Giles looked at the people there to complain to him.  "Well then why didn't you handle it?" he asked quietly.  They were outside the Senate meeting room.  "You are men, you are trained to hunt, or I would suppose you were since I was."

"But we're *watchers*," one said dryly.

"The duty is to back up the girls, even if we need to slay on our own," Giles corrected.  They huffed.  He looked at Diedre.  "As for him being on the deed, he is.  He's also listed as a senior Council member."  They all gaped.  "Yes, Xander can walk in any time he wants, especially if he's off doing our job."  She slumped.  "Why wasn't anyone helping him or making sure he didn't need help?"

"Because he's *Harris*," one sneered.  Giles punched him.  "What the bloody hell!" he shouted.

"Do be aware that boy is like my son," Giles said firmly, glaring at him.  "I will have you removed should you try to kill him again."

"He's one of them now," he sneered.

"No he's not.  A few chromosomes he got exposed to doesn't make him a demon.  Nor do his skills at sucking in dead people or being a seer."  They all backed off.  "I would leave Xander the bloody hell alone before I take out the rest of you."  They backed down.  He looked at them.  "Go home.  I'll deal with you in a few days."

"We can vote you out," one sneered.

"The slayers would never stand for it," Diedre told him.

"The girls don't get a vote," he sneered.

She decked him.  "Yes we do.  We don't have to trust any of you or do anything for any of you.  There's nothing making a slayer go hunt.  Even duty isn't enough."  They stomped off.  She looked at Giles.  "I think I'll travel back on my own."

"It might be wise," he agreed, staring at her.  "You're turning into Kennedy."

"Eww, bad image, Giles."  She shuddered.  "I didn't know."

"Now you do.  I'll expect more respect."

"Yes, sir."

"Thank you.  Tell Buffy first and then Faith."  She nodded, walking off calling them.  Buffy and Faith could handle the idiot men.  They had experience with idiot men.  Giles looked up, praying for patience.

"Explosives do not help those sort of issues without creating more problems," a male voice said from beside him.

He looked at him.  "Why are you here, Doctor?"

"I'm actually here in my Special Agent capacity," he said with a smirk.  "They want to chew on me for only giving hints about the invasion."

"Well it's not like they would've listened about a demonic invasion."

"No, which was my point.  By the way, Xander's fine.  I called him earlier.  He's in bubbles with a book."

"Wonderful.  I wish I were."  They went in together.   "Sorry to keep you waiting but some of the lesser watchers had a problem last night."  He put his briefcase down.

"Would that problem be called letting someone lesser handle it because they hated him?" the lead senator asked.

"Quite," Tony said dryly.  "And that one handling things has promised he has some explosives if they try things."

"Agent DiNozzo, welcome back to DC."

"Only for the day, Senator Williams."  He sat down.  "I'm needed back there tonight."

"Pity.  I know some who would adore having you back for good."

"Yes but there's still plots bounding around for my capture and death."

"Good point."  He called the meeting to order.  "Agent DiNozzo, why didn't you tell anyone what was going to happen?"

"If I had told someone who didn't know about demons that there was going to be an invasion by them, would they have listened?"

"That is a good point."

"I did hint that something was going to happen.  I even told Director Vance that something big and bad was going to happen.  I told him about three weeks before.  I told Abby to tell her friends that way about four weeks before.  I did what I could without mentioning demons."

"You knew that young man was hoarding weapons?"

"Yes, he admitted he had gotten a pretty neat thing when we were in virology one day," he admitted with a smile.  "Which is how I found out about his storage area.  I called that in to my team's west coast counterparts when the invasion started so they could grab it.  If I had done so earlier they would have confiscated it."

"So they probably would have been disarmed and unable to be used?" another senator asked, one who hadn't been there the day before.

"Most likely or on the way to being destroyed since they can't really have that sort of ordinance around the office."

"That does seem reasonable.  Did you know if anyone knew anything?  Perhaps long term residents of the city?"

"Sir, this morning the mayor of LA was on the tv spouting about how his city was cleaning up from the last earthquake.  In this case, if you don't want to remember it you won't."

"I wish I could forget as easily as that idiot is," the lead senator said dryly.  "We all decided he needed less drugs."

"Or more drugs for other problems," Tony offered with a smile.  "I had no idea who else might've known and it would've hurt my agency and myself if I had started spouting about demons."

"True.  So you rode the line very finely and it was handled."  Tony nodded.  "What did your team leader think of that?"

"He growled at me about it.  I had said a 'pretty bad' problem and he told me my judgement scale was warped."

The lead senator snickered.  "That doesn't really surprise me about your team leader, no.  When are you coming back to NCIS?  A lot of people are wondering."

"The end of March."

"Damn," he muttered.  "That's a long time for Gibbs to growl."  Tony grinned.  "Mr. Giles, we had some more pertinent problems.  Those of us who protect the US with you, and I know you protect other countries as well, feel that we're being coddled and spoon-fed information."

"Well, in a way you are since there's a lot of research over the years.  I can introduce any agents that want it to the same training we got, which was basically the same as an undergraduate degree and some specialized classes back in our upper secondary years."

The lead senator stared at him.  "What about now since you don't have your own school?"

"We do still have the track at Oxford and there have been a few who've applied," Giles said with a smile.  "The things you'd usually get in your formative years they can either learn there or later.  We did add to it to include the Latin and other skills."

"So you all go to the same undergraduate?  Which one of yours was that?"

"No, it's a side-track to various programs.  A few additional classes.  If you're a history major, as I was, or a language major, there's an inner track you can take.  If you're some other major it would become your minor.  It added depth to my history degree, which is why it took me an extra semester and a summer."

"Someone pull up Oxford's site," he ordered.

"I have the brochure here," Giles said, digging it out.  "We have a sister of a slayer that was considering it so I sent away for it."  He handed that over.  They went over it.

"So on top of this they'd need Latin, physical training in at least how to box and use a sword?" the lead senator asked.

"The PE is a specialist PE that covers light fighting and swords, plus archery with a crossbow."

"What about martial arts?"

"For those meant to go into the field as a watcher, definitely.  I was meant to be a research watcher however, and so is she.  Field watchers would get all that and add in more physical training plus the option of taking some first aid courses and the like."

The lead senator gave him an incredulous look.  "How did your people stay afloat that way?"

"We did what must be done, though some of the prior administrations did it rather shabbily in their treatment of the girls, others have done better."

"How many languages are there to study?" one of the end senators asked.

"The last I heard there were one-hundred sixty something full human languages, old and modern, with various dialects and off-shoots being taught.  There's fifty true demon languages and...."  His phone beeped.  "Ah, Xander said I'm incorrect.  There's three common trade languages that most demons know at least a bit of if they're on this plane, there's another five hundred demon languages over all, though we've only documented sixty from various clans and planes that have shown up over the centuries, and two mythical ones because some demons consider Elven, as found by Tolkien, and Klingon true demon languages.  I know Xander has run into one who did converse in Klingon and he said it was their secondary native language.  They had something like what the Chinese do with all their languages."

The lead senator was rubbing his forehead.  "Okay," he said.  "Though I'm sure many geeks are presently happy."

"You know, I know more geeks that know the others, not those two," Tony said, considering it.

"Don't help, DiNozzo," he ordered.  He looked at him.  "How many does the Council acknowledge?"

"That is what the Council acknowledges.  Officially in the library we have fifteen I believe, all of them the more formal languages.  Trade tongues would be...."

The lead senator held up a hand.  "I get the meaning.  Does he speak any of them?"

"How do I send that to him?" he muttered.  His phone beeped.  "Never mind, he's apparently watching.  Yes, he speaks some of two of them, and can swear in the third because most of it is swears."  He looked up with a smile.  "Xander has never stopped surprising me but a lot of demons do like him."

He nodded.  "I'm sure."

"His last fiancee was a former vengeance demon.  When she lost her powers and then her job, they started to date.  He nearly married her," Giles chided.

The senators looked at each other then at him.  "How long was she a demon?  Are they born?"

"No, they're chosen for their jobs and she was over eleven hundred.  She spent that long as a demon."  A few whimpered.

Tony smiled.  "He's grieved a lot for her.  Though he said he is drawn to dangerous sorts," he offered.

"Indeed.  Don't remind me.  We had a warrior clan's first daughter show up the other day to offer for his hand."  His phone beeped.  "Ah, he said he's considering someone's suit right now.  To please tell her that gently so she doesn't attack."

"Yes, he is," Tony agreed with a smile.  "I'm not sure if it'll start with wooing or not but they would be very good together."  He looked at the board.  "Also, the Doctor you talked about yesterday, he said to complain that you're overloading him with work and said some less than pleasant things but he said it'll be about a month before he can fully work through that problem."

"That's good to know," the lead senator said.  "Is Mr. Harris in DC today?"

"I believe he's in a bathtub with bubbles," Tony said with a smile.

Giles' phone beeped.  "Yes he is and he said he's not going to be put on camera any more than he already has been because that sort of attention scares him," Giles read.  He shook his head quickly and put his phone back in his pocket.  "Sorry."

"That's all right," one of the rear senators admitted.  "I didn't much like it at his age either.  He's the young man with the eyepatch, right?"  They both nodded.  They stared at Tony.

"We've seen each other in the same doctors' offices."

"Oh," the lead senator said.  "For the same reason?"  Tony nodded.  "Exactly the same reason?"  Tony wrote a note and had the helper deliver it to him.  He read it and grimaced.  "I heard about that.  Is he safe?"

"I believe he has a 'screw with me and die' thing still going."  Tony smiled.

"Good!"  He ripped it up.  The helper took it and shredded it.  "Thank you for that information."  He looked at Giles.  "How about integrating agents into your structure?"

"If they wanted to learn how to handle demon issues and about the more peaceful ones I would not mind," Giles said.  "Some of the others that survived the blast might but those of us in the field know that we could always use more reasonable, sensible help.  I know we don't have an armory master at the moment.  That would normally fall to Xander but he's needed there for now.  Though they would have to know how to sharpen swords and string crossbows."

"There's a few in the ATF who could probably do that," Tony told them.  "That would also let them keep track of any higher weapons that someone won for the Council."

"That would be helpful, yes," Giles agreed.  His phone beeped and he scowled at it.  "Excuse me, apparently I'm desperately needed at home to beat the crap out of someone," he announced.  "For trying to kill my slayer."

Willow appeared.  "Giles, Buffy just snapped one's neck but didn't kill him."  She took him.

Tony gathered up Giles' things.  "I'll make sure he gets them."

"Please.  Do we think there's going to be a coup over the higher areas?"

"I think the old line versus the more practical and modern ones is a problem that someone's going to solve today," Tony admitted.  "But I doubt the old liners are going to win.  The girls seem to support the modern ones."  He texted someone.  "Someone I know in the local office there so they can go stop anything going on."

"Good.  Tell us what's going on in about an hour please," the lead senator said.

"Gladly.  Let me take Abby to lunch."  He left with Giles' books and papers.  They went into his trunk and by the time he drove to NCIS she was bouncing up and down waiting on him.  She ran to the car when he paused to pull into a parking spot and dove in, letting him kiss her on the cheek and drive off while she babbled happily at him.


Xander got out of the tub and put on clothes, grabbing something.  "Willow, bring me," he called.  Nothing.  Xander called someone.  "Get me to the house please.  Because they're fighting over me and the girls.  Yup, please.  I know I owe you.  I'll pay you later.  When I get back and go to the bank."  He got sent.   Xander looked at the chaos and shot into the ceiling.  "Stop it," he snapped.  "Ladies, back off.  Let us handle them because you're not to kill people."  They nodded.  The idiots ran for the back of the house.

One of them sniffled.  "They were trying to carve up Faith and Buffy, Xander."

"I'm going to kill their asses for you," he assured her, walking off.  He found them in the kitchen and shot the three of them struggling to subdue Faith.  Then turned and shot the other one.  "Any others?" he asked Faith, helping her out of her corner.  He checked her over.  "I'll do the stitches in a second.  Where's Buffy and Giles?"

"He had to chase, X."

Xander nodded.  "Where?"

"I don't know."

"I'll find out."  Xander walked off.  "I'll be back in an hour, Faith.  If there's any others, they can be hit on the ankle and then tied up.  Like those are injured and will pay."  He walked outside and into the police officers.  "I found four watchers trying to carve up one of the girls.  I wounded them and they're in the kitchen."  One growled at him.  "We have ones trying to carve up the senior slayer, he kidnaped her.  Even if you don't like it I'm going after her.  It's my job."  He walked around them, taking off when he heard a scream.  That was Willow's scream.  He found her.  "What?"

"Buffy," she said with a point at a mass of hair.

"She's going to fuck someone up," he said dryly.  "They screwed with her hair."  He yelled something in a demon language.  He followed the angry roars he got in response.  They were going to help the senior slayer.  They liked her.  He found them and shot the three watchers tying her up.  One turned to fire on him but he shot him in a more critical spot.  Giles was unconscious.  Buffy was still tied up and Xander knew there was still a problem.  The harmless demons were helping her so he looked around.

"Let's get her back to the house, guys," he ordered.  He found the problem and threw a stake at it then followed to kick it harder.  The vampire fought back but oh well.  It was older, faster, and Xander was still figuring out some compensating things but he was more determined.  He got a few claw cuts.  The vampire finally got beheaded.  He stood up, holding his side, staring at the body.  "It didn't dust."

"It's some other type," Willow said, staring at him.  "How did you do that?"

He stared at her.  "Duh!  What do you think I did on patrol, Willow?"  He walked off, following them and Buffy.  "Guys, living room," he ordered with a point.  "Lay her down so I can check her injuries."  They did that.  "Thank you," he said, smiling at them.  "She'd say the same if she was awake."  They nodded, leaving after the ones helping Giles put him into a chair.  Xander patted one demon on the arm.  "Tell your brother I'll visit the ATM after I stitch my side."

"I will, Knight."  He looked at her then at him.  "You are quite mad?"

"At them.  You guys I'm really thankful for helping."  The demon beamed and left.  Xander looked around.  "I need the first aid kit," he ordered.  Faith got it for him.  "Any problems from the officers?" he asked, checking Buffy over.

"No.  They took them and took statements.  I...."

Xander looked at her.  "Even if I'm two states over, I'm still your knight too, Faith," he said quietly.  "Never doubt I'm here for you girls."  She relaxed.  "Let me do the one on her chest and then I'll do yours."

"I can hit the ER.  They offered."

Xander stared at her.  "If you want.   Take someone with you to make sure you get home?"

She nodded.  "We can do yours."

"I'll do mine.  I'm picky because of the whole tomb thing."  He got back to Buffy's chest.  It was deep but narrow.   "Willow, check Giles?"

"He's unconscious but it looks like they just clubbed him extra hard on the head.  Faith, I can do your stitches."

"I'll let the ER.  They have local."  Xander held up a bottle.  Faith gave him an odd look.  "How?"

"Needed it," he said with a small shrug.  He looked.  "Fuck, that's into the muscle, I can see a rib."  He sighed and bandaged it.  "That's beyond me."  He texted Chase's phone to get advice, along with the information they probably couldn't take her to the ER.  "Where's Dawn?"

"School," Faith said.  "X, we have good ER's," she said.

"Chase wants her to go."  He sighed.  "Willow?"

"I've never visited but some of the girls have."

"The closest one is really nice," Faith assured him.  "Good people."  Xander nodded so she called an ambulance.  Xander sat her down to clean most of them for her.  It'd mean less time with the doc.  The paramedics got there.  Faith waved.  "She's got a huge cut.  He's cleaning mine."

"Sir, you're bleeding," one noticed.

"No one touches me," he said bluntly.  "I have weird issues and I have docs I trust.  For that matter, I can do my own."  Willow glared at him.  He stared at her.  "Someone broke into virology to get my sample."  She shuddered.  "Exactly.  So yeah, I'll do my own."  He smiled, showing them.  "This will need stitches.  He and I used to do a lot of the group ones in Sunnydale."

"Okay," the paramedic said.  "Can I bandage it for you?"

Xander looked and shrugged. "I can do that.  Check Buffy's left upper chest."  He took the bandage to put on his deeper, bleeding cut.  Then another one for the other one.  "I saw the rib and knew that was too deep for me."

"That's just a different sort of stitching but she shouldn't need surgery," the paramedic said calmly.  "His?"

"Big bump on his head," Willow said.  "So probably a concussion when he wakes up."

"We can take all three, Miss.  Can you follow to drive the two ladies home?"

"I can do that."  She caught the keys when one of the girls tossed them.  "I'll be right back.  Behave."

"I'm here," Xander noted.  Willow looked at him.  "If there's more they're in deep shit."  She nodded, leaving after them.  Xander sighed and cleaned himself up then looked at the trying-to-pretend-not-to-hover girls.  "Okay, let's start with the basics.  Does anyone else have any injuries that they haven't reported?"  They shook their heads.  "Then it's time for hugs, ladies."  Kennedy rushed in.  "Willow followed Faith and Buffy, who needed stitches, and Giles, who needs to wake up."

"Who," she demanded.

Xander pointed at one of the remaining watchers.   "I shot a few non-fatally."

"Thank God," she muttered.  She grabbed one of the younger ones to hold.  Xander got his own that he knew.  They cuddled and it was better.  A few of the girls cried but they expected that.  By the time Faith and Willow got back, the girls were calm and Andrew had the blood cleaned up.  Willow left to go wait on Buffy.  A few of the girls hugged Faith, making her relax.  Xander looked up from making treats, handing Faith hers.  "Chocolate sundae with pecans?" he offered quietly, staring at her.

She smiled weakly.  "That's a good idea."

"If you want it, I can give you a hug too, Faith.  I'm not against hugs."  She shook her head quickly.  He patted her shoulder, earning a flinch so he did hug her.

She stayed stiff but eventually relaxed.  She stuffed her mouth again.  "You do that pretty well," she said quietly.

"Sometimes knowing someone is there is the best and most calming gift there is," he reminded her.  "Humans can't go without contact."

She nodded.  "Yeah.  Thanks."

"Never a problem.  Even if you have to be sent to where I am."  She smiled slightly.  "Buffy?"

"They had to wait a few on a surgeon to close her chest.  He could do it in the ER but they wanted someone good."

He checked hers.  "Nice job on yours.  Need an ice pack too?"  She nodded.  He got her one and she went to talk to the girls.  Buffy walked in with Willow, getting handed sundaes and a hug.

Buffy sniffled.  "They got my hair."

"I saw.  Willow let out a shriek."  He grinned at her.  She huffed.  He grinned brighter and waved the ice cream.

She took it.  "Thank you for getting us help, Xander.  And for that vampy vamp."

"It's what I do.  I'm here for all you girls, even you."  He tweaked her ear.  "Get a cute cut."

"I will later."  She looked at him.  "You have blood?"

"I need to clean up the new stitches.  I'll do that when I get home."  She nodded, eating a bite.  "The girls are calmer, Andrew got the blood cleaned up.  We have an officer across the street and an agent; he's just parked himself with the officer."  He shrugged.  "Giles?"

"Concussion so he'll be in all night just in case it scrambled his brains."  She ate another bite.  "Girls, are we all good?" she called.  They came running in to hug her and check on her and Faith.  "We're okay.  I've had worse.  They only really screwed with my hair and they're in real trouble for that."  They smiled and fussed more over Faith.

Xander looked at one of the witches stomping in.  "Ma'am," he said dryly.

"Harris.  Thank you for helping.  The ones who hurt the girls?"

"All have holes," Xander said dryly.  Then he smirked.

"Good!"  She moved to check the girls over.

"We're all fine," Buffy assured her.  "Giles has a concussion.  Xander shot them.  I nearly killed one."  She stuffed her mouth again.

Xander looked at her.  "If you need to kill a human, you let me kill the human."  She smirked at him.  "I'm better at that part than you are."

"Probably, yeah."  She finished her sundae.  "Thank you for taking care of us, Xander."

"Not a problem.  It's never a problem.  Even when I'm in New Jersey."

The head witch looked at him.  "We can send you back, Xander."  He shrugged.  She smiled and made Willow help so she could wear out some of her temper.  That left them able to fuss like they should.

Xander appeared, looking at his place.  "Well, at least I can clean up."  He went to change and clean up.  Someone pounded and he winced.  "I'm fine," he called.

"Open the fucking door," House yelled.  Xander went to do that and headed back for the bathroom.  "You're not a doctor, Xander."

"I did a lot of our stitches after patrol," Xander told him.  "Me and Giles.  I learned from Willow's mom's books, like she did.  But she doesn't like the sight of blood so I handled it."  He hopped up onto his sink to look at his side.  "That's why I asked when that one was too deep for what I've done before."

"That takes some special stitching," he admitted.  He moved closer.  "The others?  Since Rosenburg called to nark."

"Faith needed some stitches from her temple to her cheek," he said quietly.  "Buffy's was here," he said with a point.  "Giles has a concussion.  The ladies are home.  I got the other girls calmed down.  I shot the assholes non-fatally.  The cops have them."

House looked at the injuries.  "Did you do those?"

Xander looked then at him.  "It was an awkward angle so not my best job, but yes.  I was going to clean up the messy end since I did it without a mirror."

House snorted.  "I'd like to see how you do on someone else."

Xander looked and pointed at something on his left leg.  "I did those."

House looked and nodded.  "Straight, tight grouping."  He smacked him on the side of the head.  "You are still not a doctor."

"No, I'm a field medic.  That's why I asked Chase the doctor question.  I know what I'm capable of.  I don't usually get out of that level."

"Don't do it again," he snarled.

"Yes, House."

"Good!"  He sighed, glaring at him.  "Other cities have good ER's."

"You told me not to let any ER but you get me."

"Not yours.  Theirs."  Xander looked confused.  "I know it's always been your job.  Now you can count on others to do it with you."

"I let them go to the ER when Faith told me it was a good one.  That was after I asked Chase."

"Good!  Much better."  He stared at him.  "Shift around."  Xander shifted and House looked at the stitches.  "That is an awkward angle."

"Awkward was the back of my shoulder," he said with a grimace.  "And I was fifteen.  I used house string."

"Like sewing thread for buttons?"  Xander nodded.  "Why?"

"I needed them, Willow's parents were home so she couldn't for me.  Jesse was out of town.  So I found a mirror, a pair of needle nose pliers, and the sewing kit from the house.  I did it in the shed."

House stared at him.  "How long did you do that?" he asked calmly.

"Willow was doing mine from her mother's books at six and seven.  I learned from them too.  That's how she played doctor."

House stared at him.  "Are your parents living?"

"Not that I'm aware of.  I didn't ask if they got out of Sunnydale."

"If they are, and they show up, you send them my way."  Xander hugged him.  House relaxed and hugged him back, patting him on the back.  "Let me clean those up."  Xander nodded, sitting up so he could do that.  "What was it?"

"Claws on a vampire."


"No, not that I've heard.  Or felt."

House nodded, taking a few swabs from the wound.  Xander hissed.  "Sorry."  He fixed it and then restitched it.  Xander handed him the bottle of local from the medical kit.  House looked then in the box.  "How in the hell?"

"Underground docs."

House sighed.  "We'll see what we can do with that knowledge, kid."

"I don't want to go to medical school, House.  That's a shitload of work for really smart people who like books a lot more than anyone but Giles and Willow."

"Yes it is," he agreed with a smile.  "You can take paramedic classes."

"I don't have time."

"We'll see."  He finished those up and turned him around to get the one on his back. "That's not bad."

"That's why I let it clot in my t-shirt."

"That's not a bad decision as long as you're not leaking blood anywhere."

"No, I cleaned up anything I dripped while Andrew got all theirs from where I wounded them."

House looked at him.  "You good with that?"

"I *really* wanted to kill them."

"Over too soon.  They'll be getting a lot of hell in prison.  Plus deported if they're not US citizens."  Xander relaxed.  "Not to mention what any others might do to them."

Xander nodded.  "I hope."

"I know.  Prison is mean and nasty.  Will you be in trouble?"

"I don't think so.  None of the officers that responded wanted to arrest me.  A few looked like they wanted to before I stomped off to save Buffy but they didn't try to stop me."

"Good.  That's a good thing."  He finished helping him clean up, including helping with the sponge bath to get all the droplets of dried blood off.  House cleaned up their mess and looked at him.  "Calm down, Xander.  It's over with."

"I should be closer."

"If you do you'll never do anything but hunt and eventually die.  Do you want that?"  Xander looked down and shrugged.  "They're getting a lot of people in to help them.  Agents want to help.  Military people too."  Xander looked at him.  "They won't let those girls be upset by anyone and if they date dirtbags they'll handle it for them.  They're going to be very overprotective because they're all young women.  Even if the girls can kick their asses.  Trust me, they're getting a lot of help."

"I got the local friendly demons to help me save Buffy."

"Excellent job," he said, knowing that's what the boy needed to hear.  And it was a good plan.  "C'mon, let's get you settled on the couch with some noise."  Xander nodded, padding out there.  House followed.  Xander turned on the tv for some noise and then pulled House down to hug again.  House smirked at him.  "I don't need blow jobs for helping you, kid.  It doesn't work that way."

"It doesn't?"

"No, it doesn't.  Even if Anya would have.  Friends do things without expecting sex."

"I guess."  He cuddled anyway.  House let him for a few minutes, petting his hair.  Someone knocked on the door.  "Is it unlocked?"  Xander nodded.  "It's open!" he bellowed.  "Damned if I'm getting up," he said when John walked up the stairs.  "It could only be someone you know or a cop."

John stared at Xander.  "Are you all right?"

"A bit of calming down needed," House told him.  "I redid his stitches because it's an awkward angle to do your own side."  He got up and let John look Xander over.  "I'll let you two talk.  Xander, John's military so he can give you a critique if you really need one."

"I did what I had to do."

"Good," John agreed, sitting on Xander's other side.  "Gregory, you can stay if you want."

"No, let me go calm Chase down.  He threw a damn fit that Xander was in a battle."  He left, going back to the hospital with those swabs.  He walked in and tossed them at Chase.  "Run those to make sure the vampire with the claws that got him on the side didn't have poison."

"Is he all right?" Chase demanded.

"Yes.   He's fine.  He had done his own stitches and I redid them because a few were too tight."  He sat down.  "John's there."

Chase sighed, heading to the lab.  James leaned in.  "What happened?"

"The old line attacked the girls.  Especially the two senior ones."

"Damn it."

"Xander shot most of them non-fatally."

"Pity it wasn't fatally then."  He left.

House finished calming down his temper.  He liked the kid and he hated that the kid was getting into dangerous things without training.  Hopefully John would help that.


Xander looked at John.  "Want lunch?" he asked quietly.

John stared at him.  "Want a cuddle?"  Xander nodded, leaning against him.  Slowly he sank against him until John put an arm around Xander's shoulders.  Xander relaxed and just laid there.  John smelled great and Xander needed the time.  John smiled when Xander fell asleep on him.  That was sweet.  Almost sickeningly sweet but he liked it.  He kissed him on the head, answering his phone.  "Sheppard," he said quietly.  "I'm helping someone calm down after a house defense action, General."  He listened.  "I can do that," he sighed.  "Give me ten minutes."  He hung up.

Xander looked up at him.  "Are you the pumpkin this time instead of me?"

"Apparently I am."  He gave him a kiss.  "I'll see you in a few weeks."  Xander nodded.  John left in a beam-out.  He looked at the general, who was staring at him.  "A casual friend needed help calming down.  He had to shoot some people hurting some young women he knows about."

"That Giles guy was on the news," he said dryly.

"I was helping Xander calm down after he shot most of them, sir."

"That's fine but we have a situation with your people."

"I'm going to kick their asses again," John said dryly, following him back to talk to them.  It had to be taken care of.  A crisis waited for no one's pleasure or calming down.


Xander walked into the local FBI office.  "Can I ask a question?" he asked the first agent he ran into, getting a slow nod back.  "The Cleveland office apparently has MPD.  In the last day I've been told I'm in trouble, I'm not in trouble, I should be arrested, I'm not being arrested, I should be killed, the girls are going to kill them if they come near me.  Can you please figure out if I'm in trouble or not?"

The agent looked at him.  "I can look up your file, sir.  See if there's a warrant."

"I can't call out there and talk to anyone.  I got ordered not to by Giles."

"Oh, you're with them."

Xander nodded.  "And yesterday we had a huge ass issue.  Which I helped handle.  I've had a bunch of agents calling me.  So I'm a bit paranoid and a bit panicked but I'd like to know."

"I get that," he agreed.  He led him to his desk and sat him down, finding the office number for out there first and then getting into Xander's files to look up any warrants.  "There was one but it was rescinded by Presidential order.  Twice."  He frowned and called someone else.  "Deputy Director, this is Agent Simt in Newark's office.  I need to have something clarified for someone who asked me to look into something."  He leaned back in his chair.  "Alexander Harris."

He nodded once.  "Him, yes.  He's had agents calling him and wobbling on the arrest/don't arrest thing.  Calling him horrible too.  That's what he wanted to know, sir."  He listened, looking in another area.  He let the boy see, getting a head shake.  "No, he said it's not correct."  Xander wrote down what happened and let him have it.  "I have a statement and it looks nothing like Agent Clyde's.  Including that we should have ER records."  He listened.  "Please.  He'll stay here with me."  Xander nodded.  "Please do, sir.  Thank you for clarifying this."  He hung up.

"I take it whoever Clyde is wrote something shittastic?" Xander asked.  The agent pointed at the computer.  "That didn't happen in Cleveland.  That's an address in San Francisco.  It's been on the fantasy house show a few times."

He frowned as he looked at that address.  "It doesn't register as being in Cleveland.  It doesn't recognize the road."  He made that note in that report.  He took one from Xander as well to add to the file.  That could only help no matter which way it went.  An hour and a half later, Simt answered his phone.  "Agent Todd Simt."  He listened.  "Sir," he said, sitting up straighter.  "I did put in his statement.  I also noted in the original file that the address in the file is not valid for Cleveland."  He listened.  He winced and listened to someone come in yelling.  "They're having a debate, Mr. Harris."

"Is he vowed to someone?" Xander asked dryly.  "I figured there were some."

"He's vehemently denying that accusation but the President just walked in and told him he was."  He listened.  "Yes, sir, that's what he wanted clarified because he's been getting mixed messages all day, sir."  He listened.  "Sir, that's not a valid address for Cleveland.  I looked it up.  That road doesn't exist.  Yes, sir, the Cleveland issue, not something in San Francisco."

"I wasn't in San Francisco," Xander said quietly.  "I've never been there."

Simt repeated that.  The president and the deputy director - probable future director very soon - looked at the two files.  "Okay," he said.  "So is he in trouble?"  He listened.  "I have no idea, sir.  He said he's never been to San Francisco."  Xander sighed and texted.  "What are you doing?"

"Seeing who that was."  He got an answer from someone in LA but it was a 'don't worry about it'.  So he sent back why he was.  He didn't want blamed for something he wasn't doing.  "Oh, shape changer," he said bluntly.  "Huh.  Never met one of those."  He tapped back at that demon and got some more information.  "Okay then."  He let the agent see that information.  "While I could kill someone if there was a really good reason, I'm not a contract assassin."

He read that to the president who was moaning.  "Can you prove they exist?"

Xander took the keyboard to get onto a site.  "This is the one we in Sunnydale used to look things up online."  He found the shape changer files and highlighted one out of the twenty on the list.  "That's what that type was."  He let him see it.

"Sir, there's over twenty forms of shape changers," he said.  He clicked on that link, reading up on it.  "No, they're physical and external forms only and it fades within three hours.  The website said they're picture based to change.  It says that a lot of them are known assassins and some do work for us in various agencies."  He stared at one name.  "Decker!" he bellowed, making everyone jump and that agent rush his way.  He pointed.  "Are you?"

He looked and moaned.  "I am," he muttered.  He looked at Xander.  "Shit."

"Yup.  I've never been to San Fran."

"No, that was one of us.  There was a huge contract to get their child because she's a prophecy one, something about taking down all the slayer line."

"Huh," Xander said.  "I would've tried to find some way to warp any prophecy.  I do it pretty easily.  I'd never take out an innocent kid."

"Good," Simt said, repeating that.  He let the other agent have the phone.  "The head of the FBI."

"Not like he doesn't know," Decker said dryly.  "He's a half-demon."

"Like Doyle was?" Xander asked.

"Different species but similar reason, Harris."  He told the president what he knew.  The president asked about his boss and he had to tell him what he wanted to know, you didn't tell the president no about things.   He handed the phone back.  "Cleveland?" he asked Xander.  Who nodded.  "I heard.  Nice job, kid."

"Thank you but I've heard all sorts of bad and good things today from agents."

"Agents are people too.  Some are scared, some are more accepting, and some are idiots."  He went back to his desk to gather things and tell his boss he was going to DC to give information to the president.

Simt nodded.  "We are."  He listened.  "That's all I wanted clarified, sir, yes.  Because he's heard all that and more."  He smiled.  "I did put his statement in."  The president got into it and said something blunt.  "Yes, sir, which is why he wanted to know."  He watched as the kid's phone rang.  "That's them I think."  He took the phone.  "Hello?"  He put it next to the other phone so the president could hear too.  "That'd be great, Agent Clyde, but I'm Agent Simt in Newark."

He smirked at the boy.  "Yes, that's me.  Oh and by the way, I'm on the phone with our director."  The other agent hung up.  "Sir, orders?"  He got some and got hung up on.  He handed the phone back.  "Next time, let the locals shoot them too."  Xander slumped, looking down but nodding.  "You're not in trouble.  You scared the crap out of the locals."  Xander gave him a funny look.  "You called other demons."

"I needed the help saving Buffy."

"They would've."

"They'd know where she was.  They tend to keep track of where she is so they don't run into her by accident."

"Good point.  The president said you're not in trouble.  He said to let the locals help next time.  The locals are learning a lot about the girls and their community that they didn't want to realize before.  Miss Summers has introduced a lot of people around so they're all calming down.  You're not going to be arrested for anything.  The president did say thank you for that website address and to please tell Mr. Giles to send Miss Rosenburg back to England."

"She's babying Buffy and a lot of the coven is over right now."

"Wonderful."  He smiled.  "Are there other helpful sites?"  Xander nodded.  He wrote down his email address.  "Please send me a list?"

"I don't really get online, that's Willow.  I know how to search that site and the prophecy site, but I can't really do stuff like that.  Willow used to hack.  I mean she gave it up but...."

He held up a hand.  "Just have someone send me a list.  Okay?"

"I can do that.  Thank you," he said quietly.

"I'm glad we could straighten that out."  The boy smiled back before leaving.  Simt leaned back, rubbing his eyes.  The president had promised to remake the Cleveland office.  He hoped he wouldn't be called.  Former military would be sent first and he had been in the Marines.


Xander walked into the club and went to the office.  "Am I too much trouble?" he asked quietly.  "I don't mean to be any trouble or need to lean on anyone."

"Xander, we haven't heard a thing about you," he said, sounding honest.  "At all.  What happened?"  Xander came in to tell him.  He stared at him.  "We didn't help with a single bit of that, Xander."  Xander sighed in pleasure.  "Do you need help?"

"No.  It just seems like things are happening and no one's saying anything bad to me, or when they do they're stopped."

"That could be the demons that own little bits of them."

"Maybe but I wanted to make sure it wasn't you guys and I'm not overstaying my welcome or anything like that," he babbled.

He smiled.  "I had not heard a bit of any of that.  The DC club might have heard something and been watching but as far as I know no one's pushed any influence your way.  We wouldn't unless we heard you really needed it or you asked."

Xander slumped.  "Thank you."

"You're welcome."  He smiled.  "You're all stressed out."


"That is a problem.  Did they straighten it out?"

"Yes.  I spent a while in Newark's FBI office to make sure.  Oh, a shape changer pretended to be me yesterday to take out a family in San Francisco."

"That I had heard about but we pointed out heavily that you weren't there.  You were here all night.  The local club thought it was neat that the shape changers used you because it was to protect the slayer line."

"I didn't.  I'd never hurt a kid.  I don't want that to be linked to me."

"We all know."

"Others don't.  Other slayers and future slayers...."

"They know.  Now.  Everyone who knows you will make sure of it."

"No they won't," he said quietly.  "It won't occur to Willow.  Or she'll tell them I did because she'd make herself believe I did."

"I will make sure Mr. Giles hears that it wasn't you if it worries you."  Xander nodded, looking down.  He smiled and reached over to pat his cheek.  "That is not a huge favor to ask.  I doubt you could ever kill someone without a very good reason."  Xander nodded.  "Good boy.  Now, are you taking your mind off things tonight?"

"I want to hide.  People are giving me funny looks."

"I understand.  Go hide and calm down.  It's been a long few days."  Xander nodded, getting up and walking out.  He smiled, sending a message to DC's Highest.

Xander ran into John, who looked pissed off.  Xander gave him a hug.  "You look like I did earlier.  Are you okay?"

John looked at him.  "I'm fine," he said quietly, hugging him back.  "Thank you."

"You're welcome.  It was necessary."  He grinned.  "Since we're going to keep being interrupted, would you maybe like a picnic?  I have a back yard.  Or...I know it's supposed to sprinkle so we can have it in the garage with the bike?"

John smiled.  "I don't have time tonight but the next time I'm local, I'll take you up on that picnic."  Xander nodded.  "Unfortunately I need to get back to my city."

"I hope she appreciates all you do for her, John.  I hear she's fantastic."  John nodded with a grin.  "Then be safe."

"You too.  No more battles."

"They happen when they happen."

"Don't remind me," he said dryly, taking a kiss.  "If I didn't have to be back on base in an hour...."  Xander laughed.  "Stay on the educational path and I'll see you soon."  He winked and walked off, feeling better.  Xander was a great consort.  "I'll be doing some of your lessons as a guardian next time too," he called back.  "Because I'm so badass I can teach you."

Xander beamed.  "An excuse to see me on my back?" he taunted.

"Hmm," John said.  "I have less than an hour."  Xander laughed and walked off, going home.  John groaned, going to handle his ...issue before he packed.  When he got back to his city a week later, traveling being hell on the nerves, he ran into Rodney first.  "Okay, you were right in this case," he told him.  He walked around him.

Rodney blinked a few times.  "Of course I was right about something, but which something are you talking about?"


"Then of course I was."  He smirked at his second.  "I have found someone who can come to us to fix all the things we don't have time to do."

"That would be nice," he agreed.  "How long?"

"Two years."

"Hmm.  Not bad for specialized training."  He walked off, taking their new people with him.

Rodney went to pump John for information on what had happened.  That 'interesting' rating for the boy was a wonderful thing.


Tony showed up at NCIS in late March looking like hell.  "I hate tests," he said as he sat down in his seat with a sigh.

Someone officious stomped over.  "Who are you to sit in Gibbs' row!" she demanded.  "That seat is taken."

"I know, it's mine," he sneered.  She squeaked and backed down.  "Crawl back under your rock or put on your wings and fly away."  She stomped off.  He looked at the staring people and grinned.  "Someone's desk fun?"

"We're not really sure," McGee said.  "Tests?"

"Yes!  All weekend plus studying for the last week."

"We heard you were back in town but weren't certain," Ziva told him.  "How did you do?"

"I think I aced everything," he said with a grin.  "I'd better have or I have to retake one this summer."  Gibbs walked over with the happiness and whining fairy woman.  "Gibbs, did you pick up a sexually transmitted fairy princess?"

Gibbs looked at him.  "No vacation?" he asked dryly.

"No, tests all weekend."  He glared and she stomped off again.  "Who is she?"

"No one knows," Gibbs admitted.

Tony stared at him.  "Did Vance hire her to remind him of Sheppard?"

"Not as far as we can tell," Ziva admitted.

Tony looked at the guard coming off the elevator with her.  "She comes near me again and I'm shooting her grumpy ass," he told the guard.  "Considering I spent all weekend doing standardized tests...."

"Good to have you back, DiNozzo."  He smirked at her.  "That's his desk."

"Who is she?" Gibbs asked.

The guard shrugged.  "I think she's an intern.  That's what her ID says."

"Interns are supposed to be silent and learn from the ones who've been doing it forever," Tony told her.  "So sit down, shut up, and learn something."  She whimpered.  He looked at Gibbs again.  "So, I'm officially back as of start of shift tomorrow," he said with a grin. "But Vance wanted a status update today so I'm doing that."

"That's fine," Gibbs said.  "Take the time to clear out your backlogged email."

"I did that at two when things were swimming in front of my eyes and I needed a break."  He yawned and stretched.  "I do have to report they have a good treatment plan.  They have an antibody working toward the new vaccine if someone's infected in an office."

"The mouthy little craphead you were working with?" Gibbs asked dryly.

"House or Xander?"

"Xander."  He shot him a dirty look.  "I'd rather see House in a jail."

"That cop was persecuting him for telling him the truth he didn't want to hear, Gibbs."

"I heard.  How is his suit going?"

"Quite well.  The local PD fired that detective.  They're already begging slightly.  Especially since Xander stopped a major assassin in town."  He smirked.  "She wanted to meet him."

"Did anyone else get her?" Gibbs demanded.

"Yup."  He grinned.  "He knocked her out and called me to see who to call."

"Huh."  Gibbs sat down.  "Vance is at Congress."

"I'm sorry for the guy."  He looked at Ziva.  "Were you bored while I was gone?"

"Not really."

McGee laughed.  "Is Harris really a nice guy?"

"Xander's a great, goofy, sweet guy until someone screws with someone he considers his."  McGee smirked at him.  "Yeah, that one that hit on me he got too."

"I thought I heard that rumor," Ziva said smugly.

"I was asleep.  She had knocked me out.  Xander showed up to talk about some classroom angst.  He had one fellow student who thinks he's hot shit and isn't.  He keeps telling Xander he's a pushy construction worker trying to get beyond his station.  Xander then proved that he had better grades so the guy pouted and said it was favoritism due to his eye.  Xander pointed out that he actually studied and had a career plan, that kid had nothing but a lot of alcohol poisoning in his future.  The teacher broke it up but agreed that Xander had good goals and very good grades but he was pushy.  That's when Xander pointed out he knew what it was like to see the project you had sweated over come to life and everyone pouted that they'd have to wait and see it instead of helping or however."

"Is he switching schools?" Gibbs asked.

"He only has two more classes.  Then he can graduate with the A.S. in civil engineering.  Which is what he needs for the career plan someone helped him with."

"Wonderful."  He looked at him.  "Are you going to miss the little dickhead?"

"I talk to Xander all the time, Gibbs.  Even since I got back to DC two weeks ago.  Xander's doing great and if he gets that frustrated he'll come down for a weekend on my couch."

"Huh.  Still got the motorcycle?"

"Yup, and it's done him a lot of good.  Plus he's taken some sword lessons and martial arts lessons since then."

"Even better.  I saw the thing last week."  Tony grimaced.  "He good?"

"Yeah.  He had a day of calming down but otherwise it was fine.  No huge injuries or anything."

"That's good to know.  Those girls?"

"A few bad injuries but they're all good."

"Even better."  Gibbs stared at him.  "Anything I should know?"

"Not that I can think of."

"Good.  Make sure you're ready for tomorrow."

"Yup, all ready."  Vance came off the elevator up there.  "Ready for me?" he called.

"Give me five minutes, DiNozzo."  He went into his office.

Tony shrugged and grinned at his teammates.  "So this May I am walking for my new degree."

"You should get a new suit for that," McGee said.  "I did anytime I got a new honor."

"I've already got one on order."  He grinned.  "It's a lovely dark green suit that makes my eyes stand out wonderfully.  And a new black one for the general graduation event."

"You're doing both?" Gibbs asked.


"Huh."  He finished up his current task and put the papers aside.  "There's two new forms for you to learn."

"Vance sent me the new incident report form over that one arrest.  The other is?"

"Shooting review form got changed," McGee said.

"Better or worse?"

"Better," McGee said.

"Wonderful."  He stood up.  "Let me head up to give a status report and I'll see you both in the morning."  He strolled up there.  The intern was following him so he gave her a dirty look.  "I don't need a hand holder."  She shrugged.  "We're going to be talking about personal matters that you have no need to know about, little girl.  Go back downstairs before I throw you off them."  She stomped off.  He walked into the office.  "Is that intern Sheppard's revenge?  Or possessing her?"

"I think she is possessed," he admitted.  "No one can tell."

"I know how to do an exorcism.  Xander made sure of it."  He shut the door.  "So."

"How did you do?"

"The tests?  I'm fairly certain I did excellent unless I messed up the bubble form.  Well above the needed grade.  Have you heard differently?"

"You know very well no one's going to hear the results for another month."

"I know."  He grinned.  "My ones from earlier are impressive yet slightly mundane.  These should be about the same."

"So that leaves a problem, DiNozzo.  There's no way you can cover up a year like you're going to have."

"I know.  I'm thinking.  It may depend on my first case.  Or the next time I get shot."

"Good point, that did happen a lot.  That concussion damage?"

"I did another CT last month and the damage is holding steady but I'm highly encouraged to never get another one."

"I think we'd all like that."

"I do and House has promised to make me quit and go back."

"Good.  It's good you have a firm mentor."  He looked at him.  "That trial's outcome?"

"He was found guilty and I ruined him like hell," he said with a grin.

"I saw that."  He sighed.  "Gibbs isn't sure if you're coming back."

"He tends to be able to read me pretty well."  He went into the bathroom and came out with the ice bucket full of water he was blessing.   He opened the office door and threw the water on the intern, making her scream, smoke, and run off.  "I'll do an exorcism later," he called after her.  "Unless you leave her alone of your own free will."  The smoke around her thickened and she started to choke as the ghost came out.

Tony watched, making sure she didn't die from it.  She end up on her knees but it was fine.  He walked over and helped her up.  "Take her to Ducky.  She was possessed," he told the waiting guard.  "Or make me go get more holy water."  The guard hurried off with her.  Tony walked back into the office and shut the door.  "So, anyway," he said dryly.

Vance snorted.  "I could send you as an agent afloat, let you get your year there."

"I have an open invitation to Bethesda and PPTH.  Plus, I'd end up getting boat sick."

"That's a good point."  Abby rushed in with a squeal to hug him.

"Hi."  He hugged her.  "I missed you.  I should've had you come help me study the other day."

She looked at him.  "Why were you studying?"


"Eww."  She cuddled him again.  "We missed you."

"I missed you too.  Oh, and Xander said hi."  She grinned.  He smirked back.  "I'm officially here tomorrow."

"That's cool.  I saw the one you took the demon out of."

"Yup, it was very helpful.  She was following me around."

"Probably Sheppard."  She cuddled him again, glaring at Vance.  "Don't make him go away again."

"I went because I needed to go," Tony told her.

"I know but still.  He was talking about sending you to a boat."

"It's going to be fine, Abby.  I was looking for a way to use some new skills he has," Vance told her.  "He has a lot of skills that could go to good use on a ship."

She shook her head.  "Gibbs will be more grumpy and no amount of coffee will save us."  She looked at Tony.  "Dinner tonight?"

"I can host dinner tonight.  I'll have time to pick up something and the books."  She grinned and let him go, going to tell Gibbs.  Tony grinned.  "She missed me."

"Yes she did.  So did the coffee shop."  He smirked.  "You sure?"

"I hate boats."

"All right.  I need to know when you do."

"I know.  I'll do what I can, Director."

"Thank you, DiNozzo.  Have fun tomorrow."

"I'll try really hard, Director."  He strolled out.  "What'm I making?" he asked his team.

"Fish," McGee said.  "It's been a while."

"I can do that."  He headed to the fish market he liked and then home to hide all his textbooks.  That was not how he wanted to break the news about him getting his MD.


Tony looked up from his cooking when McGee walked into his kitchen.  "Problems?"

"Gibbs just found an MCAT test book."

"I'm thinking."

"He's not happy."

"Gibbs?" he called, walking that way.  "McGee, turn those when they're brown, tan brown not dark brown."  Gibbs looked up from flipping through a textbook.  He took it and put it onto the shelf.  "I took that back at Ohio State, that's just the updated one."

"You're thinking about going that way?"

"I've taken a few classes here and there.  Including virology after the plague."  He stared at him.  "I'm thinking."

"That would seriously hamper cases," he said dryly.

"It could."

"It's a lot of money, DiNozzo."

"I have ways of paying for it and an education trust fund that I don't have a kid to pass on to yet."  He shrugged.  "I'd actually only need about a year's worth of classes with what I took here and there."  He walked off.

"Residency?" Gibbs demanded, following him.  "Fellowships?"

"Definitely."  He grinned.  "But that's after classes."

Gibbs stared at him.  "That's what you were taking tests for."

"Yeah, actually I was.  I'm still thinking."  He found his prior results and showed them off with a grin.  "Earlier this spring.  There's two sets."

Gibbs stared at him.  "Only if you're nearer to graduation."

"Well, technically I am.  So in about a month I'll know what sort of chances I stand.  And if I ever get another concussion, Doctor House has promised to steal me back."  He took the spatula and turned the fish over.  "Start the rice, McGee."

"Sure.  You're seriously taking medical classes?"  He poured rice into the measuring device on the rice steamer.

"I took some back at Ohio State.  Especially after I broke my leg.  After the plague I took a few of the virology ones.  Add some of the saffron, just a few pieces."  McGee nodded and did that then closed the rice steamer.  "Water."  McGee added some and it was started.  Tony looked at Gibbs.  "I can't always get injured like I have been, boss.  They're saying I have damage from all the concussions."

"Serious damage?" McGee asked.  "You've had more than most people outside of boxers."

"That's what damage I'm starting to show," Tony admitted.  "Which is why Doctor House is going to steal my cute ass if I ever get another one."

Gibbs considered that.  "If that's what you want to do.  Are you going to leave NCIS for your residency?"

"Vance asked if I wanted to do my residency on a boat."

"That would drive you nuts," Gibbs decided.  Tony grinned and nodded.  "Seriously, how close are you, DiNozzo?"  McGee left them alone.

"I'm getting my MD in May," he said, staring at him.  "The night after my MBA."  Gibbs gaped.  "I just completed all those other hours by doing multiple ones at the same time.  You only have to complete so many hours in each section and I was doing eighty hour weeks.  It's good practice for my next year, which is going to be a bitch."

"Are you?"

"I don't know.  I can take a year off.  I have a standing offer at Bethesda or up at PPTH."  He smiled.  "That depends on how soon I get hurt again."

"I'd hope not at all."

"I haven't went six months without one yet," he pointed out.

"Good point."  He considered it.  "So you're going to be Doctor DiNozzo come May."  Tony grinned and nodded, fussing with the fish.  "Why not tell me?"


"Oh."  He nodded.  "I can understand that.  You really took some at Ohio State?"

"Yeah.  That's where I took all the Ortho classes.  I have a choice between Ortho, Virology, or just a regular doc who stitches agents up after hours."

"That would be handy.  Less risk of problems, mostly.  Virology could get you dead."

"Yup, and Ortho could help me see the world."  He grinned.  "Doing some good charity work.  I just haven't decided yet."

"Most people know what they want to be when they grow up by your age, DiNozzo."

Tony grinned.  "I did.  And then things got dangerous; while I love NCIS, I need things that won't get me dead from a gunshot wound or another concussion."  He smirked.  "And you had no reason to be going through my closet, Gibbs."

"Abby found it and squeaked."

Tony rolled his eyes.  "Fine.  Quit being so nosy."  He started to plate things, checking on the rice.  "Few more minutes on that but that'll give the fish time to rest."  He put some waxed paper over it to keep it moist and warm then handed Gibbs dishes.  "Set the table."

Gibbs walked out to do that.  Abby was looking worried so he nodded.  "He did.  That's what he's doing this May."  She pouted.

Tony came out with the fish.  "I do have the option of doing them at Bethesda and keeping part-time hours at NCIS but that's going to be a hellish year."

"I missed something," Ziva complained.

"Tony's about to get his MD," Abby said.  "Is that why Vance wanted to put you on a ship?"

"Yup."  He came back out with the bowl of rice.  "It'd keep me within NCIS and I could end up Ducky's intern or something probably.  Which isn't the field I'm interested in."  He went to get tea and came out with the pitcher.  "I can do them at Bethesda, or I can do them at PPTH."  He sat down.  "I have two months to figure out where I'm doing them or if I'm deferring to next year."  They all nodded.

"Was there really a blood scare?" Abby asked.  Gibbs and Tony both nodded.  "Wow."

"So I took the time to do all my in-school mandated hours up there instead of after hours and on weekends off."  He passed around the fish to everyone then started on the rice.  "Saffron rice."  Ziva smiled.  "The nurses at Bethesda might be very confused and think I'm there for another concussion.  That I'm wandering the halls or something."

"They asked why they hadn't seen you the last time I was in with an injury," McGee sighed.

"I am unforgettable," Tony teased.

"They missed the complaining and the movie quotes," Gibbs said.

"I'm a very good patient most of the time," Tony assured them.  Gibbs snorted.  "I acted up a lot for you guys so I could get some peace and quiet."

Gibbs glared.  "Uh-huh."  Tony smiled as he dug in.  "What about his other fellows?"

"He just fired everyone," Tony admitted.  "He does that every now and then.  Chase is in his field in the ICU's.  Cameron's in the ER's and I think Foreman's in the clinic."  He got up when someone knocked on the door, looking through the peephole before opening it.  "Tim."

"Tony, can you please instruct my boyfriend that I need things done a certain way.  I have no idea why he's not doing them, beyond to irritate me."

"Most likely it's like why I used to taunt you by switching your shirts around."  Tim sighed, shaking his head.  "Come into the bedroom, guys, and we'll talk for a few minutes."  He waved at the team.  "My present team."  He closed the door once they were in there.  "Is it attention seeking?  That's what broke us up," he said quietly.  "That he didn't pay hardly any attention to me."

The new boyfriend nodded.  "May be I am acting out because we never talk, do anything, go anywhere.  Hell, I don't even get sex regularly anymore."

"He'll start getting protective soon too."  They both looked at him.  "You're not OCD."

"Those ways make sense to me."

"It's an artificial order.  If I wash the glasses first, there's no room for the plates.  If I wash the plates and bowls first, then the glasses can go on top."

"Yes but then they can break.  You could put them up between."

"They're never dry and using the towel leaves streaks or hair or things."

"I suppose."

"Doing it my way works since you won't put in a dishwasher."

"It's a temporary house."

The boyfriend stared at him.  "I was not aware of that.  I told you I didn't want to move away from my parents.  They need me to look after them.  They're old and not able to do a lot on their own.  I can't do that if we move."

Tim sighed.  "This may not work out then.  I'll be moving to Hong Kong in six months."

His boyfriend shook his head.  "You have fun then.  My parents are more important than any lover or boyfriend or husband.  They raised me to take care of my kin above all else.  Family's more important than sex or a piece of ass."

"I..." Tim started.

Tony stared at him.  "That same thing is what broke us up," he pointed out gently.  "You have to give and take in a relationship, Tim.  A mate is more than a piece of ass you wooed.  You wouldn't do this to your partners."

"I'd expect a wife to go with me."

"I think she'd probably have heard about that before I did," the boyfriend snapped.  He sat on the foot of Tony's bed with a sigh.  "I can't leave my parents."

"There's people...."  His mate glared and he backed down.

"There's people for those that don't have a family and have families that weren't raised right," he said firmly.  "What would you do if it was our child?"

"We can't make a child between us," he said dryly.

"Rosenburg promised Xander she would if he decided he liked a guy that way," Tony said dryly.  "Beyond that, he's right, Tim.  If it was a wife and your kid was in special needs boarding school, would you do the same?"

"They can travel."

Tony stared at him.  "That's cold.  That's very cold."

"You never understood me," he complained.

"No, you never understood everyone else," Tony countered.  "Relationships take work.  It takes compromise and talking and keeping things interesting.  If you don't believe me, go ask Gibbs.  He's been divorced three times, which is where you're heading."

"Maybe I'll try Harris.  He seems simpler."

"He's going to work with Rodney and John," Tony said with a smile.  Tim shuddered.  "Beyond that, you'd have to give in for when he needed to be doing things with the Council.  Not like he's going to put off a battle for sex."

"Maybe I'll just stop dating then," he pouted.

"You just need to figure out how to have a partnership, Tim.  A marriage is a partnership.  Like you have in the business.  You have to communicate, work together, and keep things going happily.  It can't just be about you.  It's about the *both* of you."

"I'm not suited to this."

Tony smacked him on the head like Gibbs did to him.  Tim gave him a horrified look.  "Shut up.  The pity party is just so you can get one last good fucking in."  He stared at him.  "Why even take a mate if you knew this?  I'm sure he said he needed to stay by his parents at least once."  The boyfriend nodded.  "Then why do it?  Was it vanity?  Was it a status thing?  Was it just your ego being blown?"


"You did the same shit with me," Tony reminded him. "My career goals weren't important.  What I wanted wasn't important.  You didn't even care if I liked what you got me for my birthday."

"You two were together that long?" the boyfriend asked.

"Two years."

"I would've taken good care of you."

"A man who sits on his ass all day is nothing," Tony countered.  Tim huffed off.  Tony looked at him.  "If you don't go back with him he'll lock you out."

"I'm filing the forms tomorrow."  He followed.

"Hire them a bodyguard," Tony called after him.

"I am.  I know."  He slammed the front door on his way out.

Tony sat down at the table with a sigh.  "He's selfish and wants a trophy husband."

"Ummmm," McGee said.  "I don't want to ask."

"College.  He didn't want me to go to the academy."  He ate a bite of rice.

"There were rumors," Gibbs told the others.  Tony nodded.  "The person who did that?"

"He's so very sorry."

"Good."  Gibbs ate a bite.  "How do you know people like that?"

"I went to school with them.  Didn't we have this talk?" Tony quipped, eating a bite.

"How is Xander handling being alone up there?" Ziva asked.

"He's frustrated and pissed at one of his fellow students today and the stupidity of favoritism by the teacher.  Xander had to go to the chair of the department to have him look over their projects.  The chair agreed, Xander had the better one.  It was more comprehensive, it had real life applications and samples.  The other guy was theoretical and dumb.  But the teacher is his uncle.  Xander got warned it was a dangerous trend to start but Xander pointed out all he wanted was what he had earned.  He had worked hard on that project and deserved an honest grade.  The chair agreed and took all grading from him.  It went to his assistant, who hates Xander for being a former construction worker, but he'll grade fairly, mostly."  He ate another bite.

"People like that annoy me," Gibbs said.

"Him too.  Fortunately he has the piddling mandatories left."  Gibbs smirked.  "We helped him get ready to test out of some things."

"Good of you," Ziva said.  "Is he going to be coming to DC?"

"He's going to a speciality building project if he can keep his grades up."

"Interesting."  She dug in again.  "This is very well seasoned fish, Tony."

"Thank you."  He smiled.  "It's not a hard dish but it's a very filling one and I got enough for a Basque seafood stew tomorrow."  He finished up and went into the kitchen.  "I bought a pie."

"Ooh, pie," Abby said, cleaning up her plate and helping clean up the table so they could have dessert.


Xander looked up from his test taking when he heard a familiar voice outside.  He smiled and finished, handing it to the scowling teacher after he took a picture of it.  "He's the guy that wanted me to do this."  He left, going to greet Rodney.  "Hi."

"Xander."  He smiled.  "Come tell me how it's going?"

"It's going okay.  A few jealousy issues because I have something to do after this."

"He's uppity," a teacher complained, coming out.  "Always with the 'that can't happen'."

Xander looked at her.  "You thought falling beams would float?"  Rodney snorted, shaking his head.  "You can ask Rodney, there's a Law of Gravity that makes sure it falls."


Xander sighed.  "I only have a math and an english class to take," he said.  "As long as my tests are graded fairly."

"I got your last few report cards and the last few projects.  Very nice work, Xander."  He walked him off, going to talk to the department chair.

Xander smiled.  "This is Doctor McKay, he's the guy who wanted me to come here."

"Mr. Harris is an interesting, practical student with a good view of reality.  A few of our students hate that but they needed to see it."

"Quite if the teacher believes beams won't fall."

"I pointed out that she had forgotten to take into account safety measures that OSHA would require around building sites," Xander said, sitting down.  "That you had to have so much clearance in case there was a fall.  That you had to include safety gear in your designs.  That you had to include some worker comfort things too, like a water hose or a ice tank.  And I got sneered at.  Apparently doing the job wasn't good enough for her."

"She's sticking up for that other teacher, Mr. Harris."

"It's not my fault he was coddling his nephew."

"No, it's not."  He smiled at Rodney.  "He's got a very interesting skill mix."

"Xander's going to a specialty building program I know of when he's through with you.  Will that be soon?"

"He has two classes.  If he can pass his tests tonight, yes."  Xander showed him the picture of the test.  "I did like that I allowed you to do that.  Purple ink?"

"My black pen ran out."

"Interesting.  I doubt they can match it."  He went over it, nodding.  He went to get it from the teachers, who were all complaining.  "Yes, that's called the real world, which our students will all have to live in very shortly," he told them.  "That's why we're a community college instead of a full four-year and higher.  We're meant to be teaching them real world skills so they can get better jobs.  He's what we're supposed to be doing.  Not playing favorites for our relatives."  They slunk back to their offices.  He took the rest of the tests too.  He'd have a long night but the boy's could get done first so he could go home.  That McKay guy seemed pretty intense and paying a lot of attention to the boy.

He wasn't sure if there wasn't more than a *mentor* thing going.


McKay let Xander drive him back, though he hated the motorcycle, much too unsafe for his tastes, but it was nice that the boy was finally relaxed.  Now all he had to do was pass an english and a math class.  Which he was apparently doing online.  He showed him those and sent them to the department chair to see if they would count.  McKay settled in and let Xander fuss over him.  "You're not my husband," he teased with a smile.

"No but I'm a fussing person by nature apparently."  He sat down.  "The house is lonely, I need a dog."

"If you get a dog you'd have to give him up when you came with us."

Xander nodded.  "I know, which is why I don't have a dog."  Rodney smirked, sipping his tea.  "No lemons.  It's mint tea and I read the label before I made it."

"No, it's very good, Xander."  Xander grinned.  "You know, John's back down."

"Really?  I said I'd make us a picnic if he wanted since last time I had to leave for a problem and he had to leave for a problem."

Rodney smiled.  "He'll be out here tomorrow."

"I don't have class tomorrow."  His laptop beeped so he leaned over to answer it.  "Is Walter someone you know?"

"Yes."  He took it to read.  "That's excellent.  The General has accepted your scores and is awaiting your final ones."  Xander beamed at him.  Rodney put the laptop down.  "John will be most pleased."

"Okay.  I'd like that."

"Good.  I knew you two would get along."

Xander nodded.  "We seem a lot alike and he does some wicked things."  Rodney grinned and finished his tea.  "Did you need to stay over?  I can change the sheets on the bed and sleep on the couch."

"There's beds at the club, Xander."

"Yes, but I don't think most of them are for sleeping."

"There's a few for sleeping."  He smiled.  The boy relaxed again.  "Why don't you go shower?  We can go tonight."  Xander hopped up and did that, taking some bread in with him to nibble on.  "We can eat dinner on the way."

"Then I'd have to bring my toothbrush."

"They make things to handle that.  We'll eat on the way there, Xander."

"Yes, Rodney."  He came to the doorway of the bathroom.  "Can we not go anywhere too high class?" he asked hesitantly.

Rodney smiled.  "I won't let you talk me into fast food but we'll go somewhere moderately decent."  Xander smiled and went back to cleaning himself up.  He considered that request and texted John, who told him why.  Xander wasn't ever really taught how to react to being in public, being watched, or anything like that.  "Ah," he said quietly.  "Well, it's something we can work on," he decided.  He heard the razor and smiled.  "He won't be here until tomorrow."

"I still need to shave."

"If you want to."  Xander hopped into the shower and came out ten minutes later smelling nicer and clean, with very wet hair.  He went into his bedroom, working on his hair.  "Blow dryer," Rodney ordered.  Xander sighed but did that, letting Rodney show him the easy way to do that.  "Didn't learn that from the girls?"

"They had their hair ready by the time I saw them."

"Yes, most women would."  He helped him finish getting dressed by changing his shirt for something nicer.  Then Rodney decided on a simple thing.  Applebee's.  It was decent enough.  On the way to the club.  Wasn't too high brow so if he slipped no one would gasp and point fingers, plus Rodney could work on the simpler things if he needed him to.  John would appreciate that for dinners out.  Xander called them a cab and they went there.  Xander even offered to pay, which was sweet of him.  It turned out Xander had to concentrate very hard on his table manners so Rodney made him relax and helped him move them to a more natural state.  The boy was absolutely shy with any attention tonight but that was all right.

Halfway through dessert, John walked in and sat down next to Xander, taking Rodney's fork to share it with him.  "The general is very happy."  Xander smiled at him.  John grinned back.  "He even gave me an extra day off to come recruit you and have you sign a lot of paperwork."

"Should I put the place up for sale?"

"No, you can keep it as long as someone pays your taxes.  It'll be good to have a refuge from everything," Rodney said.  He ate his ice cream.  It was excellent.  Xander was trying too hard again but John was comfortably stealing bites from his cake so it made the boy relax.  Afterward, Xander did pay, got John a sundae to go with a grin for him, and Xander called them a cab.  That sundae.... well it made a nice Xander topping for John to tease him with.  Rodney got to play with Tony for a bit since he was up to talk to House.

This time no one was interrupting John's fun time.  He needed it after the last few months on Atlantis and he was wound up way too tightly.  Xander proved that he understood that by being a horrible tease and then letting John do whatever he wanted, within reason, but all for both their fun.  Xander rested, with cuddles, before shifting to give John a long massage.  John went limp, letting Xander take care of him.  It was nice to have that sort of attention.


John looked at Xander in the morning, staring at him across the table.  "Did you hear that your last two classes got accepted?"

"I was waiting on that information."  He ate a bite of egg.  Then swallowed.  "Are we sure?"

"I'm certain."  He smiled.  "That means you can do the graduation in a few weeks."  Xander beamed at him.  "Do you want to come up now?"

"I can do that.  I don't have much tying me here until next spring."

"We've worked out a few things.  Next spring's not supposed to be bad from what they've said and learned.  Our general gave the Council someone to help with training the girls."  Xander nodded.  "If they heard that this spring was going to be bad, he'd tell our general, who would let us know.  That way you could come back.  It's part of your contract."  Xander smiled at him for that.  "So it's up to you if you want to wait a little while or want to go sooner."

"I can go sooner but I probably need to pick up some stuff."

"You do," he agreed with a smile.  "We can do that in Colorado Springs or here."

"I don't really think it's going to matter to jeans and t-shirts.  I can't find a good pair of work boots without going to the city.  I've been looking and haven't found any."

"Denver has a few very nice shops."  Xander smiled at that.  "Do you have someone you trust to look over things for you?"

"I have no idea how to do that.  And.... Do I have to tell anyone about what I inherited?"

"If you decide to marry, you might want to clue them in that you're not poor but there's no laws or rules saying that you have to let your mate handle it.  Or that you have to combine it.  You should always have a prenup anyway.  Even among the society there's idiots like that."

Xander nodded.  "I can agree to that.  So if I find someone who'll pay house and bike taxes for me and all that?"

"That'd be good.  You can even rent out the house and put your bike and stuff you can't bring in storage if you want.  Even out there.  We can have the bike moved."

"We can?"

"Yeah, there's a way to do that."  He smiled.  "Want help?"

"Please," he said quietly.

"Then we can do that."  He grinned.  "Finish up.  It'll take a few hours of running around."  Xander nodded and finished up then went to shower, clean up, and change clothes.  They went to Xander's place to get all his papers and then went to see a financial manger in a company John trusted.  They did his, they could do Xander's.  John walked them into the office.  "This is Mr. Harris.  He's going to be joining my military project for a while as a civilian helper."

"We have special people who can handle military accounts, sir."  She smiled and paged one, bringing him out.

John smiled and shook his hand.  "Colonel John Sheppard and this is Xander Harris.  He's joining our project in a few weeks."

"Come to my office and I'll see what I can do to help him."  He smiled at them.  They were adorable together.  Xander had his bank account information, the title to his house, his bike, and the storage area he already had.  He laid out what they could do, and what would need to be handled the most.  Xander agreed with most of it but John wanted his bike moved closer for him and the storage area sealed so that no one but him could get into it.  They arranged for the automatic draw of that, the taxes, and the bike's taxes, insurance, and all that.  The bike's move was arranged by the manager as well.  Xander agreed to their tiny fee plan and it was good for a year.


Rodney met John and Xander back at his place.  "I'm surprised you didn't go on the bike," he teased.

"Later.  This time we had papers," John said.  "He's got someone overseeing his accounts."

"Excellent.  Did we tell the bank?"

"I did," Xander said.  "We paused there on the way back."

"Excellent.  Let's pack what you need to bring and the rest can go into storage."

"Um...." he said, heading for the bedroom.

"Yes, I already saw your closet floor, Xander," Rodney said dryly.  "I noticed them last night."

"Oops," he muttered.  "The rest are in the garage."

"They can go in your storage area.  Today," John said, shaking his head.  "Guns?"

"That as well."

John went to look.  "Illegal," John said bluntly.


"No!  If you get caught they'll put you in jail, Xander."


"Put it in the Council's armory."

"They have a dweeb in control."

"I don't care.  It's that or I'm taking them back to the base and they won't let it go for apocalypses."

"Fine."  Xander made a pile in the garage and called Cleveland.  John and Rodney worked on a list of what he'd need to bring.  "Tools," Xander called up the stairs.  "They're all down here."

John came jogging down the stairs to look that over.  "That's a good set of tools.  We can have that brought up."  He smiled and took a kiss before heading back up there.  One of the coven appeared and stared.  Xander grinned.  "He's allowing you to hold them in case they're needed for a battle," John called as he walked.

"They didn't want us to have anything that heavy, Xander," the elder witch said.  Xander put on Willow's hiding charm.  It felt of Willow's magic.  "That could help.  I'll let Buffy know once I get it back there."  Xander smiled.  "Are you moving again?"

"I'm going to join John's project for a year.  They need the construction help."

"That's charming of you to do, dear."  She took it with her, going to tell Buffy but not the armory agent.  He was a bit uptight.  Giles took control of it and put it into his office closet for now.  That way it was handy in case they needed it but not confiscated.


Xander stepped off the plane a bit greener than usual.  "Way up high," he said quietly.

"It's something you'll get used to, Xander."

"Maybe it's the water versus air issue," Rodney said.

"That could be," John agreed.  He helped Xander to the car waiting on them.  "Xander, this is our general."

"Sir," Xander said, shaking his hand.  "Thank you for wanting me."

"We need good, qualified help.  What do you know about their project?"

Xander smiled.  "I've been asking around.  I've gotten plans and all that I could from the demon networks."

"They would've been around when she was here the first time," Rodney admitted.  "Plans?"

"They're on the computer.  Someone scanned the book in for me since it's falling apart and it's on another plane."

"Wonderful."  Rodney smiled.  "We'll finish outfitting him this week so he can do his orientation."

"That'll work.  Does he need the infirmary?"

"I'm not really used to flying," Xander said quietly.

"You'll do fine, kid."  He turned around and drove them off.  John and Rodney helped Xander with the mass of paperwork he had.  Then they assigned him a base room.  His tools would be out the next day, shipped so they were in crates.  John sent a message ahead to get a room ready to store them and one for Xander to live in.  Then he and Rodney took him to Denver for the night.

It was an hour away.  They had a lot of shops that Xander might need to hit.  Including a nice store that catered to the more physically working fields.  Xander got two pairs of work boots, a lot of jeans and t-shirts, and some more underwear.  They helped him buy a better computer with a lot more storage and memory.  Rodney transferred everything over.  They also got a few extra external hard drives so Rodney could get movies and more music.

Xander seemed to like music.  He had a varied collection.  John added to his list of what he should try.  Which he seemed to like so he got all those off i-tunes.  Xander also downloaded a lot of movies for them, including some quirky choices.  His old laptop could go up with them on the trip while this one got packed with the tools.  Rodney got his own external drives to get more music he liked, books he wanted, and a few new movies as well.  It was a good trip.


Willow appeared in front of Xander, staring at him.  "Military?"

"They're the good guys, Willow.  Not like Finn."

She grimaced.  "Still."

"They do important work and protect us just as much.  They're so classified even the demon network doesn't know all that they do but they all agreed it was protecting us."

"Fine, I guess."  She sighed.  "Buffy said we should get you a going away present."

"I'll be back in a year."

"That's good."  She held up the bag.  "You're probably allowed a personal carry-on."

"Yeah, one."

She let him see it and explained the uses to him.  Buffy had already put some soda and twinkies in there for him.  He sniffled but hugged her.  She left and Xander went to spend a lot in Sam's Club.  That bag got put into the personal bag.  He knew Rodney said they ran out of coffee so he added some of that as well.  He was finishing his packing when John knocked and walked in.  "Willow gave me a present."

"That's great."  He smiled and tipped Xander's chin up with a finger.  "We should talk."

"You don't like me and it'll become awkward?" he asked quietly.

"No!"  He sat down beside him.  "What would you think about going to the local house tonight?"

"Is it any different?"

"No.  A different layout and things.  Different people."  Xander shrugged and pulled out clothes.  John stopped him.  "What about wearing my pendant?"

Xander stared at him.  "Are you sure?  I mean you haven't even known me that long.  I could get really irritating.  Anya said I was now and then.  Especially when I got bouncy and hyper and babbled."

"I don't mind babbling," John said calmly, making Xander calm down.  "You'd actually be my first consort but I was married before."

"Wow."  Xander took a deep breath and considered it.  He nodded.  "I think if you're ready I can do that," he said finally.  "But I don't want things to get awkward so we need to keep talking to each other and things like that."

"We will," John promised with a smile.  "You sure?  This means the altar room and all that."  Xander shivered.  John smirked.  "It was like that for most of us."  He winked.  "Get pretty for me, Xander."

"I should shave."

"I don't mind."  Xander looked at him.  "Really.  I don't mind you not shaving."  Xander nodded and went to shower and change clothes.  John was already in street wear so they left together and went to the club.  John walked in with Xander on his arm.  "Higher," he greeted with a nod and a smile.

"John.  Welcome back. I've heard you've been in New Jersey."  He looked at the young man.  "And our youngest consort."

"They wanted me to meet Xander and they were right, we do hit it off very well."  He looked at Xander, who kissed him on the ear.  John smiled at him.  "I believe we're ready and we're leaving in two days."

"You have the right of the altar room then.  I'll get what I need."  He left them to walk that way together.

John led him back to this one.  Xander kissed each statue and so did John, then he undressed Xander.  He kissed him, making Xander relax.  John stripped down and Xander skimmed his hands over his body, making John shiver.  "It'll be great, Xander."

"I know it will be."  He smiled.  John grinned back.  The Higher came in so John helped Xander up onto the altar, helping him onto his knees.  John got up behind him and slowly prepared him with the holy oil they used.  Xander was whimpering and shifting against his fingers, which was very pretty.  He finally managed to get inside Xander and the Higher chanted and prayed over their union, keeping it up while John rode Xander into an explosive orgasm on the altar.  Then John pulled back and let his own hit it.

"It is done and you two are bound," he intoned.  Xander rested his head against the altar.  John soothed him by stroking up his back with a trembling hand.  He helped them down and got them into a room to recover.  The pendant John had put here for when he was ready was brought to them.  "Xander, John designed this for you," he said, handing it to John.  Then he left them alone.

John untied the ribbon around the box.  "They always ask us to design a first bonding sign."  He smiled as he opened it, taking out the small medallion on the sturdy chain.  He put it around Xander's neck, watching him sniffle and look at it.  Xander mugged him for a kiss and it was nicer.  More calm.  Xander was more centered.  John was more centered.  They could do a lot for Atlantis together and even more for each other.


The ship finally docked and Xander walked off with Rodney, going over what needed to be done.  John was following them.  He smiled at the people there to meet them.   "Hi, Xander Harris."

"New scientist?" he asked, checking the list.

"No, I'm your construction guy to fix the damage."

The man in front of him smiled.  "We heard Rodney hand-picked you, Xander.  Is that what you prefer?"

"Yup, I like Xander.  I'm used to answering to it."  He grinned.  "Do we have a work space for the tools?"

"We do.  When they're offloaded you can unpack them."

"He can unpack them later," Rodney ordered.  "We'll get the new computer out of them with the hard drives."  The guy grinned at him.  "Yes, of course we'll share movies and music."

"And I bought some other e-books that I thought I might want to read," Xander offered.  "But they're all fantasy novels."

"That might be nice," he decided.  "Sir, he's on your corridor, six up from you," he said.

"I can do that," John agreed.  "Put all his stuff in there and we'll be going over the critical repair needs first in the morning after breakfast."

"Boot camp?" he asked.

Xander stared at him.  "Well, technically I was possessed once by a soldier who was going to end up going Special Forces once he made it past PFC," Xander said with a grin.  "I'm very good with weapons and protecting myself.  I've seen stranger than the wraith too."

"How?  On earth?"

"I worked with the slayers."  He shrugged and walked around him.  "If I need to I'll do it but let me get the critical repairs out of the way before they endanger lives.  You guys do too much to be taken out by an outlet fire."

"Yeah, he has," John said with a grin.  "He'll get it after the critical ones."

"Okay, you're in charge," he agreed.

"I'm going to be working on his hand-to-hand as well," John said with a grin.  "He needs some work there."  He took Xander to his room and got him settled in.  "I know it's officially stated that we can't be together on base," he told Xander, who grinned.  "We'll sneak around."

"Okay.  However you want to work that out."

John took a quick kiss.  "Toss your bags on the bed."  Xander did that and put his computer on the desk so John could show him around.  He had went over the basics on the ship ride up.


Rodney walked into the lab that night.  "I'm back, thank you for not making anything explode in a permanent way."

"A one eyed former construction worker?" one of his people demanded.

Rodney stared at him.  "He's here to fix all those things we don't have time to fix.  Like the corroded wiring."  He shrank back at that.  "Yes, he does have one eye.  He lost it right before an apocalypse battle.  Xander has actually seen worse than the wraith, knows weapons, knows tactics, and is a bit experienced with ancient weapons.  I designed his curriculum myself so he'd be the best we could have and do need.  Any other stupid questions?"

"No," he said, frowning.  "What was he, Rambo?"

"He worked with a slayer."

"He's Council?" he demanded, glaring at him.

"No, the former Council is no more.  He was working with the one in the field against their wishes.  You can ask him later on if you're more polite.  Xander has been shown to take out threats to the slayers."


"For many years," Xander said as he walked in with a hard drive.  "Since my tenth grade year when I did CPR on Buffy.  And then Willow activated the rest for the First Evil shit."  He stared at him.  "I've seen worse than the wraith and I'm fully prepared to do whatever I have to do to help you guys.  But for now, let me fix the critical things so lights quit going out and all that.  Okay?"

"You're that Harris?"  Xander smirked and nodded.  "Why?"

"Someone thought I'd do good and told Rodney."

"Oh."  He grimaced.  "Well at least you won't faint."

"No, I'm more likely to attack than faint.  That whole white knight thing."  He waved a hand and held up the hard drive.  "You didn't take a copy of the books?"

"Oh, the plans."  He hooked it into his computer to look at them.  Xander pointed out a few.  "They need translated."

"That's the second half of that file.  I worked on it myself.  It's not my best language so I put it after the original."  He looked at him.  "That way if I messed up a few words you could compare."

"That's very handy, Xander.  Thank you."  He looked over things, projecting them.  "He found a book with plans for us."

"Does it have ZPM plans?"

Xander shrugged.  "I don't remember anything about a ZPM.  Maybe they called it something different?"

"Probably," Rodney agreed.  "We can run a search."  He pulled up what he needed, which were maps of the city.  "All right, this area," he said, highlighting it.  "You'll be trapped in for days.  It was our accessory housing until the power started to fluctuate."  He looked at Xander.  "That is a priority with the lights that won't stay lit in the mess hall being second."

Xander pointed.  "That's glowing and it didn't used to."

Rodney looked.  "The AI is doing that.  What's this area?"  They looked.

"Greenhouse 2," one of them said.  "We converted it.  We've had some intermittent heat issues."

"Want me to start there and then move onto the housing electric then the mess hall?" Xander asked.

"Yes.  Start tomorrow."

"I can do that once I unpack the tools.  I'll need some of it to get into the duct work and see what's going on."  Rodney nodded.  "Pleasure meeting you guys.  If you have nosy questions, I'm not against being asked stuff.  I'm a nice guy until someone screws with me.  I really am."  He grinned.  "Even then I'm nice after I destroy someone."  They smiled back at him.  "Let me finish unpacking and then I'll start on the bigger tools tonight.  They'll only need uncrated."  He left, going to do that.  He'd get his hard drive back later.

Rodney looked at the rest, then went to hand it to Sheppard.  "Xander's."

"He in his workroom?"  Rodney nodded as he walked off.  He put the drive in Xander's room then went to help him.  They got most everything uncrated but the smallest things that were packed in layers.  That they'd have to be more careful with and they were both tired.  He led Xander back to his room, John could sneak back easier at the moment.

Xander looked around his room then at John, smiling.  "So...."

"Since we couldn't on the ship," he teased.  Xander nodded, pulling John closer to kiss him.  John moaned and got them into bed naked.  "Did you want to sleep tonight?"

"I need about four hours," he whispered.  John grinned and teased Xander.  Xander had learned bad teasing habits from Tony so it was time to show him how evil they were.  Xander was moaning but not too loudly.  No one was on either side of him so that was even better.  Xander finally gave up and came, making John happy.  Mostly because that meant John could do whatever he wanted and Xander would beg prettily.


Rodney looked up the next morning, frowning at Xander.  "You haven't eaten yet?"

"I'm just getting lunch," he said dryly.  "Relax, Rodney.  I did work for years.  I'm not some slacker frat boy."  He got something to nibble on.  "Also I'm giving you a report.  The problem in the greenhouse is actually a short that's caused by a duct that got split.  So I'll have to take out the power out there for at least three hours.  That'll give me time to run the new wire and fix the ductwork in that one area, though the rest needs replaced."  He nibbled on the muffin.  "The rest of the area's wiring is decent, still has shielding on it.  Nothing looked too frayed externally.  I noted one place where the wire was intentionally cut and electrical taped.  I figured you guys did that."

"Probably."  Xander showed him the pictures he had taken.  "You can junction it?"

Xander pointed.  "Connectors and as far as I can tell, as long as I'm very careful, I can replace the wires in them."  He finished his muffin.

"Those were for those on shift," one of the cooks complained.

"He's fixing the city's damage," Rodney snapped back.  She pouted as she walked off.

"I know not to steal snacks again," Xander said quietly.  "It's fine, Rodney.  A lot of people would look down on the maintenance guy."  Rodney grimaced.  "So do you want me to do that or just bridge for right now?  I'm not sure how much wire you had brought up and the one in here is clearly a wiring issue, plus that other one I glanced over.  I pulled one panel off and it's fucking bad."  He showed him that picture, getting a wince.  "It looks like someone tried to fix it, which caused more problems and more burnt wires.  So I'm going to have to rewire the whole panel, if not others.  I need the priority list based on what we brought up."

Rodney got into those.  "We only brought a few thousand feet of wire."

"That'll fix that panel if it's the right stuff," Xander said.  "I need to check the rest to make sure it's not as big of a mess."

"No, that panel's the only one that's been opened out there."

"I noticed.  Apparently they have a right side up side.  If you put them in right, it'll make it fade back into the wall.  If not, it sticks out."

"Interesting."  He took him to look at the wires.  He had gotten what Xander had suggested based on what wires they had right then.  "This stack is different," he said, looking it over.

"That's heavy draw wire, the one that goes from the box to be split out."  Xander looked it over, nodding.  "I can barely fix that panel and it'll take me about three days but that means rerouting power around that area."

"I can have that done," he agreed.  "Then the greenhouse?"

"I need to get into the ceiling in the mess hall to make sure you don't have shorts but otherwise, yes.  I did clamp that duct back together.  It's not fully sealed but it's taped until I can get in there to crimp all the edges and then weld it shut."

"Even better.  Can you do that quickly?"

"Yes but that won't help that electrical problem.  That'll take me about a day to reroute."

"Do the housing one first.  Then you can start on the greenhouse.  That's sounding more like a problem that could spread."  Xander nodded, hefting the first box of wire that way.  Rodney picked up some of them as well.  Xander came back to get the rest and what he'd need from his tool box.  Rodney watched him then smiled and left him with one of the minions to reroute the power supply.  He had more important things to do today.

"Why this one first?" the minion, a lower level, new physicist asked.

"Because this is a problem that could spread or cause fires."

"We have fire suppressant foam," he complained.

Xander looked at him.  "Does it work in the walls?  Because with the way these are burned out, you're lucky you didn't have one.  Whoever fixed this created the unholy mess that caused more problems.  It'll take me a few days to do this and then check the surrounding panels."  One up the hallway popped off and he shifted to look.  "You poor baby," he soothed, patting the wall.  "Let me fix those then I'll do this one last?  Or does the power start here?"

The physicist looked.  "No, that's farther from the power node.  Aren't you supposed to know this?"

"I know how regular electrics work.  There was no class in directionality of Ancient power node flow."

"Oh."  He nodded he got that.  Xander got to work stripping out the bad wires and laying them aside.  He measured the new pieces he'd need against that one and laid it in the pattern on the floor.   Then Xander got to work on the junctions that had burned things out.  That worked and they were quickly installing wires when someone came jogging their way.  "Major," he said with a smile.

"Hi," Xander said from inside the panel.  "Hand me the next piece, please.  That's the one closest to my ankle."  It got handed in.  "Thanks."  He worked on putting it into place.  "In about an hour I'm going to be soldering all the non-snap on connections."

"You're talking to me like my mechanic does."

"I have no idea if you have to make plans ahead," Xander pointed out.  He got the next piece of wire installed.

"True."  He tapped out that to Rodney, who said that was a good start.  "Do you have things to solder with?"

"Yup.  I made sure I brought up a lot.  I'll grab it from my workroom once this is all in."

"I can.  I've used them before."

"Sure, that'd be handy."  He grinned at the guy.  "I need the liquid flux too."  He nodded, going to do that.  Xander got back to his inserting wires and closing what contacts he could.  Something next to him twanged and he grabbed the beast, throwing it as hard as he could against the opposite wall.  It went smoosh so he was happy that the water rats were dying.  He got back to work and it was easier.

"Eww, what was that?" the physicist asked.

"It was in here trying to eat a wire," Xander said.  "It looks like a water rat."

"It does."  He took it to biology so they could look it over.  "The construction guy said it was trying to eat a wire.  He threw it at a wall."

She grimaced.  "That killed it."  She took it to look over.  "Thanks."

"Welcome."  He went back to help Xander more.  He was doing a good job as far as he could tell.  Everything looked organized and tidy.  Xander was inserting the last wire and came out to prepare the iron and get the flux.  Then he went in to hitch the top wires that needed it.  He came out to work on the bottom connections.  "Didn't they cross?"

"No, not originally," Xander said.  "Someone did that to bridge the broken parts."


Xander finished up those connections and it was happier.  He backed out.  "That was faster than I expected with that mess.  The bridging was all the mess.  Add power back so I can check it?"  The guy did that and one started to smoke so he turned it back off.  Xander checked.  "That was a bit of extra flux."  Xander sealed that connection better then nodded.  It go turned back on.  No smoke.  Another rat.  Xander stabbed it and shook it off his pocket knife.  "I think it likes the taste of the wires or the power in them."  He yawned and looked in the opening again.  "Do we have rat bait?"

"I can find that out."  He let Xander start on the other section that needed it.  He'd check the between sections later he guessed.  He took the other one to biology.  "Do we have anything for them?  They seem to be attracted to the wires."

"I'll mix something.  What's he doing?"

"The wiring mess in the other housing building.  It was horrible but now it's a single line of wires and all the mess that we apparently created is gone."

"Good!  It'd be nice to use those rooms again.  Go tell McKay about the rats.  It's nice it was a cleaner kill this time."

The physicist did that.  "McKay, he's got the wires that were underneath that mess replaced," he reported.  "We're finding rats though."

"That's disgusting," he decided, going to look it over.  He found another rat and shot it.

"If you miss and make me replace wires you're going to have to yell at yourself," Xander said from up the hallway.  He hadn't flinched.

"Why is this one warm?" he asked.

Xander came back to look.  "Okay, that's a heavier draw than it should be."  The physicist and Rodney rerouted the power from that wire.  "That's probably why someone created the mess."  He got into the junction box.  "Is that supposed to be joined by the circuit board plan?"

Rodney tested it.  "No, that shouldn't be but it looks like there's a broken connection so they bridged around it improperly," he sighed.  "Which would be our fault."  He took that board to fix in the lab.  He brought it back a half-hour later and reinstalled it, letting Xander hook things in properly.  He restarted it and it hummed.  The city was apparently happy with that.

"Hey, that fixed half the overload down here," Xander quipped.  "So it was a cascading failure."

"Not everyone knows wiring for practical matters," Rodney said sarcastically.

Xander looked at him.  "I didn't say they did, I said it was a fairly simple and common cascading failure.  One small problem grew and grew and grew."  Rodney nodded that was true.  "I can tell three different people tried to wire things.  The spaghetti monster one was really bad.  There's the more petite and delicate fixing, even with some tying into the same wire to replace a piece of it.  And then there's the replace the whole wire and expect it to work one."

Rodney looked.  "The mess was probably Kavanagh.  The petite one is Miko and the other is probably Radek."  His minion laughed.  "More in this area?"

"Replacing what's burnt."  Another panel popped off so he went to look.  "And a pipe.  Looks like you have a coolant leak."

"We could never find that," he said dryly.  He went to get him some pipes too.  "Just fix this hallway.  We need this building back."

"Yup.  I'll be here.  Get me for dinner."

"I can do that or send Sheppard."

"Sure."  Xander got back to work.

The physicist helped him by getting him what he needed.  It was interesting and good to know in case he ever bought a run-down house on earth.  Or McKay made him fix later things.

The doctor stomped their way.  "Mr.  Harris."  Xander waved a hand then went back to work.  "Why do I not have your medical files?"

"Because the FBI said that no one outside of three doctors gets it," he said bluntly, looking out at her.  She was giving him a horrified look.  "Doctor, I fell into some remains when my former construction crew accidentally cracked into a Native American burial chamber."

"Ow," the physicist said, shuddering.

Xander nodded.  "That too."  He looked at her.  "For that matter, before I was pretty damn good at fixing patrol injuries.  So you probably won't be seeing me unless I break something this time.  As much as I respect doctors, the FBI said even you guys don't get my records.  The General knew that, ma'am."

She glared.  "That's not how we do things."

"Then you take it up with John Sheppard.  He knows why and he got the general to agree."

"We have mandatory checks," she sneered.

He shrugged.  "That's great but why would I be on a gate team?"  She gaped.  "I'm here to fix your city and make sure she's working the best she can.  Unless we get attacked here, I shouldn't have to be in a battle until I go back to earth."  She stomped off.  He waved.  "I was polite, right?" he asked more quietly.  The physicist nodded.  "Thanks."  He got back to work.

"You call the Colonel by name?"

"He said I could call him John.  He never asked me to call him by his rank.  Maybe it's because I'm a civy contractor?"

"Maybe," he admitted.


John looked up.  "Doctor Keller, problems?  You look pissed off."

"I don't have that guy's medical records because the FBI said so?"

"And the president," he agreed.

She glared.  "Why not?"

"Because others found that he had antibodies from falling onto some remains and tried to kidnap him.  All mentions of his bloodwork were taken out of every single system in the US to protect him and us.  That way no one would want to go after him.  There's three doctors allowed to deal with his blood.  All of them in New Jersey at the moment as far as I know."

"What if he gets injured?"

He sighed and thought the doors closed, staring at her.  "First, Xander's a combat veteran but not military," he said quietly.  "He was helping with a defense group in a town with a very high death rate.  They brought it down by about fifteen percent."  She gaped.  "He started at sixteen and went until he was twenty-two, when he went missing the eye, and jumped into some battles since then.

"Things have happened on earth that would probably make us seem a bit more realistic than not."  He stared at her.  "Second, as I found out recently, Xander was one of the post-patrol medics.  He's good up to stitching minor things, wrapping wounds, applying ice, heat, compression, and CPR.  So unless he's seriously injured you'll probably never seen him and if he is, you're not allowed to scan his blood."

"What if we're attacked and he's poisoned?  Or he gets something that's poisonous to his system?" she demanded.

"There's not a lot that can poison Xander, Jennifer.  He's odd in a lot of ways.  Including some DNA taint that they were working on as well."  She gaped.  "Which is the other reason why especially our program is not allowed to scan him and keep records.  The NID tried to redo what was done to him and killed someone."  She shuddered.  "Every now and then he may need some blood dialysis to take that particular problem out.  If so, I'll talk to his doc in New Jersey so he can tell you how it worked best the last time."

"We have that little ball that we used on you," she said.  "How did he get DNA taint on earth?"

"A swim coach."  She moaned, sitting down.  "It's highly classified, even above O'Neill's rating.  Landry asked and was told to never ask again, don't even think about it in case someone goes telepathic, and not to ask Xander.  That's one of the benefits of having him with us, he's more protected from those who want him."

"I can see that point."  She looked confused.  "What if we're attacked?"

"Xander's actually pretty good with weapons.  I showed him how to use a zat and he's pretty spot on with it.  A staff weapon he understood how to use it to fire and as a staff, though he was more inclined to use it as a staff than a firing weapon.  He's good from swords to guns.  And some light artillery."

"What was that group doing?"

"Reducing a really high death rate."

She slumped.  "So how do I check him if we need me to?"

"You may not scan his blood unless it's absolutely necessary.  You are not to do any DNA work on him or look at any antigens or antibodies that he may carry.  If you find out by accident you're not to tell anyone," he said, staring at her.  "He has been made aware of why he has to be paranoid about his blood.  He was the sort to do his own stitches before this and he's still one.  I can tell you a few things that will drive you nuts."  She shrugged, looking confused.  "He has an extra chamber in his heart because what that swim coach did set in motion some organ growth."  She moaned.  "He also has an extra gall bladder like thing.  Neither one bothers him.  They don't impact his health at all."

"Pre or post lungs?"

"Post.  It comes directly into that and then out.  He used to joke about growing his own evil clone."  She shook her head with a grimace.  "Xander's a lot like me only he's not really fond of flying.  His thing in place of that is actually weapons."

"Okay.  So he'd fit right in up here if he was military."

"Yup."  He grinned.  "I'm not going to take it easy on him because of his eye.  I'm working on his hand-to-hand personally right now."

"Fine.  So if he breaks something I can set it?"

"Yup, but do not make any records."

"I can do that.  Has he had broken bones?"

"I think he mentioned an arm.  You can ask him those sort of questions.  Just stay away from anything blood, organ, or DNA related."

"I can do that."  She got up and went to talk to him.  "Harris?"  He looked up at her from fussing with his soldering iron.  "Do you have any present problems I need to be aware of that may need treatment?  Allergies, food or otherwise?  Recently broken bones?"

"I've had about seven concussions since I was sixteen.  I do get some seasonal allergies but I usually just sniffle and sneeze through them.  Other than that I mostly do it myself, Doctor."

"Fine.  When you come in I'll be doing all your checks myself and John did tell me *some* of what went on so I wouldn't worry."

"I'm not contagious.  Any more than John is."

"I'll keep that in mind though you should use his title."

"I let him," John told her when he walked up to them.  "He's not military."  She looked back at him.  "You've had seven concussions?"

"Yeah, patrol head hitting."

John shook his head.  "Ow."  Xander grinned.  "You're going to burn yourself or that wire."

Xander looked then put it aside.  "It's not that hot.  I was melting the plastic off the end to keep it sealed.  I spotted one of the rats nibbling on it."

"We have rats?" she asked.  He pointed at one.  "Eww!"  John shot it, bringing others running.

"Put out rat bait," John ordered with a point at it.  "It's apparently drawn to the new wires so check in there too."

"Yes, Colonel," the soldiers said, taking it with them.

Xander grinned.  "We handed the earlier ones to biology."

"That's fine."  John grinned. "Nice work so far."  He petted the wall next to him.   "We could use this building back."

"After this I'm checking the ceiling in the mess hall to make sure it's not a short.  I can do that after dinner.  Once I get this hallway done I'm doing the greenhouse then that unless that's more critical and going to cause problems."

"Good.  What happened here?"

"Someone fixed a circuit board wrong and it jumped two wires together, which overloaded it and caused it to fry," Xander said.

"Wonderful," he muttered.  "Us?"  Xander nodded.  "Said...."


"Even better."  He grinned.  "Good job so far."  He walked her off.  "Self defense starts tomorrow, Xander."

"Yup.  After breakfast and before work?"

"After dinner."

"Okay."  He got back to work.  The rat that came to nibble on his hair for him got tossed into the wall and he shot the others hurrying to see if he was tasty.  "Maybe it's my shampoo," he told the military guys that came running.  He checked and shot another one, handing it over too.   "Apparently this is the mother land or something."

"Clearly," one agreed.  They gathered those up and put down the rat bait the biologists had made for them.  Xander moved it away from where he was working and got back to it.  They watched but he was good.


Xander came in for dinner that night, smiling at the cooks.  "After the rush, I'll be going up into your ceiling to look at that light issue," he told them.  They nodded.  "So let me eat slowly."  They gave him food and he went to sit with John and his friends.  "Can I add myself?"

"Sit," John said, kicking out a chair.  "Xander, this is Ronon, this is Teyla.  They're natives."

Xander smiled and waved.  "Hi, I'm Xander.  I don't know if you guys shake hands or not so I won't insult anyone."

Ronon smirked.  "John said you are taking lessons in combat?"

"I'm upping my mid-level skill set to a higher level."

"That is always wise," Teyla said.  "Taking training when you can."  Xander grinned and dug in.  "You are not a scientist."

"No, he's the one fixing the damages done to the city," John told her with a grin.

"Wonderful.  Many things need fixed."

"How long before we can have the building back?" John asked.

"After I'm done with what I'm working on right now I'm moving on to do a hallway, room, and outlet/light check.  Depends on how many I find.  Can we isolate some rooms like on a breaker system?"

"We can," John said.  Rodney nodded since his mouth was full.  "That would help?"

"If I can clear most of the building and isolate a few rooms, I'll call that good and work on them.  But until I can get ninety percent of the rooms and hallways cleared for occupation I won't let anyone in."

"That's reasonable," Rodney said.  "We're not terribly pressed but we can work it out."  Xander nodded, digging in again.  "Xander, is that lemon jell-o?"

Xander looked then shook his head after a taste.  "Banana."

"Thank you."

Xander grinned.  "I'd never do it on purpose."

"I know."  He smirked at the boy.  "You're usually a good boy."  Xander barked.  John burst out cackling, shaking his head.

"Is that a medical problem?" Teyla asked Rodney.

"No, that's a sense of humor," he said dryly.  Ronon was snickering.  He looked around.  "Of course, someone is sitting where you need to go later," he said dryly.

"I'm not going to make them rush out," Xander told him.  "I'm done for the day outside of this."  Rodney snorted.  "Let them eat.  Eating should be a pleasure as you told me."

"It should, yes."  He finished his and let Xander handle it.  He had to learn how to handle the other people on the city to fit in.

When all but the last table was empty, Xander tossed his tray where it needed to go and walked over.  "Guys, I'm going to check the lights next to you," he said.  "I'm going to be up in the ceiling."

"Need us to move?"

"I can go in on the other side but tell anyone who sits there while I get a ladder?"  They nodded and Xander went to get the ladder then came back to open the roof panel.  "We need more of the rat bait I think."  He climbed up into the ceiling, looking around.  He checked the light.  "Atlantis, can you please shut this one down?"  She did for him.  "Thank you, dear."  He checked the wires.  All loose.  "I should be able to fix that fairly easily with a few new wires, some rat bait, and a screwdriver," he said, patting it.  "Let me get the critical things done and I'll do this next."

He saw something up the row spark and moved to look at it.  "Hmm.  Shit.  Shut this junction?"  She didn't.  "Rodney, I need to shut this junction down," he called.  No answer.  "Okay."  He looked and shut it down himself.  The sparking quit.  He opened the nearest roof panel.  "Can you please hand me the bag, ladies?"  They were scowling at him.  "We have something up here arcing."  They got him the bag and handed it up.  "Thanks.  Give me about twenty.  It looks loose, not damaged.  Though you're going to need to rat bait up here."

"We have rats?" one demanded.

"Yeah, I found some earlier.  Right now I'm finding bite marks."  He pulled back in and got to work on the loose wires.  That helped and he turned the junction back on.  He got a mild zap but nothing unusual.  He watched and waited.  No more arcing that he could see.  He shifted and looked around.  "Atlantis, any other repairs that I need to do up here?"  Nothing popped out at him so he fixed that open spot and went back to the light.  He could fix some of the problem right now.  He finally came down and was all dusty.

He put the panel mostly back in place then looked at the lights.  Some were now flickering on the other side so he went to look.  Another loose junction.  "Someone put in a wire that was weak," he said.  He came down to see what he had.  He walked off to get some from the other project and came back to find his ladder had been shoved out of the way and tipped over.  "I have to go up in the ceiling to fix the lights," he told the woman.  "That means dust may fall on you."

"You can do that tomorrow."

"I'm doing it tonight.  Unlike some people I actually work a full day instead of get complained at for hours on end."  He climbed back up.  She tipped over the ladder.  "That's fine, I'll use your table to climb down."  He fixed the wire and sure enough he did just that.  She shrieked.  He stared at her.  "I told you that you were going to be in the way.  You shoved over my ladder, what did you expect me to do?"  He got off the table and folded up the ladder.

"I'm as nice as I can be if you're at least a bit nice to me," he quipped.  He walked over to the bag and put it back together.  "All right, ladies.  That light's fixed."  They smiled.  "This one needs a few smaller wires repaired."  They nodded.  "And probably a new bulb.  You still need the rat bait up there and probably in the kitchen but they seem to be preferring the wire coating plastic."  They smiled.  "Let me finish the hallway I'm working on and I'll come do those minor repairs or I'll do them after diner tomorrow?"

"That'd be fine.  Thank you."

"I'm Xander."

She smiled.  "We'll remember that."  He grinned and walked off.  She waited until he was gone.  "McKay won't like him being that snotty but he's efficient."

"I would've chewed her a new one," the other cook said.  "She made her own problem by not moving when he was polite and tipping over his ladder that way."  The first nodded that was true.  They waited on one of the botanists to come in.  "We need some of that rat bait, Xander said he saw some nibbling marks."

"Charming.  I see that light's still flickering?"

"A few more wires and some light bulbs," she said.

"That's fine I guess.  I'll add you to the list tomorrow."  They smiled and got her a dessert too.  She smiled and went to eat.  The other one in there was scowling and evil looking tonight.


Xander watched John and Ronon spar and mentally sighed.  He was like Buffy.  Who hated that Xander could do anything.  He wasn't sure that John wasn't going to be like her.  So he'd give it a good try but not hope for a spectacular one.

John waved him out and Xander took off his shirt and boots, coming out to work with him.  John frowned because Xander was clearly thinking about something.  "Problems?" he asked.

"Hmm, I'm not sure."  He attacked this time.

Rodney walked over to him and smacked him on the head.  "For trying that weak minded shit," he said at the odd look he got.  "He's not Buffy, Xander.  He expects you to do your best to kill him in here.  That's what he wants you to do.  Unlike her who only wanted a mirror."  Xander shrugged, looking down.  "Thank you.  I'd rather not have him frustrated tomorrow.  We have a mission to a trading planet."  He walked off to read and watch.

John looked at him.  "I'm trying to see what you can do, Xander.  I'd never do that to anyone I was seriously working with."  Xander nodded and took a breath then attacked.  The same weak attack then he ducked to the side and scored a hit John didn't expect.  John smiled and it was better.  Xander wasn't great but he was working his way to good.  John still won but he had years of fighting experience and training on Xander.  "Better," he decided.  "Still a lot of room for improvement but pretty decent.  Better than boot camp level."  Xander grinned at that praise.

"Go shower.  You're all sweaty."  Xander nodded, going to do that.  John stretched to cool down and made his notes on what Xander could do.  He might ask Teyla to work with him.  She could build that confidence that the boy had eaten by his female friends.  Plus it'd help him get more comfortable around women.  He followed to shower and decided to check on Xander's progress.  A slippy Xander might be fun.  He found him reading his emails when he walked in.  "Showers not working?"

Xander looked at him.  "I noticed the update thing flashing so I got into it for emails."

"Hmm."  John looked.  One and it was from Tony.  "I'm sure they'll write soon."  Xander nodded, getting up and helping John out of his t-shirt.  "Shower, sweaty," he said with a grin.

"Scrub my back?"

"I can do that.  That's why I came in."

"Then it's a good thing I didn't start without you, huh?"  He grinned, heading that way.  The pants got tossed directly into the washer in the bathroom.  The boots had been by the door and the t-shirt was already out of sight.  It was good he wasn't a slob.  John got in behind him and Xander turned to help him with his hair.  John returned the favor, finding his boy was a sensual beast who did purr.  That was going to make tonight all the better.  Though they only ended up cuddling while reading.  It was good, very comfortable.  John had made the right choice.


Xander heard the same bitchy woman knock his ladder over and break it.  "There, now you have to stay in the ceiling like the worthless thing you are."

Xander hopped down.  "Not really.  And by the way, not worthless."

"You don't have any real degrees."

"Why would I need one?  Especially if it gives you problems like yours.  Clearly someone needed her midol this morning.  What's wrong?  Won't anyone pay any attention to you?" he sneered back.  He moved closer.  "You're not impressing anyone and hey, this means you can fix it.  And if it doesn't hold weight any more then you'll have to buy a new one or all those repairs you've been saying were important won't get done."  She shrieked and tried to hit him but he held her off.  "You are that pathetic, aren't you?"  He gave her a shove.  "Go running to mommy.  Shoo.  Go.  It's what you're good for so go do that and maybe you can push out a genius baby for someone on the base who has real brains."  She huffed.

"I doubt they'd touch her," Rodney said as he and Radek walked up the hallway.  "I take it she did it again?" he asked, spotting the broken ladder.


"We can probably fix that."

"Rodney, that's a weld on top of a weld.  It won't be strong enough," Xander said quietly.

Rodney looked.  "We'll try it anyway."  Xander nodded at that.  "Radek, take her and figure out what her problem is."

"It's been going on since I was working in the caf.  She pushed over the ladder then when I was getting wire.   Then when I was up there."

"You ruined the table," she sneered.

"Unless you're OCD it doesn't hurt you to use another table for one night," he said, talking down to her.  She shrieked and tried to hit him again.  He waved at Radek.  "Let her go.  If she hits me I'll hit her back.  She's a big girl, she can take it."  She stomped off.  He smiled at Radek.  "I'm mostly done up there today.  Can I get a boost up?"  Rodney did that with Radek and he got back to work.  "Thanks, guys."

"Welcome, Xander.  Radek, see if you can fix that.  It's the only ladder on Atlantis."  He nodded, picking up the pieces to carry off.  Rodney went to stomp on that scientist until she begged to go home.  He walked into her lab to find her shrieking.  "I have no idea why she's decided to pick on Xander.  I don't really care why."  The section head winced.  "I don't care if it's a ladder phobia.  She'll be replacing it from her meager pay and she'll be in the nice office of Doctor Heightmeyer later on today."

"Atlantis is supposed to be the best and brightest," she sneered.  "He's not."

"Actually Xander is quite intelligent.  He doesn't like lecture classes."  She sneered.  "He could have a PhD in Engineering but he didn't want that.  He was doing the work we need.  I didn't see *you* doing those necessary repairs.  I certainly don't have time to do them.  Therefore I hired the best for us."  He stared at her.  "Beyond that you had better hope that it never comes down to Xander having to save your life."  She glared.

He stared back.  "He's right, your faulty thinking is unworthy of anything but bearing gifted children for someone.  Maybe Keller's working on that issue and you should sign up."  She burst out crying.  He snorted.  "I've seen many bouts of sisterly tears and yours are still pathetic.  Go home.  You're not worthy of Atlantis because even the lowest of us do a full day's work and don't try to intentionally sabotage the others."

"I need her, McKay," the section head complained.

"Can't we find you someone better?"

"No.  There's very few with her qualifications.  Even if she is dumb and trying to pick on him for whatever reason she's got critical projects that really only she and I can do.  I've got my own."

"Then I suggest you muzzle her.  The bitch has barked one too many times."  She nodded, glaring at her scientist.  "I'll start looking to see if I can find you someone better.  There's a whole new class getting ready to graduate."  He walked off.  Radek was welding the ladder.  It wasn't pretty but it should hold weight.  He hoped.  It would put a lot of stress on the work if not.  Before dinner they called Xander down to test it.  That's when they realized he didn't have a comm unit.  Rodney sent that note to Major Lorne, who asked why he needed one.

Xander leaned in a few minutes later.  "You guys wanted to see me?"

"Why don't you have a comm?" Radek asked.

"Because no one gave me one."  He grinned.  "Apparently they thought you'd have no reason to need me ASAP for anything."  He came in and they checked.  The first step held.  The second step buckled and brought the weaker side with it so Xander ended up on the table.

"Are you all right?" Radek asked, checking on him.

"I'm fine, Radek.  I've been banged up before."  He smiled.  "Thanks for trying."  Radek pouted.  "Thank you."

"You are welcome.  How will you fix wires?"

"I have a lot of walls I can work on for the next few days."  Radek smiled.  "I'll make do."  Radek nodded.  "So I guess you can recycle that one for little metal things you need."  He grinned and took it to do that.  Xander leaned on the table, watching Rodney come back arguing with John's second-in-command.  "It buckled."

Rodney muttered something.  "We'll figure it out."

"I'll order one.  You said the ship was going out tomorrow?"

Rodney nodded.  "Work on the walls until then."

"That's what I was going to do.  And that pretty picture window that has a crack you need to look at again."

"What picture window?" Rodney asked.  Xander took him down to look at it.  Rodney stared at the large crack working its way across the underwater window.  "We need a force field."

"The Initiative guys used a single point force field for their cells," he said quietly.  "Can you adopt that?"  Rodney stared at him.  "I have their full files.  Tony hacks."  He grinned.

"I need those."

"They're on the same book hard drive."  Rodney went to get it.  He grinned at the Major.  "Hi."

"You know about a formerly classified military project?" he asked.

"Yes, my group helped stop them."

Lorne blinked a few times.  "You're from Sunnydale."

"I am.  Which is why I'm not the average construction worker."  He grinned.  "Which is why you don't have to worry about me if we're attacked."

"That's good to know.  Does Sheppard...."

"Yeah.  Maybe not about us stopping them but yeah.  The person who introduced me to Rodney and him knew."

"Huh.  Interesting.  We have one of them on base so I had someone look up what he used to do.  He was acting strange and kept putting it back on that classified project."

"I ran into the guy on the main base and growled.  He fled whining that Buffy wasn't there to save him."

Lorne snickered.  "From what I heard, maybe not."  Rodney came back reading that entry and muttering as he set up something they had been working on in the lab.  Radek jogged over to help and Xander got down to help too.

"Some of this isn't any different than building battle robots," Xander said with a grin.  "It's still a moving thing."  He got a shrug back and they got it set.  The crack was still going but the field held when the water finally started to leak in.  Xander looked at him.  "If you want me to fix that I'm going to need some specialty gear.  And a new window."

"I can get you both," he assured him.  "We know of a place that makes glass."  They gathered the pieces that Xander cut out of the frame.  "That should hold for at least two weeks," he told Radek.  "Check on it daily."

"I will."  He smiled at Xander.  "You were helpful."

"I try to be very helpful wherever I can, Radek.  Like I said, I'm a nice, helpful guy as long as no one's a bitch to me."  Radek smiled as he walked off.  He looked at the major.  "I'd appreciate the others not hearing that I helped take down a specialized military unit," he said quietly.  "I'd probably get worse bad looks."

"Probably," he agreed, walking off with him.  "Any idea why?"

"Because, as the bitch earlier put it, I don't have a PhD and Atlantis is supposed to be the best.  No one appreciates the guys that fix your shower until it doesn't work."

"I hadn't thought about that.  Plenty of the soldiers aren't that bright."

"Yeah but they're soldiers.  I'm a civilian like the scientists are."

"I didn't consider that.  Well, it'll get fixed soon I hope."

"Me too.  I'd much rather have friends than people who glare."  He shrugged.  "Though it's not all that unusual.  One of my classmates for my A.S. was going there because his uncle was a teacher.  So I got to fight that for most of my time in."

"That sucks."

"I got the chair to fairly grade things."   He shrugged.   "I'm nice and I'm sweet, kind, and gentle until someone screws with me."

Evan smiled.  "That's most of us out here so you do fit right in, Xander."  Xander beamed at him.  "Go eat."

"I'll eat later.  I have a few more things I should get done before someone bitches."

"You started at eight."

"I start at seven-thirty," Xander said dryly.  "Just like I did on my crew."  Evan stared at him.  "That's real work hours."

"That's a ten hour day."

"It's still a real job."  He walked off.  "See you later, Major."

"Yeah, be safer."

"I always try," Xander quipped before getting onto the transporter.

Evan went to talk to John.  "Do you realize that Xander's pulling ten hour days?"

"Yeah, because if he doesn't everyone says he's slacking."  He looked at him.  "I'd like to spank half of science."

"They think he doesn't measure up to them."

"He's not here to be a scientist."

"I didn't realize they were all like that.  That and he said it was that they don't appreciate anything until it affects them."

"I heard."  He rubbed his forehead with one hand.  "We'll handle it.  We always do."

"Good.  He spotted a huge crack in an underwater window."  John winced.  "He got McKay into some classified files he has to look at those specs so there's a generator run force field there."

"Wonderful."  He went to look in Xander's files for those.  He had seen the mention but it was very bland compared to what Xander had on them.  That project he would've stomped on and killed with prejudice.  So it was good they stopped it.  He saw something open and looked.  "What is that?" he muttered.  Rodney came in.  "Can you relock that file?"

"I realized I hadn't."  Rodney looked at what John was staring at.  "That was Rosenburg's present to him.  It has candy bars or something."

John looked inside it then at him.  "Think she's a Harry Potter fan?"

"A fanfiction fan," he said with a grin.  "Trunks with huge rooms are mostly in the fanfiction."  Xander walked in.  "I'm relocking those files."

Xander did that for him.  "What's going on?"

"What's this?" John asked with a point.

"Willow's storage unit for soda and twinkies."  He grinned.

John stared at him.  "How did no one see that?"  Xander closed it and it looked like a padded zipping case.  "What do you have in there?"

"Twinkies and soda."  He shrugged.  "A few boxes of cocoa."

"Huh.  Can I see?"

"No."  He grinned.  "You'll steal the coffee I put in there for your birthday."

John smiled.  "Is that my present?"

"Part of it.  Depending on what we're doing that night."

"You know it's in a week, right?" Rodney asked.

"Yup."  Xander got into it and found the coffee, sticking his arm in to bring out a large bag of the good stuff.  He handed it to John with a grin.  John hugged him.  Xander cuddled him back.  "We'll have dinner that night?" he asked quietly.

"We can do that."  He smirked.  "Thank you, Xander."

"You're welcome."  They left and Xander went to clean up.  He went to get dinner and eat with Ronon.  Who he liked a lot.  Teyla was kind of like a more quiet version of a physical Willow to him and she was a bit strange about him.  "Ladies, anything needing fixed?" he asked the cafeteria lady with a grin.

"Not today, Xander, but that ceiling panel came down and dropped a rat earlier."

"I think the rat bait is making them hyper and building up their muscles," he admitted.  He put his tray down and went to look at that panel.  He got a broom.  "Let's get this back into place, Atlantis."  He popped it in and it popped back out, spilling out another rat.  "Aww, they're up there."  The surrounding tables fled.  "Thanks, guys.  Someone get me something plastic or latex to draw them?"  He got handed some of the wire's coating that had been trimmed off.  He taped it to the handle of the broom and put it back up there.  The rats came for it and fell down the hole.  He heard movement and concentrated, smacking at one.

It lunged and fell down.  Xander got the other three the same way and let the soldiers kill them for him.  A few smaller ones fell down through and Xander looked, then pushed the panel back into place.  "I'll put better rat traps up tomorrow, Atlantis."  It stayed locked in place.  Xander used the broom to smack one that was being ignored.  It went crunch.  He handed back the broom.  "Once we can get something better to kill them I'll come put some up there."

"Thank you."  Xander grinned and used the hand sanitizer so he could go eat.

"That's just gross," someone said.

"That's why I used the hand sanitizer," Xander said with a small shrug.

"No, I mean killing all those rats."

"They eat the wiring, which means the city breaks," Xander told her.  "Plus rats carry a lot of diseases."

"They're still living creatures," she complained.

"If you want, you can do what they do overseas and eat them."  She glared at him.  "Oh, you're a vegan.  Sometimes the lives have to end because they're endangering other lives.  If you want to put humane traps and have someone take them to release them somewhere, talk to Rodney or John."  She went to do that.

"You should be mopping," someone sneered.

"I'm not that sort of handyman," Xander quipped back.  "I only fix the damage they cause.  The military guys don't like me killing them.  If you want it mopped, go for it."  He ate some of dinner, looking at Ronon.

"Why would she want them alive?" he asked quietly.  Xander explained vegan and 'all life is sacred' sorts.  "We'd space them when she wasn't looking."

"I figured that," Xander said with a grin.  "Or release them into a wraith hive."

Teyla snorted.  "I'm not sure what sort of damage they could do there."

"You never know," Xander said with a grin.  "They could hurt their ships a lot."

"True.  I'll ask Rodney.  He'll have an opinion I'm sure."  She ate dinner.

"Probably, yeah," Xander agreed.

"You," a woman said, snapping her fingers.  "Mop this up."

"That's not in my job description," Xander said dryly, glaring at her.  "I only fix the damage they cause.  I'm not meant to mop.  If you want to mop, go ahead and mop.  I'd add some of the dish sanitizer solution to it."  He ate a bite.

John walked in.  "Xander's not here to do that," he told her, glaring at her.  "He's here to fix the damage all that time underwater and all the battles have done to my city.  If you want to mop, go mop."  She huffed off.  "What is it with the women scientists?" he complained.

"Buffy's 'he's normal' syndrome?" Xander guessed when John sat down.

"Quite probably."  He looked at him.  "A thought occurred to me."

"That look on his face usually means someone gets to spar with me," Ronon said with a grin.

Xander looked at him.  "I already sometimes spar with you."  He looked at John again.  "What thought?"


"I think she may have put something in there but I never looked."

"We'll be looking tonight."

"Whatever," he muttered.

John patted him on the back.  "If I can't have artillery you certainly can't."  A nearby soldier choked and gave him a horrified look.  "He has that nasty habit."

"I like weapons like John likes planes," he said with a grin.  The soldier whimpered.  Xander grinned at John.  "I have no idea."

"We'll be looking later."

"If we must."

"We must.  It'll be going to the armory too.  We might need it."

"Then I would've pulled it out."

"Good point.  How many?"

"I think just two in there."  He shrugged and ate.  "It's good tonight."

John went to get his own dinner.   Rodney's little steam cleaning and sanitizing bot was working on the floor.  He came back to sit down.  "How's things going?"

"Good.  Once I finish that building on Wednesday I'm sleeping in on Thursday.  I deserve it."

"Is that your day off?" one of the scientists sneered.

"He hasn't taken one yet and he's been here for three weeks," Teyla told her.  "He works harder than most of us do."  The scientist shrank back away from her.

Xander shrugged.  "I like the feeling of finishing a project but I'm sleeping in Thursday so I can do some wash."

"You can take a day off," John said.

Xander shrugged.  "I have things that need to get done that are critical.  Once I don't I'll take a day off here and there.  It's not like I can run out and do things."

"You can veg and watch movies," John said.

"I have some nights."

John stared at him.  "You're only getting four hours of sleep?"

"Sometimes six."  He grinned.  "I have a good reason for the extra sleep that night."

John mentally smirked.  "We're not sparring tonight."

"I need that time."

"No, you need to sleep.  Because there's always going to be a critical repair on Atlantis.  She's ancient in more than design."

"I know that but she's held up very well over the centuries."  He patted the nearest thing attached to her.  He had seen John and Radek do it too.

Ronon and Teyla looked up when the light over their table got brighter.  "I think she approves of the compliment," Ronon said.

John smiled.  "She's a beautiful, grand lady but he can't work himself into being sick."

"I haven't gotten sick yet," Xander told him.

"Uh-huh."  John looked at him.  "We'll veg tonight.  You have a few movies I wanted to see."  Xander grinned and nodded.  They finished dinner and went back to Xander's room to lay down and watch a movie on the computer.  John knew that Xander liked being held so them spooning with John watching it over Xander's shoulder worked well for them.  John fell asleep before him so Xander turned off the movie and flipped over to cuddle.  It was nice.  He let himself drift and contemplate his next few steps in the construction.  Plus how to hide his weapons from John.  He'd do that later when John wouldn't wake up from him going to the bathroom.


Tony looked up from contemplating the fuzzy looking floor in his exam room in the ER at Bethesda.  "I feel like shit," he told the nurse.  He had more than double vision and even his hands looked like they were hand and a half hands.

"Is that an official diagnosis?" she teased with a smile.  They had all heard he was now a doctor.  They all thought it was a brilliant way to get away from Gibbs' growling.

He nodded.  "Definitely.  For the paperwork you can put down that I have a very mild concussion.  Add wrenched shoulder that's now back in place," he said with a wince as he moved his arm.  "And a bruised rib."

"You need an x-ray to tell that."

"It doesn't hurt enough to be broken.  There's no shifting and I'm only hissing when I press gently on it."

"Still, it's an x-ray for official determination of broken bones."  He sighed but nodded.  She got the orders sent.  "It should be about a half-hour before they're ready for you, DiNozzo.  Want some water?  I remember concussions made you dizzy but cold water helped."

"Please," he agreed quietly.  "Ice pack for my shoulder too please?"  She got him one and the water, leaving him to vegetate and consider things.  He heard a commotion and winced.  That had to be Gibbs.

House walked into his exam area.  "Did I not warn you to quit getting injured before you ruin all the work I put into you?" he demanded.

"What are you doing here?" Tony asked, sipping his water.

House stared at him.  "Patrick called," he said with a smug look.  "When you were taken hostage."

"Oh.  Well, that got solved.  Gibbs shot him."

"Uh-huh."  He checked his eyes.  "Mild concussion."

"Shoulder's down to the 'wrenched' state and a bruised rib," Tony told him.

"Charming!"  He smirked.  "Nurse, discharge orders?" he called.

"X-ray wants him first, sir.  Who are you?"  House pulled out his PPTH ID, making her wince.  "We heard rumors that he did some of his hours up there."

"Yes, I'm his bastard of training," House smirked.

"He's nicer than Gibbs sometimes," Tony quipped, spotting him.  "He scowls less too."

"Toddlers scowl less than Gibbs does," the nurse assured him.  "I see your ride to X-Ray is here, DiNozzo.  Your former boss can walk your present one up there so they don't argue in my ER."  She walked off.

House helped Tony up and put him into the wheelchair.  He scowled at Gibbs.  "I told you to quit getting him hurt, Gibbs."

"Who told you?"

"Some mutual friends."  He gave him a smug look.  He followed, leaning on his cane in the elevator.  "Rib and shoulder?" he asked.

"Yup," Tony said. "They treat me very well here.  They're kinda used to seeing me."  He sipped more of his water.

House stared at him.  "Gatorade?"

"Cold water."

"I suppose that helps. We can add some electrolyte crystals to it since I heard it was a long run for you after your shoulder got dislocated."  Tony nodded that'd be fine.

"I'm really okay."

"Shut up, DiNozzo."

"Fine," he sighed.  He looked at the orderly.  "He's actually a tiny bit nicer than Gibbs."

"Considering most of the time the nurses call Gibbs your abusive spouse?" he said dryly.  "Doesn't surprise me, DiNozzo."  They got off the elevator and walked over.  "One agent with his growling doctor spouse."  He walked off.

"I haven't bent him over the desk recently," House quipped.  The orderly gave him a horrified look.  House smirked.  "If he's my spouse, I'm missing out."

"Yup, you are because I'm fantastic," Tony quipped.  The nurses all stared at him.  He grinned.  "This is Doctor House, who I did all my in-school hours under."  They smirked at him for that.  "Gibbs can't out snark him either."

"Charming!  You really do need to go to *nicer* people, Tony, not him."  They got him into the x-ray room.  Then they went to gossip.

House looked at the digital x-ray readout, grimacing.  "Bruised rib, like he thought.  Shoulder's got a small fracture.  Okay then."  He walked in to get him.  "You get a neat sling for *weeks*."

"Bruise?" Tony asked hopefully.

"Hairline fracture."


"Yup," House said with a smug look.  "Jimmy will be pleased.  It means you can help him with his filing cabinet again."  He rolled Tony's chair off, watching him slump.  Once they were in the elevator he looked at him.  "Are you going to protest?" he asked quietly.

Tony looked at him, then shook his head.  "I don't think so."

"Good."  He got him back to the ER, handing over the report of the readout.  "Sling, discharge papers?"  The nurse at the desk got him some and he helped Tony into it then took him out to the parking lot.  "I rented one," he said at the look the motorcycle got.

"That's cool."  House got on and Tony got on behind him.  "Go slower than usual?"

"Maybe," he quipped.  "Just don't puke on me."

"I'll try really hard."  They zipped off and Tony hung on, feeling comforted.  It was a good half-hour ride; it was like a hug only no one was holding him, but he knew Greg cared.  Or else he wouldn't have shown up, all jokes beside the point.  They got to the Baltimore airport and had a flight waiting for them once House turned in his rental bike.   "Reggie's plane?" he guessed.

"Yup.  He's letting me bum it.  It's about an hour to Newark."  Tony nodded at that.  "Then a half-hour home but I brought the car.  At that time they weren't sure how injured you were."  He ushered him through the private plane terminal's security, showing his ID.  Tony showed his NCIS one.  They passed through easily and were on the plane a few minutes later.  Everything was ready and waiting on them so they could take off within twenty minutes.


Director Vance showed up two days later.  "DiNozzo, Gibbs claimed he kidnaped you or you quit," he said bluntly, staring at him.  "Which was it?"

"The ER gave him two weeks off," House said, handing over that order.

Tony considered it.  "I'd love to stay NCIS, Director Vance, but I'm in no shape to be an agent right now."  His sling was uncomfortable but he wasn't going to fuss with it right now.

House stared at him.  "Chase, adjust that shit for him."  Chase got it adjusted and smoothed the strap down, getting a smile from Tony.  House looked at the director.  "You abused him too much."

"Sometimes you get hurt during a case."

"Ziva let me be captured to guard her own position," Tony corrected.  "Gibbs broke the hostage standoff and then one took off running, but he was working on McGee's new injury.  Ziva wasn't anywhere around so I chased that one.  And promptly lost all backup again."  Vance winced.  Tony handed over his report.  He had figured it was coming up so it was in his pocket.  "My report."

Vance read it, still wincing, then sighed.  "That matches Gibbs'."  He stared at him.  "Ziva David is in deep for that."

Tony shrugged and winced.  "I'm still not fit for even desk duty, Director Vance."

Vance stared at him.  "You're taking your year of residency as an unpaid sabbatical, DiNozzo.  It'll be a credit and a help to the agency," he decided.

"I don't want to turn into Ducky."

"Good, that would be creepy, but we could still use someone with training for agency injuries and agents who were caught like you were by that letter."  Tony nodded once.  "So I'm putting you on detached detail."

"I get a paycheck here," Tony said quietly.

Vance snorted.  "Your pushy friends said if it worked out, that was the best option and the Chief of Staff told me they said so."   Tony moaned, shaking his head.

"As far as I know, our pushy friends wouldn't have interfered so it was probably just the Chief of Staff," House said dryly.

Vance stared at him then at DiNozzo.  "I don't need to know.  Keep me updated on your progress here, DiNozzo, and I'll make Abby quit shouting at Gibbs for letting you be taken."  He walked off with the report.  Maybe Gibbs' team all needed a break.  Abby was clearly stressed out.  Gibbs was stressed out and had something that needed to be done with his father soon from the rumors he was hearing.  Ziva could get her head out of her ass before he shot her up it, or Gibbs did, or DiNozzo's pushy friends did.  McGee could do a traveling circuit of comic conventions or whatever McGee did in his free time.  And the pushy people would leave him alone.

"So I guess I am yours," Tony told House.

Who smirked at him.  "Of course you are.  You're meant for better things than getting shot on the job again."  He handed him a folder.  "Cuddy said fill that out today."  He walked off happier.

"I've done a lot of paperwork," Tony sighed, cracking Chase up.  "There's so much of it for an investigation.  Plus reports, and God help you if you have to pull or fire your gun in the line of duty."  Chase gave him a pat on the arm and left him to his paperwork drama.  He hated paperwork too.


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