner.  What did you want to talk about?"

"That Giles guy.  Did he actually see Xander as a pawn and something expendable or is this just me?"

Oz considered it while Xander shook his head.  "It's possible.  His main concern was Buffy.  Xander and Willow were secondary and he spent a lot of time trying to stop Willow from overusing her magic.  Xander spent a lot of time lost in the shuffle."  He sat on the back of the couch, reaching over to pet Xander, calming him down again.  "Then again, a lot of it was Xander's own doing.  He jumped in.  Giles thought he might've been suicidal when he did that, but they did take his best friend.  It made it personal to him."  Xander got free and he looked at him.  "Nice work today."

"Thank you.  I hate things that are bullies and taking sacrificial victims.  Of course I had to jump in.  Devi wanted me to be the victim.  Again."  He and Oz shared a look.  "I played it like I have the vamps in the clubs.  Draw, bait, and take control once they're hooked on trying to make me beg and whimper."

"Works for you," Oz agreed.  "I can't do it."  He looked him over. "You good?"

"Sore spot where one was a hair grabber.  He wanted me to blow him and I refused.  The others laughed and chased but I won.  There was a safe and the higher ones came when the injured one went running home to daddy.  Daddy came and broke bad while I got the others free.  They had been stealing pets and once they had the blocking things off their owners were found and came running too.  Daddy was not a happy demon in the least.  They sent me back once they got them all free and found out what had been going on."

"Good.  Not a lot of work.  Any other injuries?"

"A few minor scratches. I took a shower and cleaned up already."  He stood up.  "Where are we heading to for dinner?"

Don glared at him. "You're gonna be lucky if I let you outta this apartment."

Xander sighed and sat down again.  "It's what I do, Don.  I'm sorry you're upset but this is what I do."

"You said that stuff was in your past."

"Yeah, and every now and then everyone's past comes to bite them on the ass," Xander countered.  "I'm sure you've had a few of those too."

Don grimaced.  "Whatever.   Oz, you'll be bringing him right home after dinner?"

"He's probably not up to much fun stuff tonight."

"We can go club," Xander assured, him standing up again. "I did after graduation, I can do it now."  Don glared at him and shook his head.  "You may be my protector but you're not my father, Don.  I'm very safe with Oz."

"I'm not so sure Oz didn't bring it with him."

"How could he?  I was working with Devi before he got here and before I met you."  Don gave him a horrified look.  "That's who started this shit going.  So jump off."  He looked at Oz again.  "Am I dressed okay or are we hitting fast food and then a club?"

Oz looked him over and shrugged.  "A bit too dressed.  Put on a t-shirt."  Xander went to do that, coming out in leather pants and a t-shirt.  "Um, no.  Real pants."  Xander sighed and rolled his eyes but went to put on real pants.  Oz shivered and shook his head.  "Those were some thoughts I should not have," he noted patiently.  He looked at Don again, seeing the smirk.  "Supposedly Willow and I are still dating."


"Yeah.  I had to get away but I told her I'd be back.  She promised to wait on me."  Xander came out in a pair of jeans.  "Better," he decided.  "Keys, wallet?"  Xander held them up.  "Shoes?"  Xander sat down to put them on then walked out with him.  "He's safe with me, Don."

"I'm sure he is," he said bitterly, watching him go.  He went back to the tapes.  Oz wasn't a normal guy, he could tell by the look in his eyes.  These friends of the kids were nearly as bad as the demons.  Chopping heads, being not real normal, humoring the suicidal instincts.


Don was on the last tape when Xander came in. He gave him a hug.  "You did good getting the jocks involved."  Xander gave him an odd look.  "Going over graduation."

"Where are you?"

"You're all just lining up with weapons under your gowns."

Xander nodded.  "It's going to get messy and nasty. You might want to lay down while listening.  And possibly have a bucket."  He got free.  "I'm going to bed."

"You could talk to me."  He watched him stiffen then keep walking.  "Not like I don't know a bit about the world and danger, Xander."

Xander looked at him.  "True, you do know a bit about that.  And so do I.  So try to trust my instincts now and then, Don."

"Nope.  Sorry.  We're gonna start having some house rules if this shit continues.  No more going out to save people.  You're one guy, not a team."

Xander shrugged.  "Sometimes one guy can make a difference."

"Yeah, and usually it's because they died doing it."

"My life gets what, Don?  The world's chocolate supply being bought faster?"  He went into his room and settled in for the night, pulling the drapes around his bed.

Don growled and went back to the tape.  He'd pounce Xander in the morning.  Apparently it was going to get worse.  By the end of that tape, he wanted a drink.  A real drink.  Tequila came to mind.  He paged Danny, knowing he was working late tonight.  He got back a complaining text but got agreed to meet him at the usual bar.  "I'm headed out to check on Danny," he said from the doorway.

"Tell him hi."

"Sure."  He went to do that, finding Danny waiting on him.  He sat down and slumped, ordering a round and paying for it.  "You should listen to those."

"I've heard Oz's version."  He looked at him.  "You all right?"

"Nope."  He took a drink when they came.  "The tapes ended on graduation."

"There's two more.  Mac had them in the SUV to listen to them on the way home last night."  He put them on the table in front of him the looked at him.  "It doesn't get better," he said quietly.  "Right before he left, there was a special ops group there.  Xander didn't include that, Oz told me."

"Why didn't he let Mac know?"

"Because they took down the special ops group," Danny said dryly. "Xander knows Mac's former military.  He either doesn't want him to worry about his general attitude or he's worried that sometime someone's going to call Mac back to being a sniper to hit him.  Take your pick."  He took a sip.  "There was a good reason for the action though.  They were torturing people and things. Including Oz."

Don groaned, sliding those two tapes into his pocket.  "I'm not sure what I'm doing now, Danny.  He's tough, he's trying so hard to act like it's all normal."  His phone went off and he answered it. "Yeah, Stella?  Why did the security company call you?"  He held his head, rubbing his forehead just a bit.  "He good?  Any idea where he is?"  Danny pulled out his phone and called someone, writing down an address.  "Yeah, I've got a way to track him.  Thanks for handling it.  No, I'm with Danny.  We'll go get him.  Thanks."  He hung up and looked at the address. "Who's this?"

"The guy who took him."  He pushed it over.  "They saw him out with C...Russell and wanted him."

"Who?"   He stared at him.  "Something's going on with him too?"

Danny nodded.  "Yeah, but I can't tell you yet."  He grinned sweetly.  "Let's go get the annoying little brother."

"Yeah, and then you're gonna let the rest of this story slip."

"Can't.  Not yet.  It's a major secret and until something else happens, one of a few very specific things, I can't tell anyone anything."  He stood up and paid their tab then went to get in to drive.  Don climbed into the other side.  "I figured you had another one already," he offered as he took the keys to start the car.

"Beers on and off while I listened but I'm nowhere near impaired."  Namely because he had puked them back up a few times.  He wasn't going to tell him that though.  That'd make him look weaker.  "Is this guy a demon too?"

"Nope."  He turned a corner and sped up.  "Regular human. Oh, talked to the kid earlier about his tip situation.  I advised him to keep a third of it in the hard assets.  That'll be a good investment and an emergency source of cash if something happens to him."

"Sure.  When do we deal with the rest?"

"Two days.  You can go as a tough guy.  One of the ladies can back you up."  He turned another corner and pointed.  "See the club, we're going just past it.  The store there is Russell's and he's broken in to take Xander there.  Nash is gonna be majorly pissed when he gets home from Leningrad."

"You know him real well?"  Danny nodded. "Then why does he feel odd to me?  He makes my head hurt."

Danny glanced at him.  "Within a few years, you'll have all those answers, Don."  He parked and got out, heading that way cautiously.  Don's growl preceded them both.  It almost made him smirk.  He wasn't going to lose Don to time for quite a while.  Even if he had to bring him across himself some day soon.  They made it to the door, which had been kicked in.  Danny saw another patrol unit parking and opened his coat to show his badge, getting a nod.  They drew their weapons so they could follow the pair of detectives in.

"If you think you're keeping me, you've got to be crazier than I thought you were for wearing that tie!" Xander was complaining.  "Coming after me to get Russell?  Like he won't kill your ass!"  He snorted then sneezed.  "Eww, what *are* you wearing?  Dust?"  The sound of a thump then a slap.  "Ooooh, big man can hit the tied up person.  Let me go, let's see how bad you are when I kill your ass myself!"  More thumps.  "Eww!  I did *not* need to see that much of you!  Oh, yay, a tiny little prick. I've seen bigger ones on Ken dolls.  Please!"

Don snickered at that.  The kid talked good game.  He and Danny shared a look, Danny leading the way around the building.  Apparently he had been here before.  Danny nodded at a set of double doors and the officers moved into position.  Danny kicked one in.  "Freeze!  NYPD."

"Hmm.  See, that's what *real* men look like.  Not pitiful, short dicked, no talented, no taste in clothing bitches like yourself.  Why don't you have someone implant a tail?" Xander complained. "Can I have his head?  I like Adam's ideas about cutting off everyone's heads.  Can I get free now?"  Don moved to cut the ropes, letting him off the chair he had been tied to.  He stood up rubbing his wrists, then lunged for the semi-naked person, making him shriek, flail, and back away.  "I told you I'd show you what a *real* bitch could do," he said, hitting him in the jaw.  "Now, how did you want to go on your knees and beg to suck my cock?"

"More than we wanted to know," one officer offered.  "Are you the registered owner of this store, sir?"

"No, I was out on a date with him earlier," Xander said, kicking the guy in the side.  "You're so worthless.  Guys like me, you can't even dream high enough to get us."  He went with Don's guiding hand yanking on his arm.  "Sorry.  He came and took me out of my nice, comfy bed."

"He's Flack's bitch," Danny told them, nodding at Don.  "Don's protecting the kid from guys like him.  You need to see someone?"

"No, I'm fine," Xander said more calmly, glaring at the man.  "I will have you eaten," he hissed as the guy was led past him.  He walked over to the phone and called a number.  "Adam, it's Xander.   I know I'm calling from Russell's place.  Someone took me from Don's place and brought me here.  No, he's in custody but he kicked in a door downstairs.  I know he's got an assistant but I don't know how to get in touch with her or Russ.  I thought you might."  He smiled. "I'm fine.  I got to hit him back a few times and I let loose my inner Cordy tendencies.  No, I told him he couldn't even dream high enough to get a guy like me.  Ooooh, he decided since Russ and I had sex, I'd service him too.  He's without pants but the PD guys here are laughing at him too.  Sure."  He handed the phone to Danny.  "Adam."

"Hey, old fart," Danny said dryly.  "Yeah, it is.  No, actually I'm one of Don's best friends.  Yeah," he said with a smirk for Don.  "No, he looks okay.  Semi dressed.  He's in pajama bottoms.  About what he wears at home."  He nodded once. "Sure. You call Russell or his assistant, I'll wait while Don debriefs, gets the statement, and takes Xander home.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "He'll do that.  Don, go get the statement stuff."

"I wanna know what's going on," Don ordered, glancing around then at Danny.  "Nash isn't the sort of guy you'd usually hang with.  This Adam guy went to the brothel Xander used to work at.  Again, not your style.  Plus, you knew his friend Oz, who is the same age Xander is.  What is going on, Messer?"

Danny grimaced then looked at him.  "I can't tell you yet, Don."

"You can or you're gonna be telling Mac."

"I can't tell him at all," he admitted.  "Some day you'll know.  I promise you it won't be that long but it's not my secret to tell until something else has happened first.  Someone's got to make the right decisions to bring you into the group.  At that time, I'll come clean with everything about all this stuff."  Don growled and he shrugged.  "Not my fault.  There's things I can't tell."

"Fine," he said, stomping off, dragging Xander behind him.  "Come on. Let's get you looked over."

"I'm fine," he argued patiently.  "I'm not going to the ER for rope burns.  I've treated them in the past."  Don looked at him.  "How many times do you think I've been taken, Don.  Not like it didn't happen when I was at home too."

Don groaned and got him into the car, walking around to drive.  No way was anyone getting near Xander anytime soon.  Not even Mac probably.  Then again, maybe he and Mac should go over the security at the condo to make sure it couldn't be breached again.  Just in case.


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