Location, Location, Location.
Xander sat down in front of Paula. "Okay, what's the meeting about?"
"Some of your stuff has been out for years, the sales are dropping below the 'keep in print' levels," she said, staring at him.
"I thought some of them may be going that way soon. So what are the options?"
"Two. Basically we can let them go out of print, which some day means they can be worth more through resellers. Or we can give it one more go-round then do that."
"Huh. I was looking at something that was on-demand printing? It did that with audio books?"
She frowned. "I haven't really looked at those options. Most of these are in e-book format."
He nodded he knew that. "It was for self-publishers basically but it was a 'print when it's ordered' thing."
"Huh." She got into a self-publishing site she had used before. "Some of the older authors could use that same help. Set up a publisher only website?"
"However. I have no idea how it works. I'm not sure if there's some little troll somewhere that goes 'someone ordered one, print it'."
"That might be," she admitted with a smirk. "I can talk about that with the printing company, see what they think. If so that's a really nice option. Or even put them into a webpage format. Order it and download it. Most people do that with e-books and audio books." He nodded. "I'll talk with them about those options. That does bring up a point. Why don't you have a website?"
"Because I don't really connect with people that way. I'd rather talk to them face-to-face than on Facebook or anything."
"I can understand that," she admitted. She got into a bookmarked site, showing him. "This is Rick's."
"A bit too shiny but it fits his style. You could do something like a live journal site. Put up previews there when I say to, put up notes every once in a while. Answer fan mail so the Post Office isn't overloaded."
"I'd never be able to keep it up."
"Things like live journal you don't have to do any maintenance. You just pick a theme, and basically start writing." He shrugged slightly. "How's the new house?"
"Okay. The owner's association was a bit huffy recently when we handed back someone's cat. Mine know not to get into the registers and I blocked off ours so they couldn't get up anymore. They say they don't like cats but the whole building has cats so the new owners were shouted down. And nearly shot by one of the guys in the penthouse apartment. He's got a pureblood siamese and two pitts." She shuddered.
"Very sweet dogs. They both pounced Sam into a wall to pant at him until he petted them." Xander grinned. "And the building's new owners hate that so many people aren't really nice in the building. I think I'm one of the few non-thugs, but the other residents hate how often people show up to arrest my dates. Someone asked about that during the last meeting and I pointed out I dated arms dealers, assassins, and others like that. It was a well known fact those were the only women that liked me. Then I quipped about the guy who gave me the nuclear missile head when someone suggested I switch batting teams."
"You do need to date better."
"I know. Do they like that you're an author?"
"Yeah, they think it's neat. A few have read me and said I was good at it." He grinned. "The building's owner called me a flake so I pointed out I was also a former demon hunter. His skin turning this pretty puce/pink shade meant I knew what he was. He's deciding to leave me alone. He can't eject me from somewhere I own. I have the deeds and all that. I had them reresearched since it was such a quick sale and the title company agreed they were mine. There wasn't anything irregular.
"He's trying to say I can't use the building's facilities and I told him I could and if he didn't like it, the offer to drop him in the river stood since they're allergic to regular water. The others in the building laughed at that and agreed they could do that easily enough. One even threw his closed bottle of water at him so he stomped off and vowed we'd all pay. He got taken out later that night by one of the other higher ups in the poker circuit since he owed them money, totally unrelated; I had Detective Ryan ask.
"The other people in the building have formed an owner's committee and I made a complaint about the heat problem. They agreed it was one but they couldn't really turn on the furnace with the cat crawling around in it. They told her to block off whatever he's getting through somehow and I gave her good ideas on how to put something like a filter across it so she could still get heat but not let the cat through."
"Even better. Your house is that cold?"
"Yes. It's the only ancient thing in the building. I'm about to have some baseboard heaters put in. To do that though it'd have to get the whole apartment rewired. The electrical is older." She winced. "Not that old. Not a fire risk but definitely have to have it changed for more load bearing on the circuits. I had an electrician up to talk about that. Recently I've been baking a lot. Which Sam and Dean say is making them fat." He grinned.
"Move," she ordered.
"This is my third move this year," he pointed out.
"I know. Sell that one. I'm sure there's some up and coming drug dealer who'd love to own there while you get a brownstone or something."
"I can't find anything in my usual price range. I barely found this one and the only reason I did is because one of my weapons contacts told me."
"Well, try soon. I can't have you freeze."
"I know." He grinned. "I'll consider the website thing."
"Do more than consider it, Xander."
"Yes, ma'am." He pouted. "I don't want to hire someone and Alexis isn't taking a computer class so I can't have her do it as a school project. By the way, the nuns loved what she did with the house."
"You let them have the furniture?"
"No. When they came in to look it over, they said they loved what she had done." He grinned. "She got an A too."
"I'm happy for her. I hated classes like that."
"I think she was thinking it was a stress-free grade."
"Probably. That's why I took Home Ec." She looked at him. "I'll talk to the printers about that option and we'll talk about the website next week, once you have a chance to talk to some other authors about what takes the least energy."
"That would be me hiring an assistant," he said dryly.
"Who'd be able to remind you to eat," she quipped back.
"That might help when Dean and Sam get back on the road." He got up, signed for his royalty checks, and left. He made it back to the building after a quick stop at the bank, and found his building had police cars surrounding it. "Damn, did I date again already?" he quipped.
Two of the uniforms glared at him. "Sir, are you a resident here?"
"Yes. I live on four. Why?"
"There was a shooting on the third floor. We can't let you in for a while. The elevator's in use."
"You do know that most people can take stairs?" he quipped. "Really. I have two friends in with broken legs. So I need to go make dinner." He waved at one. "Can I use the stairs?"
"Go ahead," Beckett called. "They're fine. Sam came down to be nosy."
"Thanks, Beckett." He grinned at the growling uniform. "She arrests all my dates." He shrugged and headed inside. Dean was cleaning all his weapons to have something to do. "I got ordered to put up a website somehow."
Sam shuddered. "I hated taking that class in college." Dean gave him a funny look. "It was a mandatory."
"Yay," he said blandly. "Xander, where's the rest?"
"Huh. Can we?"
"Sure, I can drive you guys there tomorrow." He grinned. "With the way things are going I might end up living there. Paula hates me being here."
"There might be less cold," Sam pointed out dryly. "And huge."
"True, very huge if I bring up that spell. If not, still about a quarter of a block. I could build up and all that." Dean shook his head quickly. "It'd be really safe."
"It's not the best neighborhood to be lurking in overnight," Dean said dryly.
"Two working factories but nothing too bad. No dealers or homeless there because all the warehouses are in use. I'm not sure how high I could build up though." He shrugged, going outside to find Rick. "Paula hates me living here."
"Paula would," he agreed. "It's full of dangerous people who could kill you."
"Do you know a guy who could tell me if I could build overtop of the warehouse?"
Rick considered that. "I know two architects."
"Cool!" He beamed. "I tried to find the one that did the loft but he's not in that office anymore. Can I have the name of the guy who did your webpage too? She said it's not optional."
"I can do that too," he promised, patting him on the shoulder with a grin. "Give me a few days to dig them out."
"Okay." He grinned. "Aww, it's the other non-thug. She was an accountant. Some sort of auditor."
Beckett looked over. "You two talked a lot?"
"Owner's meeting. It was her cat that kept getting into the heating ducts."
"I didn't see a cat," she said, looking at the others.
"It gets into the heating ducts and wanders all over the building," Xander said with a slight shrug. "We've been visited a few times. It likes the ones in the Penthouse and his dogs. Hey, Sal, where's her cat?" he called.
"On four somewhere."
"Then I'll ask my neighbors." He grinned. They smiled back. "Thanks, Rick." He bounced off again.
"It's nice he saved us a few steps," Ryan quipped happily.
"Very," she agreed. The doorman came out with the cat, which had blood on it and a few good cuts. "Let's get the vet we use to take evidence from him," she decided, letting Esposito take it carefully. He did the best with Xander's cats. She saw Tara and shook her head. "Not him."
"Okay. Do we need the name of a good vet?"
"We have one." Tara smiled. "Guys, she belongs with the bouncy young one." They let her inside.
"Miss Tara," Sal said respectfully with a smile and a hat tip.
"Hi, Sal." She patted him on the arm. "Is Xander in?"
"He is. A bit bouncy today too."
"I'm going to make his week then," she sighed. She walked back out there, looking at Beckett. "Beth's parents? Can I have Xander talk to them the way he did mine?"
Beckett stared at her. "If they're threatening her, have her file a restraining order so we can do something," she said bluntly. "Don't let Xander smack them around, they can charge him with that." She nodded, going inside.
"It's nice that she found someone to protect like Xander protected her," Esposito said.
"It is," Ryan agreed. "And Beth's sweet. She made Dean cookies the other day." They walked off to get information from the doorman about her.
Beckett shook her head. "Tara gave them too many cookies this time."
"I think she made muffins. I saw a muffin earlier." Rick helped her ask people questions.
Xander looked at Sam over dinner. "I almost need to get an assistant. Someone to do things for me and sit around here to make sure I don't die while I'm writing."
"That'd be an easy damn job," Dean quipped.
"She could pay the bills you forgot, and nag you about sending things to Donnie since he said you couldn't send everything at once again." Xander nodded that was true. "What did Paula think about that?"
"She thought it was a really expensive idea and that I wanted to be Iron Man someday instead of Batman. She told me to hire a live-in housekeeper instead." He looked down at the pat to his leg. "Hi, Homer." He dropped a piece of meatball for the cat, getting a meow and the cat scarfing it before running off. "What do we think about me building overtop of the warehouse?"
"I think you need to find out if you can," Dean said. "I think it'll be really expensive too."
"Probably, yeah. But when I sell this place, I can get most of it back. And I'm still making money." Someone knocked and he went to get it. "Hi, Rick. We're having dinner. Get back here, Homer." She ran back inside. He got the other cat and let Rick walk in so he could shut the door. "What's up?"
"Architects?" He held up a piece of paper.
"We were just talking about that." He led him to the dining area. "Guys, you remember Rick." They nodded and Sam waved his fork with a grin since he was chewing. "Do you think I could build up there?"
"I'm not sure how it's zoned," he admitted. "They can find that out for you. What were you thinking?"
"I liked the original one the best. But I like having the extra room of the second one. And I like how your living room is so nice and the office is an actual area. I have to switch mine around here so I can't watch tv while I write. Jeannie showed up in something. Donnie caught it." Dean snickered, shaking his head. "It's happened in the past. Donnie's found song lyrics and everything else." He looked at Rick. "Plus it would mean I could have the great security system and I could finally get around to straightening out the warehouse itself. Plus put the weapons mostly down there so they're safer."
"That'd be helpful," Rick agreed.
"It was nice the officer only asked once why you had a gun," Dean quipped. Rick gave Xander a funny look.
"We woke up this morning to someone breaking in through a window to check my gun cabinet for me. He did not like my pistol in the back of his head when I found him fondling things. One of the uniforms knew me by rep and the other agreed it was a good thing I had stopped him from taking the 'research copies' I have."
"Beckett heard about that. She was debating about ordering you to put them in the warehouse."
"Which I could do and expand the security system on it."
"You could. It wouldn't be that hard to do if it's zoned that way."
"Expensive?" Dean asked.
"In this city, building is always going to be less expensive than buying. Land prices in Manhattan are outrageous." Xander nodded. "Plus only one building to pay taxes on."
"That too," Xander agreed. "It's nearly time for that again I think. Also there was a suggestion of me maybe hiring a part-time assistant?"
Rick stared at him. "You more need someone here so you can't get totally lost. A housekeeper might do you good if you could get someone like Alice from the Brady Bunch."
"She could pay bills?"
"That might help you too," Rick agreed. "Also, something to think about, nasty rumors abound about a script based on DCIS." Xander gave him a horrified look. "So you'd have to think about doing some more publicity-oriented things."
"Ooh," he said with a wince.
"It'll make you a lot of money."
"Yeah but that's going to be a CGI nightmare," Sam said.
"Probably, yes," Rick agreed. "They said there's been two being shown around."
"Can they do that without asking me or Paula?"
"No. The studio may agree to look into getting the rights to do it if they think it'll sell. They wouldn't necessarily have to keep you involved. Like how that one writer last year had that problem? So we'd have to be careful about that. Paula's done that for me before so she's good at it." Xander nodded. "Do demand to look at the script first."
Xander nodded. "I can do that."
"Good." He patted him on the arm. "Talk to one of them this week. Whichever one you like better. They can check to see if you can build on top of it and how high. You can even put in a pool."
"I'd love a pool," Xander admitted. "I miss swimming."
"You can hold book coming out parties," Rick teased.
"I know but it has to be done if you want to be an author."
"If I had known I'd have to be in public, I might not have started writing."
"It's very few of us who have to," Rick teased.
"Good point. Do you think Alexis can work on some mannerly stuff with me?"
"Definitely," he promised with a smile. "She knows you're not comfortable in public situations. So does Mother if you wanted to ask."
"Your mom's kinda.... mean, Rick."
"At times, yes. She's been very forceful in the past. Alexis would do it easier. She might even know some kid who could play assistant for a while." He smirked and got up. "Have a good night, guys." He left, making sure he didn't bring home any cats. He didn't need cats at his house.
Xander shrugged. "I might like that."
"Is there really that much public stuff?" Dean asked.
Xander nodded. "Parties for books coming out, a few dinners a year for authors and at conventions. Book signings. If they make a movie out of my book I'll have to freak out about red carpet stuff, and goddess forbid if it wins an award." They both groaned. "So, yeah. I need to be more comfortable. I nearly bounced myself off the stage at the last convention because it wasn't the young writer's panel, it was the newbie panel and they were treating me like a really experienced author who had all the answers, and staring. Not asking anything for the first ten minutes, just staring at us. It was a bit weird."
"Huh, I didn't even think about that," Dean admitted, looking at Sam. "Still think you can write?"
"I think it's a nice hobby and Xander, I was helping in the hunter's thing."
"Hey, go for it," Xander said. "They could use more. Plus a few have taken tips and hints from my stuff to solve things."
"We've heard," Dean admitted. "Ellen, at the bar, suggested Sammy do that."
"Is she the same one that suggested I bend Sam over more often?"
Sam squeaked but nodded, stuffing his mouth again. "Yup." he said while he chewed.
"I don't think anyone would mind if you did," Dean admitted. "That's probably why we got broken legs."
"Actually, I found that out. It was partially that and partially to keep you guys from handling things for a while. It was parallel plans and they took advantage of it when the nicer reason asked."
"Who?" Sam asked casually.
"Faith," Dean said when Xander didn't answer. Xander nodded. "She's been about getting you someone around to help you and make you happier."
"You guys are good friends to have," Xander said with a grin. They grinned back and got back to eating and Dean ignoring the begging cat that climbed up onto his shoulder to meow in his ear. Xander finally put a piece of meatball on the table for her to quit. She ignored it. Dean picked it up and gave it to her, getting nuzzled for it. She settled in to clean his ear for him.
"Dude, your cat is strange," Dean said, looking at Xander.
Xander was watching her. "She's one of Tara's cats. So maybe Mommy told her to take good care of you?"
"I don't know. She's always bathing me."
"That means that she considers you her kitten," Sam quipped with a grin. Dean swatted him but the cat didn't get moved much. She was still cleaning his hair and ear. "Awww," Sam said, taking film of it. He sent it to their father, who growled back. "Dad's still not happy."
"Is he growling like a hellhound puppy again?" Xander quipped.
"Yup." He sent more pictures since she was now nuzzling him again. "Scent marking and that nose bumping is like kitty kisses." He sent that to his father as well, who sent back a groan instead. "Huh. He wants us to come to the Roadhouse when we're better."
"We'll see," Dean said. He petted her, making her a happy cat. Who left him alone for a while. "She was kneading my knee the other day through the cast, dude."
"She loves you," Xander said.
"We can't really travel with a cat," Dean pointed out.
"I know. She'll be pouty but glomp you whenever you're around." Dean nodded and finished dinner, letting Xander take the plates when they were done to do the dishes. Dean got Homer out of the unguarded pasta and meatballs so Xander could get them to put them up.
Sam set up the video conference, sitting beside Dean on his bed. "Okay, we're here," he said, sending that email. His father popped up on some other hunter's computer. "Hi, Dad." He waved.
"Sons. How are you two feeling?"
"Spoiled," Dean said with a grin. He petted his cat. "She loves me."
"I saw that earlier. How's the legs?"
"Healing good. We have about another two weeks before mine's fully healed and Dean's got another week after that," Sam said. "He can barely limp around the house holding onto things. He refuses to use crutches."
"Wouldn't much help since both are broken," Dean pointed out. "I didn't want a wheelchair for six weeks."
"I wouldn't either," John admitted. "Are you two coming out west when you're healed?"
"We haven't even begun to look for a hunt," Dean admitted. "Not until we're sure we can go."
"That's reasonable. Pain?"
Dean nodded. "Hell yes." He grinned. "They gave me nice super advil for it though."
"Some but I've taken a few of his super advil when I needed it. Some warm baths and heating pads. We'll be okay, Dad. Really."
"I'm sure you will or you would've told me by now. Any idea who did this and why?"
"We were told earlier there were two plans. One to keep us off the hunt for a while," Dean said. "And one by someone local to help Xander since he was going nuts in the old house and no one was sure why. That one proposed the plan to break one of ours each and they decided it'd keep us off the hunt better."
"Did Buffy plan that?" John demanded.
"It sounded like it," Dean said with a grin. "But no. Faith did so Xander wasn't all alone going nuts in that last house."
"Did you two get to move all right?"
"Yeah. The new building's nice. Real nice. Just has a lot of thugs." John rolled his eyes. "Xander's talking about building overtop of his warehouse."
"What warehouse?" John asked.
"He inherited a magically expanded warehouse," Sam said with a grin. "The thing's freakishly huge and has a bit of everything, including artifacts in there. He's thinking about building overtop of it."
"At least then he'd only have to pay taxes on one thing and it'd be really safe," Dean quipped. "Plus they were talking a rooftop pool."
"The boy's insane," John said.
"It'd be a house he could love from the start and he'd never have to move again," Sam told him.
"I know that's a good reason but that's a really expensive habit."
"He sold the Victorian cheaply and bought this one for what he sold that one for. This one's valued at about six hundred thou, Dad." Dean shifted some and winced as the cat clawed him. "Sorry, Miss Kitty." He petted her again. John was giving him an odd look. "She loves me."
"Clearly. No cats in the Impala, son."
"Shut up, Dad. She's mine now." He stared at him. "Beyond that, I couldn't stand litter box mess in the backseat."
"I'm wondering why Xander doesn't get busted for the property values on the warehouse," Sam said.
"I don't know," Dean admitted. "Maybe they don't see the spell?" He shrugged. The cat pawed at him so he went back to petting her. "You're very insistent today." She purred.
"Is she possessed?" John asked dryly.
"Don't know. Cats hate all water, including holy water." Dean gave him a look. "How's your hunting going?"
"I'm actually not finding much right now."
"You could head back this way," Sam offered. "You know there's a good few hauntings up this way. They even have a society to investigate in the city."
"I heard," John said dryly. "No thank you."
"You could help Xander plan the new place if he gets permission to do it," Dean offered.
"I think it's going to blend his first and second places here," Sam admitted.
"Possibly. You know, he could hire Beth to do some stuff since I heard she got canned for being with Tara."
"I'll suggest that tomorrow." Sam grinned. Dean smirked back. Xander liked to baby Beth because she was good to Tara. "Oh, Dad, there's talk about a DCIS movie."
"Wonderful," he said dryly. "Just what the world needs."
"They're talking about it and Xander has to talk about things like scripts. It's a heavy rumor."
He grimaced. "I'll warn others."
"Did you get that whole 'trying to kill Xander for money thing' straightened out yet, Dad?" Sam asked.
"Mostly. Bobby still hates how good the stories are. It was also pointed out that some police officers have taken it and tried to fix things before a hunter had to get called. So they'd like him to stop but they won't kill him unless he's run into on a hunt probably."
"Hmm, no, he's not stopping anytime soon. He's even made a few international hunting novels."
"Shit," John muttered, shaking his head.
"He had two weeks of twenty-three hour days writing for his demented muses in hunting novels," Dean said. "Paula told him to switch topics soon too."
"Joy." He grimaced. "I'll let that be known."
"You know, the last one that came out was the first prophecy series one," Sam said dryly. His father stared at him. Sam nodded. John rolled his eyes and turned to shout that at someone else. "He's doing some from witches' standpoints, from multiple paths, both on the side of good and not. He's also got some ministerial ones."
"Charming," John said with a smug look. "I'll let others know that too, son. Any other great news?"
"We switched car insurance companies to save some money," Dean quipped and hung up. He looked at Sam, who turned off the camera too. "Dad so needs to get laid."
"I doubt he'd even use his hand."
"So? He still needs it." Sam took Xander's laptop back out to the living room safe drawer and then went to his own bed. Dean scooted down, letting the cat knead his stomach for him. "Are you possessed by my mom, kitty? If so, we'll let you bite Dad." The cat kneaded and purred at him. "I like you too. If I was a boy kitty I'm sure you'd be my type of girl kitty." Sam was cackling in his bedroom, he could hear him doing it.
"Don't tempt Willow. She's having mood swings," Sam called.
"Don't remind me." They settled in to sleep. Xander was already knocked out.
Xander smiled at the architect. "Hi."
"Hi, Mr. Harris I presume?"
"I am." He shook his hand. "Did Rick tell you why he had referred me?"
"That you were looking into building above a warehouse you own?"
"Yes." He smiled and pulled out the deed. "I have a warehouse here. It's a single story with a basement. I'm not sure about zoning, I'm at the stage of looking at ideas. If I can do it, I know vaguely what I want."
"All right. We can start there. It won't be too hard to look up that zoning. How big is it?"
"It's about a quarter of the block outside."
He stared at him. "Is it different inside?"
"Yes but that's magic. It was like that when I got it."
"Do you pay extra taxes on that?"
"No one's ever asked me to. She paid the taxes ahead."
"I can look into that as well." He blinked a few times. "What were you thinking?"
"Depending on how high I could go, though I'd probably never go over two levels? I like.... have you been to Rick's house?"
"I'm the one that did his remodel last time."
"I like his office, though I think my books would be better suited somewhere I wasn't staring at all the other stuff I've done in the past. Maybe things from fans and things to spark the muses instead. I was thinking that amount of space with the living room's bathroom maybe? And maybe a storage closet or not, however that works out." Xander sat down to draw out what he was thinking.
"A large living room in case I have to suddenly start throwing book openings and other parties for my authorhood stuff. Kitchen, I'm not a great cook. I'm kinda a single guy cook with the occasional female friend who can cook that comes over. Then upstairs, my second apartment here in town, the first got burned by a rabid stupid person, had suites." He drew that out. "I was thinking that way for upstairs. Maybe one of them being the library, maybe not. Laundry somewhere. Up or down, whichever would be easier."
Xander looked up with a grin. "I liked the rooftop garden thing I had with my last one and I'd kiss you if you could get me a pool too, but I know it's not that practical and I might be able to do that inside the warehouse instead. There might already be one, I'm not totally sure with how huge that is. I'm not asking for a great palace but comfy. My first one...." he said, pulling out his laptop to show pictures. "These were pictures we took there. Um, that architect and construction crew did a great job but I think he's left the city or something. And this is the second one," he said, opening those in another window. "Including the bedroom systems."
He took it to look over, nodding. "That's a really nice layout on that loft. What was the overhang?"
"My closet. The bathroom I had a full one and like those hotel rooms with the split sink and two pocket doors so they could use it even if a girl was in the bathroom. Tara's I went girlish with white enamel stuff and brass."
"That's not that hard." He looked at the other pictures, nodding. "Not all that untraditional. I'd call yours a sitting room, bedroom, bathroom suite, and hers about the same or a nursery and kid's bedroom. Just the two suites there?" Xander nodded. "It's a good layout too and that kitchen was nice."
"I actually had more storage than I needed there, though I always thought about buying a chest freezer and sticking it in a closet."
"We can work on that. Let's go see the property." Xander nodded, putting his laptop back in the bag. He brought the architect there, letting him look things over from the outside. Xander let him into the warehouse and he stared in awe. "I know people who would kill for that spell."
"I have no idea how she did it," Xander admitted. "I was going to put in a second wall about here," he said, "moving the doorway here and putting in another security panel, plus an elevator on that corner there," Xander said with a point. "A nice sized one, maybe industrial but pretty." He nodded that was reasonable. "I don't even think I have stairs up to the roof right now. We have a great security system here so I can get the same company to add for the new door and the upstairs windows."
"That's a good thing." He saw someone walking in the shelves. "Know them?"
"Detective Taylor, problems?"
"I heard you got sent a letter bomb and came to find it." He held it up. "Know them?"
Xander looked. "The crank in Mississippi who hates me for writing fantasy novels?"
"Probably. You're adding on?"
"I was thinking above the warehouse. Why?"
"Just think it's an odd place to build, Xander. Relax. At one point in time, the former owner, the one he inherited it from, was keeping some stolen goods," Mac told him to ease the worried look. "That plus Xander dated a few very bad girls so we know him from that."
"That's a good reason to have an excellent security system," he assured him with a smile. "Do many detectives have the entry codes?"
"Three others, plus my former female roommie," Xander said. "And two other friends in case of emergencies." Taylor stared at him. "Dean and Sam."
"Fine. Can you put in individual codes?"
"I already have. You four detectives have the original code. Sam and Dean have their code. Tara and I have ours."
"That's reasonable. What is wrong with your current one?"
"It's got a lot of thugs."
"Oh, that building is the one you moved into. Yes it does. ATF is looking at the guy in the penthouse."
"He doesn't do weapons. Now, illegal liquor from Europe he does. I'm not sure about other things." He shrugged. "He has some very nice pets."
"I'll remind them." He walked off shaking his head. "From what I saw, Tara put it into your office."
"That's cool. Thank you and let me know next time?"
"I was going to call once I made sure of it, Xander. Relax." Taylor left them alone.
Xander shrugged. "Religious crank and I write fantasy novels. He had his whole church buy a whole bunch of my books to burn. Which I sent them a nice thank you letter for." He grinned.
"I guess writers like you have those sort often." They walked out and Xander made sure the security system was back on before they found the fire escape. The roof looked pretty solid. One spot looked a bit weak around the ventilation fan shaft. That could be easily fixed though. "How much do you know about home design?"
"I was crew lead on my construction site for nine months and worked there for eight before then. That was when I was working and writing."
"So some but not totally?"
"We did more buildings than houses. That's why I'll trust you a lot and I'm not all that demanding but I don't mind untraditional things like the poles in the first apartment. The kitty growing trays were wonderful and I have a few. Plus my roommie's new girlfriend is allergic so I have hers."
"That's good to know," he agreed with a smile. He looked around. "I see others with converted tops for apartments so the zoning might not be a problem as long as those are legal." He looked at the other factory buildings. "They're not that loud."
"No, they're not and they're not bad things either. It's not a fashionable neighborhood but it's a nice enough one. Bus comes right by here. There's the corner store." He looked down when someone parked. "Yes, Officer?" he called.
"Sir, we were told there was someone illegally skulking around here in some land grab plan?" he called, looking up.
"No, I inherited the warehouse. A few minutes ago, Detective Taylor was here because he heard I got another death threat for being a fantasy writer. Who said that?" The officer pointed at the huffy guy coming out. "Give me ten to come down." He nodded, moving to talk to him. "No clue," he admitted.
"Probably wanting it for his own shop," he said dryly. They went back down. "I'm the architect," he told the officer with a smile.
Xander smiled at the huffy man. "Hi, Xander Harris. I inherited this from the woman who used to own it."
"You have no idea how to run a company because we've never seen you here before."
"It's not a company, it's a warehouse with artifacts." He stared at him.
Xander walked in and came out with a large, bedecked sword. "It's an artifact warehouse." The man shuddered and backed off. Xander shut the door and redid the security system. He stared at him. "I'm also planning on putting a residence up top."
"You can't do that. It's not zoned," he sneered. Xander pointed at the apartments above the guy's factory. "I'll tell the city," he sneered.
"That's fine. They already know it's a storage warehouse." He looked at the architect. "Which office would I make sure of that with?"
"I'd call Hallings in City Hall." He looked up his number and Xander called, putting him on speaker. "Hallings, it's Bill. This is my new client."
"Hi, this is Xander Harris."
"Mr. Harris, I heard your name mentioned about the fiasco with the house someone owned that was a torture shack," the phone said.
"Yes, we had that burned down because there was no way to rehab that."
"I heard. And the Victorian that was also part of it?"
"We had to do some remodeling after a portal to another hell dimension opened. I kindly sold it cheaply to the local Catholic diocese after fixing the damage stopping that portal caused. I moved down on Brown."
"Wonderful. I see news of that transfer for land taxes in that file."
"That's another thing I wanted to ask about, but later," Xander admitted. "You know that in my file a warehouse is listed?"
"Let me look that up." His voice faded then came back. "Yes, I see a storage warehouse, used for various non-toxic, non-chemical materials."
"Also known as magical artifacts and my shotguns," Xander admitted. "And other hunting supplies."
"I can add that. It won't matter to your taxes, which I see are paid for the next ninety years. That's a lot of square footage."
"She has it expanded."
"Wonderful," he said dryly. "I'd like to see that."
"We're going to invite you out anyway because I was thinking about building a house on top of the warehouse," Xander said. "And one of my neighbor's is being huffy. Is this area zoned for residential living?"
"The area is listed as zoned for that or light industrial, though I know that one has violated that a bit. I see you're allowed up to six stories total. I'd have to come see the building."
"I'd welcome that fully," Xander agreed, smiling at the huffy guy. "Thank you."
"You're quite welcome. I can come out now. Are you there?"
"Yes. We are. I have my chosen architect with me looking over the building." He looked at him and got a nod he could stay for that visit.
"Wonderful." He hung up.
Xander looked at the officer. Who shook his head. "I don't see any problem that he's complaining about then. Are the weapons locked up beyond your security system?"
"Mostly. If you don't know where things are you can wander for weeks in there. It took me nearly two weeks to find out that someone had given me a volvo with a howitzer on top of it. And then I talked to Taylor and Flack."
"Junior?" the officer asked. Xander grinned and nodded. "Is he in DCIS?"
"Yes, so is Taylor and a few others in the lab. He's just too darn cute not to put in as an agent." The officer smirked. "I offered to make him an elf too." The officer laughed and walked off. Xander looked at the other owner. "Did you need something else?"
"I'll see you destroyed, boy."
"Sweetheart, I date serial killers, assassins, and weapons dealers. Do you really want to threaten me?" He pointed. "He's dated me twice now." The guy looked, blanched, and ran off. "Hi, Brad." He waved with a smirk.
"Moving again? Already?"
"I'm thinking about making it a permanent move with a house on top."
"That might be pretty."
"I might get a *pool*," Xander said with a grin.
"Ooooh, then I'll take up a nice apartment so I can get a telescope." He walked off smiling. "The idiot wants it because he's making drugs in his back office," he called as he walked past the cop car.
"Thank you, sir." The officer smiled and waved at them before driving off.
"That would be Agent Brad," Xander said more quietly to the architect. "Homeland." The guy gaped in awe at him. He nodded. "I'm not sure why he likes me but he's nicer than some. Though the sweetest date I ever had was with a serial killer. She really appreciated me a whole lot. Made me cookies and let me use them as foreplay. Wonderful, caring woman who hated stupid people." He shrugged. The auditor showed up. "Hi, I'm Xander Harris," he said, shaking his hand with a grin.
"Mr. Harris." He looked at the building. "That's in a good area. Nice exposure." Xander let him inside the building and he stared in awe. "Damn," he said, staring around.
"It's a spell," Xander said. "I have no idea how. It's all storage and a semi-apartment I setup for emergencies. It has a couch."
"I can fully understand that." He looked around. "How were you going to do this?"
"Secondary entry here," Xander said, moving to that spot. "Elevator there." He pointed.
"Good plan." They went up to look it over. "By the files, you can have an apartment up to five more stories, six total on the building." Xander nodded. "How high were you thinking on building?"
"I was thinking two. Would that seriously raise my tax rates?"
"Probably a few thousand a year."
"He was thinking rooftop garden and pool," the architect said.
"I'm told I'll have to have publicity parties sometime." Xander shrugged. "I'm not really comfy around people. So open but not too open or too huge?"
"I can make that easily enough," the architect agreed with a smile. "With this sort of space we can put a library and four bedrooms with attached bathrooms, the laundry upstairs, and make it really spacious." Xander beamed and hugged him. He patted him so Xander let him go.
"That's not a bad plan," the auditor said. "Once I see the plans I can give you a preliminary estimate of how much your taxes will go up. I'm assuming you're going to pay the difference?"
"Yup. That way no one has to try to measure how many square feet I have downstairs. I wouldn't want anyone to get lost."
"She pays the rate for something the size of six or eight blocks. I always wondered why."
"I think it's closer to four or five blocks but there's a partial basement area," Xander said.
"Some day I may want to reevaluate that. She could be overpaying." He smiled. "We'll see." Xander grinned at him. "I think we can start work on the permits. You'd want to put up that inner door first?" Xander nodded. "That makes sense. That and the elevator shaft."
"I was thinking heavy duty, maybe industrial?"
"That'd work," the architect assured him. "Big enough to move couches up on?" Xander nodded. "Definitely easy to do. And fairly inexpensive. Usually they're cheaper than household elevators." He smiled. Xander beamed. "Are you going to run it to all the floors?"
"I probably should for those days I'm injured."
"We can make the living room bathroom one you can clean up in." He walked off to the far side to measure off space. "Rick's office is about this deep," he said, looking around. "Bathroom on that side..... We can do one hell of a closet and a sauna for those really cold days." Xander beamed at him. "And a storage closet." He measured out things. "Definitely easy enough to do, Xander." Xander squealed. "It'll be expensive."
"I'm presently living in a thug building down on Brown. My current four bedroom, three bathroom place is worth about six hundred thou I think and I have more in the bank. I'm making more every day too. I should be for years."
The architect looked then at him. "It'll cost about nine hundred thousand for what you want." Xander winced but nodded. "So try to sell that one for more?"
"How long to get permits and things?"
"Within a week. You said you worked with a company on that loft that got burned down." Xander wrote down his name. "I know their architect. He did leave for Montreal and a huge paying job. We can hire them." Xander beamed. "Did you have any problems with him?"
"I found a lot of things I liked were a bit darker than I thought. They'll probably remember the loft as that place with all the growing spots." The architect smiled. "I spoiled Tara horribly with it."
"You know Tara Maclay?"
"Yeah, I'm that Xander she was living with." He grinned.
"Oh!" He nodded. "She did say it turned out a bit dark but you spoiled her horribly with the growing areas." He grinned. "Where is she now?"
"She moved into the second place and is renting to own it with Beth."
"She's a wonderful young woman." Xander smiled and nodded. "Now I understand why you were so calm about the death threat."
"Yeah, not my first this year." He shrugged a bit. "So....."
"Within five months." Xander beamed at him. "We'll have them build that secure entry first and then the elevator. The stuff for up here we can lift with a crane." He looked around. "And we'll be strengthening the roof too." Xander nodded. "Let me get started on that and contact them about their availability. If not them, I'll go to one that's Wicca friendly." Xander beamed and nodded more happily. "Go tell her the good news." Xander bounced off. "I'll call in about a week to sign all the forms."
The auditor smiled. "I would love to know how much square footage he really has down there."
"I think Tara did too but if it's marked officially it'll make this one look bigger and no one would ever believe a single building in this city was that large."
"Good point. She pays for it like it's a huge office building anyway." They left, going back to their offices to make notes on what they had seen.
Xander smiled at the guy he was in Rikers Island to meet. "I have heard that you're looking for a place when you get out," he said, sitting across from him.
"You're here to offer me your house?" the thug snorted.
"No, not for free, but I live on Brown, with Tyler in the penthouse? I live on four." The guy sat up, staring at him. "It was a temporary buy for me while mine was being worked on. The last guy needed to take care of his baby mama."
"Which one on four?"
"I'm Harris." He grinned.
"Damn," he said in awe. "You're that crazy white boy that dates all those bad girls."
"Yes I am," he said dryly. He grinned. "But I'm building my dream home right now. So therefore my place is going to be open soon."
"How much? I know places in that building are steep."
"Fair market value appraisal for taxes was six-fifty three weeks ago." He stared at him. "I'll start the bidding there." He grinned. "I'm getting a nicely converted warehouse space. With a pool."
He considered it. "I know a few who'd adore that space and that building. I know some of them are worried you're too normal. Or they were until you pulled a gun on someone."
"Yeah, but they were screaming 'stop it' in the hallway. I'm a white knight, what did they expect?" Xander asked dryly.
"What are you doing here, kid?" Esposito demanded when he spotted him on his way out of the prison.
"I'm getting word out that my present place is up for sale in about four months. Closing in six." He grinned. "The neighbors would like someone like him more and I heard from a date that he was getting out soon."
"I would love to live there," he admitted. "You know him? He's a cop."
"Yeah, he arrests most of my dates," Xander said with a grin. "He had tons of fun with the assassin last week who wanted to stay until I was done."
"Don't remind me, she's still moping she can't have your tongue again since the judge won't give her bail," Esposito complained.
"I don't know why they thought you were too nice for them," the arms dealer said dryly, staring at Xander.
Xander shrugged but grinned. "Everyone thinks I'm nice until they see me with a sword, and then they think I'm hot." The prisoner laughed, shaking his head.
"He's not joking," Esposito complained. "C'mon, kid. I'll make sure you get home."
"Did you have to come question a bad guy?' Xander asked dryly.
"Yes, and it sucks."
"Can I visit Valerie for a few?"
"No! She's in solitary." He glared at the laughing convict. "I'm sure he can spread the word nicely. You can also put a notice on the bulletin board for the building." He walked the kid off, letting him sign out and hand back the visitor's badge and take his pocket knife back. He ran into Beckett who was scowling. "He was telling some people about his apartment going up for sale soon."
"That's nice of you," she said dryly. "Keeping them all in one building."
"Guys like him have to have a nice place or no one thinks they have the money to buy the real stuff." He shrugged. "You have to look money to make money. Like on Wall Street."
"Did you just compare arms and drug dealers to stock traders?" Esposito asked.
"Yes because they're all about the same sort of criminal," Xander quipped. "I'm getting oak floors."
Beckett shook her head. "Invite us over for the housewarming."
"Of course. I'll even try to cook!" She smiled and got him to the visitor's boat so they could all leave. The two detectives shared a look. Sometimes they worried about that guy's brains.
Rick got the strange text from Xander. "Am lost in warehouse, come find me," he muttered as he read for the second time. "How did he get lost in there?" He sent one back but it came back that the phone was out of order. "Anyone up for an expedition?"
"Did he find something new?" Detective Ryan asked absently as he did paperwork.
"No, he says he's lost and to come find him."
Beckett considered that. "Did he find a portal to somewhere else?"
"Did it go to Tara too?" Esposito asked.
"Nothing about a portal and no, it didn't go to Tara too. But... I believe Faith should be up about now and ...." His phone rang with a new text message. "Huh, he found ...scrolls." He got up and went to find his errant mentoree. Though he did call Faith to help him. Which brought Dean and Sam with ropes and GPS systems, plus a compass. Faith brought bottles of water. "Is this usual?" Rick had to ask when he saw the supplies.
"He got lost last week," Dean admitted. "But he found the pond."
"He has a pond?" Rick demanded, starting to laugh.
"That closed off part of the basement leads to a really flooded old cavern where some subway tracks fell in," Faith said. "He brought water to the college by where T works to have it tested. They said it's okay to swim in but not drink."
"This time he said he found scrolls."
"I'm wondering if that's the shelf with the scrolls he found that once or some other one," Sam said. They loaded up and got in there, waving at the work guys coming out of the elevator. "Xander's lost again."
"Sure," they decided and nodded. They had learned Xander was a bit weird. But a really nice guy.
Sam looked around. "Xander?" he called. No answer. Rick texted him and this time it went through. Rick held up the phone. "Back past the carnival stuff and the weird oddities cabinet, go right, go left, then go down."
"So, basement again," Faith decided. They sighed and headed for the only carnival machine they knew about. But there weren't any oddities near there. She looked and then climbed up on a shelf. "This place is too fricken huge. Carnival ride that way," she said with a point. "Looks like a horsey-go-round ride."
Dean helped her back down. "How far?"
"Six rows over to the left and then ten back." Sam moaned but they hiked. Sure enough it was a carousel. With fantasy creatures. And it had a rope with a sign that said 'pond' on it. "So this is the other way he found," she said dryly, following it to the oddities cabinet. Then the next right turn was a dead end... but Sam tried it and found a wiggle space to go left, which led to a doorway and some stairs. They went down and found Xander pouting at a bunch of books and scrolls. "Why can't you get out, boytoy?"
"Because the poltergeist won't let me because I'm just an author."
Rick patted him on the head. "Why would I help?"
"He said I could never be as good as you. If I was he'd let me go." He gave him the puppy eyes.
Dean blessed his bottle of water and threw it on the floating spirit, making it shriek. "Leave Xander alone! It's his place now!" The spirit whined and whimpered. "I don't give a damn!"
"Yeah," Sam said. "He could be mean and have us banish you or something."
The poltergeist stared at them. "You're never going to be as good as your father. The same as she'll never be Buffy."
"Who'd want to be?" Sam demanded. "Faith has skills beyond weapons and hair dye." Faith blushed, swatting him on the shoulder. "You do." He grinned at her. Then scowled at the spirit again. "Beyond that, I don't want to be Dad. He's been alone, angry, and lonely for decades. Be damned if I want that for myself."
"Are you someone's Mother?" Rick asked. "I mean, seriously?" The spirit glared at him. "Let's go, kids. This thing is not worth our time." They all looked depressed and Rick had been picking up enough things to be able to bless water into holy water and he had learned an exorcism just in case Xander ever got possessed in public. Paula had ordered him to. Faith gave him an odd look but he did it and the spirit fled with a wail. "C'mon." They nodded and left, going to pout upstairs. "We need to empty that room." They all nodded. Dean put on his headphones and his walkman, going back down there to scout. If the spirit came back, he couldn't hear it. Rick patted Xander on the cheek. "You're chilly and you're depressed. It's her fault."
Xander blinked at him. "It's my fault. It's always my fault."
"It's hardly ever your fault. Quit that." Faith kissed Xander and he moaned, pulling her closer. She started to get into it too.
He blinked when she pulled back. "Thank you."
"Welcome. If it was your fault, I'd have kissed Sammy." Xander grinned. She kissed Sam on the cheek. "You're cute and all but I can't do brains like yours. I'd make you dumb."
"Shut up," Rick ordered. "Let's go find this pond again." Xander led them that way. "Is that.... That's the Addam's family organ and stuffed bear."
"Yeah, they are. They have prop tags," Xander said with a grin. "The organ works too."
"Wow." Xander showed them the way into the pond, making Rick stare. "Interesting. Why is it blue water?"
"Algae probably," Sam said, staring down at it. "It's pretty."
"It's warm," Xander told him.
"I'll wait until you get a pool in case the glowy fungus stuff makes me break out," Faith decided. They went back to helping Dean and it was better.
"Aristotle's plays," Rick said, reading a case around some scrolls. "The real ones?" He glanced inside then at the kid, who shrugged. "If so I know some people who'd love to study them and you'd need them insured."
"She has the whole place insured."
"Good! Any jewelry?"
"Just cheap, cursed stuff."
"Why did she collect all this?" Sam asked. "Some's artifacts. I can understand collecting those but things from popular tv shows?"
"The bear does growl," Xander admitted. Sam stared at him for a second then hiked off to check on it again.
"Shit!" Sam yelled.
"Did it bite you?" Faith called.
"No but it's possessed. It hates holy water." He came back a few minutes later. "You need to organize this better, Xander."
"I have no idea how she organized it in the first place. I let Wes come in to do an inventory and he ran out of steam after a few shelves. I've been doing them when I could. I've got most of the front row done. Though I'm wondering why she has a carousel."
"It had freaky creatures. Maybe she thought it was charmed too," Faith offered. "Anything not weird and funky?"
"Yeah but that's all tech stuff and I think I need to get John and Rodney down to look at it. But I'm not totally sure." Rick stared at him so he led them over that way. It was a long hike and Dean joined them. He opened three doors down a hallway they entered, letting them look.
"That's very Star Trek," Sam said, looking around.
Dean was muttering and pointing. "One's floating."
"It's not magic," Xander said. "It does it outside this room. I have no idea why."
Faith looked in the last one then at him. "Glowy rod thingies?"
"No clue. I sent an email to John to see if he knew." He shrugged. "This whole hallway is technological thingies. The next one over is all wooden thingies. Maybe she was organizing, not real sure." He showed them those. Then they hiked back and by then it was nearly dark outside. "Um, Rick, won't Alexis worry?"
"Probably not." He texted her and got back one saying to come home, she wanted a cuddle. "Apparently it's been a bad day." He shrugged and grinned. "Have fun, kids." They nodded and he left to go home. The four younger people went to explore a bit more. They'd be at it for days and the cats had automatic feeders.
Jack O'Neill walked up to the warehouse, smiling at the foreman. "Is Xander here?"
"He's in the warehouse somewhere, General. Why?"
"He said he found something he needed me to look at." Xander leaned out, staring at him. "Why is your hair white?"
"Dust. We found out why there's a hole in the basement to the forgotten subway lines that leads to a pond." The crew foreman gave him an odd look. "Glowy fungus and all, but it's really pretty."
"Is the floor that weak?"
"No. The last owner had something in there that ate the floor. Some sort of acid thing." He shrugged. "She wanted the pond." He just nodded and went back to talking to the other guys. Xander let Jack in and to the technological hallway, and the wooden hallway. The techno hallway got a lot of long stares, especially the floating glowy rod. "That's why I wrote John. That sounded like something someone in the demon community said those old guys used to use."
"I have no idea," he admitted, taking a reading with something he had gotten from the base. "That's energy."
"Yeah but I don't know from what," Xander said. "The wooden hallway has a bunch of really old stuff, including one in that language Rodney was translating one night." He let him see that. "Is that you guys' stuff?"
"Definitely." He took a picture and sent it to someone. They sent back a translation. "Let's not touch that." He sent a picture of the floating rod too and they sent back a confused sounding noise. "Let me pack that floating one. Let's see if it's broken or something. And maybe we'll come look at the other ones."
"That's why I wrote John. John and Rodney made sure I knew that Xander stuff and John and Rodney stuff were different."
"They are," Jack said with a grin. He got beamed back and came back twenty minutes later. "All those rods are dangerous." Xander let them pack them up. He took video of the other rooms for them to look over. Those energy rods were strange but could be helpful. "I'll tell Sheppard and McKay that you said hi, kid."
"Okay. Tell them I'm still trying to figure out what's in here too."
"I can do that." He disappeared with the rods. Sam Carter took them from him and put them into quarantine in case any of the others were leaking energy. "Any idea if they're related to ZPM?" Jack asked as he followed.
"Not right off the top of my head. They may be." She sent the diagnostics to Atlantis so Rodney could swear, which he usually did. "Where did you find them?"
"Xander's freaky warehouse he inherited. He has a whole hallway of technological stuff." He put up the film for them to see.
She pointed. "Is that... That's a med scanner."
"He has no idea. Neither did I."
"We'll let Sheppard go investigate with McKay since the boy likes them more." She got back to work on the energy rods.
Xander looked up when the carousel started again, staring back that way. "What? Are you the doorbell?" he called. It quit. He went to the door. Whenever it started someone was near the doorway. He stared at John. "Hi."
"Hi. What's wrong?" he asked, looking a bit spooked.
"Why do you look like you've seen zombies?"
"What's all over you?"
Xander looked then at him. "Dust and cobwebs. I'm doing an inventory on a shelf. Just you or you and Rodney?"
"He'll be here in an hour." He got let in and walked around the open area. "How big is this thing?"
Xander shrugged. "I don't know."
"How much is in it?"
"I don't know."
"How long have you had it?"
"Just a bit over a year. I've got a few areas marked for the major things there and a few cases done on the inventory." He led him to where he was working. "I'm over here. If the carousel goes off, someone's at the door."
"Okay," he said, looking concerned. "What's going up up top?"
"The new house." He grinned. "I'm tired of moving." He showed him. "See, little magical trinkets that all bite. One's chewing on the inventory I have done." He let him see it. "That's the map on the back. I'm filling it in as I get some stuff done."
"Okay," John said, looking at it. "We're...." Xander pointed. John nodded and headed to the left, going to find that techno hallway. He ran into the carousel, which was starting to play music. "Huh," he said. "I wonder how she did that."
"Most of the things in here are charmed or possessed," Xander called as he walked. "I'm coming, stop it. It's a hike!" They pounded again. Xander finally got there to let Rodney and as it turned out Beckett in. "Hi. I haven't even looked in the weapons room recently," he told her. "John, Rodney's here." John came out and looked at the map. Xander pointed. John went that way and Rodney followed. Xander grinned at Beckett. "I found a bunch of little biting things. I've been working on the inventory."
"Have you made it home in days?"
"I was home last night to play with the spoiled kittens. Why?"
"Tara said she couldn't find you."
"Huh, that's strange. I texted her earlier." Beckett sighed. "Since you're here, want to go check to see if I got new presents?"
"Please." She walked him that way, staring at all the stuff. She stared at something new in a huge box. "What's that?"
"No clue. I've been working back by the carousel doing the inventory for the last week."
She looked at him then at the large box. "Got any idea who sent it?" Xander walked around it, coming back with a card. She read it and snorted. "No! Hell no!"
"I didn't do it," he complained. Beckett walked off calling Taylor. He had someone on injury leave who could use some time doing the inventory with Xander. Plus so Taylor could come get the nice missile launching system. Xander got a dirty look from Taylor. "I've been doing inventory."
"Fine," Taylor said. He looked at the box. "Are we sure?" Xander got a ladder and climbed up to look down inside the box, nodding. "Is it full?"
"Yup, has a tow bar too. And there's a security system wire attached." He reached in to undo that system and put it on mute. "Okay, we can open the doors." They did that and stared at it. "Is that a SCUD or a Patriot?"
"Doesn't matter, you can't have that," Beckett said.
Xander shrugged. The carousel went off so Xander went to check. "Let me guess, you're the inspector guy for the house?" he asked. The man nodded. "Take the elevator. This is the warehouse." He closed and locked the door, going back that way. "The guy to inspect the building stuff is here."
"Does the carousel noise always work as the doorbell?" Beckett asked.
"Yeah, the whole thing turns on." He led her to it. It was starting to move again so he went toward the front. "Anytime anyone gets near the doors." He looked out there. "Hi, Flack." He grinned. "Who's this?"
"This is Adam, who is one of Mac's crack techs. He's injured so Mac's lending you him for the inventory I think."
"Okay. Sure, for as long as you can handle it, dude. Mac's downstairs looking at the present." He let them in and closed and locked the door again then came back to let Sam in. "Weapons." Sam grinned, handing over some water on the way to the technological hallway. "John and Rodney are in there."
"I know. Rodney asked me to bring him a phone."
"Okay." Xander shrugged, heading down to the weapons room again. Adam was staring at the huge basalt altar he had with snakes. "I don't know," Xander admitted. "But it's frozen mid-rite so I'm going to leave it there." Adam nodded. "I've got most of this inventoried, outside of new stuff that got dropped off, but upstairs I have whole acres of stuff to map out and get inventoried." He grinned. "How do you feel about little biting things?"
"Like rats?" Adam asked.
"No, like little gold things." Xander let him see a few of the ones that had been stuck on his collar. They nipped at Adam's fingers. "They love me."
"Could that mean they're like your dates?" Beckett asked dryly.
He blew a kiss. "Are you jealous you're not bad girl enough for me?"
"Hell no." He grinned. She smirked back. "The world needs more good women, not more bad girls." They went into the other weapons rooms. "You don't need RPG, Xander."
"When did I get new RPG?"
"Never mind." She and the other two detectives got things cleaned up and got the box taken back to the lab too. With the box around it so no one worried. One of the workers gave them an odd look. "Xander's dating committee. He only dates bad girls."
"So that's what happened to my ex-wife," he quipped. He went back to work.
She smirked, going to the lab with the last of the weapons. Xander was so bad sometimes.
John walked up to where Xander and Adam were inventorying things, staring at one. "What does that do?" Xander opened the music box and a large cloud came out that started to growl. Xander closed it again. "Really?" Xander nodded. "Huh." He blinked a few times. "Something just appeared."
"Is that how things got here?" Adam asked dryly.
"I don't know. I inherited it so now I'm the master of the warehouse," Xander quipped. "If I die before I have kids it's going to John." John smirked at him for that. "What appeared?"
"Something from my project and we're not sure how but it was in a critical phase."
"I have no idea about any of the spells on this building, John. Like I said, she either built it or inherited it and I couldn't find anything on it when I researched the origins. Maybe Sam could find something."
"Sam did. She was the second owner of the warehouse. The first one built it to confiscate things that were dangerous and should not be in 'normal' hands." Xander smirked at him for that. "So that whole hallway needs to go back with us."
"Is any of it dangerous to humanity? Because it might come back."
"Some of it's broken, some isn't. But you're getting a helper from someone who's retired from the project. General Jack agreed with me."
"I can't afford an assistant, John. I'm building the new house."
"I know that, Xander. He's on detached detail." He grinned. "He'll love all this to death. He's on injury leave officially but possibly retired." Xander nodded. "Can he crash in the apartment area?"
"Yeah. Not a problem. Tell him to stay out of my office."
"I can do that." He grinned. "We're heading out since it's nearly eight."
Xander checked his watch. "Huh, it is." Adam shrugged and finished and they left. Xander turned back on the security system. "Rodney?"
"Got sent back with most of them already," John assured him. "Can I crash?"
"Yup." He grinned at Adam. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"Mac gave me his code."
"That's the general PD code so they can check on the weapons rooms." Adam smiled and got a cab called so he could head home too. Xander brought John back to his place. Sam was still there. Dean was off handling a hunt upstate that wanted Sammy's butt as a bride. "Hey, Sam?" he called as he walked in. He paused. "Sam?"
"Checking the cats," Sam said as he walked out of the bedroom. "One of the PD guys tried to arrest the guy in the penthouse suite so his dogs ran. One ended up in here and the cats freaked. They're in Dean's room."
"Oh, okay. I was wondering why Beauty was in here. Hi, Beauty." The dog growled. He stared at her, letting her sniff him. "Don't start." She settled down. "Let me tell a neighbor while you guys start dinner?"
"Sure," Sam said happily, smiling at John. "There's one spare bedroom left even." He showed John where that was and then they came to get dinner started.
Xander walked up the hall and knocked on a door, cooing at the other dog. "Hi, Precious. Beauty's being grumpy in my place."
"I can come get her, Harris. I heard you're moving already?"
"I'm having a really nice place built overtop of my warehouse," he said happily. "With a pool." The thug moaned, shaking his head. "I have to do publicity stuff sometimes. I've already told a few people that my weapons contacts knew so they'd be more like some of you guys."
"I heard from Jacob Crenellis."
"Jacob's a bitch," Xander said dryly. "He flirted and didn't follow through." The guy gave him an odd look. "Yeah, I've dated both bad boys and girls. The guys have mostly been nicer than the girls though. Most of them weren't serial killers or anything."
"Yeah, stay gay then," the neighbor said dryly. He got a leash and came to get Beauty off the couch. "Your bitch is in my house," he told her, snapping on the leash.
Xander petted her. "We love you but don't scare my meows, Beauty. Like yours they'll eat you up." She walked out with the neighbor, who was shaking his head. "Is his cat all right?"
"Just fine. She was hanging out on the ledge earlier but she's in and with his girlfriend." He went home, shaking his head once he got inside. Xander was just weird and dangerous. Too dangerous for their building. He hoped that new place was really nice so he didn't have to move again.
Xander came over to wash his hands and help. He was liking cooking for others sometimes.
Rodney looked at Xander when they came in the next morning. "How did whoever do this?" he asked, trying to sound calm.
"Magic. I didn't do it."
"I see." He stared at him. "Can we undo it?"
"No, because then everything would crunch together. Why?"
"Do we think it might hamper something in your new shiny building upstairs?"
"I think it's just on this floor since the basement isn't expanded that I can tell," Xander admitted. "And that it stops at the roof. They're building the new roof on top of this one to keep down any possible contamination."
"I see." He stared at him. "Why?"
"So they could support the house even if the warehouse's roof fell in. That way all the load bearing is on the walls."
"Huh. Not a bad idea." Xander grinned. "We'll have to see."
"I think the spells in here have been going for a while but I don't think I need to do anything to upkeep them. If I do, I wish someone would tell me," he called. Hallie appeared, looking startled. "Huh. Did I need to do something to maintain the spells in here?"
"Yes!" She stared at him. "Didn't anyone tell you?"
"I inherited it during that curse."
"Oops." She took him down to the basement area that was sealed off and he hadn't been able to get into. "Blood, there, now." He pulled out a knife and did that, which made the stone warm, glow, and then go mute. She smiled. "Better. Every year, Xander."
"Any specific date?"
"Pick one?" She shrugged and pointed at the writing on the walls. "I don't care." She disappeared, going to tell others that Harris was the new keeper. That was just strange but with the last one dying and leaving it to him, he had to know things.
Xander read and nodded, getting let out of there so he could rejoin the others, who had a demon joking with them. "Did you make this warehouse?"
"I did." He stared at him. "You're an odd guardian."
"She died during that curse thingy."
The demon winced. "Figures you two dated." He gave him the book.
"Can we stop things from my project coming here?" Rodney asked.
"No. Not if it's dangerous to humanity." He smirked and faded out. "Inventory map's in the back."
"Thank you. I've been working on one." He looked through it. It was fairly thick but he could settle in and read. "It's a self updating inventory," he said when he got to that section. That was more than half the book. Rodney snatched it to look it up. "Looks like it's by sections."
Rodney found the technology section and frowned. "I didn't see some of those."
"You ask like I've been all over here," Xander pointed out dryly. The demon showed back up, looking confused. "Problems?"
"What's going in upstairs?"
"My new house."
"Is that a problem?"
"No. They did a nice demarcation between the warehouse and the upper building."
"That's incase the roof caves. Though we're filling most of it over."
"With a pool," Sam said happily.
"Yup, with a rooftop pool."
The demon nodded, patting him on the head. "I know that author business is driving you nuts."
"I have to have book coming out parties sometimes now. And a webpage."
"I know, we heard. You'll soldier on, Knight."
"I know." He grinned. "Have you met Sam?" He pointed at him.
"I've heard of him," he admitted, nodding politely. "You should date him. You have the necessary skills and are dangerous to many." He disappeared again. The spells on the warehouse got strengthened because he didn't want to know what Harris would do if something happened during one of those book coming out parties he'd have to start hosting soon. The roof was shored up as well. That way nothing would go wrong and the Knight would not need to hunt them down and kill everyone involved in the making of it. The others who had helped make it agreed and helped as well.
Sam looked up, blinking at the glow. "I think they're making sure the roof's going to stand."
"Cool," Xander said with a grin. "I'm wondering if the basement and the leaks down to the old subway system were part of it."
"No, they weren't," a female voice called. "The old subway tunnels underneath are not part of the warehouse, just being used that way, Harris."
"Should I move that stuff?"
"Not yet. Sometime later definitely. Though you'll need a crane. Some of it's huge." She appeared. "We like the idea of having a guardian living overtop of it." She smiled at him and patted him on the head. "Date that one," she said with a point at Sam.
"Some day I want to leave the hunting lifestyle," Sam told her. "I want the white picket fence and kids."
"Don't tempt Rosenburg, she's having a mood swing," the demon told him. "Please?"
"That would definitely effect book sales," Xander said, considering it. "Kids scare me."
The demoness sighed. "I can see why. Yours would be very scary and we'd all give them chocolate to watch you figure out how to stop the bounciness so we can use the same tactics on you the next time you OD on your chocolate habit." Xander gave her a dirty look. "We would."
"Whatever. Did you need to see house plans? I'm all about the bragging about the house plans." She shrugged so he got them from the office for her. She moaned, patting him on the head. "We like?"
"I like a lot. Especially the design for that rooftop garden and pool area. Plus the patio garden area." Xander beamed. "I'll talk to someone about putting the things down in the subway tunnels up here or somewhere safe and we'll make sure the next guardian has the book?"
"If I die before I spawn, John gets it," he said with a point. "If he's dead it goes to Dean and Sam."
She stared at John. "You'd do very well." She heard the carousel and sighed. "It's very protective." Sam leaned closer and hissed in her ear. "Actually, a lot of the things in the tunnels came from the same area."
"Is someone living down there?" Xander asked.
"Two homeless families."
"That's fine if that's what they want. I'll help them make a link to the pond down there." She looked and nodded, helping him seal off that hole and make a doorway for them and from the basement. But they were locked. Xander hissed in her ear, making her moan. "I think it'd be safe enough there and since they won't hurt kids.... Wouldn't that be a great thing for him to do?"
"That would," she said with a smile. "Though it's a tiny bit mean, dear." She smirked and took all the carnival equipment with her to a free area. She knew a demon that would help her and they were in a city council position where that stupid hunter was. She appeared. "I have things donated to your town," she said happily.
The demon stared. "Who guards the warehouse?" he demanded calmly.
"Harris." She smiled. "He wanted them out here so that one could have a duty that called to him. Since these are all *protective* then it shouldn't be a problem."
"No, it shouldn't, and any child that needs help would find their way there." He considered it. "We have some bare land." He wrote down the orders and she took it there to set up. He told the rest of his city council about that. The kids would love having a free, donated amusement park nearby. Even if things looked a bit creepy it was old and nicely protective of the children using it. He also went to talk to that stupid one. He drove out to the scrap yard, smiling as he got out and two old men came out with shotguns. "Hold up, boys. I'm here as the head of the City Council in the next town."
"Why?" John Winchester demanded.
"Because someone has nicely donated some very old carnival equipment that is highly protective of children to our town. It'll be halfway between here and there." He smiled. "It was thought you two would like to look it over and make sure that nothing would harm anyone and you could also be encouraged to make sure any children it had to protect got noted." He got into his car and drove off. That would pay that hunter back for being possessed and causing the outing of demon kind!
John and Bobby shared a look then they drove out to the new fairground area. It was a very old carnival setup. Carousel, two swinging things, a few other rides. Bobby stared. "That's from the Marconis Carnival," he said in awe. "They're all blessed to protect children." John stared at him. Bobby smiled. "They were put into a warehouse by the owner when he died."
"Warehouse? Might be a thing that has an expanding spell?" he asked. Bobby nodded slowly. "Xander Harris inherited it."
"Oh. Well...." He stared. The kids were going nuts and parents had things on already. Everything was easily taken care of. "I guess we can watch these, make sure no kids get to stay overnight if they don't need to."
John nodded. "How protective?"
"Very protective. A few who've been nearly killed have been saved by it."
John nodded again. "Then it's a good thing and we can look it over routinely." Bobby nodded, moving in to look over the machines, make sure they were in good order. It was like they were brand new and shiny. John patted one of the carousel animals. It was brightly colored and freakish looking but it seemed very calm. "Are they alive?"
"No. Blessed." Bobby smiled and patted it. "Good job." The carousel started on its own and more kids ran over to jump on. "Watch the ceiling," he called. "Catch the rings." They looked up and caught the rings when they came down. That got a contest going and a lot of kids were liking it. Bobby walked over to an officer he had worked with. "It's blessed to be protective of kids," he said quietly, staring where he was watching. "Any kids overnight will be in the fun house most likely." The officer looked at him. "It's safe in there."
"Yeah. That's it's whole idea. The guy who made it, Marconis, said that he'd protect the kids, especially the orphans, who always looked like they needed help."
The officer smiled. "That's good to know, Mr. Singer. Why did we get it?"
"That author I had the tussle with over outing hunting found it and donated it to the city."
"Huh. Well I guess you can help us check on any kids out here most nights then." He walked off. His boss would be really pleased. Bobby wasn't pleased it was now a duty of his but oh well. He had started it. Now he had to pay.
John watched the kids. "I wonder if Sammy's doing okay with Xander," he said, taking the shirt off something as he walked past it. He held it up. It was one of Sam's overshirts.
John texted that to Sam and got back a happy, cheerful answer. "He said the carousel used to start itself whenever anyone came near the warehouse."
"Figures." They watched and it was good. The kids were having a great time and so were the parents. The fun house wasn't really being used yet but a few kids had snuck that way. They'd make sure later who came out and who had been given sanctuary inside.
Xander finally got to look around his new house. It was done two weeks earlier than he had expected. Everything was perfect. Xander had hired a few guys to move his stuff while he got the cats. Alexis had helped him fix the furniture in the bigger areas and his desk's stuff. The garden patio area outside the living room was nicely planted with things. Tara had put a few benches out there with him and gone over what plants to plant. The kittens were adoring their new closets, bathrooms, and other places to hide and pounce from.
The kitchen had a huge fridge. It was all new and he was found to be hugging it his first day by Dean. Who had just shaken his head at the silliness. The rooftop area was wonderfully shaded on one side and the other was open. The pool was between them. There was enough room for some mild partying but not heavy partying. The living room was the same way. Big enough for small get togethers and publicity events but nothing too huge. Nothing over, say, fifty people. Hopefully non-nosy people who liked cats.
Xander had arranged all his books up in the library. The study's shelves were filled with pictures from the signing trip, things fans had given him, and the stuffed rabbit Rick insisted he take back because it was driving him nuts. The bathroom for the living room was nice. It had a stall for the toilet, kind of. It was in a closed little room with an automatic fan. The sink was pretty. There was a large mirror on one wall, and a table in case you had to put something on it like a purse, or a baby, or something strange.
Between that and his study area was a storage cabinet that held medical supplies. Because he was still who he was and he needed them a lot. Plus a sauna for those days he felt too cold. Because New York had winters and he still wasn't used to snow. He had an actual dining room, Alexis had insisted even if he did eat on the couch while watching Game Show Network or at his desk while trying to fight off the muses. Who were being nice tonight and letting him wander around. They weren't being whiners because he wasn't listening but he knew they were there.
The pool was filled.
The fridge was filled.
He had dinner for his friends and Rick's poker circle in a few minutes.
Xander had to change. He ran up to do that, finding all the cats lounging in his closet. "Being in the shoe organizer is not genetic. You did not get that from your mother, guys," Xander told them. They all continued to snore at him.
Dean laughed in his bedroom. "Yes it was. They did it in here last night. Do you have a lint roller?"
"Two. Look in the kitchen." Dean went down to do that and let people in. Sam came in to stare at him. "What?"
"Look nice but casual." Sam handed him something. "Remember, they're friends. You don't have to impress them. They already know you're a goofy, fun loving guy."
"No, you know them all, Xander. So relax. Put on something nice enough, and shoes since you haven't been wearing any recently." Xander nodded, pulling down a nice outfit and putting it on. Sam walked out, closing the door behind him. "Hi, Alexis, don't go in there, he's getting dressed."
"I won't then." She walked him back down the stairs. "I was going to get a kitten to pet because I had a *horrible* German test today."
"They're all napping in his shoe organizer. He complained they got it from Miss Kitty." Tara snickered at that, shaking her head. "They might have." He and Tara pulled out food, which Alexis laid out on the breakfast bar area and the table. Plus plates. Nice, thick paper plates. And plastic wine glasses. Rick stared at them. "He didn't want to do dishes tonight."
"I can fully understand that." Rick watched Xander come down. "You have a helper." She ran over and pounced Dean, climbing up his leg.
"Did you miss me?" he asked dryly, petting her. "I was trying to get unfurred." She meowed frantically so he petted her, making her calm down. "Be a good kitty tonight and go nap on my bed?"
Alexis plucked her off to pet and cuddle. "I need kitty cuddles. I had a bad test." The cat still adored her too so she let herself be treated like a comfort snuggle until Alexis put her into Dean's room and shut the door. "Do we have food and stuff up there?"
"There's a little self feeder and self-cleaning litterbox in each room," Sam said with a grin. "We made sure of it earlier. And all the cats drink out of the toilets for some strange reason."
"Yeah, I can wash the bowls and put down fresh water for them and they'll still be head down in the toilet a few minutes later," Xander said with a small shrug. "Okay, I have faux wine in two flavors, I have juice, water, milk bottles. Lanie...." he said, handing one to her. She smiled and opened it to sip. "Because we all know my house is pretty much alcohol free most of the time." He grinned at the poker guys. "Sorry."
"Only worry about that during book and publicity parties," Stephen said with a smile, taking some faux wine. "This stuff is actually not that bad tasting." Alexis nodded and got some of her own. They wandered around, looking at everything.
"Xander, why did you bring up the little biting things?" Paula asked when one bit her.
"They followed me home in my hair," Dean admitted. "I couldn't get them off so Xander made them a pretty spot to be admired." Sam got them off her fingers and closed the case again in case they decided to follow someone else. The other authors stared at them and one opened the case to poke it, getting bitten.
"The water in there is holy water," Sam offered. "Just dribble some on and it'll let go." He did that and it did let go, making him grin and make a note. Xander had paper and pens all over the house.
"I see Arnold is already helping you," Rick teased.
"Yes he was and he was very happy." Paula and Beckett both gave him a funny look. "The stuffed plot bunny I gave Rick."
"I thought about getting you a real one for the garden," Beth quipped. "But I wasn't sure if the kittens would like it."
"I'm not sure either," Xander admitted. "How is Miss Puppy?"
"She's just fine," Beth said with a grin. "Napping on Tara's shoes again." Tara nodded. "So, show us around the party area, Xander. Is Faith coming?"
"I invited, she said maybe." He took them up the outer stairs to the rooftop area, making Beth stare around in awe.
"Wow," Tara said. Xander grinned. "This is kinda nice."
"It's very nice," Stephen said happily. "You can have a killer, small coming out party here, Xander."
"I'm not really comfortable with big groups anyway," he admitted. "Small is nice." He grinned. "I figured if we had to, we can put a DJ there by the elevator. It's got a good draw plug and is next to the outdoor kitchen area."
Paula nodded. "It's very nicely laid out, Xander. Do we have a cover for the pool?"
"It has a clear, plastic/glass cover for parties. It won't keep people standing on it out of the water, but it'll help if they step toward the edge."
"If they fall in, it's party entertainment," Rick said dryly, putting an arm around Xander's shoulders.
"What happens if we get huge rains and the pool overflows?" Beth asked.
"It's linked in with the gutters. All the drains up here are and they go into the rainwater system." He pointed at the covered drains on the patio area.
Rick grinned at him. "So, have you seen the trades today?"
Xander gave him a scared look. "Yes, and I saw that film they forwarded; I nearly shouted myself hoarse ranting that they're stupid bitches." Paula spluttered. "Apparently he didn't read DCIS at all since there's a hunter taking out a peaceful demon by exorcism." He sipped his water. "So I'm going to make sure that doesn't happen."
"There's three possible scripts, Xander," Paula said.
Xander stared at her. "Are the other two better? Or even closer to the source?"
She looked hesitant. "One is. Kind of. If you squint."
"Then hell no!"
"Have Rick help you turn books one and two into a screenplay?" she suggested hopefully.
"What?" Esposito asked. "We're missing something."
"Someone's had the idea to turn DCIS into a movie," Xander said, raising his water. "To drive me fucking nuts."
They all nodded and saluted back. "Cheers and congrats."
To next story
Back to Writers Index.