Because I got asked. I always told my list if they nagged and begged, I'd probably write most of what they asked. A number did.
Warnings: Xander will be engaging in some limited BDSM talk and discussion, NONE GRAPHIC. He will end up being a Dom! Also, the ENTIRE SERIES is rated NC-17 for this, a bit of darker violence than the original series, and sex.
The Flip Side of Miami.
Aiden Burns looked at the resurrected man next to her. "We've got to do it," she said, her Queen's accent fairly thick even though she was now a transplanted Californian. "Your own visions said we had ta do it."
"We can send him to Miami."
"You lost the coin toss and this way they don't find out for longer that you're back," she offered with a smirk. "That way I don't have ta watch retribution in action this week." She gave him a hug. "Mac'll watch out for him."
"I don't think Mac will understand Xander," Tim Speedle protested. "At least Eric and Calleigh will understand him in Miami."
"Tough. Danny and Don'll understand and Mac'll be like a father figure. Besides, Danny used ta run tough and he'll actually keep the boy from hunting." Speed grimaced at that. "Once he finds out." She smiled at him. "Now I know what you had planned."
"I can see him in one of our fifty zillion schools up there," she pointed out. "Please? Plus ya know he'll have a lot of life to experience up there. Not like the whole world don't come knockin' at New York's door."
"True," he admitted. "As I did once." He sighed and nodded. "Fine. You write the letter and we'll figure out how to tell him."
"What were you gonna do if you had won the coin toss?"
"Told him he had to deliver a letter to Horatio."
"Without an explanation?"
"I hinted about the guys I worked with."
She moaned and shook her head, calling Xander. "C'mere in about an hour, baby." She hung up and got to work writing the all important introduction letter. She didn't want to make Xander sound like a gang member or a thug, Mac would hate that. She couldn't not tell them though because it'd be pretty evident within a day. She scrapped her first try and started one to Mac instead. He could do the introductions, get Stella to mother her adopted son, and it'd be good. Xander walked in and she read it over, then signed her name and sealed it. "C'mere, kiddo." He walked slowly closer. "Nothin' bad."
"Bullshit. The last time you had that look on your face you told Angel you were going to stake his heart by shoving a telephone pole up his ass."
"Well, yeah," she admitted, but she was smiling. She pulled him closer to sit with her in the comfy easy chair she was in. "Listen, you know Tim's been having a few visions, right?" He nodded slowly. "Well, one said you've gotta be gone this summer, which works out well with your plans, but we gotta make sure you clear the state."
"I can help with whatever it is, Aiden."
"I know that, baby, but they were very clear. You gotta be long gone."
"Because you'll die," Tim said simply.
"Oh." He grimaced. "And?"
"You know I got some friends in New York, right?" He nodded slowly. "I want you to take them a message. Can't get much farther away in this country and hey, lots and lots to see and do. You're going on a roadtrip and that's a great place to learn about other forms of life." Xander shrugged at that. "So I'm gonna give you a letter. You're gonna head up that way. And if you decide to come back, we'll talk then about what you saw."
"Why wouldn't I?" he asked cautiously.
"I don't know. You got an acceptance letter to a school up there somewhere in Tim's place," she said dryly. "You might find some decent girls for a change. You don't know. New York's like that."
"Uh-huh. I'm sensing a horrible outcome?"
"Nah, you won't get taken out there," she promised, patting and stroking his back. "It'll be *fine*, Xander. But I need you to go tomorrow before the bad shit starts again."
"I can fight."
"Not this time," Tim said, coming over with drinks for them. "The Powers were specific, Xander. You have to leave the hellmouth this summer. You have to leave tomorrow."
"If I die, I die! It's not like I expected to live this long," he complained loudly.
Tim grabbed him by the back of the head, wrapping his fingers in the dark hair. "You listen to me, Xander. You are not destined to die here, am I clear?" he asked. Xander nodded weakly. "Good. They said you're not destined to die here. Therefore you won't." He kissed him on the forehead as he eased his grip. "So go with the plans. You wanted a great roadtrip, New York is where the rest of the world comes to play. You'll learn shit there that you could usually only learn overseas." He gave him a gentler smile. "Can you take the letter for her?"
"Do I get to disappear?"
"You might wanna stay for a few days, just in case my friends wanna be nosy," Aiden offered. "If you're going for quiet, head to Maine."
Xander sighed and nodded. "Fine. What college accepted me? UC Hellmouth didn't."
Tim snorted. "I applied to a few schools for you, Xander. You got in to about six of them. They're in my place and wherever you end up I'll send them there. I'm waiting on the last one."
"Oh." He considered it. "I'm getting the bad 'can't come back' feeling."
Tim looked at him. "You can't." He held up a hand at the protest. "The Powers said if you did, you'd die by twenty-three after a debilitating injury, Xander. You'd be miserable. You'd end up almost marrying Anya." He shuddered at that. "It'll only get worse from here. Without you here, Buffy won't die saving her family. Willow's future girlfriend won't die and send Willow out on a 'destroy the earth' mission." His face fell at that. "It's not that it's you, it's that there's too much power here. The more power, the worse the threats that come. You're making her too powerful and it's going to get dangerous for everyone if you stay because you're creating too much good guy energy to put it basically."
"Reaction and action. Too much light always casts a deeper night," Aiden agreed.
He looked at them. "Are you sending Willow off?"
"Within a year. I'm not going to forbid you to write them, help them long distance, but you can't come back." He gave him a hug. "Some year soon I'll be with you and so will Aiden, Xander. As soon as we're released from here, we're going to come live wherever you end up. So I need you to go find somewhere nice and set up a forward base. Also, go watch over Aiden's friends for me. They do stupid shit."
"Yes, daddy," he said quietly. "Twenty-three?"
"Twenty-three," he agreed. "After losing an eye and having to fight two gods, Xander." He shuddered. "Without you here, they can't come. There's not enough light here. Now, with that said, this upcoming school year, there's going to be a big problem but it'll be an Oz and Buffy problem."
"They're going to cheat?"
"No," he said, grimacing. "I don't think he'd put up with her. Eww, nasty thoughts." Aiden and his adopted son both hugged him for that one. "Thanks, guys. No, the military knows about demons. We'll be coming to you for tactical help." Xander perked up at that. "You're still going to be helping, just in a different area. Okay? But first we need you to go to New York, and when I send you the letters, maybe you'll decide to stay there. New York's got some demons and some very nice places as well. I loved going to college in the city."
"I'll think about it. College isn't exactly something I want to do, Timmy."
"Yay, can't do much except flip burgers without it, baby," Aiden reminded him, smiling at him. "So you'll take this to Mac, let 'em know how I'm doing? See the college maybe?"
"Go see New York. It's a great city, Xander. It's the only place you can walk from one neighborhood where it's just like Greece into one where it's just like Pakistan and then go to China a few blocks later." He smiled a bit at that. "Okay?"
"Fine, if I have to." He looked at Tim. "Where were you going to send me?"
"To see my former coworkers. Miami's bikini central. If you're going to find a pretty woman that'll be the place."
"Oh." He nodded at that and shrugged. "Fine. I have to go tomorrow? I don't have time for a goodbye party?"
"We'll throw one when we come see you," Aiden promised with a grin. "We'll even hit a strip club, Xander." He perked up at that. "'Kay?"
"Fine." He hugged them both and took the letter once she had sealed it. "I still don't like this. You can tell the Powers to lick my balls," he said as he walked out to go pack.
Tim shrugged. "I've done that a few times actually. They're never pleased to hear that." He snuggled back into her side. "How long before we can leave?"
"'Nother year I think." She stroked his hair. "Poor baby. You'll be fine and maybe you can come with us. Xander will need some sense by then. I'm doubting anyone'll be watching hard enough for the first few months."
"Probably not," Tim agreed with a small sigh. "What's he gonna do, strip?"
"With Xander? You never know," she reminded him. Their adopted son had surprised them in the past. A number of times. But he'd be fine in New York.
Xander walked up to the reception desk the instructions Aiden had given him last night had led him to. "Hi. I was told to hand this letter to a Detective Mac Taylor. Is he here somewhere?"
"He's not. I can hold it and hand it over," she said, holding out a hand.
"She'd kick my ass. Aiden told me if you tried to take it I was to yell for someone named Flackie or Danny?" The woman's eyes went wide. "What?"
"Only one person ever called Detective Flack that, sir. Can you wait?"
"Of course. This is my only scheduled activity today." She smiled and pointed at some chairs so he went to sit and watch the people going past. He nearly whistled at one woman but she glared at him when she caught him staring. Some women just didn't want to be appreciated. He saw a guy with spiky blond/brunette hair come in and she handed him a few messages. He had seen his picture in Aiden's wallet. So apparently she knew him. The receptionist said something and pointed in his direction. The guy smiled at him so he grinned back. "Aiden sent me."
"I figured. Only she ever called Flack that horrible nickname. Mac'll be back in about an hour. You wanna go get coffee?"
Xander let out a cackle. "Only if you want me to destroy the building while I bounce."
"Nah, not really polite," he decided. "Okay, you wait there for the big, tough lookin' guy. Dark, short hair, used ta be military if you can spot 'em." Xander nodded. "That's Mac. She send one to me?"
"To him but I'm sure it's got parts for you."
"Sure. I'll see you after he does then." He walked off, pulling out his cellphone to make sure Mac came right back. Aiden didn't usually send Mac cute young men. Unless she knew something about Mac that he didn't.
Xander waited and watched more people, including the one pretty one, walk past reading stuff. "Hopefully I'll never have a job where I have to read all day," he said quietly. He saw one guy come in and looked at him. "Detective Mac Taylor?" he asked, hopping up. The guy looked and nodded. "Hi, Xander Harris. The adopto-mom Aiden sent me with a letter for you."
"That's fine. Let me do one thing then I'll take you to my office, okay?" Xander nodded and sat down again. "Thanks." He got his messages and went to log in his evidence then came back out. Xander hopped back up and followed him to his office, handing over the letter. He felt it carefully, just in case.
"Dude, I know explosives but I'm not into letter bombs," Xander said dryly. "They're childish and a desperate cry for a penis enlargement plus a brain wax."
Mac stared at him. "You're very blunt."
He grinned. "I learned off Aiden and Timmy."
"Tim. Yeah. She helped him come back. She's in Sunnydale."
"Oh." He nodded and opened the letter, reading it through.
//Mac, you might wanna sit down,// she wrote. //The young, bouncy, smartass in front of you is like my son. You piss him off I'm shoving my foot up your ass and out your ear. Why he's like my son you'll probably find out within a few weeks if you *talk* to the boy. And I do mean talk and listen. Something you only do to Stella usually.// He smiled at that. //Now that that's out of the way, got a favor to ask and it's a huge one. Due to the situation out here, Xander can't ever come back. He'll die at twenty-three if he does. We know this already by the way. Before you say a *word* that job you said I'd be good at? It's on the hellmouth, Mac. You're watching one of the fighters for the light bounce in front of your desk at the moment. So we need him ta be mentored. Find him a good life. A long life. Don't be thrown by the boy. He's as tough as they come but he's got a loving soul and a core of decency. He's seen too much death and caused a bit of it himself to save others.
//For right now, I want one of you, Danny, or Flack to mentor my boy. It's damn important that he find a good life. We're working on getting him accepted to one of the schools out there. When we're done with our jobs out here we'll be back with him. We want him alive, undamaged, and healthy, Mac. Which means you've got to do some watching. The kid's got reflexes like you. He likes weapons. He's damn good with weapons. Search out his graduation, it was his plan. He had to modify one on Giles, the older guy out here watching over the team. He's the one who came up with the explosives, the battle plan, and managed to save most everyone's ass. Now he needs a life. He's a combat guy. He'll probably stay a combat guy unless someone stops him. Please, someone stop him. I'll beg and plead in my shortest skirt in front of Messer if you do. Also, watch the boy for the moment. See the real Xander, not the bouncy boy, not the hunter, but the core of the boy, Mac.//
Mac looked up, seeing what she had. He went back to the letter. //Now, I know you're still grieving. Messer's probably the best choice but if you try to force it he'll complain and rant. The boy already felt unloved all his life, he doesn't need that. Ever. You have my permission to smack the shit out of him if he does it to my son. You three doing it together is probably the best choice. You and he can bond over combat stuff because the boy never sleeps anymore. Danny can show him good fun and Don'll get him settled down pretty quick. Also, never, ever let the boy date a woman without doing a background check. He's so far dated one cheerleader that flayed him with her tongue every day for being human before they made out. A former force of vengeance that was a nympho who tried to kill him, literally, Mac, with sex. Seven hours later he had to be rescued. He's dated a few creatures who had to kill. They like him. Fair warning. He dates and you'll probably be sorry. He might like guys, don't know, never asked and Timmy never said if he asked him or not. But be good to my boy. Try to keep him in the city for a while if you can. If not, make sure he's watched. I'm serious about this, Mac. Xander goes on gut and animal instinct most of the time. He kinda had one possess him for about a week so that's why he growls now and then. Also watch out for the sharp, pointy things. Love you and tell the two goofballs to call me. He's got my number. Aiden.//
Mac folded it and put it back into the envelope. "Did you read it?"
"She told me," he said grimly. "I'm not sure if I want to stay in New York or not. It's an expensive city to live in."
"It is," he agreed.
"Plus I'm very not thrilled with their plans for college for me."
"Ever think about the military?" Mac asked.
"Yeah and then I realized I look totally sucky in ever uniform ever made. That they'd probably end up turning me into an assassin once they heard about my past."
"We don't technically train assassins, Xander. That's the CIA."
"The only difference is that snipers are paid by a different branch of the government, Detective Taylor." He stared him down. "I hunted, that's a bit different to me."
"I can see that." He ignored the prior comments. "Hunted what?"
"She said to tell you that Sunnydale is like somewhere called Penguin Street? Does that sound right?"
Mac shuddered. "I know that area. So you hunted demons?"
"Demons, vampires, quarterly apocalypses. It's all kinda routine out there. I started hunting in the beginning of tenth grade." He looked at him. "I'm sorry if I just pissed you off."
"In a lot of ways being a sniper is like that. Only we kill on orders instead of for money."
"True. That's the other difference." He gave him a gentle smile. "She did say to mess up Danny's hair and to make fun of Flackie's suit?"
"Detective Flack likes to wear pastels," he said dryly. "Only she gets away with that nickname. As a matter of fact, that's him staring from across the hall. Danny must've told him since they're both out there." He looked at Xander again. "She wanted you to find a mentor."
"I'd like to find a damn life," he said dryly, shrugging. "The Powers are assholes who said I bring too much power to the light apparently so I had to leave."
"Bigger things will come if you've got more power, Xander. Like the Army doesn't take on an island country with the full breadth of it's forces."
"I can understand that one." He sat down and looked at him. "She did say I should stay to give them information. Plus her phone number out there."
"That might help. They've been missing her," he agreed, smiling a bit. "What about college?"
"The only reason I passed high school was Timmy helping me."
"Oh. Well, how about something more hands on? Like a vocational school? We've got a good few of those in the city." Xander relaxed at that. "It's usually a good field and you'd learn a lot within a short amount of time. It's usually less expensive too." Xander nodded at that. "Do you want to meet the other two she sent you to? I'm not sure why she sent you to me except for the combat trauma you have."
Xander raised an eyebrow. "That's being nosy."
"I read people for a living, Xander," he said bluntly. "How many things did you kill?"
"Keeping a kill count is for serial killers. I was keeping others safe," he said firmly.
"I can understand that. Do know that you can talk to me about that if you need to. No matter who mentors you." Xander nodded at that. "That's fine then." He stared at Danny and waved him inside. They both came in. "Guys, this is Xander. He's like Aiden's son."
"She adopted and didn't tell us?" the guy in the mauve suit complained.
Xander looked at him. "She and Timmy ran my parents out of town when they were going to sell me to a Master in LA who liked to play too hard and kill his toys," he said bluntly. "Aiden literally made them run for their lives."
"Oh," the guy from earlier said. "Anything in the letter for us?"
"Her phone number," Xander said. "I've got it memorized because she's the queen of scatterbrained ho some days and keeps letting the couch eat her phone. By the way, she called herself that and Timmy agreed."
"Timmy?" the other guy asked.
Xander pulled out a picture. "That was a few weeks before graduation."
"Whoa, hold on. That's Tim Speedle," he said, glaring at him. "How?"
"She said if that question came up Sunnydale is the hellmouth and therefore like somewhere called Penguin Street, only worse."
Don Flack shuddered at that. "'Nuff said."
Danny looked at him. "What were you doing there?"
"Saving lives," he said bluntly, standing up. He wrote out her phone number and handed it over. "She suggested I stay for the next week so I could tell you guys what she's been doing and how she went 'ick' for hours after staking her first vampire. I'm going to find somewhere relatively cheap and without too many bugs. Detective Taylor?"
"That's fine, Xander. Call me here and let me know where so I can tell the others." He handed over one of his business cards. "Have a good rest."
"I'll try." He shrugged and looked at Don. "Why did only she get to call you Flackie?"
Don smirked. "Because she's cute and like a little sister. Even if I did want to bang her now and then."
"I can see why. She's got a figure and a mouth that makes you think about things bad girls do in the locker rooms during football games. Then again she said I have a sucky dating life so I should give up women all together and try men." He shrugged.
Danny looked at him. "They make tapes ta help with the style stuff, kid."
"No, those are for entertainment purposes only. That's what the legal crap at the beginning says. I actually read it once." That got a snicker from him. "So I'll be around for a week or so if you wanted to talk about Mom. She said to pinch someone named Stella on the ass?"
"She's the one wearing the white shirt today and the really nice pants," Don told him.
Xander just nodded. "She glared at me when I stared. I'm eighteen, I'm like that, so she's just being unfair." He shrugged. "I'm off to find a rathole motel. Any suggestions?"
"There's one ..." Don took out some paper and handed it to him once he had written down the address. "Go there. It's bad but it's not drug whore bad."
"That'll work. Thank you, Flackie." He grinned and walked out.
Danny snatched the letter to read. He blinked at it, just staring. "Excuse me?" he demanded. Flack took the letter to read instead. He looked at Mac. "So..."
"So," he agreed. He turned on his computer and looked up the graduation. It hadn't made any of the papers or national news and from what she had said it should have. He blinked at it, shaking his head. "I'll be damned," he said quietly. "He joked about knowing explosives." Danny came over to move him and read. "That's my desk."
"Yeah, yeah. Whine." He blinked at that then looked at Flack. "They blew up their high school because something attacked graduation."
"The letter said he led the defense," Flack agreed, leaning over to read it too.
Stella walked in. "That's a really great view, Don, but I didn't need to see that you're not wearing underwear today."
"Am so. I wear tight ones."
"You should quit that before your mother nags you into an early grave for lack of grandkids," Danny teased. "So, you glared at Aiden's adopted son?"
"Was that the young guy who stared at my boobs?"
"Yup," Don agreed, grinning at her. He let her have the letter, then he dialed the desk phone, getting her cellphone. "You didn't tell us you adopted, wench."
"Flackie, I love you, but if my son isn't there he's already in trouble. Someone obviously can't take advice, Mac. By the way, Tim says hi and don't tell 'em. He'll do it."
"Fat chance," Danny said dryly. "Anything else we should know?"
"Yeah, he's already in trouble. I know he is."
"He's eighteen and you said he's got a combat history," Mac pointed out.
"Yeah and he uses it, Mac. He's very used to using it. Like every single night since the start of tenth grade. That's three years now." Mac shuddered at that. "And let me tell you, Penguin Street has nothin' on this hellmouth. Even I've staked vampires."
"He said you went ''ick' for hours," Don teased.
"It's messy! And hell, I had ta go correct the bitches out here that night too. The slayer's a stupid brat and her best friend's a weird one with delusions of being Glinda the Good Witch only she makes mistakes. A lot of mistakes. Now, go hunt down my son."
"I told him ta go to the place by Times Square," Don promised. "He's going to check in."
"Don, listen to the words coming out of her mouth," a male voice said. "Killer things and people like our son. A lot. They like to date him, they like to try to kill him, and they like to try to have fun with him before they kill him. It's not only his dating history, it's some of the bastards his original parents gave him to. The kid's a survivor but he'll get in trouble within minutes. He's got a mouth on him and he's probably armed. He's never totally unarmed anymore. He had to lose his blood innocence at eight to protect himself. Understood?"
"Understood. I'll shadow him. What is he driving?" Don said, shaking his head.
"POS blue convertible boat," Aiden told him. "Look for the cloud of smoke."
"Definitely," the male voice agreed.
"Yo, Speed, do they know you're back yet?" Danny asked. "Or how you're back yet?"
"Aiden wished me up and I'm telling them soon."
"Uh-huh," he said dryly. "Too late."
"Crap. You guys always were too nosy for your own sanity. Go stop the son for right now. Show him how fun life outside of hunting can be. Stop him because he will continue to hunt. Find him a real life. Please. I'm working on college things."
"He doesn't want to go," Mac said. "He said the only reason he passed high school was you." He'd consider how a dead CSI from Miami was now alive somewhere with vampires later. He probably didn't want to know. "I did suggest a vocational school."
"He's got it in him to be a great profiler, Mac," Tim said patiently. "It'd be the best way to use his hunting skills. If you don't find him something he can use those skills in, he'll continue to hunt and then die. At which point the world will start to go to hell."
"Just let it happen," Aiden offered. "He'll probably like college once he starts. He never was a great party guy. He could use some work on the rhythm stuff too. He'll do fine if he gives it a shot. Now, protect our kid for us."
"Aiden, why did you send him here?" Stella asked.
"I won the coin toss," she said, sounding smug. "Oh, Stella, boy's never had a decent mother. He knows all women want to kill him. Go easy on the boy the first few times, 'kay? I'm the first mother he's ever known."
"I'll keep that in mind if he stays. He didn't seem too sure he wanted to."
"He'll stay for the nightlife," Tim said dryly. "I know Xander, he will." Someone pounded on the door near them. "Gotta go. That's the boss wondering why we locked ourselves in the bathroom for this conference. Go save him now, Flack. Please. Before it's a real serial killer."
They hung up.
Danny looked at Mac. "You wanna call Miami or me?"
"I'll call Horatio," he said quietly. "Give him what we know." That got a nod. "Flack, can you shadow the kid tonight?"
"Sure. I was gonna go out for a drink later. Think he'd go?"
"With what was said about his parents, I'm going to make an assumption and say they're probably either alcoholics or drug abusers," Mac said, looking at him. "Only they would *sell* their child into a dangerous situation."
"Gotcha." He went to find the kid. Maybe he'd be a good big brother and take him out clubbing tonight. Before he got mugged or killed by someone.
Danny, Mac, and Stella all shared looks. "You heard 'er," Danny offered. "We gonna watch out for the kid for her?"
"I can't believe she adopted him," Stella said.
"She probably had to since he said she ran his original ones out of town," Danny said. He grimaced. "Worse'n my pops apparently. Mac?"
"I'll gladly mentor. You might see if Sheldon might want to help too if we need it."
"I love Doc, he's a great guy and all, but this kid is like one'a mine where I grew up, Mac. He fought and survived. Doc's used ta nice guys."
"Point," he admitted. "I would probably keep him and Lindsey away from each other."
Danny snickered. "Ya think?" He walked off shaking his head.
Stella looked at him. "I can play big sister if he needs me to. I'm not sure it'll help him any."
"If he's never known a mother and he attracts women who want to hurt or kill him, probably not," Mac agreed. He took the letter back and put it away. "We'll figure out what he needs when he's been with us for a few days or so." She nodded, heading out. He got up to close the office door and then sat down again, dialing the phone. "Horatio Caine please." He listened to the transfer/hold music, then smiled. "Horatio, Mac Taylor. Long time no hear. No, an odd thing. Do you remember Penguin Street from when you were up here?" He smiled at the heard shudder. "Well, I unknowingly sent Aiden to a place that's like that, called Sunnydale, California. Yeah, it sounded nice, it's a small town. They needed a decent detective. So I encouraged and recommended her. But it seems that things like Penguin Street happen there all the time. Including Aiden apparently wishing up someone who had been dead." He heard the indrawn breath and knew he had caught the hint. "Her and Tim Speedle's adopted son is up here, she sent him to me to mentor him with Danny and Don Flack. I do have her phone number. He wrote it down." He picked up that paper and read it off.
"That was her cellphone. Xander said she loses it so he had to memorize it." He smiled. "I don't know, Horatio. All I know is that the kid had a picture of Speed and we heard him while we were talking with Aiden about him. He's there and alive somehow." The 'not when Alexx hears' made him laugh. "I'll leave that up to you. He said he was going to call but Danny and I both heard the unsureness of it in his voice so I decided you should hear it from a friend before you die of a heart attack when you hear from him. Sure. Call, she was there." He smiled. "Good luck, Horatio. No, they apparently ran this kid's parents out of town for trying to sell him and have him killed. They're like his parents now. I'm not sure," he admitted. "You'd have to ask them. Have a better day, Horatio. I hope he gets to come home." He hung up and went over the situation in his mind. He either hadn't caught the right clues or he was missing an important one. The boy still seemed off to him for some reason. He went back to reading up on graduation. He found another site, a Live Journal site, and went over that one. Tim's. He left him a message saying that their dark one was safe and Flack was going to take him out tonight. He got an email almost instantly that had more information. That had the clues he needed and it was from Tim. So apparently Aiden still had some blinders on about the boy.
Flack found Xander in a harder core club than he had imagined the boy would've liked, watching him be taught how to dance. He shook his head with a moan, going out there to help him. Xander jumped when he touched him. "Like this," he said patiently, moving his body for him. Xander got into it and he nodded. "Better." Xander grinned and went to dance with others. Don went to get a drink so he could watch over the kid. He was definitely drawing them in. He had a nice, fit body. A bit skinny but that was something Stella could fix. He had muscles. His hands had been calloused in the right spots for weapons work. He watched as the boy answered his phone with a text message, then went back to dancing with his partner. He wasn't too bad out there. He nodded at Danny when he came in. They had decided to come together tonight to watch over the kid. He pointed at him and Danny moaned, going to dance with the kid and make him do better. Don grinned, taking a drink of his beer while he watched Danny do better instruction with the kid. By the end of another set of music, the kid was on fire on the floor. He was also drawing people that Don would rather arrest and bleach than let touch him. He caught Danny's eye and nodded at a few, getting a nod.
Danny drug Xander back to the table. "You drink?"
"That's fine." He looked at the waitress and she came over. "He's the DD. Get him a soda. Get me a beer?" She nodded and he paid, watching her walk off. "That's a nice ass," he decided.
Flack looked then nodded. "Yup. Is." He took another drink and looked at the kid. "Doing better, Xander."
"Thanks." He grinned. "It's ten bucks extra a night for a room without bugs?"
"Some places," he agreed.
Xander shrugged. "Stomping on roaches is something I've done before too."
"You know, you could stay for a bit longer," Danny offered. "The city's like everywhere else on earth crammed together."
"I accidentally ran into the British section earlier. I was having Watcher flashbacks," he agreed, smiling at him. "I'm not sure what I want yet, guys. But you have Aiden's phone number."
"We do. Is she happy with Timmy?" Danny asked.
"It's a casual, we've seen too much death, let's screw thing with them." He smiled at the waitress when she came back. "Thank you."
"Welcome, cutey." She pinched him on the cheek and walked off again once Danny had his beer.
"If I do stay I'm going to have to find a semi-respectable job. Otherwise I'll never be able to afford rent."
"That would be a downside of living in the city," Flack agreed, thinking about it. "You could commute a short distance."
"The car's a POS."
"Then sell it and use that to help you with a deposit on a place," Danny offered.
"I guess I could. Of course that means I'd have to find all the crossbow bolts that I've spilled over the years." He took a sip of his soda and bounced back out there with it when a new song came on.
"Crossbows?" Don asked.
"Guess it works when you're doing vampires," Danny said with a shrug. "Don't ask me."
"Yeah, me either." They watched the kid have fun, and watched someone slip something into his drink and the kid drink. Then the kid turn and slap the stupid person and force it down his throat instead. He even handed him the glass and then went back to dancing. "He's a thug."
"He's got combat history," Danny corrected. "He ain't no thug, Don. There's no way he's a gang member."
"True. Could be."
"Point." They watched the boy for the rest of the night, just in case. Which meant they saw the very pale person take him to the bathroom to play with him and him come out alone. They also saw the person with the pistol in his ribs but the kid laughed and kissed them, then made them cry and huff off. So he was good at self defense at least. He could survive in the city.
Xander sat on the precinct's front stoop. Mac had asked him to be here today but he was out for the next hour and a half so he had told Stella he'd be out here. He was cleaning his nails with a metal nail file when the guy with the gun came up on him. He looked at it then at him. "Showing off your new piece?" he suggested blandly.
"No, man! Give me your wallet."
"Nope. Sorry." He stood up. "Go away, little boy. Before I have to end another life." He stared into his eyes. "I hate it when I have to kill but I'll dance in your blood." The kid stepped back. "Also, you've got your safety on. Besides, anyone can use a gun. That's why I use a knife, it shows more skills and balls." He pulled his out and rested it against the kid's throat. "I can nick you and drain you dry within minutes," he sneered, staring at him. "Then all that's left is the grieving if you've got anyone do that. Now, trot home, little boy, before we have to compare pieces. Because I've seen scarier things that're blond and five foot four than you. Plus she had a better rack."
"You carry?" he sneered.
Xander switched hands, then pulled out his bigger, flashier gun. "Yeah, I do." The kid blinked at it then turn around and ran. He put it back and snapped the safety strap back over it, then put his knife back too. He sat down to go back to cleaning his nails. Stella came out to look at him. "He should be thankful this isn't sharp and pointy too. I would've hurt the deluded little creature."
"You're armed?" she asked. "Here? You're armed here?"
Xander looked confused when he looked at her. "Yeah. Weapons good. They save lives. Why?" He put up the metal nail file.
"I thought you said that wasn't sharp and pointy."
"It's not sharp." He let her have it. "Here, you've got a hangnail." She looked amused. "Sorry! I was raised by girls!" he defended. "They did my hair and all that stuff."
Don walked out and looked at Xander. "You're armed? You came armed to a police station?"
"I'm armed while I take a piss, Don. Yeah, of course I came here armed. I've got permits for the gun. Not like I'm going to use it unless I have to. Mac said I should come over today."
"Why are you always armed?" Stella demanded.
"Because bad things like me. Like the one I had to nearly gut last night to get away from at work."
"Work?" Don asked. "You've already found a job?"
"Yeah. I'm bartending at a club."
"Not like they asked," he said with a shrug. "I have to pick up my first check tomorrow and do some shopping. I'm falling down on the club's image. Do we know a good leather shop for pants? I don't want to look like a vampire but I need some leather pants."
"What sort of club are you working at?" Don demanded.
"Sidesaddle?" he said, looking confused. Don and Stella both gaped in horror. "What? They protect me! One of the dom's there showed me how to use his whip too!" He beamed. "I'm pretty good with it. It only took a few tries before I had a really good swing," he said proudly. "I even got asked to help punish one of the waiters who was naughty and tried to take someone else's tips." He did look very proud at that.
Don moaned. "Okay, we're gonna go talk to Danny, Xander. Come on." Xander shrugged and followed. He and Stella shared a look. She pulled out her phone to call Mac. Don walked Xander into the area Danny was working in. "I want you to put all the weapons on the table. Even the not-quite-a-weapon stuff, Xander. All of it. We'll protect you for a few minutes but I don't think Danny and Mac understand how armed you are."
Xander looked at him. "Am I in trouble? I mean, he had one first."
"You pulled a gun on someone who had one pointed at you?" the dark skinned guy working with Danny asked.
Xander nodded. "He was a little punk, piss drinking bitch looking for fame and a rep. I've met scarier things who're five-four in the middle of the night during a sleepover. She was even wearing one of those green mask thingies to suck out her pores."
"Who are you?" he asked.
"Xander. I'm Aiden's adopted son. She sent me here for these two and Mac to try to mentor me. Apparently my life before was a bit too fucked up."
"Quit swearing in the labs," Danny ordered patiently, looking at him. "Pick a clear spot, Xander. Sheldon, put down a cloth or something." He did that. "There, put it all there. Let's see." Xander shrugged and started with his gun. Then the knife, which was Crocodile Dundee size. It was also medically sharp when Don tested it. "Bandaids are in the box," he said, watching Xander pull off his ankle dagger. Then his nail file. Then his small throwing knife off the back of his collar on his overshirt. Danny looked at him. "That all?"
"Um..." He considered it and patted himself down, then pulled up his pantsleg and took the small handcuff key from the sewn on pocket inside it. Then he smiled. "That's all."
Danny looked. "Do we have a permit to carry concealed?"
Xander pulled it out to look at it then handed it over. "Yup."
Sheldon looked at him. "Are you a relative of Rambo too?"
"No, I talk better," he said with a sweet grin. That got a snicker from him and Don. He put Don's bandaid on for him. "There. Sorry, should've warned you it was sharp."
"That's okay. I should've expected it. Hey, Danny, he's got a job too."
"Doing what?" he asked.
"I'm bartending." Danny gave him a pointed look. "They didn't ask how old I was. They wanted to know if I knew anything about weapons and I do. Especially about battle axes, swords, and crossbows. It impressed the boss."
"Where are you working?" Danny asked quietly. Because not too many places in the city liked *swords* and needed a bartender.
"Sidesaddle," Don said, smirking at him from behind Xander's back. Danny sat down with a moan, holding his face.
"Isn't that a hardcore S&M club?" Sheldon asked, looking confused.
Xander beamed. "It is. They're very protective of me there. One of the dom's even taught me how to use his bullwhip. After three swings I was pretty decent. I even got to help punish the waiter who stole tips," he said proudly.
"Congratulations," Sheldon said, smiling back. "So, where is Aiden?"
"Sunnydale. I'm a hellmouth baby," he said at Sheldon's horrified look. He grinned. "I hunted with the slayer too."
"I understand so much more now. No wonder she sent you to Mac. Um, guys, Lindsey." Xander started to put things back but Danny snatched the gun to look at it, handing it back when he was done, then the knife next. Each and every piece of equipment got looked at before he could put it back.
"Is he a suspect?" Lindsey asked.
"No, I'm Aiden's adopted son," Xander said. "Hi." He looked at Danny. "Does it pass muster, stepmom?"
Danny smirked at him. "I will kick your ass for that someday."
"Sure, I'm sure the next time I get the flu you can do that," he teased back with a bright grin. "Think Mac would help me work on my self-defense now and then? I'm used to fighting faster things or Buffy."
"He's in the hallway, ask him," Danny offered.
"Mac, will you help me spar now and then?" Xander called. "The stepmom said to ask you in person." Danny swatted him. "Ow! You act like Aiden! Since she's my mom and Timmy's dad, you've got to be the stepmom! Or the weird uncle they bring over now and then to put between them and spank for fun but I don't wanna have those thoughts today."
Mac shook his head at the image of Danny in some of Aiden's clothes. "Sure, Xander, I can do that," he agreed. "Any particular time?"
"No, tonight I've got to unpack the stuff Giles sent me. Oh, I found an apartment. It's a hole and it's about a grand a month hole, but it's an apartment and I've already had someone come do an uninvite spell and put on more locks. Especially since Giles sent me my battleaxe."
"That should go well with the Desert Eagle on his back and the surgically sharp knife," Danny told Mac, who moaned. "It's very well done and it's clean."
Xander looked at him. "Of course it is. I clean all my weapons once a week. Mac, tell them that I can work at Sidesaddle as a bartender and it's a good job?"
"It's a job," he said. "You're not old enough."
"He only wanted to know how well I did with weapons."
"I didn't want to know that, Xander. I'll have to report him."
"If you do then I can't pay the rent, Mac, and I might end up like our waitress Susan, who's other job is out by the mall."
"You can't find a better one?"
"I'm learning from the doms."
"Not what I meant," Mac sighed, coming into the lab.
"Well, I was offered the chance to strip," he offered. "But I don't think I'd be any good at it."
Mac shook his head quickly. "No, I meant a real job, Xander."
"Those take college, Mac, and he said he didn't wanna go," Flack reminded him. "Or possibly a vocational school and they won't start until this fall."
"I'll get you some information on them if you want," Mac offered.
"Okay." He shrugged. "I still like my job. I make good tips."
"I'm sure you do," he agreed, leading him off. "I can't believe you came armed to a police station, Xander."
"I'm always armed, Mac. Just because I don't want to be eaten."
"I doubt you'll have to worry about that."
"Yes I do. There was a domme there the other night who wanted to use me and abuse me. I had to point out I wasn't a sub but she said it didn't much matter, I'd be one by the time she got finished breaking me. I had to remind her that wasn't the right way to train but she just smiled and said it was with how she did it." They walked into Mac's office. "She came back last night too but I was learning how to use a bullwhip."
"Are you any good?"
"Yup, within three swings I got praise from the dom showing me. He said I had a very natural swing with it."
"Congratulations. Not that I like that lifestyle or that as a job for you, but it's a skill that could come in handy some day." He sat down and looked at him. "I was going to call Aiden and let you talk to her."
"Sure." Mac dialed and Xander snickered. "She lose the phone again?"
"Speed broke it to keep the friends in Miami from tracking it. He said he can't leave yet."
"The Powers That Be brought him back there and aren't letting him leave yet," Xander agreed. "He should be able to leave soon." He sat down, listening to her grunt and chew. "Mom, you shouldn't eat on the phone," he chided. "It's not good."
"Hi, baby. Timmy says hi too."
"Tell Danny I can call him stepmom?"
She cackled. "I want a picture of his face, Mac."
"I've got one," Sheldon said from the doorway. "Aiden?"
"Hi, doc. How's tricks in the morgue?"
"I took your spot. Me and the new girl and she's not classy like you."
"Oooh. Messer hit on her yet?"
"Nope," he said dryly. "They don't get along too well all the time," he admitted, coming in and closing the door. "So, you're on the hellmouth?"
"You know about this place?"
"Yeah, a little bit. Are you okay? Not turned yet or anything?"
"No, I'm helping the slayer out here while Xanny's out there with you guys. Are you being good, baby? I heard from Giles that you've got a place and a job."
"I'm working as a bartender at Sidesaddle and one of the doms is giving me lessons now and then," he said proudly.
"If that's what you wanna do," she sighed. "There's money in spanking rich guys who needed a paddle in their youth." She let out a small squeal. "Anything else going on? Timmy just ran past to hide. He goosed me too."
"I need more leather stuff. The boss said I'm falling down on the corporate image."
She smiled. "Go goth, baby. You look hot as a goth." He nodded at that. "Anything else going on?"
"Stella and Flackie are both surprised I had weapons, mom. Oh, tell Giles I got the shipment."
"Sure. He said he included a small stipend to start you off in there."
"I saw. I'm unpacking the swords later."
"Sure, I'll let him know, baby. Mac, he's always armed. Even if it's just a pocket knife he's always armed. I've never seen him unarmed. He even sleeps with a knife under his pillow."
"Sleeping with a gun under it leads to accidents," Xander reminded her.
"It does. I'm happy you remember that lesson from the grocery guy. Oh, Buffy and Willow said hi and to write them a long letter about the city out there. Timmy finally got the last letter so he'll send them to Mac this week sometime. Promise me you'll give it a real try, Xander. Please? For me?"
"I hate school."
"I know but you'll at least need to know how ta manage the money you're making, right? That's accounting classes. You can take the profiling stuff, learn how to hunt and track the bad guys before they get you. That'll use all your instincts."
"I'd have to wear a suit."
"No you don't," Mac promised. "Not unless you work for the FBI." He leaned closer to the speaker. "How is Tim?"
"Hiding. His momma's here looking for him. He's in the bathroom," she said to someone just away from the speaker. Apparently the person stomped that way. They heard Tim scream and go running past. "Timmy, Xander's learning how to spank people for money!" she called.
Mac shook his head. "I'll let you get back to your break, Aiden."
"What break? This is work around here, Mac. Most of the deaths here are explained by the word demon. We copy and past a lot. Baby, behave and call me later if Giles forgot anything of yours, okay? Be a good boy and I love you. So does Timmy if he ever comes out of the broom closet."
"I thought he liked girls."
Aiden giggled. "I'll tell Alexx you said that, baby. Be a good boy and I'll come up on vacation soon." She hung up.
Mac looked at Xander. "She's definitely changed since she moved out there."
"Survival can do that to you," Xander reminded him, standing up. "Needed me for anything else?"
"May I see the swords later, Xander?"
"Sure, but you can't say anything about the other stuff." Mac gave him a frown. "Giles is a Watcher, Mac. His job is to help the slayer kill demony things. Usually that requires a sword, a crossbow, or a stake. Not a shotgun. The Watchers sent them to him anyway so he sent it into my care because he knows I like weapons and I'm good with weapons. So therefore I get to baby his weapon collection from the Watchers. I'll register it and all but I have no idea what's in there."
"That's fine. Do you have display cases and a gun safe?"
Xander frowned. "Then how'll I get to it when I need it fast, Mac?"
"That's why there's officers," Sheldon reminded him gently.
"Yeah, but the ones on my block are always visiting my upstairs neighbor and making her giggle. They never hear it when someone breaks in. Someone broke into her place and they didn't hear it even though she was doing them both in there. I'd rather have the shotgun. Thanks though." He looked at Mac again. "Would you get dinner? I don't get paid until tomorrow. All I've got is ho-hos and soda."
"Sure, Xander. I'll bring over a pizza or something. Anything in particular?"
Xander shrugged. "Like I care, Mac, I'm eighteen." He grinned. "Needed me for anything else?"
"No. I wanted to check on you, see how you were doing. You seem to have settled in." Xander beamed and hugged him across the desk, then punched Sheldon on the arm when he walked out. "You okay?" he asked at the wince.
"He's got a strong arm," Sheldon offered, looking at his arm. "That'll bruise." He walked off, going to talk to Danny. "Do you have any of that liniment in your locker?"
Xander just hit me on the arm while he was bouncing off."
"Ah. You know how to pop my lock?" Sheldon nodded. "Top shelf, all the way in the back."
"Thanks, Danny. She approved of him calling you the stepmom by the way." He groaned and covered his face again. "Mac's going over tonight to help him unpack the weapons from someone named Giles."
"More?" Danny demanded. Sheldon nodded, going to get the liniment. Danny stomped off. "Mac, more weapons?"
"Giles sent his former supply cabinet to him since he didn't like them but his agency sent them for his use," Mac said, looking at him. "He's got a few other swords and at least a shotgun." Danny gaped. "I'm going over tonight. Did you want to come? If so, pick up a pizza if you leave first."
"I don't know where he lives." Mac handed over the address. "Thanks. See you there. Any type of pizza?"
Mac smiled. "He said he's eighteen. It didn't matter to him. I'll eat anything with meat and no sardines."
"Sure, got that covered." He went back to his lab. Then he decided to go scream in the bathroom for a minute. That kid was going to drive him nuts!
A few minutes earlier, Tim Speedle looked up and squeaked when he saw the woman standing in the doorway. "I was going to call," he promised.
"I believe that too. Come here, baby." He let Alexx hug him, then ducked her slap. "That won't save you. Really. Now, let's pack your things so you can come home."
"What do you mean you can't?" Alexx demanded.
"I can't. It's complicated. Ask Aiden." He pointed at her. Alexx looked at her.
"Hey, leave me outta this," she said, holding up a hand. "All I did was wish for help."
"Shrew!" Speed complained. "I'm siccing Buffy on your wardrobe again!"
"Speed, pack," Alexx growled.
"I have to get permission."
"Not even God'll save you now," she vowed.
"Funny you should mention that." He backed away and started to pray for help. Willow came in but she just smiled and waved before going to talk to another guy about something. He took off running. There wasn't any help coming. If Xander were there, he'd protect him!
"That won't save you either!" she yelled after him, chasing him down.
Aiden shook her head, answering the phone to talk to Mac and Xander. Then she pointed at the closet for Alexx's benefit when he managed to allude her. She sent up her own prayer and heard Timmy yelp, making her smile. "Get him to tell you the whole story but only after you're outta the town for the night," she called.
"Why do I have to leave?"
"You wanna live?" Aiden asked.
"I can protect her," Speed said, glaring at her.
"Sure, you do that. Buffy's out of town, remember?" She smiled sweetly.
"I can do it," Willow called.
"You, little girl, touch that woman and I'm gonna paddle your ass as red as your hair!" Aiden called back. "That's Timmy's adopted mom!"
"So she's how he did so good with Xander?" Speed glared at her and she shrank down, looking sheepish. "You did. Where is he?"
"New York." He looked at Alexx, then up. "I can really leave?" He felt the restrictions lift and sighed, smiling at her. "Aiden?"
"I'm leaving within weeks, Timmy. Get her to safety at least for the day. We'll figure it out later." He nodded and let Alexx drag him outside to her rental car and then to his place. She looked up. "Thanks for letting him be happy. Can you maybe help the son too?" She looked at Willow. "You, no magicing him again."
"Yes, Aiden," she said, rolling her eyes. "I'm not like that."
"Fine, mistress meany," she complained.
Aiden smirked. "That's a sweet compliment, baby. Let's see how mean I can be." She shrank down again. "Now, what's going on?"
"Nothing but some break-ins."
"Uh-huh. I could use some real work."
"It's my case," the officer said, glaring at her. "Quit hogging the glory."
"You're the one who tried ta charge Buffy with killing a robot." He put his head down. "So, break-ins?"
"Yeah, we think it's on your street tonight."
"I'll be home and shoot someone in the nuts."
"Good. We like that," she agreed happily, going back to helping the officer with the reports.
Aiden prayed harder this time. Someone needed some common sense and it sure as hell wasn't her.
Mac finally got to Xander's house later that night, after an impromptu meeting. "Sorry, the Chief wanted to talk."
"That's fine," Xander agreed, letting him inside. "See I even decorated today."
Mac looked around. There were small, dim lamps all over the room. There were a few spots of brightness next to the tv, the stereo, and the bookshelves. Danny was browsing them. There was an open cabinet and a large shipping case in front of it. The walls had been covered in a medium blue fabric, taped at the top with the ceiling draped down to cover it in most spots. Where it didn't, the duct tape was a nice highlight. He could almost see the bedroom and it was a lot of darker woods. He could almost smell paint or stain so apparently Xander had done some of that himself. He went to browse in there. Heavier English and Italian pieces dominated the room. They were good reproductions. The bed had some curtains behind it.
"I saw that on a decorating show," Xander said proudly. "It turned out okay."
"It did." The place was like a warm, safe cave. It felt cozy instead of stifling. The kitchen had a beaten up dehydrator and a microwave. A few plates and glasses. No pots. "You don't cook?"
"You can learn," Danny offered.
Xander stared at him then burst out laughing. "No, I'm being serious. I poisoned people making brownies from a mix, Danny. Literally. I even had someone watching me. I can make a really good jerky but nothing else that has to be more than warmed up or stuffed in the oven without help."
"How can you make jerky and not be able to make pasta?" Danny asked.
Xander shrugged. "I don't know but I'm dangerous. I made the mix cookies for Home Ec in eighth grade. I got excused from it after that."
Mac gave him a pat on the arm. "You can try to learn if you want, Xander."
"Want some jerky, Mac?"
The little voice in his head started to scream. It was the one that usually told him he was in a sniper's crosshairs. "I'll take some for later tonight," he offered. Xander smiled and pulled a few bags out of the fridge. He pulled out a few of the mild ones and put them into a baggie in his pocket. "Thanks, Xander. I'll snack later on tonight while I'm in bed reading." Xander offered some to Danny, who nibbled one. He gagged at the strength, wheezing a bit. Xander hugged him though so he had to calm down. "Some people aren't used to spices," he offered.
Xander nodded. "The place I got the recipe said that whole armies marched to Ares and Aphrodite on it."
Danny wiped his eyes. "It's a bit strong. Mac, maybe they should feed this to the Marines."
"I've never gotten food poisoning off my own cooking once I started to eat it and it did start puberty once I adjusted," Xander said happily. He put the bags back and showed Mac his shipping crate. "These are what I haven't put up yet. I need another cabinet and Giles said he'd magic one here shortly."
Mac got down to look at the ordinance. "Why do you have a claymore system?"
"Because it came in handy."
"Oh." He nodded because thinking about that statement would give him nightmares and went back to searching. Danny came over to help after getting a drink. Xander got another piece of pizza and opened up the first cabinet so he could make sure he had it full. He grabbed another sword to put in there, making Mac moan. "Xander, that's a great collection. Can you use all those?"
"Yup," Xander agreed happily. "I've used most of them in the past." He let him see. Mac took one out to take a few practice swings. "You look good with that. If we have a demony thing you can borrow it, Mac."
"Thanks, Xander." He put it back carefully and looked at the drawers of handguns. "The Watchers thought he'd need that many?"
"Yeah, in case something happened. That way he had a full set of combat materials. Including a book by Sun Tzu and a few manuals on tactics. Mostly elementary tactics. Giles is kinda a research Watcher sort. He knows a whole bunch of demon languages and other languages, but he's not good at the combat stuff. His idea of a plan is 'we'll trap it here and kill it'. It never works the basic way he wants it to." He bounced off to get another piece of pizza then came back once the cabinet thumped into place, making Danny and Mac both jump. "Sorry, magicgram." He opened it and giggled at the stuff hanging up. "Thank you, Giles!" He pulled out the new clothes, and in some cases some older clothes. Then the larger guns got layered in there. Someone pounded on the door. "Sorry, moving furniture. Dropped it," he called. They stopped and stomped off. "My supposedly deaf neighbor."
"I've got one of those. She's ninety," Danny agreed, coming over to help. He stared at the guns. "Are those legal, Mac?"
"For the most part." Xander handed over something. "What's this?" He looked. "Aiden did ballistic workups?" Xander nodded. "That was nice of her."
"She said it'd help with the registration stuff." Mac flipped through it, handing over a few sheets. "Illegal stuff?"
"That's the stuff it's legal for you to own."
"It's a non-display collection. I thought the rules were broader than that," Xander said, getting up to look at the forms he had retrieved earlier. He handed them to Mac and sorted out the few things he shouldn't have. The rest went into the folder again and he put it on the kitchen counter by the dehydrator. Mac got into the rest of the cabinets because there were small drawers. He held something up and Xander sniffed. "Tea. He's British." Someone else knocked so he went over to answer it, smiling at Don and Stella. "Hi, come on in."
Stella carried in the pot she had, looking around. "I like this, Xander. Nice job." She put it into the kitchen. "All you have to do is warm this up and add salt to taste," she promised, smiling at him. "I didn't figure you'd know how to cook."
"I can make jerky but I'm poisonous in the kitchen besides that," he admitted sheepishly. "I even got excused from Home Ec for it."
She gave him a hug. "That's fine then. I can help you learn things now and then."
Don looked in the cabinets. "Is that an AK?" he asked quietly. Mac looked then nodded. "Isn't that illegal?"
"Giles is a Watcher, they're the guys who help the slayer sorts, and that's what the Council sent him for a supply cabinet," Xander told him. "I'll be registering it tomorrow, Don."
"Sure, you do that," he agreed. "You'll have to leave some stuff out." Mac held up the explosives. "Like that. Can you use that?"
Xander looked then nodded at him. He gaped. "We had to for graduation. Giles gave me the manual on how to make bombs."
"Are these guys on a watch list with the government somewhere?" Danny asked.
"No, they're British white guys with a lot of money who study demons and vampires."
Stella stroked his back a few times. "It's a good thing Aiden sent you here, Xander. You'd be stifled in Miami. Mac, do we have to confiscate anything?"
"If you do I won't have it if I need it."
"If we don't, someone might break in and steal it," Stella countered.
"Nope, I've got my anti-theft system up."
"Is it gonna cause problems?" Don asked.
"I hope not. It's hooked into the fire alarm so it should go off automatically if there's a fire. As long as you have a key it's fine."
"Uh-huh," Don said. "Show me, Xander."
"Sure. Go outside." Don walked out. Xander locked the door and flipped two switches, then tapped something on the doorframe three times. "Okay. Try to break in." The knob rattled, then Don screamed. Xander opened it and looked at him. "Are you okay?"
"It's set a bit high," he complained.
"At least I didn't put on the spray system yet, Don." He smiled at the landlord when he stomped up he hall. "Showing off the anti-theft system. It shocked him."
"Will it shock me?"
"Not if you use your key."
"That's fine then, Harris. He need an ambulance?"
"No. Sorry about the thumping earlier, I was moving stuff."
"It happens in your first month." He looked inside. "How did you hang the fabric?"
"Duct tape near the ceiling."
"Fine. If any paint comes down, you fix it or I'll have to charge you for damage." Xander nodded. "Good. Anything else?"
Don handed over his card. "If something happens to him or you can't find him, call us. I'll have a spare key, right Xander?" Xander nodded at that.
The landlord looked at the card, then at him, smiling. "Sure, detective. Are you going to keep him from burning sage and stuff?"
"I was doing a new house blessing," Xander protested.
"It stunk up the apartment upstairs."
"It's mostly cooking herbs," he offered.
"That's what I told her. Try to go to bed earlier tonight."
"I know, I said try, kid." He walked off smiling. It was good when detectives took an interest in a building. He could even use the guys to threaten the prostitutes when they forgot to pay him.
Don shut the door and looked at him. "Okay, I'll agree it's safe. I'm getting a spare key and so is Mac, just in case, Xander."
"Sure. They're in the freezer." Don went to do that. "Not like I'm keeping more than ice cream in there." He shrugged and came over to help Mac look. Mac handed him something and he looked at it. "What? Is it bad already?"
"It's bad to have, Xander."
"Oh, sorry." He shrugged and put it back into the tupperware container, locking it in that drawer. "Sometimes I've needed it. The LANS rocket in the mall was necessary that time too." He took his new clothes into the bedroom to try on, coming out in a black silk shirt and the black leather pants. "Do I look vampy or goth?"
"Is there a difference?" Danny asked.
"Vampire goths are just one part of the goth movement," Xander instructed. He smiled at him. "Do I look okay to bartend in this?"
"Can you move quickly and move your arms?" Mac asked, looking over at him. He blinked. Xander was very alluring in that outfit. "I'd say your tips would increase." Xander smiled at that and went to try on the leather vest. He shook his head so the boy took it off and then the shirt, pairing them together. "I like that for the summer," Mac offered. Xander beamed and went to hang up the rest, coming out in his jeans and regular t-shirt again. "Did you tell your boss about that one customer?"
"I did. He advised me to stay away from her. That she's killed about four people and you guys hadn't caught her yet."
"I want her picture and what she's done," Don ordered. "Tomorrow, Xander."
"Yes, Don." He typed that into his phone and got back an 'okay'. He sent another on that said Giles had sent him leather and silk stuff. The boss sent back a smiley face. It made his night. "Stella, will that go with pizza?"
"Then I need bowls." He looked at his kitchen. "I've got a few coffeecups if anyone wants to warm some up." They shook their heads, leaving it for dinner later. Danny moaned a few minutes later and started to shift, then excused himself to go to the bathroom. "I did that for a week, that's why it brought on puberty." Don gave him an odd look, going to check on Danny, coming back with a blush. "He might have the runs too. I did. But afterwards I accidentally ate arsenic once and didn't die, just got a bit sick." They all stared at him. "It's my jerky," he told Stella and Don.
"I'll test a piece of mine to make sure it's not dangerous to him," Mac promised.
"I've got the recipe in the kitchen. That and some breath spray." He got the one to copy down for Mac and went to hand the other to Danny. "It's a little bit strong. I let it cook down a few extra minutes." He left him alone, coming back out. "Sit or wander, guys. Don't stand around and stare."
"Sure," Don agreed. Danny yelped. "What's wrong now?" he called.
"Breath spray," he called pitifully. Mac went to get it and came out shaking his head. Danny came out a few minutes later. "That's just a *bit* strong, Xander?"
Xander looked at him and nodded. "Yeah." He went to get the one from his bag for work, letting him taste it. Danny yelped quieter this time. "That's how I usually make it. It works!"
Stella tried some and gagged. "That's stronger than anything I've ever used before."
"Can it clean a car engine?" Don asked.
Xander nodded. "Probably but why would you want a minty fresh engine?"
Don just nodded and pointed it at some of the fabric on the walls, watching as it bleached out a small circle. "That's really strong."
"I don't have any scum on my tongue," Danny said, scraping it with his teeth. "It's ticklish and tender."
"You can taste the stuff in bottled water too," Xander said proudly. "That and my stink bombs are my two favorite non-jerky things to make."
Don looked at him. "Stink bombs?" he asked flatly. "Should I worry?"
"Aiden said I couldn't hit you with them at work. Or your car. Tim did say I could hit Horatio with one once, especially if he was with the guy he said was named Eric in their hummer. Then I should cackle that his hummer's not a surrogate for affection."
"He's very possessive of his hummer," Mac sighed. "You shouldn't torment him about them, Xander."
"Can I see this stink bomb?" Don asked.
"Only if you take it far away before you open it. Because it really does stink," Xander warned, getting under the sink to pull one out. "Here. Go play far away and don't get any on you. Throw it and stand upwind." Don nodded, going outside to do that. They all heard his 'eeww' from the street. The others went to look and gagged from up the block. They all trooped back inside, Don shaking his head. "I told you it stunk."
"Hey, Mac, can he sell that to SWAT?" Danny asked. "It'd definitely make people flee a building."
"I'll talk to the guy I know over there tomorrow." He tried some of the breath spray to take the taste out of his mouth. It worked, even cleared his sinuses. "Can I bring two in to test them?" Xander nodded and pointed at the cabinet under the sink. He went to carefully grab two and take them down to his car. They and the jerky went into a padded container used for delicate evidence. They were definitely learning something new about Xander these days. He did look up and ask God if Xander was a benefit of doing good work or a punishment for not doing enough but he didn't get an answer, thankfully. He went back inside and went back to helping Xander settle in.
Xander looked over at his boss when he wandered up to the bar. "Hi, boss. Want a coffee?"
"No, that's all right, Xander." He leaned on the bar. "I got a special request for a special birthday party. Can you strip?"
"I never tried. I've barely got rhythm."
"Would you try? Craig, the bouncer, used to be a stripper before he threw his back. He can show you how." Xander shrugged. "Go ahead up to the rose room and try it with him. Craig?" He came over. "Can you see if Xander can strip? I got a special request for a birthday party next week."
"Sure, boss. Come on, Xander." He led him upstairs to the rose room, the only one with a pole, to teach him the moves. He came down two hours later. "He has some moves but he's not going to dance to things that aren't erotic."
"That's fine. It's for Dame Ellorey's birthday."
"I'll make sure he's got something ready. Help him pick out music and make up a routine." He went back to do that, explaining that client to Xander since he hadn't been in since he'd started working with them.
Xander bounced into Don the next day, smiling at him. "I got asked to dance for a special birthday party for one of the grande dames of the group," he said proudly.
"Congrats. Can you dance?"
"One of the guys at work is showing me. He said I might have some talent. Can you take me shopping, Don? The only place he knew went out of business and I have *no* idea where to go."
Don shrugged. "I have no clue, Xander. I've dated a few strippers but I didn't take 'em shopping. They'd have expected me to pay."
"I'm not like that, Don. I'm a working guy, I can pay for my own clothes." He patted him on the back. "You dated hos."
"I did. I dated so many hos I felt like Santa now and then," he agreed happily. "We can ask Danny. I know he dated two strippers."
"Sure. Would you still go with me? You dress nicer and the stepmom doesn't like my leather habit."
Don held in his snickers at the return of that pet name. "Sure. We can go tomorrow? I've got it off."
"I don't work until six tomorrow so sure." They called Danny to see where he was. He came out with a soda. "I got asked to dance for a grande dame of the circle's birthday party," he said proudly.
"Can you strip?" he asked.
Xander shrugged. "I'm learning right now from Craig, one of the bouncers. He said I have potential but I need clothes."
"Myst, down in the Village proper," Danny said with a smirk. "She does both sex stripper stuff and some trannie stuff too, Don. Where we found that one lady hiding?"
"Oh, him," he said, nodding. "Pitiful crossdresser. Still had the beard," Don told him. Xander shuddered at that. "You wanna come, Danny?"
"Nah. I'll wait and see it as a final run through."
Xander beamed and hugged him. "Thanks, Stepmom." He drug Don off to lunch since that's why he was really there. He handed over a CD case. "This is what I'm dancing to. Craig said it should matter with what I wear but I have *no* idea. I tuned out Buffy when she went on a clothes babble or rant. But that should tell you what I have planned at least a little bit. They said she likes the forties looks on guys. Clean cut, manly men who wear hats apparently."
"Sure," Don agreed, tucking the CD into his pocket. "I'll listen to it later tonight." Xander beamed at him for that. "Did you hear from anyone out there recently?"
"Alexx caught Tim finally. The Powers That Be let him go. Aiden's moving again soon but she's not sure where yet. She'll let me know when she decides. Right now it's between Seattle and New Mexico." That got a nod. "She did say she'd be out on vacation by the end of the summer." Don smiled at that. "She said Timmy may run up here to hide. I talked to Willow and she was all 'good, it's safer for you if you stay there and you won't be in the way' about me being here. Buffy seconded that and Giles agreed it would be better since I'm not one of the special girls club members."
"Maybe they're trying to protect you, heard what Timmy did," he offered.
"Nope, they tried this before. They don't want me there because I'm not a slayer or a witch." He grimaced. "It's like I'm normal so I can't be good enough for them anymore. Even though I more than keep up with Buffy and Faith together and I did both their jobs a lot more often than they did some weeks. And hey, I can so do what Willow does but Giles didn't want to see that." He shrugged and opened the diner's door. "So I'm having a pitiful moment. I was happy ignoring it."
Don gave him a one-armed hug. "They're stupid if they don't appreciate you," Don told him firmly. He didn't understand how you could dislike or not want Xander around. He looked at the waitress. "Two, non. He's having a pitiful day." She nodded, leading them to a back booth. Don let Xander pick his side then took the other. "When Mac and you sparred he said you were really good. You had a few rough edges but nothing that horrible."
"I was kinda holding back so I didn't hurt him, Don. I don't want to hurt him. He's human. I don't wanna be like Faith."
"You held back?"
"Remember, I was protecting myself against stronger and faster people than normal humans."
"Good point. You should show him for real. Let him gauge how trained you are."
"He said I sucked when he slowed me down further."
"So he probably realized you were holding back some," Don admitted. "It'll all work out, Xander. Now, you went to see the college?"
"And it sucks. I hate college. The very idea makes me wanna hurl."
"It's not that bad," Don sighed. "I had ta go for the Academy."
"Yeah, I have an AS." He shrugged. "A little two year degree but it was enough when I joined the force."
Xander looked at him. "Is that like being a jedi?" he asked, looking perfectly serious. Don burst out laughing. Xander grinned at him. "Well?"
"Now and then I'm expected to be that good but not always," he teased back. "But if they'd give me a light saber I'd learn the flippy stuff if I had to."
"Me too." He smiled at the menu he was handed. "Food. Food should be good. I stocked up on microwave stuff today. Plus paid the rent."
"Did you leave any for the shopping you've got to do?"
"Yup. I had tips on my check." Don looked at him. "I did."
"How much was your check?" Xander checked his wallet, handing over the stub. Don gaped. "How?" he squeaked.
"Tips." He pointed at the top part. "See?"
Don stared at him in horror. "You're a *bartender*, right? That's it? Nothing in the back rooms, nothing like that?" Xander shook his head. "Then how did you get such good tips?"
"Oh, I let the stalker buddy buy me a round or two and tip me. She's leaving the other guys alone and the boss was happy with it so I'm letting her treat me special for now."
Don moaned. "Do I have the stuff on her?"
"I told him to send it to you. Who else would it have went to?"
"I'll check the other guys in my unit and SVU. They usually get those. If we have to, can you help us catch her?"
"Sure. I've played bait many times," he said happily. That got a head shake. "I did. Buffy made me play bait a lot. What's good here?"
"Nearly everything but I don't like the spaghetti sauce personally. Danny makes better when he's in the mood."
Xander looked then nodded. "It's better than school food?"
Xander smiled at the waitress. "Can I have the beef salad, dressing on the side and extra? Ranch or thick italian?"
"Of course. Anything to drink?"
"Diet soda. No ice?" She nodded, writing that down. "Don? Am I getting yours?"
"Only if I get called out." He looked at her. "Hey, Margaret. The usual up today?"
"Fresh meat this morning, Flack."
"Give me that then. Coffee." She nodded, writing it down and heading off. "We eat here a lot at the station."
"I'd guess so since it's only a block away," he agreed, smiling again. "Our lunch lady at school tried to poison the whole school with arsenic one day because we hated her."
"They arrest her?"
"Well, they *fired* her," he admitted. "The mayor said that was enough. His was the only law until he blew up and got blown up."
"He was...." Xander looked at him. "The graduation thing?" Xander nodded. "The thing in the rubble?"
"Had been him. He blew up."
"Yeah, it was. But I did good. Mac said my plans were great for only learning from video games and books."
"Good!" Don said, smiling again. Hey, they all needed to praise the boy more. "What'd you do last night?"
"Learned from Craig, then I went out to have some fun before bed."
Don blinked. The waitress brought back their food and put down the check with a wink for Flack. He grinned. She sashayed off. Don looked at Xander. "That fun was on a dancefloor?"
"At the start."
"No. I'm not like that most of the time, Don."
"Good. I like that. It's dangerous, Xander." He looked at his burger, then ate a bite. "Even better than usual. The new cook just learned how not to burn 'em. Eat." Xander poured on dressing and dug in. "You eat like a girl on a diet."
"I am on a diet. I don't want to bulk up. I've been doing a lot of exercising too." He lifted his shirt to show off his abs. "Even better than they used to be." Don smiled at that. "And hey, it can only help at work. It's easier to swing my swords too." He ate another bite.
"You practice with them?"
"Every few days. Otherwise I get out of practice and don't have it when I need it." He ate another bite, looking at Don. "Even though it's calm here I've still got to stay in practice."
"Does Mac know you still hunt?" Xander shrugged and stuffed his mouth again. Clear avoidance. Uh-huh. Well, Mac would know that afternoon. "You're being careful, right?"
"Of course." He smiled and sipped his soda. "Eat. Before they get mean and call you in."
"Sure." He ate another bite and nibbled on a fry too. Then he looked at him. "So, are you looking at the dancing as a side career?"
"I don't know yet. That depends on how sucky I am at it. I was thinking about doing the dom stuff that way."
"That is profitable but legally gray, Xander."
"I'm not going to screw 'em, Don. Just spank and beat them."
"Oh. Well..." He nodded at that. That made it more legal. Barely. But a bit more legal. His phone went off and he looked at it. "Hold on." He answered it. "Flack. Having lunch with Xander." The kid made shooing motions and he shook his head. "Sure, I can meet you at the lab in about thirty. That's fine. Thanks, Stella." He hung up. "Results that'll get me another catch."
"Thanks." He grinned at him. "Now, about this plan of yours?"
"Not really a plan, just exploring some side options. Which is what you're supposed to do on a road trip, right?"
"Right," he agreed, nodding at that. He saw a somewhat familiar face at the counter and frowned. "I know I know him from somewhere."
Xander looked. "He's used to having a gun on his left side by the way he's sitting. Is he a cop or a thug?"
"Cop I think." He shrugged it off. "Plenty of us eat here. He's probably in another borough." He looked at Xander's meal, then his, handing over a few of his fries. "Eat with me, Xander."
"Sure, Don. I'll do the ten extra situps for them," he said with a smirk.
"I run once a week if you wanna come."
"Maybe." He nibbled on a fry, using it to sop up some extra dressing. Don finished his burger. "When should I pop around tomorrow and where?"
"I'll come pick you up since I'm driving a decent ride." He grinned at the boy and put down his half of the check, letting Xander get his own. The kid was stubbornly independent. The day Danny had picked up a pizza Xander had paid him back the next day. He was more at ease around them but not fully. It was almost like the boy was still testing his boundaries with them, seeing how high the cage fence went. Not that they were watching him that carefully. Which Aiden would probably be mad at. They got up after Xander left the tip. "So, any prospects there for dating?"
"Not yet. She's been pretty well taking most of my attention."
"She? Oh, yeah, the stalker chick," he agreed, nodding at that. He walked Xander back to the station. "What're you doing today?"
"Going home to take a nap and then finish my workout for the day."
"Cabbing or subway?"
Xander looked at him. "I walked, Don." He gave him a look. "It's only eighteen blocks."
"Uh-huh. Around here that's nearly a marathon." Xander patted Don's stomach. "It's still washboard flat, kid," he said with a smirk. "I get plenty of exercise chasing bad guys."
"Maybe you should make Mac do it. He's looking a bit like water retention and midol days at the moment." He grinned and hurried off.
Don shook his head, heading up into the lab. "Hey, Mac, Xander wanted to know if you're okay," he called as he walked past his office. "He thought you were looking a bit bloated."
"It's the high salt content of his jerky," he called back. "Simple water retention due to too much salt."
"I'll tell him you said that," he said with a smirk back at him. "He suggested midol." He hurried in to help Stella, finding her bent over and giggling. "He did. He suggested Mac should chase more people down, that he was getting chubby."
"I still do plenty of PT, thanks, Detective Flack. Please tell him that and that I can still probably beat him."
"Hey, have Danny tell his stepkid that. He walked up for lunch today."
"He lives like eighty blocks away," Stella complained.
"He said eighteen."
"Only if he cut through some." He shrugged. With Xander it was possible. "Some of those aren't very good neighborhoods."
"I know. Do you actually think the kid worries about that?" She shook her head. "Oh, we're going to go stripper clothes looking for him. He got asked to dance for a private party through the club he works at."
"Why?" she asked blandly.
"Because they wanted him. How should I know?" He shrugged. "He's cute but I didn't think he's stripper material." She shook her head. "We'll have to see. Plus he's thinking about becoming a part-time dom."
"Uh-huh. Isn't that illegal?"
"Only if he charges for sex."
"It's still gratification."
"It's the new millennia, Stella. Loosen up," Don ordered. "Or you get ta tell Aiden what her baby boy's been doing."
"Get his stepmother to," she complained.
"Sure, we'll let Danny have that talk with both them," he agreed happily. "Think Speed's back in Miami yet?"
"I hope so. They were threatening an assault team if he didn't get drug back."
"So it'll be a while before he can come up to see the kid?"
"Probably," she agreed dryly. "They might storm the city to take him back."
"Or worse, we might have ta send him down there since he's got a stalker." He called his boss. "Hey, boss, me. Did we get files from an S&M club on a serial killer? No? You sure? They were supposed ta send it to me and I never got it." He nodded. "I'll try there, thanks." He hung up and called the local SVU office, sitting on a stool. "Hey, this is Flack, out of the twelfth. Yeah, that's me. No, not a new case, really. Kinda. Someone at Sidesaddle was supposed ta send me a casefile and history on some serial killer chick who's hitting on one of their bartenders. Yeah, that's what he said. They had information. It was supposed to come directly to me. We thought it might've been rerouted to you since she goes into breaking them down and making them beg for their lives that way. No, the bartender's dated others who wanted ta kill him. No, I'm serious. He's from out near LA and apparently this is just the latest in a long line of women who wanna kill him. Not a clue why," he admitted, smirking some.
"That sounds like mine. Came from Sidesaddle. No, the kid kinda got sent to me, Messer, and Taylor to mentor. Remember Burns? She adopted the kid when she moved out there and he asked me to look into her. I'm not sure he'd talk to you guys." He listened. "Then he might. Sure. Xander Harris." He heard him typing in something. "Someone transposed numbers. Switch the street number and name." They read it off again. "That's him. Thanks. Yeah, he should be heading home. He's walking back from here. I know and so does he, but he's trying to get in better shape. Thanks, man. Let me know, 'kay? Yup, that's me. Thanks." He hung up. "They did get it, they've been wanting to know about her for a while now, and they're going to talk to Xander."
"Will he talk to them?" Mac asked. "Why haven't I heard about this?"
"It's one of the club's clients. They're hitting on him majorly." He handed over the paystub he had filched. "That's his." Mac stared and whimpered. "Tips from the psycho broad. I'm still wondering who forwarded it." They shared a look.
"Lindsey?" Stella called, knowing she was somewhere nearby. She popped her head in and smiled. "Did you forward a casefile to SVU that came in earlier?"
"I did. It looked like their case and we've gotten mixed up files before."
"No, it was mine," Don assured her. "The kid Mac's mentoring with us is her next target." She blushed at that. "Next time, ask." She nodded, disappearing again. He groaned and shook his head. "Why me?"
"Why you? Think about Danny," Stella said quietly, patting him on the back. "Okay, look at this," she said, letting him have the microscope and turning off the lights.
He looked then at her. "It looks like glow-in-the-dark sperm."
"They're irradiated sea monkeys."
"Excuse me? Those are sea monkeys?"
"Yup." She grinned. "All those packets in the back of comics? That's what you get, but these have been hit with non-harmful radiation."
"Like at the post office?" Don asked. "Like what they do to meat? Like a tanning lamp?"
"Tanning lamps are harmful, Don. The post office was what I was thinking. I've got a sample being checked to see what sort of radiation and what level it was and a call into the post office to see what they're using. Also into a biologist to see if it would matter." The men both nodded. "We can track the shipment if they went through the mail, guys. There's only one company that sells sea monkeys."
"Oh, good," Don agreed. "And if it went through a certain post office we can prove that definitively?"
"And get the identity of our victim from that," she agreed.
"Even better," Mac agreed. "Keep me informed if they actually answer. I asked someone at the main switching center and they said they couldn't tell me, even with a warrant."
"We'll see," Stella offered. "Because this may have been part of the murder weapon."
Mac nodded. "If the Feds come, you tell them." He walked off, going back to his office to wonder why he had ever wanted sea monkeys as a kid. Don was doing the same at his desk.
Xander walked onto his block, seeing the car parked there and two guys getting out of it. "Hi," he said cautiously. "Did I win a sweepstakes or something?"
"Yup, 'tis me. Am I thinking too loud again?"
"No," he said, smiling just a bit. "A folder got forwarded to us by someone in CSI about a sexual serial killer?"
"Yeah, she's tipping me heavily, promising to break me and make me cry, and then teasing me about being a naughty virgin." He shrugged and looked at the other guy, sizing him up then the other one. "Come on upstairs." He let them into the building and up to his apartment, taking the note off the door. He read it then went to talk to his landlord. "Did I underpay?"
"By about two hundred since you've got pets."
"No I don't." The landlord nodded. Xander shook his head. "Not that I'm aware of. Unless one snuck in screaming 'adopt me' I don't. You can come check if you want." That got a nod and the landlord came up too. "Guys, have you seen animals.... He looked and opened a cabinet, then stared the landlord down. "Who has your key?" he asked calmly. The man gaped at him. Xander opened the cabinet. "By the way, I registered them earlier. They will be found and if they continue to disappear, I'm going to get angry. Considering I come from hell itself, they had better reappear and so had anything else that got taken. Since you *had* to have a key or be laying on the floor, and I only made two copies, both of which went to cops, I'd fix it," he growled, stepping closer to him. He ran off. Xander calmed himself down and shut the door. "Sorry, apparently we had a break in and I'm going to destroy someone's soul later. How can I help you guys? I'm fairly new to this one but I've dated others in the past."
"Really?" the other guy said, taking off his fedora to look at him. "Care to name names?"
"Ever hear of Anyanka?"
"She was my prom date," Xander said blandly. That said it all for that guy. He clearly had a clue. "I'm one of Buffy's helpers if that clears it up."
"Huh?" the first guy asked.
"I lived somewhere that was described as being like Penguin Street, only worse, constantly." He shuddered. "I lived, hunted, and grew ancient before my time there. This isn't the first predator after me, Detective..."
"Stabler. This is John Munch, sorry."
"Not an issue. I like where I work. Even the boss is wary of this one but he said you guys were waiting to catch her. That's why I asked him to send what he knew to Don Flack. Please sit. I've got soda and water if you want some. Or jerky but it's fairly strong."
"No, that's okay," they agreed, sitting down to go over the file with him. Xander even agreed to get one of them in to talk to the boss that night. John listened and watched him. At the end John stepped closer to him.
"Why are you here, kid?"
"Aiden and Timmy Speedle adopted me," he said quietly. "The Powers said I had to leave. Too much light on the side of good or something and I'd die after two gods went after my former friends."
"You're not keeping in touch?"
"They've decided I'm worthless again and it's better if I'm here and not out there making them feel guilty for being special since I'm not."
"Oh. That happens. It's an ego problem that often gets busted."
"And I'll still be here. I'm that sort of loyal."
"The world could use more loyal," he said, patting him on the shoulder. "You good? I've heard we've got a new hunter."
"I do what I can on my nights off and after shift. I hate vampires."
"I understand." He patted him again. "Guns?"
"Yup." He handed him the list from earlier. "If they're not all back by tomorrow I'm going to make a report. Can I do that with you guys?"
"You can. They're registered?" Xander nodded. "Decent. See us or we'll see you tonight." That got a nod and a small grin. "Be safe. New York is more complicated than Sunnydale. There's more types of evil here."
"I met the other types before too. Even Sunnydale has parents that should've been shot. That's why I got adopted at sixteen and a half. They made my parents run."
"Why?" Elliot asked politely. Xander took off his shirt and he stared in horror. "Please tell me that was something else?"
"Some. Not most of it. My parents were rabid alcoholics living a very poor life. The checks ran out all too often. They only sold me to dangerous people twice. Aiden and Timmy ran them out when they tried it a third time." That got a shudder. "I'm fine. They got me straightened out a lot."
"But it does explain why you fell," John pointed out.
Xander looked at him. "I fell long before then, John. Staking a best friend was worse but I fell a long time ago to protect myself." That got a nod. "At least I'm staying on the side of good."
"We like that. Still, be safe."
Xander nodded so they left. He put back on his shirt and got comfortable, sitting down to read up on the new type of demon he had run into the night before. He didn't want to hunt something harmless.
Elliot Stabler walked up to Don's desk, coughing to get his attention. "Got ten?"
"Sure. Any luck?" he asked, following him to the break room and closing the door. "What did he tell you?"
"Enough. John knew him by reputation and about his hunting?"
"Down on Penguin Street."
"I hate that place."
"Xander grew up somewhere like it only more crowded. What's going on?"
"Did you not see the scars on his chest?"
"He ... no. I don't think I've ever seen him shirtless. Why?" Elliot stared at him. "That bad?" That got a nod. "Damn. Well I know Aiden wouldn't have threatened his original parents' lives if it wasn't important."
"Good. He's how old?"
"Almost nineteen I think."
"He can still report them."
"That would require finding them."
"True. If he does, let us know. As for the serial killer, I'm going to talk to his boss and a few other clients there tonight. He's bringing me in. Can he handle that?"
"Aiden sent him to Taylor because he's a combat veteran too," he said bluntly. "Xander fought for just over three years." That got a moan. "I know he's not stopped but we're working on it." That got a nod. "He's only been here a little over a month, Stabler."
"I respect the boy. I saw very clearly how easily he could've changed sides."
"Yup, we saw that too. Fortunately Aiden and Timmy got him straightened out somewhat. For now. The rest is up to us and him." That got a nod. "Let me know if you catch him doing stupid shit. He is only eighteen."
"How is he bartending?"
"The owner was more interested in his weapons knowledge."
"Oh, that way. Sure. We've had hints on two of the cases being related before. I'll go pull up the others and see where we stand. I'll keep you informed. Just watch him. He's too close to the edge."
"I am. We all are." That got a nod and he left. Don went back to his desk to think. Someone was going to have to do one of those intervention thingies.
Stabler ran into Xander outside the club later that night, staring in shock at the boy. He was definitely not the same boy he was this afternoon. The leathers were very tight. The shirt over them was blood red. Hell, he was straight and wanted him. He smirked. "Work persona?"
"Of course." He walked him to the back door and tapped, letting the guard open it. "He's here about my stalker bitch, Craig. Needs to talk to the boss."
"That's fine. I thought I faxed it to your friends."
"You did but one of them sent it to us because she thought it was our case," Elliot admitted. "Our fax numbers are only one number different." That got a nod and he was led into the office while Xander got his keys and a few things from his locker, locking up his wallet and house keys. That was definitely a good idea so no one could make copies of them. He saw Xander rest a hand on the locker, then watched it glow for a moment. Then the kid caught him looking and gave him a sheepish grin. "Sorry." He shook his head, letting his longer hair fall a bit differently. He went from seeming dangerous and sexy to plain adorable and cute again.
"Go back to the other one, Xander. You get more tips," Craig teased.
"Maybe but I saw that one guy. He always tips me better for being cute and adorable." He grinned and put the stretchy band with the keys around his wrist, heading out to the bar. He paused at the dom who was teaching him. "Hi. Can I get you anything?"
"Some coffee might be nice."
"I'll make sure we have some made. Irish or regular?"
"Regular." Xander smiled and headed behind the bar, nodding at the dayshift guy, who groaned and got off his stool. "Coffee made?"
"Just now starting to brew, dear." He gave him a kiss on the cheek. "She's here."
"Good, there's someone here about that mean person." He winked. "Have a good night."
"You too, Tim."
Xander flirted with one of the women at the bar, checking everything. He poured a nice coffee, adding two sugars and a cream because he knew how the guy liked it, delivering it personally. "Here you go."
"Welcome." He went back behind the bar, leaning on it. "Can I get you ladies something?" he asked, letting cute and adorable drop for 'beg me for it' for now.
"Would you beg me?" one of the women asked.
"Ah ah. I'm a dom. You'd be *me*," he purred, stroking his thumb across her chin. She shivered. "On your knees," he ordered softly. She fell, knees spread, hands behind her back. "Good girl. Now, what am I making you?"
"A willing sacrifice," she moaned, staring at him, begging him silently. He smiled and leaned closer, letting her kiss his forehead. "Martini? One of the cold ones?"
"Any flavor, pretty one?"
"I don't care," she moaned. He continued to stare at her, making her shiver. "Apple."
He smiled and got her drink handing it down and taking the bill. "Crawl back to Daddy."
"Yes, stepdaddy." She crawled back, drink carefully moved with her.
"Tim, did you make my bitch crawl?" one of the doms called.
"Yes, she was very good and fell right down for me. Said she wanted to be a sacrifice."
"Someone wants a spanking," the dom said, staring at him. "Mine."
"Sorry. I didn't want to poach." He pouted. "I'm trying to be a good boy."
"Uh-huh. You like to see them worked up and begging."
"Begging's always nice, and very pretty." A few of the other doms laughed but let it go. He knew who he could play with and who he couldn't. He never stepped on that rule. His stalker came over and he smiled at her. "Evening, Gladys."
"How did you know my real name?"
"You told me last week when I poured you into a cab." He got her the usual and set it in front of her, taking her money. Then he gave her a cocky smile. "Don't you find begging pretty?"
"I think you'll be very pretty when I make you beg for mercy, Tim." Xander let more ooze out and she moaned. "You will be mine."
"If you say so. Right now I'm keeping some options open." He crossed his arms over his chest. "Did you need more?"
"No, but I will break you." She stared at him while she drank. "Nothing in it?"
"I don't have to lace drinks to make people want me, baby. You should've realized that by now." He stalked closer and stared at her. "Do I? Or aren't you hot and wet right this instant?" She swallowed another drink. "Aren't you ready to beg for a tongue, any tongue, to sop it up for you?" She moaned and shifted her stance so he let his voice drop a little bit deeper and more sexier. "Or are you the sort that can't get used to oral sex? That's always a pity. My favorite women like it for *hours*." She shivered. "Be a good girl, Gladys." She stomped off, going to find someone to play with. She grabbed one guy but he struggled so another dom stepped in. She drug him off anyway. Craig and Elliot came out of the office and headed after her. Xander got a cloth and cleaned up the bar for now. His boss came over. "Sorry, went verbal on her."
"I heard. You nearly made me wanna come." He patted him on the back. "You're very good at that." Xander gave him a shy grin. "How's the dancing coming?"
"Better. Don's taking me shopping tomorrow." He blew a kiss at them. "Don't be a stranger, loves." The detective gave him a smirk and he shrugged. "If it helps," he mouthed. He nodded and continued to drag her off. The other guys stared at him. "She killed five people. Not like I'm going to be the next one in line." That got some nods. "Is the kid okay, Craig?"
"He's fine, Xander. A little bit shaken."
Xander went back there and gave him a hug, making him moan, relax, and get hard again. Elliot came back for him so he could take his statement but that was all good. After all, half the other people in the club were having sex at that moment too. Xander went back behind the bar. "Hey, boss, I worked out two routines and Craig won't tell me which one he likes better. I need a second opinion before I show Don the finished product."
"Sure, kid, once you've got the clothes." Xander beamed and nodded. He patted him on the back. "Sell more drinks. Your tips make me poor."
Xander pouted at a nearby guy, who came over to buy one. "She was mean to me," he told his other fan.
"She was and she's also dangerous. There's some information going to that officer about her tastes." He smiled at him. "How did you know I was a cop, Tim?"
Xander took his hand to stroke the gun calluses, then showed his own. "You're too dangerous to be a professional shooter. That left bodyguard, cop, or thug. You're too nice to be a thug. Too talkative to be a bodyguard, and you stand and act like Don when you enter a room." That got a smile. "So why do you come in here since I've never noticed you playing?"
"I am investigating some one's heir," he admitted, stroking his cheek. "Because someone has a relative that loves them very much, just from afar."
"Because your father was an asshole."
"Could've told you that," Xander snorted. The man smiled. "Can I know more?"
"Soon. We're being very cautious until we see if you settle here or not." Xander leaned on the bar. "I know it's hard right now, but it is for the best."
"I know they don't appreciate me."
"No, they don't. When is Speed coming up?" Xander looked at him. "Yes we had someone watching over you back then too." Xander gave him a look. "Your father made himself clear and he said it was good that you had good parents now." The boy relaxed at that. "For right now, think about it, Xander. You'll know within a while." Xander nodded at that. "Now, he did ask me to ask if you had ever thought about men. He's not against it, as a matter of fact he's helped a lot of gay men over the years."
Xander gave him a shy, sheepish look. "I decided to figure that out on my roadtrip too," he admitted with a blush. "Haven't gotten that far yet. But then again I can't see me sleeping with anyone I know."
"I know, Xander. It's a confusing time. As you slowly get to know more about him, it'll be easier." Xander nodded. "Do you have a safe place?"
"As long as my landlord puts my guns back. Or else I'm going to have him eaten."
"That's fine." He smiled and tipped him. "You seem pretty okay for tonight so I'll leave you to think. Just don't lose yourself in the thoughts, young man. That's dangerous. Go right home tonight."
"Sure." He watched him walk out, mentally really confused. His boss came over when he put the money into his tip jar. "I have family left. I had no idea."
"His interview said he worked for a guy who helped gay guys." He patted him on the back. "You'll figure it out, kid. Stabler just called. He said that someone named John said that the entire collection got put back and was added to."
"Oh. Cool." He nodded and grinned at him. "My landlord stole my guns."
"Me too. But if he hadn't put them back I'd have let someone eat him." He got a laugh for that. "I would have."
"You're too much a good guy, Xander."
"Not always," he muttered. "Sometimes I do the expedient thing." That got a nod and his boss walked off again. Someone else came over and Xander smiled at her, going back to sexy and predatory, but missing it a little bit until she kissed him. "Hmm, dangerous," he warned.
"I know I am. That's why I like you, Tim. Can I have a coffee? My girl needs to wake up a bit more."
"Sure." He poured her one and exchanged it for money, making her smile when she left him the tip. He went back to his cleaning. It was a good feeling at the moment.
The day after the performance, Xander bounced up to Don. "I got a three grand tip!" he squealed, hugging him.
"For what?" he asked, looking cautious.
"She didn't do anything to me," he sighed, rolling his eyes. "She looked and said I was too pure to touch yet." Don shivered at that. "She was very nice and all the very nice trannies with her tipped me very well." He smiled. "They even openly played with each other while I was dancing."
"So, you got a good tip for not being a slut?" He saw the blush. "Ah, she looked there." Xander nodded. "You okay with that?"
"I figured I'd think about that stuff during my roadtrip. That's what they're for."
"It is," he agreed, nodding at that. Xander hugged him again. "So, when do I get to see it since I got stuck on the case from hell the night you were gonna show me."
"Tonight if you want. The boss gave me tonight off," he said proudly. "He said he couldn't afford me now." Don snickered at that. "So if you want to you can come over."
"Sure, I'll bring the other chuckleheads if I can."
"Okay." He grinned. "Lunch?"
"Lunch is nice." They headed out together to the diner, letting Xander pick their seats for them. It was the slow time so it wasn't too crowded in there. He saw the guy he thought he knew again, then looked at him. "Admirer?" he asked, nodding.
Xander looked then shook his head. "Nope." He smiled at the waitress. "I did good. I deserve pie for dinner."
"You can have pie if you want but I should nag like a good mother."
"I did a special dance for someone and earned a huge tip," he said proudly.
"Pie it is, sweetie. Flack?"
"Pie's good. With ice cream." She smiled and walked off. "Don't brag to everyone. Not everyone likes the lifestyle."
"Not a dog."
"Sorry." He grinned at him and got one back. "So I heard Stabler got her?"
"For another assault?" he prompted.
"I kinda worked her up so she drug someone off who was saying no. He was in the office."
"It gave him an in," he agreed, smiling at him. "Good job. You know, you could do something simple like a PE degree and go to the academy, Xander."
"Don, think about my instincts."
"I think they'd do great on the street."
"I hunt and capture, Don, I don't chase and handcuff. It's a different thing."
"It could help."
"Don, go hunting with me tonight."
"Okay, I can do that." Xander smiled and accepted his pie, paying her for it. She winked and got him his change, getting a nice size tip for it. Then he dug in. "Something else bothering you?"
Xander looked at him. "I have more relatives. One of them sent someone to check up on me." He ate a bite and looked at him. "I'm not sure what's going on."
"That's a big thing. Have you done anything like searching birth records online?"
"Computers and I don't always get along."
"I understand how that goes. Is it worrying you?"
"No, it's confusing me. I know... I can feel nothing about it is a danger to me. But I feel odd now."
"I'd feel kinda odd too," he admitted. "Did he tell you his name?"
"No, just that he's been told he can tell me slowly, so I guess I have time to get used to the idea." He ate another bite and thought. "I don't even know where he would've come from. Which side of the family or anything. As far as I knew I only had the one dirtbag uncle."
"Huh. We'll have to watch and see, Xander. It'll be okay. It doesn't sound like it's a bad thing." Xander nodded at that. "We'll figure it out, Xander." He stroked his hand on the table. "Now, have you thought about the dating stuff?"
"Yeah but Mom said I couldn't without a chaperone since only deadly people like me," he said with a small pout. "I'll never get laid again."
Don laughed. "I know very well you've gotten some in the clubs, Xander."
"No, I let her blow me. Not the same, Don. I'm the sort of guy who'll go down on a woman for hours on end." That got a goofy grin. "Sue me I like giving oral sex. My last two girlfriends were very happy with that."
"Most women are," he agreed. "You could hit on Stella some more."
"She growled at me again."
"Sorry. What about Monroe?" Xander gave him a look. "I know, but I heard she's sweet."
"That means she'd hate me, Don. Besides, not my type."
"Okay. What about going out somewhere to pick up women?"
"I suck at it."
"So start thinking about the men things." Xander shuddered. "Think you could handle that?"
"I don't know what to do about that stuff. It's not like I've got a clue. Even with the tapes I bought."
"Well, start by thinking."
"The thinking doesn't bother me it's the vulnerability."
"Sure, I can understand that. We'll figure it out."
"Would you, um, go out with me the first time I go to a bar like that?"
Don smiled and nodded. "There's a few good mixed clubs. We'll hit one of them." Xander relaxed and smiled again. "You could try for Danny."
"He's nice but he'd be hell to keep up to in bed."
"You're just as bouncy as he is," Don assured him dryly. Xander gave him a wicked smirk for that. "You are. Sheldon teased him that he was your mom the other day."
"I think he'd look really cute pregnant but he's not as far as I know. My mother used to complain all too often that I was ungrateful and useless for how long she spent in labor with me."
Don patted him on the hand again. "She shows up here, you tell us so we can shoot her, okay?" Xander nodded and ate another bite of his pie, stealing a bite of Don's ice cream. "What happened to your diet?" he teased.
"I'm still on it but I worked off a hell of a lot of energy last night being sexy and making them want me." He grinned and tried to steal another bite but Don smacked him on the head. "Sorry." He gave him a sheepish grin.
"Uh-huh." He ate more so Xander couldn't steal it again. "Anything else good happening today?"
"Not yet. I've got the tape of the performance from him. Craig and I went over it afterwards for places that I could improve some things. He said I did really good."
"Good! Then we'll watch it tonight and see about maybe going out." Xander blushed again but nodded. "Good boy." He stroked over his hand. "It'll be okay, Xander."
"I'd like to find someone to date. It's kinda lonely up here without people around."
"I know. It happens to the best of us. We'll see what we can do about getting you more good people around you." Xander nodded and finished his pie, leaning back. "You getting lunch?"
"I can." He checked the check and put down money and a tip, smiling at the waitress. "That's all yours." She nodded and took it off. He looked at Don. "So, are you done for the day?"
"A few more hours' work," he admitted, scraping his plate. "I'll be over about eight or so." Xander nodded. "Should I bring Danny or anyone?"
"Up to you. Would they mind?"
"Danny might not. Stella might. She can be a bit uptight about that now and then."
"I found chocolate cured that when Buffy and Willow did it."
"Could be," he agreed. He smiled a bit. "Mac probably wouldn't wanna see it."
"He's the sort chocolate won't cure, Don."
"I know. I'll see if Danny's busy and if he'll come over. Now, let's get me back to work before someone wonders if I got snatched again."
"For about an hour," he admitted. "They were very sorry when Mac found 'em."
"Good! I'd have killed the bastards." He got up and Don followed him outside. "The boss wanted to know if I was going to wear the same stuff during the wintertime."
"It does get cold," he agreed patiently. Xander looked at him. "We get a lot of snow, Xander."
"I've only seen snow once, Don. It made me invisible."
Don patted him on the back. "You'll learn to hate it by February, like the rest of the city." They dropped him off and he watched Xander hike down the block. He went inside to find Danny and Mac. "Hey, Danny, he wanted to know if you wanted to see the tape of him dancing last night. He got a really good tip."
"Fifty or a hundred?" he teased.
"Three grand. She said he was too pure ta play with." Danny gaped. "Yeah. I asked, he said nothing else happened."
"Damn," he said in awe. "Okay." He shook his head. "They taped it?"
"Then I'm there. What else was going on tonight?"
"He invited me out hunting with him and we're talking about hitting a mixed club so he can see if he might like guys too."
"Sure, I can see that," Danny agreed, nodding a few times. "You okay with that?"
"I'm fine with it, Messer. Not like I'm prejudice or somethin'." He gave him a heated look. "You might wanna tell Mac. Xander didn't think he'd wanna see the tape."
"No, I don't think Mac's one for strippers that much," Danny agreed dryly. "Thanks."
"Welcome. We had pie for dinner." He headed back to his desk to get back to work. His phone rang. "Flack. Hi, dad. No, I can't. I'm busy tonight. Tomorrow's fine. I've got it off and everything. Sure. See you then." He hung up. Then he decided to tell his father about Xander. Maybe he could give him some ideas of how to help the kid find a normal life again.
Don stepped away from Xander, watching him work. Now he knew what Xander meant by 'hunting' and it wasn't pretty. He had asked Mac what to bring and had been given a mini camera setup. Oh, boy, was Mac in for a shock. Xander spun and got one other then dusted himself off and walked back. "Four less vampires in the city." He looked at him. "Even Aiden can stake, Don. Do you want taught?"
"No. That's okay. I'm not that sort of fighter," he said. Xander shrugged. "Why don't you dust off more and we'll go club?" Xander nodded and grinned, finishing dusting himself off. "Do we wanna try a mixed club?" he suggested. He casually scratched his back and hit the stop button on the camera pack.
"I wouldn't mind." He grinned. "Taking pictures for Mac?"
"Yeah, he had no idea either."
"It happens." He grinned and helped him remove it, then handed it over. "There, all for his viewing displeasure. Mixed club? Do you think I look okay?"
"You could finish dusting off." He brushed some ashes off the kid's shoulders and hair, then nodded at the car. Xander headed that way and Don looked up, saying a silent prayer for the kid still being on the side of good. If not, they'd have to hunt the kid and put him away. Because he was clearly dangerous to someone. Don followed after him, going to take the poor guy to the club. Maybe getting him laid would help him calm down again. It helped with Danny when he was having evil thoughts or getting too bouncy.
Mac turned off the tape and looked at Don. "He did that?"
"Yeah, he did that." He nodded. "Then we went clubbing and he let himself be hit on by a few people. Mostly guys. He's still wobbling on that subject because he thinks it doesn't mean anything and he wants it to. Which I fully understand and support, don't want the boy to be a ho or anything, but it was good. He shook loose, had some fun, got to cuddle with a guy. And then we all went home and I tucked him into bed before going to find a church and pray."
"Do you think he's dangerous to normal people?"
"Only if you attack him," Don said dryly. "Did you see *any* of that while you two sparred last time?"
"Not really." He grimaced. "Is he on today or off?"
"Starts at six."
"Call him, I want to go again." Don nodded, walking off calling Xander. Mac called Aiden. "You never told me the boy was some sort of warrior," he said dryly. He listened to her rant about him not stopping him from hunting. "I'm trying, Aiden. I had no idea he was doing things like that. No, he was good. He got four." He listened to her explain how he was only really good when people weren't watching. He sighed, that showed definitely low self esteem. "No, he's doing okay and I'm going to spar with him again, see if I can figure out where it's coming from. Sure, I'll keep you informed, Aiden. Thank you." He hung and went to change clothes. He wasn't going to spar with the boy in a suit. He didn't make enough to replace it at the moment. He really needed a raise.
Xander slinked into the club that night, smiling at the boss. "Before you say anything I was sparring and got tagged. It wasn't abuse."
He looked at the black eye and the bruised cheek. "Any others?"
"Side kinda hurts but not really." He let him see his side. "It's not that bad."
"What's the scar next to your bellybutton from, Xander?"
Xander grimaced. "Don't ask. Really." That just got a nod. "But I am okay to work, it's only a black eye."
"Then go ahead. Thank you for reassuring me." Xander nodded and headed out once he had put his wallet and keys in his locker and warded them again. He looked around then at the guy who occasionally followed Xander since he was in. "Where was he?"
"He and Detective Taylor spar now and then. Either that or his hunting last night got a bit rambunctious."
"Ah." He nodded, going back to the office to make a note of it.
Xander looked at his shadow and smiled. "Thanks."
"Welcome. Which one tagged you?"
"Mac. The vampires did my side. You know about that stuff?"
"I do. Do you hunt all of them?"
"I hate most vampires, especially the smug ass bastards I keep running into, but if they're not hunting I could care less. I know some do choose not to hunt."
"Good." He smiled.
"Am I ...related to one?" he asked, looking hesitant. The other guy nodded. "Like my grandfather's one?"
"Wow. Is he a hunter?"
"Oh. Then I'm fine with it and I won't stake him or anything when he's ready to meet me for real." That got a smile. "You can tell him that, right? I'm kinda liking this having decent relatives thing."
"I can and I will, young man. What else did you do today?"
"Laundry." That got a laugh. "I did." He pouted some. "I also decided to make up another routine in case I get asked to strip again. Plus I did some work with a sword and my battle axe." That got another smile. "Gotta keep in practice, just in case."
"You could quit hunting."
"Yeah but then I'd probably get caught up in the next apocalypse."
"Point." He glanced and the club, noticing a few people looking at them. "It's a project name." That got nods from most of them but one strolled over casually. "Tim, this man is from the military."
Xander smiled. "Hi. I'm from Sunnydale." The man's eyes went wide. "I heard. My opinion got asked actually."
"I see. What are you doing about it?"
"I don't know yet. It depends on what they're doing."
"Understood. Thank you, Mr. Harris." Xander arched an eyebrow up. "We had a file on you."
"Yay me," he said with a sweet smile. "I dare you to try to drag me there."
"No, we wouldn't think about it."
"Good. I like that. It means I don't have to slap my friends for being brats this week." That got a nod and he walked off. He looked at the shadowing person again. "You knew?"
"I did. Your grandfather is told many things, Xander," he said quietly. "Maybe you should consider not hunting."
"I'll consider it." That got a smirk. "I never said it wasn't necessary."
"It is, but it's not your job."
"It is since I jumped in back in tenth grade."
"Your grandfather would like it if you cut back. He sees a danger to you and you're almost the last of his family. He worries he'll lose you."
"He could show up so we can talk."
"In due time. He's still watching you." Xander nodded that he understood that and moved to pour someone some coffee, taking the money for it and putting the creamer and sugar back onto the bar for them. "He did say that you did good work but he does worry about the toll this is taking on your soul and your body."
Xander looked at him. "Does he know everything I did?" He shook his head. "Come to me tomorrow, when I'm off. I've got something he can read." That got a nod and a smile. "I don't think it's going to matter sometimes."
"Why do you say that?"
"Did he tell you about Jesse?"
"He did, but then he said he disappeared."
"No, he went whoosh because he was threatening others," he said bluntly. "The Harvest celebration." The man shuddered. "I did that for many days. So no, I'm not sure if it's going to matter."
"Were any of them human?"
"Not that I know of."
"Then you have the same thoughts that other soldiers who've killed in the line of duty do. Perhaps you should talk to someone? Mr. Taylor would understand."
"He was horrified. Don made a tape last night."
"Ah. No wonder you two sparred today. Did you beat him?"
"Until he made me slow down." He grabbed a cloth and wiped down the bar. "I wish it was different but it was a long time ago."
"Your family have had priests among them for years, young man. They can also be talked to. There's a good one down at St. Patrick's. He understands combat. He may not understand your particular war, but he does understand combat." Xander nodded at that. "Now, did you enjoy the bar last night?" he asked with a small smile. Xander blushed and nodded. "Did you find anyone?"
"No, I'm still worried about some things. Besides, I don't want it to be in a bathroom or something like that. I want it to mean more than my other time did. Which definitely makes me sound like a girl, but I was pretty much raised by one."
"It should mean something. That is something that should be special and holy. When you're ready, the doubts will cease and you'll have someone there." Xander nodded. "Now, relax, calm down. Think about what will happen when you can't hunt any longer." Xander shrugged. "You haven't thought that far ahead?"
"I don't make long range plans. They never work out. Besides, I didn't expect to live to this age."
"Point. There are many things out there to look forward to."
"I'll trip over them when the time's right," he assured him with a small smile. "Until then I've got to pay my dry cleaning bill for all the leather I wear in here." That got a laugh and a nod, and the guy left. He smiled. He did feel better. Even if his head was ringing where he had tripped and hit it on the wall while changing. He went back to stocking the bar. It was the quiet hour right now. The military guy looked at him and he grinned, looking adorable and goofy for a bit. It paid to be underestimated. Though he did miss his stalker, his tips weren't as high anymore with her gone to prison. He smacked himself as soon as he had that greedy thought. It was certain another one would come in now and he'd have to protect the others.
Xander ran into Danny a few days later at the grocery store, smiling and giving him a one- armed hug. "Hi. Long time no see."
"That's why I'm this way. Not even Don's seen you, Xander."
"Sorry but work's been a bit hectic. The day guy got into a small car crash. Broken leg and ankle. He can't really work so I've been pulling overtime." He smiled and nodded, Danny nodded and following him around. "Did you guys flip a coin?"
"Nah, I pulled early shift today so I got out first." He looked him over, noticing how he was walking. "You okay?"
"Fine. My back's a bit sore. I ended up having to separate a drunk from his sub last night and he was about twice my weight in muscles and a few inches taller." Danny nodded at that. "Any other reason you came over?"
"Yeah, one of your registered weapons came up in a crime." He handed over the sheet.
"I can check to see if they put it back again," he promised. "They did my Desert Eagle." Danny looked at him. "I left a message with Sheldon since he answered Mac's phone."
"Maybe they should go somewhere more secure, Xander."
"I would but more secure costs more and I'm not saving that much a month yet. When I do, I'll move somewhere more secure with them. Until then I've added more protections on the cabinets and another booby trap on the door."
"Good." He nodded and looked at what Xander was picking up. "Trying to cook?" he teased.
"No, I put pork chops on a plate and stick them in the microwave," he said, giving him a look. "All I add is garlic salt." That got an odd look. "It works!"
"I'm sure it does." He continued to follow him around the store. "Need anything spectacular today?"
"Not really. Some soda, dinner. It's my only day off this week because one of the bouncers volunteered when I complained. I haven't had one in nineteen days." Danny shuddered at that. "Not his fault he got hit."
"True, not his fault," Danny agreed. He patted him on the back. "You're a good man, Xander."
"I try but every now and then I get this wicked idea," he said with a small grin at him. "Wanna come over and microwave something?"
"Nah, I've got a date tonight."
"I haven't done that yet."
"You will soon. As soon as you feel comfortable," he advised, smiling at him. "It won't be too long now. Don said you got hit on the last time you two went out together."
"Yeah but that was for fun in the bathroom. I'd like it to mean *something* more than two and a half minutes of semi-fun."
"I think you get more serious as you grow up," Danny advised. "I had plenty of quick things when I was your age. I didn't start really dating until after college."
"I know, you hate school," he sighed. "Maybe you should try a single year, Xander. It might be okay."
"I looked at the vocational schools and none of it struck me as something I could do for the rest of my life. However long or short that may be."
"Is there another stalker?" he asked, hearing the trouble in his voice. Xander shrugged. "Was that a yes? Do you wanna talk about it?"
"No, I talked to John over in SVU about him. He's seeing if he is trouble. He did ask me out but I'm wary about dating at the club."
"That could be a problem if he's a regular," he agreed. "What's tipping you off?"
"He's predatory. He's always watching me in a way I don't like. I don't mind the one from my grandfather who's slowly giving me information on him but this guy's raising my hackles and I wanna hiss at him next time." He frowned then cleared it up. "So he's either looking to be my first two and a half minute thing or he's looking for worse things."
"Could be," he agreed. "What did John say?"
"Nothing yet. I'm hoping he left a message on my machine."
"Does this guy know where you live?"
"Only if he followed me home. I don't think anyone did but that one thug who hangs on the next block." He shrugged. "It happens. He hates me. Thinks I'm a brat. Called me a brat. I asked him if that was proper thug terminology and he tried to kick my ass."
"Yeah, not good to smart off to the thugs," Danny agreed patiently. "You doin' okay otherwise? Stella still can't figure out how you made something poisonous out of the box of stuffing."
Xander shrugged. "It's a gift."
Danny nudged him with a small grin. "Maybe you should consider medical school. Then you could poison someone and fix 'em up again."
"I'm not smart enough for that," Xander said dryly. "Besides that would be greedy and mean of me, Danny. I try really hard to be a good boy." He smiled and kissed him on the cheek. "Thanks for cheering me up." He checked out and headed back to his place.
Danny watched him go then got something for dinner tonight. He was making it so he had to get home. He'd think and talk to Don in the morning about the kid. Someone had to help cheer him up.
Don looked up when Stabler stormed into his precinct. "What's going on now?" he demanded.
"Did the kid not listen to us?"
"Last anyone heard he hadn't heard back from you guys. Why?"
"That bastard who's courting him is a well known serial killer we can't catch, Flack. John called him and told him to stay away from him and have him banned."
"Xander said he hadn't heard from you guys."
"Yeah, well, John and I went to check and found his apartment door open. We've got the guy who was playing with his weapons in the car."
"Good! Where was Xander?"
"We're not sure," he admitted. Don moaned. "Should we put out an APB on him?"
"Let me call the others, one of them might now." He sat down to do that, getting an answer from Sheldon of all people. He blinked at it. "Well, hell. Xander said he rescued himself earlier and dropped him off in their foyer. Sheldon's got him interrogation four." Stabler sighed in relief. "He has no idea where the kid is though."
"We'll switch and then you can have that one."
"Thank you." He went to get the other guy and tell John.
Don leaned back and called the club. "It's Flack, is Harris there?" He listened to him saying that he was working off some anger with a bullwhip and a target dummy. "Thank you. Tell him to come here. Please." He hung up and got up, heading down there to help the transfer of prisoners. "He's at the club wearing out some anger on a dummy with a bullwhip. He'll be up soon," he told John, who nodded. "Not talkative?"
"Holding in my anger."
"The kid said he never got a message from you according to what he told Messer."
"So the guy was in his house?"
"Or someone was," Sheldon admitted. "Xander gave me permission to go take evidence and we're still running a set of fingerprints that had no match to this guy."
"He said his grandfather's got a guy who watches him now and then," Don offered.
"Is his grandfather connected?" Stabler asked.
"Not to that life," he said, shrugging. "Not a clue. Ask Xander when he gets here."
Sheldon called fingerprints. "Do you have a match on the other ones from the Harris apartment yet?" He took notes, frowning some. "Thanks." He hung up. "One of them belongs to a retired NYPD detective, Don. Your father was in there?"
"He was? When?"
"Not a clue. There's another former officer's prints. I'm assuming that's the watching guy. He's got a PI's license at the moment. We've also got two unknowns and this guy."
"One's still searching, starting with the PD databank."
"Good. We'll let him know. The other?"
"Not a clue," Sheldon admitted. He looked at the two detectives. "Would you like to go destroy his world now or watch me?"
"You do it," Stabler said. "I'm still wanting to hit someone."
"That works." He walked in there and looked at the guy seated at the table. "So, we just checked on fingerprints," he said dryly. "Who else has been in there?"
"One of the guys from upstairs comes down every few days."
"Who?" Sheldon asked, sounding polite for the moment.
The guy shrugged. "Not a clue. He lives up on five or six, somewhere up there." He waved a hand. "My uncle thought he was selling it after work."
"No, he's not," Don said as he walked in. "See, we talked to Xander. He likes to draw bad guys but no, he's not seeing anyone. For money or not." That got a sneer. "We can watch if you won't give him up. That'll just add to yours since you stole the kid."
"I did not! He walked out with me!"
"At gunpoint," Xander said as he walked in. "Who's this other guy?"
"You shouldn't be in here."
Xander looked at him. "Bite me, Flack. He threatened me and if he continues to threaten me I get to kick his ass again. Did you like being beaten that much? I am thinking about taking on a sub." The man jumped up, huffing. "Now, who was it?"
"That fairy bastard up on six," he sneered. "You sure he's not your sugar daddy?"
"Fairly so." He gave him an impassive look. "I'll tell you this once, bitch. I'm not the innocent you think I am. I've had to kill before to protect myself. Your little innocence thing? The only thing you can count me for is not having sex with a man. Now, anything else?" The guy gaped at him, looking horrified. "The question stands," he said firmly. "Is there?" He whimpered and sat down. "Good. Now I'm going to get rid of that last bit of innocence."
"My partner would like you," he sneered.
"Everyone likes me. Apparently I'm tasty. Or don't I look nummy to you?" he taunted. The man lunged and Xander snickered. "That's really pitiful." He walked out, looking at the other two. "So you did call?"
"About four days ago, kid," John told him.
"I've got to move," he sighed, shaking his head. "Thank you for trying."
Xander gave him an odd look. "Why wouldn't I be?"
"He had you hostage," John pointed out. Xander shrugged at that. "That doesn't upset you?"
"Not the first time. Shit, it's Tuesday, might as well be taken hostage." He walked off. "I'm going back to work to wear out more anger."
"Wait. We need a statement," Elliot ordered. Xander sighed and trudged back to let them take it from him. "Thank you, Xander."
"Welcome. So, I heard you had kids?"
"Wow. No wonder you do so good with someone like me."
Elliot looked at him. "If my kids were as hurt as you are, someone would have died by now," he said seriously. "Not only from the abuse at home but the clear abuse you've got from the others in your life and the probable sexual abuse you've had."
"Nothing serious. More used than abused," he admitted. "If I ever have kids, I'll send them to you if they get hurt."
"Thanks. Are you planning on having kids?"
"No, but the Powers That Be hated losing me." He shrugged. "If it happens it does."
"The who?" Elliot asked.
"They're the ones over my friend Buffy and her people," he said dryly.
"Oh. That's like a pagan thing, right?"
"Something like that."
"Okay." He sat the kid down and got to work on his statement. John came in with Sheldon and a camera later. "We'll need to take photos, make sure you're not bruised. Physical evidence always helps."
"Did they tell you where I nearly killed him?"
"They haven't but Sheldon should know, right?" Sheldon nodded. "Okay. Xander, are you bruised anywhere?"
"Yeah but it's not all from that."
"Are you maybe in a bad relationship?" John asked.
"No, I had to go take care of a bastard hunting in the Village last night," he said honestly. That just got a nod.
"Human?" Elliot asked.
"Wasn't when I got there. Undead but not human anymore." Elliot stared. "Remember, I'm from somewhere like that," he said more gently. "Basically, anything but the ones on my right shoulder and on my back on the left side, under my armpit and shoulderblade." He took off his shirt.
Sheldon looked at the new stitches. "When did you get those?"
Xander looked down, then at him. "I had them put in four days ago? Sorry, I forgot."
"Who hurt you?"
"One of the guys at the club got high and stupid. Pulled a knife. It wasn't that bad of a scratch. I easily stitched it."
"You... You stitched it?" Sheldon asked. Xander nodded. "We have ER's, Xander."
"I can't afford a trip to the ER and I can do minor things. I learned field medicine somewhat, Sheldon. Giles taught me. I did my leg last year too." He showed off that scar. "I got it a bit puckered but not bad for my third try."
"Let's just take the pictures," John told them. They nodded and did that while he went to find Flack or someone. He found Mac first. "We caught another one thanks to Xander."
"Good. How is he? Shaken?"
"No. He said it's happened before. Then again he also admitted he had to stitch his own stomach about four days ago."
Mac blinked a few times. "Excuse me?"
"Last room down by interrogation four."
"Sure." He went to look through the viewing portal, then walked into the room. "Xander?" Xander looked at him. "What happened to your stomach?"
"Someone got too high and went after us with a knife. I jumped the bar."
"Who stitched you?"
"Me. I didn't even pucker it this time," he said proudly.
"You could have went to the ER."
"I can't afford the ER, Mac. In time off or money wise." He stood up. "I've got one on my right hip too, Sheldon." That got a nod and he lowered his pants, letting him take that one. "I kinda almost had one there. It was down to the yellow and green stage. Then he kicked me again."
"I can see the differences," he agreed. He took one last picture. "Thank you, Xander. Are you working tonight?"
"Yeah, I'm working full shift again since Bob's still out." He shrugged. "Can I go back to wearing out my anger with a bullwhip again?" They all nodded once. "Thanks, guys." He walked out putting on his shirt.
"Xander, how did you get those!" Lindsey yelled.
"Bad people, who do vex me," he called as he continued to walk. He caught a cab back to the club, having to go inside to get his emergency stash of money out of his locker. Then he called the station. "Hi, can you please tell CSI Bonasera I left my wallet? Could she drop it off to me on her way home since I'm on her way?" He smiled. "This is. Thanks. No, I'll be here all night. Thanks, ma'am." He hung up and went to grab the bullwhip again, going back to practicing his aim. This time with the longer whip. The boss ducked under one swing. "Sorry, boss."
"No, you go ahead. I'm going to let the bouncers in." He watched him practice. The whip was being used to good force today. He winced when the dummy cracked.
"I'll fix that," Xander called, switching hands to practice on the other arm. It was less precise but still okay. Craig ducked a blow and grabbed his arm to stop him. "What?"
"Customers are coming."
Xander wiped the leather down then coiled it and put it back on the wall. "Thanks, boss." He went to wipe his face off in the bathroom then came out to start coffee and make sure he was stocked for the night. Stella walked in a few hours later with his wallet. "Thank you, Stella."
"You're welcome. Are you okay?"
"I'm fine. I've been taken before." She blinked at him. "What? You didn't hear about the guy who tried me earlier?"
"No. I figured you came in to talk about something. I've noticed you've been thinking hard recently."
"I was thinking about becoming a part-time dom."
"Well, you might do okay at it," she admitted. "You were nearly taken?" Xander nodded. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine. Not the first time." He leaned over to kiss her on the cheek. "Thanks, Stella, have a great night."
She smiled. "Sure, Xander. You too." She walked out and headed back to her cab, calling Mac on the way. "I dropped Xander's wallet off for him, like he asked. He was nearly taken?" She listened to what had happened. "He's at work, Mac. He sounded like it was nothing more than jaywalking." She nodded. "We might need to. I don't know, he looked tired. Thanks." She hung up and considered the boy. She really did want to kill Aiden for giving the boy to them. They didn't have the time to help him heal like he clearly needed.
Xander looked at Danny when he came in at ten that night. "Hi. Want a drink?"
"Not really. Wanna talk to you. You get a lunch anytime soon?"
"No one to cover," he said with a small shrug. The boss came over. "Boss, this is Danny, one of the guys mom handed me to."
"Hi. You need him for more statements?"
"No, I need ta shake the hell outta him for worrying Stella."
"I told her it was nothing serious."
Danny glared at him. "You were taken by someone who likes ta kill people, Xander. It's something serious!"
"Not the first time," Xander said and shrugged again. "I draw people like that now and then for some reason. I don't know why. All the bad guys in Sunnydale came after me now and then too."
"Do you know how?" the boss asked.
"No." Xander looked at him. "I try to keep it out of here, boss. You know that."
"I know, relax. I can't fault you for being a trouble magnet. Not like you get us robbed. They all pay their bar tabs and tip you very well." He patted Xander on the back and saw the wince. He looked at his back then at him. "Maybe you should head home, Xander."
"I'm fine. It only hurts when I lift or get touched there."
Danny came around to look too and shook his head. "What caused that?"
"The guy earlier."
Danny looked at his boss. "Can I have him?"
"He probably should go home with that bad of an injury." Xander glared at him. "Steven?" The dom who was training Xander came over. "Look at his chest and back and see if he's okay to work."
"Sure. Off with it, Tim." Xander took off his shirt and he looked him over. "Those have got to hurt."
"Only when I lift or get touched."
"Go home, Xander. Take a warm shower and relax. You've worked more hours than reasonable humans because Bob had that wreck." The boss nodded and handed Xander back his shirt, giving him to Danny. "I'll see you tomorrow. That was impressive work splitting the dummy." Xander gave him a shy smile. "Tomorrow, kid."
"Yes, Steven. Thanks." He walked into the back, putting back on his shirt and taking out his wallet and keys. "Well, I do need to move so it's probably not too late to get a paper," he decided, talking to himself. Danny gave him a squeeze on the arm. "Quit."
"No. C'mon. We'll take you home and get those an ice pack." He led Xander out to the car he was using tonight, taking him home. He put him on the couch and got him an ice pack, handing it over. Xander put it on his shoulder. "Now, you wanna talk?"
"I'm fine, Danny. Really."
"That's not fine, Xander. That's assault."
"I kicked his ass first."
Danny moaned. "Okay, let's start there. You couldn't call, right?" Xander slowly shook his head. "You didn't call to bug John and see if he had any news?"
"He's doing important stuff. I didn't want to take up his time."
"You're catching people with them, Xander. He can take five and put his feet up." Xander slumped down at that. "From now on, do that if you haven't heard back. Secondly, you scared the *crap* outta Flack earlier!"
"Why?" he asked weakly.
"Because we're supposed ta be watching out for you and no one told him anything."
"I gave the guy to Sheldon."
"Yeah, well, he got yelled at for not tellin' the rest of us too." He stared him down. "If this was at home would you be doin' this to Aiden and Speed?"
"They'd expect me to tell them when I was hurt."
"You are and you didn't say anything!" he yelled.
"I did. They saw the bruises and they don't hurt that much."
Danny dialed his cellphone, listening to the cheerful voice on the other end. "I'm gonna kill your ass, Aiden."
"Hey! Don't you dare threaten her for sending me here!" Xander ordered, getting up. "I'm fine! Really, I am. I don't know why in the hell you care anyway!"
He handed over the phone at the order. "You tell 'er."
"Hi, mom." He listened to her. "Because another came for me and I turned him in after I had to get myself free. Yeah, one of those. A few bruises."
"Stitches," Danny noted.
"Those were done four days ago. I put them in, I remember it very well." He listened to her. "I'm fine, mommy, really." He smiled. "You are? I'm hoping to find somewhere a bit more safe. No, someone keeps breaking in to play with the guns Giles sent me." He grinned. "I promise I'm okay, Mommy."
Danny snatched the phone. "No he's not. He got sent home from work for the bruises and stuff. The guy came in here too. He erased the answering machine messages that were warning him. He got taken today and Sheldon didn't tell us. We found out when SVU came up to check on him." He listened to her. Then he smirked at Xander. "She said you're in deep trouble."
"I'm fine!" He took the phone back. "Aiden, I promise I'm fine. It's only a few bruises. Like falling in a grave bruises." He smiled. "Thank you!" He smiled. "You can? Where are you now?" He beamed. "That would be kinda nice. I'll try to save up to come out really soon. Love you. Yup, this is his. Can you please calm him down? He's huffing." He let out a small, gentle smile. "I'll call dad next. Love you, mom. Here he is." He handed over the phone to Danny then sat down to use his calling card to call Miami. He heard the party. "Am I interrupting?" He smiled when the noise was solved by a door slamming in the background. "I'm okay."
"He's bruised," Danny called. "He's got four stitches he put in himself." He listened to Aiden. "Aiden..." He sighed. "Fine, we'll talk tomorrow." He hung up. "You're still in major shit. Worrying Flack is bad!"
Xander listened to Tim, smiling some. "The usual only he broke in to erase the messages on the answering machine so I wouldn't know he was a bad guy. I kicked his ass, dad." He smiled at his congratulations. "No, a few bruises. He caught me napping on the couch."
"Your bed broken?"
"I was reading!"
"I thought you hated books."
"I might but that doesn't mean I don't need them now and then," Xander said. "Why are you yelling at me for defending myself and telling Sheldon? That's what I'm supposed to do. Right?" Danny glared. "Dad, please talk some sense into him. Even mom couldn't. Are you okay?" He smiled at the 'my friends are throwing a belated welcome back party' answer. "Are you having fun?" He grinned. "That's cool. Now, remember, I get to meet any future stepmoms. Though Danny is trying really hard. Even though he'd look really bad in Aiden's shirts." Danny shuddered at that thought. "I'm fine. Remember the time I fell into the grave two times ago? I'm about that bruised. No, I'm good. Oooh, did I get to tell you about the dancing thing?" He smiled. "Sure, I'll find a public library and write you a huge email tomorrow. I miss you too, daddy. Sure, have Danny." He handed over the phone. "Don't take too long. That's my only phone card."
Danny listened to the rational voice. "He's seriously bruised and he's got stitches he put in himself." He looked at Xander. "Why?"
"Because someone went after their sub with a knife. I hopped the bar."
Danny repeated that. He nodded and smirked. "You're in deep for not letting someone qualified do it."
"I would've but Willow's back there," he said dryly. He took the phone back. "I'm fine, Dad. I promise. Four. My stomach. They're neat, I didn't even pucker them. Love you too. Have a good night." He hung up. "I'm fine," he said, standing up. "I'm happy as hell that you guys are concerned but I can handle myself most of the time. If I can't, I'll gladly come tell you and get help. Now, I'm really damn tired. I haven't gotten a full night's sleep in weeks thanks to Bob being out. Are you going to nag like Willow some more? If so, I'll find the hair dye spell and do yours." Danny stomped out, slamming the door. He sat down, curling up on his side, putting the ice pack back against the bruise on his back. "Maybe I should go to Seattle to join mom or Miami to join Timmy. It'd be happier then and they appreciate me. Even if he did interrupt mom having sex." He let himself drift off, staying there again tonight.
Tim hung up and called Aiden. "Did you get a call?" She panted a yes. "Put down your toy, Aiden. Is he in trouble? I don't know Danny from more than a few phone conversations. You tell me." He listened to her tell him they were fine and she'd call Mac in the morning. Then Flack. "Are you sure we shouldn't bring him down here? I mean, I've got friends and near family that would welcome him. Tell him it's your ex. Yay. Is he any good?" He snorted. "Baby, Buffy can do better than that and you heard her say it a few times. What do we do? I'm all for hauling his ass down here, Aiden. He's not happy. Yeah, I heard that too." He leaned against a wall, looking at the head peeking in. "Give me a few more, Calleigh." She came in to give him a hug. "It's fine. Xander had some troubles."
"He's the kid Aiden and I adopted. His parents were so bad we ran them out of town." He gave her a squeeze. "Aiden says hi." He listened. "We've got to get him away from them. It's clear they don't have a clue, Aiden. He said he had to rescue himself again. Please?" He nodded. "Fine, I'll let him ask, even though Xander doesn't ask. Ever. Hell, he came in bleeding that time and didn't ask for more than a washcloth to clean up. Willow and Giles had to put in twenty-three stitches and he didn't think it was anything." He sighed and nodded. "I'll call him tomorrow then. Thanks, Aiden." He hung up and looked at her. "You'd love Xander. Someone needs to love Xander beyond Aiden and I but you'd think he's the neatest stepson ever." He gave her a cuddle. "Did they all leave?"
"Eric decided it was an important phone call and was joking about it being a stork."
"No. The son is almost nineteen." He pulled out a picture from his wallet, showing her. "That's the son." She smiled at that. "The other two are egotistical brats at this moment." He took it back and walked out. "No, Eric, I already adopted a son. He's almost nineteen." He let them have the picture, looking at his boss, then at Alexx. "We may have to go rescue him from New York. Mac and them aren't watching him well enough. He's still hunting. He just put in his own stitches again and he said getting kidnaped by a serial killer was nothing."
"I'll call Mac later," Horatio promised, smiling at the picture. "He looks like a good boy."
"Not always. Now and then but he's got a bad sense of humor, H. Usually at the most stressful moments. You guys would love the son. If things don't work out up there, I'm kidnaping him. He'll be happier down here and I can keep him from hunting."
"Hunting, like the things that kept trying to get in and eat us when I came to get you?" Alexx demanded, pushing some of her black hair behind her ear.
"Yup, them too."
"Is he stupid?" Alexx demanded. "He's going out alone?"
"We flipped to see where to send him. Aiden won. She sent him to Mac Taylor to have him mentor him. Next time I'm cheating." Horatio patted him on the shoulder. "It's going to get messier, Horatio. I'm going to go steal him."
"I know some people who can help," he promised. Speed relaxed. "He all right?"
"Some bruises that're so bad he got sent home. The last time I heard from him he was working double shifts as a bartender and part-time dom in training because the other bartender got in an accident." He sat down. "Sorry. Kinda miss the kid. I had him for two and a half years, ya know?"
"I do, baby," Alexx assured him, giving him a hug. "I can't believe you made me a grandmother already, Speedy."
"I did but you'd love him after he quit avoiding you. My boy does not know what a mother is. Aiden was his first and only." She looked upset at that. "So if he comes down be prepared to move slowly."
"I will. He'll be perfectly fine with me." She stroked over his hair. Eric turned back on the music, making her smile. "There, now we'll get back to the party and plan how to steal him." That got nods and they all went back to catching up. Speed had some outrageous stories about what he had been doing during his enforced habitation in Sunnydale.
Don Flack walked up to his father. "Dad." His father looked up and smiled. "Got a question for you." He sat across from him, putting his cup of coffee on the table between them.
"I didn't figure you invited me out for coffee this early in the morning for no reason."
"Yeah, well, it's my late day, dad. I should be jogging." He took a sip of his coffee. "How do you know Xander?"
"Dark hair, young guy, eighteen. Bartender?"
"Oh, him. One of my former trainees called about him. Wanted advice on the kid. He reads some strange stuff."
"He's from the hellmouth, dad." His father choked at that. "It's good you know what that means, I didn't. Though I did get ta see him hunt." He took a sip, looking at his father. "Which partner?"
"Bill. He was the next-to-last partner I had." Don nodded at that. "Were you worried?"
"Your fingerprints came up in his apartment and I wanted ta know why before I went to talk to him."
"Be careful around that boy, son. He's dangerous."
"Only if you're a bad guy."
His father stared at him. "Donny, I've seen other kids who've been that badly abused. They're like wild animals. Yeah, you can tame 'em until they let you pet 'em, but they will still bite if provoked."
"He bit plenty yesterday when some sicko took 'im and he had ta rescue himself."
His father nodded, looking grave. "Then he's used to being alone and unappreciated. Are you?"
"Am I what?"
"Not appreciating him."
"I think of him like a stepbrother."
"When was the last time you saw him, Donny?" he asked quietly.
"What? He complain?"
"I've watched the kid for the last few weeks on and off. I've seen the pretty CSI you work with now and then, the one your mother hopes gives her grandchildren, take him his wallet. I've seen you two go ta lunch once in the last three weeks. I heard he and Messer got into it last night. It was loud enough to hear outside. Then he stormed off." Don slumped at that, leaning back. "It's not your fault. You were given him to help tame."
"No, his adopted ma said to help him adjust and to mentor him. I try but the kid doesn't want a life beyond what he's doing."
"How would he know what that's like, Donny? Did he expect to make it to graduation?"
"He said he didn't expect to live this long," he admitted.
"No. Not that I can tell."
"Fairly so. He's not really depressed. He's just as bouncy as he was when we first met."
"Who said he wasn't depressed then, son," he said patiently. "I've seen that kid hunt, I've seen him get hurt. I saw him work one night from a corner table. He'll make a pretty good dom some year soon." He took another drink of his coffee. "The kid's existing. He's not happy. He's probably never felt much love."
"Aiden and Speed do."
"That's wonderful. That's two out of six billion people. Most people have more than that or they find and make more love 'em. Your boy's unsure whether or not he can date."
"His family and friends back there were crap."
"I realize that. After thirty years on the job I've seen plenty of guys like that. Usually with really dead eyes sitting across the table from me."
"He's staying good."
"You need to make him quit hunting, son. You also need to get him somewhere safer." He stood up. "Anything else?"
"You gonna adopt him too?"
"No. He'd never put up with me. I'm an authority figure. Doing that to him would make him break. He's always going to stay in control. He may never trust anyone fully enough to let go, except maybe his adoptive parents."
"Then why do I bother?"
"Because you know he needs it and you can chip it a bit farther. Maybe help him find someone good who'll make him their life's work to heal. It's the only way he'll heal, to find someone he trusts and let them work on him. You're doing good but you're lax."
"I know. But you need to try harder, before his file ends up being your paperwork of the night." He smiled. "Now, your mother wanted you over for dinner tonight."
"I think I'm gonna go see Xander."
"He's going to be at work, son. All he knows is duty and devotion. He's the sort of loyal that'll let you walk all over him until he breaks." He walked off. "Call your mother this afternoon."
"Sure, Pops. Thanks." He considered the boy while he drank his coffee. His father had seen more than he had. If he was right, they weren't helping the kid any. He called Mac. "I'm torn." He smiled. "Talked to my father, who's been watching him. How do we get him to stop hunting?" He listened to Mac consider the point and the one that Xander was using it as a pain outlet. "Mac, I haven't seen him in weeks really, except when we took the statement. Danny didn't...." He snorted at how Xander had asked Danny why he cared. "We're fallin' down on what Aiden asked us ta do, Mac. Yeah, well, dad had a point. He's not happy. It might've been better to send him to Miami. I know."
He sighed. "Then how do we fix it?" He nodded. "My dad suggested setting him up on dates. He said he's gonna have trust issues even though he's fully loyal." He nodded. "That works. Thanks, Mac." He hung up and called Xander, getting an irritated grunt. "Wanna have dinner tonight?" Xander hung up on him. "Okay, I'll call back later. Maybe I'll bring you dinner tonight. His phone rang and he looked at it, groaning as he answered. "Flack. I'm near the park, it'll be a few." He nodded, going to hit his car and find that address. At least he and Danny could talk while they worked. Even if he wouldn't get out of work until nearly midnight. He tracked Xander down but he was making time with a girl on a dancefloor so he left him there, only smiling a bit when the kid caught him. Xander grinned back and went back to it. So maybe he wasn't in that hot of water yet.
Xander looked over as his watcher came in, smiling at him. "You've been gone for a while."
"Your grandfather had to do a bit of traveling for work reasons," he admitted. He saw the paper. "Moving?"
"Yeah. I keep getting broken into by the landlord's family." He looked at him. "It's either that or kill them. Since I nearly shot one this morning when she woke me up, I'd rather move." He looked at the paper, then tossed it aside. "So, is he okay?"
"He's fine. How are you doing?"
"A bit nervous. I'm meeting with Steven later on to talk to him about learning more of the trade. I got a blowjob at the club last night. Nothing unusual." He shrugged.
"Are you happy?"
Xander considered it. "Relatively speaking. I've never been *happy* but I'm relatively at peace with myself at the moment." That got a nod. "You or Granddad got a place in the city that's safer and low rent you can recommend I look at? Like a neighborhood sorta place? I'm not asking for help, just a recommendation."
He considered it. "There is an apartment here in town that he's not using. He might let you use it."
Xander shook his head. "I don't want to mooch. It's not the guy I am." John came in and he smiled. Then he looked at him. "Just a general neighborhood?"
"Nowhere's totally safe, Xander, but there's a few. Depends on how far you want to commute?"
"I've been walking. I'd take the subway if it ran that late."
He considered it and wrote down an address. "Look around that area. It's part of Queens but it's good." Xander smiled and pocketed it. "My mother lives at that one and she says it's a nice place. Not too many thugs."
"Welcome. Should I tell him anything?"
"I'm doing okay. My tips are getting slow again, no new serial guys since the last one I rescued myself from."
"Was that the one two days ago?" John asked. "Or the one we knew about before then?"
"I plead the fifth," Xander said, staring him down. The shadow guy laughed at that.
"He's not kidding," John told him. "He's helped us arrest about six, seven guys who're hurting others. Won't tell us how many he's had to rescue himself from beyond that." He stared Xander down. "They could be hurting others."
"I sent those notes to Don."
"He never called." He called his phone. "Sorry to interrupt, Flack, but have you been getting files from Xander about other guys?" He blinked, then nodded. "Find out tomorrow and tell us, okay?" He hung up and looked at him. "They haven't been sitting on his desk."
"I sent them to the email address I had for him."
"Huh. We'll see," he decided, looking at the other guy. "So, you're here why?"
"He works for my grandfather. This is John, he's in SVU."
"I've seen and I admire what you do. I could've never done it while I was on the force," he said, shaking his hand.
"It takes a lot of repression at times," John agreed, smiling at him. "So, is he being good?"
"Most of the time. Nothing too terrible. Normal things for a guy his age and his hunting really." Xander grimaced at that. "Xander, you really should stop. Your grandfather doesn't want to lose you so soon."
"You're not fine," John told him. "You nearly got staked last night." Xander slumped and went back to his ad looking. "You at least need a hunting partner, Xander," he said more gently.
"I can't even find someone to date, John, much less a hunting partner."
"Maybe you should try looking in a different place," the watcher said. "You keep saying you're thinking about boys...." Xander gave him a look. "Like he'd care."
"No, I don't care," John told them. "Though I do take him as it'd better be special to go there," he admitted, looking at Xander, who nodded. "Go to the more gentle clubs, Xander. Nothing that hard core."
"I don't dance that well." He went back to his looking at the paper. "Guys, I love you but if you guys keep down my drink orders the boss'll complain."
"Your new psycho tipped you last night," John reminded him.
Xander snorted. "He's a lousy tipper. My first one was tipping me hundreds a night. He gave me twenty." He turned the page and circled something. "That's near there, right?" he asked. The guy looked and nodded. Xander grinned and looked at John. "He said I should look out in Queens."
"That could be a nice spot depending on where you live," he agreed. "Where is the guy now since you called?"
"The guys took him to the hardcore bondage room when he tried to grab me." He looked around, spotting a bouncer, nodding him over.
"Another one?" he demanded, glaring at them.
"No, this one works for my grandfather," he said, pointing at one. "The other is Detective John Munch from SVU. He's had a few of my stalkers recently."
"Oh. This way, detective." John nodded at them and walked after him. "Is he always that calm?"
"Probably. Why did this one want him?"
"He said he was too old but his innocence drew him. Usually he'd only go for the only true innocents."
"Which means kids."
"That's what we thought. Otherwise we would've called Flack, sir." He tapped then opened the door. "Steven, Xander's still looking at the paper at the bar."
"It's good he's calm."
John looked at him. "I don't think he's going to panic much about being taken."
"I got that feeling too," he admitted. "He's carrying pictures of three children, behind them are pictures of them in rather bad positions and one's dead. I know him."
"That's fine. You hit him?"
"Okay. I'll say it was part of the confinement before I got here." That got a smile and a pat on the arm from Steven as he walked out. He took the wallet from the guy's back pocket and looked at the three semi-hidden ones. He looked down at him. "You're in deep shit. Just having these pictures is enough to get you tossed in prison. Assaulting Xander as well? That's gonna add time." He pulled out his cuffs and the bartender got him out of the rig he was in. The guy tried to move but fell down sobbing. "Next time don't try a dom," he said with a sneer. He hauled him up, taking the wallet with him. He nodded at Xander's boss. "Little kids."
"I heard. Have him, please." He handed over a file. "We don't like pedophiles here."
"Thanks." He put it in his free hand and walked outside, flagging down the waiting patrol unit. "To Manhattan SVU," he ordered. That got a nod. "Right to my desk." They drug him off. "He got into it with a dom," he called. "He's probably bruised."
"Good!" one of the guys called. John watched them take off then got into his car to head back as well. Not like he had anything to do tonight anyway. Playing taunt the predator would make his night. He always loved taunting predators. He did call his boss. "Cragen, John. Bringing one in. He'll need pictures taken of his pre-arrest condition. No, he went after that kid Elliot and I work with. The doms at the club found hidden pictures in his wallet. They had him in the rig when I got there." He smiled. "Thanks, Cap." He hung up and sped up just a bit since traffic was only mildly horrible tonight.
Xander looked at his boss. "Am I in trouble?"
"No, he was a member here long before you got here, Xander." He smiled and patted him on the cheek. "Now, you've got to be in pain."
"From what? All he did was grab my throat. I'm not even hoarse. Though I do need to talk to Steven so can I have lunch?"
"Go," he said tolerantly, smiling at him. One of the bartenders came over to fill in. "He's talking to Steven."
"Steven is telling him about his career potential," the guard agreed. That got a brighter smile. "He has a good swing, boss. I'd hate to be spanked by him."
"Me too. My mistress would love to get that boy to train."
"He'd never go sub."
"I realize that, but she does train the occasional other dom. Though they usually get trained as both first, that way they understand how it feels."
The guard looked at him. "Do you actually think Xander doesn't know what it feels like to be beaten, boss?"
"I figured he did."
"I've seen some of his scars. He'll break in the wrong way."
"Pity. That could hold him back in his training. But maybe someone like Lady Heather could do it." He considered it then nodded. "She most likely could. I'll mention it to Steven in a bit." He let his bouncer pour drinks for the two female subs coming up, going back to his office. He appreciated the hell out of Xander. His psycho patrol brought in a lot of money, even if Xander did occasionally eat one of the cherries for the drinks. He always paid a few dollars into the till every week for them. It was nice of the kid.
Xander smiled when he heard his dad's voice. "Am I interrupting?" he teased. "No, big news. Steven's agreed to finish what training he could. Yes, him, dad. No, he said he can only teach me the basics, but he did suggest who I could go see." He smiled gently at the happy sounds. "I don't know but it's good money, dad, and I'd definitely get to use my old instincts. Are you going to be mad?" He relaxed. "Good. How's mom? No, she's changing numbers and I haven't gotten it yet." He smiled at the sound of his father barking at someone. "Oooh, should I come down to spank someone?" he teased. He sat up. "Then I can let you go, dad. No, I'm still working doubles. Call me when you get off. I walk to work at four. Thanks, dad." He hung up and looked around for the guy there to show him the apartment. He finally found him and headed up after him. It was incredibly small. "This is how much a month?"
"A grand. Plus security and first and last, kid. Are you even that wealthy?"
"I work, have since my third day in the city," he admitted, looking at him. He checked the locks on the door. "Flimsy," he said, frowning some. "Was it kicked in?"
"I like my stuff more than that. Were you showing me any others?"
"One up the street." Xander nodded so they went that way. "You have stuff to keep safe?"
"I've got a sword collection. Collector's editions," he said. The guy blinked at him. He grinned. "I can use them all too."
"Do you get a monthly check?"
"No, I'm a dom in training."
"Oh. Well, the other apartment's not much better. There was a homicide in it tenant before last," he admitted, letting him see it. He hoped it didn't meet up to his standards.
Xander looked around, feeling the air currents. The last owner was still here. "The homicide was two tenants ago?"
"What happened to the last one?"
"He disappeared. No one knows why."
Xander touched a wall. Then he showed the wetness on his hand. "You've either got a broken pipe or he's in there." The man groaned. "I'll leave you alone to check that out. Thank you for your time." He walked off, going to look at the other ones. One of the later ones was nicer. Barely. He was in the old section of the city. These were mostly converted houses. Long use and abuse of the buildings. He finally found a decent place but it was outside his salary range. Well, not this month but later months. He'd have to make at least two hundred more a month to afford it. He gave the realtor puppy eyes but she shook her head. "I'm making that right now but I'm working doubles. But this is what I want. Do you have this somewhere else that's a bit less? I'd have to make two hundred more a month during my usual months to afford this."
She looked through her offerings. "I do, but it's not in a great neighborhood."
"I grew up somewhere that had a forty percent homicide rate."
"Then you might like that one," she admitted, leading him out but locking the door behind them. She drove them over to the other building. It was a nice, older neighborhood. "There's a few dealers who work around here and some stickups now and then," she admitted.
"That's okay. I'm used to worse and I can ignore dealers." She smiled and nodded, letting him into the building. Again, older. Nicer too. They walked up to the apartment and she let him see it. He ran a hand over the walls and a windowsil, checked the kitchen, grimacing a bit. It was tiny. "Do you do much cooking?"
"No, I can't cook. I'm poisonous, literally." He smiled at her. "So I microwave and dehydrate."
"Then you should have plenty of room." He nodded, going into the other rooms. She saw that telling smile when he came out. "Good, let's start the paperwork. I'll have to do a background check."
"That's fine. I have nothing to hide." He settled down with her to work on the paperwork. His background came back clear and his credit report was great, it had almost nothing on it. He smiled. "Sorry, I missed the first payment. It went to the wrong apartment."
"That's fine, it happens. A young guy your age we'd expect two or three blips and a credit card."
"No, I don't have one of those," he admitted. "I thought about it but I'm not sure I want to do that." She nodded. "So, when can I move in?" he asked, handing over the money order he'd gotten that morning out of his last paycheck. She blinked at it then at him. He smiled. "I'm working doubles right now. My fellow bartender broke his leg."
"Ah. No wonder you can afford to move right now." She calculated it. "This'll cover that and your second month too. We can get you the keys made today. Do you see anything that needs done?"
"No," Xander admitted. She smiled and they left, going to make him keys. Xander made note of the address and headed home. He had a message on his machine about coming in early. "Crap." He sighed and changed clothes, sticking his new keys on his old ring, the new address in his wallet. Then he left, heading out after he had warded his door. He bounced into the club almost forty minutes later, having splurged on a cab that took some extra time to get there. But the cabbie had told him about these companies you could hire to move you. All he had known was U-Haul. He walked up to his boss. "I found it."
"What's a moving company do?"
"Just what it sounds like. You probably can't tell 'em about your weapons though."
"I can crate them back up," he admitted. "Have Don or someone help me move them." That got a smirk and a nod. "Okay, what did you need me for?"
He pointed. "Look, Bob."
"Hi, Bob. Are you back to working?"
"Part of the time. Can you afford your new place?"
"Same price as my last one, Bob." He grinned. "With an extra bedroom." That got a knowing look. "Further out though." He looked at his boss, digging out the address. "I'm moving there." His boss looked at it then at him. "Bad neighborhood?"
"No, but there's a gang that claims that area."
"Boss, I grew up with some pretty rough people. They're not going to bother me."
"If you say so." He made a note and handed it back. "There, go to the local grocery store near you and get boxes. That way you can move over there. He wants to work a double to make up for the lack of paycheck for six weeks."
"Thanks." He hugged him and went to do that. He called Don on the way. "It's me. I'm moving," he said into the voicemail. Then he hung up. Don should call back. And if not, he'd hire some of those moving guys or go rent a truck. The grocery store was a goldmine of boxes, more than he needed. He came back and took his landlord's key from his doorknob, unmagicking it, then handing it back to him. "I'm moving. I'll be out by the end of the month." He slammed the door in his face. He hated that guy. He checked his weapons. Still there. He found one of his neighbors on his bed. "You're not my type," he called. The guy squealed and jumped. Xander looked at him. "I might like guys but I'm sorry, you're creepy and a stalker. Get out. Now." The man walked out looking like a kicked puppy. Xander slammed the door again and got down to packing. He still had the shipping crates for the weapons in the closet so that was easy enough. He saved one last box, taking down the fabric off the walls and folding it carefully. He'd have to do something with it later. That went into the last box, even though it overflowed.
He found the phonebook under the phone, which he had left alone, and searched for 'moving companies' in the yellow pages. He smiled at one that promised same or next day service in most cases. That was promising. He called them. "Hi, my name is Xander and I'm moving from lower Manhattan to queens. Small one bedroom apartment. Two armoires are the largest things. Sure, I'm at home right now and I'm off tonight. Thanks." He hung up and waited, going to putter in the kitchen. Most of that got put into the shopping bags he had stored under the sink. The stuff in the bathroom got the same treatment. He brought his last bag of closet stuff out and dropped it on top of the fabric box. Everything was done but the phone and phone book. Someone knocked so he checked, then opened the door slightly. "Hi, moving guys?"
"I'm with Star moving," he agreed. Xander let him in and he looked at the piles of boxes, then the rest of the apartment. "We can do this tonight," he promised, looking at him.
Xander smiled. "Thanks. How much?"
"Three hundred." Xander handed it and the address over. "You're moving into Tanglewood territory?"
"I am?" The guy nodded. He shrugged. "I grew up by LA. I'm respectful but I'm not going to put up with shit."
"That's fine, sir. You have the keys and everything?" Xander smiled and nodded. "Then I'd suggest you rent a small car to carry the weapons crates since we're not allowed to by law. Head over there with the food and we'll be there tonight?"
"Sure. My present landlord likes to break in."
"I understand. We'll see you at four?"
"Sure. I can do that." He smiled and the guy left. Xander went to rent a small car to do that. It would be cheap for the day and took the last of his paycheck but he still had some stored. Fortunately he did believe in banks.
Xander sat on the front stoop that night with his new neighbor, smiling and joking with her. She was a nice lady, a professional sort, a nurse. She was a nice lady who had seen him moving in and started to chat. So they were still talking while she ate dinner. At least until she saw someone coming up the street. "Avoid them, Xander. They're bad guys."
"I'm used to bad guys," he said, looking at her. He nodded inside and she smiled, heading in. He looked at the guy who stopped at the bottom of the stairs. All he had to do was unpack and decorate. "Evening, guys. Really pretty tonight, huh?"
"Very. You new?"
"Hmm. You know there's local taxes, right?" one of them said, smirking at him.
"No, I hadn't. The landlord didn't say anything about those." He shrugged. "If so I'm sure the borough can send me a bill." He looked at them. "You guys don't look like you work for the city. I didn't think you could wear jeans that messy. By the way, you need to wash some of the blood out of the cuffs, man. That'll stain."
"How do you know?" he sneered.
"I'm from near LA." The guys paused at that. "Small place called Sunnydale. Has a forty percent homicide rate. I was part of the city's protection detail." They backed off at that. "I'm having a live and let live moment, guys. Not like I'm going to cause trouble. All I ever see are killers."
That got a nod from one. "You lookin' for work?"
Xander smirked. "I'm a bartender and a dom in training. No."
"A what?" the other guy asked.
Xander stood up and walked down the stairs. "I'm the person who spanks and beats others when they beg," he explained. That got a laugh. "I make good money at it." He smiled sweetly. "Now, I'm still tired and have to unpack. Please go away? I don't want to cause trouble."
"Sure. We'll see you later."
"Probably not. I work horrible hours." That got a smirk and they strolled off to the sports bar up the street. He headed upstairs to grab his calling card and went to the phone on the corner to call his dad. "Hi, daddy. Are you free to talk? No, Bob came back and I'm off tonight to move. I did move. Queens." He smiled. "I emailed it to you." He laughed. "That's me. Well, there's a neighborhood welcoming committee I just saw but otherwise it's nicer, the same price, has an extra bedroom so you or mom could visit. Or you and mom could visit," he amended with a grin, "and I'm safer. It's got more locks and a heavier door. No, only two went missing and Giles is about due to get another supply cabinet I'm sure he'll send. I do, Dad, but I'm living in a quiet neighborhood." He smiled. "Awww. Is she spoiling you?" He laughed. "Good! You deserve it." He nodded. "I'm being careful and good, dad. I kept it at 'I only see killers', 'I spank people for a living', and 'I'm a live and let live sort of guy' during our talk. I do miss you." He smiled at him. "Thanks, daddy. Of course. You have a nice night and happy spoiling, dad. Love you too. I'll have it switched over in two days. Sure." He hung up and turned to find someone standing there. "Yes? Did I take too long? I'm done if you want the phone."
"No, I wanted ta talk to you." He looked him over. "You spank people for a living?"
"Yeah, I do. I'm a dom in training." He grinned a goofy, sweet grin. "Why?"
"Are you right in the head?"
Xander snorted. "I grew up somewhere that had a forty percent homicide rate. I was part of the nightly protection patrols. You tell me."
"You think you could take me?"
"Sure. I know I can take you." He pushed him and came out of the phone booth. "Why would I want to? I don't want to make trouble."
"You're in my 'hood. I get to approve new residents." He moved closer. Xander pulled his gun, cocked it once it was in the guy's face, and gave him a calm, 'oh well, you're a bug' look that usually only came from serial killers. He stared in his eyes. "Do we know you?"
"No. Like I said I'm from near LA," he said quietly. "Now, I'm here working legitimately and I'm a nice guy. I could care less about your gang or their drugs. All I ask is that you stay away from me and mine. Most of my acquaintances are cops so that's probably smarter for you in the long run," he said quietly. "I don't want to have to hurt you. I get more than enough of that down on Penguin Street when I want to hunt." He moved the gun and uncocked it. "Any questions?" He shook his head. "Good." He grinned again. "All I want is peace and quiet. No one breaking into my place, and I'll be a perfectly good and nice tenant. If you make me be a bad tenant, I like bombs. A lot." That got a nod and the guy backed up. "We clear?"
"Yeah...yeah, we are. You gotta name?"
"Sure." He headed off. Xander put his gun back and went back to his stoop, learning his new neighborhood. Someone new strolled up an hour later. "You're interrupting my window gazing." He looked at him. "I'm getting rather tired of the interruptions to my first night off in two weeks."
"You think you're so hot?"
"I know I'm hot. After all, serial killers like my ass."
He snorted. "You can't beat me without the gun."
"Actually, I can." He stood up. "You got somewhere more private?" That got a nod and he followed him to the abandoned building. He waved him on. "I'm a protector, baby, come get my bi ass if you want it," he taunted. The other guy sneered. He lunged, Xander kicked his ass. Like he would any other soul sucking creature. When he was done and only mildly bruised, he leaned down. "Now, like I told your boys, I could care less what you guys do. Most of the guys I know are cops. My mother handed me to them to mentor and keep me on the side of good," he said patiently. "I could care less as long as I don't have to protect someone from you. As long as you don't break into my place. As long as you leave me alone." That got a gurgle and he helped the guy up. "Sorry, think I broke a rib. Feel like I punctured your lung?" He checked him with a frown then shook his head. "Spit the blood, don't swallow it. I speak from experience." He looked at him. "All I want is left alone. You don't come near me or my friends, who're, again, mostly cops. Agreed?" That got a nod. "Good. Then I'm a live and let live guy until someone calls for my help." He smiled sweetly. "Want me to tape your ribs? I'm pretty good with it."
The guy spat the blood from his broken nose. "Who are you?" he sneered.
"My name is Xander. I'm a dom in training." He grinned that same goofy grin. "I'm from near LA."
"That Sunnydale place, what makes it so special?"
Xander beamed. "You ever been down to Penguin Street?"
"Only by accident," he said, crossing himself.
"I grew up somewhere they loved to inhabit and hunt. I protected the town with some friends. And really, one of them is five-four, blonde, full of ego, and tougher than both of us. Together. I haven't had to hunt in a while but I still do now and then. All I want is peace. If you can provide that I don't have to tell anyone I know that we had this conversation. I've had to have this one with vampires in the past." That got a horrified look. "Yeah, I'm from the hellmouth, baby." He patted him on the slightly less bruised cheek. "Now, go get an ice pack and leave me alone. Don't break into my place. All I want is to be left alone."
"Fine," he agreed, spitting again. "You want a job? I could use a guy like you."
"I'm a protector, dear. I protect people. I could never be part of a gang." He walked away, heading home to soak the clothes. His new neighbor gave him a horrified look. "He's going to leave me alone now."
"You hit him?"
"I let him have the first swing. I'm not as helpless as I seem to be. For some reason 'nice, innocent, and helpless' vibes flow off me." She nodded at that. "Anyway, I dinged his nose and a rib, he only managed two blows and one to my lip. I'm fine. We have an understanding. He was listening when I said I was from near LA."
"You poor thing. Need an ice pack?"
He smiled. "That's the first thing I made today." She smiled. "I'm good at ice packs. Thanks though, Brenda. Have a nice night." She nodded and closed her door. He went inside his and locked the door behind him. He'd have to go to his old place tomorrow to clean and paint the few spots where duct tape had removed the paint.
Xander watched his landlord move around the place. It was in better condition than when he had moved in. It was even *clean*. Something it hadn't been then. "So," he said dryly.
"You still put in locks."
"Of course I did. I was trying to keep you out. Now, I'll get my security deposit back when?" The man shook his head. "Technically, improving the apartment by putting on locks isn't against my lease and if I don't, I'm having you arrested for helping steal two of my guns and letting people into my apartment." The man laughed. Xander pulled out his new cellphone and dialed a number. "Mac, it's Xander. I can have my old landlord arrested for breaking and entering so often, right? Especially since he helped his relatives break in multiple times and let two of them steal a few of my guns and a sword?" He smiled. "Thanks, Mac. Sure, I'm here. Flack has the record of what happened. No, I just moved." He hung up and looked at him. "I call him back in ten minutes or he's sending a squad car over. Flack's been keeping track for me," he said blandly. "Up to you. I can get it this way or through the courts." He shrugged. "Your choice. It won't cost me any extra." The man stomped off and Xander followed once he had gathered his old phone and phone book, doing a last turn. He found the soda he had been drinking in the fridge and drank it on the way down to pick up his security deposit check. "Thanks, man. Have a good day." He walked out, getting a cab back to his new place. The squad cars pulled up about ten minutes later. He had faxed Don a long report/rant about what the old landlord had done. Xander got out at his new place after paying the guy, smiling as he walked up past the neighbor under him. "Hi, I'm Xander." He kissed her on the cheek. "Sorry, hands are full. I just moved in above you."
"I heard you moving around up there." She looked at him. "Last load?" He nodded. "Good boy." She smiled at him. "Any pets?" He shook his head. "Even better." She grimaced. "Those thugs are back," she said bitterly. Xander glared and the guy nodded then backed off. She looked at him. "You know him?"
"No but I'm from near LA and we had to have a talk last night," he admitted quietly, looking at her. "I don't think he's going to come bother people over here again." She smiled at that. "Let me know if he does, ma'am. I'd better go do this." She nodded and let him in since he couldn't quite dig out his keys. He smiled and headed upstairs, going to put those things away. He had paused at the bank to put the check into his account. It was a good day. He even had lunch now.
Danny was leaning on Xander's railing when he came out. "You live *here*?" he demanded.
"Yeah, I do." He grinned. "Why? It's pretty safe. My apartment's nice, you wanna see?"
"It's not a safe neighborhood."
"The local protectors and I already had a talk, Danny. They know I'm a live and let live guy. Until someone screams for help." He glared at the guy coming up to them. "Yes?" he asked patiently.
"You know this putz?" he sneered, nodding his head at Danny.
"My mother gave me to him to mentor." He smirked. "Him and Taylor. Why? Did you have a problem with cops, Sonny?"
"You know me?"
"Allinda told me." That got a snort. "You need something?"
"How goes the spanking?" he taunted.
Xander pulled out his knife, showing it off. "My tip last night. A gift from my new sub." The man backed off. "I'm a good boy." He grinned. "Aren't I?"
"Yeah, he's been an absolute angel," Sonny agreed, backing away again. "That thing sharp?"
"Yeah, I sharpened it at work last night. Did a few other knives and a straight razor for someone. I like sharp and pointy things."
"I heard." He looked at him and Xander leaned on Danny's shoulder. "Fine, you picked your side."
Xander strolled closer, making Sonny back up. "What was that?"
"Nothin'," he said, backing off, holding his ribs. "Have a nice day at work."
"I do hope so. Then again I do have the shock system on my door again. Did your guy like looking at my swords?"
"He did. I'm not goin' there, just wanted to know."
"Good. I do tend to get...vindictive."
"I saw your graduation."
Xander beamed. "I did a good job, didn't I?" The man nodded and hurried off. He put the knife back and came back. "So, wanna see my new place? I'm mid-decorating but it's nicer and more secure."
"You... you... ah..." He seemed to be lost.
Xander grinned. "We had a talk about living and let living. It's all good. We have mutual respect for each other's territories." Danny glared at him. "Until someone asks me for help."
"Uh-huh. You tell Mac."
"I would but I'm on my way to work. Bob had to get his cast off today. Going my way?"
"I am," he admitted. "Let's go." Xander beamed and got into the car, letting him drive him back. "How long ago did you two have the talk?"
"The day I moved in last week."
"Oh. Why was he holding his side?"
"I broke one of his ribs." Danny moaned and shook his head. "He offered me a job but I turned him down. After that one foray to see why I didn't want broken into they believe me now. Especially since he obviously did some homework and looked up graduation. So apparently our truce will hold."
"Good! It's good. He's killed people, Xander."
"And I've hunted vampires, Danny. Not much different in some ways."
Danny just nodded at that. He couldn't refute that statement. "So, you've got your own sub?"
"I'm learning and taking care of one of Steven's. He said I'm good at the basics, I need some more finesse and some new techniques. Pretty soon I'll have to move trainers," he said proudly. "I'm thinking about asking one of the top Dommes for some teaching time. She's a great lady and it's her only career. She's got a small empire."
"Oh. That's good. Is the money good in that?"
"Yeah, she makes about ten grand a week." Danny moaned. "She's also got a website and a domain out there that goes twenty-four seven."
"I'd have to work my way up to that. I don't want to live with a slave but I wouldn't mind doing something like that. Taking limited appointments for money while I had my favorites who needed me."
"Good. That sounds like you're thinkin' ahead," he said, turning onto the bridge to take them back to Manhattan. He was still mentally shuddering. "So, phone was disconnected?"
"No, I've got it on limited minutes. It's only seventeen bucks a month. I got a cellphone. I left the new number and address in Don's voicemail."
"I got it off him," he agreed. "You tell your dad and mom yet?"
"I told Dad and I emailed mom. She's switching over and having problems with the new phone."
"Oh. Sorry ta hear that."
"Me too." He grinned at him. "I'm the same guy I was, Danny."
"No, you're kinda not. The Xander I first met probably wouldn't have taken on a thug."
"Actually I probably would've done it and encouraged him so I could set up a dominance order."
"Oh." He shook his head at that. "I don't understand."
"Some things you might never understand," Xander said gently, patting him on the arm. "It'll be okay though. I'm still a nice guy on the side of good."
"Sure. I'm glad of that. I still gotta tell Mac."
"Go ahead, maybe he can explain the dominance thing I've got going."
"Could work for me," he agreed, dropping Xander up the block from his club. "There ya go. No parking closer."
"I understand. Have a better afternoon."
"Sure. You have a good day at work too." Xander nodded and went into the deli up the street then to the club while he watched. Then he headed back to work. "Mac?" he called, finding him in DNA. "You got two?"
"Sure. What's wrong?"
"Xander moved into Tanglewood territory." Mac moaned. "Oh, no, he scared off Sonny earlier," he said, holding up a finger. "Apparently they had a talk about dominance and a live and let live truce?"
"He beat him?"
"Sonny was holding a rib, Mac." That got a mean smirk. "So they're apparently holding a truce of some sort. He scared Sonny off me earlier."
"That was nice of him."
"He's got a sub, Mac."
"That's part of where he's working I guess." Danny shook his head with a moan. "What's worrying you?"
"I pointed out he wasn't the same guy, he said he would've done it faster before. To establish a dominance order?"
"He's a very dominant young man, a very alpha male if you will," he explained.
"Yes, Xander is," Sheldon said as he joined them. "He need those stitches out?"
"I haven't seen his stomach but he and Sassone got into it the night he moved. Apparently Sonny's gonna leave him alone now."
"Well, Xander can hunt," he agreed. "Mac said he had a good hand at self-defense too." Mac nodded. "Think of it like two lions, Danny. One's got a pride that he watches over. Another male moves in, of course he's going to try to send him away, make him part of the pride, or kill him. If that male defeats him, he could take over the pride."
"He said he turned down Sonny's offer of a job."
"Xander's like that, thankfully," Mac agreed. "But he established that all he wanted was a little corner of the area for a napping spot and the pride apparently shifted to allow it since he had beat the pack leader." Sheldon nodded that it was probably right. "So he'll be fine. Especially if Sonny's scared of him."
"He backed off pretty well. Mentioned his graduation too."
"Then he's not as dumb as I thought. He can look up information online."
"He probably had someone do it for him, Mac," Sheldon offered, patting him on the back. "He doesn't seem like he'd waste his time doing that."
"Probably not. So he probably sees Xander as somewhat psychotic and dangerous, but good enough if you leave him alone. Like the guys who go after Xander really." Danny slumped at that. "He'll be fine."
"Good! It's still dangerous!"
"Only if they clash. Sonny would have to force Xander to step in," Sheldon reminded him.
"He did tell Sonny they were cool unless he had to protect someone."
"See, then they've worked it out and Xander may actually be safer there because Sassone would tell the others to leave him alone. Especially if he thinks Xander's a bit unstable and prone to violence."
"Yeah, maybe," he agreed, thinking about it. "Thanks, guys. He said this new place was better but he's at work because the other guy had ta get his cast off."
"That's fine, we can stop in on him tomorrow," Mac reminded him with a smile. Danny nodded and left them there. He looked at Sheldon.
"I think Sonny will protect him because he knows that Xander will stomp him flatter than a tortilla if he hears Sonny handed him to someone. So maybe some of the serial killers or whoever that want Xander will stop."
"Maybe," he agreed, finding that a good point. "At least Sonny's doing something good if he does that." He walked off. Maybe he'd go check up on him, make sure Sonny got the point.
Sheldon shook his head and went back to his original trek to DNA. "Hi. Have anything for me yet?"
Xander looked at the person who worked for his grandfather, who didn't look happy. "Is he mad at me?" he asked hesitantly.
"He's worried about you," he corrected. "He's mad at someone else."
"Oh. Okay. Why is he worried about me?"
"You beat up on a well known thug and drug trafficker."
"Yeah but all I did was tell him to leave me alone."
"Point. Which is what's keeping him at worried the thug will do something stupider."
Xander shook his head. "He had someone look up graduation and he was giving me a look like he thinks I'm like the guys who keep hitting on me."
The older guy smiled at that. "Now and then, Xander."
"Yay me," he said, staring at him, then he suddenly smirked. "I'm doing good in my training. Steven said I'm progressing very nicely."
"Congratulations. I'll tell him that." He slid an envelope over. "He said this was yours for your birthday."
"My birthday's not for another month," he said, wiping off his hands. The other guy shrugged. He opened it and gaped, then carefully put the check back. "Way, way too much."
"Xander, he has the money, he wants you to be safe and comfortable."
"If you complain he'll storm off in a snit and it'll take days for the rest of us to calm him down. He'll yell and scream at me." Xander slumped at that, giving him a pitiful look. "He said it was yours for your birthday."
"Is he dying?"
"Some year soon," he agreed quietly. "He has cancer." Xander opened his mouth. "We're not sure, it carried over after his sire got to him, and we're keeping it at bay with magic," he said quietly. "He wanted you to have it."
"I'd rather have a relative who gave a damn." The man looked stunned. "Really. I mean, mom's across the country in Seattle. Dad's down in Miami. I'm kinda alone up here and all I really wanted was to get to know him. I don't want the money. What would I do with it anyway? Buy more leather? I'm good on that. I'd rather meet him to see if we can get along or not."
He smiled. "Good. Take the check anyway. I'll tell him you want to meet him." He pulled out the tape recorder and turned it off. "That way he knows." He patted him on the head. "Be a good boy, Xander."
"I try," he said weakly. The other man smiled and left. Xander looked around. "Boss?" he called pitifully. "Can I borrow a bouncer and hit the bank?"
"Why? Do we need change?" He came out of the office and walked over, looking at the envelope in his hand. He blinked at it, then at him. "Sure, kid. Craig?" He came over to the bar. "Take him to the bank."
"It's an early birthday present," Xander said weakly, looking at him.
"C'mon. My car's out back." Xander nodded, taking it with him. The letter inside got read over and he sighed. "What's wrong?"
"He wanted to see what I was going to do with it."
"Well, first of all, pay your rent a month ahead," he ordered. "Then figure it out." Xander nodded, looking at the check again. "That's a good size check."
"Yeah," he agreed. "I'm hoping it's real." They pulled into the bank and Xander went inside to let them find his account. The check was deposited and held so they could make sure it was real, especially since it was so large. Xander came back out with twenty bucks in ones and got back into the car. "Thanks."
"Welcome. You got change?"
"Yeah, I've got to do laundry."
Craig laughed. "Buy a machine, Xander."
"Then I'd have to move it." He went back to work thinking about it. He knew his grandfather worked with some gay rights groups. That's all he knew about his grandfather though. He considered it. There were some things he wanted to do. He had been promising himself he'd go down to the pound to volunteer at least once a week. He knew others who needed help. Including someone Willow knew who was looking for a way to help some people. He considered it. That would help a lot of kids who weren't lucky enough to have Timmy and Aiden in their lives. But if his father was involved with gay charities he would probably expect him to be too.... He grabbed a paper to read, pouting while he did it. The dom he was training with came over. "My grandfather, who I still haven't met yet, gave me an early birthday present," he said quietly, looking at him. "He's looking to see what I do with it."
"What're you going to do?"
"Do you think he'd demand that I go with a gay charity or do you think he'd mind if I did stuff with the pound and person who's looking to set up a new group home?"
"I don't know."
Xander sighed and nodded, slumping some. "I have it. Craig said I should pay the rent a month in advance."
"How much did he give you?"
Xander coughed and showed him the deposit slip, getting an appreciative look. "I don't want to spend all of it, but I.... What if he makes this part of meeting with me?"
"Then you don't need relatives like that," he said, shrugging a bit. "He wanted to know what *you'd* do with it, Tim. Not everyone else, not him. He knows what he'd do with it."
Xander nodded at that. "Sure. Thanks, Steven."
"Good." He smiled. "Can you unpout enough for another lesson?"
"Only if Bob comes back sometime soon."
"Agreed." That got a smile and he went to set up in his little corner tonight. Xander would come over when he had time. Bob would come back soon. Bob needed the money now so he'd be back very soon.
Xander walked up to the last person he had wanted to talk to, smiling at him. "Hi."
"Hi. Can I help you? Need counseling?"
"Actually, I could use some but I'd rather talk to my dad. He's good at giving me advice," he admitted. He looked around then sat down. "My grandfather gave me some money and he wanted me to do some good things with it. It's not much but I know you see a lot of people who need a little bit of help. They're kicked out, they're seriously needing help." He nodded. "It's not much but I figured you could combine them for whatever was needed or give them out as needed," he said, handing over the small manilla envelope. "Each one is twenty dollars. It's to a local super walmart so they can get food, clothes, pet food, whatever." That got a smile and a nod. "This is for the guys who need it."
"Whatever," Xander agreed. "Let some of the queens get better makeup if they need it." He grinned. "I saw one the other day who had a bad case of the mascara runs from the cheap stuff. My former friends had that problem now and then." That got a nod and a smile. He pushed the envelope closer. "Here, because they need it." He got up and walked out.
The man opened it and blinked at the stack of cards, pulling them out. They were in a few designs. Some puppies, a few happy face balloon, a few kitty ones. A few that were just Walmart. He counted them then smiled. "Hey, boss?" he called, leaning back. "Come here for a minute?" His boss came out of the office. "I just had a very confused looking young man come in and say his grandfather had given him some money to do some good things with." He shoved it back into the envelope. "He said it's for the local Super Walmart, they're each twenty dollars. We should check that to make sure. He said to give it to the guys or girls who needed it. Including one queen that needed better mascara. She had the runs."
He looked inside then at him. "You're kidding?" He shook his head. "Wow." He sat down to count them, calling the number on the back to check the balances. He went through each one. One was blank. He smiled and set that one aside. "We can fill that one I think." That got a smile and a nod. "For whatever they need?"
"He said he knew some had been kicked out or were in some serious spots. He said he went there so they could get food, pet food, whatever they needed." That got a smile. "I asked him if he needed counseling and he said his father would give him better advice."
"He probably could. He'd know the kid better than we ever could." He looked in the envelope again. Then at him. "Get his name?"
"We'll put it down as an anonymous donation. If you see him again, let me know."
One of the people leaned into the office. "He's a bartender down at one of the S&M clubs. I've seen him in there, he's taking lessons."
"Wow. Who's his grandfather?" That got a shrug. "Okay. Thanks. Should we send him a letter?"
"You could. He looked petrified when he was out here. I'm surprised he didn't drop it and leave." He smiled and went back to his own office again.
"Well," he said happily, smiling at his employee. "I'll go log those in. Get that one filled and bring it in tomorrow." He headed into the office to do that. It was a thoughtful gesture. Not overly generous but enough if you were having an emergency and needed something right then.
Xander looked at the man walking into the club, staring at him. He knew him. Somehow he knew him. "Hi."
"Xander," he said quietly. He looked around, the club was nearly deserted this time of day. "No other bartender?"
"He'll be in later to take my shift since it's got better tips. We switched this week." He leaned on the bar. "Do I know you?"
"I'm your grandfather."
Xander stared at him. "Wow," he said finally. The older man smiled and he knew he was a vampire, that didn't really matter to him at the moment. "Want to sit?"
"Boss?" He pointed at him. "I have to talk to him."
"Another stalker?" he demanded.
"Oh!" He nodded. "Go ahead, we're dead. Hop up to get it if someone comes in."
Xander nodded, leading him to a table where he had a good view of the bar but it was out of the way in case someone came in. "So, you're here."
"I am. Did you remember to get statements from them so you can claim that on your taxes?" Xander blushed. "The letters should be enough," he promised.
"I kinda donated anonymously since I didn't know your name."
"I gave that to you to do what you thought was right, Xander," he promised.
"Because I wanted to see what sort of man you are. You provided for yourself but not too much, just enough to make sure you had a comfort zone, then you went out and did good things with it. Where did you put it?"
"Um, the pound. I like animals. Kinda feel a kinship with them now and then," he admitted nervously. "The, um, counseling center up the road a few blocks? I gave them a lot of twenty dollar gift cards so they can help some of the people who're having an immediate problem." That got a smile. "And, um, Willow has a friend who's trying to set up a group home so I gave her some of it so she could buy the building."
"That sounds like you did a good job, Xander. Relax. You did what I wanted by not keeping it all. I'm very proud that you didn't keep it all. That's all I wanted."
"You didn't want me to go to a gay charity?"
"I was told you were still thinking about that."
"I'd like it to mean more than it did with Faith." He looked at him then at the bouncer looking behind the bar. "Coffee's made." That got a nod and he went to get himself some. He looked at his grandfather again. "Are you disappointed in me? Or dad?"
"Your father, highly. There's a lot of history that you don't know about, Xander."
"Why not? Did you send dad away? He was always so bitter."
He tapped the table a few times. "I was married a few times before I was turned," he started quietly. "I loved all my wives, young man. They were all very special to me. But after the third I couldn't stand to love again. So I went to the priesthood to soothe my ache."
"Dad thought you were selfish," Xander finished. That got a nod. "So he stormed off?"
"After trying to make me give him his inheritance early. He ranted and screamed and threatened that I would not give what was his by right to the Church. When I told him he'd get it upon my death and no sooner, he stomped off. I have no idea how he ended up in Sunnydale."
"How did you end up turned?"
He smiled. "This was a while ago, Xander, but I started to have the same doubts you are."
"You had serial killers after you?" he asked, looking confused. "Is it a family curse?"
"No. Well, not as far as I can tell. There's more a family annoyance than a curse but that's after you find a true mate as far as I know. In this case, the curse is more that we need to have someone very special who understands us. Then we're annoyed to make sure they're really there for us."
"And your sire was yours," Xander said. He nodded, looking grim. "I mean, I don't care. I'm not going to stake you unless you try to eat someone in front me and they're screaming for help. I'm not just a random hunter anymore. I learned better. I really did."
"I know you did. Calm down." Xander took a deep breath. "Good boy." He smiled, a gentle, fatherly smile. "My sire showed me that what I wanted wasn't evil and wrong, or as dirty a the Church thought. He opened me up to a wider life. I had fought this urge throughout my life, not always successfully." Xander blinked at that. "Even though I loved my wives, occasionally the lure of the flesh would call out. I am still but a man."
Xander nodded. "I've had that one."
"Good. Then you do understand." He stroked his hand. "My last son, your father, didn't. Wouldn't really. He refused to. He condemned me for that as much as for not giving him his money."
"Which is why he'd go off on anti-gay rants now and then," Xander said wisely. His grandfather nodded. "Then why wait to meet me?"
"I wasn't about to go to Sunnydale and be driven insane by the power there, Xander."
"You knew," he said quietly.
"I found out later, not when it was happening. I didn't know he'd had you until you were nine." Xander went pale at that. "I heard it through the system and I sent someone to watch and help you where they could. They're the ones who pointed your location out to Willow and helped her learn what she needed to." Xander went more pale at that. "I did demand your father send you to me."
"I heard him say he'd kill me before handing me over."
"He did. I nearly had him killed and taken away from your mother. I would have if I didn't have some ethics left. Instead I did what I could."
"Do you know what they did to me?"
He swallowed and nodded. "As I said, I found out afterward, Xander, and I did what I could. You were nearly taken twice by my operative in that town but someone intervened both times. Mostly at the urging of the Mayor and the Hellmouth." Xander slumped again. "It does love you."
"More than most," he said bitterly, looking at him.
"I know. I did try. My operative got killed when you were eleven while he was trying to take you away from them. The hellmouth sent some vampires his way and had him killed." Xander slumped at that. "I sent others but the powers there made them go wrong or hurt them." He swallowed. "I had to make due with teaching your friends."
"Did Giles know?"
"No. He's heard of me. I'm in his books."
Xander looked at him. "You stayed in the priesthood after you were turned?" He nodded. "I've read a bit about you."
"I'm sure you have. I'm an anomaly, Xander." Xander looked and had to get up to get someone a drink, still looking confused. He got a few more then came back. "This is why I wanted to take it slowly. "
"No, I'd rather have it this way. Even if I'm angry for a few weeks I'll get over it soon enough," Xander told him. "Drawing it out means I'd go do stupid stuff while I thought."
"That is a concern I have," he agreed, smiling at him. "I know you're driven to hunting, Xander. I know that you only take on those who're attacking unless they annoy you. Frankly that one punk annoyed me too." He got a faint grin at that. "I want to start a real relationship with you. I know it will take time and there's hurts on your side from where I couldn't help you, but I don't have that much time left."
"Is this a deathbed penance, clearing your soul of burdens?" Xander asked. His grandfather looked stunned. "I've had one person do that before."
"No." He shook his head. "No, it's not." Xander relaxed again at that. "Who did that?"
"Oh. I'm sorry you lost him."
"He wasn't mine, Patrick. He tempted me a lot and he got me to think about it, but I had to put that off due to graduation. I knew I'd never sleep with him."
"We often do know," he agreed, relaxing again. "I want to get to know the last of my relatives, Xander."
"I'm the only one?"
"I have one nephew by marriage."
"Oh." He nodded at that. "Okay. I don't want anything." His grandfather looked stunned. "If you're here to be my grandfather and my relative, I don't need money. I make a decent salary. I'd like a relative. One who gave a damn would be nice. But a relative at all is nice. I don't want to be spoiled or anything like that."
"You're a very stubborn young man," he said dryly.
Xander nodded. "My father did raise me and told me repeatedly to never take anything from anyone, it always came with strings. It's about the only good thing I ever got from him, that and how to cure a hangover, so I don't want strings. All I want is a grandfather."
Patrick smiled and nodded. "I think we can work on that, but if you do need the help you will ask?"
Xander shook his head. "I'm not like that. If I have needs, I make sure I take care of them myself. That way no one can claim I owe them sometime later. I've got a good apartment and a great job that I love. I don't need anything else right now."
"Might be nice but I can fix the heap, I think."
"No, you can't," he said, shaking his head. "It's already been towed."
"I talked to them." That got a smirk. "I know, I'm an arrogant bastard but if we're going to be relatives and I'm going to get to know you, I can't have you giving me things. Except chocolates now and then because I have a very good sweet tooth."
His grandfather considered it. "As long as you let me help if you do *need* something." Xander slumped. "Like if you got ill, you'd let me cover the hospital bills."
Xander considered it then nodded slowly. "I can see that one. Or if I can't find a job for years on end." He got up and went to pour the coffee. "Hi, Steven. My grandfather came in." He got him his coffee and a hug then went back. "Sorry, I'm training with him."
"I heard. Does it make you happy?"
"I think I'm helping them get something that they need when things get to be too much. I'm a pressure release valve and a way to help them find themselves. You're disappointed, aren't you?"
"No, grandson, I'm not. If that makes you happy I have no complaints." Xander relaxed again. "Now, I'll let you get back to work for the night."
"You can stay and watch my next lesson if you want."
"No, that should be a private moment. I am still much too Catholic to be comfortable watching someone be broken." Xander nodded at that, smiling a bit. "Do not worry so much, Xander. It takes years off your life. Now, be a good boy. I'll see you next week on your day off." He stood up and started to walk off.
"Where?" Xander called.
"Sure, Patrick. Thank you." He considered it for a few minutes after he had left, then woke up and found Steven sitting across from him. "My grandfather."
"I heard." He sipped his coffee. "You okay?"
"I don't know," he admitted. "I'm confused."
"I'm shocked you didn't stake him, Xander."
"He's not hunting."
"You only go after hunters?"
"Okay, and Petrov but he was an annoying bastard and he was picking on me. He got around to challenging me." He slumped some. "I don't enjoy it, Steven, but it's necessary sometimes."
"It is now and then," he agreed. He finished his coffee. "Did he give you any strings?"
"No and I told him he couldn't spoil me either. That I'd rather have a relative than a car."
"Cars are nice but parking is a city-wide problem." He smiled at him. "Go make more coffee. You gave me the bottom of the pot." Xander nodded and went to do that while he watched him. He was still clearly confused and thinking. "Focus, Xander. You can't practice your other arts while your mind is not clear." Xander nodded and worked on calming his thoughts. He'd think about it later. When Xander had everything set up so Bob could come in and do things, he came over to help Xander learn some new technique and equipment. He nodded at the owner. "I'm monopolizing his time."
"Bob called, he's on his way in," he agreed. "You can have Xander when he's here." That got a nod and Xander went back to the bar to putter and clean. "How is he doing?"
"He's doing good but he's so alpha he can't learn from the bottom up like most doms do. I'm a very back-to-basics dom in technique and there's some other things he could learn but he'd best learn it from someone like Lady Heather. I've written her about him and she's sounded interested if he wants to learn more."
"That's a great honor."
"It is," he agreed. "He'll do fine," he promised, smiling when Bob came in. "Bad day?"
"Not to horrible. Hi, Xander. Go beat someone." Xander smiled and came back to Steven's side.
"Good, let's go. We'll go back over the different ways to strap someone in tonight." Xander nodded and followed him to the room that had all the straps.
The boss shook his head. "We'll lose him someday but he'll be a credit to the bar," he decided. He went to check on Bob since he was still looking like he was in pain.
Xander finally got to go out to Las Vegas to meet with Lady Heather, who was as pale as most vampiresses he had ever seen. She looked good in the picture he found with her like that though. He nodded at the woman who answered the door. "I'm Xander Harris, here to speak to Lady Heather. I have an appointment in about a half hour?" The girl in the bondage gear let him inside with a nod. She looked at the bag. "Training reports from my teacher."
"This way," she ordered, leading him up to a sitting room. "Tea?"
"No thank you. I'm a soda sort but a water would be great. Thank you." She smiled. "I know, I babble. It happens," he agreed, nodding at that. She laughed and got him a glass of ice water while before she went to tell her Mistress he was there. Xander put down his glass and stood up when the pale, black haired lady came in. "Lady Heather, it's an honor to meet one of the Queen Dommes of the US."
She smiled. "You flatter very well."
"I was raised by girls."
"Ah." She sat and he waited. "Sit," she said with appreciation. "I've spoken with Steven a few times about your training." Xander nodded. "He did say that there were problems with you learning the traditional way?" He took off his shirt and she stared in horror at some of the scars. "That wasn't one of us." If it was, she'd hunt them down and have them killed by flogging.
He put it back on and sat again. "No, m'lady. I was one of the protection squad in Sunnydale and before that my parents decided I was a good thing to sell for extra cash." He brushed some of his hair back. "Plus I was told to be honest with you. I was possessed twice, once by a hyena spirit and once by a soldier."
"I've heard of what goes on in Sunnydale. You're Buffy's Xander?" He nodded at that, taking a sip of his water. "Do not be nervous of me, Xander. There's no need at this point."
He put down his water and smiled. "I was thinking about doing what you're doing here, only on a lesser scale, Lady Heather. Keeping those who *need* me, and need what I can give them, and then taking in a few paying clients." She tipped her head at that. "Steven said I've learned all he could teach me, except not to babble now and then, or bounce, but mostly not to babble." He saw her smile and calmed himself. "He also sent me out with tapes from the training I've been doing with him. I've taken some of his harder clients recently with him watching over me."
"They're mostly officers. They need a stronger arm than he's got and I understand that life a bit better than he said he did. He does something in an office all day. They've had situations like I did while hunting or they saw kids who were hurt like I was. Plus they're usually more stubborn about breaking so it was also a lesson in patience."
"Which is understandable. May I have the tapes?" He pulled them out of his bag and the file folder of reports from Steven. "He said to give me all this?" He nodded. "Hmm. He must think much of you, Xander. Do you use your natural name?"
"Tim, after my father, the one who saved me."
"Is he alive?"
"In Miami. My adoptive mother is in Seattle."
"Ah. You do know that there's a police convention this weekend?" He smiled at that. "Going to lunch with him?"
"Steven taught you well."
"I had to put up with Buffy with PMS and no chocolate and Willow on a magic high in the same state. I learned to fear all women because ninety percent of them want to kill me."
She giggled, something she hadn't done in a very long time. "What were you interested in learning, Xander?"
"As much as I can," he admitted. "But I could only get three weeks off my other job."
"Let me watch this to see where you are now, then we'll see what we can do. For tonight, go have fun, take your father to dinner. They're at Camelot." He nodded at that. "Are you?"
"Circus Circus. I'm still fighting my clown phobia and I thought it'd help."
"It's wise man who knows his weaknesses."
"But I don't trust hardly anyone to show them to," he warned.
"I understand. Many abuse survivors are the same way," she promised. "Go. Come back tomorrow at eight pm, sharp."
"Yes, m'lady." He stood up and put his glass back in the sink after dumping it out. "I thank you for the time you'll spend teaching me." He kissed her on the cheek then left with his bag.
She smiled. "He is a charming young man." She flipped through the file, reading his weekly progress reports. And the amusing notes about the serial killers who seem to like the young man. The tapes gave her a very good view of what he could and could not do. He still needed some patience but that too could be learned. As could a lighter hand on the paddle. She almost winced at one person's treatment but he broke after that and Xander went to soothe him. When he was done Xander asked him if he needed more, staring into his eyes. The man nodded so he chose a different instrument, going to a more slow, methodical approach to breaking him down again. Clearly a bad repression case. But at the end of the tape he was sobbing and fully releasing it. He had been good with him. He was stroking his head and soothing him now. He wasn't even making a sexual move and when someone did come over to Xander made sure his subject was ready before turning him over to his lover. That spoke of future skill and having The Touch.
Xander peeked around a corner, finding almost no one in the lobby, so he snuck over to the desk.