Pets, Presents, Same Thing.

Chris came out the next morning and found a pretty, tall, regal looking horse in the paddock.  He stared at it.  "Did you jump in to be adopted?" he asked sarcastically.  The horse shook her head, staring at him.  "Where did you come from?"  He noticed a tag on her halter and walked over to look at it.  "Xander's Companion."   He stared at it.  "Why did they send me a white horse for him?"  He called Xander.  "Your family just grew."  He hung up.  Xander showed up a few minutes later, looking amused.  "How in the hell?" he demanded.  The horse nibbled on his hair to calm him down again.

"Dawn reset my emergency blip out beacon from Giles' office to your place."  He grinned.  "That way I can find a safe place if I need to."  He looked at her.  "You're a lot like the horses in that series, huh?"  Chris gave him a dirty look.  He shrugged.  "JD's probably heard of it."

"Probably," he agreed dryly.  Xander came over to look her over.  "She's a fine looking mare."

"She's very pretty."  He petted her neck gently, getting a friendly nuzzle for it.  "Did Ral send you with anything else, sweetheart?  Or should Chris take me to find you a saddle and stuff?"

Chris went to look.   He came out of the barn looking amused.  "She has a very nice saddle, but it's English instead of western like we ride."  Xander grinned.  "Plus a nice headpiece.  They even made her stall up.  I don't know why she's out here though."

Xander smiled.  "She glows in the sun?"

"She definitely does."  He helped him put her into her stall.  She was friendly and neighed at the other horses, getting a few back.  "At least she'll get along with the herd," Chris decided.  He caught Xander looking at the saddle.  "It's a bit more fussy and less relaxed."

"Can we change it?"

"You can buy her a new one if you get to keep her," Chris promised.  Xander grinned and they left together.  Chris dropped Xander off on his way to the White House.  John was already in his office with a tankard of coffee and McKay nagging him.  "Sir."

"Chris."  He looked over.  "You've got an odd look on your face.  Who dated what this time?"

"I walked out this morning to a very pretty white horse named Xander's Companion."

John squinted.  "Fantasy novel.  Mystical horses that help their heralds protect the realm."  He shook his head quickly.

"You lowered yourself to the chemist's fantasy novel collection between attacks?" McKay asked.

"It was that or philosophical crap," he admitted.  He looked at Chris again.  "I'll talk to the diplomats.  Was it visibly a gift?"

"I don't know.  She was sunning herself when I came out to feed them.  That's also when I found out we have an agent on the shit list to clean stalls and help me feed 'em."

"Better there than Alaska," Rodney quipped.  "The hard work might help them a bit too."

"Maybe," Chris agreed.  "But one of the horses bites."  He heard Vin laugh.  "We have a barn helper."

"That way if we're out on duty, they don't get ignored," he called back.  He walked in.  "JD found the new one."

"Someone left it for Xander," he quipped back.

"Hmm.  He saw the nametag and went off in geek glee."  He nodded at John.  "Are we running today?"

"Yup, it is that day and Rodney's coming with us."

Rodney gave him a dirty look.  "Why do I need to jog now?"

"To escape the physicist-hungry wenches who only want your sperm, like you were complaining about earlier," John shot back with an evil smirk.

"I don't have my jogging clothes here," he said smugly.

"I'm sure Willow can send them."  He called her.  "Willow, John.  We're running today and he forgot.  Thanks, please."  He hung up.  A bag appeared a few minutes later.  "See, jogging clothes," he said smugly.  "If she forgot your shorts, you can bum some since we wear the same size."  He looked at Vin, who was snickering.  "Who's running with us?  Five miles since Rodney out of shape."

"I'm not that far out of shape," Rodney complained.

"Fine, we can do ten," John agreed.

"I'm going," Vin said.  "Nathan jogs too.  We can take him."  He went to get ready and warn Nathan.  He was nagging Xander about not eating breakfast.  "Xander, John and Rodney are going jogging.  Nathan, us too."

"I'm not used to running unless something's chasing me or it's an emergency," he admitted.

"We need to fix that.  It'll increase your stamina for emergencies," Nathan ordered.  "We have a gym, you can do that today."  Xander nodded with a sigh.  He smiled.  "And eat breakfast."

"I'm fine.  I had a midnight snack at four when I got woken up by a leg cramp."  He pulled over a folder.  "Anyone have any idea why I'm looking at garden plans?"

"No first lady," Vin said with a smirk.

"Yay," Xander said flatly.  "Go get ready for your runs, guys.  I'll be in here committing suicide by paperwork."  Nathan snorted but left him alone.

Chris came in once they were gone.  "C'mon, let's hit the gym.  It'll be stress relieving."  Xander gave him a pathetic look.  "Tough."  He hauled the boy up and walked him out.  "You need to be in shape for when the next problem happens."

Xander nodded.  "I do sword katas and battle axe katas each night," he said quietly.

Chris nodded.  "There's more than that.  Your endurance has fallen since you've been back."


"Jogging can increase that."

"I'm not sure if I'm allowed to jog after that last injury.  Even after they healed it the doctor didn't want me to stress my body."

Chris looked at him.  "That sounds counter-indicated."  He stared at him.  "Is it going to matter for the next battle?"

"No.  I'll be there."

"Then you need to be ready."

"I'm doing what I can."

"I know.  We can help you work up to that."  He clapped him on the back.  He understood the kid's needs and desires but they needed a second opinion on his health.  "Which doc said not to work yourself too hard?"

"One of the ones at Bethesda."

"What about the docs who handle the slayers?"

"We don't have our own right now."  He got them into the gym.  "I've thought about asking the doc that did the healing thingy on me but I'm not sure if I'm allowed."

"Who was she?"

"One of Jack's docs at the mountain."

"Hmm.  We can ask John."  He pointed.  "Warm up.  We'll do a bit on the treadmill and then do some weight tests."  Xander nodded, moving to the wall to stretch.  He finally came over to the treadmill to start on a few easy miles.  Chris upped the speed on him and set up the other things they'd need.

"Big Dog," Buck said, leaning in.  "Someone tried to snatch McKay, Vin stopped it.  John shot the guy too."

"They good?" he asked.

"They're fine.  They're on their way back.  The idiot who wanted him was begging to face your charge there instead."

Xander looked at him.  "What did he look like?"

"I don't know for sure."

"Tell me where they have him in custody and he can face me instead.  Then they can put him in prison."  He finished his first mile and got off the treadmill.  "Let me go handle that," he said quietly.  "With my luck it's an ex," he muttered as he walked out.  He ran into John and Rodney.  "Who was it?"

"Someone who wanted Rodney for disproving his theories by Ancient science."

"Then why did he want me?" Xander asked.

"You'd only have him eaten," Rodney said.  "He apparently thought it was better."

Xander shook his head.  "No, but I can have something go in there to eat him if he wants."

"No, don't," John ordered.  "Let me do one thing and then I'll meet you *both* in the gym."  They nodded and Xander walked Rodney off.

Chris looked at him.  "The doc at Bethesda said he's not to get too overworked?"

John grimaced.  "We're not sure why."

"Can he have that same doc that healed him check him?"

"Yeah, I can do that.  She's busy today but I can ask her for that favor tomorrow."

"Thanks."  He went back to the gym to work with them.  "McKay, I set that machine for him and his sword-using muscles."

"I changed the weight," he complained.  "I don't know how he can lift that much multiple times."

"I used to work construction too."  He went back to the treadmill when Chris pointed.  He wasn't going to fuss.  He did need the work.  He needed the guidance to get him back to where he was.  Before something worse happened.

John walked in and watched Xander for a second.  Yeah, Carolyn would get that situation straightened out.  Even if she did beat him senseless for listening to bad advice.  He went to help Rodney because he was falling down and apparently people wanted him worse than usual.


Carolyn Lam appeared in the White House.  "You called, Colonel?"

"I did, Doctor Lam.  Xander?" he called.  Chuck leaned in.  "Is he hiding?"

"He's in the kitchen being nagged by Nathan for having english muffins for breakfast."  He smiled.  "I can lead you down there, Doctor Lam."

"That'd be nice, Chuck.  Thank you."  She nodded at John and walked with the former Atlantis wonder assistant.  She listened to the nagging for a moment.  "No, I want him to eat more carbs.  He tends to bounce them off," she said bluntly.  Xander smiled at her.  "Though, balancing it out is good."

"I had cheese english muffins.  I was running late."

"You have a cook," she pointed out.

"She doesn't do breakfast."  He shrugged and ate a bite.  "Let me finish the salad of doom."

She looked and added something from a cabinet, earning a smile and a hug.  Xander ate the rest quickly and let her lead him back to his office.  "I've heard that you've gotten bad advice?"

"The doctor at Bethesda took over my care from the guy at John Hopkins because of the position.  Even though I didn't ask.  I went back to him for a check up and he agreed I could start moving back to my former fitness levels.  The one at Bethesda said I'm not supposed to tax my body as he put it."

She shook her head.  "Let me check and we'll see."  She pulled out the scanner, running it over his body.  She did a second scan of his liver and looked over the results.  "Can you get the Colonel for me?"

JD leaned in.  "What's that?"

"It's a scanner from Atlantis," she said with a smile.  "Usually it's very good but for some reason it went dark."  John walked in and it hummed in his hand.  She did the scans again and nodded when it went dark again.  "Xander, do you have anything blocking energy?"

"Oh!"  He took off his necklaces and looked at his side, blocking something by the simple expedient of cutting over the drawn on line.  "I redid it this morning.  Sorry."  He grinned at her.  "I didn't realize."

"What's that for?" she asked.

"To keep Willow from blasting me with magic again.  Like the last time she did it."

She winced.  "She's not doing that anymore."

Xander looked at her.  "I'd hope not.  But still, it's a good protection to have."

"It can be."  She scanned him again.  John did it as well.  She smiled.  "Excellent picture this time."  She looked it over, then at him.  "Did you have liver damage from before that hit?"

"Possibly.  Why?"

"From...." she asked.  He gave her a look.  "Oh.  Magic?"

"Yeah.  A few really powerful hits of black magic when I was stopping someone suicidal.  Why?"

"The healing wand moved you back to where you were, but it's still showing some damage.  Not much but some."  She scanned the rest of him again.  "It looks like you're tired."

"I had some nightmares."

"They happen to all warriors," she said quietly, staring at him.  He nodded back.  "As long as you're handling them."

"I'm getting about as much sleep as I always have," he admitted quietly.  She grimaced at him.  "I've been hunting since I was sixteen, doc."

"Fine.  We can talk about that in a minute in private."  John got the others out of there.  She stared at him.  "Honestly, just from the hunting?"

"Nope.  Alchie parents."

"I saw that documentary."  He grimaced.  He hated that E news had done one on his life before he started to hunt.  They stated they had tried to talk to the slayers about his later life but got hostile responses.  It was nice how people who had ignored everything suddenly had perfect recall about his life.  "I know."  She looked him over again then nodded.  "When's the next apocalypse?"

"Next spring.  It's in Illinois I think.  Random attacks can happen at any time though."

"Okay."  She sat down, looking at him.  "Right now you're not in bad shape.  I'm a bit worried about the prior liver damage."

"That happened when I was twenty."

She nodded once.  "Good to know.  For right now, I want you to build up slowly and I'm going to rip that doctor at Bethesda a new one."  He grinned.  "I'm going to allow you to get back up to your former fitness level, just in case you're attacked so our Colonel doesn't get hurt too."

"Of course.  He's more important than I am."

"Good boy."  She stood up.  "Not that you're not important, Xander.  You have to protect yourself too."

"I do by protecting everyone else."

She made the boy look at him.  "No, I mean actually protecting yourself.  Not dealing with it like you did in Denver.  The tape got found by the local news.   This is low self esteem crap and it needs to end," she said quietly.  "You're worth more than your muscles and your skills.  John wouldn't like you if it was only that stuff."

Xander nodded.  "I'm working on it."

"Good."  She smiled.  "You could talk to your friends."

"We're....  I kinda went off on them.  Buffy agreed I was right but we're not close really anymore."

"Hmm.  That sucks, kiddo."  He shrugged.  "Fine."  She squeezed his wrist.  "Work up slowly.  If you start feeling any pain or show any liver related problems, you are to see me or your guy at John Hopkins.  I liked him."  Xander nodded at that.  "Good boy."  She patted him on the cheek.  "Eat a balanced diet, don't worry about your carbs with the way you work out.  Try to eat vegetables because you probably don't.  With parents like yours, you probably lived on substandard food."

"School lunch.  It was nice though, we got the woman who wanted to poison us all."

She stared at him.  "Don't tell me that.  McKay's been playing with temporal energy and I'll go back to beat the crap out of someone."  He blushed, looking down.  She smiled.  "You're sweet but I'm not naughty enough for you."  She winked and he grinned back.  "Four months and see your liver guy.  Don't go back to Bethesda unless you've got a gunshot wound and then someone had better call us.  I'll make sure John knows that."

"Can you maybe make the nagging less?" he hissed.  "It's kinda ...odd and bad."

"I am."  She pinched him.  "Good boy."  She left, going to John's office.  He was on the phone.  She sat down to make notes and wait.  Finally John got to hang up.  She looked at him.  "He's not to go to Bethesda again unless he's been shot."

"I can agree with that.  Me too?"

"Yup."  She smirked.  "He's to see his liver guy in about four months.  He can work his way up slowly and carefully."  Chris Larabee walked in with Nathan being pulled.  "Good.  Yes, he's able to work himself back up to where he can handle emergencies.  He had prior liver damage from someone hitting him with a lot of black magic he said.  Watch out for any signs of problems there.  Like the good Colonel, boys like Xander don't let you know."

"I know that problem well," Chris said.

"That's because you're like that too," she assured him.  She stood up.  "As for his diet, it's fine.  Try to sneak vegetables on him.  He's never been really balanced there and he works off more carbs than he eats right now."  She stared at Nathan.  "Quit nagging the kid.  It'll make him go against you and fight back."  She looked at Chris again.  "How well do you read people?"

"That expose on his family was part of the briefing," he admitted.

"Good."  She smirked.  "He'll be fine.  Become a good big brother to him, Agent Larabee.  He could use some.  Let me go talk to Willow about magic-caused liver damage.  As far as I know there's nothing we can do about it but he's fairly healed as much as possible.  Do it slowly and make sure he doesn't have any problems."

"I can do that."

"Good."  She looked at John.

"I've seen," he agreed with a slight grin.

"Good."  She smiled.  "I would've loved to seen him in the mountain when we had problems."

"Xander would've done something heroically stupid and gotten dead," John said.

"Yeah, but we could've talked him into making sure that he came home afterward.  Us too."  She called for a beam out.  She had to talk to Willow and Sam Carter.  She found them in the same lab.  "Can you figure out if someone gets hit with a lot of black magic, enough to cause some body damage, can we weed it out now?"

"I can work on it," Sam promised.  "Who?"

She smiled.  "A patient I have."  She glanced at Willow then back at Sam since Willow was making whimpering noises.  "Specifically it was liver damage.  It's about ten percent off standard rates, so about thirty off his.  He's fine but I need to know if we can help that any since the healing wand healed it to that level."

"How many years ago?" Sam asked, giving Willow an odd look.

"About fifteen or so."

"Okay," Sam agreed.  Doctor Lam walked off.  "What's wrong with you?" she hissed.

"When I was on that cliff, after Tara died," she said, giving her a hopeless look.  "Xander tried to stop me."

"It's not always you."

"She went to DC."

"Oh.  So what happened?"

"I was deep in the grief and so lost," she sighed, sitting down again.  "I sucked up black magic, I was going to make everyone feel like I did.  So empty, so much pain."  She looked at Sam.  "I nearly killed him.  I hit him with the black magic to make him quit trying to stop me.  I hit him like seven times.  I didn't realize we did any damage.  I mean, the next day he was like usual."

Sam stared at her.  "I understand what happens when you get in that much pain."  Willow slumped.  "We'll work on it together.  He doesn't blame you."

"He's vowed to someone that I wouldn't get back to that state again."

"You do and I'll help him take you down," Sam assured her.  Willow hugged her.  Sam smiled and patted her.  "I know.  It's hard.  Grief is unreasonable with how it can change you."  She handed her some chalk.  "We'll make it up to him."

Willow nodded, taking the chalk to the chalkboard to figure out how she could fix that old mistake.  None of them wanted Xander to be injured.  When Rodney came back Willow looked at him.

He stared back.  "That was when he stopped you?"  She nodded.  "At least he did stop you."

"We never realized he was hurt."

"Like the Colonel, he wouldn't have shown you that.  He doesn't do it for anyone."  He came in to help her.  Sam left them alone.  "He's not truly injured," he said after some more work.  "They were worried about him regaining his old fitness level."

"We can fight without him there," she pointed out.

"He won't let you and you know it."  She nodded she knew that.  Xander would jump in.  "Beyond that you'd need him and his skills.  The girls will listen to him and to Buffy about battles."

"We need a new battle master anyway.  Xander's getting too old to go into fights."

"Men like him will not give up until they can't fight anymore."

"Then we'd lose him and it's not good for him."

He stared at her.  "There's a reason they call him a white knight, Willow.  The same as he learned how protecting you and his other friend."

"So he became the knight to protect me," she said, sounding flat and upset.

He stared at her.  "Most likely you gave him an outlet for the needs he wasn't getting at home.  Part of all knights' syndrome is the need for attention and acknowledgment that he can do good things.  Him protecting you gave him a way to express the needs that weren't being met."

"So it wasn't bad for him?"

"No.  Without it, he might have ended up in prison at a very young age."

"I guess.  He seems more angry now."

"That could be the fact that he's been in combat since he was sixteen."

She nodded.  "He could retire."  He shot her a dirty look.  "I know but he might."

"No, he won't.  Men like him only die in bed if it was extremely good sex."

She blushed and squeaked.  "If Anya couldn't I doubt the others could."

"You never know.  Maybe it'll be better than she was."

"She was really demanding and stuff," she hissed, glancing at the door then back at him.  She swatted him since he was smirking.  "Some of us were really embarrassed with the way she talked about it all the time."

He patted her on the shoulder.  "It's all right that you're a prude."

She swatted him.  "I am not!"

"Yes, dear, you are.  But that's fine.  Many people are."  He turned back to the math.  He pointed.  "Did you mean to forget the negative and switch your numbers?"  He huffed and erased it, going back over it.  He knew something was wrong.  She was clearly distracted by the embarrassed thoughts about sex.  It was...admittedly cute on her.  "Did Tara like you being so blushing?"

"Tara was a really gentle woman," she said.  "Kennedy was more wild but a slayer.  She died in the invasion in LA.  It wasn't the same.  I didn't feel the same way when I lost her."

"Losing someone special should affect you more than a simple friend you tumble into the bed now and then."

She shook her head.  "I've never played that way."

He stared at her.  "Perhaps you should try to date again soon?"

"I've got to concentrate on me, Rodney.  It's not fair to anyone else when I'm this messed up."

He snorted.  "Everyone is messed up in some unusual way.  The key is to find someone who's messed up in a way that understands your messed up nature."

"I'm going to go back to the caf," Sam said, walking off again.  She had almost walked in but she did agree with Rodney.  It was well past time for Willow to move on and find someone new to cuddle with.

Rodney and she shared a look.  "Speaking of prudes who seem to have a lot of ex's die."  She snorted, swatting him again.  He gave her an evil smirk.  "Was that the lesbian version of a spank?"

"No, if I wanted to spank you I could."

"I'm not one of those boys that has no training.  The good colonel made sure of that."

"Does that mean the rumors being spread by psych are true?  Because I *totally* understand that need when you're really far away and always in danger.  That's kinda why I got Kennedy and why Buffy had Spike."

He swatted her again, scowling.  "No, I would never bend myself that way.  I do prefer women.  Just ask Carter how I drooled on her blonde roots."

"Tara was a blonde but she was nicer."

"I'm sure she was.  She sounds like one of those fairly sweet and cavity inducing sort."

"Not always.  She had her naughty moments."  She pointed.  "You dropped the negative yourself."

He huffed and went back to it.  "Why am I doing this for you?" he demanded a minute later.

She smirked.  "You took the chalk from me."

"Point.  That way it won't hurt him."  He finished it up, staring at it.  "Well?"

"Nope," she said, sitting down.  She looked at him.  "That says if I try to weed any of the power out of him, it'll probably kill him."

"Then you won't," Rodney said.

She nodded.  "I guess I won't."  She considered it.  "What if we did it another way?"  She started a new formula.

Rodney watched.  "No, it won't work.  You'll end up with a negative."  She slumped, handing back the chalk.  He erased it.  "Come on, you have to eat."

"I know but I don't want to eat.  Half the people on base give me dirty looks."

"You should've seen it after I accidentally destroyed most of a solar system," he said quietly.

She stared at him.  "I could almost wish you were a girl."

He snorted.  "I'd rather not, thank you.  It would dearly screw me up for life."  He walked her out.  They passed by Sam and Radek's lab, and he had to back up to glare at his friend, who was smirking.  "We are not dating!"

"It's been over two decades since I had a boyfriend, Radek."

Rodney looked at her.  "Seriously?"  She nodded.  "Then perhaps you should try again.  It might make your dating search easier."

She nodded.  "Maybe but I'm not looking forward to trying that again."

He glared at her.  "If you would, you'd find that all those things you worry about would fall into place because they're the thing you need."

She stared at him.  "Huh?"

He walked off shaking his head.  "Never mind.  You'll understand when it happens."

"What?"  She chased after him.

Sam looked at Radek.  "I agree.  I so agree."  He grinned.  "Now we have to make them see it."

"Atlantis may help.  She does like them both."  He got an evil smirk from her and grinned back.  He would go to Atlantis later and talk to her.  She would help Rodney be happier.  Even if they did have to lock them in a room with everything they might need for a night of living porno.


Xander plopped down across from Ezra at the table, getting grunted at.  "Someone's yelling at me about the car issue."

"Who?" Ezra asked, pretending to be awake.

"Your boss."

Ezra grimaced.  "Chris?"

"The other boss."

"Oh, him.  Why is he complaining?"

"That I'm making your personal vehicles basically public property."  Ezra snorted.  "I was ordered to buy one, either for the VP's house and office, or for myself."

"What was the last one you owned?"

"Some bland sedan because Anya liked it."

"That's horribly mundane," Ezra said, sipping some more coffee.  "What about the government buying program?"

"Really cheap, crappy sedans according to John since he knows cars."

"Good point."

"Or a minivan or an agent style SUV."

"That doesn't really fit with your style."

"No."  He pulled out a paper and slid it over.  "Help me look?  I narrowed down the list of ones I want to test drive."

Ezra looked it over.  "Two higher end; two light SUV styles, two sedans, both fairly mundane.  But at least one's a bit more expensive looking."

Xander shrugged.  "You know I don't care as long as it runs."

"I know."  He put them down.  "We can arrange that with Marian later."  He finished his coffee. "Nathan is upstairs."

"Dr. Lam told him to quit nagging me or else she was going to spank him," Xander said with a grin.  Ezra choked and shook his head.  He got up to make them both breakfast, getting a nod of thanks from his guard for the new cup of coffee too.  He finished up and brought over plates, sitting down to drink his morning cup of cold god and eat.

Nathan walked in and scowled.  "That's not good for you."

"I'm telling Dr. Lam you're still nagging," Xander countered, staring at him.  "Then I'm going to make Ezra take you shopping for me instead."  He stuffed his mouth with the pretty decent omelette with pepperoni and green peppers.  Ezra had mushrooms and sausage.

"Fine.  It's still fattening."

"As opposed to my twinkie habit?" he quipped.  "Because I can easily have twinkies and ho hos for breakfast."

"You wouldn't," Nathan complained.  Xander got up to open that cabinet, pointing at the boxes.  Nathan stomped out.  Xander sat back down and stuffed his face again.

Ezra chewed.  "We might both be paying for that little acting out for a while."

"I can't eat tofu, I puke," Xander said, giving him a grin.  He dug in when Chris walked in.  "Did your boss complain at you too?  And can I come see the horse I'm not allowed to officially have soon?"

"You can come out with me tonight," Chris sighed.  "And yeah, he got me up to complain that the news crews think you're making us use our cars to cart you around."  Ezra handed over the list.  Chris looked it over.  "None are really safe."

"We can up the security," Xander pointed out between bites.  "Should I make you a half omelette too?"

"No, I  already ate."  He sipped his coffee, looking Ezra over.  "You two can go buy something.  Is it going to be yours or the official car?"

"Mine.  I'm not using my VP budget to buy it."

"Good," Chris decided.  "Did they finish fixing all your accounts?"

"Yup.  Though John's assistant said something about stuff I have in storage."

Ezra blinked at him.  "What do you have stored?" he asked calmly.

Xander shrugged.  "I don't know.  I haven't been in there in a while.  I forgot everything I put in there."  He frowned then shrugged.  "I'll look at it sometime soon."

"We can look at it this weekend," Chris said.

Xander considered it.  "Probably no artillery."

"Good!" Ezra said, shaking his head as he got up to get more coffee.  He took another sip, looking at Chris.  "He threatened me to take Nathan shopping for nagging again."

"We all put up with Nathan nagging," Chris said dryly.

"No I don't.  Not even the women in my life get to nag.  Bitch and whine, but not nag."  Nathan stomped in and he glared.  "I have PMS."  Nathan huffed and left again.  He got up and hit a button on the wall, which locked all the important cabinets.  He checked, the twinkies were in one.  The coffee was too.  Xander grinned at Chris.  "What am I doing today?"

"Car shopping apparently," Chris said dryly.  "Senate is off today.  Shopping so you have a tux for next week's military ball."  Xander nodded at that.  "Or do we have one?"

"He needs a new shirt," Ezra said.  Nathan dragged JD in.  "What now?" he asked.

"Here, feed the boy.  He didn't eat yet," he grumped.

Xander pointed at the fridge.  "Leftover pot roast, JD?"  He grinned and got some of it so he could eat.  Xander smirked at him.  "See, protein."  Nathan glared.  Xander smiled and blew a kiss.  "You're turning into a girl.  Pretty soon we'll see you dying you hair blonde like Buffy." Nathan glared.  Xander smiled sweetly.  "Nagging is for girls.  Should we buy you a pretty dress?"

"No," he growled.

"Then quit nagging like a slayer."


Xander smiled.  "Isn't that nicer?"  He walked off.  "Let me change."  He came back down in a better shirt and still in jeans.  Ezra stared at him.  "We're doing civilian things."

"There will undoubtedly be press people."

"You want me to put on the booty showing pants that will make them drool and forget to shout stupid questions?  That works for John."

Chris walked around them snickering.  "Go ahead, kid.  They might like that."  He took JD and his breakfast to the White House.  It was going to be insane on Xander's team today.  Let Buck help.  He knew cars.  They walked in to meet with John.  "Xander is off shopping for a car."

"I got word of the complaint.  I reminded him it was safer but I'd tell him."

"He got Nathan to quit nagging."

"Damn, I want to know how he did that.  He tried to nag me about my dessert last night."

"Threatened to have him turned into a girl basically."

John snickered.  "Willow probably could."  He shook his head.  "So he's off with Ezra?"

"And Buck."

"That's fine."

"He's going with your plan to make people drool?"

"Oh, the tight pants plan.  Yeah, it works well on paparazzi."  Chris shook his head at that.  "Anything else going on?"

"He eats twinkies?"

"He explained what was going on in the Senate to me with twinkie theater," John told him.  "It took him three boxes of twinkies to explain the current crappile going on.  Then he ate them with fake screams like he was Godzilla.  I made him work off the sugar in the pool."

"Probably a good idea," he decided.  "He's coming out tonight to look at his companion."

"I can be there until seven.  Rodney and I are having dinner."

"That's fine.  This weekend?"

"That'll work.   Thanks, Chris."  He smiled.  "Go relax.  I'm not leaving the building today.  Listen for Xander to be ambushed."

"Hopefully Buck can handle it with Ezra."  He went to check in with the communications officer and update their positions so everyone can scream at them.  They tended to yell whenever something happened that they didn't anticipate.


Xander looked over at the yelling press person.  "What?" he called.

"Is that your boyfriend?" she called.

"He's my guard.  He helps me shop because he has better taste than I do."

"He's cute, sir."

Xander smiled and waved.  "Minds out of the gutter.  He can't be my guard if we're having wild monkey sex, guys."  They laughed.  "Now go away.  I have to pick a car."  They took more pictures and Buck got them to go away.  "Sorry, Ezra."

"We do tend to travel together," he said dryly.

"They didn't do it to the other guards."

"Yes, but I'm better dressed than they were," Ezra said.  He looked at the car.  "Try it out for size.  The back," he reminded him.

"It's my private car, I'll get to drive it sometime, Ezra."

"In the back," Buck agreed.  "If it's a nice drive, you'll be satisfied."  He got in to start the engine.  "Bit tired sounding."

Ezra nodded, looking over the options.  "We'd have to add a remote start feature, bulletproofing, and it's got gas mileage like an SUV."

"All of them had pretty iffy gas mileage that I liked the looks of," Xander admitted as he got out.  "The leg room's a bit cramped.  I didn't even think about that issue."

"Not much of what I would expect in a Mercedes sedan, even on the low end of the spectrum," Ezra said.  "So no on the C-class sports sedan.  Let's look at the GLK."  He walked the boy that way.  That one was a bit better.

"It looks like a new age station wagon on steroids," Buck said.  The salesman coughed and shook his head.  "It does."

"It does kinda look like the kid between an SUV and a station wagon," Xander agreed.  "But I figured it'd be practical.  People would like it if I bought something this higher end.  Goddess knows they don't like anything else."

"The other two are American made," Ezra said.  "A Cadillac and a Chrysler."  Xander nodded and they thanked the salesman before leaving.  "Cadillac first?  It's the other SUV."

"Whichever you feel like since you won't let me drive," Xander quipped with a smile.  "Thanks, guys."

"Welcome," Buck agreed.  "No one gets to drive his car but him.  Unless it's an emergency."

"I'll remember that," Xander said.  "Just in case."

Ezra glanced back at him.  "Let's not have anything happen anytime soon.  I'm rather fond of this car."

"Of course not.  It'd probably happen outside the car."  Ezra smirked and went on since the light was green.  They found a Cadillac dealership and the SUV was nice enough.  Xander pointed at one and they paused the car to look.  "It's another baby SUV," Xander said.  "I thought it'd be larger."

"No, that's an Escalade," Ezra said.  "I think that's a second choice.  Let's see the other.  Chrysler."   He drove them to the dealership up the street that had a Chrysler sign.  "They should have the other.  Or a reasonable facsimile."  He pulled in and they went to find a salesman.  He didn't have the exact car there but they had another edition of it.  Which Xander seemed to like.  "Which is this?"

"This is the 300c with the Touring Plus trim," the salesman said.  "It's got a good bit of legroom in the back, it has nice features that can be upgraded easily for his security concerns."

Xander nodded, sliding into the back seat.  "Hey, there's at least ten more inches back here."

"It has good features.  Not the remote start but an anti-trunk trap device.  Keyless remote with a panic button.  We can put OnStar into it I suppose."  He read over the available features and colors.  "Black?"

"I saw a dark titanium metallic," Xander said.

"That's a discontinued color," the salesman said.  "We'd have to special order it."

"We'll have to special order it or take it to a pimping shop to have the bulletproof panels put on," Xander pointed out.

"That's a good point."  He went to get his papers on that.  He came back.  "These are all the options we offer."  He let Ezra look it over and pick which ones the important person wanted.

Xander looked over his shoulder.  "I get dvd?"

"In case you need briefed."

"Can we go the internet for email checking and video conferencing?"

"Perhaps," he agreed.  "I see it is on the list with remote ignition."  He checked those and looked at the rest.  "That will make it doable until we can get the special shielding put on it.  I'll have the address for you in an hour."  That got a nod and Xander went to fill out paperwork and pay for it while Ezra called the White House communication person.  "It's Standish.  We need an address to send the Vice President's new car for shielding."  He wrote it down.  "Thank you."  He hung up.  "This is the shop they've been using.  Or you can deliver it to us at the house and we'll take it."

"It'd be easier to bring it to you, sir."  He made that note and it was set.  "It'll take about a week."  Xander nodded.  "We'll deliver it, after calling first, and everything should be set.  If we have any problems, we'll let you know, sir."

Xander shook his hand with a smile.  "Thank you."  He stood up and walked the guys back to Ezra's car.  "It's nice."

"It's real nice and an American car," Buck agreed.  "Which means no nagging from some of those fussy sorts."

Xander snorted.  "I can't do anything right according to them."  He looked at his guards.  "A few have suggested that even if I screwed an angel in the middle of the Senate to bless the building with his sperm, it still wouldn't get me in good graces."

"That is a very vivid image," Ezra said.  He spotted the cameras.  "Let's go.  They're here too."

"They're everywhere, like roaches," Xander quipped as he got in.

Ezra got in and nodded.  "They are like roaches but you can't stomp on them."

"I like to make them pout.  It's fun to watch them pout.  That whole thing, with full options, was under thirty-five, so forty with the shielding probably. "

"Probably," Buck agreed.  "It was pretty heavy already and you don't need more than the regular bulletproof panels."  He got comfortable.  "We heading back to the house or to the White House?"

"We are heading to make sure Xander has a nice shirt for the military ball in a few days."

"Oops," Xander sighed.  "We should stop at the dry cleaner's then."  Ezra shook his head.  "Yeah, my tux is there."

"JD picked it up the other night," he said patiently.

"He did mine too," Buck said with a grin.

"Okay.  I didn't see it in the closet."

"I'll make sure later," Ezra assured him.  He took him to a nice shop that was tastefully expensive.  It looked much more expensive than it was.  The boy balked but Ezra walked him inside.  "We need to dress up his tux with a nice shirt for the military ball, gentlemen."

They looked at Xander and his current outfit.  "He has a nice build.  What color is his tux?"

"Basic black, done by Emporio."

"Ah," the clerk said, coming over to help them look.   "You have such a nice build, Mr. Harris."

Xander smiled.  "I try sometimes."  They grinned.  "I'm also a twinkie addict."  That got a laugh and they showed him a few very nice things.  "I've already spent three months salary, guys.  Let's go easy on the pocketbook today?"

"You have plenty," Ezra reminded him.

"From what I read, the VP doesn't get lifetime retirement bennies outside of opting in to a health care plan," Xander said.  "I need some in case a miracle happens and I survive that long."

"What's the current salary?" Buck asked.

"$227,300 a year," Ezra said.  "Which is approximately $18, 940 dollars a month before taxes."

"Yup," Xander agreed.  "The car earlier was almost three months by the end."

"Two months," Ezra corrected.  "The shielding will be starting into the third month."  He leaned on a clothes rack.  "Also, you do have that measly ten thousand dollar expense account annually."

"That's for travel and things," Xander corrected.

"That as well," Ezra agreed.  "Then again, this is nearly your second year in office."  Xander nodded that was true.  "You have a healthy bank account, you need the new clothes, and they do make you look quite nice."  He stared his guardee down.  "Quit fussing."

"Fine.  Are you going to turn into Nathan and nag?"

"If I must."  He smirked.  "Then I'll go find wherever I put your tux this time."

The clerk smiled.  "It's good that he has someone to manage his life for him."   He fitted him for another suit and nodded.  "That will definitely incite some drool."

"Indeed it does," Ezra agreed, smiling at the blushing boy.  "And a shirt?"  They got him a new tux and a shirt, which made him look hotter than usual.  It did cling to every contour of his butt.  It made his muscles more prominent.  His build was emphasized.  It was all great from where Ezra was standing.  "Lunch?"

"I could eat," Xander agreed with a shy smile.  They grinned back and let him pick the place.  Ezra nearly vetoed it but Xander pouted and he gave in.  It was good, Southern, cooking.  Very nice.  Very comforting.  Very good and the reporters didn't spot them until they were halfway through their cobbler.  Xander moaned as he ate a bite.  "That's good."

"That's excellent," Ezra agreed with a smile.  "We need somewhere like this in Denver."  He finished up and then his tea.  Buck was taking his time.  "I believe the virtual leeches have returned, Bucklin."

Buck looked and nodded.  "Apparently."  Xander paid for lunch and they left, after Buck picked up the cobbler to go for later.  They were really nice there.  They went home so Buck could distract Xander while Ezra dealt with his closet mess.

"Oh, dear Lord, you need a valet," Ezra called.

"Oops.  Let me come clean up my mess from throwing clothes around earlier," Xander called, hurrying up to do that.  It wasn't *that* messy but apparently Ezra was a bit picky.

Ezra pointed at the closet.  "What do you call that?"

Xander looked then at him.  "Hung up?"

"Wrinkled.  Smashed oddly."  Xander gave him a sheepish look.  "I believe we'll talk about the manly skill of laundry today, Xander."  He led him in there to help him figure things out.  He even matched some outfits for him.  Which made the boy happier.  They put up the new clothes together then Ezra taught him how to use the steamer to fix the wrinkled things.  They got put up again and Ezra released the boy to the gym.  Ezra shook his head.  "That boy needs a life manager," he muttered.  "Badly."

"Or a boyfriend," Xander called.  "Or a girlfriend."

"Yes, either of those would suitably run your life as well," he agreed.  He followed the boy down the stairs.  "Who decorated your room?"

"I don't decorate anything," Xander said with a shrug.  "I guess John did the bedroom."

"You could make it more your own style statement," JD said from the table staring at the cobbler.

"I don't decorate, JD.  I'm not Buffy."  They all nodded at that.  He looked around.  "She's not here, right?  She might show up and decorate on me.  I'd end up with pink and ruffles."

"We'd never let her do that to any man," Buck said.  "You guys done playing with his clothes?"

"I have more clothes than I've had my entire life," Xander said.  "Can we go play with the horses?"

"Yup," Buck said, looking at Ezra and JD.  "That goes into the car, JD, without any fingerprints."  The boy carried it out there.  Xander got his stuff too.  Ezra got his keys and Buck made sure the house was closed up.  "How much does John make now?" Buck asked as he got in.

"Four hundred thou plus fifty thou for expenses," Xander said.

"So almost double what you make," Buck said.

"He gets more headaches.  He said so."

"I'm sure he does," JD agreed.  "I think he told someone in the Far East that if they didn't leave him alone about pointless stuff he was going to send you as an ambassador on a trip."

"Rona and I can go," he said happily.  "She's coming next week, guys.  My girls from Africa said they couldn't handle this stuff either."

"You're doing fine," Ezra assured him.  "So far you haven't made any irreparable blunders."  Xander snorted.  "Even with them hating you for fighting demons and being bisexual it's not that unheard of."

"They hated me before I got elected because I'm not one of them."

"No, you're not, and it's a nice change," JD said.  "Some of the political sorts are kinda dumb."

"Some of them are very dumb," Xander assured him.  "Some of them are so dumb, I get a Rodney style headache from the stupid stuff.  One wanted us to fund people to not raise cows."  Ezra snickered.  "I didn't get the point of paying farmers to not raise more food.  I mean, food prices could go down.  It'd be easier on the poorer families and then we can use the surplus for aid since there's been so many natural disasters."

"We could," Ezra agreed.  "What did they think about that?"

"They said I had no concept of what it would do to the price indexes.  I pointed out I knew it would go down so regular people could afford real food again.  They got huffy so I suggested they start eating on the food stamp benefit budget.  They got really horrified."  He shrugged.  "If all you can afford is pasta, beans, and ramen noodles, how do they expect you to be healthy?  Which they complain about because they're all so sick and going on medicare, which costs them more money.  If they were seriously interested in making people healthier, milk would cost less than a dollar and a two liter of soda would be two bucks.  Instead milk's almost five a gallon in some places and generic soda is under a buck."

"That's a good point.  Did you point that out?" Buck asked.

"Yes.  I got called tragically stupid and mundane again.  So I pointed out that the majority of the people that voted them into their present jobs were just like me.  I've already made a few statements about how stupid and shallow half the senate really is."

"I'm sure they didn't like that bluntness," Ezra noted as he turned off the highway.

"No, but yay.  I don't play those little games.  I'm a very blunt person.  Apparently they never learned how to deal with real people."

"Probably not many of them," JD agreed.  Buck nodded.  "Xander, are you going to keep your mare?"

"I probably should.  No one's said anything about her being an inappropriate gift."

Buck coughed, glancing back at him.  "You know that some people are saying that you should be looked at for inappropriate things?" he asked quietly.

"Yup, and I told them bluntly to find a prosecutor and I'll let them look at things.  Then I referred them to the White House Counsel and let him handle it."

"Good," Buck agreed.  "What else could they get you on?"

"They'll make a big spectacle to waste money right before the elections so they can change some of the people around.  John knows and he agreed I haven't done anything wrong as far as he was told."

Ezra smiled at the car they passed.  "That was Mr. Tanner I do believe."  He saw him turn around in the mirror.  "Yes, it was."  He pulled onto the farm's driveway a few minutes later.  Xander got out and went to look at his mare.  JD put the cobbler in the kitchen then came to help.  Vin, Ezra, and Buck talked for a minute then Vin left again and the other two went to help Xander learn how to own and use a horse.


"JD, stop," Xander ordered.  JD pulled over and Xander got out, heading over to a field where two clearly abandoned St. Bernards were standing.  "You poor things," he cooed.  "Did someone drop you off?  It's okay, I'm a friendly sort," he promised.  He let one sniff his hand and got to pet her.  "It's nice to meet you, Mamma and Pappa Dog.  Yes, it is."  The other came closer and he saw what they had been guarding.  "Holy shit.  JD, we have an issue," he called.

"Did they bite you?" he called, walking around the car and having to wait for a police car to go past so he could run over too.

Xander pulled out his phone to call 911.  "This is Vice President Harris, have car 1511 turn around.  He just went past my location and I'm hoping he has a medical pack on him.  No, not a medical emergency.  I just found a baby in a field being guarded by two stray dogs.  That was the number on the back of the car, yes.  Thank you."  He hung up.  "Here, pet Mamma Dog for me."  He moved to check the baby.  "We're alive, but chilly."  He took off his jacket to cover it.  "Call Marian, have her call the people at the speech and tell them I'm late due to a problem I ran into, it won't take too long hopefully."  A cop car stopped and the officer ran over.  The dogs growled.  "Hey, he's nice," he soothed, petting them.  "I found them guarding the baby.  Do you have gloves and things?"

"I do, sir."  He came back with his emergency kit.  "I can call Pet Control for them, sir."

Xander smiled.  "They'd never get adopted.  But I think they're very good dogs for helping and protecting her.  She's probably been out here all night."  He took the gloves so he could check the baby over better.  "We're messy and wet," he noted.  "We're clearly hungry."

"Sir, I called Social Services emergency number and got the voicemail," the officer said.

"Marian said she did too," JD said, hanging up.  "She'll warn them, Xander."

Xander considered it.  "It's against protocol but it's too chilly to leave her here."  He looked at the officer.  "Station?"

"We're overly full today and I have no idea who would get her."

"Okay, then we'll do it this way.  JD, get the dogs in the car.  We'll stop by a vet on the way back.  They were very good dogs."  He carefully picked up the baby.  "Come with me to my speech so you can help us watch over her until someone answers."

"I can do that," he agreed, calling it in.  His boss agreed to route social services there.  He helped the young agent get the new pets into the car.   He followed them to their speech and watched the baby for him.  "Sir, the dogs?"

"JD, check on the dogs," Xander ordered.  "I'll be fine.  Not like I'm not armed and you'll only be outside the door."  He walked out.  "I'm sorry I'm late.  I just found two new pets on the side of the road heroically guarding a baby."  A few sighed.  "The officer is with her."  He smiled and moved in front of the podium to give his speech, which was well liked.  They could see JD with the two St. Bernards and the baby in the officer's arms outside in the hallway behind the stage.  They saw when Chris Larabee showed up.

Xander looked back there.  "Give me a second please."  He smiled and walked back there.  "Chris, if I hadn't stopped for my new pets, the baby would've died.  I knew I had to stop there.  It was nice to get it without a vision this time."  He petted both dogs.  "Good, puppies."  He smiled at Chris.  "Social worker?"

"Probably another hour," Chris admitted.  "The officer got emergency supplies to clean her up."

Xander nodded.  "That's cool.  Thanks, guys."  He went back there.  "Sorry, my other guard showed up to find out what was going on."  He smiled and got back to his speech.  He apparently went back over something so he moved on quickly enough.  At the end he got a lot of applause.  He smiled at the dog who had come in to watch him, leaning down to pet her.  "We have to find you a name and some food, huh?"  The other barked at someone and he looked out there.  "Issue?"

"No," Chris called.

Xander smiled at the group.  "Thank you for putting up with the oddness today.  Hopefully I won't have to find another baby in a field."  He bowed and left with the dog following him.  He petted the other dog to stop the growling.  "Social worker?" he guessed.

"Yes, sir.  Why did you remove her from the scene?"

"She was dirty, wet, and cold," he said bluntly.  "It's only sixty degrees outside today.  Thankfully the dogs took care of her last night apparently.  Or else I would've found a frozen baby."  She nodded at that.  "I thought it was more humane since the officer said it'd be a while."

"It was.  Should I call the pound for them?"

"You don't put good, heroic, life saving dogs in the pound," he said bluntly.  "Beyond that, they're too large to be an apartment dog and not the sort rich snobs like so they'd never get adopted.  I need a pet."  She nodded at that, backing down on that point.  "Do you need me to write a report?"

"No, sir, I have what I need."  She carefully took the baby.  "I'll make sure she gets into a good home tonight."

"I hope she has a good home for more than that," Chris said.

"I do try, gentlemen."  She walked the baby off.  It was cooing happily at her.

Xander looked at the officer, holding out a hand with a smile.  "Thank you."

"Not a problem, sir.  I'm glad you didn't find a frozen baby too.  They're very good dogs."  He petted them both and reported he was free for a new call as he walked out to his cruiser.

Xander looked at Chris.  "Vet recommendation?"

"Two I know are good," he admitted.  "You're seriously keeping them both?"

"Yeah."  He grinned.  "It looks like she gave birth recently with how her nipples are so extended.  They look a bit thin.  I don't think they have fleas since I haven't been bitten yet.  So, vet, the White House?  Then home with them tonight?"

Chris nodded.  "That's a plan if you're sure you want to keep them."

"I'm sure.  You guys all said I needed a dog."

"We were thinking something bouncy that could play with you," Chris said dryly.

Xander smiled.  "I'm sure they'll like to play a lot."  He walked out.  "Thank you, JD."

"Welcome, Xander.  I'll head back and report on the change of schedule.  Plus how that all worked out."  He sighed, shaking his head.  "He's a nice guy."  He went to call in and head to the White House.   He found John waiting on him.  "Sir."

"JD, what happened?"

"Xander told me to stop the car, sir, and ran across the busy street to the two stray dogs in a field.  It turned out they were protecting a baby."

"I got that part.  No vision?"

"No, sir."

"Okay."  He considered it.  "Where are they now?"

"At the vet's."

"What breed are the dogs?"

"Two thin looking St. Bernards.  Nathan's gonna fuss and feed 'em to death," he finished with a grin.

"Good, it'll mean he quits nagging me."  He nodded.  "Come make an official report."  He walked him back inside.  "I take it Chris is with him?"

"Yup.  He tried to talk to him about of keeping both but Xander said you don't send heroic, life-saving dogs to the pound."

"No, you don't," he agreed.   "Males?"

"One of each.  The female looks like she was nursing."

"Okay," he decided.  "That's so very Xander."  He smiled, going to tell the press secretary so he could highlight the good thing.  It might get people off Xander's back for a while.  Hopefully.


Xander and Chris walked into White House an hour later.  He saw the scowls and glared.  "They don't have fleas."

"They're still mutts, sir."

"Be more respectful of my pet, Sergeant."

"Yes, sir."  He let them go inside, still grimacing.  He knew other presidents had pets but they probably didn't get to walk into the oval office or anywhere like that.

Xander walked them to his office.  "Marian, these are my two."

"Aww," she said, petting them both.  "Such good dogs."  They panted at her so she smiled.  "The President wanted to meet them, sir."

"We're heading there after I pick up the mail," he promised.  She handed it over with a smile.  "Thank you.  It's payday and they need food."  He walked off, putting his paycheck into his back pocket.  "Heel," he ordered quietly.  They came back from sniffing someone's plants.  "We can visit outside in a minute."  He walked them into the Oval office, making the Chief of Staff stare in horror.  "What?"

"They're huge and they'll shed everywhere."

Xander shrugged.  "So?"

"Never mind, sir.  Are they going to be coming in with you?"

"They aren't exactly purse dogs," he said dryly.  He rolled his eyes.  "I'm sure I'll be home plenty but I might travel with them."  He smiled at John.  "We need to name them."

"You do," he agreed, coming over to let the dogs sniff him so he could pet them.  "They're very good dogs."  Rodney appeared in a flash of light.  Both dogs growled.  "Hey, he's a nice guy.  Leave him alone."  Rodney stared.  John smiled.  "Xander adopted."

"Clearly."  He came over to let them sniff him.  The female let him pet her but not the male.  "That's fine.  You'll get used to me."  He looked at John.  "The city is pouting again."

"I'll be over for dinner tonight?"

"Sir, you have that function tonight.  Both of you."  The Chief of Staff stared at Xander.  "I've already had Standish put out a good outfit for you, sir."

Xander nodded.  "I'll thank him later."  He petted the dogs again.  "C'mon, kids.  Let's go to the bank and then home."  They barked and followed him back to the car.

"It's cute that he's finally got a pet; good for him," John said with a grin at Rodney.  "After the dinner?"

"That'll be about dinner for us," he said dryly.

"That's fine.  They never feed us at dinners.  Which one is tonight?"

"The Heritage society, sir."  He pointed at the information sheet.  He went back to his office to arrange for the rugs to be cleaned if the dogs came in again.  They had people who were allergic and beasts that big would shed a lot.


Xander opened his door and pointed.  "Go inside, guys."  The dogs ran inside to sniff around.  He followed and then remembered the dog food, going out to grab it from the trunk.  Chris was frowning at him.  "Sorry."

"It's all right."  He brought in the bag of toys for him.  "A cup each," he said when Xander started to fill the new bowls he had bought.  "Dogs are infamous for eating until they get sick."  Xander nodded and halved the first one into the second bowl.  He turned around to two attentive dogs.  Xander put down the food and got out of the way.  Chris watched.  "Did the vet worm them?"

"He gave them both pills for that, put stuff on their fur for ear mites, and then for fleas, gave them each rabies and other shots.  He filled out the registration forms for me so can pay the dog tax on the way in tomorrow.  I can get dog tags made at the pet warehouse place."  Chris nodded.  "Not that I'm going to let them wander around alone.  That would be bad pet parentship of me."

"It would," Chris agreed.  The female dog came over to sniff him, letting him squat down to pet her.  "You're very friendly."  The male came over to snuffle him and get some of his own petting.  "You'll have to let them into the yard every few hours and clean up after whatever they drop."

Xander grimaced.  "I know."  He opened the back door.  "Want to sit on the back porch?"  Chris nodded and walked out there.  The dogs came out to sniff.  Xander left the screened in porch's door open for them to run and pee.  They both hopped up to sit with him on the lounger.  He grinned and petted them, getting doggy groans of pleasure.  "I'm doing okay, right?"

"They obviously like it," Chris agreed.  He settled in to watch how the boy handled things.  The male got up to sniff at the door, heading out into the fenced in back yard.  He peed and came back in, getting a coo and a pet.  The female one just huffed and moved her head to get some petting of her own.  Chris finally got up.  "Bring them out this weekend, when your car gets in."  Xander smiled and nodded.  "Better than you keeping the cheetah cub."

"For that I'd need a lot more space so she could run."

"You would, and you'd have to move somewhere warmer most of the time."  Xander nodded at that.  The female dog went out to pee and came back to cuddle again.  Xander cooed and made over her.  Chris smiled as he walked out.  The exterior security forces were changing.  "Guys, two additions to the house tonight."  They all stared at him.  "Two St. Bernards."

"I heard he had your youngest agent stop the car and ran over to adopt them off the side of the road," one said with a grimace.  "I can't believe he let him."

"He found them guarding a baby."  The agent's mouth flopped open.  Chris nodded.  "Remember, Xander's intuitive, guys.  He knew he needed to stop."  They both nodded.  "He's on the screened in porch with them so they can run outside to pee when needed."

"That's fine, sir.  Friendly?"

"She's more friendly than he is," Chris said.  That got a nod.   "Let me head back to the farm.  Have a safe night, gentlemen."  He got into his truck and drove off.

The guards shared a look.  "So he *knew* he needed to stop.  Huh."

"Some agents have that same sort of sixth sense," the other said.

"Yeah, but that's something we usually shun for."

"True.  You heard rumors about Standish?"

"Yeah but he's an undercover guy.  They usually have to ride the line a lot."  He shrugged.  "He seems decent enough and maybe he knew some of the arms dealers the boy dated."

"Maybe," the other guard decided.  They did a security and perimeter check.  It was hopefully going to be a quiet night.  Especially with the boss heading out in three hours to some sort of dinner.

The End.

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