Xander walked up the reception desk his first day in Miami, holding up his new ID card.  "I'm the new ballistics tech."

"Hi, CSI... Winchester?"  He grinned and nodded.  "Sign in please?"  She watched as he did.  "Which lab did you come from?"

"One with a death threat. That's why Horatio stole me," he said with an innocent grin, making her stare in horror.  "He did.  They nearly packed me in the car and moved me while I was asleep."  He grinned.  "Ballistics is the south corner?"  She nodded.  "Thank you."  He walked that way, dropping his locker bag in the corner once he was in there.  He looked around, finding a few good spots for his needs.  He pulled out a lab coat and his glasses, getting to work on the few samples they had in there.  He turned on some quiet music too.  That way it wasn't silent in there.  They had shielded the room pretty well.

Calleigh walked in an hour later.  He was dusting.  "No work?"  She looked around.  "Huh, no work."

"I did it already," he said with a grin.  She grinned back.  "So, where can my personal collection go?"

"We have most of the ones you had there as samples in the locked exemplar."

He pulled out his binder, handing it over.  "The legal, registered exemplar I have."  He sat down to watch her go through it.

She moaned at a few of them.  "Wow."  She looked at him.  "Nice collection."  He grinned. "Keep them at home and if we need them we'll let you pick them up for the day.  All right?"  He nodded.  She put that binder on her shelf in case it came up.  "What haven't you seen?"

"My locker, anyone else, the other labs?"

"We can do that.  Horatio sent you a map?"

"He did."  He stood up and grabbed his bag, taking it with him to the locker room.  He saw a few odd looks.  "Hi, Alexander Winchester.  Ballistics."  She gave him an odd look.  "They're not using it.  John liked it.  Sam groaned."   Really, since they were being made to travel around under a different identity to protect them, the Winchester name was their 'undercover identity' as Sam called it, making John and Dean both snort.  He had volunteered to take it over so no one would wonder and that way someone would be able to find John at least when they needed to - all the other hunters knew Xander was being watched over by John.

"I guess that's fine."

"It means I can answer to my own name again."

"What about that first contract?"

"The Brits raided them again.  They're not happy with them.  Not that I blame them but they're really not happy with the Council."

"I can see why."  She pointed.  "Locker."

He looked inside then stuffed his stuff in there.  "I'll bring in a suit tomorrow once I have them unpacked."

"That's fine.  Do we need to stop and get anything else?"

"I usually keep my scene kit in the lab in case I get a sudden call out."

"That's reasonable.  You can put it under the bullet storage cabinet in the lab."  He grinned.  "Lock it."  He put on his lock and handed her the spare key.  "I'll hand this to Horatio on our tour."  She walked him off, showing him around.  "This is Valera.  You can tease and pick on her, but she flirts like you do, without follow through."

"My beauteous DNA tech," he said, kissing her on the cheek.  "Glad to meet you.  She's said nice things about you and your brains being larger than even mine."  She giggled and swatted at him.  "I'm Xander out of Ballistics."

"That's good."  She smiled and he walked off.  "Aww, he's a cute puppy for her.  They'd be good together."

Calleigh came back.  "He only likes evil women."  She left again once Valera was cackling.

"I like it when people make that sound around me," he admitted with a grin for her.

"I can tell by the t-shirt," she said, giving it a look. _Legally, it's questionable.  Morally, it's disgusting.  Personally, I like it._ "Not what I expected today."

"It was the first good one I unpacked.  Otherwise I would've worn a strange one instead."

"I think that one's plenty strange."  She took him into trace.  "I know you took a minor in trace in school.  This is our trace lab and that is Tim Speedle, our trace person."

"Hi, Xander Winchester, Ballistics."

He stared at him.  "I've heard of your family."

"I'm the one John's guarding."  Speed licked his lips and looked like he was thinking.  "Didn't hear that part?  Cool, ask me later."  He grinned.  "They're down if you needed to find them.  Dean's basking in the glow of bikinis somewhere."

"No, that's all right.  Why are you here?"

"Well, because my last lab abused her and me so much during some busts, which included terrorists, that they decided they wanted to pay me back for my brilliance in turning them in to get them stopped."

It took him a minute to decipher that.  "Contract is for how much?" he asked.

"Five mil, and another one for three-quarters from another source."

Speed blinked.  "So you're in your new identity?"  Xander grinned and nodded.  "Uh-huh.  So you're Mac's tech."

"Yes I was," he agreed quietly.

"Was that your original name?"

"No.  That was the last identity thanks to the smaller contract."


"By the Watchers Council."

"That makes sense then.  Where are you from?"

"Town's destroyed now," he said casually.  And didn't that suck.  Willow had kept him asleep so he couldn't help.  That's why he had nearly been packed into the car.

"I heard some people say California wanted that town out of their state," Speed said.

"I'm sure they did.  We dragged down stats on nearly every spectrum."

Speed nodded.  "Good to know.  Are you settled in?"

"All but an emergency suit in my locker and finishing the unpacking at home."

"Good.  H is talking to the big bosses."  Calleigh grimaced then let it clear up.  "They wanted to know what happened when you got... abused."

"A lot of guns and artillery."  Speed shuddered.  "He had a friend who turned information over to him.  He went on the first few busts as part of the team.  That's how they knew to put the contract on him."

"Wonderful.  Are you a straight lab tech, Xander?"

"With a minor in trace that I don't use all too often and I'm rated to do field work.  Which I'd like to do as a backup on the bad cases and those things."

"I can see you doing that."  He nodded.  "I saw Alexx heading for your lab."

Calleigh leaned out the door.  "Alexx?"  She looked up the hall and smiled.  "I'm in here with my new lab gremlin."

"I like dark spaces but not tiny ones," Xander quipped, making Speed laugh.  "I don't."

"I'm sure we'll get used to you.  Nice shirt, I like that one."

Calleigh gave him a dirty look.  "I'd them to be less strange."  Xander pulled out a picture and handed it to her, making her shudder and hand it back.  "Don't wear that one around the lab, Xander.  Please?"

He grinned.  "John burned it on me once."  He let Speed see it, making him chuckle.  Xander grinned at him once it was put up, turning to look at the woman in the doorway.  He saw her reading his shirt and shifted for her, making her groan.  "Yes, I am the stress relief fairy.  I should put that on a shirt too."  He held out a hand.  "Xander Winchester."

"Alexx Woods, this lab's ME.  You're where?  New field boy?"

"Calleigh's brilliant young lab tech and backup field boy."

She smiled and patted him on the cheek.  "You'll do fine.  Relax."

"I am.  If I'm uptight, I have weapons."  She walked off giggling.

"Seriously?" Speed asked.

Calleigh looked back at him.  "He has a personal exemplar."

"That's...very gun geek of you."  Xander just beamed at that compliment.  "You trained where?"


"Hmm.  So you're literally in the top thirty in the field."  Xander beamed and nodded.  "Good going, kid.  Shoo, let me get back to work.  Delko and the new boy are in the field fussing at each other."

"Fussing like the river in Egypt is singing to him sweetly at night, or fussing because I heard the new boy's a bit uptight?" Xander asked him.

Speed paused then cackled loudly, leaning on the table.  "Personally, it might be denial.  I don't know.  I'll have to ask Eric that later.  Thanks, Xander."

"Welcome."  He beamed.  "We're going to finish the tour with me getting a soda to drink on the way back to the lab and I'll be over there if you need me for any reason.  Speaking of," he said, moving closer, staring at him.  "You heard what?"

"Everything," he admitted.  "From Adam.  He wanted me to know the most pertinent parts so someone knew not to let you gorge on chocolate."

"Ah."  He leaned closer.  "I'll offer this to techs I know aren't comfy with their weapons, which I heard you're not.  If you need me to I can check it over periodically for you," he said in his ear, getting a nod.  He stepped back.  "Not saying it's necessary, but...."

"It's cool.  If I need that offer, I'll take you up on it."  Xander nodded and grinned, walking off.  "Adam said you were pushy," he muttered once he was gone.  "But now I know who had that sudden vision about me and the jewelry store."  He got back to work, thinking about their newest tech.  Adam said he pulled Horatio sized trouble and evil women.  Yeah, that was going to be fun to watch.

Xander came out of the break room with his soda, smiling at the guys coming in arguing.  "Ah, the sounds of college that I almost miss."  They stopped to stare at him.  He grinned.  "Hi, Xander Winchester, ballistics.  I'm Calleigh's new wonderful, young, enthusiastic, bouncy tech."  He waved since their hands were full.

"I'm Eric, this is Wolfe."

"Speed said stuff about both of you."  He gulped some of his soda, looking at them.  "Anything for me?  I'm clear I think."

"No, it was a stabbing."

"That's cool.  If you need me, come find me, guys."  He walked off.

"Was he flirting?" Eric asked quietly.

"No, I wasn't, Eric.  From the sit rep I got given by my former coworkers that's already very busy in your life," Xander called as he walked.  He heard Calleigh giggle at that.  He turned to grin.  "I may flirt, darling, but I'd never follow through unless I was sure it wouldn't turn weird on the job."  He walked in and tossed out his empty can, going back to work once he had on his coat and gloves.

Eric shook his head quickly.  "He's a mini Speed with a bad sense of humor," he decided, carrying his stuff on.  "Come on, Wolfe.  Let's get this logged in before you lose your mind wondering about him."

"I think he seemed nice and a bit playful," he told him, following along behind him.  "It's nice to have someone who can lighten the load when it gets too bad around here."  He dropped his bag on the trace table, taking the log sheet to log it in.  Speed gave him a dirty look.  "Stabbing in the park."

"And you brought back what?  Beyond animal fur on your shirt?"

He looked then stepped out of the lab to dust off.  He came back.  "Sorry, Eric had me getting a sample off the stray we found licking the blood pool."

"Ah."  He nodded, handing him a lint roller.  Ryan grinned, going to do that in the hall.  Xander came out to get his back for him then handed it back and walked off whistling.  "He's very active.  Too much caffeine?"

"Not enough," Xander called.  "Sorry."

"Take more then," Calleigh agreed.  She came over to help.  "Anything good?"

"Stabbing, dog licking at the blood pool," Eric told her.

"No wonder you had animal fur, Ryan."  She patted him on the back.  "Good lint roll job."  She dove in to help.  They looked at her.  "I'm clear and waiting on a case.  He's got ballistics covered so I'm bored."  They handed her a sample, getting a smile back.  "Thank you, boys."

Xander came jogging back. "FBI in the lab."  They groaned, making sure they were correctly attired and things.  He went to tell the others then went back to ballistics in time to intercept them coming in.  "Ah!  Open toed shoes are not allowed," he ordered with a point.  "Out!"  She backed out.  "Change your shoes, pull your hair back, and come back with gloves on."  She stomped off to talk to her superior.  Who stomped in.  "I follow protocol in this lab, whoever you are.  Lab coat and gloves, now."

"I'm on the oversight committee."

"Good, then you know you're doing wrong.  Put it on anyway or get out of my lab before you compromise something."  He stood in his way.  "I don't play footsie well, sir.  I step on toes when I have to," he said at the sneer.  "And I wear heavy ass boots."  He stepped back.  "Lab coat.  Gloves.  You know protocol if you're from the board.  You guys wrote the book and you should be able to spit it back better than any new student."

"Are you?" he sneered.

"Graduated two years ago."  He crossed his arms over his chest.  "It is against protocol for me to touch any piece of evidence in this lab when there are non-licensed and/or people breaking protocol in this lab.  Otherwise it can be thrown out.  Do it or move it.  You're keeping me from working."  He snarled but put on a lab coat and gloves.  "Thank you.  What did you need in ballistics?"

"You're who?"

"Alexander Winchester."

"The one with the terrorist death threat," he sneered.

"Yeah, because I actually listened to a hacker I knew online.  Unlike the first Fed she went to about verifying the information.  Pity since we found a huge ass bomb waiting for radioactive elements in that one."  He went pale.  "Anything else?"

"We're doing a lab audit."

"This is my first day, go ahead."  He got out of his way, going to work on his sample.  He knew his protocol and how to do things perfectly by the book.  He only had the one sample.  It wasn't like it was that hard.  He did catch himself mistyping his name but he had done that the last time he had switched too.  He made sure it was corrected everywhere and then started the search running.  He saw the man glaring at him.  "I did have to change identities thanks to that.  Now and then I still start to use my last name," he said quietly.  The man shuddered.  "Are you finding anything I need to fix before I go home tonight?"

"No," he snarled.  "Duquesne keeps a good lab."

Xander pointed at something behind him, both of the framed ratings articles now up there.  The man growled as he stomped out.  "Have a good day and remember to change gloves," he called with a short wave.  He went back to work.  Horatio stepped in a few minutes later.  "If Stella didn't tell you I am the protocol bitch about my lab, boss."

"She did and I do admire that.  Of course, pissing them off isn't wise."

Xander looked back at him.  "If he's part of the board, he should be able to spit it out chapter and verse.  If I hadn't called him on it, he'd be able to write me up.  Otherwise, I don't play politics.  Not like I want to run a lab."

"That is a good point."  He smiled, letting him finish his report and put it aside once the bullet was fully resealed and in the system.  "For?"

"Alexx brought it up."

"I'll take it and see then.  Anything that you see needs done?"

"Some mopping.  We're a bit dingy.  Trash could use taken out."  He looked around.  "Probably the monthly bullet sorting so she doesn't have to deal with it.  The exemplar's a bit dusty so I might spend some time cleaning it until we get another one."  That got a nod and a smile from his boss before he walked off.  Xander went to get what he needed, coming back to start with the dusting.  Then the mopping could be done.

Calleigh walked in.  "We have maintenance guys, Xander."

"They can't or don't do a great job.  It's dingy."

"Are you OCD?"

He looked at her.  "No.  I'm a protocol bitch in my lab, but no.  It needed to be done and I'm clear.  This way we get the sanitizing mop done too."

"If you want," she decided, looking at his last report.  She smiled at the ease of reading and the notations in it.  "Good report."  She walked off to go back over it.  "He's doing the cleaning work since he's clear, Speed."

"That's reasonable.  I do when I'm clear in here.  The cleaning trustees suck."

"He said ballistics is dingy.  He said he's not OCD, just a protocol pain-in-the-butt for our lab."

Speed nodded.  "Adam said that too."  She smirked.  "Did you have fun with all those guns?"

"I did, what I remember of it.  We kinda worked like dogs in a mine I think."  She shook her head quickly.  "I remember taking an artillery petting break when we got tired after that second bust.  Twelve thousand guns.  Two hundred pieces of artillery.  From *one* group and their apocalypse vaults."  He shuddered.  "After the first few dozen it starts to run together, but he was good.  He kept us going and happy enough.  He ordered dinner one night after he realized he had forgotten to eat for a few days.  When we finally passed out in the break room he slept in front of the couch so no one could bother me."

"Adam said he nearly bit someone who walked nearby," he told her.  "That he didn't want to go home because someone might bother you."

She smiled.  "He treats me like I'm special and a Goddess, but that I have sense and skills.  I'm sure his last girlfriends were happy about that, even if they were evil."  Speed and Eric both gave her a funny look.  "He said he only dates evil girls.  So did his family.  I warned Valera in case she has any evil girlfriends."

"So he'll like Eric's psycho exes?" Ryan joked.

"One, Wolfe, one.  Not many," Eric defended with a small glare.

"One?" Speed snorted.  "Sorry, have to agree with the mini-me there.  There's been, like, six, Eric."

"There has not!"  He got back to work, shaking his head.  "If he needs some nice girls to meet him, ask Alexx."

"She might," Calleigh agreed.

Xander walked in with something, holding it up for her inspection.  "Where did you find that?" she asked, taking it to look at.

"Under the long-term bullet storage.  I didn't think you were tiny enough for Barbie clothes, but you never know."  He walked off again, going back to his mopping.  Horatio stopped him to look at him.  "It needed to be done and I'm clear."

"That's fine, Xander.  They are huffy about you."

"If I hadn't, they would've written me up.  There is nothing on this plane that scares me if it walks like a human that I know of.  Even if I'm shaking in my shoes, I'm trained to react by attacking it, Horatio.  Next time they should be following clothing guidelines when they step into a lab.  She didn't need open-toed shoes to show off her pedicure.  He can figure out how to put on a lab coat and gloves."  That got a nod. "I'm sorry if I made things harder, but yay.  That's the protocol."  He walked off, getting back to his make work.

The head of the protocol board glared at Horatio.  "He has military service?"

"No comment."

Xander leaned out, looking at him.  "Where are you from?" he asked with a sweet smile.  The man glared so he walked over and wrote down a file number, staring at him.  He looked that one up and whimpered.  Xander just grinned.  "I am the protocol bitch about ballistics.  I'd yell at Calleigh if I found her breaking it the way you did.  I don't care who it is.  Maybe when I've been doing this for twenty or thirty years like Horatio has, I might relax some.  Until then, I follow protocol.  I also don't play politics.  I could care less about advancement.  I'm a lab tech.  That's all I am and all I want to be."

Horatio coughed.  "You did take the academy courses."

"The recruiter said I had to.  Doesn't mean I want to do more than take my detective's exam some year."  He shrugged.  "Not like I need the money from the rank raise either, Horatio."  That got a nod.  He looked at him again.  "If you want to ask me questions, I'm nice and polite until you try to fuck with me.  I even use easily understood terms on the stand if the defense attorney doesn't annoy me.  If I hadn't remarked, you could have written me up and I'll be damned.  You guys should be able to quote the book like I can."

"True, we can."  He stared at him, losing some of his sneer.  "You're very young."

"Not really."  He grinned.  "I'm just young seeming so I don't die of stress related complications."  He walked off again.  "Horatio, I found a broken microscope light.  Do I need to fill out a form or do we have bulbs?"

"I can get you one."  He looked at him.  "I consider those good traits," he said mildly, getting a growl and him walking off again.  Horatio smirked at his back.  That had upset him horribly but oh well.  Maybe they would tell him why they were pulling a pop exam now.  If not, perhaps he'd sic Xander on them later on.  He walked off to see if he could find out what was going on.


Valera walked into ballistics and looked around.  "Good.  You're not busy."  She smiled and he waved her over.  "Did anyone think to give you any warnings, Xander?"

He looked at her.  "About?"

"We have a slight rodent problem in the lab."

"Like the rats I hunted down in the evidence lock up in New York or like a gopher in Caddyshack or was it the mole?"

"Mole," she said with a grin. "We're trying to figure out who."  He pointed at her lab.  "Not me."

"I know it's not you."  He looked at her over the top of his glasses.  "You don't wear Feragamo shoes, Maxine."  She gaped.  "Do you?"

"Not unless I win the lottery," she complained.  He grinned.  "Do you?"

"No, I tried to indulge once.  John about smacked my head off my shoulders for doing rich boy things."


"My uncle.  He watches out for me.  Makes sure none of the evil chicks I date try to kill anyone but me.  That sort of stuff."

She blinked a few times.  "You date what?"

He pulled up something on his computer, letting her see that part, making her whimper.  It was about a human woman he had dated.  Who just happened to want to send him to her God as a sacrifice of power but she had been good in bed so it all evened out in his life.  "Not the first."

"Oh, dear."

He laughed.  "The look on your face, Maxine."

She swatted him.  "For real?"

"Yeah.  Don Flack Junior, the detective who John dragged her bloody and screaming body to, was very amused.  John only winged her."  She shuddered.  "He said he was going to get the one who wanted to be a succuba but she fled."

"Uh-huh."  She considered it.  "Are you dangerous?"

"Only to some uptight people's sanity and people who annoy me."  She giggled.  "But otherwise I'm just fun, goofy, and mostly nice.  Unless I'm being threatened.  Then I kinda try to channel Ares, God of War, to make them beg."

"I'm going to like having you here but I'll warn my girlfriends that you're a dangerous boy who loves weapons."

"That too," he agreed with a grin, making her blush.  "I'm picky but so far I don't really date evil guys."

She walked out giggling, going to find Horatio.  "I've got to make sure none of my girlfriends want to date him.  Can I have a few?"  He nodded, walking her into his office and closing the door.  "How did my lab partner afford Feragamo shoes on our salary?"

He considered it.  "I do not know."

"Neither did Xander.  That's why he put her up for the mole when I warned him about it."

"Interesting.  I'll see why else he might think that."

"If those aren't knock offs, can I have a raise?"

He smiled.  "She did not buy them on a PD salary, Miss Valera."  She pouted.  "Thank you for telling me that."  She nodded and left, going back to her lunch break.  He went to check on Xander, finding him reading a journal with his feet up.  "Ankles swollen?"

"Floor's wet under me."  He looked up.  "How is she affording thirty-six-hundred dollar shoes?"

"That is an interesting question."  He shut the door.  "Other information sources?" he suggested.  Xander nodded.  "How many?"

"In any that I was down here during that.  In two I got mother-henned by Max," he said more quietly.  "She still seems nice."

Horatio nodded.  "She is.  She might, I don't know."  He moved closer, checking the floors.  "Sanitizing solution?"

"Yup.  Finally got rid of the dingy stuff."  He shifted some.  "I know I can shop.  I have that one life that spent a lot of time shopping.  That's part of the reason why I have sixty suits in my closet."

"I heard about the Dallas shopping incident from one of them during a convention," he said dryly.

"No one said I didn't like that salesman a lot," he teased with a grin.  "He was cute, nice, and had good taste."

"You should take Mr. Wolfe before Speed starts to nag about his track jackets."

"If he wants, I'll gladly take him, Horatio.  Not a problem."  He grinned.  "Any other orders?"

"I will look into that.  What do you remember of that time?"

"One of the ones I talked to said it's like an archive program on the computer.  The more I access them, the more I unzip the file.  And the louder they become."  That got a single nod.  He wrote down what he remembered.  "That's the most bright that I remember and what he said."  He handed it over.

Horatio read it then looked at him.  "Thank you."

"Not a problem.  I've got the unpacking spell to do tonight and then I'm good."

"Excellent.  Try to wear something less.... giggle producing tomorrow?"  Xander showed him that same picture, earning slight moan.  "That is evil."

"Which is why John burned it on me," he agreed with a grin. "Oh, I showed Max about one woman I dated up there."  That got an eye roll.   "Just in case it becomes pertinent."   He grinned.  "Anything else I can do for you today, Horatio?"

"For some reason I seem to need a rest," he said, walking off.

"Did it last time too," he called after him.  "That's its purpose."  Horatio gave him a dirty look before heading down the hall.  Xander put the photo in his book and checked the floor, then went down to the morgue.  "Hey, Alexx, do you have anything for me?"

"No, sugar.  Not a single bullet today."

"Damn.  I've already cleaned the lab."  He came in to look.  "Is that an injection mark?"  She frowned at him.  He pointed.  "There."

She looked then nodded.  "It is.  Run those samples up to Speed and tox please."  He nodded, taking the tray, getting a nod for it.  She shook her head.  "Poor baby is bored on his first day.  We'll go nuts."

"Just don't let him date," Maxine said from observation.  Alexx grinned up at her.  "He had one that nearly sacrificed him, Alexx."

"Baby boy needs better taste."

"I'll try but most of my girlfriends like being wicked.  Are we nearly done with mine?"

"Two more minutes."  She got back to work, walking the sample up to her then going back to work.  Valera hated being in autopsy while she had a body out.


Xander walked in the next day, nudging Ryan out of his way.  "Horatio said I should take you shopping with me so I can replace some of my stained overshirts."

He looked at him.  "I've heard the remarks about my track jackets, Xander."

"That too but I have to go soon anyway and I'm a pretty good finder of sales."

Ryan grinned but shook his head.  "No thanks."

"You sure?  I've gotta go anyway."

"Nah.  I'll go next payday."

"Sure.  If you need a shopping buddy let me know.  I did often enough with the girls in my former life."  That got a smirk.  "I did.  They abused me horribly as their approval committee and pack mule."

"Uh-huh."  He saw Speed huffing off wiping at his suit.  "That's not the best start to a day of testimony."

Xander whistled.  "Speed, need help?"

"Got something to take tea out of a suit jacket?"

"No but I've got my emergency suit in the car."  Speed gave him an odd look.  He handed Ryan the keys.  "The blue suit bag please?"  He nodded, going to get it.   Xander came over to look.  "I've got one that's a bit big on me so it should fit your chest better than mine."  He grinned.  "I might even be able to match the pants."  Ryan came back with the two bags.  "John put in another one?"

"Maybe.  They were both in your trunk."  He handed back the keys.  "Hope it goes better, Speed."

"Thanks, Wolfe."  He led Xander off to the changing area, letting him look at the suits and hand one over.  "This is nice."

"Sale in Dallas a few years back," he offered with a grin.  "Just before I graduated."

"That's cool."  He went to try it on, coming out with it unbuttoned.  "A bit tight."

Xander handed over a different one.  "That one's untailored.  That should fit you better."  Speed went to change, bringing out the original.  This one did fit him very well and he looked good in it.  "There, borrow away.   The pants are a bit short, sorry."

He looked down.  "Not really.  They hit at my ankle instead of the top of my foot.  That's fine."  He patted him on the back.  "Why do you have the emergency suit bag?"

"Because I don't always know when I'll be called in and I don't always remember."  He hung them in his locker and shut the door, looking at him.  "Shoo, go.  Clean it and give it back."  Speed grinned, heading out.

"That is a nice suit," Calleigh said before walking into the changing area.  "Where did you get it?"

"It's Xander's, I spilled tea on mine."  He jogged down to take the hummer to the courthouse, making Horatio give him an appreciative look as well.  "Xander's since I spilled my tea."

"You look very nice, Speed."  He handed him the case notes so they could go over them before they were called to testify.  The suit did highlight his body very well.  The women passing by were giving him a lot of stares.  He nudged him at one.

Speed looked up and grinned.  "Hey, Pam.  You in here to testify?"

"No, I'm temping."

"That's cool.  I'm testifying sometime today."  She nodded, leaving him alone so she could wipe the drool off.

"That is why I suggested he take Mr. Wolfe to the store as well," Horatio told him.

"Wolfe could use a bit of style help," he agreed.  He got up as the bailiff came out, heading in to be sworn in.


Calleigh looked at Xander later that day.  "Where did you get the suit?"

"Dallas.  We went before I graduated so I got to hit the end of the year sales."  He glanced over at her and grinned.  "I have a lot of pretty suits and I totally had problems that day with every bad guy in the city showing up in my path."  He went back to work.  At least until he flinched at the sound of breaking glass.  "That's bad.  Seal that for me?"  He jogged out to check, finding Maxine holding a bleeding spot.  "Max."  He sat her down, checking her over.  "It's shock, Max.  You're all right.  I promise you are.  You're not seriously bleeding or anything."  He took the first aid kit an officer handed him, opening it to pull out gauze and tape so he could fix her up.  She blinked at him.  "I'm good at first aid," he said with a wink and a grin.  "Keep still so you don't need stitches and won't scar."  She nodded, letting him work.

Alexx stomped their way.  "What are you doing?"

"Well, right now I'm using the tweezers to pull out this tiny piece of glass in her cheek," he said as he did that.  "Then I'm going to take that butterfly bandage and apply it properly so the wound seals.  Then I'm going to dab some neosporin over it and then apply a covering bandage."  He did as he had said and Max smiled.  "There you go.  C'mon, let's get you something to drink so you can quit being stared at.  Guys, this is not a show!" he said hotly.  They backed off and someone called the shift supervisor.  He helped her up and to the break room, making her some tea and handing it over.  "There you go.  Are you okay otherwise?"

"I'm fine, Xander.  Thank you."

"You're welcome.  Some day you can fuss over one of my injuries."  She grinned so he patted her on the shoulder and left, going to face down Alexx.  She was glaring and tapping a foot.  "What?  It wasn't a bad injury.  She would've gotten the same thing at the ER."

"You're not a doctor."

"No, but I'm damn good enough to do stitches, Alexx."  Her mouth opened.  He shrugged.  "My town was kinda rough and I had drunk parents.  Our local hospital nearly killed me bollixing up my appendectomy.  Twice.  Without painkillers."  She shuddered at that.  "I can apply bandages, butterflies, and if I thought it was in the least bit more than a few glass shards in her cheek and hand, then I would've told the paramedics that once I had bandaged the lesser things."

She stepped closer.  "You don't get that knowledge without training."

"True, but I had a necessity and I watched my best friend learn it out of her mom's textbooks."  She looked pissed but he knew it wasn't at him.  "She did a pretty good job on my stitches when she did them.  I have a steadier hand though."  Ryan came jogging in.  "Max is fine.  Natalia is fussing and whining with Eric helping her and the paramedics.  Max is in the break room with some tea."  He nodded, going to check on her.  He stared down Alexx again.  "I can do a lot more than most people think, Alexx.  For some reason women seem to only see me as this nice, goofy, sweet guy that they think they can run over.  Calleigh knows I have skills.  So do some others.  You can join that group if you want," he offered with a grin.

She smacked at him, making him duck.  "That was not nice."

He smirked.  "Yes it was.  Because you think no one can apply bandaids.  I've done plenty of them.   You can check the ones I did just now if you want."  He went to clean up and go back to ballistics.  Calleigh gave him a heated look.  "Don't you start in on the Xander's helpless and normal rant too," he said quietly.

"I'm not.  We're still supposed to let the paramedics handle it."

"Why make her suffer?  They weren't here yet."  He got back to work.  "They're fine.  Eric's babying Natalia.  Max has tea in the break room."  Horatio walked in, giving him a look.  "Tell her I'm competent to do bandaids?"

"He did butterflies on Maxine's cheek when something glass cut her and Boa Vista, Horatio," Calleigh reported.  She didn't wince when Alexx came in as well.

"Technically, part of his last life was a bit hard to handle and he did learn how to do that sort of thing, but he should not be doing it in the lab unless it is an emergency."

"Fine, next time I'll be a fainting girl at the sight of blood," he said, giving him a dirty look.  "They're fine."

"I'm sure they are," he agreed, coming closer.  Calleigh escaped because this was looking like a personal talk.  "This is another level of protocol, Xander.  Lab rules state that paramedics should put on bandaids and butterflies so they can file the proper forms with the chief."

Xander grimaced.  "They still can."

"And are, but we don't want him down here getting mad at us because he wanted the proper officials to look her over.  That way we couldn't mistake something serious for something more minor."

Xander stared at him.  "I'm damn good at what needs to go to the ER and what I should not and cannot handle," he said quietly.

"I know you are.  Mac also told me how you nearly did your own stitches in the ER that time," he reminded him.  Xander grimaced.  "It'll be fine.  I promise it will be.  Next time render first aid until the paramedics get here and then let them do the proper thing for the paperwork."  Xander nodded at that.  "Now, do we have any idea what happened?"

"The glass looked like worktop table glass," Xander said.

"It looked like her work table exploded for some reason," Alexx agreed.  "You can stitch?"

Xander nodded.  "I can stitch pretty well unless I'm sewing on patches."


"Because my town was kinda rough and the ER sucked monkey balls."  She blushed but walked out shaking her head.  He glared at Horatio, who simply stared back.  "Bandaids too?"

"Yes, even those.  That way they can assess and do the paperwork so we can get reimbursed for it."  He looked around the lab.  "Why do you have so many envelopes out?"

He pointed.  "That's Calleigh's.  She wanted it for her recert stuff."  That got a hum and a nod, Horatio shifting slightly closer yet off to the side to listen to him better.  "She said to leave it as is so I am."

"That's fine.  How is going in here?"

"I kinda miss what I had.  Maybe it would've been better if I had gone into a different life," he said quietly.

"There's always going to be some differences," he agreed gently, giving him a small smile.  "John let me see what you wrote about the memories."  Xander blushed, looking down.  He patted him on the head.  "Should something happen in that manner, you'll handle it professionally.  I'm not sure what his feelings would be."

"One of the reasons I chose this way was because I thought they might understand since they did before."

"I understand that.  I also understand part of what you've seen and done before.  I've had to stop myself from jumping in many times."  Calleigh stormed back in.  "He's not in trouble for doing Miss Valera's bandaids and getting her to the breakroom for tea to treat her shock, Calleigh.  The paramedics weren't here so he did what came naturally to him."  He patted Xander on the back.  "Take Mr. Wolfe shopping?"

"I offered."

"I'll suggest it.  I did like the suit Speed borrowed."  He smiled at Calleigh.  "Any idea what caused the table to snap that way?"

"Eric put down something too hard and it caused a small fracture.  The centrifuge was going."

"It shimmied just right and finished snapping it," Xander said.  She nodded.  "Is Natalia okay?"

"She should be.  She was clinging to Eric while chewing him a new one over that mistake.  Alexx told the shift supervisor you stepped in to handle things when he glared at her."

"All I did was stop Maxine's bleeding and then apply appropriate coverings," he told her.  "Then I got her tea because she was in shock."

"She said you can stitch?"

"Except patches on clothes, I can."  He grinned.  "I'm a talented guy, Calleigh."

She stared at him for a moment.  "Why don't you like Natalia?"

"I know how I afford designer duds.  I know how you do because I've seen you shopping the clearance and outlet stores."  She blushed at that.  "I didn't know Chanel had an outlet store," he told her quietly.  She frowned and looked up the hall then gaped at him.  "Feragamo shoes the other day on our salaries?"

"How do you afford it?" she asked.

"I have money."

"Why?" she asked patiently.

He grinned.  "It goes back to why I'm hiding, dear.  Until you know the whole story, I can't tell you more than I basically went and did some tomb diving for some bad stuff that shouldn't be in normal hands."

She looked at Horatio.  "Can you please translate that for me?"

"I know how he did it.  Speaking of, is your ex in your account again?"

"No, that's the stuff I left in that one life."

He rolled his eyes.  "When is the other being moved down here, Xander?"

"Three weeks.  Bank-to-bank transfer.  They had to verify the last few checks I had on the old account."  That got a nod of understanding.  "Besides, what do I need to buy?  We have groceries and stuff with my paycheck.  We have the house."

"That is true.  When are you going to have the open house?"

Xander shrugged.  "No idea.  Ask John."

"I can do that."  He gave him another pat and a smile.  "Next time act more flustered.  People are going to suspect something."

"Anyone who's seen me would think I had to learn all these skills to keep myself safe, Horatio, and they're partially right."

"Is that why you can do stitches?" Calleigh asked.  Xander pulled up his current t-shirt to show her the scar, making her hiss.  "What did that?"

"Appendix surgery.  Then they had to go in to fix what they did wrong."  He put his shirt back down.  "Our hospital out there sucked.  My friend learned out of her mom's textbook and I learned from her."

"So you'll step in the next time one of us gets shot?"

"If it's something critical that the ambulance hasn't gotten to yet, yup.  Expect me to jump in and do what I can to save a life," he said, looking totally serious.  She nodded at that.  "Today I just plucked out some half-embedded glass and put on bandaids or butterflies."

"The paramedics said he did a good job of that too," Maxine said from the doorway.  "Don't yell at him, Horatio.  He was trying to help."

"I'm not, Maxine.  Just reminding him of protocol.  If there was no help coming I would expect him to do the same again."  She smiled and nodded.  He looked at Calleigh.  "Don't worry about where his money came from, Calleigh.  It's fine and it keeps him slightly safer."

"But insane now and then," he quipped with a grin.  "Especially after someone came to Mac to buy me.  He had to call Internal Affairs to talk to them about it since it was wrong."

"I heard about that as well.  I would hope none of them came after you down here," Horatio said blandly, giving him a dirty look.

"I fixed the reason they came after me that night.  I even gave Hillbourne the half of it for donations that he demanded.  I only made out a little bit of it so he could figure out where the rest went.  With the way the higher ups let him kiss their butts, I figured he had heard complaints."  Horatio coughed to smother a laugh.  Maxine didn't bother.  She leaned on the doorway to laugh herself sick.  He grinned at Calleigh.  "I can shop okay if you want help too."

"Take Ryan and Speed," she ordered.

"They might mind if I took them in the way you're thinking since you're blushing," he said dryly, making her blush brighter.  He grinned.  "I'd only go for a coworker if I was sure it wouldn't screw up anything in the work relationships, Calleigh."

"You might unstiffen them sometimes," Max teased.  Xander grinned back.  "Ryan could use it but he wouldn't let me help him at all.  I offered."

"It's not a guy thing to shop," he reminded her.

"True."  She came in to kiss him on the cheek.  "Thank you, Xander."  She walked off happier.  Natalia was still fussing.  "Does she need some tea for her nerves?  The box is down since Xander made me some."

"She probably could," Eric agreed, walking her that way.  He'd have to tell Speed about this later.  Something strange was going on with their new tech.  He glanced in and found him staring off into space then smiled and said something to Horatio.  Calleigh was getting some water in the break room with him.  "Is he all right?"

"He's fine.  Apparently he's had to do first aid a lot of times before."  She shrugged, handing him the pot of warm water off the kettle heater.  "Here."  He smiled and added it to a cup with a tea bag, handing it to Natalia.  "Are you all right?"

"I'll be fine but it's going to take hours to get it cleaned up so we can verify samples."

Maxine leaned in.  "Maintenance is already in there.  Come help sweep."  Natalia gave her such a strange look.  "There's samples out.  We have to be in there to verify that no one else tampers with them, Natalia.  We might as well help sweep up the glass."

"I can help," Eric said, following her back to do that.  "So, what do you think about the new guy?" he asked while they worked.

"I think there's things about his past life that we'll probably never find out, Eric.  It sounds like it was a pretty hard life.  He told Horatio he knew how to stitch up people because the town's hospital sucked monkey balls, his wording, and his friend learned from her mom's textbooks.  He learned it from his friend.  He even said he's got a pretty good hand at them.  I'm thinking if he needed to know it that well, his town was thug central now and then."

"Possibly."  He helped sweep the other end of the room.  "I'm sorry, Max."

"It's fine, Eric.  That's why it's called an accident."  He grinned.  "Watch out for her samples."

"I am."  He looked toward the break room then at her.  "You have more scratches."

"Apparently I'm a tougher woman," she said sarcastically but quietly, cracking him up.  "Some girls faint.  Some girls whine.  Some just shrug and keep going.  He had the butterflies on before I realized the glass was gone and Alexx was nagging him."

"That's good."  Speed stomped in.  "That's a nice suit.  I guess he went shopping."

"No, he spilled tea on his this morning.  Xander leant it to him."  Eric gave her an amused look.  "Seriously.  He had an emergency suit bag in his trunk from what Ryan said.  Ryan also said that apparently John had put in a second one for some reason.  So he let Speed pick.  He does look nice in it."  Speed came to the door.  "You look hot."

"Thank you.  He needs to take Wolfe."

"He suggested, Ryan turned him down," she told him.

"Uh-huh.  I'll talk to Wolfe later."  He looked around.  "What happened?"  Eric raised his hand.  "Are you having toddler oops days again?"

"He put down a pickaxe too hard," she told him.  "It cracked and the centerfuge made it snap.  We're fine.  Natalia's drinking some tea to calm down in the break room.  Xander did my booboos before even Alexx could get there."

"Really?"  He leaned on the doorway, looking her over.  "They look well bandaged."

"She said the same thing.  Apparently Xander can do stitches and things."

"Huh."  He looked around.  "Let me change and I'll come help, guys."

"We ran the maintenance guy off already.  He'll come back to haul things once I've got the samples and machines out of the way.  Can you take my major stuff to a layout room?"

"That I can do."  He went to change and came back to help, finding Wolfe coming in with his case.  "Natalia and Maxine are fine."

"I heard that their table snapped.  Are we sure?"


"Good.  Let me drop this and the new evidence I got to contrast against and I'll help the clean up."

"Then later on, let Xander take you shopping."

Ryan grimaced.  "I'm fine."

"Ryan, I know I wore sloppy t-shirts but I had to change to uphold the image of the lab.  Track jackets are your version of sloppy t-shirts.  All of us had to grow a personal style that was more competent looking.  Take Xander shopping.  I'm not saying you have to have a suit, but get something better."


"Thank you."


"Would be fine," Speed agreed patiently.  "Besides, he could probably use more fun.  Take him to Dave and Barry's, that adult Chucky Cheese place."

"That is a fun place," he agreed with a grin.  He headed to drop his evidence off and log it in, then went to help them clean up and move the DNA lab.  He found Xander later that night.  "Speed ordered me to take you shopping and then out to play."

Xander blushed a bit.  "Gee, Ryan, I usually only flirt but if Speed's sure that you go that way."

Ryan bopped him on the arm with a grin.  "He said it'd be a good payback for helping me find better shirts and stuff."

"We can do that.  When did you want to go?"

"Payday?  That weekend?"

"Okay."  He grinned.  "No date needed to pay me back.  I could use a few new shirts."

Ryan looked at his present t-shirt.  _766: Upstairs neighbor of the Beast - who usually complains about the party's noise._   "How do you find those?"

"Here and there," he said with a hand flick in the air and a smug grin.  "I have worse."

"I'm sure you do.  Doesn't Horatio complain?"

"He probably would if I was in the field and it was too smartass but otherwise, who's going to see?  Especially with my lab coat."

"Good point."  He grinned.  "I'll figure out when we can go payday?"

"Let me know."  He patted him on the head.  "Get a haircut too, Ryan."

"You too," he joked.

"I know.  It's growing really fast now and I don't know why.  I think it wants to be down to my waist and attract people to pet me."  He walked off shaking his head.

Ryan giggled at that image.  He couldn't see Xander being that way at all.  He saw Horatio watching and nodded.  "We'll go fix my track jackets that Speed ordered me to fix on payday."

"As long as you look competent, professional enough yet can work in the field, and you won't sweat to death in it, it's good," he told him.

"I think we can manage that."

"Good.  Though I do agree, you could use a trim and so could he."  Ryan walked off grinning.  Horatio smiled at his back, going to check on the rest of the lab.  He found Xander leaning on his car hood so he checked his watch.  It was already quitting time.  "Are we clear?"

"Yup.  Nightshift has nothing.  Non-felony has nothing leftover.  The gun crimes decided to take a few easy days."

"That's fine.  Have a good night, Xander."

"I'm gonna try."  He looked at the person he was talking to, getting a grin back.  "He's a good boss.  Take the classes and see if you can handle all the sciency stuff.  I did and look at me."

"I might do that," the patrol officer agreed, going to look up what classes he would need.  Horatio stopped him and wrote down a name and number.  "Thank you, sir."

"He's the advisor for all PD people taking lab classes.  He'll have the sheet of things you'll need."  That got a nod and a grin, the officer bouncing off.  "Which lab does he want?"

"He wants to work with Maxine."

"That is an interesting field.  Go home."  Xander got off his hood and walked around to get in and drive.  Horatio watched him go because he was a bouncy, dynamic young man that was going to drive him nuts with those t-shirts of his.  How his other selves hadn't he wasn't sure, but some were probably very bad.  He should take Mac's advice and go sort them out for the boy.  Though that might make him buy more, which could be very brain rattling.  Speed came out to stand next to him.  "An officer was just asking Xander about training to be a CSI."

"In a few years we might have to replace one."

"Well before then if I find out someone's information was correct," he said.

"The mole?"

"I do have a good bit of information.  I'm checking the validity of the tips."

Speed stared at him.  "What source does Xander have?"

"Many strange ones."  He smiled.  "Don't worry about it, Speed."

"I know it's not me."

"No it is not."

"Good."  He went for his bike.  "Anything else good happen?"

"Mr. Wolfe and our young tech will go fix his track jackets on payday."

"Even better.  I'll get that suit cleaned and hand it back tomorrow."

"You might see if he can find you another one since you only have the one, Speed."

"I'm not exactly the suit sort, Horatio," he said blandly, giving him a dirty look, getting a smirk back.  "If I need another one for being married or buried, I'll ask him."

"Do not joke about that."

Speed stared at him.  He walked back.  "He's the one who tipped off about my gun."  Horatio nodded silently.  "How did he know?"

"I can't divulge that."

"Uh-huh.  Is this the same source?"

"Relatively."  He smiled.  "Should I start instituting pop checks?"

"It's clean and the kid said he'd do it for me if I forgot."  Horatio nodded at that.  "I'm sorry I'm not as comfortable with it as I am everything else."

"Some of us are comfortable with our weapons and some are not.  You're comfortable with the evidence and that end of the field.  It's a common thing, just one we have to watch out for."  He patted him on the shoulder.  "Go home so we can do it all again tomorrow, Speed."

"Fine.  Some day I'll find out who his source is."

"I'm sure you will.   But it might not be what you want to hear or think about."

"Maybe.  We'll see."  He walked back to his bike and got on, driving off into the night.

Horatio smiled.  "That would warp your mind for a few good weeks, Speed," he said quietly.  "Then we'll see what you think."  Calleigh came out.  "Xander said you were clear."

"We are.  He's a quick little guy."  She smiled.  "I have a date tonight."

"Good luck."

"I can shoot him if he gets too grabby."  She walked out to her jeep and got in, then got out at the beep.  "Horatio, I beeped."  He jogged over to check, finding the thing that had fallen under her seat.  She sighed in relief, taking the little voice messaging thing to put next to her.  She set it off to see what she had forgotten, getting a male voice on it telling her that she wasn't too careful.  They shared a look and he took it.  She took an officer to check her house.  That was not nice of someone.

Horatio listened to the voice then called Xander.  "Did you remember Calleigh being stalked?" he asked quietly.  He got a 'no, but if I find them I'll present them to her' offer.  "That would be good.  Do be on the watch for it."  He hung up and went to let AV log it in and analyze it.  Calleigh was going to rip someone apart.  That voice sounded so familiar to him.


to part 13

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