Notes: the shortest thing I've ever written, congratulate me!  Put this in any of the cop shows you like to watch.  Any CSI, NCIS, anything like that.  Pick your favorite character to have this as their mental rambles.

Idea:  No one knows why they like Xander, they just do.


No one knows why they like Xander, they just do.  It's a proven fact.  It could be his goofy charm or his smiles or even the bad jokes he cracks all the time, but no one can really stay mad at Xander and most people can't hate him.  Hell, even Angel can't *hate* him...dislike him maybe but not *hate* him.   Even when you're mad at him he gives you this look that makes you feel like you just beat your favorite puppy to death for trying to lick your lips from the joy of you being home.  So no, no one can hate the Xander.  That doesn't mean you can tolerate him all the time but you can't hate him.  Which is why it's so odd when someone else discovers that they like the Xander.

Watching new people be introduced to him is kinda fun.  Everyone underestimates him for the first few days, until he does something that's....well, Xanderish. Something heroically dumb but necessary that no one else wants to do. And then he'll crack a stupid joke to make you irritated and discount him again so he can blend back into the shadows.  I don't know why he does it, but it always seems to happen.  Those of us who've known him for a while, we see what he's doing and we watch for the blending to start.  That's when he starts to think about what he just did and he needs some comfort or some hand-holding, and the occasional back stroker while he's throwing up.  But that's when you know he's going to be fine and everything's back to normal.  And get this, most people still don't realize it was *him* who did it.  They blame it on someone else, or some random happening, or even him doing something stupid, but they never seem to see the truth of what he's done.  It's like only those who really watch him *hard* see it.  I don't think that he sees the full picture he just fixed sometimes, but you never know.

Xander's one shrewd guy at times.  He can stare through you like he owns you and can make anyone beg for mercy.  Then he'll smile and release their eyes and they relax and it's like they forget he ever had them.  It's interesting watching him work and no one and nothing gets in the way of something he feels has to be done.  Even if the rest of us think it's stupid and unnecessary, he'll still do it.  He usually turns out to be right, but when he's not he doesn't give you that 'killed the puppy' look, he just takes it and nods, hangs his head a bit, then apologizes and moves on.  Not that the others don't bring those things up constantly.  Because they do.  And I think that's the reason Xander cracks that final joke so he can disappear in plain sight.  So that they won't say anything more about it.  It's like he's not used to praise.  Which is probably true.  I saw the way those girls watched him and how they treated him when they showed up to visit.  And again, it was like he was invisible to them, or like their shadows, taken for granted and never talked to. They came to visit him and I swear they only talked to him for maybe ten minutes the first day.  The rest was on the beach and in the malls.

The problematic thing was that he accepted it, like it was normal for it to be that way.  Which is why I know he knows how to blend into the shadows so well.  He became nearly invisible to them and everyone who came in contact with them.  It was like some spell washed over him when they got there and the goofy kid was gone, being replaced by this silent specter that was haunting them and our office.  Once they were gone it took him a few days to return to himself but he flinched each time the phone rang.  It got to the point where he didn't answer and got into trouble for it.  The boss was not happy about that.  I had a talk with him that night, after he had chewed Xander a new one, and told him what I'd seen.  Which is why the boss is now watching Xander, trying to be subtle, but the kid realizes it and he's now paranoid.  Which means he's back to being invisible.  Some of our coworkers had a discussion about him with him standing not three feet away in plain sight.  I coughed and pointed at him but they acted like they couldn't see him.  And the boss caught them at it.  I'm not sure which is worse at the moment.

Then again, an invisible Xander is a quiet Xander, which can be nice in some ways.  No more humming while he works.  But it's disturbing. It's like seeing Xander not bounce.  It's a tragedy of nature to not see him bounce, be noisy, and look a bit sloppy and like he slept in his clothes.  Speaking of his clothes, what is with the baggy stuff?  I know it leads back to those girls somehow but I'm not sure how, yet.  When I find out, I may just break my vows and send a hitman after them.  It'd serve them right for making Xander learn how to become invisible.  They're probably also responsible for his disastrous dating life.  Which he's thankfully stopped trying to do again.  After the second time he ended up in the Emergency Room for stitches, we all wondered if he was going out to intentionally find someone to hurt him.  The boss outright asked him, in his usual caring manner, while he was in the hospital the last time.  The boy looked like he had been struck and denied it so the boss let it drop.  We're all discouraging any further dating.  Not that the boy couldn't use a good lover.  Or maybe he's got one and that why he quit dating.  No one's really sure.  He seems to have that nice 'getting some' glow some days, but he's not going out to clubs or dating that we know about.

Xander gossips so we'd know.  Or at least I'd know.  He tells me everything like he's searching for affirmation and affection.  Let's face it, the kid could use it.  Hopefully, if he is in a relationship, they watch him too.  Hopefully they've seen the same things I have.  Either that or they're using him for the sex and it's enough for a guy his age.  Oooh, there he goes, walking past the doorway.  He doesn't look happy today, but he's not invisible.  It looks like he's having one of those paranoid, angry days that make most of us want to duck and hide.  I wonder what happened this time.  And there goes the other coworker he talks to.  Strangely enough, the one everyone else gets mothered by and he don't get along.  It's like he doesn't understand that she gives a damn.  Which he might not, thinking about it.  So he clings to those of us he can gauge and feels comfortable with.  Or as he puts it, he only hangs out with those who can kick ass better than he does.  Which is cute in a very Xander way.  Ooooh, shouting.  Bad sign.  Very bad sign.  Definitely a day to hide outside the office.  Let's hope for a spree of calls.

Ah, there goes the boss to talk to him and calm him down.  Good luck, boss!  I almost want to wish him a fond voyage at the moment.  It's going to be a long hike up that hill.  I peek around the corner of my office door to look in the mirror that faces into his office, seeing them talking.  The boy isn't calm in the least.  He looks pissed.  Oh, shit, he's going to throw something at the boss.  Nope, the boss made him sit down far from the table.  Good idea, boss.  Good idea!  More quiet words and Xander slumps, telling him something.  Not enough probably but enough to keep the rest of us from being killed by him.  Possibly. I'm still hoping for a day outside the office, just in case.  The boss turns and I duck back quickly.  It's not like I was staring that way.  I do move so I can at least see half of the picture.  The boss has closed the door, must be a personal problem.  Xander slumps further and there he went, he's back to his invisible state.  So definitely a personal problem and if he was in a relationship it's in trouble with the way he's looking.  Xander looks at the mirror but he can't see me watching.  Not that he doesn't realize some of us are.  He knows he's watched by us.

The door opens and the boss comes out, trying to look calm.  He's not succeeding so whatever it is, it's bad.  The boss stops at my lab door and stares at me so I grin at him.  He shakes his head and walks off.  Why do I have the feeling that I'm part of the problem?  I'll talk to Xander later, once he's back from his invisible state.  Until then, it's like he won't hear you.  Maybe lunch.  Food seems to be a good way to get him to talk to you.  I glance at the mirror again.  He's got his head down on the table.  Maybe before lunch.  I bring a soda down and ask him what's wrong.  I get the standard 'nothing, I'm fine' mumbled at me.  Which I doubt.  So I press a bit, even closing the door.  He glares and I just stare him down.  He knows he can talk to me.  He shakes his head and runs his fingers through his hair, looking agitated.  Then he shrugs and gets up.  He paces a few times before sitting down again.  This is one seriously unhappy Xander.  I ask if it's his present relationship and he snorts, shaking his head.  I prod a bit more, finding only a hint of a clue.  Which isn't enough, even for me, to figure it out.  I see the boss coming back and give him a warm smile, telling him to talk to me at lunch, making it an order, then asking about the stuff I had him doing for me yesterday.  He hands over the report and I walk out, leaving his lab door open.

The boss gives me this funny look so I wave the reports a bit.  He rolls his eyes and stomps off, going back to Xander's lab and closing the door again.  He settles into that hands-on- hips, staring at the kid pose that the rest of us know from the 'you fucked up' moments we all have.  But it's not the same.  His back is too tense.  So something's happening but it's not Xander's fault.  I wonder if this was a heroic, but stupid moment that someone else finally caught onto.  I go back to my lab, watching them in the mirror.  It's fascinating watching those two talk.  I didn't think the kid would open up to him but he seems to want to. Or at least he's saying a lot.  I hear a few of my coworkers and head out to drag them into an empty room, looking at them.  I tell them about Xander that morning and they agree to support him, but they know what's going on.  Ah, another Xander dating disaster apparently.  Only an older one coming back to haunt him.  Interesting.  Another person who liked Xander but didn't know why probably.  I left them there, going back to work before I was caught, and settled in to deal with the present problem in front of me, the real one not the Xander one.

Lunch came and Xander disappeared on me.  I don't know where, but he totally disappeared.  I waited around and ate, but he wasn't there in the labs when I got back either.  It's like he didn't show up that day.  Since I was actually looking I know he didn't go into invisible mode completely.  I'd seen him do it once and suddenly he'd appear whenever you were looking for him.  Then he'd seemingly fade out again.  No, this time it was more than me looking for him.  The boss asked where he was.  I had to admit he was supposed to meet me for lunch and never showed up.  That got a panicked boss going to look at security camera footage.  So I naturally followed. I'm like that, it's part of the job.   I saw what happened and damn if it wasn't as bad as I thought.  His friend, one of them, had shown up, chattered at him, grabbed his arms a few times, gave a bit of a panicked look, and he had signed out for the day to go with her.  Now he was missing.  I stepped back to call his cell but heard the ring close by.  The boss looked at me, noticed the phone and took off tracking it.  Sometimes I wonder how he does that.

There he was, in a closet.  Asleep or unconscious.  Bloody.  Beaten up.  A few knife wounds.  Yeah, needless to say the boss wasn't happy and both of us wanted his little friend.  He ordered me to find her.  I went to put out an APB, then came back to sit with him until the ambulance came.  The ME showed up to help and she 'poor babied' him to death since he couldn't complain or flinch away from her this time.  He was in pretty bad shape too.  Whatever she had done, I hoped he pressed charges this time.  Because our ME took off his shirt and I saw what was on his chest.  Even the boss flinched at that.  The ME carefully covered it with some gauze and left it alone for now.  Now, the boss is a calm man most of the time.  I've only seen him lose his temper two or three times in all the time I've known him.  He got out of the closet, walked off and hit something.  That's not typical 'losing his cool' behavior for him.  More my thing, but not his.  His is usually shouting or working out.  This time, someone was going to die.  And in that instant I knew I'd cover for him.  I gave him a look and said, very simply, 'you were here all day and all night', then helped the paramedics lift Xander out of the closet.

They peeked under the gauze then hurried the kid off.  Not that I blame them.  I didn't know how anyone could move with someone trying to cut their heart out and then carving words on their stomach and chest.  I couldn't have moved.  The fact that he made it back into the building and up the elevator, plus about a tenth of the way down the hall?  A little over three hundred feet total?  I'm impressed.  And pissed.  You only get that sort of stamina from practice.  I looked at our ME, who assured me he'd be fine.  I hope so or we're going to have a mass conspiracy around the office.  I forced myself to calm back down and got ordered to go back to work while he checked the security footage.  He had it copied off so the team could see it later when he briefed us.  He said Xander had woken up and said it wasn't her, but no one believed it.  We all knew that Xander dealt with monsters, but this was a human one.  Most of the ones he dealt with weren't literate enough to spell faggot correctly, much less homosexual.  One of the people suggested we do a handwriting comparison and treat it like a normal hate crime.  The boss agreed and told us to find them both, since apparently they were both in town again.  He wanted to talk to them.

It gave me the warm fuzzies.  It really did.  The whole team pulled out all the stops that night to find those young women and they were brought in very carefully.  Not a bruise or a scratch on them.  By the book and technically correct.  Which is why the boss was smirking so much during the interview.  Along with two of the detectives we work with.  They liked Xander too, even if they didn't see him going invisible, they still liked him.  Now those two would be paying for a very long time.  We had found hair samples on them from each of them, and we found DNA evidence as well.  Xander wouldn't have to say a thing about what happened.  Ever.  He could claim amnesia.  We'd make sure he knew that when he got finished yelling at us for trying to help him.  That's just the sorta guy he is.  We don't know why, but he is.  I'm pretty much have a clue why but it might not be the only reason.  And of course Xander wouldn't *tell* them.  He was the only person who could stand up to the boss in interrogation.   We had run a refresher class on that for some continuing education crap and Xander had lasted longer.  That's also how I know about his stare.

Anyway, we leave and head to check on Xander, finding him fighting with the nurses.  The boss smiled at one and moved around her, pulling out his handcuffs and hitching him to the bed.  The nurse smiled sweetly and did what she had to do.  Then she left us alone so we could hug and berate him depending on our personalities.  I did mention that we had more than enough evidence for their attempted murder charges without a single word being said and he tried to protest, saying it was one of the monsters.  The boss clapped a hand over his mouth, stared into his eyes, and said, 'not one more word', leaving it there.  Xander wilted and nodded. So we changed topics, talking about the cases he was missing out on and how we were going to fuss over him.  And right there in the bed, he went invisible, fully invisible.  Even the others noticed they couldn't see him.  The boss just pinched him above the cuffs and he came back.  So I was right, he could do that. I asked and he told me a story about this girl he had known when he was younger.  I pointed out we weren't ignoring him that way at the end and he just gave me this look.  The boss shooed everyone else out and came back to help me tell him how it was and what we had seen, which made him paranoid.  Not what we were going for but it worked.  I don't think he's going to be able to do it again.  Ever.

That's a nice thought.  Him not being able to go invisible.  Because once you like the Xander you start to appreciate having him around. We'll just have to work harder to make him see that we appreciate and like him.  Maybe, in a few decades, he'll be healed enough to never retreat back behind the jokes and invisibility again.  He won't be able to accept it before then, even if he is healed.  Did I mention he was more stubborn than the boss?  He still wants out of the hospital.  I have a quiet word with the nurse and she sedates him but takes the keys to the handcuffs, just in case.  See, everyone likes Xander once they get to know him.  It's some rule of the universe or something.  No one knows why they like Xander, they just do.

The End.