Note:  On Buffy cannon, Glory happened but Anya was only minorly hurt.  Buffy didn't die.  They made Glory go through the portal by tossing her Gucci shoes through one or something so they closed without more blood being needed.


Elliot Stabler sat down at the bar, nodding at the bartender. "Tap."  He put down a few dollars and took his nice, cold beer.  He groaned at the first sip.  It was weak beer but he was tired and it had been a long day.  The sort that they made beer commercials about.  The guy next to him nodded when he glanced at him.  He was young, maybe twenty if he was generous, and had dark hair.  His brown eyes showed tiredness too, but his body was showing he was on watch status.  He wasn't quite tense but he was ready in case something happened.  Which was probably bad for him to be next to but he could always arrest the guy if he did something stupid or upset his day further.

A middle-aged man wandered up to where they were sitting at the bar.  "I wanna talk to you," he slurred.  "You had no right to arrest me for touching her.  She's mine, I can do that."

"It's still against the law," Elliot said tiredly.

The guy looked at the drunk.  "You touched your daughter?"

The guy sneered. "She wanted it," he said.  "Stay out of it."  He gave him a shove but the young guy slammed his head onto the bar.  He fell limply to the floor, then got used as a footrest.

"People like you should rot in hell and if he arrested you it's a mark on the side of the good guys," the young guy sneered down at the unconscious man.  "Feel lucky *I* didn't catch you."

Elliot looked at him.  "You probably shouldn't have done that and I should probably complain but thank you."

"Welcome."  He smiled.  "People like that annoy the fuck outta me and should be given the Impaler treatment.  The foot thick pole up the ass and out whatever cavity it either creates or finds.  Then we can do a monthly parade through the streets with them.  It's a good lesson for those considering doing the same thing."

Elliot looked at him.  "Were one?"  He couldn't counsel another former abuse survivor tonight.  His soul already hurt.

"No, my parents were drunk but they considered me invisible.  I loathe all parents like that on behalf of the kids who can't."

"Thanks for that."  He smiled a bit.  "Elliot."

"Xander," he said, shaking his hand.  "Cop?" he said with a grin.

He nodded.  "Special Victims.  You?"

"Construction worker."

Elliot looked him over.  "Military?"

"No.  Hometown protection."

"Reserves?" he asked.

Xander grinned a sappy grin.  "Just what I said, Detective.   I came from a town with a lot of violence.  I was part of the small protection society to reduce our thirty-seven percent homicide rate."  Elliot gave him a horrified look.  "We got it down to eighteen one year."

"Congrats.  Vigilante?"

"No.  Just making sure people got home and things," he said.  He knew the cop could sense the partial lie but he left it there so he didn't have to try harder.  Someone tapped him on the shoulder.  "Yes?" he asked the nice bouncer with a grin.

"Can I have your footstool?  The cops are here for him."

"Sure, want help carrying him out?"

"Nah, he's awake.  It looks like he can walk."

Xander looked down.  "Remember me and that I will find you, I will send you to meet Satan personally if you ever do it again, and the only thing saving you from me is a confession.  Because confession is good for the soul.  Especially in its last few seconds of life."  The man nodded so Xander moved his boots.  "There you go.  Go with the nice bouncer, prey."

"Yes, sir," he mumbled, letting the bouncer walk him off.

"I should probably burn these boots but I like them.  Guess they're getting scrubbed later," Xander quipped.

The cop there to pick up the guy looked at him.  "You need to press charges against him?"

"No," he said, eyes wide.  "I never wanna see that man again.  He's right, I'll meet my maker if I see him again.  I need to confess.  It's good for me."

"Sure, we can take you to do that," the officer agreed, leading him out to his car so he could cuff him and drag him off.  He loved cooperative drunks.

Elliot smiled once the door was closed. "He was really scared of you."

Xander just gave him that small grin again.  "He smelled like prey and he was nothing compared to some of the things I've seen, Elliot.  He should have been.  Then again, I have friends who are worse."  He sipped his scotch and looked at the bartender.  "Can I switch to beer?"  He nodded.  "And get another ice cube?"  Another was plopped into his scotch for him.  "Thanks."  He paid for his beer and sipped it then finished his scotch, chewing on the ice cube.  He looked around then at Elliot.  "You know, I thought New York would be more exciting when I moved here."

Elliot laughed.  "You're looking in the wrong spot, Xander.  There's plenty of excitement."  The kid's pager went off.  "Friends?"

He looked then shook his head.  "No, problems."  He gulped the beer and stood up, tossing down a tip.  "Nice meeting you, Elliot.  Have an easier week."  He walked out, heading to handle whatever was going on.

Elliot smiled at the bartender.  "He come here often?"

He nodded.  "For the last three weeks.  Came in the first day covered in ash and goop.  Figured he was having a bad day at work."


"Goop. Like slime only thicker," he told him.

"I've never seen that on a construction site.  Wonder what he ran into."  He finished his beer and got another, smiling at the woman who came over to chat with him.  "Hi."

"Hi.  You're a detective?"  He nodded. "A good one?"  He nodded again, smiling a bit.  "What unit?"


"Hmm."  She ran a hand up his arm.  "A tough job for a tough man."

He nodded.  "Most days."  He let her flatter him into a nice one-night stand.  It salved his day's problems.  He'd remember the strange kid later, when he got called out of bed at five in the morning.   He wandered onto his new scene, finishing his coffee.  "What's up?"

"Young girl, dead, in an alley," the ME said grimly.  "A few weapons around her.  Looks like a stake and a short sword."

He raised an eyebrow and went back there, finding his partner looking at things.  He looked around.  "There was a fight."

Olivia smiled at him and nodded.  "There was.  She's pretty beaten up."  She handed over the bagged wallet.  "One in-state ID card for a high school and a phone number with the name Xander."

He choked.  "I met a Xander last night," he explained when she gave him a worried look.  "He was at the bar."

"Was he the guy that I got more paperwork from because he banged his head into the bar?" she demanded.  He nodded while he caught his breath.  "Want to find him again?"

"We should call the number."

"I tried, it's a pager," she said.

Elliot looked at her. "I know where he'll be later.  Let me handle him?  He's a bit wound up."

"You think he hurt her?"

"You could try asking me," a voice said from above them.  They looked up at the young man in flannel pajama pants and a tank top.  He leaned on the fire escape railing.  "Technically, I'm training her in how to defend herself.  Why she's *there* I have no idea."  He looked at Elliot.  "I wasn't going to go tonight.  Sorry.  Day off."  He looked at the female detective again.  "Also, that's her sister's ID.  She's sixteen.  Her address is wrong on it, I had her do that so she couldn't be tracked back to her home if someone found it."

"What is going on?" Olivia demanded.  "She looks like she took on Tyson."

"The chicken?" Xander asked dryly, giving her a look.  He looked at Elliot again.  "Who's your strange shit person?  He'll know her and me."

Elliot gaped.  "You seemed so much more reasonable...."

Xander held up a hand.  "I'm a combat veteran since I was her age, Elliot, and I'm twenty- two.  It's going to go to them anyway.  Get them.  Please.  I can have her mother come down to wherever you need her to."

"We'd rather notify," Elliot said grimly.

"Yeah but she expects me to make this call."  A man in a trench coat and a hat walked up to the scene.  His all-black suit and white shirt stood out among the garbage.  "Huh.  Never mind, I think he heard me and came anyway."

The guy in the hat looked up.  "You," he said grimly.  Xander nodded.  "You're here?"

"Have been for four weeks.  I ran into Elliot last night in the bar."  He grinned.  "She's one of the girls."

He nodded.  "You call her parents yet?"

"We can," Olivia assured him firmly.

"They'll expect it from him, Olivia."  He looked at Xander.  "Any idea?"

Xander shook his head.  "The problem left about two.  She was walking off while I came up here."  He came down the fire escape, walking calmly over to look at her.  He tipped her head off.  "Broken neck.  Someone knew who she was," he said quietly.  He looked her over then nodded.  "Someone carved on her too."  He took a pair of gloves from the ME and put them on, moving her shirt.  "That's...."  He looked at the language, figuring it out.  "Yeah, they knew her.  They're on a hunt."  He stood up and looked at John.  "It's a Molock thing.  Can you handle it?"  He shook his head.  "Then I'll tell you when I find him."

Elliot got in his way.  "Let's put this into English for the rest of us."

The ME looked at the body then at him.  "I've seen a few of these recently."

"The guy who did it is about seven-and-a-half feet tall," Xander told her.  "He's extremely strong and fast.  He's also a very good jumper."  He looked around and pointed.  "That's where he pulled himself up.  No normal guy can do that."

"Are we talking mutants?" Olivia joked.

"If it makes you feel better," Xander shot back, ignoring her.  He stared at Elliot.  "You want to help me, I'll be going out in about four hours.  I'd take communion if you're religious.  It's going to be nasty and dirty."  He walked off, taking a running leap to catch the bottom of the fire escape and pull himself up.  He walked back into his window and it shut behind him.

Everyone turned to look at John.  "Guys, you know that there's evil in every city and town.  He's one of those who hunt it and keep it from hurting innocents.  He just moved from California actually."

"He said he had been on a hometown protection patrol," Elliot said dryly.  "Are you coming with us?"

"Hell no," John said, walking off again.  "If you want I can take this case.  Not a problem."

"No, we can," Elliot assured him, looking at Olivia.  "Coming with us?"

"Hell yes."  She glared at the window.  "Are you going to let him do that?"

"If he can lead me to the guy?  Yeah."  He looked at the ME.  "When will you know?"

"Tomorrow.  There was a rash of suicides last night," she admitted.  They nodded and left her with the body.  She looked up at the feeling of being watched, finding the young guy returned, only now he was in loose jeans and a t-shirt.  "Her family?"

He tossed down something.  "I already called her mother.  She's a drunk so expect her to come in slurring.  Her father's more reasonable and I left a message for him.  He'll be at your office to identify her.  I also called her family priest to give last rites."

She nodded at that. "I'll treat her as gently as I do any other," she said when he kept staring.

He grimaced. "I'm more worried that someone will come in and snatch her or take tissue samples."  She gaped.  "Did you do Harmony Bellange's autopsy?"  She swallowed and nodded.  "Sherryl's just like her."  He went back inside.  It should be warning enough.  He hoped.  He had to get ready to hunt the demon down.  At two he came out of his building and found Elliot and Olivia waiting in a car.  So he got into the back and handed over an address.  "We're going here."

"Sure," Olivia said.  "Who was going to break in?"

"Did you handle the Bellange case?"

"I did," Elliot admitted.  "Why?"

"She and Sherryl were a lot alike," he said, staring him down.  "Including the same people training them at first.  I took over for Sherryl a few weeks back when her last one got killed by something."  Elliot gaped.  "I'm not telling you.  It's already been handled.  Besides, it's a long, twisted tale and mostly British."  He grinned.  "Let's go.  They'll be getting up soon."  Olivia grimaced but drove them to the correct address.  Xander got out and headed down to the basement apartment.  He looked at the door, resting a hand against it.  He said something quietly, closing his eyes, then nodded.  "Great, he's got victims in there."

"We need a warrant," Elliot protested when the boy pulled back a foot.

"You can arrest all the humans you want, Elliot, but the main guy's not human."  He kicked in the door.  "Slayer Services!  We deliver asskickings for the right parties!" he announced, walking in casually.  The three demons feasting on a girl's insides glared at him and hissed.  A large, dark shadow moved.  "Get off her.  Now," he snarled.  They moved closer and Olivia gasped.  "Get her out of here.  They'll go for her," Xander ordered Elliot.  "Then make sure nothing walks out."  Elliot backed her out and stood in front of her.  The large shadow laughed.  The three demons lunged and Xander took down two easily.  The third tried to grab his neck but he spun and pulled out a dagger, slitting its throat.  He did it to the other two then looked at the shadow.  "Bored now, Molock.  Your turn."

"You're no slayer," the shadow said, moving out so they could see his dusky maroon skin and horns.  "You're Buffy's Knight."

"No shit," he sneered back.  "I don't have to be a slayer to take you.  By the way, Sherryl was preggers.  Doesn't that mean she was poisonous to you guys?"  He gave him a horrified look before bellowing and rushing him.  Xander did a sidestep and swung a fist at his back, using his momentum to follow through and spin around, facing the demons back. A few good kicks before the demon made it up.  The demon tried to grab him.  He managed it too.  Xander had to struggle to get free.  He was backhanded into a wall and got up, wiping his mouth off with the back of his fist.  "Does my blood make you hot?" he sneered.  The demon came at him again and he kept his ground.  He stabbed him, ducking under his crushing momentum to get out of his way when he fell.  He poured something onto the demon's back and watched him fizzle.  "See you in hell."  He walked around, pulling a scared human male out of a closet.  He handed him over to Elliot after staring at him for a minute.  "Yours I believe."  He checked the two girls.  "They're living.  They could use an ambulance."

"So could you!" Olivia squeaked. "What was that!"

"That is why Sherryl and others have a genetic advantage over other girls," he said grimly.  "Someone a long damn time ago decided to add that to humans so they'd have someone to protect you nice people from things like that.  I was training Sherryl when her last trainer was killed."  He looked at the body again, starting a simple last rite for her.  He finished up when the ambulance got there.  "They're over there," he said, pointing.  "They've been kept sedated with a natural sedative that looks like spit.  It usually lasts about ten hours, watch the sulphur and acid content in their blood.  When it gets to normal they'll wake up within two hours."  One of the EMTs nodded.  "Also check for pregnancies.  One of the ones he attacked last night was.  The things on the floor were eating this one and she clearly was too."  That got a nod and they carried them out of the carnage.  He closed the girl's eyes and walked out, finding Olivia off getting sick and Elliot waiting on him.  "I do what I do to protect others, Elliot.   The same as you do.  Yours is a calling, mine's a different sort.  Go see your priest."  Elliot nodded.  "Take communion if you didn't earlier.  Things like this taint your soul just by being around you.  They're called demons for a reason."  He walked off.  "I'm going home."  Olivia moved away from him and he looked at her.  "Would you rather you guys dealt with this?"  She shook her head quickly, backing away another step.  "That's why we do.  So you guys can take out the mundane threats.  Feel very lucky you were never called."  She nodded.  He walked off humming to calm himself down.

Elliot watched the ME pull up and get out.  "You're not going to like it."

"I can guarantee that since I looked up who he was when the earlier girl's mother told me his name."  She looked inside at the fizzing puddle, the three green and gray bodies, and the one on the table.  "I don't touch demons, Elliot."

"She was being eaten," he said quietly.  "He did something like a last rite and closed her eyes for you."

"I'm sure it's a comfort to her soul," she said, going to handle the human one.  "She was pregnant."

"He said that."

"You can see it," she said.  He turned paler.  "You all right?"

"No, I didn't want to think that these things existed," he said, starting to get angry.

"Then forget them and let John handle them," she said dryly.  "He knows someone who'll come clean that other mess up."  He nodded, calling his coworker to come fix the rest of this problem.  She looked at the girl.  "You're lucky you died quickly, young lady."  She got her bagged up and let her helpers carry her to the van.  There wasn't anything else she could do but she was glad there was a hunter available.  The city needed one.


Elliot came out of his church, looking at the priest he had been talking to.  "Why doesn't anyone say anything?" he asked.

"Who would believe them, Elliot?" he asked dryly.  "Only those who've seen.  Half of those are bad and the rest are hunters."

"I...  I ran into Xander."


"He was helping a young lady train."

"Was he British?"

"No, he's from California from what John said."

"Hmm.  Usually the Watchers are British."  He smiled.  "They have it mostly well in hand, Elliot.  It's rare that you have to run into one."  That got a nod and he relaxed.  "Next time you know who to call."  He patted him on the arm.  "Do you feel better?"

"I do but I'm confused."

"Then talk to the young man.  He has more knowledge than I ever could."

Elliot nodded.  "I can do that.  Thank you, Father."

"You're welcome, Elliot.  We still have to talk about the divorce."

He grimaced.  "After this, Father, I'm not sure what's going to happen."  That got an understanding look and a nod.  "Did you know he's a smartass?"

The priest laughed.  "If he's from California, he's from Sunnydale or LA, Elliot.  He's seen worse.  Talk to him.  He's a good friend to have and probably a very interesting young man.  He's lived a lot of life in a few short years.  If he moved from there he might also be looking for an anchor, someone to help him stay on the right side."  He patted him again.  "Go, talk to the boy."

Elliot nodded, heading to do that.  He tried to call Olivia but she was drunk when she answered so he told her he'd see her tomorrow and went back to their first crime scene.  He found the right building and the name on the buzzer, pressing it.

"Speak to the Great One," a mechanical voice demanded.

"I'm looking for Xander.  It's... it's Elliot."  The door opened and he walked up the stairs.  The boy met him at the door, lounging, looking very comfortable.  "Can we talk?"

Xander nodded. "Sure."  He let him inside.  "I don't keep liquor in the house, but I have soda, or I can make some coffee for you.  I heard you guys live on that."

Elliot smiled.  The kid was nervous too.  "Water's fine, Xander.  Thank you."  He got handed some ice water and let Xander hang his coat up in the closet.  He sat down on the old, ratty couch and looked at him.  "How did you find out?"

He smiled, sitting down in the old recliner and putting his feet up.  "I was sixteen.  A new girl just moved into my town.  I was lurking to try to impress her and heard her talking about vampires."  Elliot gave him an odd look.  "They're the usual we have to deal with.  Then a few days later two of my friends were nearly taken."  He looked out the window then back at him.  "We saved one.  Since that day of trying to save the other one, I've been on her team."

"Is this an official thing?"

"Slayers aren't officially in any books but the Watchers'."

"I heard that name."

"They're the ones who watch, train, and then chronicle the slayers' lives.  They also like to sneak in and steal tissue samples because they're trying their hand at genetic tampering and breeding at the moment.  They're the lead researchers in anything magical, paranormal, or mythical."  He grinned.  "Before you ask, I'm not one, I hate the bastards; they're all weenies with an urge and no dick."  Elliot snickered at that.  "They treat their girls like shit, man.  They're expendable weapons to them.  The girls they train are totally obedient little robots.  They're taken from their families as young as they find them.  They're trained from an early age to fight as long as they can and die.  Me and another few friends helping the one in Sunnydale meant she lived longer than any other one to date.  Since writing began."  Elliot took a sip of water.  "She's still around."

"Then why are you here?"

"Because I got tired of Sunnydale and the nightly combat.  A lot of things piled up and I left," he admitted.  "I came here, got a job, found one of the girls nearly being killed in an alley one night because her form sucked.  I said that.  She glared at me.  Her Watcher glared at me.  I gave credentials and the guy ran in front of a pack of vampires.  He got eaten."  He shrugged.  "I brought her home after we had dusted them all.  Then I instituted the paranoid system so it'd be harder to find her."

"Wrong address on the ID, wrong name too," he said.  Xander nodded.  "School?"

"She was in a private school and I had her transfer to a Catholic one.  It'd be easier to have her blessed daily than to do it myself really.  Plus she needed some backbone.  They hadn't had her for very long and she was a bit whiny.  The 'eww, they got crud under my nails' whiny."  Elliot nodded, taking a sip of his water.  "Want something to eat?"

"No, I'm good.  I don't think I can."

Xander nodded.  "I spent the day after I staked my first one staring at my hands in a playground," he admitted.  "Then again, you've probably had to shoot on the job?"

Elliot nodded.  "A few times."

"It's about how I see it anymore."

"How bad was the thing earlier?"

"On the hellmouth scale of apocalypses?  Maybe a two out of ten.  We had a hell god recently."  Elliot gaped.  He smiled.  "They come and go sometimes.  We handled about one major thing a year or so."  He shrugged.  "Someone has to do the job and Buffy's a tiny little blonde thing with a quip and slay reflex."  Someone pounded on the door.  "Oh, bite me!" he yelled. "I can talk to someone in my own apartment."  They pounded again.  "Keep it up and I'm telling Doug you've been sleeping with Liza and Steve again!"  The pounding stopped and they retreated.  "We build things with thicker walls in Cali."

Elliot snickered.  "It's like that all over the city."  He looked around the tiny efficiency.  "This is probably, what, eight hundred?"

Xander grinned.  "I'm a construction worker and I earn part of my rent when I fix things for the owner."

"It's a good deal if you can get it."  He finished his water and Xander got him some more, making him smile.  "Thanks."

"One of the best things for a queasy stomach.  Outside of Munchos chips."  He sat down again.  "Did the priest help?"

"A lot."  He looked at him.  "Sunnydale is how big?"

"About as many people as this block has living.  About that many unliving."  Elliot stared at him in awe.  He grimaced.  "We had to, Elliot.  If we hadn't, everyone could've died.  It made for crappy grades in high school but I like construction work."  He sipped his own water he had gotten when he had gotten the other one.  "The people there had a large case of 'I don't wanna know' and even when things happened in front of them they ignored it.  Someone had to."

"The force out there?"

"Domestics, murder of the mundane kind, shoplifting.  Not DUI most of the time or my uncle wouldn't have had his license for so long."  He took another sip.  "They tried to get my friend Buffy for killing the robot that was pretending to be human so he could date her mother."

Elliot shook his head quickly.  "They didn't check?"

"Not until the next day."  He grinned.  "It's a thing where Sunnydale is.  We're over a point of higher than average power.  So high it calls out to others to come cause us mayhem and mischief.  They enjoy it a lot more than we did."

"So you're like a vampire hunter."

"Associate vampire hunter.  The girls are the hunters.  We're helpers."

"I heard him call you a knight."

"Yeah.  I jumped in without any useful skills originally.  I'm known as an end-game fighter too.  I'm also known to destroy prophecies and make the world keep going, even when it thinks it wants a nap."

"So you do what's necessary and then what?"

Xander looked at him.  "I don't know you that well," he admitted.  Elliot nodded that he accepted that.  "That's something I didn't even share with the woman I nearly married.  Sorry."

"That's okay.  I understand that.  I'm in the middle of a divorce because she couldn't understand why the job called me."

"For most guys on the force it's a job.  For those in the units that rip your soul to shreds, it's a calling as strong as one to serve God, Elliot.  The same as mine is."  Elliot nodded, smiling at him.  "You would've transferred long ago if it wasn't a calling.  Most people don't want to understand when people are called to faith either."

"She tried.  Things kept happening.  Some of it was my fault," he admitted.  "I, um..."

Xander held up a hand.  "I'm known for attracting the very things we were hunting, Elliot.  More than one of my girlfriends has been demonic and about to kill me.  Including the one I nearly married."  Elliot gaped.  "She was in vengeance.  The one you called when you're wronged.  She was over women scorned so I'm sure you can see what sort of stories I got told from her job when she had it."  Elliot shuddered.  "Exactly. She's got her job back now too.  So if you see Anyanka, tell her I said hi and I'm fine."

"I'll do that if I see her.  Do you feel strange?"

Xander grinned.  "I'm the wrong person to ask, Elliot.  I'm a geek at heart.  Not the King of Geeks like the trio of wannabe-terror we have out there.  Three geeks who're trying to take over the world and be the evil emperors so they can get the hot chicks."  Elliot snickered at that, shaking his head.  "They've tried a number of times and they've nearly succeeded a few."  Elliot gaped.  "They have.  I'm not quite that level of geek."

Elliot shook his head.  "So you've had this talk?"

"Let's see.  Willow's boyfriend got told by her and then Giles explained it further.  Cordy got sucked in and I had to explain some of it to her, then Giles finished it.  Buffy's first boyfriend was a vamp and he knew.  The second was...  Well, let's not start me swearing.  We had to correct him often.  I don't usually get to be answer guy."

"So why are you in New York?" he asked, taking a sip of water.

Xander smiled.  "To get away from them.  Things started to go wrong again and I just couldn't take another round of 'bash Xander' for a few weeks until they got their heads out of their fashionably clad asses."  He drank half his glass of water, sitting it on the table next to him.  "I thought this might be far enough away but I never expected to have to hunt here.  I knew there was a Watcher nearby and a girl who hadn't been called yet.  I figured they were doing it.  Little did I know."

"Are there others?"

"Girls?  Yeah.  A number of them."  He grinned.  "Half of them are out of the country for training purposes.  Some of the islands don't care what you teach an eight-year-old girl.  We're a bit more nosy as Americans.  If we saw a girl that age being taught weapons work, we'd call someone."

"Hopefully," Elliot agreed. "Weapons?"

"Mostly archaic.  Crossbows, swords, that stuff.  Stakes."  He nodded a bit. "I've got mine safely stored away and hidden from prying people like you."

"Thanks.  Anything I should worry about?"

"You're sitting on top of the grenade launcher," Xander offered.  Elliot laughed so he let him have his nice thoughts of him.  He finished his water and got some more, bringing out the pitcher.  "There, that way I don't have to keep bouncing up."

"You're still bruised from earlier."

"Only the slayers get advanced healing, Elliot.  I'm still a normal guy who just happened to have jumped into a massive underground battle."

"Do you want to go back?"

Xander shook his head.  "No thanks.  I'm appreciating this nice weather recently.  It's been cool and nice.  Plus there's things to do around here.  It's not LA with Angel brooding and an ex-girlfriend who'll nag me the next time she hears from me.  It's nice here.  I'm glad I let the city make me stay."

"What happens when you want out, Xander?" he asked, staring at him.

"There'd have to be someone else nearby.  Then I'd retire back to teaching and watching, jumping in during the really bad times.  Being on reserve basically."

"That'll suck when you're sixty."

Xander smiled. "It'll suck when I'm twenty-three.  There's still got to be someone to handle it."

"You could quit."

"So could you."

Elliot nodded.  "I know what you do is important."

"It's not like I can put an ad in the paper.  Looking for vampire hunters, call 555...."  He trailed off with a grin.  "I can just imagine the sort I'd get."  Someone pounded on his door again so he sighed and got up, opening it to glare at someone.  "What?" he demanded.

"You're loud."

"We're talking in a normal tone of voice.  Quit taking the dugs that make your hearing spike.  It's annoying me."  She glared at him.  He glared back.  "I can easily turn you in to the cops."

"You have swords," she sneered.

"Which means you broke into my place, sweetie.  Think I won't?"  She grew pale.  "Especially with your half a mil of coke over there that you were cheering about the other day?"  She stomped off.  "I'd leave the city.   Your dealer was here earlier and I drove him off again."  He slammed the door, finding Elliot tapping something into his phone.  "Text messaging Vice?"  He nodded.  "Good.  She's a lazy bitch with roaches."  He sat down again.  "Sorry.  Some people ya know?"

"Oh, I do."  He looked at him.  "Why construction?"

"Bad grades.  It's good paying work.  I get a nice workout every day to stay in shape for weapons work.  I get to up my explosives knowledge.  No one comments when I come out with a smartass remark."

"Harris!" a male voice yelled.

"Yes, master!" he yelled back, getting up and opening the door again.  "What?  You wanted me to leave her alone when she came to bother me?  Have her quit taking the drugs and get the drugs out of the building before Vice confiscates all of us for her having drugs.  She was crowing about having a half-mil of coke the other day and hasn't been paying her dealer.  He's been lurking a lot.  I've driven him off four times."  He saw the two officers coming up the stairs.  "After druggie woman?"  They nodded.  "Apartment 4b, unless she's visiting someone."   They tapped then she stupidly opened the door.  Xander looked at the landlord again, going that way when they gasped.  "You drug your dog?" he demanded.  "How shallow are you?"

"He barks all night," she complained.  Elliot came to the door.  "Going to get him for his swords?"

"It's not illegal to own a sword.  It is illegal to have that much cocaine on your kitchen table though."  Elliot looked at the officers.  "Please take her."

"Gladly," one agreed.  "We'll get someone up here to pick that up."

Xander nodded.  "You might want to set a guard.  The girls in 2c are drug whores."  They nodded at that, leading her off.  "What about her dog?" he called.

"We'll call someone," one offered.

Xander looked at the dog, then at the landlord, who shrugged.  "I'll watch him."  He unchained it and carried it back to his place, putting it in the tub for now.  He wet it down and left the faucet dripping so it could drink.  It dripped anyway, he just opened it so it dripped a bit faster.  He backed out, closing the door most of the way, then he sat down again.  He heard a squeal and leaned out the door.  "The cops are coming back for that," he announced.  "They'll be here any second now.  Get out of there!"

"Yes, Xanny," one called.  "Why won't you sleep with me?"  She came out of the druggie's apartment.  "You'd be good at it."

He smirked.  "I don't have to pay for it, dear.  When I do, I'll figure that part out.  Until then my last one was like a succubus and I've nearly killed a one-night stand since then.  Now, get out of the drugs."  More officers came up the stairs to get the drugs and arrest those two.  "Be easy on them, guys.  They're drug whores."  He walked back in, closing his door but not locking it.  Elliot did when he came in.  "Thanks."

"Welcome.  She was annoying and dangerous."

"Her dealer's going to be worse but I'll send him a Hallmark card," he said dryly.  He poured himself some more water.  The dog peeked out.  "I'm not mean, poochie.  You okay?"  The dog padded out and sniffed him then Elliot, then climbed up into Xander's lap with a whimper.  "Shh, Xander will take good care of you.  No more drugs, baby."  He petted him, letting him relax.  "We'll retrain you so you're an excellent doggy helper to me."  He smiled at the dog.  "Good boy."  The dog relaxed and put his head down, watching Elliot.  "That's Elliot.  He's a nice guy too."  The dog closed his eyes, letting the new humans take care of it.

Elliot smiled. "You have a good touch with animals."

"Only predators.  Prey and I don't get along that well."


"A past possession.  I turned into a hyena."

Elliot blinked then gaped.  "Huh?"  Xander nodded.  "Literally?"

"No.  Mentally, not physically.  Possession, not transformation, Elliot."  He smiled at the dog when it stretched out.  Someone tapped on the door.  "It's locked, what?" he called.

Elliot got up to let them in.  "What's wrong, guys?" he asked the officers.

"Sir, the woman who was arrested said he had weapons and a dangerous animal up here?"

"He just adopted her dog because she was drugging it," Elliot said.  "He has a few swords otherwise.  Xander, they need to see the swords."

"Under the bed, the blue trunk."  He considered it.  "Or maybe not.  The green trunk, Elliot."  He nodded, pulling that out to show them.  He looked at the dog, smiling a bit.  "You're very cuddly.  What should we name you?  Wanna be a Fluffy?"  Elliot gave him an odd look.  "They say to rename an animal who's been through a horrible owner."

"They do, but he's not a Fluffy, Xander.  He's too big to be a Fluffy."  The Vice offers smiled at him so he pulled his badge.  "SVU."

They nodded.  "He one of you?"

"No, he's a construction worker," Xander told him.  "I'm also paying part of my rent by fixing things.  Oh, her dealer is out of the gang that drives the sunburst orange cars."  That got a nod.  "He's been around a lot recently.  I've had to drive him off a number of times.  You might use that to break her when she comes down.  She had a half-mil of coke over there."

"She's got about a quarter now," one of them said, frowning.

"Well, we knew she was a freak and drugging the dog," Elliot told them.  They just nodded and let themselves out.  "What's in the other trunk?"

"Handgun."  Elliot nodded and put back that trunk, looking at the others.  "Don't.  You'll have to do something thanks to your calling."

"Tools of the trade?" Elliot teased.

Xander nodded.  "Definitely."  His cellphone rang and he glanced at it.  "Hold on, friends."  He opened it.  "Harris.  Petting the dog I just adopted from the druggie up the hall, Willow.  Because she got arrested and was drugging the dog."  He listened to her rant.  "Quit," he warned.  "I have company."  He listened.  "Molock and a carrion trio," he said simply.  "Gone and handled.  They had two still living victims.  I worked with the cops since they found Sherryl's body first.  That's who's here, Willow."  He grimaced.  "No, I'm not in trouble.  They don't want to deal with it.  Basically the same talk we gave Oz and Cordy."  He went back to petting the dog, listening to him growl.  "Fluffy, quit growling at the Willow.  It's all right."  He went back to petting it.  "He's ... looks like part boxer and something else."  He grinned.  "He can be a Fluffy."

Elliot shook his head.  "Not a Fluffy, Xander.  Call him something else."  He poured more water, getting the dog's interest. "Want some more water?"  The dog barked quietly.  "Let's go get you some.  C'mon."  He walked into the kitchen, looking in the cabinets.  "Xander, you have no food."

"Sorry, metal polish was expensive this week.  Um, second cabinet from the sink, Elliot."  He listened to her.  "You know what?  Ask Giles if he'll donate to the grocery fund since the local Watcher died a few weeks back, Wills."  He listened to her tell Giles that.  "I did email it to you.  I've been filing weekly reports and I did mine earlier after the battle.  On the way home."  He nodded at that being repeated and Giles complaining.  "Tell him to suck it up.  I could have kept him in the dark.  Or I could be robbing the vampires before I stake them like he wanted."  She said that and he spluttered, protesting his innocence.  "Whatever.  Why did you call, Willow?"  He looked at the phone then hung it up.  "We have a love charm that'll warn us when you find someone you like," he said mimicking her voice when Elliot came back.  "That way we know when to come save you."

Elliot laughed, sitting down again, sipping his water.  "They don't seem to appreciate you."

"Now and then they do.  They take these phases.  I ignore them.  I figure they're like special girl PMS."  He shrugged and looked at the empty spot in front of the door when a box appeared.  "What the hell?" he muttered, going to look.  He found dinner inside.  "Thanks."  He dished out enough for both of them and sat down to eat, letting the dog have some scraps.  "Willow made it so I know it's not poisoned.  If she tried that I'd kill her scrawny ass this time."  The dog hopped up again but got put back down gently.  "Not while I'm eating."  The dog begged and got another piece of meat.

"You're setting a bad precedent," Elliot warned.  "He'll always beg."

Xander looked at him.  "So do I."  He dug in, smiling at him.  "She is a good cook."  He smiled at the dog, letting him lick some of the mashed potatoes off his fingers.  The dog went back to his water.  "Sorry, must not like the sprinkle cheese in the potatoes."  Elliot shook his head but he was smiling.  "How about a happier dinner topic.  Family?"

"I have three kids."  He pulled out his wallet to show him. "Those're my kids."

Xander smiled at them, handing it back.  "They're a beautiful set of kids, Elliot."

"Thanks.  They're all pretty smart and good too.  My wife did a great job with them."  Xander nodded, grinning some.  He dug in again.  "She is a good cook."

"There's brownies for dessert," he teased.  Elliot dug in, eating another bite.  "She always cooks.  It's her guilt thing."  He called out there.  "Willow, I need my storage area sent.  No, not that one.  The other one.  Yeah, that one.  Because I had money hidden in there from Anya?" he suggested.  "Exactly.  Yeah, I need that.  And thanks for dinner.  Elliot said so too.  The dog too.  I don't know, Elliot doesn't like Fluffy as a name."  Elliot shook his head, eating another bite.  "Want me to name him Buffy?"  She choked and so did Elliot.  He grinned.  "He's a little princess," he explained.  "I doubt it was his former name."

"No, Xander. Not a good idea," Elliot assured him.  Xander shrugged and grinned.  "Behave."

"Why?  It's not much fun.  It's the cheapest fun I can have."  He listened to her splutter.   "Because rent here is eight hundred for something a bit bigger than a motel room.  Plus electric."  He listened to her complain.  "Yeah, well, same salary, bigger city."  He ate another bite.  The dog came back, tipping his head to the side.  "Hey."  He petted him.  "Willow said hi, dog."  He went back to eating, listening to her babble.  "I am being reasonable."  He kept eating.  "No, I don't want the British ass-fuckers here.  Really.  I'd rather not have any in the same zip code I'm in."  He listened to Giles complain.  "You can't tell me Travers doesn't bend over his toadies every week to get off."  He watched Elliot splutter.

"Sorry, Elliot."  He went back to eating.  "Only if it comes with another paycheck," he said when he had swallowed.  "Because rent here is eight hundred a month for something the size of a motel room, Giles."  He nodded.  "Yeah, that's why.  I'm making the same salary I was out there, Giles.  Really.  New York City."  He smirked.  "Yup, that's me.  Why?  Who got word back?"  He snickered, then burst out laughing.  "That's so cool, man.  Thanks for the cheering up.  No, it's a week until payday and I had to buy metal polish plus a new crossbow.  Mine cracked."  He put down his plate.  "Ah!  That does not mean you can slurp it all," he warned.  "Dog.  New dog.  Druggie neighbor was just arrested so I adopted her dog she was drugging.  Well, Giles, I can always sell some of the weapons," he said dryly.  "I'm sure I can empty my third storage area out there and get a really nice place in town.   No, I'm out of food.  Because I pay eight hundred a month in rent plus electric," he said dryly.

"Yes, Giles.  Giles, rent in New York is like rent in London.  How much did you pay there?"  He listened to him mumble something.  "That was how many years ago?  Add inflation to it."  He listened to him sigh.  "Exactly.  I wouldn't mind the rest of my stuff.  I could definitely liquidate the stuff you guys won't be needing.  Yeah, that stuff.   Spike and I both have those sort of contacts.  Mine?  From kitten poker and Spike mostly."  Elliot gave him a horrified look.  "Bargaining chips.  I don't ask why.  I didn't want to know."  He went back to listening.  "Elliot.  One of the guys I was working with earlier today.  He was a bit traumatized."  He listened, making talking motions with a hand.  "Giles, if I can hitch a magical ride back there tonight I can do that tonight.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "Gotta go.  Can you watch the dog?  I'll be back in an hour if you want to talk some more."

"I can head home."

"You sure?  I know you've got other questions."

"I can wait.  Go do what you have to do so you have food."  Xander beamed at him and gave him a short hug, then moved into the place where the box had been.  He disappeared.  Elliot blinked a few times.  "Okay, that was strange," he decided.  He put down his plate for the dog, getting a worshiper for life.  "There you go, pooch.  You be a good boy and he'll be back soon."  He gave him a pet then left, making sure at least the handle was locked.  Not that the dog wouldn't defend the house, it was big enough to do some damage to someone, but he didn't want to make it do that on its first night in its new home.  He went back to his place to think and worry.  Xander was a bit strange.  He was clearly suffering from battle fatigue.  His priest was right, the boy needed an anchor to help himself out.  He had that 'I'll die of it soon' glow about his speech.  He decided to talk to the unit's profiler tomorrow.  He was a psychiatrist and would be able to help him help the boy.

Because he didn't want to answer his scene some day soon.


Elliot walked into the bar.  He had no idea why he was *there*.  There were thousands of other bars in the city.  He could be at any one of them.  He could be flirted with by any number of beautiful women.  Ones who wanted to take his mind off his job.  His family.  His divorce.  His partner.  So why here?  The answer was at the end of the bar tonight and was nibbling on peanuts while staring at his phone.  "Is it going to dance?" he asked as he sat beside him.

"Waiting to refute the idea that I'm going to head back to Africa," Xander said grimly.  "Not that I minded Africa.  I liked Africa really.  I loved it there.  But I'm not going into a warzone to take a kid from her family, bring her to England, and then make her world incredibly narrow and painful for the rest of her life just because a stuffy guy by Stonehenge said Giles had to get her."  He looked at him.  "So I'm not going back to Africa and Giles knows that.  He probably can't find anyone else to go but I called a few of the former guys in his job who had retired and lived.  One of them can have some excitement."  He slid down the bowl of peanuts.  "Bad day?"

"Incredibly bad day," he admitted.

"Of the shittastic judge not believing the evidence because he is one sort or another sort?"

Elliot gave him an odd look.  "How did you know that?"

Xander slid over an envelope.  "Give that to someone.  Sherryl's mother used to work for him."  He gave him a look.  "There's a reason why she *used* to work for him."

Elliot tucked it into his jacket pocket.  "I can do that.  Thanks."  He nibbled on a peanut.  "Do you ever do normal things?  Like sports?"

"Now and then.  I never really got into sports.  I'm kinda sports challenged."

"Yet you swam in high school."

Xander let out a small smile.  "Checking up on me?" he teased.

"Definitely.  Just in case."  He stared at him.  "You don't watch sports?"

"I like sports.  I'm not anti-sports.  I simply can't sit still that long."  He took a sip of his beer, going back to staring at his phone.  It beeped and a new message popped up.  "Yes, Johan can go," he said, typing that in.  He growled at the one that said he was in a wheelchair.  Xander retorted that he had been dancing two weeks ago when he had run into him shopping.   Giles sent back a sigh and 'car accident, Xander'.  "I'm still not going to Africa, Giles."  He typed that in and then sent another suggestion.

Elliot looked at the screen.  "Isn't that your friend?"

"Yes and she could use some getting in touch with nature time.  She doesn't really like to go without showers for more than sixteen hours at a time so it'll do it her good."

Elliot smirked.  "That'd be torture to someone like her."

"Remember the hunter and assistant hunter analogy?"  He looked at the other man, getting a nod.  "She's the head hunter.  It's her job.  I may love Africa, but I'm not going to Sudan."

"She's a girl, they'll treat her worse."

"She's got super strength.  She can bend gun barrels."  Elliot snickered at that.  He waved at the bartender.  "Give me something to mute the pain in my head please?"

"Sure, Xander.  Scotch, beer, tequila?"

"Tequila evil," Xander said firmly.  "If I ever ask for tequila, you tell me no and remind me it's evil.  It's even eviler than most of the women I've dated."

"Most?" Elliot asked.

"Nothing's more evil than Cordy was when she was in a mood," he said with a grin.  "Beer please, Jack."

"Sure, Xander.  For you, Officer?"

"Detective and it's Elliot."  That got a smile and a nod.  "How about a good glass of tap?"  That got a nod and Xander paid for it.  "You're rolling with it today."

"Giles thinks he found me a cheaper place to live that's got a better class of roaches."

"The dog would enjoy that."

"Hopefully.  He's still kinda doing pitiful at the moment. I woke up with his head on my stomach and him staring at me like I was God and he was waiting on a miracle."

"He'll get better, Xander.  We all heal with time."  He took his glass of beer and took a sip, moaning.  "This is on tap?"

Jack the bartender smiled.  "The boss likes it."  He handed Xander his glass and walked off.  "Xander, can you fix the sink tonight?"

"Sure.  Give me ten."  He sipped again, sending another text message to Giles.  Elliot spluttered.  He grinned.  "That'll make him go away for a bit so I can fix the sink."  He got up and took his beer back to the kitchen, fixing the leaking pipe.

Elliot sipped his beer, shaking his head.  He was having a happier day now.  Even if the kid had told his mentor that they were going to be having sex soon so he had to go away for a while.  The kid was just odd.  When Xander came back an hour later he looked at him.  "Like soccer?"

"It's actiony, I can do soccer.  I can't kick but I can play soccer."

"I was thinking more watching it.  There's a game on tomorrow night and I know a great sports bar.  Olivia wanted to go but can't.  One of her girlfriends is in romantic trouble and she's going to be helping her file a restraining order if it's anything like her last romantic trouble was."  He took another sip of his beer.  "It's a World Cup game so it's by ticket only and I have two."

"I could go," Xander agreed with a grin.  "Thanks, Elliot."

"Welcome."  He nodded at his empty glass.  "My round?"

"Sure, you can get this round."  He waved his glass while Elliot drained his and they got another round, letting Elliot pay for it.

It was nice, now he knew why he had come to *this* bar tonight.  Xander had made him forget his totally shitty day and it was all better again.


Xander found Elliot waiting on him at the bar.  "Sorry I'm late.  The train had to be diverted around a section that had a body on the tracks."

"That's not a problem.  Game hasn't started yet."  He presented their tickets and walked him inside.  Xander glanced around then at him.  "I know, it's full of cops.  The tickets are going to charity."

Xander grinned.  "It's not a problem, Elliot.  Really.  I like charity."  He got a grin.  "Did that help?"

"It did.  The prosecutor got the judge removed.  The case is going to another one and she's all for reasonable evidence so we'll be fine and win this one hopefully."

"It's always good when you win one."  He patted him on the arm and walked over to the bar.  "What do you have on tap?"

"ID, kid?" the bartender asked.  Xander grinned at him.

Elliot walked up behind him.  "I'm bringing him, Joe."

"He's still underage, Elliot."

Xander pulled out his work ID, showing the birthday on it.  "Just over actually."

Joe smirked at him.  "No state one?"

"Working on it but I have to take the car out of storage and buy gas.  There's no gas stations around here, have you noticed that?"  Joe laughed and got them both Elliot's usual beer, letting the kid pay for it.  Xander grinned at him.  "Okay, I'm good."

"Dinner?" Elliot suggested.

"Later.  Just off work and I'm sore."  He sipped as he walked, letting Elliot pick their seats at a small corner table.  "How was your day?  I saw your partner chasing either one guy and another cop or two guys."

"The other guy African-American and had on a cap?"  Xander nodded.  "He's Munch's partner Fin."

"That's cool.  There wasn't much diversity in Sunnydale.  Apparently the eating things didn't like to eat anyone else.  I'm not sure why.  Maybe I'll ask the next one."

Elliot shook his head.  "Soccer, Xander.  Not that stuff."

"Yes, Elliot.  So, how was your day?" he asked again.

"Paperwork.  I came in to a mother making a complaint and got the guy just before I left.  Fortunately I got to him before he paid the underage hooker.  Got her to someone who can help her if she wants it, got him in jail.  It was a good day."  He smiled and took a sip.  "Why are you sore?"

"Big ass heavy beam fell and I had to catch it.  Boss called me on it when I told one of the other guys to help me."

"Why?  Isn't that normal?"

"I seem to have a small command problem.  I like command.  I'm good at command.  I enjoy being in command.  So does my boss.  This time it was a good thing because otherwise I would've dropped the big ass heavy beam onto the boss if I hadn't had help since the last guy slipped it off the brace before he had it fully screwed in....  But he only said thank you and then yelled."  He shrugged and took a longer drink.  "It's happened before when there was an incident on the site.  I took control of the cleanup and assigned someone to help me.  He got mad because he was off getting lunch.  He pointed out I had to ask and I pointed out it wasn't my fault and the guy I told to help me clean up was the idiot who had made the mess.  At least I didn't leave the mess to make a bigger mess with more damage to the precious hardwood floors and then tattle.  So a bad with a good yet again.  I seem to be concentrating in that area recently."  The game started and he stared.  "Which team is which?"

"England and Spain," he said, pointing at them.  "My son watches it so I have to know."  He took a drink.

Xander patted him on the back.  "It's a good thing he's learning about other peoples and to do more than grunt, point, and throw a football."  Elliot smiled at that.  "Use it to make him learn about their countries too.  It'll make it more fun.  Willow did that to me a few times."

"I have been.  He gives me this sigh and pout but he finds the encyclopedia."  The waitress came over.  "Wings, Xander, or burgers?"

"Oh please give me a nice, thick burger?" Xander begged.  "No onions, just pickles, ketchup, and jalepenos?  And cheese?"  He grinned his best little boy grin, getting a smile back.  "And whatever he wants since it was payday."

"I'll take a plate of wings," Elliot said.  "Not spicy this time."  She nodded.  "With some fries and dressing?"

"Sure."  She let Xander hand her a twenty and got a wink back, but she went to put in their order, getting an odd look for the jalepenos.  "Some guys like it spicy," she teased Joe.

"Some of them are from near LA too," Xander said from behind her.  "Gave you the wrong one.  That's got a number on it."  He switched them out and went back to his table.

She laughed and Joe just nodded, going into the kitchen to tell the cook what he was fixing the strange one.

Elliot looked at the bill.  "Whose number is that?"

"Delores.  Apparently she likes me.  She's the cantina's cook and she gave it to me earlier.  Threatened to give me food poisoning if I didn't call her later tonight."  Elliot smirked at him.  "The boss yelled at her too."  He grinned back when Elliot laughed.  "He's a good boss."

"I'm sure he is."  They settled in to watch the game, even though Elliot would not watch Xander when his burger came.  That was a bit disgusting and he didn't need to see that.  Later that night Elliot settled into his bed, thinking about it.  He had asked the kid to go to a cop bar with him.  "I asked him out," he muttered.  He frowned.  "No, I didn't.  I asked a friend to go watch a sports event.  I didn't take him out on a date.  We each paid for our own."  He shook his head, ignoring the little voice in the back of his head that was mumbling at him about being an idiot.  He hadn't played with a guy in a long time.  It had never been more than stress relief in the past.  He was not seeing this kid like a date.  Besides, he had enough problems without that one.  Olivia, his divorce, his family.   It was nice to have a friend.  Someone who listened and told him things back.  That's all they were.  He was sure of it.  If it was just stress relief he'd have already hit it and walked off.  Right?


Elliot looked at their psychiatrist the next morning.   He had spent most of the night thinking and as usual it hadn't done his mind any good and had gotten him more confused.  "Do you have a few?"

"Sure.  New case?"

"No, I'm a bit worried about someone I met."  Olivia gave him a dirty look.  "I went back to talk to him that night," he admitted.  "He explained a lot more stuff to me."  He looked at George.  "I think I ran into someone who's like a vigilante but he has *good* reasons for doing what he does.  Including that we won't ever do what he does.  Except maybe John?"

John looked over at him.  "Word out on the street and among them is that he jumped in because his best friend was taken.  He couldn't save him and later ended up having to stake him to save others," he admitted quietly.  "Is he retired?  That was debated."

Elliot shook his head.  "There's no one else to take his spot."

"I'm getting conflicting stories here?" George asked.   "Let's go talk out of the open so we don't have to be discreet.  I don't want to scare anyone into thinking we have another Batman wannabe."  The two men nodded and went to talk about Xander behind his back.  When he was done he looked at Elliot.  "He's had what sort of upbringing?"

"Drunks.  Nothing further."

"Okay," he said, considering it.  "He doesn't look like he's going to branch out?"

"He's had the opportunity and didn't take it," he pointed out.  "Even here.  The only time I know he's been mean to a real human was the guy he defended me from."

George nodded.  "If he gets out soon, retires to sitting back and letting the younger ones do it, he'll be like any other combat veteran who did one too many tours.  The longer he has to do the duty, the more chance he slips."  Elliot nodded at that slowly.  "What do you want to do for this boy, Elliot?  He's not your usual sort."

"He understood me, Doc.  Why I'm here, why I get so pissed some days, all of it.  He understood it."

"It's probably how he feels about his calling."

"That's what he called it," Elliot agreed.  "A calling like a priest gets."

"To some it can be.  That does make it dangerous when the ones you're protecting tell you off or fight for the ones you're taking down.  You've seen that."

"Yeah and I nearly took her head off," Elliot muttered.  He looked at him.  "So he's a lot like me?"

"Only he's got battle fatigue and you've got work fatigue.  You've both seen two too many bodies.  You both feel responsible for not stopping it."  Elliot nodded slowly, looking at his hands.  He patted him on the shoulder.  "He'll heal if you can get him out of there."

"Which says something about my job," he said dryly.

Doctor Huang smirked at him.  "No comment.  That's a whole different session, Elliot."  He nodded at that.  "I think a good friend, one who won't take those moods he described as special girl PMS, would help him a lot.  It could help both of you to have a good friend you could talk to about these things."  He shrugged.  "It's a good start anyway.  That way if he does slip he has someone who understands to bring him in and if not, then it can only help both of you reduce your stresses."

Elliot smiled at him.  "He's a nice guy, Doc."

"I'm sure he is.  If he isn't sour like some twenty-year veterans you see on the force then he's got some good coping mechanisms for most of the stress he's under.  Though I would worry about the drinking he's been doing with his family history.  It's easy to slip."

"I have the feeling it's construction site related," he admitted.  "He didn't have any in the house.  Not even a beer.  John said he had been a site supervisor.  I know he didn't get that far starting over out here."

"So maybe he's dulling the pain of not being able to yell at someone not doing the right thing," he agreed.  "He should still be wary of social drinking every day.  You can be an alcoholic and a social drinker, Elliot."

Elliot nodded.  "I know.  Thanks."

"You're welcome.  I'd like to meet him some day."

Elliot smiled.  "I'll see if he's up for company."  That got a nod and he left him alone to think.  His captain came in and shut the door.  "Problems?"

"Seeing if you're all right."

Elliot smiled at him.  "Xander and I are a lot alike."

"Does he hit perps too?"

"He hunts them down to kill them, Cap."

"Point.  John explained it to me when he had to carry Olivia home that night."

"She was very drunk when I called her at seven."

The captain looked at him.  "Are you okay with this?"

"No.  Honestly I'm a bit mad he made me see that there were other worlds within ours that I hadn't seen before and that we have a whole new layer of bad guys to deal with."

"They police their own," he reminded him.

"Which is why I'm not really mad if that makes sense."

"It's a standard opinion when you get your eyes opened."  Elliot looked at him.  "Lenny had a few when I was at the two-seven."  He sat down across from him.  "He didn't deal in it like John does but a few of them trusted him to handle things.  There's some of them that don't hunt.  Is your new friend doing them too?"

Elliot considered it then shook his head.  "I doubt it.  He ... he's tired so I doubt he goes after more than he has to.  He didn't seem the like the vendetta type, even with how he joined the battle."  His captain nodded.  "Huang thinks he's like a younger version of me," he offered with a small smile.

"He could be.  That's why you understand him so well."  He smirked a bit.  "Going to try to get him into the academy?"

"He looked really happy when he talked about his carpentry stuff, Cap.  I think he likes it there.  Besides, he had crappy grades in school  I doubt he'd go for the degree to get into the academy."

"So now what?"

"Now?  He was talking about liquidating some of his stored stuff so he could move.  He's living in a cheap little efficiency and he just adopted the former neighbor's dog."

"I heard."  Elliot gave him a confused look.  "I got this babbling call about twenty minutes ago from a nice sounding young man named Xander."  He handed over something.  "The name Fluffy apparently stuck, the dog's answering to it, and that's his new address should everything go through all right."

Elliot looked at it.  "Nicer than I have."

"How on his salary?  That's buying territory."

"He joked I was sitting on top of a grenade launcher.  He had a lot of swords, a very nice Desert Talon handgun in one trunk, and I'm betting they had to use other weapons out there.  Some of the swords were probably worth some money."

"Uh-huh.  So he's selling them?"

"He's shedding part of his old life," Elliot said quietly.  "It means he's staying and he's thinking about getting closer to retirement I think."  His boss smirked at that.  "What?"

"You have it so bad, Elliot."


"Like the kid that much?" he suggested.

"I'm straight, Cap.  I think I've pretty well proved that."

"Uh-huh," he said again.  He gave him a look.  "We won't care.  Olivia might.  She's still got that stupid crush on you."  He moaned, holding his face in his hands.  "Fix it before she takes on the kid and gets hurt, all right?"

"I don't...."  He looked at him. "I'm not like that."

"And I'm a swiss cheese sandwich on rye with mustard, Elliot."

"Hungry?" he teased with a grin.

"Very.  Go get me lunch while you call him back.  The number's on there."  He got up and walked out.

Elliot left to make the lunch run, calling Xander on the way.  "How did you afford the new place?"  His 'you don't want to know that, you'd yell' made him snicker.  "Thought so.  What was it?"  Xander mentioned a few things.  "Magic books are that expensive?"  He laughed at the story of the private journal he'd had in storage.  "Why did you have that?"  Xander shared the whole story with him, making him snicker.  "So he packed up the boxes, gave them to you, and then forgot?"  He burst out laughing again.  "Well, I guess that's all right then.  As long as someone in ATF doesn't come after you.  Sure.  Making a lunch run. I can do that."  He hung up and grabbed the bags, heading back to his car.

That's when he realized his captain was right.  He had just made a date with a guy.  With a younger guy.  With a strange younger guy who had the nicest brown eyes and a new dog.  This was a lot more than stress relief if he was making dates and thinking mushy thoughts.  Thankfully he had plenty of paperwork on his desk to occupy his fingers while he did some serious thinking and deciding about how far this was going to end up going.   Someone on the street bumped him and he checked his wallet.  "Give it back, I'm a cop," he yelled.  The pickpocket handed him his wallet back.  "Shoo."  He ran off.  He got into the car, heading back to the station.  He dropped John his lunch, he owed him anyway.  Then the captain got his.  "Fine, you're right.  Don't be smug about it.  We're a long way from anything but talking."  He went back to his desk to eat, looking at Olivia.  "Do you want to talk to Xander tonight?"

"I'd like to never see him, hear about him, or run into him ever again," she said honestly.  "You?"

"He understood why I do this job and put it in terms I could understand, Olivia.  Plus he's actually a really nice guy."

"Who looked like Xena with that dagger," she said dryly.

He shook his head quickly.  "Don't give me that mental image."  John choked on his lunch.  "Or him.  You know he's got a good imagination."  He dug into his lunch, pushing over the muffin he had gotten for her, getting a nod of thanks.  "Where's Fin?" he asked John.

"Court until tomorrow.  So, the new dog?"

"His neighbor was a major dealer and user.  She had been drugging the dog.  When Vice came to arrest her, thanks to her complaining to Xander and him mentioning she said she had a half-mil of coke on her table, he adopted her poor part boxer, part something dog.   He started to call it Fluffy and the name stuck so he's got a dog."

John smiled.  "Good.  It can only help the guy.  How much did they find?"

"A quarter of a mil.  She had snorted and gave the dog the rest.  Plus the two druggie working girls from downstairs who came to score some free stuff since the apartment was open."

"Charming," John said dryly.   "And people wonder why we should rename New York the City of Sins."  He dug in again, shaking his head.  His partner strolled in.  "Rested early today?"

"Begged and cried for his mommy," Fin said, grimacing and taking off his hat to run a hand through his short, tight curls and then over his dark brown forehead.  "Get me any?"  John tossed over half his sandwich.  "Thanks."  He sat down.  "I didn't have time to get anywhere and every drive-thru place was packed on the way here."  He looked at Olivia.  "Anything interesting or good happen while I was gone?"

She shook her head.  John and Elliot nodded.  "Long story," John told him.

"Never mind.  Not in the mood for it.  We get anybody?"

"Yeah, a guy in a bar got that one father when he came to bother me because we had arrested him.  Slammed his head into the bar then used him as a footstool before making him want to confess," Elliot told him.

"One for the good guys," he said with a grin.  He ate a bite.  "Thanks, Elliot."

John gave him a look.  "It was my lunch."

"You're too stingy to go to the good deli."  He ate another bite, looking at the board.  "S. Ramsey?"

"Solved with the same guy's help, part of the long story," John told him. "My *other* area."

"'Nuff said," he promised.  "I don't want to go there unless I have to."  He ate another bite and got to work on one of the folders on his desk.

Elliot finished his lunch, considering what he should bring to Xander tonight.  If he had been a girl he'd bring something.

John leaned down to get into his ear.  "Xander is a certified chocolate lover but he bounces," he said quietly, getting a smile.  "Fair warning," he said in a normal voice.  He went back to what he had been doing, letting Elliot get back to work.

Well, work and thinking because Elliot was going to have to figure out why he had asked the guy on a real date and was looking forward to bringing him things, or seeing him bounce maybe.


Elliot tapped on Xander's door, looking at the young man.  He held up the king size candy bar, getting a hug and the boy snatching it before letting him inside.  "John said you like chocolate."

"I love chocolate, but the girls never let me eat a candy bar this big."  The dog gave him the begging look.  "Chocolate's not good for dogs."  He put it into the fridge.  "That way it's the right level of chilly."  He smiled.  "The former Watcher's place was open.  Giles pulled a string and I bought it cheaply.  The fees are well within my monthly budget.  All I had to do was pack his personal things and the rest is mine."  He let out an evil chuckle.

Elliot grinned at the silly boy.  "That's good.  Is he liking it?"

"He is loving it and one of the boys up the hall walks dogs for money so he's already been signed up.  He likes the boy and the other two dogs he walks."  He flopped down in his new recliner.  "I left the ratty stuff there."

"All moved?"

"All I had was about a pickup of stuff.  I rented one for a few hours."  He smiled.  "So, we should do something to christen the new place."  Elliot gave him a long stare.  "Not that way, Elliot."  That got a smile.  "We have cable too.  Pay per view movies?"

"That could be nice.  Did you remember to get groceries?"

"Yup, sure did," he agreed happily.  "So now I have soda and ho-hos and twinkies and...."

Elliot gave him another look, making him quit reciting his list of junk food.  He was a father, he was good at that look.  His own kids had gotten it a few times for about the same reason.  He stopped that thought before it got any further; he was not going to compare Xander to his kids.  "Real food, Xander?"  Xander pouted.  He went to look then came out, hauling him up.  "Grab money, we'll get you real food."

"But I don't eat real food."

"You have to or you'll get sick and weak.  Stay, Fluffy."  He drug Xander out once he had his wallet and keys.  He had been wearing shoes.  "Can you cook?"

"Um....  I did in fast food a few times."

Elliot sighed, shaking his head.  "We can teach you that."

Xander stopped him, looking at him.  "Would that be like a date?"

Elliot nodded.  "I thought tonight was."

Xander looked so confused, it was adorable.  "Huh.  Well, maybe Willow was right about the charm then.  You're not as bad as a succubus, right?  Won't try to kill me in bed or out?"  Elliot slowly shook his head.  "Don't plan on eating me, stabbing me, draining me, or otherwise hurting me?"

"No.  I'm not like that."  Though he knew why Xander needed him so badly.  That's part of what was drawing him he decided, Xander *needed* *him*.

"Then you're already better than any woman I've had," he said happily, beaming at him.  "Do you like spanking games?  Anya did but she wouldn't return the favor."

Elliot blushed and coughed, shaking his head.  "Not really my thing, Xander.  We'll get into that talk sometime later.  Tonight let's get you groceries and teach you how to cook."  Xander nodded and bounced along with him, earning a smile.  That had to be the strangest conversation of his life.  And in the middle of the street too.  At least no one was going to care or eavesdrop on them.  He showed Xander to the small corner market, letting him pick out what he wanted to get, taking out all the chips, candy, desserts, and sodas.  Xander pouted.  "Real food."

"Fine."  He looked at the veggies, doing good picking them out.  Then the meat section got a long look.  "Do I want to bother with meat?"

"If you're a carnivore, yes."  Xander stuck his tongue out at him.  "It's not that hard."  The guy behind the counter smirked at him.  "He's only cooked fast food before."

"We have some good stew meat.  It's good for stews, stir fries, or a crock pot."  He pointed at them.  "Or we have steaks.  Every boy should be able to cook a steak."

Xander looked then pointed at some, getting it.  The rest got picked out and Xander paid.  Well, tried to pay.  His new debit card declined.  "I put it on there today," he moaned.  He looked at the money in his wallet then paid with it, getting a horrified look for the two hundreds.  "Pay day."

The girl behind the register nodded, checking to make sure they were real.  "I'll need the manager to get me change."

"Sure.  I'm not in a hurry," Xander said with an easy grin.

Elliot looked over the boy's shoulder.  "You shouldn't carry that much around."

"I put half in the bank."

Elliot looked at him.  "You still shouldn't carry that much around, Xander."

"Elliot, really, who's going to mug me?" he asked dryly.

"There's also pick pockets and those sort, Xander," he said patiently.  The cashier came back with the change, giving it to Xander with a smile.  "Thank you."  Elliot took one of the bags, letting Xander get the other two.  "Which one am I watching you cook tonight?"

Xander shrugged.  "We can figure that out later."   Someone came running their way with a cop behind him.  "We should stop him, huh?"

"Probably," Elliot agreed, handing back the bag.  Xander tripped the guy, making him fall and start to get up until he planted a boot in the guy's hip, making him yelp in pain.  "Nice."

Xander grinned. "Only to some."  He smiled at the cop.  "You needed him?"

"I did, thanks," he panted, hauling him up.  He walked the guy off.

Elliot looked at the guy then laughed, shaking his head until they got back into the apartment.  "That was an undercover cop, Xander.  They were arresting him to get him to come in for information."


"Not a problem.  He'll have a bruise but he'll be fine.  He should expect those things."  He smiled and helped him put things up.  Then he pulled over the two bar stools, teaching Xander how to make steaks and fried vegetables.  At the end, Xander beamed at him, giving him a short kiss.  Elliot smiled back.  It felt natural with Xander.  Nothing forced, he didn't have to hide it when he was thinking, and the boy understood him.  It was definitely a natural feeling.  He might enjoy his first real gay date if it kept going this way.

The only thing marring it was when Xander had to get up and answer the door, staring hard at the man on the other side.  "Hi.  I sent his personal stuff back.  All but the books."

"Who're you?" the other man demanded in an Australian accent.

"Xander.  Buffy's Xander."  The man stepped back, giving him a horrified look.  He grinned. "I'm also the one that filled in after he got killed a few weeks back.  I was sending Willow reports for Giles but she didn't get into her email to tell him."

"Fine.  His pictures?"  Xander let him inside so he could look around.  He found a hidden safe and opened it, pulling out the files, clutching them to his chest.  He looked at the boy.  "How?"

"He and Sherryl were out hunting.  I ran into them when she shrieked about one breaking her nail."  The man moaned.  "So I jumped in to help her.  At the end he yelled at me.  I told him who I was.  He ran off like I was going to kill him.  He ran into another family group.  Sherryl and I took them out as soon as she felt them."

He sighed and nodded.  "His body?"

"I gave them Traver's phone number that I had."

"Thank you, Mr. Harris.  Sherryl?"

"There was a Molock and a carrion trio," he said grimly, grimacing.  "They took her a few days ago."

He nodded, looking less upset at that.  "That's what she's there for.  Did Rupert take the rest?"  Xander nodded.  "Being sent back?"

"As far as I knew he was the only one around."

"No, I'm at the embassy," he admitted, staring at him.  "You'll work with us?"

"As long as you aren't the dick Travers is," he said dryly, canting his weight off to the side to stare him down.  "You try to play me like he tried to play Giles and Wes and I'm going to make the Council cry."

The man snickered.  "Many have tried."

"And I screw up prophecies and saved the world.  Warped the *whole* system by helping Buffy," he reminded him.  The man's eyes went large.  "Plus Kendra, Faith, and now Sherryl."

He swallowed.  "We'll play straight with you, Mr. Harris."

"Thanks.  That's all I wanted."  He grinned.  "If I find anything else of his I'll hand it over."  Fluffy woke up and came over to sniff him. "Fluffy, be a good boy."

The guy looked at the dog then at him. "Fluffy?"

"My former neighbor was drugging him so I adopted when she got arrested."

The guy just moaned, shaking his head.  "I wish you and ...Fluffy much happiness then.  Have a good night, Mr. Harris."  He walked off with the precious files.

Xander locked the door and came back, letting Fluffy have a piece of his steak. "Sorry, Watchers.  Usually they're more pushy."

"It happens.  What about his books?"

"These are the standard ones that they send out with any field Watcher.  They have copies of all of them somewhere else."  He dug in again.  "We did pretty good."

Elliot smiled and nodded.  "You did do good, Xander."  He let the dog have a small bit of fat he had cut off his steak, earning a happy puppy.  "Go lay down, Fluffy."  He went back to the couch.  "He's docile."

"I think it was where he was drugged for so long."  He ate another bite then grinned.  "Chocolate for dessert?"

"Sure, I could like that."  Xander's hand slowly shifted over.  "I know, I'm not sure what to do.  I've only dated women before."

"I only dated demanding women," Xander agreed.  He shrugged.  "We'll figure it out.  Do you like to cuddle while you watch movies?"

"I don't mind it."  Xander beamed and dug in again.  Elliot smiled back and they finished dinner, splitting the large candy bar for dessert.  Then they curled up with the dog to watch a pay per view movie.  It was nice.  Very nice.  Very calm.  Elliot ended up falling asleep on his couch.  Xander smiled a sappy grin and covered him and the dog up since Fluffy was asleep on his thigh.  He snuck off to get into bed, sticking with boxers so Elliot wouldn't be embarrassed.  He set his alarm with an extra half-hour.  He'd have to travel another stop on the subway to get to work and Elliot probably had to do more traveling so he wouldn't be late.  He climbed into his bed, getting comfortable.  It was a good night.


Elliot walked in the next morning, weathering the looks for his jeans and t-shirt look.  "Sorry, didn't get to the dry cleaner," he admitted.  He sat down, getting into his backed up paperwork.  His boss came to the door.  "I didn't get to the dry cleaner."

"Uh-huh."  He stared at him.  "I came by to see if you needed to talk last night," he said with a smug look.

"I fell asleep after giving someone a lesson in how to grill steaks."

John gave him a look.  "Where?" he asked.  "I ask as a nosy friend."

Elliot smirked.  "On the couch with his dog.  Though he did mention his former girlfriends."

John laughed.  "Not even I can date anything that deadly, Elliot."  He smirked and got back to work.  "Olivia's run into his former fiancee."

"I have?" she asked.

"Anyanka?" Elliot asked.

She shuddered.  "I have met her.  How do you know her?"

"Xander nearly married her," Elliot said dryly.  She gave him a heated glare.  "He's a nice kid, Olivia.  The sort I can go out for beers after work with and he understands why I'm stressed."

"Uh-huh.  You fell asleep where?"

"On his couch with his dog, Fluffy."

"Fluffy?" she demanded.

"Yeah, his former neighbor was drugging her boxer/mutt mix so he adopted him and named him Fluffy."  She shook her head with a moan.  "I fell asleep after teaching him how to cook and a movie."

She sighed.  "Fine.  I don't want to have to associate but if you do, it's good you have a new friend.  We'll watch for you to turn into Rambo or something worse."

"Fine," he agreed.  He glanced at his boss, who only snickered and went back to his desk.

Captain Cragen came back out of the office, looking at him.  "The nice undercover officer last night said to thank him for not beating his ass, only kicking him on the hip."

"I didn't recognize him until after they had dragged him off.  I was going to pounce," Elliot admitted.  "He okay?"

"He's fine.  A bit sore but he's fine.  It gives him more credence in his role.  Said it was a zealous citizen."  Elliot nodded.  "Steaks?"

"He went grocery shopping and bought out a Hostess display, a row of chips, and most of a soda display.  I made him get real food and showed him how to cook."

Cragen snickered and went back to his office.  "I'm sure the kid appreciates it, Elliot."  He shut his door.

"Remember, too much and he bounces," John told him.  "Then he has stupid ideas and 'let's go do something fun' syndrome."

"I got him a king sized one last night and we had it for dessert.  He wiggled the whole action flick," he said.  John just smirked.  "The dog finally laid on top of him to make him quit wiggling.  The dog suits him very well."

John snickered and nodded.  "Good.  He could use the love."  He got back to work.

Olivia looked at him.  "Nice date?" she teased.

"Not bad."  He bent his head, watching her face as it went through shock, horror, anger, and then settled down.  "He tells really bad jokes too," he said quietly.  She shook her head.  "He did say to apologize for upsetting you."

"Don't worry about it."  She got back to her own paperwork.  A new case would be coming soon.  She needed the time to think about her partner suddenly going on gay dates.

Fin Tutolla walked in happy.  "My people!" he said cheerfully.  "Waz up?"

"Nothing yet.  They're giving us a break to do the paperwork," John said.  "How was your date last night?"

"She was pretty, firm, willing, and begged for it when I tried to tell her I wasn't that easy.  It was good."  He took off his jacket and hat, sitting down to get to his own paperwork.  "Yours?"

"No date.  Book club. It was nice and calm.  Devolved into the ladies talking trash about their husbands being bad in bed."  Elliot laughed at that.  "It did.  It usually does."  Elliot shook his head and pointed at the flower delivery someone was bringing in.  "Yo, whose is that?"

"Stabler's," he said, putting it on his desk.  "Here you go.  Rescue?"

Elliot looked at the card.  "No, joke gift."  He smiled.  "Friend."  That got a shrug and he left so he let John snatch the card.

"I don't know what to do other than mushy things.  At least the coffee cup and the candy in the bottom is useful, give the flowers to John or someone to make them cheery," he read.  He snickered.  "That's so cute."  He handed it back.  "What sort of candy?"

Elliot put the few flowers into a small vase they had off in a corner so he could look.  "Reisen pieces."  He put them into his drawer and used the cup as his... Xander had intended.  He looked at the side, smiling.  "Fluffy," he said, letting him see it.

John looked then smiled.  "He's a good-looking dog."

"Very.  He's a begging dog too.  He's very calm though."  He sat down, taking a sip of his coffee.  Olivia gave him an odd look so he let her see the dog.  "That's his dog Fluffy."

"The flowers were for a nice date?" she teased.

"He said he didn't know what to do since I wasn't wanting mushy things."  He shrugged. "Neither of us have been in this position before."  He took another sip of coffee and got back to work until someone got drug in screaming and kicking.  Then he moved the cup out of their way before getting up to help subdue him.

Olivia looked at the flowers.  They were wild flowers, so no particular meaning.  At least they weren't roses.  She'd help Elliot straighten himself out after whatever spell or whatever was off him.  She was sure the guy had to be under one.  He wasn't gay.


A few weeks later Xander looked around his site.  "Guys, gonna blow this.  Give me some room please!" he announced.  They ran for the outside and he blew the minute charge that took down a former concrete and plaster wall.  He stared at the pile, then swore.  "BOSS!"  He came jogging down so he pointed.  "Those are people bones."

He walked over to look then sighed and nodded.  "They are.  We'll have to report this.  Nice blow job, Harris."

Xander grinned.  "Aww, you say the sweetest things," he teased back.

The boss laughed and walked up the stairs.  "Let me call someone."

Xander walked over to look at the bones then came up the stairs.  "Boss, the body is about forty-seven inches high," he said in his ear.  His boss groaned.  "I'm kinda...."

"I heard," he said, holding up a hand.  "Want to call him?"

"I probably should."  That got a nod.  "Come check the rest of the walls?  If there's one there's got to be others."  They walked back down there, going to crack some of the plaster where they heard hollow sounds.  The other guys had been complaining about hollow areas down there.  They found a few other bodies.  "Let me grab some more.  I'll blow the plaster," Xander said.  His boss looked at him.  "I do have a light enough touch, boss.  It'll help with clean up, make it a hell of a lot faster than having us dig for them."

"Good point.  Go for it."  Xander ran up to his locked explosives box and came down with wires and a small block of gentle explosives. "You sure?  They'll be pissed if you mess up their scenes."

"Yeah, I'm sure," he agreed.  He pulled out his phone, dialing while he worked.  "El?  I know I'm at work and so are you but I think my site just caught something in your world.  The wall I blew had a skeleton behind it and it was at most forty-seven inches high.  Working on getting open the rest of them."  He smiled.  "I promise I won't mess it up for your CSU guys, El.  I know what I'm doing with explosives.  Sure, send John if you want."  He hung up and frowned.  "I need a bubble gum sized piece for this last section," he said.  His boss went to get it for him, bringing it back.  He wired it once it was in place, leading the wires back to the center of the room.  He pulled his boss with him and hit the switch on the box.  The plaster cracked and fell along the lines he had laid, leaving a lot of bodies exposed.  "Fuck me," Xander said in awe, counting.  Someone coughed from the dust.  "Hey," he said, nodding at the guys on the stairs.  "I blew the rest.  The guys had been complaining about hollow areas.  Bodies create them in the concrete."

"Good to know," Fin said, coming in to look.  "Nice job with the explosives."  Xander preened under the praise.  "Anything we should know?"

Xander pointed.  "That one was a demolition blow.  That's how we found the first body.  That's when the clues clicked and the hollow spots made sense."  He looked around then at the floor then at his boss.  "What's the floor?"

"Um... double vaulted concrete," he admitted, frowning.  "You don't think...."

"He had to run out of room sometime, boss. It's painted, right?"  He nodded.  "Sealed edges?"

"Probably not.  Probably let the paint pool in the corners.  I've got a guy who does that really well.  I'll send him down when they're ready.  Good work, Harris."

"Thanks, boss."  He watched him walk off and looked at John.  "I can do a gentle destruction of anything you need but that body isn't a full sized adult."

He squatted down to look at the bones, shaking his head. "You're right, about four feet tall," he agreed, grimacing.  "Female."  He stood up, going to look at the others.  "About the same height.  Female hip bones."

"I'll call the ME," Fin said, doing that.  "Thanks, kid.  Go wait."

"Sure."  He headed back upstairs, smiling when he saw the same ME coming in.  "Lots and lots of skeletons, my dear," he said grimly.

"Your sort?"

"No.  This is my mundane job."  She smiled and nodded, going down there.  He heard her swear a minute later.  He came down to sit on the stairs.  "The floor's double vaulted concrete too.  We've got a guy who can pry up a section if and when you're ready to check it."

She looked at him.  "How did you do that?"

"I used a very tiny charge to crack the plaster so it'd fall.  If things were stuck to the back it might have ripped a bit but we haven't moved any of the rubble so the scene kit guys can look at it too, just in case.  The original wall was a take out and destroy.  I blew it and we found bones."

She nodded.  "It's good work, kid."


"Xander then.  I've got scene guys coming soon.  Show them down here.  We'll see about the floor in a few."  He nodded, going back up there.  "He has a good touch with explosives."

"He does," John agreed.  "Owner?"

"The boss called and said we found a problem," Xander called.  "He's stuttering and blustering that it's not his."  John came up the stairs to talk to him.  He pointed.  "Him.  We're turning this into apartments."

"Sure.  Thanks, kid.  Stay up here."

"Yes, John."  He stopped him.  "Does he, um, like fruit stuff?"

John smiled.  "Fruit baskets are nice around the office.  We consider them lunch."  Xander beamed and nodded, going to the truck to wait with the other guys.  He walked over there.  "Sir, Detective John Munch, Special Victims."  He shook his hand.  "Are you the first owner of this house?"

"No," he said weakly, sitting on the stairs.  "My parents bought it when it was new."  He gave him a horrified look.  "I have no idea how they got there."

The ME came up to get bags.  "We have a column of more than one body, John."

"So they lead to another house?" he suggested.  She shrugged.  "Xander."  He came over.  "Help her.  She's got a column situation."

"Like they filled it in when they ran out of room over here?" he asked.  She shrugged.  "Okay."  He pointed at another guy, who shook his head.  "We only need help taking pictures and holding tools."  He sighed but got up and went to do that once the real boss had nodded.  He looked at him.  "The others have kids, man.  I don't want to make them stare at skeletons about the same size as their own kids."  That got a grimace but a nod.  She showed him what she was seeing.  "That's.... mudding compound.  Would chisels be all right?"

"They'd be fine," she agreed.  "We might need a warrant if we break through to the other house."

"Probably not if you're following bodies and it's in his walls."

"I can go talk to the guy next door," Fin promised.  "See if it goes that far, boys."  They let her remove the skeleton and got to work on the delicate chipping around the one behind it.  The last one had a bone poking out of the wall.  "They had to notice that."

Xander looked.  "Finger bone?"

"Finger bone," the ME agreed. "He's right, you had to notice that."

"Let me call the Cap, make sure he's got our back, and then we'll see," Fin decided, moving to do that.  The scene team was still removing the others.  One was working with the two construction guys to gather everything they chipped off to examine it for any clues. "Cap, Fin.  We've got a column of bodies that lead to another house's basement."  He listened.  "No, like there's a finger bone poking through their wall.  Yeah, had to notice it.  The ME agrees."  He smiled.  "That's what we need.  We've still got to check the floors after we remove all these here.  How many?" he called.

"Twenty-seven," Xander called.  He looked at the floor then at him. "Maybe another fifteen or eighteen under there if he keeps packing them the same way if there's any under the floor."

Fin repeated that then waited while he asked someone higher up.  "You sure?  No warrant needed?  Thanks, Cap.  John!"  He hung up.  "Cap said break through it.  It's logical and no warrant needed since you're following the body.  We'll go get the houseowner from that side."  They nodded and let them go do that while they waited until they heard voices.  She got the body ready to be removed.  Then someone knocked on the wall. "Okay, guys."

Xander did the final tap, breaking through the wall.  "There we go, Doc."  He got out of the way, coming out the other side.  "If you want we can check your walls, sir.  That way we can make sure they didn't do it in other places.  You're lucky, that one isn't load bearing and it won't compromise your house's structure."

The man blinked at him.  "Who're you?"

"One of the construction workers.  I'm their demo expert," he said with a small grin.  "It was my blow that led to the first body."  He went pale.  "May we tap the walls for hollow areas?  It looks like the same wood and plaster or drywall mud construction we had over there.  Seems to be pretty popular around here."  He grinned at him again.  "After all, you wouldn't want a corpse rotting in your walls, right?"

"How... how did you know?"

Xander sniffed him then looked at him.  "You smell like a carrion eater," he hissed in his face, staring him down.  He backed up and started to stutter.  "Floors?"  He whimpered and nodded.  "Yours?"  He nodded.  "Kids?"

"Little folk," he whispered.  "They're going to get me."

Xander grimaced.  "Dwarves aren't going to get you, sir.  They're not that sort of little people."  He started to tap the walls, finding a new section.  "This one's not fully cured, guys."  He looked then tapped again.  "Hey!" he called.  He heard something thump.  "John, get me a chisel or a pry bar.  I heard a thump."  He nodded, getting him one.  He opened the wall a bit and found a foot.  One that twitched when he touched it. "It's warm, it's moving."  He finished getting her out, pulling her out and onto the floor.  "Shh, you're safe," he said, taking off her blindfold and gag, then using his pocket knife to release her bound wrists.  She burst out crying.  "Shh, they're cops. You're safe."  He knelt to hold her for now.  "Shh, I'm a protector, you're safe."  She clung to his chest so he looked at John.  "Ambulance?"  He nodded, calling for one.  The ME came over to do a preliminary look.  He pointed.  "She was in there."

She looked then nodded.  "The same thing we've been finding, a little clay pot and a single glass."  The EMTs were let in and led down there by the uniforms that had come with John and Fin.  "Guys, she was in the wall."  They nodded.

Xander looked at her.  "The paramedics are here.  Think they can have you?"  She nodded, wiping her face.  "Don't worry, they'll get him if they can."  He stood up and handed her over.  "Here, guys.  She was in the walls.  There's a lot of them."  They nodded, getting her settled.  Xander walked her up and out.  "You rest and heal.  They'll come see you later to take a statement I'm sure."  She nodded, letting them load her.  "Be safe."  He turned around, finding his boss there.  "We found one living, boss."

"They can handle the rest unless they need you to blow that part, Harris."

Xander nodded. "Yes, sir."

"Good."  He walked him back down there, looking around.  "Think  you want him to blow these walls too?"  The homeowner made a horrified noise.  "Without doing the building."

"I can if they want," Xander agreed.  "He used the same stuff.  Drywall mud or plaster over the old slats."  He looked at a few.  "Some were horizontal, some were vertical."  He looked at the cops.  "I'm going to get a drink.  If you need me, yell."  They nodded and he led the way back.  "Bad news, he did nod when I asked about the floor," he told the other guy, getting a grimace.  "We found one living."

"Why?" his boss asked.

"He said the little people were going to get him."  His boss moaned, going back to the truck to call his insurance person to make sure they weren't going to be liable for any damage over there.  He got some water and sat down again, weathering all the guys sliding away from him.  "Guys, all I did was find them."

"You're very knowledgeable," one complained.

Xander looked at him.  "I grew up in a town with a double digit homicide rate.  The lowest it's been in the last fifty years was eighteen percent when I was on the protection patrol."  They all gave him horrified looks. "It was near fifty the year my friends and I started.  Hell yes I know what to do with a body."  He took a sip and looked at the boss.  "What?  I do."

"You do very well."  He called his partner to talk to him.  Then he came back. "Okay, guys.  The other site could use you guys today."  They all ran for the van and the truck so they could go over there.  He stopped Xander, staring at him.  "You're still not in charge, Harris."

"Sorry, boss."

"I know command come easily to you.  It's up to me to make crew assignments.  It's up to me to boss the others around."  Xander nodded, looking down.  "We've had this talk before."

Xander looked at him.  "I'm sorry.  I didn't want the guys with kids to have to see that, especially since most of their kids fall within those ranges."

"I know.  You're still not in charge."  Xander nodded.  "I'm sorry, kid.  You do good work."

"I'm fired?"  He nodded.  "Severance pay?"

"We'll pay you for the reset of the week.  We'll give you a good recommendation.  Hopefully your next crew you'll be back in the position you're used to."

He grinned.  "Maybe I'll take a break from construction for a while.  Do something more physical."  That got an understanding look.  "Want me to hang here?"

"Please.  Can you do the floors?"

"If I have to I can pry one section up."  That got a nod and he left.  Xander went to sit on the stairs.  "Guys, I'm the only one still here if you need my help blowing things or the floor lifted."  They all nodded at him, going back to work.  "Watch out, gas pipe," he called.  "East wall."  They checked and were more careful.  He sighed, looking at John.  "It's now a bad week."

"Got fired?" he asked.  Xander nodded.  "Why?"

"I took command."

"Ah."  He patted him on the arm.  "Could be worse, kid."

"I know."  He shifted, stretching for a minute then looking at the floors.  "I'm not sure how we'd crack the concrete and leave the bodies down there.  Blast force would go down."

"We can pry up a corner then see," the ME assured him.  She pointed. "Dimple means a corner, right?"  He nodded, coming over to score the paint with his pocket knife then get the pry bar he had used earlier to pry up a corner. She looked.  "There's debris hanging off the concrete."

"If I blow it enough to crack the concrete it could mess up the bodies," Xander told her.

"We'll see what we can do."  She smiled at him.  "Good job."

"Thanks."  He grinned and marked the other sections of the concrete panels.  "It looks like he had a solid one, built walls, then poured a solid panel when he put a body down."  He counted panels.  "So we've got about sixteen or so I guess."

She counted then nodded.  "If he did it that way."

"Single capsule from the walls I saw," he said, lifting it up to show her again. "See, walls between the bodies and at the edge of the panel."

"That'll help us a lot in separating them out."  She looked at her head CSU.  "You think we can get them off with very little destruction of the corpse?"

He came over to check, letting Xander lift it again. He shook his head.  "Not without cracking the cover of the vault.  Go ahead and put it down, kid."  Xander let it back down easily.  "Can you crack it by hand?"

"With a lot of force.  Hands and knees, like you would chop hardwood with a spike?"

He considered it.  "Let me get you some help, we'll try that one first."  Xander nodded, going back to the stairs.  He called someone.  "We have concrete vaults containing small bodies in a concrete floor.  A lot in the walls.  We could use some help.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "Do you still have a sledge handy?"

Xander went to look, coming back with his sledge and other tools.  "These are mine.  The other guys are at another site."  That got an understanding look.  More people came down the stairs and he nodded at them.  "Hey."  He let them look at what they already had.  "Don't forget the basement next door too," he said cheerfully.  That got a groan and the ME nodded.  "Sorry, apparently it's my job to spread cheer today," he said sarcastically.  One of the new CSU people smirked at him.  "The rubble was mine."

"Nice job.  How?"

"'Splosives," he said with a grin.  "Just enough to crack the plaster except for the initial wall.  That was a destroy job and then we found bones."

"Wonderful."  He looked at the pass-through then went to look over there, finding John in there with someone marking bodies.  "How many?"

"Depends on the floor.  We had to send him to the ER with Fin because he was having a heart attack.  We caught him and that wasn't right.  The little people could get him now."

The detective shook his head. "All right then.  Yours or ours in homicide?"

"Serial killer, all dwarves," he offered.

"Split it?"

"Works for me.  We have at least fifty bodies, depending on the floors.  Did you bring the radar thingy?"

"Mac did.  He was behind me.  Who's the guy?"

"Xander.  He's a friend of Elliot's.  It was his crew but he just got fired for taking control when he found bodies."

"Pity.  He seems nice."

John put a hand on his arm.  "He's our local strange stuff guy," he said quietly.

"He's the hunter?"  John smirked and nodded.  "So this is shits and giggles with explosives for him?"

"Mundane job, pays the rent," he told him.  That got a laugh.  "Xander!"  He came over.  "Can we find a seam in the floor in here, see if we can pry up a section?  The guy had a heart attack so we sent him to the hospital with Finn."

"Sure."  He found a corner by the dimpling in the paint and got down to score it then got his pry bar to pry it up.  He looked.  "Bad news, none in this one unless it's dust."  He let him see once he had the section completely up.  "Prepared but not occupied."

"So he planned ahead," the detective said.  "Charming."

Xander grinned.  "Thought he was prince charming apparently.  Trying to save his Snow White from being soiled by the dwarves.  You know how the rumors go."

The detective snickered.  "I could like you, kid."

"Thanks but Xander, not kid.  I only answer to my name.   My former fiancee had a thing about pet names."

"Sure."  He smiled at the guy coming down the stairs.  "Okay, we've got this set up on the other side?"  Xander nodded.  "Only with bodies.  We may or may not have bodies here.  We do have bodies in the walls."

"He had used the other basement then built a corridor on his way back here when he ran out of room," Xander told him.  "We took four out of the pass-through.  There was a finger bone sticking out."

The new guy nodded.  "Okay.  Can we pry the other ones?"

"The one I started to do first had things sticking to it.  The ME wanted it to be cracked instead," Xander told him.  "I'm from the crew that's doing the other house."

He looked through the hole then at him.  "Nice job with the explosives."  Xander grinned. "Yours?"  He nodded.  "Military?"

"Sunnydale Protection Society," he said with a wicked grin.  "Plus a mentor who hunted vampires."

The new guy gave him a look.   "You're our hunter."

"This was my mundane job."   He stood up.  "Since I'm fired I can be here as long as you need me to for the muscle factor."

"That'll work.  Your name?"

"Xander Harris.  How did you know?"

"I'm a Marine, Mr. Harris."

Xander stared at him.  "You're not Initiative, right?  You seem too nice for me to kick the ass of."

"No.  I was one who helped put the case together for their trials."

Xander nodded and grinned again.  "Welcome."  He walked off.  "Let me know what you want me to do and when.  I'll be on the stairs."  He went back to his watching spot mostly out of the way of everyone until they needed him.

Mac looked at Don Flack.  "Interesting how things connect sometimes."

"Very," John agreed dryly.  "We met him when the last girl died."

"Ah."  Mac nodded.  "We heard."

"He's Elliot's buddy."

"Even better.  Now I know who to call if something happens," Don agreed.  "So, Mac.  Bodies in the walls, the floors, and we've still got to see if they lead to another house.  He thought the little people were going to get him."

Mac shook his head.  "Let's hope he doesn't get off on an insanity defense then."  He unpacked the machine that would let him see into the walls and the floors, using it to confirm body spots.  "He wasn't full yet.  Looks like he was evenly spacing them then going back to fill in the gaps."  The ME gave him an odd look.  "We have an empty spot where you'd expect one.  It makes sense if he knows about construction too.  Bodies leave air pockets in concrete."  He moved to do the floor, frowning.  "None here, but it's all prepared for when he needed it."  He moved over to do the other floor, finding it full.  "Okay, Xander.  Let's see what we can do about cracking the first one."

"We've lifted the corner of this one," Xander said, showing him.  He let him pry up the corner to look.  "That's why she wanted me to crack them instead of lift."

"Agreed."  He put it back down and dug out two metal spikes, handing them over.  "In half then half again."

"Width or length?"  They were rectangles.

"Width first."  Xander nodded, moving to the center to get to work cracking the first one.  The spike sank in slowly then the second on the fault line the first had started.  It cracked in half and sunk in, Xander leaning back to counter his section's slipping.  "Move for me."  Mac got him out of the way and looked at the underside of the bottom edge.  "Nothing connected, doc.  You want your lab boys or ours?"

"Go ahead.  Mine's going to be overloaded with the remains of the walls."

He nodded.  "Okay, let's lift this one out.  Wrap it first."  He showed Xander what to do and how to tape it.  "Good."  He got it out of the way, letting him and Don put it onto a rolling cart.  He looked at the top one then grimaced.  "Need it whole, Doc?"

"I'd prefer it and so would you," she reminded him.

He nodded.  "Okay."  He did what Xander had done to split that section around where the fabric was sticking.  It cracked a bit away but he could wiggle most of it off.  That section got wrapped and Xander got to the next one while he finished up that one and let her get the body.  "These are ancient."

"Makes sense to work on the floors first," Xander reminded him.  "You'd have to walk on something to do the walls and if you were rebuilding the walls, a higher floor would be noticed if it came second."

"Good thought, Xander," Mac told him.  He watched him crack the next one, letting him check it.  "Good job."  He wrapped those with his help and put them off to the side.  By the time dinner came they had done the whole floor.  Another column had been found to another basement on the other side and had been cleared.  The other teams had removed the other bodies and Mac ended up giving Xander a lift home.  "Thank you for your help," he said quietly once they were parked outside.

Xander smiled.  "I like being useful, Mac.  It's who I am.  Thanks for the ride."  He grabbed his tool belt and headed up to his apartment, smiling at the door guard.  "Hi, Paul."

"Hi, Xander.  Bad day at work?"

"We found bodies.  It'll be on the news for days."

The doorman smiled and opened the door for him.  "Who's your new friend?"

"One of the scene kit guys who came to get the bodies.  I was too nasty for the subway so he gave me a ride."  He turned and waved then went up to his apartment, finding Elliot pacing.  "Hey."  He stopped him, kissing him gently.  "I've had a sucky day."

"I heard from John.  How many did they find?"

"Ninety-three after they found another tunnel into another basement."

Elliot winced.  "I'm sorry for John's sore arm then."  He looked at him.  "You had to stay?"

"They needed bigger muscles to crack the floor.  Besides, I was free since I got fired."  He gave him a look.  Elliot glared back.  "I took command when I found the first body.  It wasn't the first time.  The boss hoped my next one I had more chance at being in a spot I should be in.  What do you think about me being a bouncer?"

"I wouldn't mind," he offered, watching him head to the bathroom.  "Fluffy's in there."

"Fluffy, daddy needs a shower."  The dog followed him into the shower, enjoying the bubbles he could chase as they came off his daddy's body.  Plus he liked the water.  Xander soaped him down too, then rinsed him off, letting him go shake off on Elliot while he finished.

Elliot came in to get a towel for the dog, shaking his head.  "You two are really alike," he called.

"Thanks.  Want to order dinner?"

"I already did, Xander."  He sat down to dry the dog off, then the puddle he was creating on the floor.  Xander came out in a pair of jogging shorts and a tank top, making him smile.  "Comfy?"

"Much.  I was on my knees all day cracking concrete slabs."  He flopped down, looking at the dog.  "Feel better too?"  Fluffy barked and got the ball to play with him.  "Sure, we'll play."  He tossed the ball into the kitchen and it came back with the dog.  The next time he tossed it that way, the dog didn't come back, he was in there eating from his bowl.  Xander smiled at him.  "You take very good care of my baby."

"Someone has to take good care of both of you."  He took a kiss, smiling at him.  "Dinner's on the way."

"Cool."  He took another kiss then laid his head on his shoulder.  "Where's the unemployment office?"

"I'll drop you off in the morning, Xan."  He patted him on the arm and let him snuggle and cuddle to make himself feel better.  The pizza came and they ate in the same position.  Then Elliot decided to take Xander out.  "Want to go bowling?"  Xander looked up at him.  "Never been?" he asked the confused look.  The boy slowly shook his head.  "I can teach you that too."

Xander grinned.  "When do I get to teach you something?"

"You can teach me how to use a sword I guess," he teased.  Xander beamed and nodded.  "Put on clothes.  We'll get out of the house."

"Sure."  He went to put on clothes, hearing the pitiful whimpers from the dog.  "Do we have time to go to the dog park first?"

"Sure."  He got the leash and the dog bounced and leapt until he clipped it on him.  Xander came out dressed casually so they went to play with the dog in the dog park.  It was nice.  Fluffy needed some fresh air and it clearly made his boy happier.  When Fluffy was finally tired they put him back and Elliot took him to watch some of the PD league bowl.  He found a seat and got them both beers, telling him quietly what was going on and how the score looked.  Xander nodded, studying things.  When the league match was done, Elliot got them stuff so they could bowl too, taking Xander to show him how it was done.  Xander pinched him and he swatted him.  "No distracting me."

"Sorry," he said with a wicked grin.  "How else can I win if I don't distract you?"  He heard a familiar laugh and looked back at John.  "Hi.  He thought I needed to get out of the house."

"You probably did."  He watched Elliot take his first try at the pins, marking down the score.  He did it again once the ball came back and nearly got a full strike.  "Ooh, two pins left."

Xander took his turn once the pins had been replaced, tipping his head to the side.  "Don't throw it this time," Elliot warned.  He came over to help him again.  "Roll, Xander."

"I'm wondering about trajectory.  Yours always curves and mine ends up in the gutters."

"As do all ours now and then," he promised, going back to his seat.  Xander let one go, still a bit hard of a throw, but that was better than his first one when he had nearly flung it at the pins like a heavy frisbee.  He got three pins.  "Much better.  Now roll the ball instead of throwing it next time."  Xander blushed and did it again, easier this time.  It was much nicer.  "Better," he praised.

John smiled at him.  "You have it so bad," he told him.

Elliot smirked.  "Do you blame me?"

"No."  Xander came back and marked down his score.  "Nice job, Xander."  He patted him on the back.  "Now what're you going to do?"

"I was thinking about being a bouncer.  You think I'd be okay at it?"

"I think you've got good instincts but you'd have to hold yourself back from hurting the stupid drunks," John told him.

"Maybe," he admitted.  "I don't know enough to bartend around here."

"They make books for that."

"Yeah but I don't have one and neither does the library."  His cellphone rang so he answered it.  "Speak to the man."  He laughed. "Well, I am a man and the only one you're calling, Willow.  What's up?  Yes, I know I'm on an outing with someone and the mushy charm you made would be going off like a siren in heat," he said dryly.  "So?"  He smirked and then snickered.  "No, Willow.  I'm bowling. I don't need saved."  He hung up, looking at Elliot.   "One of these days she's going to come out here and threaten you in person."

"Probably.  Friends do that for you," he said.  "My turn?"  Xander nodded so he went to take his next turn, getting a full strike on the first roll.  "Ha."  He smiled at him.  "Do like I did."

Xander came over to do the same thing, even mimicking his moves.  He got nine of the ten.  He grinned.  "See, I'll learn."

"You learn very well."  Xander got his ball back and aimed at the last one, taking it out.  "Good job."  He patted him on the back, going to get them another drink.  "John, need a beer?"

"No, I'm driving later," he said, looking at Xander.  "You do know that I'll be one of the ones threatening you locally?"

"Of course you will be," Xander agreed.  "You're the only one that can probably take me out if something does happen or if I go primal again."  John nodded at that.  "I'd never do it on purpose."

"Good."  He let the boy sit next to him and take his beer when Elliot got back.  "Go do it again, Elliot."  He took a drink of his beer and went to bowl another frame.  Xander took his turn and it was fun.  An easy, comfortable fun.   He could see why Elliot liked the boy.  He glanced back to find Olivia watching them, smiling at her.  She got up and left.

Elliot watched her go then looked at John.  "She still having problems?"

"She thinks he enchanted you or something.  She's waiting to save you."

Xander looked at him then down his shirt then back at him.  "I don't think I look like my exes."  He bowled his next set and got to cheer when he got a full strike.  "Whoo-hoo!  I finally got it!"

Elliot laughed and patted him on the back.  "Good job, Xander."  He got his ball and bowled his once Xander was out of the way.


Elliot cornered Olivia after five days of her staring evilly at him. He pinned her in a small dip in the corner, staring at her. "What's your issue?"


"He doesn't impact me here at work."

"Does your wife know, Elliot?"

He stared at her.  "We've talked a bit but I haven't introduced them yet," he admitted.  In truth he had mentioned he had met someone and he wanted to know what she thought.  She had giggled herself sick when he had admitted it was a guy.  "I'm probably taking them both to dinner this payday if he has it off."

"I heard he got fired."

"He took charge when he found that first body," he said patiently.  "He's got another job.  It only took him four days."

"So you're not supporting your boy?"

"He's twenty-three in another four weeks, Olivia.  He's not a boy."

"He is so," she said dryly, smirking at him.  "What will she think, Elliot?"

"I'm hoping she's happy for me."  He smirked back.  "She does know it's a him, Olivia, before you even think about calling her."  She gaped.  "Like I said, I haven't introduced them but I think she understands."

"Uh-huh.  And then what?  Your kids will accept it?"

"I think they will."

"He's young enough to be one of them."

"No he's not.  He's twenty-three.  He's not that much younger than we are."  She stomped off.  He sighed and went to call Xander.  "What's your schedule like around payday?"  He smiled.  "Mine, Xander."  He listened to him read it off.  "Plan to do something that'll take nice clothes around Thursday."  He hung up and called his soon-to-be-former wife.  "It's me.  Want to go to dinner Thursday?"  He smiled as he sat down at his desk.  "Well, I thought I'd introduce you two," he admitted.  "Because you have the right to meet him."  He laughed.  "I promise, it'll be a nice dinner out. Make reservations."  He hung up and went back to work, looking at his Captain when he came out an hour later.  "What's wrong?"

"Where's Olivia?"

"We had a talk and she stomped off."

"Ah."  He looked at him.  "Need to talk?"

"No.  Why?"

"Others saw you out bowling.  Rumors are starting."  Elliot moaned.  "Are you okay with that?" he asked quietly.

"No but I knew they'd start sometime."

He nodded.  "Good.  You can talk to me if you need to."

He looked at him.  "Should I bring my gun when I introduce him and my ex?"

His captain smirked.  "Bring handcuffs.  You might need them for one of them.  Either they'll get along very well or they'll hate each other."

"I'm hoping for the first," he admitted quietly, glancing around.  It was just them for the moment.  "It'd be nice.  Then we can help the kids."

"You're introducing them?"  He nodded.  "Then I expect the invitation to the bonding or whatever with plenty of time to shop, Elliot."

"He's... he said he's not ready to do something formal.  We had a talk about his fiancee and he babbled about that too.  He dated some seriously damaged women."

"That doesn't really surprise me," he admitted, walking off.  "You know, he still hasn't met Fin."

"He was the one doing the construction at that multiple body basement."

The captain looked at him.  "And Fin hasn't said anything?"

"I'm not sure John's told him."

"You tell him, make sure.  I don't need the dissent and he's a bit conservative now and then."

"Sure.  Over lunch?"

"Or coffee, whatever."  He went back into his office.   They were definitely serious if Elliot was thinking that way.   It was good for him.  He finally had someone who understood him and what he did.  It was showing in his work and his lack of hostility recently.  They'd have to see how it went with a major dirtbag.


Elliot walked up to where Fin was having lunch, clearing his throat.  "I was ordered to come talk to you."

"About what?  Last time I knew I didn't wear that sort of collar."

Elliot sat down next to him, looking across the park.  "Not wearing a wire, right?  Not listening to anyone?"

"Nah, I'm on lunch.  What's up?"

"Cap said that I should come talk to you about Xander."

"Why?"  He ate a bite of his lunch, chewing slowly.  The same kid from the construction crew?  The one Munch gave happy looks to?

"Because we're dating and he didn't think John told you yet.  He wanted me to make sure there wasn't going to be any grief around the office."  Fin choked at the first sentence.  He handed him a new bottle of water.  "Here, you could use it," he said with a small grin.

"You're what?"  Elliot nodded. "That mouthy, sarcastic, likes explosives guy?"  Elliot nodded again, starting to smile again.  "Aw, man, you have that deliriously happy grin too.  Got it bad?"

"So everyone says."  He shrugged a bit.  "I'm introducing him and the ex on Thursday."

"I'll be listening for a downed officer call, man."  He patted him on the arm.  "I'm not some bigot."

"I know but this way it's clear, no one can insinuate anything, we know the only stress is Olivia."

"So that's what's wrong."

"Uh-huh.  She still thinks he's a boy.  Called him that earlier."

"He's what, twenty?"

"Twenty-three in a few weeks," he said with a smile.  "Been doing what he does since he was sixteen."

"So he gets the job?"

"Yeah, first day."  He sighed and looked around then back at him.  "He explained what he does by reminding me what I do and why.  It's just as deep of a calling for him."

"Then I'm happy for you but I don't wanna see any making out or anything.  I'm not that curious."

"Not a problem.  We're still getting there."

"Haven't slept with him yet?"

"Slept yes, fucked no.  Everything but, but no.  We've only been on about eighteen dates."

"Then it'll probably happen soon.  We'll cover for you if you have to call off that day for feeling too old to handle a young lover," he teased.

Elliot smirked.  "His last one, his fiancee, was nearly as bad as a succubus according to him.  I might die a happy man."  Fin snickered and nodded, patting him on the arm.  "But we're good?"

"We're fine, man."


"What about her?"

"She's going to have to get over it," he said, grinning at him.  "I don't care what she thinks.  The last time I felt like this, I knocked her up then married her."

"More than I needed to know," Fin assured him.  "Happy you can't do it to him?"

"Incredibly," he agreed.  That got another laugh.  "I'm hoping he and the kids get along."

"He seems like a nice guy when he's not in 'danger' mode," Fin offered.  "He was cracking jokes with John and Taylor at the scene when we had to pull in regular homicide since it didn't look like a sex crime and it was dwarves."

"What did he get?"

"He's in mental exam.  Huang was not really pleased with the preparations he had made."

"Yeah, Xander told me later that night.  We talked for a long time after bowling."

"You took him bowling?"

"We went to watch the league match and I taught him how to bowl. His first time he nearly threw it like a frisbee at the pins.  He's down to mimicking what I do but he enjoys it."

"That's good then.  What else happened?"

"Nothing yet.  He pinched me, claimed he had to have some advantage to win."  Fin started to laugh again.  "John stayed to keep score and to calm him down.  That was the same night as that scene and he came in dusty and upset for being fired.  He and the dog took a shower."

"That's a good start to making your move."

Elliot smirked at him.  "I don't need the help.  So far I've been keeping myself back because I'll pounce.  I don't want to hurt him."

Fin patted him one last time and got up.  "You're the man, Elliot.  Just survive your young thing."  He walked off smiling.  He'd have to get John for not telling him that piece of gossip.  He found him back at the station and hit him on the arm.

"Ow," he complained, rubbing the sore spot.  "What did I do to deserve that?"

"For not explaining why Elliot has that silly, sappy grin that makes you want to get one of your own."

He smirked.  "They're so cute together.  It's like a comfortable chair when you hang with them.  Even though Xander did ask him if the pin machine was an evil robot or not and nearly made one of our guys screw up his shot by making Elliot burst out laughing at the wrong moment."  He glanced at Olivia's desk then back at him.  "He told you?"

"Yeah.  Cap wanted to make sure I wouldn't cause problems."

"Will you?"

"Nah.  I'm happy for the guy.  He's so stupidly in love he's introducing his former and his present soon."  John gave him a horrified look.  "Besides, more for me."  He glanced at the same desk then back at him.  "What are we doing?" he asked quietly.

"We'll interfere if we have to," John assured him.  She came back in and Elliot came in a minute later.  He rolled over.  "Need spare cuffs?" he asked.

Elliot smiled.  "Probably not.  Thanks though."


"Thursday night.  I told her to make reservations wherever she wanted."

"Good idea.  It'll make her feel more comfortable."  He patted him on the arm.  "I'll listen for a call for riot gear and tear gas."  He went back to his desk, getting back to work.  He glanced at Elliot when he got up to get the next pervert that had been brought in to question.  He was smoother, less angry.  It was good for him.  Then John had to remind himself he had tried that three times already and all three ex-wives hated him.  He didn't want to try again and have four of them out for his blood and wallet.  He'd never make enough to live on if he did.


Xander smiled as he walked into the restaurant.  "Hi, I'm meeting a Mrs. Stabler here with another person tonight.  Is she here yet?"

"She is, sir, but your other member isn't yet."

"I know.  His car had a flat."  That got a smile and a nod.  The maitre'd walked him over to the table and he sat down, smiling at her.  "Hi, I'm Xander.  Elliot just called to say he's getting a flat changed."

"He called."  She studied him.  "You're not what I expected when he told me about you."

He grinned. "I'm a lot more complex than I look," he warned.

"I'm sure you are.  He likes people who're a bit deep."  She sipped her wine.  "Go ahead and order a drink if you want."

"I'm more than old enough but I only drink when I've had a crappy day at work."  She raised an eyebrow.  "Crappy drunk parents."

"Ah.  So you know what Elliot does in person?"

"No, mine ignored me.  I know what he does because I have the same sort of calling about my other part-time job."  She nodded at that.  He leaned forward.  "I don't want to fight with you.  I'm used to being surrounded by female friends and I'm a nice guy.  Really.  I can give you references if you want."  She laughed at that, patting him on the head.  "Thanks.  I don't want to cause El any stress."

She smiled.  "Good.  Then we should at least be able to be socially polite with each other.  What are you doing for a job, Xander?"

He smiled.  "I'm a bouncer at a smaller club uptown."  She nodded at that.  "I had been doing construction but I'm used to being in charge of my crew.  Since I moved I couldn't get a command position and my boss hated that I kept taking charge."

"That's a shame.  How much control do you have now?"

"I'm part of a team at the moment.  We're each independent when we're working but we have a boss to go to for orders.  He likes me.  I keep a lot of problems down and I keep the druggies out of the bathroom of the club."

"I'm a teacher," she told him.

"He told me."  He grinned.  "He babbled about you the same night I babbled about my former fiancee."

"I'm sorry you lost her."

"I'm not really.  I left her at the altar when I figured out I'd be miserable."  She gaped.  "She had some very high expectations.  Mostly she was like a succubus in bed and always wanted more money.  Besides, she was cheating on me."  He shrugged a bit.  "It's better that we broke up.  It just took that final straw of seeing how miserable we'd both be to stop it.  Her friends stepped in to show me how miserable we'd be."

She nodded.  "Then I suppose it's for the best."  She checked her watch.  "Do you have children?"  He pulled out a picture of a dog and she giggled.  "Your baby?"

"Fluffy.  I adopted him from my first neighbor here in the city.  She was drugging him heavily.  I took him in when they arrested her for the major haul of cocaine on her kitchen table."

She smiled.  "Elliot gets along well with him?"

"My poor puppy loves him as a pillow.  They're napping buddies on the couch," he said with a sweet, sappy grin.  She felt her heart melt at that.  "He nags me about getting him really good food and about letting him beg for treats from the table.  He even held my hand when we had to drop him off to be fixed."

She smiled.  "We have three kids together."

"He told me that.  He put pictures in my place."  He leaned closer again.  "I'm hoping they can at least get along with me when he feels it's time to get to know them.  I'm not going to take your place, I'm not going to get pushy.  I'd like to be their friend more than a stepparent if that's all right.  I know very well they're hurting over the divorce stuff and all the other stuff going on and I don't want to add to it.  That's why I'm letting you two decide when a good time to introduce me is and I'm going to go for a wise, older friend role."

"I think that's a wise way to think about it.  I think our oldest daughter would love to have someone more hip around her that might understand."

Xander flipped the picture in his wallet, letting her see it.  "These are my best friends Willow and Buffy.  The other one is Tara, Willow's girlfriend."  She smiled.  "Buffy was a Cali princess of LA in her youth.  I understand shopping *very* well.  It's why I don't do it on my own."

She burst out laughing, shaking her head.  "You're very unique, Xander."

"The world might end if there was more of me," he teased, grinning back.  He smiled when Elliot came over.  "What happened to your tire?"

"Pothole."  He sat down.  "Hi, Kate," he said, kissing her on the cheek.  "Hi, Xander."  He gave his hand a squeeze.  "No drinks?"

"I had a good day at work last night," Xander teased.  "Only one drunk that hit on me."

Elliot smiled.  "They think you're going to be taking care of them, Xander."

"No I'm not.  I could never date someone like my parents."  He gave his hand a squeeze and a grin.  "She asked about kids so I showed her Fluffy's picture."

"He's as close as you'll probably ever come," Kate agreed.

He shrugged.  "Some year I might want one but right now I'm too young to think about it.  Maybe when I'm in my sixties."   She smiled and nodded at that wisdom.  "Of course, if you mention that to my friend Willow she might try to figure out a way for it to happen sooner.  She's looking forward to being an aunt.  She's also a bit pushy."

"She's also coming out next week," Elliot told him.

Xander gave him a horrified look.  "Why?  No one told me the world was going to end next week."

"It's not, Xander.  She's coming to check on you.  She called my desk to talk to me about you and about how she was going to steal me from you for a few hours one of the days."

"Okay," he said weakly, nodding a bit.  "I'll make sure she doesn't threaten or hurt anyone."   Elliot's wife giggled at that.  "She can," he admitted.  "She's a lot like me.  I've known her since the first day of school.  If she's in a snit, she can really wallop you.  She's a hacker too."  Elliot gave him a look.  "Shouldn't mention that?"

"Probably not."

"Okay.  I'll let her incriminate herself," he said with a cheerful grin.

Elliot smirked.  "Be yourself, Xander."

"I am."

"You had how many candybars when you got dressed?"

"Four?" he said sheepishly.

"Xander," he sighed.

Xander grinned.  "It put me in a happy mood and I quit worrying.  I didn't want to not like her or not be able to get along with her.  It's important to me that I don't pull you from your other family."

"Thank you, dear," she said, kissing him on the cheek.  "That's a generous thought."  Xander grinned shyly.  "Now, are you planning on college?"

"I sucked very muchly in school," he said dryly.  "They don't even make math equations for how much I sucked in school."  She gaped.  "I'm not a school sort."

"You took me teaching you to cook fairly well," Elliot told him.

"I'm good with hands-on learning but it's easier when it's a small class and you can't get that in public schools."

"True.  Consolidation does end that benefit," she agreed.

"Ours was a small school and we still couldn't handle it," Xander admitted.  "So I weathered it and graduated, then I went to find something I could do without it.  I'm good at carpentry but I'm a bit burned out at the moment.  I needed a change."

"That happens to the best of us," she agreed, liking this boy more.  He was very open.  She grinned at Elliot then at him.  "So, are you two living together yet?"

Xander blushed, shaking his head.  "We've been taking it slowly because this is a first for us.  I may've experimented a few times but the last one I lived with was Anya and she's not what I'd call normal.  Plus I'm waiting on Elliot to get up enough nerve to push me into the wall and kiss me stupid some day soon."  He grinned at him, getting a look back.  "You can."

"I know I can.  I'm sure I will some day soon, Xander."  The waiter came and they all glanced at their menus.  "I'm getting it," he told them.  Xander gave him an awed look.  "I treat you to dinner."

"It's my turn."

"I called the dinner out.  It's my turn."  He got a smirk.  "Something not lobster, Xander."

"I wouldn't know what to do with lobster, Elliot."  He looked at the menu again.  "Can I have number .... hmm.  Eight I guess, only the potatoes from number ten instead of it baked?"  The guy nodded, writing that down.  "And I'll stick with water."


"No, I'm good with real water."  He handed over the menu.

"I'll take number ten," she decided.  "I'll stick with this wine."  He nodded.

Elliot looked at them then at the waiter.  "Give me number six.  I missed lunch."  He handed it over.  "Anyone need salads?"

"I thought it came with one," Xander told him.

"It does," the waiter agreed.  "Plus bread.  What dressing?"

"Italian," Xander said.

"Red wine vinaigrette if you have it," she ordered.  "Bread without butter?"

"Garlic rolls tonight, ma'am."

"That'll work.  Butter on the side."  He nodded.

"I'll take ranch," Elliot told him.  He nodded, walking off.  He looked at Xander.  "Hungry?"

"Very. I bounced off lunch *hours* ago because I had to find real clothes."

She looked him over.  "You put that outfit together very well, Xander."

"Usually I wear jeans.  T-shirts.  A few overshirts."  She nodded.  "So I had to find real clothes for tonight.  I had a burger for lunch and I bounced it off *hours* ago trying to find a good shirt for tonight.  Took me three hours and ten resale shops."

Elliot patted him on the wrist.  "Getting a bit loud," he said quietly.

"Sorry."  He grinned at him.  "I'm trying."

"I know.  You're anxious."

"You're scared of me?" she asked.

"No, I'm scared you'll hate him because of me.  Neither of you need this stress right now," he told her.  She nodded at that.  "I don't want to come between you two."

"You can't, dear.  Quit stressing," she ordered.  He relaxed and smiled, nodding a bit.  "I do want to get to know you better before we introduce you to the children."

"Of course!  I wouldn't expect anything else.  Children are too precious to mess up by stressing them out.  For that matter, how about we think about after school ends for the year?  That way they're not as stressed anyway."

"That's nearly six months away," she warned.

He nodded.  "But they can get to know me as someone who's a buddy of their dad's first.  It might help.  Or so Buffy suggested.  Her parents are divorced and I'm taking her word on it.  Willow's parents are shrinks and they suggest the same thing."

She smiled.  "That might work.  We'll have to see."  She smiled as their salads were brought.  "What about the holidays?"  Xander shrugged, digging in to eat his first bite.  "Do you celebrate Christmas?"

"And solstice," he agreed.  "Willow's pagan so I kinda got into the habit of doing both."

"Interesting.  Are you?"  He shrugged.  "Don't know?"

"It's not something I really think about most of the time," he said, staring her down.  "Faith's something that's a great abstract thought when I've had such a bad day that I'm totally drunk and ready to think philosophical thoughts, but it's not part of my everyday life.  Having said that, I think each person has to make that decision for themselves and I think faith is a private matter between them and their personal choice of God."  She nodded at that.  "So if you are, it doesn't bother me and I'm not going to pressure anyone to be like me."

"Good.  We do try to take the children to church.  Elliot comes."

"He did last Sunday," he agreed happily.  "I'm all for it."

"Would you like to come with us?" Elliot asked.  "Once the kids know something?"

Xander shrugged.  "I wouldn't care one way or another," he admitted.  "I like to look at Catholic mass like I do artwork.  It's got some very pretty parts.  Some very pretty frames in some of the churches.  Even if I can't agree with all the subject matter of the art, I can still stand to listen to it going on around me."  He ate another bite.

Elliot nodded.  "I can see that.  Kate?"

"That's a viewpoint I can admire," she agreed.  "I work with a born again atheist.  He's the sort to want to take God off the money."

"I'll agree with the Pledge since Eisenhower put it in there, but money's too ingrained," he said.  "Besides, kids get fed the 'we all came over here to escape religious persecution' story from their first history class."  She arched an eyebrow up.  "Willow's parents. They were very good about telling us why people came over here, and what the major holidays started out as.  She protests thanksgiving every year by going shopping instead of contributing to the further humiliation of the Native American races."

Kate blinked a few times.  "She's very opinionated."

"Very," Xander agreed dryly. "Then again, she was like a favorite aunt to me since her daughter and I were best friends.  I got the same lessons her daughter did."  He shrugged. "I'm not against the big dinner.  I think it's a good thing to celebrate family, even if it does devolve into football afterward."  She laughed at that.  "It does."

She smiled and nodded.  "Are you coming for Thanksgiving?"

"Am I invited?"

She considered it.  "If we can work it out," she promised.  He nodded he'd come.  "Good.  I'll talk with the oldest daughter tonight."

"Maureen and I talked last night," Elliot admitted.  "She called because someone had told her there were rumors of me dating.  So we talked about me possibly moving on.  She was pouting."

"I wondered why she was sulking last night.  How did she take it?"

"Not too bad.  She's a bit upset, but she figured they had to be fairly special so she's willing to give them a try."

"You said she raised them very well, that proves it," Xander told him.  "That shows sense and compassion."

She beamed at him.  "Thank you, dear.  Eat.  The regular dinner will be here soon."  He nodded, digging in.  They chatted, getting to know each other until the end, when Xander excused himself to visit the little boy's room.   She looked at him.  "He makes you want to cuddle him," she said quietly.

He cleared his throat, nodding a bit.  "He does.  He also understands why I do what I do."


"He's got a calling of his own."

"His other part time job as he said."  She stared at him.  "So he does what?"

Xander sat back down.  "Technically I work in John Munch's other field," he said quietly, staring at her.  She gaped.  He shrugged.  "I have since I was sixteen when a friend got taken, Kate.  I'm a defender and it's been a long, hard battle.  I feel the same sort of necessity to do what I do when I have to do it as Elliot does to go to work every morning, even when he knows the pains of the day will be ripping him apart later."

She finished her wine.  "That I wouldn't have suspected, Xander."

He grinned, relaxing a bit.  "I didn't want to scare you.  I was on my former town's protection patrol with Willow and Buffy.   We did what was necessary, even when it totally sucked in your life and made things miserable for you.  Even when there's a risk of death and destruction, the risk's greater if we didn't."

She nodded.  "Then you do understand his job better than I do."

He smiled and nodded.  "If you think so; I don't know how much you understood that sort of calling.  I don't read minds.  That was Buffy for a week."  She giggled again, as he intended.  "That part of my life will never go near the kids unless they need to see it.  I vow it to you on my soul unless they need to see me doing something like that, they won't.  They might see the swords around the house, but they won't see me doing more than practicing with them."

She nodded.  "Thank you for that, Xander."

He grinned.  "It's not a problem.  No one should have to be sucked in if they aren't wanting to be.  I'd never bring an innocent in."

"Good."  She relaxed again.  "Are you serious about my man?"

He nodded.  "I am.  The same as I know some part of him will always be yours."  She nodded.  "That's why I'd like for us to get along."

"I think we can, Xander.  You make me want to mother you and swat your friends."

He grinned. "They'd swat back and they're tougher than they look.  Buffy can bed steel rods."  She gaped.  He nodded.  "For all that she wears backless shirts and heels to do patrols, she's a lot tougher than she looks."

"Good to know."  She stroked his cheek.  "I think we'll get along well enough and you're a reasonable sort if I make a demand."  He nodded.  "Good.  Then we'll get along very well.  I'll talk to Maureen tonight."  She smiled at Elliot.  "You do have good taste.  He's very handsome, Elliot."

"I like him for his mind."

"My body will come later," Xander teased with a wicked grin.

Elliot swatted him.  "Behave."

"Why?  That's no fun."  He smirked.  "Besides, if I behave too much you might not ever play spanking games with me."

Kate burst out laughing and had to clutch the table and Elliot's arm to keep herself upright.  She finally got herself calmed down and hugged him.  "You make him play, I like you for that much alone, Xander."  She kissed him on the cheek, standing up.  "I should get home, boys.  Have a good night."  She kissed Elliot on the cheek too.  "Be a good boy and don't spank him too hard."  She walked off giggling.

Xander grinned at him.  "I think it went okay."

"It did.  She probably would've clawed your eyes out if she hadn't liked you."  He looked at him, shaking his head. "I should spank you for that last comment."  Xander just grinned.  "Fine.  Ready?"  Xander got a box for the rest of their dinner, letting him pay.  He walked him out to his car, still mentally shaking his head.  Kate would remember how often she laughed with him, not the dangerous parts.  It was a brilliant plan on his part.  He was just happy they got along.  He found someone leaning against his car.  "Does your mother know you're out here?" he asked his oldest daughter.

"Yeah, I just put her into a cab since she was giggling like she was drunk."  She smirked at him.  "She agreed, we should talk and then I'll talk to her."  She looked at Xander then back at her father.  "Not what I expected, Dad."

He smiled.  "We'll go back to his place and talk, Mo."

"Fine."  She looked at Xander.  "How old are you?"

He grinned.  "Twenty-three for another three and a half weeks."  He opened the back door for her.  "There you go."  He slid into the front, buckling up before turning around.  She got in and buckled up.  "You're not allergic to dogs, right?"

"No," she said, looking confused.  "You have a dog?"

"Fluffy," he offered with a grin.  He patted himself down.  "Good, I did put back my wallet."

"You did," Elliot agreed, starting the car and heading back to Xander's place.  He was worried but even if his daughter screamed at him it would be okay.  She'd be back in a few weeks to talk rationally.  He parked in Xander's dedicated spot and got them out, watching as Xander dug out the keys to toss to him before grabbing the boxes.  "Come on."  He locked the car and headed after the two younger ones.  They got into the apartment, her staring at the dog that came over to love on them.  "Maureen, this is Fluffy."

"Hi," she said, letting him sniff her hand.  He barked and backed away.  "I promise, I'm not a mean woman, Fluffy," she said gently.  He came back slowly and she petted him behind the ears, earning a new friend.  She smiled before kissing him on the head.  "You're a good boy."  She turned to look at Xander and her father.  "This is definitely not what I was expecting."  Elliot undid his tie, sitting down on the couch.  The dog hopped up to cuddle him and she sat on the other end, letting Xander have the chair so she could look at both of them.  "Was he one of the reasons you and Mom broke up?"

"I've only been in town for three and a half months, Maureen," Xander told her.  He undid the top few buttons of his shirt, grinning at her.  "Get comfy.  All I've had for the last six years are female friends.  I'm used to girls sprawling on my couch."  He got up.  "Want a t-shirt, Elliot?"

"I've got my undershirt if I want, Xander.  Thanks."  He nodded, going to change and give them time alone.  He shifted to look at her.  "I met him about three months ago," he admitted.

"Do you love him?"

"I think I do."  He looked at her.  "That's why I let your mom meet him earlier.  We were going to slowly work our way up to introducing you kids to him."

"Which is nice.  Is he a cop too?"  Elliot shook his head.  "Will he have the same problems Mom did?"

"No.  Xander understands what I do because he's got something that important in his life."  She nodded, accepting that, but still grimacing some.  He reached over and she ducked away.  "Hey.  I'm still your father."

"I didn't know my father liked guys, dad."

"Technically, if we're being honest."  She nodded she wanted that.  "I've had stress relief in the past.  Nothing serious.  We're both going kind of slowly because I've never had a serious like for another guy."

"Okay, so it's new for him too?"

"Again, dabbling but nothing serious," Xander called from the bedroom.  He came out and put the food into the fridge, bringing out sodas and ho-hos, making her smile.  "He hates my diet but I've lived on it for years."

"I think you've had enough chocolate for the week," Elliot said dryly, giving him a look.

"The real food earlier got the earlier stuff out of my system," he teased.  "I won't be bouncy tonight."

She shook her head.  "You seem so normal."

Xander looked at her. "Know me for six months and you'll think I'm a goofball too," he assured her dryly, digging into his treat.  "I was hoping you guys would get to know me before they sprung the news that your father and I are dating on you.  That way it wasn't as great of a shock."

She nodded.  "Perfect plans only exist in perfect places."

"True, and no plan ever takes into account teenagers," he said.  She smirked at him.  "Trust me, I can plan a D&D campaign and if you're playing with teenagers they do some amazing things that can throw all your battle plans out of whack."  He ate a bite, nodding at hers.  She dug into the treat, nibbling a bit.  "I'd never hurt you kids, Maureen."

"I'm nearly as old as you."

"Congrats."  She gave him a dirty look.  "It's a big thing to nearly be an adult.  It's a momentous occasion that should be celebrated."

She nodded.  "I was thinking a major birthday party."

"We'll see," Elliot told her.

"He protests because I want a car."

He snickered.  "I have one but it's in a storage area because there's no parking around here that I'd trust the thing in."  Elliot gave him an odd look.  "I had to get the stuff here from California somehow, Elliot."

"I thought maybe Willow shipped it."

"No, that would mean she'd have the chance of going through it with my ex.  I'd rather that not happen."  His phone rang.  "Speaking of."  He answered it.  "Yes, Willow?"  He listened, then shook his head.  "Why would I need one?"  He sighed.  "No, but if I must.  Who gave it to me?"  He snickered.  "Again?  Sure.  Ask Spike, tell him he can have thirty percent if he does that and you bring my last storage area out."  He ate another bite of fluffy cake and creamy filling.  "Yup.  Talking with Elliot and his oldest daughter.  Yes, he has three kids, Willow. You can do that next week.  No, she just found out about me, she doesn't need traumatized by you too.  Exactly.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "She'll bring out that last storage area tonight and I have an old admirer who came back."

"Who?" Maureen asked.

"Druscilla.  She's a ...  Well, let's see.  Spike's kinda one of the gang but no one *really* likes him.  He came to us for protection and he annoys us about half the time.  He's useful though and we can tolerate him.  Druscilla was his dark princess for a very long time.  She keeps hitting on me and calling me kitten.  This time she came back to reclaim Spike and give me a present hoping I'd go with them this time.  Fat chance but she's highly insane.  Talks to the stars, has tea parties with them and her dolls insane."  He ate another bite, finishing that one.

Elliot looked at him.  "I remember you talking about Spike."  Xander nodded while he chewed.  "Is she the same way?"   He nodded again, faster this time.  "Worse?"  He nodded very fast this time.  "Will she come here?"

"Only if she likes to watch the dawn from the fire escape," he said blandly.  "Since she's allergic to the sun...."   He grinned at him.  "Don't worry about Dru.   Worry about Angel slipping back into the bad old days again."

"I'll do that."  He looked at his daughter, who was looking amused.  "Sorry.  His former life."

"I didn't think he'd be old enough for that."

"I am.  I left it three hours outside LA," he told her.  "Along with Buffy and Willow."

"What do you do?"

"Right now I'm a bouncer."  She looked around then at him.  "I own it, Maureen. I bought it off a dead guy."

"Oh.  Interesting."  She nibbled another bite of her chocolate.  It was good.  She looked at her father.  "Are you going to be moving in soon?"

"Tonight was our eighteenth date.  It's much too soon to think about that," he said.  Elliot looked at Xander.  "It is.  I didn't even move in Anya that fast, dear.  Probably not until at least after the holidays unless something happens to one of us."  He shifted.  "I'd like to enjoy the dating stuff.  I didn't get to before.  Anya's priorities were to find someone to protect her, pay for things for her, and to sleep with her.  We didn't get to go out on dates and do fun stuff most of the time.  So I'm enjoying doing that now.  Your dad even taught me how to bowl."

She looked at her father.  "Did you beat his ex?"

"Not yet.  If I see her, it might happen."  He looked at Xander, who shrugged a bit. "Would you mind?"

"Brag at her, it'll make her hurt worse."

"Fine."  He smiled at her.  "He's had a varied past before he moved here."

Xander got up.  "Fluffy?"  He came out of the kitchen.  "Let's go walk you, baby."  He got his leash and shoes, heading down to give them more privacy.

"He's good," she said, finishing that roll of cake.  He nodded.  "So you're happy with a guy?  I mean, the sex stuff and all that?"

"So far, it's good," he admitted.  "We like a lot of the same things.  He likes to curl into me when we watch tv.  It's ... comfortable is the closest way to put it.  Like it was with your mom when we first got together."

She swallowed.  "Did Mom like him?"

"He nearly made her pee herself before she left," he told her.  She smiled at that.  "She did like him.  She invited him to Thanksgiving if we can get the kids used to him by then."

She nodded.  "I like his idea.  Let us get to know him as your friend and then as your boyfriend, Dad."  She heard something and got up to look out the window.  "Um, dad, there's someone shooting out there."  The person shooting was brought down and beaten.  "Wow."  He looked over her shoulder.  "What is he?"

"Now and then he thinks he's an action star," he said grimly.  "Stay up here."  He went down to help, finding the doorman on the ground with a minor wound.  "Xander, call someone."

"Already did," he called. "Fluffy, guard."  The dog stared at the bad guy.  He barked quietly when the guy moved.  He snickered and moved and Fluffy snarled and snapped at him.  He went back to laying on the ground.  "Good boy!"  He went to check the other people downed.  "I've got an arm wound and it looks like a graze to the side of the head over here, Elliot."  He nodded, calling that in to Dispatch to update them.  The dog growled and he looked then at the younger one.  "Do it again, dude, watch me kill you for it."  The guy went limp.  Elliot came over to cuff him and frisk him, putting his other gun out of reach.  Cops pulled up and he smiled, waving.  "This guy was shooting at the building and others when I came out to walk my dog.  I pounced him to make him stop the stupid shit."  The cops stared at him.  He grinned.  "What?  I'm a bouncer."

"Good job, sir."  He came to get the guy from Elliot.  "Ambulances are on the way, Officer...."

"Detective Stabler," he said.  He pointed.  "I frisked him.  He was going for his backup piece."

"Thanks."  He got put into the car.  Where the guy kept trying to wiggle around.  Xander looked over when the door's window shattered.  The guy managed to get away from the three cops so he pounced him again, beating his ass in the street.  He finally brought him back.  "Sir, thank you for the assist, but can you please get your dog?"  Fluffy was following him and growling at the idiot again.

"Sure.  Fluffy's a sweetie.  Fluffy, let's finish our walkies.   You have a head graze, an arm wound, and the doorman had a leg wound.  None totally serious."  The cops nodded so he walked Fluffy off to finish his potty break.

Elliot looked at them.  "He's from near LA."  That got an understanding nod.  They had a lot of violence out there.  Of course the guy knew how to handle it.  Ambulances rolled up and he pointed.  They got the victims assessed and off within minutes.  He looked at the sorry man then at the officers.  "Want me to get him back?"

"No, that's okay.  Where did you come from?"

"His apartment.  My daughter's up there."

"Oh, her boyfriend?"  The cop just nodded at that and walked off.  "I hope it's a happy relationship, Detective."

"Thanks."  He watched them go.  Then he whistled.  "Xander?"  He came out of the shadows.  "Are you all right?"

"I'm fine."  He grinned.  "Though I don't think I could date your daughter.  She's a bit nice and young for my tastes."  He pinched him on the side.  "Coming?"

"In a few.  Let me call the owners for the doorman."  He nodded and went inside.  Elliot calmed himself down before going to the doorman's desk.  The number was taped to the wall.  He called it.  "Sir, this is Detective Stabler....  Yes, Xander's friend.  There was a shooting outside his building and the doorman did get a slight injury.  He's already been taken, the guy was arrested.  Yes, sir, that way you know what happened.  Thank you."  He hung up and went back upstairs, going to baby Xander.  He found Maureen giving him odd looks.  "What?"

"He came in and changed his shirt.   The dog decided I was a pillow."

"He did good holding the idiot in place," he said with a smile.  "So did Xander.  Speaking of, Xander...."  He came out of the bedroom in a different t-shirt.  "No, change."

Xander looked at Maureen.  "Do you mind if I wear a Hooter's t-shirt?  I did time in one's kitchen."

"Not a problem with me.  I feel sorry for those poor girls who couldn't make it as a stripper."

He grinned.  "Some did at my former one."  He kissed Elliot.  "I'm fine, dear.  You know I only react when I have to.  This time I had to."

"You're not a cop."

"Which is why I only knocked him down.  If I had been playing cop I would've cuffed and frisked him like you did."  He gave him a sexy grin and shifted closer.  "You deserve a reward."

He stared at him.  "You ran after the guy."

"You weren't that fast."  He grinned.  "I'm good at running after fleeing things."  He took another kiss.  "Not like they minded."

"No, they certainly didn't."  He took a real kiss, moaning a bit.  "Fine.  I'll reward myself later."  He got a wink and another wicked smirk before Xander sprawled in his chair again.  He coughed and sat down, watching his daughter giggle while petting the dog.  "He's trying to stay out of trouble."

"I'm sure he tries very hard," she teased.

Xander nodded. "Now and then."  She giggled again.  "Though I did promise your mother that unless you needed me to do that for you, I'd never get you into it, never do it in front of you, and never let it get near you."

"Good.  I like that."  She went back to petting the dog.  "He's a good dog."  Fluffy barked.  "Yes, you are.  You're a good boy."  She had to lean back when he started to growl.

"Fluffy, she's not your last mommy.  She won't be drugging you," Xander said sharply.  "Stop it!"  He settled down.  "C'mere."  He patted his lap and the dog came over.  "Sorry, his last mommy was evil to him."

"I figured it was something like that," she said, getting comfortable again.  "So, three months?"  Xander nodded.  Elliot smiled and nodded.  "How's the other stuff going?"

Elliot looked at her.  "We're taking that slowly too, Maureen, not that you need to know."

"Sorry, I'm your daughter.  I should worry that the next one you take up with after my mother is either worse in bed than she was or makes you so happy that it's worth all the problems."

"He's more than worth all the problems," he assured her.  Xander grinned at that.  "Even if he did tell your mother I wouldn't spank him."  She burst out laughing.

"That was her reaction too," Xander said happily.  She gave him a hug then her father one before leaving.  "Need a ride?" he called before the door could shut.

"I've got money for a cab.  If he drives me home the others will pounce."

"If that's what you need, I'm not going to take him from you guys," Xander promised.  "I'd rather be your friend than your future step-parent, Maureen."

"Know anything about prom gowns?"

"Unfortunately I do," he admitted dryly.  "Quite a lot."

She smirked.  "Then we can go looking.  Mine's next year.  Daddy?"

"I wouldn't mind."  He looked at Xander, who gave him a kiss.  "You sure?"

"They're your kids. You need to spend time with them.   I'll be magnificent and cuddly later or some other night."  Elliot nodded, giving him another kiss before leaving.  He smiled at the dog.   "That went very well, Fluffy, but you are going to have to get over your problem with women telling you you're a good boy."  The tail started.  He nuzzled the top of the dog's head.  "I love you and you're a very good boy."  The dog barked and got up to lick his face.  "I love you too."  He got up to get him a treat and to play with him.  There wasn't anything on tv tonight so he could only wait to see if Elliot came back later.


Maureen looked at her father three hours later.  "Why are you still here?"

"I was hoping your mother and I could talk," he said.  "Are you really...."

"I'm fine with it, Dad!  Geeze, get a clue."  She patted him on the cheek.  "Any siblings?"

"No, only Buffy and Willow."

"Pity, I could use a man who knows how to shop."  She headed for the kitchen.  "Mom, Dad wanted to know if you wanted to talk or if you're not done with your ice cream eating moment yet."

"Not tonight."

"See, Dad.  Now, go back to his house."  She smirked.  "Go sneak in on him.  Otherwise he'll sleep with the dog tonight."

"I might wake him up."

"Don't have a key?" she teased.

"He had to have the locks changed a week ago and I keep forgetting to pick it up," he admitted.  He shrugged.  "I don't want to wake him up if he's asleep."

"Dad, *way* flimsy reason.  Hello, if he's a bouncer, he works late hours," Maureen told him.  He smiled.  "Or are you scared that he'll flee?"

"No, he won't flee," he said quietly.  He gave her a hug.  "You'll make an excellent counselor some day soon."

"Good.  Now go!  Your boy needs you."  She walked him out to his car, then jogged back inside.  She even remembered to lock the door and turn on the security system.  "Okay, he's gone, Mom."

She smiled at her daughter.  "Did you like him?"

"I did. He was nice.  Even if he did go to walk the dog and someone started to shoot the doorman so he had to pounce him until Dad got there."  Her mother moaned.  "He told me he's not going to do it around me. I was upstairs looking down from the window."

"That's fine, dear.  Anything else happen?"

"His dog's adorable but apparently his last master was a bitch and hurt him."  She nodded at that.  "I told him he was a good dog and he growled."

"His former mother used to drug him."

"No wonder!"  She sat down across from her mother.  "They were cute.  He kissed Dad in front of me."

"They kept it very discreet in the restaurant."

"He was trying to get out of trouble for pouncing the shooter."

"Ah."  She nodded wisely.  "Redirection does work for some.  You don't mind?"

"Nope.  He even said he'd go prom looking with me.  He said he knew a lot about the gowns and stuff."

"His friend Buffy was a fashionable sort."

"So he's used to shopping girls.  Pity he doesn't have a sibling.  I could use a shopping man."  She sighed and looked at her mother, who was shaking her head.  "Do you mind?"

"I don't know.  I mind that he's happy but that's the former relationship talking."  She ate another bite of ice cream.  "But I don't mind that he's happy with Xander.  Xander clearly needs someone to hold onto him and keep him safe.  It doesn't seem like he's had a lot of love in his life."  She nodded.  "He said his parents were drunks so maybe it's that."  She finished her ice cream, putting the bowl aside.  "I do like how he makes your father have fun.  Elliot taught Xander how to bowl recently."

She smirked.  "I bet it was cute."  Her mother nodded.  "Do you mind them?"

She considered the very real question.  The kids would hate him if she minded the new man in her husband's life.  They wouldn't give him a chance, they'd work to break them apart, they'd make Xander miserable.  Did she really mind that her husband had a firm, young boy toy of his own?  Well, on some levels she did.  Then again she knew her husband had cheated on he during their marriage.  He had that same happy look he used to have when they were younger.  Before Elliot joined SVU, when all they had was Maureen.  "He makes him happy."

"Dad said it was like when you guys were still a new couple," she agreed.  "I'm hoping twenty years from now you two don't have an ex-wives club."

"He'll be too old to get something firm and pretty then," her mother said.  She gave her a look.  "I like Xander.  I would adore the boy."

"If he wasn't with Dad?"

"No, I don't think that'll be a problem.  It'll take some getting used to.  I can't imagine them having sex like we did.  I don't take Xander as a romantic really and Elliot needs some of that now and then."

"Xander said they're not moving in together for a while because he's enjoying doing the dating stuff.  Apparently he hasn't had a lot of that before."

Her mother smiled.  "He's so young."

"Mom, I doubt he had a lot of chances to be a young guy," Maureen told her.  She nodded at that.  "Maybe that's how Dad's getting his mushy fix."

"Maybe," she agreed with a sigh at the end.  "They are well suited.  You could see that at dinner.  How did your talk go?"

"He went to change, giving us some time alone.  Then he came out after about fifteen minutes.  He got me some chocolate and a soda."  Her mother smiled.  "We all talked, then he went to take the dog for a walk and ran into the idiot shooting the doorman.  Dad went to help him and they came up together, where Xander tried to say he deserved a reward for helping and not pretending to be a cop since he only pounced him.  We did a bit more talking then I decided I was going to gag on the sugar they were flowing toward each other so Dad brought me home. Xander insisted he spend time with his kids."

"He sounds like the sort of man I could come to call a friend."

"That's what he said.  He said he wanted to be our friends instead of a future step-parent.  I thought that was pretty cool.  He's clearly not trying to get between you and Dad."

"No, he's not," she agreed quietly.  "He's trying to find a spot for himself but not take mine."  Her daughter nodded.  "It'll take some getting used to but I think it'll be okay.  Did he say when they were moving in when you mentioned it?"

"Just that it'd be after the holidays since Xander was enjoying doing the dating stuff.  They've only been together three months, this was their eighteenth date tonight."  She looked surprised.  "He did talk a bit about a few people in his past because apparently one of his crew's former girlfriends came back to gather him and gave Xander something that he didn't particularly want.  He explained it about that way."  Her mother nodded.  "He was a nice guy."

"He is.  I thought they'd been together longer."

"No, he said he's only been in town just under four months."

"Huh."  She got up to get some more ice cream.  "I don't mind if you kids make up your own minds about him, Maureen.  I'm still trying to do the same thing.  On one hand I want to cuddle him and mother him.  On the other I want to hate him because he has my husband."

"Mom, it's been a while since you've really *had* dad," she reminded her.

"I know but it doesn't make it any easier.  Some day you'll have a boyfriend you'll feel like that about."

"Hopefully it won't come with a restraining order."

Her mother gave her a look.  "I'm not going to stalk him."

"Dad was worried he'd run after meeting you."

"I think he's worried he's going to run now that he sees how serious this is.  He's not sure he's ready to have something serious, even if it is good for him and it helps him."  She got her daughter some ice cream too, sitting down again.  "Here, we could use it."

"Thanks.  So, what about the others?  I'm not looking forward to Dad trying to explain gay things to Dickie."

Her mother snickered. "I like his idea that we introduce him as your father's friend and then from there."  She nodded that she liked it too, licking off her spoon.  "Then what?"


"If they like him I wouldn't mind," she decided.  It felt good and right.  She knew Xander would never hurt her kids and would probably protect them if something did happen.  She smiled at her daughter.  "You're sure you're okay with it?"

"He took one hotty guy out of the sea but I can't begrudge dad an eye for beauty.  He does pick pretty things to like."  Her mother blushed.  She smiled.  "Want to start talking about this tomorrow with the others?"   She ate another bite of ice cream. "On the way to school say Dad's got a new friend and he'll probably be around now and then?"

"I think I'll wait, make sure Elliot doesn't run or do something stupid.  He has in the past."

"Hmm.  I'm wondering how work things are going."

"They're not that homophobic on the force these days, dear."

"Get real, Mom."

"Fine but I'm sure he can handle it."  Her daughter nodded.  "Good.  Why are you going prom shopping already?"

"Looking at the styles, seeing what's on sale.  If something really great hits me I'll hit Dad up now and point out how nice the sales are.  Then we can spend the rest of the time organizing hair, jewelry, shoes, that stuff."

"Decent of you."

"Mom, a few of the girls spent over six thousand on their dress alone last year."

"I'd commit homicide," her mother said firmly.

"See, a good reason to look off season.  The sales."  She smiled and took her ice cream up to her room to eat and think in peace.  She'd have to arrange some thinking.  Her father was with a guy and her mind was getting stuck on it.  She called his cellphone.  "Tell me you went home."  He said he was at his place.  "That's not home for you, Dad.  Because if you run now, it'll send the wrong message to him.  Mom and I agree, the boy needs cuddled and held by someone who wants to smother him in attention.  No, we had this talk over ice cream," she said, taking another bite.  "No, it's cool, but Mom thought you might be doing something stupid by running.  What would you think if the positions were reversed, Dad?"  She smirked.  "Exactly.  So get your ass home."  She hung up on him chastising her for swearing.  He'd get over it soon enough.


Elliot hung up with her, shaking his head and muttering about his daughter.  He called Xander's phone, getting an almost instant answer. "Hey."  He smiled at the happy babble coming back.  "Have more chocolate?"  He laughed at the certain lie when he told him no.  He yawned.  "No, I'm exhausted," he admitted.  Xander kindly told him to go to bed. "I am in bed.  I'm laying here thinking I picked the wrong place to sleep at tonight."  Xander told him it was fine, that he knew he wasn't abandoning him, but he heard the fear and uncertainty in his voice.  "I'm not, Xander.  You know that.  Even if I can't remember to pick up the new key I'm not leaving you."  He laughed at the 'it's in your glovebox'.  "Sneaky," he teased.  Xander said something and he moaned, shifting on his bed.  "I can come over if you want."  He yawned again, he was really tired.  It had been an exhausting dinner with the worry.  "No, I can drive.  If you want to come over you can."  He smiled. "Fluffy too," he agreed.  Xander hung up and he hung up, changing into pajamas.  He always slept better with Xander in the bed with him.  He answered the door when someone knocked, staring at Olivia.  "Hi. Bad timing."

"Bringing over a call girl?"

"No, Xander and the dog are on the way over."

"Again?  Can't you just shake him?"

He glared at her.  "Why would I want to, Olivia?  I like Xander a lot.  I introduced him to Kate earlier."  She gaped at him.  "And Maureen since she got a bit pushy.  I'm with Xander.  You're going to have to accept it or switch partners."  He heard the heavier tread on the stairs and nodded.  "You should go."

"I came to talk."

"We can talk tomorrow.  I'm exhausted and he's on his way over."

She huffed off.  She saw Xander on the stairs.  "Listening?" she sneered.

"Letting you two have some privacy," Xander said bluntly.  "I don't get in the middle of his work problems unless he asks me to.  I figured if it was case related, I could head back home and he wouldn't have to worry about saying things he shouldn't in front of me."

"You have no idea what we do.  What we see."

He stared her down.  "How would you know, Olivia?  You have no idea what I've seen in my past life.  Or how bad it got.  You'd be very surprised what I've seen.  Now, if you want to continue this, let's do it at a decent hour when we're not disturbing Elliot's neighbors.  I doubt they appreciate the argument."  She stomped off.  He finished coming up the stairs with the dog on the leash.  "Sorry," he said quietly.

"No, it's all right."  He smiled at him.  "You didn't yell.  You didn't get into a pissing contest.  You were thinking about my neighbors, which I usually don't," he admitted with a small smile.  Xander relaxed. "Come on, let's sleep."  He closed the door and unhooked Fluffy.  "There you go.  Let me get you some water."  He did that and found Xander undoing the blankets on his bed.  He smiled and pounced him, driving him down so he could hold him.  "Better?"

"I don't want to cause you trouble at work, El."

"You're not, Xan.  Everyone else is very happy for me."

"She's your partner.  That's a closer bond."

Elliot kissed him gently.  "You're my boyfriend and that's closer yet.  She'll get over it eventually.  She....  She decided she wanted more than what we have at work again."

"So you addicted her?" he teased.  He ran a hand under Elliot's t-shirt, making him shiver.  "Naughty you."

"Naughty me?  Naughty you," he teased back, pinching him.  "You're not a superhero."

"You're not either."

"I have a gun."

"I left mine at home," he said dryly, giving him a look.  "I tackled him from behind, Elliot.  He didn't see me coming."

"You're still in trouble for doing that."  He kissed him again. "But I'll let you off if you cuddle."

"I love to cuddle, you know that."  He snuggled in, the one hand still playing in his chest hair.  The other was holding him.  Elliot got them covered and they snuggled in to sleep.  Xander stole a long, deep kiss.  "Some day soon we'll have to do this naked," he whispered.

"Whenever we're both ready, Xander."


Elliot smiled.  "Desperate?"

"I guess I'm getting the same sort of addiction."

Elliot gave him a squeeze.  "Soon," he promised.  Xander wiggled.  "Sleep, Xan.  I need to sleep."  Xander nodded, closing his eyes so he could sleep with him.  Elliot considered it.  It hadn't been often he went three months without sex.  Even during his marriage he hardly ever went more than two.  Even when things started to go bad he hardly ever went more than two months without sex.  He looked down at Xander.  "Yeah, it'll be soon."

"Spanking games?" he mumbled.

Elliot laughed, kissing him on the forehead.  He made pouty, kissy lips and begging noises so he gave him a real kiss. "If you're lucky someday I'll play spanking games."  Xander smiled and rubbed against him a few times then fell fully asleep.  His lover was very unique.  Then again, more than one and the world might be in trouble.  He made sure the alarm was still on and settled in to sleep as well.  He needed his rest.  He heard the dog hop onto the couch and that was fine with him.  That was Fluffy's spot at home too.


Two weeks later, Elliot finally made it back to Xander's.  He was exhausted.  He had two different kidnaped kids in the last two weeks and it had taken most of that time to find them.  Fortunately both were all right but still exhausting.  He walked into the house and Xander came out to meet him, taking his jacket from him.  "I've had shitty day," he said hoarsely.

Xander kissed him. "Let me make it better," he offered.  He undid his shirt and tie, then ran his hands up his chest.  Elliot looked at him.  "Want to talk?"

"No.  I'm too tired to talk."  He kissed Xander, backing him into a wall.  Xander let him do whatever he wanted and it was soothing.  "This okay?" he asked between kisses.

"I've been missing it too," he said with a grin.  He pinched a nipple, earning a hiss and being held against the wall by his arms while his boyfriend took control of everything.  It was good not being the strong one for a change.  Finally Elliot pulled back to look at him.  "Want me to make you take a nap?"  His lover growled.  "Let's go into the bedroom.  Let me turn off the oven first."  He wiggled free to do that then came out and led Elliot into bed, pushing him backward onto it.  He got his shoes and socks off, then undid his belt and pants, tugging them off.  The shirt and undershirt got tossed aside too.  Then Xander smiled at the bare body.  "Nice."  Eliot blushed.  He stripped himself down and laid next to him, kissing him, drawing the possessive, needy side back to the surface.  Elliot finally pinned him to the bed, rubbing against him while they kissed.  "Want more?" Xander panted, arching up into him.  "You need more."

"I do need more," he agreed.  "Can you handle more?"

Xander pulled back to look at him.  "You're not the first but you're not over the fourth either."  Elliot grinned at that.  "Usually some clumsy fooling around admittedly."  He kissed him again before wiggling down his body.  Elliot rolled back onto his back, letting him do whatever he wanted.  They had touched, they had rubbed, they had kissed and groped before but this time Elliot was going to be shown why Xander was the next best thing to winning the lottery after a crappy day.  Elliot moaned when Xander moved down to his cock, nearly straining because the boy was teasing him.  "How bad of a day did you have?  Like suspended bad day or just new cases bad day?"

"New cases, paperwork, bosses bitching because it took so long, we're over budget and we complained about it.  That sort of bad day.  The shit rolls downhill sort of bad day."

"Poor baby," Xander soothed, leaning down to lick gently over his cock, making Elliot whimper.  "My poor boy.  You need soothed."  He did it again and Elliot growled.  He grinned.  "Did you want more than that?"

"Yes, please, now," he ordered.  Xander went down on him and it was one of the sweetest things he had ever felt.  "Oh, damn, you're good."  Xander hummed and nodded, letting im set the rhythm he wanted.  He pushed up and the mouth came down.  "Ah, you want me in control."  Xander bobbed his head.  "You asked for it."  He rolled them onto their sides and got to work on his mouth.  It was a great mouth, a warm, wet, slurping, licking, teasing mouth.  He loved this mouth for other reasons before but now he saw the true value of it.  It was going to drive him insane soon.  "Xander," he moaned.

Xander pulled off with a slurp and a swallow.  "One question.  Topping or bottoming tonight, El?  If you're bottoming, I can do the other fun stuff too."

"Let me top for now.  We'll work on me bottoming some other time," he said smugly, making the mouth do its new other job for him.  Which it was happy to do.  He felt a finger be inched back and smacked the back of the soft hair.  "None of that."

"But it feels nice," Xander teased, pulling back to nibble gently on the side of it.  "Very nice."

"Uh-huh.  You're trying to pounce me tonight and I'm doing the pouncing.  You said you wanted me in control."  He pulled him back up.  "Lube?" he asked with a teasing smile.  Xander pointed, spreading out for him.  "Anything you won't do?"

"Doggy style is a permanent mating thing for me."

"That's fine, we can do anything but that," he agreed, grabbing the lube from the canister beside the bed. He went down to tease his boy.  "I won't get you off and then do it."

"Thanks," he panted, growling and arching up into his lover's mouth.  "Elliot, if you're doing that, do more.  If not, use the lube.  Please!" he ordered.  Elliot laughed and slicked a finger to go at him at the same time.  It was so good!  Elliot was a bit forceful and he loved not being the one having to do everything.  Not being the one on top.  Not having to worry about preparing someone else.  He spread himself out wantonly and Elliot took advantage of his willingness.   He dove in and had him ready before Xander could form more than begging noises.  Then he  pushed his way in, moving up to kiss him again.  "More," he pleaded.

"Coming up," he said, pulling back to thrust in harder.  "Mine."

"Yours.  More?"

"Naughty."  He slammed in and Xander howled, arching up for the next one.  "I should turn you over."

"Only if you consider this a ring-worthy moment," he panted.  He knocked Elliot onto his back, riding him.  "Sorry, but the possession stuff means that only my mate, my mate for life, gets me like that."  He leaned down to kiss him, taking him as hard as he could and loving it.  He was getting closer when Elliot put him back onto his back. "Hey, mine!" he complained.

Elliot laughed and slowed them down.   "I'm not ready yet, Xander."  He went back to teasing his boy.  His boy was so wanton, so slutty at this moment. He shifted his weight down to get more power behind his thrusts, earning a purring noise from the deep throat under him.  He nibbled on it and Xander whimpered prettily for him.  "Keep it up, Xander.  Watch me use you and then put you away wet."

"Not a bad idea."  Xander arched up again but Elliot didn't let him roll them over.  "More, please more?  I'll beg."

"You already are," he assured him happily.  "Don't worry, I have you.  Too impatient."

"I have more stamina than you and I can get it back up again in thirty minutes," Xander panted.  "Or less if I'm motivated by a good blow job."  Elliot laughed and paused so Xander flipped them over and went to town marking his mate.  He got his neck where the collar should cover it.  He got his shoulder.  He picked up a hand to suck on a wrist, giving Elliot chills.  All through this his hips were never paused.  His greediness got what it needed and his needy tendencies were howling in pleasure.  "Want...want to...come first?" he panted.

Elliot pulled out and pushed Xander onto his stomach.  "I should do this to you," he said in his ear, making him shiver.  "Just to see what you'd do."

"Then you'd never be able to leave me, El."

"I know.  You can explain that to me later."  He shot off across his back, making him moan and whimper at the loss.  "Behave and the next one's in you."

Xander pushed his hips back.  "Play with me?"

"Of course I am."  He went back to his playing.  Xander did have a lot of stamina.  He might be ready to blow but he could hold off if he needed to.  He finally got him to come and let him collapse across him.  "That's my boy," he said, stroking his back.

Xander lifted his head.  "I should bite."

Elliot smiled.  "I think you already did that."  He pulled him up to kiss him.  "I didn't mean to be so rough."

"It was nice not being the one to push someone against the wall to have them."  Elliot moaned.  He looked down at him.  "Never bottomed?"  He shook his head. "Then we should make that special," he teased.  "Maybe a nice dinner out and things."  He stole another kiss then laid down.  "More in a few when I recover."

Elliot laughed.  "It's going to take me longer, Xander.  I'm nearly twice your age."

Xander looked up at him.  "We'll see.  I have my ways."  He winked and put his head back on his shoulder, tracing the new bruise on his throat.  "That should be able to be hidden."

"Thank you for that."

"Welcome."  He kissed the mark and snuggled in.  Elliot let out a sigh of pleasure and let himself drift off being held and adored.  Xander waited until he was fully asleep then wiggled free and got some things, bringing them back.  He wiggled back into the arms and Elliot sniffed him. "Getting something for the next round."


"No, that's in the oven."  He kissed him and Elliot smiled, going back to sleep.  "That's my boy."  The smile got brighter and Elliot finished relaxing, drifting fully off now.  Xander took his own nap, waking up when Elliot kissed him.  "Hi."

"Hi.  What's with the box?"

Xander smiled.  "An encouragement."

"Hmm.  Can I see?"

"In a few minutes."  He took another kiss then wiggled until he could clean Elliot's cock off with a baby wipe.  Elliot smiled at that kindness, then he had to gasp when Xander went down on him like he was a five minute blow.  He was gripping the sheets, straining up, making the sweetest begging noises, and it was turning Xander into an Elliot-starved sex fiend.  That's why he pulled out the first of the encouragement set.  It was a nice toy, about four inches long and about two wide. It was bright orange with sparklies.  Xander let Elliot go, leaving him a good few minutes before he came, taking the time to stretch out so Elliot got to watch him tease himself.

"Have I mentioned how naughty you are tonight?" Elliot demanded, watching the toy pleasure his lover for him.  It'd cut down on the time he'd be in him this time because they were both going to blow.  "Why are we doing it this time?"

"Because I can get two to your one," Xander moaned, arching his hips up.  "This way, you can have a lot more."

"Ah."  He shifted to take over the toy's movements, teasing him with it for now.  Xander whimpered, a lovely, needy sound that made his cock twitch.  He looked in the box, picking out something bigger to hold up.  "I don't know anyone who's really this size."

"Ex," he panted.  "Stripper."

"Really?"  He stopped the toy.  "A real ex?"

"Friend.  He wanted some one night.  He was my first, we were fooling around, that's all he got and then he went home."

"I can accept that."  He kissed him and went back to playing with him.  Another toy got chosen and he switched them out.  Xander's thighs shifted out to give him more room.  "You do look pretty like this."  Xander nodded at that, making him laugh.  "A bit vain?"

"Know I do. You're smiling at me," he panted.  He flipped over.  "More?"

"I thought you said..."

"Toys aren't mates."

Elliot moaned, using it on him, making him get off.  He slowed down but Xander's hips made him speed up again.  They were going to do it if he wasn't.  He watched him have a short recovery time and then start to get hard slowly.  "I thought you were joking."

"Last one should've been a succubus.  Went nine hours once," he moaned, wiggling his ass.  "Elliot, please!"

"Please what, Xander?"


Elliot stopped the toy.  "Please what, Xander?" he asked again.  Xander whimpered.  He kissed his back and shifted up.  "Do you want that with me?" he asked in his ear.  He got a nod.  "Tonight?"  He nodded again frantically.  "Is it just me covering you?  What if we switch to spooning?"  He shifted him that way, watching as the boy melted back into his arms once he had slid inside.  He was still so warm, still very tight, still very wanton.  It was so good to slide into the home he had made.  Xander was making those pretty begging noises again so he sped up some.  The position limited harder movement but that was fine.  He wanted to drive Xander insane this time.  It was some need in him to claim Xander, make sure he knew he was going to be his for a good, long time.  That he was going to take care of him, love him, spoil him, and hold him.

The cuddle was getting him as hot as the sex and that meant he wasn't getting free of this one.  It hadn't been like this since before Maureen was born.  He urged Xander to move with him, getting him back to his knees.  Xander let out a nervous sounding chuckle so he nipped him on the shoulder, then slammed in once.  Xander went limp and pliable beneath him.  It was so nice.  He rode him as long as he could, taking and giving, nibbling on his neck.  There was no way he was covering that hickey for the next week - it covered the whole right side of his throat.  He finally came and Xander growled, flipping them around, looking down at him, staring into his eyes.  "Yours," he said gently.  "Like you're mine, I'm yours."

Xander sniffed his neck, licking over it, marking his scent on him.  He shifted down to lick his nipples, his chest, his belly button, getting a small laugh.  Xander looked up at him, tilting his head to the side.  "Really mine?"

"Really yours."

Xander picked up the bottle of lube, holding it up.  "Truly mine?"

Elliot knew what he was asking and nodded.  "Be gentle."

"I'll try, but you've got me in a possessive mood now."  He went down to play with him and tease him first.  His tongue was a good way to stretch him and the spit was a good first lube.  Elliot shrieked when his tongue entered him and started to dance with the delicate muscles.  Xander laughed and did it again, getting a quieter shriek this time.

"Fluffy, I'm fine," Elliot panted.  "Go lay down, Fluffy."

"Couch, we're bitches in heat," he ordered.  The dog went back to his couch.  Xander grinned at him.  "Or don't you feel like that?"  He dove in again, making Elliot wiggle, tense, shift, and spread out eventually when he gave in to the strange feelings the tongue was giving him.  Then the lube and the fingers came.  It was just as nice.  Xander was a bit gentle with him.  Finally he wanted more so he grunted and pushed back.  The fingers pulled out and he took a deep breath, getting ready for this.  Xander started to slide in and he noticed he was staring at him.  "Gently," Xander promised.  He slowly slid in, getting a moan of relief when he finally made it.  Elliot's hole greedily gobbled up all his cock, taking it, squeezing it, giving as good of a job as Xander's blow earlier had been.  He worked him gently at first, making him beg for it to go harder and faster.

Elliot gave up on the begging.  Xander would give it to him but he knew what he was waiting for.  He pulled off and got onto his knees and Xander pounced.  He was slid back into and the end of the tender and gentle began.  His whole world shrank down to the sliding in his ass and the feeling of the cock stretching and rubbing past the delicate muscles guarding it.  Then the wonderful hand came around to tease his cock.  Elliot nearly prayed to it for being so wonderful.  He felt Xander come in his ass and whimpered but the hand kept going, getting him off one last time.  Then Xander gently bit him on the shoulder, laying him down on his side, moving in front of him to hold him.  "I'll get you back for that later," he said, swallowing the extra spit in his mouth.

Xander kissed him to share it, his mouth was dry.  "I'm looking forward to it, baby."  Elliot pinched him.  "Hey!  Even I need a nap."  Elliot laughed and they cuddled, falling back asleep together.  They'd eat in the tub after this, then maybe have another round before they slept.  They'd decide how sore and needy they were after their soak in bubbles.


Elliot woke up with a moan.  He stretched and didn't wince.  "Whatever your tongue did for bedtime worked wonders," he told Xander, kissing him awake.

Xander smiled.  "Welcome.  Knew you'd like that."  He yawned then kissed him again.  "What time is it?"

Elliot looked and moaned.  "Six-thirty and I have to be in at seven."

"Borrow clothes, Elliot.  Next time bring some over."  Elliot smiled and got up to see if he could fit into his dress pants and one of his looser overshirts.  Xander watched him head for a quick shower, then come out to slide into the borrowed clothes.  Xander got up to put his belt and gun onto him, earning a smile.  "You have a great day today," he whispered, taking a kiss.  "Remember I'm yours and everything else is window dressing or mayonnaise."  He took another kiss.  "Be a good boy and bring clothes tonight.  I'll do dinner since I'm off."  Elliot smiled and slid into his shoes, bending down to tie them.  A gentle hand came over to caress his backside, earning a look.  "Making sure it's fine," Xander teased, stroking over where his hole was.  "Be a good boy and I will be too."  Elliot took a fast, hard kiss, then left to go to work.  Xander laid back down, smiling and getting comfortable.  Half the time he was barely getting to bed at this hour.  He really needed a better daytime job so he and Elliot were on the same schedule.  He'd have to look later when he finally got up again.


Elliot walked into work.  "Sorry I'm late, Cap," he said.

He looked at his watch then at his clothes, smirking a bit.  "New?"

"Borrowed."  He sat down and realized he only twinged a bit.  It'd be okay today.  He looked at John, who was giving him an odd look.  "What?"

"Wondering about the shirt too."

Elliot looked down then at him.  "What's wrong with it?"

"A bit more hip than your usual standard," John teased.

Elliot shrugged.  "It happens when you borrow."  John smirked.  "No comment."

"Uh-huh."  He came over to look at his neck, tugging up the collar just a bit.  "It's a little low."  He got himself some coffee and refilled Elliot's puppy cup, earning a smile.  "What was your dinner?"

"We had a casserole last night.  Xander cooked."  He sipped his coffee and grimaced.  "What is that?"

John tasted his.  "Mine taste's fine."  He sipped his cup and grimaced.  "Tastes like lighter fluid."  He went to pour it out, sniffing the cup.  "Smells like lighter fluid too, Elliot."

"I'll kill someone," he vowed quietly.  His captain gave him a look.  "Lighter fluid in my cup."

"Interesting."  He took the cup to check over, finally letting Elliot have it so he could wash it thoroughly.  "Lock them in your drawer, Elliot. That way night shift can't play pranks."

"Why not, they rearranged my desk," Elliot said, looking inside.  "By the way, whoever has my backup gun, I want it back."  His captain came over to look.  "I put my ankle holster one in the box," he said, pointing at it.  "Notice it's open and gone?"

"Who knows that?"

Elliot shrugged.  "John?"

"I didn't notice."  He called Fin.  "My man, you're late."  He listened to him complain about traffic.  "That's fine.  Did you see anyone in Elliot's desk?"  He nodded.  "Thanks.  No, removed his backup gun."  He hung up.  "IAB was here last night for some reason."

"Really?  That's interesting," Cragen said, going to call them.  "It's Cragen in SVU.  You will be in my office in ten minutes with whatever of your people was in my detective's desk and you had better have a good damn reason."  He hung up and walked out there.  "Any ideas why?"

"I haven't hit a perp, I haven't even had to yell at a perp.  Xander?" he asked.

"Possibly.  They are the anti-fun league," John reminded him.  He gave him a look.  "What did he do now?"

"No comment," he said dryly, earning a smirk.  "Beyond that, no clue."  Two assholes in suits walked in and he followed them into the office.  "One of you took my backup gun?"

"We had nothing to do with that," one of them started.

Elliot held up a hand.  "If you didn't, then someone broke into my desk, took my backup gun, and then put lighter fluid in my coffee cup."

"Which is why I was here," the lower-ranking one admitted.  "To take fingerprints."

"Who did it come up?"

"We have yours, we have your partner's, and we have one unknown that comes up 'locked by order of the Pentagon'.  Who is that?"

Elliot called the apartment, getting a sleepy person.  "Your fingerprints are locked by the Pentagon?"  He listened to him mumble something.  "Where's the file?"  He nodded.  "I can ask him."  He hung up.  "The person they belong to hasn't been in the building."

"Excuse me?" the head of Internal Affairs asked.  "Who is it?"

Elliot slammed the door.  "My lover.  He hasn't been in the building."

"Where was he yesterday while you were out," the lower one demanded.

Elliot considered it.  "As far as I know he was grocery shopping, sleeping in, and taking the dog to be groomed."  They both gaped.  He got his coffee cup and showed them the picture, slamming the door again.  "His dog Fluffy."

"That's a big Fluffy," the lower-ranking one said, looking confused.  "He hasn't been here?"

"No.  Hit redial and ask him."  He did that and then shook his head, hanging up.  "He answer?"

"He did and he said he didn't know how his fingerprints got here.  He sounded fairly awake.  Why are they locked?"

"He said to ask Taylor about that.  Taylor told him he knew about it, had helped end the problem, which is all he said, and that he had the full files probably stuffed somewhere in case they came back."

"Where did he meet Taylor?" Cragen asked, looking confused.

"The house with the skeletons. Taylor's crew got called in to help with the exhumations in the floor and they let Xander stay to crack the floor panels for them.  That's the same day he got fired for taking command of the scene when the body got found."

"Okay," the head of IAB said.  "So your lover is a construction worker?"

"Was, he's a bouncer now.  The construction company didn't like that he assumed command over the boss when he found the first body.  He used to lead his own crew and it had been a problem before."

"That's fine, I can understand that," the lower-ranking guy said.  "You see it when we bust a guy down too.  So how did his prints get here?"

Cragen answered his phone.  "Cragen."  He listened.  "Send him up.  Please.  Thanks."  He hung up.  "Ask him yourself."

Elliot looked at his watch.  "That was fast."  Xander walked in and into the office.  "That was quick."

"I was in a cab the second time you guys called."  He looked at them.  "I'll gladly submit to a comparison sample, but this is the second time I've been in the building and the first up here.  The other time I dropped something off for John and left again."

"What did you drop off?"

"He needed a comprehensive report on how I found the first dwarf body."

"Oh."  They both nodded at that.

Elliot looked at Xander.  "Someone tampered with my coffee cup too."

Xander stared at him.  "Childish asshole who doesn't want me to have you?"

"Or another officer with the same urge," he admitted.

"Hmm.  Where might she be?"

"She might be in DC," Cragen admitted.  "She left last night for a special project."

"I remember her saying she was going but I thought it was this weekend," Elliot said.

"They called her early.  They found a leak already."  That got a nod of understanding.  "So I'm not sure what to do."

"I am.  I want my backup piece back," Elliot told them.

"If not, can he use my personal sidearm that I keep at home?" Xander asked Cragen, who shrugged. "It's licensed to me."

"I don't care.  If he wants.  That was his ankle gun, Xander."

Xander nodded.  "Okay.  I can deal with that."  He looked at the other two.  "Is there a problem coming from you two?"

"No, sir.  Your name?"

"Xander Harris."  He looked at the head of IAB.  "On your behalf?"

"If he's not doing anything wrong, we don't care.  We have plenty doing something wrong.  In fact, you've kept him off our shit list for a while, young man."

Xander grinned.  "Always happy to help."  They both blushed and walked off.  He looked at Elliot.  "We can replace yours if they don't find it quickly.  Are you all right?"

"I spit out the coffee with the lighter fluid."

"Good.  Want me to wash your cup?"

"Please.  What did Taylor seal?"

"Remember when I told you about Riley and his fun group?"  Elliot nodded slowly, still looking confused.  "They were military and military backed, sweetie."  Elliot moaned.  "We took down a special ops group.  The military was not happy with us but then they found out what they were doing.  Taylor said he helped build the case for the trials."

"So he'd know enough to get them off your back," he said.  Xander nodded.  "I've only seen your Desert Talon."

Xander grinned.  "You haven't been in the storage closet either.  There's a reason for that. It's called I have a wide range of explosives that I'm licensed to use, but I didn't want to upset you by pulling any of it out."

"When do you clean them?"

"When you go home."  He grinned a cheesy grin.  "I love you."

"You're going to be paddled if I find things in that closet that should be military issue."

Xander considered it.  "Only one thing might be but it's older.  I'll hide it from you."  He skipped out.

"I'll beat you later," Elliot called after him, slamming the door so he could look at his captain, who was smirking at him.  "What?"

"I'd like to know what's in his supply closet too."

"If it's that bad, I'll call Taylor to hand it back to the original owners."  He walked back out to his desk, going through to see if anything else was missing.  He came out with a missing picture and noted it as well since it was one of his family.  Then he looked at John.  "Xander has a history of weapons and explosive work?"

John looked at him.  "Ask him."

"I did that once, he told me the statue of limitations hadn't run out yet."

John laughed.  "Was he talking about graduation or something else?"

"I don't know.  That's all the answer he gave me."

"Uh-huh.  Go play with your boy before he hides it from you," he said, making a shooing motion.

"Cap, I should...."

"Take today off since you're walking funny, yes you should," he agreed.  "And quit borrowing underwear that's too small."  Elliot moaned, heading down to his car.  He smirked at John.  "He does?"

"Oh, yeah.  He's a gear person.  They've had a number of things only artillery or explosives fixed.  Xander's got a very well known, well-documented history of weapons and explosives work and he has a demo license to work with everything *legal* in his supply closet I'm sure."

"What about the illegal stuff?"

John looked at him.  "I'm fairly certain he can hide those from Elliot."

"Think I should warn Taylor?"

"Nope.  Why ruin Xander's happy mood, Captain."  That got a laugh and he headed back into his office.  Fin strolled in. "Fashionably late."

"I about shot the person in front of me," Fin assured him.  "Middle of a good traffic jam and she decides to get some while they wait and make the rest of us, including a special ed bus, watch."  He sat down, looking at the other set of desks.  "Are they invisible?"

"Elliot went to see what Xander had to replace the ankle gun that got stolen out of his desk."  He looked at him.  "Olivia's apparently gone to the DC group for a bit."

"Someone broke into his desk?"

"Yup.  Check yours."  He did that, shrugging that it was fine.  "Good.  They even used Xander's fingerprints, which brought him down here.  He was not a happy camper and Elliot went to rush after him since his coffee cup had lighter fluid inside it this morning."


"We've already had IAB down here.  They said they were investigating who had broken into his desk."

"Even more interesting.  Now what?"

"Now, we have paperwork and then later on we have cases," he said dryly.  "The same as every day, Pinky."

"Why do I have to be the stupid mouse?"

"You were late."  He got up to get some more coffee, then came back to do some more paperwork.


Elliot walked into Xander's apartment, following the sounds his boy was making.  He looked in the closet over his lover's shoulder and moaned.  "Oh, god.  Please don't be a terrorist."

"Not funny, dear."

"Not meant to be!  That's a...."

Xander looked up at him.  "I know that."  He got back to work.  "The funny thing is, Dru got me a new one.  The updated version even."  He got back to work sorting things out.  "Here, try that for ankle size.  It's the second smallest I have. It's a thirty-eight."

Elliot looked at it then nodded.  "I can use that.  Thank you.  Is it registered?"  Xander nodded.  "All these are registered?"

"All but the new one."  He grinned at him.  "It's still awaiting paperwork."

"And the artillery?"

"Can I make you forget them?"

"No, you cannot," he assured him.  "No matter how good the sex is, I'll still remember that you have a claymore system."

Xander stood up and kissed him.  "Sometimes it was necessary, El.  Not like I'm using them now."

"What if someone breaks in here?"

Xander grinned. "The closet has its own security system."

Elliot stared at him.  "We're going to have to talk about this.  I am not dating Rambo."

"No, I have much better fashion sense and nicer weapons than the one knife and an AK, dear.  I look so sucky in headbands."  Elliot cracked a smile.  "I promise, it's safe."

"It's not safe.  What if the electricity is cut?"

"Who says it's an electrical one?  I had Willow put it on.  Then I made sure it worked."

"It does what?"

"Starts with a small shock and if you're stupid enough to keep going, gets more painful until you piss yourself, pass out, and beg for a demon to eat you."


"So the book said."

He considered that.  "Then I can probably deal with that system as long as I have the code."

"It's DNA coded.  You're in it.  I used your hairbrush."

"Even better."  He gave him a hug.  "You still don't need this many weapons.  Remember, this is New York.  If something that huge happens here, we've got government sorts who'll give us what we need and bill us later."

"Only if they believe there's a problem.  It'll probably be too late by the time we explain it."

"We show it to 'em.  They see, they freak, they figure out you're about as expert as it comes, they hand over something.  By the way, who did you sell the other stuff to?"

"Other Watchers and hunters."

"Nothing that could get you in trouble?"

"No.  There's a few species of demons that hunt the badder demons.  Mostly they went to them and Angel's group.  Wes got the Watchers to buy some of it."

"Good.  Get them to buy the rest of this so you can afford another shirt."  He kissed him.  "Please?  I'd feel better if I didn't have a paranoid person's arsenal here in the house."  He stared at him.  "And if there's more in your car, tell me now."


"I'll take that as a yes.  Get rid of it."

"Yes, sir.  Can I talk to Taylor first?  I know he's got some pull with whoever does the city's paranoia arsenal."

"Maybe.  He might confiscate everything."

"Yeah but for some of it that would be okay."

"If you say so.  As long as they're legal, won't be hurting people, and aren't idiots who'll shoot it off at the first sign of trouble, get rid of it."

"Then I can't sell to the Watchers?  They're a 'collateral damage happens' sort of group."

"Sell them the nicer stuff."

"Sure," he sighed.  He pulled out his phone to call someone.  "Hey, Gunn, it's Xander.  Is Wes there?  Because my lover just found my supply closet and he's a cop."  He heard the snickering.  "He is.  He's a very good cop.  Please?  Thanks."  He hung up.  "He'll call when they get him up."

"That'll work.  Let's go look at the other stuff.  Fluffy could go for a walk."

"I'd rather not."  Elliot gave him an odd look.  "DEA is watching another of the pods on my row for drugs.  If they see us, they might suspect us."

"That's reasonable.  I can check on that."

"I saw them two days ago when they stopped me.  I told them I had to check on the car I had in storage.  I didn't undo the hiding charms when they looked."

"Fine.  We can go some other time."

Xander sighed but nodded, answering his phone when it rang.  "It's me.  Hi, Wes.  No, Elliot found the closet.  Yup.  Anything artillery-y he wants gone."  He smiled and spit at him.  "Wesley sent that."  He laughed at the 'not exactly' stern chide.  "Close enough."  He nodded.  "Yup, and of course, I thought of your former employers first.  Well, we'd like it if it didn't go to those who hurt others, Wes.  Exactly."  Someone pounded on the door so he went to look out the spyhole, letting in the detective and CSI.  "Call you back, Wes."  He hung up.  "Detectives, what's up?"

"You sent them to talk to him?" Flack asked.

"If they needed to know why the Pentagon had sealed my fingerprints and file, yeah."  He nodded, looking at Mac, who was staring behind him at Elliot, who was looking at something.  "I won it during a kitten poker game."  They both gaped at him.  "He wants me to give it to the people who deal with the things overall instead of me."

"Might be a good idea, yeah," Flack agreed, smirking at him.

Xander shrugged.  "Sometimes it takes something like that."

"Xander, I don't even recognize this one," Elliot called.  He looked out.  "Hey, Taylor.  Flack.  You want to transfer in for a while?  My partner's in DC doing something."

"No thanks.  Don't need the nightmares.  Have enough already."

"I hear that a lot," he admitted.  "What is this?"

"Um, magical and I can't fire it in here or else it'll take out the next two apartments."  He put it back, letting them follow him.  "I've got it on a separate alarm system, guys.  I promise."

Mac looked then moaned.  "I shouldn't see half that."

"That's what I said," Elliot agreed. "He said some if it could be confiscated for the paranoia arsenal."

Mac looked at the boy.  "How did you know we have one?"

"The Watchers started it, Mac.  Of course you have one."  He gaped.  Xander shrugged and grinned a bit.   "I know it's probably a bit out of date."

"We updated it with some confiscated stuff recently," he assured him.  He looked behind him, his hand going to his gun, when he heard the 'pop' of displaced air.  "And you are?"

"That would be a Willow and a Wesley.  Wes, this is Mac Taylor and Detective Flack.  Detective Taylor is one of the guys who helped bring the Initiative down officially."

"Thank you," he said, shaking his hand.  "Xander, the Council wants an inventory list."  Xander went to dig one out for him.  He whimpered.  Mac snatched it to look at.  "Is that accurate?"

"And current with the thing that Dru gave me recently."

"Charming," Wesley said grimly.  "Well, I'm sure they wouldn't mind.  We do have arsenals all over the world.  They can probably use them somewhere."

"They can't have the swords."

"You only need six," Willow chided.

Xander looked at her.  "No I don't!"

"It's a guy thing," Flack told her.  "They're phallic."

"Actually, I look very hot with my swords and I know very well if something happens we don't have another source for them locally.  So no, I need the swords, the crossbows, that stuff.  I'll let them have the cursed lance though.  It's with the car.  There's DEA agents watching a pod on my row."

Mac shook his head.  "They left last night when the shipment came in, kid."  Elliot beamed at that.  "You didn't know?"

"I knew he had some.  He joked about the couch hiding a grenade launcher."  He went to look, bringing back the case.  "Same one?"

Xander looked.  "No, that used to be under the bed.  I had to move it when I moved here.  No under the bed here."

Mac gave him an odd look.  Then he shook his head before he could say anything.

"That's an 'I'd smack you but I'd hurt myself on the solid skull you have'," Flack interpreted.

Elliot laughed.  "He's more stubborn than you too."

Xander nodded.  "Very."  He smiled at Wes.  "So, what's their goodie budget?"

"They all but print money in three countries, Xander."  He looked in the closet.  "Is that the Zambini prototype?"

"Yuppers.  Won it at kitten poker."

Willow whimpered.  "No," she moaned.  "Spike got you too.  Kitties are nice!"

"Fluffy, come play with Willow," he called.  The dog came trotting in to sniff her.  "That's Willow.  Don't eat her even though she does smell like a kitty."  The dog leapt up to lap her, making her fall down but laugh and pet him.   "He's a good dog but don't call him it.  He'll react."

"Okay."  She played with the dog, smiling at him.  "You're so cute!"   He barked and got off, going to get the ball.  Elliot settled in on the couch to play with him.  She came out to stare at him.  "You do know that if you hurt him, I will find something nice and small, but heavy, and use it on you until I've ground your bones into cornmeal for my girlfriend's breakfast muffins?"

He smiled.  "I understand that, Willow."

She beamed.  "Good!"  She pinched him on the cheek. "You're so cute too!"  She went back into the room with Xander.  "So, an older hotty, Xander?"

"Don't need to hear that either," Flack noted.

She looked at him and snorted.  "It's *SO* obvious he brings you around because he likes more than your brains, Detective.  Get over it and join the gayness.  We don't mind if you're out around us.  I have a snuggly Tara at home waiting on me.  So go ahead and kiss him all you want.  We're good about hiding those things if you still need us to but don't feel you have to hide it from us."

Mac coughed.  "He's not mine.  I trust him and mine is back at the lab, Miss Rosenburg."

"How do you know me?"

"I'm the one who built the case against those who went to trial."

"Oh, cool!"  She gave him a hug.  "Thank you."  She went back to talk to Elliot.  She should get to know her best friend's sweetie.

Xander shook his head, turning to bang it against the wall.  "I'm sorry, guys."

"That's all right.  Plenty of people want me and plenty of them imagine me having sex.  I'm sure she's not the first one who imagined me having sex with someone else," Flack told him.  Xander snickered. "By the way, you threw out a CSI the other night, kid."

"He was drunk and annoying.  He was trying to paw a waitress.  The one with him couldn't stop him so hell yes I threw him into a wall."

Mac smirked at him.  "I wondered what happened with that one.  Danny wouldn't tell me.  Thank you.  Now I can suspend him."  He let Wesley send the list back to his people and them send back a list of what they wanted and the prices they were able to pay.

Xander looked then called the number at the bottom.  "Travers, Harris.  Don't make me laugh."  He listened to him splutter.  "Yes, it's my stuff.  All lovingly collected...."  He laughed.  "I can sell it to the Dregas tribe," he said in a sing-song voice.  "They love me and want to marry me."

"I'll kill them," Elliot called.

"He's the only reason I'm getting rid of them.  Sure, if you double all those and then triple it again for the prototypes.  I do have three, dear."  He hung up and watched as a new list came back and had a better set of prices on it.  "That'll work.  Then Mac can have the rest I guess.  If you can't get Angel to go broke."

"I can see," Wesley admitted, calling him.  "Angel, Xander's boyfriend...."  He paused while he choked and gasped.  "You're a vampire, you don't need to breathe," he reminded him patiently.  "Yes, well, his boyfriend is a police officer and does not like all the weapons.  Yes, Elliot did make him sell more of them off."  He looked at Xander.  "He wants his broadsword back."

"He stabbed me with it, I took it from him, it's mine," Xander said firmly.

Wesley repeated that.  "And he's looking a bit cranky, Angel.  Ah, good enough. Thank you."  He hung up.  "He needs another two broadswords if you have them, otherwise he's mostly broke after he paid you half a million out of that other storage area."

Xander grimaced then nodded.  "Fine.  He can have two broadswords.  They're in the back of my closet, behind the fake back."  He nodded, going to do that.  He looked at Mac.  "Whatever he can't get rid of, you can confiscate and make up the pretty lies."

"Thanks, kid," Mac said with a smile.  He helped Wesley gather things up, getting a bit more for their arsenal.  "Okay, this one does what?"

Xander showed him how to hold it.  "It shoots like a rocket launcher but it's an energy weapon.  Again, I'd take out that half of the building."  Mac nodded, taking it with him.  "The blue button is the targeting switch, the red is the fire."   Mac made sure his hands stayed away from anything that was any color other than tan.

Once everyone had left, the money had been transferred over, the stuff around the car had been sent away, all that good stuff, Elliot looked at Xander. "You're buying me lunch."

Xander kissed him.  "Only if I get a reward for being so good."

Elliot kissed him and smiled.  "Later, Xander.  After I put on some of my own underwear.  Yours is a bit too tight."  Xander laughed.  "Come on.  We'll go get a few of my things to bring here."  They went to do that, get lunch, check on the car to make sure it was sealed again.  Then they went back to the apartment to unpack, pounce each other, and have some naughty, dirty fun.

The End.