Two nights later, Xander came in from the funeral and took off his tie and jacket, hanging them up. He sat down at the main table, looking at his boss. "Hey."
"Xander. Are you all right? You can take tonight off."
"I'm fine. Just a bit depressed." He looked at the mound in the middle of the table and winced. "That thing I was tapelifting."
"David finished it two nights ago. We were debating what it was for."
"I'd say a flag since it's got a pole opening," he offered, pointing it out. Mort looked confused so Xander pulled up that edge to show him. "See, like a flag."
"Ah. It's a novel idea, but it's not decorated."
"Some people could hang it with another one in front that was more sheer, or something," he said with a small shrug. "I never understood that." He gave David a weak smile. "It's got a flag pole opening."
"It does?" He looked at it and nodded. "So it does. So it's either a flag or for curtains."
"Curtains, another use I hadn't thought of," Mort admitted. They both looked at Xander, who had just sighed. "You should take tonight off too."
"No, I'm good. There wasn't anything noteworthy at the funeral. I went to Tyler's viewing too. His wife excused me from the main funeral."
"Why?" Hodges asked.
"Because I simply stood there and stared. The last one I went to was for Tara. The one before that was for Buffy and shortly before her, her mother's."
"I thought she was here."
"Yeah, that's a Willow thing," he said dryly. "I helped, but it was still mostly Willow." He slumped a bit, leaning his elbows on the table. "Am I clear or full?"
"Two guns," Hodges admitted. "They can wait."
"They can't wait. We'll get a backlog and then people will start to complain about justice being slow again." He got up. "I'm heading in to work." He stopped when the phone rang, turning to look at Mort, who was frowning at whoever was on the other end. "My other case?" He nodded. "Which hospital?"
"Let me change into a t-shirt," Xander offered. Then he hit himself on the head. "I'll have to hit the house for a minute."
"I've got one of yours in my gym bag," Hodges said quietly. Xander nodded and went to find that one. He came back wearing it and put his shirt with his jacket and tie, grabbing his scene kit and checking it before heading out the door. Hodges looked at Mort. "This is wearing him thin emotionally."
"It often does," he agreed. "I'll keep him out of the field for a month or so when this is done. As far as I'm concerned, this is all we need him for in the field."
Hodges nodded. "Thanks, Mort."
"You're welcome, David. Are you clear?"
"And bored until they get back."
"Could you help me with some of my reports?"
"Sure." He followed him to the office, settling in to take dictation for him. He was a nice older guy who couldn't type very fast and things got backlogged. He was a lot like Xander about paperwork and hated that but couldn't really improve his typing any.
"Different genders this time," Ray said in greeting.
"Copycat?" Xander asked them all as he put on his booties and gloves. He slid in and came to come help with the fingerprinting. Greg was doing that and gave him a sideways look. "Let me guess, I get the bathroom?"
"If you can," Warrick agreed.
"Sure." He went to get his camera and case, coming in to do that part. He sighed when he saw the child, going to check it. "It's a doll," he announced. "Just as much blood too."
"The puddle out here's pretty small," Warrick offered. "Maybe he gathered some to put down."
"So I'll swab and gather," Xander agreed, taking his pictures first then swabbing different spots in the blood pool for samples. He made a diagram of what was there and marked down each swab on it and marked each swab accordingly, then took a few more and marked them too. He was very methodical in the field, unlike in his home office, which looked like it had exploded in vampire magazines and Guns'n'Ammo. Greg had even giggled at it that first night. He went back to work, shaking off his thoughts. He looked at the sink once he got done, frowning at the blood on the taps. "We have a bloody sink," he announced, taking pictures then swabs. He also swabbed the turning areas for epithealials. Then he checked the toilet and the shower. The toilet needed to be flushed and he grimaced, using a disposable sucker to gather some fluid up, then he flushed it and went to the shower. Nothing there. He set everything aside and got to work fingerprinting. That created a mess so he always did it last. By the time he was done, the others were starting to pack it in. He came out, adding his samples and diagrams to theirs. Warrick looked at the fluid sample. "No one flushed. Just in case."
"Fine," he agreed, packing that away too. "How did you gather it?"
"With a sucky bulb and a disposable tip. I bagged that too. Separately in case I wanted to toss it later." They packed everything away and Xander bagged his gloves and booties.
"Why do you do that?" Warrick asked.
"Because I have this nasty depth perception problem still," he said with a small grin and a sarcastic air. "This way if I come into contact with something, it's on the gloves and they're available. I've always done this and my teacher decided it was a good idea after I ran my thumb through a fluid sample once." He shoved that bag into his case. "I keep them in a box in my filing cabinet and clean it out weekly as cases go to trial and are done. Unless I used them to test something and then they become evidence."
"Oh. I guess that doesn't break protocol."
"No, it's an extra check for me," Xander assured him, putting his case away. He stretched his back, then rolled his shoulders with only a small wince. "Okay, who's driving?"
"I'm taking you back," Greg ordered, getting in to drive him. "You look tired."
"The last set had their funerals tonight," he admitted. "I went to watch. Then I went to Tyler's viewing."
"It's been a long, bad night for you then, huh?" he asked, starting the car. Xander nodded, slumping down some. "Buckle up." Xander did so and they were off, carefully. Unlike every other driver that night in the city. They got back and got down to work, David telling Xander to go finish his reports and to hand them in, that he, Greg, and Warrick had Trace tonight. Xander nodded and finished everything up, then went to find an aspirin and wait on them, sending out the courier with their photos since their AV guy was out tonight. Xander didn't know how to develop film and he wasn't even going to try. Fortunately there was a nice place just up the street that did these things for them cheaply.
Xander smiled at Hodges as he helped him out of the car, walking him inside one of his favorite restaurants. "Two, Harris?" he said smoothly, smiling at the man behind the small desk.
"I see you're a bit early," he said with a smile. "Let me check to make sure your table's ready." He went to check on it, then came back, grabbing menus. "If you'll follow me?" They followed him, being seated in a small alcove area, then getting their menus and being left alone.
"Thank you, Xander." Xander beamed at him. "This is a very nice Valentine's day present." Xander nodded, blushing a bit and ducking his head. "Not even a flower or candy in sight."
"That's with dessert," he said with a grin. The wine steward came over and they ordered something they liked and it would go well with what they liked for dinner, then relaxed, chatting about various things. Stan's frantic plans for the evening and how Fraser was getting his tomorrow since he was on guard duty tonight. The higher ups from Ottawa were in and only Rennie had gotten tonight off. So Fraser would get his the next night instead. Stan had went all out and ordered from a very nice place so that they wouldn't have to do more than smile and kiss that night, his words when he made sure it was romantic enough with Xander. Ray was babysitting tonight so his sister and her husband could go out to dinner. Xander spotted them and winked at Tony then went back to teasing Hodges until he blushed. It got him swatted. "Maria and Tony are up the row."
"Good. They could use a night off from their hellions too." They shared a gentle, unhurried kiss, which was interrupted by the waiter coming with their wine and ready to take their orders. Once he was gone Xander kissed the back of David's hand, making him grin. "You're in a touchy mood tonight."
"Well, yeah," he agreed with a small smirk. "It's definitely a night for touching." Their salads came and Xander moved back some, continuing to hold their unused hands. He liked being this romantic, flirty guy. It was a good thing for him to be happy this way and David always made him happy. "I found a housekeeper. She'll start next week, coming once a week."
David beamed at that. "Thank you, Xander."
"You're welcome. It's not fair that I don't help you clean like I should. I'm sorry."
"Not a problem. I'm obsessive over that stuff. It's part of the training. I'm surprised we're not all germ phobic like Mia was. She wouldn't even eat out."
"I don't wanna know why," Xander said quickly. He grinned at him. "I found a new place opening and stopped to get their menu. Japanese."
"I've never really been one for sushi. I like my fish to be pleasantly prepared and cooked." Xander snickered at that. "I do."
"So do I, but I've eaten it before. Then again, I once spent a whole month eating tacos with Fred."
"She worked with Angel. Really smart woman. Like MENSA smart. She *loved* her tacos and anytime we had anything to do with dinner, she got 'em. After a month of unbadness and healing from the last injuries, Wes finally begged her for real food. She got hurt and pouted but she did make him pot roast that night. It was a bit dry but he kissed her like there was no tomorrow. Her boyfriend, Gunn, he didn't do more than look amused that time. Usually he started a fight."
"I thought I met some odd people at college," David said fondly. "I'm sure you've got me beat now."
"Well, yeah," he offered with a grin. "Not much for the college partying thing or living in the dorms. Wish I had at times, but not really my thing."
"I can't imagine you at frat parties."
"I managed to hit a few of those. Mostly hunting but I did manage it. Once I even saved them all from Anya. Way back when." He smiled sadly. "Her conscience got the best of her."
David squeezed his hand. "I know it's hard, Xander."
"No, it's been a long time since she died," he said firmly. "Just sometimes it hits me." He gave him a look. "Can you make me forget I was ever there tonight?"
"I can," he assured him with a slight grin. He would do his best to make Xander forget anything before meeting him. It was such a sweet and innocent request, but he would have liked to have seen a Xander that wasn't this girl-oriented and so tough. Then again, he'd probably never get along with a Xander like that. Their meals came and they were eating quietly, still holding hands, and about halfway through when Xander's pager went off. He groaned and David looked at him. "You're not on call."
"Unless it's SWAT," he reminded him gently, freeing his hand to look at the display. "Which it is. They have very bad timing. Let me go call."
"No, stay. I want to hear so I can complain tomorrow."
Xander smiled. "Sure." He pulled out his cell and dialed, sneezing as it was answered. "You paged?" He listened. "Is it a bomb? I'm only on call for bombs." He grimaced, shaking his head. "No, dear, I'm a CSI. I'm only on call for bombs. Not for field action. I'm not certified for field action." He looked up and sighed. "I'm still not a field certified cop. Yes, I know that. I'm a CSI. I'm a ballistics tech. I'm not a cop." He groaned and slumped, looking at David, who shook his head but was smirking. "Dave?"
"Go," he said quietly. "Come home safe and sound. Wear a vest this time."
"Yes, dear." He kissed him and hung up. He waived the waiter over, whispering in his ear and handing him money, then started to walk off. He put his hand in his pocket, then grinned at his boyfriend before pulling out something and handing it over, then leaving.
David looked at the small box, blinking a few times. He opened it and nearly started to hyperventilate. "He was going to...." he said quietly, staring outside. He could see taillights in the parking lot but it was too high to be their car. He looked at the ring again, shaking his head. "He couldn't even ask?"
"I'm sure he will tomorrow," Maria said as she came over. "You can come join us."
He looked up and shook his head. "It's Valentine's day, I can't do that to you two." He looked at his meal, then at the waiter. "I'm heading home to wait for him. Did he pay?"
"And gave me a very nice tip. He wanted you to have dessert, should we box some up?"
"Please." He closed the ring box and put it in his pants pocket, intending to wait until later to think about this. When Xander could ask properly. It was only right that he *asked* instead of just handed it over and ran off to save someone. Xander had apparently given them cab fare for him too because there was a cab waiting by the time he got his dessert and they didn't ask him for a fare. He wandered into their apartment, looking at the curious Greg waiting in the kitchen. "SWAT," he said bitterly.
"Hell of a time to plant a bomb," Greg agreed.
"No bomb. Just SWAT." Greg gaped. "He protested but they got insistent. I'm guessing no one else would answer." He sat down, looking over as Warrick came out of Xander's office. "SWAT."
"Hate that for you," he admitted, patting him on the shoulder. "You okay?"
Hodges shook his head and grabbed a spoon, digging into the sinfully chocolate dish Xander had wanted him to have, then put down the ring box to stare at after the first bite. "He paused on his way out the door and gave it to me. Didn't ask, just handed it over."
Greg opened it and gaped. "Wow. That's a pretty rock."
"It is," Hodges agreed. "He still didn't ask."
"I'm sure he will when he gets home," Warrick soothed.
"You're lucky he didn't do one of those things like riding up on a horse at work wearing armor," Greg teased.
"He knew I'd turn him down if he had," Hodges said bitterly, eating another bite. "I think he meant for us to share this. I can't eat this many sweets." He covered it and put it in the refrigerator. Then he looked at them. "Have you seen the scanner?"
"Yeah, it's in the office," Greg told him, going to get it for him.
Xander stomped into SWAT's holding area, glaring at everyone.
"Officer Harris," someone said fondly.
"That's CSI Harris. I'm not a cop and I'm only on call for bombs. Is this a bomb?"
"No, but we still need you. You do have good range scores."
"I've got to requalify and I'm still not a cop."
"Your record said you did some training."
"For *bomb* things, yeah," he said bitterly. "You guys took me away from my lover and my planned proposal. I'm not happy. I'm also not on call for general stuff. I'm here for *bombs* and only *bombs*."
"We've got to bust a terrorist cell with the Feds," the night shift guy offered. "I know you're not a cop, we still need you. I can't find the other on calls. Can you shoot?"
"I need my glasses and they're on order. I'm only about eighty percent without them."
"Which is still within qualifying." He looked him over. "Go put on a t-shirt. You can't go in those." Xander growled and the guy looked alarmed, which was good. It meant he knew he'd be dying soon. "I'm sorry, CSI Harris. I wish I could send you back, but I can't. Chicago needs you. Otherwise we could need you for something more explosive. Please. Just this once."
"You're explaining to David why I had to leave early," he said coldly.
"You're gay?" one of the guys said, looking stunned.
Xander turned and slugged him, knocking him down. "Yes, I am. I got sick and tired of the evil bitches who wanted to kidnap my ass. That's also why I'm nearly a marksman with my glasses. Which are still on order. Feel thankful." He stomped off, heading down to the car. His gym bag and spare outfit were in there. He'd gotten hit by some dripping blood at the last hospital scene so he had kept some spares in his trunk. He came in to change, going to put his suit downstairs and grab his weapons from his desk. At least Turnbull had put everything back. He grabbed his vest off the wall and stomped back up there while he slid it on, still glaring at everyone. "When are we leaving? I've got more important shit to do tonight."
"I know," the head guy soothed, trying to calm him down. "I'm sorry I ruined your proposal. I hear David's a very nice guy to you." Xander growled again and he backed off. "Okay, let's move, people. Van's waiting. We'll brief in the van on the way there, then have the Feds update us. Harris, I want you in the rear position. It's the least vulnerable. There may still be explosives there anyway." He followed them out, shaking his head. He'd make a note in the kid's folder that he was only on call for bombs. It should have been noted in there, but he did need him tonight. He heard a drama queen remark and hit the guy across the back of the head. "Shut up. He's a damn sight better than most of you."
"Does this count as my range requalification?" Xander asked bitterly.
"Nope, sorry. When do you have to requalify?"
"I filed for an extension since I hadn't heard. I have until a week after my new glasses get in."
"Can you work without it?" one of the older men asked. Xander nodded. "What are they for?"
"Details. Fine details." He looked at his current boss. "I should tell you, I'm missing my right eye."
"Okay," he agreed. "I'll have someone flank you on that side, just in case." Better and better. "You can hit the target without them?"
"Yeah, about eighty percent kill ratio when I don't use 'em."
"Fine. That's more than good enough for tonight. Try to leave them living if possible but take whatever shots you can make. Unfortunately this moved too quickly and the Feds didn't have a team in place."
"Oh, Ford's going to get a foot up his ass if it's him," he promised bitterly, taking the map to look at. "Who drew this?"
"One of the guys on the back of a napkin. Why?"
"No measurements. Rooms look odd and awkward. Can't be to scale."
"You did assault maneuvers?" the boss asked hopefully.
"Construction and yes. Urban combat." He handed it on. He closed his eyes and centered himself, preparing himself for the night to come. This was not going to be fun and he was going to be bitching out the guy he usually worked with. Or he could just stand back and let David chew him a new one he supposed. No, that would take some of his fun. He checked his vest, then went back to centering himself. His bullets were in his pants pocket and there were two clips inside his vest if he needed them. He had three guns that all used the same ammo. He had his dagger back. He would be fine. He was in the rear and unless these guys were that unskilled, he shouldn't even have to fire. The boss stood up and started his briefing and he listened, staring out the window. He knew where they were going. It was not a good section of town. Xander looked at the building then took the map back and stared at it. "Which floor is this?"
The head guy looked out and groaned. "Okay, so we're going in blind," he announced. "Let's fall out silently and head to the staging area." He followed Harris out, shaking his head. The guy had common sense and at least some training somehow. He could handle this. He wasn't a newbie from what he'd heard around the ranks. He would be okay if this went sour quickly.
Xander walked into the staging area and looked at Ford, waving the map. "Who did this?"
"They're on the second floor. Lab is up on the fifth," Ford replied. "Why are you here? There's no bombs."
"I asked that same question," he admitted. "Which floor is this?"
"Second. Here, we've got the whole building mapped now." He led them over to the table, pointing at the level they were needed on. "They're staying here and working on the fifth floor. The third and fourth are storage. The first is set up as a meeting and tea area." They all nodded at that and Xander was staring hard. "What?"
Xander pointed at something. "Hidden stairs?"
"Slide pole actually."
"Wonderful. We'll have to jam that door somehow." He looked at him. "Type of knob?"
"Screwdrivers?" he demanded. Someone handed him one. "Fine, I'll take off the knob, just in case." The head guy smiled at him. "I'm still going to gut you for taking me away from my special dinner and proposal."
"Congratulations," Ford said, meaning it. The kid calmed down around his man. He had watched the boy a lot. "He said yes?"
"I handed it to him and left, I didn't have time to formally ask. I figure I'll be begging tomorrow," he said bitterly. He pointed at the stairs. "Creaky?"
"Hell yes," he said bitterly. "Intentionally so. Weakened in the center also."
"So we go up the edges," the head guy noted calmly. "Harris, please focus."
Xander pulled his gun and shot at his feet, missing him by inches, making him yelp. "Shut up." He put it away and looked at the plans again. "We still have awkward rooms without any reason why," he noted. "Those walls are too thick. Escape hatches?"
"We think so, we couldn't find the entrance," Ford admitted. "We're thinking ladders down to the first floor and coming out somewhere in the back."
Xander looked it over and shook his head. "Here, this wall," he said calmly. "Too thick, marked as odd, but no idea why. I'd say there's a push door there somehow."
"I'll make sure it's jammed or blocked," Ford agreed. "I'm following you guys in."
"Fine," Xander agreed. "You take my right side. I'm blind there." Ford nodded.
The head guy rubbed the newly opened spot on his boot, looking at the plans. "Okay, Metz, Jergins, take the back entrance, move forward. Hyler, Tai, Chen, take the front entrance, clear the front hall once Harris has locked that door for them. Harris, after that's done, you're jogging behind to catch up to the rest of us going up. Once there, I want you on the main floor. If we need you upstairs, I'll call. Once we've secured the second floor, I'll take some up to the fifth to clear it. Any questions?"
"How many inside?" Xander asked Ford.
"Fifteen that we've seen and know of. There's two females, one is part of the group, the other's a hooker. She's the uglier of the two if in doubt. Just hold them and we'll do the arrests or arrest and we'll sort it out later if you want," he offered. The boss agreed. "There could be more. I'm sorry."
"Not an issue. Planning is wonderful but if God wanted man to have predictable lives he wouldn't have put liquor down here," Xander said bitterly. "Gun count?"
"At least one per person," another agent offered. "They like their guns. They've fired at the walls a few times. Rats."
"Better and better," Xander complained. "What are they making?"
"Drugs." Xander stared at him. "There is an explosion risk," he admitted. He wilted under the glare. "If we can cut the gas line, it should be fine."
"They'll know," the boss told him. "Okay. Any other questions." He looked at Harris, who was staring again. "Harris?"
"Yeah, one," he admitted, pointing at the top floor. "What's that?"
"As far as we know, it's where they take the hooker," Ford offered. "We're not sure if there's another way down from there. There could be gun storage."
"So keep 'em off the stairs," Xander agreed. "Okay." He looked up. "Now?"
"Good of time as any," he agreed, leading the way in. His key guy came and picked the locks and they were inside. Xander hurried to that one door, getting the knob off within moments, then rejoining them while the team cleared that floor. They moved up, carefully standing on the outer edges of the stairs. They still creaked a few times but no one came to check.
Xander didn't like this. They knew. They had to know. They were waiting for them. He heard another creak and looked back, then lunged and knocked the guy in the suit out, snapping his neck enough to damage but not break it. He looked at Ford, who looked scared. He steeled himself for this. It was not a good thing. They came up and into gunfire. This was why he hadn't really done more than dream about SWAT. He didn't like being shot. They struggled back and forth, a few guys disappearing. A few of their guys dropping. Xander got a few of his own, aiming for upper chests and stomachs. He did kill a few but that was fine with him. He heard a woman scream and tensed, but didn't chase. She screamed again then went suddenly silent and he hissed, doing his best to help clear. He heard a noise and fired behind them, getting more of the workers. Fifteen, yeah, right. More like fifty. Apparently someone didn't do thermal imaging to count. He cleared their way down, letting the others rush up to help, getting out of their way. One of them glared at him and he glared back, but went back to taking out the outer edges, which was his job here. They finally got everyone down and moved up the stairs, finding the guys up there armed as well. The few left on the second floor swept the rooms, finding the escape hatch open and the few hidden people. Xander had to fatally shoot another one and changed his clip again. He liked this one best. He'd use it and all his spares, then turn to the others if he had to. They cleared that floor and gathered everyone, him standing guard with Ford while the rest headed up the stairs. Xander looked at Ford. "Thermal imaging," he said slowly and clearly.
"Couldn't find one," he admitted bitterly. "The local office's is broken and they wouldn't let us borrow from another field office."
"Feel free to kick your supervisors out a window for that."
"Sure. Wanna come help?"
"David would get mad at me." One of them groaned and glared at him so Xander kicked him in the back. "Shut up. Yes, you were just taken down by the gayest of the gay. Feel proud. I am." The man shut up. He heard the explosion and ducked. "Do not shoot at the chemicals!" he shouted, heading for the stairs. He hoped it was just stupid people. He could handle stupid people. Not those with a death wish. He hurried past the slumped and smoldering bodies, into the lab area. It was a mess. He tapped on his communications panel. "This is Harris, there was an explosion at the SWAT team's coordinates. Chemical in nature. Drugs. Officers down. Need backup. Many hostiles still present." He went to clear this area, hearing others behind him. He swung to fire at them but it was the team from the first floor. "Clear them," he shouted. They nodded and Ford stayed to help him. They found an extinguisher and used it on the chemical table, then went looking for more. They cleared that floor, heading up. Xander had a feeling. Up in that little love nest was a guy with a machine gun and a lot of bullets. He started to spray at them when they rounded the stairs. "Fucking hell," he muttered, shooting up the stairs. He ran out and checked, out of backups. He holstered that one and grabbed the next one, checking it. It was fully loaded. Ford looked at him. "I'm a redundant backup guy." He took another shot, making the guy yelp. "Fucker. You're taking me away from proposing to my man! Do not piss me off more!"
"You dirty, gay mother fucker!" the criminal shouted. "How dare you come in here!" He reloaded and shot some more at them. "I'm not going to be taken down by you!"
"Yes, you are," Xander shouted back, firing and hitting him on the hand. The guy switched, it wasn't that hard with it on automatic jammed open. Xander ducked and saw Ford go down. Hit to the stomach but no blood so he must have a vest on. Xander checked then took another shot, hitting him on the side of the neck. "Man, I can't make that with my glasses. No fair." He shot him again while the guy was howling and this time killed him. He came up to clear the area, then came back down, hoisting Ford over his shoulder to carry him down. Cops were pouring in. "One dead one at the top," he offered. He put Ford down next to the injured, looking at who was left. "We all alright?" They grumbled and nodded, going back to work helping. Xander looked around. He should be taping things or taking pictures, but the fire department was presently destroying the drug evidence. "Guys, just the chemicals. The solids aren't a danger."
"Yes, CSI Harris," one said with a smirk. "How was your night?"
"I was going to propose. Instead I had to toss the ring and walk off." He went to check the second floor, finding the detectives down there. "How many injured?"
"Most of you," he said grimly, looking him over. "You look familiar."
"CSI Harris," he said, shaking his hand. "Ballistics and bombs."
"Ah." He nodded and smirked at him. "Got you out of bed?"
"Nice dinner and a proposal." He heard a shout and spun, hitting the person running up the stairs with the dagger. He didn't stop. "Oh, fuck!" He was out of bullets and his spare was only loaded with two as he found out when he tried to kill him. He grabbed the detective's weapon and went for the classic head shot, and he got sprayed with the results. "Eww." He handed it back and walked off muttering, going to check in. The dayshift guy was down there watching as they walked out. He saw the head Fed chewing one of his guys a new one and stomped over there. "Why the hell didn't you let them have a thermal imaging camera on loan?" he demanded. The man looked shocked. "Yes, me, idiot. You could have spared a lot of injuries to some good people tonight by simply letting them borrow something for a few hours! How dare you send us in to be killed, you stupid, pig ignorant, moron magnet sucking, mother fucking bastard!" he screamed.
Ford limped out. "Harris!"
"Oh, fuck off!" He glared at the head Fed, who was cowering. "I will be calling a friend in DC about this, mother fucker. I will tell him exactly why I was told we didn't have an accurate body count. I will also tell him why there was an explosion since no one told us what was going on in there since they didn't know. I'd be praying to some God of Mercy now if I were you. How do you think you'll like Alaska?"
"Who are you?" he demanded.
"Who the fuck do I look like, moron?" He stomped off, going back to the scene to talk to the scene techs coming. He took off his vest and handed it over, wincing as he rolled his shoulders. "It's bad. The fifth floor has solid drugs and chemicals. There was an explosion. There are body debris on the stairs. The drugs are in a solid form and didn't go up. I had the fire department leave them alone. We did have someone who must have been dusted, he took three direct hits and kept coming. There are hidden passages and a slide pole. I disabled the doorknob on that one," he said, handing over the screwdriver. "I'm going home now." They all nodded, just staring at him. "What? Something happen to David?"
"You're a scary bitch, Xander," Greg told him as he joined them. "Come on, I'll drive."
"I need a statement," the head of SWAT yelled, stomping that way. "You're not released yet."
Xander rounded on him, glaring hard. "Excuse me?" The man flinched and backed off. "First of all, I shouldn't have been in there. I told him that repeatedly. I'm going to go home and soak with my laptop. I'll write out a statement for you and hand it in."
"There's forms," he said more weakly.
"And I can't do them tomorrow?"
"You'll be spending a lot of time with the guns?" he suggested.
"Not since I was here I'm not," he said firmly. "That taints the evidence chain."
"Oh." He looked at him and swallowed. "Thank you, Xander. The guys said you did very well and made sure some of my guys came home."
"I tried," he admitted, calming down some. "I'm still going home. I don't care at the moment." That one nodded. "I'll hand you a statement tomorrow sometime."
"That's fine. Sure. We'll send the paperwork down for you tomorrow night." He looked at him, seeing the few scrapes. "You all right? Need medical?"
"I was wearing my vest. I got hit twice in it. I have two grazes, just basically scratches, and some from the falling debris after the fire. I'm fine. Take care of your real guys. Plus Ford, he got hit in the vest on the stomach while we were taking down the top floor guy."
"Sure. Thank you." He watched as Greg led him off, shaking his head. He'd have to check on him. The boy's eyes looked dead. He had that 'seen too much combat already' look to him. He hoped his boyfriend could soothe him tonight.
Greg walked Xander up the stairs, looking at Hodges, who hopped up. "He's fine. Hit in the vest twice, two grazes, some minor scrapes." He turned him over. "They miscounted the bodies. Half the team was present at the explosion. He was downstairs."
Hodges looked at the miserable looking man and then licked his lips. "You couldn't pause to ask?"
"I don't need this tonight," Xander responded. He thought he sounded quiet calm, but a bit eerie. He tried to sound more normal but he saw David's reaction and knew he had failed. "Please?"
"Sure. Bath?" Xander nodded so Hodges went to start one while Greg got Xander sitting and out of his shoes. While in there he said a silent prayer of thanks for bringing him home. When the water started to come up, he came out to get Xander, helping him out of his shirt as he walked that way. He helped him out of his pants and into the water, seeing the bruises coming up. Both on his chest. He took a deep breath. "Want your laptop?" Xander just looked at him. "I'll take dictation."
"Sure," he agreed in that same eerie, calm voice. Still being quiet. Hodges went to get that. It was the only way he'd get to know everything probably. He plugged it in and started it, sitting beside the tub. Xander had stopped the water and had added some nice smelling bath salts, probably to cover up the stink of gunpowder on him. He opened the Word program and looked at him. "Whenever you're ready," he promised quietly. "Want a soda?" He shook his head, sinking down some. "Xander?"
"I...." He looked at him. "I should have asked."
"It's okay. You can ask later this week. Where are your guns?"
"Um, Greg's car."
"I'll make sure he bagged them when I go to get you a drink. Now, what happened? They still made you go?"
"I protested," he promised, sounding like he was vowing it. "I nearly protested myself into looking like a coward but I did protest. I also hit one of the guys. He's living." He took a deep breath. "I can type if you get the tub board." He nodded, handing it and the laptop over, just sitting there with him while he typed it all out. At least until he heard the sob, then he got up to hug him as best he could and not let the laptop fall into the water. "Can we take a break after this hospital case?" he asked finally.
"You deserve it," Hodges agreed. "We'll head back to Vegas for a week or so." Xander nodded, relaxing into his touch and went back to typing. He finally finished and handed it off, so David put it aside and grabbed a sponge, removing the board so he could help clean his mate up. Those bruises looked painful to him. "You all right? Need to go get x-rays?"
"Bruised only," he promised, looking at him. "I'm fine. I'll probably have nightmares but I'm fine."
"I'm there for nightmares," David promised, working the sponge over Xander's neck and chest. He was still so tense. David stood up and undressed, then moved Xander so he could climb in behind him. Xander relaxed into him and let it go, that's what he needed. "Shh, I'm here," he soothed, holding him. "You're all right." He heard pounding and grimaced. "I'm going to kill Ray." Xander chuckled at that. "It's all right."
Stan stuck his head in. "Hey, are you all right? We just got the call out to help with the scene." He came in and gave Xander a hug. "Xan?"
"I'll be fine. Can you print that and hand it in for me?" he asked tiredly.
"Sure." He took the laptop back into the office, hooking it back into the docking station and saving the document before printing it. He glanced through it then went back to hug Xander again before heading out. Turnbull was with him and Fraser was coming from the consulate as fast as the cab could get him. They needed them and they both spoke other languages. He got out and walked over to the guy in charge. "Xander said to give this over to you?" he asked plainly.
"Is he all right?"
"Hell no." He stared him down. "Who made him come here?"
"Forrest. He's the other site's team leader. We were off tonight as a group. He had some missing so he combed our backups. By the way, Xander's not in trouble for hitting Pailey. I'd have socked him too." He took the report to look over. Neat and concise, like all of Xander's other reports for them on bombs and firearms. "Thank you. Tell me if you need more help, Detective. Constable." Turnbull nodded politely and followed inside. He saw Fraser hurrying and let him in personally. "They just headed inside. Harris is fine."
"Why was he here? Was there a bomb?"
"No, he got pulled in as a backup. So you have any idea where his weapons are?"
"Call his house. Gregory and Warrick are there for that crossover case."
"Thanks." He called Xander's cellphone, getting Greg. "Where are his weapons? We'll need to test 'em." He listened to that short report. "Thank you." He hung up and went to tell someone to swing by there and get them from Greg, then went inside with the report tucked into his back pocket. He'd have to get the boy a card for taking on the local Feeb in charge. He'd have knocked him down while he yelled, Xander was a nicer version of him tonight. If that boy would switch teams, he'd take him in a heartbeat but it'd ruin him.
Welsh grabbed Xander as he walked in, backing off when Xander flinched. "Sorry. Your paperwork is waiting in my office. You're on suspension."
"It was SWAT," he defended.
"Still." He stared him down and sighed. "It's mandatory, Xander."
"Yeah, well, I've got an open case from hell and I'd rather be working. Tough shit, Lieutenant. And I mean it." He went up the stairs to grab the paperwork, then back down to his office, waving off the staring and gaping people. "Don't. Just don't." He headed into his office, seeing the table full of things marked 'SWAT action' and left those alone, going to work on the other things. He felt arms go around him and glanced back, giving Ray a tired smile. "I have to work."
"I understand. I was like that after my last one." He gave the boy a squeeze, seeing his wince. "You okay?"
"Hit twice in the vest. I need a new one. Mine's three years old."
"I'll talk to supply." He smoothed back some of the hair. "You need ta talk?"
"No, I talked to David most of the night," he offered tiredly, turning around to actually hug the man. "I'm fine, Ray."
"I'm sure you think you are, but I'm doubting that. You look tired." He looked over as the door opened and Warrick came in. "Don't tell me there's a scene."
"No, just checking on him." He looked at Xander. "Want some help?"
"I'm good. I need to work so I don't go insane."
"Sure," he agreed. "Nick's the same way. Brass said to call him if you needed to talk. Okay?" Xander nodded, giving him a weak smile. "Good boy. Now, let me get to work on the stuff from last night. You go help Hodges with his stuff. Then you can have the lab back."
"Sure. Let me know if we're called out. My phone's at home broken. I stepped on it."
"Sure." He watched as Ray walked him next door, then groaned and got to work for him. That had been a bad scene. He and Greg had been asked to help this morning and had jumped in to the second shift of evidence gathering. The first shift had mainly done the drug lab. He heard Xander come back, smiling as he grabbed the paperwork and went back to fill it out over in Trace. David could keep him calm. Those two were good together. They needed each other. No matter how much it gave him a headache to think about them together, they suited each other. He and Greg hadn't even heard the nightmares last night so Hodges must have gotten them as soon as they started. The desk phone rang and he answered it. "Ballistics. Warrick Brown speaking." He listened, then groaned. "No, he's in Trace. Is there a problem?" He raised an eyebrow. "Uh-huh. Xander? Strange stuff call," he called.
"Not tonight," he whined as he came to take it. "What?" he growled. He listened. "Lye. Lots and lots of lye. Not where I can find it. Thanks." He hung up. "Demon body disposal," he said grimly, going back to Trace to complain about 'how else would you get rid of an eighteen foot demon corpse' and other things about paperwork being too long.
Welsh looked up as Xander walked in with his paperwork and two files, taking them all to look at. He looked at one and held it up. "No signature?"
"I refuse to sign that piece of shit and you can tell someone to stick it," he said grimly. "Or point me at them and I will."
"They just wanted to know why you hit him," he offered. "They're not thinking charges from what I've heard."
"Do I care?" He shrugged and headed off, going to growl at the evidence some more. David had nudged him earlier but hadn't chastised yet over it. He was as calm as he was getting. He ran into the guy in the hall and raised an eyebrow when he got stared at. "What?" he demanded.
"Nothing, Harris. Good job."
"Not one I'm proud of," he admitted. "I don't like killing people. It's not my favorite thing in the world." He walked around him, heading down the stairs.
The guy nodded, rubbing his bruised chin and fat lip. "That's why you're not one of us," he agreed quietly, heading up to his turn at the paperwork and statement. He saluted the Internal Affairs guy. "Problems?"
"No, just wondering about the altercation before the mission," he said gently. "Are you all right?"
"It was my fault, sir. I was stupid and prejudice. Harris was right to hit me. I just apologized in the halls."
"That's fine. Do you think this is becoming epidemic around here? I know he's very open about it and so are some others."
"No, sir. Just a few stupid and stubborn sorts," he offered. "I respect that boy now. He could be one of us but he said he hates it. I understand fully."
"Thank you. Did you want to press charges?"
"No, sir. It was my own stupidity. He can be as gay as the Mad Hatter but he still saved some of our lives."
"Thank you." He smiled at him. "Now, let's get down to business. Statement first. Did you do the paperwork already?"
"Yes, sir, and Harris was coming from the squad room so his might be down there."
"I'll check on my way out," he assured him with a nice smile. "All right. What's your name for the record please," he asked as he turned on the tape recorder.
David put his chin on Xander's shoulder, looking over it. "Did you want to do the commitment ceremony here or in Vegas?" he asked quietly. Xander shifted to look at him, looking stunned. "Just wondering. Unless that was a goodbye?"
"No. Not it was meant to be a proposal over dessert. That way the chocolate could calm me down and I wouldn't stutter."
David grinned at that. "I understand perfectly. I'd be nervous too." He gave him a gentle kiss. "Here or in Vegas?"
"Either's fine. Up to you. Both if you want. Or tape it at one and play it at the other."
"Or pay to fly them all out for a weekend," Hodges said with a smirk.
"Man, we'd get mass migration points for that," Xander joked. "Ma and all the Vecchio's, including kids. Stan and his Mounties. Thatcher and Welsh. The guys here. It'd almost be easier to bring the guys out there here."
"It would be," Greg said from the door. "Besides, we get paid better," he reminded him smugly. "I so get to be a best man."
"Sure," Xander agreed, nodding. "Ray can walk me up the aisle, being the dad figure as it were. You and Stan?" he asked, looking at David, who shrugged. "You can pick first."
"I'll take Greg," he offered with a grin. "You get Stan. You get Ma to tell you where to hold the reception." He gave him a short kiss and a smile. "We'll call them out for a weekend. There should be enough to cover for two days."
"Just the main crew?" Xander suggested. "Nick, these two if they're not here. Cat, Sarah, Grissom, Brass, Bobby, Archie, and the other techs?"
"Sure," Hodges agreed. "We'll hold arena seating." Xander grinned at that. "Anywhere you want to do it?"
"I don't care. Wherever you want."
"Xander, I have no idea what to do with weddings."
Xander grimaced. "I let Anya plan our almost one. Park?"
"Park's good," Hodges agreed after thinking about it. "None of us have that big of a yard. Or holy ground if Ma gets her way. Say the abbey's walking garden?"
"I like to meditate up there," Xander admitted. "It's peaceful. They hate me and give me odd looks," he admitted with a shy grin.
"Xander, you're missing two files," Mort called.
"In a minute."
"Xander!" he yelled again. "The DA needs them now."
"I'm planning my fucking wedding, Mort, it can wait five minutes for me to find them and print them," he yelled back. He heard the others get quiet and then some mild cheering. "Apparently they agree."
David smirked. "That's because I keep you from bouncing and annoying them."
Xander beamed. "I knew there was a reason I loved you." He stole a deep kiss. "Be right back before he comes in here." He went to find those reports, he knew which ones they were and they should be on his desk. He found them both and walked them out, shrugging at the pissed looking Stella. "You wanted me to take up with Stan and make it a foursome?"
She gaped, then slowly slid down the wall. "What?" she asked weakly. She accepted the folders, clutching them to her chest. "He's doing what?"
"Two big, buff guys in red serge," he said dryly, glaring at his boss. "Does the abbey you showed me rent out that walking garden?"
"Sometimes," he agreed with a smile. "It's a wonderful place to hold it, Xander. I'm sure they wouldn't mind."
"Thanks." He went back to Trace, he was clear for the moment. He sat down. "Mort said they probably would rent us the garden for a few hours."
"There in the garden. Unless you want some?"
"Not really. I'm not a big 'flower' person really."
"Does that mean I should cancel the roses I got you?"
"You got me roses?"
"Yeah, they should be here soon," he said with a small grin. David beamed at him. "Just four."
"That's fine, Xander. Thank you." He gave him a kiss. "Any colors you like more than most?"
"Purple and silver?"
"Slytherin and Hufflepuff colors? I thought you were a Gryffindor," Greg joked.
"Out, Sanders," Hodges said firmly. Greg just smirked and walked out. "He still thinks you're a Weasley."
"I could be but I'd have to be the badass one." He pulled his lover over for a real kiss, making someone squeak from the doorway. "Better be good," he growled, looking back at Stella. "Needed another file?"
"Stan's gay?" she asked weakly.
"I think he went for someone who would spoil and cuddle him," Hodges told her simply. She knew what a bitch she had been to Stan. Let her make the inferences.
"He went for someone who understood and wanted what he wanted, Stella. He didn't really care about the gender. I'd say bi actually."
"Oh." She nodded and wandered off, looking like she was dozing off as she wandered up the stairs. She walked up to Stan and turned him around, kissing him on the cheek. "I'm happy for you," she said softly, staring at him and giving him a gentle smile. "I'm sorry if I did this to you, but they're good for you. They make you happier than I did."
"They make me just as happy as you did when we were still new," he assured her gently. She smiled and kissed him on the tip of the nose before wandering off. "Stella? Do you need a drive back to the office?"
"Please. I don't think I could."
"I'll do it," Ray offered. He looked at her. "You all right?"
"Xander told me after he said something about getting married. He was kissing that one guy in the office. I'm hoping it's him. That's why it's okay if Stan is doing his Mounties. They're good to him. They make him laugh and smile. It's good for him," she assured him. "I'm not mad." He nodded, walking her down to his car and taking her back to the office.
Kowalski looked around, then shook his head quickly. "Either the freak's insane or he's a saint," he said dryly, heading to tell Welsh what he had overheard. "Xander's getting married."
"Not sure yet. Stella overheard. She was a bit dazed so Ray took her back to her office. Apparently she didn't realize why I had two Mounties living with me. She said she's happy for me though." He sipped his coffee, lounging in the door. "What sort of thing would you get David and Xander? We can't get 'em kitchen stuff. I know Stell and I got a lot of that."
"Quilts, blankets, things like that," Welsh said with a slight shrug. "Towels maybe? I haven't bought a wedding present in years." His phone rang and he answered it. "Welsh." He listened to the babbling voice on the other end, then grimaced. "And you are?" He looked at Stan. "Rosenburg?"
"Willow," he said grimly, coming in to take it. "What? No, this is Kowalski, his other buddy. He's working hard at the moment. Yeah?" He stole a notepad and a pencil, taking down information. "Thanks. I'll let him know. How's Dawn and the baby?" She went silent and he snorted. "Still avoiding her? I'll tell him that too. Thanks again." He hung up. "That's the redhead who tainted him against guy things." He took the note down the stairs, going to hand it to him. "From the redheaded one."
"Willow?" he asked, looking confused. "Why?"
"She called Welsh. Am I doing more than attending?"
"You're my best man. Greg's doing it for David. I figure Ray can act fatherly."
"Sure, works for me," Stan agreed. "Go register somewhere so we know what ta get ya."
"Presents?" Xander asked, looking amazed. "We get presents?"
"Didn't get any with Anya?"
"Not that I knew of. She might have." He shrugged. "I didn't get near those things." He grinned at Stan. "That cool with you?"
"Sure. I don't mind. By the way, nice job. Stella nearly had a nervous breakdown." He punched him on the arm. "Let me know if you need Rennie for that." He walked off, going back to his desk to brood for a bit. He saw red and looked up, finding Fraser looking at him. "Xander proposed."
"Wonderful," he agreed happily. "When is the wedding?"
"Not sure yet. I'm Xander's best man." He smiled at him. "You okay?"
"Just thinking about that scene," he admitted, sitting down next to him. "Xander did some extraordinary things."
"And hated every minute of it," Stan reminded him.
"Which is good I suppose. No, I was drawing a link between him and Renfield. Do you think Renfield has that same sort of push in him?"
"Nah," Stan said, shaking his head. "Not even. He's a nice guy. Remember, Xander's faced worse and won."
"True. I was hoping never to have to see Renfield after such a situation."
"Me too, Benny. Me too." He looked over as Ray came back. "Xan wants you to be the daddy sort at the wedding."
"Xan and David's?"
"Oh." He nodded. "Sure. I can play father of the groom." He blinked a few times. "When?"
"Not sure yet."
"Okay. I'll ask later." He went back to work, thinking about it. Xander was happy and getting married. He was older than Ray was when he had married his exwife, but they were happier together and there wasn't as much stress between them as he and she had. Plus no extended family living with them. They'd do fine. He'd have to talk to Father Behan to see what one did at a gay wedding as the father of the groom. He wasn't sure if he was supposed to toast them or walk Xander down the aisle. He called his family priest. "Father? It's Raimundo. Yeah. No, quick question. I got asked to stand in for the father figure at a gay wedding. Do I toast them and am I expected to walk one of them down the aisle?" It was silent for a moment, then his priest went off on a tangent about the weather. "Thanks, father." He hung up and shook his head. "Stan, do I have to walk Xander down the aisle?"
"Sure. Later." Hopefully someone would figure this stuff out 'cause he was lost. Besides, if a priest didn't know, he wasn't sure who would.
Xander had everything set up and looked at David, who had approved beforehand. The only thing left was sending out invitations and choosing the ceremony. He had seventeen printouts in front of him and he passed them over the desk. David looked at them. "The various ones others have come up with. Or we can do our own."
David looked through them, picking out a few. He pushed those back. "Those."
Xander looked and narrowed it down to two. "Romantic or more churchly?" he asked as he handed them back. "We also need to figure out if Ray's walking someone down the aisle."
David looked at him. "Doesn't matter to me. We can each walk down one and then meet and walk together for all I care." He looked at them and smiled. Xander's girly streak was coming back. That romantic one was just that, romantic. He liked the other one. "It seems more like a real wedding to me."
"Sure." Xander beamed at him. "Now all we have to do is stick stamps and mail."
"Did you buy stamps?"
"Oops." He got up and went to go buy stamps, the local convenience store sold them. He walked in and gave the woman behind the counter a sheepish look. "Stamps?"
"How many, Xander?" she asked kindly.
"Um, fifty? Or so. Pretty ones. It's for wedding invitations."
"Wedding? Who's getting married?"
He beamed. "Me and David."
"Oh, congratulations," she said a bit weakly. She didn't understand gays at all but she liked Xander. She looked through her stamps. "Well, I've only got a sheet of thirty-six of the dove ones," she offered, laying them out. "There's also peace ones." He looked at what she had, picking out some older ones. "You sure?"
"I'm sure. Are they still good?"
"They're just fine, dear." She smiled at him and let him pay for the stamps, putting them in a nice paper bag for him. "There you go. You're such a nice boy." He blushed and grinned, heading back to work. "I had no idea he was like that," she said as she tidied up again. "But he's too nice not to dislike for it."
Xander walked in with the stamps and handed them over. "I like those," Hodges agreed, pulling over the stack of envelopes they had been carting around for four days. They got them done in a matter of minutes and then Xander took them up to the desk to be mailed.
The desk sergeant looked at the stack. "Personal mail?"
"You know you could have walked Vecchio's and Welsh's and theirs upstairs, right?" he asked, seeing one to Welsh.
"I didn't think that was proper."
"Yeah, it is," he admitted. "I had to do a bit of hand delivering myself." He put them into the mail pouch, sorting out the ones to go upstairs. He noticed Elaine listening and waved her over, handing them to her. "Go deliver. You know everyone up there since you used to work up there." She squealed and headed up the stairs like a young girl. He shook his head, smirking at the lack of business today.
Elaine burst into the room, beaming madly. "Hi." She started to hand them out, handing Ray one for his whole family by the way it was titled. She saved the last one for Welsh, smiling at him. "Here you go, Lieutenant. He was going to mail them but we thought he was being silly."
"Thanks, Elaine. How are things downstairs?"
"Quiet today, sir. We're just waiting on a call and playing cards." He smiled at that. "Have a nice day." She skipped back down the stairs.
Ray slit his own, smirking at it. "They went for the whole family," he told his sister to ease her pout. "All on one." He let her see it then made note on his desk calendar. He also started filling out paperwork to have that day off. Before anyone else could.
Huey came in with someone and looked at the envelope on his desk, then at Ray. He sat the suspect down and opened it, smirking at it. "That's great. What do you get those two?"
"A new vest for Xander?" Frannie suggested. "His hasn't come yet from what Turnbull was telling Kowalski."
"That's not a bad idea," Huey admitted. He started on his paperwork.
Welsh stepped out. "Before I get flooded with applications for time off, the Mayor has approved it already. Someone's just got to be on call that day. Figure out and tell me who." He went back to his office, calling his wife to see what they should get those two. What did you get someone like Xander? For his birthday he'd gotten him gift certificates to some of the place they liked to order from. He smiled as his wife answered. "I just got the invitation to Xander and David's wedding. What are we getting them?" He listened. "Gift certificates." He shook his head. "Vecchio, where are they registered?"
"Not a clue," he called back.
"Sears," Frannie called. "The book place Hodges likes so much. A comic shop."
"Thanks." He repeated that. He grinned. "Sure. Tonight." He hung up and leaned back, rereading the invitation. Him and his family, good thing his kids were out of the house now. They'd eat those two poor. He put it against his pictures and got to work signing things. He found a few reports from Xander and smiled, reading them. He always used nice, plain english and made his conclusions up front. These two were 'no match' ones, but that was fine. He signed off on them and put them into his outbox. He wondered if the mayor got an invitation. Then he decided Xander wasn't hinting for presents and probably didn't want him there anyway. He'd try to turn it political.
Grissom was at the desk when the mailman came, noticing the stack of rubber banded white envelopes. "For us?" he asked.
"Yes, sir," he said happily. He handed them over with the other mail, then nodded at the receptionist and left with their outbox.
Grissom looked through the stack and smiled. "Wedding invitations," he decided, heading back to the meeting area. Warrick and Greg were back here for a while, but they'd be going back to Chicago in a few weeks to check up on that case. "Wedding invitations I think," he said, waving the stack. He took off the rubber bands but Sarah stole them, finding hers and passing the stack on. "I could have handed them out."
"That's fine," she agreed with a smile. Greg had said they'd be coming and she had a new outfit to wear to it already. She even had a present picked out, she just had to buy it.
Nick smiled as he came in and accepted his, taking Warrick's with him back to the labs. "Invitations."
"Really?" He took his and looked inside, smiling at it. "About time." He tucked it into his case. He'd have to figure out what to get them later.
Grissom took the rest of the stack, going to hand them to the lab techs and Brass personally. Bobby just grinned at him. Archie let out a happy sigh at his. Julie in fingerprints smiled and squealed a bit. He noticed one for Mia and decided to forward hers to her at home since she no longer worked there due to her injuries. Sophia's was handed over as she walked in. Brass was coming up the hall scowling so he smirked and waved the next to last he had. "From Xander."
"That's a what?" he asked, taking it. He opened it and smiled, then grinned at Grissom. "Finally."
"Yeah. He makes Hodges so happy."
"Where are they registered?"
"Not a clue," he admitted. "You might ask Greg. I know he's one of the best men."
"Sure." He went to find him. "Sanders, where are they registered?"
"Sears, a local bookstore, and a comic shop," he said promptly. He grinned at him. "I suggested Sears so we wouldn't all have to run up calls to Chicago."
"Thanks." He went to do an online search to see what they had registered for. Nothing too outrageous. A grill for their apartment. Some dog stuff. Some new sheets. A quilt. He'd figure out what they were getting later.
Ma stormed into the CSI lab, looking around. "Xander!" He came out of the back, giving her a wary look. "You couldn't tell me in advance?"
"Sorry, Ma." He kissed her on the cheek. "I didn't want to make you work during it. I want you to celebrate with us. Ray's going to be the father-type person, but you're celebrating." She smiled and pinched his cheek. "Thanks, Ma."
"You silly boy. There's all sorts of things that must be planned." He whipped out his notebook and handed it over, sitting down with her. "Well, you've done well."
"I bought a magazine with a checklist," he admitted with a small grin. "Then we crossed off stuff that's not us. All we have left to do is to find someone to do it for us."
"That could be a bit of a problem," she agreed. "I'll look into that for you." She pinched his cheek again. "You are such a sweet child, Xander. Be a good boy." She got up and went to find them a priest. Father Behan was still scared of the boy but surely there must be one good priest in the city who would join those two. They were so happy together. She even approved of who they were having cater the event. Ray must have helped with that. He was such a thoughtful son. She ran into Turnbull in the hall and gave him a hug. "I just got the invitation."
"Inspector Thatcher was surprised and pleased as well," he agreed with a shy smile. "Do they need anything?"
"No, just an officiant and I'm finding them one," she said firmly, continuing on her quest. Those two would be married by a proper priest. Or else she would tear down the local church and rebuild it herself.
Turnbull smiled and walked in with the RSVP envelope, handing it to Xander. "Inspector Thatcher was most pleased that you invited her and she said she'd be delighted to attend. She wanted to know if a cocktail dress was appropriate or should she be in uniform?"
"Causal, Rennie. Casual. Nice dress or pants suit is fine." He grinned at him. "It's nearly here," he squealed, giving him a hug. "I'm so excited!"
"Me as well," he promised, patting him on the back. He saw David's tolerant head shake and smirk. "Inspector Thatcher sent me right over to tell you she is coming and wanted to know what to wear."
"Casual. Nice dress. It'll be outside under a tent at the abbey Xander likes to meditate at. In their walking garden."
"That's fine, I'll tell her. Where are you registered?"
"The comic shop, the bookstore, and Sears," Xander said with a grin. "But I'll just accept big hugs and you two showing up." He hugged him again and went to hug Stan since he was coming in with all their replies. "Hi."
"Hi." He got free of the happy octopus that was Xander. "Who's throwing the stag shower?"
"Oh, no," Hodges moaned, holding his head. "Greg would have to do mine."
"You'd only go clubbing," Xander teased, taking the envelopes to put with the inspector's. "Casual. It'll be outside. Nice pants and a shirt."
"Sure. Always happy to avoid a tie," he agreed happily. "Did you invite Stella?"
"Yeah but I'm not sure she'll come."
"That's fine." He patted Renfield on the back. "Got time for a snack?"
"Of course." He tipped his hat at them. "I'll see you both later." He followed Stan up the stairs, going to get a kiss in the closet and have a short talk with him. He really wasn't jealous, but it did make him long for one of his own. Then again he had the same longing for children each time he saw one and puppies.
Xander was bouncing around their apartment, smiling at his soon-to-be husband when the doorbell rang. He jogged down the stairs, smiling at their landlords. "Hi."
"Xander," the wife said, smiling at him. "I saw your announcement."
He blushed. "David did that."
She patted him on the cheek. "At least you're getting married. We like that about you."
"I figured we were before, all but at least, but I wanted this final step." He let them in, watching as his puppy came over to sniff them. "Behave, Sarah."
"Our daughter's dog was over last night," the husband told him. "So, married for real? Even though it's not legal?"
"Married as much as we can be," Xander said firmly. "Wanna come upstairs?"
"You might not want to. I accidentally lit that stinky candle," Hodges said as he came down the stairs. "Sorry. Supposed to be pine. Smells very bad."
"I've gotten a few of those," the wife agreed happily. She handed them an envelope. "Here you go, boys. You be happy." They left together.
Xander looked inside, then at his mate, holding up the eviction notice. "Fight it?" he asked, closing the door.
Hodges wobbled, then sighed. "Find a house. I'm tired of moving."
Xander hugged him and gave him a big, wet, sloppy kiss. "Sure. I'll go look online." He hurried up to the office, their puppy following happily since he's the one who gave the treats and most of the pets.
David shook his head. "Remember, we both need offices," he called after him, heading up the stairs. "With good security if possible."
"Gated community?" Xander called back. "Pricy, but gay, has a pool and a tennis court, plus a community center for recreation."
"No, that's a retirement facility, Xander. Get somewhere for young guys."
"There's one two blocks from the Roost."
"I'm not that young," he said tolerantly, shaking his head but going to make them a snack. Xander let out an awesome squeal and he went to look, finding an older house there. "What is that?"
"Wonderful," he said in awe. "Expensive, but with a lawn." He looked over the particulars. "Not that much, and it's got what I wanted. I want the tower for my office."
"Sure," Hodges agreed, smirking at him. He shook his head, letting Xander fantasize. That was way too big for them. "How many bedrooms?"
"Six. A living room, a family room, a big kitchen, four bathrooms, the attic, a garage, a basement, and a lawn."
"Did you miss having a lawn?" he teased.
"Yup, and I missed the stink of dying the lawn too," Xander said, beaming at him. "Can we go look?"
"Sure. Put it on the look list. Then find something smaller. Remember, we're not having kids. Just the occasional guest."
Xander sighed and nodded, clicking on the 'ones like this' button. They both smiled at the next one. It was smaller, but looked almost the same. It was kinda cute, in an odd way. A lot like Xander. "Put it on the look list too," he ordered patiently. Xander beamed and clicked that icon, then 'back to search' and went back to looking. "What's that gray and blue one?" Xander clicked on it and he looked over the particulars. "Big."
"It's in a good neighborhood," Hodges offered.
Xander looked at him then highlighted the price tag, making him wince. "'Spensive," he repeated, then pulled him down into his lap. "Let's click on the 'like me' button." He clicked and they both smiled at the smaller house that was shown. They put that onto their look list. "We're going to need to take a week off to go looking."
"Let's file for the loan first, that'll weed down what we can and can't do," Hodges suggested, going to get his laptop and do that. Their bank had an online page and he did most of it anyway. He frowned when it came back with the 'we'll let you know in seven to ten days' page. "Xander, how is your credit?" A few minutes later Xander came out and he looked at the printout. "Mine's not bad." He typed it in the other way, putting Xander's name first, and it still came up with the 'stall' page.
Xander grimaced and held up a finger, going to another page that had been suggested to him long ago by a very flaming coworker. He typed in their incomes and things, then hit 'find me a house loan', watching as it came up with ten different banks. "Come pick one."
Hodges came in and looked. "It's against us because we're together?"
"Apparently." He let him look at the various loans. He knew more about this stuff than Xander did. He was honest about such things. Fortunately most of his school funding had come from Angel and grants. He had already paid off his student loans. "Student loans?" he suggested.
"Paid 'em off," Hodges said with a smile for him. "You?" Xander nodded. "Good. How?"
"I didn't take out that many and I overpaid for the first year and a half."
"Oh. Excellent." He went back to looking and finally decided on one, taking down their number. He also wrote down the number of three other lenders from that page and a few others from the local banks. Including his own bank's so he could call them. "Let me call around. Tomorrow's Saturday. We both have Monday off. We can find a realtor we like and talk to them on Monday." He nodded, watching as his fiance left. Xander groaned and went back to looking, printing off their choices so they could reference back to them. He did sneak in a few more but he knew Hodges would ball up the ones he didn't like for their puppy's amusement. He spoiled Sarah that way.
Xander smiled at the realtor, shaking her hand first. "Hi, Xander Harris."
"David Hodges," he greeted, shaking her hand as well. "We're looking for our first home. We did some online searching and we found these," he offered, handing over the stack of houses they had both liked. Including the one Xander had pouted him into that looked like a ski chalet to him. "I've talked to these people about loans," he said, handing over that paperwork. "They were all fairly high in points and interest. If you could help us find something better, we'd appreciate it."
"What about through your bank?" she asked, noticing they were all national companies.
"They apparently don't like men together," Xander said bitterly. "Which is why I'd like to change our bank at the moment."
"I'm still looking for better interest rates," David soothed. "I'm the more money oriented and he's more the action side. We will need good security, we're both criminalists for the police department."
"There's a few banks who offer special loans to police officers. I can check if they offer them to criminalists. I'm guessing you're lab technicians of some sort?" They both nodded. "Just making sure." She smiled and sent out a few emails, then pulled up her search engine. "Okay, from the lists you gave me, you like something with a bit of architectural uniqueness? Nothing that's a giant box. You want some roaming room, but not too great. You'll probably want at least two bathrooms?" David nodded quickly, smiling at her. "Okay. I noticed a lot of yours have that 'fairy tale castle' tower on them."
"Every now and then Xander swears he's a princess," Hodges said dryly. "That's why he's allowed to be surly to the normal folk."
"They should expect it. I was raised with three princesses. You already knew that. They just warped me that way too."
"I really should go kill your former friends."
"Why? Them living is torturing them."
"Point," David admitted, looking at her. "We'll each need a decent sized office for our separate work. He's a ballistics person so he needs a secure space for his weapons. We'll need security as well because we've both had a few stalkers."
She added that to the search engine and looked at him. "Well, four houses came out," she admitted, turning the monitor around for them. "Three are with us."
Xander leaned forward. "We live in one of those. Our landlords are evicting us for getting married. Claims it's an illegal activity which is forbidden by the lease."
"It is?" Hodges asked, looking over there. "It is." He 'huh'ed. He looked at Xander, who shrugged. "Up to you. It's more pricey than the tower house you liked first."
"It is and it's not that great of a neighborhood."
"It's the garage," she told him. "They're always adding on to the price. Especially since it's listed as having a security system including cameras?"
"No, the cameras are ours," David assured her. "We installed them." She nodded and made a note of that in the house's comment's section. Including that it was presently rental property and being rented. She turned to look at them again. "That big gray monstrosity with the tower was the first one we both kinda liked, and the smaller one just like it we both liked but I'm doubting it's big enough for the wandering mutt here," he said, nodding at Xander. Who just grinned at him. "We'd prefer not to be next to St. Luke's or St. Mark's. Some of their priests hate us because we're together."
"I understand." She looked at the other two houses and smiled. "Your first instincts were correct. There is a security system in place at that first house, the other is a more modern affair. Deco period. Basically a mirror image house."
Xander grimaced and shook his head. "I want a family home sorta house, not a showy sorta house. We don't get many visitors but our friends and family are pretty tight together."
"Sure." She pulled up the particulars of that first house they had looked at, noticing the email icon. She pulled that up and read it, then smiled. She input them into that system and it came back with a 'yes, approved' and how much. "Well, I can approve you about fifty thousand more than that first house," she said with a smile for them. "And it's just been reduced due to no one wanting something that unique."
"Can we look?" Xander asked. She nodded. He looked at David. "Please?"
"Sure," he agreed. "What's the other? Art deco?" She nodded. "Bad?"
"Fairly square and even, like square modern art. You've seen the new statue by City Hall?" They both groaned and nodded. "That's Deco."
"No thanks," David said, shuddering a bit. "I'm sure it's really nice, but not us. We're both a bit geeky and dorks."
"I used to just be a geek then someone told me I could play with guns all day and get paid really well for it," Xander told her.
She chuckled. "At least you found a field that makes you happy. Let me do two things and then we'll go look at the house." She typed in a fact sheet on them, printing it out to carry with her, and then got the fact sheet for the house, taking them out to her car. "Do you have any pets? It's got a wonderful yard."
"We've got one very small dog," Xander admitted. "She comes to work with us all the time. We're also friends with Constable Fraser and his wolf."
"I've met him," she admitted. "I'm sure he'd love this backyard. It's fairly roomy. You might feel like you rattle around but you really won't. I will warn you, the heating system is propane, but it's fairly new. The roof was just replaced about two years ago. We've already had it looked over and evaluated by the housing inspectors. It more than meets codes in most areas and meets it in all but one little bathroom out in the garage. That's got some lead paint in there."
"Easily fixed," Xander offered. "I worked construction for a few years."
"Wonderful," she agreed happily. She turned a corner and slowed down, letting them see the house.
"It's huge," David said.
"It's pretty," Xander corrected, grinning at him. "Please?"
"We'll look but I still say it's too big. We're not having kids. I couldn't stand kids."
Xander grinned at him. "Good, 'cause I'd look really sucky as a pregnant man." He got out once they stopped, wandering around the front yard. He could see gaps in the security system but they were easily handled with some upgrades. The realtor walked them onto the porch and inside, letting them look around the older house. It had wood everywhere! Floors, walls, staircase railing. Xander ran up the stairs, heading for his tower room. It was really tiny but it'd be a nice looking and thinking spot. He walked out, heading for the master bedroom suite, which was about half of the second floor. Again, huge. These people liked their room. "I feel like I'm a kid in a giant's home."
The realtor joined him. "Once you put furniture in here, it'll seem a bit more intimate. Empty houses always seem bigger than they are. It's one of those things we count on when selling little homes." He grinned and looked around, checking the bathroom fixtures.
"David, you've got to see this tub!" he shouted. He came in and looked, blinking a few times. "She said it'll appear smaller once we have furniture in here."
He looked around the bedroom, whistling softly. It nearly echoed, but they'd have room for a small loveseat by the bed too. This room was meant to have a dressing and sitting area. He led Xander down to the other bedrooms, which were pretty normal sized. The living room was nicely sized. The family room, which was the basement, was nicely sized. There was a dumbwaiter in the wall of the kitchen that led to the basement and the master suite. The kitchen was nice and new, had all the appliances in it, including a dishwasher. They checked, it had a wash room for a washer and dryer too. David looked back at the realtor shadowing them. "How are heating costs?"
"Not too bad. All the windows are about ten years old. They're fairly good at keeping out breezes except in the dining room. The last owners rarely used that room for more than storage. They kept boxes in front of those windows if I remember right. The ducts are floorboard forced air style. That means that the top floor will be very warm and this floor will be pretty warm, while the basement will be about the same year round. Everything's fairly recent. They had upgraded a few years back when their daughter's wedding fell through. An older Middle Eastern couple used to live here. They basically died of old age together." Xander nodded. "Let's go look out back." She led them out there and Xander grinned at the yard, taking off to do a cartwheel. "He's very energetic."
"Which is about the only reason we need something this big," he agreed dryly.
"Once you've got furniture, it'll seem more cozy and warm." She looked at him. "With the loan I got you approved for, you'd be paying about six hundred a month, including land taxes. Plus electric, water, propane for the heating system, and trash/sewer."
"That's about half of what we pay now, but we only have to cover electric at the moment," he admitted quietly. "That's a really good deal. What's the interest rate?"
"Five percent, fixed. Special for people who work with the police department." He nodded at that. "No points. Closing cost is five percent of the house. Or there's a seven percent option with no down payment but it'll come out about a hundred dollars more a month."
"We've got some savings," he admitted. He looked at Xander as he came out of the small garage. "Is there enough room in there for both of ours?"
"No, but it's easily expanded," he offered, coming back to join them. "How much?"
"Depends, how much do you have in that CD fund of yours that you won't let me touch?"
"Um, my signing bonus, interest, and about another four grand," he admitted.
"So, about fifteen thousand?" he offered.
"Close to sixteen," he admitted. "What's the down payment?"
"If we go with the lower loan, five percent," he offered. Xander winced. "If we go with the higher loan, none. But it'll be a hundred more a month. We're still going to be saving about two hundred a month at least on our last rent, even at the higher rate."
"How many years?"
Hodges nodded at that, looking pleased. He looked at Xander, who shrugged. "What do you want to do?"
"I want to take you up to the tower room and christen it right now," he admitted with a shy grin. "But you'd spank me for the thoughts I'm having."
"Probably true," he agreed, shaking his head. He called their support system. "Ray, Stan? Xander's found a house and we're being evicted for getting married. Sure. Eleven ten Hillcrest. Yes, I know that's about six block's from your mother's Ray." He saw Xander's surprised look. "Well, I knew, Xander didn't. Yeah, big gray house with the tower." He smirked and hung up. "They'll be right here."
"We can wait," she assured him, taking them back inside to let them take a closer look at the kitchen. She noticed Xander sat down and watched. "You don't cook?"
"I'm forbidden to cook by law," he said blandly. "The last time I tried I gave four cops stomach cramps and two of them explosive diarrhea. On shift."
"Oooh," she winced. "I'm sorry."
"Me too." He watched his mate. "This is more cabinet space than we'll ever need. We can stock this place as a lab."
Hodges looked at him. "No. No labs in the house. All experiments can be done at work and those herb thingies you use for certain things can have their own cabinet so they're not near the cereal." He heard a doorbell and went to look, letting the two detectives and Welsh in. "Hi. Xander loved it," he offered.
Welsh looked around. "This place is huge."
"Six bedrooms. So four after we office up." He let them look around, finding a grinning Stan looking at the back yard. "Yes, I know, Xander and Sarah will be playing forever in the snow this year."
Ray came back with Welsh. "I like it. It's bigger than Ma's almost. With some furniture, it'll be more cozy and warm. What needs fixed?"
"The dining room windows are older and need replaced. The garage needs to be expanded and the bathroom out there redone," Xander told him. "That's about a weekend of work for me really. The windows we can do in about a week, or have someone do in about two days." David nodded at that, he liked Xander sweaty but not that sweaty. "There's a loose spot on the banister that needs to be tightened, probably a bit of gluing and then shoving it back together. We need to upgrade the security system and sign on with someone like ADT."
"I like that idea. They can do the upgrades," David agreed, sitting down to listen to him. "Anything else?"
"Well, furniture. We need some, dear." David smiled at that. "We'll need some other stuff too, like some runners for the hallway so I don't get splinters and don't yelp first thing after it snows." David grinned at that. "We can do that though. All before the wedding."
David considered it, looking at Stan and Ray, who both nodded. Welsh shrugged and nodded. "Are we allowed a few extra thousand on top of the loan for decorating and fixing?" he asked the realtor.
"You are. The figures I quoted you were at the top level allowed, which was fifty thousand, or actually forty-seven and a half after the cost of the loan, over the price of the house. That would give you about plenty for those projects plus any other costs."
Hodges considered it. "It's still about two hundred under what we're paying now," he admitted. Xander squealed and hugged him, making him choke. He pried the strong arms off him windpipe and looked at him. "Honey, I don't play breathing games. No strangling me or I'm dumping you."
"Yes, dear," he agreed pitifully, kissing him gently. "I didn't mean to."
"I know, which is why you got a warning instead of the spanking you deserve." He patted him on the back. "How much to fix those few things and furnish?"
"Ten would more than do it," he offered. "And that's a complete refurnish and if the contractors screw up putting in the windows. That's including expanding the end of the driveway to make it a real two car garage with a small turnaround area."
David looked at her. "What's your estimate?"
"Probably under that. I tend to go for older furniture I find at thrift stores and antique malls."
"I like comfy things," Xander said happily. "Do we need to replace the beds?"
"Nope," David told him. "We're good on the bed. We just need one of those pillowtop additions." He looked at the realtor. "Let's sign papers and go about twenty over the loan. That way we'll have some put back in case danger boy there gets hurt again."
"It was only a minor wound," he defended. "They treated it in the ER."
"I was talking about your eye, Xander."
"Ooh." He grimaced. "Good insurance. I have very good insurance. I have since I could pick out my own." David smirked at him and he winked. "It was necessary."
Welsh chuckled. "I'm sure it was. So, David, big screen tv in the entertainment room for the games?"
"That's downstairs," Xander told him. "But I'm good with that. As long as I don't have to watch gay sex in teams."
Stan and Ray both moaned.
"Huh?" Welsh asked.
"Oh. No, we're mostly a basketball sort around here."
Hodges put his head down, shaking it. "Don't get him started, please, Harding."
"Sure, kid. Sorry, Xander, I forgot you don't do sports."
"Not a problem. I still say pro ball is like instant replay over and over. Though street ball is more like rough foreplay with how I've seen it played and the shots you guys take at each other." Ray blushed at that and walked off shaking his head. "Sorry, Ray. Not you."
"I won't make you come with me this Saturday," he promised. "Come on, Stanley."
"Coming." He winked at Xander. "We'll bring the Mounties over and have them help move stuff."
"Movers," Hodges said slowly and clearly, looking at him. "Otherwise we've got to leave all the furniture and all the heavy books."
"Sure." He went out to the car, dragging Welsh with him.
David looked at Xander. "We have some very special friends," he told him.
"Yeah, but I like Stan. Who else would volunteer to move our bed down those stairs." He sat down across from the realtor. "When can we sign and how soon can we move? We're on a time constraint here."
"I can do the paperwork today, you'll be giving full asking price so that's not a problem. The children want to sell. All the titles are ready and already searched. It should go pretty fast." She smiled at them. "Let's go do that. With any luck I can get you keys by the end of the week." They both smiled and followed her back, letting her lock back up the house.
Xander was looking up at the tower, waving. "They'll be content it's us," he offered quietly, making his mate stop and stare at him. "The ghosts. They've agreed to leave us alone. They think we're cute and happy together. Happier than their children are." He got into the back of the car, letting Hodges climb in with him. The realtor was still smiling, she hadn't overheard them. David kissed him and Xander grinned. "Sorry."
"Not a problem. I'm getting more used to you by the hour."
Xander got the page and jogged up the stairs. He was in charge again tonight since Mort was still sneezing and dizzy. "Yuppers?" he asked happily, then saw his realtor and beamed. "Yes?" She held up the keys and he squealed, hugging her and spinning her around. "I'm so happy!" he squealed, letting her go.
"Put the nice lady down, Xander," the head of SWAT ordered patiently. "You're making her dizzy."
"I just got the keys to the house," he said happily.
"Congratulations. I heard you're moving again. More stalkers?"
"Our last landlord didn't like us marrying." He beamed at her. "Thank you."
"You're welcome," she said, handing him an envelope. "Make sure David gets that."
"Yes, ma'am. We'll invite you over to look around once we're done." He bounced back down the stairs, earning many comments behind his back of 'Tigger'. He ran into David and handed him the envelope, then the keys. "It's all ours."
"Good. The movers are coming Saturday. The same guys as before. That means we've got to do some packing tonight." Xander beamed and nodded, bouncing back to his lab. "Shit, he's hyper," he said in awe. He'd only seen Xander bounce like that once, when he'd come back and decided to stay. Ray walked in, not looking pleased with the world. "Xander's bouncing."
"Why?" David held up the keys. "Congrats." He patted him on the back. "Xander!" He came jogging out. "Another one."
"Fuck. It was such a good day too."
"Yeah, well, I'm not surprised," he admitted. "Been a bit since the last one." Xander nodded, going to grab everything and his gear case, and then a kiss on the way out the door. "Let us know when we can drag Ma over to christen the kitchen."
"We're moving Saturday while we're here subbing."
"Sure," Ray agreed, heading out after Xander. He hated this case and wanted it to end. He drove them over there, watching as Xander got out, looking like a calm, cool professional person as he headed into the hospital. Well, in this case hospice center. He nodded politely at the nurses. "Have the patrol guys taped off the room?" he asked one nearer to the scene.
"They have, detective. I'm so worried that this happened here. It's bad publicity for us."
Ray gave her an understanding look. "I know, but it's not just you guys. It's been six other hospitals in the area and one in Las Vegas."
"And one in LA," Xander called before ducking under the tape. He screamed and a shot rang out, making Ray run to check on him. "Ow," Xander said, rubbing his thigh. "Maybe I'll limp down the aisle." He looked at the body, then back at Ray. "In the bathroom. Nurse, there's usually a child in there, come check?" She nodded, ducking in to check on the infant while Xander waited for Ray to handcuff the bleeding man on the floor. "Nurse?" he called at the panting sounds. He walked that way slowly. She was breathing. "Still going?" She nodded and he came in to help, he had bigger lungs and a bit of luck with CPR in the past. The baby coughed and she gathered it up, holding it tightly. "Go," he ordered. "We'll want the baby's things for evidence, but take her to be checked over." She nodded, taking the baby out into the hall to the others to check over. She was younger and they had more experience. Xander smiled at the wailing going on out there. "Happy baby noises," he said with a smile for Ray. "The patrol I'm going to smack?"
"Xander." Ray helped him up, looking at his thigh. "Hell. Nurse, could you please call and ambulance for him? He was shot in the thigh."
"I was stabbed in the thigh," he corrected. "I wish I had been shot. It'd be cleaner. I'm not sure if it was a dirty knife or not." He pointed at it, it was in the puddle of blood.
Ray looked at the nurse in the doorway. "Was he HIV positive?"
"No, sir. He had cancer. Um, I can't officially tell you that," she offered.
Xander nodded. "Thank you." She nodded, moving out of the way of the paramedics. "Guys, he stabbed me," he complained, letting them help him hobble off. "I'm not sure if the knife was dirty or not."
"That's fine, Mr. Harris. We'll treat you the same anyway," one of the paramedics assured him.
Ray looked at him, then at Xander, who looked confused. Ray coughed and pointed at his badge. "Don't be one of his stalkers. I'd hate to get mad."
The guy laughed nervously and his partner took over, shoving him out of he way. "Sorry, Detective."
"Not a problem. Those things happen to Xander. There's a baby too." They nodded and that one went to check on that while the other got Xander loaded and ready to go. "I'll call Tracy."
"Thanks, Ray. Tell David I'm fine."
"I will. Or possibly not tell him and let you tell him." He waved, waiting until Xander was gone then snarled, "Rookie!" at the patrol officer, who blanched and started to sit down. "Don't even!" he snapped. The guy stood up stiffly again. "Was the knife dirty?"
"No, sir, it looked clean. I spotted a weapon under the bed." He pointed at it. "This one was pulled out of his back pocket and flipped open."
"Thank you. Go call dispatch and have them route CSI Tracy here now." He nodded, going to do that. Ray debated, then called Welsh instead of David. He could tell him. "Hey, me. The rookie didn't check the bathroom. The guy was still in there with the kid. Xander got stabbed in the thigh, the perp got shot by Xander. We're not sure if the knife was the one he used or not. The rookie patrol said it came out of his back pocket. No, locking blade pocket knife," he offered, looking at it. "Yeah, I had him send for Tracy. Xan's on his way to the ER, again. He said to tell David he was fine." He smirked. "That's why I'm calling you, sir," he said happily. He hung up and got to work looking over the scene until the other CSI involved got here. "How's the kid?"
"Banged up, a few cuts," the nurse offered. "Was it a clean knife?"
"We think so. We're not sure yet," he admitted. "I don't know how we'd tell either." He heard running footsteps and the CSI slid the last few feet before ducking under the tape. "Easy. Xan was stabbed by that knife," he said, pointing at it. "Figure out if it was clean or not, tonight."
"Yes, detective. Any other weapons?"
"The rookie found one under the bed," he said with a point in the general direction. "You tell me."
Tracy smirked at him. "I love it when you snarl at me because I'm not as pretty as Xander."
Ray smirked back. "You're just as pretty but he's more dangerous. That's why we like him more. He shot the guy who stabbed him. Unfortunately not fatally." He went to question him. Another set of paramedics were working on him in the hallway. He moved one out of the way, then grabbed the guy by the throat to make him look at him. The eyes were wide open and scared shitless. "Was that knife clean or will he have to test himself for years on end because you're a psychotic bastard?"
"Cl...clean. I only used it to stab a chicken that was bothering me," he said in a heavy Texan accent. "I'm sorry!"
"Yeah, you're gonna be," Ray promised. "Clean him up, boys. He's going to prison. He's our serial guy doing this stuff."
"No," he said, shaking his head. "I was only the carrier. Someone else was the one doing the stabbing and stuff. I hate blood," he said, starting to panic when he saw Ray's hand had blood on it. "Please? That's unclean and unholy."
Ray leaned down to get into his face. "Confess and tell me now who your helper was and I'll consider dropping it down to non-lethal injection murder in the first," he growled. "And I'll consider not dropping you in that big pile of blood in there too."
"Oh, God, oh, Jesus, oh, Merciful God," he cried. "Crestor."
Ray turned to look at the now pale rookie cop. "You stay there," he ordered. The man slowly shook his head. "Move, watch me shoot you. Tracy, you shoot him in the nuts if he moves. Got it?"
"Yes, sir, I'll try to dredge up my inner Xander and hurt him badly."
"Xander?" the man whispered hoarsely, licking his lips. The rookie cop looked stunned. "That was Harris?" Ray smirked and nodded. "Ooh, hell, I'm going to die!" he wailed, falling to his knees sobbing. "I'll confess! Please!"
"Damn," Tracy said in awe. "Detective Vecchio, they never did that to you at your height of scariness."
"Vecchio?" he sniffled, looking up at him. "I'm sorry. So very sorry. Please. Can I be pounded by the Duck brothers instead?"
"No," he said, hauling him up and out to his car. The paramedics took the other guy, now handcuffed to the gurney courtesy of Tracy, to the hospital. Ray used his radio to call it in. "Yo," he said grimly. "We got two suspects."
Welsh came on. "Two?" he asked. "Why two?"
"The rookie cop who didn't clear the scene was named by the other guy, who Xander shot," he replied, glaring at the rookie, who was still sobbing. "This one's about to piss himself in fear. He wants the Duck Brothers to go nice and easy on him instead of me and Kowalski." The rookie gulped and let out another wail, which Ray let him hear. "So come get him." He hung up the radio and waited. Stan drove up and got out with Fraser, smirking greatly. "Anyone ever tell David?"
"Nope," he said dryly. "Welsh tried but his phone was busy and Huey said he's not going down there for anything." He looked at the sobbing man, then back at Ray. "Does he know that the wedding's in two weeks and that if Xander's limping, Hodges is going to crucify him?" That got another wail. "Clean knife?"
"He claims he only stabbed a chicken with it. He's on his way to the hospital praying for mercy. This one's scared of us and Xander hurting him. He thought Huey and Dewey would be more polite and nice."
Kowalski snickered and shook his head. "Doubt they'll get the chance." He got the guy out of Ray's car and into his, taking him back to the office. He got him settled into an interrogation room, sitting backwards in a chair to stare at him with the tape recorder running, when David slammed open the door and stomped in, slamming it closed again. "David," he warned quietly. "Xander's fine."
"This one won't be," he growled. The man tried to back away but he was handcuffed to the table. David go down into his face. "You do know that since you hurt *my* man, Xander, that you're now on the top of my shit list, right? That your sick little games have given *my* man nightmares since he had to clean it up," he hissed. "That your little games and *my* man being injured is going to fall on top of your head," he said coldly. "Xander isn't the one you have to worry about. Nor are Ray or Stan. I'm the one who can calm Xander's rage down and I'll gladly let myself go over. I don't do it often, but when I do, I tend to get...destructive." He pulled out one of Xander's guns and put it on the table. "As in I will make sure that everything you've ever held dear in your life is destroyed while you watch. I'll do it in front of you so that you see it up close and personal."
"Threatening a witness is wrong," Stanley said patiently.
"And the good thing is, I'm not a cop," Hodges hissed at him. "I'm a CSI. What're they gonna do, tell me I can't play with the evidence anymore for threatening you?" The cop whimpered. "The *only* way to escape mine and Las Vegas's ire is to confess. Fully and formally confess. As in bring in a priest for Last Rights confession. Anything less than that and I, or *my* man, can get you."
"Hey," Stan complained. "Only I get to threaten the schmuck."
"Oh, go ta hell," David said hotly. "He let Xander be stabbed!" He glared at him. "You better hope he's well and safe from that knife wound. If he gets sick because you didn't clean your weapons well enough, I will hunt you down. If he gets an infection from it I'm going to use your thigh for a skin graft. Do we understand each other?" The cop nodded quickly. "Now then, was the knife clean?"
"Yes," he whispered, staring him in the eyes. "It was clean. He had only stabbed an annoying rooster with it last night. He only stole it two days ago and it was brand new, in the package and still covered in oil."
"Good," Hodges hissed. "Remember me, kid. I'm the one who did the evidence to put you away. Pity about that and how you let my man be stabbed, huh?"
"If I confess, can I be safe?" he whispered.
"That's the only way you'll be safe. If you're lucky, they won't know you killed kids." He put down a new tape recorder and turned it on. "Speak slowly and clearly so we can transcribe it later," he snarled. "I want whys, wheres, all your kills. Do you understand?" He nodded. "Good, start now." He backed up and Stan drug him out of the room, letting Welsh take over with Huey.
"Man, you are too dumb," Huey noted. "First you hurt Xander Harris. Second, you pissed off Harris, Vecchio, Kowalski, the Mounties, Welsh, and the rest of us, and then you don't immediately offer to spill everything? His mate, Hodges, who was just in your face, doesn't get mad often. I've seen it once. I never want to see it again. He sent at least ten cops to the shrink after that episode. And now you've gotten him worse than anyone's ever seen. You'd better pray that Harris is fine. You better also confess now."
"I will," he said, starting to cry again.
"Stop that, it won't help," Welsh assured him. "Hodges isn't going to be swayed by tears. If you're lucky, they're going to make him let it out." He heard a shriek and a slammed door, wincing a bit. "If you're lucky that was enough to spare you. Now, I'd give. The Feds are already on their way. Your choice where you end up."
"I want a deal."
Huey snorted. "For what?"
"No death penalty. Solitary. Please."
"If you don't piss off Kowalski's ex, who happens to like Xander a lot, she might. If you talk now." The man picked up the tape recorder with his free hand and started to speak slowly and clearly, as ordered. Huey and Welsh shared a look. "We need to tell Xander it was a clean knife."
"I did. I was watching. They said they'll give him some antibiotics in case there was salmonella or something on it. He's being stitched up as we speak and Turnbull's there with Fraser to bring him back."
"Good." They both glared at the cop, who hiccuped and went back to speaking, just a bit faster this time. "You want a lawyer?"
"No," he promised weakly. "I don't need one. I know the law."
"Good." He went to call Stella. Even if she was in court she'd want this one. She came in at a run, looking very concerned. "Xander's fine. There's someone here who's confessing to everything. His partner's at the ER since Xander had to shoot him to defend himself."
"Good," she said with a touch of icy venom in her voice. "Miranda'd?"
"As far as we know," Welsh assured her from the doorway. "He wants solitary and no death penalty. He's confessing to everything he's ever done. He didn't want to piss off Harris, or Hodges, who lost his temper majorly."
"Smart man." She came to the doorway. "He's a cop?"
"We're still trying to figure that out." He looked at her. "We did threaten. We did warn. Hodges did get into his face. We offered a lawyer while he was confessing and he said he didn't need one, he knew the law."
"Even better," she said smugly, walking in there. She put down her briefcase and glared at the slowly speaking cop. "Hurry up, I've got depositions to run. You're keeping me from going bitch on some pedophiles."
He started to speak more quickly, and only sped up when the nice guy from Internal Affairs showed up, still smiling gently. "Madam Kowalski," he said respectfully. "Who is this man?"
"He's wearing a uniform. You tell me."
"Oh, I have his service jacket here," he offered, handing it over. "What did he do?"
"You know those triple homicide cases?" He nodded. "He's the killer, he had a helper. Xander had to shoot the helper because the idiot stabbed him. They're both in the ER." They both glared when the trembling words stopped. "You done?" He nodded, putting down the tape recorder and turning it off. "Now tell me."
"I wanted to bring her back," he said quietly.
"Oh, I don't fucking believe this," she said grimly. "More strange shit." He flinched and slumped down some, trying to get away. "Did your mother teach you to sit like that," she snapped. He sat up straight and tall. "Much better." She glared at him, making him sweat. "Well?" she demanded. "I'm waiting and busy."
He started to repeat the whole thing to her, everything from the beginning when his wife and daughter had died and their first husband had committed suicide. How this was a re- enactment to bring them back so he could give them new bodies from the dead and dying. How it hadn't worked yet.
The door slammed open and Xander hopped in on his new crutches. "Moron, read the book first next time," he said bitterly. "A toddler, one who is innocent and pure, but baptized, will be put in again for another chance. She's probably already been reborn. The mother probably went to her well deserved rest. They're not on this plane. If they were, unless you're really gifted, you wouldn't be able to tell."
"The crystals would have lit," he pleaded.
Xander glared at him. "Do you know about Rosenburg?" He nodded, looking pale. "She couldn't have done this one. You couldn't have done this one. Ethan fucking Rayne with Ripper and Janus helping him couldn't have done this one! They've moved on. You're just fucked and you dirtied their memories and spirits with this. She's probably crying and bawling because of you." The cop broke and started to cry again. "Think about that for the rest of your life and how others are now missing theirs. Maybe you can stop the next one."
"I will," he promised, looking at him. "Thank you."
Xander glared. "I should kill you for this, but it'd be too merciful. Torture is in the living." He stomped out, coming back for his gun that Hodges had left on the table. "I don't think you deserve that." He took his service weapons as well. "Or those." He hopped out again, going to bag those. He looked at his gun, then at his mate. "He couldn't have shot himself, it's empty."
"I wanted to see him try."
Xander smiled and hopped over to hug him. "I love you. No one ever wanted to kill a psycho for me." He nuzzled his neck. "Can I be spoiled and pampered tonight?"
"Hell yes." He walked Xander off, taking him home, their new home. He had already called the movers and they'd be there tomorrow. He carried Xander up to their bedroom, making a nest out of some blankets they had drug over a few days earlier to sit on while talking about decorating and having a picnic. Then he got in next to him to hold him. "Will you have to limp down the aisle?"
"If I do, can I be carried?"
"Sure, we'll get you sixteen nubile young men to carry you in and hand you to me. I'll feel like some ancient Pasha or king." He rolled his eyes. "Idiot." He kissed him, making Xander a happy boy. He snuggled in until someone rang the doorbell, then he went to answer it. "Hey," he said, looking at the movers. "I thought we agreed on tomorrow."
"Fraser called us. Your landlords were going to throw your stuff into the street. We said we're moving it tomorrow, they said fat chance. So we're doing it today but I'll only charge you a bit extra since you two make Ray a happy and content guy." He grinned. "Deal?"
"Sure," Hodges agreed. "First load here?"
"Yeah, mostly kitchen stuff and your little yappy dog." He got Sarah out of the truck and two of his guys got the boxes out of the back.
"Daddy's upstairs, Sarah," Hodges told her. She ran up them, going to check on him then explore. "Thanks."
"Not a problem. You guys drive Ray insane. He hasn't been this happy since he and Ang were married." He smirked at him. "It'll take a few hours."
"Fine. The stuff in the garage has to come too. Those cases are weapons and locked and he said spelled."
"They'll come to wherever I am," Xander called down the stairs. "Sarah? That's my thinking room." He hopped down the stairs with her carefully in his shirt. "Hey. Thanks, guys. How much extra?"
"A hundred. You're an interesting couple to say the least." He smirked at him and went back to moving stuff. Even if it was hard to get that couch and those beds out of there, it was still a nice job and he could hire extra guys for it without them complaining. For fags, they were great and nice guys. They even tipped. He wasn't sure why Ray liked 'em, but they were good to them. Too bad they'd not have to move again for a while. Then again, their bed was heavy and some of the guys didn't really want to touch it too much....
Nick rang the doorbell, looking at the house. "This is nice."
"It should be with our mortgage," David said as he opened the door. "Come on in. We've got four spare bedrooms, one with twin beds, and the two offices with couches." He let them inside, smirking at everyone. "Plus a few other couches and Xander said he'd spring for at least two hotel rooms if necessary."
Greg got down to greet the dog, letting out his own little Nick. They barked and licked each other, then Sarah showed him the doggy flap and around the house. It was huge! She could wander all day! Greg got up and hugged Hodges now that everyone else was done. "You okay?"
"I'm very okay," he admitted, checking before closing the door. He looked at him. "Warrick, kitchen table. Clean up on that case." He looked at Greg again. "The idiot stabbed him with a knife he had used on a rooster. He got food poisoning in his wound. The doctors were quite amused and snickered behind his back but he's good now."
Greg grinned at that. "Good. Where is wonderboy?"
"In the bathroom. He tried to make himself some nachos in the microwave last night." Nick and Brass both laughed at that. "Xander! They're here!"
"I'm coming." He came down the stairs and hugged everyone. "Hi. Like it?"
"I do," Catherine agreed, looking around. "This is nice."
"It was on sale too," Xander said proudly. "Nearly forty percent off."
"That's a good thing, right?" Sarah asked.
Greg nodded. "Yes, sales are good things, Sarah." He was discovering that Sarah was as female challenged as Xander was male challenged at times. He counted heads again. "Okay, there's eleven of us. How are we splitting them up?"
"That depends, who wants to sleep with the doggy Sarah tonight?"
Nick snorted. "I nap at the station and wake up with the little me a lot. Won't bother me."
"Me either," Warrick admitted.
"I'll do a hotel," Grissom offered. "I'll probably be in the way as the old guy."
Xander smirked at him. "Uh-huh. So you're doing vodka shooters with me at the bachelor party, right, Griss"
"Not on your life," he said with a smile. "I'm much too old for that. I might shoot pool with you but not drink, Xander."
"Okay." He beamed. "Ladies?"
"We'll take the room with the twin beds," Catherine offered, looking at Sarah, who shrugged. They were both nearly bowled over by the dogs running, being chased by Diefenbaker.
"Dief!" Xander yelled. "No humping Sarah! She's not going to have more puppies!"
"I really wish you had named her something else," Sarah said patiently. "I just got mental images I did not need."
The guys laughed at that and Xander hugged her, making her feel better. Everyone headed into the kitchen, along with the dogs who came when Xander opened the refrigerator. Xander looked at Diefenbaker. "Your mountie will kill me," he said dryly. "No begging." Dief begged pitifully. "Go give that to Ma. Fraser wanted to spank me the last time I gave you food. And not in the fun way." The wolf seemed to smirk at him and sniffed his leg, but went to beg the others.
"At least you give him meat," Hodges said as he laid out the snacks he had prepared and bought earlier. "Stan gave him a brownie last night and Fraser about went off on him. Drug him into the closet to really spank him and Stan was howling in pleasure by the end."
"I think that's why Stan gives Diefenbaker treats he's not supposed to have," Xander said wisely. He grinned. "Don't I do the same to you?"
"I can spank you now," David offered.
Xander gave him his sweet, kind, innocent, and good to kittens and puppies look. "Love you."
"You're still getting it tonight, Xander." He looked at the others. "Sorry, he's been sedate for the last week. He's hyper."
"Benny said I can't play with Diefenbaker or Turnbull," Xander agreed dryly.
"That's because you tried to take him hunting," David reminded him. The door opened. "The wolf's in here begging," he called. Fraser walked in and Diefenbaker ran around him and up the stairs.
"Hey, Dief!" Stan called. "Girls here?"
"Just my Nick," Greg called. "Come on in, we're snacking."
Stan trotted in with Turnbull, who was smiling and holding a bag. "We were hoping so. I don't wanna cook tonight." He put down the stuff from his bag, making Xander beam and hug him. "Thanks. Now remember, no making dirty sex jokes at Stella," he said patiently. "The last time she went and got pregnant by a boytoy with low IQ."
"She slept with the Traffic guy who tried to ticket me for driving the department's car?"
Stan shrugged. "I'm not sure. She just said low IQ. Which means he was dumber'n me."
"You're more than smart enough, Stanley," Fraser said firmly. "Quit putting yourself down. I hate it when you do that."
"What're ya gonna do, spank me?" he teased.
"If I must," he agreed. He moved closer, chasing Ray out of the kitchen. "Get back here!"
Turnbull rolled his eyes. "They did this in front of Inspector Thatcher as well," he offered dryly. "Must dash to catch them before they have all the fun." He went to run after them, catching them in Xander and David's bedroom on their sofa. "They're going to get peeved at us."
"Payback for that time Xander just *had* to have David during that scrabble game," Stan panted, letting Fraser do whatever he wanted to him.
"At least use the bathroom," Xander called from the bottom of the stairs. "It's nice and comfy. Try the bath mat."
"Xander!" David shrieked. The others just laughed. Xander was swatted when he came back into the kitchen and apologized, then grinned at Brass, Warrick, and Grissom, winking at Nick. He turned back to his snuggly one and kissed him, making Catherine go 'awww' and sigh in pleasure. "It won't get you out of trouble," Hodges said firmly. He looked at Greg. "I'm still having trouble house training him now and then. Got any other suggestions? The cool whip worked well."
Xander moaned and hid his face in his mate's shoulder. "I didn't need that mental image, David, or else we're going to be shocking the trio."
The door slammed and Stan yelped. David looked back, patting Xander on the back. "Hey, Ray, Stella. We're nibbling. I guess Stan somehow realized it was you."
"He has exwife sensing radar. It allows him to hide from me when I need to see him," she said bitterly. She waved. "Hi, all. I'm Stella, Stan's ex. I'm sure you all know Ray?" They all nodded and waved at him. "Good. Stanley!"
"Coming," he called, jogging down the stairs. He hugged her and kissed her on the cheek. "You just keep getting prettier and prettier," he teased. "How's the baby?"
"Making me cranky. What did that book say about morning sickness?"
"Survival of the fittest and the usual ginger ale and crackers."
"Hell, I was hoping for a medical cure."
"Modern medicine is wonderful, they have stuff for that now," Catherine called. Stella headed in to talk to her. "There's a couple of different things they can give you to combat the sickness. Go in raging about work and puking on suspects, that's about how I got some. I puked on a few too many clients."
"I'll have to talk to her," she agreed. "Thank you. How old is your spawn?"
"Almost thirteen. The fun years," she said dryly. "Yours?"
"About three and a half months. I got upset and got stupid with a man of questionable IQ and talent."
Catherine nodded. "My ex husband was like that." They shared a smile. "Sit, nibble. You should start to feel craving soon."
"I already do. The baby likes green peppers." She sat down and grabbed a few to nibble on and Xander hugged her. "Thank you. Want to adopt it?"
"David said no kids," Xander said, sounding sorry. "But I could babysit now and then to help spoil them."
"Them? It'd had better be one, not mor than one," she said firmly. "No litters."
"I was using 'them' in a gender neutral sense," Xander promised. He patted her tummy. "Hello, baby spawn of law hell."
She snorted. "Yes, this one will be a judge as long as it doesn't have its father's IQ."
"Was it the same guy who tried to ticket me for driving a department vehicle to a scene?"
Stella raised an eyebrow. "No, he wasn't quite that stupid. More of the stupid criminal class of stupid. Only legal."
"Hutchins?" he asked quietly. She nodded. "Well, hopefully it'll have his hair. He has pretty hair." She snickered at that so he gave her another hug. "Want me to cut up more peppers?"
"That would mean you were cooking and we'd have to arrest you," Ray said patiently. "Want more, Stella?"
"No, we're good with these." She looked at the others. "Yes, he's still insane."
Grissom smirked at her. "You should have seen him with us. You only got the side trips into the world of strange that we had with Xander."
"I still like the local voodoo high priest coming in to ask why I was upsetting his Loa," Xander offered. "He did ask me politely to stop and offered to make a voodoo doll of someone for me. Oh, Grissom, want the one I have for the sheriff?"
"No, that's okay. I've got one of my own already." Brass choked at that. He smirked at him. "It sits out on my desk all the time. He comes in to play with the hair now and then. Said it makes his own grow."
The doorbell rang and Xander looked down the hall. "Come in, Inspector." She walked in and closed the door behind her. "Welcome. Come meet some of the people who knew I was insane first." She walked in to join them. "Guys, and ladies, this is Inspector Margaret Thatcher, RCMP and Benny and Rennie's bosslady. She is as fierce as I told you but she's off duty so she's modulating her bark so my dog doesn't lick her again."
"Not my fault she wanted to be Canadian. We tried very hard to get you to switch over. I still say you can have Turnbull if you want him and you agree to switch countries. We'd even let you continue to work for the police department. After all, you can marry legally with us."
He hugged her. "I know I can, but you've got to get David to agree. He makes all the big decisions and we come as a team."
She looked over at him. "David? It'd probably get you a raise."
"It'd be good for the career too," he agreed dryly. "I'll see if I can talk Xander into it, but Stan can keep Turnbull. I don't share. I'm quite possessive as I've recently found out."
"With a temper," Xander agreed, grinning at him. "I still say you did good, honey."
"What did you do?" Brass asked tolerantly.
"The day the guy stabbed me, Hodges went to threaten the guy doing the killings. Told him he was going to destroy everything he had held dear in front of him and then make him cry worse." David looked embarrassed but nodded.
"I'm impressed," Brass offered. "I never knew you had a temper."
"I don't usually, but that guy deserved it."
"Oooh, he's just like a cute little rabid bunny rabbit," Anya said as she appeared.
Xander opened a cabinet door and threw something from a jar at her. "Begone, spirit. It's bad enough I had to pay off your credit card bill." She pouted so he threw more on her. "Go or I'm telling Dawnie when she gets here tonight with the baby." She faded out and he looked at his guy. "I'll ward us against that later. All she wants to do is watch us have sex anyway." He put back the jar and shook his head, sighing a bit. "For those of you who didn't know, that was Anya. Yes, that Anya."
"She was a pretty girl," Sarah offered.
"She was a money grubbing ho," Hodges told her.
"Well, we all have faults," she said tolerantly, smirking at him. "Is he still spoiling you?"
"Yup, all the time. I got a case of chocolate frogs the other day for some reason."
"Well, I ordered them but I was going to share them," Xander offered quickly. "I was going to let you have the cards anyway."
Hodges gave him a kiss, smirking at him. "If you touch any of those, I'll tie you down and leave you lying there. I'm not letting you eat a case of chocolate frogs. There's no way in hell I'd do that to this city."
"Thank you," Ray and Stan chimed in, followed quickly by Stella.
"Chocolate frogs?" Warrick asked.
"Like from the Harry Potter books?" Catherine said, shaking her head.
"They're Nestle Crunch things shaped like the chocolate frogs and they've got trading cards," Xander said happily. "I figured I'd start a collection."
Hodges groaned. "Just don't eat them all."
"I said I'd share." David raised an eyebrow. "With the whole office?" he offered.
"Sure, you go feed Huey chocolate," Ray said dryly. "I wanna see you get diet boy to do that."
"I fed him baklava the other night," Xander said dryly, staring him down. "He gets in the mood for sweets."
"I still wanna see that," Stan agreed. "Huey eats salads and good stuff."
Xander snorted. "No biggie. Tomorrow good?" They all nodded. "Fine, I'll get some from the sacred stash. I'll just buy an extra one for our future collection."
"He's also got Quidditch, the card game. Be very afraid," Hodges told his friends. They laughed and settled in to catch up and gossip.
Xander walked up to the squad room, smiling at the four people in it. "David said I had to share before I had the rest of the case I bought, but he wants the trading cards," he announced, uncovering the box. "So, who's going to save the city from me on a chocolate high?"
Dewey looked at them. "They actually make chocolate frogs?"
Xander beamed and nodded. "They started around book four and the second movie. They're pretty good. They're Crunch style. David's collecting the cards. So I ordered a case, but he said I can't eat the whole case. He said I had to try to give away as many as I could, as long as he got the cards."
Dewey took two and went to his desk, putting one aside. "Thanks, Xander. I needed the chocolate."
Stan came over to grab himself one, going back to his seat. "Do not eat that before your shift starts," Welsh ordered. Stan looked guilty. "We don't need another incident where you bounced a suspect around, do we?" he asked, looking at the case. "They're not real frogs, right?"
"No, no frogs or frog parts. Even the frog phobic can nibble on them." He waved the box around a bit. "If you don't at least one, it's one more I get to eat tonight." Welsh took four, heading into his office. He'd save some for the wife. She liked chocolate. Xander looked at his true target, who was still looking horrified. "How about you? You want one, Huey?"
"I shouldn't," he said, staring at it.
"You're so good the rest of the time, you deserve a chance to be a little bit bad," he offered. "Besides, think about me with twenty chocolate frogs tonight for dinner."
Huey again looked horrified. "I was trying not to. You're not coming up here, right?"
"Not unless I'm driven up here by someone. David wanted me to give away all but one of them." He leaned closer. "They're even still cold," he shared. Stan let out a small moan of pleasure. "Good aren't they?" He tossed him another one and grinned at Huey again. "That way he can tease Benny and Turnbull." He held the box closer. "Are you *sure*?" he offered.
Huey stared at them. "I really shouldn't."
"Huey, you've been on this diet as long as I've known you," Xander protested. "You're *always* good on it. You've only cheated twice in the last year and a bit that I know of. You can have a chocolate frog. Just nibble a piece now and then have some later when you're having an energy crisis." He leaned closer. "Either that or do what I plan on doing later with at least one warm one and spread it over someone's chest to lick it off."
Huey looked at him. "I didn't need that image either," he complained. He looked at the box. "I hate temptation."
"Yeah, well, temptation is there so even the best of the best get to be bad for a few hours. Otherwise the good guys go all stiff and start to iron their shorts." Huey laughed at that. "Don't believe me? Stan, is Benny still ironing and starching his shorts?"
"Hell no. I put a stop to that," he said happily, smirking at Huey. "He needed the break from being the purest of the good guys."
Huey took two and sat down, breaking into the first to nibble on a back leg. "These are pretty good."
Vecchio came up the stairs, looking at Huey. Then he looked at Xander. "I'm impressed," he offered.
Xander beamed at him. "David said I could eat any that I didn't give away," he said happily. "Besides, he needed the time out to be naughty. Even the biggest of the good guys has to have a naughty time out now and then to retain sanity and fun levels." He gave him a goofy grin and skipped down the stairs. "I'm off to finish off the case and later smoosh one into David's chest to lick off."
"Excuse me?" Ray demanded, turning to stare at him. "Oh, no, I'm going to confiscate those to save the damn city!" he shouted, running after him. He and Benny had seen Xander on a chocolate high once. He still had nightmares about it. Xander giggled and headed for the parking lot. "Xander! Give those chocolate frogs over! You're not allowed to eat a case of chocolate!"
"I gave Stan two, Welsh has four, Huey has two, and Dewey has two," he called back. "It's only two-thirds of the case, Ray." He dodged around the Riv, staring at Ray across it. "My chocolate, David said so," he said smugly.
"Don't make me shoot you," he warned, moving to intercept him but Xander spun and jumped the fence surrounding the parking lot, heading around the front of the building. Ray swore and headed through the building. It'd take too long to jump the fence. That brat was fast. "How many have you had!" he demanded.
"Twelve! I bought two cases!" he shouted, dodging the grab attempt with a giggle, heading back outside. Ray was still chasing him so he ate another one on the run, sticking the wrapper down inside the box. A few of the patrol guys and girls stared at them, but he only waved and grinned. "I ordered chocolate frogs. David said I could have whatever I couldn't give away." He saw Stella parking and ran to hide behind her, panting a bit now. "Save me?" he yelped, taking off again when Ray caught up to him.
"What's going on!" she demanded.
"David told him he could eat whatever he couldn't give away of the two cases of chocolate candy," Ray shouted. "I'm saving the city!" Xander spit at him and ran into a car, but he dove across the back of it and hopped the fence again. Ray nearly got him, but the back of his shirt slipped out of his hands so he had to follow him. It was an empty lot and there wasn't another way in. Xander squealed as he ran off, then came back and pointed, smirking at him before taking off again.
"Get your ass back here, Xander!" he shouted, nearly tripping over the body. He kicked it on the leg and it woke up. "Get out! You're interrupting my chase." He ran after Xander again. "He wasn't dead and he won't save you!" he shouted. "If I have to chase you around this city, I will! I'll get Benny ta help!" He saw another flash of red and smirked. "Turnbull, Xander's got chocolate and he's threatening to eat the whole case! Help me stop him!"
Turnbull got in Xander's way, taking the box and picking out three, then smiling and handing it back. "Thank you kindly, Xander. I'm sure Stanley will like these." Ray made a grab but Xander dodged and ran back around to the back of the building. Turnbull looked at the angry glare. "It's not against the law to eat chocolate, detective. It's a rather nice thing."
"Him with nearly a case of chocolate, Turnbull. He'll be like Godzilla." He ran after the boy. He was tired. He was not doing this again tonight. He'd seen chocolate in Stan's hand so he'd have him chase people later. He found Xander outside the building coughing and grabbed him, handcuffing him and walking him downstairs. "I don't know who hit him, but thank you," Vecchio called. "Make sure his man gets all those cards back." He walked him down to David's office, seeing the amused smirk. "He ordered two cases of chocolate and you let him! Did you want him to become Godzilla and rampage! How could you do this to us! We like you enough to take you in and you let him destroy the city!"
"Two cases?" he asked, looking at Xander. "Really?" Xander gave him that same sweet, innocent, kind to puppies and kittens look. "Not working," he said firmly. "Two?"
Xander sighed and nodded. "The other was for the wedding guests," he offered.
"You've had how many?" Ray demanded.
"Four," he said weakly, taking a few steps away from him. He had seen a paperclip and was now working on the locks. "Sorry. You didn't have to climb the fence after me." He got one side free and looked at his mate, grinning sweetly. "He did. He climbed over the fence after me. He didn't have to. He's the one who decided to chase me."
Mort came in with the mostly empty box. "Fraser stopped him, detective. He thought that having that much chocolate would damage the poor boy. So he stopped him and took them from him." He handed it to David. "All but a few of the cards. I didn't know you collected."
"Xander saw my other cards and suggested I start a collection of these," he admitted. "Since they're not really widely known about and they're movie related they might be worth the investment. It's not too bad."
"No, I suppose it's not," he agreed gently.
Ray looked around. "Where did he go?" he demanded.
"He snuck out about a minute ago," Mort offered, making the other men groan. "Isn't he all right?"
"He's already had four," David complained.
"Yeah, and he's planning on having another one on your chest later," Ray told him.
"Fat chance of that. He'd bounce me out of the bed again. Either that or I'd have to call off tomorrow." Mort snickered. "You promised."
"I did, I'm sorry," he assured him, smiling gently. "At least Xander's not on tonight."
"No, he's not," David agreed bitterly. "I got the dates wrong on my form."
"When you're done, you can go," Mort assured him with a smile. "You've got to get pretty for the wedding after all." He left.
Ray frowned at David. "Can't you use a leash or something?"
"I don't like him in a leash and a collar. He looks odd and he barks."
Ray stared at him. "I don't wanna know how you know that," he said, heading back to his desk. He glared at Kowalski. "You're chasin' perps tonight."
"Sure," he agreed happily, eating one of the ones Turnbull had snatched for him. "Where's Xander?"
"Escaped. Benny got the box from him but then he escaped after picking handcuff locks." He glared at the wall, then at the door when it banged open. Stella came in, mouth open. "Yeah, he's ten times worse than your ex on chocolate. He's already had four if that lets you know anything."
"Stanley, put down the chocolate and back away from it," she ordered firmly. "You are *NOT* allowed to have mass quantities of the stuff. You know better!"
"Blow me, Stell. We're not married anymore," he said sweetly, using Xander's sweet, yet evil smirk on her. "Remember, you said I was boring in bed." He ate another piece. "Look what I manage to please instead."
"Stanley!" Fraser shouted, looking shocked.
Turnbull looked at her. "You really didn't like it when he did that tongue thing? I find it quite pleasurable and enjoyable."
"Turnbull!" Fraser shouted, glaring at him. "That was not an appropriate comment! Apologize!"
"Sorry, Madam Kowalski. I meant no insult," he said sheepishly, blushing a bit. She glared and stomped off. "Perhaps some flowers?" he asked his lover.
"Might help but you might find 'em over your head," Stan offered, eating the last piece of that one. "I found a blonde in a bar pretty, so I did that one already. And yeah, she liked the tongue thing but she didn't wanna have sex often enough to enjoy it." He shrugged. "Pitter patter, Vecchio. Crime's waitin' on you and your lard butt."
"Excuse me? Lard butt? I just chased Xander around the damn block."
"Yeah, and you didn't catch 'im. You're gettin' old, Vecchio. Let's go. I'll drive so your arthritis isn't bothering you again." He smirked that same sweet, yet evil smirk and grabbed the files and keys, heading downstairs. "C'mon, ya freak."
"I'm going to gut him," Vecchio growled, following. He slapped Stan across the head and went to his own car, getting in to drive.
"You sure you wanna do that with how tired you are after chasin' the Xander?" he teased.
"Get in, shut up, and behave. Or else I'm going to make you puke that chocolate up on the sidewalk and then clean it up with your tongue. Get in!" Stan got in with a laugh and the two Mounties followed at a jog to come help. This was a planned event but he was still pissed at Xander for making him chase him that way.
Xander walked into the bookstore he had ordered from, grinning at her. "It was such a big hit at the office that we need more. How many more cases do you have? We're giving them away at the wedding too."
"We've got five cases in the back," she offered. "Another under the counter," she said with a smile. "We just did inventory earlier."
"Perfect. I'll take 'em." He smiled and handed over the debit card, watching as she ran it then went to get those chocolate frogs for him. He had tonight off so he went to the local park to play on the playground and eat some of them. Not even he could eat six cases of chocolate frogs, but after ten he was buzzing happily. He heard an insane giggle and looked around, jumping off the swing with a wince for his poor barely healed thigh. "I told you to leave the city, Druscilla!" he shouted. She came out from under some trees still giggling. "I meant it."
"You are such a silly dark kitten," she offered with a grin. "You play like a child. Miss Edith would love to play with you, kitten. Only she's been naughty. She tried to bite me when I had to drill a new hole to release the demons in there. They got too crowded." She walking in a floating-on-clouds way toward him, smiling happily. "I could play with you."
He beamed and nodded, bringing her to push her on the swing. He got her to the point where she was giggling and happily kicking her feet, then used the momentum of the swing to stake her. He moved to a different swing once she had dusted up. "Sure. But I don't wanna play with you, you don't like me that much. Now Spike, he could play." He went back to his playing, grinning at the young girl sniffing around his boxes of frogs. "They're fine," he called. "You can have one. Just leave the card, kid. My husband collects them." He went back to swinging, giggling like a little kid as he went higher.
The eight-year-old took one and went to talk to her mother, leaving the card there like requested. "Mom?" Her mother looked at her, then at the frog. "Oh, there's a guy giggling on the swings from his sugar high. He said I could have one, just give him the card. I didn't know they were putting out the chocolate frogs. I thought it was just the Bertie Bott's." She let her mother have the package while she ate. "He had sealed ones too. He was giggling madly as he swung."
"You're not supposed to do that!" her mother shouted.
"Mom, his Chicago PD ID card was on top of the other boxes. He's a cop."
Xander came walking past them, nodding politely at them. "I did say she could have one of my frogs. I'm in a good mood, I'm getting married this weekend." He handed the mother one with a smile and walked on. The park was too crowded and the kids didn't want to play with someone his size so he decided to find someone else to play with. He found Brass in his yard, watching the lights come on around the city and handed him five of the cases, smirking at his horrified look. "I've only had twelve." He sat down beside him. "Ray chased me," he said proudly. "I even got him to jump a fence to chase me."
"Congrats, kid," he offered, reaching over to neck pinch him. Xander was out and he patted him as he let the kid rest against him. "Sleep it off, kid. Before you drive David into killing you." He patted the kid down and found his cellphone, calling the one marked 'office'. "Hey, it's Jim Brass," he said. "I just knocked Xander out. He's back here. No, twelve. Sure. Tell Vecchio he's sorry." He hung up and put the phone back into his pants pocket, then settled in to relax and watch the night come out. You could see some stars from this neighborhood. It was a pretty sight.
Sheila walked into Trace. "Someone named Jim Brass said he had Xander knocked out after eating twelve frogs. Should I roll SWAT?"
"No, Captain Brass and Xander have this special dad/odd stepchild relationship," he said dryly. "He was our overlord in Vegas. He knows Xander very well." He smirked at her. "Twelve? I'm impressed he's not sick."
"He got Ray to jump the fence. He won about three hundred bucks in the pool." She winked and strolled off.
"They were betting on it?" he called after her.
"Him and Dewey," she called back. "They were talking by the front desk earlier. He got Jack Huey to eat some and made Ray chase him around the block, plus jump that fence. It would've been five but only Ray chased him and he only jumped the fence once."
David called Ray's phone. "Did you know you were set up?" he asked. He winced at the sound of the gunshot. "Want me to call Xander? Bras has him asleep." He winced at the other shot. "No, he and Dewey set you up to chase him. Which isn't as disturbing as him setting up Huey. Sure." He hung up and shook his head, walking out into the main office. He found Huey out there, frog halfway to his mouth. "He's reveling in his temptation of you to be naughty, Jack. Stan dared him to."
"Oh. That's fine then. Who's betting on that scene today?"
"Your partner and Xander."
"Hmm. I'll get Dewey later. That boy deserves it for making Vecchio chase him that long. Too bad Fraser stepped in to stop him. He's got to have some bruises. He ran right into him and Fraser held the struggling young man."
"He's had twelve of them," David said grimly. "Brass knocked him out."
"Good. He's too hyper already. I can't imagine him with a case of them. Did you really say he could have the rest?" David groaned and nodded. "Got you during sex?"
"Oh, yeah. Definitely. I'm sure I'll regret it later." He handed over his report to Mort. "Xander's on a chocolate high. He had twelve of those frogs."
"He didn't have any on him when Fraser got done with him. How?" Huey asked, finishing up his last frog.
"Oh, shit, he bought more," David said, going to call the bank's customer service department to see where he had purchased them. He came out, kicking the wall. "He bought six cases."
"Oh, shit," Huey said in awe. "Hopefully he's sharing those." The thought of Xander on twelve frogs was bad, six cases would be so bad. They'd have to rebuild part of the city.
"Well, Detective Vecchio did think he was going to become Godzilla," Mort said patiently.
He went back into his office. He moaned and shook his head, calling the house. "Take those stupid ass frogs away from him," he growled. "Before he eats more, Greg. He's had twelve and he bought six more cases." He hung up and put his head down on the desk. Did he really want to marry Xander? Then again, he was the only one with any hope of keeping him under control. They'd probably make him marry Xander if he tried to back out now. He looked up. "What did I do to deserve this?" he demanded.
"You were too good and he said you needed some naughtiness before you started to iron your shorts like Fraser used to," Huey said from the doorway, smirking at him. "Yes, we will be tying you up and dragging you there if you try to run away from him. I can't imagine dealing with Xander if that happened, or having to come search his house for weapons."
"He ironed his shorts?" Hodges demanded. "Why?"
"Actually, he used to iron and starch his shorts," Huey admitted. "Fraser's just like that. He liked the cardboard around his hole I guess." He shrugged. "Who am I to judge. Or anyone. By the way, Dewey noticed it. Did you allow Xander out without underwear?"
"Well, then he changed." He smirked at him. "Got the Feretti case done yet?"
"Nearly. I'm working on the report," he admitted, going to do that for him. He checked it over then printed it off, handing it over with a sigh. "I've got to find a better way to control that boy. When I put the collar on him, he barks. Then Sarah barks and sits beside him, giving me stereo pitiful looks."
Huey chuckled. "Just pounce the guy, David. That's all he wanted. He wanted to play. I heard he went to the park to swing from some of the patrol guys. He wasn't sure that the person who disappeared into a cloud of dust was something to worry or remark on." He winked. "Play with the boy. Make him a sore guy too so he's not so fast the next time." He walked off with the report. "Thanks, man."
"Welcome." He settled in to make plans. Xander was going to be sorry when he got home. Very sorry. And quite sore in the morning. He'd have to stand to get his haircut. Yes, that would be a pleasant thought. He called the store they got the lube at, whispering at the cashier to put some things aside for him, that he'd be in on his lunch break later. Then he hung up and got to work. Since he could go home early and all....
Xander rushed in to his changing area at the abbey, looking panicked. "Oh, shit."
"Yeah, got that right," David said from behind him. "Xander, an explanation?" he asked patiently, walking inside and slamming the door before Ray could interrupt him.
"Bachelor party?" he offered weakly, staring at his man. "Sorry, honey."
"Mine was fairly sedate. What happened at yours?"
"Um, the women tried one last time," he said hesitantly, backing up a step. "I promise, I didn't touch, I told them I was marrying you, and they still tried. They decided I was too nice to be with a guy so they tried to make me straight and I still refused and I ran away and I promise I didn't touch them to do more than dance with them," he offered, babbling the whole way. "I was even good and came back when one of them tried to snatch me but the cop I complained to arrested us for being drunk."
Hodges took a moment to unscramble the words in his head, then looked at him. "The cop arrested you for being drunk and almost being kidnaped?" Xander nodded. "Who?"
"Hurley, Hurlis, something like that. We were at the Shadow so it was the sixteenth."
"Hmm, why did he arrest you for being drunk?"
"He said no real man would have complained about being kidnaped by six pretty girls."
"Six. All right," Hodges sighed, squeezing the bridge of his nose to stop the headache. "Xander, you're not allowed out without bodyguards. Armed bodyguards."
"I went out with Stan and the Mounties. They just lost me. Huey got me free by talking to their captain and telling him what was going on and why I had complained. He agreed, the officer's going to be doing park detail for a week."
"Which is good, perhaps he'll learn better next time," Hodges said grimly, moving closer. "Xander, are you having doubts?" Xander shook his head. "You're sure?" Xander nodded, grinning goofily at him. "Absolutely sure?" Xander pulled him closer to kiss him, making his intentions very clear. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. I just went out to the Shadow with the guys and they lost me."
"That's all right, it happens," he soothed. "Maybe it'll calm down after we come back from our trip." They shared another kiss and then David swatted him. "You're running behind, change. I'll let Stan in." He left, going back to his own changing area to calm himself down. Greg smirked at him. "Don't even. Stan let him be kidnaped last night."
"Why?" Greg asked.
"Why do they want him?" Hodges said sarcastically. "The person who solves that riddle can duplicate it and sell it for all I care. That way it'll become common place and he'll only be at home."
Greg nodded. "I'm working on it," he promised. He fused with his bowtie. "There, perfect. Now fuss with your hair."
Huey leaned in the door. "David, we've got a small problem," he said gently.
"The bitches who tried to kidnap him?"
"No, the stalker who got the cars at the sixteenth." He came in and shut the door.
"All the cars?" Greg asked.
"Just the patrol car Xander was driven in and the officer's personal car were vandalized," Huey offered. "We're pretty sure one of you has a real stalker."
"Any idea what she looks like?"
"We saw dark hair, about shoulder length, but she was wearing a hat and a loose button up shirt with black jeans."
Hodges sat down to consider it. "It's odd, but I had this woman come up to me at the martini bar the other night when Xander was running late. She mentioned him by name, asked if I made him happy." He looked at Huey. "Not if we were happy, if I made him happy. Did I make him play and laugh was another thing she asked. She kept reaching for her pocket too so I'm guessing she had something in there."
"Do you remember what she looked like?" Huey asked, pulling out his notepad.
"Um, dark hair, just laid on her shoulders barely. A bit wavy but not really, just enough to be noticeable, like Xander's before he had his cut." He closed his eyes and thought back. "Really stunning green eyes. Unusual shade of green. I asked if they were contacts. Um, fair but not pale skin. Had kinda a red undertone. Rounded chin instead of pointed." He opened his eyes, looking at him. "She was about up to my chin when she stood up. I left about then and she walked off. She smelled like gardenias? Some strong flower perfume. I think it was gardenias. I know it wasn't roses or that new chrysanthemum one that's just come out. I smelled some of that to see if it was something I could get as a holiday present for Catherine or Frannie." He thought back, then slowly shook his head. "That's about all I could remember. You might ask him. He's usually got a pretty good idea of who's stalking him this time."
"Sure. Thanks, David. I'd be careful but not paranoid. She didn't hurt you." He shrugged. "Try not to fight in public."
"I always try," he pointed out dryly. "It's bad for my image to fight with him in public."
"Good point. I'm going to talk to Xander."
"Sure. I heard his door shut a minute ago," Greg offered. "They're probably at the reason for the yelling."
Stan leaned in Xander's room, coming in to help him do his shirt properly. "We've got a small issue outside," he offered quietly. "The Abbey knew it was two guys, right?"
"Yeah, I said I and my mate, David. Kinda hard to get around that," he admitted. "They met David too."
"We've got the bigot patrol outside."
"Wonderful. Picketing? Signs? Chants?"
"Yup," he offered, picking up the bowtie to put it on his buddy. He tied it and stepped back, then straightened it out. "There, better."
"Thanks." He headed outside, stopping at his car to pull something out of the trunk. Then he continued to the walls around the abbey. "Hey, Sister." She stared at him, and the thing he had stopped to pick up. "Non-lethal," he assured her, letting her see it. "Just annoying those Godless heathens and hypocrites."
"They believe what they do," she chided gently.
"Yeah, but that doesn't give them the right to picket my wedding." He smiled sweetly. "I'll be right back." She laughed and let him out the gate, watching as he walked closer. "Guys," he said patiently. "What are you doing?"
"This abbey is being dirtied by this unholiness," one woman shouted.
"It's in the book!" she shouted, sounding outraged.
"Really? Because I've read it in the *original* format, you know, the one that originally was given, before it got altered by King James, and it doesn't say a damn thing about gay men in there. Or gay women." They stared at him in horror. "Now, I don't know what *translation* you're reading, but I can find you a copy of the original if you wanted. Even in the original Latin, from when it was only in Latin."
"The Holy Book is in English!" a man said, looking horrified.
"Before it was in English, it was in Latin," Xander told him. "The whole world spoke it at one point in time. Don't believe me, go ask a real minister or the nuns inside. Now, you're spoiling what's meant to be a happy day between two consenting and knowledgeable adults. Ones who tried to be straight and it didn't suit them."
"They're going to hell," another woman hissed.
"Then we'll see you there. After all, hypocrites and bitches like you hit Hell before those who fight on the side of right, even if they are gay." He stared at her. "By the way, I've seen Hell. I've seen more than enough of hell. I'd gladly show you around hell if you want, but I'm sure by the time you get there, it'll be much too late for the tour. But yeah, we'll see you down there."
"Who are you!" the man demanded. "You're one of them?" he sneered.
"No, honey, I'm a criminalist. I deal in ballistics." He shot him with the paintball rifle, then stared at him. "Ya know, back when I was still straight, I'd have used a real gun. It's a good thing my man's calmed me down, huh?" The man whimpered and he glared at him. "Now, *you're* polluting this holy and sacred ground with your hate. The Abbey knew we were gay. They met with David and I. Holy ground or not, this is not even your version of the faith. If you're not Catholic, you have no grounds to protest what goes on in their abbeys." He shot the man rushing him in the chest, then glared at him. "Try it again," he offered. "Paintballs aren't lethal, they just sting a whole bunch. I can keep going alllll day long."
"I'm going to call the cops! You're assaulting us!" the newly shot man whined.
"Go ahead. You want me to get the cops from inside?" Xander taunted. "There's about ten of them in there, all straight, who won't let you get away with this either. I do believe the nuns asked you to leave politely. I gave you the chance to leave politely. You should have taken it."
"Xander!" Ray snapped, coming out to take the gun. "Give me that. No shooting at the imbeciles."
"It's a paintball gun."
"I don't care! They could have real weapons and you've got a new stalker!"
"Good, hopefully she goes to paint them pretty colors while they're asleep. That way they can be mad that they're not white anymore."
Ray groaned and turned him around, pushing him toward the door. "Inside."
"Yes, Detective Vecchio." He looked at the guys. "This is a real cop. You can ask him to arrest me."
Ray looked at them. "You guys wanna file a complaint against our ballistics tech? The one who solves serial cases?" They took another step back. "He's right, if you're not Catholic, you have no right to protest what goes on inside our walls. So convert or go home." He walked Xander inside and kicked the door closed, handing Stan the paintball gun. "Use it on him if he gets any more bright ideas," he complained, going to check on his mother and nieces and nephews. "The protestors are mad, but afraid," he told Welsh.
"Yeah, anti-gay idiots. Xander had a paintball gun in his trunk." He walked off, shaking his head. Ray just smirked. Only Xander and Stan got that reaction. He found his family milling around along with Turnbull. "Watch Xander better, Turnbull. He went to shoot the protesters."
Ma looked very upset at that and stomped to the main gates, going out there to chew them a new one. Mostly in Italian, but they were still cowering by the time she got done with them.
"Go Ma," Stan said in appreciation, watching her go off. Ray hit him across the back of the head. "Sorry, but that's impressive. The teachers at the academy weren't that good at chewing us out."
"They deserved it," Xander said as he joined them. He looked around. "Did David run off?"
"No. He's with Huey and Dewey talking to a sketch artist by phone," Stan admitted, turning to look at him. "You've got another one and she went to vandalize the cars the officer used to bring ya in and his personal car. She also went ta check on your boy and make sure he made you happy."
Xander raised an eyebrow and went that way, looking at the picture coming up on the computer. "Her name's Valeria Marks. She's a Science major, or was actually, at UCLA. She got kicked out for ethical violations. She was using some of her fellow students to experiment on." They all stared at him. "Really. By the way, her eyes are this aqua color. I never was sure if they were contacts or not."
David looked at him. "How long was she put away for?"
"She's in the same facility Tanya went to. My serial killer ex." He grimaced. "We thought it was until she was cured and then did her ten year sentence. I'm guessing they need security upgrades if she and Tanya both snuck out at different times." He yawned. "Honey, I shot at the protesters. Sorry. Couldn't help myself."
"With what?" Huey asked.
"Don't make us bring you in, Xander," Dewey moaned.
"Why? Want your gift back?" he teased. He smirked at him. "I had a paintball gun in the trunk still. I used that. I'd never shoot anyone with a real gun with so many cops and nuns around. They might glare at me."
David moaned and one hand drifted up to hold his forehead. Huey leaned over to get next to his ear. "Remember what I told you," he hissed. "If you don't marry him and keep him sane and normal, we'll be tying you up and making you." He looked at Dewey, who was typing in the name. They got her dossier and file and then the FBI warrant for her arrest. "Good. She's wanted. We can easily do that." He smiled as a young woman walked over to them. "Miss Summers."
"Dawn, please," she offered with a smile. "Is it nearly time? The kids are tired and cranky. Not just mine. She's presently napping on a nun's lap because Mandy thought she was neat."
Xander looked at David. "Last chance to run from me. Then I get to become possessive and evilly stalk you around the office forever to get cuddles and lovies."
David looked at him. "You don't have to stalk me for cuddles and kisses, Xander. Only when I'm in a bad mood." He gave him a gentle kiss. "Go to your position and wait. Be a good boy and I'll see you in a few minutes."
Xander beamed and went that way, jogging lightly. "Places, people," Ray called. "Xander's bouncy again." The ushers, Turnbull and Fraser, worked quickly to get everyone seated, and then the music started. David walked in. Xander was walked in. The minister doing the ceremony smiled at that. "It's necessary, I'm like his alternate dad." He looked at Jim Brass, who smirked at him. "I got adopted after he had to let him go."
"Fine." The minister smiled at the happy couple. "Together, the world can be stopped and healed," he announced. "The power of love is one that can help with that. Not in my many years of marrying couples of all sorts have I seen a love that is strong enough to not only heal those in love, but to spread out and heal others. So is the love these two share. So let them be joined."
Xander walked back in his first day back, smiling and happy. "Hi." He put his puppy down, watching as she trotted off, heading for her water dish. Then she glared back at him since it was empty. Their new DNA tech gave him a dirty look so he smirked. "What? She's a very clean dog, she knows the lab rules, and she likes to sleep under the mass spec. She actually gave birth under there." He poured some water for his little girl and headed for the office, finding Mort eating at his desk. "You're not supposed to do that, you'll belch later," he teased, smirking at him. "I take it the ice princess is the new nightshift DNA tech?" He nodded, eating another bite. Sarah came in and hopped up in his visitor's chair, tipping her head to the side and barking. Mort tossed her a piece of chicken and she scarfed it then went back to her daddies' labs. "David had to stop and pick up his jackets at the dry cleaners. He's running a bit behind."
"Not a problem, Xander." He finished his lunch. "Shall we adjourn for the meeting? We were only waiting for you two."
"Sure." He came out and took his usual seat, grinning at everyone. "Yes, I'm a happy Xander who already had a coke," he offered. "David's coming."
"You left him tied up and begging?" their fingerprint tech teased.
He snorted and shook his head. "Not even. Dry cleaners don't make him that happy." David came in and smirked at them all. "See. She wanted to know if I left you tied up today."
"No, that was two days ago," he admitted, kissing her on the cheek. "Give me a few minutes, Mort." He headed back to his lab to hang up his spare coats, finding Sarah in there on his table. "You know better." She sniffed something then barked at him and went back to sniffing. He looked at the puddle, then at the ceiling. "Mort, we have a leak from the detective's bathroom," he called, putting Sarah onto the floor. "Thank you, girl. Don't you try to do that too. That's naughtiness that the guys upstairs did." Sarah barked and followed him back. "Right on my work table."
"Are you sure that dog didn't do it?" the new woman asked snidely.
"Considering there's a spot on the ceiling, there's some missing tiles up there, and the puddle wasn't that fresh, yeah," he assured her, glaring at her. He looked at Mort. "No way I'm processing anything in there until I've cleaned it totally and they've got it fixed."
"That's fine. We've been doing things out here mostly, David," Mort said gently. "Unfortunately I am going to have to rob you of Xander for a few hours. It seems he missed the mandatory appointment after that SWAT shooting and if he doesn't report down to the nice shrinks, they're going to suspend him."
"Fuck me," Xander sighed, shaking his head. "Can I fuck with their minds?"
"That would probably get you suspended and possibly put into a straight jacket," Mort said patiently. "Just do it, Xander. It's only the once. Perhaps he'll say you have an aggression problem and take you off being on-call for SWAT."
"I'm only on-call for bombs," he said dryly. "I don't mind that. We're short a bomb person at the moment anyway."
"Yes, and if you get an arm blown off like he did, I'm going to be quite pissed," David assured him.
"You mean you're together?" the woman sneered.
Mort looked at her. "David and Xander are both part of this lab, and yes, they're just back from their honeymoon. They both were instrumental in keeping this lab going when we had manpower shortages and right now, Xander is my second-in-command."
"So that means quit with the sneering, little girl, it's not impressive," Xander said coolly. He stared her down. "Xander Harris, ballistics. This is my husband, David Hodges, Trace. You'll find I work with him as well since it's my minor."
"I've already introduced her to the rest of them," Mort offered calmly. He pulled out The List and looked at it, then at the three page thickness of listings. "Unfortunately, we do need to stop this and get to work. Xander, when you get back, you've got a good mess of guns. One of the other precincts raided a drug dealer/gun runner earlier today. There were two shipping crates full. We need them processed as soon as you can." Xander sighed and nodded. "Other than that, there's another six cases marked with ballistics evidence. Possibly seven, one's not marked at all."
"Oh, great. So I'll catch up by friday," Xander said dryly, staring at him. "How long should I bullshit with the shrink for?"
"Usually it's a two-hour meeting, Xander. That still gives you most of tonight to work."
"Sure. David will make sure I don't stay over too late."
Mort looked at him. "You have no overtime left for the rest of this year, Xander. The new year starts in two months, you can have some more then."
"How did you do that?" the DNA tech asked.
"Easy, in one week we had the city enacting their age laws, we had two others quit due to injuries and going to teach, and then we had a detective who came down and shot some others," he told her. "I pulled sixteen and twenty hour days there for nearly a month." She looked horrified. "I do get into the field as well," he said smugly. "As a matter of fact, you missed the recent SWAT action that's getting me shrinked tonight. I'm not on call for them that way but they got desperate and used me anyway. By the way, Mort, paying me for that? Hasn't shown up yet. I don't do things like that for my health."
"Good point," he agreed. "I'll call upstairs." He made a note of that. "David, it looks like you've got the worst set of cases coming. Two abuse, three breaking and entering, and about ten domestics. Plus a homicide." He looked at him. "I'm sorry."
"Not an issue. I still have to clean my lab." He nodded. "I'll get to them as soon as I can once it's cleaned and that's fixed. I can't do most of the little hair finding out here, there's the breeze from the doorway."
"I understand. The repairmen are working upstairs right now supposedly. You can go up and yell at Welsh if they're not done soon, and I'll take the cleaning supplies out of petty cash." David nodded at that. "Good boys." He looked around. "Fingerprints?"
"Four new ones today left from days, two already come in," he offered.
"Wonderful," Mort agreed. "Is the computer working yet?"
"Hell no," she snorted. "The firewall around here is now gone. Someone broke it. I found that out earlier when I came in and found my computer backwashed with virus sendings. I need to hit the computer office to chew them a new one."
"They're mostly on vacation at the moment," Mort told her. "You may have to go down there and fix it."
"Done," she agreed. "Route mine to one of the other two if they're in better shape than I am."
"Why wouldn't they be hampered too?" the new DNA tech asked.
"Because we're known to be the best and the most speedy," Xander told her. "We work harder so we're not backed up. We clear faster so we're not backed up, and our scene guys are usually out wandering so they're there faster. Because of that, we have more precincts than the other two regions in the city. We work with fifteen precincts. Region three does twelve. Region one does eight." She looked stunned. "Now, I'd think you'd go great over in Region one. They're a bunch of higher class people and they mostly do the higher class neighborhoods. They sneer at the little people crimes." She shivered. "Here, we get B&E's, we get domestics, we get a lot of child abuse, we also get a lot of homicides and gang activity. You're not going to get a lot of swabs for things like 'I killed my daughter' but more like 'I killed my daughter for being pregnant and fucking up her life the way I did mine'."
"That's a direct quote from a few sources in the last month," David assured her. "We also get handed the serial cases, the cases up at the college, and things like that. You'll be doing a lot of rape kits." She shivered again. "Welcome to Region two. Once my lab is clean, we're both across the hall."
"David, take mine for tonight if you have to," Xander offered. "It's gonna be a while. I'm going to be in the firing pen anyway." He nodded, smiling at that. "Sarah?" She barked from the other side of the door and Mort went to let her back in. "Did you go outside?" he cooed, picking her up. "Good girl." He sniffed her. "Ah, DA Meric is back. She was hugging Sarah again, I can smell her perfume."
"Hell," the fingerprint tech muttered, looking at Mort. "I'm going back to work. Anything else?"
"Just be aware that Xander has a real stalker this time," Mort said patiently. "We've yet to recapture her."
"Why does she want you?" David asked.
"She tried to use me to experiment on and I turned her down and turned her in," he said dryly. "Citing the facts to her that being a future cop, as a CSI, I could not partake of experiments with drugs. I also cited that I didn't need the memory enhancer, it wouldn't last long enough to help me in the labs or on tests. She threw a fit and tried to stab me, I basically backhanded her and ran for my life to get a guard and ran into the head of the science department. Our Chem and DNA teacher there got to look over her notes and started to find dead bodies from her earliest testing to find dosage strengths. She also found one in a coma from an overdose of it right before a test. She was at the 'one or two' stage testing."
Mort moaned. "I know that they test dosages for effectiveness that way but that's criminal."
"Which is why she went to the mental farm that apparently has weak security," Xander said dryly. "She and my ex Tanya, the stripper turned serial killer, were both in there when they escaped."
"They need better security," Mort agreed. "Fine. Please do not argue with any of us in public."
"She likes David, she made sure he makes me happy. She apparently decided my playing with Stan was fine, she walked up to him and he reported it after trying to catch her. Turnbull was most put out at her." The door opened and he looked at the DA walking in. "Hold on, Sherry, we're going over my old/new stalker."
"Wonderful. Which club did you pick this one up at?"
"She was a former science major who was doing illegal testing for memory enhancing drugs on the student body at UCLA. Tried for me, I turned her in," he said blandly. "Since she's so worried about my happiness either she's going to be working to destroy it once she's got it figured out and a list made, or she's been talking with my other ex in there, who probably told her I was just in need of a lot of love and affection to heal me."
"Ah." She nodded. "I heard about that case. Do you have anything on those guns yet?"
He snorted. "I barely just got in, woman." She smirked at him. "Besides, I managed to avoid my shrink date after that SWAT thing and now they're making me go or suspending me until I go. So I've got to do that first."
"Hmm. When do you think?"
"There were how many?" David asked.
"Two shipping cases full. About sixty guns." She gave Xander a hopeful look. "Please?"
"Sure. You're first on my list, Sherry. Come back tomorrow, I should have it in list form but not report form."
"That's fine, I'll accept that this time, Xander," she promised, coming over to kiss him on the cheek and pet Sarah. "Thank you, dear. I'll hold off their deal until then." She walked off, going back to talk to their lawyer and stall him.
Xander waited until she was long gone to wipe off the lipstick. Then he looked at his very smug dog. "No, I'm not having puppies with her, Sarah."
"No, no human puppies," David agreed firmly. Xander smirked at him. "Thank you."
"Welcome." Xander looked at Mort. "Anything else?"
"Go, see the shrink, come back as soon as you can." He nodded, heading to do that. Sarah came back a few minutes later, dragging a ribbon from the main desk's potpourri basket. She liked it for some reason and always stole the ribbons.
David went upstairs to check on the status of the fixing, glaring at the wokman standing around. "Why aren't you working? It's tainting evidence." He snorted and wandered off. "Welsh, they're over my lab table. How much longer?"
"They said two days, David." He came out of his office. "Over your lab table?"
"Yeah, as in Sarah found a very interesting liquid spot on it." Welsh shuddered. "I can't process evidence until they're done. Want Xander's bullwhip?"
"No, that's okay," he assured him. "I'll get 'em as fast as I can. Can you work around it?"
"Possibly. Xander's offered me his table until he gets back."
"Where is he going?"
"That shrink appointment from hell."
"Ah." He nodded. "He won't be able to play with him, but he'll come back stressed. Use the closet, keep the Mounties out of it tonight." He went back to his office, leaving David standing there blushing.
"Okay then." He went to talk to the workers himself. "Guys, you're right over my Trace lab. We've already gotten suspicious stains from this incident. How long really? You're holding up the evidence being processed and that means we'll have to let people go."
"You got cases we should worry about?"
David looked at him. "Probably. Does it matter? I treat everything the same, from the lowest B&E to the worst of the serial and pedophiles. Now, how long do I have to wait? I've got to resanitize my lab thanks to this."
"Maybe a day and a half," one of the guys offered. "It shouldn't be that hard. Go ahead and put a bucket on that table as well, that way you don't get any more biological deposits."
David nodded. "I shall. Just go as quickly as you can, please. There's delicate electronics down there." He headed back down, walking in shaking his head. "A day and a half they think."
"You'll work around it, David. You're very brilliant and Xander will help when he's done," Mort soothed.
"Fine." He went to find ways around the problems this was creating. He'd have to or things wouldn't get done and he'd never get caught up.
Xander tapped on the office door. "You yelled to see me?"
"Come in, Mr. Harris," the shrink said happily, smiling at him. He was an older guy, had some silver hair, a slight paunch, was wearing a polo shirt and dress pants, his loafers up on the desk as he leaned back. "I don't bite."
"I do." He walked in and shut the door. "I don't see why this is necessary."
"It's mandatory to make sure you don't go off the deep end and kill yourself."
"I haven't yet. I've seen worse and I haven't yet." He crossed his arms, staring him down. "That's also why I take all the weapons after an officer involved shooting. I know this drill. I'm fine. I have a husband who helped me that night. It wasn't my first shooting and it wasn't my first time in combat."
"How? You don't have a military record."
"Hmm. Agent Ford said something like that as well when I talked to him." He looked the boy over. "I also know, son. My brother's in Cleveland and he's had to deal with the merry band there."
Xander came in and sat down, getting comfortable. "I used to work with Buffy, but I left when they didn't appreciate me."
"I can understand that. Her methods are a bit extreme."
"They've worked in the past. That's all that mattered to us then," Xander told him firmly. "The same as now. They work."
"I see." He looked the boy over. "Do you know the three hallmarks of a potential serial killer?"
"Yes, and I score fairly high on two of them," he admitted. "Then again, most people with combat experience do."
"True, I do as well," he agreed. "I was in two wars actually." Xander nodded at that. "So, how are you coping?"
"I've got a husband. It was necessary. Like all the other times I've had to pull. I do pull faster, but I've lived in a state of paranoia due to my life being threatened. I pull faster than most scared rookies do because I've been there. I also know that if they're going to shoot, they're probably going to follow my lead if I'm there. There's been more than one occasion when I've had to draw and fire and then the rookie fired after me."
"I see." He stared at him. "We've seen the same thing in most combat troops. At least until they're more worn down by the action."
"I was there when I was seventeen," Xander said dryly. "Then again, I'm also retired from that life. I just live knowing that rookies don't always clear scenes, sometimes other citizens try to kill us too, and that rookies don't always react calmly. I had one nearly shoot me when I came to a scene."
"Interesting. Did you yell at him?"
"For nearly ten minutes, then I gave him a hug, told him to get into his squad, have a good cry, and come back when he was calmed down. He gave me the oddest look." He shrugged. "I was raised by girls."
"That's fine as well. Does your husband mind that?"
"He enjoys it sometimes and others he tries to make me more used to guy stuff. Things like sports. He came and cleaned my apartment after this tragedy of a bachelor auction during my internship because I had made face masques and things." The shrink smiled at that. "I'm good at it."
"I'm sure you are." He looked the boy over again, then nodded once. "You're dangerous."
"Not to the average person. I don't even hunt that often."
"You do hunt the undead?"
"I have to hunt the undead now and then. There's no one else in town to do that. I have and am working on training Constable Turnbull to help me. He offered one night while I was tired."
"Do you use that to take your aggression out on?"
"Now and then. I'm still human."
"Point." He stared the boy down. "What happened that night after the invasion?"
"I went home, I talked with my mate, I typed out my report while in the tub being pampered. David climbed in with me and held me. I had some nightmares that he helped me with. He helped me after I had to stake my mentor too, just not that personally."
"He showed up in Vegas and was threatening the people in my precinct there. I had to."
"Ah." He nodded. "Very well then." He put his feet down and leaned forward, resting his arms on his desk. "Do you think you're dangerous?"
"No and I don't have the superiority complex that would mean I'd turn and start to hurt others. I don't see them as little toys to be played with. I never have. I do know that my life has fucked me up beyond all hope of being normal. I live with that. I have guns, I have to use them now and then. I use my knowledge with them to help others. Consider me a ten year combat veteran who was in livid combat most of the time. Sometimes in a command post."
"I don't say anything about that. The statue of limitations hasn't run out yet."
"Ah." He smiled at him. "At least you're not dancing around it."
"Hell no, but I'm still not saying anything other than yeah, I was there. It was horrible. People died." He stared him down. "I've been coping for a long time, the same as you have. I don't need this. You're taking me away from my cases and busting others who are worse. I do use my skills when I have to. I've had to defend myself at scenes, I've had to shoot at scenes, I've had to do serial cases before, and I do ballistics and bombs. Go me, I'm talented and I use those skills."
"Still, it's not healthy to be this angry, Mr. Harris."
Xander snorted. "I'm not usually. It's just you."
The older man laughed. "I can tell. Are you angry with the department for demoting you?"
"Weren't you a cop before?" Xander shook his head. "You weren't?"
"No, I went to school and came out a CSI. I went right into the labs and the field rarely. I'm missing an eye, I can't do field work all the time and I don't want to. There's something calming about guns. Personally, from meeting a lot of us at the conventions, I'm probably in the more extreme third of us, but not the worst. There was one guy who had his own compound set up so he could become a radical agent of chaos. His words." The shrink smiled at that. "I'm on firm mental footing and I have people who know all this and watch me, carefully in the case of my husband. He's also the one who doesn't like me to hunt. Which I appreciate. So no, I'm fine. I worked through these steps a long time ago. Yeah, it was horrible, but nothing when compared to the scene at graduation. Or my last battle in Sunnydale. Or a few I got into in LA with Angel and them. Like I said, vivid, constant combat with a side of command in the field."
"That's fine. If you want, you can add me to that list of people who you can talk to."
"If I need someone more objective or I feel myself slipping over that careful edge, then I might," he offered, standing up. "Otherwise, I've got it and I've got safety ropes. Are we done?"
"Yes, Mr. Harris. We're done. I'll clear you to go back to work. How often do you do field work?"
"When it's a massive case involving guns mostly. That serial thing because it had been my case earlier in the day." He shrugged. "Maybe two a month to keep my hand in and my training current."
"That's fine," he promised with a small smile. "Go ahead back to work. I heard about the arms dealer earlier today and I'm sure you've got a lot to do." Xander nodded. "Go ahead."
"You're not spouting of details to the mayor, right?"
"No. Not in the least. I've talked to the few who do those sort of things here after other bad times. I know and understand but what's said in here stays in here." Xander nodded, leaving the office. He calmed himself down and pulled over the file to make a note in it. Xander had some strong aggression problems, but he appeared to be handling them and had a support system in place for the worst times. He wasn't going to start hurting humans. He didn't like to torture, maim, or destroy. Except possibly explosions. He got that feeling off the boy and put those notes into his personal records as well. He wouldn't be seeing him unless he slipped and went crashing over the edge. Or someone made him jump to save others.
Xander trotted back in, heading back to his lab. "I'm back," he called as he jogged. "Going to work now."
"Thank you," Mort called from autopsy. "How did it go?"
"He knew about my past life. He understood. Reminded me that I can add him if I'm forced to slip off the edge and become an assassin for a good cause." He walked into his lab and closed the door, stealing a kiss. "Thank you for helping me that night."
"You're welcome." He stole another kiss. "Get to it, Xander. I'll need your help the rest of this week to catch up."
"Sure." He heaved the first box into the shooting pen, then a group of envelopes, tags, and his identification manual, just in case he needed it. Then he brought his stapler, his tape, and two pens. He smirked at David and closed the door, going to tag, shoot, then gather bullets.
David went back to work, only coming out when they heard the siren going off. "What now?" he complained. He went to pound on the door, getting Xander coming out with his work. "What's that?"
"Not a clue." They headed out together, him getting Sarah from his cubby. She had been cowering in there. They made it out into the parking lot and he watched as first Stan came screaming in and parked, getting out at a run, then Ray, who had been off that night. "What's that?" he called to Stan.
"Bomb!" he called back, running inside.
Xander handed off his dog and kissed David, then headed for the doorway. The head of SWAT had stopped Stan and Ray, and now was getting him. "You know I can."
"I know, but I need you as backup. In case we get another one while we're doing this, kid." He stared him down. "You okay?"
"I usually am."
"Good." He looked at Ray. "Go back to the parking lot. Welsh has this case personally. He's still in here. He's the one who found the first device."
"What sort, just so I know?" Xander asked. "We can do an external search and do the cars."
"Small. Plastique, box for remote trigger."
"Done." He went back to his people. "Guys, there was an explosive device found inside," he said. They all stared at him. "Plastique, remote trigger box. It's fairly small. Small enough to put on cars as a diversion."
"I'll take Stan's and Ray's," David promised, heading that way. He came back and patted down Xander's pockets, getting the keys to their cars. The others were raiding the scene cases to get mirrors and things as well.
"I'm doing the external, left side," Xander told Mort. "Tracy, I need someone to do right." His fellow CSI yelled. "Of the building."
"Coming." He came back, handing Xander a pair of headphones. "Here. To block out distractions."
"Thanks. Get someone to do the field too," he suggested, heading off for his side of the building. Just in case. He walked slowly and patiently, checking the clumps of gras that no one had trimmed in a few weeks. It was making him nervous, but then again it had to be done. He found something and squatted down to look at the box. It was an overturned shoe box. He pulled out a dental mirror and used the handle to dig a small depression on the side of the box, that way if there was a balance trigger it wouldn't tip it. He wiggled the mirror inside, looking at the device. "Found one," he called. He got out of the way of the SWAT guy, letting him have the mirror. "It's got a balance trigger, it might also go off if you move the cover."
"Welcome. Let me finish my side." He went back to looking, frowning a bit at something. "There's some putty around this window. Was it fixed recently?"
"Not a clue. Wires?"
"Can't tell." Xander got down to look at it, then nodded. "One wire, all the way through it. Bare too." He looked at him. "I'll let you guys handle that." He walked on, heading toward the fence that covered the trash pile. "I can see another box next to the dumpster," he called.
"Damn it, who did this!" the SWAT guy shouted. "Boss! Need help! He's spotted two, possibly three!"
"Hell and shitfire!" someone yelled. "Two on the other side too."
The top guy in SWAT for the city came around to look at them. "They're just like the others. Where's the possible third?" Xander came back and pointed at the window, letting him look at it. "Not the same design or the same explosive. Good work, Harris."
"Can I get a sample?" he asked, taking out a small baggie. "Just for later evidence."
"Sure. Got a filament camera too?"
"Down in the labs." He got down to scrape some into the baggie, using his pocket knife. "It's not dirty," he assured him. He found a spot with a hair and pointed at it. "I'm taking that too. I'm trying not to hit the wire." He carefully scraped until he could get the hair, bringing it out and putting it into the bag as well. "All yours."
"There's another hair," he offered, pointing at it.
Xander looked at it. "Do we have any plastic tweezers?" he yelled.
"Yeah, coming," Tracy yelled. He jogged around the corner, handing some over. "What's that?"
"Probably someone else's idea," Xander said grimly, sticking that hair into the bag as well. He handed them both off then got up with the help of the SWAT guy. He looked at him. "I don't know how to do these. I can't figure out a way past the bar."
"There's no really anyway to do these but to pick them up and make sure they don't tip. Like you would a pizza from the oven."
"Can you cover them with a box?" the other guy asked. "That's how we usually do them, then let the CSI guys pick up the pieces from under it."
"Works for us usually," Tracy agreed.
"Let me get some containment boxes," the boss ordered, heading to make that call. "Harris, go get that filament camera."
"Yes, sir." He headed inside, past the guard. "I'm going to storage down in CSI, in the back closet. Unless it got moved." He got a nod and headed that way, going to grab the small filament camera and receiver unit. He found the phone ringing and picked up the nearest tape recorder to use on it. "Yeah?" he answered. He turned on the recorder. "No, this is CSI Harris. What did you want? What are your demands." He listened, then slowly sat down. "Sure. Yeah. Thank you. Anything else?" He hung up and turned off the recorder, bringing it with him. He found the cameras and brought them out, then went to his desk to get something. He came out and found his dog waiting on him so tucked her down his shirt and hurried back. "We got a call," he said as he exited. "I recorded it."
"Why did you stop to answer the phone?" one of the SWAT guys asked.
"Who would be calling CSI?" Xander countered. "Any one of us whose down there would have had them routed to our cells. It was the main number in the main room. That's the published number in the directory." He handed the head of SWAT his recorder. "Right next to my mouth, sorry."
"Not an issue, Harris. Thank you. Next time please don't be that brave." He looked at the dog. "Hello, Sarah. Followed?" He nodded. "Go put her in the car." He took the gear, looking at the last thing Xander had picked up. "What's that?"
"Personal." He put it and Sarah into the car, then closed them in there. "Dave, she's in your car, along with my special case." He kissed him gently. Then he started to look around. "Vecchio?" he called. "Come on, we've got to head!" Everyone stared at him. "Did we check the Riv?" David nodded. "Was it good?" He shook his head. "I know." He found Ray complaining and drug him to his car. "Come on! If they got your car at your mother's house, where else did they get!" Ray hurried and Xander got in to drive, heading off with his lights and siren on. "They did call. They did say that Frannie was in danger."
"Maria and Tony took the kids and Ma out for pizza at Chucky's," he admitted. "Frannie...." He started to call the house and Xander stopped him. "I've got to warn her."
"Ray, if it's got a remote like the others, it can be set off by cellphone. Call the main house."
"Fine." He redialed, getting Frannie. "Get out. Get out now. There was a bomb on the Riv. There were multiple ones at the station. Get out, wait for me in the street. If they're back, take them and the emergency bags. I don't care, do it now!" he ordered. He hung up. "Can't we go faster?"
"Sure, you go direct traffic and I'll go faster," he agreed dryly. He shot him a grin and ducked down an alley, coming out the other side and onto a less crowded street. "Two blocks east now right?"
"Yeah. Turn now." Xander turned, making others squeal their brakes. "Go straight then right one block later." Xander nodded, speeding up even more when he saw the lights go on behind him. He turned onto Ray's street and saw Frannie outside with one of the kids. "They didn't take the baby?"
"I don't know," he said, getting out once the kid had parked. "Frannie, where are they?"
"Still there, but he's fussy so I offered to babysit." She pointed at the house. "I didn't see anything."
"There was a bomb on the Riv," Xander said as he got out, heading to do a walk around. "Ray, with me. They've had rocker bars so far. The least touch can set them off."
"Fine." He looked at Frannie, then at the officer. "Get my sister into your car, back off a few houses. Only SWAT comes unless it explodes. There was a bomb on my car and a few at the twenty-seventh."
"Yes, sir." He walked Frannie to his car, getting her and the baby inside and backing them up a few houses. He watched as they walked around the side of the house. "What's going on?"
"Ray didn't tell me. That's CSI Harris though."
"He does bombs?"
She looked at him and nodded. "Yeah, he's good with 'em. Ma'll never forgive him if the house explodes, but he's good with them." She rolled down her window when Ray came back. "No one stopped by today, Ray. No one visited and no repairmen."
"That's fine. Xander found it. It's by the furnace." He grimaced. "I want you to take my phone, call Chucky's. Tell Ma and them to stay there until closing. By then we'll either have it solved or we'll be in a hotel tonight." He handed over his phone.
"What's going on!" she demanded.
"We got a threat, Frannie. Us and the precinct. I don't know why. Just do it. Where's the carseat carrier thingy?"
"Inside. Right by the front door. I didn't even think to grab it or the diaper bag."
"I'll get it with Xander. You stay here and call." He went to find Xander, who was going on with his search. "Can I head inside?"
"Not yet. Give me ten more." He continued his search. Ray had cut his grass recently so it was good. He could see the other one. "Ray. We've got a second one, on this window. Just like the others." He walked off, heading inside with him after checking the door. Ray grabbed those things and carried them out, Xander was doing a general stroll through the house. He knew if anything was out of place. "Ray, when did Ma move that red vase?" he called.
"Last week. It nearly broke when Tony Junior crawled into it." He came back, looking at it. "That's where it's supposed to be." They continued on, heading into the kitchen.
Xander found another one in there and winced, glancing at it. "Out. Now. Go to your room, get anything that you'll need, like insurance stuff." Ray headed for the office. Xander backed away slowly. Ray came out of the office, headed upstairs, and came back with the emergency bags and one for himself. "Good. You can have our couch if you need it and the others can stay with us for a few days if David agrees." They continued out and Xander left the door open. Once back at his car, he called dispatch. "This is CSI Harris. I'm at Detective Vecchio's home. Tell the head of SWAT at the twenty-seventh that the secondary bomb was repeated here and the primary one. They are togther. There are two external rocker bombs here, one window bomb, and one inside in a cabinet. I repeat, four bombs present in this house."
"I copy and have passed on the message. He said to wait and do not touch."
"Not a problem," he replied. "House has been cleared. Should I clear the neighbors?"
"Affirmative. Two houses, either side," she replied.
"Good enough. Going to do that now." He hung up his radio. "Ray, we're clearing two neighbors on either side. Make sure none of them run through your yard." He went to the left side, knocking and showing his ID. "CSI, ma'am. There's been some problems at the Vecchio household and we need to clear you and your immediate neighbors out now." She gaped. "Right now, ma'am. There was a bomb threat made. I need you to take your family, your pets, and head out for at least two hours so we can deal with this."
"Ray!" she yelled.
"Go, now," he yelled. "Stay out of our yard!"
"Fine. Two hours?"
"God I hope so," he said seriously. She nodded, going to do that. He went to the next house over, tapping over there. "Sir, CSI Harris."
"I've seen you. What's happened? An escapee?"
"Bomb threat. I need you to clear out for two hours, sir, just in case. Take your pets with you."
"Yes, son." He went to gather his dog and head out. He stopped to chat with Frannie. "You'll be okay?"
"I'll be fine. Xander can put us up if he has to." He smiled and nodded, heading out. "God, Ma's gonna be pissed."
"Not as pissed as CSI Harris looks," the officer offered. "Ma'am, should I take you to his house?"
"Not until Ray orders."
"Yes, ma'am." He got out and looked at the detective. "Sir, should I remove your sister to CSI Harris' house?"
Xander looked at him. "No. You can take the baby, but not her. They mentioned her by name."
"They said you were in danger, Frannie. I want you away from the family, just in case."
"Fine. Someone take the baby then," she ordered.
"Sure. Ray?" Ray came to grab the baby and Frannie got out. Xander motioned her over. "Come here, let's look you over. Nothing too personal, even if I do pat you down." She nodded, letting him look at her earrings. "New?"
"Yeah, I bought 'em yesterday." She took them off and her bracelet, letting him look at them. Then she got them back. He checked behind her ears. "I would have noticed someone darting me."
"Not necessarily. I haven't in the past." He moved to pat her down then took her to his car, which had the geiger counter in it. He checked her over, then nodded. "Okay, I don't see anything."
"I still don't wanna be near Ma and them," she assured him.
"Good. Then I want you to go walk to my house. If you feel the least bit strange, get away from people. You probably won't explode that greatly." He grinned at her. "As far as I can tell you won't at all."
"Sure. Your house?" He handed over his house keys, they separated from his car keys. "Fine, I'll be in the garage."
"Good idea. The bathroom's working out there again too." She smiled and hugged Ray, then left. He looked at Ray. "She's heading to my place to hide in the garage. There's a working bathroom."
"Good. Was she hit with something?"
"Not that I can tell. I'm not taking that chance until I know though," he promised. He put the machine back and took the baby to hold, calming him down again. "Hey, baby boy. Did you want to come visit the unclies this week?" he cooed, rubbing noses with him. "You're such a good boy." The baby beamed and patted him on the face. "Yes, a good boy, Mark. Ray, go ahead and put him into my car, you can sit in there and watch him." He handed the baby back as the SWAT truck rolled up the street. "Go." He nodded, sitting in the car with the baby for now. Xander handed over the car keys and went to meet them. "There's one in a kitchen cabinet that's slightly open. There's one tucked behind the furnace. There's one on the window, like at the station, and there's another box one near it." He led them on to look at them, then led someone inside to look at that bomb. Then he left, he wasn't needed. He went to wait with Ray, leaning against the side of the car. "It'll be fine."
"I'm sure it will be, but I'm gonna kill someone," Ray promised. Stan drove up and he got out, handing over the baby and the bag. "Here, take him to Ma. They should still be at Chucky's."
"No," Stan said, getting out. "Benny, take him and go."
"Yes, Stan." He buckled the carrier in and shifted over to drive, heading off to where the family liked to go for birthdays and treats. They were still there when he walked inside, handing over the baby and the bag. "What's going on?"
"We got a bomb threat," Maria said quietly. "Frannie?"
"I didn't see her, Maria. I'll ask. Xander was there with Ray."
"That's fine, we trust Xander to protect what's ours," she agreed, heading back to the group.
Benny left, going back to the scene. The cops tried to stop him but he rolled down the window. "This is Detective Kowalski's car. I was delivering the youngest Vecchio child to his mother."
"Let him in," Xander called. "We already cleared his car." The cop let him in and he looked at Benny. "Frannie's fine," he said at the opening mouth. "I already checked her over and sent her to my garage."
"Thank you. They had wondered."
Xander grinned at him. "If we can't clear it in a reasonable amount of time, I'm sure David wouldn't mind if they came to stay with us."
"You do have a defensible house," Ray admitted. "Plus more guns if needed."
"True," Xander agreed, looking at the guys coming out with the bomb from the cabinet. "That's a skill I'm impressed with," he said happily. The other two were brought away in containment cases and the window's putty was removed, along with the window. Then CSI field techs got to go over everything there. "I opened the door," Xander called. "Mine and David's prints should be all over too."
"Sure, Xander. Thank you. What about the back door?" one yelled.
"Nope. Not for at least two days."
Xander looked at Ray. "At least the house is still standing."
"True. Not that I'm gonna feel easy in it for a bit."
"If we could figure out who it was, it'd be easier," Xander offered. "I taped it but it was really close to my mouth."
"I'm sure the AV guy can fix that," he promised. He watched SWAT work, then called David. "Xander said we could shack up with you two tonight. You mind?" He smiled. "Thanks. No, Frannie's in your garage. Ma and everyone else is at the pizza place. Chucky's. Yeah, thanks. Nah, I'll be in tonight. The Mounties can guard for now." He hung up and looked at Xander. "He said it was fine."
"Sure. Let the kids sleep in the tower room. It's nice and it'll be cool for them. That'll give you a room, them a room, and Ma a room."
"Thanks, Xander." He went to pick up his family in Xander's car, he could get a ride back.
Xander grabbed some gloves and went to get sucked in. He knew what was out of place in the house.
Xander made it back with the boxes of evidence, finding the FBI standing around waiting on him. "Hola." He looked at Ford. "Thanks for narking to the shrink so I didn't have to take him down there." He walked downstairs, putting everything on the table. Then he got some magic markers and wrote on it 'vecchio household evidence'. He looked at everyone. "Yeah, there were four at Ray's house. Mostly trace. There's some fingerprints too." They grabbed stuff and went to work, David was still in his lab so he was SOL until he was done. He turned at the footstep. "Guys, go to AV, see if you can identify the voice. Unless you already know?"
"Not a clue," Ford admitted. "Vecchio all right?"
"Pissed. Very pissed and around here somewhere," Xander offered. He went into AV himself, listening to the output the guy started. "That sounds off."
"I had to remove your breathing."
"His voice was deeper, like it echoed."
"Okay, let me put back your breathing." The quiet breathing came back and Xander nodded. "That's it?" He nodded. "Good job."
"I figured it had to be. Who else would call the main number while we were evacuated? Everyone else we knew would have called cells." He looked at the agents. "Know him?"
"Yeah, he's a former agent," Ford admitted. "He used to work in the local office. Vecchio busted a case a few years back that implicated him as being dirty. He was cleared when they found out he was being framed but his reputation was gone."
Xander nodded. "I've seen it happen. I'm going to work on those arms again. I'll be in the firing pen." The AV guy nodded and he left them there.
"CSI Harris, we need to ask you a few questions," Ford said formally a few minutes later from the doorway.
Xander came out of the firing pen, marking his last test fire and putting it aside. "Sure. Office, main table? Where?"
"Main table's fine." He walked him that way, sitting down with a tape recorder and a notepad. "All right. Walk me through what happened."
Xander cleared his throat and got up to get his soda, then came back. "Sorry, dry throat."
"Not a problem. I have those too." He stared at him. "What happened? From the time you walked in tonight."
"All right. We took separate cars in tonight. David had to stop to pick up his dry cleaning and I had to drop some videos off on the way in," he told him.
"That couldn't be accomplished together?"
"Different directions. We go to the video store on tenth, the dry cleaner's up on West Racine."
"Ah." He nodded, that was a good bit apart. "Go on." He looked down as the dog came out and hopped into Xander's lap, getting cuddles. "There's a dog in the lab?"
"My dog. She's well trained for the lab. Always has been. Everyone knows she's here. She even gave birth under the mass spec in DNA."
"Oh. That's good I suppose. I'm sure you're aware of any contamination." Xander smiled and nodded. "That's fine, go on."
"Okay. I got here with Sarah, the dog, about ten minutes before start of shift, I talked to a few coworkers, told them David was running a few minutes late. When he got here, we started the shift meeting, I found out I had a hell of a lot of firearms waiting on me and that I hadn't managed to avoid the shrink after that SWAT action, that I had to go tonight or be suspended. I went there, talked to him for a bit, came back just under an hour later. We understood each other and I'm not the one he's got to worry about going over the edge. I came back here, David was using my lab because Trace is suffering from an overhead pipe leakage from the men's toilet upstairs, and I went into the firing pen to work on those guns that were confiscated earlier today. During the meeting I did talk to DA Sherry Meric. She wanted to know about my present stalker and when I could get the facts on those guns to her. I told her by tomorrow, which I'm hopefully still going to be able to keep. I was back in the firing pen when the alarm started to go off. I finished up my last sample tagging and left with David, who had just covered and bagged what he was working on. We were the next-to-last out of here, Mort was making sure we all got out. I headed up there, where I learned what was going on. I organized my fellows here to start an exterior and car search, just in case. I took left side of the building and found a bomb."
"The first bomb?"
"No, CSI Tracy found a bomb before I did. He found one, I found one, I waited for one of the SWAT people to come look at it after carefully inserting a mirror to check the specifics of the bomb. It had a rocker switch, a balance bar to tell it if the box over it was tipped and set it off if it was, and I wasn't sure I could handle that. So I left him looking at that through the dental mirror I had used to look inside, found the one on the window, which was in...." He considered it. "Holding probably. Probably the drunk tank if I'm not mistaken."
"It was. It's already been removed."
Xander nodded. "I pointed out that it was a bomb too, I thought, since the putty looked like plastic explosives to me. I continued on with my search after alerting to that one, and found one last one next to the dumpster out back." He took a drink, thinking hard. "I came back to the window one. Usually bombers use a single signature so I was assuming at that time that they were unrelated. I used my pocket knife to take a small sample. I found a hair and plucked that off too. I did tell the officer what I was doing before I did so, just in case. The head of SWAT was there by then. He pointed out the second hair but it was right overtop of the wire so I didn't dare use my pocket knife and I knew I couldn't pluck it out unbroken with my fingers, so I called for some plastic tweezers. Tracy brought them, I plucked it, put it into the same evidence bag as the other hair and the sample, then headed off when the head of SWAT said he needed a micro filament camera.
"I came down to get ours and something from my desk and I found the phone ringing. Logically speaking it was out of place. Any one of us here would have told our family and friends to call our cells. Not the phone out here in the main room. At most, probably Mort's desk if they had to have an office number. Since it was this one, the published one, I did pick up a recorder and answer the phone. It wasn't anyone I knew and he asked for me by name so I recorded it. Once I had hung up, I got the gear, I took it and the recorder upstairs. I handed off the recorder and gear then went to find Detective Vecchio since he had been mentioned in the threat. I took off with the detective for his house. His sister was waiting outside with their nephew, as per his phoned orders on the way there. We had been followed for traffic violations by a patrol officer. We had him take Francesca Vecchio into his car and move her and the baby further back while I did a house search with Detective Vecchio. We did the external first, just in case the door or something was wired. I found one on the left, two on the right, including another windowpane bomb, then went inside with him. I found one in the cabinet, instructed Ray to get his insurance stuff from the office since it didn't appear to have a timer, and he grabbed their emergency bags as well.
"I called it in, I checked over Frannie Vecchio to see if she had been implanted or touched somehow. I didn't find anything, up to and including radiation since I had a geiger counter with me, and sent her to my garage. It was safer, she was walking but I did tell her if she felt any oddness at all to get away from people. I needed the patrol officer there and I decided she wasn't going to be harmed and that nothing had in fact happened to her. We kept the baby, just in case, and Ray sat down to keep his nephew calm in my car. We cleared the houses off to the side, two on each side per orders from Dispatch, and waited. SWAT came, I showed them the bombs I had found, let them handle them while I waited and Constable Fraser went to take the child back to his mother, who was out with the other children and Detective Vecchio's mother at a local pizza place. Ray left to come back here and help with his car so I went to work on the scene since I know that house very well, then I came back here to be ambushed."
Ford smirked at him. "Good. You say you were the last one out of this office?"
"Next to last with my husband. Mort was behind us to make sure we all left. As far as I know."
"Why did you take charge outside?"
"I'm used to it," Xander said dryly. "Mort was staring, I figured we'd better look anyway, before something else happened. We did have the field techs there. I ordered a car and the exterior searched, just in case. It'd be a fine diversion to blow up a car to allow the bomber to get away. I like redundant backups and doing everything so every base is covered."
"I see. That's probably an asset in your fields, CSI Harris." He considered it. "Was that chronological?"
"Pretty much. Things kinda got lumped in there together. I may have gotten the order wrong. I'm not sure when Benny took off with the baby but I know it was after Kowalski got there and after SWAT got there. Kowalski got there after SWAT and I remember he was gone when they were bringing the bombs out. I think he got back about that same time actually."
"That's fine. It's a good job, CSI Harris. Thank you. Now, about this threat?"
"Once they put my breathing back, the voice was the same as when I heard it. The recorder was right next to my mouth and I did warn about that up front. I don't recognize the voice."
"We do, so don't worry about it. I will be handing that file to Lieutenant Welsh later. Are you fearless?"
"No, I'm a bit numb though," he offered with a small smirk. "I'm not unused to desperate situations and having to take charge, Agent Ford. You know that. Maybe that's why I like all my bases covered."
"That's fine." He stood up and turned off the tape recorder. "I looked at the reports from your graduation. Whoever planned it did a good job in that assault."
Ford smirked. "Gonna pass that back?" Xander nodded. "Was it you?"
"I'm not saying a thing about that incident until the statue of limitations runs out."
"Good idea, kid. Very good idea. Fine. Thank you for your help. Are you thinking more than one bomber?"
"Bombers like signatures. It's like serial cases will almost always be the same ritual. Bombers have their own rituals while creating it. It's the same feeling of 'this is the right way' that serial killers have during their kills. That's why you don't see many that change patterns. I've learned this watching the Profiler fans come in pretending to be profilers." He snickered at that. "Seriously. Anyway, for a bomber to switch methods like that? Yeah, I'm guessing different bombers. It can't be a coincidence that we've got both types of bombs at both sites. I did tell Dispatch to tell the guys in SWAT that as well."
"She did. I was here by then and I saw the message. Good work. Very good work."
"I live to serve and Ray is like my family. Any news on my present stalker?"
"Can she do bombs?"
"No, but I'm not sure if Tanya had a talk with her to make her see I only needed love to be healed and so she's making sure I have it, or if she's making a list of people to hurt."
"I'll ask. Who has that case?"
"Meric was asking about it earlier. You might ask her."
"Thank you." He walked off.
Xander sat there, sipping his soda quietly, staring at the door and petting his poor baby. He finally looked down at her. "You'll get to play with the kids tonight, Sarah." She barked and wagged her tail, seeming to smile at him. "Yeah, let's get you home." He went upstairs, into the chaos. "Stan?" He looked back at him. "Who's cruising by my house next time?"
"I am," Dewey called. "Why?"
"Take Sarah back so she can keep the kids entertained." He handed her over and she licked the nice detective who gave her pepperoni. "You could probably tell Frannie she doesn't have to sleep in the garage either if she's still clear."
"Sure. I'll be heading that way in about ten minutes. You got stuff?"
"It's mostly trace and a few fingerprints. David's got stuff. I've got the arms from earlier." He gave him a wry grin. "I'll be down in the firing pen, so just call my office if something's up. David's working in there."
Xander headed back down to get to work, stopping to get a kiss. "I told Ray to have the kids sleep in the tower room together. Then the others could have the other rooms. Dewey will tell Frannie she doesn't have to sleep in the garage." David smiled and Xander went back to work.
David shook his head. "At least we have the extra space," he decided. "It's a good thing and we can close our door tonight." He looked over as Stan came in, pointing at the firing pen. He looked confused. "Xander?"
"No, you," he said, staring at him. "Got anything yet?"
"Not a bit but I heard the FBI people identified the voice."
"Ooooh," Stan said happily, rubbing his hands together. "Good enough. Are we stayin' with you guys tonight to make sure nothin' happens?"
"We'll only have the one room with the twin beds," David told him. "Unless you want a couch."
"We'll head home with you and figure it out then," he decided. "How is Xander doin' on all those guns?"
"I've halfway through the first case," Xander called. "I've already called Sherry and told her what happened." He stuck his head out. "Are we being paranoid?" Stan nodded. "Then we'll see when we get there. Personally I'm hoping someone cooked. I won't have time for dinner tonight. So someone grab me a granola bar when they run out for something." He grinned at David. "I'll eat later."
"Yes, you will."
"Yes, dear." He went back to his firing and marking.
Stan chuckled. "Got the tight leash tonight?"
"Hell yes, he went off without telling anyone," he muttered.
"Dammmmmnnnn," Xander said in awe. ".308 sniper rifle." He came out with it, showing it off. "These are really pretty."
"No, no adding to the guns at this point in time," he said firmly, staring him down. "Besides, you need to get more bullets first. You're running out."
"I'll get some before coming home. I can get them at Walmart."
"Sure." David watched him stroke the gun and shook his head, rolling his eyes. "Maybe for our next anniversary."
"I love you," Xander said happily, kissing him hard and fast before going back to work. He had to come out for some bullets, but he was fine.
"Freak," Stan laughed.
"Yes, but they make him happy," David said dryly. "Plus it's good for his job."
"Yeah, maybe, but someday you'll have to turn a spare room into a gun locker."
"No, we've got one of those already, it's in Xander's office," he said dryly. "It's called the closet."
Stan chuckled at that and headed off, going back upstairs. When orders went around for dinner, he got Xander a sandwich and even paid for it. He looked over at Ray as he started to yell that he wasn't going home yet, shaking his head. "Ray, we're heading back with Dave and Xan tonight. Go home, make sure the place is secure, then we'll be home in a few hours. Got it?" Ray glared at him. "Seriously. Oh, Xander said he needed to pick up more bullets at Walmart tonight."
"Sure. Where's his gun locker?"
"His office closet."
"Sure. Anything good on that gun runner?"
"Yeah, he's probably through with the test fires on the first case. He's doing all those first."
"Smart of him," Welsh admitted. "See, go to Xander's. Go make sure everyone's fine. Take over guard duties. When Xander and David go home, I'll send them with Kowalski and the Mounties so you can get some sleep. That way you can come to work tomorrow too." Ray said something in Italian but stomped off. Welsh sighed and rolled his eyes. "I'm sure it'll be fine," he told himself.
"It should be," Dewey agreed. "Xander's got good security. They've got the spare room for a few days if necessary." He sat up straight. "What I'm wondering is why *that* window? Why not another window, why that specific one? The other things were symmetrical except for that window. Could that give us a clue?"
"We've looked in the bomb database and no," Ford told him. "Nice thinking though. What about structurally?" Everyone looked clueless. "Who would we ask?"
"Xander," Huey said. "He worked construction."
"He's the one who figured out that the rooms weren't right on our map during that assault too," Ford admitted. "What's the number?"
"Harris!" Welsh yelled. "Get up here!"
"Coming," floated over from the bathroom.
"They're fixing the leak in the floor between his lab and the bathroom," Huey said smugly. "Much faster."
Xander came trotting up the stairs. "Did we know there was a .308 in that bunch of guns?" Huey shook his head. "There was. It's a very pretty Bravo 51 too," he told him. He beamed. "David said I could have one for our next anniversary."
"You're weird, kid," Welsh said dryly. "Figure out why *that* window."
Xander looked at him. "Because if you take out that window, it would have taken out a good chunk of that wall, which would have weakened it. It would have given an alternate exit over the more difficult fence and into the street. Doing it on the other side would have put you into the field, which doesn't have as easy of an exit; you'd have to run farther in the open to get to the street, and you can't park closely on that side without getting a ticket. You can park not ten feet away from that other fence on this side, which meant a fifteen second run in the open to get to a car. Which I checked, there wasn't any there at that time."
Ford looked at him. "Wow."
Xander smirked. "Elementary tactical maneuvers handbook, US Army. Ask me sometime how I saw that." He looked at Welsh again. "Why *that* window on the Vecchio household?" He thought about the house. "That would have collapsed the stronger outer wall, which was holding up the outside of most of the bedrooms. This is evening time. If they had been in their rooms, it probably would have killed them and only smashed in the living or dining room in the next house on that side. Maybe a bedroom on the second floor but most likely a living room or a dining room by the way their house is oriented. Most bang and kill ratio for the buck in that house's case. The others were meant to take out the majority of the structure so it'd mostly collapse when they went off, thereby hiding the evidence and lowering the chance of rescuing living people." He controlled his anger at this idiot, because he would be facing him down eventually.
"What about on your house?" Huey asked dryly.
"Personally? I'd take out the tower. It's an architectural element that has weight bearing capabilities but would disrupt the house. Also the shape of the room would focus the heat and backdraft of the blast down the hall. It's also the easiest to get to since our security company didn't adequately fill in that hole with more than a camera. The rest of the house is sealed pretty tight if they notice the security system. Even the garage. The only other thing they could easily get to is that big tree in the corner of the back yard. That they could get from the neighbor's yard and make it fall on the house. But it wouldn't do too much damage at that distance. Why? Did he call back and threaten my house?"
"No, not yet," Huey admitted. "Just asking to keep it in mind."
"Sure. I'll be doing a perimeter sweep anyway when I get home. I'm paranoid like that. Oh, Welsh, the shrink understood me. Apparently Agent Ford and his family in Cleveland clued him in. He decided I'm sublimating it nicely and I'm not really dangerous. I just have anger and aggression problems from his questioning." He shrugged. "Anything else?" They all shook their heads. "Then I'm nearly done with the test fires on that first case. I've got to get back to it or Sherry will skin me." He went back to work, then came back to get a new soda before going back to the firing pen.
Welsh waited until he was gone a second time, then shook his head. "That boy was the best investment we've ever made." Everyone nodded at that. "He even got a raise this year. All he wants is not to be recognized by the mayor."
"He doesn't want recognized and awarded for saving lives?" Agent Ford asked.
Welsh shook his head. "Said he didn't need it. That's not why he did the job. He didn't get awarded for doing it when he was younger, why break that pattern now and give him an ego problem." He smirked at him. "Any other questions, Huey? Or Dewey? Or even you, Kowalski?"
"Yeah, if we've got a clue about who it is, how soon before we go raid the hurtin' little freak?" Stan asked bitterly. "I don't wanna be blown up today, I've got a date tomorrow night."
"We're tracing his location now," Ford offered. "If we can find him, hopefully by late tonight."
"Is he on pension or Social Security?" Huey asked.
"Yeah, on SSI and disability," Ford offered. "Why?"
"Call and ask them where his checks are going. He's got to be getting them."
"Good idea." He went to do that, going through his local office to get that information. They could pull strings and get it from the main branch.
Xander came out of the lab when David yelped his name, looking at the person in the doorway. "Hey, Tanya. How did you get out?"
"Sucky security. I learned a lot watching you, Xander." She walked inside. "How are you?"
"Better now that I've had some medication and a lot of time to think. Does he make you happy?"
"Very. If you hurt him, I'd have to go off and kill you." She pouted. "Tough. Even Anya approves of him. Called him a cute little rabid bunny."
"I thought she was terrified of bunnies."
"She was working on her phobia and that just means she thinks he's scary." He stared at her. "So, why the visit? You know I'm gonna have to arrest you."
"I just wanted to check on you, dear."
"Were the bombs her?" David demanded.
"Someone tried to bomb the station and Vecchio's house."
"Poo, those meanies deserve however much beating Ray gives them. I'm sure he's quite capable from what I've seen," she said firmly, smiling at him. "How are you?"
"Happy. Content. I love my job. Oh, hey, Mort, this is Tanya. Tanya, this is my boss, Mort. He's a nice guy. When I was doing murderous overtime he sent me home and let me nap on his office couch a few times."
"We appreciate and like you too much to lose you to a stroke or a heart attack, Xander," he said gently, smiling at him. "Nice to meet you, Tanya. I need to do a review with David. It's time for his first year review. Would you excuse us? I have the forms in my office."
"Oh, sure," she agreed, smiling at him.
"Nice meeting his ex," David said, shaking her hand. "Don't worry, I not only respect Xander, but I do love him enough to put up with his oddities and try to help him overcome his thoughts of football being like gay sex." She giggled and let him go and he walked out with Mort. "It's already been a year?"
"Nearly. Another month. I have to have them done before then to get you your raises. I did Xander's about two months ago." They closed themselves in their office and David called upstairs.
"Stanley, why is his ex, the serial killer, down here chatting with him? No, she said she learned a lot about security watching him." He hung up and looked at Mort. "So, how am I looking?" he asked brightly.
"Fairly decent. You aren't worried?"
"Not really. Stan's still up there. He'll handle it. Xander can handle her."
Stan hung up his phone and stood up, waving his arms. "Guys!" They all looked at him. "Why is Xan's ex Tanya downstairs?"
"The serial killer?" Ford yelped. Stan nodded. "Mother fucking hell! Move, people! She's an escaped serial killer!" They all hopped up and went running down there, going to capture her. She was sitting in Xander's desk chair, smiling and laughing at something he had just said. Ford grabbed her and walked her off. "Xander, aren't you nearly ready to go home?"
"Nearly. I've only got ten more to do test fires on. Then I get to run them through the system." He waved. "Bye, Tanya. If you behave, they might let you go soon." She smiled back at him and waved, beaming happily like this was nothing to her.
Stan frowned at him. "You dated someone that stupid?" he hissed.
"She was a stripper, Stan. Her brains aren't why I dated her," he hissed back. Stan snickered at that and gave his head a shove. "Yeah, those were the days when I was a freak, but she was sweet and she could cook and I got into the club for free." He went back to work, shaking his head. "Tell David it's safe now."
"He called us," he offered, heading back to the office. He tapped and leaned in. "It's safe, we've got her. She was giggling at something Xander said."
"She didn't seem too bright," David agreed.
"He said she was a stripper, he didn't date her for brains," Stan shared with a smirk. "She could cook, that's why he dated her." David snickered at that, shaking his head. "So we're heading back upstairs. Don't let him work too long over, we're leaving with you two."
"Sure. The more the merrier but you cook for yourself if Ma doesn't." He looked at Mort again, looking at his evaluation forms. "I only got a two for playing nicely?"
"David, you've scared two of the interns and rode another one until she changed fields and her major. You don't play well with others. It's an improvement from when you came in however and we're not known for playing nicely here. Detective Vecchio only gets a one each year. It won't stop your raise."
David smiled. "Good, then we can pay off the mortgage faster."
Stan walked off shaking his head. "I wanna know how Xan infects people so they start turning into him," he told Dewey as he passed him.
"David went up on the 'nicely plays with others' scale. He was happy at that and said he'd pay off the mortgage faster now."
Dewey shook his head. "I don't understand sometimes," he decided, finishing his trek to the bathroom.
Xander came in from his lawn patrol and kissed Ma on the cheek. "You should be in bed, young lady. You work much too hard to stay up this late with the naughty young men. What sort of reputation will you get by being up all hours with sexy young men?" She chuckled and swatted him, handing him a mug of cocoa. "Thanks, Ma. Where's the others?"
"In the living room, dear. You go enjoy yourself. I'm heading up to bed now that you're all here."
He nodded, watching while she went, then he checked the kitchen over and headed into the living room with his cocoa, sitting down next to David. "Hey. We're clear. No bombs that I could see."
"Good." Ray sipped his own cocoa. "Ma?"
"Just headed up to bed." Xander looked at Stan. "She'd feel better if you three stayed."
"Of course," Fraser agreed. "When do you think they'll be able to go home?"
"When we catch this idiot," Vecchio told him firmly. "Not before."
"They had a good idea where he was," Stan offered, seeing David's hesitant look. "It won't be more'n a few days. Welsh is pissed and the guy used ta be FBI."
"Good, that makes two of us," Xander agreed as he sipped his cocoa. He snuggled into David's side with a small yawn. "I got some of them run, dayshift can run the rest through the system tomorrow morning. Maybe she'll teach the new in-school intern how to do it." Hodges moaned. "Don't worry, this one's got *some*, limited, sense. Not much, but some. Could be much worse. There was a real airhead in there. She went to Region one." He saluted them with a grin. "To our other centers."
"Yes, long may they not fuck up," Stan agreed, sipping his own cocoa.
"Too late," Hodges said grimly. "Region one was why AV had the virus. He was working on it while hooked into the system and it went rampant when it released itself."
"We need to hire some hackers for computers," Xander complained. "Even if it's just one, it'd be easier. They'd see all these little problems coming and contain them."
"We had one but his virus got into the system," Vecchio told him. "That's why we don't." He stared outside. "There's a car out there."
"That's probably Huey or a Fed," Xander said, glancing out there. He waved and got a wave back. "Yeah, that's Ford." He turned around and looked at everyone and where they were staring. "Hey, Anya. I saw Tanya again tonight."
"I know, she's now up here with me. You can tell that nice agent it's not a problem and she's not a vampire. She won't turn."
"Cool. Thanks. Anything else?" He took another sip.
"You're really happy?" He nodded. "Really, really happy? Like won't be going for another woman happy?"
Xander nodded. "I'm really, really happy, Anh. I love David. He suits me and he puts up with me. He even complains when I try to spoil him. He's what I wanted."
"Oh." She pouted a bit. "I'm sorry I sucked so badly, Xander. Forgive me?" He nodded and she smiled. "Thanks. I'll just peep now and then. The two ghosts already here don't like me much."
"No, they probably wouldn't," he agreed. "Then again, they're pretty nice. They just want to be left alone in the attic."
"Cool." She smiled and faded out. "You rest, that guy won't be here for hours."
"Hours?" David asked. "How many?"
"Oh, two or three in the morning."
Xander looked outside, then went to talk to Agent Ford. "So, Tanya killed herself?"
"No, she got eaten by something," he admitted dryly. "What was that light?"
"My dead former fiance Anya. She said Tanya's with her and she won't turn. Also, the guy shouldn't be here until two or three." He shrugged and went back inside, going to look up purification rituals so David would quit ranting. He sat down next to him with the book. "She only wanted to watch us have sex, David. Calm down."
"He's coming here!"
Xander looked at him. "I told Ford that."
"How did you explain that!" he demanded. "She's not a source!"
"Actually, I had to explain to Agent Ford why I had weapons in LA. I took him to the bar. The guys down there talked to him. He went home and freaked. He's much better now." The phone rang and he answered it. "Yeah?" He listened. "No, it was my dead former fiance, Welsh. Anya. Yeah, her. No, she's hanging around to watch the sex. It was always her favorite thing. Yeah, I'm working on purification rituals now," he offered. "No, David's having a hissy at the moment. Stan and Ray are just ignoring it and sipping their cocoa. Sure. See ya then probably." He hung up and sat back down, going back to his reading. "He said night shift would be told that there was a tip that he might be coming so they'll be slowly wandering closer this way around that time. Is it okay if I leave the attic alone? The former owners only wanted to be up there."
"Fine, but make sure she can't watch us in the bathroom or the bedroom," Hodges said firmly.
"Yes, dear." Xander grinned and kissed him. "Thank you." He kissed him again, making David slump and relax. "Love you. I'll let her go out to the garage too." He went back to his reading, figuring out what he'd need to shop for tomorrow. It's not like they could have sex with everyone in the house.
Welsh looked up as Xander walked into his office a week later, grimacing a bit. "Shut the door, Harris." Xander blushed and shut the door. "Do you know what it's like to have a patrol officer waiting on you when you come out of your house in the morning to tell you that he caught two of your best CSI having sex in the park?"
"No," he said slowly and hesitantly. "We didn't say anything about us being CSI until he noticed the parking permit, sir."
"Hey, he only caught us once!" Welsh glared so he slunk down a bit again. "Sorry. At least they didn't catch us the other times."
"I don't want to have that conversation with you, Harris," he said loudly. "I know you've got half the world's Vecchios in your house right now but you may not have sex in the park!"
"It's not that reason," he whined. "Anya's been making David paranoid."
"I don't wanna know that either! Banish her!"
"I did! I also paid the fine already! I even did it quietly!" He pouted at him. "I'm sorry, it wasn't my idea but it happened. I know I'm not the first! I know Stan got caught at least once! And I know Huey got caught way back when too!" he defended. "I'm sorry and I'll pick a better spot but at least they didn't catch us the other three, um, no, five, times." He noticed he had that same 'Xander'd' look and flinched. It had finally been pointed out to him that bad things happened to the people who got that look, like Ecklie had once upon a time. He liked Welsh too much to see that happen to him over something like this, even though it had been really good sex. "I'm sorry. I'm really, really sorry. I'm gonna go hide, just don't die if you have a stroke or something." He put down the files he was carrying and ran out. "I think I upset him too much," he told Ray as he jogged past him.
"Want us to clear out for the night to give you some privacy?" Ray called after him.
"It's not you guys, it's Anya."
"Uh-huh." He went into the office, watching as Turnbull tried to calm him down. "Don't worry, sir, we'll be moving back in about a week. It'll be fine. He can go that long. Even if he does get a bit bouncy in frustration." Welsh glared at him. "It's not my fault, yell at Ma! She wanted the kitchen redone and we were gone, it was a good time. Xander apologized too."
Welsh let out a squeak and started to pant. "Oh, dear. We really should call someone, detective," Turnbull fussed, getting him some water and an aspirin. "Here, Leftenant, it'll help with that." He gulped the water and the aspirin, calming down slowly. "Should we call some paramedics? Do you need rushed to the hospital?"
"He'll be fine. Stan's done worse to him," Vecchio said dryly, smirking at his boss. "He really was okay for the most part. He thought he had picked somewhere out of the way but you know how zealous some of those patrol guys are. At least that one guy called in on his cell instead of to dispatch to ask if he should bust those two."
"Out!" he shouted, pointing. "Get out! Go do something out of the office and take Xander with you!"
"Don't come back until he's sane! Take Kowalski with you!"
"Sure, sir. Xander, we've got an early lunch, you, me, and Stan!" He grabbed his jacket and looked at the Mountie. "Not coming?"
"Are you sure he should be left alone?"
"Go," Welsh growled. Turnbull saluted and left with Ray, walking stiffly behind him. Welsh put his head down and pounded it a few times on the desk.
Dewey stuck his head in. "What happened?"
"Harris and Hodges got caught having sex in the park," he muttered. "Then it got worse from there."
"I'll tell Xander about that nice spot on the west end," he offered, going back to his desk.
"Go away!" Welsh called, getting up to slam his door. Then he went to lay down for a bit on his couch. Maybe a nap so he'd feel better. Then he could dream Harris was sane and Vecchio was a nice guy and Kowalski wasn't an irritating prick who whistled when he had really good sex the night before. "Kowalski!" he bellowed.
"What?" he called, opening the door. He looked around it until he saw the lieutenant on the couch. "You need me ta run to the pharmacy for somethin', Welsh?"
"No, I want you to go away and not come back until you, Vecchio, and Harris are normal, sane, *average* people."
"So, we're fired?"
"Don't tempt me," he snapped.
"Ya know Xander's backed up, right?"
"I don't care," he growled. "Out!"
"Yes, sir." He headed off, going out to have his early lunch too. It was nice, he'd only been there an hour and a half. He found Xander and David outside. "What happened?"
"We got busted in the park last night," Xander said with a blush.
"If you hadn't yelled, he might have left us alone," David snapped back.
"You bit me!"
"Boys, I don't wanna join Welsh in his mental breakdown," Vecchio ordered patiently. "How long you think it'll take?"
"His breakdown? Probably another few days. He's taking a nap. He wanted us to stay away until we're normal, average, and sane."
"We were fired? With all we've done for this department?" Xander said, looking really upset. David pinched him, making him yelp and back away. "Honey!"
"No more jokes," he ordered. He looked at the two detectives. "Think we can sneak down the back way? We're both still backed up."
"Probably not, but call Mort," Ray offered, handing over his phone. He leaned against his trunk, looking at Turnbull and Kowalski. "Fraser on statue duty?" He nodded, smiling at him. "What'd he do this time?"
"He was smiling this morning. Inspector Thatcher is apparently having one of *those* days today. She was not the least bit pleased this morning when she came in."
Xander looked at him. "Should I take her out to lunch too?"
"We'd like her happier, not having a breakdown of her own," Turnbull offered, smiling at him. "Was it good?"
Stan moaned and rubbed his face. "We don't need ta know," he announced. "Smutty minds are for after work, after all you're in uniform," Stan reminded him. "It's gotta be against the rule book somewhere to have smutty thoughts in uniform."
"Hmm, yes, but I have these same thoughts on guard duty as well," he admitted with a smile for his mate. "I believe Constable Fraser does as well. I caught him being a bit too happy yesterday actually."
Kowalski kissed him. "Shut up," he said with a smirk. "You're gonna give Ray nightmares."
"Not a problem. I had ta stop the kids from interrupting Xander and David this morning."
"I was only getting cuddles," Xander assured him. "David, I promise, Anya's no longer floating around the house anywhere but in the attic and the garage, and maybe on the lawn. She's not in the bedroom." He smiled as the phone was finally answered. "Inspector Thatcher, it's Xander. We just got sent out for an early lunch and I wanted to know if you'd like to join us. Of course. No, Turnbull said you were a bit glum this morning and I'm nothing if not cheery today." He grinned. "I understand. Perhaps some other time?" He looked at David. "Honey, she's had her date for tonight back out suddenly due to a broken leg. She needs an escort for one of those stupid dinners and dances."
"Go. You look okay in your tux," David promised him. He looked at Ray. "So, what are you making for dinner tonight?"
"Lasagna. It's quick and easy. Feeds a lot."
Xander grinned. "Inspector, David said he wouldn't mind if you borrowed me in the least. Of course. I already have one actually. I finally found one I looked good in so I bought it. Of course. Should I bring you any flowers?" He beamed. "That's fine. No, standard black. Of course. I'll see you then." He hung up and handed the phone over. "I'm picking her up at nine."
David called Mort, getting their boss. "Welsh ordered us out of the building because Xander nearly drove him insane and he's escorting Thatcher tonight to a dinner and dance. We're headed out to pick up his tux and lunch. Can we get you anything?" He raised an eyebrow. "No, I had no idea the patrol told you we had been caught but he wasn't turning us in. No, it was the same thing. He's already paid the fine. I know, Mort, but his ex...." He sighed. "Yes, sir." He hung up. "He said he didn't want to see us tonight either."
"Okay, so I have time to do something about my messy hair," Xander said with a shrug. "Home?"
"Sounds good," Ray agreed. He took back his phone, watching as Xander got into his car to drive. He looked at Kowalski. "See ya there?"
"Sure." They all headed off, going back to Xander's. They could be found easily enough there and it was about dead center of the precinct's area so they'd be quick enough to respond if something came up.
"Hey, Welsh, they're all heading off," Huey called from the squad room window. "By the turns they just made, they're all heading to Xander's."
"That's fine, they aren't here and maybe everyone will be normal in the morning." He slammed his door again.
Huey looked around the mostly empty squad room and shook his head. "I wonder what they did this time."
To Part 3