Notes: playing with a concept, sorry if it doesn't seem quite right.  From the Glory season on of Buffy never happened.  Stops after Initiative got eaten/imploded by its own stupidity.  Some minor spoilers for NCIS last season and maybe a spoiler for CSI: NY.

Aphrodite's Dress Up Doll.

Aphrodite, Greek Goddess of Love, opened the cabinet on her desk, smiling at the pictures of her favorite mortals.  She had added many of them over the years, some more handsome than others, but each had their own special qualities.  This year's crop of mortals for her to play 'guess who I go with' were fairly extensive but they were all very unique.  Cupid had told her he had added one to her pile of faces because he was such a wreck in Love, but he was a cute guy with a big heart.  She found his and read his life, making a grossed-out face.  "Eww!" she yelled, putting it down so she could wipe off her fingers.  "How did that happen!"  She got up to check on the boy officially, pinching the picture between two fingers.

No wonder Cupid had given him to her!  Someone had already nearly messed him up beyond all recognition.  Well, she had her wok cut out for her.  She got to the Fates' cave with the picture, holding it up.  "Which one of you did he piss off?" she demanded.  They gave her sheepish looks and shrugged.  "I mean it!  You set him up with homicidal people!  He doesn't deserve that!  He's a sweet pookie bear sort!"  She stomped over to take a deeper look at the boy's past and future.  A nice, long line as long as she got him out of that place he was in now.  The perfect time to set him up with the one he was meant to be with.  She stomped off, going back to her work area.  She put the picture on the doll her Hephie had made.  It would allow her to gauge two personalities against each other without wearing herself out by going to look at each mortal possibility.

She picked up the other pair of the set, leaving the shadowy third one in the case.  She didn't think he'd need to be part of a threesome, but she wasn't sure yet.  She did check him against the others she had already stored.  She figured out he needed someone a bit geeky, like he was, but also fairly protective.  Not some he-man of an asshole protective, like some people were to him, but nice protective and a bit possessive.  The sort who would chastize him for teasing in the club by having great sex in the cab home.  A few possibles were set aside, but they weren't thrilling her and this boy needed someone *special*, someone so great that he volunteered prayers to her name and worshiped her for finally finding someone decent.

She tried her best choices again, looking them over.  Smart, cute, a bit protective, but not really possessive.  The boy would need someone a bit more possessive in her opinion.  Plus, he needed someone to curl around for a few weeks when things got bad and this one would do that, but he had his own problems and she wasn't sure they wouldn't cancel each other out.  Two nice guys but being that nice together never got her the *great* couples.  She tried her second choice and looked it over.  They matched pretty well.  That playful streak.  That slight hint of danger and possessiveness that the boy needed, but his life was always on the go.  The boy needed a homebody, someone to come home to and to spoil and be spoiled by.  Someone to make waffles with on Saturday and spend all Sunday snuggling with.  Again, a decent enough fit but not one of the great ones.

She looked through the pictures she had stored of past lovers.  Sometimes they gave her a clue of how to search for the right person.  She weeded out a few.  He didn't need someone with a history, someone who brooded, anyone who was just a thinker instead of a doer.  That would drive him insane trying to get them to play with him.  He needed someone a bit active, someone who would make him calm down and focus in other areas.  Because his personal life at the moment was all danger and work.  She went back to her first two choices, looking them over again.  "I couldn't even manage that one," she whispered, pulling out the third doll.  It was a good match, she could see that, but it might be difficult to do.

She did put those two pictures aside to look at how they went together without her new problem child.  She found one in the past that might've been good for her poor little teddy bear, but he was long gone and she hadn't found one like him in ages.  She did a quick search through all the fields of love she held in her little fist and nothing showed up like him.  Nothing even remotely like him.  She sighed and decided to beg the Fates to make more like him.  The world would benefit if he came back and there were more like him.  She found another possible but he was a bit darker.  He would make the poor boy more dangerous, more deadly.  Together they would rock the world, but it would be an uneven relationship, a sire/childe one almost, though her choice wasn't a vampire.  Just extremely deadly.  The boy didn't need to be pulled into that, but that was a way to get him out of the hellhole he was currently living in.

She moved onto another model, finding a gentle, tolerant one with a sense of humor and soft touch for the innocents in the world.  That was good, and he was not only protective and possessive, but he also had that hint of danger.  But no, he looked just as good beside her first two choices.  Not with this pookie.  With another of her pookies.  She found the one for him and put them together, vowing to work on them later before one did something stupid and died on her.  She found a nice guy but he was too bland for this one.  One of her female choices would look good with him but not this one.  She moved back to the first two, looking at the trio again.  It'd be a hard match, but it was doable she supposed.  How though?  One was in law enforcement, one was a fed, and one was a construction guy and a consummate screw up.  What would bring him to their attention and them to work together on a case?  Hmm... that first deadly one would do.


Jett snuck onto the local military base.  There was something there that he needed.  It wasn't an end-of-the-world matter this time, he just needed it to fix someone's attitude problem and didn't feel like paying for a weapon.  The barracks he was headed toward had a light on.  There were people in there yelling so he moved that way to make sure that's where all the guards were.  He found a boy in there, tied up, pretty beaten up, and all the guys around him were cheering and yelling at him.  One of them came up and slapped him and got cheered at when he spit on the kid.  He wasn't the nicest of all people, but that was just wrong.  Something in him told him to rescue the boy.  So he cut the power and snuck in to get the boy free, then let some knockout gas loose in his place.  The MP's would find them with everything they needed to deal with them.  He got into the weapons room and put the boy on his feet, looking at him.  "Name, kid?"

"Huh?" he asked, looking dizzy.  He frowned, squinting a bit at him.  "Who're you?  You don't look like a Buffy."  His face went rigid then he fell down, starting to cry.  "She gave them to me.  I don't know why.  I didn't do anything wrong!"

Jett patted him on the head.  "Hush, kid.  We can figure that out later.  Where do you live?"

"Here.  In town," he said miserably.  He looked at him.  "Who are you?  My guardian angel?"

"Not hardly.  I'm Jett.  The assassin Jett," he said when the boy looked clueless.  "Okay.  I'm internationally famous and you guys don't know me here in this little town?"

"We handle homicidal vampires.  A person killing others isn't high on my list."  He flinched when he saw the door open and pulled something off Jett's belt, throwing it at the person coming in.  "Take that, you blood sucking bastard!" he sneered.

Jett looked impressed.  The kid had good aim!  He got his knife back and wiped it off.  "Pick up the blue case, I'll get the red one."

The kid looked at them, then at him.  "I've got six of these back in my apartment if you want one for saving me."


"I deal in homicidal vampires.  Like I said before. They come in really handy."  He nodded a bit.  "Can you help me get to my place?  I've got some cash stashed, if my ex hasn't taken it again, and I'm leaving tonight. If you want one or two, it's less I have to pack."

"Sure."  He had the strange feeling that he was looking at younger version of himself, only one that still had to make that choice to kill people or not.  "Let's go.  My car's outside the gates."

"Sure."  He checked the door then snuck to the fence, nodding at Jett.  "This is easier.  Can you give me a boost?"  He nodded and did so, watching the boy go over the fence and not get stuck on the razor wire.  Once Jett was over, he led the kid to the car, watching how he moved carefully, always checking around.  "Okay, kid, who are you?  I realize you haven't officially trained in the job, but are there assassins in your family or something?  You're very much like one of us."

Xander gave him a shy grin.  "Only assassins of self-esteem and confidence."

"Okay.  You got a name?"

"Yeah, but not here.  I'm in danger here."  He got into the car, looking at the big, badass guy who got in.  "Thank you for saving me."

"Sure.  Who's Buffy and why did she give you to them?"

"She found me with a guy.  One she didn't want but she told the local military guys that I had been lusting after them.  That's how I ended up smuggled back onto the base and had the hell beaten out of me."

"You okay now?"

"No, but I've got pain killers at the apartment too."  Jett nodded, that was probably practical.  He started the car and backed up.  "Head for the main road.  We're going into the village."

"Sure."  He drove the kid home, finding his apartment pretty easily.  The boy looked around before getting out and going inside, motioning him to hurry after him.  He closed and locked the main door then led the way up to his apartment, closing and locking that door behind him.  "Weapons?"

"Back bedroom, under the closet floor."  He went to the kitchen, finding a pain killer and a soda, bringing the guy a beer.  It was the least he could do.  He found the guy dragging up all his weapons, which was really appreciated.  It'd be easier to pack them into his car.  His car!  He hit himself on the head and coughed to get attention.  "I've got to get my car from the club.  It'll take me a few minutes."  Jett nodded.  "Don't leave without telling me what you want."  He jogged out, holding onto his side.  He'd had worse in his life.  He could still fight if he had to.  He did run into a vamp and kicked her ass, staking her quickly.  He found his car in the same place, untouched, and turned off the alarm.  He got in, checking his mirrors before starting the engine and heading back to his place.  Jett was on the couch, petting one of the grenade launchers he had.  "You like?" he asked with a grin.

"I do.  Where did you get this stuff?"

Xander shrugged.  "Here and there.  Take whatever you want.  Hopefully I won't need them wherever I end up."

"You heading to LA?"

"Hell no!  I'll get sent back here if I'm found in LA."  He went to his bedroom, going to start the packing process.  Just the important stuff.  His trunk wasn't that big.  Neither was his back seat.  He paused and went to check his stash of money, newly hidden away again, and found it still there.  He sighed, counting it out.  "She only took two grand," he said happily.

"Who?" Jett asked from the doorway.

"My former fiance."  He stuffed it into his pocket.  "It's still enough to run once I get my last paycheck from my boss.  I can live on this for at least a month."  He went back to packing his clothes.  Two bags of clothes went by the door, along with his tools and a few other odds and ends, like his DVD player and DVD's, his CD's, his discman, his cellphone, all that good stuff.

"Pack those into an extra suitcase," Jett suggested.

"I only have a big duffle bag and I was going to put the guns and swords into there," he noted, going to load those up.  "Those can go into my backseat and get covered by my pillows.  But thanks though."  He gave him a small grin.  "I've run away before."

"I can see that.  Pack some blankets too."

"I am.  They're going on top of whatever is hitting the back seat."  He got the duffle bag packed and set beside the door, then went back to heft out cases and put them where he was staging things.  He got a few plastic bags for things like boxes of bullets, then food.  The general supplies were always nice.  He looked around the apartment, finding the rest of his medicine stash as well.  It was handy, as was the magical stuff he had around him.  He walked around the apartment one last time, nodding as he picked up a few last things.  They went into the top of the duffle bag, then he started to haul things downstairs to his car, Jett helping once he got his new toys into his car.  Xander went back to write a few letters, slipping one under his landlord's door, two going into his front seat.  He'd drive by the site and the Magic Box to deliver those personally.  He looked at Jett, holding out a hand.  "Thank you for saving me.  You didn't have to and it was a nice thing, even for an assassin."

"Not a problem."  He shook it, nodding.  "If you want to be trained to be like me, kid, yell my way. I think you can do it."

Xander shook his head. "I've only killed to protect myself and others, Jett.  Vampires, demons hunting and hurting humans, things like that.  I can't do people."

"If you're sure.  If not, track me through the 'net."  He nodded and grinned, heading back to his car.  "I'll follow you out of town and to the interstate."

"Sure.  I'm going East."  He slid into his seat, finding his stamps and putting them on the letters instead.  He paused long enough to drop them into a nearby pickup box, then headed for the highway.  He was free, finally free!


Xander looked around his new apartment, grimacing a bit.  It was a rathole but not too bad.  His neighbors were noisy so he could be noisy with his music.  If they complained, he'd bitch back.  He got everything settled, putting the weapons into the closet.  Then he went to find a local fast food place.  He was starved and his first day of work was tomorrow.  He knew there were construction sites around and he did have experience.  His boss's last email had said he'd support him and mail his check whenever he found out where he was going.  He had emailed him the address as soon as he had signed the lease on this place.  He walked into the fast food place, smiling at the cheerful girl behind the counter.  "Hey.  Give me a burger, no mayo, no mustard, just ketchup and onions, fries, and a large coke."

"Sure.  That'll be five-twelve, sir."

He handed it over and counted out the change, getting a smile. "I know when I did the job, I always needed change," he offered, getting another smile.  "So, is there anywhere nice to hang out around here on the weekends?  I just moved into town."

"I like to wander around the Smithsonian.  That's downtown."  She went to get his food.  "There's a good tourist place to get maps in the Mall, that's between all those museums.  You can also get cheap t-shirts and things there."  She came back and handed over the bag.  "There you go, sir.  Welcome to Washington, DC."

"Thanks. Anything's better than Cali."  He nibbled on a fry as he walked out, heading back to his car.  He noticed someone staring at his car and raised an eyebrow, getting in and locking himself in.  Someone came running toward him, a female, and his innate nature came out.  She was screaming, someone was chasing her.  He got out with a short sword that had ridden beside him the whole road trip, pointing it at the guy.  "My knife's bigger.  Back off," he growled, moving the woman behind him.  The guy looked then snickered.  Xander swung it and looked at him again.  "I'm not the helpless sort, but unfortunately my AK is at home, punk.  Now back the fuck off before we go LA style."  The guy took a few steps back so he sneered.  "I didn't think so.  Go inside, Miss.  They can call someone to pick you up."  She nodded, heading inside.  Xander waited until she was inside, then got back into his car, relocking all the doors and eating a fry before starting his engine and taking off.

The guy who had been watching his car made a call to his boss.  "I just saw someone pull a sword on a punk at a fast food place.  No, California plates."  He recited it.  "Tell me what this is?  I don't want to know what's going on, but I need to know if he's a new player in town."  He listened to the report, then sighed.  "Nothing on him?  Is he wanted or anything?"  He grimaced.  "I'm guessing he ran from his friends and he's just some SCA nut then.  He seemed to know what to do with the sword."  He hung up and continued to wait for his real target to be there.

Xander got out of his car and walked into his building, nodding politely at the supe.  "Morning."

"Harris.  You okay?"

"Just fine, sir.  I just had to get something for dinner and then help a lady being chased by some punk bastard."  He shrugged, pointing at the sword he was carrying.  "He's my little buddy," he offered with a goofy grin.  "I'm going to try to be a good tenant."

"Good, we like good tenants.  Yell if your neighbors annoy you."

"Sure.  I'll do my best to be nice to them.  Most people seem to like me," he shrugged a bit with another grin.  "I'd better eat before the cheese congeals."  He headed up the stairs, going home.  He locked and sealed the door, then got down to eat dinner and shine his sword.  It didn't need sharpened, but it was smudged with fingerprints.  He was sure that nice young woman would have one hell of a story to tell at work the next day.


Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs looked up as his bullpen was invaded by a guy carrying a box.  "You are?" he demanded calmly.

"From New York.  They said you wanted this and I'm expendable," he noted putting it down on his desk and pushing back some of his messy blond hair.  "Messer, CSI."  He shook his hand.  "You wanted the Warrington case file, right?"  He nodded.  "All yours, chief."  He patted the top of the box.  "Still sealed even.  Can I lounge overnight?  I could use the vacation."

"Sure.  You got a motel?  A few of my guys know some cheaper, better ones."

"The department already set me up," he offered with a grin.  "We thought you might be outta town on a case or somethin'.  Thanks anyway though."  He smirked a bit.  "I just wanna know why I saw a guy saving a girl with a sword earlier.  I thought some of our strangeness was bad."

"A sword?  Like a long blade with a handle sword?"

"Yeah, a sword," he agreed, grinning a bit brighter.  "I took a wrong turn past this fast food place up the road a bit.  He had a sword."

"Oh.  Interesting."  He shook his head.  "We're usually much more normal.  Sorry about that."

"Not a problem.  Last year we had a case at the Fairytale Renfaire thing in the park. *That* was strange.  Have fun with the Warrington case.  I nearly got diabetes from all the sugar I ate trying ta stay awake to solve it."

"I'll keep that in mind.  You need a ride?"

"Rental," he promised.  "Nicer than my car at home.  Later.  Yell if you need anything else from us.  I'm always happy to have the night off."  He nodded at the guy coming off the elevator.  "Hey, howya doin'.  Danny Messer, CSI New York."  He shook his hand.

"Special Agent Tony DiNozzo.  You brought us the Warrington case?"  Messer pointed at the box so he grinned.  "Thanks, I needed that for a case."

"Not an issue.  I'm getting a nice night off.  I even saw a guy with a sword."  He grinned and headed back down to hand in his visitor's pass.

"Sword?" Tony asked.

Gibbs snorted.  "Some kid was saving some woman with a sword."

"Interesting.  We don't usually get those sort of cases."

"True.  We do have an arms dealer in town however."

"Really?"  He looked at the file. "Anything in it for me?"

"Cross-reference the file, DiNozzo, then we'll see."

He took the file over to sit at his desk and work on figuring out the connection.  "They solved it?"  Gibbs nodded.  "Wonderful.  Maybe he's got a connection to the guy who did those murders and is murdering our Marines."

"It's possible."  He finished his current cup of coffee and got up, going to get some more before heading home.  "I'll see you in the morning."

"Bright and early, boss," he agreed, delving into the case notes.


Xander came home and found someone trying to pick his locks, coughing very loudly.  "I have no computer and no electronics of mention in there, unless you want my discman?" he offered, waving it a bit.  They glared at him.  "Get away from my apartment before I shoot you."

"You don't have a gun."

Xander pulled a gun off his back waist and pointed it.  "And mine has the extra benefit of being legal.  Now, shoo!  I got enough of this in LA the last time I visited."

"You're from where, little boy?" one sneered.

"About three hours outside of LA.  Sunnydale actually. You heard of it?"  The guys shrugged and laughed. "That's fine. We have a fifty percent homicide rate.  Now, go away.  I'm not taking worshipers today and I just broke my ass at the construction site.  Unless you want a hammer up your ass."  He heard someone coming and hid his gun as they did.  "I'm being mannerly at the moment.  I really just want a soda and a shower."  They backed away and he looked at the guy behind him.  "Jett," he said, grinning at him. "You're in town?"

"Business, unfortunately."  He looked at the boys.  "Yes, I'm *that* Jett."  They scrambled to get away.  "So, how you holdin' up, Xander?"

Xander let him into the apartment, smiling at him.  "I'm okay. I found a good site to work on already.  I've got this place, which isn't the best, but it's a place to live."  He shut the door and locked it, turning on his homemade security system.  Jett smirked a bit at that.  "What can I say, I'm a paranoid person anymore."  He got him a beer and himself a soda, sitting down to look at him.  "What's up?  I doubt this is a social call."

"I heard about a guy with a sword last night," he noted.  He sat down and opened his beer, taking a sip, then looked at the label.  "Good choice."

"I know.  It's the only one I can stand."  He sipped his soda.  "There was some punk bastard chasing a woman down the street.  It was the only weapon I had on me at the time.  I had to check with my current boss about bringing my gun to work with me and he said it was probably a good enough idea."  He put it onto the table and took off his ankle holster for his dagger, tossing it down too.  Then he took the one off the inside of the back of his jacket and put it down.  "He laughed," he offered with a grin.  "I told him I was from LA, he understood."

"I understand perfectly.  You ever tell your friends where you were going?"

"No.  I told them I was leaving and why.  I'm sure someone yelled at the brat for it."  He took another sip.  "So, just a social call?"

"Well, I had one thing I wanted to look at again. You had a very pretty sword."  Xander got up to grab that duffle bag, bringing it out so he could see which one it was.  He found it and held it up, checking down the blade.  "It's a bit bent and warped."

"Yeah, I ended up hitting something really solid and I haven't had the opportunity to bend it down again," he offered, taking it to the table to work on it for a few minutes.  He found his padded hammer and a clamp in his tools, then got to work.  He checked and flipped it over, hitting the other side.  "There, almost perfect.  Still a bit curved toward the end."  He tossed it back, watching as he caught it.  "You play with swords too?"

"Yeah. I have for many years."  He stood up to test it and the boy grabbed another one with a grin, sparring with him.  He was damn good!  "You sure you don't want to join me?  Not much sweaty activity unless it's a girl.  Or a guy," he offered.

Xander grinned. "No thanks. I like my sweaty work. It makes me happy.  Besides, I can't hurt people that way, Jett. Vampires, but not people."  He sat down and finished his soda.  "So, why are you in town, or shouldn't I ask?"

"I'm doing some minor spy work at the moment.  Nothing too horrible, just gathering facts for someone."

"Hmm, interesting.  A change of pace?" he teased.  Jett smirked and nodded. "That's cool I guess.  Ooh, look what I found in Texas," he said excitedly, going to get that case.  He brought it out and opened it, making him drool.  "I know, it was *such* a great find.  I hope I never have to use it, but you don't find many World War Two era Soviet machine guns."

"No, you don't," he agreed, picking it up carefully to look over.  "It's functional," he said, looking amazed.

"I had to replace the firing pin, but yeah," he agreed happily.  "The clip's still got a dent but I was going to work on that tonight."  He bounced a bit, beaming proudly.  "That's the new pride and joy of my collection."

"I'm impressed, kid."  He carefully put it back and the kid hid it again.  "You should get somewhere more secure."

"I can't afford somewhere more secure, Jett."  He came back from the bedroom. "Besides, I've got the whole collection booby trapped.  No one's takin' 'em and I'm not giving 'em away.  I like my collection of 'just in case' stuff."

Jett smirked a bit, nodding. "I understand. My villa in Italy has a room full of 'just in case' gear."  He stood up and hugged the boy.  "Remember, if you ever want to join me for real, call me.  Rescues I might be able to pull off for the right incentive," he offered with a smirk.

"Another beer?" he offered with a grin.  "Or are you a 'rescues for sex' sort?" he teased back.

Jett blinked.  "You're really forward."

"No one here will give me to some thugs in the Marines for dancing with a guy at a club, Jett.  I can be myself.  The whole snarky side, the playful side, even the mean and cruel side when necessary.  Who told you I had a sword?"

"Some guy I was listening to had it mentioned to him."  He shrugged.  "It works enough for me at the moment."  He gave him a kiss, making the boy moan. "Maybe next time I'm in town, kid. You should relax after your first day on the job.  Go out, have fun."

"I'll unding my new gun and that'll be enough fun for me," he promised. "I'm not ready to club yet."

"If you say so."

"Are you... inviting me out?"

"No," he said, shaking his head.  "I don't dance.  Not to this stuff.  It's not my style."

Xander shrugged. "Pity. I think you'd be pretty hot on the floor."  He stole a second kiss.  "Get back to work, you slacker," he teased, playing with his lip.  "Let me shower off the sweat."

Jett nodded.  "Sure. I'll try to stop in before I go."  He left, letting Xander rearm the door.  He grinned as he headed out.  That boy was a treasure to someone, even if he wouldn't join the life.  Who else would like weapons like that and be an exciting and happy personality?  He smirked at his tail, saluting him a bit.  "Morning, gents, having fun?  He's not a bother. I rescued him from some Marines gay bashing on a base."  He headed back to his car after flummoxing them.  It was fun.  Xander made him want to have dirty, nasty fun.  Maybe that's what he would do later that night instead of going back over the surveillance tapes.

Xander looked out his window, then shook his head and went to shower.  If the Feds were watching Jett, they'd find out he was just a harmless, nice guy and all his weapons were legal.  Anything not legal was still hidden.  Very well he might add since he had a thief put the hidden compartment into his car for a good blow job and a few nights together.


Agent DiNozzo looked at his desk as a file landed on it, looking at the person walking past him. "What's this?" he called after her.

"Gay bashing on a civilian."  She turned to look at him.  "It's being asked that we investigate since this base has had a high rate of missing persons cases and the locals can't seem to find them."

"Sure," he agreed, opening the folder.  "Am I getting airfare up front?  If not, I can't go until payday."

"Of course."

Tony grinned and started making arrangements.  He looked up as his boss came in, holding up the folder. "I got handed something by our FBI caseworker."

"What?"  He took the folder, looking through it.  "It's a valid case," he decided, handing it back.  "When are you going?"

"First thing tomorrow.  It'll give me time to pull up maps of the town and cross-reference anything on it."  That got a nod.  "Am I going alone?"

"Take McGee with you if you want," he offered.  "We're dead in the water."  His phone rang and he frowned for a moment.  The person started to talk even before he could say his name.  He took a few notes, then stood up.  "Belay that order, DiNozzo.  We've got an internationally known assassin in town.  He's tracking that cop that brought us the case."

"Bastard!" he complained, getting up and heading after him.  "Any idea why?"

"Not yet.  I'll call the others on the way."

"I can drive, boss."

"I'm driving."

"Fine," he said more meekly, praying for his continued life when his boss drove. "Do we have any information?"

"One thing.  He was spotted talking to a new guy in town.  The parabolic microphone they used got them some information.  Apparently the guy collects some antique weapons.  They said he was sword fighting and had a WWII Soviet machine gun he was restoring."

"Sword?  Could this be the guy that Messer saw at the fast food place?"

"No clue, but a good question at least."  He backed out of the space, hit 'drive' and took off at a high rate of speed, one hand on the wheel, the other on his coffee cup.

"Um, boss, lights," he offered, buckling in.  His boss drove like a madman.  "Should we be checking on this collector?"

"He's not listed as a person of interest.  We'll do it later if it becomes needed.  For now, we've got to get that cop out of harm's way.  We were asked to handle that part of it since they said we're working with him on the Warrington tie-in."  He took a corner at full speed and sped down toward a nearby hotel.  "He hasn't checked out, right?"

"No, he's staying until tomorrow, his boss approved of some extra vacation time since the biggest case they've got right now involves his past somehow."

"Interesting.  I wonder how he and the assassin are linked."

"Which assassin?"

"Jett."  He took a drink of his coffee, pulling into the parking lot with a screech of tires.  The cop was at the door, looking confused when they parked in front of his room.  He got out and nodded.  "Get in.  You're being tailed by Jett."

"The assassin?" he asked, still looking confused.  Gibbs nodded.  "Sure.  Let me pack.  Give me ten."  He went back inside, leaving the door slightly open.  But he did come out with his bag and a cleaner shirt on.  "Why is he after me?"

"We don't know yet.  We were told to pick you up and ask you why," Gibbs noted.  "Get in."  He nodded, getting in the back.

Tony looked back. "Buckle up," he ordered, wincing as his boss put the car into reverse.

"Whoa!  This is better than a roller coaster."  Gibbs snorted and took off again, heading back to the office. "You always drive like this?"  Tony nodded a bit, clutching the door handle now.  He put on his seat belt.  Better safe than sorry or dead.  "Do we have any idea what's going on?"

"No, but he may be connected to the sword guy you saw," DiNozzo offered, looking back at him.  "He was meeting with a new guy in town who sword fought with him and collects old weapons."

"The people following him said he was pretty friendly with the new resident and that they were kissing.  No idea if they're in a relationship or not."

"I should transfer down here. You guys get the fun cases."  Tony snickered at that.  "What else are you doing today?"

"Looking into a report on gay bashing Marines at a base in California."

"You guys don't have an office out there?" he asked as they entered the parking garage.

"We do, but this team works more of the homicides than they do yearly and since it's got a high rate of missing person cases at the base they sent it my way," Tony explained.  "You only get my bright and smiling face for a day."  Gibbs parked and swatted him on the head.  "Sorry, boss."  He got out, helping their new protected person out and inside the elevator so no one could get near him.

"Take him to Abby, let her scan him for bugs or anything," Gibbs ordered. "I'm going to find out what's going on."  Tony nodded and hit a button, and they got out while he continued up to another floor.


Xander looked up from his lunch as someone with a badge flashed it at his boss and he was pointed at.  "I've been here two days and I'm in trouble?" he called.  His boss nodded.  "For what?  I'm a nice guy!"

"You met with an assassin," the guy with the badge said, sitting across from him.  "I'm Special Agent Fornell, FBI."

"Hola.  I'm Xander Harris.  I know I met with Jett.  Jett saved my ass from some raping, beating Marine mother fuckers my former friend had jump me for dancing with a guy."  The guy blinked at that.  "She saw me dancing with a guy, not even teasing him, and went up to the Marines at the bar and said I wanted them.  They smuggled me back on base to beat my ass and rape me to show I wasn't really wanting a man."  He ate another bite of his sandwich.  "He got me out."

"I see.  Did you report it?"

"To who?" he snorted.  "The Marine tooth fairy?  They're Marines.  No one's gonna stop 'em from doing it.  I'm not that dumb, it'd only make me a bigger target for more of them to come down on my ass."  He finished off his sandwich and chewed, then drank some of the milk he had bought off the lunch truck.  "Truth, Special Agent Fornell, if Jett wanted me to reward him with sex, I'd bend over backwards for that guy.  Assassin or not, he saved my ass from death.  It was a kind thing for him to do."

"Fine. I can understand that.  Even though he is an evil man."

"No, evil is completely different.  I've seen evil.  You should go to my last town, then you too can see evil at work.  Have fun with that."  He stood up.  "Anything else?"

"You had a sword a few nights ago at a fast food place?" he asked.

Xander nodded.  "I saw a woman running away from a guy with a knife. I pulled a bigger knife. It was in the car.  The only one I had on me.  I have permits for the rest."

"I'm sure you do," he said, staring at him. "You're carrying?"

"I filed my DC permits the day I got into town," he noted, handing over his old ones.  "I'm waiting for the official copy, I only have the temporary one."  He looked over as another guy came in.  "You brought backup?" he sneered.

He looked over, then shook his head. "He's not with me."  He handed back the permits and the weapon.  "Thank you, Mr. Harris.  Would you be willing to call me if he showed back up?"

Xander shook his head.  "Hell no.  That man saved my ass, I'm not turning him in.  I reward saving my ass for life.  I don't betray people like my former friends."

"I understand."  He stood up.  "You're not in any trouble, I'll tell them what you said."  Xander nodded so he walked off, going to talk to the other agent. "Mr. Harris?"  Xander looked over at him.  "Your machine gun?"

"Is still being worked on.  I filed one for it too. It's not on the restricted list or anything."

"That's fine.  You should have someone official look at your collection to get an insurance estimate.  I know someone if you want their name."

"Please," Xander said, grinning now. "That's very nice of you, even if you do want to snoop."  The agent smirked and nodded, writing down the name and number.  Xander tucked it into his wallet.  "Thank you, Special Agent Fornell.  Can I get back to work?"

"Go ahead, Mr. Harris, you're not in trouble yet."

Xander nodded, looking at his boss, who nodded at him to get back to work as well.  He went back to his spot, enduring the razzing by the other guys.  He wasn't the only bi guy on the crew and there was a tranny working with them, he was safe enough here so far.


Tony DiNozzo reported to the base commander's office, nodding at him once he had been saluted.  "Thank you, Captain.  I know this doesn't usually come from DC but we got handed this case of gay bashing by some of the Marines on base?"

"This is a mixed base but I won't lie.  Some of the Army and some of the Marines do have view of the world.  Why did they hand it to DC?"

"Because you have a very high missing persons rate and they thought it might be a serial homicide case, which almost always goes to my office."  He smiled at him.  "Do you have any idea which people have such a limited view?  I have a report here from about three weeks ago.  It had been sent to the anonymous line at the Pentagon."  He handed over a copy of the report.  Then he looked at McGee since he had just opened the door.  "What did you get on the town?" he asked when he came in.

"There's a fifty percent homicide and missing persons rate, combined," he said, looking concerned.  "There was an officer who asked if we were with some limited Military program called the Initiative?  Seemed relieved when I told him no.  Then he said he didn't think they'd come back after they got destroyed like that the last time.  His words."

The base commander looked at them.  "That's highly classified and I don't have a need to know," he said before any questions could be asked. "I know they took some of our guys but I don't know what happened to them.  I also don't know why the town has such a high death rate, but whatever it is does affect us and that's why half of our people disappear."  He handed the complaint back to Tony.  "I can show you to their leader.  He's still recovering from the gas that was used at their last party in the brig."

"Please," Tony agreed.  "I really need to find out if this is a serial or not.  If not, then someone else can handle it instead of us, someone local even."  That got a smile.  "I don't want to intrude."

"I didn't expect you did.  This is fairly routine on some bases."  He walked them out, taking them to the brig to look at the men in the infirmary in there.  "There they are, all but one.  He's better so he's back in a cell."

"What precipitated the attack on them?" McGee asked.  He looked at one of the men.  "Gas you said?"

"Yeah, apparently they drug a town boy up here to beat on," he sighed, shaking his head.  "Someone, probably a friend of his, used a homemade gas canister to knock them out to save them.  I'm not sure who but I hope that boy's all right."

Tony took notes. "Any idea what the gas was?"

"Interestingly enough, I do.  Doc!"  An older woman came over.  "NCIS, outta DC.  You got the report on the gas?"  She nodded, handing it over with pursed lips.  "It makes treating it a pain in the tush, but it's useful.  I'd like to see our people make it."

Tony looked it over, frowning a bit.  "Just this side of lethal, but it makes them feel like shit I'm imagining."  The doctor nodded so he looked at her.  "How many were there?"

"Ten this time.  The last boy we had beaten on base said he had about twelve.  Some may have been on leave. This time they got a civy and I'm just hoping the boy's all right.  These guys are getting more and more aggressive."

"Could they have killed anyone?" Tony asked.  "Someone higher up thought it might be a serial case."

She nodded. "Oh, they have.  No one was paying attention before. We've lost three officers to severe beatings since this little group got here and formed."  She went to get the files out of her cabinets, handing them over to him.  "My personal comparison copies.  There's also a list of who else got beaten in there."

"Thank you, Doctor," McGee said, smiling at her.  "I hope you won't see any more of them."

"Me too. Regular fights are enough, but one of the guys likes to damage kidneys and livers.  We're lucky we haven't seen you boys before about him dying."

"Do either of you have his name?" Tony asked.  They shook their heads.  "Thanks."  He walked over to the nearest man, one who had been whining for drugs, looking down at him. "What was the name of the civilian you beat last time?"

"I'm not telling you anything," he sneered, then groaned and doubled over.  "I need pain medicine."

"And you won't be getting any until I get my information," Tony assured him.  He glared so Tony leaned down a bit. "You're already going to JAG for charges.  Do you want to make it more?  I can always start finding others you've beaten off base."  He used a glare his boss had used on him many times and the guy whimpered, bending double again.  "Tell me and I might get her to give you pain killers.  Or else you won't get any at all, the whole time you're in the brig."

"You can't..."

"Your base commander can and he didn't like this.  Your choice."  The man whimpered and hissed something. "Excuse me?"

"His wallet's in my footlocker," he moaned, bending over again. "Please, doc!"

She walked over and handed him two tylenol.  "No prisoner gets the good stuff," she noted, looking at the commander.  Who led them out and back to the barracks and the scene of the problem.  It was still taped off.  No one else lived in there with them at the moment.


Tony walked back into the unit, frowning greatly. "Boss, JAG took over.  The six deaths were already accounted for," he said, handing over the report he had typed on the flight.  That got a small smirk. "It was that or go insane trying to figure out who made the gas and where the civy they beat last time was."

"What's his name?"

"Harris.  Alexander Harris?"

Gibbs blinked and looked at him.  "That's the one Jett met," he said quietly, pulling out that folder and handing it over.  "Fornell faxed that over for Messer to look over to see if he caught a connection."

Tony looked in it, frowning.  "An assassin saved a civy being gay bashed?"  He looked at his boss.  "Why?"

"I don't know.  Fornell went to talk to the kid.  Said he was real firm that Jett was near God in his eyes, no matter how many people he killed, for saving him.  He also said that the kid may be a vet, said his eyes looked like he'd seen combat."

"Boss, can I profile this kid?"

"Go for it, keep me informed by the hour, just in case something comes up relating to Messer. Something's not adding up.  I don't know which side is lying here. "

"Yes, sir."  He went back to his desk to start the standard background searches.  "He's got a missing person's case filed but then unfiled," he noted a few minutes later.  "The report says that he ran away from his friends for them handing him to someone to gay bash.  Nice friends," he said dryly.  He kept searching.  "No bank accounts in two years.  No credit cards anymore.  Large charges before then that got switched to another name. I want to know how they did that."  He ran down that angle.  "Ah, girlfriend.  I'll never let one do that to me."  He went back to his main background searches, finding one last one.  "Boss, come here," he called.  Gibbs came over and he laid out what he already had.  "Okay, we've got a construction worker without a new bank account since his last girlfriend sucked out the money.  No credit cards either.  He's new in town; there had been a missing persons report filed but it was removed and the officer noted he left after his friends turned him over to be gay bashed."

"Nice friends," he said sarcastically.

"That was my feeling.  One of the names had a link, so I went to this site," he said, clicking on the last screen.  "And that name," he said, highlighting something, "was something McGee found out about but no one knew what it was.  He's at the Pentagon searching it out to see if it's related.  The Captain said he wasn't high enough to need to know but they had borrowed some personnel at times."  He enlarged a picture and let him look at it.  "The guy with the crossbow is Harris, boss.  The thing with them is seven foot tall and puke green.  These are military files that were put onto the 'net by the information page, some conspiracy theorist of some sort."

"The link led you here?"

"Yeah, the link for Willow Rosenburg."  He went back to that page, letting him see it.  "It's still too high for me and you probably."

"But not the director."  He frowned and took down the names, going up to talk to him.  He came down a few minutes later, looking at Tony.  "I was unpolitely told to butt out.  I told them why we were tracing it down, they said to pick up Harris and put him into Witness Protection.  There's some people who want him dead because of his involvement stopping that group."

"Excuse me?  He stopped a secret military project?" Tony asked, sitting upright and staring at him. "How?  Why?"

"No one would tell me," he said.  "Find the kid.  Talk to him.  Don't bring him in yet, but talk to him."

"Should I with Jett hanging around?"

"Yes, definitely.  If Jett saved him, there's got to be something there. Fornell said he was 'disturbing' and 'vulgar, but within reason'.  The other Fed who came to talk to another guy on the site about his relatives only got a look at him and asked Fornell what branch he served in."

"There's no military service under his name, boss."

"I know that, DiNozzo.  But he still stopped a top secret military project."  Messer came in and looked around.  "You awake?" he said dryly, smirking at him.

"Yeah, thanks for letting me take a nap in the break room.  That Abby girl woke me with coffee."  He sipped some and looked at them.  "Any word from my people why he's after me?"

"Not a clue, but we just ran into something strange.  Every heard of the Initiative?"

He nodded. "Yeah, actually I have.  One of the perps we brought in last year for hunting someone down with a tazer to shock the hell outta them and kill 'em said that it was a sanctioned activity, that they were a 'hostile' and that the Initiative and Doctor Walsh would have approved of his methodology to get test subjects for the experiments."  He came over to look at the page Tony was staring at.  "Hey, I know that thing.  We had one of those dead in the park last year.  Stunk ta high hell.  Let me tell you, that was odd.  We just classified it as an animal, unknown, and left it there."  He straightened up and looked at the main header.  "I don't know him.  Is he involved?"

"Jett saved him back in Sunnydale," Tony told him, looking up at him.  "Some friends of his had turned him over to some Marines at a club to gay bash him for dancing with a guy in an unsexy way at a club."  Messer snorted at that.  "Jett was apparently on the base for some reason and saved the kid.  Now he's here in town.  He's the sword guy we think."

"Interesting.  Well, he looks okay in that picture."  He bent down again to get closer.  "Yeah, that's him."  He stood up again.  "That's definitely the guy I saw with the sword."  He looked at Gibbs.  "Is he in trouble?"

"We're not sure if he *is* trouble or not," Gibbs admitted. "I want a full background and profile on him, DiNozzo. Then you can talk to him tonight.  Take him into protective custody just in case.  We'll move Danny there with him."

"If Jett knows him," Messer started.

"Jett wouldn't hurt him, he saved him," Gibbs told him.  "He's not known for doing that. My gut's telling me the kid's not involved."

"Sure, boss," Tony said. "Pull up a chair, Danny.  You can watch me type and figure things out."

"Sure."  He looked at the page he was reading.  "No, go back."  He clicked on the link he had 'backed' off of.  "Her name.  I remember someone in the crowd and that wack job saying her name," he noted, pointing at it.  "Buffy's just too unusual to forget and it made us laugh that someone with that name could protect him."  Tony clicked on that link and it brought up a picture of her. "She's a pretty girl."

"She's the one who handed Harris to the Marines."

"Ah.  Then she's a pretty snake."  He nodded, accepting that.  "Do a google search, that's where I usually start."

Tony shrugged and tried that in a new window, coming up with a few articles.  Including one on a destroyed school.  "What the hell?" he said, staring at it.  "Boss, the kid was present when his high school blew up.  And there's another conspiracy theorist linked to that too."  He clicked on it, back to the same page but a different part.  He bookmarked it and backed to the main page of the site, going back to it. "Oh, boss."  Gibbs came back and he turned the monitor around.  "Paramilitary experience.  He saw combat, just not against something they consider human."

He squatted down to read it, frowning a bit.  "I can't believe that.  It's one of Abby's things.  That can't be."

Tony looked and clicked on a link, showing video.  "Have McGee see if it's fixed in any way," he said, staring at his boss.  "I bet he's found nothing."

"I bet he's found nothing too.  They called me to see if he was one of us and were going to arrest him for asking questions about that program," he admitted, staring at the little girl fighting.  "Who's that?"

"Buffy Summers.  She was mentioned in New York by some guy going to find a suitable experimental subject and as someone who would protect the guy doing it."  Danny nodded, that was true.  "She's also the one who gave Harris to the Marines."

"Wonderful."  He stood up.  "We don't really cover that area."  He frowned.  "Replay that."  Tony looked over and hit the button to play it again.  "She's trained but not military style," he decided.  "Anything else on that site."

Tony turned his screen back around, doing a site search for military.  He came up with three hits and clicked on them. "Let's see.  Harris stole a grenade launcher for an assault in a mall.  Harris built the bombs for the school.  Harris walked away from his duty because of Summers."  He looked at his boss again, getting up to let him have the desk, pacing in front of it instead. "That doesn't make any sense, boss."

"These people aren't going to have the truth anyway," Messer noted.  "It says on the front page it's second-hand information given to them by an outsider to the group, but one who watched them."  He leaned closer.  "What is that in the pictures of the school?  The after ones."

Gibs enlarged it and grimaced.  "Remains of something.  It looks like a snake. A giant snake."

Tony frowned.  "I don't believe where this is going, boss.  We're going into Abby land."

Gibbs called down to the lab.  "Abby, get up here."  He hung up and went back to looking at the pictures.  He clicked on the best one he found of the boy and turned the monitor around, letting her see it.

She winced, then groaned.  "Damn, is he dead?  I didn't know he was military."

"No, he's in town.  He was saved by an assassin who's after Messer for some reason, and Fornell got scared by him."

"Gee, I wonder why, Gibbs," she said, putting her hands on her hips and staring him down.  "You know very well that some of what I believe is real.  Well, that's the ten percent that we can prove.  They're not everywhere presently but close enough.  He fought for a long time, and he did a damn good job.  Why did he leave Sunnydale?"

"Summers handed him to some Marines for gay bashing," Tony said quietly.  "What do you know, Abby?"

She sighed.  "Come down to the lab.  They've got it half wrong.  There's a live journal site that's better and linked into the network more directly."  She led them back down and brought up the livejournal page.  "This is Spike's Crypt."  She looked at him.  "He's not... normal," she decided was the best word.  "He's also no longer human."  She clicked on a link and typed in a message.  "There, so he knows Xander's safe."  She looked at the men again.  "Listen, Gibbs, I know you don't believe, but this is really big here.  These people handle those things that want to eat the world.  Or end the world, but mostly want to eat the world.  You've seen the marks on my shoulder from last year.  One of them got me and I got saved by someone who used to be in the Initiative."

"That name keeps being brought up, why?" Gibbs demanded.

She sighed.  "Sit, it's a long story."  She pulled up an earlier entry, complete with security footage, still marked with the camera's signatures.  Gibbs stared, then looked at her.  "Spike was tortured there.  He started this after he escaped. And yes, he's the truth behind the vampire myths.  He is one.  I met him and he is one."  She looked at Gibbs.  "Unfortunately I can't get him out here. Flying's pretty dangerous when you can't exist in sunlight."  She looked at the first screen again, frowning a bit.  "Fuck.  I hate them."  She typed in a message, spitting back at them, then said she knew that the boy was safe because she'd seen him traveling past her one day.

"He saved some girl with a sword," Danny offered, staring at the typing she was doing.  She smiled and nodded, going back to it.  The person retorted and suddenly a message appeared from Spike himself.  "Go get him," he read.  "Now."

"Oh, hell, they're going to hunt him down and kill him," Abby said, wincing a bit.  "Gibbs!"

"We're already under orders to get him, Abby," he noted.  "DiNozzo."

"On it, boss."  He headed down to the garage at a jog.  This was not good.  He wasn't sure what was going on but it wasn't good.

Gibbs looked at her. "You were attacked last year?"  She nodded, showing him the bite mark.  "Where?"

"A rave.  That's an easy place to hunt."  She got back to her speech.  "Anyway, Xander is, like, the biggest person in this group.  Really he is.  He's a normal guy.  The other two are kinda special and odd in their own way but Xander's always been a normal guy who jumped in."

"Just like he did to save the girl," Danny said.  "You've got a file coming in."

She looked at the screen and scanned it, then accepted it.  Spike's face appeared.  "That's Spike," she said, showing it to him. "He's using a special digital, filtered webcam.  Hi, Spike."  She grinned at him.  "It's Abby."  She turned on her own webcam. "What's going on?"

Gibbs looked at the oddly faced person. "What's wrong with his face?"

"Demon visage, pillock.  Abs, love, what did you do?"

"I wanted you to know that Xander was safe. He's in town."

"I saw. Why is he there?"

"Some girl named Buffy handed him to some Marines to be gaybashed," Gibbs told him, staring at him.  "Can you undo that?"  Spike went back to human form.  "Okay.  What are you?"

"A vampire," he smirked. "There's some of us there.  There's also some of the sort who tortured me and my kind there and they want the boy for stopping them from hurting others and innocents."   He looked at Abby again.  "Love, it's not like I mind.  I almost miss the boy.  At least he livened things up."  She grinned at that.  "You take care of him.  You promise me you'll take care of him."

"We will.  Even if I have to beat Tony and Gibbs over the head with all this stuff he'll be fine.  Did you know Jett was in town?"

"Yeah, heard about that," he said dryly.  "He came to find something to shove up someone's arse to blow their little brains out.  Whelp gave him some of his in return for savin' him. How did he come to the attention of the military?"

"He saved some girl in a burger joint's parking lot with a sword," Danny noted.  "Then Jett popped around for a visit, which got me here, and now him.  What's going on?"

"All right.  I'm sending Abs my *personal* *private* journal.  I've been keeping track since the Watcher doesn't note things anymore.  While they were in school it's spotty but afterwards I've been rather stuck here."  He grimaced a bit and looked behind the camera.  "Oy, Glinda, they said the snot-nosed brat's fine and in DC.  They're taking him into protective custody.  Go ram that up Red's bum again, would ya?"  He was swatted by a girl's hand.  "Sorry," he told Abby.  A blonde girl came into view and waved.  "That's Abby and her boss and some other bloke," he introduced.  "This is Tara."

"Hi, Tara.  How are you feeling?" Abby asked, sounding like she really wanted to know.

"I'm better now, Abby.  Thank you.  Is Xander okay?"

"He saved some girl with a sword and it came to the attention of the wrong blokes," Spike told her.

She giggled and nodded. "That's a very Xander thing to do," she assured them with a grin.  "Make sure he brings his supply closet.  He might need it.  I'm going to go distract Willow now.  Bye, Abby."   She walked off.

Spike smirked at her. "I love that witch.  I'd marry her if she wanted to be turned."  Abby grinned at that, bouncing a bit.  "Two rules.  Don't feed the boy chocolate and watch out for him. He'll pull out the stupidest bloody thing he can at the right moment and save everyone while being yelled at for it.  He expects it now."  He looked down and typed something.  "There, you should have the journal now.  Tell him I said to be safe and behave.  To hide somewhere safer and weirder, like New York.  If he stays in DC he'll need to get a glamour to hide 'im.  I'll have Glinda there make one."  He nodded and signed off.

Abby reached up to turn off her webcam then downloaded the file, smiling as she printed it off and handed it to Gibbs. "Here, for your reading displeasure because it ain't pretty."

He looked at it, then at her.  "Why isn't it pretty?"

"Because you had five kids, sometimes four, who were saving the world from the time they were sixteen.  Not all of them were always nice."  Danny shuddered at that.  "Yeah, High School and fighting and surviving.  Plus, from what I've heard around, his background's not very happy."  She looked at her boss. "Remind Tony to remind him to bring his supply closet."

Gibbs pulled out his phone and called. "DiNozzo, the thing on the screen said to tell him to bring his supply closet, that he might need it.  Yeah, bring him back here.  I wanna know what the hell is going on."  He heard a breaking noise then winced at the gunshot. "DiNozzo!  Report!"  He relaxed when he got one.  "Are you both all right?  Then pack the boy and get back here."  He hung up.  "One of the neighbors just tried to break in and tripped some sort of security system that shot him."  He stood up.  "Danny, stay down here.  You can help Abby if you want to.  I'm going to go see what we're doing about this kid."  He went up to talk to the director, bringing the file with him.  At least he could read for a few minutes since he was on a call.  His boss looked over at him and he shrugged.  "We got told there's people within the community that won't like the boy living here because he helped take down a secret government project that was torturing others.  We got told to evacuate him.  You got a clue?"

He nodded.  "Yes, I do.  The head of the CIA was just told to kill the boy.  He said to hide him and anyone who knows who he is."

"That would be me and Abby, plus Messer, who's still here."

"Interesting."  He considered it then nodded.  "Get the boy hidden for now.  I don't know what's going on.  What's that?"

"Someone's personal diary.  They were tortured by them but he's not human."

"I know.  Who?"

"Spike.  Abby knows him."

"Fine. Limit the exposure this boy has.  Limit Messer's as well.  I have a feeling that this is connected somehow."  The phone beside him rang and he frowned but answered it.  "Yes?"  He stiffened. "Yes, this is he.  How did you get...."  He listened, his mouth moving.  "How..."  He nodded.  "Very well then.  Thank you, Jett."  He hung up.  "He was to get information on Messer for one of the dirtier families in the city.  It seems he turned his back on his family?"  Gibbs nodded. "You knew?"

"I asked what this could be about, he told me he left them to have a real life."

"Good.  Jett said he won't hurt that boy but the people who would are on their way.  Not here thankfully but go wipe every single search about that boy off our systems.  McGee should be back by now so he can do that."  Gibbs nodded and stood up.  "For right now, we're hiding the boy.  They will kill him for surviving and winning, Jethro," he said quietly.  "He won against a lot of very bad people.  It's like harming those who hunted Nazis in this case."

Gibbs nodded.  "Then I respect the boy for standing up for what he believed in.  What about this paramilitary group they have going?"

"Ignore it.  It doesn't exist as far as you know," he said firmly.  "Neither does Harris."  He nodded, leaving him there.  The man slumped, looking up at the ceiling and praying.

Gibbs called DiNozzo.  "Take him somewhere very safe.  I'll meet you there with Messer.  Do not tell me.  We could be interrupted. The boy took down some torturing bastards the Pentagon is trying to hide, and probably the CIA covet groups too.  Just hide him until I can join you.  No, Jett just called Morrow to tell him. Make sure whatever his supply closet is is with you."  He hung up as he jogged down the stairs. "McGee.  Get on Tony's and Abby's machines, erase every mention of Messer and Harris.  They can recreate any reports that are needed.  Do it now, there's spooks of the nastier nature gunning for them both now."  He nodded, going to do that.  "Then check mine and the others just in case.  They won't hesitate to harm us, especially not Abby."

He got back to work, erasing all the mentions and the temporary files.  He saw the webpage on Tony's computer and looked at his boss. "That's real?"  He nodded, glaring a bit.  "Sorry, boss."  He got back to work, not even wondering. It was safer for him if he didn't wonder.  Kate came in and he looked at her. "Don't touch your system until I can get into it, after I do Abby's," he ordered.  "We've got a spook hunting someone."

"Sure.  Who?"

"I can't tell you and Gibbs stomped off a minute ago to talk to Abby."

"Sure.  Is this about Messer?"

"Somewhat," he admitted, finishing that search and then starting the disc cleaning he needed to do.  He went to his desk and got something, coming back to slip it into the computer, running it quickly once the trash files had been deleted.  Then he took it downstairs to Abby's lab.

"I already erased all the files that 'search' found, go ahead and run the scour," she ordered, leading Danny away.  "Gibbs said I get to go with you to the new safehouse.  You'll like it there."

"I need ta get my bag from the conference room."

"Of course," she agreed happily.  "I wonder if I can talk to him for a few minutes."

"Maybe."  He shrugged.  "I don't see why not since you'll be there and all."  He popped in to grab his bag then followed her down to the car so Gibbs could take them there.  Gibbs dropped Abby off at his house instead, saying it was safer for her.


Xander looked up as someone knocked on his door, groaning a bit. "What?" he called, walking over there.  The guy with a badge flashed it.  "Who are you with?"

"Can I come in?"

"I never invite anyone in.  You can step in if you dare," he offered.  The guy stepped in so he closed the door. "You're with who?"

"NCIS.  Special Agent DiNozzo.  I was handling a gay bashing case earlier and your name came up."  Xander sighed, going back to his seat shaking his head.  He flopped down and looked at him.  "Unfortunately it seems to have raised some flags with people who want to harm you because of the Initiative."  The boy sat up at that, staring him down.  Now he knew why Fornell had been upset by the boy.  He wasn't normal.  "I'm here to take you to safety."

"Sure."  He got up.  "It'll take me a few to repack. I haven't gotten everything unpacked yet."  He went into his bedroom, disarming things so he could gather them together.  He heard the guy talking to someone and then his door was broken into.  His security system went off, shooting a small rubber ball at the guy, making him howl in pain since it hit him in the solar plexus at high speed.  He walked out there, looking at him.  "Didn't I tell you not to do that yesterday?  Did you think I was kidding or are you deaf!" he demanded.  The guy just whimpered. "You'll be fine, you'll just shit yourself."  He went back to his packing.

The guy with the badge came in.  "I got ordered to tell you to bring your supply closet?  Something about a thing on the screen?  He wasn't very pretty, all bumpy."

"Which thing?  A Spike thing?  A demon thing?"  Tony shrugged.  "Fine."  He finished pulling everything out, then got up to grab his clothes.  He counted his bags, something was missing.  He went to search the bedroom again, coming out with it and put it down, then he went to gather the food and bullets again.

"You put them in the freezer?"

"Sunnydale is next to the desert," Xander explained.  "I've had a few go off from the heat.  I'd hate to die from that."  He finished packing and recounted, then went to do another check.  "I'm missing something."  He checked the closet and brought out something, then nodded.  "The rest is in my car.  Are we bringing it?"

"Only if it's not noticeable."

"I can sell it, I'm not that attached to it," he promised, taking stuff down. "I wanted to know about now though.  Your car's kinda tiny, Agent...."  He was nudged and the guy's head was shaken. "Fine.  Paranoid is good, it saves lives at times.  Especially mine right now."  He nodded at his landlord.  "Someone's hunting me down for my friends."


"Because they're bastards.  Is the mail here?"  His was handed over.  "Thanks, man, I needed the check."  He looked at the apartment. "I'll send someone to pick up anything I forgot in the next few days."

"You want the other stuff back?"

"Please, if you can.  Just in case I have to start over again.  They can pick that up in a few days too.  Oh, the guy in the hall broke the door."  He headed out to the cars, getting into his and stuffing the trunk full again.

"Is that a battle axe?" Tony asked, pulling it out.

Xander looked at him and nodded. "It's one of my favorite weapons.  Go get the rest.  This is most of the supply closet."  He nodded, going to do that while Xander spread everything out more evenly.  He reached into the trunk's hidden compartment and found the fake license plate, getting down to switch them over.  It was a local one so it'd look less suspicious.  Even if it did lead back to a man named Bitus Mee.  He looked at the other cars, then put one on the front as well.  He accepted the rest of the bags, counting mentally, and ran inside to get his sword and machine gun bag.  He came back with it, carrying it easily.  "Couldn't lift it?" he teased.

"It's heavy, what in it?"

"Swords.  Other stuff."  He put it in there.  "Pillows," he moaned.

"You'll have some there.  You can pick those up tomorrow too."  Xander nodded so he looked at his car, then at him. "Follow right behind me."

Xander pulled something out of the glove box and stuck it under Tony's back bumper, then looked at him.  "Head somewhere but pause there in a half hour. I can track you now."  Tony looked amused.  "What can I say, I'm a bit paranoid myself.  It's not the first time.  Get in and drive.  I'll meet you at the restaurant in a half-hour."  He nodded and got into his car while Xander got into his. He headed off in the opposite direction.  In ten minutes he checked the signal and headed gradually toward it, checking for tails.  He had already lost two, that left two guys in a black sedan and a small sports car.  He lost the sedan a few minutes later and the sports car made him smile. He drove on, making Jett chase him but he kept going when Xander paused to go through a burger place.  He finally worked his way to Tony's location and parked, getting out to look at the house. "This is nice.  Much nicer than my place."  He looked at him, grinning a bit.  "Four tails, one was Jett.  I lost the others.  He kept going but I doubt he knew about the tracer. It's chemical instead of electronic.  Willow made it."  He got the bug part and put it back into the glovebox.  "Help me get some things inside.  I doubt we'll need the swords but I need the other stuff and I need a few of the cases, plus one of my suitcases."  Tony just nodded, going to help him.  When they got in there, Xander set up in the living room, opening the first case.

Tony stared, then swallowed. "You do arms dealing?"  Xander looked at him and shook his head.  "Then why do you have a compact missile system?"

"Because I've needed one in the past.  It came in handy a few times."  He got back to work checking things.  Then he jogged out for the bullets and food, coming back with Gibbs and Messer.  "They're here too.  Come see my supply closet.  Everything else is still in the car."  He sat down to load one of the machine guns, slapping in the clip after checking it over. "It's got a small dent in the sight," he warned, handing it to the guy in charge.  "Those are iron bullets.  They are heavier than normal."

"I bet they do some damage," Gibbs noted, checking the gun and the other cases.  He tossed it back, noticing the boy caught it like a pro.  "Who trained you?"

"Me.  I was also turned into a soldier through black magic one Halloween night.  PFC Harris, Army.  That's how I got the base's codes."  Gibbs shuddered a bit.  "Let me guess, someone told you what I used to do?"  He nodded once.  "Who?"


"I thought so," he sighed.  "Well, he's a good judge of character most of the time.  If he says to trust you I will for now.  Then I'm going to go into hiding again."

Danny looked at the last unopened case. "What's that?"

"Oh, computer crap."  He opened it and let him see.  "Trackers, tracers, blockers...."  He ducked as someone shot in the window above him.  "Stupid fucker," he muttered, standing up and pulling out a crossbow, hitting him in the chest.  "He'll live," he noted coolly.  "No one fucks with me ever again."  They all stared at him so he stared back.  "What?  I got trained to hit really fast moving targets with them.  It's a handy thing and makes less noise than a machine gun."

"Good point," Tony decided, going out to get their perp and drag him inside.

Gibbs pulled the boy back toward a bedroom, going to talk to him and debrief him.  He wanted the *whole* story, not that diary.  By the end, it was dinner time.  Tony had used the food to good use and there was stuff there.  He let the boy go at the first smell of food, shuddering once he was alone.  No wonder someone wanted the kid, and that someone was military most likely.  He followed after composing himself, taking the cup of coffee without a word.

"I'm sorry I scared you earlier, Danny," Xander said quietly, patting him on the hand.  "I've been places that have broken people and made them insane.  I'm very conscious of people out to get me now."  Danny gave him a half-smirk for that.  "Sorry.  I won't make you play with my toys at all."

"They're not toys," Gibbs said firmly.

Xander looked at him.  "When you've fired off a multi-million dollar missile in a mall to kill something that wants to kill everyone on the planet, you can consider lesser weapons toys."

"You did what?" Danny asked.

"No, Buffy did what," Gibbs told him.  "He heard someone else mention Buffy's name."

"Yeah, she's pretty well known.  I wasn't aware I was."  Tony nodded.  "Did a really thorough background?"


"Ah.  The conspiracy people's pages.  Understood."  He dug in, smiling at Danny.  "I don't snore, much.  I promise I won't bring a gun to bed if we have to share a room."

"Thanks.  I'm not that comfortable with mine."

"I've had to become really comfortable with mine."

"What are you carrying, kid?" Gibbs asked.  He stood up and started removing a few daggers and a handgun, making him blink at him.  "That's good. Put 'em back on."  He did so then sat back down to eat.  "Did Jett like you?"

"He offered to train me but I told him I wanted a normal life and I couldn't really hurt people unless they were coming for me.  Hurting non-people who are coming for me is always easier."  He ate another bite.  "This is good, Special Agent DiNozzo.  Thank you."

"You're welcome, Mr. Harris."

"Xander.  I'd rather not be a Harris anyway."

"You don't like your parents?"

"Awfully hard to.  No one does."

"I know that feeling," Danny noted.

"You have shitbags for parents?  I've got drunken shitbags who fight really loudly and a father who once tried to mistake me for my mother, but he got a pool cue up the ass for it because he fell in my room."

Danny snickered at that, shaking his head.  "My Pop's in crime."

"Hmm.  My dad's in beer and scotch."  That got another smile.  "Mom's in vodka and gin."  Tony moaned and shook his head. "Sorry, didn't mean to bring up bad memories."

"No, not that, I had a date tonight."  Gibbs looked at him.  "I'm going to call it off, boss."

"Do that now, DiNozzo."

"Yes, boss."  He went out onto the back porch to do that.  "She won't even give me the time of day now.  Happier?"

"Much," Gibbs agreed, staring him down.  He looked at Xander.  "We have to decide what we're going to do with you, Xander."

"I'm all for hiding and doing something unique, like living a real life," he noted skeptically.
"I'd like that for you too.  We can always have someone do a new identity.  The problem is that it'll be in the FBI system and someone could hack it."

"Someone could hack it anyway and find me by IRS records," he said with a small shrug.  "Just let me keep my first name. It's not like there's so few Alexander's in the world."

"You'd have to change careers too," Tony noted.

"I'm in construction.  As long as I get some decent vo-tech training, I'm good with that too," he noted.  "I can even pay for that on my own if I have to.  I just don't feel like dying today."

"Sure," Tony agreed, nodding. "I have that feeling most days."

"I don't always but now and then that pesky survival reflex comes up," Xander said drolly, smirking a bit at him.

"Have you ever talked to anyone about the PTSD, kid?" Gibbs asked.

"Not too many counselors will believe that I used to stake vampires every night.  Small flaw there and I don't really want drugs today.  Ask the next time I get broken ribs though, I might consent."

Danny snickered. "You're not the average guy, Xander."

"Why be average?  The only thing my parents ever gave me was a desire to be better than them and a ten inch dick."  Danny blushed at that.  "Sorry.  Didn't mean to embarrass you again.  Can I become a dom?" he asked Gibbs, grinning a bit.  "I'd like to spank someone for their bad behavior and the knives and swords would be suitable decoration."

Gibbs stared at him, fork halfway to his mouth.  "And I thought you were a smartass, boss," Tony joked.  He was smacked again, this time harder, making his head hurt.

"I don't think that's on the approved lists of careers for those in hiding," Gibbs said finally.  He could come to like this kid, a lot.  "So, you know explosives?"

"Very well."

"Ever think about going military?"

"Hell no.  I like boys and girls, they wouldn't like me and I'd hate to have to talk back to the people who give me stupid orders.  Considering I'm actually pretty good at planning battles and things like that, that'll be whoever points me at someone and tells me to go shoot them. I don't have the patience to retrain a new commander every few months in how to deal with me, Gibbs.  Wish I did."  He offered a bright grin.  "I'm afraid I'd break 'em really fast."

"Well, maybe you could get your spanking thing out that way," Tony suggested, moving out of range of Gibbs' hand.

"I don't really have a thing for spanking, I more like to watch others be spanked; I'm fairly good at administering it, it just doesn't turn me on."

Danny started to cough, gulping his coffee as fast as he could.  Tony patted him on the back.  "This is why he would break commanders," he assured him.  He realized he was back in range when he got popped again, wincing this time. "He would."

"Not another word on this subject," Gibbs ordered.  "Some of us don't need to think about those things."

"Sorry, sir," Xander said, a totally unrepentant look in his eyes as he finished his dinner.  "Can I do dishes?  I'm fairly good at them after six jobs doing so."

"Where did you do dishes?" Danny asked.

"A few restaurants, a country club, and a strip joint."  Danny started to cough again and Gibbs wandered off shaking his head.  "Sorry, again!"  He looked at Tony, who was snickering. "Is he always that easy to embarrass?"

"No, you just threw him, Xander.  Usually he's much more calm.  You stripped?"

"Once or twice, but I sucked at it.  I don't have the natural rhythm. I'm one white guy who needs to learn how to dance better."  Danny looked at him. "I do.  I'm okay enough in the clubs, but not the one that you're going to have sex with on the floor."  He shrugged. "I'm honest about my abilities.  I'm a crack shot, but I'm a crappy dancer."  He gathered things up, putting the leftovers away.  "There, for whoever gets hungry later."  He got to work on the dishes, humming quietly while he worked.

Danny watched him.  "You can't stand silence, can you?"

"No, silence means an attack. That's never a good thing."  He went over to clean the table, then the stove.  "Sorry if it annoys you."

"No, it's kinda nice.  I work in a noisy office but I usually play music at home."  He got up to dry the dishes.  "Are you okay with this?"

Xander looked at him. "It's not like my life held a whole lot of promise anyway, Danny.  Think about it.  My supposed friend gave me to some Marines to beat the hell outta me for the crime of dancing with a guy in a gay club, which I don't know why she was there anyway.  Or them.  She lied to them to get them to take me.  I work construction.  I don't have any college classes taken.  It's not like my life was full of sunshine and light.  More like moonlight and death.  I'd like to never have to hunt another creature down ever again.  I hate hunting.  I do it because it's the right thing to do and they needed the help.  I do it because if I don't, I could get taken out by that thing that I didn't kill when I got lazy. I do it so that no one else has to wonder why their child has bite marks and have to listen to some bullshit story about gangs of kids on PCP.  I'm me and I'd like to find out the rest of who I am, not just the hunter, but the real me. The lover me, the funny me, the joker me.  The guy that others might like."

"It's gotta suck ta have your friends turn on you like that."

"They've been pushing me away for years," he noted calmly.  "Until they need something, like the house or a weapon fixed.  Then suddenly I'm useful and necessary and they're happy to see me," he said bitterly, staring at him.  "I'm like their trained dog, man. I'm tired of them and I was looking for a way to leave before she turned me over to those jarheads."

"They hurt you bad?"

"Some.  Some bruises. One of them tried to piss on me but he was too drunk to get his zipper down.  The others beat him then tried to make me suck him.  I bit someone."  Danny smiled at that.  "So they went back to hitting me and sneering.  Making bad jokes. You know, the usual."

"I've never been bashed."

"Is that because you don't participate or because you never got found?"

"A bit of both.  I haven't participated in years.  Not since college," he said quietly.  "I especially don't since I joined the PD."

"You're a cop?"

"CSI.  I'm the guy who tells the cops who did it."

"Ah.  Interesting. That means you're smart and slightly geeky."  Danny grinned and nodded.  "Cool.  I've got my Star Trek collection in the car."

"Not my thing.   I'm more a Pern guy."  Xander beamed at him and hugged him. "Thanks."  He got free of the octopus.  "I'm heading out to check on our guards.  You be okay finishing up in here?"

"I'll be fine.  Should someone come through the back door I'll scream and then kick their ass."  Danny snorted but he left him alone to finish up.  Xander went back to thinking about what he'd like to do with his life.  He needed to make a decision soon.  Or else someone would and he'd end up doing some horribly boring job, like an accountant, all day long.  He couldn't see himself in an office.  He really couldn't.  When he got done, he headed out to the living room, finding Gibbs alone. "Sent Tony to bed?"

"Yeah.  He'll take second watch later.  You okay, kid?"

"Pretty decent.  I wanted to ask you a few things."  Gibbs looked at him.  "If I'm going to relocate, I need to ditch some of my stuff, right?  For cash and safety reasons.  That means selling the car, which isn't an issue for me. I'm going to keep some of the weapons and they were all gotten legally, but I don't think I'll need them all.  Can I legally get rid of them?"

"Maybe.  I'm not sure how.  Some of your stuff is fairly black market.  How did you get it?

"Gun shows.  Trunk sales at gun shows," he offered with a small smile. "I've also modified one or two."  Gibbs blinked.  "I had to fix *her* weapons a lot, Gibbs.  You learn things from doing them over and over again."

"I guess you do."  Xander flipped open something handing it to him.  "What's that?"

"Look inside."

He looked and then looked at him.  "What is that?"

"A small ball of goo that I got told would dissolve something.  We used it for clean up after the worst things came down."

"Okay," he said, looking down it again, then at him.  "Was the gas he used yours or his?"


"Good."  He relaxed again.  "Did you want someone honest to buy them?"

"I don't want a terrorist to buy them," he said, "and I know you don't want me to call Jett and ask *him* because of his career choices."  Gibbs nodded at that. "I'm still not going to turn him over to you guys.  In my eyes, he's a fucking saint."

"Quit swearing, and I see why.  I wouldn't turn him in either.  I can call someone.  See what they want.  I'm not sure what to say at the moment."

"Okay, well if you can ask, I'd like that.  I'm keeping the computer gear and the swords, but only a few of the machine guns, grenades, and the less legal stuff in the trunk."


Xander grimaced. "I shouldn't have said that."

"Probably not.  Let me pull the car further up and grab a flashlight."

"Fine," he said, slumping down a bit.  "Sorry, Gibbs."

"No, I almost expected something like this with what you told me and what Spike's journal said."

"Spike's Journal?  The livejournal thing that I never told Willow about because she'd throw a hissy?"

"He sent Abby his real journal."

"Oh."  He nodded, then shuddered. "Probably not happy reading."

"No, it wasn't."  He took the keys and went to move the car closer, checking around and under it first.  He noticed the plates and called them in for a check with Abby, who was holed up with McGee at a motel somewhere.  What came back made him snicker, that was good!  The boy checked then darted over and moved the remaining stuff into the front seat, coming back with his favorite sword.  Then he opened the secret compartment, making Gibbs smack him on the head.


"You get used to it," Tony said from the doorway.  He came out, looking at the plates, then at his boss.  "Whose are those?  He had California plates earlier."

"Bitus Mee's plates," Xander said with a grin.  "I told her my mother was cruel and a theoretical philosopher.  She shuddered and apologized."  He got out of the way, watching his reaction as well, giggling at the open-mouthed shocked look. "Now you know why those didn't come out of the car yet."

Gibbs looked at him. "I'm calling someone to come take those and buy the rest of the stuff off you.  Go pick out what you want to keep."  Xander picked up a grenade, giving him the dreaded puppy eyes.  He took it back, shaking his head.  "No.  Too dangerous.  Guns maybe, grenades no."  Xander sighed and went to separate things out.  Gibbs walked in, handing him the computer.  Xander checked it and handed it back. "What? It goes with that?"

"It's Willow's.  I don't know how it got in there.  It's the one she used to use to hack the Sunnydale systems."

Gibbs put it aside anyway.  Maybe McGee or Abby would want it.  Then he went back to the trunk.  His contact pulled in and came over, blinking at the sight in front of him. "He's got others," he said quietly.  Xander brought out seven of the cases he had carried inside.  Then he looked at him.  "Harris, this is Fornell."

"I know, he came to bug me at work."  He shook his hand.  "And you thought I was what before?"

"Severely damaged from combat," he admitted.

Xander nodded.  "Probably.  Did he tell you the issue at hand?"

"He did.  I agree, you'll need it, kid."  He got to work looking.  "Who made this dagger?"

"It was my first try," Xander complained, taking it back.  "Sorry to offend."

"No that's okay.  It was just odd looking," he said, looking at Tony.  "Take him back inside, DiNozzo.  He shouldn't be out here."

Tony walked Xander back inside, shutting the door.  "How did you get those?"

"Trunks at gun shows.  You ask about something or get word of something, they have it in their trunk, you meet them later on somewhere.  Sounding familiar?"

"Any military?"

"Actually, yeah, the guy with the grenades.  His card's in there in case I need more.  A few were modified.  That's what the purple pin is for.  Those contain garlic and pepper spray."

Tony rushed out to tell them that before they could set one off.

Gibbs came in a few hours later, finding the kid asleep on the couch.  He nudged his foot, getting a suddenly awake person.  "He's got a contact who could use those.  He'll pay top dollar, including the car.  We'll move the rest of your stuff in tomorrow, Xander."  Xander smiled sleepily and nodded.  "Go to bed. This is all you're keeping?"

"I like the computer stuff and we'll have to clean out the glove box."  He yawned but stood up and headed for the bedroom Gibbs had said would be his.  He found Danny on his twin bed and smiled, stripping down to his boxers and t-shirt for his own bed.  He snuggled under the blankets, getting comfortable.  He was about to drift off when he heard a whimpering noise, making him look at his roommate.  So he sighed and went over to snuggle next to him, making him feel much better.


Danny woke up warm and obviously being held, which was odd.  He looked back at Xander, who he kicked.  "Why did you crawl in with me?" he asked patiently.

"You were having nightmares," he said with a small yawn.  "I figured since I probably caused them, I should help you fix 'em."  He closed his eyes and drifted off again.

Danny slid out of the bed, heading for the bathroom.  He'd consider that after he had some coffee.  He came out and grabbed something out of his bag, heading back to change into it, then came out and headed for the kitchen. "Morning," he said.

"You sleep okay?" Tony asked, handing over a cup of coffee.

"Yeah, just fine.  Apparently I was having nightmares so Xander crawled in.  He said he felt guilty for causing 'em."  He sipped and added sugar.  "There, perfect."  He sat at the table, sighing in pleasure as the food appeared in front of him.  "Thanks, Tony."

"Not a problem, Danny.  You're incredibly easy to please."  He watched as Xander stumbled out and flopped down.  He put food in front of him and gave him a nudge.  "You eat too."

Xander looked at him, then smiled and blew a kiss.  "I love you.  No one's ever cooked for me."  He looked down and started to shovel food into his mouth.  When he was done, he went back to bed.

Tony and Danny shared a smirk.


Danny looked at the boy's clothes, then at him.  "This is all you have?"  Xander nodded.  "No wonder you can't club, Xander!  You don't have anything to feel slinky and special in!  You need an outfit to remind you of the predator you are, out there hunting down your prey of an easy lay that night."  Xander looked confused.  "You never had clubbing clothes?"  He shook his head, still looking confused. "You need to go shopping, my young friend.  There's much you have yet to experience."

"Goodwill or Salvation Army?"

"No, like new clothes."  Xander started to look confused again.  "Where do you go when you need good stuff to wear?"

"Goodwill or Salvation Army.  Occasionally Walmart for socks and underwear?" he offered hesitantly.

"No, no, not that stuff, I'm talking *clothes*, Xander.  Real clothes?"


"You never bought new clothes?  Where did your girls shop?"

"Nothing in there would fit me, even if I was a drag queen, and I was usually just the chauffeur and pack mule.  I think once they went into Sears but that was for practice stuff.  They traumatized me by making me watch them bra and bathing suit shop."

Danny slapped himself on the forehead, then pushed his glasses back up on his nose.  "No, Xander.  Real clothes.  Tony!"  Tony walked into the bedroom.  "He's never been clothes shopping for himself.  He does it all at Goodwill and Walmart.  That's why he can't club."

Tony frowned a bit.  "Where did they get your clothes that you got as presents?"

"What presents?"  Xander sat on the end of his bed, looking at him.  "I don't usually get presents."

"What was the last present you got?" Danny demanded.

"A red fire truck because I bought myself one for my birthday. I was feeling nostalgic."

Danny and Tony shared a look.  "What about your friends? Didn't they buy holiday presents and stuff?" Tony asked.

"Now and then.  Gift certificates to the music store at the mall.  The lumber store for more hardware and stuff.  Ooh, I got a new pair of steel toed boots a few years back."

The older men shared another look.  "Anyone ever volunteer to kill your parents and friends for ya?" Danny asked.

"Spike, but I don't think he counts."  He shrugged. "I thought I was happy enough."

"What about girlfriends?  Haven't they made you go shopping?"

"There's only two of them I actually *dated*; they mostly went to bra shops, and again it wouldn't fit me even if started doing drag.  Anya did a lot off the home shopping channel and internet shopping areas.  She said Sunnydale was too limited for her tastes."

"Okay.  Did she buy you clothes?"

"Anya?  Spend money on someone else?" he snorted.  "Never happen!  I had to buy everything, including all our sex toys, her birth control, and all the food.  That's another very good reason why I didn't marry her."

"You almost got married?" Gibbs asked.  "Why didn't you?"  He leaned in the doorway.

"Some of her friends showed me what it was going to be like.  I'd have turned into my father and been doubly miserable."  Tony looked confused at that. "I wasn't rich so she was unhappy and I was an unhappy person so therefore I got a double dose of unhappies.  I turned into my father, Tony, I don't wanna do that.  I left her at the altar."

"Good point," he admitted.  He looked at his boss, then at Danny.  "We need to take him clothes shopping.  He's going to need at least a suit for interviews."


"Sorry."  Danny smirked at him.  "It'll be fun.  I'll take you where I go, Xander.  I won't let you get anything as baggy as I get, but I'll take you where I go."

Tony grimaced, looking at him and shaking his head.  "No.  No way.  Gibbs, permission?"

"Once he's no longer in danger, DiNozzo.  Shopping isn't a good reason to take him to the mall."

"Malls bad," Xander said seriously. "They play horrible music and they're crowded with girly girls.  Walmart's good."

"If I hear that name again, I'm going to have to beat you," Tony said firmly. "It's not good.  It's bad, very bad. It ruins smaller stores and makes people miserable.  No more of that unholy spot."

"Fine," he said, giving him an odd look.  "I don't need to dress up.  It's not like I'm going to be dating this year.  Getting settled first and then worry about sleeping around."

"That's a good priority," Gibbs noted, "but sleeping around is bad for you, kid."

Tony looked at him. "Why don't you give me these lectures?"

"Because you're old enough to know better, DiNozzo.  Or at least you should be."  He shook his head, looking at Danny.  "Someone asked if you were comfortable going back to work since all he wanted was information about you."

"I should be fine but you explain to my boss why I didn't check in."

"I already did.  Then I yelled back."  He walked off.  "You can take him shopping when you go to get him settled, DiNozzo.  He's going to New York."

"I am?" Xander called.  "Is it all worked out?  What'm I gonna be?"  He followed him into the kitchen.  "What am I going to be?"

"That was never discussed," he admitted.  "It was thought with the payoff for the gear and the car you'd be able to set yourself up somewhere decent, meaning without bugs and rats, and figure that out."

"Oh, okay.  Am I changing my name?"

Gibbs nodded, handing him something from the counter.  "Same first name, as asked.  Last name's Taylor.  Fairly common name.  Same age but your birthday's one month and one day later."  Xander nodded, looking at the documents.  "You have to lay low, Xander.  Unless you're attacked."

"I will," he promised, looking at him.  "I won't go out hunting or anything. I don't want to do that anymore.  That doesn't mean I won't be working out, but I don't want to hunt.  I hate hunting.  It's the never-ending battle."  Gibbs patted him on the shoulder. "Thanks, Gibbs.  Can I live anywhere I want in New York?"  He got a nod so he grinned.  "I'll let Danny help me with that."

"That's a good idea.  You've got enough set up in your trust fund at the bank to live very comfortably.  Buy a loft or something.  Maybe you can write horror stories."  He shrugged and poured himself some more coffee.  "You're leaving the day after tomorrow.  We think we got the last of the people but we want to make sure."

"Okay."  He went back to show it to Danny.  "Can you help me find somewhere less than scummy?"

"Less than scummy?  I can do that," he agreed, grinning at him. "As long as you let me take you shopping."

"Tony's going with you," Gibbs called. "Just in case for the first few days.  He can explain how trusts work and things like that."

"How much did he get?" Tony asked, following his boss.  He whistled when he saw it.  "Why?"

"Some of it was modified," he reminded him.  "New weapons designs.  They cheated him for it but some of it's pretty useful.  They did take that spare tracking system and he did credit the other source but they still paid him handsomely for it."  He sat down, staring out at the lawn. "You'll be okay with them up there?"

"Yeah, just fine, boss.  Why?"

"I noticed you've taken to the kid like a younger brother."

"No, if he were my brother, he'd be less hurt," he pointed out dryly, going back to tell Xander about how much money he had.  Even Danny was impressed.


Their first morning back Danny walked Xander into the suit shop he liked, steering him toward a salesperson.  "He never bought one.  He needs to look nicer than I usually do."  He went to browse and call his boss.  "I'm back in town but I can't show up for another two days until they're sure it's safe.  We've still got a guard from NCIS," he said quietly. "Yeah, Mac, once I'm back I'll tell you everything.  Well, let's see.  Assassins, weapons, odd crap flowing out someone's pores, and oh, a few good attempts to kill us.  Xander, have him fit it so it doesn't show the weapons."  He nodded, letting the guy lead him around.  "Not brown!"  He shook his head and listened to the laughter.  "The other guy just got transferred up here so I've got a kid brother again," he offered with a grin for Xander, who was looking at a tan suit.  "No."  Xander put it back and the salesman looked at him. "He's got money, make him look like he's respectable and all that."  He listened again.  "Yeah, that's where we are.  Tony's still sleeping in and he said it was okay last night.  Sure."  He hung up and walked back over there, taking two of the suits Xander was holding and put them back. "No."  He walked him over to another rack, handing over a simple black one and a brighter medium blue one, then a darker green one.  "Try those to start."  Xander nodded, going to do that.  He looked at the sales guy.  "He's got to look *nice*.  I've got to find him someone to date soon.  This isn't for work, this is for life."  He looked at his boss as he came in a few minutes later.  "You made good time."

"I was heading away from the traffic."  He walked over, looking his person over.  "No tan?" he joked.

"Hard to do when you're trapped in a house with a hyper guy and two feds.  Not that I dislike 'em.  I like Tony a lot."  He grinned at Xander as he came out. "Xander, this is Mac, my boss.  Mac, this is Alexander Taylor."

"Another Taylor.  I wonder if we're related," he offered, moving to shake his hand.

Xander grinned.  "You never know. Those pesky gene things keep cropping up in the strangest places."  He looked at himself, then at Danny.  "This?"

"Yes.  That."  He turned the boy around, making him look in the mirror.  "See, it makes you look *nice*.  Maybe you can get a date in it."  He brushed across the shoulders.  "It still needs fitted and we need to make sure it won't show when you're carrying."

"You carry concealed a lot, Xander?"

"Yeah," he admitted. "Every day.  There's some pesky imbeciles after my cute butt."  He shrugged and went to try on the next one.  "I look like a thug," he called a few minutes later.

"Let me see," Danny called, looking at Mac.  "He's never been shopping."  He looked at Xander, then shook his head. "You're right, you look like a thug.  Go change."  Xander went back and changed again, coming out in the green one. "I like that one.  Mac?"

"It looks good on him," he admitted.  He looked at his coworker. Then around.  "He let you out alone?"

"He said we're probably safe here.  Anyone who comes here'll be after me, not him.  At which point in time he gave Xander permission to shoot 'em for me."   He grinned a bit.  "You should see him with a sword, Mac."


"Uh-huh."  He went to find the boy something else to try on, handing it over the door.  "Try those too."  He went back to standing beside him as the fitter got one of them in a different size. "Sorry."  He looked at his boss.  "We just got him a new loft.  It was already partially furnished.  Now we're doing practical stuff."

"Does he live near you?"

"A few buildings down," he admitted quietly, glancing around again.  He groaned.  "Shoot me now," he complained, turning back around.  "Xander, hurry up."

"Sorry."  He came out and looked at the person staring at him.  "If I flip him off will he laugh or go away?"

"Probably laugh.  I don't like that one on you.  The cut's wrong."  The jacket was taken off the boy and another put on.  "That's better.  Mac?"

"Looks fine to me."  He looked behind him.  "Oh, your fanatical little friend."

"He ran after one of my former girlfriends to find out why she dumped me," he told the curious Xander.

Xander walked over and kissed him, making him moan, then he gave the guy a heated glare and mouthed the word 'mine'.  The guy moaned and headed off, stomping.  "There, I doubt he'll come back."  He smiled at the fitter.  "I hate people who claim what's not theirs."  The fitter snickered and fitted him for that jacket, then took him back to try on the next outfit.  "I'm not wearing this purple one.  I look more gay than I am."

Danny shook himself free of his shock.  "Let me see, Xander."  Xander came out, holding out his arms.  Danny grinned, nodding. "Okay, you do look like you belong in the parade.  Maybe as separates?"  Xander glared at him, tapping a foot.  "Fine.  I'll let Tony help you later too.  That way you don't end up with more fashion disasters, like your Hawaiian shirt collection."

"I like my shirts!"  The fitter took him back to work on him again and he came out in the last suit, getting a nod for the classic navy blue.   "Am I done?"

"Nearly."  The fitter worked on him and Xander was allowed back into his loose jeans and t-shirt, making him sigh.  He came out and grinned.  "Better?"

"Much.  I don't change clothes that many times in a week."  He grinned at Mac.  "I'm sorry I'm hogging him for another few days."

"As long as you keep him safe.  I need him to come back."

"Of course.  No one fucks with my family and I consider Danny that way already."

"You're from a *family*?" Mac asked.

"No, I'm from out West."  He shrugged.  "Small community."

"Oh."  He nodded.  "I understand.  Danny, lunch the day you get back."  Danny nodded and Mac left.

"I didn't want to blow it already," Xander said quietly.

"You didn't. You just freaked him out by kissing me that way."  He swatted him. "Which was way too much."

Xander looked at him.  "If you say so," he offered with a wicked smirk.  "Let's go pounce Tony.  He was promising me a leather coat."

"I thought it was leather pants," he said, letting Xander pay for his new clothes.

"I look like a vampire in leather pants.  Not the image I'm going for."

"Good point."  He walked the boy out and back toward the loft, shaking his head at the boy's bounciness.  He made Xander stop to get Tony breakfast, and him more coffee, then they went back to the loft.  Tony was woken by a pouncing Xander, making him shriek and Xander giggle. "He's got five good suits," he offered, handing over the coffee and bag of food.  "The rest is up to you, Tony."

"Danny took me to his suit shop and he tried to put me in purple and black," he shared, sitting across from him.  Tony handed him half a biscuit and got a smile and a quickly eaten treat.  "I looked like a thug in the black one and the purple one made me look really gay."

Tony choked so Danny pounded him on the back. "He did.  He looked like he shoulda been in the parade.  Mac showed up since I called him.  He thought Xander was *family*."

Tony looked at Xander, then at Danny.  "I doubt it."  He finished his breakfast, letting Xander have the rest of his jelly toast.  Then he went to clean up and change for the day.  Xander had plenty of hot water, it was nice.  He came out and grabbed his wallet, keys, badge, and gun, then hauled Xander up and out with him and Danny.  He found the shops he had researched downtown, handing him to a salesperson. "He's newly wealthy, he's mildly annoying, and he's looking for things to attract a mate, male or female.  Find him something," he ordered.  The salesperson looked at Xander, then led him off, going to outfit him.  He made Danny browse with him, handing him two new shirts.  "Get them fitted.  You look nearly as baggy as Xander does most of the time."  The boy came out of the back and he looked at him, then at the salesman. "No.  He's got money.  He's got good money. He found a loft the first day in New York and owns it after three days."  The man shivered and went back with Xander, bringing him out in something better.  "Nicer, and good for clubbing.  Now how about real clothes?"  The man nodded, going to outfit him.  Tony looked around and got him some boxers too, just in case.  When he was done, he drug Xander off to another store, playing the same game.  This one was easier since Xander was starting to get tired and less choosy.


Tony led the way into the club, taking Xander with him.  "Little brother," he explained.  He pointed at the floor.  "Watch what they're doing," he said next to his ear.  "Can you do that?"  Xander nodded, moving out there to try it out.  He found a different rhythm than the rest of them and Tony groaned, going out there to help the poor guy.  Apparently it was still the fifties in Sunnydale.  The boy looked odd.  He grabbed onto his hips, making him move with him.  Xander turned, smiling at him, catching on pretty quick after a few minutes trial.  Xander was slowly let go and he stuttered a bit, but eventually got it.  Tony let him go, nudging him toward a cute boy.  They had noticed Xander had some...issues with women at times.  His past relationships read like a horror story really.  Even Gibbs couldn't top the mummy who wanted to eat him and he had been divorced three times.  Tony snickered as the boy pounced Xander for a kiss, shrugging when he got looked at.  The guy looked at him. "I adopted him."  The other guy grinned and drug Xander deeper into the floor of moving people.  Tony picked out his own person to dance with and it was going well. She was hot, she was responding, she cooed when Xander was brought back and the guy said something that sounded like 'broken' then left.

"Sorry," Xander said, slinking off to the bar.

Tony rolled his eyes and continued dancing.  Someone would take the boy in hand and show him how to have sex standing up, which was what this sort of dancing was for. He noticed Xander being drug back onto the floor by someone and rolled his eyes at the boy's attempts.  Another geek who liked Xander.  He grinned at his lady friend.  "I adopted him," he called.  "He's like my little brother, but he comes from somewhere tiny on the west coast."

"Poor boy.  Never danced?"

"Not that well."  He shrugged and led her off, going to have some fun with her.  After all, dancing wasn't the only way to have sex standing up.  He came back and found Xander surrounded by bigger guys and sighed.  Then Xander kicked one of them in the shin, hit another one, then back handed a third.  They decided them to leave him alone.  Tony went back to him, tapping him on the shoulder. "Can't you stay out of trouble?"

"They were picking on the nice guy trying to teach me to dance," he complained.  "She good?"

Tony smirked. "I don't kiss and tell, Al."  He pulled Xander closer again, showing him how it was done.  Xander almost seemed like he was getting it but he knew he wasn't feeling the music.  "It's about sex, Xander.  Let the music be the guide."  Xander tried and he shook his head.  "Maybe some time in bed with someone would help you," he offered.  Xander raised an eyebrow and smirked at him.  "Not offering," he noted dryly.

"Pity."  He tried again and Tony shook his head. "What?"

"You dance like a girl."

"I was constantly surrounded by girls.  It's not like I had male influences in my life."

Tony shuddered and walked the boy out, taking him somewhere a bit easier to fit in with. Xander fit in there, the lighter techno music spoke more to him.  He was bouncing and happy on the floor, making Tony smile.  It was a nicer club and he wasn't going to pick up anyone here.  Though he did get checked out a few times.  Someone noticed him looking at Xander.  "I adopted him," he explained at the odd look.  "He's from the west coast."

"Ah!"  He nodded and went to help the poor boy before he got majorly hurt.  The east coast scene was much more intense and hard.  West coast clubs were more laid back and a meat market, more about being pretty than being seen.

Tony shook his head.  That poor kid, but he'd probably enjoy it.


Tony drug Xander back into the loft, watching him giggle and spin around.  "See, I told you that clubbing wasn't that hard."

"It's not," he agreed happily, hugging him.  "Thank you, Tony."

"Welcome, kid."  He gave him a squeeze.  "Go shower then hit the bed."  He gave him a swat on the ass and Xander gave him that look again, that one that made his toes curl at the heat in it. "What?"

"Wanna join me?  You should probably shower off the perfume before Gibbs sniffs it tomorrow."

"I can shower in the morning."  Xander moved closer to him, not quite stalking but the dangerous part of him was back out.  "That's the part you need to let out in the clubs.  You'd probably dance better," he said, trying to joke it off.

"The last time I did, I nearly got eaten.  They thought I'd make a good vampire."  He pulled Tony's head down, kissing him.  And he got a moan.  "Wash my back?" he offered quietly.  Tony swallowed and shrugged. "It'll probably be the last time you see me unless you pop up on vacation."

"True," he admitted, walking him into the bathroom.  The kid had promise and he had been teasing him since he had met him.  He got the water ready and turned, finding Xander naked and pulling down towels to warm.  Tony smiled and stripped off, letting the boy get past him.  Then he calmed himself and got in there too.  He didn't want to seem too anxious or anything.  Xander finished with his hair and moved to help Tony with his, earning a moan.  He had very good fingers.  "You should take up massage therapy."

"I thought about it.  It's a good field," he agreed quietly, going back to work.  "Okay, rinse," he said finally.  He grabbed the bath sponges and got to work on his front and sides, making Tony moan and shiver.  "Turn for me."  He turned and Xander finished his back for him, all clean and no more sluts at the club spread across his body.

Tony took the sponge and got to work on Xander's chest, smiling at him.  The boy wasn't built too hard, no real outstanding muscles, but you could tell he wasn't a slouch.  "Did you used to jog?"

"Swim."  He turned, letting Tony get his back.  "Think I should let my hair grow out?"

"I don't know.  I can see you with really short hair or with longer hair.  Make Danny take you to a hair dresser and see what they say."  He got to work on the firm butt cheeks, making the boy shiver.  "What did that one guy say?"

"He broke me."

"You do need better rhythm."

"Not all boys are meant to dance and sing."

"Yeah, but you've got the body for it."  He teased him with the sponge, earning a moan. "Where do you prefer, Xander?"

"Either's fine with me."  He looked back at him and grinned.  "I'll take whatever you don't want."

Tony kissed the back of his neck, then let him rinse off the soap.  "You've got things, right?"

"Already bought and put away in the little basket under the side of the bed.  Danny blushed a lot."

Tony grinned and made sure they were both rinsed off before turning off the water and taking him out of the shower.  He dried them both off, watching Xander head back to the bedroom without his towel.  It would just be a one night thing since he doubted he'd have a reason to come check on them.  He found Xander spread out on the bed on his stomach, one foot waving slightly to the quiet music he had put on.  The Beatles, an odd choice for passionate sex, but okay.  At least it wasn't disco or anything odd like that.  He found the little basket and looked at it then at the boy.  "You have very odd tastes."

"My former fiance was the energizer bunny of sex," he noted dryly.  "She had to have at least five orgasms a night, every night, and complained loudly to anyone and everyone when she didn't."

Tony looked at him.  "You worked full time and still kept up with her?"

"And hunted in between.  Yeah.  I can go on very little sleep for very long times," he offered with a shy grin.

"I can tell."  He got what he wanted out of the basket and put it aside, then got to work on Xander's body.  The boy flipped over for him, letting him explore, teasing and testing him.  Xander was incredibly easy to please and he finally had to pull back to look at him.  "Did no one ever please you?"

"No.  It was all about them."  He shrugged and pulled Tony down.  "That makes me an incredible lover but not exactly the most happy boy."  He flipped him over, learning his body.  This was where he excelled in the bedroom, giving pleasure with the smaller stuff.  Within minutes he had Tony whimpering and clutching the sheets.  A few more and Tony was begging.  Xander found the lube and looked at him.  "Top or bottom, Tony?" he asked gently, stroking his stomach.

"Top," he moaned.  Xander beamed at him, making him shiver at the delight in that face.  Xander was working on himself so he tried to get the upper hand and do it for him but Xander went back to teasing him while he worked on himself.  Before he knew it the boy was on top of him and trying to ride him.  "Rhythm, Xander, rhythm," he complained, putting him back onto his back to show him how.  "Follow the beat of the music you have on," he offered, setting a good, steady, hard rhythm.  The boy tried so hard to follow along but he was slowly getting better.  The rest made up for the rhythm problems and Xander kissed better than anyone he'd ever slept with.  When he finally came, the boy curled around him and cuddled, which was nice.  It was comforting.  He reminded himself to set the alarm so he'd get up in time for his flight, then went to sleep beside him.  He could sleep on the plane or in the office.


Gibbs walked in and found Tony asleep behind his desk.  "Long flight?" he asked, standing there drinking his coffee when the guy woke up.  "Problems last night?"

"No, boss, really good sex," he admitted, stretching and yawning.  Gibbs raised an eyebrow and scowled.  "Don't give me that look.   He's got a rhythm problem but not that much.  Well, he does, but he makes up for it in other areas.  Danny can finish educating him and find him a good boyfriend."

"Boyfriend?" Kate asked as she walked in.  "Who?"

"One of the guys we were guarding," Tony said, standing up with a moan.  "He's got a small rhythm problem and I took him out clubbing last night to try to fix it."  He stretched again, handing over the report he had worked on before they had went out.  "There, completed. He's fully integrated into New York and has a watcher in case something comes up.  I told Mac Taylor, Danny's boss, what was really going on since he had a clue with the DB a few months back in the park.  He has not a clue about Xander's real past, but enough to know that people are hunting for him.  I didn't mention his like of weapons either."

Gibbs nodded.  "He's fully settled?"

"He's even found a good grocery store and Danny's stopping over every other day to check on him."

"Good work, DiNozzo.  Now forget you ever saw him."

"I am.  He said he'd write us thank you letters soon but otherwise he didn't expect me to come back."  He shrugged and went to get some coffee.  He'd need it today.

Kate looked at him.  "Since when do we move people into witness protection?"

"Since the Pentagon was after him," he noted dryly.  "The FBI thought we'd handle it easier."  She gaped.  "He ran into one of their secret projects and stopped someone building a library of torture experiments.  They want him for that."  She shuddered.  "Therefore he's hiding and only two people besides me know who he is and I don't know where he is besides the city."

"Good.  As long as he stays low he should be fine.  Do we have anything on him that I need to work on?"

"Not unless you wanted to practice profiling people with layers," Tony noted as he came back.  "Sometimes he was a bit scary, others he was a goofy kid.  He and Danny talked about sci-fi and fantasy stuff for the last two days.   He said he's getting a cat."  He sat down with a hiss.  "Sorry, boss, my back aches."

"That's what you get for taking the uninitiated to the clubs," Kate teased.

"Oh, you have no idea.  The kid has no natural rhythm.  Someone brought him back to me and told me he was broken again."  He pulled something out of his desk drawer and tossed it over to her.  "Here, the formal interviews we did before the last day."

Gibbs looked at it, then shrugged.  "It probably wouldn't hurt to practice.  He's not like most of the other people we run into."

"He danced like a girl, boss.  He's never had a strong male influence in his life," Tony complained.  "I think you had more of an influence in his life than anyone else and that was only, what, a week?"  Gibbs nodded.  "He's also incredibly easy to please as long as you're not trying to dress him funny."

"At least he's reasonable then."  He sat down, opening his morning email.  "The director wants me.  I'll be right back."  He walked up there, going to report in.

Kate took the tapes to view them, coming back an hour later looking confused.  "Does he have MPD?"

"No," Tony said.  "He's just like that."

"I've never seen anyone switch like that."  She sat down.  "Does whoever's watching the kid know he needs a stronger influence in his life?  That he's got a bit of growing up left to do?"  Tony nodded.  "Good, that should keep him out of trouble.  You said he looks up to Gibbs?"

"He does, but he knows he's not likely to get any more contact with him.  Danny's boss is probably close enough but I don't see them getting close since Danny and he aren't that close. Danny's pretty laid back but he's got that underlying tension in him from stress and work."

"Then he could probably help Xander if they're staying in contact.  Has he ever lived on his own?"

"He's had his own apartment and his parents weren't exactly *there* most of the time.  Drunk.  He was out hunting a lot."

"Is he stupid enough to try drugs?"

"He told me he did that out of high school when I asked.  He got over it within two weeks of his roadtrip, while working at a strip club while broken down."  He smirked.  "Can't you figure him out?  Is he too hard for you?"

"I can but he's fairly problematic.  He's got a dual personality going.  One's going to have to become dominant."

"Hint, the deadlier side only comes out when he has to or he's stalking someone across a floor.  Even with bad rhythm."

She blinked.  "Then he should be fine with some supervision, but what damaged him?"

"A long story," he sighed, shaking his head.  "Not even Abby believed all of it."

"Okay, that's bad," she decided.  "I give up."

Tony smirked.  "I knew you would.  He's one of those guys you just have to meet to get to know."  His phone rang and he answered it.  "NCIS, DiNozzo."  He listened, taking notes.  "Thanks, we're on our way."  He hung up.  "Grab the gear, there's a dead Marine in the reflecting pool."  He called upstairs.  "Tell Gibbs we've got a floating Marine in the reflecting pool.  Kate and I are heading out."  He hung up and followed her, Gibbs meeting them in the garage.  "Boss, where's McGee?"

"Abby needed him. It wiped her whole system so she's reloading everything," he said bitterly.  "They did come back while you were gone so all your porn's gone too, DiNozzo."  He smacked him upside the head.  "Do not put that stuff on company computers."

"I saved it down and brought it home," he complained, rubbing the back of his head.  "I can't get a good T-1 line out there."  Gibbs glared and he wilted. "Sorry, boss."  He got into the van, letting Kate drive this time.

"So, was he fun to play with?" Kate teased as she backed out of the parking spot.

"Very. He's a very goofy kid at times.  He wanted to play at the big toy store in Times Square.  Danny let him and he came home with a few thousand legos.  Plus a new laptop."  He looked back at his boss.  "Can I keep up with email?  He wasn't sure."

"That'd be fine.  I did get ordered to keep tabs on the kid.  The Pentagon isn't letting this go and it'll take a few years for everyone to be retired to get him safe.  He might be eighty at the time."

"Sure, boss, thanks."


Danny looked up as someone cleared their throat a little over a week later, smiling at Xander.  "What're you doing down here?"

"I came to invite you to lunch since I'm finally all done with the settling in.  Whenever you get lunch, just let me know. I tried to call but your phone said it's broken."

Danny found his phone and looked at it, then nodded. "It is."  He grinned at him.  "Sure.  I'll be heading for my break in about an hour or so.  Go visit some of the local stores.  I'll meet you at the diner in an hour unless I call.  Got it?"  Xander nodded and beamed, heading off again.  He shook his head at the goofy kid that had appeared so quickly once the guy was free of his old life.

"Who's that?" one of his coworkers asked.  "He's a cute young guy."

"A guy I met in DC.  He's just moved into the area and he looks at me like a big brother since we got trapped in my thing together," he offered, going back to work.  "He's letting me show him around the city."

"What's he do?"

"He's trying to figure that out.  He said he's signing up for classes in massage therapy but he's also trying to write his first horror novel."  He shrugged. "I took him to FAO Schwartz the other day to play.  He's a nice guy."  He looked at her.  "You want introduced?"

"I doubt he could keep up with my job," she offered.

He snorted. "You'd be surprised."  He smirked and bent over the thing they were searching again.

"What did he do before?"

"Construction and some weapons maintenance for someone.  He's got a really nice sword collection started.  Knows how ta use 'em too."  She gave him an odd look so he beamed.  "I told you he'd be able to keep up with the job."

Mac leaned in.  "Did I see your friend?"

"He came to check on me since my phone's broken and he asked me to lunch, boss."

"Fine.  He didn't...sneak in, right?"

"No, Mac.  He had a visitor's pass," he assured him, frowning back at him.  "He's a good kid."

"I'm sure he is.  What was he before though?"

"You met him?" she asked.

"I did.  When they got back in town a few days ago and were still under watch.  Danny was making him buy a suit."  He looked at him. "What was he?  Family or not?"

"Not.  He's from the west coast, near LA, Mac."

"Fine.  If you say so."  He went back to his office to write the guy who had been guarding them to find out if he needed to keep an eye out for anyone in particular showing up.  He got back an email from someone named Gibbs with attached pictures and an order to erase any mention of the kid from the systems before someone in the Pentagon hacked the PD.  That got a raised eyebrow but he followed orders.  The Pentagon was involved?  He didn't look old enough to have been in service for very long and he didn't seem like a hardened soldier either.  Something was seriously odd here.  "Danny," he yelled.  His coworker came in and shut the door.  "Pentagon?"

"Yeah, after him.  I just had the assassin guy after me and he liked him so he saved him once."  He shrugged.  "I wasn't involved in those discussions.  Why?"  The pictures and email were handed over.  "Um, get rid of those.  Before someone shows up and shoots us all.  Again."

"What did he do?"

"See, there was a special project out where he lived and from what I understand they were torturing others.  He and a few friends, those girls there, stopped 'em cold by destroying them before they could hurt others."

"Okay," he said after a short pause for processing. "That's why he seemed like he had seen combat and why they're after him?"  Danny nodded.  "What's his original name?"

"I can't tell ya, Mac.  I'm not allowed and I don't want 'em showing up on my doorstep in the middle of the night.  Or on yours.  Needless to say, the guy's the sort to do what's necessary and cry later.  So drop it."  Mac nodded, memorizing the pictures then shredding them.  "Thank you.  It's for your own safety.  I'm off for lunch with the kid.  And to get a new phone so I'll be back a few minutes late.  I don't know what I did to mine but it's cracked all ta hell."  He walked out, going to find the boy.  He was in the diner, as ordered, and was chatting happily with the waitress, who was smiling at him.  He sat beside the kid, grinning at her.  "Coffee and the usual," he ordered.  She nodded, getting it for him.  Xander grinned at him.  "Mac's asking questions but I got him off your ass."

"Thanks.  Much appreciated.  I got a whole chapter written today," he said proudly.  "I think it sucks monkey butts but I got one written."  Danny smiled and clapped him on the back.  "What're you working on?"

"The usual.  A few carjackings, a homicide or three.  It's New York, it's like that around here."

"Much more exciting than what I did today then," he agreed happily.  He dug into his sandwich.  "Would you like to come over on Saturday?  I'm going to try to go clubbing again at that same place. Maybe I'll find a sense of rhythm."

"If I'm not on," he promised, grinning back.  You just had to like the kid.  You really did.


Danny walked into Xander's apartment Saturday night, looking around.  He had done a bit more decorating, putting up some pictures he had found.  Nothing too outrageous but some mildly splotchy and swirly modern art things that suited the room.  A few landscapes of the sea coast in one area.  He headed to the bedroom area, finding him standing in front of the closet, head tipped to the side.  "When did you get the furry monster sitting on the counter?"

"Rabbit, get off the counter!  We've already had this discussion twice today!" he yelled.  He heard the cat jump down.  "Thanks for the warning.  I'll clean it before I try to cook."

Danny stared at him.  "Rabbit?"

"Well, you and Tony said I needed a playmate and she doesn't seem like a Bunny to me."  He pulled out a shirt and held it up.  "This?"

Danny looked at him and shook his head, finding the tight pair of jeans he had gotten the boy and a nicer shirt, handing them over.  "Underwear optional if we're going clubbing."  Xander nodded, going to change and then come out to cook for him.  He looked at the cat, who was now in the middle of the table, next to the laptop.  "You comfy, cat?"  It stared at him then hissed.  "Yeah, up yours too."

"She's very protective of me already," he said happily, coming out to nuzzle his cat, which earned him a dirty look.  "Oh, quit.  We like Danny.  Danny's a nice guy."  He went back to the kitchen, washing his hands and going back to preparing a stir fry.

Danny came in and looked at the pan once he smelled the burning going on.  "Turn off the heat.  You had it too high and the rest of the stuff'll cook with what's in the pan."  Xander did that, looking a bit sheepish.  "We'll teach you how to cook too, Xander.  Maybe you can take a class in that?  It's a nice fall back thing to have and you won't starve."

"True."  He shook the veggies out. "Sorry about the burned parts.  I'll eat those."

"I've done it plenty of times," he offered as Xander added chicken to the pan.  "Add some oil before it sticks."  Xander poured in some and stirred the chicken around.  "You definitely need some cooking lessons.  Does the place you're going for massage stuff have it?"  Xander nodded, concentrating on what he was doing so it didn't burn too.  Danny grinned at him, he had his tongue stuck out between his lips in concentration.  Xander smiled and put the chicken into the bowl with the veggies and handed it over.  "Should I shoo the cat off the table and close the laptop?"

"Just move the laptop and Rabbit shouldn't be on the table either.  I've got to get her some kitty resting spots."  He went to clean off the table and shoo off the cat.  Danny sat down in front of the computer to read what he had done, making him blush and close out what he had been working on.  "Sorry."  He went back to take the rice out of the microwave and put it into a bowl, then brought out the sauces he had found in the grocery store.  He came back and found Danny reading that one again.  "Danny!" he said, blushing fully now.

Danny smirked at him.  "I wondered how long it took you to get him."

"The last night he was here.  He said I've got a severe rhythm problem.  Fair warning," he taunted back, handing over the rice before sitting down.

Danny got up to get them something to drink and came back, grinning at the blushing young man.  "There's nothing wrong with it.  He was hot and willing."

"He was so hot," Xander moaned.  "It wasn't as satisfying as it could have been, but he cuddled."

"That's a good thing.  I take it we're definitely looking at a guy for you?" Xander nodded.  "I thought so, that's why I gave you those few days alone with him."  He grinned and dug in.  "It's not that badly burned," he praised.  "The chicken's a bit under done but it's still good."  Xander blushed again.  "We all make mistakes cooking, Xander.  This isn't that bad."

"If you say so."

"I do."  He ate another bite, watching the guy.  "What do you want in a guy?  Just to see if I can set you up with someone at work."

"Please don't say your boss.  He's a bit tight-assed."

"He is at that," he agreed happily.  "Not Mac then. What else?"

"Someone nice, but a bit possessive.  I tend to have 'wild hair up the ass' syndrome now and then."  Danny laughed, he had already seen that at least once since he'd known Xander.  "Someone who wants to help me learn and wants to be with me, not just with what I can do or just for the sex.   Though sex is always nice, just not like my ex."

"How bad was she?"

"If it wasn't at least five orgasms a night, she was complaining loudly to everyone she met," he said bitterly, playing with his food.  Danny reached over and patted him on the hand.  "I know.  It still sucks.  I need someone who can do more than put up with me.  Someone who won't mind sitting and reading with me or helping me if I'm going to get serious about the writing stuff.  Someone who'll cuddle and pet me like I do the cat now and then.  Just someone nice."

"Okay, well, if I meet one, I'll send him your way," he promised.  He knew a female who'd suit him but most of the guys he knew were straight.  Otherwise he might try to set him up with Flack.  Of course, if Flack knew, he'd probably try to kill him again, but hey, they were friends.  Xander grinned and nodded.  "Now, hurry up and don't get anything on that shirt or else it'll have to be dry cleaned."  Xander licked off the spot and he shook his head.  "Go put on the dark purple one I liked."  Xander sighed and finished up then went to do that.  He could take the shirt to the dry cleaner's on the way to class.  Danny looked up.  "At least you made my life interesting.  Thank you, God."  He went back to eating, having to borrow a shirt himself for being a messy eater.  When everything was cleaned up he took Xander back to the same club, watching him move on the floor, or try to move on the floor.  "Dork," he muttered fondly, going out there to help him.  "Let out those instincts you're trying to ignore," he ordered.

"He can't dance any better than I can."

Danny pulled him closer and moved with him, making Xander moan.  He smirked at him. "Like that.  How're you in bed?"

"Tony said I have rhythm issues."

"Ah.  Good to know."  Some people just didn't have rhythm. "You going to church tomorrow?"

"I'm not really religious.  Never have been.  Sorry."

Danny looked at him.  "That's shocking with your life."

"I didn't like some of the things they were saying when I was drug."

"You wanna head to Mass with me tomorrow?"

"If you want.  You'll have to tell me what I'm wearing."

"Sure.  Not an issue."  He went back to work on the boy's rhythm problem.  There was nothing worse than a lover with bad rhythm.  Xander moaned and leaned against him because someone was dancing and brushing against his back.  He let the guy have him with a smirk.  "He's a newbie, teach him how it's done."  The guy nodded, taking Xander to teach him while Danny got a drink and watched the kid.  Xander was, indeed, dancing like a girl again but the guy didn't seem to mind that much.  "Maybe drum lessons," he mused as he sipped his drink.  Someone coughed and he looked at him.  Flack.  "Don.  What you doin' here?" he asked, kicking out a chair.  Xander glanced over and grinned then went back to dancing.  "My adopted little brother there."

"I heard he came to take you to lunch today.  There's been lots of rumors about the kid."  He sat down, watching him.  "He's either very gay or can't dance."  That blew Aiden's theories about the kid and her chances for bagging him.

"Both," he admitted.  "He'll learn."  He took another sip and grinned at him.  "How about you?"

"I'm just out looking for a good time.  I'm hoping for an easy night."

"Yeah, me too."  He looked out there and Xander was gone. "Oh, tell me he didn't," he moaned.  "Please tell me he didn't."  The detective looked then winced and shuddered.  "Yeah, that's a bad thing but I shouldn't go interrupt them."  Xander came strolling out a few minutes later, all hot and sweaty.  He whistled and the boy came over.  "Tell me you didn't just go party in the bathroom."

"No, he tried to jump me for my wallet and watch and I knocked him out politely and kindly and left him in the bathroom," he admitted, sitting down to wipe his face off.  "Sorry, Danny.  Want me to head home so you can still have some fun?"

"No, I'm having plenty," he promised, smirking again.  "You just can't stay out of trouble, can you?"  He shook his head and sighed then he stared behind him.  "What?  One of the guys after you?" he asked as quietly as he could.

"No, asshole vampire."  The vampire stared back and he pulled out a stake, putting it on the table.  The vampire left so he put it back.  "Sorry, bad habit," he said at the frown.  "I don't want to watch them hunt."

"I know.  Still, you promised Gibbs you'd lay low."

"Point. Sorry."  He tossed the stake away.  "There, now I've only got my silver dagger."

"Good boy," he praised.  "You wanna go back onto the floor?"

"I suck, Danny.  We both know I suck at dancing.  It's fun and all but the clubs I used to go to for stress relief were much more laid back."

"Yeah, that's a difference between here and the meat market area you came from."  He finished his drink and stood up.  "Come on, I'll work on you some more.  Flack, you wanna help?"

"I don't dance that well.  I was going to hang out at the bar.  You wanna press charges, kid?"

"Why?  I doubt he's going to try me again."

The detective nodded and let it drop.  Less paperwork for him.  He ordered a drink and watched the kid get his own before heading back onto the floor.  Danny was trying so hard to make sure the kid got it, and the beer he had was helping him loosen up.  Clearly the boy didn't drink often, he had no tolerance, but the lack of inhibitions were helping his rhythm problem a lot.  Danny let the kid go again and they both watched him.  He was much better with a buzz.  He noticed the kid didn't get another drink once his first was done so he figured he knew some drunks sometime in his past.  Someone sat down across from him and he grinned.  "Just watching a coworker and his new friend."  She smiled at that.  "Hi, I'm Don," he said.  "What's your name, gorgeous?"

"Tiffany."  She smirked a bit and winked.  "Wanna go dance?"

"Sure."  He let her drag him out there.  He wasn't great but she was showing interest.  He could do some of it.  He found the kid next to him and smirked, giving him a light shove to the head.  "Go find somewhere else, kid."  Xander grinned back and blew a kiss then danced his new friend off, farther away from Danny he noticed.

"His first rave will be wild," she said in his ear.

He nodded.  "True.  He's from out west somewhere."  She giggled and spun him around, dancing with him all the way back to the bathroom.  He wasn't usually like this but she was eating his mouth and he didn't have much room to say no or 'motel room' even.  She was sucking on his throat when he winced at the sharp pain.  Then suddenly she wasn't there and the kid was.

"Let's get you cleaned up.  You should be fine, detective," he said quietly, leading him to the sink.  Some wet paper towels were applied and the boy pulled something out his back pocket, smoothing it over the wounds.  "There.  Now, go home and rest.  Take communion tomorrow," he ordered softly.  Then he disappeared.

Danny saw Xander flee and headed after him, catching up to him outside.  He grabbed the kid and made him turn around.  "What happened?  Someone try to jump you again?"

"No, one of *them* tried to jump your friend and I just saved his life."

Danny noticed he had the most miserable look on his face. "It's all right, Xander. You did good.  Let's take you home and I'll call Don later to make sure he won't nark."  He led the boy out to get a cab home, letting him curl up against his side.  "You hated that life, didn't you?"

"Yeah," he said, sounding pitiful now. "I did."  He looked up at him.  "How can anyone like it?"  He paid the cabbie once they got back to his place, heading up to curl up with his cat on the couch.  Danny followed and shut the door behind him, earning a confused look.  "I won't do anything stupid."

"No, but you need comforted," he pointed out, sitting next to him.  Xander leaned against him again so he got to pet the cat, who purred at him.  "So now you like me?" he teased.  He smiled at Xander.  "Remember, you don't have to do that any more.  Saving Don's life was nice, but only those you know, Xander."  He nodded, closing his eyes. He stroked the tense back.  "Tell me, kid.  Let me understand too."

"Danny, I've dusted about ninety vampires," he said quietly.  "They used to be human."  Danny swallowed and nodded, continuing to pet him to keep him calm.  "Jett offered to teach me," he admitted. "I told him I couldn't hurt people unless they were attacking me."

"You can't. Underneath everything is a decent guy," he pointed out.  "You did what you had to do, Xander."

"I didn't. I used to intentionally hunt them down.  Not just running into them now and then, but intentionally went hunting for them.  That makes me nearly as bad as the Initiative was.  I didn't torture 'em but I still killed them and demons whose only crime was existing."

"Yeah, and you saved others too," he pointed out. "Just like tonight.  Killing to protect is what soldiers go through, Xan.  It's not like you're an assassin like Jett.  Even if you were hunting you'd still never be an assassin like Jett.  You don't have the coldness in you to do that.  In your old town, hunting was to protect the few people left.  Right?"  Xander nodded slowly, looking up at him.  "Then that's different.  You *protected* people.  Nothing else.  The same as tonight you protected Don.  Which he'll thank you for later unless I yell at him for bugging you."  Xander shuddered and hunched in, curling around himself.  "Even if you feel a bit of humanity slipping each time you have to do that you still come back to human, Xan.  It's nothing like what Jett does."

"But it is."  He sat up, looking at him and let the cat run off.  "It is just like that.  He hunts down people and I hunted down former people.  I still ended their existences.  I still ended their happy-go-lucky lifestyle.  I ruined things and there for a while I thought it was fun and right!"

"And now you know better.  Welcome to adulthood," Danny said sarcastically, staring him down.  Xander shuddered and curled up on the other side of the couch.  "Listen, Xander.  It's not the same thing.  I promise you it's not the same thing.  Did you quit hunting when you figured that out?"

"I couldn't."

"Well, now you can."

"Yeah, but now it's a reflex."

"Which you can retrain," he said firmly.  "'Cause otherwise you'll never get a boyfriend."  Xander grimaced a bit.  "Seriously.  They'll think you're scary."

"I am scary," he said quietly.

"Kid, you're not that scary.  I've seen people killers who smile and take pleasure from doing it.  That's scary.  You're mildly annoying now and then but not scary in general.  We'll work on that instinct to hunt and fetch.  After all, you're not a dog."  Xander cracked a small smirk at that.  "You're not.  Tony's a dog."  That got a slightly bigger smile. "Come on.  You can cuddle."  He curled up against him again and Danny went back to petting him.  "It's all right, Xander.  You did what you had to do to survive.  Now, we'll help you settle back into real life. Until then, we won't take you clubbing, but we'll help you settle back into a normal life."  The boy nodded against his chest so he smiled down at him.  "You gonna be okay?"

"I'll be fine, Danny.  Thank you."

"You're welcome.  You still willing to go to Mass with me?"

"Sure. If you want. I won't understand what's going on, but if you want."

"Good.  You need something to form the foundation of your new life.  Something to cling to when I'm at work."  Xander gave him a squeeze.  "It's all right.  We'll figure it out.  After all, it's not like I've got somethin' better to do."  Xander looked up at him. "You're much better than overtime."  That got another half-smile.  Someone knocked on the door and he groaned.  "Flack, if that's you, go away.  He doesn't wanna talk about it."  Someone tapped again so he got up with a groan, going to answer it.  It was the detective.  "What?  He doesn't wanna talk about it."

"I wanted to know what that was."

"His past life.  Don't mention it.  Ever.  Really."  He stared the other man down, getting a shudder and a nod.  "Now, go home and sleep it off.  Consider it a hickey or somethin'."  He closed the door and went back to find Xander in the bedroom changing into pajamas.  "You want me to go?"

"No, the jeans were too tight and cutting off the circulation in my feet."  He pulled off the shirt he had been wearing and Danny walked over to stop him from putting on another one, looking at the scars back there.  "Don't ask."  He slid on the loose t-shirt and turned to look at him.  "It was a long time ago."

"Who beat you that way?"

"Asshole parents."  He shrugged.  "I escaped.  Want some coffee?"

"No, I'd better not.  I'll never get to sleep."  He made Xander look at him again.  "We all have pasts," he said quietly. "Remember you can talk to me about yours.  I don't make a good therapist, but I'm okay at listening and picking out the bullshit."  Xander nodded, giving him a hug.  "C'mon, you should rest."

"You wanna stay over?" he asked.

Staying in the same room as Xander had shown him that the boy seriously needed comfort and tonight hadn't been the best night in his life anyway.  He figured the boy needed a hug.  "Not a problem. I can always run home and change before Mass."  He got Xander into bed and laid down beside him, but on top of the covers.

"Borrow a t-shirt, Danny.  Otherwise you'll be cranky and snap at the priest."  That got a small grin and he went to borrow some clothes.  They were a bit tighter on him but it was comfortable enough.  He laid down again and Xander curled up next to him, one arm over his chest.  "Sorry, I'm a cuddlesome thing."  Rabbit jumped onto the bed and walked up Xander's side, earning a few pets before she laid down with her tail in his face.  "Eww, kitty butt."  He turned her around and kissed her on the nose.  "I'd rather see this end of you, Rabbit."  She huffed and curled up on his legs, staring at Danny.

"What? I'm a pillow.  Get over it."

"She'll get used to you being around.  I like you dropping by every few days. It's comfy."

"Good.  You could probably use it until you make some new friends."

"I'm not good at that."

"Me either, but we'll figure it out."  The boy nodded and cuddled in, letting him pat him on the back again.  "You rest."  He stared at the cat until it gave up and cleaned her face off. "Good cat."  He smiled and closed his eyes, listening to Xander sleep until he drifted off as well.


Danny woke up warm and comfortable, again, and this time he realized why.  He looked at the clock before moaning and sliding out of the bed, heading for the bathroom.  "Come on, Xander, we're gonna be late."

"Yes, Danny," he mumbled, coming in to shower with him.

"Hey!"  Xander kissed him and got the shampoo down, doing his own hair before doing Danny's hair for him.  Then he got to work with the soap while he rinsed off.  It wasn't too bad of an experience. He hadn't really showered non-sexually with anyone before but it was okay.  Xander got done first and let him have the rest of the water, going out to dry off and find something to wear.  By the time Danny got out, Xander had pulled out dress pants and one of his Hawaiian shirts so he had to put the shirt back and give him something a bit less garish.  "You don't wanna blind anyone," he noted patiently.  He pulled out a suit and Xander blinked at him. "You don't need a tie.  That's good enough, but the priest'll wonder if I'm not wearing one."

"Borrow away."  He turned to get dressed and Danny saw the marks on his back again.  "Don't ask," he said before Danny could say anything.

"I was wondering what did it."

"Metal belt."

"Sorry."  He gave him a hug then went to pull on the underwear from last night and everything else.  Xander gave him an odd look.  "What?"

"Borrow some. I can wash clothes."

"I don't like borrowing underwear.  It's one of those things I could never do.  Socks either."  He shrugged.  "I'm odd that way."

"Okay.  But if we get into a wreck on the way there....." he offered with a grin.

"Then you can take my Ma's place and yell at me for it.  Hurry up."  Xander finished up and slicked back his hair.  "I'm getting you a haircut today before I have to go in tonight."

"I was thinking about growing it longer."

Danny shook his head.  "Only if you're going to go goth or super model.  Which you aren't."  Xander blushed and nodded.  "I didn't mean to upset you."

"You didn't.  I know I'm not the prettiest man alive.  Besides, I could never keep up with their beauty routines.  All that waxing would hurt."

Danny chuckled and called the cab company he liked, taking Xander down there to catch it to head to church.  Xander stared at it before walking inside, looking at everything once they had sat down, just in time since the priest was at the front already.

Xander listened to what he was saying, which was pretty decent today.  Nothing about not liking others, nothing against women.  Just love and forgiveness.  Which was nice.  He stood up where appropriate, following Danny's lead, then knelt a few times.  He didn't understand that at all, and he'd have to get Danny to explain it to him later.  He did understand the Latin and nearly giggled when the guy said 'let the Lord be my sheep' at one point, then had to correct himself.  Danny gave him an odd look so he shrugged a bit and ducked his head, going back to his listening and watching.  This place was comfortable.  Nice even.  It felt welcoming.  He still didn't understand why people needed religion, but it was nice enough.  When they were done, Xander was introduced to the priest, saying his greetings in Latin, which made the older man laugh and hug him.

"Danny, I like this one.  Bring him back."  He patted Xander on the cheek, staring into his eyes.  "Even the greatest of the great need solace," he said quietly.  "Even you."

Xander nodded.  "I know.  Thank you, father."  He walked off with Danny.  "Can we walk home and stop at that coffee shop for breakfast?"

"Sure.  It's only about six blocks and there's a good hairdresser I know is open on the way."  He ruffled the longish hair.  "What made you giggle?"

"He said 'let the lord be my sheep' before correcting himself."

"That's worthy of a giggle. I didn't know you spoke Latin."

"And a few others.  It was kinda necessary," he offered sheepishly.  "All the books were in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, plus a few really obscure demon languages.  That's what started me thinking on whether or not I was doing the right thing.  They had languages and art, what right did I have to interfere."

"Good point," he admitted, putting an arm around his shoulders.  "It's something to consider.  Usually those are the sort of questions people bring to priests."

"I didn't know priests were therapists."

"In a way.  They're counselors.  They can tell you what you should do.  What did he say?"

"Even the greatest of the great need solace, even me."

"Hmm.  He's always been pretty wise.  That's why I started here after I left my family.  He's been good ta me."  Xander looked at him. "Yes, that was a hint."

Xander nodded.  "Yes, Danny."

"Good boy.  Not to make you convert and take on faith or anything but it can help.  He used ta fight all the time and he was a soldier at one point.  He'd understand the other stuff you do too."  Xander nodded, opening the door to the coffee shop so they could go inside.  "Hey, Mary," he called, earning a smile.  "Delilah open today?  I'm getting his hair cut even if I have to hold him down and use my 'cuffs."

"Probably in a few hours.  I heard she had company last night."  She got them some coffee and looked him over.  "That's nicer than you usually wear.  A special occasion?" she teased, getting them menus.

"I was running late and borrowed from Al here," he said, nodding at Xander.

"You know very well only Tony gets away with that," Xander teased back, smirking at him.

"Oooh, and a Tony too?" she asked, leaning closer. "Is he cute?"

"Very, and he's a Fed.  He was working with me on a case.  This is Xander.  He's new to the area so I adopted him to show him around.  I just drug him to Mass with me."

"Welcome to New York, Xander.  Watch out for the thieving cabbies."

"I've already met one and yelled back at him."  He shrugged.  "They have those in LA too."

"Oooh, you're from LA?"

"Near it.  Close enough for weekends there.  About three hours away."

"So you got to see stars?"

"Only when I went out at night.  Those aren't the places I hung out at."  She smiled.  "Eggs?"

"Boiled, fried, scrambled?"

"Scrambled, just slightly soft still, and bacon, with toast and some milk?"

"Sure.  Danny?"

"That sounds good but fried and barely runny."  She nodded, going to hand in their order.  He looked at Xander.  "You're doing okay so far, kid.  Relax."

"I am.  She's just one of those scary female people."

"I still wanna hit your friends and ex."

"They couldn't have done it if I didn't let them."

"Yeah, and you'd have done what instead?  Died?  They were your only friends and they knew what they were doing."  His watch beeped so he looked at it and took out his medicine, taking it with his coffee.  "Blood pressure," he offered.

"I know others who had that problem.  It's all good with me."  He shrugged. "We all got issues."

"True," he agreed.  He smiled as his plate was set in front of him.  "Thanks, Mary."

"You're a good boy, Danny, and I'm sure Xander will only see the pretty sides of New York while you're hanging out with him."  She patted Xander on the cheek.  "I'm not the scary sort.  There's worse than me."

"My last ex was pretty too, but she was a money hog."

"Ah, one'a those.  I know a few of those."

"His last one made him pay for her birth control."

"Damn.  Yeah, I know a few of those.  Only date the ugly girls, they're usually nicer."  She went back to check on her other customers.

Danny grinned at him. "There, good advice."

"I tried that, she tried to eat me," he said quietly, making Danny splutter.  "Sorry."  He dug into his food, eating quickly.

"Slow down, it's Sunday."  He cut into his eggs after peppering and salting them, eating normally.  Xander ate slower so they were nearly done at the same time.  Xander even paid the check. "I could've gotten mine."

"You're between paydays and I'm not.  You can get next time's.  Besides, you got the club's cover last night."

"Good point."  He walked the boy out and up the street, heading for the hairdresser he knew.  He found her on the doorstep drinking coffee, looking like hell.  "Bad night?"

"Bad sex," she admitted.  She smiled at Xander.  "Yes, I'm female."

"I noticed that.  He said you needed to chop my hair off."

"Mm-hm.  It needs it, dear."  She stood up.  "Come inside."  She walked them into her shop, pointing at the chair. "Plant it."  She finished her coffee and grabbed a smock to put around him.  He winced.  "Too tight?"  He nodded.  "You'll get hair down your neck."

"I can't stand things that tight."

"That's fine."  She loosened it a bit then got her own coat to put on, grabbing the scissors.  "What look were you going for?"

"Shorter and functional. I used to live near the desert and worked construction."

"Hmm.  What about now?"

"I'm taking massage therapy classes and Danny said I need to take a cooking class."

She smiled.  "Every man should learn how to cook.  That way they can make special meals for their girls."  She ran a hand through his hair.  "It's a bit dry but really thick. You wouldn't expect it to be this thick by looking at it.  How short do you want it?"

"Do something nice for him," Danny ordered.  "He's just found a life he likes."

She smiled.  "Free reign?"

"As long as I don't end up looking like a poodle or a Marine," he said with a small shrug.

She smiled and got to work, giving him something easy and messy, but that could be straightened out to look more casual and clean cut.  "You need some gel," she offered, twirling a bit to mess up a spot.  "There.  You saw what I did?"  He nodded, looking up at her.  "You do that every morning once it's dry.  Blow drying is fine but start using a conditioner as well.  Not a leave in. It'll only weigh down your hair."  He nodded and got up to look at himself, fussing with a few strands.  She saw him fussing with a few in particular and sat him back down to cut the hairs in front of his ears off.  "There, that's better."

"Thank you."  He grinned. "How much of my sanity do I owe you?"

"About thirty bucks," she said with a grin. "Sanity I can't charge for."

He giggled and pulled out his wallet, letting her have his debit card to run.  Then he gave her a hug and took the card back, letting Danny lead him off.  "Much better," he said happily.

"Yeah, lots."  He grinned at him.  "Anything else we have ta do today?"

"Um...."  He frowned a bit.  "Not that I can think of.  Unless you think I need groceries."

"You probably do."  He let him lead the way into the corner store to help him shop, getting him the basics so he could take a cooking class.  Then he walked him home and sat down to work on that first chapter with him. He noticed the squint and frowned a bit.  "Glasses, Xander?"

"I haven't had glasses, Danny."

"You need your eyes checked."

"I'm fine."


"I'm fine."

"You're not fine."

"I'm fine."  He looked at him again.  "Really, I can see."

"You're squinting."

"That's the overhead light."  He got up and turned it off, and it was better for him. "Sorry, I'm used to the dark."  He got back to work on the points Danny had made in the first few chapters.  "There, how's that?" he asked, handing it back.

Danny grinned but looked at it, nodding.  "Good corrections.  Let's move further down this."  Xander smiled happily, getting up to get them something to drink.  "Do you drink anything but soda?"


Danny shuddered. "That's just nasty, Xan.  Drink tea."

"Eww. I hate boiled tea."

"So get the mix stuff."  He shook his head and went back to reading, finding a few more spots. "There, all done with this one.  Ready for the next chapter."  Xander looked at him.  "It's got to be longer if you're going to publish it."

"Point."  He got back to work, and an idea hit him so he started to type after he was done.  He looked around a few hours later, finding Danny asleep on the couch.  "Danny, when did you have to go to work?"

Danny moaned and lifted his arm to look at his watch.  "About ten minutes ago.  Crap."  He got up and looked at himself.  "I'll get it cleaned and bring it back."  He waved.  "Behave.  I'll see you in a few days."  Xander nodded, grinning as he let himself out and headed to find his car and drive to work.  He did remember to call in.  "Sorry, Mac, I was on Xander's couch and didn't set my watch alarm.  Are we on a call yet?"  He wrote the address on the back of his hand and found his car keys, heading out to it.


A few months later, Danny looked up as his name was called, coming out to find Xander waiting on him.  "What's up?"

"I need to go to the eye doctors.  My doctor said either I go or he's going to beat my ass."

"Why were you at the doctor's?"

"Um."  He grimaced.  "Don't ask. You don't wanna hear about it."  Danny raised an eyebrow. "Really, you don't.  Which eye doctor do you go to?"

"Let me find my phone book.  You stay here and get ready to explain how you got hurt this time."

"Small exercise injury," he offered.

"You wouldn't be embarrassed about that."

"From clubbing."

Danny glared at him.  "You did what?"

"I told you you wouldn't like it."

"Where?  And you were safe, right?"  Xander nodded. "Fully safe?"

"Very safe and I'm okay, I just have a small ouchie."

"As in...."

"It went too fast.  I told you you wouldn't like it," he defended, backing away from him.

"We're going to talk tonight when I drag you to my eye doctor."  He wrote down the name and number.  "Here, call.  Then we'll talk."

"Yes, Danny.  I was careful!"

"Not careful enough!" he snapped back.  Xander looked miserable.  "That was really dumb."

"He's the first guy who actually wanted me while I was out being a goofy kid."


"I swear I was careful, Danny.  I promise I was.  I'm very careful about all that stuff.  Trust me, remember I lived near the epicenter of the first wave of AIDS.  Okay?"  Danny grimaced but nodded.  "It's not the first time it's happened, just here."  He took the number.  "I'll see you later," he mumbled, heading out.

"You were a bit hard on him," Stella said from behind him, making Danny turn to look at her. "You were."

"It was dumb."

"He's how old?  At his age, we were all dumb."  She smiled.  "He seems pretty nice."

"He is, but he's still doing dumb shit."  He went back to work, shaking his head.  Xander sent him a text message later apologizing for bothering him at work.  He sent one back and asked what time his appointment was.  After all, he had done the same thing in the clubs at that age.  Even if it was stupid and suicidal in today's world. He got one back and nodded, snorting a bit.  "Mac, I need to take an hour off," he called, heading of the office. "Just leave early," he offered as he leaned in. "Xan got ordered to the eye doctor or else his actual doctor was going to torture him."

"What's wrong?"

"I'm guessing that the guy noticed he's squinting a lot."  He shrugged. "Truth is, I could use mine fixed and changed too."

"Fine.  Make it up later this week," he ordered.  "Is he okay?"

"He's fine.  He got a bit hurt clubbing and I've already yelled at him for it."

"Fine.  Make sure he's safe.  He seems like a good kid most of the time."

"He is and he's almost finished his first novel."  He smiled and went back to work, setting his watch alarm so he wouldn't forget.  Otherwise Xander wouldn't go.  He didn't like to take care of himself.


Xander was, literally, drug into the eye doctor and Danny made him stand in front of the receptionist.  "Taylor, Xander?"  She smiled and found it.  "Do we have an open spot for me too?  Sometime soon."

"I can fit you in tonight.  We had a family cancel earlier.  Chicken pox."  He nodded.  "Messer, right?"  He nodded again, grinning at her.  "He yours?  He's awfully cute."

"My buddy."  He handed Xander the clipboard.  "Fill it out."

"Yes, Danny."  He started toward the door and Danny caught him, handcuffing him to him.  "Danny!" he whined.

"Tough.  I'll beat you too if you don't get your eyes checked."  He looked at her, she was giggling.  "Sorry, he's not great about taking care of himself now and then."  He signed them in and took his own forms to fill out, dragging Xander to the chairs so he could sit down and work on the forms.

"Why did I agree to this?" he asked miserably.

"Because you needed to.  Why don't you like the eye doctor?" he asked patiently. "They're usually nice doctors."

"The last time I went I had explosion-related damage," he muttered, getting to work filling out the forms.


"High school."

"Chem lab?"

"No, the High School.  It blew during graduation."  He got back to work, glancing at him.

"Gibbs mentioned that," he said, shaking his head quickly and filling out the new stuff he needed to.  He watched Xander consider a question.  "Answer truthfully."  Xander had to pull out his wallet to look at something on his license then write the answer for his birthday.  Danny rolled his eyes.  Sometimes the kid was okay with that stuff and sometimes he wasn't.  "Headache?"

"Yeah, a bit of one, and a sore ass.  Sorry."

"We all did it," he sighed.  "I about got the crap beaten outta me by my Pops when he heard through the grapevine.  He had me kidnaped from the college to have me beaten."

"Can I shoot him for you?"

"No.  That'll be someone else's pleasure some year."

"Fine."  Danny nudged his head and he got back to work, grinning a bit.  He did note the damage on there and then went on to the allergies.  "Crap, I can't remember this stuff," he moaned.

"You're allergic to something?"

"Some pain killer that makes me puke.  The nurse said it's fairly common."

"Codeine maybe?"

"Yup, I think that's it."  He wrote that down and put a question mark beside it and moved on.  "They need to know where I went to school?"

"Leave it blank," Danny muttered.  Xander did that.  "We'll figure that part out later."

"Tony wrote me earlier."

"Good.  What did he have to say."

"Gibbs is being an asshole and he wants to pounce him soon.  I encouraged it, said it could only make them both happy."  Danny snickered at that.  "Apparently Kate died last month and they're all still in shock, but he's dealing okay," he said quietly.  "They finally just got the guy."  Danny gave him a shoulder nudge, making him smile.  "I offered him the chance to come up for the weekend and visit and relax.  He said he'd think about it."  He got back to work.

"Mr. Taylor?"  Xander looked up.  "The doctor is ready for you now."  He moaned and whimpered.  "It's not that bad."

"He had to see someone for some damage a few years back," Danny offered, handing over both forms.  "Come on.  Since I'm right after you."  He got up and hauled Xander up and into the room.  The nurse did the first few tests, then the doctor smiled at them.  "Some prior damage."

"I saw that."  He looked at them.  "Go ahead and cuff him to the chair."  Danny undid them and did that.  "Now sit in the corner, Mr. Messer."  He got to work checking Xander's eyes.  "Are you very light sensitive?"

"Yeah, I'm still mostly a night person."

"You need sunglasses."

"I do," he agreed.  "I lost mine the other day.  Sorry if I have onion breath."

"That's all right.  I've had worse in here."  He stepped back and pulled down the machine, letting Xander put his face into it.  "I see you've done this part as well?"

"Yeah, and had many eye washes."

"Those can be annoying," he agreed lightly.  "What sort of trauma was it?  Accident?"

"Gas explosion."

"Ouch.  How close were you?"

"About a hundred feet."  The doctor winced.  "I'm fine.  The building was destroyed but I'm fine."  The doctor nodded and Xander blinked. "It's really dark."

"Let me move one of the blinds."  He did so.  "How's that?  How far can you read?"

"It's still really dark."  The doctor flipped the switch again.  "Ah, there it is."  He squinted.  "Should I squint?"

"No, normally please."

"Third line down.  Eckdhe."

The doctor looked then started to adjust things.  "How about now?"

"Um, about the same but very blurry."

Danny shook his head.  "He's probably got eyes like mine, doc."

"I have a patient who had very photosensitive eyes who we needed to do this a different way," he admitted, switching things around.  The lighting was coming from a different angle and suddenly Xander saw better.  "Do you need to do a lot of computer work?"

"I'm starting to work on my first novel. It's a horror story."

"Hmm, interesting."  He adjusted the light again and Xander winced so he put it back.  "We'll have to get you some glasses with light reflection coating on it as well.  Try the chart again."


"Good."  He looked.  Then he adjusted. "Try the sixth line down.  Can you see it now?"  Xander shook his head so he adjusted it again.  "How about now?"

"I can see the seventh line kinda now," he admitted.

"Excellent."  He did a few minor correction.  "This one or this one?"


"Okay, how about this set?  First or second?"

"First.  No, maybe the second.  They're kinda the same."

"That's fine, Mr. Taylor."  He glanced at Danny, who was only grinning.  "You knew he needed glasses?"

"Yeah and he hates overhead lights too."

"He'll have to get tinted lenses anyway."  He got back to work, finding just the right spot.  Then he got to work on the second eye, which was nearly as bad as the first.


Xander showed up at Danny's work in his new glasses to show them off and hand Danny his, getting a smile.  "They said they needed to fit them to your head, but that should be okay enough for today."

"Thanks.  How much did I still owe?"

"Owe?" he asked, smirking a bit.  "I'm off to play in the park."

"Be safe and be careful, Xander."

"Yes, Danny."

"And tell me how much I owe you."  Xander gave him a sheepish grin and escaped so he called the eye doctor and she told him.  He would get Xander back on payday.  He went to try his new ones on, liking this.  The nurse remembered how he liked the ear pieces, it was decent of her.  They just needed a bit of adjusting later.

"I like those on you," Stella offered.  "Did I see the little monkey you drag around?"

"He picked both ours up at the same time.  He's got bad eyesight," he said with a smirk.  "Really bad eyesight.  Can't stand overhead lights either.  They had to tint his and he had to get sunglasses."

"Poor guy."  She handed him an envelope.  "I found this when I went back.  Can you compare it to the last sample and figure out what it is?  It's bigger."

"I can try," he offered, going to do that for her.  The computer figured it out for him. "All pine plywood?"

She shrugged.  "Where would you find that?"

"Let me check."  He called the only construction guy he knew.  "Hey, me.  Where would you find all pine plywood?"  He made notes, grinning a bit.  "Thanks.  I'll pay you back on payday."  He hung up and handed her the notes.  "The usual uses and name brands."

She took it. "Who did you call?"

"Xander."  He got back to work, comparing it against the last sample. "It's a match."

"Thank you."  She walked out, going to find out where you could get that stuff in the city. "Maybe I should adopt some person who's new to the city too," she told Mac, handing over the list.  "From Xander.  Danny called to see what was so special about all pine plywood."

"How did his adoptee know that?"

"Danny said he did."  She shrugged.  "It seems like a good place to start."

"I remember looking at it when Claire and I remodeled a few years back.  It was pretty expensive then."  He handed back the list.  "Go for it."

"Thanks.  Danny's in the lab with his new glasses."

"That's fine.  Can he see?"  She nodded.  "Even better.  When did he get them?"

"Xander picked them up and brought them."  She walked off smiling.

He frowned and went to talk to Danny.  "Aiden, give me a few?"  She nodded and left them alone and he closed the door.  "Danny, are you and your friend...together?  Not that I care but he keeps coming to take you to lunch."

"He's a student, he's got free time," he noted dryly, looking at him.  "Not that he's not cute and he's hit on me a few times, but I haven't decided yet.  Why?  That a problem for you?"

"No.  Not in the least.  I do want to know if it does happen, that way I know who to call, but I'm not going to tell anyone else.  I know some of the people around here can be judgmental."

"Ya think?" he noted sarcastically.

"Not funny.  Should I call him first if you get hurt?"

Danny considered it then nodded.  "Yeah.  He'd want to know so he could panic and fuss.  Thanks, Mac."

"Just remember, you can talk to me even if you can't talk to anyone else around here."

"Most of the time, but sometimes you get on this kick and no one, not even Xander, could stand you."  He stared his boss down.

"True. I realize I have those moments. Pick the ones besides then and talk."  He clapped him on the back.  "Any other skills the kid has just in case it comes up?"

"Um, weapons, explosives, and archaic weapons.  He can also read Latin, Ancient Greek, and Hebrew."

Mac blinked.  "He's really young."

"It's been trained into him, Mac.  That's all part of what he used to do."

"Why would you need Latin and explosives together?"

"I can't tell you.  Just know it's his former life."

"Fine.  As long as he's not a danger to society."

"No, just my sanity now and then.  Oh, Tony's coming up this weekend.  We're all heading out to the club to hopefully help cure a bit more of Xander's anti-rhythm problem."  He bent back over his microscope.  "I'm not filling out the paperwork to make it official, Mac."

"I didn't expect you'd want to. You're a really private guy.  Thank you for at least telling me.  Don said he's a nice guy even if he is a crap shot at basketball."

"He is."  He grinned at him.  "But he will drive you insane now and then.  He's very bouncy and I learned the hard way not to feed him chocolate."  Mac smiled as he walked out, shaking his head a bit.  "He thinks I'm kidding?" Danny muttered, getting back to work.  "The next time Xander sneaks and eats ten candy bars, I'm sending him to Mac's house."


Tony came out of the secure area of the airport, looking around for his ride.  Xander had said he'd pick him up so he didn't have to cab in.  He saw one sign with his name and the word 'hot ass' in between and snickered, walking over to him.  "How did you know I read Latin?"

"You understood my last sig line," he offered with a grin. "Did the new girl translate my new one?" he teased, walking him on.  "Got everything?"

"And then some.  Where's Danny?"

"Not off until eight tonight.  So we're having a late dinner but I made snacks for you."

"You're cooking?"

"He made me take cooking classes," he said with a small blush.  "I'm learning Italian food right now.  The food basics course was last month.  I figured since the only people I ever eat with are Italian, it'd come in handier.  Besides, I like pasta."  Tony grinned at the boy who was bouncing beside him.  "Ooh, you haven't gotten to see the new story yet.  Danny finally finished correcting my grammar mistakes and I sent it off the other day."  He led him out to the car, letting him pick whether he wanted to drive or not. "Up to you."

"I'll not drive this time."  Xander grinned and got in to drive, looking all around before heading back to his place.  "New car?"

"Rental.  It's expensive to have a car in the city and there's public transportation.  Or Danny if it's really big."  That got a smile.  "How's your pouncing thing with Gibbs?"

"I opted for not pouncing and finding someone else to wear that out with.  He's still grouchy but a bit more settled again.  Oh, I had Ziva translate the Hebrew one and she about smacked me.  She said I showed that to her to embarrass her."

"Tell her it's my fault."

"I told her that when she went to yell at Gibbs about me.  He looked at it and blushed too, then asked if I was pursuing you like a common criminal or was it something messier."  Xander cackled at that.  "I told him it was friendship and who else would tease me back anymore."  Xander reached over and grabbed his hand, giving it a squeeze. "I'm okay."

"You're not okay.  That's a pain that won't really go away, Tony.  I know that very well."

"Who did you lose?"

"My only male and best friend when I was fifteen. He got turned."

"Tell me you didn't have to ...."

"Hmm.  Yup, my first one that I looked at while I was doing it.  A few ran into my stake from behind during that fight but he was the first real one I staked," he sighed.  He changed lanes, getting away from the lights behind him.  The ambulance roared past.  "Anyway," he sighed.

Tony looked at him. "Hotass?  In public?"

"Who else could read Latin there but the priest?"

"I saw him blush, that's why I looked."  He squeezed Xander's hand.  "So, any luck on Danny?"

"A bit of cuddling.  He's taking it very cautiously and making me heal over some of my past.  He also calls about construction questions."  He grinned and changed lanes back, getting away from a cop car. "I'm guessing there's a wreck ahead," he noted as the cop car screamed past them, followed by another.  "Or something worse."  He turned on the map feature, which was preprogrammed for his address.  It updated.  "Yup, a wreck."  He took the suggested course instead.  "I've got shrimp puffs and stuffed mushrooms waiting on you.  Those need heated.   I've also got ice cream and popcorn if you wanted to veg, and we're having real food tonight but you've got to watch out for Rabbit."

"What is Rabbit?"

"Rabbit is a sable medium-haired cat who believes she owns the table.  You guys said I needed a playmate and she doesn't really look like a Bunny to me."

Tony snickered at that, shaking his head. "That's why I like you, Xander. You're original."  Xander grinned at him.  "I noticed the new look.  Nice glasses."

"The eye doctor said I should have a seeing eye dog too.  Apparently all those nights of hunting and sleeping during the day have screwed up my eyesight and I hate light."  He turned the turn ordered by the map program, heading up his street.  "Yay, out of the bad section again."  He pulled into his parking spot and parked, then got out and grabbed Tony's bag so they could go upstairs.  He armed the security system with a wink.  "It'll shock you," he called.  He heard some muttered groans.  "It's a rental, it doesn't even have a CD player."  The punks who lived around them decided to move onto better targets instead.  He let Tony into the building and held the door for the older lady going out.  "Have a nice afternoon, Mrs. McGrets."  She smiled and waved, heading off with her dog.  He locked the door and walked back to the elevator, smiling at Tony.  "She complains about my music."

"I complain about your music," Danny said, coming in from the back door.  "I got off early today."

"What happened?" Xander asked, looking concerned.  "Do I have to go yell at your boss for being an asshole again?"

"No, and the last time I nearly got suspended so please don't."  He pushed the button, grinning at Tony.  "My former girlfriend just got arrested.  She started to yell for me to save her, that I'd get her out of trouble."

"I've been there but it wasn't a serious girlfriend."  He got onto the elevator, smiling at the couple.  "He yelled at your boss?"

"He heard Mac yelling at me and jumped in to yell back, telling him what an asshole he was and pointing out that I'm not the shooter Mac is.  After all, I never got trained in the military to cap people."  He pushed the button, making Tony snicker.  "He went off on Mac, let me tell you.  Four hours of yelling at my boss later and I was just standing there shocked for half of it and tryin' ta calm him down the rest."  Xander shrugged but only grinned.  "You're still banned from picking me up for lunch and stuff, you know that, right?"

"Yup.  That's why I call first.  And hey, his fault.  All his fault for being such a dick."  They got off and Xander pulled out his keys, heading inside. His nose wrinkled. "Rabbit, I'm going to kill you if you pissed somewhere other than the litter box!" he yelled.

"She's done this once before," Danny told Tony.  "Got the end of the bed.  She about got put outside permanently that night but he was at fault since he didn't clean the litter box.  Where was it this time?"

"She missed the box and hit the sink."  He came out to get a sponge and some cleaner. "Danny, put the mushrooms into the oven to warm please?  Broiler."

"Sure, Xander."  He looked at Tony and grinned.  "He's been researching stuff all week for you."

"I liked stuffed mushrooms.  Is he a good cook?"

"Getting there.  His teacher says he'll one day make someone a happy spouse."

"You?" Tony teased.

Danny blushed a bit and coughed.  "I don't know yet.  Maybe.  How about you?"  Tony just grinned.  "Eh, if it's real between you two, I won't fight it," he said quietly.

"I'm about as attracted to you as to him," he admitted.  "By the way, I told Gibbs that you said I should just pounce him in the elevator one day and he growled, said to quit telling you those things."

Danny smirked.  "Tough."  He got to work, doing as Xander had ordered.  He pulled out the other stuff he had made, laying it out.  The cat jumped up onto the counter to sniff and then saw him and ran away.  "Thank you."  He shook his head.  "The cat thinks I'm mean."

"All cats think I'm mean," Tony offered, eating a shrimp puff.  "They're pretty good."

"They are.  He used me to taste test everything."  He checked on the mushrooms, bringing them out since they were bubbling.  "There, food!" he called.

Xander came out to put everything up and wash his hands, then got out a bottle of wine and opened it, handing it to Tony with the glasses being pointed at.  Then he went to find his cat and talk to her.  He came out and the two men were on the couch, watching naked people on tv.  "Sorry, did I leave the wrong DVD in?" he asked hesitantly.

"Kinda, yeah," Danny admitted, looking at him. "Naughty, Xander."

"Sorry.  Did Stella ever get over her shock?"

"Yeah, finally.  She thought it was cute you're gay."  He looked at Tony.  "One of the gayer cops in the city saw Xander waiting on me and came to chat with him.  Stella got out for lunch before me and found them in a lip lock, and had to hurry back inside to tell me. I pointed out we weren't dating at that moment and if he wanted to date a cop, at least he was a decent enough one.  By the time I got out there the cop was gone but Xander was looking very smug and happy."

"I told you we didn't have a quickie in the alleyway," Xander said patiently, sitting between them.  He grinned at Tony, handing him the stuff he had brought out.  Tony laughed and took a cookie.  Xander had sent him some when he heard about Kate.  "Is Gibbs doing okay?"

"More or less. He's healing.  He doesn't really like the new girl.  I don't really like the new girl.  She's pushy and a know-it-all."  He shrugged.  "We saw Jett the other day.  He was stalking her so apparently she's pissed him off too."

"His last letter said he saw you and that you had lost weight."  He patted Tony's stomach.  "Too many sit ups, Tony.  You need a bit of padding there or else you look like you're losing IQ points for muscle mass."  Tony laughed and hugged him so he stole a kiss and grinned.  "I'm being a good boy."

"You usually try very hard," Danny assured him.

Tony snickered at that. "What did he do this time?"

"Oooh, you didn't hear about the bomb.  Didn't I tell you to write him about it?"  Xander shrugged.  "Xander."

"I hadn't gotten to it yet," he complained, relaxing.  "Idiot boy there ended up being duct taped in front of a bomb.  He got himself partially free and called it in, figuring there was time to do some stuff and finish getting free. The guy super glued his legs to the floor in a way that he couldn't get out of without having his clothes cut off.  Bomb squad was clear across town."

"He called you?"

"Yeah, he called me.  Asked me how to disarm it.  So I pulled up something I had been learned, but hadn't practiced, something I got off Willow way long ago, and made it there in time to disarm it.  Now, there's cops there.  Lots and lots of cops standing around gawking.  I calmly walk past Mac with my wire clippers in hand, nodding at him.  Mac and Stella both try to stop me so I dodge around Flack, and he groans when he realizes it's me.  I sit down in front of Danny and the bomb, starting to take it apart while chatting about Rabbit's bad day.  It was making him relax.  I found the wires I needed. Took them apart, undid the bomb, handing Danny the dynamite sticks and told him to pull the wick.  Flack comes over to snatch them and I have to reach up and pull the fuse wick myself.  Then I stand up and dust off, looking at him."

"He just grinned and asked if I wanted a blanket so they could cut my pants and socks off."  Danny rolled his eyes.  "Mac comes rushing up now that it's safe and starts to yell at him.  Xander looks at him and shrugs, asking him if he expected to let me die this time.  If so, he would have a longer yell.  Then he disappears out the back door, tripping over another body.  Fortunately by that time I'm in an ambulance and being treated for abrasions and shock.  Xander's back here drinking a beer and humming to music by the time I get back.  He's also complaining about the credit card that got melted by his chosen version of traveling that time."

"It got me there in time and I got it replaced," he reminded him.  "I also realized I had to uncast the circle I had cast before the demon took over the stove for real.  So a close call that day."  He sipped his wine, glaring at Danny a bit.  "I wasn't going to tell him."

"I know, that's why I made you, so someone else could yell for a bit."

"You're the one who told Mac I knew explosives."

"Point. Still."

"Hey, next time have him clear the scene."

"How did we explain this?" Tony asked patiently.

"Prior deconstruction experience out west," Xander told him.  "For some reason the guys think I'm from Arizona or somewhere like that.  I told them we had to take down some large buildings and I knew how to work with dynamite and C-4 thanks to that.  Mac backed it up and tried to yell so I complained about him standing there and Danny almost dying.  He was not a happy camper then either."

"The bomb squad guys took the 'handy construction worker' thing and said 'okay, at least someone was there'.  The Chief wasn't a happy guy either.  He yelled at them for everyone being across the city for a locker bomb.  Mac said he's no longer allowed near the lab, but that he appreciates Xander enough to almost adopt a newbie of his own."

Tony shook his head.  "Xander, staying low?" he prompted.

"I tried.  I really did.  He would have died while they all stood there and watched if I hadn't taken it apart. They were arguing about who was going to follow the phone orders from the bomb tech."

"Fine.  I heard about the fencing competition."  Xander winced and snuggled deeper into his side, making both older men grin at him.  "You did good."

"I might have, but Danny yelled for an hour about me doing that.  Said someone could have seen me on the news."

"Gibbs did.  He said you had good form too."  He gave him a squeeze.  "Are you usually staying out of trouble?"

"Most of the time," he offered with a grin.  Danny nodded at that.  "He's just fussy," he mock-whispered, making Tony laugh again and got him another squeeze.  "Tony, can we make him watch gay, froofy elves with us?"

"Sure.  I haven't gotten to see the last movie yet," he agreed.  Danny just groaned.  "You don't like the adaptation?"

"He messed with the book!"

"Well, yeah, but you almost had to or else people would've fallen asleep," Xander complained.  "Think about the adaptation for other books we've seen. The whole 'Phoenix' part of the X-Men movies totally went opposite of how it was written!"

"Yeah, point," he admitted.  "Fine, we can watch gay elves.  Just the last part, Tony?"

"Sure."  He got up to find it and put it in.  During it, the news channel was on. "You're watching CNN?"

"I figured if you were in real trouble it'd be on there first."

"True," he admitted. "Did you know you were on it last week?"

Xander sipped his wine again, nodding. "Yup.  I threw a hissy about it."

"Why were you on the national news?" Danny asked. "And if you say 'don't ask' I'm gonna have ta spank ya."

"Um, visiting idiot shows up in this neighborhood and gets stuck up by our friendly carjackers?  Sounding familiar?"  Danny nodded slowly and Tony grinned at the look on his face.  "Well, me out there grocery shopping.  Me dumb ass who jumps in to beat one with the bag with the jar of peanut butter.  I ducked and hid but he told them where I went so they tried to follow me.  Someone was taping it out their window and it was shown for about two hours before they got better news."

"That's it, no more going out without me."

"Oooh, the handcuffs again?" Xander taunted back, smirking at him.

"You wish."  He gave his head a nudge, looking at Tony.  "I had to cuff him so he couldn't run away from the eye doctor."

Tony snickered, putting in the movie and turning it on.  "Well, at least you got to play with your cuffs.  I haven't gotten to play with mine in a few days."

"Hey, talk to our boy here.  He doesn't seem to mind it.  Walked into an S&M club two days ago and smiled and told the bouncer 'it's just like home, only with more leather on living people'.  Needless to say, he got tossed.  So he found a different one and was more polite this time so he could watch people being spanked.  Next morning I come to drive him to class since they're going down by precinct in one of the local diners there, and I saw him putting salve on his wrists.  Rub burns from leather cuffs."  Xander blushed and ducked his head.  "So, if you wanna play with yours, there's our boy."

"I had fun," Xander complained. "No sex, but I had fun."

Tony shook his head. "You're an odd boy, Xander."  He sat down, letting himself be cuddled again.  The cat hopped up into his lap, staring at him.  "Hi, Rabbit."  He let the cat sniff his fingers then started to pet her.  "Okay, so you like me."

"She takes those moods. I think she's got split personalities or somethin'," Danny complained.  "Hates me until I'm about to take a nap, then I'm a ten pound cat's pillow."  The cat looked at him and meowed.  "I know, but let your master sleep."  The cat went back to being worshiped, sniffing at the wine Xander was holding before backing off with a flinch.  She hopped down and went back to the table, her domain.

Tony carefully took the wine glass and put it aside, not waking Xander.  "Is he all right?" he asked quietly.

"He's been anxious and working all week on stuff for you.  I don't think he's slept much."  He sipped his own wine.  "I agree with what you said earlier, Tony.   Me and him, it could work, but you're probably better for him. Plus you're cute."

"Thanks, I think.  You seriously want a threesome when you can have him to yourself?"

"I'll get him when you're gone."

"Point."  He stroked Xander's arm.  "He seems happy."

"He is most of the time and he's been good most of the time, just now and then those old urges come out and he's still fighting to be a normal guy. I've gotten him to go to Mass with me most weeks.  The priest really likes him.  He's a vet."

"Gibbs said it'd take one to understand him.  Is he enjoying it?"

"I don't think he understands why people find faith, but he seems okay with it.  He doesn't want to participate or anything, but he goes with me."  Xander moaned and shifted down so Danny let the feet into his lap, taking off the shoes and socks.  Xander's head was against Tony's stomach and Tony smiled down at him. "That look alone tells me you won't be happy without him, the same as I probably won't. After all, no one else accepts my past and my family like he does.  You make him play, I make him learn stuff, and together we're doing pretty good with him.  Now if only the boy had rhythm."

"That comes out in the bedroom too," Tony admitted quietly. "But before then he's one to tease you to pleasure and begging."

"That's gotta make up for it.  So, he's a bothie or a bottom?"

"Both."  He grinned. "He's so damn tight though," he offered.  Danny grinned at that.  "You sure?  I can duck out...."

"He'd hunt you down and jump you wherever he found you, even in the middle of the club.  He might even hunt you down at work and jump you in front of your boss and the others."

Tony could picture that and the look on Gibbs' face when Xander pounced him.  Of  course it got more interesting when Xander ripped his clothes off him and McGee ran off singing 'lalalala' with his fingers in his ears.   But Gibbs' face would be priceless.  Maybe if they had a camera, on his last day there....  "Point.  Where are we heading tonight?"

"Club.  Somewhere I like since it's my turn to pick and the last time I let him pick he ended up saving Flack for the second time."  Tony snickered at that. "Stupid guy attracts vampires like you wouldn't believe.  Both times, Xander there has to stake 'em for him while he's in the middle of stuff and they're trying to kill 'im and he doesn't get the point.  Then he comes home really upset and we cuddle."

"At least he likes to cuddle."  He stroked through the soft hair.  "He is cute when he naps."

"You should see him planning mischief.  I remember him working out how to say his last sig line in Hebrew.  What order and everything.  He gave me this look like he's the most innocent boy in the world, then cackled wickedly and typed it in."

"My new coworker, the one they gave us to replace Kate, she's Israeli.  She was not happy with that one.  She almost got me written up for sexual harassment but Gibbs said it was only natural to ask someone to translate something from another language if you didn't know what it said.  Then he gave me this look that said I had better have not known what it said."  Danny chuckled at that.  "So I pulled up a prior email, one of the ones with the Latin one, and she blushed at that and swatted me.  I told her I had translated that one but the guy who sent it also spoke Ancient Greek as well.  Gibbs looked at the header, then at me and asked 'why'.  I pointed at the name and said, 'I figure it came in handy, boss' and got smacked upside the head again."

"You might wanna watch out, he sent one to Gibbs as well.  Something about roosters at daylight always rising with the sun?"

Tony snickered. "I saw her face when she translated that.  She blushed bright red and went to hide at her desk.  Apparently he had heard that she had translated it for me and got me in trouble so he included her in that one.  Gibbs had McGee translate it online and read it, then glared at me for it.  I pointed out that I had nothing to do with it. I didn't even think I had told him that I got into trouble for the first translation."

Danny smirked at him.  "I'm not sure I wanna know."

"That was Abby's response.  She used an online translator for it and even she blushed at the second one.  But hey, it got her McGee."  Xander snuffled and shifted some, moving down to his thigh.  He stroked down his neck and chest, earning a happy smile in the boy's sleep. "Are you *sure*, Danny?"

"Yeah, I'm sure.  His story about you made me have happy dreams for months on end."

"He wrote it down?"

"Yeah.  He doesn't show anyone.  He closed it on me a few times, but that's all right.  It's still on his laptop.  No names or anything but he described your eyes perfectly. He's got a few other fantasies in that folder that're password protected.  He won't let me read 'em and he blushes bright red whenever I try."

"I can sometimes break those."  Danny got up and got the laptop, putting it beside him. It only took Tony a few minutes to figure out the password and they were in.  "He uses the name of the person in it," he said dryly, starting to read.  "He's got good style and imagination."  He was sweating by page three.  He felt his belt buckle being loosened but went back to reading. The head on his lap shifted and his cock was surrounded by warm, wet heat but it was going along well with the story.  He moaned and shifted up to let them have more room, eventually having to close his eyes and sigh in pleasure as the mouth let him come.  "Oh, that's good," he praised, stroking through the hair.

"And fairly hot too," Danny offered. "Let me read."  Tony handed it over and Xander shifted to pleasure him too, making him moan at that.  "You do that so much better than you dance."  Xander nipped him for it but went back to making him one happy guy.  "Library sex.  That's something I never considered that hot before," he moaned, arching up into the warm, hot mouth.  Xander licked and teased him, making him go over.  "Oh, damn, Xander.  Thank you."  He grinned down at him.  "Keep doin' that and I'll be helping fix the other anti-rhythm problem you say you have."  Xander just grinned and stood up, looking at them.  "Can we read the others?"

"Only if you plug in the laptop and we take this into the other room."  He strolled that way, going to make sure the bed wasn't too bad.  It was still clean and Rabbit relented and quit trying to help him make it by darting under the covers.

Tony pounced him about ten minutes later, rolling him under him to kiss.  "Xander, that's one hot story," he offered, going back to it.  Danny came in and plugged in the laptop, stripping them down as best he could around the clutching, grabbing, stroking hands.  Tony grinned and looked at him.  "Basket?"

"Bed, your side," he moaned.  Tony got it and hauled it up.

Danny whistled.  "That's more than I got at my place."  He picked out what he wanted and handed it back to Tony since there were a couple types of condoms in there.  Tony picked out his and put it aside, taking the lube as well.  Then basket got put back onto the floor and Tony went back to smiling at him and teasing their Xander.  This time Xander got to tease Danny and drive him insane first.  He was more than ready by the time Xander turned to play with Tony and Danny got his backside.  Xander was wiggling and moaning as he was teasing Tony's nipples but that was fine with them.   Danny pulled out and flipped Xander onto his stomach, slamming back in and going harder and faster, which was what he needed.  He felt Tony teasing his hole and shivered, spreading his legs a little bit.  "Please."

"Sure."  He got him ready and slid in, managing the angle well enough.  He slammed in and Xander moaned as Danny's cock slid deeper into him.  Xander was still wiggling counter point though so Danny spanked him a few times, making him get back in rhythm.  Xander finally came and left those two together.  Tony finished up while Xander was cleaning Danny off, having tossed the condom away.  Danny came in his mouth and it was all good.  They pulled Tony between them to cuddle, making him smile.  "That went okay."

"Xander needs to work on his rhythm issues again," Danny teased.

"I think he's just having a hyper moment," Tony assured him.  He teased the loose hole, making him moan and shift back against his fingers. "What did I tell you the last time?"

"With the music," he moaned.  Tony rewarded him by teasing more.  "Tony, Danny, please!" he begged.

"I'm not that fast to recover," Danny pointed out.

"I am."  Tony got him again, this time working him harder and faster, which made Xander stay in better rhythm.

"So we need to go to a harder club instead of a lighter one?" Danny teased, leaning in to kiss each of them.  Xander moaned and gasped, grabbing onto him.  Tony smirked down at him, moving Xander so he could play with Danny again.  "Ooh, more," he said happily, letting Xander do whatever he wanted to him.  He might not have rhythm but he had a very nice tongue.


Mac looked out of his office as Danny walked in, raising an eyebrow.  "Danny?"  The guy flinched and walked that way, slowly.  "Are you all right?" he asked, looking him over.

"A bit too much happiness this weekend, boss.  Why?"  He leaned against the wall and hissed.  "Sorry.  I went for a few rounds with Xander, sparring and stuff."

"Uh-huh.  Is that why you can't walk?"  He nodded. "Fine.  You're stuck in the lab tonight, don't do it again."

"Not unless I have an extra day to recover," he agreed, shaking his head.  "The boy can fence but he can't dance.  Tony and I think that's hilarious."


"The guy who guarded us.  He came up for the weekend. They just recently lost a teammate and Xander invited him."

"Oh, okay.  I hope you guys had fun."

"Oh, we did," he assured him.  "Xander wanted to know if he could ask you to read his first book and see if it was okay.  He claims I'm biased and he doesn't know too many other people."

"Sure.  What's it about?"

"It's a horror story.  Demons and bad things.  It's really good, but he doesn't believe me."  He shrugged and winced again.  "Got the tylenol bottle still, Mac?"  It was found and tossed over.  "Thanks, I'll buy you a new one tomorrow."  He headed back to the Trace lab, going to find a soft stool to sit on, or a pillow maybe.


Tony wandered into the office and sat down with a hiss and a wince, then put his head down and fell asleep.  Everyone would wake him when they came in. He was only an hour early.

McGee came in first, looking down at the man who was snoring.  "Long weekend?" he called loudly.  No response.  "Tony!  DiNozzo!" he called. A louder snore.  He looked around.  "Fuck, but better you than me," he muttered.  He heard the elevator move and hurried to his desk, turning on everything and sitting down to make it look like he'd been there for a little bit.

Ziva came off the elevator and looked at Tony.  "What happened to him?"

"He had the weekend off and went to check on some friends in New York," he admitted.  "I'm guessing he had a pretty active weekend."  Gibbs came in.  "Morning, boss."

"Good morning, Gibbs," she said, smiling at him.

He stopped to look at Tony, then smacked him one.  He got a soft giggle and a smile and the head turned the other direction.  "DINOZZO!" he shouted.  Tony sat up, then winced and stared at him.  "What the hell are you doing!"

"Napping, boss.  It was a long weekend.  Xander said hi by the way.  He wanted you to read his first book and see if it was any good because he's feeling insecure."  He pulled out a CD case and handed it over.  "There ya go."  He put his head back down and shifted his hips a few times before falling back asleep.

Gibbs looked at him.  Then he went to put the CD case and the coffee cup down, coming back to haul Tony up.  The man yelped and pulled away.  "What did you do this weekend?"

"Sparring, boss."  He winced again.  "You saw him, he's very good at fencing but he still can't dance.  We were trying to correct that most of the weekend."  He looked at McGee and Ziva. "You two didn't wake me?"

"I couldn't wake you," McGee noted smugly.  "Have fun?"

"Lots and lots," he agreed happily.  He looked at his boss.  "I'm sore.  If we have to run or fall or climb today, I'm going to whine."

"You're already whining.  Are you stupid?" he demanded quietly, stepping closer.  "Elevator now!"  Tony hobbled that way, wincing at each step.  He started it and stopped it between floors.  "You did what with that boy?"

"Everything consensual that he wanted to try," he said honestly, looking at him.  "He still has no rhythm but he makes up for it in other areas.  Why, boss? Were you interested in him too?"

"No," he growled, moving closer.  "What happened to you?"

"Two very good lovers, boss.  Do you want me to lie about it?" he asked dryly.  "Danny can't move either."

"You got between a couple?  That's low even for you, DiNozzo."

"They invited me and we're a trio, though Xander did pull me aside and told me that if you ever got off your ass about me that he would let me go."  Gibbs looked stunned.  "Didn't mean to say that, just ignore it."  He restarted the elevator.  "I'm going to back to my desk now.  We never had this conversation as far as I'm concerned."  Gibbs stopped the elevator, glaring at him.  "Gibbs, I don't care.  I realize you don't want me that way. I can deal with that.  Xander's my next choice. If you do decide suddenly that you like me like that, then I'll gladly consider changing over.  But I'm not having this conversation at work.  Therefore I'm dreaming all this and then, when I wake up again, I'm going to go see Ducky to get something for my sore ass."

"You're already awake, DiNozzo."  He stared him down.  "You know I'm straight."  That got a nod.  "So you gave up?"  That got a second nod and an honest look.  "Fine.  Can you work this way?"

"Not today if I have to run, jump, or climb, but I have for at least a year now, boss."

"Fine.  Then we'll make sure it doesn't interfere."

"Has it so far?"

"Shut up."  He popped him again.  "You're going to go to Ducky and let him look you over.  If that kid tore you...."

"It's more I haven't had any at all there in over three years and I don't think we spent more than six hours out of the bed once I got there. Xander's very creative, boss.  He takes good care of me and spoils me rotten.  He did want your opinion on his book as well."

"Fine.  Go see Ducky, get him to look you over.  If you're that sore, you're staying in the office no matter what comes up."

"Yes, Gibbs.  Thank you."

"This had better be the only time it happens."

"It's not like I can hop to New York every week but next time I'll take an extra day to recover."

"Fine.  How is he doing?"

"Settling in well.  Healing some.  Danny's doing good about that, but sometimes it won't leave him alone. He had to disarm a bomb that Danny was glued in front of because the bomb squad was across the city and couldn't get back in time. Some minor saving one of Danny's coworkers from a vampire.  Little things like that."

"Good.  Then he's settled in well?"

"Very well.  He's happy there.  He's taking cooking classes because Danny said so.  He's still doing the massage therapy stuff too. He seems to like it a lot." Gibbs smiled a bit at that.  "I gotta tell you, he's a good horror writer, Gibbs.  That should be his field."  He shifted and hissed again, closing his eyes for a moment.  "I'd ask to go home but I know I'm already in deep.  Danny gave me a report for you if you wanted it.  It's in my jacket pocket.  Can I go see Ducky?"

"Go.  Come back upstairs and try to stay awake.  If the director had seen you...."

"She can blow me today, boss, and she still wouldn't be half as good as either of them.  I'm in a very mellow mood today," he offered with a small grin.  "You don't mind?"

"No.  He makes you mellow and happy.  Just don't come in like this ever again.  I know Kate did once or twice."

"Some of this was from sparring and fencing," he offered.  He shifted and winced again but pulled up his shirt.  "He was teaching me."

"That's not too bad of a cut.  No blade guards?"

"He didn't have any. He said he's never used them and doesn't know how.  If it makes you feel any better, Danny can't move either.  Xander called off classes today."  Gibbs snorted at that.  "Hell, boss, I wasn't even on the bottom more than twice."

"I don't want details, DiNozzo.  Just go see Ducky then come back up."

"Yes, boss."  He restarted the elevator and Gibbs got off so he went down to the morgue, walking very slowly inside.  "Ducky, I love you, man."

"Anthony, what did you do to yourself?"

Tony grinned at him.  "Sparring.  I learned how to fence this weekend too."

"I see. Come sit on the free table."

"Must I?"

"You must, the director's next door."

"Fuck," he muttered, hissing as he sat.  He got a very knowing look.  "I'll tell you later as long as you don't gossip."  Ducky smiled and worked on checking him over. "Is my cholesterol down enough to have pizza for lunch?"



"I doubt you'll want to have anything but soup for a few days with the way you're walking."

"Ooooh, I don't know," he said dryly.  The director came in and gave him a long stare.  "I learned how to fence this weekend.  It's just a few minor injuries and some stiffness really.  Gibbs sent me down."  He shifted and winced, hissing a bit.  "This table is really cold, Ducky."

"My usual patients don't seem to mind," he said.  He looked at the director.  "I'm sorry, Madam Director, but I can't render medical aid with non-patients in the room.  That is a violation of the law and I'd hate to lose my license."

She came closer.  "What were you doing this weekend, Agent DiNozzo?"

"Sparring and learning how to fence with an old friend, ma'am.  Just like I said earlier."

"So, this woman is a champion fencer?"

"I wasn't with a female.  I was with two male friends if you must know.  One's a CSI in New York, and the other's someone I met during a case saving his life.  Also, if you really must know, they're together, so therefore I didn't get laid by any women this weekend."  She snorted, crossing her arms.  He took off his shirt, showing off the small bruises and cuts.  "Like I said, sparring and fencing, Madam Director.  If you don't believe me, Agent Gibbs knows the people I was with all weekend long.  I didn't even get to pick up anyone in the club we went to Saturday."  He stared her down and she backed off. "I'm sorry for your misconceptions about my weekend, Madam Director, but he is trying to make me feel better so I can perform my job at optimum levels today.  Would you mind, before has to make me drop my pants to deal with the cut on my inner thigh from where I slipped and fell on my own foil?"  She stomped off.  "I'm not in a happy mood anymore."

Ducky smiled, patting him on the knee. "You'll soon regain it. She's probably going to bother Jethro now.  Did I need to check for tears?"

"I have one very small one," he said quietly.  "I swear, those two have more energy than a whole preschool full of kids."  Ducky laughed at that, nodding a bit.  "It's been a few years that way," he admitted.

"I understand."  He checked the cuts and the bruises.  "You really did spar?"

"Yeah, Xander's pretty well trained," he admitted.  "He's been working on Danny's hand- to-hand skills and I volunteered to help if he would help me learn how to fence.  Next time I'm taking an extra day."

"That might be a good idea.  Ah, Abigail," he said, smiling as she came in. "Give me a moment please?"   She nodded and left and he wrote out two prescriptions.  "Get them filled today.  We don't want to risk an infection.  Are they nearly as bad off?"

"Xander has stuff for Danny and himself.  If I was there I'd be babied.  Even if Danny did go to work today."  He slid off the table with a wince and groaned as he put back on his shirt.  "Thanks, Ducky."  He went to call for them to be delivered, scanning them to send them to the pharmacy he used. They sent him confirmation and the drugs were there within an hour.  He happily paid for them and tipped the delivery guy too.  He immediately took a pain killer and one of the antibiotics.  He made it back to his seat and looked at Gibbs, putting the pain killers down on the desk in front of him.  The other was in his jacket pocket.  "Ducky said so," he told him at the amused look.  "Madam Director tried to grill me and say that I had sex with a woman or ten; apparently she thinks I'm fairly easy, boss.  Did she come and accuse you of that too?"

"No, just of keeping someone like you, as she put it, on the job when you come in like this. I  pointed out that learning a new form of martial arts or of something like fencing would make one very sore.  She said you've got cuts?"

"A few.  Some bruises.  One on the inside of my thigh that's making me ache."  He grinned a bit. "Ducky said I'll be fine."

"Did he give you an antibiotic for the cuts?" McGee asked.

"Yes, Probie, he did." He stared at him.  "My fencing instructor doesn't use a blade guard, he never has, even when he learned.  You learn to block shots much quicker without one."

"I bet.  Is he a formal instructor?"

"No, but he knows what he's doing.  He doesn't want to compete or anything.  He learned for fun."  McGee nodded.  "If we have to go back to New York and run into them, I'll introduce you."

"Thanks.  He sounds like a nice guy."  He handed Gibbs a report.  "The last on that last case, boss, including those charts you needed included."

"Thank you, McGee.  DiNozzo, don't you have a few reports due to me?"

"Yeah, boss, they're on that CD too."  That got a nod and he ran it, with McGee's help.  The reports were printed off and he grinned at his boss.  "Xander made me do them while he was cleaning the kitchen after his sauce exploded."

"Good work, DiNozzo.  Next time be more careful."

"Yes, sir.  Oh, he also redid his sig line, he swears it's no longer pornographic.  Though it is in Ancient Greek."  Gibbs looked at him.  "He's a multi-talented guy."

"Is that the same guy who did the Latin and Hebrew ones?" McGee asked.  "I've been wanting to know what translator he uses."

"He reads all three languages, Probie. He doesn't need a translator."

"He's also very good with a crossbow," Gibbs agreed.

"So he's some Ancient History guy? Like a professor?"

"Not quite," Tony said with a small smirk. "That's his hobby more than anything."

Gibbs looked at him.  "Do you remember that discussion where I ordered you to not talk about a certain case?"  He nodded.  "You're going there again.  Shut up.  Now."

McGee nodded.  "Yes, boss.  Sorry, didn't realize."

"I didn't when he was here," Gibbs noted dryly, signing off on all the reports.  He did have the book open in another screen and once he was done he got back to it.  It was pretty good but he did make some notes in it for the kid.  Just things to make it flow smoother. "Who edited it for him, DiNozzo?"


"He did okay, just a few rough spots so far."

"That's what I thought.  The thing that caught my attention and gave me nightmares was it's better than Stephen King in its own way.  A lot more graphic though."

"Gee, now you tell me."  He continued to read, nodding at a few things.  "It's somewhere between those stupid quest video games and a horror novel."

Tony looked at him.  "There's a reason for that.  He'll need those in about twenty pages."

"Oh."   He continued to read, finding it interesting.  It was a good read, even with the rough spots.  When he was done he saved it back down onto the CD and took it to Abby.  "Here, email this to Xander."

"Sure thing, Gibbs."  She smiled at him.  "What's wrong with Tony?"

"He learned how to fence this weekend."

"Oh.  No wonder he had the bruises and cuts."   She found the email address in her personal address book and sent it on.  "There you go."  She smiled but he was gone.  "Meany.  I wanted to know more."


Xander got the book back and looked at it, smirking a bit since it said it had corrections and Abby's short message said it was from Gibbs.  He opened the attachment and smiled, going to copy it into his word processing program so he could see what comments he had made.  Fairly typical stuff really.  Gibbs didn't like how the bad guy talked.  Which could be changed.  He noticed a plot hole he had left, which was intentional.  He giggled at one comment that said he was going to have nightmares and sent him an email thanking him and telling him he'd work on the dialogue, why there was a plot hole left, and an apology for the nightmares and for making Tony so sore.  Danny looked over from his seat when he heard the giggling.  "From Gibbs."

"What?  He sent it back already?"

"No new cases today."  He grinned and finished typing his message back and sent it.  "There."  He shut his laptop down once everything was saved and stood up, kissing Danny gently.  "Can I practice my massage techniques on you?"

"Please.  I could use one."  Xander led him back to the bed and got to work on his back and shoulders. The warm tongue soothed another ache he had, lower down, and it was all good again in his world.



Tony looked at the person who had replaced Gibbs, and shrugged, handing over his resignation right then and there.  "Tell Gibbs if he needs me, I'm with Danny.  I'd rather work with Satan than you, asshole."  He gathered up his stuff and headed out, happy to be away from the bigoted bastard.  Someone had made Gibbs retire and unless he came back, Tony wasn't going to work there anymore.  He headed down to his car, finding Xander leaning against it. "How did you know I was quitting today?"

"Super psychic boyfriend powers," he offered with a grin.


"Called," he admitted. "He figured it'd take longer.  What did the asshole do?"

"Started on a rant about gay bashers being right.  So I interrupted him and told him off, then handed in my resignation."  He grinned.  "So I'm free."

"Well, you are but Danny's boss has an opening," he offered, opening the car door.  "And he suggested you for an interview when Gibbs called us after he heard about his replacement.  Think you could handle New York?"

"It's got to be nicer than Baltimore was."  He got into the car, putting everything in his back seat.  "What about my place?"

"My super secret psychic boyfriend powers reached allllll the way to Abby last night, who hired you a mover.  It's already on its way to New York since I know you weren't going to hit the FBI or the locals.  It also reached all the way to the storage place three blocks away from the apartment."  He started the engine and backed out, honking at Ziva, who had made peace with them both about ten months earlier.  "Later," he called.  He sped toward the exit, smirking at the guy standing there.  "Yes?"

"Agent DiNozzo, we were told to check your things for contraband?" he said.

"You can but he watched me pack it.  Or better yet, just look now and then you can report him for wasting both our times.  The little homophobic bastard."

"He is, sir?"

"Oh, he so is," Tony assured him, letting him have both boxes and his laptop.  "My reports may be on there but I'll be saving them down to CD later tonight, once I'm in New York."

"That's fine, sir.  What did he do?"

"Went off on a rant about how gay bashers were right."  The guard smiled and nodded, only finding one thing and holding it up.  "That's my notepad.  I should get something for the six years I put in here.  Sorry, nearly six years. It would've been six years tomorrow."

"I'm sorry they did that to Gibbs.  He was a bastard but decent about it."  He handed everything back.  "You have a good life, Agent DiNozzo.  You have fun in New York.  You as well, Mr. Harris."

"There's no Harris here," he noted dryly, staring him down.  "There never was.  There never will be.  You can tell whichever bastard sent you that."

"Oh, I already have.  He just wanted it known that someone did still remember."

"And I still remember everything I learned back then. You can share that message right back."  The guard smiled and nodded.  "Thanks.  Anything else?  Tony, laptop."  He took it back too and Xander took the bug off it, tossing it out the window.  "Toodles."  He drove off once Tony was back inside and the door was closed.  He did stop to let him pick up something that had fallen out, then they were off to the airport.  "Sorry."

"Not a problem.  It was fairly subtle."  He went through the rest of everything with the bug detector Xander handed him, looking at it for a moment then shrugging it off.  Xander was paranoid for a good reason.  "I should call Gibbs," he said, tossing the rest of them out the window.

"Go ahead.  He already knows you're going home.  I pity Abby though."

"She left yesterday.  McGee's probably going to quit today or tomorrow.  Ziva won't be staying long either, she'll probably transfer laterally with the director's help."  He pulled out his phone.  "Boss, DiNozzo.  Yeah, well, you always will be so suck it up, Gibbs.  No, I left.  He went on a rant about gay bashers being good folk."  Xander snorted.  "Someone stopped us and called Xander by someone else's name. Yeah, that one.  No, he was told someone still remembered so he pointed out he had all his memories intact too.  The guard just smiled and tried to bug us.  You okay?"  He smirked a bit.  "No, I have a super psychic boyfriend apparently.  My stuff's already been stolen and shipped off.  You could come to New York."

"Or Danny can transfer down here and we all move," Xander noted patiently.

"Or Xander said Danny can transfer down here and I can return with him."  He grinned at that.  "Sure, boss.  What did you want to do?"  He nodded slowly.  "I can get behind that.  Sure.  What do you need from me?"  He smirked.  "Good deal, boss.  Sure.  See you in a few days and I promise to be able to walk."  He hung up and looked at him.  "Gibbs got asked to put together a task force for information recovery.  He said McGee just called him and said he quit too, he was in the middle of packing his desk.  Ziva was screaming in the background according to him so apparently the whole team is back together again."

Xander reached over to stroke his thigh.  "That's always a good thing, babe."  He grinned and blew a kiss.  "You didn't get to come up and celebrate the second book coming out.  We're doing that tonight."  Tony moaned.  "No, nice dinner out and stuff.  Then great sex."

"Sure, Xander."  He kissed the back of his hand, putting it back on the wheel.  "Be careful.

"I am.  The tail we have on us is going to conveniently lose us near the airport, and we're taking the train."  Tony laughed at that but Xander did it and lost the tail. "I deserve a reward," he offered once he parked, stealing a kiss. "So do you for lasting that long, Tony."  He stole another kiss.  "There's a suitcase and a briefcase in the back.  Stuff the crap into it and let's go."  Tony nodded, going to do that.  He could come sell his car later next week.  When he felt it was safe.  He and Xander walked inside, straight into a bunch of FBI agents arresting someone.  They gave them an odd look, one of them staring at Tony very hard.  He just grinned and waved.  "Hi," Xander said.  "Is this going to hold up the Metro?"  They growled so he went to talk to the ticket agent, who told them it wouldn't hold up their train and they had plenty of time to get a few magazines or something to snack on.

Tony led the way to the food places, he was hungry.  He hadn't felt like eating since Gibbs had been retired by force.  Xander spoiled him with all sorts of candy and chocolates, which he'd try to steal some of, but Tony knew better than to let him.  He also got fast food for the trip and then they went to wait.  They found Gibbs there as well, reading the paper so Tony sat next to him.  "Rollo, boss?"

"Thanks, DiNozzo.  We'll talk on the train."  He unwrapped one for himself.

"That's fine.  Why were the FBI here and staring?"

"Tushi."  He ate the piece of chocolate and looked over at Xander.  "You.  Behave."

"I'll try very hard," he offered with a sweet smile.  "You know I always try."

Someone came over and cleared their throat.  "Alexander Harris?"

"No one here by that name," Gibbs said, staring him down. "Why?"

"Message for him.  Have you seen him?"

"He's my cousin, I can take it," Tony offered.  The guy smiled and handed it over.  "Thanks."  He looked in the note then shook his head, handing it to Gibbs, who groaned and handed it over. "That's just peachy."

"They'll never find me," Xander said quietly.  "They really won't."

Tony looked at him.  "You know, if it were legal, we'd marry and you could take my name."

Xander grinned.  "Thanks, dear.  That would be nice, Danny would enjoy that too."  Tony grinned back.

"No playing in public, boys," Gibbs said firmly.  "Especially not where I have to watch."  He went back to reading.  "What are you going to do if that's the truth."

"Willow was in New York two days ago," he said quietly. "I about turned around and ran the other way when I saw her. I wonder if they've changed any in four years."

"Hopefully," Tony offered.  "What about the livejournal guy?"

"I wrote him the other day.  He's doing okay but he's still there.  He and Tara both. They're fine though.  He didn't mention anyone but Willow though."  He shrugged.  "Let's hope she's not on the train with us."  Gibbs nodded.  "Are we putting you up tonight, Gibbs?"

"No, not tonight.  I'll be in a hotel, far away from the noise."

"We were going to have a belated second book coming out dinner," Xander offered.  "You can come. Danny won't mind."

Gibbs smiled at him. "Since it was dedicated to me too, I wouldn't mind. Thank you, Xander."

"Welcome."  He grinned at the woman walking over to announce their boarding.  "We are in business class.  Gibbs?"

"Me too."  He got up, grabbing his overnight bag to follow them.  The woman checked their tickets and let them pass. They found their section of the train and got comfortable, Gibbs on one side, Tony and Xander on the other.  They'd switch later so those two could talk.  The conductor came around to take tickets once everyone was on board, nodding at the cute couple.  Gibbs looked up at him.  "Fornell.  What's going on?"

"We heard about your idea, it's a good one, we like that idea."  He put the tag saying when they were getting off above his seat. He handed him a diskette and walked on, checking more tickets until he could get off.

"You remember when I wanted a normal life," he teased Tony.  Who just snickered and nodded.  "Yeah, well, I'm over that."  He stole a quick kiss as soon as the train started to move.  "Danny made reservations.  We're still ducking his father."

"That's fine.  Do you think he'll be a problem?"

"He tried to get in to see him the other day to yell at him for being with me.  That's all he knew about.  Mac about killed him for it and Danny and he got into a massive argument.  So Danny's cleaning the apartment since he's suspended for the fight with the father.  He also had to handcuff me to the table so I wouldn't go visit his father and shoot him."

"That's not a good idea," Tony said patiently.

"Are you sure about that?  'Cause we both know he's not a nice guy."

"No, bad idea," he ordered.  Xander sighed and nodded.  "Thank you."  He gave him a gentle stroke to the cheek.  "Be good and let Gibbs shift over."

"After Baltimore.  The people around us are getting off then," he said quietly.  Tony smiled and nodded, stealing a light kiss.  "After dinner, you're going to be walking funny," he vowed, staring into his pretty green eyes.  "For days, Tony, days."  Tony shivered, the last time he had heard that, he had indeed walked funny for about a week.  Xander had found some rhythm after taking dance lessons with a Cuban guy who made Danny pant with jealousy and claim him as soon as he got home.  It had been sweet and as near to a real fight as they ever got.  Now Tony was going to be on the receiving end of that claiming from both of them and it was going to be *good*.  Once they had gone through Baltimore, he got up and went to talk to Gibbs about his plans.  Xander pulled out his laptop and started to write the next book, getting involved until Philadelphia, which was when Tony came back.  Then he snuggled up under the throw that had been in his bag, and got the world's quietest hand job.  Xander just smirked the whole time.  "Rail trip this summer," he ordered.  "Danny's already agreed."  Tony shivered again, it was going to be a long night for him.  He sent up a silent prayer of thanks for whoever had put the three of them together.

The End.