Note: Starts in senior year.  Canonical death in the NCIS fandom, Kate's.  Not graphic, but funeral is shown.


Xander sighed and looked at the people standing around the library.  There was no way he was going to share secrets with them.  They weren't the sort to care; it wouldn't make him feel any better.  They didn't want him around, they didn't need his help.  So he quietly went back to his house and settled in for a longish night.  He had things he had to do.  A lot of things he had to do.  Namely, avoid his parents again.  Though, they were already passed out when he got there so it was fine.  He went up to check his room, finding it had been gone through, and sighed.  "Damn it!"  He checked his stash.  They had sold two of his guns.  Not his laptop.  Not his backup.  He'd be okay but he definitely needed to move tonight.  He checked his other hiding spots.  They were better and all around the house.  One had been touched but it only had his diskette and CD fund - only a hundred and fifty bucks so he'd be fine.

He went back up to his room and packed the last few bags of stuff he *really* wanted.  He'd come get the other stuff later.  Then he snuck out of the house with his backpack and two bags, heading for the motel.  It was cheesy.  He'd run into Faith there.  He didn't care and Faith wouldn't nark because he'd kill her and she knew it.  They'd had a little a few months back after their last run-in.  He checked in for the month and then went back to get the rest of his crap, sneaking it out too.  He was even nice enough to leave a note saying he couldn't stand people who stole from him.  On his way back to the motel he stopped off at the all-night restaurant, going to find one of the cops he knew.

Growing up in the same town all your life meant you knew about everyone in town.  He found one he liked and put his stuff down in an empty seat, smiling at the waitress.  "Just pausing."  He sat down next to the officer and grinned at him.  "My parents broke into the weapons stash that I found lying in a graveyard a few months back.  They sold two revolvers, a silver dagger, about seven boxes of bullets that won't fit the revolver, nine mil, and about a hundred and fifty bucks.  By the way, the," he coughed, "set in the basement is smelling off.  I'm not sure they're not going to blow themselves up this month."

The officer looked at him.  "Where did you find guns?"

"On patrol," he said quietly.  The officer looked confused.  He leaned closer.  "Don't pretend.  You've caught us out going at it before," he said quietly.  The officer nodded, sipping his coffee.  "Think I'm not part of that since Willow is?"  He gave him a look.  "You'd be very surprised what I learned off Willow over the years, Officer Paul."  He got up and grabbed his other stuff.  "They're passed out so if they were cooking drugs or anything, the house is going to go up.  Need the basement keys?"

"Please.  I'll send them to you at school tomorrow."

"I'm skipping tomorrow.  I'm tired of the heathen brats I know."

"Where are you staying?"

Xander looked at him and grinned.  "Where do you think?"


"With her being one of the heathen brats?"

"One of those problems," he said wisely.

"Yeah, she thinks I'm helpless and useless again," he said dryly, giving him a look.  The officer snorted and smiled at him.  "Exactly.  So I'm at the motel.  I'm going to get dinner and go home."  He smiled at the waitress, taking his usual meal.  He paid her, plus tip, and left with a smile and his things.  He found Faith in his room and slapped her hard.  "Get out of my shit."

"Sorry!"  She backed away from him.  "Why are you here, boytoy?"

He smirked. "Parents stole and sold guns from me."

"Pity.  Need help unpacking?"

"No, but I want my CD holder back, Faith.  You can't hide keys in that top, much less that."

"The mayor...."

"Can lick my balls and he knows it," he said firmly, holding out a hand.  "Betray me like they did, baby," he said with an evil smirk.  "Watch me destroy someone you love."  She handed it over and stomped off so he slammed the door and locked it, putting everything away.  Not too many hiding spots in here but he did know a *bit* of magic, mostly concealment spells.  Then he sat down on the bed with his laptop, plugging it into his cellphone.  Some day he'd have to explain things to the others, but not tonight.  He opened his dinner and ate one handed while he checked his email and typed.  He hated the mayor.  He *really* hated the mayor.  Oh well, pity for him.


That summer, Xander checked into another motel.  No one knew he was coming this way.  He had a story all cooked up already for the girls if he went home.  He looked at the guy across from him, smiling a bit.  "Hi."

"Hi.  What brings you here?"

"I learned a lot watching someone and I want to know more.  This is the place to do that."

"Who did you watch?"


The man blinked.  "The little snotty girl from Sunnydale?"

Xander smirked and nodded.  "Yeah.  I'm Jeeves."

"Ah!" he said happily, shaking his hand.  "I'm Reagan.  Happy to meet you in person finally."

"Thanks, man.  It's great to get out of hell."  That got another laugh.  "So, I know what I can do. You know what I can do because you caught me and have been trying to teach me.  What else can you try to teach me?"


"Could help," Xander admitted.  "Then again, in my town everyone ignores everything."

"Pity."  He leaned on the table.  "Did you bring that new CD?"  Xander slid it over.  "Let's spin it and see how it went."  He opened his laptop and started the CD, looking it over.  "Huh," he said finally.  "Not bad.  Your coding still sucks."

"I'm self-taught.  Watching her led to textbooks.  Though, she thinks I have problems checking my email most days."

"How can she not see?"

"Easy, she doesn't want to.  To her, I'm useless and need protecting."

"You could probably use a protector."

"Yeah, well, sometimes these things happen and I'm pretty good at self defense these days."

"I heard your graduation got blown up."

"Putting it mildly.  We lost twelve and I helped with the defense."

"Ow.  Well, at least you can defend yourself sometimes."

"Now and then," he agreed happily.  He looked around.  "That's a siren."

"Huh?"  He listened then stood up.  "Meet me at your place."

"Going."  They ducked out and others followed, showing they had good sense.  Xander watched the cops bust the hacker's club, shaking his head as he walked off.  One of the officers got in his way.  "Hi," he said with a shy boy grin.  "I'm visiting the town.  Is that motel the only one?"

The officer nodded slowly.  "Yeah, don't like it?"

"It doesn't have 'net access and my friends are going to be pissed if I don't send virtual postcards.  Cheaper, ya know?"

"Were you in the club, sir?"


"Are you sure you weren't in the club?"

"I'm only eighteen.  I can't go into clubs yet, Officer."

The officer stared at him.  "Got any ID?"  Xander pulled out his wallet and handed it over. "Sunnydale, California.  How far away is that?"

"Seven hours.  I'm on a post-high school road trip and someone suggested there were some neat places to go sit and meditate outside town."

The officer handed back the ID.  "Not my thing, I can't direct you that way, kid."

"That's fine."  He grinned again.  "Can I go?  I'm starving and the motel's restaurant is closing soon."

"Go ahead.  I know where you are if I need to find you."  He watched the boy walk off, taking down his license plate number and name, plus his ID number since he had memorized it.  He went to his boss to check on him.  "Found this guy watching, sir."

"I saw you talking to him."  He looked at the information he had jotted down.  "Sunnydale?"  The officer nodded.  "Didn't they have a problem with their graduation or something?"

"Gas explosion during it," another officer yelled.  "Sir, none of these guys have laptops or computers."

"Doesn't mean they aren't hackers, son."  He handed the information back.  "Call the kid's department to see if he's one of them.  That is odd timing."  The officer nodded, going to do that.  The Captain watched them question the ones found in the bar.


Xander looked up from his lunch, smiling at the officer who sat across from him.  "Want some fries, Officer?"

"No, son.  I want some straight answers.  What is with your town?"

"A hellmouth."

"A what?"

"Under the school.  Draws bad things there.  It was under the library before the school went boom."  He shrugged.  "We're like Roswell.  There's a lot of strange stuff that no one admits to and they all ignore."  He ate a bite of his burger.  "Why?"

"Your guys are really strange out in California, aren't you?"

Xander shrugged.  "You asked."

"I did.  Okay."  He put something down onto the table, sliding it over.  "Who's she?"

Xander looked then at him.  "One of the heathen brats who thinks I'm useless."

"Okay," he said slowly.  "One of the ones you've got to write emails to?"

"I probably should.  Not that she'll do more than read and delete."  He leaned on the table.  "Why?"

"Because they said you didn't do a lot out there."

"No shit, really?" he asked dryly, smirking at him.  "Blinders," he said slowly and clearly.  "I work with Willow after hours.  Of course I don't do anything.  I'm actually weapons support."

"Any particular one?"

"Crossbows recently.  It comes in handy."

"If you say so.  Got any on you?"

Xander pulled out his firearms card, sliding it over.  "One pistol for self defense while on the road.  It's a nine mil, it's a seven shot.  I can get it from the car if you need to see it."

"I probably should."  Xander got up and went to do that, bringing it back in.  He put it in front of him then sat back down to eat, smiling at the waitress.  "I made him, Marge."

"That's fine.  You're armed, kid?"

He grinned.  "I'm a on a post-high school road trip.  That's for safety reasons."  He took it back and broke it down for him, placing everything in front of him.  "See?  Full clip, clean, not been fired recently."

He checked it over then put it back together, sliding it back.  "Good."  He handed back the card too.  "How long are you staying in town?"

"A few more days.  Then I'm moving east."

"Good to know.  Going to Las Vegas?"

Xander grinned.  "I'm not sure I want to tempt fate."

"Probably a wise decision," Marge agreed, going back behind the counter.  Xander walked over the money for the check.  Then he came back, putting the gun into his waistband.  He winked at the officer and took the rest of his food up to his room, going to nibble while he wrote out emails and virtual cards.  He even checked his online accounts.  Not the hidden one but the normal ones that Willow might've found.  He found one had a withdrawal from it and traced it down.  "Anya," he hissed.  He wrote the bank, making sure they knew he was the only one authorized to remove money from the account.  He included the particulars he had found with it.  He logged out of his normal ID and checked outside, seeing the cop looking at his car.  He leaned out.  "Go ahead," he called.  "You can search it.  I don't care."  He tossed down the keys, coming out to lean on the railing while the guy searched his car. The officer brought back his keys a few minutes later and a CD.  He looked at it then at him.  "Of course I have CD's, the same as I have a laptop, dude.  I'm a teenager.  I just graduated high school.  Isn't it mandatory?"

"I guess.  Can I see the laptop?"  Xander went to log back in for him, letting him examine the programs.  "What's this one?" he asked, pausing the mouse.

Xander looked.  "An AV program to play Divx movies."

"Oh."  He kept going then handed it back.  "Thank you, sir."

"Welcome.  I'm not a mean guy, really."

"I'm sure you're not."  He smiled.  "Have a good time meditating."

"I just sent emails to my heathen brats."

The officer nodded.  "I've raised one of those."  He left, going to tell his Captain what he had found.  There was nothing that implicated him as being a hacker or having been in that club.

Xander closed his door and went to log out then log back in after he checked his computer over to make sure the officer hadn't planted a bug or any hacking gear.  Then he logged in and entered a chat room he liked, typing in that he was leaving town in two days.  His new friend said he'd mail him something to his PO Box and that was fine.  He logged off and went to check his other accounts.  It was healthy enough and he needed a distraction so he ordered some porn.  After all, he was eighteen.  A few clicks and he was out of that persona on his laptop and it was all good again.


Xander went to his next stop, pausing first at the mailboxes etc. place.  It would forward anything from Sunnydale to him, no matter where he was at the time.  He found a few DVD's in there of things he should learn.  Also a supicious CD from Willow and another one from another friend he had met online.  He liked him, he was kinda a neat guy.  Though, he was a Fed and everyone knew he was a Fed so they didn't do a lot of stuff around him but he was great at hacking and winning games so they accepted him for that much alone.  Then again, he had went to college to be a professional hacker so they guessed it was okay enough with them.  He gathered them and his two new books of the month and headed back to his car, going to find a motel for the night.  He smiled at the flurry of activity in front of him.  It was definitely a sight to behold.  "Maybe I'll get some of that 'what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas' mojo," he joked, parking at a small motel.  He got out to check in, smiling at the hostess.  "Hi, I need a room for about two weeks please.  Do you guys have efficiencies?"

"We do, sir.  Only two weeks?"

"Post-grad road trip," he said with a grin.

She smiled back.  "I wish I had gotten to go on one.  Let's see what I can do for you.  I have one that'll rent for three hundred."  He winced.  "It's usually forty a night," she offered.  He did the mental math and handed over his debit card, which declined.  He groaned and handed over another one.  "Problems at home?"

"Ex-girlfriend and I complained to the bank when she stole stuff."

"Oooh," she said with a wince, handing him his card.  "There you go. You're on the back side so you do get a bit of a view," she offered.  "You're on the second floor."

"That's fine, I can do stairs.  Do we have 'net access?"

"We have an internet cafe up the street," she offered.

"That could work.  Thank you."  He grinned and went to drive his car around back, taking stuff up to his room.  Then he called his bank from his cellphone.  "This is Xander Harris.  What the crap happened to my bank account?  And if you hang up on me, Carla, I'm having vamps come eat your dogs."  He smirked.  "Yes, me.  I know that.  I wrote an email saying that she did not have access two days ago.  Now, what the crap happened?  Please."  He waited while he was transferred over.  "Hi, it's Xander Harris.  Yes, me.  What did you let her do since she's *never* been put onto my accounts?  No, she was not.  Who did?  Willow's not on my accounts either.  Yes, I'm very sure I'm the only one on my accounts.  She doesn't even have power of attorney over me if something happens, okay?  Yeah, prove it or I'm suing.  I did not let allow them to do anything," he said slowly and clearly.  "Yeah, you're going to fix it.  How much did they take?"  He groaned and held his head.  "I'm not in town, I'm on my roadtrip.  That's what that fund was for.  I kinda doubt I was with them considering I was in Arizona last night," he said dryly.

"Exactly!" he agreed facetiously.  "Yeah, and I'm still going to sue.  You know what?  You allowed them to commit theft.  I don't care if you don't like it, lady.  Then put me on with someone who can before I have you all arrested for helping them commit the theft."  He was put on hold then a man came on.  He read off his account number.  "I'm Alexander Lavelle Harris.  Yes, him," he said dryly.  "On my road trip and I've learned that *someone* gave two girls access to my accounts when I didn't.  No, I did not write a letter to allow Willow Rosenburg to take out money, nor did I give her an ATM card.  No, I did not.  When?"  He smirked.  "You do know she's a hacker, correct?"   He nodded.  "Yup, and you've just allowed the hacker and my prom date to steal my money.  Since I'm on my roadtrip, I'm rather pissed and if I have to come back to town for this, I'm going to make everyone very sorry in a court of law.  I can easily find a lawyer to sue you, her, and my prom date.  Now, when is my money coming back to me?"  He nodded.

"That would be a reasonable solution as long as I got it back.  Really?  Fax it to me at my hotel then," he said.  "Or email it to me if it was electronic."  He smirked.  "I didn't think you would.  Now, it'll be back or else.  Today.  Or you can close that one out, start a new account, and rush my cards to me.  I have my PO Box forwarded through one of those mailbox places.  That would work.  When can I expect it?"  He checked the date on his watch.  "Unacceptable.  I don't care.  It's still unacceptable.  You can because this is an emergency and I will sue you, personally if I must.  She's not the only hacker I know either."  That got a splutter but an agreement.  "That would be fine.  Please check my other accounts since she's not allowed in those either.  Oh, I'll be dealing with her," he promised.  "Thank you."  He hung up and called her.

"Willow, has it occurred to you that the theft from my account which you helped Anya do is now pissing me off and I can have you arrested for a felony?  And yes, I am that petty at the moment since you're hindering my trip.  Well, gee, no, I can't.  Since I don't feel like ending up homeless or whoring myself tonight..."  He waited while she giggled.  "Considering I got offered a grand the other night, Willow, I wouldn't laugh," he said dryly, smirking meanly at her spluttering.  "Put.  It.  Back.  Willow.  Tonight.  Or.  Else."  He hung up and laid down, then found his laptop and checked the others.  He wrote a nice email about how he had found a few other withdrawals and someone was going to pay soon.  He got into his other persona and hacked her computer, stealing it all and putting it into an account she didn't have access to.  Then he logged off before she caught him.  He wanted to watch her panic.  She deserved it.  He checked his email, finding one from her with a promise of cookies but he returned it as junk mail.

He got up and went to get a vacationer's guide, going to take some money from an ATM and go see some sights.  Willow could stew and she'd be very sorry very soon.  He even went to visit one of the brothels that Las Vegas was so famous for.  Not too bad.  The gambling was okay too.  He didn't lose more than twenty bucks and he had time to visit the rest of the city later on. He came back and checked his email, finding one from the bank with the details of his new account and the fact that they had reported her and fixed the situation for him, to please not sue them.  He wrote back that since it was fixed and would not happen again it was fine.  He did list with them where he was and where he was planning on going so they wouldn't care if he made withdrawals.  Then he settled in to sleep, very happy for the night.


Xander got to DC a few weeks later, still all smiles and happiness.  It was great up until the point in time when someone shot at him.  He didn't even have to shoot back, there were transit officers there who did it for him.  He looked at the one nearest to him.  "Damn, I thought the bad parts were on the other side," he quipped.  The officer gave him a look so he grinned.  "Tourist."

"Actually, the other side is better for you folk," he said dryly.  "It's cleaner too."

"Got a good, cheap motel recommendation with an efficiency in it?"  He nodded, writing down an address.  "Thanks, man.  Let me grab my car and head."  He went to look, finding a few bullet holes in it.  "Huh.  Guys, do you need to pull the bullets?"  One guy with an uzi ran up on him, pointing the gun at him.  Xander looked then snorted and looked into his eyes.  "Try it."  The guy sneered so he did a very nice duck/heel sweep/stomp in the middle of his chest maneuver, staring down at him.  "Wanna try that again since I'm from near LA?" he asked patiently.  The kid whimpered when he applied pressure.  "Go ahead.  You can beg.  I like begging."  The officers coughed.  "Want him too?"

"Please, sir.  Military?"

"No, rough town.  I'm from near LA."  He shrugged and got his three bags and two briefcases from the car, then his CD holder from the front and gave the officer his keys.  "I'm going where he suggested. The Norman Rockwell Motel.  When your bullet pulley people are done with it drop it and the keys off please."  He walked off, catching a cab.  "The officer said to go to the Norman Rockwell Motel?"  He handed over the slip.  "There please?"

"Sure, kid."  He drove off, glancing back at him.  "Got shot at?"  Xander nodded.  "You okay?"

"I'm from three hours outside LA.  Gunshots aren't what scare me most of the time."

"Good to know.  You a ganger?"

"No, post-grad road trip to see more of the world."

"Good.  That's a good thing."  He pulled into the motel, waiting while Xander went inside to check in, then helped him bring his bags inside.  "Two briefcases?"

"One's my laptop, the other's books and things," he said with a grin.  That got a smirk.  "I am eighteen."  The guy laughed and walked off.  He settled in to check his email for the day, writing a note to the local contact in the underground that he was in town but not causing trouble.  Just a head's up that he was local if they wanted to have coffee.  Then he settled in to look at the maps the motel had on hand for visitors.  There was a lot to see around here and there was a theme park not fifty miles away.  As a matter of habit he checked his accounts, smiling at the nice, big bankroll he had.  He had won his last day in Las Vegas and it was pretty neat.  He checked his hidden account too and it was still there.  He logged off his laptop, hid it magically, then headed out to check on his mail.

He had told the last mailbox place he was heading here so they could forward everything for him.  He found a check in there, frowning at it.  The enclosed letter made him grin.  Someone had used something of his commercially.  He took it to have it cashed, finding a nice bank who talked to his bank of choice back home and did it for him.  Then he went to get dinner since the motel hadn't had an efficiency open for him.  He had enough to splurge on fast food.  He found an email waiting on him from his local buddy and smiled, writing back that he could be called.  He gave him his cellphone number and told him to call when he had time.  Then he sat down to eat and check out the cable.  It was a good first night.


Xander sat down across from the guy he thought was his contact.  "Elf Lord Vargas?" he asked quietly.  The guy looked at him and nodded. "Funny, your college picture had you being a bit shorter, pudgier, and geekier."

"I work with him.  He's off talking someone through some evidence and told me to wait for you.  So, you game with him?"

"And other stuff," he agreed with a grin.  "Xander Harris."

"Tony DiNozzo."  He shook his hand.  "Roadtrip?"

"Post high school graduation.  Couldn't think of a better time before I had to wizen up and become an adult."

"It is a good time for that.  Going to college?"

"Didn't get in anywhere," he said quietly.

"And you do *what* in your free time?" he asked dryly.

"It's more complicated than that.  I've got other stuff I've got to do at home.  This is my first vacation since tenth grade when the extra stuff started."

"Liking it?"

"I won ten grand in Las Vegas.  I got to see some of Arizona, Nevada, Texas, then I drove here," he said with a grin.  "It's been okay, even though one of my friends did try to steal money from my bank account."

"Wow.  You get it back?"

"Yeah, I threatened to sue the bank since they let her do it."  He grinned at the guy coming in.  "Hi.  You look a lot like your MIT picture."

"He certainly does," Tony agreed dryly.

"Thanks for waiting on him for me, Tony."

"Not a problem.  He's a nice kid."  He smiled at Xander.  "Stick around and maybe you'll see me again, Xander."

"Sure.  Got to be better than the guy who shot at me when I stopped to get a bagel and a good motel rec."  Tony walked out laughing.

"You were kidding, right?" Tim McGee asked as he sat down.

"Nope.  Then one ran up on me.  Not wise."  He smiled at the waitress, putting down cash.  "Can I have a coke, no ice, and a ham sandwich with fries?"  She nodded, turning to Tim.  "I've got lunch."

"You sure?"

"I won some in Las Vegas."

"Okay.  I'll have what he's having, no mayo, and chips please," Tim ordered.  She smiled and walked off, taking the money with her and coming back with the change.  "So, what are you doing in DC?"

"Road trip.  Post grad road trip."  He sipped his coke when it came, giving her a grin.   "I haven't been in the centaur game recently thanks to this trip.  How's it been going?"

"Good.  Most of your tribe was wiped out."

"I heard that.  I got an email from someone.  Thankfully I RP two characters."  He took his sandwich.  "Thank you."  Tim smiled and nodded his thanks.  "So, how's work?"

"Work's work.  The same as usual really.  You're not going to college?"

"Didn't get accepted."

"Did you apply?"

"Nope.  Couldn't do that without breaking my cover and they need me there too much."


"I know but they still need me too much."

"Uh-huh.  I know what you do out there."

Xander looked at him.  "Then you know why they need me, even though they don't think they do."  He took a bite.  "I'll manage and hide later on."

"You could stay somewhere else."

"Again, they need me."

"It sounds like they need a swift kick," Tim said bitterly.

"Been talking to Willow?"

"Yeah, she said you turned her in for doing something."

"Stole sixteen hundred from my bank account with my prom date."  He ate another bite and grinned.  "Then I took it from her and handed it back to the bank.  They were very happy when I did that."

"Good.  Did they give it back to you?"

"Yeah, I threatened to sue them for letting her do that.  They got it fixed that night and had things forwarded to me so I could use my bank account again.  It's good though.  So is this sandwich.  What type of bread is this?"

"Sourdough.  You don't have that in Sunnydale?"  Someone nearby dropped a plate and he looked at them. "Yes, he's from there.  It's still daylight," he said calmly and quietly.

"Who are you?" the man asked.

"Buffy's friend Xander."  He looked at him then ate another bite.  "The one they like to ignore."

The man nodded.  "Are you moving?"


"You should."

"They'll pout," he said flatly.

"There's bad things moving that way."

"It always seems to happen that way," Xander agreed blandly, smirking at him.  The man just nodded and left it there.  So he looked at his lunch date again. "So."

"So," he agreed with a smirk.  "Still want to go back?"

"Have to, not want to.  Right now I want to beat Willow's head in since she thinks I'm useless."

"I've been there before but then they realized I could do some amazing things with a keyboard."

"They don't know I can.  Willow thinks she got me hooked on this game and that's the only reason I learned how to use a computer.  That I'm still having problems searching things."  Tim snickered.  Xander nodded, then ate another bite and switched to his fries.  "Yeah," he said when his mouth was clear.  "Apparently I'm stupid to them and useless, plus helpless.  So I officially give up.  I'll be there to help but oh well on the other stuff."

"Good," he said, smiling at him.  "Remember, you do have friends outside that life."

"Thankfully.  Or else I'd be really insane or on someone's hunt list before I killed again."

"Probably true.  Hey, I do have something you could help with.  Are you learning that new language?"  Xander nodded slowly.  "I'm behind."

"I've only had it for a few weeks.  What's going on?"

"Someone sent me a teaching file in it."

"Ah, I got one of those from Reagan before he got busted," Xander agreed.  "It's in my things if you wanted to copy it."

"I can't break the encryption on it."

"It might be the new virus going around."

"Point.  The scanner didn't pick it up.  I've got one that should."

Xander sipped his soda.  "I can look at it if you want.  I've got my laptop in my bag."  Tim handed over the CD from his pocket and Xander took his backpack off the back of his chair, loading it into the laptop once he had it on.  "Yeah, this is Percival's new virus.  He's calling it Chastity."  He ejected it and handed it over.  The laptop got put up and he slid over another CD.  "I'm at the Rockwell motel.  Make a copy and send the original back."

"Thanks, Xander."  He slid it into his pocket.  "What happened to Reagan?"

"They had a bust on the club out there.  They figured out he was there later on and got him about a week after I left.  Willow and the Sunnydale PD told them I was gun support for the problems in town so I got passed over after one really suspicious officer kept trying to find something to get me on.  I even let him search my car."

"Good."  He smiled.  "Anything else I should know?"

"I'm trying to stay on the side of good."

"Keep staying on the side of good.  Don't do what Willow did."

"I'm trying," he promised, smirking a bit.  "But it's very hard some days."  Tim nodded and sighed, digging into his lunch.  "I don't want your boss to yell at you."

"I told him I was meeting an online buddy and he made a joke about needing elf ears."

"I have a set of those," Xander said with a wicked smirk.  "Plus a Klingon forehead."  Tim snickered at that, patting him on the arm.  "I know, how typical.  As I keep having to point out, I'm eighteen, I'm allowed."

"You definitely are," he agreed happily.  His phone beeped.  "Crap."  He answered it.  "McGee."  He listened.  "Yeah, I'm still at lunch, boss.  Where should I meet you?"  He smiled.  "I'm actually near there.  I'll be there in fifteen."  He hung up and finished his lunch.  "I'll call if I get more time off before you go.  It was good seeing you in person, Xander."

"Welcome, Tim.  Be safe."

"I try."  He finished his chips on the way out the door.

Xander finished his lunch more leisurely and left a nice tip, then took his backpack out to the nearest park to sit and think while he worked on something.  He decided to warn Willow he had heard there was a new player coming to town to be nice then went back to surfing smut in public.  It was a gentle thrill and he'd had enough big ones to like the little ones.


Xander made it to his last planned out city a week after he left DC.  There was a lot to do between there and Miami.  Of course, nearly as soon as he checked in he was in trouble.  He had been warned something bad was going to happen.  That's why he found himself in an interrogation room looking very confused.  "Hold on," he complained, holding up a hand.  "That's not my name."  The guy in there with him kept calling him by another one and it was really starting to piss him off.

"We know the Alexander Harris is a alias," the dark-haired man across from him said patiently.

"Um, no.  My parents named me this unfortunately."

"Right," he said, flipping open the folder.  "Manuel Vargas...."

Xander burst out cackling.  "Dude, I know you guys work *really* hard and you probably keep the local Starbucks alive, but do I look like someone named Vargas or Manuel to you?"  The guy glared at him.  "I'm a white boy from Souther California."  He leaned forward.  "Look really closely.  Do I look like I'm Hispanic in the least?"

The guy looked at him.  "No but some who're mixed don't."

"Okay, but the problem with that is that I'm not.  I've never been a Manuel anything or a Vargas.  Unfortunately I'm a Harris.  I have to live with the shame of being a Harris every day for the rest of my life, unless I suddenly decide to get married and take my wife's name."

The guy looked at him.  "Where are you from?"

"Sunnydale.  My ID's in my wallet, can I pull it out?"


"Want my firearm permit while I'm in there?" he asked, pulling that out as well to slide over.  "There's a nine in one of my bags for protection.  I'm on a post-grad roadtrip, dude."   He looked at them, holding them up to the light.  "Go ahead and check.  Sunnydale PD knows me pretty well.  My friends and I help them a lot in the town."


"No....  Let's just say Sunnydale's odd and our PD sucks most of the time.  That's how I know you guys must be *really* tired and living on Starbucks fumes."  He gave him a look.  "Really, go check.  Ask for Officer David specifically.  If he's still alive he knows me better than most."

"I can do that.  You're staying in here."

"That's cool.  Want my fingerprints or DNA to make sure it's me?"

"You'd give them?" he asked.  "Willingly?"

"I have nothing to hide.  I'm not the guy you want.  Though I'm going to be figuring out how this happened.  I think I have an idea," he said at the amused look.  "My best friend kinda does a bit of messing around in some computer systems."  Which meant the right of retribution was his now.  He'd have to come up with something *special* for Willow.

"A hacker?" he asked blandly.

"Oh yeah and I'm so going to kill the bitch if it was her."

"That's fine.  Let me check this first.  If I need to I'll come get prints and things."

"Sure.  Can I have some water or a soda?  I've been on the road all day."

"I can do that I think."  He went to call out there and get the kid a drink.  There was something off about this situation.  "Hey, can I speak to an Officer David.  This is Tim Speedle, Miami-Dade Crime Lab.  We have the name Alexander Harris as an alias for one of our criminals down here."   The fact that the cop on the other end laughed and said 'Xander?' like it was the world's biggest joke confirmed the funny feeling. "Please."  He got transferred over.  "Hey....  Yeah, you heard right.  A Manuel Vargas.  He's into guns, drugs, and murder."  He waited.  Then he made a note.  "I can do that.  They're in the system for what reason?"   He smirked.  "No, what he said was that he and his friends helped you guys now and then.  I need to know if I'm doing an employee search or not."  He nodded, making a note of that as well.  "Thank you."  He hung up and brought the kid a soda.  "Need your fingerprints."  He put down a computer and Xander looked then laid his right hand on it.  "Thank you.  What's wrong with your town?"

"A hellmouth."

"A what?"

"Long story.  Very long story.  Did you guys find my laptop when you went through my car?  I think I need it for a few.  If she did that it might've led back to when she hacked into my bank account."

"Did you turn her in?"

"Yeah, the bank did."

"I'll see what we've found.  What type of gun did you have?"

"Smith and Wesson nine.  Seven shooter.  Full clip.  Hasn't been fired or cleaned this whole trip.  Should be in the blue bag."

"I'll tell them that."  He went to do that, going to run the prints as well.  "Hey, did we find his gun?"  The female member of the lab nodded.  "Did you run a registration?"

"Yeah, it came up with the same fake name."

"Problem is, it's not a fake name," Speed said, pulling up the fingerprint report for her.  She frowned at it.  "Somehow he got the kid's identity and the kid knows a hacker.  Did we find his laptop?  He wanted to check his bank accounts.  Apparently she got into them earlier this summer."

"Yeah, we did."  She carried the things in there, watching him do a quick search and then pull out his laptop and plug it in, then into his phone. "You can plug in through us if you need to," she offered.

"No thanks.  Don't trust you guys."

"I'm with the department."

Xander looked at her.  "So?"  He shrugged.  "The women in my life fuck me over, why would I trust you not to do the same when I've got a lot of experience saying that you will?"  He got back to work, finding his account.  "I'll be damned," he said dryly, plugging in his mobile printer.  It hummed and a page came rolling out on the fax paper roll he had installed to save space.  Then he got into another account, finding what he needed.  He printed that as well and shut everything down, handing it to her.  "That's who sold my identity.  Can I have it back now or should I file for a new one?"

"Let me check."  She walked that off.  "Speed?"  He looked out so she handed him the papers.  "He found that.  I don't know from where.  Apparently he doesn't have good experiences with girls.  What did you find?"

"I'm looking up his town. There's something seriously wrong with this picture."  He let her see.  "He mentioned this word," he said, highlighting one.

"Eric deals with more strange stuff than I do."

"Eric?" he called.  He leaned in a minute later.  "Come look at this."  He walked over then muttered and walked off.  "What's going on with that town?"

"Just what it says."  He walked into the interrogation room, looking at the young man.  "Which one are you?"

"According to them I'm some scummy guy who bought my identity from my best friend," he said dryly.

"And that is?"

"Alexander Harris."


"Basically.  So, can I get my own life back or is this going to be a problem with everything I do?"

"No, this is going to be a problem for a little while.  Hopefully we can straighten it out.  If not, maybe they can give you a new social security number or something.  You okay?"

"I'm surprisingly good but I still need my gun back and my silver dagger."

"I'll let 'em know to give 'em back when we release you."  He went to do that.  "Guys, don't forget to give him his weapons back before he goes."  He walked off shaking his head.

"He's very confident."

"There's a reason for that."  Speed pulled up Vargas' file.  "Doesn't look a thing like him."

"No, it doesn't.  I don't know what we're doing about this."  She called Horatio.  "We found the original owner of Manuel Vargas' new identity.  We caught him by accident.  In interrogation.  He's been helpful to Speed.  We've got fingerprints, called out to his hometown of Sunnydale...."  She looked at her phone.  "He hung up on me."

"Huh.  That's not his usual thing," Speed admitted, looking over as Horatio walked in.  "We have him, he is somehow showing up in the system as this guy," he said, going to the other screen.  "We have no idea how to stop that."

"You can and I'll help," he said, getting into the system to make a note in Xander's file and then in Vargas' that he stole that identity.  "Any idea how?"

"His friend's a hacker," Speed said, frowning a bit.  "I asked Eric to look at the information on his town.  He walked off swearing."

"I will be in a moment," Horatio admitted.  "Yes, that's the truth.  There are places where odd things happen."  He looked at them, pausing in his typing.  "Everything you read on that town is probably true.  What is he doing down here?"

"Post-graduation road trip," Speed said.  "How can it be true?"

"It just is."  He finished his note making and closed both files.  "Let him go."

"I'll get his weapons to hand back to him and make sure his car's out front," Calleigh promised, going to do that.

"I'll go let him know.  Does he need a new social security number?"

"The note I made will go to all agencies about that theft.  Find out how it was taken."  He walked off, going to take a tylenol for his new headache.

Speed walked back into the interrogation room.  "Good news, you were right."  Xander gave him a 'duh' look.  He closed the door and sat down.  "Which hacker are you?"

Xander looked at him for a moment.  He could appreciate this one.  A lot really.   He was smarter than Willow and didn't look past him.  "No comment."

"I'm not going to tell, kid.  I just need to know who to blame this on."

"Her name is Rosenburg."

"Okay."  He made note of that.  "Good friend of yours?"

"Since the first day of school," he said quietly, staring him down.  He leaned forward again.  "I'm not the bad guy here."

"You're not," he agreed.  He turned off the tape recorder and looked at him again.  "Just between us.  I know a few people who know that life.  I can have them pass back that you're in trouble."

"She doesn't know I'm me.  She thinks I only play games.  I learned by watching her."

"So you don't have a sig?"

He shrugged.  "I don't think it's pertinent.  I'm one of the good guys, I don't hack for shits and giggles.  I hack for good reasons."

"That's fine.  Did they take more out of your accounts?"

"No, I had them locked.  I need a passcode to get into them."

"Good thinking, Xander."  He looked at him.  "You are one.  I can tell.  You got into her accounts too easily, even for a best friend."

"I know her password.  It's not like she changes it that often.  Sorta like how she uses her own name."

"Uh-huh.  How good are you?"

Xander grinned.  "No comment.  I'm a foot soldier not a general in this battle, detective."

"Fine.  Even just between us?  That way I can let them let some others who do know you know you're okay and maybe they can help fix it?"

"I know one who's a Fed.  I'll tell him tonight."

"Sure, that'll work.  Is he FBI?"



"Marine and Navy cops."

"Interesting."  He shrugged.  "C'mon. I know you want to brag."

Xander snorted and shook his head.  "Not hardly.  It's not a sensation I've ever gotten used to or that I feel comfortable with."  He stood up when he saw the look of pity for his low self esteem.  "Am I free to go and will you please make sure I can get into a motel for the next few nights?  I'm still looking forward to seeing the sights and maybe going out to have some fun."

"I can do that.  I can even escort you back to the other place."  Xander shrugged, grabbing his bags.  "Why are you going to go back there if they don't appreciate you?"

"Want and need.  They don't want me but they need me."

"Still sucks for you."

"Yeah, well, duty and all that," he said dryly.  "Not like they pay attention to me.  Haven't for years."  He looked around, grabbing his soda.  "Thanks for the drink too."

"Not an issue."  He walked him out, grabbing the weapons from Calleigh.  "I'm going to head with him, explain it to the motel people."  She nodded.  "I'm sure she took good care of it for you, Xander."

He shrugged and put it into his bag.  Then the clip.  "I'm sure she did.  She's a professional."  He walked outside, smiling at the man scowling out there.  "How can you be so upset when there's hotties in bikinis bouncing for men to ogle?"

"They don't like it when guys my age do that, kid."

"That's why a smart man invented sunglasses."  He took his keys back and put everything into his car, checking the trunk as well.  "Thanks for not tearing things up."

"Welcome."  He watched the kid get in and got into his own hummer, heading back with him while he thought.  There was something definitely wrong with this picture.  He knew the kid was a hacker.  He knew that someone was going to get the proverbial foot up the ass treatment.  He hoped he got to see some of it and maybe it would help them catch the real guy.  He walked the kid into the motel's office, smiling at the woman behind the counter.  "Wrong guy.  Someone stole his identity."

"That's fine.  It's good it was a mistake."

"Very good," Xander agreed.  "So, efficiencies?  I'm here for probably a week."

"I do have one," she agreed, taking his debit card for it.  It went through once he pushed in his pin number, then she gave him the key.  "Top floor, all the way on the end, young man."

"Thank you."  He took his card back, smiling at Speed.  "You can help me heft and tote if you want."

"Sure."  He went to do that, watching how he settled in.  "No one here can hear us, Xander," he said quietly.

Xander looked at him.  "Why do you want to know?"

"Well, for one so I can keep track of you through those same friends.  Make sure you're really not one of the annoying ones."

"I go by Jeeves."

"I thought he was an older guy."

"Giles, the group's mentor, hates computers but I made it look like him.  Guys my age get a bad rap."

"Interesting.  Wouldn't he mind?"

"He thinks computers are the spawn of demons sent to distract us from reality and the good fight."  He smirked just a tiny bit.  "I'm still not one of the annoying ones.  Though I will be cursing Willow tonight."

"Sure, you do that.  Check in with me before you go or have someone call if you have more problems."  He handed over one of his cards.  "Got it?"

"Got it."  Speed smiled and left so Xander got to work looking someone up online.  He found where he was hiding and pulled up the spell he had in mind, dialing his cellphone.  "Ethan Rayne please?"  He smiled.  "Ethan, Xander Harris, from Sunnydale.  Yes, one of Giles' kids.  Of course I found you.  I looked online, Ethan.  No, I'm calling because I need someone to curse Rosenburg to eternal truthfulness.  Like if Buffy asks if her butt looks bit in something she has to answer truthfully.  Cannot tell a lie, cannot do things to hurt others.  That sort.  I did find it in one of the ancient books.  What's in it for you?  Well, next time you want at Giles, I'm going to step out of the way.  Yes, that is worth it. Hmm.  Let's see.  I'm not back in town right now so I definitely can't get in the way.  Won't be for almost a month probably."  He rolled his eyes, getting comfortable on the bed.  "Ethan, dear, why would I care what you want to do to him?  He treats me like I'm invisible.  Really?  Who do you think planned the defense at grad?  Yup, was me.  I led it too.  I'm her backup and she's a scatterbrained twit who's starting college this year.

"That leaves Rosenburg and me in your way.  Since she sold my identity to a drug and gun dealer, meaning I just got arrested in Miami and nearly thrown in jail for felonies in a death penalty state.....  Yup.  That's what I want.  That one."  He sighed.  "Because she doesn't think I can do it on my own and it would create pretty hell.  Her not being able to lie?  Think about all the problems that could cause, which you could reap energy from.  It could be a constant source of amusement.  Yes, I can, I don't want to out myself as being able to, Ethan.  Fine, where do I go in Miami for real supplies?"  The phone was hung up.  "Bastard."  He looked at the Wiccan webpage, finding the usual sources. "Probably not what I need," he muttered as he searched.  "It'll be a place to start anyway."  He went to do that, finding it after a few wrong turns.  Mapquest was not a great map to him.  At least not for short distances.  He walked into the store and smiled at the goth looking girl behind the counter.  "I need stuff for a spell."

"You don't look like a warlock," she teased.

"Do I look like an oathbreaker?" he said, staring her down.  She went paler.  "I'm a sorcerer.  A warlock is not what you think it is."  He moved closer.  "And yes, before you ask, I'm from a power point."

"Wow.  Which state's?"

He looked at her. "Sunnydale."  She looked clueless.  "If you don't know this isn't where I need to be."

"We do have a lot of working equipment, even if I'm not familiar with your coven, sir."  He sighed so she followed him into the shelves.  "What do you need?"  He handed over the list from the online spellbook.  "Where did you find this?  It's like that movie."

"It is and it's from one of the more ancient tomes."  He looked at her.  "Sometimes looking in the dusty books is for the best. You can find some really neat stuff in there."  He found something and walked it over to something he needed, putting it next to the small bottle. "This isn't what you think it is or the charm would be vibrating."  He handed off the charm and looked at something else.  "This is much too dry."

"It's supposed to be dried," she huffed, handing back the list.

"Yes, but it's not supposed to be so dry it falls apart like dead leaves."  He let her see.  "You can't chop it when it's that dry."

"Okay, that is a bit too dry," she admitted.

He made her look at him.  "Where's a good store where I can find the stuff I need for this spell?" he asked quietly.  "One for the people who can truly get it to work?"

"Down in Calla Ocho," she said, swallowing.  "We're not welcome down there."

"They won't mind me."

"They're dark."

"And I'm a white lighter.  They still won't bother me."  He smiled and patted her on the head.  "Look at the Foreman's guide.  It's one of the ancient ones that deals with folk magic."  He walked off, going down there.  He finally found it with a few careful turns of his car.  He walked in and inhaled, then coughed.  "Oh, this smells like home."  Everyone in there stared at him.  "I'm Xander, from Sunnydale."  He grinned sweetly.  "I'm going to curse Rosenburg for stealing things from me.  Got any powdered unicorn horn in a solution of oil?"  He walked down the few stairs, heading for the equipment aisle.  He did need a small brassier to heat it on.  Plus a few candles.

The salesgirl came over carefully.  "We don't usually see your sort, usually we see Brujas."

Xander grinned at her.  "I don't usually have to use it.  I let Willow screw things up but this time she screwed with me."

"Your kind believe in payback?  I thought you let the Goddess do it for you."

He kissed her on the cheek.  "I'm not.  I'm making it so she can't hurt others.  That way the Goddess has time to work."  He let her see his ingredient list.  "I found it online in one of the spellbook sites.  I know it works.  I've used it on someone in the past."

"We have everything on this but the gall.  You could have it mailed."

"I don't really want to send to New York for that.  It'll break in the mail and eat things or people."  He grimaced, finding what he needed.  "I can substitute this, right?"  She nodded cautiously.  "Thanks."  He took his list back and gathered everything, heading to the counter.  "Okay, I need these."

"You're missing a few things," the salesgirl offered, holding up a candle.  "You'll need red."

"I don't.  Blood magic on the hellmouth works differently thanks to the taint.  I'm born and bred there.  Just on vacation here."  She shuddered but came over to ring him up.  He smiled and stroked the cheek he had kissed. "It's all right.  I'm on vacation and she sold my identity to a drug dealer."  She shuddered, a full body, horrified shudder.  "She's never going to be able to lie again, even if Buffy asks if her ass looks big in something."  He took the slip.  "Thank you."  He grabbed the bag and walked out, whistling happily.


Willow answered her phone.  "Willow," she said sullenly.  "Xander."  She perked up some.  "How are you doing?"  She blinked.  "I know I did that.  Why are you still complaining?"  She snorted and rolled her eyes.  "He's not that bad....  Drug dealer?" she said, looking a bit sick.  "Six murders?  In a death penalty state?  No, I don't think you'll make a good prisoner.  I'm sorry, okay?  Want cookies?"  She sniffled.  "You don't have to be mean, Xander!"  Buffy walked in.  "It's Xander.  He's being mean."  She sighed and put him on speaker, rubbing her ear.

"Gee, Willow, I don't know why I'd be *mean*.  It's not like you sold my identity to someone who's wanted for six murders, one of them a police officer so that's an automatic death penalty offense.  Do you think that I'm going to make a good prisoner on death row?  Because you know, I'm not really like that or a rapper."

Buffy sat down.  "It can't be that bad."

"The police picked me up to arrest me, Buffy!  The only thing that's keeping me out of jail right now is that I don't look like a Manuel!" he shouted.  "She's damn lucky I'm not in her face right now!  There is *nothing* she can do to make this up to me."

She pouted.  "Are you going to tell whatever hacker you know?"  Buffy frowned at her.  "Every time he's mad at me someone attacks my computers or online gaming personas."

"No, Willow, I don't have to have you attacked.  After all, Elf Lord Vargas is a Fed.  They kindly put into my ID profile that this happened and who did it.  I think I'm the least of your worries."  He hung up.

Willow flopped down onto her bed.  "I'm sorry."

"Willow, you spent most of the summer saying that.  Are you maybe catching Xander's issues and getting a bit possessed?"  Willow shook her head, pouting.  "Fine.  Figure out what's going on.  He'll forgive you eventually.  He's like that.  After all, this is Xander we're talking about."

"If one of the Feds come I can go to jail," she said with a pout.

"You have plenty of ways to buy your way out of it, Willow.  I'm sure you've found all sorts of stuff you can bargain with, like how you got in touch with that Manuel guy."

"Yeah, maybe," she agreed.  "I'm more worried that he's going to have whatever hacker he knows attack me and Oz."

"Then warn Oz."

"I should."  She found the phone by feel and dialed her boyfriend.  "We're going to have another hacker attack from Xander's friend.  Because I kinda needed book money for that new book for us so I kinda sold his identity."  He hung up on her.  "Oz?"  She looked at the phone then pouted.  "He hung up on me."

"You're going to be lucky if he doesn't spank," Buffy reminded her.

"Yeah, I guess."

Buffy put on a shirt.  "Does this make me look flat chested?"  Willow opened her mouth, whimpering but nodding after a moment.  She stared at her.  "Hmm.  Did you mess up magic that makes you tell the truth?"

Willow whimpered, putting a hand over her head.  "I need to see Giles."

"Put on clothes, I'll walk you over so you can tell him you almost made Xander become a rapper to survive."  Willow got up and lethargically got her shoes and jacket, following her out the door.


Xander made it back into town, going to find a place to live.  He nodded at his mother, who cooed and petted his cheek.  "Oh, no.  I'm not moving back in.  You steal shit from me."  He walked around her, going into the motel.  "I'm not moving back in with her."  He put down his debit card, giving the skeptical woman a grin.  "I visited Las Vegas too."

"Congrats.  Lose big?"

"No.  Not this time."  She snorted but rang him up for a month.  "Thanks."  He walked out to his car, finding his mother trying to get into it.  "Get away from my stuff.  I'm an adult now, you can't steal from me without me putting you in jail, again."  She glared at him and he glared back.  "Go away, Mother.  Now.  Before I file a restraining order."  He saw an officer and pointed.  "Please?"

"Mrs. Harris," the officer said, coming over to move her out of the way.  "He's right."

"He's my son!  What's his is mine!"

"I earned everything in my trunk on my own, Mom.  You didn't buy anything but a few ugly shirts."  He gave her a look.  "Now shoo before I have to get *really* mean."  She stomped off.  He looked at the officer.  "Thanks for helping with the Willow-given problem."

"Not an issue.  Though the Fed who got eaten's boss probably isn't that happy."

"Yay me.  Next time they can arrest her and drag her out of the town."  The officer nodded and smirked.  "What?"

"Computers, Xander?"

Xander shrugged.  "She got me hooked on this online game, Officer Paul."

"War game?"


He walked off laughing.  "Settle in and behave, Xander.  The ladies are at the college.  Mr. Giles has the Magic Box."

"Thanks."  He hefted things up to his room, coming back to make sure he had everything. Then he locked his car and went back up to check his email and get a few hours on his favorite game.  He heard a knock and got up, looking at the officer there.  "Did that screw up thing that Willow created cause a problem?"

"No.  That's been fixed for the most part."  He walked inside.  "She told the Fed that you had a hacker attack her?"

"I play online with a few in some role playing games."

"That's reasonable.  You do know she's very hurt?"

"She sold my identity to a drug runner and murder.  One who killed a cop."  The officer winced.  "Yeah.  And I was in Miami at the time," he said quietly.  "They didn't even ask to see my ID.  They assumed I was Manuel Vargas.  I had to prove I wasn't.  They're damn lucky I didn't kill her yet."

"Are you going to forgive her?  You know how life can be short around here."

"Not like she wanted to be friends anymore.  She made that *very* clear before graduation."

"Then why come back, Xander?"

Xander snorted.  "I don't know anymore.  Beyond duty?"

"That's reasonable," he decided.  "Are you gaming now?  Your screen's blinking."

Xander looked and typed something in, smiling at the person he was playing with.  "Yeah.  That's the Fed who games in this one."  He grinned at him.  "Thanks for caring, Officer Paul.  Can you keep my mother away from my shit?"

"I can try.  I'd move out of here soon and find somewhere with good locks."

"I'm planning on it.  Anything else I should know?"

"Yeah, your prom date is back in town."

"I don't need sex that bad.  Las Vegas had some pretty working girls."  The officer walked off laughing.  "It did.  Thanks for warning me."  The officer nodded, letting him close the door and lock it behind him.  He went back to the computer, telling the guys online about that.  It was a good round and he even got some filly mating in.


A few weeks later Tim McGee opened his email, frowning at something.  "ELV, is this your area or someone else's?  Please see the enclosed video because otherwise I'm going to have to stomp them and that will make people mad," he muttered as he read.  He opened the video and frowned.

"New game?" Tony asked from his desk.

"No.  Remember the kid I had you wait on while I helped Abby?"

"Yeah, Xander.  Nice kid, but kinda low in self esteem.  Why?"  He came over to look.  "What is that?"

"I'm not sure."  He reran it.  "Xander found them in his town.  He mentioned them the other day online.  Apparently they're pissing him off."  He turned green in the last minute, having to turn away.

"BOSS!" Tony yelled.  He came jogging down the stairs.  "Come see this.  An online friend of McGee's found this in his town."   They got out the way.  "That looks like Army."

Gibbs ran it, frowning at it.  "Tell me this is one of his.... never mind.  That's not a game.  Games don't bleed that way when you cut an artery."

"No, things like that happen in his town," McGee said, finding his phone book. He called Xander.  "It's me.  We're looking at it."  He held his head.  "Can you wait?  No, I don't think it's good for you to wait that long, not with them taking a friend.  Boss?"

"That's partially Army, partially Marines."  He took the phone.  "What are they doing, kid?"  He listened, then nodded.  "Can you wait two days for help?"  His face tightened and he inhaled.  "No, I couldn't leave a friend with them either.  What else do you have?  Send it to him and I can get it to the right ears, kid.  What's your name?"  He smiled at the hang up.  "Who is he?"

"One of that town's protectors," McGee said quietly.  "I know someone who hacks in the Pentagon."

"Send it to them.  Let me have a copy of that."  Tim moved and copied it for him, letting him walk back up the stairs.  "Director, have a situation out of our area," he said quietly.  That got a nod so he led him over to a computer station. "Run this."  The tech ran it for them, letting him see.  "He said it's name is the Initiative.  He's sending more information over right now.  He's one of McGee's friends, sir.  What do you want us to do about it?  He said they've got a friend."

He looked at him.  "Give me an hour, Jethro.  Let me check into this."

"He's sending more information over now."

"Good.  We might need it."  He went to his office to make some calls and take something for his stomach.  Starting with his boss.  "Give me the Secretary of the Navy," he ordered as he walked past his secretary.  She nodded, dialing it for him while he found her stash of antacids.  Then he went into his office, shutting the doors.


Xander looked at the men who had captured him later that night.  "You must feel very manly behind that gun," he said dryly, smirking at them.  "Trust me, your little world domination problem is already known about."

"We stopped the data transfer, Mr. Harris," the general in front of him said.

"Really?  Because you know the guy I sent it to is an official government hacker."

"We don't employ people like that," he said smugly.

"You might not, but the FBI does."  The man laughed.  "You'll see."   The soldiers zapped him and he managed to not scream this time.  "All good things will come back on you," he panted, calming himself down.  "Like all the bad you're doing is coming.  Soon.  I'd party it up now."

"We can have you removed to a secret prison. Your friends will never find you."

"Again, you'd be surprised and what makes you think you'll keep me?"  He smiled. "I'm not the average stupid guy."

"That's not what your friends say," one snickered.

Xander looked at him.  "Yeah, well, if I listened to them it'd be different.  Since I don't and they don't know me very well.....  You draw the pretty picture."  He looked at the general again.  "You really should start shredding things now.  It'll make the later hunt more fun."

He leaned down.  "No one is coming for you or for the hostile," he sneered in his face.

Xander bit him, making him scream.  "Again, you'd be surprised.  By the way, tic tac?  You really should think about it."  The general stormed off, letting his guys have him.  At the end Xander was in pain but handling it well he thought.  He smiled when he heard the invasion alarm.  "Huh.  Visitors.  I wonder who that could be."

"They still won't save you," one soldier told him, pointing his gun at him.  "You have no worth to us."

Xander looked at him, then muttered a quiet spell to unlock his cuffs.  "Really?"  He grabbed a chain and hit him since he wasn't paying attention.  "We'll see."  He hit another one with the same chain the stole the guns and shot them both in the calf.  "I feel better now," he said with an evil smirk.  "Remember, I'm not Buffy.  I don't have to be nice.  I was never taught nice except by Willow."  He checked the hall, then snuck out, going to where they had his laptop.  He found it and his other things, shooting the people in their in the arms or legs, then he gathered things up.  "Thanks for this, guys.  Oooh, pretty."  He got a few other things and ejected all the tapes going on, packing them too.

Xander casually stuffed the extra guns in his backpack too, walking out with one in his hand.  He smiled at the guys demanding them to desist.  "Yes, they should."  Gibbs stared at him.  He waved the gun.  "There's some injured."  He turned and punched the one coming up behind him.  "Where is Oz?"  The man spluttered so he pointed the gun at his groin.  "I can and will, dude.  Not like I want you to breed more like you."  The man backed up so he fired between his feet.  "NOW!"   He stuttered something.  "Thank you.  Be right back."  He went to free Oz, shooting a few more scientists on the way.  He got the one holding Oz in the neck but oh well.  "They've got base medics I'm sure," he soothed, letting Oz go.  "C'mon.  We've got an escort out."  Oz nodded, leaning on him all the way out.  He paused at McGee, then handed over the tapes.  "Yours.  Thank you."

"Welcome.  Go somewhere we can depose you."

"Can't I blow them up?"

"That would be cruel to those they're holding hostage."

"I can release them if you want."

"No, that might be worse.  Go.  Now, guys."  Xander nodded, saluting him Klingon fashion, making him smile.  He watched them disappear into the elevator shaft.  He carried the tapes inside, handing them to Kate.  "Here, he found them taping things."

Gibbs looked at him.  "He done?"

"Yeah.  There might be more injured people as well."

"Oh well."  He clicked on his microphone.  "Lieutenant, I want that team in here now.  We do have injured thanks to an escaping set of people who were being tortured.  Hold this base.  We're in Op on the overlook."  He clicked off.

"Rodger, Gibbs.  ETA two minutes."  The power went off and the general started to swear.

"Um, boss, electronic locks?"

"They lock down automatically when the power shuts off, McGee."

"Okay, if you say so."  He heard a bellow.  "I'm not sure we're right, boss."

"Hold, Lieutenant.  We have hostages running around eating people," he called.

"Yes, sir, holding position.  Ummmmmm, is that a dog?"

"Probably not, Lieutenant."

"Damn.  Okay.  Injured beast, boys, drive it off!" he yelled, then the radio clicked off again.

Gibbs looked outside as a small blonde girl and the boy from earlier stomped up the hall with a set of flashlights.  "What are they doing?" he demanded.

"That's what they do around here for fun, Gibbs," Tony said quietly.  "I did a check on him.  They've been together now for about three years."  Xander looked up and gave the hand code for 'stay'.  "Huh.  He knows assault code."

"Yeah, there's a reason for that," McGee admitted.  He winced as the blonde girl took on something and it died.  "Wow.  That's got to be Buffy."  They all stared at him.  "It's her job, Gibbs.  He's her backup."  Another being got freed and helped them.  Then the boy did something wise and opened an exit with some explosives.  Most of the demons ran out.  Buffy turned and started to yell at him but he yelled back that he was not going to risk the good guys trying to solve things by getting them killed.  Then he stomped off again.  McGee came out.  "Xander."  He came up there, holding his ribs.  "You okay?"

"Bruised."  He saluted Gibbs.  "Sir.  He's said a lot of things about you, mostly good."

"Good to know.  Who are you?"


"His friend," he said with a smirk.

"Exactly."  Buffy stormed in.  "What?" he asked, looking at her.  "This is one of the guys I play online with, Buffy.  This is their job."  He looked at Gibbs.  "Everything but the super heavy section is clear.  You've got some too injured to move and that section."  He looked at the map.  "This one probably.  It's listed as orange."

Gibbs looked then called the Lieutenant back.  "Move, Lieutenant.  Expect to have some cells housing very injured beings and one security section it looks like from up here."

"Yes, sir, Agent Gibbs.  Coming in now.  Restoring power as well."  Power came back on and they rushed in.  He looked up.  "Sir, the hole in the wall?"

Xander leaned out.  "I let most of the bad things out so you wouldn't get eaten.  By the way I had to shoot some people to get out.  Down the hall and to the right there's one with a nick on their neck.  The rest are arms and leg injuries because I was feeling merciful."

"Gotcha, sir.  You are?"

"Harris.  One of the natives who got caught."

"Need a medic?"

"Bruised ribs, fat lip, a few other bruises.  I'm fine.  Check Spike, the blond guy panting.  He can't bite."  He walked back into the Ops center.  "Okay, now what?" he asked Gibbs.

"You didn't have to do this, Xander," Buffy complained.

He glared at her.  "They had a friend.  It's not like I was going to wait, Buffy.  I don't abandon my friends to be tortured."

"Really?" she said, glaring at him.  "Why do you stay around?  We don't want you."

"Fine, then you fix your own shit from now on," he sneered back.  "Have fun with that.  I know Giles can't fix a crossbow to save his own life.  Or the swords.  Or make new bolts.  You might be able to get new, but have fun with that."  She huffed off and he waved at her back.  "Have fun, dear."  He looked at Gibbs again.  "I'm out and have things stored somewhere safe but I'd rather head home to my ice packs."  He wrote down his address. "I'm there if you need more from me.  Just let me take some tylenol and a beer first please."  That got a nod.  "Thank you for saving me and Oz."  He walked off, heading home.  With a quick stop at Tara's dormroom.  Where he got to take his computer back from Willow.

"Thank you for screwing more things up.  Tara, I love you, you're welcome at my house whenever you want.  The two heathen bitches aren't.  Bring the kitty over."  He kissed her on the cheek and took back the other things he had found, including the extra gun she had put behind her out of the way.  "Thank you.  Not like you can use it."  He walked out, hiking to his house, holding his ribs.  A vampire ran up on him and he flicked the automatic switch, shooting at their neck until they dusted.  "Huh.  I knew it'd work."  The cop in the park gave him a horrified look.  "They had a friend," he said simply.  He went home, going to find a beer and some drugs.  They were taken before he checked the guns.  "Pretty," he said, putting them aside.  After he was successfully dulled he went to pack, coming back with everything else.  By the time he had everything packed and by the door, someone was knocking on his door.  "Open, Gibbs."  The door opened and he found Tony there.  "Hey.  He send you?"

"Yeah.  I need to confiscate the weapons, kid."  Xander pointed at the gear bag.  "Anything I shouldn't know about?"

"Probably.  Then again I've got the artillery settled in another spot."  Tony gave him a horrified look.  "Sometimes it's handy."

"I see."  He got the guns out, looking at them.  "Taser?"

"Yeah.  They'd taser you and then drag you in once they had you out.  It hurts like a bitch too."

"I'm sorry.  Want a ride to the ER?"

"Around here?" he snorted.  "Not a chance I want to die tonight.  I'm planning on hiding in plain sight."

Tony called.  "McGee, he's going to hide out of town."  He smiled.  "Kid, he said you're going to DC for a while to answer questions with the Pentagon.  They've got Buffy too."

"I'm sorry someone has to deal with her.  Tell her mother and Giles."

"Where can we find them?"  Xander handed over his cellphone so he read those off.  "Call them to let them know.  The first is listed as her mother, the second as someone named Giles."

"The group's mentor."

"The head of the group, Probie.  Yeah, I'm with him.  That'll work.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "You can come back with us."

"Sure.  If you're sure?"

"Gibbs said so.  He doesn't say things like that without being sure."

"I can do that."  He looked around then sighed.  "I should probably turn the artillery over to Giles but he'd never know how to use it."  He took his phone back, calling a number.  "Cordy, Xander.  I'm leaving Sunnydale for good.  Because we just stopped the military butting into our hunting by torturing things.  Like Spike, Cordy.  They're who got him.  Yup.  Nope, being escorted out of town so we can answer questions and I'm not coming back.  Didn't hear how Willow sold my identity and I nearly ended up on death row because of her?" he asked sarcastically.  "Yeah, it's all there.  Well, I do want some of it.  It's got some personal stuff still.  Give me a day then it's yours.  Yeah, I'll mail the key to you or give it to Giles.  Angel and he can fight over it.  By the way, Buffy's being dragged to DC with me for a few days.  Thanks, Cordy.  Talk to you soon."  He nodded and Tony followed, letting him lock his door.  He paused at his landlord's door.  "The black ops guys running around are gone," he said quietly.  "I'm going to have to go answer questions as to how.  I'm moving in about three days.  I'll leave the furniture."

"I'll see if you get back your deposit tonight, Harris."

"Thanks.  I'm going to tell the people with my gear to ship it."  That got a nod so they walked off.  "Sorry," he told Tony.

"Not an issue."  He watched Xander stake something and shuddered.  "You look very casual doing that."

"Three and a half years doing that nearly nightly," he said quietly.  "I'm more than ready to move on."  He got them into the storage area.  "Harv!  It's me.  I'm cleaning out and Cordelia can have it in a few days!" he called.  "I'm leaving stuff for her."

"Sure, Xander," a happy, high voice said from the office.  "I took one of the swords, man.  It's giggle worthy."

Xander ducked in to check.  "You can have that one.  Remember, necks cure most ills, man.  Happy highs."   He shook his hand and went to get into his storage area.  Tony gaped in horror when he opened it.  Xander looked at him.  "What?"

"How?" he squeaked.

Xander grinned.  "Wanna try that in a lower register?" he teased.

Tony moved him and took a picture with his phone, sending it to his boss.  "We'll have to confiscate some of this."

"Yeah but not all of it.  Not like you guys have a good use for battle axes."  He moved to his stored stuff, finding the boxes he wanted.  "Harv, can you call your brother!" he yelled.

"On his way with his truck, Xander."

"Thanks."  A truck pulled up and he waved, smiling.  "I'm leaving.  Going to DC."

"That's fine, kid.  I'll give it a few days before I ship stuff for you."  He helped him heft stuff out to his truck, looking at the stunned, staring other guy.  "Who's he?"

"One of the agents who came to stop the commando problem we had."

"Interesting.  Why you're going to DC?"

"They just saved my ass," Xander agreed.

"Good of them.  Buffy?"

"Heading for a few days."  He went back inside, going to separate out his favorite sword, battle axe, crossbow, and a few of the other guns.  Unloaded for now.  Tony took one to look at, then let him pack it.  "I know better than to pack loaded ones, Agent DiNozzo."

"Tony, Xander."

"Tony."  He grinned and saw Tony blink at him.  "You can help.  It's mostly ugly clothes."  He nodded, going to get that stuff.  He looked at the artillery but the box he went toward Tony pulled him away from.  "It'd be a nice present."

"I don't care if it is."  Xander opened the door and he gaped.  "We'll want to know how you got that. That's experimental."

"Of course it is.  It's got a nice range too but a bit heavy for field use at the moment."  He closed it and turned to find Gibbs there.  "Hi.  The swords have to stay for my ex."

"The modern military doesn't really play with swords."

"Pity.  You look very manly when you use one."  The guy helping him move laughed and so did Tony.  "You do."  He shrugged and got into his gun cabinet.  "Think I could sneak the rest or should I leave it for Cordy?  Yes, they're all legal before you ask."  He pulled down another one and unloaded it, packing it too.  Then one went into his back waistband.  "There."  He closed it and locked it again then turned to find Gibbs behind him.  "I'm their gear guy, Gibbs.  Giles won't use the artillery.  He and Angel can fight over the more arcane and magic books."

"You sure you want to leave them?" Gibbs asked.

"No but it might be necessary."

"Take them.  They can write," Tony suggested.

"Why would they?  They don't know I have them.  They don't like to pay attention to me, I'm useless to them."

"Useless guys can't amass fifty pieces of underworld artillery," Tony pointed out.

"True."  He grinned.  "You guys can have that stuff."

"Oh, we will be," Gibbs agreed, going to check them over.  "Is this what it says it is?"

"Was.  Had to use that one," Xander told him.  He opened the case.  "See?  That's a demon egg.  Won't hatch for months and then it's the basis for dragon rumors and legends."   He handed that to Tony.  "Here, hold my pet please."  He looked then pointed. "I think we used that one too.  The explosives are in the rocket launcher case.  We had a bit of a moisture problem so I had to repack it."  He got a moan from Gibbs and watched him go look.  He looked at Harv's brother.  "Thanks, man."  He nodded, heading off.  "I'll call in about three days."

"Sure, Xander.  Have fun in DC."

"I liked it when I visited," he said with a cheeky grin.  He saw a vampire lurking and pulled a crossbow out of the back of the truck, shooting him.  "I hate them.  There's no vampires in DC, right, Tony?"

Tony shook himself free.  "Only the politicians."  Gibbs gave him a look.  "What!  They are!"

"They're safe as long as they don't attack me," Xander said dryly.  They got things repacked into tighter bundles and the guy with the truck.  Xander walked Tony off, taking him back to his place.  The landlord was looking in his bags.  "Needed something?"  He held out a hand.  "Give it back."  The money and laptops were handed back. "Anything else?  And I will warn you I'm not going to do anything but that banishing potion in the fridge.  It'll hurt like hell before you're sent back to your own realm."  The demon shuddered and went to get the other things he had taken, handing it back even if it didn't belong to Xander.  "Thank you.  Do I get my deposit back?"  He wrote out a check.  "Thanks, man.  We're probably leaving in the morning.  I let his boss into my artillery collection since I won't need it anymore."

"Sure, Mr. Harris."  He went to hide in his apartment.

Tony carefully handed over the egg.  "When will it hatch?"

"When I undo the spell holding it like this."  He grinned and carefully packed it as well.  "There we go, Baby Fred."  He put the gun and crossbow in there too.  "There, that should work.  Too many bags?"

"No," he said, sitting down.  He called Gibbs.  "We're back at Harris' apartment, boss.  No, he's ready to go.  Need me?"  He nodded.  "That's fine.  Are we taking military transport back?  Because he packed his guns he's bringing with him and a crossbow, plus his pet egg."  He looked at Xander.  "He said it had better not be anything that'll eat the city."

"Shouldn't for at least a few centuries."

"It's clear until after we're long dead, Gibbs."  He smiled.  "That's fine.  Yeah, call when you're ready to go.  Six bags.  Everything else is being mailed.  Thanks, boss.  Yeah, I'll guard this witness.  Let me know."  He hung up.  "It'll be a few hours.  We came over on a commercial flight.  Can't take prisoners back that way."

"There's a local Army Reserve base if you guys needed it."

"We might but we know.  We look at those first."  That got a nod.  "Got anything to drink?"

"Two beers and a two-liter."  He got him a glass and himself a beer.  "My second, don't fuss."

"As long as you don't get impaired."

"I've got alcoholic parents."

"Never mind.  You've got a tolerance."

"Unfortunately true."  He sipped it slowly.  "You okay?"

"A bit freaked out.  Those were demons?"

"Yeah, lots and lots of demons.  Most of them were harmless too.  Ooh, we might need a classification manual."  He stood up and Tony followed him out and up the road to the Magic Box.  He handed Giles his keys.  "I'm leaving.  I need a classification manual, Giles."

"Why give me your keys?"

"I'm not driving."

"Oh, I see.  Do you need it back?"

"If you don't want it, give it to Cordy.  She's coming up in a few days to handle the extra swords I've got.  You and Angel can argue over them," he said at the look he got.  "You got called?"

"I did."

"I'm going there too.   Do we have Oz safely away?"

"Safe enough.  He's on my couch."  He went to get him the books they most often worked from, handing them over.  "That should do you.  Washington isn't that big of a trouble spot but now and then things do come down from New York."  He smiled at Tony.  "Is he under arrest?"

"No, I'm guarding his back in case they come back."

"Oz said he was captured trying to save him," he said, staring Xander down.  "You could have waited."

"Buffy didn't want to go.  Why would I let a friend go to them when we know that they torture others.  By the way, they saved Spike too and I let most of the demons out to spare the rescuing personnel."

"I've heard.  Buffy called."

"I wasn't going to let them get eaten, Giles."

"I don't blame you for that, Xander.  Is there anything else we should know?"

"You'll need to find someone else to fix crossbows."  He took the three books.  "Thanks.  Need money for them?"

"No, we'll be fine without you, Xander.  Have a good life and do be safe.  Write now and then."  He smiled and waved as Xander and Tony walked off.  He shook his head.  "That boy does worry too much."

Xander looked at Tony halfway back.  "See?"

"I do.  No wonder you didn't go to college."

"I had more important things to do.  Speaking of, I've got to call my boss.  This way."  He walked up onto his boss's porch, tapping gently.  His boss frowned at him.  "I'm leaving. I've had enough of the brats.  I'll be gone by sign-in tomorrow."

"I'll mail your last check to your local PO Box.  You'll have it forwarded by then?"

"Yeah, I can do that.  I usually go through one of those mailbox places."  That got a smirk and a nod.  "I hope the house gets finished, man.  Thank you for hiring me."

"You're a good worker, Harris.  You can use me as a reference."  Xander smiled and nodded, walking Tony off.  He watched them go, then smiled.  "He makes a good boyfriend and it's good he's making his boy go to somewhere safer."  He closed the door, going back to his easy chair.  He called his site manager.  "Remind me tomorrow, Harris just popped around to say he's leaving town tonight."  He hung up and went back to his crappy reality show.


Xander came out of his second day of testimony, undoing the top two buttons on his shirt.  He pulled out his phone, turning it back on.  "Huh, voicemail."  He listened then he called.  "Hey, Speed, I'm not in Sunnydale.  I'm in DC, dude.  What happened?"  He smiled.  "No, I left right after the military had to come stop some of their own and I was there.   No, I'm kinda under testimony watch at the moment.  Sure, come on up.  I'm here. You can help me find a place to squat.  Let me know when you get here.  I'll have a couch or a corner of the bed for you."  He laughed, walking off.  "Sure.  See you then."  He hung up and looked around.  "Which way is out?" he asked someone.  They pointed.  "Thank you."  He walked off, trying to leave the Pentagon.  He was happier.  The board had agreed that the Initiative was a bad project with bad objectives and even worse methodology.  He was happy with that.  He heard Buffy stomping and got out of the way, getting a drink of water so she wouldn't see him.  It was good enough for now.  He saw Gibbs following but he did glance at him.  He shrugged.  "Like I know," he mouthed.  Gibbs shook his head but kept following.  Xander straightened up, finding his minder there.  "Hi.  Speed's on his way up."

"Who's he?"

"The guy from Miami who found out Willow sold my identity.  Nice guy, a CSI guy."

"Interesting.  C'mon.  Let's go back to your motel."

"Sure.  Then I'm going to find a new place to live.  Motels are expensive and I need something to do most days."

"Are you staying around here?"

"I'm thinking about it."

"Move outside the city.  It's expensive to live here and there's commuter rail for most of the surrounding areas."

"Okay.  I can look into that."  He grinned.  "Thanks."

"Welcome.  You're not too bad.  Unlike your friend."  He frowned.

"She was a California Princess before then got handed her duty."

"No wonder."  He nodded once.  "This way, Xander."  He led him outside, driving him back to his motel for the night.  "So, this Speed guy another friend like McGee?"

"No, but I blew his mind and something else came up that edged on it.  He's taking a sanity break."

"I've had those.  Especially recently."

Xander patted him on the arm.  "I jumped in.  It could be a lot worse."

"If you say so."

"You could have staked things."

"No thanks.  That's worse."  He let him off.  "Call me if you run into trouble again."

"I will.  Have a good date."

"Thanks."  He grinned and pulled off once the kid was inside. He did need to go out and have fun tonight.  He really needed it.  But first he needed to go back to the office and finish his reports since Xander's testimony was now done.  He took the long way and pulled through somewhere for coffee, his boss would appreciate that.  By the time he got up there it was them and McGee.  He handed over the coffees.  "Xander's thinking about staying around here.  I told him to look outside the city due to prices."

"That would help," McGee agreed.  "Thanks for the coffee, Tony."

"Welcome.  Did Buffy go home?"

"I stuck her on a plane," Gibbs assured him.  "She'll be in LA tonight and her friends there can pick her up."

"Good."  He sat down to do his report.  "He's got a friend from Miami coming up.  Apparently he opened his eyes and now he needs a sanity vacation."

"I can see why," McGee complained.  "Was it always like this?"

Tony nodded.  "Yup.  We got to ignore it.  We probably will again.  Not a whole lot of them here.  Thankfully."

"Good," Gibbs agreed.  "Your report, DiNozzo?"

"Been doing it every day, boss.  Halfway done."  He got to work on it, typing quickly.  He'd proof it later for personal thoughts.  By the time he got done he was hungry again.  He handed it over.  "I'm going out."

"Have a good date," McGee said, smiling at him. "Xander's got his characters up so he's gaming tonight."

"Good for him."  He went out, going to think his heavy thoughts to the thump of a bass beat.  It would separate out the small, unimportant thoughts and by the end of the night he'd be laid and happier.  Though the one thing he had to think about was why Xander was starting to affect him.  He didn't usually go for guys.


Xander found his house.  It needed work.  It was tiny.  It had land and he could easily expand it with what he now knew about construction work.  He smiled at the agent, nodding.  "How much is the shack?"

"Are you *sure*, Mr. Harris?"

"Yeah, I've been working construction.  I can add to it when I need to think."

She sighed and let him sign the paperwork.  "All we have to do is decide how much you're offering.  I could probably get it reduced for you."

"Please do if you can.  Give the lowest I can."

She smiled.  "I can do that."  She went to call the owners, talking to them.  She talked them into taking a quarter of what they had wanted.  It wasn't her listing and there was no way this house was worth what it was listed for.  She came back with a smile.  "I got it for you for a steal."  He beamed and signed the last of the paperwork, calling his bank to do the money transfer.   Then they walked off together while he went to his motel to celebrate.  It was time for a good celebration.  A bit of fun and then ... well, there were girls for hire out here too.


Tony found where Xander had bought a few weeks later, going to check on him.  He was the unit's pet project and their guardee.  He found him on the roof and a new addition was framed and partially walled.  "Wow.  How much of this was original?"

"The stuff that's not framed," he said, laying down on the roof so he could look down at him.  "Another attack or did one of them make it out of jail?"

"No, they're all in a very nice mental home.  Need help?"

"Can you actually hammer in a nail?  Straight and all that?"

"I can try."

"I've got a nail gun.  Ladder's in the back."  He sat up and went back to his framing work.  There was going to be a storm tonight, he wanted a roof over the addition before it started.  Tony came up, jacket off, sleeves rolled up.  "Nail gun's pretty easy to use."

"These I have used before.  Abby, our lab tech, does Habitat for Humanity stuff and brought me a few times."  He looked at what Xander was doing then at him.  "I thought this stuff went up later in the construction."

"There's a bad storm coming tonight.  I want a roof."

"Might be a good idea," Tony agreed.   "This part of West Virginia has some really good storms thanks to the mountains.   It's still only an hour from DC.  It's a good area too.  How much was it?"

"I got it for just over a quarter of the asking price.  It needs some work."

"I can see that.  Will the original structure hold?"

"Oh, yeah.  I've already built the interior walls and fixed the floors.  This side will match the other side's new interior.   So I'll have a huge house for the cost of about land taxes."

"That's an excellent bargain and it does give you something to do."

"And hey, I can use it as a reference when I go for a job next spring."

"How are you living right now?" Tony asked.

Xander looked at him.  "Bad guys."

"You took the bad guys' money?"

"Yup, it crippled operations.  It was kinda fun too, watching them complain, squirm, and try to figure out who did it."  He grinned sweetly.  "It helped, a lot.  So I've got a bit of money saved.  It's a good thing and I don't do it often.  Though, I was going to ask Tim if he wanted me to do it again."

"That's illegal."

"Are you sure?"  He grinned.  "You guys do it."

"Yes, but we give it to the government."

"So do I, they just get it in taxes over a longer period of time."  He got back to work.  "Come on, I need a roof before it rains."

"Sure."  He got to work.  "Any other fixing you're doing soon?"

"I'm adding two bathrooms.  Four bedrooms.  A play room with computer outlets.  A really great kitchen even though I can't cook, and then I'm going to work on trying to attract someone who isn't a ho, like my prom date, or my last girlfriend, Cordelia, or the ones before them who tried to kill me."

Tony dropped the nail gun, staring at him.  "Excuse me?" he asked.

"Yeah, three tried to kill me.  Cordy tried to kill my spirit.  Anya tried to kill me with sex."

"Maybe.... um, not wanting to mention this but maybe you should think about boys?" he offered tentatively.

"Have thought about boys.  Boys can be nice but I have no idea what to do with boys except stare in awe at some very nice chests.  I haven't gotten beyond that and it'd have to be pretty rare.  They've got to be able to keep up with me and all that good stuff."

Tony grinned.  "I'll see if we can find you someone, Xander."  He picked up the nailgun and got back to work.  "Rain should start in a few hours."

"Don't remind me.  But hey, I can finish putting in the tub tonight.  I took the same amount as I paid for it to do the renovations.  It's a lot cheaper when you don't have to hire a crew."

"They say it is, but I'm not that good at this stuff."  Tony finished his section and moved up to the next bracing strip, getting to work on that section. "Can I have a tour?"

"Sure.  It'll be beautiful by spring."

"Thinking about flipping it?"

Xander grinned but shook his head.  "Nope.  I like it here.  It's wild enough for my wild instincts.  It's protected enough for the days I get paranoid.  There's things to do nearby.  I  do need a new car...."  He grinned.  "That can come later and cheaper."

"You've got room out here for animals too."

"I already live with one of those."

"Huh?" Tony asked, looking at him.

Xander looked at him.  "My first year with Buffy I got possessed by an animal spirit.  She likes the woods," he said quietly, then he got back to work.  "Before you ask, no I can't and probably won't ever get rid of her."

"What was it?"


"So a pack creature," he said, thinking about that.  "Doesn't it make dating difficult?"

"Not really.  Most of the time she's satisfied as long as she's not surrounded by concrete.  As long as I'm happy and not having to hunt, she's taking a nap most of the time."

"That's good though, right?"

"Yeah, as long as she wakes back up if I need her."

Tony looked at him.  "It's not just her, Xander.  You have a lot of skills beyond what she taught you."

"I know," he agreed quietly.

Tony shifted over, tapping him on the head.  "Your friends need to be paddled for hours on end."

"It wasn't just them, Tony."

"I know.  Trust me, I know."  Xander frowned at him.  "Not like mine liked me.  They disowned me.  I started out in a very nice house in Long Island."  Xander frowned more.  "I was the sort of kid that Buffy would've been pushed to date," he said gently.  "I was a prince of the North East.  My dad's in banking."

"He disowned you because you weren't like him?"

"Yup," he agreed, grinning again.  "I was twelve."

"Can my dad beat up yours and then I gas him until he dies?"

"I wouldn't mind if your dad beat up mine and his bodyguard, but gassing him would be wrong."


Tony tipped his head, looking at him.  "I almost think you're serious," he said, smiling at the end.

"I am.  Why would it be wrong?  They're not helping anyone.  They're sucking up resources that better people could use.  They're making others miserable.  My mother makes drugs now and then in the basement.  They stole from me.  They tried to give me away a few times.  Why would it be so wrong?"

Tony stared at him for a minute. "Because if you do it to them where does it stop?"


"You did vampires, Xander.  Them, demons, and defending yourself."  He shifted closer.  "You can't have them hurt."

"I don't want to have them hurt, I want to hurt them.  Standing there in front of them.  I don't want to hurt anyone else.  I don't want anyone else to be hurt."

"What about the other kids with parents as bad or worse than yours?"

"That should be their fun."

Tony reached over to pat him on the back, seeing the scared look.  "I'm not going to hurt you.  We'll talk about that tonight, okay?"

"Sure, but can I get a ride to get groceries?  I've got about crap for food.  I was going to partake of more pizza.  They're starting to know me very well.  The delivery guy likes what I'm doing."

Tony grinned.  "Sure, we can do that.  Does the kitchen work?"

"As long as the storm doesn't blow the fuses again."

"Did you replace them?"

"I'm waiting on a part to come in.  It'll be in early next week."

"Sure.  Now, let's get back to work so you don't ruin the other work."   They barely got the roof done before the rain started and Xander stayed long enough to nail down some plastic over the sides while Tony went to check the kitchen.  "This is nice," he said when Xander came in ruffling his hair to get the water out of it.  "This is really nice.  It's going to be great when it's done, Xander."

"Thank you.  I'm thinking pine."

Tony looked around then at him, shaking his head.  "Too old fashioned.  Especially with the marble and granite counter top you've got in."


"Really.  Sorta like that shirt you're wearing clashes with everything in here."  Xander shrugged and pulled it off, walking past him.  "Got catalogs?  Maybe pictures would help me see it better."

"In the drawer."

Tony went to the only drawer presently in place, opening it to find the catalogs.  "Have you already ordered them?"

"No.  They're coming in around Christmas."  He came back in sweats and still shirtless, but it was in his hands.  He leaned over Tony's arm, pointing.  "I was going for that look.  Eclectic."

"It certainly is."  He flipped a few pages.  "What about that one?"

"Too modern.  Too much metal."

"Okay."  Someone knocked hard on the door.  "Go get that."  Xander jogged out, squealing loud enough to make him look out to see who it was.  "Hi."

"Hi," the guy being smothered said, waving a hand.  "Let go, kid."

"Sorry.  You're late!"

"I nearly died twice on the interstate.  I took a few days off to watch the ocean."  He took the towel from around Xander's banister to do his own hair.  "I see you're updating."

"Yeah, it kinda needed it.  It was a steal though.  Very, very cheap.  The house and land plus the updating is less than most houses these days."  He led him into the kitchen.  "Tony DiNozzo, who works at NCIS with the gaming buddy I have, this is Tim Speedle, from Miami's crime lab.  We've been chatting on and off since he nearly arrested me for being me."

"Hey," Speed said, shaking his hand.  "Sorry about the water damage, but I ride a motorcycle."

"Is it under cover?" Tony asked.  "You're going to need a pail by the morning."

"Yeah, it's under a tarp beside the car."  He grinned at Xander then looked around. "This is looking nice.  Oak?"

"I was thinking pine."  He took the catalog to show him.  "That one."

Speed looked at him then shook his head.  "No, Xander."

"It's my kitchen."

Tony gave him a hug.  "But someday you may want to move somewhere else and that kitchen may keep it from selling, Xander."  He flipped.  "I liked that one but he didn't.  He said it had too much metal."

Speed flipped then landed on one.  "Here, very classical.  Greek influenced.  It'll go with the tub he said he still had to hook up."

"I'm doing that tonight.  All I have to do is hook in the faucet and shower head, then test the lines.  Let me do that so you can get warmed up, Tim."

"Speed, Xander."

"Okay, Speed then."  He went to do that, letting them talk about what his kitchen should be like.  He got finished and closed the panel in the surround holding up the tub, running into a set of legs.  He looked back, grinning at Tony.  "Am I fascinating?"

"In many ways," he agreed with a bright grin, showing him something.  "How about this one?"

Xander looked then at him.  "They look like they're cheap."

"They might be but the color of the wood would be harmonious."

Xander rolled his eyes.  "I don't cook that well."

"Xander, remember, even if you live here all your life, you'll eventually die some year and the house'll go to someone else.  Think about giving it a classical taste that others can cook in for you."

"I don't need a maid."

"I know that.  Still, think about some limited entertaining and things."

Xander looked at him.  "I don't know that many people."

"We'll be introducing you to others the longer you stay."

"Should I be scared?" Speed asked from the doorway.  "I relit the pilot on that ancient hot water heater."

"That's fine.  It's being replaced next week too," Xander assured him.   He took the book and flipped to another page, letting him see it.  "That?  Only in my colors?"

"That design is what you have.  I like your countertop but it means you can use a lighter wood and some limited metal accents."

"I don't want to go that modern."

"So let's visit the home place," Tony offered.  Xander frowned.  "Where are you getting things from?"

"I'm going online to order.  I find some great deals that way, even with shipping.  Let me finish this and I'll show you where I'm going for the cabinets."  He stood up and finished putting on the shower head, then tested it.  "Go turn on the water, please?"

"Where's the valve?" Tony asked.

"Beside the hot water heater."  Tony nodded, going to do that.   The water came on and the toilet started to leak.  He groaned.  "Caulk?"

"Huh?" Speed asked.

"Caulk, that stuff you use to stop leaks.  Not the thing it sounded like, Speed," he offered with a grin, reaching around him to grab it and moving to squat so he could seal that leak.  "We definitely need to fix that tonight.  This is the only working toilet in the house."

"Then we'll hit the home place," Tony said as he rejoined them.  "I think I can handle a few more hours of work."

"If you're sure."

"I'm sure.  Speed?"

"I can help hold.  I'm not great at construction stuff."

"Cool."  Xander beamed.  "The only problem is that the construction account is online."

"Go to Home Depot-dot-com and buy a gift certificate, Xander."

"I guess I can do that.  Give me another two."  He finished up then led them down to where his computer was stashed.  "Let me log in."  He logged in, checking his bank account first.  Then he frowned.  "How did it grow by two grand?"  He checked on the deposit then snickered.  "Tim found that package and passed it on."  He logged onto the server that he needed, finding where he needed.  His online bank gave him a virtual credit card number for the transaction and it was good.  It printed.  "There.  Now what?"

"Shoes and a shirt, Xander.  As much as I enjoy the view, you can't go to Home Depot in just sweats," Speed said with a small smirk.  "Time to rejoin the rest of the world."  He gave him a swat as he walked past.

"Hey!  You're not one of the girls who tried to kill me, you can't spank me!"  He went up to put on a shirt and his sneakers.  He came back down to find the two guys staring at each other.  "Did I miss something?  You guys are looking at each other like Buffy does shoes... ooh!  Never mind.  Let me duck into the new addition and all that to check on it."  He went that way.

"I wasn't staring at him for that reason!" Speed called.

Tony grinned.  "You're cute and all but not at the moment."

"You do realize that we *really* need to get him away from women?" Speed asked, moving closer.

"I have," Tony agreed.  "I did a limited background check through a few people out there at the base and their PD."

"When the whole identity theft problem happened, I called out to their PD.  I told them what we had and they laughed that it could be Xander."

"I'm not surprised."  Tony shrugged.  "Xander?  Coming?"

"Aren't I the wrong person to ask that to?" he called back.

Tony hung his head with a moan.  "Xander!"

Speed looked over as the sheepish boy came back.  "Not interested in him that way.  We were talking about your exes."


"Because we've only run into a few females who wanted to kill."

"Some of mine were necessary to their survival," he offered.

"Still not of the good," Speed said.  "Tony, was that your car?"

"It sure was.  Let me make sure your bike's not in the way and bring it closer."  He went to do that.  Speed was cute with Xander.  They'd be cute together. He'd even help him see what normal relationships were like.  He came back to find Xander talking about his last girlfriend and Speed whimpering.  "That bad?"

"Yeah.  That bad," Speed said, walking Xander out to the car.  "Come on, while the rain's slowed down."

"Sure."  Xander made sure he had his wallet and the paper he'd need.


Tony limped into work Monday morning, glaring at McGee.  "I'm going to hurt you."

"Bad date?" he teased.

"Did he write you?"

"Xander only gave me the one picture of you in the mud.  Did you really slip that far?"

"I really nearly fell off the side of the house, Probie.  Got anything in your desk, I'm out."  McGee searched and tossed over a bottle of pain killers.  "Thanks."  He nodded at their boss when he came in.  "Xander's fixing his house up."

"Good.  Why are you standing like you sat on the pointy end of the rake?"

"I fell off the side of the house, and that was after I slid down the back yard in the mud and before we had to put the second shower into place."  He tossed back the pain killers and sat down with a sigh of pleasure.  "Can I sit for an hour, boss?"

"As long as you're doing something productive and we don't get a call."

"Thanks."  He turned on his computer, getting to work.  "Oh, he's got all three bathrooms done.  The new side is nearly finished being boarded so he can put on the siding this week, and then he's going to work on the inside and destroy the old outer wall on the original building."

"What did it look like before?" McGee asked.

"You remember seeing _Little House on the Prairie_ and those houses that looked like the moving company had only gotten half of it up?"  Tim nodded.  "Like that.  He's mirrored the new inside dimensions on the new side and then added a bigger second floor for more guest space."

"Interesting.  I'll have to pop out sometime soon to see how it's going."  Gibbs' phone rang and they both looked at him.

"All right.  Thank you."  He hung up.  "Is Harris looting people?"

"Once upon a time he looted one of the bad people out there as he put it," Tony admitted.  "Why, boss?"

"The accounts for the Initiative were emptied."

"There's another hacker out in Sunnydale, boss," McGee offered.  Gibbs looked at him.  "Harris learned from watching Rosenburg."

"She's rated as a local annoyance hacker, boss," Tony told him.  "Doesn't seem to get much outside her town.  Mostly into the town's databases and things like that.  Hasn't even changed her grades."

"She's an 'A' student.  She won't have to, Tony," McGee said.  "Maybe Buffy's grades but not her own."

"Xander told me Buffy had been a California Princess before she got handed the job."

McGee hummed then nodded.  "Yup, she was."

"That does explain so much," Gibbs agreed.  "Do we have paperwork coming, gentlemen?"

"Nearly done, boss."  Tony finished his last sentence then checked it over before printing it and getting up, but he groaned and fell back down.  "Give me a few please."

"Go see Ducky."

"I'm fine, boss.  Just pulled a few muscles this weekend."

McGee typed something in and smiled.  "Give it ten minutes, Tony.  He said he's got something for that."

"Ducky does?" Gibbs asked.

"No, Xander does."

"How would he get it here?  He lives nearly an hour outside the city," Gibbs pointed out patiently.  A small fabric bundle appeared on McGee's desk.  "Uh-huh."

"Xander knows very little but he can do that with liniment and hide his weapons when necessary."  He got up and walked over the bundle, reading the note.  "He said the green stuff is for your back now, no heating pad or you'll burn, and then the blue stuff after a hot shower.  Drink the red stuff before you go to bed so you won't ache tonight and it should be fine in the morning."  He switched it out with the report, going to hand that in for him.  "There, my good deed of the week."

Tony looked at him.  "Thanks, Probie.  Boss, let me go apply some of this."  He took it into the bathroom, hobbling slowly that way.  It did heat up nearly immediately.  It was very strong smelling.  He straightened up after a few minutes and groaned less.  "Wow.  I might even want to know what's in this stuff."  He walked out, nearly looking like himself.  "This works really well."

"Good," Gibbs agreed.  "While you were getting stinky we got a call out."

"Sure, I can handle that."  He put the bundle into his desk drawer and locked it so he could grab his bag and follow them to the elevator.  "Do I really stink?"

"Yup," McGee agreed.

"I don't want to know what's in it with the way it smells," Gibbs agreed.

"Sorry, but tough.  I can move again."

"Which is the purpose of liniment," McGee agreed. "How long before he thinks he'll have it done?"

"This spring.  Then he's going to use it as a second reference to go back to work.  It's going to be a good size.  He's putting in four guest bedrooms, three baths; the master suite is great.  It's the same size as the kitchen plus a bathroom that I want to live in.  Speed joked he'd be staying the next time he came up if it stayed that good."  McGee smiled at that, walking toward the truck.  "Shotgun."

"As long as you roll down the window, DiNozzo," Gibbs said patiently, heading that way.

"Hey, boss, when is Kate due back?" McGee asked.

"Another week."

"Can we introduce her to Xander since he likes tough women?" Tony asked.  Tim gave him the strangest look.  "I'm sure you've heard about the others he dated."

"Yes, and how they all wanted to kill him.  I'd miss Kate if we had to put her in jail."

Gibbs looked at both of them.  "Please tell me you're kidding?"  He got in to drive, slamming the door.  The boys got in the other side and Tony did obediently roll down the window.

"Nope," the boys said together. McGee even shook his head.

"Wish I was, boss," Tony said, grinning at him.  "Even worse than mine."

Gibbs moaned but started the truck and backed out of the parking spot.  "Kate's not allowed to date him," he ordered, putting the car in forward and heading off.  "Ever."

"Sure, boss," they agreed.

"But she can still mother him, right?" Tony asked.  "It'll be good practice for her."

"If she wants to, as long as she doesn't date him."

"I'll write her tonight.  Xander needs to know that not all girls are like Willow and Buffy.  Or Cordelia and Anya."

"Did I meet those two?" Gibbs asked, hitting the main street and speeding up to his usual rate of travel, which made Tony grab onto the bar over his door.

"Cordelia was the one who came up to get the rest of his weapons, boss," Tony told him.  "Anya was his last girlfriend, the nympho former demon.  Cordelia was the one he dated before her, the mean cheerleader."

"Is the boy gay?"

"We're trying very hard," Tony assured him.  "It'd be better for him."

McGee looked at him.  "You two would make a very cute couple," he said with a grin.

"He and Speed make a cuter one."

"I didn't meet him so I can't judge that but you and Xander are very cute together.  I saw  you guys at the bookstore getting cookbooks."

"The kid can't cook that well yet.  It'll give him something to do after he finishes putting in the kitchen we made him want to put in.  He wanted pine and it really would've looked off.  So Tim and I made him go with our choice."

Gibbs glanced over at him.  "Don't ask, don't tell," he said simply.

"Boss, if he were mine you'd never hear about it," he said plainly.

"Good to know."  He turned a corner, shaking his head.  He could see a lot of use for that kid.  He had learned to appreciate how the kid jumped in within a few days of meeting him.  He still couldn't see his womanizing agent getting with the kid and not hurting him, which would piss off McGee and then they'd have an inter-team war going on.  Which he would not allow.  Maybe Kate was the better alternative.


Speed looked around the house Tuesday morning then at Xander, who was napping on the couch.  "Why didn't you make it to bed?" he asked when the boy finally got up.  Watching him have nightmares had been a bit fascinating.

Xander yawned.  "Did, got up to wander."  He sat up, looking at his buddy.  "How did you sleep?"

"Better than you did.  What's with the nightmares?"

"Post combat stuff.  Not a big."


Xander shrugged then stood up.  "Come on, I hear food calling."

"That's because I made breakfast so you can't undercook the bacon this time," he teased.  Xander grinned back, following him to the food.  "We should be able to finish the siding today.  Hopefully before it starts raining this afternoon."

Xander grinned.  "Aren't you supposed to be on vacation?"

"I am.  It's not like I do this at work.  Besides, tomorrow's supposed to be a gorgeous day so we can go to the beach and play then.  Good for you?"

"Very good for me.  I haven't been yet."  Speed grinned back.  "I know, I've been making myself a home though."  He dished himself up some food, letting Speed have the bigger portion, even though it ended up back on his plate.  "I'm not that growing of a boy."

"You work hard, you need the food."

"I'm getting pudgy."

"Those are muscles, Xander, not fat."  He patted him on the head, then wiped off his hand.  "Someone's sweaty.  Want to talk about it?"  Xander shook his head before taking his first bite.  "Okay."  He dug in too.  "Cordelia called before you woke up.  I told her to call back in three hours."

"That'll be a good time for a break," he agreed.  "Was she babbling, excited, or 'oh shit the world's going to end tomorrow, thought I'd let you know' when she called?"

"She sounded a bit morose.  Like she wanted to talk.  I joked and told her I was your construction crew."

"I'll put in my earbud while I work then."  He finished up and kissed Speed on the cheek.  "You're the best construction crew I've ever worked with."  He went to find his phone and take a shower.   By the time he came back down, the dishwasher was running, Cordelia was babbling in his ear about Wesley, and he was ready to finish putting the siding on the house.  "I know, Cordy.  No, I'm working.  Yup, with Speed.  He's from Miami.  Why?"  He rolled his eyes.  "I know.  Yes, he is cute before you ask. Why?"  He snickered.  "It's been suggested after some of my new friends found out about my past dating history.  They thought it'd be safer if I never dated you again, Cordy."  He smirked.  "Yup, that's why.  Anything else going on?  DC.  I stayed after the Pentagon hearings.  Because I got to leave hunting and I'm working on my own house?" he admitted.  "Speed's a friend up on a vacation.  I didn't *make* him work for his vacation.  He volunteered.  He fusses very well, nearly as well as Joyce does."  He grinned at Speed.  "She wants to have the shovel talk with you."

Speed took the phone, unplugging the hands free set to talk to her.  "Cordelia, what makes you think that I wouldn't be having it with you if that assumption was correct?"  He listened to her splutter.  "Because I heard what you two went through, dear, and how you were afterward.  Actually, Rosenburg told me.  She hunted me down since she found my card in Xander's things.   No, that would be *after* I nearly had to arrest him for her selling his identity."  He looked at Xander.  "Is Willow still being punished?"

"Unless she managed to remove the 'absolute truth and only the truth' curse I had put on her, yup."

"He said he cursed her like a Jim Carey movie."  He listened to her cackle.  "Anything else?  We're doing siding and then we're going to work on the master bedroom so it's got finished walls."

"I thought it did," Xander said, looking confused.  "They need painted...."  Tim nodded.  "Okay."

Speed listened to her babble.  "Cordelia, Tony and I got to railroad him about his kitchen choices last night," he said blandly.  She paused then said something very quietly and hung up.  "I think she'll call back later."  He tossed back the phone with a wink.  "It'll be fine."

"I hope so.  She's working with Angel."  He got back to work, phone in his pocket.  At least until it rang. "What?" he asked patiently.  "No, that was not me.  I did not drain their funds.  Did they maybe drain their own funds?  There could have been officers missing."  He snickered.  "If I did, I would be doing some grand things with my home, lady.  It wasn't me.  Ask Rosenburg.  She's out there and did the data dump for your guys."  He hung up and looked at his buddy.  "Someone stole the Initiative's remaining money."

"Pity.   Hopefully it went to one of the victims."

"Yeah, I hope so."  He got back to work, plugging back in his hands free headset when it rang again.  "Harris."  He listened.  "No, Cordelia.   We're going to the beach tomorrow.  I'll remember that.  Why?"  He blinked a few times.  "What?"  She repeated it.  "Uh-huh.  Hey, Speed, she said that Willow's about to go puff into cloud of logic.  She wanted you to know that."

"Does that mean she's going into hiding after screwing something else up?"

"Possibly.  Cordy said that Angel had to fight Dracula, who was a nancy tosser to use a Spikism, when he showed up in LA trying to be so big and bad.  Hey, Cordy, did you get to eat bugs too?"  She spluttered.  "Oh, well.  Any other news?"  He smirked.  "Really?  I'll let someone know that.  Thanks, dear.  Of course I'm here, just putting up siding."  He hung up and called McGee's phone.  Then Tony's when it didn't ring.  "It's me.  Can you tell ELV over there that Willow did hack the Initiative?  They made her, they had Tara hostage until she did, so Willow did it for them then stole it from them and is going into hiding with it and Tara to protect themselves?  Thanks."  He hung up and got back to work.  "That'll hopefully solve that problem."

"I thought they were all in jail."

"Some could've been on leave and they didn't get all the people who ordered it.  A few of the scientists and those sort."

"Wow.  Tara okay?  I remember you said she's very sweet."

"She is.  She's perfectly fine, just hiding from everyone at the moment.  Buffy's apparently mad and ready to stomp on someone because this means she's got to do all the work herself and write her own papers."

"I finished my forensics stuff in a year, two years of college in one.  I'm sure she can do it in the normal time."

"No time to study while hunting."

"So that's what happened to your grades in high school."

"No, that was the school system.  I sucked in school."  Xander hammered in his next nail then grabbed the next piece.  "Ready?"

"One more hit," Tim offered, banging in his last nail.  They put up the next piece of siding and started to hang it.  "So, have you really thought about dating?"

"I have, and dating guys since you guys keep trying to make me gay."

"Make you gay?  Or make you want to be gay?" he taunted.

Xander looked at him.  "Don't know yet, Speed, you wear baggy clothes," he quipped back with an evil smirk.

"Been there before?"

"Thoughts.  A few pornos with two guy threesomes."

Tim looked at him then snickered.  "It's different, Xander."

"Some day I'll find that out I'm sure.  Otherwise I might end up dating my prom date again."

"Nymphos are bad for you."

"I know that, now."

"Yes, going out with one is a good way to learn that lesson," he agreed happily.  "By the way, she came to Miami.  She's dating one of my coworkers.  She said she traced where you went and followed you to jump you some more when Eric asked.  Eric...well, he's not walking right the last time I saw him.  She apparently threw his back."

"Wouldn't be the first time," Xander quipped.  Speed snickered and nodded.  "Now, what shall we do today after we get this done?"

"Paint your bedroom."

"We could run wiring."

"We can do that tonight.  Let's paint the bedroom and then make sure your bathroom is finished.  Then we can move on to start finishing other rooms in the old portion of the house."

"Okay, we can do that.  Then come back to this side."

"That'll work.  That way you're comfortable while you finish up this side."  Xander nodded and they got back to work.  It wasn't too much more to get done.


Tony knocked then opened the front door to Xander's house, leaning in a few days later.  "Guys?" he called.

"New side," Speed called.

"You're still here?"  He walked that way, leaving the door open.  "Hey.  Xander, can we hide out in your woods with a witness?"

"There's a small trailer out there but I'm not sure it's habitable."

"That'll work.  Keys?"  Xander shrugged. "Okay, where is it?"

"Let me finish this."  He finishing running the last of the wire then dusted off his hands.  "Be right back, Speed, take a break."  He walked out the back door with him.  "Front door's open?"

"Gibbs is out front."  He called.  "He said there's some sort of trailer out there, boss, we're going to check it out now."  He hung up and jogged to catch up.  "So, he's still here?"

"Yeah, he doesn't go back until this weekend."

Tony grinned at him.  "Good.  It's good you've got people out here with you."  He gave him a nudge.  "We don't want you to become a scary hermit."

Xander grinned.  "Can't happen.  I'm a social person.  I need people around now and then."  He looked back then broke a twig noticeably.  "In case he gets lost."   He led him through the woods, finding the old trailer.  "Like I said, I haven't done more than look at it."

Tony looked in one grimy window.  "Doesn't look too bad."  He tried the door then broke the lock.  "Federal agents," he called as he did it.  "So what happened to the last owners of the house anyway?"

"They built the old house as a temporary thing.  They were planning on making this a farm.  The husband didn't agree so he left after a few months and she divorced him for wimping out on her dream but couldn't keep going herself.  Her daughter sold it after she got sick."  He moved Tony and broke the door open.  "There you go."

"Thanks."  He looked around before carefully stepping inside.  "This is still in good condition.  No obvious animal signs."

"I've got bug spray at the house.  We had a few days of roaches before I bombed the entire house.  He called Speed.  "Hand Gibbs the bug stuff from under the sink please?"  He grinned.  "That's fine.  Tell him it looks like it's in good condition and it's clear no one's lived here for a while with the dust that's built up."  He hung up.  "He'll bring it out."

"That's cool."  He came out.  "That'll work.  Thanks, Xander."

Xander beamed.  "You know I like your team.  Of course I'll pay you guys back for saving my ass."  He gave him a hug.  "There.  I feel better now."  He grinned.  "I'm going to go back to putting in outlets."  He jogged off, leaving him there.

Tony knew he had a sappy grin on his face but he still went back inside to look around.  By the look on Gibbs' face when he came out he still had the sappy grin on his face.  "We should be okay. There's a weak spot in the floor back by the bedroom but otherwise it seems okay.  It's even got a camp stove if we can find fuel.  Could probably be cleaned though."

"This looks like someone moved it out here to hunt with," Gibbs said, letting their witness inside.  He watched her grimace.  "Best I can do."  He came to look around.  "Interesting. Is it still on his land?"

"Yeah, he owns to the stream.  We checked behind his back."

Gibbs looked at him.  "I'm sure he'll be fine, DiNozzo.  Spray for things."  He handed over the bug sprays and mouse traps.  He went to look for signs of ownership, just in case someone complained, but what he found was newspaper clippings.  He glanced over them then frowned and went deeper into the small desk's drawers.  "What?"

"Would that have anything to do with the skull that came up when it rained really hard last week?" Tony asked.

"Possibly.  Clippings about a murder."  He let DiNozzo see them.  "Check on that when you head up there to poach food."

"Sure, I can do that.  Or maybe Speed could come out with some," he said with a small nod outside.  Gibbs looked and smiled.  "I'm sure he's sat on stakeouts before."

"A few times," Speed agreed, handing over the picnic basket.  "Thankfully I don't have to do too much of that as a CSI."  Gibbs handed over one of the clippings so he shrugged.  "We called the local cops out when the skull drifted out to meet us one day.  I didn't follow up."

"I'll talk to them in a bit."  Tony peeked in the basket then he grinned.  "Tried to make Xander eat real food?"

"Yup.  Didn't fully work so that's leftovers of dinner and yesterday's lunch.  Plus some stuff for sandwiches and Xander's camping lantern.  If you need anything else I can run out on the bike."  He handed back the paper and grinned at Gibbs.  "What did you think?"

"I think the new side is a bit smaller."

"He's destroying the old outer walls since he's built new ones inside," Tony told him.  "He built it to mirror the new interior."

"Then it's looking good, guys.  Good job."  They both smiled at that.  "How long are you up for, Speed?"

"Another week then I've got to go back to Miami.  Which means I've got to leave Thursday."

"He'll pout," Tony told him.

Speed nodded.  "He might.  H needs me back though."  He smiled at their witness.  "Hey.  Tim Speedle, CSI out of Miami-Dade."  He looked at Gibbs again.  "Did you get the call about the Initiative money?"

"We did.  We also talked to Willow, who gave the money she stole back to the government, all but a small bit."

"Yeah, we heard.  Oh, Tony, he wanted to know about some stuff that he got sent from LA.  He was going to sell it.  I don't think he should."

"More artillery?" he joked.

"Yup."  He walked off happier with the flustered look on Gibbs' face.  He walked into the house.  "Xander, Tony'll be down later to help you deal with the stuff you got sent from LA."

"Sure."  He leaned out of the downstairs bathroom.  "We've got a small leak in here."

"Again?"  Xander nodded, going back to fixing it.  Speed went back to playing with the wires for him.  It was a good vacation, even if he wasn't on a beach staring at butts bouncing.  Xander jogged past to get his phone, making him smile.  "Or maybe just one butt," he muttered to himself, getting back to work.


Xander smiled at Speed as he came down the stairs that night.   "I thought I'd attempt dinner tonight."

Speed sniffed then smiled at him.  "I thought you couldn't cook."

"I can't cook much.  I prefer the microwave.  Cooking for myself means I make way too much."  He went back to stirring the soup.  "It's canned."

"That's fine."   He looked at the table, it was set.  It was a nice looking dinner.  He shifted closer to Xander, wrapping an arm around his waist slowly.  Xander grinned at him so he moved behind him, resting his chin on his shoulder, both hands around his waist.  "This is very nice," he said quietly.

"I thought it was."  He grinned shyly.

Speed nuzzled the back of his neck.  "Whatever you want, Xander.  It's not a problem that you've only seen it done on film."  Xander turned, taking a kiss.  "Hmm, andes mints?" he teased.

"Yeah, I was nibbling before you came down."

Speed grinned and kissed him again.  "You're supposed to nibble while you eat.  That's how you know you're doing it right."  He kissed him again then heard footsteps.  "Someone's here."

"I'm not ashamed."

"Good."  He grinned at McGee when he knocked then leaned in.  "What's up?"

"Is there any more camping fuel for the lantern and can we bum some water?"

"Sure," Xander agreed.  Speed let him go so he could walk out to the storage area.  He found the spare batteries and camp stove fuel, handing it back.  Then he found his backpack.  "That'll probably help too.  You'll have to rinse out the canteens."  He handed that over and came back out.  "How's that?"

"That'll definitely help.  Thanks, Xander."  He went into the kitchen to rinse out the canteens, smiling at Speed.  "I didn't mean to interrupt."

"It's all right."

Tim smiled and filled up the canteens, then added a few bottles of water and juice, plus the stuff Speed had pulled out for him.  "Thanks.  We'll be here tomorrow but we should have it fixed by tomorrow night."  He headed back, everything stuffed into the backpack.  He saw Xander close the door and Speed kiss him.  They were *very* cute together.  He found the trailer a few minutes later, after having started out not going far enough before turning into the woods.  "Here, stuff Xander found in his camping stuff for me.  There's some water and juice plus some canteens of water, boss.  Speed gave us a bit more food too."

Gibbs took the backpack, unpacking it in the small kitchen.  "He was clearly a boy scout."

"Nope," Tony called.  "He camped to get away from his parents."

"That'll work too."  He kept going down to see what else was in there.  He came up with the usual multi-purpose knife, the rope, the space blanket that compacted into a small silver envelope.  A few maps of Sunnydale that probably came in handy.  He found the bag at the bottom, pulling it out to open it, then he walked up to the house.  He tapped and Speed opened the door.  "Xander?" he called.  He came out frowning.  He held up the bag.  "What is this?"

Xander looked then at him.  "Camping supplies."

"It's plastic explosive."

"Yeah, and a timer cord and a battery.   In case of a cave-in after an earthquake, Gibbs.  I'm really happy that my mother didn't find it to try to make drugs with again.  She does that now and then when she's really drunk and wants to get high.  Usually she nearly blows the house up."  He handed back the bag.  "It's really practical."

"Uh-huh.  Where's the stuff you got sent this time?"

Xander led him out to small storage house, letting him see inside on the shelves.  "That stuff.  There's a few other things in the study too."

He looked then sighed.  "They're technically so old they're not illegal to own."

"I don't think I need a bazooka anymore," Xander admitted.  "I haven't met the local area's hunter so I can't pass them on and I was wondering if you knew someone legal who would like them."  Gibbs looked at him.  "Not like I want to sell them to bad guys.  I'll get in trouble."

"Good point.  Let me think.  Let's look at the other stuff."  Xander led him into the study and the closet in there, letting him see the nice racks of guns that were set up in front of the swords and how the crossbows were hanging off the bottom of the shelf.  On top of the sword racks were a few more cases plus Xander pulled some from under the couches and from behind the desk.  Then he uncovered another thing he thought had been a wall in progress but it turned out to be a stack of RPG missiles.  Gibbs nearly whimpered.  "How did your friends in LA get this stuff?"

"A demon was trafficking and they stopped him.  This was stuff they couldn't use and Sunnydale couldn't use."

"Cover those.  I'll talk to someone tonight."  He walked off, heading back to the trailer to calm down.  "DiNozzo, your friend is very matter of fact about the artillery laying around the house."

Tony looked at him.  "His past taught him artillery is good, Gibbs.  What did you expect?  Him to freak?"

"He has RPG missiles."

"Yeah, but no launcher.  We confiscated it back in Sunnydale, boss."

"Good," he said, smiling at that.


Tony walked in the next morning, finding Xander making coffee.  "Can I make a pot after you're done?  Gibbs is a grump without coffee?"

Xander grinned.  "Sure."

"So, I heard Probie saying it was a *good* dinner?"

"It was a great dinner," Xander said with a bright, beaming smile.  And a small blush to accent it.  "Speed's still in bed."

"Make him breakfast."

"That's what I'm doing."  He poured his coffee into the pot he was using, leaving the rest for Tony.  The rest of breakfast came out of the fridge and he winked before walking the tray up there.  "Morning," he said at the sleepy man staring at him.  "Breakfast?"

"Breakfast is nice."  He pushed himself up and took the tray, letting it have Xander's side of the bed since Xander was crawling into his side.  "Cuddly?"

"Always."  Speed smiled and took a kiss.  "I made you coffee and muffins."

"I can see that."  He took another kiss.  "We should still have a short talk."

"Drink the coffee, Speed, it should be self-evident I'm leaving if we're together up to you."

"Okay.  That solves that talk."  He poured them both coffee, sipping his.  "Mmm.  The good stuff."   He drank his next sip slower, savoring it.  Xander finished his first and kissed his chest, playing with a spot he had found last night.  "Food then play, Xander."

"If I must."  He buttered one of the mini-muffins and fed it to him, getting a smile.  "That's a warming pot."

"Good thing."  The food got put beside the bed and Speed let Xander pounce him.  There was nothing better than breakfast after good sex.  And with Xander it was good sex.  He was very creative and willing to try nearly anything with him.  It was a lot of fun teaching him what to do.  By the time they were both sated and tired, the coffee was still mostly warm, the muffins were back up to room temperature, and Xander let him feed him a few bites too before he fell asleep in the middle of Speed's chest.  He stroked over his hair, smiling down at him.   He could learn to love the guy really easily.  He couldn't understand why women couldn't see how great of a guy he was. Or maybe it was his former dating pool.  It had been heavy in demons.  Maybe it was their fault.  He heard a noise on the stairs.  "Busy," he called.

Tony leaned in.  "I'm not surprised.  There's a Feeb here to see where he got the weapons from.  It reached the wrong ears."

"The shipping?"

"No, there's no record of them being shipped and this guy's not going to believe in the transportation stuff without it being shown to him."  Xander lifted his head up, blinking slowly at him.  "Someone's here about the demon the LA crew found trafficking."

"The report's on my computer in the den."  He got up and stole a kiss and another muffin before grabbing his robe.  He didn't want the agent to get too excited to see him.  He walked into the study, noticing he was looking at the boxes of missiles.  He grunted at him, getting into his computer to find the report Angel had sent with the boxes.  He printed it out, giving it to him, then grunted again.

"What's this?"

"That's Xander speak for 'that's what they sent with the stuff'," Tony translated.

"How did it get here, Mr. Harris?  There are rules about interstate transport of weapons.  Especially the illegal ones."  Xander blinked at him then looked at something and floated it over to the agent, who stared in horror.  "How...."  He grabbed it to check over.  No wires.  No strings.  Nothing that had held it up.  "Do that again!" he demanded.

"I'm not a birthday party magician."   He floated it again for him.  That way he could check it over all he wanted until Xander let it drop.  "I'm tired and going back to bed now.  You can wait an hour or go talk to Gibbs.  He got the last stuff I found lying around Sunnydale."  The man went pale and he nodded. "I was one of the defenders.  They didn't need this and the LA crew didn't need this stuff."

"You know Angel?"

"I worked with Angel and Cordelia back in Sunnydale.  Actually, I used to date Cordy.  I promise I won't sell it to anyone but other gun collectors.  Tony would get mad and pout at me."  He walked off.  "You can take him out there, Tony.  That way he can calm down while I finish sleeping it off."

"Sure, Xander."  He took him that way, letting Gibbs have him as well as the gun he was still clutching to his chest.  "Xander floated it for him."

"Interesting.  Beats seeing demons tortured," Gibbs said dryly, taking the new pot of coffee.  "Thanks, DiNozzo."

"Welcome, boss."  He looked at the agent, sitting him down.  "Okay, now what?"

"They floated them across the country?" the agent asked.

"No, they teleported them across the country," Tony said dryly.  "The same way he did some liniment for my back when I got hurt helping him with the house construction."  The agent whimpered.  "Boss?  Call Fornell for him?"  That got a louder whimper.  "Also, Xander's napping it off."

"What off?" he asked.

"I think his morning infusion of Speedle, boss," he said, giving him a look.

Gibbs smirked.  "Good for them.  You going to throw a girly fit because he's taking your buddy?"

"No.  Why would I?"

"You looked jealous last night," McGee said helpfully.

"I did not!  Besides, I like women.  I think I've proved that fairly often, guys."

McGee looked at him.  "Tony, don't even.  If Xander were a girl you would *never* help them build their home.  Arrange the house maybe but not *build* the house, getting sweaty while they build the house.  Putting yourself in danger on the roof helping build the home."

"I do for friends that I don't do for girls, McGee," he said patiently, glaring at him.

"So if I need help with the boat, I can call?" Gibbs asked, giving him a look.

"Sure.  I don't know much about boat building but I'll come hold and tap in nails like I did up there."

"Good to know," Gibbs said.  He called Fornell.  "It's Gibbs.  I'm here with your very stunned agent.  Mr. Harris got a delivery from LA's defense team.  I know you were there during the hearings, Fornell.  He got some from a demon trafficking weapons.  He's willing to give over anything illegal but it's all old stuff.  He was thinking a collector.  We're here with a witness and your agent going witless."  He listened then nodded.  "We're here, Harris is napping off his night's dinner with a friend.  He's being cooperative, he claims he wants to be a good guy."

"He's been a good guy, Gibbs.  Otherwise he would've ignored everything in Sunnydale."

"Point."  He listened to Fornell then looked at the agent.  He reached over and smacked him on the head.  "Fornell said to straighten up."

"Yes, sir."  He took the phone.  "Sir, they floated a gun at me," he said quietly.

"He's still clutching it, Fornell," Tony called.

The agent glared at him.  "I am not."  Tony nodded at the gun so he looked then put it carefully aside.  "I was in shock."

"Of course you were," Gibbs agreed.  "Tell him we're out in the woods.  I'll have McGee waiting by the driveway."  McGee got up and walked out.  The agent hung up and headed out after Gibbs got his phone back.  He looked at Tony.  "You sure we won't have a girly fit?"

"Yeah, I'm sure, boss.  I can't be jealous of Speedle."

"Is that because you want him too?" their witness asked.  Tony glared at her so she went back to the bedroom area.

"It's a legitimate question."

"I might like the kid but he's taken.  I don't poach."

"Fine.  I like that.  If you do, I don't want details."

"Not an issue, boss.  I don't share good details of any other liaison either."  He walked outside to look around the trailer.

Gibbs shook his head.  Sometimes he wondered about that kid.  Hopefully Kate would be back soon so he could have backup dealing with this crazy situation.


Xander walked into Tony's unit about seven days after they had left his house, putting something in front of Tim.   "This got given to my attention," he said quietly.  "Reagan sent it to me."

Tim looked at it then at him.  "That would be dangerous."

"Which is why Reagan's hiding for his life."  He grimaced and looked around.  "That account wasn't revealed but the cops have him out there.  He asked that I hide it so they can't start up again.  So I'm having the ethical quandary moment.  I can get it from him.  It's not that hard.  The cops out there told him they don't want it.  Apparently there's some politics out there as well."

Tim looked it over again then looked at him.  "It's tempting."

"Reagan said that the guy got his sister hooked, Tim.  I don't know why the cops out there don't want it."

"I can call."

"You can't call.  He's in protective custody somewhere.  They're not letting him near anything electronic.  I don't know what to do.  I'm willing to hide it for him.  The same as Willow got the Initiative again.  They had restarted somehow with the hidden people.  Didn't work very well since she's been watching out for them to come back.  She sent it to me via email."  He unfolded that paper and handed it over to Gibbs since he was walking in.  "From Rosenburg."  He looked at Tim again.  "Is that really bad?"

"Probably but helpful.  I'm wondering why the cops out there don't want to confiscate it."  Xander flipped over the paper.  "You did a background on who it was?"

"Yeah.  I thought it might be why.  I didn't see why or any direct connections."

Tony came over, taking the paper to read both sides of.  Then he looked at Xander.  "Can you hide it and not touch it?"

"I can but I'm worried since the cops out there don't want it.  That smacks of trying to catch more hackers."

"It might be.  Let me get someone to call out there first.  I have a few contacts in the PD.  They might know something about this group."

"Okay.  I told him I'd go for it by tonight or pass it on by then.  I have the account code but I'm not sure if it's a good thing or not."

"Let's see," Tony agreed, going to his desk.  "What're you doing for lunch, Xander?  Our other coworker is finally back from injury leave.  She broke her ankle skiing."

"Why do people ski?" he asked, looking confused.

"This winter we can figure that out," McGee said happily.

"Okay."  He shrugged. "That's why I came up.  That and Willow's thing."

"It's a good thing to ask," Tony assured him.  "Boss, how restarted were they?"

"They've rented a compound.  They've rented equipment.  It looks like they're searching for hunters."  Gibbs handed it to Xander, who handed it to Tony.  "Take that from her if you can, Xander."

"Already done that, Gibbs.  I've hidden it from everyone.  Do you guys want this too?"

"We'll talk about that," Gibbs told him.  "Kate, this is Xander," he said when she walked in and sat down.  "He's a friend Tony met in Sunnydale."

She nodded and waved.  "Hi, Xander."

"Hi."  He grinned at her.  "I'm kinda harmless most of the time but the same case is trying to come back and a hacker I know was helping by stealing their money so they couldn't restart."

"Interesting.  Where is it?"

"Hidden from her."  He looked at Tony again, shrugging a bit.  "What do you want me to do?"

"Hold onto the Initiative's money for now, keep it hidden. The other one, give me another two hours."

"Okay.  I can do that.  I'm heading home and the cellphone bill was paid so I've got it working again.  Call me if you know anything."  He waved and bounced off.

"Someone needed less chocolate today," Gibbs said dryly.

"What does he do?" Kate asked.  "Is he law enforcement?"

"No, he's starting over by finishing his new house," Tony told her. "He'll start working construction again next spring."  He called a friend in the local Vice unit.  "Hey, it's DiNozzo.  A guy I know knows a hacker out in Arizona.  The hacker's sister got hooked by a gang out there so he stole their money.  Now, the cops out there have the hacker but they don't want to confiscate the funds too and it's bothering me.  Yeah, I've got all that.  I can fax you the email and what he found out.  Please.  Thanks.  Doing it right now."  He hung up and walked over to the fax machine to send it.  That was really non-standard.


Tony walked into Xander's house.  "Take it and hide them both," he ordered simply.

Xander clicked on six buttons, his mouse twice, typed something in, paused, typed something else in, then smiled at him.  "Done."

"Good.  The cops were a bit dirty."  Xander frowned at that.  "He's fine.  DEA was getting involved.  I talked to the agent over there and said it was in hacker custody but they were willing to hand it over.  He said it wasn't the main account.  They're all overseas."

"No, they're in Greece and they're pretty pitiful.  The main one in the Caymans was emptied last month."  Tony blinked so he handed over what he had printed off.  "I did some more checking.  "It looks like they're going downhill.  A supply problem hopefully.  I hate drug dealers."

"I hate drug dealers too."  He kissed him on the head.  "Let me fax that."

"Give me the number?"  Tony wrote it down so he sent it over.  "There we go.  What about the other one?"

"Hide it and don't use it unless someone asks."  He kissed him on the top of the head.  "Good job."  Xander beamed.  "What can I do to help tonight?"

"Cook?" he asked sheepishly.

"I can do that.  Let's see what you've got."

"One very burned roast."

"That's happened to me too."  He walked him into the kitchen, pausing to look at the new side of the house.  "This is going along really well."

"I'll be doing wallboard this week," he said proudly. "I put in the new hot water heater today and the new fuse box.  That's why the roast burned."

Tony smiled and nodded.  "It happens.  We all make one mistake cooking.  I nearly sent someone to the ER."  Xander grinned at that, letting him look through the cabinets.  "You went grocery shopping."

"I plan on going about once a month."

Tony smiled.  "That works for most things."  He found what he wanted and got to work.  "Got anything you want to do quickly?  In under twenty minutes?"

"Shower."  He went to do that, letting Tony cook.

Tony smiled, glancing into the water heater room before getting back to chopping.   His phone rang.  "DiNozzo," he answered.  "This is he.  I had him send that to you, yes."  He smiled and got back to work, phone cradled between his shoulder and ear.  "Yup.  He knows the hacker that got them originally.  Yeah, that same guy.  I don't know what you wanted him to do.  He said it was from a supply problem probably.  He's in the shower.  No, I'm at his place talking to him.  Dinner at the moment," he admitted.  "We're friends. He's from out in California; we met on a case.  Yeah, that one.  How did you know?"  He snickered.  "That's fine.  He's friends with Rosenburg but she doesn't know he knows how to hack.  Up to you guys.  You sure?"  He nodded.  "That's a good idea.  I don't know.  Let me know.  He's got the original one hidden.  No, he's fixing up his house.  Let me know and I'll have him help you all you want.  He said he would.  Thanks, man."  He hung up and got back to work.  Xander peeked in with a boyish grin.  "The agents out there called.  They said thank you and they're looking at the other accounts and what's going on."

"Okay.  I'm going to send Speed an email.  He had a problem the other day."  He went to do that, finding that he needed a bit of hacking help.  They got into a chat conversation while Tony cooked and he found what he needed, sending him the information he needed, plus how he got there.  He heard the fire detector go off.  "Do I need to worry?" he called.

"No.  Stuff on the burner, Xander.  Tell him I said hi."

"Okay."  He did that and got back one.  "He said hi back."  He found something else on the guy and handed it over.  Speed sent back a smiley face and signed off.  Xander went to help in the kitchen, including making the table nice for them.  "Thank you for cooking."

"Welcome.  What was he doing?"

"Someone who had moved and left stuff lying around."

"Another hacker issue?"

"They don't have one in the department."

"Maybe you can teach Speed."

"Maybe.  I only know a little bit though.  There's dozens of styles and I only know one," he said at Tony's look.  "McGee hacks differently than I do and so does your Abby friend."

"You and Abby would probably get along pretty well," he offered. "I should introduce you two."

"She might hiss at me for my former job.  McGee said she's goth."

"She's not usually like that.  How about we do a team lunch some week soon?"  Xander looked confused.  "You'd be invited."

"Oh.  Okay.  I wouldn't mind if they didn't."

"It'd make Kate quit picking on me," he said with a wicked grin.

Xander nodded and hugged him, taking the plates over to the table.  "What is this?"

"Fruit chutney and pork loin."  He got them drinks and came over to sit across from him.  "It's not that hard to do but it's pretty filling."  He ruffled his hair.  "Didn't do that?"

"Ran out of shampoo and soap and didn't realize it," he said sheepishly.  He ate a bite and  moaned, nearly melting on the spot.  "Oh, damn, that's good."

Tony smiled.  "Good."  He ate a bite and mentally patted himself on the back for doing such a good job.  "When's Speed coming back?"

"Not for a few months.  He's out of vacation time."  He ate another bite.  "He said his boss liked how relaxed he came back.  He got teased about it."  He ate another bite.  "We're still very close."

"You two broke up?"

"Speed decided he wanted to keep it casual since I'm nowhere near Miami for bootie calls."  Tony nodded at that, stuffing his mouth.  "Plus he's not here to cuddle when I have nightmares."


"I've had them for years," he admitted. "It's probably not ever going to end."  He heard a thump and went to check it out, looking at the couch.  "Why did I need a couch?" he asked, looking it over.  He found the book stuffed inside and sat down to look it over.  "Huh."  He looked at the letter in the front, then he got off the couch and went to find his former supply kit.  "Have you seen the holy water?"

"Study closet on the shelf, Xander."  He went to follow him, watching what he did.  The couch was sprayed liberally, making it scream.  "Did that couch just...."

"Yeah.  It's not a couch."  He called Angel.  "Did you send me the demon pretending to be a couch?  Yeah, it's in my new area.  Because I don't need a couch demon, Angel.  No, I'm in a pretty null area.  Yeah, and the book that was inside it.  Ewww!  I don't want to think about that!  No!  It was underneath the base of the couch. The butt of the demon would be on the back or the lower seam or something."  He shuddered.  "The book says that it can be changed back.  I'm not that powerful, Deadboy.  I can float a remote, a gun, something like that.  I can't change it back.  Sure, I'm here."  He hung up and watched Willow appear.  "Here, have the couch pretending demon."

"Sure.  Thanks."  She looked at the book, then took the note.  "It's all in here.  What's the book?"  Xander let her see.  "Huh."  She shrugged.  "Okay."  She took them back with her.

"Good, done," he said happily, smiling at Tony.  "Any left?"

"Some."  He followed him back to the kitchen, not sure he shouldn't be worried.  "How did she appear that way?"

"It's demonic teleporting. You've got to be pretty strong to do that.  I can't."

"Okay.  That makes sense."  He dug in again, watching Xander eat.   "You okay?"

"I'm fine.  It wasn't a prostate check finding that book."

Tony smiled.  "That's a bright side to that."

"It is and looking on the bright side means I don't have to go scrub with clorox."

"Always a good thing.  I can take you to get some soap and stuff."

"Thanks, Tony."

"Welcome.  So, how many more weeks do you think?"

"I don't know.  Maybe until December to finish all the inside?"

"Good.  It'll start getting cold in a few weeks you know."

"I know.  The insulation's going up right before the wallboard.  It's spray stuff."

"Even better.  Anything else we need tonight?"

"No, I'm okay."  He heard another thump and sighed.  "I don't want to know."

Tony went to look, staring for a minute.  "I hope you're not cursed," he mumbled, lifting up something.  "Hey, Xander, are any of your friends known cleptos?"

"No.  Why?"  He came to look, staring at the jewelry.  "Huh.  That's Wesley's family crest," he said, pointing at something.  He called LA again.  "Deadboy, is Wes there?  I just got something of his."  The phone was handed over.  "Wes, Xander.  Why did I just get jewelry with your family crest on it?  Same spot as the demon couch was.  Almost exactly.  Yeah, I'm sure."  He nodded.  "Have Willow bring you.  She was just here.  Sure.  Actually I'm having dinner with a buddy.  We're here."  He hung up.  "He's going to check with his family.  It'll be a while.  They like to complain about him."

"Sure."  He nodded, going back with Xander.  "Speaking of parents...."

"Oh, my mother is a clepto but she steals and then pawns stuff to get money for her liquor habit.  The occasional drug making in the basement too.  I haven't logged onto the PD server recently."

"Let's do that after dinner.  The store I'm thinking is open twenty-four."

"Good.  We can do that.  What do you think about animals?"

"Like farm animals?"

"I was thinking a dog to start."

"Dogs are nice," he agreed.  "There's a great pound in DC I can show you."  Xander beamed.  "They've always got some bigger dogs and you can handle one out here.  Plus it'll be a guard dog in case someone comes in."

"I could.  Not that anyone will be sneaking out here."  That got a smile and a nod.  "I need to get the cable hooked up too.  Plus a tv."

"That'll come soon."

"I hope so.  There's nothing to do but hack and work on the house."

"That means it gets done faster," he teased.

"Yeah, it would."  He looked back down the hall when he heard noise. "Willow?"

"It's me, Xander," a male voice said in a light British accent.  He came up the hall.  "I didn't know you knew my family crest."

"I looked you up when you showed up, Wes.  Want something to eat?"

"No, I'm fine, thank you," he said with a smile.  "I don't know how it got here.  I don't recognize any of it.  I'll take it back with me.  Is this your place?"  Xander smiled and nodded.  "It's stunning work so far, Xander."

"Thanks.  I've been fixing what was here and adding on so I've got plenty of room when I'm having a roaming day."

"It's going to be marvelous," he assured him, patting him on the back.  "Your friend is...."

"Tony DiNozzo.  My team at NCIS came out to solve the Initiative problem and Xander knows one of the others who hacks.  They play online games together."

"That's wonderful he's found friends."  He shook his hand.  "Wesley Wyhndam-Pryce.  I work with Angel."  He smiled at Xander.  "Are you fully retired?"

"This is nearly a null area.  I'm in practical retirement.  If something happens I'll deal but it probably won't."

"It's wise of you to get out.  You've been looking tired recently.  Do write more often.  I should get back with that stuff."  He patted him on the back again.  "Nice to meet you, Tony.  Do have a good date."  He walked off smiling, taking the things back with him.

"That's nice of him," Tony said with a grin.

"He said it was a date."

"He did.  It kinda looks like one," Tony admitted at Xander's look.  "But I don't expect anything, Xander.  Even if McGee does think we'd be cute."

"We might be," Xander agreed.  "Not that I'm objecting...."

Tony grinned.  "I'm not hinting, Xander.  If it happens, it does.  If it doesn't, it doesn't."   Xander nodded, smiling back.  "Good.  Eat.  Then we'll log in and then go shopping."

"Okay."  He dug in again, getting up to get some more iced tea.  "I need to go car shopping in the next few weeks."

"Probably should, yeah," Tony agreed.  His phone went off.  "DiNozzo.  Hey, boss.  Yeah, I'm with him.  Why?  He doesn't have a tv out here, boss.  Why?"  He let Xander hear the report going on.

Xander listened, frowning at it.  "I can handle that.  It'll take me a bit.  Get it out of public.  Gunshots would herd it but it's hurt by silver and cutting off it's top half.  Sure, be there as soon as Tony can get me there, Gibbs."  He handed the phone back, gulping the tea on the way to the office.  He grabbed his battle axe and walked back to get his shoes and a jacket.  "Come on, Tony."

"Coming."  He finished eating and followed him out to the car.  He got to drive while Xander made sure his axe was okay.  "Is that silver?"

"Yeah, it's silver plated."   He let it rest against his shoulder.  "We'll be fine as long as they can get it away from the press."

"Let's hope the local guys can herd the press off."  He sped up once he hit the main road, turning on the lights as well.  "I think this is a good enough emergency."

"It probably is."  They got there thirty minutes later and he got out when Tony had to pause to flash his badge, nodding at the guy.  "Get the press away from it."

"Can it be killed?"

"Silver to the mid-section, cutting him off."  They nodded and he called, letting the other cops back people away from the area.  Xander snuck up that way, sticking to the shadows.  "Having deja vu," he muttered.  He found the demon snacking on a car.  "Eww.  Doesn't the oil taste bad?"  He looked around then dove and rolled across the open area, getting behind it.  The demon turned and glared, taking a swipe at him. The hand came off.  The demon screamed.  Xander ducked another swipe and grab attempt, taking a backswing at that hand.  He missed but the blade nearly got stuck in the demon's knee.  He saw the hand starting to regenerate and ducked him again, then took a swing at the waist.  It split.  "Not good enough."  He had to roll to get away from him and got him from the side this time.  Its scream echoed around the area but it fell in two.  Xander panted, wiping off his forehead.  "Good."  He walked back between the buildings, circling around to get back to where Tony was.  He got into the car, putting the axe into the back on a plastic bag that was laid on the seat.  Tony spotted him and climbed in too.  "That's not an important bag, right?"

"No, that's why I put it back there when you got out.  Good work."

"As long as there's not another."  Tony glanced at him.  "It could've been one mating.  Eating metal is like that.  They need the oil and plastic to form good eggs."  He got out and went to a cop, slipping him something.  "There's a possibility it was in heat," he said quietly.  The officer gaped at him.  "If so, call me there.  Get and keep it away from people.  It'll want oil and plastic to make harder eggs.  Call me and I'll come."  The officer nodded, heading off.  Xander went back to the car and got in to hide.  "Okay.  We're good.  He's got my number in case something happens.  Can we go hide now?  There's a camera crew looking this way."

"Yeah, we can."  Tony turned off the light and backed out, heading back to the house.  On the way they stopped to get more soap and stuff.  Xander could really use a shower now.  He was a bit sweaty.  They also picked up some chocolate for Xander.  He wanted some and Tony wanted to see him happy tonight.  Which was why they ended up in front of the fireplace napping on the same couch with Xander curled against his side, with an arm around his stomach.


Speed frowned at the tv coverage, shaking his head slowly.  "Why did you jump in, Xander?" he muttered, watching it unfold.  The camera crews were forced back but you could still see when the demon died and the human figure slipped off of the scene and away.  "Xander," he moaned.  His boss walked into the break room, giving him then the tv a look.  "Xander," he said, pointing at the replay going on.  "He had to jump in.  That's Tony DiNozzo," he said, pointing at a guy off to the right of the screen.  "He's a friend up there who helped with Xander's last problem in Sunnydale.  He's been helping with the house now and then too."

"Interesting."  He came over to look.  "Is that thing human?"

"No.  It's not," Speed said.  He took a deep breath.  "I'm calling him tomorrow.  Right now he's calming down and it looks like Tony has it well in hand."  He walked off shaking his head.

His boss smiled at the flustered man.  Young love was so cute to watch.


Tony walked into work the next morning.  "I won't be late again, boss.  I fell asleep on Xander's couch helping him calm down.  Forgot to set my watch alarm."

"He okay after last night?" he asked, not looking up from his reading.

"Yeah, he's being artistic with the spray insulation and then doing wallboard in the first room."  He sat behind his desk.  "Morning, Kate, morning, Probie.  How was your night?"

"Fine," McGee said, smiling at him. "Did he get the Arizona situation solved?  I noticed Reagan was back online in the centaur game last night."

"Yeah, I talked with the DEA guys out there and Xander gave them what they needed.  They were on their way down the chain.  Had money issues but it worked well enough."

"Good," Gibbs agreed.  "The thing last night was the only one.  LEO checked for more car-eating things."

"He gave one of them his number in case it happens again," Tony said happily.  "How was your night, Kate?"

"Less exciting than yours."

"I only watched."

She gave him a look.  "Just friends?" she taunted.

"Yes, Kate, just friends.  I can have guy friends."

"Yet you reacted very strongly when that transvestite kissed you," she taunted.

He leaned back, looking at her.  "That was because they were like that."  She gaped.  "What's wrong?  I do have a few male friends."

"Work is not getting done," Gibbs noted.  "Kate, you weren't there in Sunnydale.  Mr. Harris is a very nice man and has combat history beyond last night.  He's the one who called us about the situation out there."

"Still, don't you think it's funny that a friend of McGee's is such a close friend of Tony's?"

Gibbs looked at her. "No.  He may play computer role playing games but that doesn't mean he's not fought and saved a lot of lives in his town.  His team out there was part cops, part hunters, and part protection patrol from what we were told.  He's a very nice young man, very helpful, and you should sit down and talk to him before you start making rash judgements."

"Or sit with his exes," Tony said dryly.

Gibbs looked at him.  "I don't think she needs that sort of trauma, DiNozzo.  Don't you have a report for me somewhere?"

"I left it on your desk last night, boss.  Did you hand it back?"  He searched his desk.  "It's not here."

Gibbs looked and found it, going over it with his red pen.  Then he threw it back at him.  "There, correct it."

"Yes, boss."  He got to work making the corrections.  It got Kate off his back.  For now.  Though he did write Xander an email saying that they should get him and Kate together so she could talk to him.


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