Their Kingdom For A Guide.
"Horatio, I know your lab isn't handling this one, bomb squad is with night shift, but we need you to look at this scene with your...special skills," the Chief said, looking at his best CSI. "It's the third one in two weeks. No one's found much of anything for evidence. I don't want this to continue." He glanced around the mess in the walkway of one of his city's most popular malls. This was not good for Miami. "I've called your assistant from his closet office so you can do whatever you need to do to find this person and stop them. The night shift people are officially handing it to you." He left him there to do whatever he did with his heightened senses and skills.
Horatio stared around until his assistant and guide Xander got there, watching him take his first look around. "Nice radius," Xander said. "A single one or multiple bombs?" Horatio stared at him in confusion. Xander gave it back to him. Horatio scowled. "The things you see in movies and on the internet these days," he quipped dryly.
"I'll hear more on that subject later." He looked over the area. "A single source. The device was there," he said with a point as he moved closer. "Xander, do nothing unless I tell you to."
"Yes, boss." He looked back at the officers guarding the scene then at his sentinel. "Start with the residue," he whispered, knowing he'd hear him. He could hear him across a crowded, honking, backed up interstate when he whispered. He could hear him in here. Horatio glanced back but found some to scoop up so he could sniff and look at it more closely. Xander shifted slightly closer. "Why are all the wires the same size?" Horatio gave him another confused look so he carefully walked over to where he had seen the wires. "Coiled. This set is loosely double twisted, like a braid." Horatio came over to look at it more closely. "Could he be stripping some other thing to get these?"
"It's not uncommon. I wouldn't know what thought without some sort of identifying mark."
"Jesse used that sort for his model cars." He pointed at an orange one that was coiled a bit further away. "Unless he has a thing for the number of coils.
"That's not that common."
"We can ask a Radio Shack or a fix-it guy to see the common uses for that type of wire." He looked at Horatio. "They'd know and they might know who had been buying a lot of it if it's not being stripped out of something else."
"We may have some of that on file but *that* has on reason to be here," he said, picking up a piece to look at. "A GPS chip. So maybe a phone detonator."
"Or a GPS watch, a handheld unit you use on the geo-scavenger hunts, or even a dashboard system?" Xander suggested. Horatio looked up at him. "They're all over. Eric has a GPS function on his phone and his watch for diving.:
"Good point." He looked around. Xander shifted to put a hand on his arm and pointed. "A plastic case." He picked that up to look at too.
"That's a hand-held GPS unit," Xander said quietly.
"How would you program one?"
"Like the blind people do when they have to get somewhere? Hook it to the beep?"
"One model I saw chimed at the end with a 'you are at your destination'." He grinned. "It had a vibrating alarm for those who were also partially or fully deaf. That one was bigger; it had a screen for touch instructions."
"Interesting. I haven't seen many of those." He and Xander worked together to find more things in the devastated area.
Xander looked around. "How did it not hurt anyone?" Even the officers looked at him strangely for that question. He walked over to the detonation spot. "If it's here and here is in the middle of a walkway in this mall on a Saturday afternoon with *three* sales gong on in popular stores, how did it not injure a single person beyond shrapnel?"
"That we know, sir. A flash-bang and a four second delay," one of the officers told him.
"The same as the other sites?" Horatio asked. The officer nodded. "So they're making a statement instead of injuring people to prove their point."
"It's a mall. It's evil unless you're a teenage girl," Xander said. "What's his message?"
"That is what we need to find out," Horatio said.
"Now all you need is a 'Padawan' on the end, Xander quipped. Horatio groaned and shook his head.
"I think Xander's right, they're stripping wires," Eric said back in th lab. He had gotten all the evidence they brought back to look over. "The cutting marks are more worn than the solder or the grip marks. They're all different but the gripping pliers are the same." Horatio nodded. "How does Xander know bombs?"
"I don't know, yet." They shared a look. Could they be premade kits?"
"Build-a-bomb kits?" he snorted. "I know you can find plans online but kits?" Horatio paged Xander, who stuck his head in a few minutes later. "How do you know bombs and are there build-a-bomb kits somewhere?"
"Don't ask, don't tell, and I'll... go look." He walked off again. It was easier to get online in his office. He did save down and print any schematics he ran into during his search. It took him nearly an hour but he finally hit the right site and printed it, writing the address on the top. He ordered one to go to his and Horatio's house. Then he logged off and brought everything back to Horatio and Eric. "The kit site. All the other schematics I found. UPS shipping code for the one I ordered." He walked off again because it was time to deal with the mail. Let them groan and go over sciency things. He'd get to play with the kit soon enough.
"He ordered one?" Eric asked.
Horatio nodded. "He did. It'll be at the house in two days." He looked at the others in the stack of papers his assistant had laid out. "I'll copy these for bomb squad." He saw Rick Stetler stomping his way and sighed. "Yes, Rick, I had Xander looking up bomb kits since this looks like one. One will be at my house in two days." He held out the order confirmation without looking up.
"Why is he looking up bombs?"
"Because we think our mad bomber is using a kit," Eric said. Rick sneered at him. "He did his usual thorough job by printing H some new schematics to learn too."
"He did," Horatio agreed, shooting a small smile at Eric. Stetler baiting was one of his lab's favorite pasttimes when he showed up.
"I want to know how he knows about bombs. He was on a scene earlier."
"He found the key parts," Horatio admitted, looking at him. "I'm training him for the next time we have to call everyone out, Rick."
"He'll never pass the exams."
"Even normal officers can learn to pick up things," Eric quipped. The Chief walked up behind Stetler. "We think they're using a kit system, sir. Xander found one for us online to compar against."
"Computer services said someone was looking that topic up." Horatio handed over the order confirmation sheet. "That's good to know." He handed it back. "How does he know bombs?"
Ryan walked past and handed him a note. "From Xander, sir."
He looked at it. It was a business card and the note said to ask him. He went to Horatio's office to call and ask. That was one of those subjects he wanted to be briefed on.
Ryan looked at Horatio. "Something about classified files?"
"That agent," he said. Ryan nodded. "Thank you, Mr. Wolfe." Ryan walked off. "I think I know." The Chief came back. "Did bomb squad pick up anything else?"
"Did you?" he asked. He moved Rick out of the lab and shut the door in his face. "Anything unusual? Something that was too strong or should have been there?"
Horatio sniffed something. "No sweat. No scent of fear," he said quietly. "Xander thought they may be making a statement."
"The used an audible GPS as the detonator," Eric said. "They might not have known it was a real bomb."
"So possibly a cult?" the Chief asked.
"Possibly," Eric agreed. "Or someone who wants us to think so." Horatio frowned at him. "Xander's bad influence. Maybe an initiation? Or did you see the movie _Heathers_?" Horatio smirked. "Someone like that guy. We need to find out how many of the audible GPS units sold in town recently then take out the blind customers."
"I know the person who runs the guide dog program socially. Let me see if she can help." The Chief left.
"I'll look online," Eric said, moving to do that.
Horatio went to check on Xander, who was looking over the new gun catalogs. "We need a new one?"
"Looking at the updates," he said with a grin. "Press play."
"I remembered about that file and your graduation's battle."
"Giles got me plans." He shrugged. "Mail's on your desk. Mostly stuff I'll file after lunch."
"Xander, do you have my catalog?" Calleigh called.
"Of course I do." She leaned in so he handed them over with a grin. "I was keeping inept boy from using them as _Playboys_." She blushed. He smirked. "I didn't want to hear him over lunch."
"I'd stop him if I was in there." She went back to her lab to do the same thing he had been. It was nice the other gun nut in the department handed them to her readily when she wanted some gun cooing time.
"Don't pick on her, Xander. She could file a complaint."
"If she didn't want teased she'll tell me to stop. What do you want for dinner tonight? Speed's back."
"Whatever he wants to fix." He went to talk to Calleigh. "He said he'd stop if it bothered you."
"I may be a woman but I'm not that fragile, Horatio. He's fine being playful. He needs to play more," she said, giving him a pointed look.
"It's going to be a long few days with this bomber." Something thumped that way. "I'm hoping that mouse is back." He went to checked. "Speed give you a 'whatever' answer?" he joked.
"Someone tried to kidnap Dawn. Tony just called to say they got her back."
"Is she all right?"
"Their director wouldn't let me talk to her."
"I'm sure Jethro is in Blessed Protector mode, Xander. You know how bad that can get."
"She sent Jethro out of town. She was on Tony's couch." Horatio hissed. "I know you need me right now but I'm going to find a contact in town to get her protected and maybe they'll eat the Wicked Bitch of DC too if I'm nice enough."
"Do not make an open threat or offer on her life," he said quietly. "She can try to have you arrested for that." Xander smirked. "I'll call Jethro while you're gone. Get me lunch?"
"Sure. Thanks, H." He grabbed something and left.
Horatio called Jethro's cellphone. "It's Horatio. Are you aware Tony had to take Dawn back from someone today? Or why your director would not let her talk to Xander after Tony told him?" He listened. "I'm sure Xander's going to get her some extra protection. He's more than mad enough to make sure they'd eat anyone that comes near her, Jethro. Nether of us are anywhere near the overprotective Blessed Protector he is." He smiled. "He would fly up but we have a multiple bombing case at the moment. Kits we think. He ordered one so we could compare. I'll try to keep him reasonable but you might want to warn Tony, Jethro. Have a better day." He hung up and finished walking of. He felt sorry for DC, but not even *he* could stop Xander.
Ziva looked over at where Dawn was sitting. "Why are you still up here? Your guardian should have secured a house by now."
"You that anxious to proofread your own reports?" she asked dryly.
"No, it just seems odd."
Dawn looked at her. "Did you consider that I asked to stay up here?" Ziva looked confused. "I have a bed in Miami whenever I want one but I've learned to like DC and Jethro's fussy rules. I doubt I can find girlfriends like Abby and Tony down there. Besides, Xander has a new boyfriend and I don't want to add pressure to it."
"You don't like him being with a man?"
"No, I adore his boyfriend. They're good together. He's the only reason you haven't seen Xander up here to fuss. Or to blow up ht director since she wouldn't let me talk to him to tell him I'm fine."
"Putting it mildly," Tony said from his desk. "He told Horatio, who told Jethro, and then Horatio let him find you someone to help you protect yourself."
"I don't need a bodyguard."
Tony stared her down. "Do you really think that's going to matter to either of them?"
"No. If he was still free, Xander would kill him for taking me." Tony nodded, looking smug. "She has our phones or I'd call him to calm him down."
"Ask Abby?" he suggested. She jogged that way. He looked at Ziva. "You can report that back if you want." She went to do that. He prepared himself for the worst. Xander wouldn't send a human guard - he couldn't afford one. So far they had kept Dawn's magic from the director but he doubted that would work for much longer.
Dawn came back with a small...something following her a few hours later. "This is Gregori."
"Who owed that sort of debt?" Or did your sister sic him on you?" Tony asked.
"I owe the knight," the small demon complained. "I thought he was looking for anything on their bomber but *no*. I'm guarding the mini witch until her protector gets back."
"As long as she can do it subtly, she can do whatever she needs," Tony ordered.
"Oh, I so am," she promised. "Try to be a bit mor hidden, Gregori. The boss is the one who wouldn't let me talk to Xander."
"He said if she's a target oh well," the demon said. He settled himself next to her seat and waited. He heard someone upstairs joking about 'what could that boy do to her' and decided the knight was right to send him. He could have some real fun with this. The fact they shrieked showed he had sent an imp to scare them. Pitiful try. Never send an imp to do a real demon's job.
Jethro got back the next morning, stopping to look at Dawn and Tony. "Who rearranged her house so half of it was nailed to the ceiling, held up the back of her car when she was trying to get treatment for her food poisoning, gave her the contact allergy, and spiked her pepto with liquor and mushrooms?" he asked quietly. They pointed at the demon. "Who is he?"
"I owed the knight a favor. He made me watch her but gave me a great new toy. Even better than the sorority house I had been playing with. Are you back?"
"Will you leave her alone?"
Gregori snorted. "She earned hers by giving the one who took her information so you'd go after her target."
Jethro nodded. "Thank you for letting me know. I've got it."
"Spike made me promise to stay around as her demon god-parent/bodyguard until she's married. The knight tried to make it her first child's 30th day but Spike thought I'd get in the way of it's conception."
"Especially since the serum the Initiative gave me created ovarian and uterine cysts. They don't think I can have one," Dawn said dryly. Her overprotective big brothers were so mean to poor Gregori.
"He wanted you protected because you're the only princess he swears loyalty to." She giggled. "I can disappear if you don't need me right now. Have to set up a place and all that."
"We'll protect her,' Tony promised. "He took her from the teen center, boss. She's been on my couch."
"Good. Let me talk to her." He walked up to her office. "Let me guess. You said 'what could he do to me'?" He leaned down to get into her face. "Do *not* touch Dawn again, Director. Whatever he has planned has nothing on what I'll do to you if you touch that child."
"Why is she still with you?"
"She decided she wanted to stay. She thinks having an older parent figure is better for her. That and she wants Xander's new relationship to be solid before she adds pressure for them to marry." She looked disgusted. "I like Xander in his relationship. It's good for them. Makes them happy." He left her with her misery. The demon was gone. "DiNozzo, did we have a case?"
"Solved. Reports are on your desk, boss. With the one on the kidnaping." Jethro sat down to read them. Then they could add to the demon's misery quota later on as a team.
Xander brought in the bomb kit. "It's here," he called. Eric came out to get it from him. Xander followed. Eric tried to stop him. "I want to see." That got a sigh but he let him. Xander put on gloves and a spare coat of Ryan's, waiting while Eric photographed and opened the box. Xander snatched the instructions first. "You need some technical knowledge but I got this much helping Jesse with his RC cars." He let them see it. "Labeled diagram and how to put it onto a watch, alarm clock, or a ..." He turned it over. "Cellphone. Nothing on a GPS unit."
"So whoever has to know about GPS units," Eric said. He looked at a wire to compare it. "They match."
Horatio walked in. "They match?"
"They do. The instructions don't have GPS plans."
"So, someone who can follow technical details...." Horatio said, thinking out loud.
"At the RC or AV club level," Xander told him. "Can we get their records?"
"They came from out-of-state. We'd need the FBI to do that."
Xander pointed. "The postmark is Boca."
They smirked. "We can use that to get their records. Good thinking," Eric said.
"With the gaps, someone's ordering them singly," Horatio said. "Get a warrant, Eric. Good job, Xander."
"Which means I get to bake a cake tonight." He walked off, taking off the coat and gloves.
"I'm going to have to work out more often," Horatio sighed.
"Isn't that Speed and Xander's job?" Eric teased with a mean grin. He gathered everything and headed for the courthouse.
Horatio scowled after him. "Don't give them any ideas."
Xander came jogging into the lab. "Online news is reporting two bombs in DC in malls," he said.
"Horatio is on a scene. Find it on tv," Ryan ordered. Xander went to do that while he called. "Horatio, Xander said online news sources are reporting 2 bombs in DC in malls. He thinks it's related," he said as he headed for the break room tv. He stopped to watch. "So do the newscasters on scene there."
"Tell him to call Jethro. I saw Ziva on a scene so he's there somewhere," Xander said.
"Xander said.... okay. I'll monitor it, Horatio." He hung up. "He will." He watched. "I'm sure Dawn's fine."
"Probably locked in a closet," Xander agreed. "He's more overprotective than I am."
Ryan watched. "We're wrong. Isn't that Dawn?"
Xander called Tony. "Dawn's behind Ziva by about 30 feet. Do you want Ryan to start gathering what we have on the bombs down here? He's in the field, Ryan's here."
Ryan took the phone. "This is Ryan Wolfe. We found out our bombers are ordering from a kit company and adding an audible GPS unit, like the blind use, to give directions and detonation of the warning flash-bang then there's a stopwatch for the main bomb. We seized the local shipper's records. I'm assuming the FBI does know but we haven't had any that I've seen. I can email your lab that. Horatio says your Abby is very good. Give me half an hour to see if our current one is different. No, it misfired. That's where Horatio is. Thanks, DiNozzo." He hung up and went to do that for them.
Xander called Dawn. "You'd better have a good reason for being in a mall in the afternoon. Tell them that yet?" He nodded. "Dog whistle. Then mutter. Good job, Dawnie." He hung up to watch it happen.
Dawn didn't have a dog whistle so she texted McGee's phone. He came jogging over with Ziva when she saw him running. She led them to the guy she had seen dropping the package. Conveniently knocked out in the ladies room. McGee texted Tony, who came running.
"Why are you in the mall in the middle of the afternoon?" Tony asked.
"The demented bitch told security to not let me in."
"That's going to change," Tony assured her.
Ziva gave him a look. "He won't wake up." Dawn coughed something and he gasped, looking around. "What did you do?"
"Ancient Chinese secret," she and Tony said in unison. Ziva groaned but walked him out in cuffs.
She looked at Tony. "I'll cook and bring in stuff?"
"Fat chance. You're a witness." He walked her out following Ziva.
"Gibbs, Dawn said she saw him drop the bomb."
"No! I mean I didn't know it was a bomb. One of the cool kids asked me to drop it off for them. It gave me the directions. I *swear* I had no idea," the kid said frantically. "My mom's going to kill me. She said trying to be popular was going to ruin my life."
"That's the least of your worries. This is considered a terrorist act, kid. She might have to make it to Gitmo to kill you," Tony said. "Boss, Ryan Wolfe is sending the info from Miami's recent ones to Abby."
"Good. Where's the FBI info?"
"Ryan said he hadn't seen any."
"Xander said they're scared of Horatio," Dawn muttered.
Gibbs looked at her. "Why are you here?"
"Because I wasn't allowed in to gopher." She smirked. "I was going sock shopping."
"We'll figure that out." He looked around. "Take the witness and the idiot back to the office, DiNozzo. The FBI can find him there." He nodded, walking them off with McGee's help. Gibbs spotted the agents running his way. "Why did we hear from Miami before you?"
"They said they had it, Special Agent Gibbs."
"Uh-huh. My protectee saw who dropped it. They're headed to the office with him. He claims he didn't know, a popular kid asked him to drop it."
Ziva hung up. "Abby's got the info from Miami. She said that sounds like the same thing and we can compare their wires to ours."
"Good. Get samples to her ASAP."
"We can...." the agent started. Gibbs glared. "Help Abby. She's a good forensic scientist. Can we have the subject?"
"Come to the office with the samples." His phone beeped so he looked at it. "First, go remove the press." He sent agents to do that while they finished the initial picking up.
"What is she doing here?" the director demanded.
"She stopped the guy who dropped the bomb," Tony told her. She huffed off and started to yell at someone but suddenly got quiet. He went to look, finding her trying to talk. "Dawn," he hissed when he walked back to his desk.
"I have a headache and my sister's PMS. Be thankful I don't have a stake since she sucks so badly."
"Can't. Not my doing." She pointed behind him. "She did it."
Tony looked. "Undo it, Rosenburg."
"She's the director."
"Pity she sets such a bad example of women in command." She changed her to a yapping puppy. "There, form and function match her personality. Why is Dawn still here?"
"I asked," Dawn said. She changed her back, smiling sweetly. "I could let her be more mean and get you adopted." The director ran off. Willow a memory charm. "Thank you. Saves me from looking that one up." She looked her over. "Why the interest?"
"Buffy wants you home."
"No. She tossed me away. Xander and Jethro agreed I'm doing good up here so I could stay. They both want me far away from the old life." Willow pointed at Gregori since he was sitting beside her. Dawn pointed upstairs. "Xander asked him to protect me since she had me kidnaped."
"Did Xander date her?" Willow asked, looking confused.
"I doubt Horatio or Speed would like that. They're possessive." Willow blushed. "Jethro is here. Shoo." Willow left. Dawn went back to her statement. "Get the bad guy. I'm okay."
"Okay." He went to meet them at the elevator. "She and Willow dealt with the director when se got huffy. He's in interrogation 2, boss."
"Doing my statement. Yell if you need teenager translation." She waved a hand and went back to typing.
"Thank you." He walked that way, watching him pace and mutter about his mother. "His mother?"
"Called. On her way down here with her belt," McGee told him.
"Good." He walked in there. "Sit." The kid sat down, looking around. "Your mother's on her way."
"Can I be on the plane to the Caribbean?"
"You promised. That way you can keep her from killing me."
"I can do that here. I want to know everything about that package."
"This girl I *really* want to get close to introduced me to her friend, who is another hot chick but they're so popular so she was telling me how doing this would make me popular, one of their crowd. And I really wanted her, sir. I just wanted to fit in for once and get the pretty girl instead of the ones with the zits and the horrible buck teeth. She was nice about it when she caught me staring and I guess she led me on a bit but she said if I dropped it off she'd let me hang with them and maybe I could hit on one of the pretty girls or the other kids would start to look up to me for being popular and that stuff," he babbled. "It's hard for a kid to get with a nice, pretty girl, ya know?"
"Wasn't that a movie?" McGee asked Tony in the shielded observation room.
"No, the movie was a guy talking them into suicides or arranging their suicides. Such a knock off of _Heathers_."
"What?" Ziva asked.
"Ask Abby. She's got a copy," McGee told her. "Director?" he asked more quietly.
"Willow was here." McGee shuddered at that. "Dawn undid it." He wasn't sure if that was a good thing or not yet.
Abby walked in, closing the door behind her. "His mom is here. Security had to take stuff from her. The wires match the pictures. I'm running residue right now."
"A popular girl asked him to drop it off. H wants to be popular," McGee told her.
"Does she have a red scrunchie?" Abby asked.
"No clue," Tony admitted. "Can we find the address on those kits?"
"Yup. Did. Ordered one for McGee's house. Two days to ship. They're sending in the hard copies from their seizure overnight to us. Aww, Gibbs asked if she wore a red scrunchie too." She left to check on her tests. The two agents were still locked in her office. It was good of them to stay out of her way.
Xander looked over from cooking when the door was knocked on. "Speed must be napping on his book again. Hold on!" He washed his hands and went to answer it. "Yes?" he asked the guy, glancing at the ID that was held up. "What did you need, Agent Emmes?"
"Sir, I'm here to arrest you."
"Frequenting bomb sites and buying the type of bomb being used in the mall bombings."
Xander leaned his shoulder against the door and reached for his work ID slowly so he wouldn't spook the poor idiot. "I'm the crime lab's administrative assistant. I looked it up and ordered one for my boss." The agent went from pleased to confused. "It was nice of them to send a calm person so I didn't have to go into self-defense mode. Thank you."
"You live here on an assistant's salary?"
"I think you'll find this is Lieutenant Caine's house," Speed said as he came out of the study. He held up his ID. "Xander is his assistant. He ordered the kit when our evidence suggested it was mass produced."
"But it was sent here."
"I didn't think they'd be stupid enough to send it to the lab," Xander said. "Beyond that, I bought one and they've had like six or seven placed around town." The oven's timer went off. "'Scuse me, I'm cooking." He went to handle that.
"He has a sealed file," Emmes said quietly.
"His whole town is a sealed file. That one came when he and his friends did the FBI's job for them."
"He talked to the witness in DC by phone right afterward."
"He and Jethro Gibbs share custody of Dawn. She wanted to stay there so Xander's letting her."
"Gibbs is gay?"
"Her mother died," Xander said impatiently. "I took custody of her from Dawn's sister but I had just moved down here. Jethro took her in while I got settled. She decided to stay." He handed Speed the spoon he had brought with him. "I think I burned it."
Speed nodded after his taste. "Yup. Was it already over stuff? If so, just add a strong cheese."
"No, not yet. Ooh, the oven." He went to turn it off then came back. "Okay, any other questions?"
"Do you know explosives, sir?"
"A bit. I looked at the kit's directions. If you can do a RC car, you can do that one."
"How do you know explosives?"
"That is part of that sealed file."
"I can still bring you in for questioning, sir."
"And I can sue the hell out of the FBI. Why aren't you looking for the people who bought more than one kit?"
"I'm assigned to look for other threats."
"He's only a threat to the lab's waistlines," Speed said.
"I'm out of the protection business. I don't have to do that stuff anymore unless Cuba or Orlando invade, Agent Emmes." The agent's confused look was getting boring to look at. "Look into that file, kid."
Speed watched Xander walk off. "You just doomed us to cookies and quiche for breakfast. Thanks." He shut the door and followed to calm Xander down before he started to bake. "He'll learn. He's young and stupid."
"I'm not like that." He ate a bite of ice cream.
"We know that. He decided you were easiest of the list and didn't do his research." He let Xander cuddle and have the ice cream. It'd keep them from destroying themselves with the ice cream cake of doom.
Agent Emmes and his boss went to Horatio's office an hour later. "Caine, you have a dangerous person in your employ," the boss said.
"Did Delko date the wrong woman, Wolfe clean something on you, or was he scared that Calleigh is a ballistics tech like the last one?" he asked dryly. He really hated the local office. They were smug, stupid, and liked to waste his time.
"We talked to your assistant," Emmers said. "He was not cooperative and he had easy answers to everything that led back to a sealed file."
Horatio stared at him then at the head agent. "Xander ordered the kit for us so we could compare it to the bombs."
"We think he's a future danger. None of us cold get into that file."
"Deputy Director Fornell out of DC sealed it. I can tell you it was about him and his friends taking out a military unit they found torturing the residents of his former town. Anything else, ask Fornell."
"He was associated with a weapons source in LA."
"He left that life, gentlemen. I helped him clean out his old vault that the group kept."
"He has a storage space in town," Emmes said.
"With the things form his former apartment. It might have a sword or two. I can look if you'd like."
"I'd rather have this danger to Miami neutralized," the head agent said.
Horatio sighed and typed something into his computer, printing off a file. "The group they took down in Sunnydale." They laughed. "Exactly." He called home. "Xander, is there anything in your storage area the FBI should be concerned about?"
"Three hand guns, a sword or two, my old crossbow." On speaker he ate a bite of something. "You watched me leave all that behind in Sunnydale."
"I did. Nothing new?"
"You said if something like that was needed in Miami, you'd get it for me."
"You don't have ill-feelings toward your government?" Emmes asked.
"Oh, it's you again. I didn't from the last battle with the Initiative until today," Xander said dryly. "Thank you for changing my mind, guys." He hung up.
Horatio mentally groaned. "I'd suggest an apology, gentlemen. Xander is very protective. He'd never attack without a reason. You just upset him and he's going to take weeks to calm down."
"Then maybe he should be under observation?" Emmes suggested. "Have you seen his record?"
"I have. The LA office of the FBI said that was the former mayor. Xander and his friends ran a protection patrol and caught him doing some very illegal things. Hence him trying to shove off blame."
"Is he in jail?"
"He blew up their graduation when the thugs he hired to take them out lost." They both suddenly lost the color in their faces. "Xander and his friends were responsible for getting people out of harm's way." Horatio stood up and put on his jacket and sunglasses. "It says a lot that even now no agency, Federal or State, will handle anything in Sunnydale. You left it to three teenagers, a few friends, and a librarian. Now, if you'll excuse me, Xander is going to torture me with dinner." They huffed off. He'd have to do something about them. Soon. Before they upset Xander more and he started to make pastries.
Jethro looked at Dawn later that night. "Are they getting too annoying?"
"Not yet. Ziva bluntly asked me why I'm still here. I told her I asked to stay. Am I in the way of their plans or something?"
"Probably or something." He heard a car and looked out the window. "That's the director."
"I left you a plate of dinner but she can starve," Dawn said quietly, getting comfortable with her history textbook.
Jethro answered the door. "Is there a problem?"
"Some people wanted to talk to Dawn about the incident while she was doing her statement."
"Go ask Rosenburg," Dawn called. "I'm a minor." She turned the page, not looking up at the huffy woman.
"They think you did that."
"It was pretty clear she did undid what Rosenburg did," Jethro said. Though he would be tracking down these 'others' and dealing with them soon apparently.
"That one is on a no-touch list. This one isn't."
Dawn looked up. "Yes I am. After that Initiative mess, the agent in charge put me on it. And I'm still a minor."
"Your name is not on it."
"If so, they took all of us off it. I'm still too young to work for the government."
"We think you're dangerous. Your guardian was looking up bombs."
"For the crime lab. He's their administrative assistant."
"He also told them about ours so they could share information."
"He's known to deal weapons," the director pressed. Even if Jethro wouldn't let her in the door.
"He hoarded in case his old town needed them," Jethro corrected calmly. "Dawn was too young to be part of that group."
"My sister threw major fits," she agreed.
"Your sister is under watch."
"Are they alive?" she snorted. She put down her book and curled up some. "I should call and check on that. It'll annoy her to no end."
"The agents in LA...."
Dawn held up a hand to interrupt. "She's not in LA. Sunnydale is three hours outside of LA. Only some of the groups ex's live in LA."
"They're not allowed into the town so they've been watching from afar," she said snidely.
Dawn looked at Jethro then up then decided to call. "Did you know we're all on a terrorist watch list, Buffy? They're watching you from LA. Jethro's director is pressuring me to go live with Xander so she can make Jethro do something totally stupid that'll ruin his career. No, I decided and asked, Buffy. Exactly. Doing good. A few migraines so I'm still home schooling. Oh, let Willow know they think I'm responsible for her little show. That's why she's here threatening me. I doubt Xander's boyfriends would like that."
"Figures he's gay," the director snorted.
"His boyfriend is a cop," Jethro told her. "Xander is tougher than I am."
"That is *so* wrong, Anya. Jethro, Anya thinks you should date Tony since Xander likes his boy-lovin' so much."
"I'm paddling her the next time I see her for that thought," he shot back.
"You can call him tomorrow to see if it'll be fun, Anya. Yes, that sort of problem, Buffy. Thank you." She hung up.
Willow appeared. "Women like you make me ashamed of sharing the same biological functions." She sighed. "Buffy said I shouldn't change you again...." Jethro swatted her.
"You're setting a bad example for Dawn."
"She can't do it."
Dawn looked at Jethro for permission then changed her to a toad, then back to a girl. "Really?" she asked dryly. "Unscrew what you did before Ziva gets a pet kitty."
"You..." the director started.
"Willow froze her. "Shut up." She smiled her meanest, sweet smile. "We'll be back." They disappeared.
"I think she'll like Sunnydale," Dawn said dryly.
"As long as they don't hurt her or let her be eaten. Food in the microwave?" She nodded, going back to her history book. He got his dinner and sat down to relax before going to work on the boat. He had no authority over Willow Rosenburg and it might actually help some of their problems if he let the mentally unstable young witch handle her.
Tony strolled in on the director's fit the next morning. "They could've had you eaten, Director. Or you could be a cute little pet at the moment. Dawn isn't Willow. None of us would let that happen. That's why Xander got her out of there. If you'd leave her alone, she'd never have to defend herself."
"I do not...." she started.
"Formal. Event," he butted in dryly.
Ziva shuddered. "I did not like that event."
"She's wrong," the director snarled.
"Only because you make her act," he shot back. "Otherwise you'd never have known about any of that. Leave Dawn alone and you have no problems."
"She's corrupting Jethro's team."
"She never did anything until you made her react," Ziva said. "She left because she wants to be more normal. Or else she'd be in Miami. She's gets quite hiffy whenever she has to react."
"Huffy," Tony corrected.
"I thought that was a type of bike."
"That too," Tony agreed. He looked at the director. "Leave her alone and she'll do the same."
She walked off. Ziva relaxed. "We should be careful.
"We always are." He sat down and logged in to star the work day. "Anything from Abby?"
"Not that she told me or the agents she has tied up."
"Gibbs will handle that." He texted her, getting a list of names from their records. He sent half to Ziva. "Search those." They got to work.
Xander looked at the newest pictures. "Something's different." He put down the picture. "It's not the same."
"The blast radius is a bit smaller," Eric agreed.
"But it's the same size box. Was there a difference in the type of explosive?"
"We're testing it," Eric said patiently. "Why are you helping?"
Xander looked over at him. "Because I know a bit about explosives. I can build that without the kit to make it go farther." Eric shuddered. "You, Ryan, and Calleigh don't know that much about it. Horatio's being chewed on by the higher ups for not solving it already. It's me or bomb squad guys." He tapped the picture. "This isn't the same bomb."
Eric paged Ryan, bringing him with the reports. "Xander, the explosives knowing one, said this one was different?"
"Different explosive. This one's a construction grade plastique." He handed that over.
Xander looked. "Couldn't have used much."
"Small chunk and we found evidence of plastic buffering it."
"Bubble wrap?" Xander suggested. Both CSI gave him looks like he was crazy. "One of the plans I found online had it and a cellphone trigger. It's cheap and you can find it multiple places without getting noticed for buying large quantities."
"Get us Horatio's copies you found?" Xander went to get them. "I'm almost scared."
"It's his past life," Ryan reminded him.
Xander came back. "Either of these?"
Ryan pointed. "That one." They looked it over. It made it easier to reconstruction. Xander to do Xander things in the office. Eric called Horatio to let him know what they knew - including that Xander was scary.
Dawn squealed suddenly. "I found a blog with details about our bombing." Jethro came over to read over her shoulder. "Some commented but this one knows who the delivery boy was. The news has kept his name out of the press. Plus he mentions the kit."
Jethro put it on the bigger screen to read it easier. "Good work, Dawn. What happened to your English paper?"
"It's taking a nap until I don't want to quip something Buffy like about the uncomfortable clothes since it's on how fashion responded to the shifts in politics." He gave her an odd look so she held up the sheet.
"That's dumb." He handed it back. "Can we track him, McGee?"
He looked at the newest entries. "He's uploading from a local school."
"The same school as the kid?" Tony asked.
"No. The idiot kid attends a private one about a mile away so maybe same common hang-out spots to find that girl at?"
"Prep and public kids don't usually mix," Tony said. "Probably a mutual place, not a group." He grabbed his stuff, the others grabbed theirs. "Dawn, do the phones?"
"Of course. Smack someone around for me." They left so she forwarded the phones then got back to work hunting for more interesting clues to who was behind this plan. It had to relate to Miami's right? She saw the director watching her and grinned, waving a bit before going back to work. Some day soon she was going to slip. Then Ziva could have a pet hamster if the woman didn't leave her alone.
Tony found the right hang-out from the kids they had talked to in their delivery boy's classes. He walked in and flashed his badge plus the picture. "This kid did something incredibly stupid to please a pretty young girl who hangs out with at least one other one. Do you know which girl he's been drooling on?" he asked. The others came in.
"There's a few on Friday that he's seen talking to but I wouldn't call them *pretty*."
"He said she was very pretty, popular, and said if he did the stupid thing he could hang with them and hit on her," Tony said. "I think at one point he mentioned she had a blonde friend."
"Oh, them." He grimaced. "Spoiled upstart brats from the Catholic school up the road. The prep kids consider them cool enough to hang with. The other kids from the public one don't mind them since their parents sent them to a religious school and most of the kids say they want to switch because the teachers are mean." He grimaced. "They usually hang out over in that area."
"Do you take film of the floor?" Tony asked.
"Can we get copies from the last few times he's been in?"
"I haven't seen him in days."
"That's because he's in custody," Jethro told him. "He dropped the bomb in the mall to impress the girl."
The drink master shuddered. "Oh, damn. Well, they say a pretty girl will ruin a young guy faster than anything. Let me see what I have for tapes."
"Just give us copies of what you have," Tony offered with a grin. "We'll sort through it. She's at the Catholic school?" He nodded. "St. Eliana's? St. Marys? St. Peters is probably too far away. The one in the gothic school up the hill?" That got a nod. "Any idea on her name?"
"She's a whore of a brat, but no. If she's the one I'm thinking of, she and her friend are both cheerleaders and she's a brunette. The blonde is very mean and evil looking. The brunette appears sweet but it's the cloying fake sweetness that you get from practice. They're doing their best to get into trouble before they run out of juvenile record time so it won't hurt their hunt for a future husband."
"Good to know. Thank you." He wrote that down. His phone rang. "DiNozzo." He listened. "Yes she is, Marks. I'm sure she is. Boss, Marks with security. The director is nagging Dawn about home schooling."
Jethro took the phone to listen to him. "I'll call her. Thank you for letting me know. No, I want to know any time she tries to get near Dawn. She's been trying to hurt her." He hung up and called her. "Calm down." He smiled. "That's good to know. Is she crying and able to be yelled at?" He smirked. "Even better. Thank you." He hung up. "McGee, go back to the office and help Dawn." He hurried off to catch a cab since they only had the one sedan with them. "Dawn shot back that she had migraines and had to miss too much school from them. It was backed up in her medical records and from Ducky, who Dawn called," he told Tony when he looked over. "Ducky drove her off."
"Good." He looked at the drink master again, taking the pile of tapes. "Thank you. We'll hand these back once we have copies made."
"Do they tip you better here than they do regular bartenders?" Tony asked.
"Spoiled kids?" He snorted. "Hell no. Pouring expensive mixed juice drinks pays more base wage but I get a lot less in tips. The only benefit is now I can throw out the drunks that annoy me." That got a smirk and a nod as they left. Jethro left him a tip, getting a grin back. "Nice agents." He pocketed the tip and got to work for the opening later that night.
Xander looked around the newest bomb area. "Why didn't she hear?" he asked quietly.
"She's got a card saying she's deaf," Horatio said, looking at him.
Xander nodded. "That's strike three in my book. She probably saw people reacting and got trampled or pushed aside." He looked around again then he pointed. "Start there?" Horatio looked then slowly walked over there. "Little to the right. Right above the shiny thing." Horatio smirked as he squatted to look at it. "What is that?"
"That is very interesting. Good catch, Xander." He bagged it and held it up. Xander smirked too. They had a serial number for the GPS unit since it was mostly still whole. "Get this back to Eric immediately."
"He was just pulling in." He took the bag and went to hand it to him. "From Horatio. The presents he gives you," he quipped. He spotted Speed. "Are you cleared?"
"Nope," he said dryly. "Need me anyway. Which way?"
"By the food court. Alexx, she's off to the left side of the hall." She nodded, going that way. He headed back in with the baskets for evidence that Eric was holding. Eric went to find where the unit had come from. "He's got it, Horatio."
"Thank you, Xander." He waved him closer, watching as he carefully walked that way. "What do you see?"
Xander looked. "He tried to put the briefcase under the seat since it's ripped off but went up to break the skylight." He looked up then around. "I think most of this is glass damage." He slowly turned around, then closed his eyes. He had been in this mall a few weeks back. Then he opened them, looking at him. "They just put in new cameras. I was here buying new underwear a few weeks back and they were putting them up then. I had to detour around their little cherry picker buckets."
"Speed, go get us those tapes," Horatio ordered. He nodded, going to do that. "Anything else you remember?"
"They were putting up some sort of sliding door looking thing," he said with a point. "There. But it might've been for the weekend's expo thingy. I thought it looked like a blast door."
Horatio looked. "That could be why there's a definitely line instead of it being more scattered. Just there?"
"I think they were going to put one up behind us. They had an opening in the wall." He walked over to look, then pointed. "Its in here but not closed. It's still got the latch on it."
Horatio came over to look at it. "They were probably waiting to clear everyone," he decided, looking at the body. "Alexx, she had a card saying she was deaf."
"I figure she turned at the light and got trampled maybe or pushed down," Xander told her.
She nodded. "She does have a few footprints on her. Poor woman. Life was tough enough without this." She covered her and looked up. "We should talk about how you know all this."
"Sealed. File," he told her simply. She shuddered. He shrugged. "Horatio, I'm going to look in that window. It's outside the blast radius so I'm not sure why it broke." Horatio nodded, letting him go that way. He peered inside then smirked. "Someone dropped their bowling ball present. It sent it flying." That got a nod and a hum. He looked. "She must've been right on top of it or it was in the bag with it. That's a big distance for a bowling ball."
Horatio looked then came over to look. "That is a good distance." He frowned, gathering it to be looked over. "Find evidence of the bag."
Xander looked at him. "Fabric, plastic, or metal?" he asked quietly.
"I can smell burning fabric." Xander patted him on the arm, letting him get control of his senses again. "There," he said with a point. Speed was coming back with the tape so he stopped to look, picking it up to hold it. "Bag, Speed?"
"Bowling bag, H." He held up the handles. "Well crafted to withstand hard use."
"Something we can trace?" Xander asked.
"Probably not." He looked around, finding more of it. The tape got put into his case and they moved to find more things. "Why a bowling bag?" Horatio let Xander lift the ball. "Interesting. Where was that?" Xander pointed at the window. "She dropped it inside the bag without looking?"
"Or didn't take the time to care," Xander offered. "Maybe it's meant as a specific in-joke this time?" They looked at him. "In DC's they found chicken feathers in the bomb case."
"Telling us more about the people who made the bomb or the one who delivered it?" Speed asked.
"Dawn said the delivery boy up there wanted to be popular so badly the girl talked him into it with a promise of being allowed to hang with her and her pretty friend, both of who he wanted to hit on."
"Pretty girls can cloud a guy's mind," Speed sighed, shaking his head. "Idiot."
"Jethro said the same thing." He took the ball to the evidence box, putting it carefully in there so it wouldn't damage anything else. All the other envelopes went after it. He stood up and looked around, moving something for Alexx and the body haulers. He heard a whining noise and winced, instinctively going for Speed. Horatio was too. They pounced him as a second device went off. Speed groaned and passed out from the pain of them knocking him down but he was fine. Horatio had a few shrapnel cuts. Xander had a few more since he had been farther away and therefore on top.
"Aw, shit," he muttered. "Alexx, Speed is knocked out. Horatio has a few cuts. Can I get something to stop the bleeding?" he called. She came rushing back with her first aid kit. They got off Speed, letting her check him over while he got Horatio's injuries. Horatio was watching Speed. "Hey, he's fine." Horatio looked at him. "We knocked him out but he's fine. We covered him." He plucked out a piece of something, putting it on the bag Speed had out to pick something else up. He dabbed at another bleeding spot. "Find it." Horatio nodded, concentrating around them until he found it. He walked over to examine it then smirked at him. "Good?"
"No, not good. But helpful." He bagged up that device. It hadn't done much damage. He looked around the new mess. "Alexx, go with him." She nodded, going with Speed once the paramedics got there. "You too, Xander."
"Shut up, Horatio. It's scratches, like yours are." He came over to look. "I found that one online the other day. It was... Hmm, that Russian site I think. Fairly easy and you can get it all at Radio Shack."
"Good to know." He bagged up that mess and when Ryan and Eric came running back he got them to do the rest. By the time they got back to the office, Speed was out of the hospital and complaining. They walked into Speed getting ready to throw a fit. "Speed, are you all right?"
"Are you!" he demanded. He glared at Xander. "He should've went."
"Neither of us went, Speed. It was only small cuts from the debris. If he had went I would've went with him. I did stop the bleeding while they looked you over." Speed slumped, shaking his head as he walked off. "Okay. Now, we can clean these up, pick out any shrapnel, and then I'll find those plans while you be brilliant."
"Will be in the changing room by the time I get there with the lab's first aid kit? Yes you will. They can start the tests running and we'll have to wait for them to run anyway, Horatio. If you hadn't turned down your sense of touch, you'd be in pain right now," he said quietly at the dirty look he got. "March. It's my job to take care of you." Horatio nodded, heading that way. Xander got the kit from Calleigh. "I'm cleaning his little cuts and bruises in the changing area." She nodded at that, coming to gather any evidence and take pictures for them. "Speed's head?" he asked as they walked.
"Just knocked out. He woke up on the way there and fussed at everyone until they decided he was fine and could go." He nodded at that, holding the door for her. "Oh, no," she said, looking at Horatio's shoulder. "That's kinda deep, Horatio."
Xander looked. "I can handle that." She gave him a heated look. He stared back. She huffed but took pictures of Horatio's injuries while Xander stripped off his shirt and undershirt for her. She plucked some bits and pieces out of them then left him to do their injuries. "Hey," he said quietly. "How far down is it?"
"Fairly so. Is it that bad?" He looked and winced. "That'll sting later."
Xander smiled. "Keep it down until after I clean it, boss." He got to work on that one first, doing a few underneath the skin stitches to keep it closed. Then he bandaged it and moved onto the ones on his face. "Small stings," he promised quietly. Horatio nodded, taking some of the alcohol gel and pads to do the ones on Xander's arms, face, and shoulders. Xander hissed at one. "I need the 'touch down' switch right about now," he joked weakly.
"I should've made you go with Speed."
"There's no way I'm going to leave you in a dangerous situation by yourself, Horatio. You know that." That got a silent nod and another bandaid applied. "I heal the same as you do. Even if I was really injured, if one of us goes, the other might go insane." He looked at him. "That's the way the bond works," he said quietly. That got another silent nod. "Consider me a shadow, Horatio. Even if we're both injured and both should've went. I wasn't going to embarrass you there by throwing a girlish hissy about you being injured."
"Thank you." He finished up and moved to his face, finding one had broken open. "Hmm, bleeding again."
"Turn down the scent function too, big guy. You'll snap if you smell it for too long." Horatio smiled, putting a bandaid over it. "Thank you." He moved back. "Let me see your back." Alexx stomped in. "Nearly done, Alexx."
"You should've sent him," she told Horatio.
Xander looked at her. "There's no way in hell I'm leaving him in a dangerous situation, Alexx Woods. Jump off it. We both should've went but the job demands sometimes. The same as if I was injured while hunting I had to finish it somehow." She backed away, mouth open.
Horatio looked at him. "I'm supposed to go into Blessed Protector mode, Xander. Not you."
"Yay." He grinned. "We're not Jim and Blair, Horatio. Things aren't exactly as they are for them. I can be just as overprotective of you as Jim can of Blair and Jethro can growl over Tony and his team plus Dawn. The same as we can both overprotect Speed because apparently he needs it."
She let out a small laugh. "He does need it, yes." She came over to look. "Who stitched this?" she said, looking at his shoulder. Xander wiggled his fingers as he cleaned up their mess. "Not bad." She swatted him on the head. "Not your job."
"Shut up, Alexx. I can do those. Have in the past," he told her. He got up and looked around. "Horatio, do I have an extra shirt in your locker?"
"I'm not sure I have an extra shirt in my locker," he admitted. He looked but no, he didn't. He sighed. "Speed should have one."
Alexx paged him, making him come stomping that way. He stopped to stare at them. "Do you have any extra t-shirts, Speedy?"
"Um, let me look. Thanks, Alexx." She left with a grin, locking the door behind her. He walked closer, looking them over. "You both should've went."
"We've decided we can be overprotective boobs over you since you got knocked out," Xander quipped with a grin. Speed kissed him to shut him up then kissed Horatio, earning a hum. Xander let hem have each other to break the tension. He put back on his undershirt and went back to his office to write out the report someone would undoubtedly need soon.
Speed worked Horatio off quickly, making him go limp against the lockers. He looked around to pull Xander in to make sure he was all right. "That sneaky little shit left us, Horatio. We should spank him for that." He got Horatio his sweats from his locker and helped him into them, bagging the clothes for the dry cleaner. He could check for evidence later, before he dropped it off. Horatio got put up in his office for a bit since he was sleepy for some reason. Then Speed went to hunt his other lover down. "Next time, watch and I'll get you next," he said, closing the door. He pulled Xander around to pin him to the desk, checking him over. "Why do you have more cuts?"
"I landed on top."
"Thank you." He took a kiss and made Xander groan and relax. "I was going to get you next."
"Horatio needed it, Speed. I've been battle tense for weeks in the past. I could pounce you later on tonight."
"Not happening. You get pounced now so I can make sure you're all right," he promised, going to make sure their boy was really all right. Xander might protest and be slightly insecure that they wanted him for himself but he was learning. He let go and Speed got to grin at him. He stood up again, kissing him. Xander moved to play with him. "Not necessary, Xander. I'm good. I'm making sure you're both okay. You can both pounce me tonight for dinner. All right?" Xander grinned, taking a kiss. He heard the door open and looked back. "Rick, do you mind? I'm making sure he's all right." Rick blushed and closed the door, stomping off. "He must've thought you were beautiful. He was staring again." He took another kiss. "Let me see if I've got another shirt in my locker since that's got blood on it."
"It's fine for now."
"Shut up, Xander." He smirked. "It's my job to take care of you two the same way it's your job to take care of us two." That got a nod. "Besides, H might freak with the blood scent." He went to look, having to bum from Ryan. "Ryan, do you have an extra t-shirt Xander can bum for now? His has blood and cuts."
Ryan shuddered. "I saw. I think I do." He went to get it for him, handing it over. "Is Horatio all right?"
"I made sure he'd sleep for a bit so he can come hover over our shoulders later and would quit worrying." He walked off smirking.
"I'll make sure they erased that tape," he muttered, going to AV to do that. "Erase the locker room tape, Cooper."
"I saw and erased. It pinged about unusual activity, Wolfe." He looked over. "Then I erased the one outside of Xander's office when his door closed. Making sure it didn't catch them when Stetler opened the door." Ryan grinned and headed off. "Wonder if the bossman knows," he muttered, turning back around to get back to work. "If so, that's probably hot." He shook himself free of his dirty thoughts so he could get back to evidence looking over. They didn't pay him to imagine Horatio and Xander covering Speed with some of the volcano cake Xander had made last week so they could lick it off him. With ice cream of course.
Dawn hung up and stared at her cellphone then at Jethro. "There was a second device at the last one in Miami," she said quietly. Jethro stopped working to look at her. "They're fine. Cuts and bruises. They knocked Speed down and out because he was closer. That was Xander admitting he was fine and just had a few cuts and bruises. No idea why the second device or where it came from."
"In a mall. You might check." He nodded, typing out a message to the lab down there. "I'm going to get chocolate."
"How many cuts?" he asked her, handing her a dollar.
"Many. Some on Horatio too."
"I'm sure they took care of each other, Dawn."
She nodded. "In the locker room. Speed took the phone to assure me he was fine while Xander put on a borrowed shirt from Ryan Wolfe." She took a calming breath and went to get a candy bar from the machine. She was going to kill someone if they had targeted Xander. She came back and found only Tony there. "Emergency run on the potty?" she joked weakly.
"You can go."
"No I can't. I wasn't called." They shared a look and she sighed, patting him and giving him a bite of her candy bar before going back to her current book report.
Jen Sheppard looked at her alpha team. "It has come to my attention that something strange is going on within your team, Jethro."
"Nothing out of the ordinary is going on. Or else I'd stop it."
She tossed down a folder. "Someone gave that to me and suggested that a member of your team has skills that could be useful in other areas."
He glanced at the research but he knew what it was already. It was some of Sandburg's early work. "I was told that was a myth or only happened in tribal cultures since people in modern cities don't have to hunt for their food and survival the same way." He sipped his cup of coffee. "Why would it matter? Even if it were true it'd only make them a better agent."
"Because they want to borrow the person who has it. DiNozzo is going to be loaned to them."
"It's not him," he said with an evil smirk. She gasped, backing away, looking at McGee.
"No, not me either, ma'am. Sorry, barking up the wrong tree here." He looked at Gibbs. "Should I call Ducky now or wait until you've yelled her to death, boss?"
"Why don't you two go back to work," he said calmly. They fled. McGee knew that tone of voice and Ziva knew dangerous situations to flee from. He stared at her. "No, it's not DiNozzo. And even if it were, he's not being leant like some book. My team is my team. Quit interfering with it, Jen."
"Abby," she started. He shook his head. "It has to be!"
"No, it's me, Jen. And by the way, the new perfume with the pheromones? Stinks. Badly." She blushed, backing further away. "I will make this very clear. I'm not going to be going to any special ops project. I do what I do very well, without any additional skills most of the time. Unless it helps me gather evidence. As for other matters, leave my guide alone," he snarled, making her whimper. "The more you test and push at her, the more it makes me want to react. You should look at his one on Blessed Protectors. It might give you why." He stepped back. "Now, is there anything else, Director Sheppard? If not, I have an open case."
"Go," she said quietly, watching him stomp out. She called the person who had given it to her. "You're wrong. It's not DiNozzo. It's Gibbs and that brat is his guide," she hissed. "He just threatened me."
Jethro walked in and took the phone from her hand. "Let me make myself very clear. I am an agent for NCIS. Not any other agency. Yes, I could hear who you were from the hall. I also know which agency you work for and that you do not have a clearance high enough to have read his work legitimately. Do have fun when internal affairs comes for you." He hung up and stared her down. "I wouldn't do it again." He walked off again, sipping his coffee.
She sat down, going limp in her chair. She did look up that article he suggested. What she saw made her grimace but it was clear Jethro would destroy her over that brat. Even if he wasn't sleeping with her, it was too late to save him. DiNozzo might be savable. They had to have seen something in him to have spotted his gifts when Jethro didn't.
Gibbs walked back down to his desk, seeing the uneasy looks. "After she's screwed up so many things there's no way I'm letting her send DiNozzo to another agency," he told them, making Tony sigh in relief. "I would be more cautious." He grabbed his phone and went outside to talk to someone before this news got out.
Dawn looked at him. "Want the couch tonight? I'm baking chicken."
"If he doesn't mind," he agreed, smiling at her. "Thanks, Dawn."
"Welcome." The director came out of her office and Dawn snarled, giving her the mustache she kept shaving off. The director felt and stared at her so she stared back. "Blessed protectorship goes both ways and I learned from the best, Xander." She fled to deal with her mustache before anyone saw. She smiled at the staring agents. "Not my fault she doesn't shave very well. Huh?" She got back to her book report.
"I think you just won the scary girl of the year award," McGee said.
"I'm not Wednesday Addams. She's always scarier, McGee." She grinned. "But thank you. Mommy said to make anyone who fucked with me miserable so they begged to never do it again. Of course she was talking about trifling boyfriends but I think I can generalize in this case." Jethro came back. "Jethro, McGee thinks I'm as scary as Wednesday Addams, do you? And can Tony have the couch tonight?"
"He can and you are sometimes. I saw you when you couldn't sleep the other night and were wandering around in pajamas and one of my t-shirts." She grinned at that. "Behave. Self-defense only."
"Blessed protectorship goes both ways and I *did* learn from the master of overprotecting Dawn, Xander." He laughed, shaking his head. "Any word on that second bomb?"
"Not yet." He looked at her. "He's fine."
"He's stubborn," she corrected.
"You said Speed said he was fine."
"True." She looked over at Tony, who shrugged. "So, what do you want with the baked chicken? I was going to make mac'n cheese."
"Whatever's fine, Dawn." He grinned. "Thanks, boss."
"It's better if we're all overly cautious for a few more days." They nodded and got back to work. He glanced at Dawn, shooting her a 'calm down' look. She just smirked back and rubbed her lip, making him burst out laughing. She went back to her book report and he went back to his theft ring happier.
Xander watched Horatio reread the statement from the delivery guy in DC, then frowned. "Wasn't that a movie?"
"Kind of," Ryan agreed. Horatio looked up. "Teenager sort of movie long ago, guys. Had the one who shoplifted in it." That got a nod. "Do we have a popularity ring down here is the real question."
"Actually it's not. It's do we have two or one?" Xander told him. Horatio's head lifted and he looked at him. "It could be a group thing, so two people at the center acting out their fantasies, or it could be one acting through higher level minions who get lower level minions to do their thing for them."
"It's two planned for two," Eric said.
"Not really," Xander said. "Who's behind the mail order kits?" They all stared. "A bomb that size is scary, and a bit effective, but won't do any *real* harm like a terrorist would want, would it? Beyond the fear?"
Horatio considered it. "That is true. Which might point to a more cult-like structure. Eric, do we have anything further on them?"
"The FBI isn't giving information."
"From Gibbs?" Ryan asked.
"From him we have more, but they aren't sharing with them either." He shoved over what they had gotten from DC. "I'm almost surprised we haven't seen a turf war with Homeland."
Xander shook his head. "Homeland doesn't need to deal with this. This is home-grown so that's FBI. Beyond that, they probably hate Horatio too." He leaned back on his stool to consider it. He wouldn't mention that a few of the people in Homeland he knew... That might be an idea. He got up and walked out with his cellphone. "Buffy, Xander. I need you to ask Riley if he can get my boss the files that the FBI is hiding from us so we can finally stop this stupid bombing thing. No, they're acting like toddlers in a playpen with only one toy. Well, okay, Eric's nieces in a playpen with only one toy they want to play with." He smirked at her 'why ask him'.
"Because the only agency we haven't seen is Homeland. And Riley can probably pull rank. We need the records on who's selling the bomb kits. Who's behind them. Please? As far as I know she's all right. Yeah, she said she wanted to. Jethro's fussier rules were good for her and she didn't want to make me and the new friend have extra stress." He shrugged. "That's her decision and she's seventeen, Buffy. If that's what she wants, I trust Jethro. He's an honorable guy and a former Marine." She shuddered at that. "Good. Please? Thanks, at work. Need my email address?" He grinned. "Thank him for me and if he hears anything about Dawn or their director going after her again, let me know? Killer, thanks, Buff." He hung up and walked back into the meeting, finding everyone staring. "Talking to the friend who has an ex in Homeland."
"That's nearly evil," Horatio praised. Xander grinned wickedly at him. "Will they know?"
"If the FBI has it, he can get it." He sat down again. "Let's just say Riley was there at the same time that file got sealed." Horatio stared at him. He nodded. "And he's in DC. So I said if he hears anything about the witch up there going after Dawnie again, to please tell me as well." He logged in to the computer in there, checking his email. "Hmm. Spike wrote." He looked at that. "Single idea source, his girls are planning it and doing it for him. He said one was giggling at Dawn and it annoyed him." He printed that one and handed it over. A few minutes later his email chimed and he leaned over to get into it, printing the attached files. He sent back a thank you and a short note that he was here but retired. So if he heard something about the lab or Miami or Dawn to please let him know. He got back a 'fine' and that ended it. "Buffy's ex." He handed over the papers to Horatio. "Will that help any?"
He looked at it, nodding. "Indeed it will." He handed it to Eric and Ryan, who Speed took it from. Calleigh came in. "We just got some helpful information."
"Good! It's about time. Did the FBI finally come through?"
"No, I used the power of the ex network to ask Buffy to ask her ex in Homeland," Xander said with a grin. "He's in DC."
"Wonderful." She came over to look. "Didn't we question one of these?"
"I thought we had," Horatio agreed. "If they know this, why aren't they stopping them?"
"They want the nicely tied up tree," Speed told him. "They don't have the guy at the top and they want him, H." That got a small nod. "They're probably doing surveillance work." He looked at the list on the kit makers. "Here we go. A third name on it." He pointed. "Which is a male name and the all the others have been females."
"Here or there?" Horatio asked.
"There." He went to fax that to Jethro's office, making someone in DC happier. "Shall we?"
"Get SWAT to join us," Horatio ordered, heading out. "Good work, Xander. Thank you."
"Welcome, boss." He waved as they headed off to arrest someone. "Be safe." Horatio smirked back at him. Xander cleaned up the meeting mess and called DC. "Dawnster. Look at your fax machine." He smiled. "Good girl." He hung up.
Dawn got up to get the fax, frowning at it. "Oh, shit. Jethro, they found him and he's up here." He jogged over to get the information as it came out. He walked off with an evil smirk of his own. "I wonder how he got the FBI files we couldn't." She walked back there. "Does Horatio have a hacker?"
"The last one has a note saying it came from a confidential source in Homeland Security."
"Riley," she said, nodding some. "Buffy's ex." Tony shuddered. "He was better once he quit torturing others and went to become a demon hunting commando in South America for the UN. And got married." She sat down to look at her sentinel. "Okay, boss. How do you want to play that one so I can figure out how late you're going to be tonight?" she asked when he looked at her. "I know. Xander got away with staying beside Horatio when they nearly got blown up because he's trained and I'm not but I still need to know if things need to happen."
"Not as far as I know. McGee, find him," he said, holding up a sheet. "DiNozzo, get the arrest warrant." He handed over the rest of the information. Tony got to work on that.
"Two possible locations, boss. Work or home?" McGee asked.
"Home," Dawn said. "It's nearly four. Unless he works night shift?"
"He's a pharmacy tech," McGee told her.
"Never mind. Where?" He showed her and she called the pharmacy. "Hi, is Douglas there please? He explained the complications on my new medicine so well and I forgot to ask a question." She nodded. "That's fine, I can wait that long. Thank you, ma'am. No, funky patch questions. Thank you." She hung up. "He's not working today. He'll be in tomorrow at two."
Tony smirked. "Thanks, Evil Minion Dawn."
"Welcome." She went back to her desk to sit down again and get to work making sure the whole file was together for Jethro to approve of later on. They left once they had the warrant faxed over. "Go get 'im, boss!" she called after them. She saw the director staring. "They caught a good lead." She finished up the tidying process and proofread reports for Ziva again. She was better, but not excellent yet. She printed them for Jethro's signing pleasure. Then the rest of the case file got printed and put into the right folder in the center of his desk, just waiting on him. The director came down. "A friend in Homeland got Xander the information he needed on the bomber. They went to get the guy behind it while Miami is getting the girls planning for him." She got back to work.
"What are you doing?"
"Proofreading for Ziva. She has some grammar issues." She looked at her. "I'm sure you'll have reports on this one by tomorrow, Director. All it's waiting for are individual reports and then he can pass it up."
"Fine. Why are you still here?"
"Because he doesn't want me driving with migraines." She stomped off. Dawn got back to work, shaking her head at the wording confusion. Ziva had put what she wanted it to mean in parenthesis for her this time. She corrected the word and highlighted it before going on. That way she could make sure it meant what she wanted it to. Those went onto Ziva's desk for her. Jethro and the team came back two hours later with some guy sobbing in his cuffs. She got up to make coffee for them. Jethro needed his coffee so he wouldn't make the guy cry any harder. She found Abby in there and gave her a hug. "The boss walked in someone crying in his cuffs."
"Again? Wow. He's having a happy day." She got her snack and watched Dawn make coffee, smiling at the extra scoop. "Anything else good going on?"
"It was the bomber guy behind everything."
"Aww, so he'll have a good night sanding the boat." She walked off to watch, Dawn coming in later on with the coffee pot. Abby grinned as she refilled Tony's cup and left Jethro's in there for him. Then she left again. "She's good."
"She's very good."
"Ziva, you have stuff on your desk when I walked past," Abby told her.
"I asked her to proofread a few more of my reports." That got a nod. Abby was nibbling while the guy protested he wasn't the mastermind behind the scheme. Gibbs told him to tell him who was. He named a name. "Who is Zordon?"
"The head guy over the Power Rangers," Abby said automatically, eating another chip. Tony texted that to Gibbs, earning a grin. Gibbs looked then said that. The guy gave him a horrified look. "And a quip about the pink ranger. How cute." She bounced out to make sure they had all the evidence solidly done.
"Is he going to get off on insanity?" Ziva asked him.
"He's trying awfully hard but no." He walked in there with Jethro's coffee for him. "You know, I didn't know you were from California, Douglas. Since that's where Zordon lives. How did you meet the big head in the shiny column where space and time has him trapped?"
"He's a real guy!" he complained.
"Uh-huh. Next you're going to tell me the green ranger is evil?"
"Well, Tommy was for a bit, but no, he redeemed himself."
Tony leaned down. "You'll never make that team. Really. So why don't you spill. Because all your little female minions? They're already in a room just like this one in Miami."
"Who told you!"
"A friend of their lab's administrative assistant," Gibbs said dryly. "Shiny column?"
"I'll get McGee to show you later, boss. I'm sure he knows." He looked at him. "So, do you know Xander?" The guy choked and spluttered. "I'll take that as a yes. You know, he works with the Miami lab now."
"NO! He can't!" He stood up. "He's not fit to do that! He walked away!"
"He got hurt on a road trip and got talked into doing something better." Gibbs stared at the kid. "I've had dinner with him a few times." The boy groaned, holding his head. "Now, why are you doing this and are you in charge or is someone else?"
"Xander could be," he sneered. "He knows bombs."
"I doubt it since he was finding the parts and helping the lab reconstruct it," Tony told him. "See, he likes to work with Horatio. Even the Feds like him down there because he does the lab's paperwork quickly and before it's due. So, no, we know it wasn't Xander."
"He ordered one!"
"For the lab to test against," Gibbs agreed. "So did we for that reason." The boy went pale. "So, who's behind this plan to gain female followers?"
He stuttered. "I...i...i...i..."
"Hmm. Sounds like a starter problem, boss." He clapped him hard on the back. "Spit it out."
"Fine. I got the idea off someone else but I thought it'd make me more popular," he sneered. "Happier now?"
Tony stared at him. "Think he's lying, boss?"
Gibbs stared at him. "Were they planning on doing this?"
"No, they had too much caffeine during a D&D game." He pouted. "He's mean to me," he told Tony.
"You should try being on his team." He sneered down at him. "I want a full confession."
"I don't have to."
Dawn leaned in. "McGee said you needed help breaking him, Jethro?"
"Dawn?" he asked, looking awed.
She sneered at him. "You pathetic little pissant. You can't even work up to the level of your cousin Andrew's geekiness. You had to steal their caffeine-induced plans for world domination and all the easy women." She walked in and looked down at him. "Xander's coming tonight." He started to shake. "Him and his axe are coming tonight. He's not happy since a secondary device in Miami gave him a few new scars and his boyfriend too."
"Ha! I knew he was gay!"
"It's a new thing. He even make Xander quit playing with guns." The boy whimpered, looking confused. "Now, do you want to tell Jethro here? Who can kick your ass easily. Or Tony here who's nice enough to tell the DA you cooperated but you'll be getting very few favors from him otherwise. Or would you rather tell Xander and his axe?"
He licked his lips. "Can I tell them and hide from Xander?"
"Prison's a safe place to hide from him, yeah. He can't bring his axe in there." He nodded quickly, looking at Tony. She smiled at Jethro. "He was in my year. Oh, and nice work with the fake ID for work, Douggie. I doubt Xander recognized his name. Though he used to be buddies with his cousin. I should tell Andrew."
"He'll be so disappointed in me, Dawn. I just wanted more women than he gets. He got so many after they nearly took over the world the last time. Please?"
"Fine." She walked off shaking her head. Instead she called Willow. She didn't have Andrew's number anyway. "Hey, it's me. Talked to Andrew's cousin just now. No, he's under arrest. Ask them if their plans are a bit loose-lipped please? Because it was a D&D campaign with caffeine plan, Willow. Yes, one of those." She hung up and strolled off again. McGee stopped her so she got him online to check out their livejournal and stuff. She pointed. "His cousin is Andrew."
He read and grimaced. "Geeks," he muttered.
"And that's saying something coming from you," she teased.
"I said I wouldn't tell his cousin Andrew but I did tell Willow so they could increase security on their next plan to rule the world." She sat down and got back to work.
"Axe?" Jethro said as he joined them.
"You haven't seen Xander's pretty axe?" She found a picture in her wallet, letting him see. He moaned at that. "Everyone's seen Xander with his axe, Jethro." She put it back. "I got him onto Andrew, Warren, and what's-his-name's site. Jonathan, that's it. Andrew's that guy's cousin."
He came over to look. "They want to take over the world?"
"They've tried a few times but my sister keeps stopping them."
Willow appeared, staring at her. "Huh?"
"Bombing thing? Andrew's cousin Douggie. Got the idea off the geek trio."
She rolled her eyes. "I'll tell them to use better security on their stupid ideas."
"I told him I wouldn't tell Andrew since he'd be disappointed in his cousin."
"Uh-huh." She left, heading out to talk to them once she got back into Sunnydale. She found them at the pizza place and sat down, staring at Andrew. "You guys need better security on your evil plans."
"Why?" Warren demanded. "And who're you to say that, Rosenburg? Not like you don't have your own."
She glared at him. "Because agents just arrested Douggie for that bombing thing in Miami and DC." She stared at him. "Something about campaigns with too much caffeine? Wanting all the hot girls?"
Andrew whined. "No!"
"Dawn said she wouldn't tell you herself. She told me to tell yo to use better security on your evil plans for your empire. Especially since one laid a secondary device that nearly got Xander." She smirked. "Do you need to learn how to encrypt stuff?"
"No," Jonathan sighed, shaking his head. "Poor Douggie. He'll never get girls now. All the prison guys will pick on him until he likes it."
"He's being charged with treason and terrorist acts. He's going to one of those prison where you don't get to see people," she told him.
"I'll tell my mom," Andrew sighed, shaking his head. "He had such promise as our next generation."
"Into every evil family has to go a kid with warped ideas," Warren told him.
"I am not!" Andrew complained. "That was my brother."
"So maybe he's a light version of him," Willow said, stealing one of his fries. "Dawn's in DC with Jethro Gibbs. He's the agent who just arrested him. They're with NCIS."
"Super crap," Jonathan muttered. "We'll figure it out. Thanks for the warning, Willow." He grinned. "How's Buffy?"
"Better now that she's not being creeped out by the robot of her." She got up and walked out, giggling once they couldn't hear.
"My mom's going to kill him and his mother," Andrew said, finding his roll of tums to take one. "Anyone want to help me tell my mom?"
"Nope," they said together.
"Call her here, that way she can't hit you too," Warren suggested.
"That might help." He called home. "Mom, it's Andrew. I just got some news on Douggie. I'm at the pizza place. Because you'll hit me if I tell you at home, Mom. No, it's not good. Like really, really bad. Yes, worse than that bad." He hung up, putting his head down. His friends patted him until his mom showed up. Then he put his head up, facing his mother and aunt. "We found out where Douggie went when he ran away. He was in DC." His aunt whimpered. "He was just arrested by NCIS for being behind that bombing stuff there and in Miami." He ducked his mother's swat. "It wasn't my fault!" he complained. "It's just that there's no room to run at home so I had to avoid being beaten for him being evil here."
His aunt took a deep breath. "He's a minor."
"If he was living there, he had to have some sort of job to pay for his rent and stuff," Warren pointed out.
"He did have a pretty decent fake ID already," Jonathan added. "He used it to get into the college bars."
She whimpered. "My baby!"
"Mom, the one who arrested him is Jethro Gibbs at NCIS. She can probably call him to find out when his bail hearing is," Andrew offered quickly. "If they give it to him since he was leading girls to plant the bombs for him." They stomped out to find the number and call out there. "Thanks, guys. Can I stay in someone's recliner for a few days?" They both nodded. "At least until she calms down." He went back to nibbling. He was a young male. He had to eat, it was imperative. Even if his head and stomach now hurt.
Ten days later Xander got a sudden page, looking at his phone. "I've got to go early," Xander said, heading out once he had his keys. "Don't wait dinner." He jogged down to his car and headed out as quickly as was legally possible.
Horatio stared at his assistant and guide's back. "That did not look good," he muttered. He warned Speed that something was going on and they went home to wait once their shift was done. If Xander was back, he was baking and they'd need to stop him. If not, they could wait and keep him from the pastry flour. They hoped. When he came in, Horatio sniffed him. "Why do you smell like blood?"
"Because I was at the demon bar." He stood in front of them. "Dawn and Tony got taken. I just talked to Gregori, the demon I had guarding her? They cut Dawn and took her and Tony both. He can't fully track them."
"What can we do to help?" Horatio asked.
"We've got to get to Jethro. He's going to zone soon or he's going to lose it."
"I'll call." He started by calling. "Director Sheppard, I was trying to reach Jethro to talk to him about a case matter. Is he not in tonight?" He listened to her complaining he wasn't coming back, he was in the hospital. "I see. Thank you." He hung up. "He's in the hospital."
"Sounds like he zoned," Xander said, calling Blair. "Head's up. Someone snatched Dawn and Tony. Jethro's in the hospital." He hung up. "How did she sound since Gregori tortured her for information?"
"He did?" Speed asked.
"Yeah, he said he had fun too. Speaking of torture, Spike's in town so he told both of us. You can probably smell the blood he spluttered when Gregori told us she was bleeding when she was taken."
"Can we help find them?" Horatio asked. "I'm not sure if anyone can get him out of a zone with her gone."
"You know, they're probably hoping to break their bond and have Tony bond to her," Speed said. "Dawn said she noticed he had some of the same skills but they were lighter, like a latent gift."
Xander nodded. "We talked about that. She wasn't sure he wouldn't have a break out sometime under the right conditions." He sat down. "I don't know what to do other than to go up to see if I can help him, guys. This is Dawn we're talking about."
Horatio nodded. "We can go. That's not a problem." He went to answer the knock on the door. That was suspicious timing. "Agent Emmes."
"I'm here for Harris. Do not get in my way."
Xander looked at him. "I've been in the lab until I got called away. What do you want?"
"You were torturing Director Sheppard for information."
"How would I have done that since there's a camera that looks directly into my office?" Emmes stopped to glare at him. "Truth. There is. And it takes what, two, three hours to fly from Miami to DC?"
"Probably about three," Speed agreed. "You've only been out of sight for an hour and a half. Therefore can't be him, Emmes."
"It has to be. He's on the tape!"
"I want to see this tape," Horatio sneered. "Immediately. We can escort you back to your office to make sure of it while I have our tape pulled."
"And then tomorrow I'm going to DC to see why that stupid fucking woman you think I tortured kidnaped my little sister and an agent." Emmes stepped back at that. Xander stood up, pulling up every ounce of Sunnydale style pissed he could. "You see, Director Sheppard has been plaguing my little sister, Dawn. Earlier, when I wasn't at work for that hour and a half, I talked with someone who saw them carrying her out of her house, bleeding no less, and reported to me that they also stole one of her guardian's team members, his senior agent." Emmes licked his lips nervously. "If I had tortured her for information, you never would have seen a tape. Or a body. There's plenty of ways to deal with one when you have my contacts in the underground networks. Now, let's go see your little tape, darling, and then you're going to get us on an express flight up to DC at your cost so I can help find my little sister and help that senior agent who's presently in the hospital."
"You can't order me to do anything," he sneered.
Xander held up his phone. "Unlike you, I can call and dial a phone at the same time. You can ask Miss Sykes which news crew she works for if you want." The agent backed away whimpering. "By the way, Dawn is seventeen. That makes her a minor you and this supposed director kidnaped." He stared him down. "Any other statements you want to make, little princess? Before I castrate your stupid ass?"
"But... You're on the do-not-touch list!" he wailed, flinching.
"No, they removed her!"
"Thanks to Sheppard, who is behind having her and an agent kidnaped. Yeah, I heard." He smirked. "I was going to let your internal affairs department fix their own shit, but not any more."
"Calm down," Horatio warned.
Xander looked at him. "I am calm, Horatio. The same as I am before any battle." He looked at the toad again. "You've got ten seconds before we arrest you and throw you into the scuzziest, fullest cell we can for touching a minor child that way."
"They'll bond and work for us."
"Which would add a charge of forcibly raping a minor, right, H?" Speed asked. Horatio nodded. Xander took the shortest route, he hit him, making him wail as he went down. "Xander!"
"Yay." He stared at him. "If Dawn's injured, or Jethro's injured, or even Tony's injured, you'll be seeing me again and whatever Gregori did to Sheppard? I can do worse. I learned from better sources. He's just a minor torment." He smirked evilly. "Your choice." He got up and fled. Xander grabbed two things. "I'm heading to DC."
Horatio stopped him. "It might not work thanks to their bond," he said quietly.
"I know that, but any port in a storm and I pretty well know why, Horatio. What happens when you smell my blood?" He hung up and walked out, pulling his coat around his shoulders. He looked up then around with a smirk. "Graham Miller. Come to pick me up with the weenie?"
"No, we just arrested him."
"I need to find Dawn."
"They're dealing with it."
"I can do a locating charm."
"There's other witches in DC. Since when do you do magic?"
"You learn things watching Willow. A locating charm isn't hard. And there's things you don't know and understand going on here."
"No, I got briefed on why," he admitted.
Xander shrugged. "I'm going with or without your help."
"Fine. Do not pull your usual crap on them. His team will eat you."
"No, his team would respect me. After all, Dawn's just like me." He got into the car. "Hi again," he told the agent with a grin. Horatio and Speed followed. Graham got in to drive after a short report. They went to the airport. "So, is there really a tape?"
"Yeah, whatever thing that happened who looked like you made one for remembrance sake."
"Gregori. He's a torment. I sicced him on Dawn when Sheppard tried her last stunt."
"Yeah, not happy making." He grinned sweetly. "Very not happy making." That got a shudder but a nod. "Quick plane or slow one?"
"Private jet so fairly fast, Harris. Why are you in Miami?"
"I retired to be Horatio's wonder assistant."
"Ooooh. We heard about you."
"That's cool. I'm known for doing all his paperwork on time finally. And cooking for him." He grinned. "He's probably back there hoping I don't find the candy making equipment when we get back."
"I hope so too. Did you hear about that serum?"
"They had to take out some huge damn intestinal tumors, Graham. They did get all of them who did that to me and Dawn? And hers might've rendered her infertile so think hard."
"Don't piss me off."
"Hey, I can knock you out and drive us."
Graham looked over and realized he would be soon. "As far as I know they did."
"Thank you." He looked back. "Want to spill any coconspirators?"
"No!" he said, starting to struggle.
"I'm a master of the Vulcan neck pinch. Though I could use some practice."
"No torture in my car," Graham said quickly.
"Shoot, take all my fun," Xander said, staring at the agent. He shrank down again. "You'll tell Horatio on the flight or you'll tell me and I'll be holding you out the emergency exit."
"I'll tell the Lieutenant!" he shouted, wiggling to the other side of the car.
"Sit still. Do not make Graham wreck." The agent shrank back down and quit moving. Xander looked at him. "Thanks for getting the stuff for us through Riley, Graham. Turns out it was one of the geek trio's cousins."
"Warren and his team?" he asked, looking disgusted.
"Yeah, it was originally their idea after too much caffeine. Douggie took it from them when he ran away from home to make a name and a harem of his own to show up his cousins so they'd let him be one of them. Gibbs arrested him and got to face down Andrew's mom and aunt. One even tried to hit him so she's in jail too. Andrew sent him a thank you card." Graham grinned at that, shaking his head slightly. "Yeah."
"You can't know anything about any of this," the agent in the back sneered. "We'll still get you and her."
Xander leaned back. "Sun. Ny. Dale," he said slowly and clearly. The man shuddered, nearly pissing himself. "I was Buffy's planning help, little boy. You come after mine and I'll call in favors and then summon something that wants to date me to eat all of you."
"There's more than the one over Anyanka?" Graham asked dryly.
"Yeah. Anya said I'm a regular pinup for the chaos demons." He gave him an insane grin. "My boyfriends might mind though."
"Thankfully." He looked up and said a silent 'thank you' for that. Miami might not take him dating.
"Yuck it up," he said dryly. "Did you know this one tried to arrest me for the bombs because I ordered one of the kits for the lab? Him and his boss went to Horatio to try to have me taken out because I was dangerous."
"You are. You managed to screw up Riley fairly easily."
"I think that was Buffy."
"No, he had headaches from you all the time, Harris." He pulled into the private airstrip, getting them out once he had parked. Horatio came up to get his prisoner once he had parked the hummer. "He said he'd tell you what was going on so Harris didn't have to toss him out of the plane accidentally on purpose. Can you maybe calm him down?"
"You guys touched Dawn. Last time he nearly blew up the courtroom they were holding the trial in when the judge thought hard about giving them bail," Speed said. "We're going to be baked to death for months." He got onto the plane, looking at Xander. "Calm down and plan, don't act in the rage."
"I'm plenty calm," he said, looking up at him. He glared at the agent, making him try to hide behind Horatio. "I'd start to spill as soon as a tape recorder gets turned on, little boy. Because the plane isn't that big." Graham found one for him and the door was shut by the pilot. They took off within minutes and were headed up to DC.
Xander walked into Jethro's room, shoving the director out. "She's not to come back. She's the one who had him knocked out and his protectee kidnaped, plus his senior agent." The guarding agent gave him a horrified look. "Not only was Dawn injured when she was carried out of Gibbs' house, she put them in a situation where DiNozzo was too drugged up to know anything about who was in there with him. Dawn is seventeen. If he touches her, that makes her guilty of not only administering a drug that aided in the rape of a minor, but also makes her a higher accessory, right?"
"She doesn't come back until Gibbs is able to defend himself. His team, Abby, Ducky. Not her."
"Fine, sir. Who're you?"
"Xander Harris. Dawn's other guardian." He shuddered. "Oh, we're going to have a few fires. She'll be on a pole in the middle of one. We have evidence. Ask Agent Miller there." He pointed at him then walked in and shut the door, locking it. He smiled at Horatio since he had snuck past him. "I promise, I'm not going to try to bond to him, Horatio."
"Burning on the stake is not an applicable punishment for treason."
Xander snorted. "Who said she'll make it if the courts don't work? There's whole bunches of demons who'd willingly do it for Buffy and me." He leaned down. "Let's see. It was probably the blood scent that knocked him down, then he went searching and zoned on that. So let's try to stimulate another sense." He ran a finger over Jethro's wrist, watching it flinch. "Kinda high, big guy." He unwrapped something and put it into his mouth, making Jethro gag at the taste.
"I hate those things."
"They work." Jethro started to come around so he sprayed some of Dawn's perfume above him, letting him sniff that instead. Jethro blinked up at him. "We almost have her," he said quietly. Jethro nodded. "Reset your senses once you spit out the nasty candy." He took it from him and tossed it out. "Dawn is going to be fine. She's with Tony, Jethro."
Horatio came over. "We have enough evidence to link her to the kidnaping," Horatio told him. "Along with others. Once you're up, we'll meet with the rest of your team."
Jethro ran his tongue over his teeth a few times. "Toothbrush? That is disgusting."
"But it worked," Xander offered with a grin. That got a nod. He got him unhooked and to the bathroom, letting him do whatever he had to do. He heard the pained grunt. "Turn it down, Jethro. You can do that when you pull the catheter."
Jethro came out without it and feeling fresher. "Not a bad idea. I need to do that next time, kid."
"There had better not be a next time. I'm hoping this time's bonfires will stop thoughts of a next time." He walked out with him, letting Jethro lead the way. Horatio got the car with Speed driving. "Let's hit his office." That got a nod and they headed that way. "It'll be all right, Jethro. Horatio will tell you I nearly went nuts when Gregori told me."
"How did he know?"
"He tortured her mildly to find her plans. Looked just like me on the tape," Xander said dryly, getting a grunt of displeasure. "She was walking around later so he wasn't too mean. Thankfully I was at work then." He looked at Speed. Then at Horatio, who nodded he'd help. They got admitted to the base when they saw Gibbs and his hospital gown. The doorway guards got out of the way when they saw him. "Looks like you've got a scary rep like me," Xander teased once they were in the elevator.
"Most of the time." They came out on the floor, looking around. "Do we have *anything*?" he demanded.
"The plans say they're in a dark spot to encourage DiNozzo's gifts to come out so he'll bond to Dawn and become useable," McGee said quietly. "You must be Xander." He held out a hand.
Xander shook it. "This is Horatio and Speed. Get me a map and a shiny, focusy crystal like her pendant." McGee got what he needed. Xander laid it out on a desk, doing the quiet chant. The crystal hit a spot and didn't move. "She's somewhere there."
Gibbs looked. "Warehouses."
"Scent dog?" Speed suggested. Gibbs smirked at that. "She would stink and so would Tony."
"True. McGee, arrange for one to meet us there." He nodded, making that call while Gibbs grabbed his sidearm and followed Xander and Horatio to the elevator after a quick stop to put on real clothes. "You're not going in, Harris," he said quietly.
"Unless you need me to, I won't. I know you're more trained. But I do get to fuss and cook." He grinned. "Good enough?"
"Fine." Ziva met them at the car. "Take a second one. Meet us there."
"You're in no shape to drive," she complained.
"That's why I am," Speed told her, making her spin around. "Help or get out of the way, David."
"Who're you?" she demanded.
"Tim Speedle and this is Lieutenant Caine, both from Miami-Dade PD. Xander works with us." She saw Xander and backed off, looking scared.
"If you were part of this, I'd fucking well confess, Ziva," Xander told her. "If you're not, get another car and bring McGee." McGee came off the elevator. "Meet you there." They got in again and headed off.
"I don't think she is," Gibbs said calmly.
"Hopefully not. Dawn was starting to like her." He looked around. "Nice city," he said with a yawn. Speed quit letting the gas out and both sentinels rolled down their windows.
"Well played," Gibbs told Speedle.
"He's as fierce as either of you in Blessed Protector mode and it might come down to a territorial fight between you and DiNozzo. He can guard her then."
"No it won't. I'm not bonded to Dawn that way. If he is... we'll deal with it then." That got a nod. "Do we know why I was in the hospital?"
"You zoned," Horatio told him quietly, looking back at them. "You probably zoned on the blood scent and being unable to find her, Jethro. He did call in a fair warning to Blair and Jim after calling the local news station so they could cover all the nice agents and your director being arrested." Jethro groaned. "Without telling her why."
"They'll think it's a delusion from a higher up," Speed pointed out. "All of Blair's old research is classified now."
"Good point. So unless they knew of it and read it, we should be fine," Horatio agreed. Xander mewled in his sleep so he reached back to pet him. "That's my good boy, Xander. You relax. You did good and protected everyone again. You helped a lot and now I'm going to make people miserable for bringing you out of retirement to protect us." He leaned against his hand. "Sleep, Xander. You deserve a nap." Xander curled up against his door, making snuffling noises. Horatio smiled.
"You're a lucky man, Caine."
"With two of us he should be," Speed quipped. "Did you call the boss?"
"I forgot." He called him. "Sir, Horatio Caine and Tim Speedle. We're in DC rescuing the young woman and kidnaped agent with a friend's team. Because the kidnaped girl is Xander's little sister Dawn, sir." Xander moaned. "It might take a few days but I don't know yet. I'll let you know as soon as I know something." He hung up and went back to soothing Xander back into a comfortable sleep.
Tony looked at the injury on Dawn's side, then at her. "How long will it keep seeping?"
"Probably until the scab's fully set. It just broke open when I shifted, Tony. Chill."
"I can't. It's all I can smell, Dawn." She gave him a hug. "Are you sure the little light isn't too much for you?"
"Nope, it's nearly nothing. They were wrong, magic is in the blood but bleeding doesn't make it weaker." Tony nodded, relaxing at that. "They'll be here soon. You know Jethro won't let us go for very long."
"He could be zoned."
"He might be," she agreed. "But you forget, I had Gregori following me." He grinned at that. "Which means Xander's coming too."
"That's going to get messy."
"Xander is where I learned how to be a vindictive bitch from." Tony laughed, nodding some. "I'd be expecting bonfires if Xander's in charge." She heard a bang and Tony flinched, covering his ears. "Usually it takes longer to break out."
"I always spike when I'm kidnaped." She moved closer, taking his hands off his ears. "I can't, Dawn."
"You can so. It won't break my bond to Jethro. All he'll do is growl. A lot. Just like always," she finished with a grin. "Now, close those pretty green eyes and let's put in some switches for you, Tony." He closed his eyes, dropping into the meditative state she'd demand he go into easily enough. "Good boy. I want you to imagine all your senses are hooked up to wires. Like they're plugged in and then you're going to be plugging them into a mixing board. Got it?" He nodded, concentrating on that image. "Now, plug each wire into each slot it should go in. Don't mix them up or you'll have funny things like tasting sounds." He grinned slightly then nodded he was done. "Now, let's start with hearing. Where is it set?"
"Midline. They all are."
"No, hit the reset button so they're at their actual levels. Your sense of touch is up because you're reacting to me being so close. So's your hearing and nose." He nodded at that, fixing it with a grunt of displeasure. "Now, midline them all." He did that. "How's that look and feel to you?"
"Now," she said, dropping into a whisper, "find the point where I sound normal." He did and nodded. "Where are you?"
"Good boy." He grinned, opening his eyes to look at her. "Now raise them back up and let's see if we can rescue ourselves. I'm tired of being the bimbo damsel all the time."
He listened. "There's people above us but I think we're underground."
She sighed. "Figures. Well, if Xander's up he's done a locating charm. That'll get them in the right area. Then Horatio or Jethro or someone can do the bloodhound thing since I'm still bleeding." She looked at him. "Anyone near us?"
"Good. Now, relax. Go back to normal and check it every now and then. Like doing a perimeter search." He nodded, relaxing again. She shifted and hissed. "If and when I find the idiot that stabbed me, I get to kill them, right?"
"Yes you do. If you can't, Jethro and I will be."
"Only if they've knocked Xander out."
"That's possible. He's not trained for assault maneuvers."
"Good point." She settled against his side. "When are we going to have another movie night?"
"We'll be on R&R for a good bit. We'll do it during that if Jethro doesn't go all cave sentinel over you."
"We're not bound like that," she reminded him. "The closest he lets me get is backrubs when he's hurt himself."
He dropped an arm around her shoulders. "We'll figure it out. We always do. Gibbs will growl. You'll bitch, I'll bitch. He'll growl more and decide he's a pack alpha." She laughed at that, nodding some. "See, I told you I'm usually right."
She poked him on the side. "Smartass."
"You should be used to that since you're like my evil minion trainee."
"Oh, *please*! I'm so much more than an evil minion trainee. If I wasn't worried about bringing this building down on us, we'd be sitting in clear air."
He hummed. "That's not a bad thought but we'll keep it in reserve." The light wobbled. "Pain?"
"Wasn't me." The light went out and she sighed, lighting another one. "Is it me or are you sleepy?" she asked with a yawn.
"No, it's not you. That's sleeping gas." He got up to use his shirt to plug the gap under the doorway. Then he came back to sit down. "Breathe through your shirt, Dawn," he whispered. She did that, huffing some. Someone tried to come in so he got up and prepared to knock the crap out of them for this. They tossed in something but he kicked it back out and tried to follow. They shut the door but he managed to push it some so it couldn't lock. "Dawn?"
She came over to help him block it, using his shirt. She yelped as the door caught her sore side but growled and pushed the door further out, making it explode and the people go flying. "I've had fucking enough," she sneered as she walked over one's body. "If you think you've seen bitches, you should see me." She led Tony off toward the light at the end of the hallway. Another locked door. Tony held up the keys he had gotten off someone's belt. The door led to an empty chamber so they tested the others in the hallway. They finally found one that led to another hallway and went that way. "I'm not liking this maze."
Tony paused them to listen then pointed. "We need to go that way eventually. That's where the sad bastards who're watching us are."
"Interesting." She looked at him. "Are you going to yell?"
"Only if you pass out or we get buried."
"Nah, won't happen." She raised her hands and felt something zap her. She laughed. "Not going to work, people. Really. That won't do anything but annoy me further!" She let loose with a blast of magic like she had found in one of Willow's journals. The walls of the maze melted. They found the wall up to the observation room and Tony let her look to find the doorway. "Huh. "Little bit to the left." He pointed at the wall. "Handholds. Not my greatest skill."
Tony tried his phone since it had been on her. "Huh, service." He called. "We're underground. Someone's watching us," he said before they managed to jam it.
She looked at him. He smirked back. "Oh, yeah, let's be evil. Xander, I'm going to be a bad girl," she called. "Pity but don't spank me for it."
Xander snapped awake, looking around. "I just heard Dawn. She's pissed beyond belief. She just let loose with some magic to destroy the maze they were in. They're underground." He rubbed his eyes. "She said Tony heard people working overtop of them."
"That narrows it down to two buildings of the four," Gibbs decided.
Horatio listened then pointed. "That one. They've got frequency jammers and other issues that are blocking my senses. Do we have backup?"
Gibbs called Fornell but his cell was jammed. "Damn it."
Xander calmly pulled out his and dialed the number from Gibbs' phone. "It's Harris, Gibbs, and Caine. We've narrowed it down to within two buildings, with a probable choice between them. Dawn's still bleeding, Tony's spiking, and they're underground. When is our backup arriving?" he asked calmly. He smirked. "Because otherwise I get to go apocalypse battle on them, Fornell. Pity I didn't bring my axe but I will call the wrath of every demon in DC down to get Dawn and Tony back." He handed his phone over. Horatio gave him a pointed look. "Magic cellphone tower signal drawing spell from Willow on my last birthday."
Horatio grimaced. "I might see if she'll do the same thing to mine. It might come in handy now and then."
"Get it on Ryan's and Speed's. They both draw trouble," he shot back with a grin. Horatio smirked back. "Did you get me any toys?"
"Oh, come on. They deserve toys."
"No, Xander," Horatio said more firmly.
Speed looked at him then at Xander. "It might hit innocents. We don't know that the people working overtop of them know what's going on."
"How do you build an underground maze in DC and not get noticed?"
"It could be older."
Xander grimaced, getting out of the car. He looked around. "Hey, Gregori?" He appeared, looking confused. "Which one and how do I get down there? And how many do I get to make scream in misery on the way?"
"Hmm. Getting down there is hard. They have an access hatch." He pointed underneath the car. "Go down that way, go to the right, then up the stairs to the locked doorway was how I did it. That'll lead you to a narrow entry point that has their ID card swipe spot."
"Can humans fit through it?"
"Possibly. You're still skinny."
"How do normal people get to the ID card spot?"
"They go through the doorway in that office there but it's got a primary ID card slot too," he admitted with a point. "Then downstairs to the other doorway."
Xander looked back at Gibbs. Who shrugged. "How many and can you swipe an ID card?"
Gregori grinned. "Of course I can. What's in it for me?"
"I'll let you pass on the job to one of your cousins?"
"That's a hard thing to sell."
He considered it. "I'll let you go as long as no one else does something like this within the next year? If she's not kidnaped in the next year, then you can go free?"
Gregori considered it. "I can keep it from happening for that long since she just came out with the outlandish story about people with special skills on the news. One of the MP's darted her to knock her out, said she had been drugged." Xander smirked evilly. The tiny demon shuddered. "You're going to kill them all, aren't you?"
He leaned down. "What happened the last time Dawnie got kidnaped?"
"Buffy?" he asked hopefully. Xander shook his head. "Oh, dear."
"I didn't know you were a watcher," he said with that same evil smirk. "Can we have the ID card and any passcodes they have?" He nodded, getting one and handing it over. He handed it to Gibbs. "Let me know if I need to go help be evil."
"You and Speedle guard the truck," Gibbs ordered, saying something to Fornell before getting out.
"You know, Horatio could use a guide with him," he said casually.
"Don't make us gas you again," Gibbs ordered. Xander pouted but sat on the truck's seat until Fornell's team got there. He held up the ID card and passcode slip, getting an evil FBI smirk. "He's going to stay up here."
"Unless I get a good reason to go kick ass," Xander added. They all groaned and left. Xander looked at Gregori. "Any of the others around here involved?"
"Yeah, there's some snipers and things in the supposed warehouse there," he said with a point. "They don't like you for interfering."
"Yay them," Xander said dryly, looking at Speed. "Stay in the truck, dear." He shut the door and looked around. "Any hunter clans nearby?"
"Elizabeth is somewhere close by. Maryland I think." Xander grimaced. "I can check."
"Please do." He went to do that. He came back with an attractive blue skinned, knobby cheeked demon. "Elizabeth."
"Xander," she said, kissing him on the tip of his nose. "What's going on? Gregori said Dawn was stolen?"
"Kidnaped by her protector's director actually. She wanted her for the special skills." Someone took a shot at them. "By any chance can I bum something?" he asked with a grin since the bullet hadn't hit near them.
"It depends, will I have to call something to eat their parts?"
"I'll leave them alive enough to confess. Might be a few parts."
"Fine." She handed over something. Xander cooed. "Specially modified for our hunters so it won't run out of ammo. Just like in the movies."
"Cool," he breathed. He looked at them. "We're here to rescue stolen people, including one who is a minor child." Another shot got closer to them. Xander shot back and jogged that way. "Elizabeth, please guard my boyfriend!" he called as he jogged.
"Oooh, I pity them," she moaned, shaking her head.
"But it'll be fun to watch," Gregori offered.
"Definitely." She moved to stop Speed from getting out. "You're safer in there, human. Xander has been in battles before." Gunfire erupted and theirs answered back. "Oops, pity they decided he was a threat." Two more SUV's showed up and jogged that way. "Finn, he's got one of mine," she called with a wave. That got a nod but a grimace from him. They ran in after Xander to clean up his mess. And possibly to stop him but he might flashback and hit some of them too for fun. Many would like that and might even pay him a bounty for it if they were seriously injured. She winced at the explosion underground happened. "Ow, that's going to cause a mess."
"Pity they stole Summers," Gregori told her.
"Why are you watching her?"
"I owed Spike," he said dryly.
"Oh. Yeah. I owe him about fifty kittens too." She sighed, shaking her head. "His boyfriend is not happy with him."
"The other's the one making the explosions go off." The warehouse collapsed but disintegrated while they watched. "Interesting." Willow walked out dusting herself off. "Any parts so I can cancel a debt with some demon dogs, Rosenburg?"
"Oh, hey, Elizabeth," she said with a grin. "Dawn?"
"His other boyfriend is going for her." Another explosion went off. "We hear he has a temper."
Willow looked that way then nodded. "Yeah, I think so." She looked at the Homeland/Initiative guys, smiling at them. "Thank you for backing him up when he lost his temper."
"They needed to be destroyed anyway. They shot at his other boyfriend," Gregori said.
"Two?" she demanded of Xander.
He smirked. "Yes. Two. Happy with my cooking too." She groaned. "Thank you for the building clearing spell. Wanna go help Horatio?"
She looked again. "They've got it."
"Thank you." He blew a kiss. "Guys, they were mean and shot at my boyfriend." He handed Elizabeth back the gun. He kissed her on the cheek. "I'm still retired unless they force me to be otherwise. I'm in Miami though. You can come tell Horatio about how you used to crush on me."
She swatted him on the cheek. "Silly human. Anya said your tongue would destroy me." She noticed Speed's horrified look. "She said that's what destroyed her and gave her a conscience." She disappeared again.
Xander grinned at Riley. "Didn't Buffy do that to you?"
"Kinda." He walked off shaking his head. "No more destruction in my city, Harris. Destroy Miami instead."
"Horatio said it doesn't need redecorated. Your town has all the evil bastards that keep coming for us and pulling me out of retirement." He stared him down. "Otherwise I'm a simple administrative assistant who likes to cook a lot for stress relief."
He grunted in displeasure. "There's going to be a lot less of them after today and I'll make sure yours and Dawn's federal files mention this incident so they never come near you again."
"Sheppard took her off the 'do not touch' list."
"That'll change," he assured him. "Can you go home now before we have more freaky demon things happening in the nation's capitol?"
"Once we have Dawn and Tony. Horatio's getting them."
"They just blew the door into the observation compartment," Willow said. "They're merrily arresting and Gibbs found out how to get near Dawnie and that cute one Tony." She grimaced. "Dawn's got a boo-boo."
"I can help," he reminded her. "They did it to drive Jethro insane."
She grimaced. "Is this really a higher calling?"
"I help Horatio stop the bad shit that destroys lives," he said bluntly. "Every day."
She nodded. "I guess it is. We miss you."
"Then you should have treated us better."
"I know. We're stupid heads. Even Buffy agreed but she did say it was nice that this kidnaping wasn't demon related."
"Yeah, it's a nice change," he agreed. "Shoo before you get me in trouble with my boyfriends." They headed off to hide. He looked at Speed.
Gregori waved a hand. "He's napping now. He won't remember a thing."
"That's mean and we got onto Willow for that."
"Spike told me to." He smirked and disappeared.
Horatio came up with Dawn and Tony, letting him come over to fuss over them. "Are they dead?" he asked her.
"Hopefully." She let him help her onto the back of the truck so he could look at her side. He got shoved aside by Jethro. "He's good at bandaging and stuff, Jethro. He can even stitch."
"Shut up, Dawn."
She sighed, giving him a hug. "I'm still your guide, Jethro."
Horatio looked around. "Wasn't there a building there?"
Jethro looked then nodded. "There was before we went in. Kid?" he asked Xander.
"I've been watching Speed nap the nap Gregori put him into," he said, backing up with his hands held up.
Horatio moved closer to him. "Why do you smell like gunpowder and someone else's aftershave?" he asked calmly.
"I saw Riley Finn and a few of his guys briefly. And Willow too. Oh, and Elizabeth. She's the lead hunter for a clan of demons that hunts down rogue and troublesome demons."
"Why do you smell like gunpowder?" he asked, moving closer to sniff him again. "Xander?"
He grinned. "They took a shot at Speed so I fired back."
"I see." He looked around then at him. "Should I be concerned about reprisals?"
"No. Riley said they're upping my 'do not touch' rating to a concrete bunker of 'leave him alone' and adding Dawn's the same way again since Sheppard took hers out." His phone beeped with a text of 'I'll tell him if you don't'. He erased it and grinned. "Finn." He gave him a hug. "Are you all right? We heard the explosions." He checked him over. "Only a few bruises?"
"I'm fine. Are you all right?"
"I'm wonderful. She's back, she's going to be okay. You didn't get hurt. Can we go start the bitchy human weenie roast and bonfire portion of this visit?"
"We have a firing squad with her name on it," DiNozzo said tiredly.
Dawn pulled him over. "Sit, stupid." He sat with a sigh. She looked at Jethro when he growled, popping him on the head. "Behave." He glared. She glared back. "Nothing happened, Jethro. He helped me stop the bleeding the first time. I worked on his senses so he could turn them down. We got out together. Really, nothing happened. Once we get home I'll take a good shower to get any of his sweat off me so you can calm down again." Jethro nodded at that but he was still growling. She sighed but hugged him, making him push her off. "Do not start. I need a hug."
Xander came over to give her a hug. "Willow said Buffy thought it was cute it wasn't demons this time."
"Fuck her," she muttered, making Jethro and Tony both glare. "Yay." She cuddled him. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine. I wasn't kidnaped. I only had the one agent who wanted me to beat him show up."
"Cool." She grinned. "Make dinner?"
"Of course I am. Horatio, can we stay long enough for me to make them dinner?"
"I'm sure we can, Xander." He moved to check on Speed, finding him still napping on the steering wheel. "What knocked him out?"
"Gregori. Dawn's guard." He looked at her. "I promised if it didn't happen for a year he could go free."
"It's happened twice in a month," Tony said.
"Must be Tuesday," Dawn quipped.
Xander checked. "No, it's still Saturday. How long were you gone?"
She bopped him on the forehead. "Someone needs some sugar. His is low." Xander grinned back, giving her a better cuddle. "Thank you, I needed that." He gave her a squeeze and she moaned. "Ow." He let her go, looking at the wound. "It only needs a bandage."
"It's been too long since it happened so I can't stitch it safely," he agreed. "Jethro, can you handle stab wounds?"
"I have in the past. DiNozzo has too."
"She's your guide, Jethro. Even if she does sub in for him when he has a sudden flux." Jethro relaxed at that. "Maybe you three should take some teacher time. Now, let's get back to the house and clean up, let me make dinner, and if other agents want to talk to us they can find us all together and calmer." He looked at Fornell. "Will that work for you?"
"For now. What did you do to the idiot from Miami?"
"Last time I knew, Agent Graham Miller had him."
"Good! I like that explanation." He called that in to have him found for debriefing on his way to the car. The group all squeezed into the SUV, Horatio moving Speed so he could drive, and they went back to Jethro's house. He bandaged her side. They all got showers who needed one. Including Xander. Then Xander went to cook dinner while Horatio tried to figure out why there had been a missing building and his boyfriend smelled like gunpowder. Not that he was winning this time.
Xander walked into the lab three days later with a covered tray. The receptionist gave him a bored look. "What? They fired me for heading off to handle my sister being kidnaped?"
"No, Harris. The Chief wants you and Caine both as soon as you get in."
"That's fine. Let me drop off the cookies first and we'll call from his office. Want one? I have butterscotch, raisin, and chocolate chip with walnuts."
She hesitated then shook her head. "You're bad to my uniform. I've got bulges."
"Okay." He walked them into the break room and uncovered them once they were on the table, making sure the little signs were up to show what they were. He followed Horatio up to his office once he had the mail so he could sort it up there. He called. "Patricia, it's Xander Harris and Horatio Caine. Your boss wanted an immediate consult once we got back?" He smiled and put him on speaker. "Sir, we're here."
"Is she all right?"
"A pretty good stab wound that was too old to stitch," Xander said.
"A bit shaken up but mostly they're fine, sir. Thank you for giving us that emergency time off to help handle it."
"That's not the problem that I have this morning. Harris, have you not heard of subtlety?"
"Nope. Not in anything but my delicate hand at spices and now some clothes I own. What got reported to you, sir?"
"I got a most interesting call from an Agent Finn."
"My friend's ex. Dawn's sister's ex actually. He helped us get that information on the bomber."
"He seemed to be not too impressed that you helped that situation."
"Riley has never been impressed with me, sir. Even when me and my friends ended his unit." He handed Horatio his mail. He held one up, getting a grimace of distaste. Xander tossed it onto the couch. "They shot at us, sir. Did you expect me not to react with the way I go into Blessed Protector mode whenever someone tries to hurt what's mine?"
He sighed. "No. But I do think it was a bit ...odd and dangerous that you walked into that situation with only a gun."
"Excuse me?" Horatio demanded, glaring at Xander, hands drifting down to rest at his hips. "You did what?"
"They shot at Speed. Elizabeth got me one that was charmed to not run out of bullets. I was doing okay when Riley and his guys got there. By the way, Willow destroyed the building."
"Not funny," he growled. "Xander!"
Xander sighed, standing up to look at him. "They shot at Speed and me, Horatio. Twice. I showed a lot of restraint by not going in after the first one."
"You do know what the concept of backup is," he pointed out. "They could have killed you."
"They couldn't kill me. Only seven had firing weapons on them. The rest had to run to get theirs. I would've been out and moved the car by then. Yes, it wasn't my brightest plan, but I didn't want you to come out of saving Dawn and Tony to find us shot to death." Horatio flinched at that image. "Sorry." He sat down again. "Now that you've narked like Dawn, sir, did you hear that they upgraded my 'do not touch' rating again?"
"Son, I'd be more polite," he said firmly.
"Sir, did you think that maybe I didn't tell Horatio about that so he wouldn't worry? Because now he will. A lot. Which could affect his job in the field." The Chief groaned. "I do have assault and battle experience. Really I do."
"That's not the point. You decided to take it upon yourself...."
"When they shot at us," Xander said firmly. "I didn't start that one. I ended it."
"You can be fired, young man."
Xander nodded at the phone. "I can. I can probably find another job too. Or hey, I can go to cooking school and do that for a while," he said dryly. The Chief groaned. "The fact is that I did not tell him that because it would've worried him worse that they were shooting at Speed. Not at me, at him. For some reason none of their bullets got anywhere near me. They had a sniper who was making precise shots and not one got near me. Yes, I protected Detective Speedle by taking out an enemy force that was aiding in the kidnaping of my sister and a federal agent while they went to do the heroic thing and rescue them. That is how I'm trained to do, sir."
"I don't like this discussion," the Chief said.
"Neither do I. So I'm going to go check the mail and things while you tell Horatio other stuff." He got up and walked out. He saw Eric. "I made cookies. Get them while I'm still here since the Chief turned into a tattling teenage girl and I told him to butt out."
"Why?" Eric asked.
"The bad guys shot at Speed so I handled it. Buffy's ex told him. He decided Horatio had to know and told us both." He grinned sweetly. "I'm going to do a round-up of the mail. If there's any left they're in the break room." He walked off to gather things to go out in the mail, finding Horatio in his office. "Was I fired?"
"He did suggest that perhaps you are a bit emotional at the moment."
"Did you tell him he sounded like every younger sibling in every book and movie ever made?"
"I have tact, Xander."
He grinned. "I never learned that skill. So far you've done good teaching me but I'll be damned, Horatio."
"Why didn't you tell me when I asked?"
"Why worry you more over a situation that was ended? Do you tell me about past cases that nearly ended your life?"
"We were right there and we could have gotten reinforcements from them."
"Willow finished them off, not me. I may have went a bit Rambo...."
"May have?" he asked sarcastically, shutting the closet door to give them privacy. "There is no may have in that situation, Xander. You had a single gun."
"That was charmed unemptying."
"All right, that is a point in your favor."
"There were only fifteen. Riley's boys showed up nearly immediately."
"Did you know that they were going to do that?"
"No but I knew I could handle it. I have in the past." He stood up. "It's not like retiring took all my memories. The same as you still have all yours from Bomb Squad."
"I understand that but the fact that you're pissed now means you know you did something wrong."
"No, I'm pissed because he decided to butt into something that was solved when you got back topside and is worrying you unnecessarily. No one here needs that sort of stress and I don't need them looking at me funny for having past skills and memories. The same as if we're invaded here in the lab, I'm going to be there with you."
Horatio sighed, sitting on the edge of the desk. "I understand that. You could have mentioned this when I asked."
"It was handled. Why should I?"
"Because more could have shown up."
"Then I would have mentioned it. 'Oh, it's the guys from that warehouse Willow knocked in' sort of noting."
Horatio nodded. "Which is much too causal for most officers."
"I'm not an officer."
"Yes, but Jethro and I are."
"I'm sorry I didn't get the uptight training you two did!" he said hotly. "To what I know and was trained to do and how to handle things, it was handled and not an issue so why make you worry?" He shifted past him and opened the door, stomping off. He signed out and everything like a good boy. He made it outside before Speed found him. "What?"
"Do not snarl at me, Xander." He stared him down. "What happened when I got knocked out?"
"They shot at you. I handled it. End of story. Then today the Chief narked so Horatio's worried and I'm getting pissed and I'm going to go for a walk before I majorly tell someone off that'll get him in trouble." He walked around him, heading off into the grassy area beyond the station.
Speed watched him go, turning to find Horatio watching him. "I want your side."
"I was trying to reassure him while I reasoned with him."
"He was trained to react to situations using one or two people, not a strike team, and not in an official manner, Horatio," Frank said as he joined them. "He was trained to handle it and move on because things that're handled, like staked vampires, are not an issue." Horatio shuddered. "Yes, I did a lot of checking into the boy's background. To him, this was like one that was dead and gone. It'd only worry you if you heard there were some issues. Especially since his girls thought he couldn't handle anything so he had to hide stuff from them." Horatio walked off to find him. He looked at Speed. "Are you okay?"
"I didn't even know we were shot at."
"You were shot at," Frank corrected. "If they had shot at the boy, he would've handled it differently and protected you."
"Somehow in there I took a damn nap."
"Yay you. Someone probably thought it'd be kinder."
"He can't do that sort of thing, Frank."
"Who said he asked," he said bluntly. Speed moaned, shaking his head. "Rosenburg wrote me a nice email saying that Gregori, whoever that was, knocked you out so you wouldn't know anything about being in danger so you wouldn't have to worry." He handed it over. "Now, go straighten out your boy before he leaves. Because no one else will bake us cookies." He walked off again.
Speed sighed, reading it over on his way to find Horatio. He found Horatio staring at a spot on the grass, zoned. "Hey," he said, giving him a nudge. He came out of it. "You had a mini-zone why?" He handed over the email.
Horatio read it then handed it back crumpled up. "He's upset."
"Duh, Horatio. We both talked to him and he probably thinks we attacked him. This is probably giving him flashbacks to the times he got told he was too normal to handle things. Now, what caused the zone?"
"I caught his scent. He's miserable," he said quietly.
"I think if he's that upset his first instinct is to leave, but he can't." He walked off to find him. "Now that I've seen Willow's side of the story, I want to know what happened from you. Not judging, just wanting facts. That way I can make a decision about yelling or not."
"I didn't ask him to knock you out. Spike did somehow." He didn't look up from his ripping some blades of grass apart while he sheltered inside a big bush. "Let me think, Speed."
"No I want to hear your side of it, Xander. That way I can decide if I want to be pissed or not. I can't do that until I have facts. CSI are like that," he reminded him at the snort he got. "Want to come out of hiding?"
"Tough. Get out here."
"I'm not the dog and I'm not a little kid."
"No you're not but you supposedly have some sense, Xander. We can't talk this out so we're not all upset if you're hiding and sulking in a bush. Besides, you don't know what's in there. It could be poison ivy or anything."
"I'm not allergic to it."
"I am. Get out of there."
"Give me time to think. Please?" he demanded.
"Nope. You think and you'll do something stupid, like try to leave. Then what would we do?"
"That's up to Horatio, isn't it?" he asked bitterly.
"No, I wasn't talking about that stuff, Xander. I was talking about *us*. That threesome thing that keeps going on now and then." He gave up talking to the bush's branches and climbed in there with him. Xander tried to get up and move but he sat on him. "There, now we can talk and I don't feel like I'm talking to some puppet in a play." He stared at him. "This is about *us*, not about the funky sentinel and guide stuff, Xander. I know you don't want to do anything to piss Horatio off because of that. I don't like to do it because he scowls and then I feel bad."
Xander shrugged a bit. "You two are good together. He took me in because of the guide stuff."
"He did not and you know that usually." He made the boy look up at him but he avoided his eyes. "What happened in the office?"
"The Chief decided to nark like a sibling."
"Ah." He shifted so he wasn't sitting on him, just in front of him. "He was probably worried that you'd go vigilante on Miami."
"I haven't yet! He treated me like I'm deficient and when I protested to defend myself he threatened my job. Screw it, maybe I'll go to cooking school instead."
"We'd like that but we'd get really fat eating all your homework on you." He let out a small smile then let it fade again. "C'mon. We can talk to Horatio. He's calmer."
"He thinks I'm stupid now thanks to him."
"He does not."
"You could ask me," Horatio pointed out.
"You can come in. There's barely room to squeeze in," Speed offered. He looked at Xander, who was shrinking in on himself again. "Oh, no, not this again. H, get in here and tell him that us being together has nothing to do with your funky thing."
Horatio carefully climbed in and looked at his boys once he was sitting down. "It brought you to my attention, Xander, but it is not why I let you burrow into my side at night." Xander looked at him. What he saw did not please him. "Would you have told me?"
"Would you?" he countered.
"No," he admitted. "It would worry you. You'd find out because someone would tell you."
"Usually I hear it from the gossips. Your boss did his usual thing again," he said in mimic.
"Hmm. I know that one all too well," Speed said, shooting Horatio a glare, getting a sheepish look back. "I yell at him for those because they not only make me worry but it's one more chance I had of losing him." He made Xander look at him. "I feel the same way about you, Xander. It was stupid, yet heroic, and could've gotten you killed. If I had known then I would've yelled that night."
"Just don't," he sighed, trying to get up. Horatio and Speed held him down until he fell on top of Horatio. "Let go please?"
"No. I think we need to talk. Though I do think there are more comfortable places than this bush." He looked at the youngest of his lovers. "It was stupid but necessary," he said calmly. "I get that. I know you didn't want to worry me and I did snap at him for snapping at you." He stroked his cheek. "I still would have rather known so I could worry. I don't mind a bit of worrying in the heat of the assault, Xander. It might've made things easier if you had told us."
"Not like I could call."
"Good point. Still, why did you trust them to back you up?"
"I didn't. They rushed in and took over. Then they brought down the building and Willow made it go poof."
"I see." He took the email to read over, letting him see it. "That's not what she said but I like your version better." He knew Xander wasn't lying to him. He could tell without using his senses on him. It was in the eyes with Xander. The same as it was with Speed. "Can we go up to my office and talk? Suits are not meant to sit in bushes."
Xander shrugged. "I doubt I still have a job."
"Shut up, Xander. I hire for my lab, not him." He got up and got them out of the bush, walking him back inside. He saw Ryan's frantic waving and pointing. "Chief?" he mouthed, getting a nod. Horatio scowled. "We'll talk to him together then." He walked up there, opening his office door to see him calling around. He stared at him. "Eating one of Xander's cookies, Sir?"
He flinched, looking at him. "You're messy."
"You drove my assistant to hike off before he told you off for being petty," Horatio said calmly. "Get out of my chair."
"This is still my lab, Caine."
Horatio walked over. "The last time I knew, there was still a federal warrant with your name on it," he hissed. The chief moved. "His cookies are good, aren't they, sir?"
"They are. I can see why Speedle doesn't look starved any longer."
Xander stared at him. "He hasn't put on any weight."
"That lack of tact..."
"Is how God created me," he said snidely, staring at him. "You helped them kidnap a minor child?"
"No. I had nothing to do with that. I did agree that some of those with this...gift could be put to better use."
"You mean instead of catching the guys who're doing bad things?" Speed asked, kicking the door shut.
"It didn't seem to help on the bombing case," he shot back.
"We caught all the people who they talked into dropping bombs within a three-day span after they did so," Horatio reminded him calmly. "It is not my fault my senses didn't extend all the way to DC to get the geek that was behind all this. If we had gotten information sooner from the FBI, we would have solved it weeks sooner, sir. As is, we had to tweak a contact of Xander's to get that information. And in return that agent paid him back by narking to you like some toddler with a jealous snit." He stared him down. The chief moved back.
"Yes, you are correct that Xander should have told me. Even though in his training, handled is handled and not an issue. Then again, I don't tell him when I have to handle issues that get me gossiped about for the same reason he didn't tell me. He didn't want me to worry." He stared at him. "Xander is a credit to this lab and to my skills. I don't care who wants to coopt him. From what I'm told there is now a 'do not touch' rating that is high enough that no agent is ever going to come near him again."
Speed called DC. "Hey, Jethro, Speedle. Can you check Xander's and Dawn's do not touch ratings and give me a report? That'd be good. No, we're having a slight argument. Finn told our chief what happened to that missing warehouse. Rosenburg's version differed slightly. Sure, you do that and send it to us? Thank you." He hung up. "Dawn will look up what happened and tell us the official story on what went on there." Xander sat down, looking at them. "Dust off, Xander. You've got dirt on you." Xander did that half-heartedly. "He'll also have McGee print out and fax the do not touch entries on them."
"That would be helpful," Horatio agreed. "Since the head of the local office thinks that Ryan's OCD makes him dangerous, that will give me a good point to show him." The fax machine went off, letting him grab the sheets to look at. "Hmm." He let Xander see it, getting a small grin for that entry. "Is that all?" He looked at it. "No, it's page one of three. Speed, where's my extra paper?" Xander pointed. "Thank you, Xander." He refilled and got the rest of the fax. "Hmm, that's what I expected to see." He let Xander see it then the Chief, making him go pale. "I do believe that perhaps we should leave Xander and my's working relationship alone, sir. We seem to be much alike in the field. We each drive Speed nuts."
"Yes you do," Speed agreed taking the papers to look at. He looked at Xander. "You know a lot more than you let on."
"Here and there, spotty knowledge not full out like Calleigh does. I'm trying to update myself."
"You'll never be a CSI," the Chief told him.
Xander shrugged. "Why would I want to be? It looks like it destroys your soul more than staking people you grew up with, sir." He flinched at that. Xander stood up, looking at him. "Sir, I don't care what you think. If you move on Dawn, I'm going to have to react. She is like my little sister. I do officially have custody of her but she chose to stay with Jethro. Now, there's a lot of people finding pink slips on their desks up there thanks to the events from earlier this week. I don't care if you were one of them, blackmailed into it, whatever. Using their skills as a CSI is one of the best uses for it. Otherwise they find less evidence. Since everyone we know who has these skills are in law enforcement...." He let it trail off. "I think that's a pretty damn good use of the skills. If you don't, I'm sorry. We're protecting the general people, not the people in charge. They were meant to protect the whole village, not just the head people." He stepped closer. "If you have something to say to me, say it."
"You're ruining his reputation and his skill base. He was doing better without you."
"I wasn't actively working scenes before he came along," Horatio told him. "And he's increased the lab's reputation because things actually get done on time. Correctly the first time." The chief shuddered at that reminder. "As for my reputation? Half the force thinks I'm sleeping with most of the lab, sir. They're just happy when I'm not in their face for screwing up a crime scene." He stepped closer, patting Xander's lower back. "Xander is as much a Blessed Protector as I am. The scene with Rick threatening me proved that."
"You used to like him working with us, sir. What changed?" Speed asked. "It's not like he'll breed new babies."
"There's teams that could use him."
Xander shook his head. "No because I'd shoot them all to put them out of their misery for being conscripted. It'd be my sacred duty to make sure no one conscripted got to be abused and used that way." He smirked. "Plus, if you break the bonds that exist, it drives them both nuts. I'd be humming and singing as I gutted them and played in them probably." The Chief shuddered, shrinking down away from him. "So, no. Can't happen. Sorry!" He smirked. "Anything else? Because if I still have a job, I have some filing to do."
"I'm sure you do," he sneered.
"Sir, I don't file anything at home. At the office I don't touch my lovers sexually."
"I heard you did."
"Speed was making sure we were all right after that bomb went off near us. He only checked the injuries, sir. The tape was cleared to make sure it didn't get spread around." The Chief stomped off. He looked at Horatio. "Should I file or go home and file for unemployment?"
"You're not leaving this office, Xander."
"Should I expect to move to the guest room?"
"I'd be quite upset and have to nag," he said, staring him down. "We will finish this discussion at home but I am not mad." Xander slumped, sitting down again. He shut the door. "I'm not mad, Xander. I'm worried that doing those things hurts you and draws people like Finn closer to taking you from me."
"He'd never try it, Horatio. He hates me."
"Obviously with the way he tattled," Speed agreed. "Jealous?"
"He...he and his goals screwed up a lot of stuff," he said, looking at him. "Some things never healed. Some did. He was on the team for a bit then we found out he was being a feeder and cheating on Buffy so he left to be a commando again. Right now, we're at the tolerating each other on the same planet level most of the time. I have no idea why he showed up there to back me up. Or even if he was involved."
"Fornell checked into that," Horatio admitted. "He thought that project might have similar goals to his last one. Which he helped bring down."
"After we made him see what they were doing was wrong. He still used their classifications and their style of hunting. He treated all demons like they were hostiles, like they called them. Hell, he never even apologized, guys."
"I wouldn't want him on my team," Speed said.
"He was Buffy's boyfriend. Her team, her rules," he said flatly.
"Ah." Speed gave him a short hug, getting shrugged off. "We'll work this out later." He grinned. "While you teach me how to make that strudel thing you did at Jethro's?"
"I can do that," he agreed. "But do we have to talk?"
"Yup, we do. Before you pout and stomp off or Horatio pouts and stomps off. Because then I get to spank and rant and turn into Alexx when she goes off about bimbos in the media." Xander groaned, covering his face with his hands as he leaned forward. "So we'll cook and talk tonight." He gave him a soft pat and a smile when the boy looked up at him. "Okay?" Xander nodded. "H?"
"If I don't have a long night. If I do, I'll talk to you while we make breakfast or at bedtime," he promised, smiling at Xander. "You can tell me. I'll try to tell you before they happen. You try to do the same?" Xander nodded, staring up at him. "Good." He smiled. "That's what I wanted to hear. Now, filing?"
"Yeah, kinda. Two envelopes of stuff to file it looked like."
"Hmm. Please do that while we get a case update and Speed gets his next one." They left, leaving Xander to file for him. He did it so much better and he could find things when Xander filed.
Ryan snuck up while Xander was sorting out forms. "Are you guys okay? Because I can totally ignore the fight earlier and the dirty looks Horatio's getting from the officers right now for whatever happened if you guys are okay."
"They say we're fine but we'll finish talking later," he said, looking over at him with a weak grin. "I went back into Sunnydale mode and handled something when they threatened Speed."
"Yeah, I saw Eric do about the same thing the last time someone threatened Speed around him too." Horatio hummed behind him. "You didn't hear that from me, Horatio. Please?"
"I'll ask them later." He looked at Ryan. "The officers got bad information and are now worrying that they're going to be transferred. Don't worry Xander with the petty politics, Mr. Wolfe."
"I just came up to make sure you guys are okay and if I could help by letting Xander talk to me."
"That's highly appreciated. I know you two are friends." He smiled at him. "Relax. It's fine."
"Are they giving you evil looks like you're an evil gay boy and no one's going to come when you call for help?" Xander asked quietly.
"No. Miami does have a non-discrimination policy. If something like that should ever happen, the department would be sued once that person was out of danger." Xander stared at him. "If it should ever happen to me I know who will back me up without question, Xander. And then we'll sue." Xander grinned a bit, nodding. "Are any of those vile forms things that have to be done?"
"Yes but so far it's all stuff I have to do or redo. Apparently I used last year's data on the budget?" He let him see.
Horatio snorted. "Reprint it and send it back. Those are this year's figures." He pointed at a line. "That's this year into next. Add next year's to it." Xander nodded, making that note for himself. The other forms got looked over. "Haven't you done this one many times?"
"In just that way."
"Reprint it and send it over," he repeated. Xander nodded. "If they try it again I get to go to the department head's lunch meeting. Which might not be such a bad idea," he decided. Xander grinned and made shooing motions. "Let me know if we have any problems, especially with an officer or Rick," he said quietly. "One officer thought I kept you in bondage."
"Only when I'm angsting and you don't want me to bake."
"True." He smiled and left, heading off to that monthly lunch meeting.
Xander finished his filing and headed down to his office with Ryan. "I'm okay, Ryan. I just had to pull out the old skills and it kinda freaked Horatio out. Like when he did the sniper stuff."
"Were you wearing a suit?" he teased.
"Nope." Eric stopped him to look him over. "What? I'm dressed." He checked then looked at him. "What?" he demanded.
"Wondering where the cape was hidden." He stared him down. "Remember, you have to be around for H, Xander."
"He says I'm good even without that," he shot back with a look.
Eric smirked. "I knew that. Otherwise you wouldn't be ruining his weight with cookies and pies." Xander grinned at that. "Try for more subtle and safe?"
"They shot at Speed."
Eric wobbled but Ryan smirked. "You went Cro-Magnan Man yourself the last time he got threatened," Ryan reminded Eric.
"Yeah, I remember. My head hurt for a good bit where Speed popped me on the forehead with his hand." He looked at Xander. "Everyone okay up there?"
"Yeah but they wouldn't hold any bonfires for us. We wanted to see the witch burn for trying Dawn and then having her kidnaped. Twice."
"Yeah, I can see Horatio liking that idea too." Xander smirked. "New stuff?"
"Stuff that someone said I didn't do right." He heard the loud music come on in ballistics and groaned, glancing in there. He gave Eric a look, making him look in there. Eric snarled. "I can call her to see if I can borrow that gun catalog if you want, Eric."
"Please do." Xander took his cellphone to call as they walked.
"Calleigh, Xander. Where's the gun catalog so I can coo? No, I can't ask him over the loud music or his stacks of work that's sitting beside him while he's having a playboy break." He smiled. "Monthly meeting of department heads?" He snickered. "Thanks, dear." He hung up and tossed the phone back. "She's up the hall." They waved at Calleigh. She snuck up on her lab, staring inside. Then she walked in there and turned off the music before shutting the door so she could scream. "Not a happy person," Xander decided, cracking Ryan up. "What rumors are going around anyway?"
"That you guys went up to DC to save your little sister, who is dating a Fed."
"She might be now. Not real sure." They smirked at him. He shrugged. "Tony hasn't calmed down his yet."
"Ah," Eric said. "So their evil little plan slightly worked?"
"No, she still calmed down the other. They're going for teacher time."
"Even better. There's the rampant rumor that Horatio is treating you badly because you came in tired and the Chief was angry with him," Ryan offered. "That one's been going toward a bad S&M relationship but I laughed at it when I heard it in the elevator. They said he's making your his kitchen slave while he has some of the rest of us for other needs."
"No, they try to keep me out of the kitchen. I bake when I angst. Speed complains I'm making him fat."
"Speed needs the extra weight anyway," Eric agreed, opening his office door. He saw the present inside. "Wolfe?"
"Got it," he said, going to find his scene kit. The tastless condoms and things were bad enough but the gag underneath was really bad. He texted that to Horatio so he was warned but the rest they could dust for prints and find out who had put it there. "Tyler, please pull up the camera for outside Xander's office?" he asked quietly into AV.
"Can't, broken." He looked over. "I got a wonderful shot of someone breaking the lens. Why?"
"Tasteless gifts in his office."
"Are they okay? Because you know I don't care what Horatio and Xander do at home and all that stuff."
"It's not like that. The only chaining up he does is to keep Xander from baking too much when he's thinking."
"Oooh. He can make me cookies. Today's were *really* good."
Speed walked up behind Ryan. "He was worried over Dawn's injury so he made strudel in DC. The more ornate and fluffy, the more he's thinking. Which is why I've gained ten pounds since he started to work as Horatio's assistant." He looked at Ryan. "Tacky gifts?"
"I thought you were out, sorry."
"Not a problem. I was letting Alexx nag."
"Condoms, lube packets, gag."
"Hell." He went to check on him, slowing down when he heard the yelling coming from ballistics. He opened the door. "Calleigh, as lab second, do I need to know anything?"
"He'll be transferring to another lab within the system."
"Okay. I'll find that form for you." He looked at him then at her. "Since he's in a baking mood, would you like us to spoil you with some of it later?"
She smiled. "That's sweet but if I ate all that stuff he bakes I'd be bigger than that guy we had to all help Alexx lift."
"Yeah, that's why we share." He grinned and walked off. He went to the front desk to get the forms. "Transfer forms?" She handed one over. "Thank you."
"Are you transferring Xander to another department, Speed?"
"Why would we? He makes the lab's work get done." She pouted. "Whatever you heard, you're listening to the wrong things, Madeline. He's a good boy. We're not in a bondage fantasy relationship. Yes, he did something Horatio-like in DC to help when people shot at me while I was sleeping." She shuddered. "Someone up there narked to the Chief because he was a jealous, bitchy teenage girl wannabe who used to be a commando. The Chief was part of the problem they had recently as a silent supporter. That problem got the girl who's like his little sister, the one he shares custody of, kidnaped twice and stabbed this time as well. Hell yes he went off like H does, but it was handled."
"He stomped out earlier," she reminded him.
He nodded. "He was a bit upset that we were nagging. It's cool now." She smiled. "Any other funky rumors I should hear?"
"I've only heard those two and that Stetler is going to have him forcefully transferred since boyfriends can't be in the same unit."
"Xander's not a cop. He's the secretary." She blushed at that. "Beyond that, he can't do that. The lab would grind to a halt. None of the paperwork would ever get done." She smiled. "Counter it back if you can please. Horatio will end up losing his temper on some unsuspecting uniform if we don't." He walked that form into Xander. "Please start that for Calleigh?"
He looked at something in his drawer, finding the personnel file Horatio/Calleigh/he had requested and used it to fill in the information that he could. He handed it over with a smile. "Take that to her?"
"Of course. Thanks, kiddo." He winked. "Raspberry strudel?"
"Ooooh," Eric moaned. "Share?"
"If we make enough," Speed said smugly, heading to ballistics. He walked in the folder and transfer order. She smirked at the folder. "It was easily found." He looked at him. "Sorry to have you leave the lab." He looked at her. "H is at some departmental head luncheon."
"That's fine. By the time he gets back I'm sure we can handle this." Her former tech stomped off. She sat down with a sigh to blow her bangs out of her face. "I need someone good."
"Train Xander as your tech," he teased.
"Then I'd never get to play with my guns," she taunted back with a smirk. "And you'd never get baked for." He walked off smirking at that. She finished filling out the form, laughing when she saw the eyes only personnel file he had pulled out somehow. "That boy," she sighed, putting it all on Horatio's desk after making a note in the HR system about him. Horatio could hand back the file.
Horatio walked into the meeting restaurant and back to the room, pulling out his ID. The guarding officer let him in. He walked in and took off his sunglasses as he sat down in an empty chair. "Gentlemen and ladies."
"Caine, we never see you at these," one woman said with a smile. "Your assistant not chaining you to his lunch today?"
"He didn't have time to make one today." He smiled at her. "How is your department?"
"Oh, you know, the usual. Fussy people you want to beat half the time and then the rest you want to yell."
"We only have one tech like that at the moment." Horatio got a text from Ryan and texted back to Speed.
"Someone left a prank gift on my assistant's desk." He looked up, seeing the looks. "What's being said this time?"
She looked at him. "Some of us have friends in DC, Horatio."
"That is why Xander has a sealed federal file."
"Oh. I didn't know that." He nodded. "So he's done something like that before?"
"His town was a bit dangerous and they had a protection patrol basically. The protection patrol caught some bad things going on, like their former mayor that blew up their graduation. A military unit that was using the town for experimentation." They all shuddered. He hummed. "At that moment in DC, he reacted based on his old training. Speed was asleep, knocked out really. Someone shot at Speed twice. The first he counted as a warning shot. The second they got closer to Speed. Xander called an old friend." They all nodded at that. "What else is being said? Somehow I've heard a bondage rumor about us because I'm getting all the baking he does while he thinks."
Another one laughed. "He bakes?"
"Cooking is Xander's stress relief. I have dinner most every night, lunch most every day, and yes, he does bake a lot when he's thinking. This morning we woke up to three dozen cookies because he couldn't sleep."
"Still in your guest room?" one asked. Horatio nodded. "He spoiling Speedle too?"
"Oh, yes. The whole lab got cookies today. Three different kinds." They all smiled at that. "He made strudel in DC while he was fussing over the young lady he shares custody of. She chose to stay in DC with the agent she had been hiding with up there instead of coming down to live with him when he started to get things in order."
"I heard something about Jethro Gibbs," the first woman said.
"He's protecting her for Xander. She said he's hard about some rules but she can put up with it. He's having her home schooled due to migraines."
"What was with their director?" another one coming in asked. "It was all over the news."
"Xander started that when they came for him. Apparently the older woman was jealous that Dawn was living with Jethro as his daughter but she herself could not get over something that had happened on an assignment so long ago." They all grimaced. "Including ordering them to a formal Capitol Hill event with only three weeks to shop and Dawn hadn't even done prom shopping at that point. Xander sent a lot of texts back over dress pictures while baking." The new one coming in got a polite nod. "Gloria."
"Horatio. Nice to see you. The Chief isn't coming today?"
"I have no idea. I know he came to get an update on what happened in DC from us earlier. He might have a headache at the moment."
"That's possible since I did when my brother-in-law told me. He's FBI and got it from up there. Congrats on the new do-not-touch rating he has." She sat down.
Horatio smiled. "He's incredibly proud of it since it reinforced the last one much better." That got an evil smirk. "And because of it, my lab got three dozen cookies today."
"Ah. A person who has to do something while they think. I clean the kids' rooms while I think heavy thoughts."
"The fluffier it is, the more Xander's angsting to hear him explain it," Horatio told her. "In DC he made strudel." She shuddered at that. "It was good. Speed wants the recipe."
"Wow. And you haven't gained any weight?"
"We share." The others laughed. "Alexx is nagging but Speed's finally gained back the weight he lost recently." That got a smirk from a few. "So, are we discussing anything in particular today?"
"No, we mostly use these to complain about our people," one said from down the table. "You never join us to whine."
Horatio smiled. "I only have one tech I'd have to whine about and I do believe the boys caught him doing things earlier. Calleigh will handle her tech."
"No nagging about Delko's recent dates?" Gloria teased.
"Well, yes, but he needs a restraining order on the last one. She's been unkind enough to break some of the unit's car windows. Though, if she touches Speed's Ducatti, I'm not sure which one will end up winning that brawl."
The rest laughed. They had all seen Speed on his bike and his record of speeding tickets on it. Yeah, that woman was going to be miserable for *years* if she touched the bike. The same as she will be if she touches Horatio's hummer.
Xander looked up as the Chief and Stetler came his way, holding up forms. "Those three reprints you wanted, sir." He looked around. "Horatio's got something coming soon but he's just now back so it might be in tomorrow's mail." He looked at Stetler. "Afternoon. There's a few cookies left if you wanted some. Chocolate chip walnut cookies," he said at the confused look. "They ate the raisin and Alexx had most of the butterscotch ones."
"No thank you," he said firmly. "Why are you still here?"
"Horatio said he's not moving my desk upstairs."
Horatio walked up behind them. "Why wouldn't he be here, Rick? That is his job. It's not like he was fired." He stared at the Chief, making him back off with a shudder. "Thank you for not menacing my assistant." He handed Xander the forms, letting him look through them, sort them out, and put most of them into the envelope he tried to hand the Chief. "Was there another problem or can I have you put a statement in a tech's files, Rick?"
"Which one?" he demanded.
"Calleigh's ballistics tech's personnel file. She caught him ignoring work to read a playboy with the lab door open," Xander told him. "We called so she'd catch him this time. And his really loud music that sucks."
"He's on the other side of their wall," Horatio said at the new confused look.
"The Chief said the budget phased him out."
"I can pay him myself I have to. That way I don't have to mangle more paperwork. Even the Feds are appreciating him more now. The review board actually called to say they were coming in this time." The Chief of Detectives came off the elevator. He was the second-in-command in the PD. "Sam," he said, shaking his hand.
"Horatio. Good to have you back. I heard a lot of good things about your help in DC. Xander."
"Hi, Chief Johnson. Do I have...." He found something and a lifesaver roll, handing them over with a grin before sitting back down. "I think that's your office's. I owe those to Marilyn. I bummed a few when I was feeling sick the other day."
"I'll give them to her." He looked at their boss then at Horatio. "Have you heard some of the outlandish rumors going around?"
"They only handcuff me when they don't want me to bake while thinking," Xander said dryly. "Any other time I'd have to smack them around, Chief Johnson." Sam gaped then laughed a second later. He grinned. "There might be a few cookies left. Chocolate chip with walnuts."
"Marilyn would nag me, Xander, but thank you for the offer." He looked at their boss. "Let's talk about some of these rumors, boys. I don't like it and it could impact how the lab is backed up."
"Then I would have to get *most* upset," Horatio assured him calmly. "Again." That got a shudder from all three. They remembered the last time.
"Horatio, Ryan said his didn't have one earlier," Xander said quietly. "He was talking to Speed, who went to throw a fit on someone."
"I'll find that out. Thank you for hearing that, Xander. Come along, gentlemen. Let Xander do three-quarters of my paperwork for me while we talk in my office?" They nodded, following him up. "What problems are there?" he asked, handing Rick Stetler the copy of the report Calleigh had filed. He read it and glared down at ballistics. "She did it properly and had him transferred."
"I can definitely note that." He folded it so no one else would see. "Why do you have his personnel file?"
"I'm not sure." He handed it over. "It showed up a few weeks back and no one knew who had requested it." The form got put inside. He sat down. "What can I clear up for you, gentlemen?"
"Rick, shoo," Sam said. He walked out, slamming the door behind himself. "Horatio, are you all right? Do you feel comfortable in the department? A few people have made the connection to them wanting people with special skills and you being so good."
"I'm fine. We went up to help Jethro since Dawn is like Xander's little sister and he has technical custody of her. She chooses to live with Jethro Gibbs. As for that incident, that isn't why Sheppard was doing it, sir. She was jealous of Dawn long before that came to her attention." He found the picture he wanted behind him, holding it up for them. It was Dawn leaning on Tony's arm at a formal event. "She announced that team had to go to a Capitol Hill black tie event with three weeks to shop." Both men shuddered. "Dawn had been barely planning how to prom shop at that time." He put the picture back and looked at them. "If anyone asks, I went up to support a friend in need and Xander went because of Dawn."
"I can accept that. Which one of you three has them?" Sam asked. Horatio coughed at that, staring at him. "I only need to know for future problems, Caine. You?" Horatio nodded. "Xander has some sort of helping function? I got some older copies of journals with Sandburg's work in it since someone made that connection too."
"He does," he agreed quietly. "Which is why our chief wanted him there on the bomb scenes with me."
"I wondered why your secretary was on them. Though, nice work with that."
"If the FBI had shared sooner, we would have stopped it much sooner, sir."
"I know. They've been yelled at for that, Horatio. Relax." He sat down, looking at him. "I've heard rumors you came in to an ambush by him today?"
"I did. He didn't like Xander protecting Speed while something had him knocked out. An agent who has a casual connection back to Xander narked on what happened like a jealous sibling."
"A former commando as well, sir. Now in Homeland."
"Finn. There's also a Graham Miller in the FBI who was one of them. They came from that project in the sealed file he has. Mr. Finn used to date one of Xander's friends before he realized how wrong they were."
"Very interesting." He considered him then nodded. "You're good with me, Horatio."
"Frankly, sir, you're not the one I'm worried about."
He smirked. "I would be since our Chief is retiring." He stood up. "Anything else I should hear today?"
"I do try to hide it very well, sir."
"I figure this is a job where that particular condition or whatever is useful. Like Wolfe's OCD." He smiled. "Relax."
"We had a small fight earlier because Xander hadn't told us what happened."
"Ah. Did you tell him what you did?"
"No and it came down to that, actually."
"Good. I hope you two work it out."
"We will. I'll just gain five pounds from the baking he'll do while he's stressed out."
"My wife does that now and then. She used to iron and mend clothes but she liked too much starch." Horatio grinned at that. "This isn't going to disrupt your lab?"
"Once those rumors die down and the tasteless prank gifts stop, no."
"Prank gifts?" Horatio found the bag Speed had put them into, holding them up. "Yes, that is, but the gag looks like a real one." He smirked. "Handle it and embarrass them back, Caine."
"That is the usual plan," he agreed. That got a nod and they left. Horatio relaxed, calling down to Xander's office. "Do I have anything going on this afternoon?" Xander quipped something and came up a minute after he hung up. "We are fine," he told him.
"Good." He checked the door then took a kiss. "One of the patrol guys wanted to know which one of us brought you down off drama queen mode. I told him I baked for that. He walked off muttering."
Horatio smiled, stroking over Xander's hair and cheek. "You certainly do. Do I have anything to do?"
"Embarrass whoever left those. Go grocery shopping with me?"
"I might do that," he agreed with a smile.
"Since you drove us in, I'll need the hummer's trunk."
"Ah, one of those." He took another kiss and let Xander sit on the edge of his desk. "It'll be fine. Give it a few days."
"I can do that." Someone went running. "That doesn't sound good." They went to check, finding Ryan had just pounced someone in the halls who had a gun. "Ryan, need help?" he called.
"Could use some holding down help." Eric stepped in to help him.
"What did he do?" Horatio asked.
"Came up to me waving his gun and said I'd be the new bitch of the changing area, then tried to grope me," Ryan growled, glaring at him. "When I told him I'd beat him and then turn him in for harassment, he tried to hit me then run."
"Pity," Xander agreed. He looked at him. "Aren't you dating that cute therapist?"
"I am," he agreed with a grin. "She's very nice. Thank you for remembering. Can I bum some cookies for a present for her?"
"If there's any left."
He smirked and went to check then went to talk to the guy. Stetler was already in there scowling. He wrote out a complaint and handed it over. "Then he tried to hit me and run through the lab."
Rick read it then sneered at him. "He's not the gay one in the lab."
"Even if I was, if he tried that I can sue the department," Ryan reminded him with a grin. "I could use a good retirement fund." The officer shuddered, slinking down.
Stetler smirked at him. "Leave, Wolfe."
"As long as you get him back." He walked off dusting himself off. "Thanks, Eric."
"Not a problem. What happened earlier?"
"I would like to know that as well, Mr. Wolfe," Horatio said. "A rumor reached me about your earlier scene?"
"I told Speed, Horatio. He went to talk to someone."
"Not loudly enough. Come tell me as well please." He looked at Xander, who went to make more coffee. He looked at Ryan. "They left or they simply weren't there?"
"Weren't there when I got there. No one was but Alexx."
"I'll ask her what happened to them then." He walked him into his office to talk about this issue and where it had started this time. These rumors that he was sleeping with Eric, Ryan, Calleigh, and Frank to reward them for loyalty and things was really getting on his nerves. Maybe he should sic Xander on them. No, that would be mean and bad for Miami. Xander might want his old weapons collection back for that. So he'd have to be mean to them himself this time.