Xander looked up as someone knocked on the door. "Who is it?" he called as he got up off the couch.
"Mac." Xander let him in. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine. I've been here all morning. Why wouldn't I be?"
"Some guy with your description was taken hostage at a coffee shop up the street."
"I heard that on the radio. I called Don to tell him it wasn't me. He hadn't heard yet but said it was a good thing." Mac grinned at that. "Why else for the visit? Normally you'd have called."
Mac sat the young man down. "There is someone military who wants to erase that failure. I ended up talking to him when he tried to recruit me to do it for him." Xander went pale. "You're safe so far. I've let it be known that I'm protecting you just as much as Don is. That the action in Sunnydale was heinous and evil. Mostly it's wounded pride that four teenagers and one stuffy librarian beat a covert special ops group." Xander groaned and held his head. "So, we need you to be extra careful, Xander. No going out without an escort, no going out when Fleet Week comes up in a month. Just take some extra precautions."
"I've got a date with Russell tonight to take him to dinner since he's back," he said quietly, looking up at him. "I can't crimp Don's life like that, Mac. It'd drive him insane to be my driver."
"I agree." He smiled at him. "That's why I'm going to let Danny help him when he can. As well as Stella and Aiden. We're all going to pitch in until they get this out of their system. It shouldn't take too long. I pointed out shooting you didn't erase the blot, it made it worse." He sat down and pulled Xander over for a hug. He always liked hugs. The boy relaxed against him. "It'll be okay, Xander. Just be careful."
"My new car's here," he said quietly. "It's bulletproof in some areas."
"Let's go look at it. I can tell you if the glass is." Xander nodded, grabbing his keys to go down with him. He saw only one car that could belong to Xander. "A lavender Range Rover?" Xander grinned and nodded. "Okay then." He came over to look at the glass. "The side window is bulletproof and so's the front," he offered finally. He got down to look at the frame. "You've also got shielding all around the passenger cage and the gas tank." Xander relaxed at that. "It'll be okay, Xander. We'll watch out for you. Even Hawkes said he could but he wanted to do another set of samples this weekend if you'd let him." Xander nodded. "How does it run?" Xander let him into it and handed him the keys. The engine purred to life and revved nicely. "This'll do very well in traffic or in case you get chased."
"It came from another of us," Xander admitted with a naughty grin. "That's why there's very soft leather seats." Mac ran a hand over the passenger seat, nodding in appreciation. "Plus I got a David Arkenstone CD as well. She said she's bought a new copy so I could have this one." He grinned. "Don said I've got to do winter stuff?"
Mac looked at him. "That's right, you're from the desert part of California. We get snow here, Xander." Xander frowned at that. "Had any there?"
"Once and I turned invisible."
Mac shook his head. "You won't here. Let the ladies or Danny help you shop." He turned off the engine and slid out, locking the door again. He handed back the keys with a smile. "I might come borrow that some weekends if you wouldn't mind."
"I teased Don and told him he could borrow it one day since it matched one of his suits." He led him back to the front door of the building. "Are you sure I'll be okay? They'll stop the order?" Mac nodded. "Thanks, Mac." He gave him a hug. "Be safe and growl more if they come back." Mac walked off laughing. He looked at the doorman. "The military doesn't like it when you humiliate them apparently," he said bitterly, heading back upstairs.
The doorman sent that to his boss, who sent back the fact that Xander had helped take down a few bad people in uniform, but he'd be watching for retaliation from that quarter. He shrugged and put his blackberry away. Xander probably had it well in hand.
It only took a week for Xander to be so bored he felt like he was going to split his skull and burst out of it. It was a record for him considering he hadn't had anything to do all week. Don still had his credit cards. Danny had confiscated the money in his room when he had mentioned thinking about a movie, just sneaking down there. He was *so* bored. He groaned and got up to glance in the trunk of crap Devi had sent him, then grimaced and shoved a few of the jewels aside to see what was under them. He finally got down to a few boxes that weren't jewels. He opened one and blinked at the cash. "Whoa," he said, blinking harder. The other two boxes had other stuff but there was a lap-sized box with cash. He heard a door slam and closed the box, going over the jewels instead by the time Don got in there. "Hey, home for lunch?" From the look on Don's face, he looked guilty of something.
"My internal trouble alarm went off," he said dryly, leaning on the door jamb.
"I'm bored," he said pitifully, looking at him. "I'm going insane and I'm going to take you with me. Can't I go out with guards?"
"No." He shook his head. "No guard can keep a sniper from hitting you." He walked over to look down in the trunk and groaned. "Same guy?"
"Not a clue," he admitted. He shrugged and shifted to look at him. "Don, I'm going insane. I can't take much more of this. Please? I'll sneak. I'll hire thugs as bodyguards, whatever I need to do, just please let me out of the house?"
Don sighed. "Xander, none of that will keep a sniper from taking you out."
"None of it would keep them from stealing me by magic either, and neither did you. Willow proved that when she wanted to have her little talk with me about how wrong I was now." Don groaned at that. "Please? Just an afternoon? There's nothing to do. I can't even masturbate I'm so bored."
Don sighed. "No one's off today."
"So? I can sneak. I do it very well. Or hey, I'll go hire a few thugs to take care of me." Don gave him a look. "Or a few off-duty officers if you want. Hell, your father hates me and I'd almost take him. Or your mom even though she's really scary." He hugged him around the legs. "Please? I'm even begging cutely. Pretty please?"
"Fine. Let me talk to Mac, see how he thinks it'd be best to send you out." He went to get his sandwich and bring it back, sitting down to look inside the trunk. "Is it full of those?" he asked before taking a bite.
"No, there's a few boxes." He pulled out the first one to show him, making him smirk at the girl jewelry. "Think Stella would like this one?"
"Probably. It's a bit too chunky for Aiden." He ate another bite and reached over to lift out one necklace so he could look at the pendant. "That's cute."
"It is," Xander agreed dryly, smiling at him. "Still not a guy's piece."
"It's not. Can I give this to my ma?"
"Sure. Take something to bribe your sister with too." Don smirked, shaking his head as he chewed. "Won't work?" He shook his head again. "Oh." He shrugged and dropped the box back into the trunk, plucking out a nice sized ruby. "I like this color, but what would I do with it?"
"I have no idea," Don admitted. He finished his lunch and sipped his juice, looking at the kid. "We've still got to arrange for you to do some winter shopping."
"How cold will it get?"
"Depends. Some years it's pretty mild. Some years, we've had blizzards." Xander looked confused. "You came from near LA, don't they have snow somewhere around there?"
"Yeah, but I came from closer to the desert. The only time we saw snow it was a hellmouth event and I went invisible."
"Oh." He nodded. "Okay. I'll make sure you can drive on snow before I let you out the first time." He gave him a stroke over the cheek. "It'll be fine, Xander. Let me talk with Mac, okay?" Xander nodded. "Good boy."
"Why did you come home?"
"You didn't answer your cell."
"It's off and in the bedroom." He got up to check it, sighing when he saw the messages. He sat down to listen to them, groaning at one. "Why?" he moaned, looking at Don. "Why is it my fault that I left and things went to hell back on the hellmouth?"
"From what you said, it wasn't your job to begin with," Don noted dryly. "What happened?"
"Buffy got picked up for being drunk." He replayed the message, letting him hear it. Don snorted and shook his head, handing it back. "That's what I thought but apparently her mother and Willow blame me for not going home because they told me I wasn't going to be welcome."
"Calm down. It's denial of their own badness," he offered more gently, letting the kid hug him. "It'll be fine. It'll all be straightened out soon enough." He patted him on the back. "Okay, let me call Mac. Then we'll work out a winter shopping trip for you."
"I know but colder stuff starts in late September. See, the rest of the country, baring the southern border and Cali, have this stuff called *seasons*. It'll be fall then." He got up and went to call Mac. "He's going insane," he said in greeting. "Begging, clutching my knees, pouting. Insane. Yeah, that stuff, Mac. Is there any safe way we can let him out for a few hours to play in the sun? I don't know, a leash?" He heard the growl and looked at Xander. "Figurative."
"I could go out with Oz."
"No you can't."
"Yes I can."
"No you can't, he's out of the city," Don reminded him.
"Oh, yeah. He had to go for the full moon." He grimaced and sat down. "Mac, please? Before I lose what's left of my mind? I'm so bored I can't even toss off now."
Don smirked. "He's spluttering so he heard you." He listened to Mac's advice. "He offered to pay for protection, Mac. He even offered to hire some thugs." He smirked. "Sure, that's just what I really want," he noted dryly. "Yup, I can do that." He hung up and called the patrol desk. "Hey, it's Flack. Do you know anyone who wants to guard my boy here while he goes shopping? No, winter shopping. Leather, cashmere, that stuff." He smirked. "He's willing to pay. Xan, what sort of cash are you talking about for paying protection?"
"A grand each?" he offered with a shrug. "For the whole afternoon?"
"That's not bad. He was thinking an easy grand following him around. No, people wanna snatch and/or kill him. That's why I got him." He smirked. "Sure. Home. Or my cell, I've got it on me. Thanks, man." He hung up. "He'll call a few sources." He sat down and Xander gravitated toward him. "Have you taken the Range Rover out yet?" Xander shook his head. "Okay, then you can take it today and I'll take it to work with me tomorrow."
"We could change now."
"We could," he agreed, looking down at his suit. "I won't match though." Xander grinned at that. He went back to petting the young man. He was easy to cuddle. The phone in his pocket rang so he had to wiggle to get it. "Flack?" He listened and rolled his eyes. "I'd hope not. Then again, I was hoping one or two bodyguards would deter that," he noted dryly.
"I could go out with a few of the other GHS members," Xander offered quietly.
"No, Xander, that multiplies the risk. Yeah, he is," Don admitted. "You heard of 'em? I hadn't until I met this one. Xan? Level ten." He smirked. "Which is why he's not allowed out alone," he noted dryly. "No, that guy in motorcycles wouldn't be a good choice. He'd make Xander go leather shopping again and he's evil in his leathers already." Xander giggled at that. "Plus he'd probably want a bike of his own by the time they were done. Unless you could get him to agree to driving my car and I'll drive Xander's...." He smirked. "That'll work but warn him Xander is *gay*. Like one of the gayest of the gay, one of the ones on Broadway gay." Xander giggled again and gave him a hug. "And pouty." He got put on hold and looked down at him. "He's calling him personally. It's not so bad. He's a nice guy, just big, tough, strong, and dangerous." He listened to the laugh. "You sure? Thanks, man. No, I'm at home. Landsburg building. Ten blocks from my native precinct. Yeah, that's us. Oh, have us on special watch. Okay then. Thanks." He hung up. "He'll be here in about an hour. Do you need to hit the bank first?" Xander shook his head. "Why not? I know Danny took all the cash."
"Because you hid my cards in your underwear drawer. The two replacements I ordered are coming today and if I got up the energy I could go free them from the mail probably. Plus I had some hidden Danny didn't see. The bed's got a few hidden spots." He'd tell him about the box later. A lot later.
"Fine. Behave while you're out. Try to stay safe. Listen to the officer unless he tries to take you with him." He handed over his car keys. "Where's yours?" Xander pointed where they were hanging. "Good." He gave him a squeeze. "Gotta go threaten more bad guys."
"Be safe." Don smirked and headed to get the keys, and Xander's cards. He had checked them to see which was still working after confiscating them. He handed them over and one of the unlimited ones. "I'll be a good boy."
"Good. No chocolate for lunch." He headed out, going to try out the Range Rover. It was a sweet ride. Maybe it'd hold up in a high speed chase too. He started the engine, smirking because it ran very pretty. He closed the door and drove off, speeding up some when he could do so. That hit a bit of roughness but not too much. Yeah, he could chase in this. He got out at work and the officers all looked at the car for a very long time before he got out. A few laughed. "It matches," he offered with a humorous smirk before heading inside. They just shook their heads. Flack wore some girly colored suits, but to drive a lavender SUV? It was going to start rumors for sure this time.
Aiden came out and looked at it, then snorted. "Is Xander here or did Don decide to coordinate to his suit?" she asked one of them.
"Flack," he assured her. "Who's Xander?"
"The kid he's protecting," another officer said. "I heard he was GHS." Aiden nodded at that. "Really highly rated?"
"Ten. Highest. That's why Don's protecting the kid. People like to take him."
They all nodded wisely. They had thought it was for the sex and free rent in a great building.
"Plus, hey, the kid *spoils* horribly. Spent three hundred on dinner the other night for us." That got a few whistles. "Is Xander here?" They shook their heads. "Huh, must've talked Don into letting him out for the afternoon." She shrugged and went to find Flack to talk to him.
Xander looked out the peephole then answered the door with the chain on. "Yes?"
"Mr. Harris?" He nodded. "Detective Flack asked for bodyguards for you?"
"Oh, okay." He let him in, checking the hall before closing it behind him. "I don't care what we do. Just get me out of the house. I can go shopping if you're willing to follow behind me. I could go play in the park, just let me out of the house? Please?"
"Is he keeping you hostage?"
"No, people want to take me. It's for my own good but I'm going nuts."
The officer nodded, smirking at him. "I can see how it's better that way. Are you ready?"
"I need to change my shirt, I just spilled soda on me." He went to do that, coming out in a pair of looser jeans and a t-shirt, plus his sneakers. He went into the storage area and got into the box, taking out a bundle of cash. Most of that and the cards went into his wallet. He came out and handed him his fees. "Want a soda to go with?" He got a shrug and Xander got him one, taking one himself. He handed over Don's car keys. "Don's car. He's got my SUV."
"I heard. Are you going shopping in that?"
"I figured I'd dress down."
"Go put on something that won't get you sneered at. I'll hold the wallet." Xander nodded, going to change into his favorite dress pants, silk, and a silk shirt. He came out and the cop stared, mouth slightly open. "No wonder they want you. Let's head." Xander nodded, going after him, stopping to put on his gun. "You're licensed?" Xander nodded. "That's fine." He followed him down, letting him lock the door. Flack's car was in his spot and he checked it over first before letting the kid inside. He knew what was coming after the kid. Taylor had called him too. "So, Military?"
"In my former town there was a group that was trying some torture and mind control experiments. We objected, strongly," Xander said dryly, buckling up as they backed out. "We kinda drove them out of our town. Mac said four teenagers and a stuffy British librarian doing so wounded their pride."
"I bet. Where were you going to go shopping?"
"Not a clue. Don said I needed winter stuff. I still say it's too hot for that. I'm open to anywhere reasonable as long as it's out of the house."
The guard nodded and turned the car in one direction. "We'll go somewhere modest and upscale, starting from there." His pager went off and he called in. "I'm busy. Special assignment for a detective. Protecting his boy. An easy grand, boss. Of course I did. Flack's." Xander snickered at that. "Yeah, we all know."
"I needed a protector and they said Flack was one of the best cops in the city. Plus I get to spoil him horribly."
The cop laughed at that. "I'm sure you do." He listened to his boss. "Thanks, man. Sure." He hung up. "The guy's married to my sister-in-law. I could care less about him really." He headed further uptown, taking him somewhere modest but nice. He let Xander out and inside, nodding politely at a saleswoman. "He was ordered to start shopping now for winter things."
"I'm from near the desert outside LA," Xander said sheepishly. "Is it supposed to be a bad winter?"
"Fairly so," she offered, leading him to what they had. "We don't have a lot of winter stuff in yet but we're starting to get some. This'll do you for the first part of winter, the easier, nicer parts. Closer to Thanksgiving the real, thick sweaters will come out." She looked him over. "Let me guess, you'll want soft stuff?" Xander beamed and nodded. "Any particular colors?"
"I look good in pastels or goth colors."
"That works." She helped him pick out a few things and some new pants. Then through the rest of the store. She took his card to run it, frowning at it. "Someone blocked it."
"I'll kill Don." He got handed cash. "Fortunately I came prepared." She laughed and took it, giving him the change back and the bags. "Thank you." She nodded and they walked out. He looked at the card then sighed. "Don got the stacks mixed up. This went to my old bank. Can we hit the house for two-point-three minutes?" That got a nod and Xander slid back in. Once there he carried up his bags, searched Don's underwear drawer for the others, confiscating them, and then grabbed three things from the trunk. "Okay, have to hit March's jewelers or somewhere like that."
"So I can cash out some of what I've been given. I'm tired of looking at them anyway."
"Like jewels. It was a tip." That got an odd look. "I found myself for six weeks."
"Oh. Was it fun?"
"Some days. Then again it was also frustrating, occasionally scary, and downright strange at others. I'm never going back. It answered a lot of questions about how I swung and things, plus my GHS levels, but not my thing."
"Understood." He pulled in front of one. "Go in there, ask for Randy. I know him."
Xander smiled. "Thanks." He got out and walked inside. "Hi, is Randy here?"
"He's in the office, can I tell him who's asking," the shopboy asked.
"My bodyguard said I should talk to him about a present I got given."
"We're not really a pawn shop, sir." Xander held up one of them, getting a blink. "I'll get him for you." He hurried to the back, coming out with a very old Orthodox Jewish man, complete with yalmika. "Him, sir."
"Xander Harris. GHS member." The man nodded wisely and smiled. He put the three stones in front of him. "Someone gave them to me. Not someone I want but they gave them to me."
"You couldn't send them back? That would be more honorable."
"Someone else was handling it for me. They're all in a box without notes. I have no idea who sent it to me."
"Ah. So you're selling them?"
"Not like I want them. I prefer tasteful, small decorations. That one ruby could probably make three bracelets like I'd wear."
"Good point. Come back to my office." He glanced outside and smiled. "He brought you?"
"He's my bodyguard for the day. The detective who's my protector got him for me for a modest fee to watch my back." That got a nod and he let him handle the stones all the way back to the office. "To be truthful I've got a few more sitting at home but I'm probably going to keep those for emergencies. It's just that my protector decided to trash my credit cards after I went online shopping and bought about a thousand movies." The older man laughed and nodded. "I'll take about anything fair on them."
"I understand. Do sit. Would you like some tea?"
"No thank you. I've been drinking coke. Please excuse my soda breath." The man outright laughed at that. He grinned self-consciously. "He said you're a good guy."
"I am. Usually we require ownership papers but I know they weren't stolen?"
"Not as far as I know."
"I've heard of you, you know." Xander sighed and slumped. "It was a ..tip?" Xander nodded. "Then it's probably not stolen." He looked at them through his monocle magnifying glass then at him. "These are very fine. Do you have any diamonds?"
"Ten, twelve, probably more but I wasn't really paying attention. I just grabbed the first few on top."
"I understand. I can definitely use these. They're of very fine quality." He smiled and pulled out his checkbook, going to write him a check.
Xander was drug back into Don's station and put in front of him by his bodyguard. "You put the wrong cards into his hands, the bank loves him, they wanted to keep him, I made sure he got a starter set of sweaters plus a leather coat for winter, and he was mobbed by two girls who would *not* let him go." Xander groaned and sank down into the free chair beside Don's desk. "Also," he said, holding up something. "Someone tried to kill him for making their mate want him. Not to mention the two people who wanted to mug him. Fortunately I had his wallet. He deserves ice cream and he needs a new gun. His jammed on me for a reason I can't figure out." He handed over the car keys. "I did promise him ice cream for not screaming at the girls when he visibly flinched but he didn't want to come inside past the prostitutes."
"Yeah, his former friends were girls and bad folk," Don said dryly. "He good for you?"
"He was just fine, detective. He was a good boy. He deserves ice cream and a new gun." He handed over the wallet. "There you go. I took him to a jeweler I know when we figured out you had given him the wrong cards." He nodded politely and patted Xander on the head. "He's a good kid. You're doing a good job with him."
"Thanks. He pay you?" That got a nod. "He spoil you too?" Don asked with a fond smirk.
"Of course. I deserve the treat." He smirked and walked out, very happy with his afternoon. The boy had been very good for him.
Don looked at him. "The pros scared you?"
"One looked just like Buffy. I wasn't sure it wasn't."
"Huh. Fine." He put the wallet in his own pocket. "Did you get the others?"
"Yeah and the bank's got me in a freeze thanks to someone accessing my accounts."
"Told you not to shop online."
"It was one of the bank's own people, Don. He was trying to siphon some of my funds off." He shrugged. "That's why I grabbed cash and a few stones. I've got ten sweaters, a few new pairs of pants, and a coat. Almost nowhere has winter stuff yet."
"That's fine. We'll go closer to school shopping." He looked at his watch then at him. "It's only four."
"I can head home but all the bags are in your trunk." He shifted some. "Or I could go get some ice cream. I was a good boy."
"So I heard."
"Aren't you supposed to be home?" Danny asked as he walked up to Don's desk with a folder. "You're gonna hate me, Don."
"Excluded my suspect?" Danny nodded, handing over the test results. "Xander was going insane so I let him pay an off-duty guy to take him shopping for winter stuff."
"Aiden is gonna pout."
"I only got ten sweaters," Xander assured him. "I'm sure she can help me when more stuff comes out."
"Probably," Danny agreed, patting him on the head. "Mac said you two took a ride on the guy's bike."
"He offered and he said I have a crappy balance on one but it was fun." He grinned shyly. "I've never been on one and we talked while he helped me shop. Oh, Don, you're still getting spoiled. Ask me if I give a damn."
"Fine, Xander. I'll accept it but I don't need it. I definitely don't need boyfriend presents."
"Fine, then I won't replace the socks the dryer ate." He looked at Danny again. "I was a good boy."
"Good. I'm heading out for lunch. You wanna come with?"
"I earned ice cream," Xander said happily, holding out a hand. "Wallet." Don pulled out Xander's wallet and handed him a hundred - that's all that were in there. "Thanks. I'll stay right with Danny." They walked out together, chatting and laughing over the people who had come up to the boy this time.
Don shook his head, putting the wallet back in his pocket.
"Hey, Flack, wasn't that your bitch with Messer?" one of the guys called as he walked in. "He's out without you?"
"I'm not sleeping with him, just protecting him, and Danny can do that just as well while he goes to get ice cream," he noted blandly.
"He replaces your worn out socks and you're not letting him have it at least once a week?" another one demanded, giving him an odd look. "Are you sure you work?"
Don glared at him. "He's nineteen and this is the most normal relationship he's ever had, okay? I don't need to have him that way to protect him. Besides, unlike you and Xander, I still like women. Until he grows boobs like Bonasera, he's safe from me that way." That got a laugh. "She said the same thing," he called when he saw someone picking up their phone. "Hell, she taught the kid how to make kabobs the other day." That got an awed look. "So drop it. I'm his protector, he's not my bitch."
"Fine. So is that *your* car you were driving or his?" one officer asked smugly.
"His. It's got really great leather seats," Don said with a smirk. "I didn't think the guy I had him with wanted ta drive it."
"It would take a really secure man to drive a lavender SUV," another one agreed. Xander bounced back in, handing Don his ice cream cone and sat down again, licking over his. They all stared. "Hey, kid, you bring back more?"
"Ask Danny. He went to the real store, he just let me pop in for ice cream." He took another lick and looked at him, then gave him a long stare. The guy coughed and got back to work.
"No staring," Don ordered. "One of you might wanna take him too. Then I'd get to have fun shooting you." They all quit staring and got back to work. Don ate another bite, looking at Xander. "At least you're all right."
"So far. I tried to be very good." He ate another lick, smiling and waving at Don's boss. "Hi. Want some?"
"No, thank you. I don't share mouth germs with anyone but my husband." That got a few snickers and she swatted one of the guys. "Why are you in today, Harris?"
"Because I just got done shopping and my bodyguard for the day drug me here."
"Ah. I heard you needed one. How much you pay him?"
"Enough," Don told her, staring her down. "He only had a few kidnaping attempts today."
"Wonderful." She came over to pat the boy on the head, getting in a pet of her own. "Did you have fun?"
"I did," he said proudly. "I did some shopping for winter since Don told me I'd need to. I got to ride around on the back of my guard's bike for a few minutes. I got scared outside because one of the pros looked just like one of my former friends and I wasn't sure it wasn't her." He looked at her. "You're petting me and your husband is going to pout at me."
She laughed and nodded. "Probably." She let him go. "Finish up and head home. Don can head home when he's done."
"I am done. Danny just ruled out my suspect."
"Nope. She was agoraphobic, boss. She never came outside."
"Did she chat with others or was she part of a support group? You said there's support groups for everyone," Xander reminded him.
"I did," Don agreed. "She didn't have a home computer but maybe. She had a husband."
"Was he having an affair?" Xander suggested.
"That's...." He looked at the report again. "It is female. Huh." He smiled at the kid. "Thanks, Xander. You wanna drive home?" Xander nodded. "Okay, take my car home so you can empty the trunk." He handed back the keys. "I'll see you in a few hours." That got a nod. "No spilling sticky stuff."
"I'll be done by the time I get in," he promised, eating his ice cream faster and licking off his fingers when he switched hands. He headed out, leaning against Don's car for the last few bites, noticing someone staring at him. "What?"
"Doing it on purpose?"
"Ice cream." He licked off his last fingers and got in, locking the doors and heading out. Before the scary person tried anything.
Don came out and found the guy watching his car, clearing his throat. "Mine." The man backed off and nodded quickly. "Thanks. Unless you've got business here, shoo." The man ran off. Don went to get into the SUV after checking it over. He found a flower on the windshield and smiled, putting it inside. Xander would appreciate that.
Russell heard the quiet voice and looked down, watching Xander ask for him. Somehow the boy had heard he'd been home for three whole days after his trip to visit Oz back in Sunnydale. He had heard the boy went out with a different bodyguard the day before but he hadn't called him. "Up here," he called. Xander beamed and jogged up the stairs to give him a hug. "Why did you visit today?"
"I wanted to see if you'd take me to lunch since Don said I'm not allowed out without a bodyguard, and to get you to look at some of the gaudy older jewelry someone decided belonged to me because it appeared in the basement. Oh, and because when I went to rescue some people I got given the gaudy crap around them too. They said no and I wasn't there to protest. There's things like gold oil lamps and stuff."
Russell looked at him, leading him into his office. "Start again, slower this time."
"Okay." He sat down and looked at him. "Devi was being blackmailed by one of the higher demons," he said dryly. "I had to go save them because they wanted me to be this time's payment." Russell moaned. "So I went to save them and not be the sacrifice. I got them free, their keepers came since they were the pets of other demons. The guys over the bullies decided the pets could have the gaudy crap but they didn't want it. Their owners didn't want it. I wasn't there to say no thanks so it got dumped on me. Blair's got it in storage for me."
"I saw it already. Oz and I had it moved for you, Xander." That got a smile. "You're right, it was mostly things done in very bad taste and very gaudily, but very few true antiques."
"Yeah but I figured you'd know what was real and what wasn't and might know someone who could take one piece and make it look better than all of them together."
"Actually, I know someone who could use the whole set. I'll call her if you want. I know Oz already talked to her. He's known her for longer and he hinted that you might not want it."
"No, I hate it. The same as I hate he so-called tips that got sent to me. Including ten thousand in loose cash." Russell moaned and leaned back. "So yeah, not a happy Xander with all the pretty loose jewels." That got another moan. "I'll probably store them somewhere as a hard asset in case something emergency-like happens but otherwise I don't want it. Do we know if more is coming? Something about that box hinted that it might not be the last."
"I don't know. You might ask Danny or Oz."
"Is Oz back in town?"
"He just got back last night. He's sleeping in my guestroom upstairs." That got a grin. "Why won't Don let you out?"
"Sunnydale humiliated the military. They want their pride back."
"Ah." He nodded, understanding that. "So you've been told that they're after you?"
"They tried to get Don's friend Mac to do it. He used to be a sniper for the Marines. That's why Don's so much worse about my safety than before."
"All right, I'll call our friend in Vegas, see if she could use it or not. Do you have a firm set price?" Xander shrugged. "Whatever it's worth?"
"I don't care. I don't need the money at the moment."
"Good point. I'll tell her you said that and give her a discount for friends." Xander grinned at that. "What else is going on?"
"Aiden's taking me winter clothes shopping next week. I'm slowly going insane at home. I haven't had sex in weeks and it's seriously starting to make me hallucinate at the moment. I was wondering if you'd like lunch for that reason too," he admitted.
"Dinner," he promised. Xander beamed. "Will Don mind?"
"There's a major hockey game or something on tonight. He's already warned me he's getting beer, chicken wings, and planting his butt on the couch."
"That's fine. Anywhere you'd like to have dinner?"
"I don't care. Hell, I'll even pay since I'm asking you." Russell chuckled at that. He handed over his cellphone number. "I had to get a new one. Someone got my last number and was calling to ask me out about every two hours. Don even yelled at him and he didn't stop. He was using payphones so they can't find him so I got a new one."
"That's fine, Xander. I'll put it into my phone in a few minutes." Xander gave him a gentle smile. "Who brought you over?"
"I bought a car. I snuck out. Don's going to be pissed so I should probably go hide at home again. Pop around and pick me up? Whenever's good."
"I will. Be safe on the way home." Xander leaned over to kiss him then bounced out. He smiled and put the number into his personal phone book before going up to see Oz. "The military is after Xander," he offered quietly from the doorway. "Your group humiliated them."
"Pity," Oz said dryly. "Any other good news?"
"He's going insane without sex. Don's keeping him inside for his own good. I'm taking him out tonight. He said Jace could have the stuff at whatever price you wanted to set."
"Decent. I'll let her know." He looked at his former student. "It'll be fine. Just make him a happy boy tonight, Connor. He could use it." That got a smirk. "I know, he's probably very good."
"He is. He wanted to know if more crap was coming, his words."
"Not sure. Devi was pouting and injured when we left. He didn't want to see Xander again, much less take him back. Any other good news?"
"He's got a stalker who was calling every few hours to ask him out."
"Interesting. New phone number?" It got handed over. "I'll put it into my phone in a few." He put it under his phone so he'd remember. "How's Don?"
"Fine so far." He shrugged and went back to the office, smiling at his assistant. "Xander needed a stress break."
"I'm not surprised. I heard what he said." She handed him over an invoice. "For the plumbing that broke."
"Of course." He checked it then wrote out the check, handing it over. She smiled and went to send it and put a copy in the file with the invoice.
Don suddenly started to scratch his arms, making Danny look at him oddly. "Sorry, static charge or something." Someone knocked on the door. "Who is it?" he called as he got up.
"Oz." Don opened the door. "Russ is busy tonight so I thought I'd take Xander out with me instead." Xander peeked out of his bedroom. "He got called to an emergency with an auction." Well, a challenge but you couldn't tell the kid that yet. "Wanna go have pizza and dance?"
"I could dance," Xander agreed, coming out in his more nice clothes. Oz looked him over, giving him an appreciative look. "Think we could find someone nice?"
"We can try." He looked him over again. "Wallet, keys? I'll protect him and won't bring him home too late, Don."
"Good, do that. Do they want you too?"
"No, they had me. One of the raids was to free me. The other was to kill their monster. I was out of town during that one." Xander gave him a hug. "I'm fine now. Let's go. No more moping."
"Later, guys." They headed out together. "We should take my car."
"Xan, your car is really gay," Oz reminded him. Xander pouted. "Fine, we'll take your car but you're driving. No way am I letting people think that's my ride." Xander giggled and gave him a hug. They walked into the garage and the lights went out. "Hmm," Oz said, pulling out his sword. "Xander, behind me," he commanded, pulling him back. He could feel another immortal close by. He just couldn't see him yet.
"Oz, that's a sword. That's more my weapon."
"I've got this one. You get the next one." He heard something and coughed. "Gas. Go." Xander turned and passed out. Oz didn't last much longer. He knew what sleeping gas was.
Xander woke up with a groan of pain. This was the second time he had woken up. The first he had been shot. He felt his chest, then looked down at himself. Bloody shirt. No hole in his skin. He unbuttoned his shirt. No scar, no hole, nothing but the remains of the blood. He stood up and held his head as a feeling came over him. Someone walked into the room he was in. "Who are you and what the fuck is going on!" he demanded.
"Just stand still. This'll be over very shortly." He pulled out a sword.
"Yeah, like I'm going to stand here and let you kill me," he said bitterly, lunging and knocking him back into a wall. He wrestled with him for the sword. "Are you demonic?" he demanded. "If not, who the fuck are you so I can have your tombstone engraved?" The man kicked him off. Xander fell back then went after him again, getting in a lucky blow. He grabbed the sword and moved back, going into a defensive position. "Who are you?" he demanded again. "What the fuck is going on? I was dead!"
"You're still dead," he panted, standing up. "Give me the sword, boy. You don't know what you're doing with it."
"Actually, I kinda do," he said dryly. "You don't hunt with a slayer and not know how to use one." The man looked horrified. "That's right. Where's Oz?" The man turned and ran. Xander followed, pouncing him to knock him down. He got him onto his back, the sword on his neck, held down by both hands on the back of the blade. "Answer me! Where is Oz!"
"Out," he groaned. "You ...can't...." Xander pushed. "Kill me!"
"Is that a title?" he sneered. "First?"
"Thank you. Demonic?" He almost shook his head. "What is going on? I was dead. You shot me. I know damn well you shot me." The man stayed silent and he pushed harder. The neck split down to the bone and Xander moved back but the sword got between the vertebras and finished the job before he could remove the pressure. "Shit!" He noticed the guy wasn't bleeding. He backed off, staring at the body. He hadn't killed in cold blood before. Hunting yes but not like that. He watched in horror as a ball of light came out of his neck and floated up, then suddenly lunged at him and hit him, driving him to his knees as it went through him, wrapping itself around his nerves. He passed out on top of the guy's foot.
Oz was woken when a touch of the quickening in the main room hit him. The guy had kept him bound but that was over with now. The guy had Xander. Xander was a pre-immie. Xander wasn't skilled with a sword. He finally got free and headed out, finding Xander passed out but with his head. The other guy...not so much. He let out a quiet 'huh' then called for a clean-up from Connor. "It's me. Some *idiot* jumped us in a garage and got Xander and me. He's fine. The idiot is dead. I think he took a quickening. I could feel it." He nodded. "Not a clue. Can you GPS my phone? Call Danny, he can." He put it down and went to check on Xander, dragging him away from the body and onto his back. "Well, you died," he said, noticing the blood all over his chest. "Stupid hunters." Xander moaned and Oz did the merciful thing, knocking him out again. He looked over as someone came in. "You are?" he demanded.
"NYPD, sir, checking on the lightening?"
Oz pointed at the headless guy. "He had me and Xander hostage. It was his light show. I've got a friend coming for us."
The officer nodded and came over, then looked at him. "You're one of us."
"I thought I felt someone else," he noted dryly. "Listen, Xander's new. He just came across. Must we fight? I'm not a hunter."
"Then how did this one die?"
Oz shrugged. "I was tied up."
"Ah." He pulled out a sword. "You know the rules."
"Doesn't mean I've got to fight right now," he complained, picking up the one Xander had used. It was balanced funny and of poor quality but it'd do for now. Danny rushed in. "Get Xander." That got a nod and Danny came over to move Xander. "If you want it, come on. I'm Oz by the way." The man blinked. "Yeah, that Oz." The man turned and ran. "Even better." He hung up his phone and came back. "He good? I knocked him back out."
"Not really," Danny admitted, taking off the ruined shirt. "We should clean him up."
"Let me scout. We'll see if there's a shower or something." He went to do that. Danny should have a sword on him. He came back nodding. "Shower." They got Xander into it, watching him wake up under the warm water. "Wash, Xander. We'll get you home afterward."
"Oz?" he asked weakly. He looked at him. "What the hell, man? What possessed me? Did I pick this up at the brothel?"
"No, this is a circumstance of birth," Oz said calmly. "There's good news though, it means you're adopted. All of us are orphans." Xander just stared at him. "Want help? Danny's here."
"Um...." Danny came in and took the direct route, getting in to help clean him up. "Danny?" He got a cuddle. "What's going on? I killed someone in cold blood and you're covering it up?"
"He's gone and there's no report needed," he said quietly. "We'll tell you everything once you finish cleaning up." Xander nodded, moving to get the blood off him. Danny got his back for him. "It'll be all right, Xander."
"Are you sure?"
"I'm sure. We're the same. All three of us." Xander turned to look at him. He grinned. "We are."
"That club, the one you taunt Don about."
Danny nodded. "If he gets killed violently he'll join us." He stroked his cheek. "It's going to be a hard adjustment in thinking, Xander," he said gently. "Let's just worry about the generalities and you for right now, okay?" Xander nodded and got back to cleaning himself up. "Good boy." Xander shivered and let himself be petted. "Need it that badly?" Xander nodded more frantically. "Let me do this this once and we'll see if it'll help you later." He slowly stroked him, letting Xander get off with a sigh of pleasure. "Good boy." He cuddled him and Xander relaxed against him. They got him rinsed off and out of the shower, letting Oz help him towel the boy dry while he drifted mentally. "I've got to get Don to step up and help you more," he said quietly. Xander looked at them. "Come on. Let's go talk on the guy's bed." Xander shuddered. "There's no clothes and it doesn't look like he slept in it, Xander." That got a nod and they went to sit on the end of it and talk.
Oz walked Xander back inside, Danny behind him. Don jumped up since Xander was wearing a sheet wrapped around him. "He's fine, Don," Oz said patiently. "Someone got us both for a while and Xander got us free. He was just a bit dirty so we let him leave the clothes there. Danny's handled it." He let Xander go, watching as he went into his bedroom.
"Some guy grabbed 'em from the garage. Looked like sleeping gas," Danny offered, flopping down again. "He's safe, Don. I promise. Oz called, that's why I ran off."
"That's fine." He sat down but he was still stiff. That staticky feeling was back and worse now. "Did you guys walk past magnets or something?"
Oz shook his head. "It's what I am, Don. It does that now and then."
"Then does Danny turn furry too? Because I get it off him and Nash now and then too." Xander came out to cuddle him and he pushed him away. "From you too."
Danny sighed and pulled his gun, putting a silencer on it. "Don, we love you. You know that right?" He gave him a scared look. "It'll be explained in an hour. Just remember we love you and this'll mean that you'll be safer instead of it happening when you're older." He shot him. Then he unscrewed the silencer, letting Xander hold him as he died. He looked at Oz. "You might wanna head."
"Going. Xander, call me tomorrow? We'll go over more information."
Xander looked up and nodded. "Yes, Oz." That got a smile and Oz left, closing the door behind him. Xander nodded at the door. "Locks?" Danny got up to do that and get him a soda. "So, what else changes?"
"You'll have to work on your stamina, Xander. Sword fights are hardly ever under ten minutes."
"Um.... Don hates it when I..., um, flirt my way out of things."
"Flirting to save your own ass is a good thing," Danny assured him patiently. "I want you to flirt your ass off if you're taken until you can get their heads. Understand?" That got a nod. "Good. I've already told Connor and Adam."
"Russ's real name. Connor Macleod. We change with our lives." He flopped down again, watching as Don woke up. "Morning, princess."
"You shot me!" Danny nodded, letting Don have his soda. Don growled and started to move. "Hold on. I'm alive?" He looked down at his chest, then at him. "I'm alive how?"
"Welcome to the special club," Xander said dryly. "You and me both. The guy earlier wanted my head."
"Huh?" Don demanded, getting up. He took off his shirt, looking at his chest. No hole. Blood but no hole. He looked at Danny. "You've got a second to start explaining before I rip you into tiny little chunks."
"Okay. You're immortal. You can only die if someone takes your head. I can shoot you again if you want proof." He sipped his soda. Don opened his mouth. "Earlier tonight, someone took Xander and Oz to take their heads, therefore getting their energy, their quickenings. Xander was brought across then. He got the guy who did it and freaked. We got him settled down but that staticky feeling? That's us. That's how you tell one of us." Don sat down, staring at him. "Now, there's some rules. We all fight in this big thing someone ingeniously named The Game. We fight to take each other's heads and their quickenings. There's some bad guys and plenty of good guys. You don't have to fight. You can hide on holy ground. That's sanctuary. Most of us use swords but some do have battle axes and one guy's got a chainsaw." Xander snorted at that. "At least you've got a bit of beginning on the training. You both need to learn how to fight with a sword now."
"You're not... You're not a Messer?" Don asked.
"I am. I was born over two hundred years ago." He shrugged and grinned. "The family protects me to this day but the current generation hates me. I'm not a bad guy and they are. All that stuff was true. Okay?" Don shook his head. "Okay. Now, there's a small twist. I don't know how you look like your daddy. We're all orphans and foundlings, Don. I used ta wonder about Stella."
"But...." He stopped himself and thought. "Dad said something a few times when he was drunk," he said quietly, looking at him. "Nash?"
"Yup, Nash, better known as Connor to those of us in the know. His cousin, Duncan, who's a bit insane. Adam, his mentor." Don slumped. "Me, Oz as well." Don slumped more. "It's got good points and bad points, Don. It really does." He leaned forward. "I'm gonna help you two train. The same as Oz and Connor are. Connor's a really good fighter and I learned from both him and Oz," he said quietly. "For now, you need to think and so does Xander. You've got questions that you'll want to ask. We're getting with Xander tomorrow to work on his training. We'll have to start finding time to train you too."
"My old life is over with."
"Only if they see you die or when you're too old to look that pretty," Danny offered with a small grin. Don glared at him. "What you knew before is still real, Don. It's just more complicated. Now people want you for more than your blue eyes and your big hands. We're starting on your training tomorrow. Take tomorrow off." Don shook his head. "You'll be scattered brained all day."
"It doesn't matter. I've gotta go to work. I've got Drummond to pick up tomorrow."
"Okay. Then stay inside as much as you can. If anyone feels like us, you come running to wherever I am. Got it?" Xander and Don both nodded. "Xander, you're not getting out of the house," Danny assured him.
"That one cop is taking me out to the movies," he said, shrugging a bit. "He said he was going anyway and he could use the cash. This weekly thing has worked really well for us for the past month."
"That's fine. I'll trust him. Remember that tingly, shocky feeling is us. You run from us unless it's one of us you know."
"Sure," Don agreed, sighing some. "What do I tell my mother?"
"Let her bring it up, Don. Don't do it tomorrow. I went and screamed at my Ma when I found out and she nearly killed me for calling her a liar. My father broke first and made her tell me. So for now, just relax and let it happen."
"Sure." He looked at Xander, then at him. "We'll be okay?"
"You'll be fine. Just keep your head on your shoulders."
"Would something like an iron collar help?" Xander asked.
"Nope. That's kinda cheating, dear." He grinned at him. "Good idea though. Adam regularly uses a pistol in his fights when he needs to get away. Our whole group of students and teachers has morals and ethics, but it's damn it all when we're in the middle of a challenge." He looked at Don again. "Just don't die for a while. Okay?" Don nodded and relaxed. "Good. Now, Xander and you could both use cuddles. Go do that tonight. I'll be back after work tomorrow, somewhere near five. Just trust us, the ones you know."
"Won't like it," Danny agreed patiently, standing up to look at them. "Go cuddle the kid. This means he's got centuries like this, Don," he said quietly. Don nodded so he left.
Don looked at Xander. "Are you okay?" He shook his head. "Why not?"
"He killed me then I ...I fought back when he came to take my head and I got him instead," he admitted, looking at his hands.
"That's self defense, Xander," he soothed, pulling him closer. "Come on, he's right, you could use a cuddle and a shoulder." Xander nodded, letting himself be led to Don's bed so they could talk and cuddle. Don had killed his own first person a few years back so he knew how to help him.
Danny walked in the next morning and found Mac in his way. "What? You fired me and didn't tell me?"
"No, I wanted to see how Don was. I heard he called off."
"He's exhausted," he said patiently. Mac gave him a look. "He is. Xander had some major trauma last night and I'm sure they talked about it for quite a while."
"Heard about the kidnaping? It's solved." He walked around him.
"Danny. My office." Danny groaned but headed that way. Mac watched him go, making a decision. He headed after him, after a quick stop in the bathroom to clean off a bit of makeup. He walked in and pulled the blinds, then took off his jacket and put it aside.
"Nice tattoo," Danny said, glaring at him. "You're my Watcher?"
"Yes." He sat down. "Now, what happened? I heard we had to clean up Xander's first body," he said quietly.
"There was a hunter named Peter Hers."
"I've heard of him. He's really big in taking on newbies."
"He killed Xander then came after his head. We're lucky the kid can fight, Mac. He took his head by accident. It took me hours to calm him down."
"And Don? I know you know he's a pre."
"He freaked when Xander came home. He could feel quickenings. I brought him over last night as well. They spent last night talking Xander down from his panic and pain and talking about what Oz and I told 'em."
"That's fine, Danny. The person I sent him to for training can definitely teach Xander sword work. Someone figured he would be."
"We know a few others of you. Someone else figured out he was a pre and sent it over," Danny assured him.
"Also fine. Anything else I should know?"
"We know anything about Stella?"
"We do. She's not. Though I am going to bring her into my side."
"Not that I'm aware of," he admitted. "She would make a fantastic watcher but she'd tell everyone and nag you all the time."
"She would," he agreed with a grin. "Then we're good?"
"We're fine but you can do better in here."
"No I can't. This is my first time in the labs." He stood up with a smirk. "By the way, Hawkes is one of us too." He strolled out, letting him make his own notes. "Hey, Stella, big man wanted you," he called when he saw her. "He's in his office."
"Sure, thanks." She smiled. "Did you sleep okay?"
"Few nightmares." He went to get his things from his locker. He felt Don come in and smiled, looking over at him. "You good so far?" If Flack wanted to be that stubborn, it spoke well for his later longevity.
"Henders is one of us?"
"Yeah, and probably running scared. Can't fight really well. Like I said, you'd know when one of three things happened. Either it happened in front of you, a challenge did, or it happened to you." He patted him on the arm. "Be careful and check in with me today."
"Sure." He went to his desk, going to get back to work. He was scatterbrained but he expected it really. This was a lot to take in for a simple catholic boy and a cop.
Mac looked up as Stella came in. "I heard Danny summon you."
"Is that a tattoo? I never saw that one before." She closed the door and came in. "What's going on? Don looks odd this morning too. Danny looks like he didn't sleep. I didn't think those two were together at the moment."
"They're not. Something happened to Xander last night. Danny handled it and Don stayed up with him for a few hours. The kid had to defend himself." He looked at her. "You're coming for dinner tonight."
"Um, Mac, you're still my superior."
"Not that way, Stella. You're a beautiful woman but not for me. I've got something you need to see and we can't talk about it here. Dinner, after shift, my place."
"Fine," she decided. "It's going to be a weird day, isn't it?"
"Probably." She sighed but left it there and went to work some more while she tried to figure out what was going on.
Mac groaned. Danny was a pushy brat. Xander would be worse though. Damn it, now he had three immortals to watch over. Watching over Danny was hard enough but with all the small kidnapings in Xander's life, he'd never get anything done.
Xander looked up as the door was knocked on, letting the officer in. "Hi."
"Hi again. You all right? You look like hell, kid."
"I had to defend myself last night and ended up killing the guy," he admitted.
"Been there, done that. You still need out of the house?" Xander nodded quickly. "Go get ready. Movies start in an hour and there's hellish traffic today. The guys must be on their coffee break." Xander let out a small smile but went to get dressed. "Be comfortable. I've got your back today."
"Yes, sir." He came out in jeans and a t-shirt, putting on his sneakers. "This okay?"
"That's fine. Which car is here?"
"Mine. It's bulletproof," he offered at the wince and shudder.
"It's light purple."
"You can put on a tag saying 'bodyguard'," he joked lightly.
"Maybe I should." He took the keys off the wall and Xander got his wallet, following him out. He locked the door. "Did Flack let you cry last night?"
"He let me cuddle and we talked most of the night," he admitted quietly as they headed for the elevator. "The guy used some sleeping gas in the garage. Got my friend Oz too." He pushed the button and looked at the really large cop. "I'll be fine. I've hunted in the past but this is my first human kill."
"Hopefully your last."
"Hopefully," he agreed, getting onto the elevator.
To Part 5: