Xander looked at his mentor for his rookie six weeks of hell riding along, nodding politely.  "Sir."

"Kid, you need a haircut."

"I got one last week," he told him.

"It's still too long."

"I'm a lab tech."

"Why?" he demanded.

Xander grinned.  "I'm a ballistics lab tech."

He shuddered.  "Then you're the strange one in the class, right?"

"Maybe.  I think the serial killer was stranger."

"Maybe," he decided.  "Come on."  Xander followed him.  "You know you have to do six weeks on the street, right?  Following along, doing the paperwork, all that?"

"If I must do your paperwork, I will, because I probably type faster than you do," he said dryly, "but yes I know I've got six weeks of following you around like you're on hallowed ground."

The guy gave him a dirty look.  "What did you do before this?"

"No comment."

"Something bad?" he asked, stopping in the middle of the hall to look at him.

"No, just something that's now got a death threat on me.  The bosses all know."

"Why me?" he demanded, looking up.

"Because the Captain said my fun and naughty nature would lighten up your gloomy and bastard times," Xander said bluntly, giving him a look.  The guy laughed at that, shaking his head.  "So let's go catch some muggers or whatever.  I'll warn you I'm not the fastest jogger in the class."

"The girls beat you?" he taunted.

"I've had girls beat me at many things, but not that this time."  He got another odd look.  "One of my former friends was a major brain of the school."

"Oh."  He pointed at the car.  "You're driving."

"Sure.  Keys?"  He groaned and went in to get them.  Xander looked over the car, frowning at something.  "Hey, boss?  Why does the windshield smell like vodka?" he called after him.  He came back to sniff then checked something, walking inside with a growl.  He and the desk sergeant came out together.  They popped the hood to check the fluid reserve, finding it did have alcohol in it.  It was removed and they walked off. The officer he was riding with got keys to another one so they took that cruiser instead.  Xander drove them carefully onto the street and merged with traffic.  "Which way?"

"How familiar are you with the city?"

"I know which direction the boroughs are," he offered.  "I figure we have a map somewhere."

"We do.  And map systems," he said, inputting a command.  "That's the edge of our route."  Xander nodded, following the directions.  They moved into their patrol route, letting him give quiet orders.  Xander pulled over at one point.  "It's not time for a break, Elton."

"Some guy just walked into that deli with a fourteen-inch blade, boss.  I thought that was our thing," he said dryly, getting out and grabbing his nightstick.  The other one got out with a groan, following in there.  Xander made like he was getting a soda, getting a smile from the cashier.  He walked up behind the guy with the knife, making him give him a nervous look.  "It's my first day," he offered dryly.  "I need caffeine before I bite someone."

"First day rookie?" he taunted.  Xander nodded.  The kid pulled his knife.  Xander grabbed his wrist and put him onto the ground, making him yelp when his wrist was squeezed so he'd drop it.  "Hey!  That's not fair!"

"Street legal is under seven inches, just like your girlfriend said your dick was," he said dryly, cuffing him.  "Pulling it means brandishing a weapon.  Having it in your pocket was concealed carrying and intent to rob.  Unless he was here to show it off, miss?" he asked the cashier.

"Probably not.  I don't know him, Officer."

He grinned and handed over a dollar for his soda, getting a smile as he walked out with it.  His partner gave him a funny look.  "I need the caffeine.  It keeps me from bouncing."

"We do coffee, Elton.  Real cops do."

"I'm a lab geek.  There's times I do raspberry spritzers, non-alcoholic version of course."

"Never mind."  He put the guy into the backseat, making sure the kid had the knife.  Which he did and he was gulping his soda.  He finished it and tossed the can out properly before getting in.  "Not too long of a break," he said dryly.

"Breakfast.  I was worried I'd get some hard-assed racist who wanted to beat me for liking guns.  Like our range instructor was until I made him cry and stomp off that day," he mused, pulling back into traffic.  "Station?"

"Yes.  We don't drive around with them all day," he said impatiently.  "I remember the range instructor."

"He called me a fairy so I came in the next day with wings.  Then I started to shoot back at his insults."  He gave him a sweet grin at a traffic light.  Then he drove on.  "Anyway, I broke the machine that was firing on that one cubicle's bullets.  It had a motion sensor and acted like one of those automated pitching machines."

"Interesting.  Who put it there?"

"By the tag, the class of '88."

"Huh."  They pulled into the station, letting him get out.  "Take him to the booking desk, fill it out."

"On all three?"

"Yup.  We let the DA sort it out."  Xander nodded, taking the guy inside.  His partner looked up.  "Six weeks?  Must I really?" he asked God.  "He's strange!"  He went inside to make sure he was filling out the paperwork correctly.  They had changed the forms and he wasn't sure the academy was teaching the new one.


John looked over as Xander trudged in from his first day on the streets.  "That bad?"

"Two attempted robberies and my partner is too uptight.  I nearly offered to hire him a hooker if he'd relax."  He flopped down, putting his hat on the table and running his hands through his hair.  "Then we ran into the hookers and the guy trying to stab them."  John moaned.  "He was chasing one so we pulled up beside him and cut him off.  He was screaming about brutality and I didn't even touch him with the car.  My boss said he was an idiot.  The higher ups were nice when they watched the dashboard camera's tape.  They said it was an easy way to stop him but not fully by the book, yet effective so I wasn't in trouble.  It would've taken longer to park the car.  They wanted to know why we didn't arrest the hookers.  I told him I'd rather have them out there than the guy trying to stab them.  This time they were a gang of women in clubbing clothes on the street who were being assaulted.  Next time they'd be hookers.  My partner agreed with me.  Even if he did decide I'm strange."

"So, really bad and he's taking a mental vacation for the next six weeks like your range instructor and the PT instructor that came to fill in for the one that got arrested?"

"No.  Not that bad.  I hope.  I found alcohol in the car this morning before we left," he said with a smirk.  John shook his head, handing Xander a plate.  "Thank you, John.  You know, I could do an imp...."  John smacked him on the top of the head.  "Ow!  Be nicer!  He said I needed a haircut already."

"It's a bit sloppy but not too bad.  Not waist-length like that one you said you saw."  He went to get his own dinner, coming out to watch the kid eat.  "Did you get lunch?"

"He made me.  He said I'd pass out while driving him around our route if I didn't."

"Good."  He dug in, putting his feet up on the coffee table.  "Take the uniform off before you get stuff on it."  Xander went to do that, coming back in shorts and a tank top.  "Better.  Anything planned for tonight?"

"I hope not.  I'm exhausted.  It's been a while since I did a full ten hour day."

"It has been."  He got him seconds and sat down again, watching Xander nibble and slowly fall asleep right there.  He took the plate to eat the rest of the food and covered him, going back to his reading.  Xander woke a few hours later, flinching and looking around.  "It's a nightmare," he said quietly.  "Go to bed."

"Sure."  He yawned, going that way to sleep, making sure his alarm was on.  He fell down and went to sleep almost immediately.

John shook his head.  Some days Xander was a lot like his kid.  Maybe that's why he drove him insane.


Xander got the call for his interview and groaned.  "Detective, I can't.  I'm presently in the squad car in pursuit," he defended at his order.  "As soon as we catch this sucker who has a kid hanging out his back window bleeding I'll gladly show up, Detective."

His boss took the phone from him.  "Detective, his ride-along comes before his interview for the lab.  I'm his ride-along mentor and I said so."  He hung up.  "Once we catch this guy, you can go and I'll be nice enough to do the paperwork myself."

"Thanks."  Xander pointed.  "Cut him off.  He's going to turn.  He's actually using his signals, I'm impressed."

"Me too.  Obviously not native to this city."  He cut him off, and their backup came from the other direction to box him in.  They hopped out and Xander headed for the kid while he got the driver with the other guys.  "Elton, we have paramedics."

"I've taken those classes, boss."  He looked her over, sitting her on the trunk.  "Are you all right?"  She nodded.  "Were you the only one he had in the car?"  She shook her head.  "Okay, where are the others?  How many did he have?"  She held up both hands of ten fingers.  "Ten others?"  She nodded.  "All at once?"  She shook her head.  "Is there anyone with you right now?"  She nodded.  "Sarge, get me the keys so I can check the car.  She said there's another kid."  He got tossed them and handed the kid to Flack when he stomped over.  He opened the trunk and caught the foot coming for him.  "Hey, NYPD, don't kick me."  He grinned, helping him out.  "Shh, you're safe now."  He looked him over, sitting him on his squad's hood with the other girl.  "Any others in the car with you two?"  She nodded.  "Right now, not earlier."  She nodded again.  "Where?"  She pointed.  "Trunk?  Back seat?"  She nodded at that.  "Okay."  He went to look, finding the release latch was stuck.  "Crap.  It's stuck and I can hear banging.  Hold on, kid.  We're working to get you out.  I'm a police officer."  His partner came over and they got the back seat rocking and then out of its clamps.  He pulled open the latch and helped the kid out, handing it off.  "Should I strip the car to make sure there's no others?" he asked them.

Flack shrugged, looking at the girls.  "Any more of you guys in there right now?"  She shook her head.  "You sure?"

"Not hear anyone," she whispered.

"Okay.  Elton, check just in case.  Don't make a mess.  We'll have to tow it."

"Just the standard stuff," he promised, moving the spare tire.  "That's a flap there."  He opened it and groaned.  "Blue lips," he said quietly.  Flack turned to glare at him.  He pointed.  Flack looked then kicked the back of that car.  "Hey, boss, we'll need CSI."

"Call dispatch," he ordered.  He looked then nodded.  "I hate these cases."

"At least we know who did it."  He called dispatch from his radio, telling them about the three kids and the one dead one, plus that the car needed a thorough search by pulling it apart.  He hung up and came back to look at them.  "Paramedics are going to be at least another ten minutes.  Anyone got a first aid kit?  I can do bandaids."  One of the other guys got his out for him, letting Xander put on gloves so he could clean up the cuts on her face from the glass being broken next to her when she tried to get out.  "You were very brave," he told them, smiling a bit.

"Very, very brave.  You did the right thing."  They nodded.  "Once you get to the hospital, we'll call your parents or whoever to come pick you guys up.  All right?"  They nodded.  "Can you tell the nice detective in the purple suit what your names are?"  Don smiled and moved closer to help him.  The paramedics showed up.  "She was trying to get free and kicked the glass, has a lot of little cuts," he offered.  They nodded, taking over.  Another ambulance pulled up so he pointed at the car, getting a grimace but a nod as well.  "We have no idea if there's more," he told them.  "We need to finish searching the car when CSI gets here."

"They're en route," Don called over.  "Give us ten, guys."

"Of course, Detective."  They came back to help with the kids, getting them into the first ambulance.

Xander looked over as Detective Taylor showed up with Danny.  "Sir," he said in greeting, getting out of his way.  "My mentor and I pried up the back seat to free the youngest one in the ambulance.  Detective Flack said I could search the trunk for more survivors.  I stopped when I found the body," he offered quietly.  "She was trying to escape and kicked at the window until it broke, somehow.  She's cut all to hell from it.  The littlest one was in the flap under the back seat.  The other was loose in the trunk and tried to kick me when I opened it.  She said there were as many as ten kids in there today.  My mentor has him in one of the cars and they're guarding him away from the kids while he begs.  Though it was nice one of them taunted him over using his turn signals properly."

"Good work," he said.  "We'll do that interview when I get back."

"Yes, sir.  I'm sure I'll have paperwork and so will you.  Would you like me to help here or go with the arresting officers?"

"Help here," Danny ordered.  Xander nodded, getting some gloves to help.  The ambulance left with the living kids.  The dead one got removed once they had things arranged to do so.  The tow truck got there and Xander dismantled the trunk, all due to John's teachings, onto the truck to find any others.  He found two more bodies and one in the undercarriage in a compartment down there.  Mac looked pissed but then again so was he.  The tow truck took the car's skeleton back to the garage while Xander finished up his on-site report.

Mac walked over.  "Good work."

"I'm sorry I couldn't get him stopped sooner."

"You can't beat yourself up about that," he said, looking at him.  "Or else you end up eaten by the job, Elton."

"Yes, sir."  He put his gloves into the bag Danny was holding out for him.  "Thank you."  He looked at him.  "Let me do my paperwork and I'll be there in about two hours?"

"Your mentor did the arrest report and the guy's already begging the DA for mercy when he heard we found a body," Flack told him.  Xander nodded at that.  "Go log out for the day."  The kid caught a ride back with the officers guarding them.  "He's good and he's got the feelings for the work."

"If he stays in the lab he won't have to be eaten by it," Danny offered.

"Which is what he wants and it's safer anyway," Mac agreed.  "Danny, can you work with him?"

"Hell yes," he snorted.  "He's accurate, good, and quips to relieve tension.  He's my rookie if we have ta."

"Good."  He went back to the lab, letting them do the last little details and head back to the garage to finish dissecting the car.  Xander was in his office in an hour.  "Your boss complain?"

"That I was cutting my shift short, that I stepped in as a CSI instead of as a rookie officer, that I took control when I shouldn't have, that I rendered first aid when I shouldn't have," he said blandly.  "So I kindly told him I did have enough training to hold first aid as a first responder until an ambulance got there.  They were kids and I was using it to get information from them about any others that might be in the car, and pointed out that's how we found the other two live ones.  He and my mentor agreed I shouldn't have been working as a CSI there, and I agreed but I also said I had offered since I was already involved in stripping the car to find more kids.  He doesn't like me and didn't before this," he finished.  "My first day I smelled alcohol on the squad car."

"I've seen that happen.  Two more weeks," he reminded him.

Xander grinned.  "I needed that ray of hope.  I don't think I could do regular officer stuff, Detective."  He pointed and got a nod so he sat down.  "Just two weeks?"

"Just two more weeks.  If I could I'd get you free sooner since we've got a small backlog in ballistics."

"Let me eat and I'll help tonight," he offered.  "You can call it quality control checking my work."  Mac laughed but nodded.  "Thank you.  Can I change?  This shirt isn't great for range of motion."

"Go ahead.  Do you have anything here?"

"In the car but it's a smartass t-shirt I planned on wearing my last day there.  My supervising officer saw it and laughed his butt off when I bought it."  He grinned sweetly.

"Change.  Locker rooms are downstairs on the right."  Xander got up and went to get his stuff from the car, coming back with the pile of clothes, his glasses, and a lab coat.  Mac went down to wait on him, walking him to the lab.  "Adam, this is Javier Elton, our new ballistics tech in two weeks when he's out of his ride-along phase.  He's agreed to clear the backlog."

"More power to you not making shift tomorrow, man, but thank you."

Xander grinned.  "Not an issue, Adam."  He patted him on the arm before finding gloves to put on.  "Where's my lab, Detective?"  He pointed and Xander went that way, putting on the gloves as he walked.

"What's with his hair?" Adam asked.

"I don't know.  He had a haircut a week ago by what he said.  I think for some reason it's growing very quickly on him."  He went to check to make sure he knew where everything was.  The guy was searching the cabinets.  "Backlog is the black cabinet.  Done and in the system is the white. The backlog extends into the drop bin."  Xander nodded, sorting out samples by date and getting to work on the oldest once he had that done.  Mac watched a few but he was good.  His report was coming out nicely compact and he was looking okay so he left him alone for an hour.  He glanced in on his way through, smiling when he was petting one and telling it it'd be okay, it could be reincarnated.  Another two hours and he went in to find a stack of reports waiting.  "Good job."

"I'm only a twelfth done but thank you.  I put the name of the detective on the top of each sheet but I don't know who's who totally yet."

"I can hand them out, Javier."  He went to do that, making a few techs happy, and Danny growl.  "I'm letting him clear the backlog."

"It's good we don't have to wait two more weeks for that," he agreed dryly.  "But it excluded the suspect who admitted it."

"Ask him how he got the gun?"

"It's his roommate's if the registration is right."  He went to talk to Xander.  "We sure?"  Xander pointed at the computer next to him since he was using the scope.  He ran the case number and came up with the bullet that was input.  "Crap.  This isn't mine, kid."

Xander looked over at him.  Then he pointed at the envelopes.  "I do one at a time, Detective Messer.  I take the case number directly from the envelope.  Feel free to open it and look if you want."  He did that, looking at the bullet.  "Since I didn't have a gun all I could do was run it."

He looked at the envelope.  "This says it's from her leg."

"I'm guessing the ME pulled it then but that's what I got so that's what I ran.  If there's another associated with that case, I'll run them together.  I didn't find any with that case or it'd be noted in the report.  I sorted by date and grouped the cases together so I could include everything in one report."

"I don't doubt you but this means there's a missing sample."

Xander pointed at the cabinet.  "Maybe it was misfiled.  Detective Taylor said it was the black cabinet for new samples and the overflow bin, the white for ones that were done."

"Usually."  He went to look, not finding it in there.  He checked around the floor then went to check the other labs, bringing it back.  "It ended up in fingerprints somehow."

"Let me get this case done and I'll do that one.  Do you want a separate report or to amend the first?"

"Amend it and compare the two."

"Of course," he said, giving him an odd look.  "Sarcasm isn't the only full service I offer."  Danny walked off cackling at that.  He got back to work, finishing that case and going back to the one that had been missing.  He called John from the room's phone.  "It's me.  Detective Taylor said I could clear up the backlog.  No, I had a shitty day, John.  We had kids."  He nodded.  "Thanks.  No, don't worry about me but make sure I make it to work tomorrow?"  He grinned.  "Thanks."  He hung up and got back to work, comparing the two samples and then running it through the system when it didn't match.  Once he had the report done he walked it off to find Danny, handing it over.  "Your second was a forty-five, the first was a thirty-eight.  The forty-five isn't in the system.  The thirty-eight's bullet was older.  I looked up the autopsy and it said it came from a partially healed, probably two or three week old, wound.  The forty-five was a bit squished and it looked like it may have had a silencer but I can't be sure without having the gun to compare it to.  There are overlaying marks of a ricochet inside her body and two marks that do look like silencer striations, but again, need the gun to prove it.  Get it and I'll check."  He walked off.

"No silver bullet?" Danny called.

"In the trunk of the car," he called back.  "They won't let me carry them on duty," he quipped back, waving over his shoulder when Danny giggled at that.

Adam shook his head.  "I think I'm going to like that guy."

Danny smirked.  "He said sarcasm's not the only full service he offers."

"Good.  It's good when we get good techs.  Where did he train?"


"Interesting.  I heard about that serial at the academy."  Danny pointed.  "The one who told Aiden the guys' dorm was whacking off to her?"

"Yup."  He walked off to talk to the detective about the bullet anomaly.  He wanted that second gun and the first one's reason.

Adam shook his head, going to check on the new guy.  "You doing okay so far?  I know my first week I worked like a dog until I got into a comfortable rhythm."

"I worked before school," he said, looking over with a grin.  "And I temped down there for someone on maternity leave.  But thanks for checking, Adam.   Now and then I do get lost in thought and forget to eat and sleep."

"I can watch for that."  He came in to look.  "Man, Chad would be pissed if he could see this.  He broke his leg."

"I broke my arm once.  I hope he'll be okay soon."  He grinned.  "I'll be fine.  When you go on break or lunch, come get me so I can have a soda break?"

"Sure," he agreed, smiling at that.  He went back to his own lab.  The new guy seemed a bit cool.  Possibly nice and decent.  He saw a pissed detective and winced.  "That poor guy."  The detective shouted and the tech slammed the door in his face after telling him to have manners.  "Yeah, that's one strong guy," he decided, watching the detective huff off to tell Mac.  Mac came to talk to him, looking at the samples himself.  He verified the matches and told the detective that.  Which made him huff off to talk to someone else.  Mac said something more quietly but the guy just grinned and quipped back, making Mac walk off shaking his head.  The glass walls in the lab did give you a lot of views to good gossip. This new guy would definitely hold his own.


Xander slid into the car the next morning.  "Sorry, I spent all night clearing up my lab's backlog."


"The other shift's tech broke his leg."

"Ow.  Did you sleep?"

"I've went longer than this," he said dryly.  "And without eating too."

"Were you tortured?"

"Not since my former friends made me shop with them as the approval committee for shoes, bras, and bikinis," he said with a clueless look.   His mentor groaned.  "Truth.  Now and then I forget to sleep and eat.  I'm good.  I had coffee.  It's all fine until lunch and then I will need to eat.  Usual patrol route today, boss?"

"Yup, same as always.  That's the beauty of being in uniform.  You get to know your neighborhoods and when something's out of whack."

Xander pointed.  "Like the generator repair guy walking around the building toward the a/c unit?" he asked.  They got out to stop him to check what he was doing and arrest him when they found explosives on him.  Xander walked him inside by his collar once he was in cuffs, putting the explosives down in front of the booking sergeant.  "Trying to do the a/c unit here.  We're going on patrol now."  He walked off, heading back to the car.

"We don't allow superheros here," he called after him.

"I'm not one, I know I'm not bulletproof.  Today.  My vest is at home," Xander called back.  His mentor laughed.  "I know I can't fly.  I tried once."  He got into the car to drive, letting his mentor get in the other side so they could head off.

"Wrong street," he complained.

"Utility truck ahead of us, boss, working on the lines.  I can cut back in a block."  He did that when he could, going on with their patrol route.


John walked into the lab and up to the receptionist.  "Is Elton here?"


"The new ballistics tech.  I'm his uncle and he hasn't made it home in three days.  Which means he hasn't slept in three days and probably hasn't eaten either."

"Let me call the detective in charge and see, sir."  She did that.  "Detective Taylor, CSI Elton's uncle is here wondering if he hasn't slept or eaten in three days since he hasn't made it home?"  She smiled and nodded.  "Thank you."  She hung up.  "He'll walk him down right now.  He said he didn't realize it had been that long, sir.  If you want to wait, there's some nice benches over there."  She pointed.

"Thank you, ma'am."  He went to sit down.


Mac walked into the lab.  Xander was bent over a microscope.  "Hang it up for the night, Elton."

"Can't.  Need to get this done," he said absently.  "I'll go on break in a few, Mac."

"You haven't been home in three days.  Someone's here to pick you up."

He frowned, looking at him.  "John's here?"

"Yes.  He said you haven't been home in three days."

"I have tomorrow off."

"Good!  Go sleep!"  He looked then took the samples to seal up on him, printing the reports out for him that were ready.  "Go home.  Now."

"But...  I need to get those done!"

"You can do them the night you get back.  One day isn't going to matter."  He finished cleaning up the small sample mess and then put it up for him, walking him out.  He locked the lab's door before walking him down to the elevator and onto it.  All the way down to the lobby, handing him to John.  "I'll make sure he has tomorrow off.  He says he does."  He walked off shaking his head.

John looked at him.  "It's been three days."

"Oops?  It needed to be done."

"Yay.  You can do it when you wake up and eat again."  He walked him out to the truck and put him inside, taking him back to the apartment to make him eat and sleep.  Xander yawned on the way, falling asleep against the door.  It meant he had to carry Xander up to his bed but he had done the same for Dean and Sammy when they had been unconscious.  He could do it this time but he would be getting Xander some sort of reminder service.


Mac walked into the lab to figure out if Xander had messed up anything, finding it all neat, tidy, and respectably done.  He made sure he had all the reports printed and they were saved down before he shut down the system and relocked it, going to hand out more reports.

"I didn't know delivery boy was one of your job titles," Stella teased.  "He not in tonight?"

"He's dead on his feet.  Hasn't been home in three days.  Hasn't eaten in three days.  His uncle came to check on him and take him home.  I told him to come back the day after tomorrow since he has it off.  There's only about ten samples backlogged now."

"That's good.  He seemed nice when he grunted and pointed for me the other night."

"He's a huge goofball," Aiden said as she walked in.  Mac handed her the reports he had left.  "Aww, gee, thanks.  Did our new gun nut fix all the backlog?"

"All but ten samples.  I closed up one on him and sent him home when his uncle showed up to see why he hasn't eaten or slept in three days."

"Because he needs a cape," Aiden told him.  She looked in her report.  "Hmm, twinkies did it.  He can reproof that one."  Mac took it back, laughing at that sentence.  "Good.  At least we won't backlog for long with him around.  Even if we do have to remind him to take breaks and eat."

Adam walked in.  "I thought I saw Javier here."

"He hasn't eaten or slept in three days, Adam.  His uncle came to repossess him."

"I guess that's fine.  Is he coming in tomorrow too?"

"It's his day off."  Adam nodded at that.  "Keep an eye on the lab for him.  He's got about ten left of the backlog."

"He's amazing.  I don't work that fast."  He went to check it then go back to his own.

Mac went to call the boy's supervisor.  "It's Taylor.  I'm making sure Javier Elton has tomorrow off.  Because I've been abusing him after his shift to clear our backlog in his future lab," he admitted.  "He hasn't slept or eaten in three days."  He rolled his eyes at the complaining.  "I get him in another week anyway and he said tomorrow is his day off.  If not, give him tomorrow off please.  That's fine.  Thank you.  No, he's at home with his uncle."  He hung up.  "Pushy," he muttered.  "I'll warn him the guy will fuss.  He probably does it to all speciality officers."  He got into his own reports, finding one that had a sandwich being used as a silencer, after checking to make sure that wasn't a typo.  Because you never knew with some New Yorkers.


Xander looked at his boss the next day he was on, yawning a bit.  "Sorry, just got up, sir."

"What makes you think you have the right to pull doubles already?"

"They were critically backed up and it's my job in another week.  They needed me to sub.  I've pulled longer hours studying for finals but my uncle got worried and nagged.  Thankfully we're out of backlog so I should only have to check in, maybe do an hour or so, then head home to be nagged to sleep and eat."

"I don't like you."

Xander shrugged.  "Working isn't a popularity contest, sir.  I'm good at my job and I do it correctly.  Yesterday was my assigned day off by the schedule I got given.  I did what I needed to do."

"Your shift was changed around," he sneered.

"Then someone probably should've told me that.  Since no one did, it's not my fault I didn't know.  I'm many things but not telepathic."  His boss sneered greater.  "Sir, I'm supposed to be with my supervising officer by now.  Can I go do our patrol route so he doesn't nag too?  I can tell him you had our shifts changed and let him tell me where I'm supposed to hear that from."

"You're a smartass and I do not like that.  I can have you fired."

"You go right ahead.  I'll go be a credit to Chicago's or Miami's labs.  After all, I graduated nearly top in the country by my competency test."  He flinched at that. "Since I had the ATF labs and a few others coming for me to see if I wanted to work for them, I don't think I'll have that much of a problem and even if I do, I can go make guns for Winchester or something, sir.  It'd make me just as happy and less stressed.  Now, can I go do my job and let you huff at Detective Taylor?  I have no desire to play politics or get into an inter-office pissing match.  I don't care that you don't like that I'm a CSI.  I understand why I have to do the ride-along but I've got a week left."

"I can suspend you."

"And then I'll spend the next week in the lab," he said dryly.  "I can go without pay for a bit longer."  He grinned sweetly.  His boss shuddered.  "Anything else?"

"Go away."

"Thank you, sir."  He saluted and walked out shaking his head at his supervising officer.  "Sorry, boss.  He didn't like that Taylor made me take my day off to nap since I'd been doing our backlog in the lab."

"You okay?"

"He huffed and puffed and still didn't blow well enough to get me off," he said quietly, cracking him up.  "Threatened to suspend me because he said our shift off was changed?"

"Not that I'm aware of.  You're off on my days off.  That way no one else has to deal with you as a rookie."  He took the keys and headed out to his car, letting the kid check it over for him.  "Problems?"

"Alcohol on the windshield again."

He sighed, going to get the desk sergeant to take the wiper fluid container and the alcohol in it with him.

Xander looked at it and sniffed.  "He didn't empty it very well.  He's gotta be sick as hell for that."  The desk sergeant laughed all the way inside.  Xander got in to drive.  "Usual route or did we get new and exciting thugs to look at today?"

"Usual route.  Anything else happen?"

"I told him if he suspended me I'd go spend the week in the lab and I could do without pay for a bit.  I told him I wasn't going to play politics or get in between him and Taylor in some inter-departmental pissing match."  He grinned sweetly.  "I have one more week.  I pointed that out."

"Yes you do.  Then you can be a strange gun geek all you want."

"Yes I can be," he agreed happily.  They pulled into traffic, heading for their route.  The usual attempted hold up at the convenience store, the same guy as his first day, and a few other routine things before lunch and then he got ambushed.  He looked at the Internal Affair's guy waiting on him when he came out of the break room with his soda.  "Let me guess, he complained that he changed my shift without telling me and then he wants to suspend me for doing my actual job?" he guessed.

"You're a smartass and it won't help you any, rookie.  You can go a week without pay?"  Xander nodded.  "How?"

"I've got some saved."

"You're just out of college."

"I went on my own dime."  The guy growled.  He shrugged.  "I was working construction before that threat came at me.  I have the remains of my retirement fund."

"I think you used those lab classes to make illegal things."

"No.  I managed to arrange to have a teacher leave the school when I found him making drugs in the chem lab.  I don't like drugs.  Sorry, wrong person."

"I bet.  You're being tested."

"Go for it.  Hand me the cup and I'll do it here."  The internal affair's officer gaped at him. "I have nothing to hide.  You want hair or urine for that test?"

"Urine for now."  Xander held out a hand.  "Bathroom.  That's a disgrace to the uniform."

"No, people who play politics to get a higher badge are a disgrace to the uniform."  The officers around them stared.  "It's not my fault he didn't like me doing my actual job.  I told him I don't play politics and he made up the shift change story because my supervising officer said he didn't know either.  You want to pop me for a test, let's go."  He waved a hand.  "Thankfully I just ate lunch."

"Nothing to declare?"

"I haven't anything with poppy seeds in weeks.  I don't take drugs or OTC medicines.  Unless you're going to count my caffeine habit?  Nope."  He headed for the bathroom.  "I'll be back in a few, Bill."

"I've got paperwork I can do, kid."  He shook his head.  "Calm down."

Xander shot him a grin.  "I am calm."  He walked into the bathroom and up to a urinal, taking the cup to pee into then handing it back properly.  "Anything else you wanted to know?" he asked, finishing his peeing then cleaning up and washing his hands before doing up his belt.  He turned to look at him.  "Because I'll answer if you actually *ask* me."

"Death threat?"

"One of my former friends goofed and got me bad notice from a group in Britain who think I'm going to be evil and destroy them and then the world.  So they've got a hunt order out on me.  Taylor already knows.  He asked me during my cadet training.  We gave him a list of all the ones who're known to be in the city and where they hang and work at.  Just in case it comes up on a case so I can't be accused of tampering to get them off my ass.  You need to know more about that, go ask Taylor."

"Why were you pulling doubles?"

"The other shift's ballistic tech broke his leg.  We had a backlog from almost a week.  I offered to sub in for it since I'm starting next week over there.  So I basically did doubles and my uncle complained that I wasn't sleeping.  Taylor reminded my boss I had yesterday off so I could rest and eat.  That's what got him in the pissy mood.  And I still don't play politics.  If that guy wants to piss at Taylor, I'll stand there with popcorn while Taylor turns him into a gooey spot."  He walked around him.  "I'm going back on shift now."

"Fine."  He took it to their lab to test it.  Absolutely clean.  He frowned.  Then he went to talk to Taylor.


Mac found Xander when he came in to check in that night.  "Already?"

"The piss test thing?  Yeah, the supervisor over there decided to claim he had switched my shift off."  He gave him a look.  "I told him I don't play politics and offered to do the test there in front of the main desk.  I also told him to bite me, basically, and that I'm not playing politics.  That it's a disgrace to the badge."  That got a nod and a smile.  "When asked about the death threat stuff, I told him you already knew and to come ask you any pertinent questions."

"He did and I told him what he needed to know.  It's not wise to make them your enemy."

"He's not.  I could care less what he thinks.  Really."  Mac nodded, letting him sign in.  "Is there a lot for me to do tonight?"

"Two new samples today and the ten you had left.  Chad should be back tomorrow."

"Not like I mind, Mac.  I've went longer without sleep before."  He grinned.

"We'll make sure you make it home tonight."  He walked up with him, going to let him change.  "Anything else said?"

"The supervisor said I didn't have the right to pull doubles.  I told him I could go a week without pay if he tried to suspend me when he threatened to.  That's something they wanted to know too.  I told him how I kindly drove off a teacher who was making drugs."  He grinned sweetly.  "He didn't ask how."

"I looked him up.  It was an interesting method."

"It works well."

"It does."  He walked him up to his lab, finding someone in there.  "Adam, he can do it."

"I needed to run a sample ASAP for SWAT," he admitted.  Xander shrugged, moving around him to check things.  "Are you awake again?"

"Mostly.  Our route was really quiet today and I didn't drive this afternoon."  He stifled a yawn.  "I don't have that much to do.  Mac, you said two samples?"  Mac nodded.  He held it up.  "The only one I see dated today is this one."  He looked, finding it had migrated to another lab.  "Is that intentional?"

"Sometimes they can run them on other systems while they're working in chem," Adam offered.

Xander shrugged.  "Why make me bored and have to think bad thoughts that would make some people cackle and others blush?"

Adam burst out laughing.  "That's good to know."

"I promised Aiden that anyone doing rookie hazing on me would end up begging for mercy in the halls after they pissed themselves but otherwise I'm a nice, if a bit warped, guy."  He looked at the samples' images.  "Close match.  Eighty-five percent.  Though different brands and the one on the right is a Ruger.  The other is Smith and Wesson."


Xander grinned.  "I'm very good with guns."

"Thanks, man."  He wrote his own report and resealed the samples, taking them to the guy who was pacing in his lab.  "Our new ballistics tech is in tonight to clear our backlog.  That's what he said and I agree, it's not a perfect match.  Sorry."

He looked at the files.  "How would he know?"

"He knew on sight.  He's a gun geek though."

Mac leaned in.  "Elton has a personal exemplar."

"Oh, he's one of those.  Anything dangerous we should confiscate?"

"I already checked.  It's not in the city."

"Even better.  He sure?"  Mac nodded.  "Can I talk to him?"

"Up the hall to the right," Adam said.  "I don't mind.  It's his field."

"I wanted to know if he could match them in the system," he offered, going to do that.  "CSI Elton, can you run them through the system for me?"

"I can try but I've got to work on the backlog.  Need it for an emergency?"

"One of my guys shot someone and we're trying to figure out which one.  It should be listed under his name."

Xander nodded.  "I can do that."  He took the samples back to put on his backup system to run them there, then got to work on his present samples.  "You can sit at my desk to watch the computer work.  I'm sure you've done plenty of standing all day."  That got a smile and Xander checked it to make sure it was running.  He got back to work on his other ones.  It beeped.  "That's a no joy beep."  He came over.  "It's not from a registered weapon in the five surrounding states."  He looked at him, seeing the horrified look.  "So let's move farther out."  He unchecked that button and reran it through a few more databases.  This time it came up.  "Hmm.  Detroit."  He printed that file and handed it over, then checked the other sample while he wrote a short report on that.  That one came up sooner and he printed and did a report on that too, handing them and the resealed samples over.  "There you go.  If you need more help, let me know.  I can test fire and test weapons too."

"I will.  Thanks, kid."

"Not a problem."  He let him out of the lab and went back to work, making himself happy.

Mac came in an hour later, getting handed a few reports.  "Good job."

"Thank you.  They come back to bother you some more?"

"Not yet."  He looked at his t-shirt of the moment, smirking at the smartass thing.  "Javier."

He grinned.  "Not like I'm officially on shift, Mac.  Or should I stick with Detective Taylor?"

"Mac's fine."  He walked off shaking his head.

"I saw his t-shirt," Adam agreed dryly.

"He claims he's not officially on shift yet."  Adam smirked at that.  "He does have a lot of smart-ass t-shirts."

"We'll tell you if they get too bad, Mac.  You know that."  He looked around.  "Did it not occur to the guy to have us test-fire the weapons for a sample instead of testing the two bullets he found in the guy's leg against each other?  I just realized what he did."

"Apparently not."  He shrugged. "If he has to he'll bring those to us too."  He went to hand out other reports.  Stella grimaced.  "He starts officially in a week.  He can deliver his own then.  We're nearly out of backlog."

"Goodie."  She smirked.  "I'll like that.  At least he works quickly and doesn't slack too much."

"Soda breaks are about it so far.  That and t-shirts that make you moan."

"That bad?"

"Today's was. _I'll meet you in the lake of fire with my asbestos duckie_ isn't what I wanted to see tonight."

She considered it.  "Well...."  She shook her head quickly.  "I'm not sure if that's a good idea or not."

Xander walked in with a new report. "I have worse."  He grinned.  "Who didn't put a detective or CSI's name on a sample?" he asked, holding it up for Mac to look at.

"That's...  that one was found off to the side of a scene and had no reason for it.  We weren't sure of the cause."

"It had blood, which I swabbed and sent to DNA," he admitted, handing over a report.  "The gun has a history.  Perfect match to a bodega robbery last week."  He handed over the sample too.  "The back end of the bullet is shaped funny so I'm guessing it either got pried out with pliers or something blunt-nosed like that. The bullet's a bit soft but still has good striations.  Get me the gun and I can verify and check how they removed it if I have to."  He walked off again.

"He's good," she decided.  She looked over the report.  "Huh.  I need to talk to robbery."  She went to do that.

Mac smiled.  Javier Elton was a breath of fresh air around the lab.  He saw his tech's ride-along supervisor stomping up the halls and went to stop him.  "What happened?"

"I pointed out that rookies don't get to pull doubles usually and definitely don't get to back up Vice when they're going on a raid.  It's against policy.  He said tough."

Xander leaned out of his lab.  "I'm in the middle of a sample.  Can I have ten?"  He shook his head.  "Damn.  Let me reseal it."  He moved in to do that and came out with his jacket and field case.  "Vice?  Guns or drugs?"

"Guns probably."

"I'm your boy then."  He grinned.  "I'd have to get them anyway.  Might as well go tag and gather in the field.  Mac?"

"That's fine.  I'll have one with you."  He went to get his own kit and followed since everyone else was already out on something.


Xander got out of the car with his case, putting it into the back of the Vice van, nodding at the curious looking cops.  "CSI Elton, ballistics and rookie.  My ride-along boss's boss hates my ass for being a tech."  That got a nod.  "I'd have to get the guns anyway so we're cool there."  He put on his vest over his t-shirt and his badge on properly, checking his gun and spare clips.  He got some seriously funny looks for that.  "Yes, I've been in shoot-outs before.  I temped during my training and did my field work internship, guys.  I'm cool.  I'll take the middle or last, wherever you want me."

"Right before my rear guard," the senior officer ordered.  Xander nodded at that, moving closer to him. "How many raids have you done?"


"Including this one?"

"No.  One was a drug house.  One was a weapons dealer.  I went in on both as a field CSI."

"Fine."  He looked at his rear guy, who nodded he'd watch for him.  Then he went on to go over the plan for them.  Mac walked up with his vest on.  "We get two?"

"He's still young."  He pointed.  "I'll be here."

"Good for you, Taylor.  Go with your rookie CSI.  He said he's been on two before.  Right before my rear guy."

"That's acceptable."  He moved over, looking at Xander, who shrugged a bit.  They moved in and he watched how Xander handled it.  It was clear the sneaking was fine but the running squatted down to avoid detection had only been trained into him.  The boy entered silently and moved to cover things.  He pointed at the gun stash, getting a nod.  They moved to protect that and the others moved on at the rear guy's nod.  Two of the bad guys ran up on them. "Freeze, NYPD!" he ordered.  One kept coming.  Xander kicked him in the stomach and he went down moaning.  The other guy froze and dropped his gun.  He got them both cuffed while Xander guarded him.  Someone else came running and he saw the hesitation.

"Freeze, NYPD!" Xander ordered after his momentary hesitation.  It was a kid.  "Sit, now.  Hands on your head."  The kid tried to move so Xander blocked him and put him down onto the floor.  "Hands on top of your head," he said slowly and clearly, putting them there.  "Do not move."  The kid nodded.  He looked at Mac, who nodded he had done the right thing.  He guarded the kid and the others finished clearing the house.  The Vice guys came back.  "The kid came running like he was trying to escape, guys.  I didn't put him under arrest because I wasn't sure if he was or not."

"That's reasonable," the head guy agreed.  "We got his mother upstairs."  He pulled the kid up and took him out to the car.  Then he came back to get the other two.  "Why's he groaning?"

"I kicked him when he kept coming so I wouldn't have to see IAB," Xander said.  "Once in the lower stomach when he kept rushing."

"Is that procedure?" he asked Mac.

"It's technically an option since he would have had to put his gun up if he had used his hands."  That got a nod.  "I'd rather not have him have a shooting review already."

"Good point."  He pulled the guys up and out.  "Nice enough work, kid."

"Thank you.  Are we clear?  Can we start processing the guns?"

"Go for it.  We'll wait here in case there's something like drugs."  Xander nodded, jogging out to get his case and coming back in.

Mac leaned closer once they were alone.  "Do not kick them again.  Use a foot sweep, knock them down.  Do not get a brutality complaint."

"I got one from the guy that ran into the car."

"I saw.  It made Danny laugh."  He gave him a look, getting a nod.  "Thank you."

"Yes, sir."

"Better."  He got to work with him. When they found the drugs they called the vice guys back in to handle those once they were sealed properly for evidence.  Xander was pulling fingerprints and it was good.  A very long night but good.  He called his uncle personally to say that he'd be napping on the couch at the lab that night.


Xander walked into his lab the next night, finding someone on crutches in there complaining.  "Vice sting last night," he said.  The guy looked at him.  "Hi, Javier Elton."

"Hey.  Chad."  He shook his hand.  "You tagged them with Mac?"

"My ride-along boss's boss doesn't like me and called us out to back them up as patrol officers last night.  Mac let me go as a field tech."

"Ah.  He doesn't like techs?"

"Apparently not and yelled at me for being up all night again until my ride-along supervisor shouted at him to quit being an ass and stomped off saying we were taking the day off."  He grinned.  Chad laughed.  "I got a few done last night."

"I saw that.  Not bad.  Or on the backlog."

"Thank you."  He settled in to look over the other samples they had gotten that day.  "If you want, you can have another night off."

"As long as I can sit I'm fine.  Why don't you go home?"

"I'm good.  I get to come back full time on Saturday."

"Four more days," he said with a grin.

"Thankfully."  Mac stomped in.  "Did he yell at you?  Bill yelled at him for a good ten minutes before stomping off."

"He tried.  He's in trouble for sending a rookie into that.  I told the Chief of Detectives I sent you in as a field CSI since it was your minor.  He agreed that was fine and you still can't pull doubles now that it's not a critical issue."

"Fine, I can go nap at home."

"Good.  I'll see you Saturday and sooner if I have to."  Xander nodded, patting Chad on the back before moving around him.  "Try to fit into the dress code, Javier.  Plain, no logo, no saying t-shirts."  His shirt of the day wasn't too bad: Early to bed, early to rise makes people suspicious.  "Not always.  Sometimes it just makes sense, Javier."

"Yes, Mac, but I'm not that sort of sensical making guy."  Mac walked off shaking his head.  He grinned at Chad.  "I'll see you Saturday I guess."  He grabbed his close-work glasses and headed out to go home.  He walked in and John gave the clock then him a pointed stare.  "No more backlog except all the guns we did last night.  I can't work in the lab until Saturday unless it's critical."  He shrugged and closed the door, going to snoop for food.

"When did you eat?  And your t-shirt is wrong.  It's not suspicious.  It's a good idea."

"Not always," he quipped.  "Sometimes it means you're bored."  He came out with a banana, sitting down across from him to eat it.  "Anything good going on?  I managed to send Bobby and Sam their weekly emails during my lunch.  It came with a lot of complaining about the guy over my ride-along supe."  He ate another bite.

"Not yet.  A bit of research for Bobby but otherwise the usual is going on."  He looked at him.  "Did we start to have bad thoughts earlier?"

"Only of the freaking out people with t-shirts variety."


"Have that urge to spank me again?"


"Then it was probably the last time the boss there tried to yell at me.  Because I *really* wanted a sword to see if beheading worked on his sort of demon."

"You can't do that."

"I know.  Which is why I didn't."

"Fine."  He looked at him.  "Some nosy cop showed up earlier about how you afforded school."

"I told them it was from my former retirement fund."  He shrugged.  "What did you tell them?"

"Ex-lover's money that you got in palimony."

"Ah.  That too."  He smirked and John shook his head but he was smiling.  "Should I try to cook dinner?"

"Go ahead."  Xander went to do that for them.  It was nice.  Almost homey.  They still needed to move closer to the lab but that was all right.  The lab was too close to a few of the watchers in the city.  "Mac say anything about you moving yet?"

"Nope.  He wasn't fully fond of the t-shirts though."

"I didn't think he would be."  Someone knocked so he sighed and looked at it.  "Who is it?" he yelled.

"Flack and some nosy asshole."

Xander came to open the door.  "Hey, Detective.  Asshole."  He let them inside and went back to cooking.  "What's up?"

"The Vice case last night led back to one of mine by a fingerprint too you took," Flack admitted.

"Was he arrested?" John asked.

"Nope.  I'm still looking for him.  I need to know what the fingerprint was found on."  Xander came over to look at the picture.  He glanced at the guy, getting an eye roll.  That made him relax.  "Any idea?"

"Near the storage closet.  They said they had more than that when I showed them the inventory.  I pointed out we had torn the house apart, they said someone robbed them.  Hold on."  He went to check his notes.  "Here we go.  They said they're missing at least this much.  Mac agreed if they cooperated and told us what they were missing we'd tell the DA they cooperated and hadn't tried to hurt us so they might go easier on them.  Not real bright guys but it helped."  He handed over the list.

Flack looked then pointed.  "I had a homicide yesterday with one of those."

"So maybe it's one he stole.  Mac's in the lab.  Chad's back tonight so he's doing all those guns."  That got a nod.  "He can put a note in the system that it was believed stolen from these guys.  That way if and when we find it we'll know."

"That'll work.  Can I copy that list?"

"Sure."  John handed him some paper and a pen.  "Thank you.  Pasta and stuff or pasta and seafood?"

"Pasta and stuff.  I don't like fish."

"Sure."  He went to toss that back into the freezer and pull out beef and sausage.  "What did you want, IAB guy?  Standing and staring isn't really conductive to doing your job."

"How are you affording this place?  I've heard two different stories."

Xander looked at him.  "My past is shrouded in mystery for a reason.  Go ask Taylor.  He knows."

"I checked your background and found that teacher that left.  He was being looked at oddly for making lab gold."

Xander nodded.  "Yeah, and?"

"Can you?"

"That's how I made him disappear when I found out he was making drugs."  He smirked.  "It's twenty-two carat and comes out the same on most lab tests.  Now and then you can find some difference based on mineral inclusion."  He went back to browning the meat.  "Now he can't make drugs because he's too heavily watched by the community."

"That's a good point.  Is that how you afforded this stuff?"

"No.  I can do it but I don't.  I was told it was creepy by my uncle."

"You don't have an uncle."

Xander looked at him.  "Says who?"

"Says your background, Harris."

"Actually, I do have an uncle but he's pathetic.  John's here to watch over and help protect me.  How did you find out?"

"And tell me the ones who want to flay him alive don't know," Flack ordered impatiently.

"I'm not that uncautious.  One of his teachers let it slip."

Xander nodded.  "One has known.  She had relatives in the group."

"That stuff you used to do?"

"Made me the gun geek I am today," he said dryly.  A demon appeared with a pizza box.  "Oh, no.  I'm cooking and I'm not taking worshipers."

"I'll tell them you're here."

John turned and threw holy water on it, banishing the demon.  "We've got to redo the protections, kid."

"We are.  And move."

"And move," he agreed.  He looked at them.  "Taylor knows."

"Uh-huh.  So how is he affording those things?"  John got up to get something putting it in front of him.  The officer blanched very pale white.  "How?  Stolen?"

"It was stored in a tomb in my former town," Xander said. Technically he had lived in the town he had raided so many tombs around.  So not a lie.  "They didn't need it.  That's no worse than archeology."

"No, it's not.  It's ethical as well.  Not tasteful."

"Not that sort of tomb.  Tombs for things like the thing with the pizza box," Xander said.  He opened it and then tossed it out.  "Has grub worms."

"Disgusting," John complained.  "Some of them come to recruit him to their side with presents now and then as well.  Flack saw that the last time he was here."  Flack nodded at that.  He put the small ruby back.  "He did it to create an emergency fund to make sure he could stay away from those people safely."

"I can see why with their reputations.  Is he safe here in the city?"

"Yup.  We know the usual ones and I can hide.  Taylor knows so I can hide if it shows up suddenly.  If they make me move, I'll move labs."  He looked back at him.  "We do have plans.  Anything else?"

"Are you going to tell anyone about this?"

"I should make sure you don't remember this."  John glared at him.  "But I'd get beaten for that."  He looked at him.  "It'd be safer."

"Still wrong."

"My safety over a small wrong?" he suggested.

"Still wrong."

"Fine."  He went back to cooking.  "See, he does good on the dad duty.  He reminds me to eat too when I forget."

"Whatever," the officer said, shaking his head quickly.  "Make it more subtle."

"I'm living on my paycheck and palimony paid for the new apartment."

"Good."  He left, slamming the door behind him.

"You really shouldn't piss them off," Flack offered.

"I didn't, he pissed himself off," Xander said with a grin.  "Any idea where I should move?"

"Manhattan's expensive."

"We know," John assured him.  "We have this place for way too much."

Xander shrugged.  "I'm not sure if we want to rent or buy the next place."

"Rent.  In case you have to leave suddenly," John reminded him.  "Or else we'd have taken that nicer place uptown."  Xander nodded that he remembered that, finishing dinner and bringing it over to them.  "Decent, kid, thanks."

"Welcome, John."  He looked at Don.  "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine.  Are you okay?"

"I'm pretty good actually.  Chad's got the guns from last night.  I've only got four more days on my ride-along."  Don grinned.  "I know but I can't handle that.  I'm bored all day until we have to pounce someone.  Which we do at an alarming rate according to the boss.  He thinks I'm drawing them to us because I've been bored now and then."  He ate a bite, nodding.  "I did good."  He went back to eating, getting up to answer the door when it was knocked on.  "Hi, Mac.  There's more if you want dinner."

"That's fine, Javier."  He closed the door behind him, watching the boy go back to eating.  "The idiot just came to talk to me."

"Me too.  He said one of my teachers let it slip.  So we're on guard in case he lets it slip."

"He won't.  He's not one of those.  Others perhaps but not him."  He sat down at the table.  "Don."

"One of the guns that got stolen led back to a homicide."  He ate another bite.  "He's a pretty decent cook."

"That's a good thing."  He looked at the boy again.  "There's no way Chad can work a full night in ballistics.  He can't do test fires and he can't sit comfortably on the stools."

"Getting me out early?"

"I'm trying but your supervisor is being belligerent."

"I never did anything until he pushed me, Mac."

"I heard.  I talked to your supervising officer.   He said it's fine with him.  I'm having transfer papers expedited so we can get you back tomorrow.  If so, you're working noon to nine."  Xander nodded.  "And no smart t-shirts."

"Yes, Mac.  Even if they do relieve tension and stress."

"Uh-huh," Don said, looking at his present one.  It wasn't so bad.  "How bad are they?"  Xander got up to get one, bringing it back.  Don read the simple, short message and shook his head quickly.  _Small, green leafy bodies, long tongues drooling over sharp incisors, they weren't human, they were brussel sprouts, killer brussel sprouts._ "That's not what I expected from our prize ballistics tech."

"He has worse," John said, swatting Xander.  "Really, he does.  I made him burn two of them for giving me a headache."

Mac smirked.  "I have the feeling even bad cases will be better soon."  Xander nodded.  Mac's phone went off.  "Detective Mac Taylor," he answered, then listened.  "Is he all right?  Who is complaining?  I'll bring Javier in with me.  I'm with him and Flack right now, Stella.  Thank you for letting me know.  One hour."  Xander finished gulping dinner and put his plate in the sink, grabbing his glasses and changing his t-shirt on the way out.  "That's not an appropriate shirt," Mac said as he followed after him.

"It's fine for tonight, Mac, and it sounds like they could use some levity.  Meet you there."  He closed the door.

John shook his head.  "Have fun."

"ATF is in," he complained, putting his phone back.  Don finished up and headed back with him.  "Have a good night, John."  They hurried down to their cars, heading back to the lab.


Xander signed in and grabbed his ID from the box, waving it at the nice receptionist.  "I'm the ballistics tech."  She glared and pointed at two officers, who shrugged at her.  "My ride-along overlord is trying to be mean to Mac," he told one.  "I get my official ID in a few days."

"We know," the older one assured him.  "We've seen you busting your ass for us already, Elton."  Xander grinned.  "There's Feds stinking up the lab somewhere."

"We had guns busted last night."  He pushed the button, getting on with the ME Sheldon Hawkes.  "Hey.  Anything for me?"

"Um, you're which one?"


"Not tonight.  I thought that was Chad."

"Broken leg with ATF in residence tonight."  He got off on his floor, waving at Adam.  "I actually managed dinner," he said happily, getting a grin back until Adam saw his shirt, then he burst out giggling.  Xander just smirked and walked into his lab.  "If you had told me, Chad, I would've stayed so you wouldn't be in pain," he said, swatting him on the arm.

"Who're you?" the agent in there demanded.

He smiled sweetly.  "Ballistics tech Elton.  I officially start Saturday."  That got a nod. "Out of the program in Louisiana."

"Oh, heard about you."  That got a grin.  "Taylor lets you wear that?"

"Mac saw it when I walked out the door.  I decided some people needed some levity tonight," he said dryly.  "Now, what do we need?  Chad, sit."  He sat down in the desk chair with a groan of pain.  Xander moved to look at it.  "That's swelling, Chad.  You need to have it looked at."  He looked around.  "Stella, his leg's swelling under his cast," he yelled.  She came in with Sheldon to look at it.  "It's probably a weight swelling from where he was sitting up."

"Probably," Hawkes agreed.  "You should still be on leave, Chad."

"He doesn't start until Saturday."

"And I can stay over, Chad.  Get over it.  I've done doubles for the last week.  Go to the ER.  Have the nice people get you there somehow."  Stella nodded, helping him up and down to the locker room so he could get his keys and things.  "Thank you, ME Hawkes."

"Not a problem."  He left with a grin for the silly t-shirt.  "It's nice the new guy has a sense of humor."

"Very," Mac agreed as he walked past him. "Chad?"

"His leg's swelling from the weight of the cast and him sitting up.  Stella's getting him to the ER."

"Thank you."  Mac walked into ballistics, handing Xander his ID card.  "Yours."

"I love you."  He hugged his badge, putting it on and handing back the visitor's one.  "Okay, now that Chad's taken care of, what's the issue with the bust?  I was working on some of the guns last night and I left it for myself tonight when I got done with my ride-along.  Chad's gotten a few done I see."  He looked at them.  "Is there a procedural issue or some other issue that got you out of your fancy, gilded cages?"

"You have an attitude," one sneered.

"I'm sweet until you fuck with me.  I'm playing nicely right now."  His phone beeped with a  text message, making him check it.  He sent back an 'I'll calm down' to John and put it back.  "My uncle worries.  He looked at them.  "Problems?  Questions?  Wanting to go over what we're doing for our next disposal run?"

"Some of these were stolen from a lab in the midwest."

"We heard Chicago had a leak and they were sold, not stolen."  They gaped.  "I started my training in Chicago and had to leave due to a death threat, guys.  The local department heard there was a leak in Region 1's lab who sold guns that were going for disposal."  They moaned. "Are they from that or from some other incident?  I haven't finished logging them in yet.  When I do, if they're needed for evidence I'll gladly hand them over."

"We can log them in for you."

"It came from a local vice sting, that could endanger the case," Mac said.  "If the DA sends it for federal charges, you can take it over then.  Until then Javier's going to log in the materials and you guys can have a copy.  We know that they had some stolen and one of those leads back to a homicide."

They looked at each other then shrugged.  "He can log it into the system if he wants but we don't know his capabilities."

"Then look me up.  I took my competency tests this last year.  Plus my internship notes and temping time down there is in my local folder.  All you guys have to do is ask and I'll gladly play whatever form of ball you want.  Getting pushy makes me stubborn."

"We can see that," they decided together.  One looked him up through their system, gaping at him.  "How did you get the bomb and artillery ratings?"

"Past life before the threats."  He stared at them.  "Why?"  They shuddered.  "I'm under a serious death threat.  That's why I'm a *lab* tech."

"Fine," the senior one admitted.  "You handle the logging in.  Make a note that ATF is overseeing the case because it relates back to the missing guns out of Chicago.  It's part of an active investigation."  Xander nodded, writing that down for himself.  "We'll be checking over your shoulder in a few hours."

Xander slipped into his lab coat.  "Go for it."  They left to talk to Mac and then the Vice guys.

"Be nicer," Mac said as he walked past the door.

"I always try."  He got to work, finishing the one Chad had started.  He checked the ones Chad had done, nodding at the solid reports.  He printed those and started his own for each gun.  He put his into one report instead of many but that was fine.  Probably.  If not he'd cut and past later.  He took the first few to test fire and work on.  Each sample was stapled to the log-in tag for now.  It kept them straight and helped later on.  A few he found jammed and wrote that down.  He'd see if they wanted him to fix it or not or leave it that way.  He was inputting a bullet when they showed back up.  "I'm nearly done with the first batch.  Only two haven't come out of Chicago's goof that were able to be fired.  Six were fully jammed."

"How are you making sure you're not mixing up guns?" one asked.  Xander pointed at the tag.  "You're stapling the samples to the log-in tag?"

"For now.  That way I'm sure I have it with the right gun."  That one beeped and he input the note they wanted on the bottom of that file, then printed it and added it to his report, then sealed that bullet and moved on once he made sure the envelope was fully filled out.  "Do you guys want me to take heroic measures on the jammed ones?  That would include replacing parts except for the barrel or putting the barrel into the same sort of gun to test it that way."

"Why are they jammed?"

"Two are dirty.  One's got a broken firing pin.  Another looks bent. The other two I didn't strip down to see why yet but it sounded more like it was a victim of either being dirty or rust since it was grinding when I tried to fire."  He glanced over.  "I always leave that up to the tech because protocol and necessity vary."  He went back to his current one.  "Chad's reports from earlier on the table to your right.  Mine's being done in one big batch report since it's all the same case.  I'm also printing info sheets to go with it for easy reference since one looked a bit odd when I looked at it."  He pointed at those.  "I'll put those in the back as an appendix to the report if you want.  Keep them in order."  They sat down to look over the jammed guns and those.  Xander finished with his next sample when it didn't come up, frowning but making a note in the system with that gun and bullet.  Including a pin impression from the ejected shell cartridge.  He did what he needed to do to close out that gun and moved on.  "Can one of you take a dollar and get me a soda?"

"Sure, kid."  He took one from his wallet on the desk and went to do that.  Stella gave him a look.  "Elton asked for it."

"As long as it stays on the desk."

"I'm sure it will," Adam said as he walked in.  "Usually he gulps it in the hall then goes back to work."  He grinned.  "I like his t-shirt."

"I didn't see it."

He laughed.  "Small, green leafy bodies, long tongues drooling over sharp incisors, they weren't human, they were brussel sprouts, killer brussel sprouts."  She moaned, shaking her head.  "It's nice to have some humor now and then, Stella."

"If Mac allows it."

"He doesn't officially start until Saturday."  He got his own soda.  "Make him take a break, guys.  He forgets now and then.  It's why his uncle fusses."

The agent went back there.  The kid took the soda into the hall to gulp then came back to toss it out and change gloves, getting back to work.  "The other guy said you need a break."

"I'll take one when I get these done.  Before I go onto today's interesting looking bullets."  He waved a hand.  "This one's from Miami's lab."  They came over to look.  He input the note that it was found at a drug bust up here and that ATF is looking into it, getting a nod for that.  Then he printed it off and went on.  He finally got done around one that morning and leaned back to stretch, groaning some.  "Ow."  He got up to get something to drink.  "Let me get a drink and take a break.  I'll proofread it and grammatick it then hand it over."  The agent grunted, he was half-asleep.  Xander went to the break room to get a soda and a candy bar, nibbling on his way back.  He saw a few odd looks and waved, then pointed.  "Ballistics."  That got a nod from one.  He finished up, went to the bathroom, then came back to proofread his report.  The printer woke them up.  "Give me ten to print it, guys."  They grumbled but nodded, shifting to stay awake.  He got finished and put it into the appropriate report cover, handing it over with the printed out sheets.  "There you go."  He stuck Chad's in the front and handed it back.  "All yours."

"Thanks, Elton.  That was pretty fast work."

Xander grinned.  "I'm like that.  If you guys need more, come to me and I'll see what I can do.  Especially about those heroic measure guns.  I did look them up by serial number and noted that in the report plus what was wrong with it without breaking it down."

"We'll see if we need those too.  Lock those up and save them for us."

"Granted."  They left and Xander locked them up specially for them in evidence, making a note they were for a Vice/ATF investigation.  Then he went back to his lab to make sure he could catch up with today's work.  He was still working on that when Mac came back in the morning.  "Am I late?" he asked when Mac coughed at the doorway, checking his watch.  "Shit."

"You're here now.  The Commissioner agreed."  He came in to look around.  "Those guns?"

"Evidence with a note on the box I locked them in that it was a joint Vice/ATF investigation."

"That's fine.  The report?"  Xander moved and printed it out for him, making him gape.  He reprinted Chad's too.  Mac groaned.  "You put yours in one?"

"Separated out by gun.  Since it's the same case I thought that would be protocol. If not, I'll copy and paste into individual ones.  I printed off the info sheets on those guns that I found already in the system for their copy.  In that I noted that it was found and the case number there.  All you should have to do is look it up to find it if the DA needs it, Mac."

"That's fine.  Are you nearly done for the day?"

"I've got a few more hours actually."  He yawned.  "Then I'll nap in the breakroom and start my usual schedule.  Let me finish the last three guns that came in yesterday."

"Do them later, nap now."  Xander nodded, going to do that.  Mac looked over the lab, finding the pile of reports.  He checked, the kid had left a sample running but the bullet itself was resealed.  It looked like it was a serial number search.  The gun box was resealed properly and the report was started.  He made sure it was saved down for him and left, locking the lab behind himself.  He found Danny staring at him.  "ATF came for those Vice bust guns," he told him.  "He was here since dinner last night."  Danny shuddered. "There's a few more reports done if you were looking for one but I locked the door."

"Nope.  He gave me way too may last time.  I'm still working on them."

"He's nearly done with all of yesterday's guns," he offered.  "He's a quick worker."

"That's good but I doubt he needs ta be burnt out already."  He went to check on his own cases.  He'd get with the kid later for his reports.  He'd ignore the t-shirt for now since Mac didn't say anything.

Mac went to his office to call those two agents.  "I've got a copy of Elton's report.  Did you need more support from our lab?"  He listened to what he said.  "That's reasonable.  They're in evidence, locked with a joint Vice/ATF investigation tag.  Yes, including those."  He looked at the jammed guns listed and nodded.  "It is protocol to leave it up to the assigned agent or tech.  If you want I can work on those while he sleeps.  No, I just sent him to nap in the break room.  Please do.  This gun from Miami, any idea?  I can call Caine so you don't have to be bitten."

He nodded, smirking some.  "Let me do that.  He won't nip at me.  Let me know please."  He hung up and leaned back, calling down there.  "Horatio, Mac Taylor.  It's good to hear from you too but we have a small quandary.  You heard about the problems Chicago had with their Region 1 gun drop?"  He nodded.  "Actually, my tech started school out there and he said he heard it was sold, but basically.  No, we found a bunch of them at a vice bust two days ago.  The ATF agents were here last night since they heard some were from that.  One was from your neck of the woods.  No, I'm calling so you don't bite them, Horatio."

He gave him the case number, letting him look it up.  "My new tech?  Elton, out of there and Louisiana.  Fairly good.  I've had to pull him from his ride-along early because Chad broke his leg.  He was pulling doubles for a few days."  He smiled.  "I just sent him to nap in the break room since he was here all night doing that batch of guns.   Any idea how it got free?"  He nodded, making a note.  "I'll pass that on.  We know they had a few stolen.  We verified their inventory when we found fingerprints from a different source near the guns.  Gave the DA a note that they cooperated if they gave us a list of what was stolen.  It's already led back to a homicide locally."

He nodded, making another note.  "That's fine.  They're arguing over that at the moment."  He paused when he saw someone in the halls, frowning.  "Actually, if that's what I think it is, I'm going to be sending him down to liaise with you, Horatio.  Because he's got a pretty good death threat against him at the moment and I think they just showed up.  Sure, I'll let you know what we find out.  You do the same if you hear.  Thanks," he said then hung up.  He went to see that person.  "Who are you and why are you in my lab?"

"I'm Doctor Mortimer Masiston.  I'm here to consult on a few pieces of antique shards we have?"

"Which tech called, do you know?"

"Um, Bonasera I believe her name was."

"Stella should be in within twenty minutes.  Let me get you to a work area so no one says anything."  He got a nod and led him to a work area on the other side of the lab from the break room. "I'll page her to see where they are and when she'll be here.  Will you need more than the magnifying system?"

"I shouldn't.  Thank you, Detective."

"Not a problem."  He texted her on his way to the break room, finding Xander curled up facing the back of the couch.  He put a blanket over him, watching as the boy hid.  Stella came up the hall.  "Stella?"  She leaned in.  "I think that expert is one of the ones who want him," he said quietly, getting a nod.  "He was here all night so I'm letting him crash before his shift.  I put him on the other side of the lab, near the bathroom."

"I'll try to keep him from there, Mac."  She went to find the samples and bring them to him.  "Here you go.  We found these six shards, and they look like they come from the same thing, and they come up as being at least from the sixteen hundreds but a few flecks off one came up older.  That's why I wanted your opinion."

"I can gladly give that."  He settled in to open and look at each shard she handed him.  "Hmm, pottery.  Was there any indication of residue from use?"

"The oldest had a bit of wine from the stuff soaked in."  She sat across from him.  "I have no idea why they were with my victim.  She didn't have a lot of antiques and the few she had were furniture and within the last hundred-and-fifty years.  They looked well used.  I  couldn't find any evidence of broken pots there."

"That is interesting.  So you think the killer might have brought it?"

"Or broken them and removed them," she agreed.

"We can definitely see."  He looked at the first one under the microscope.  "It's only a small fleck but I can tell you about the paint and the quality of the pottery mix used."  He made notes, going back to the image.

Mac got Xander awake after a few tries, getting glared at.  "There's a Professor Masiston here," he said quietly.

"Fuck.  For me?"

"For Stella's case.  He's on the other side of the lab.  There's a napping closet on the other lab floor.  Let's get you up there.  Also, I talked with the lab in Miami.  They're looking into that one gun."  Xander nodded, following him up there to nap in that closet.  Danny gave him a stare from where he was working.  "One of them is here for Stella's shards."

"Ah.  Hit the john first, kid."  He went to do that then went back to curl up in the closet on the sleeping bag in there.  Danny closed the door.  "I'll watch out for him.  When should he be up?"

"His shift starts at noon but he was here all night."  That got a nod.  "Have him change too."  He went back to glance in at them on his way past the door.  It'd be safe, he hoped.  It wasn't often they had to call in a professional consult here in the lab so as long as they didn't see the kid he'd be okay for a while longer.  Don walked into his office an hour later.  "What's wrong?"

"ATF wants to take over my homicide too."

"Your boss and vice talk to them?"

"Yup."  He handed over the official notice.  "They're coming for the guns."

"He's asleep in the upstairs closet."

"We can let them heft and tote then."  He followed Mac to evidence, finding the box open and the seal broken but the guns all in there.  "Huh."

Mac frowned, getting the evidence person.  "Who touched this?"

"The ATF agents, Detective.  They had paperwork to claim the evidence and case.  Was I wrong to do so?  They checked and had to get something to carry the case."

"They shouldn't have broken the seal."  He resealed it and made a note on the original tape about what had happened.  He scowled at them when they came back.  "Do not break evidence seals here without reason and you do not leave evidence open, gentlemen.  It can be considered compromised."

"Sorry, Detective.  We needed to make sure this was the only case."  They pulled it down onto the handtruck and grunted as it was slow to get moving.  Flack pushed it with them and got a nod of thanks.   "We'll keep that in mind for our next one, sir."

"Let us know if you need more help.  Did you get the other evidence like the drug evidence?"

"The rest of our team is getting that."  That got a nod.  "We'll call on Elton later if we need more information.  Any word from Miami?"

"Caine's looking into it.  He knows they haven't had a theft.  He said he'd let me know by tonight."

"Please let us know then.  It's nice of you to spare us the redheaded temper he has."  They took their guns off to their truck, getting and heading back to their own lab.  Their lab techs did a spot check of five guns and found them correct so it was good for them.  They'd trust that guy to work on their cases since he had a good idea of what he was doing.

Mac and Don shared a look, both shaking their heads.  Mac went to check on the expert again, finding him in the bathroom.  Xander was still snoring when he paused by that door.  Danny waved him off so it was still good.


Xander walked in that night at ten.  "My lab is cleaned, clear of new samples, and all that."  He hugged Dean since he was in his way.  "Hi."

"Hi.  Get off, grabby."  Xander laughed, hugging Sam too.  "Long day?"

"One of them showed up to help Stella with some pottery shards so I got to nap in the closet for a few hours."  John handed him food.  "Thank you too."  He gave him a hug.  "I'm officially off my ride-along!  I'm so happy!"  He went to eat in his bedroom, coming out with his bag for his new locker.  It went beside the door.  "That's for my new locker.  I didn't have one at the other one so I'm good."  He flopped down.  "What's going on?"

"You did what last night?" John asked.

"Shot back at the Feds who were nagging Chad in my lab.  Pointed out I was nice until you fucked with me.   That compulsion is set way too strictly, John."

"It is," Dean agreed.  "Any problems?"

"No.  They were playing 'you're not one of us' with me."  He shrugged.  "They decided I'm good when they got the report and all the guns from that bust.  Mac said they said nice things and put me on the competent techs to go to list they have unofficially around the office."

"Congratulations," Sam praised with a smile.  "Any other spots of meanness?"

"I made Adam laugh with my t-shirt.  I was wearing my killer brussel sprouts t-shirt when I went in.  Did you get more than the urge to swat me, John?"

"Tara called us.  They tried to reaffirm the compulsion last night," Dean told him.  John grimaced.  "So Dad's a bit pissed at them.  Is there any hope of getting it off, dude?"

Xander shrugged.  "We've went over the books I have.  I haven't had much time to research.  John?"

"Not with the way they wove it into how I got brought back."

Xander considered it.  "There might be a way to block it from making you react so strongly to it.  I mean, you nearly grabbed your pistol when I was flirting with a girl, John."  He rolled his eyes.  "Okay, she was a succuba but that might be fun now and then.  I played with one in the past and it was okay."

"No," he ordered.


"Wow, he nearly threw a fit when I accidentally hit on one," Dean said, staring at his father.  "I thought you were treating him like a little brother, Dad."

"I am, Dean.   She got the happy evil feeling in the store.  I was going to shoot her, not him."  Xander just grinned and finished dinner.  "When did you get to sleep?"

"Eight when Mac showed up for his shift.  Until eleven-thirty then I got up, took a shower, changed, and went to work for my real shift.  I can nap tonight and I'm not due in until noon."

"Good," John decided.  "Eat more."

"I had food before I started to work."  John glared so he went to get more food.  "I was thinking about this earlier.  There might be a way to taint the compulsion but it might not work the way I think it will.  It was in the brown, Burnson book, John."  He went to get it.  Xander came back with dinner.  "Any other happy news, guys?"

"Sammy screwed up his ankle on our last hunt," Dean admitted.  Xander moved to look at it.  "It's only sprained, Javier."

"Actually I think it's partially dislocated.  Did you have an x-ray?"  Sam nodded.  "What did they say?"

"Not broken, wrap it well, ice it for fifteen each hour until the swelling went down.  I tripped getting out of the car."

"Ah."  He got him an ice pack and the bandage, doing it for him.  Then he went back to eating.

"What's this book it's referencing?" John asked.

"Um, something demons use?  I think.  I haven't found a copy but I did ask the girl in the shop we went to in Louisiana to find it for me.  It was on that huge list."

"I'll call her tomorrow, see if she has it yet.  We haven't checked in a few weeks.  I'll check the one up here too."  That got a nod.  "Any idea if they saw you?"

"Nope.  But I do need to learn how to do disguise stuff.  It might come in very handy."

"If we can figure it out," Dean agreed.  "You didn't write Bobby in a few days?"

"We've had a backlog."

"Oh.  Bad run of gun crimes?"

"A vice bust that ATF took over.  A few shootings, a few traffic stops with guns found on them.  A few drug dealers."  He shrugged.  "It's New York, we get a lot of gun crimes."  Someone knocked.  "Who is it?"

"Flack."  Sam got up to let him in when John only grunted in displeasure.  "You okay?"

"I'm fine.  I tripped getting out of the car, Detective.  Is there a problem?  Are we being too loud?"

"Nope, I came to see if our new ballistics tech wanted to go out for the night.  A bunch of the techs are going out for a beer or six and invited me.  I figured I'd bring him so he could introduce himself around."

"He needs to sleep.  He can go out on payday," John said.

Don looked at him.  "He's a big boy, John."

"I know, he still only got a few hours of sleep in a closet today."

"You did?"

"Yeah, Mac sent me to the couch when he got in for his shift.  I finished those ATF guns and then the backlog we had from yesterday."

"Congrats."  He grinned.  "You sure?"

Xander licked his fork.  "Are you asking for yourself or just to have some fun?  Because I'm all for fun but if you want me to tease you I will," he offered with a grin.  "I'm not against it but I don't want to ruin any working relationship so I usually keep it at teasing levels, Don."

Don blushed and coughed a bit but nodded.  "Good to know.  I'll remember that."  He grinned.  "You can tease all you want but don't get in the way of me hitting on girls."

"I won't.  I'll even let you know if any of them are the bad girl sort that seem to be drawn to me.  John said he nearly shot the last one."  Flack burst out laughing at that.  "But I'll definitely go out payday if they want."

"Sure, we can do that."  He patted him on the head.  "Sleep tonight.  Don't horrify Mac in the morning wit your new t-shirt.  Wear it under a button-up so he can't say much. The lab's a bit chilly anyway."

"I can definitely do that," he agreed with a wicked smirk.  John coughed.  "I'm being fun-loving, not evil, John."

"If you say so, kid."  He looked over.  "You might want to warn them he does pick gently on others to tease them. That way they don't have a shocked reaction like I did."

"He did.  I teased him and he glared and growled," Xander agreed, cracking Don up again.

"I'll make sure they know that, kid.  See you tomorrow."  He left, going to the bar to talk to them.  "He said he'd come out payday with you guys but tonight he's gotta sleep and John's making sure of it."  He sat down, pouring himself a cup from the pitcher of beer.  Stella stared at him.  "What?  He's a nice kid."

"John is?" she prompted.

"The guy watching over him like an uncle."


"Long story I can't tell you and neither can Mac, Stella."

"So, it has to do with this death threat we heard about?"  He nodded.  "Good to know.  I know the expert I had in today freaked him out.  I didn't think geeks like that were a threat to anyone."

"He turned in their apocalypse vault in Leeds, England, a few years back when they tried to bother him," Flack said more quietly.  She shuddered.   "But anyway, he did say to warn you guys that he'll tease but not follow-through since he doesn't want to ruin a work relationship and I reminded him to wear his next smart-ass t-shirt under a button-up so Mac couldn't huff too hard."  He took a sip.  "But he's a nice kid.  John's sons were in to check on them too."

"Why is he under a death threat?" Adam asked.  Everyone but Flack shrugged.  "Should we know?"

"Mac knows," Don told him.  That got a nod.  "Now and then it causes the kid's mind to go funny and make him think strange thoughts but he's a good kid."

"I saw his killer brussel sprouts shirt," Stella said dryly.

"I've seen a few others that're more insane," Don assured her with a grin.

"Yeah, he should probably be able to cover that up if he wears it in the lab.  How did you meet him, Don?"

"Remember that serial at the academy?"  Stella nodded.  "The instructors said ta help us since he was a CSI and he turned the kid in for the old blood stink in his room.  He had looked you guys up.  He told Aiden he had heard some of the other guys going off in the dorms about her ass."  She smirked at that, shaking her head. "Politely and said a few nice things as well.  She agreed, he's a smartass but he's good.  They gave him the crap jobs like bagging the parts.  He got grossed out but handled it quickly and efficiently.  When the instructors said to have him there to help question the roomie, the roomie suggested he was wrong in the head and should be arrested some day for being a gun geek, but otherwise he helped.  When the guy showed up while we were questioning the rookie, he pounced the guy and make him beg ta confess and want his mommy."

"I worked with him on that car kidnaping thing," Danny told her.  "He's fast and smart, but a smartass to relieve tension.  He was breaking down the car before we got there to search it for more kids and broke it down onto the truck to make sure there weren't any more.  Even though he was on his ride-along and his supervisor there didn't like CSI.  His ride-along supervising officer loved the kid though.  Stood up for him when he tried shit."

"Good to know.  How good is he in the field?"

"He's got it as a minor," Adam asked.  "I asked.  He took trace and field classes as a minor.  He loves guns though so he wants to stay there."  She nodded at that.  "He cooed over the ones that the ATF took from us today."

"He's got a small collection going.  Mac said to keep anything he shouldn't know about outside the city and the boy agreed to that," Don assured him, getting a smirk back from Adam.  "Anyway, he said he'd come out payday."

"That's fine," Stella agreed.  "He's on for what?"

"Noon ta nine," Danny told her.  "Chad's still out with his leg.  He tried when they complained the kid was doing doubles and then going to his ride-along but he couldn't stand so Mac brought Javier back.  That's not his name, right?"  Don shook his head.  "Didn't think so.  His records come in two different names from what I heard."

"They tried to take his teachers hostage in Chicago when he was in his first semester," Don said quietly.  "That's when he turned in their weapons."  That got a nod. "He went to Louisiana."

"Which isn't a bad program," Stella admitted.  "So we'll see.  I know Mac's watching him pretty closely because of the threat.  It was nice he got a nap last night."

"He came in after his ride-along shift, worked all those guns until Mac got in this morning, then Mac made him nap," Adam told her.  She spluttered on her current drink.  "Oh, and get this, because of whatever happened now and then he forgets to eat and sleep.  John likes to nag about that.  After his third night in a row of not making it home before his day shift ride-along he came to gather him from the lab.  Politely but Mac agreed and handed him over by locking him out of the lab for a bit."

"Wow.  How does he forget to eat and sleep?  Doesn't his body tell him he needs it?"

"Apparently not anymore," Don told her.  "I saw Mac remind him to take a break and he had the 'oh, yeah, it's been hours, I should eat' reaction."  She shuddered. "So however his friend screwed up to get those people's attention, it wasn't good for him."

"Or maybe it was too good and overloaded his mind," Danny offered quietly.  "That could be the getting lost in thought thing.  But, as long as he's good on the street and in the lab, I'm not going to care if he's a lunatic at home."

"Nah, he's a nice guy.  Mac and I had dinner with him before he got to bring him back for the ATF since Chad couldn't work.  My last homicide led back to their stolen guns," he said at Stella's odd look.

"Interesting.  How do we know what they stole?"

"Mac promised to give the DA a good word if they admitted what had been stolen when the kid found fingerprints next to the storage area," Adam told her.  "He doesn't lift them great but they're good.  More like Aiden lifts prints."  She nodded at that.  "But yeah, he wants to stay in the lab and knows it's safer.  He was only on that because the sergeant or whatever over his ride-along unit called them in for a double and sent them with vice.  So he went as a CSI."

Danny nodded.  "That's what I heard too."  Aiden came in and sat down.  "Talking about our rookie gun nut."

"He's a nice kid who has sense and a sense of humor.  It's a nice change from some of the robots we've had in the labs."  Stella nodded at that.  "I would warn him to cover his t-shirts though.  Mac doesn't have that sort of humor most days."

"No he doesn't," Danny agreed.

"He says he does it to release some tension," Adam told them.  "Since I've been on the late shift I've been having breaks with him."  He grinned.  "He's a funny, nice guy who has a horrible dating record according to him."

"He teased me about that and said he'd keep the bad girl patrol off me if we were out together," Don told him.

Adam smiled.  "John wanted to shoot him the last time he tried to date, Don."

"That's how I found out he'll tease but not follow through with anyone he works with," Don said smugly.  They all laughed at that.

"How evil can they be?" Aiden asked.

"Very," Don assured her.  "Or so I heard."

"You know why," Stella said.  Don nodded.  "Share a little bit so we're safer?"

"Mac has a list of people to watch out for him for.  Plus their businesses."

"Good to know."

"One was stupid enough to pretend to be a Fed in an airport to get one of his friends after his graduation.  Brought in a bag'n'tag team to get her with officers on scene."  She moaned at that.  "He's got it.  He's well trained and he was a gun nut long before this happened."

"Fine.  He can handle it on the street?"

Don nodded.  "By his past, yeah.  His former town was bad.  Not gang bad but bad."  She nodded at that.  "So he's cool.  I'd expect him to step in if he can't stop himself."

"I'll remember that."  She patted his hand. "Let's hope he works out with us.  Mac seems happy to have him."

"Mac's very happy ta have him," Danny agreed.  "Fortunately.  It's nice we got someone competent we don't have ta run off again."  They all nodded at that, Adam harder than most.  He had helped run off the last ballistics tech before Chad for being a screw up.  They had went through ten in the last three years for not fitting in.  So this kid, he'd make it better.


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