Clothing And Other Issues.
Xander looked in his closet and groaned. His teacher had said they were going out on a day-long ride along so he had to dress appropriately. He still didn't know what to wear and his assignment had only come last night. Now he had about half an hour to figure this out since they hadn't given it until after everything had closed. And of course, Tony was at his place last night. He called Kate. "What does one wear when doing a day-long ride along with the CIA?" He listened to her splutter. "No, I have jackets, pants, dress shirts. No ties. I have no fucking clue. Ten last night," he admitted dryly. "Well after everything was closed. The instructor doesn't like me very much, claims I'm too smart and heroish for my own good and I'll get a lot of good agents dead. I pointed out I hadn't yet and he just glared." He looked at his closet again. "Can I get by without the noose? I mean the tie?" He sighed. "Got an extra one I can borrow? Tony's probably already on his way in." He sighed again. "Thank you, Kate." He hung up and pulled out the outfit she suggested, heading in to deal with his hair and change his earrings. He wasn't taking them out for today.
Xander parked his bike and got off, looking at the front of the Langley complex. "Wonderful. Why the fuck am I here?" he muttered, heading for the reception area. He looked at the metal detector, then at the guards. "I've got shrapnel in my left shoulder and some pieces of bomb in my back now. Can we hand wand me?"
The guard nodded and pulled out the hand wand, letting him move that way. He watched as the kid emptied his pockets. "The earrings too, sir."
"Sure." He got to work taking them out. "Nipple ring too?" he asked dryly.
"You're not the usual sort of agent."
"Day long internship," he complained. "I'm a cadet."
"The other one got here an hour ago."
"I was told to show up now. My trainer hates me."
"She was a bit over eager."
"Ah. I know her. He hates her too." He put his arms out, letting him do what he needed to do. "Do I need a sticker for my bike?"
"No, we saw you pull up and I'll note you as a cadet." He put it away. "Thank you, sir."
"Welcome. I do the same at NCIS." He put back in his earrings then grabbed the rest of his stuff, heading for the desk that had 'reception' on the front. "Hi, Xander Harris, reporting as ordered for the internship day."
"Hi," she said, smiling at him. "You're not the usual sort."
"Yeah and my teacher hates me," he noted dryly. "Do I look okay enough? I got told at ten last night."
"You look fine. You should have a tie but we'll deal, and the earrings should go."
"I'm not changing myself for them, but I'll be polite enough to put on a tie if I had one," he said with a sweet grin. "But I don't change who I am for my bosses."
She smiled and paged someone, then looked at a door. She handed him a pass. "Go through there, keep that badge on all day. What're you driving?"
"The brown motorcycle with the taser system."
"I'll make note of that," she agreed happily. "Go through that door, the badge lets you in. Have fun today, we're still recruiting."
"I like Gibbs," he told her. "He's a great guy and I learn stuff from him." She looked stunned at that so he beamed. "I'm their cult expert, Xander."
"Oh!" She nodded. "Understood. No wonder they don't like you."
He grinned and nodded, heading that way, using his badge on the sensor to get through the door. He found two guys waiting. "Which of you am I here to bug the shit out of by asking questions?" he asked blandly. They both gave him an odd look. "I'm a cadet, sent to do the day-long thing?"
"Me," a voice called, an older man coming out of the office. "This way, Mr. Harris. We wondered how late your teacher was going to tell you to be." He looked him over. Black dress pants, black dress shirt with two buttons undone, green jacket, earrings, spiky hair. "I can see why they don't like you."
Xander smirked. "Maybe it's because I was helping Gibbs," he noted dryly.
"I know Jethro. You're that Xander?" He nodded, still smirking. "Ah. I've heard much about you. Would you think about coming to work for us?"
"I don't know yet. I'm guessing this gives you guys the day to recruit and monitor us for stupidity."
"Basically that's how we use it," he agreed, leading him back into the office. "Of course you know Fi-Fi."
"Hey," Xander said, nodding at her. "When did he call you?"
"Around midnight. He hates me more than you because I had cramps."
"Ah. He hates me because I disarmed the bomb the teacher froze on when one was delivered." He looked at the guy. "Let's get past the bullshit, we know we're not the favored students, they went to the FBI to get coffee today."
"At least you're realistic," he offered. "Sit, let's talk about our areas and programs. Do either of you know anything substantial about terrorism? I know Xander knows something about cults and those sort of things."
Fi-Fi smiled at him. "I'm a profiler candidate, sir. I'm also top of my academy class when I went through the New York one."
"Interesting. Did you do any specializing when you went?"
"I thought about Vice but it was wearing me down when I went so I went to robbery for a bit before heading for this academy. I'd rather deal with the less common criminal."
"Well, we certainly deal with those here. Mission Impossible isn't quite just a movie, but we do some of that as well."
Xander leaned back, looking at him. "I've got an impressive history in self-defense, antique weapons, obscure knowledge, explosives, construction, and how to fuck up computer systems."
"So I've heard, at least about the computer systems," he noted dryly.
"Do you have a name or should I do what I did to DiNozzo and just make one up for you?" he asked with a smirk.
"Sorry, I'm Ron Fedders."
Xander shook his hand. "I'll warn you right now, Agent Fedders, I'm horrible with names."
"He is," Fi-Fi agreed dryly. "Can you introduce me to that guy McGee?"
"I would but he's dating someone," Xander offered. "I can do it professionally though."
"I'd like professionally more," she agreed. "I'm not interested in the ass I can get in DC."
"Sure. I think mentoring another agent would be good for him. Where did you pick for your other two spots?"
"NCIS and I left one blank, I figured we could go together." Xander nodded. "Yours?"
"NCIS for both. Since I'm in and out of there so often," he said dryly. "That's where I want to end up anyway." He looked at Fedders. "Not to insult you but I'd make a horrible covert guy. I'd have to take notes." That got a slight, tired chuckle. "So, what can we do to annoy you today?"
"Well, today I was going to show you around, talk up our program, see if there's an area you might fit in anyway. Because we can always call you back if so." He smiled at him. "We often do. We have former agents and specialists in many agencies today." He heard the alarm going off and groaned. "No, not today." He stood up. "Come on, it's a fire drill."
"Sure," Fi-Fi agreed, picking up her briefcase. She noticed Xander didn't have one. "You didn't even bring paper?"
"No. I'm going to forget they don't want me later." He walked out behind them, that's why he wasn't shot. That's also why he pulled his gun and fired back once the two bodies landed in front of him. Two head shots and a leg shot later, and he yelled for some help for the two fallen people. Paramedics came rushing and he walked out, well he was more pulled by one of the other agents. "Hi," he said, smiling at the receptionist. "Is my bike okay?"
"Just fine, it's still standing. How did you get that in?"
He grinned. "Magic." He looked at the guy storming out, raising an eyebrow. "Hi."
"Harris. Cadet Harris," he said blandly.
"Gibbs's student?" That got a nod. "Ah, I see. Thank you for your help. How did you get that in here?"
"Magic," he said honestly. The agent next to him glared. He looked at the director, who gave him a thoughtful look. "I'm not that strong."
"Fine. Put it back." Xander put it back and it disappeared from view. The agent looked stunned. "That's part of the Orion project, son. Forget you saw it." He hurried off in the other direction. "Would you like to come work with us?"
"Hell no. I'm looking forward to working for Gibbs."
"Yeah, I kinda had to prove it repeatedly but yeah." He shrugged. "It's on my bike too."
"I had wondered."
"My bike is an heirloom. If it's touched or harmed, I get to get..cranky. Like Rosenburg cranky." The man looked stunned. "You didn't see who they sent from Sunnydale?" he asked dryly.
"I didn't realize you're the same guy, but that makes sense with the way Gibbs used you as a source on that cult," he offered, looking the boy over. "We can keep you for a knowledge and help source?"
"Up to Gibbs. Ask him. I wanna work with him."
"Fine. Good work."
"Not the first time. I would like to wear out some energy. Do we have a self-defense class going?"
"We do. Your fellow cadet looks like she'll live," he noted as they were walked out. "Very nice work, Harris."
"Eh, sometimes it's got to happen. So, what's the CIA doing with magic these days?" he asked as the man walked him off. "I ask to make sure nothing I'm doing is going to compromise your routine or get me in trouble."
"No, it shouldn't. We're doing covert surveillance at the moment to find people we should worry about."
"Interesting and fairly easy. No long-distance magic assassinations?"
"No, for those we have a hunting team go in." He opened a door and led him down to the basement level. "In here, Mr. Harris." He nodded at the teacher. "We just had a shooting."
"I heard. Another who needs stress relief?" Xander nodded. "Take off the jacket, little boy." He looked him over and Xander took off his jacket and shirt, leaving him in an tank top. "Cute."
"Thank you," he said with a smirk. "I'm also mostly trained but in no official style."
"That's fine." The director nodded so he bowed to the boy, who bowed back, then he attacked at his fastest. The boy sneered and attacked back, going for real. He was shocked, the kid knew what he was doing with speed. He slowed him down and that's where he found the fault, that and his left side was marginally weaker. "How did you get past with the eyesight problem?"
"Someone wanted me to go." He spun and got him on the back, dodging an attack, then did a leg sweep, landing him on the ground. He bowed and backed up, going back to a ready stance. "Thank you, I needed that." He put back on his shirt and jacket, buttoning the shirt up as he walked out with the director of the special project. "So, you wanted me to see your big basin of water?"
"Quicksilver. It works better."
"I never heard of that." He walked with him, tucking in his shirt now. His gun was exposed but he shifted it and it went back to hidden. "Nice wards."
"Thank you. We try." He looked at his earring. "The sapphire holds a shield?"
"You betcha. It compensates."
"I noticed the left side weakness."
"It's gone. Caleb." He let him open the door and walked in, looking at the people gathered around, nodding at them. "Hola."
The director walked in and smiled. "This is Cadet Harris. He's here for his day-long interview." He walked him into the back area so he could watch what they were doing. "We could use a man with your skills," he offered around lunch. He had sandwiches brought in for the whole team, making him look like a good and generous boss.
"You could, but you've got others in my class and weight," he retorted, looking at him. "If it's something that I'm skilled in and Gibbs agrees, you can have me back," he assured him. "Nothing against someone. I do protective and defensive magic mostly. I'm a Watcher, not a villain." He ate a bite of his sandwich. "Any update on Fi-Fi? Who is a kick-ass profiler who knows about the strange shit. She did Albany, New York for about a year and saw some then. She's good at profiling guys like Klerg, who's in Romania by the way."
"He is?" He looked at the boy. "How do you know?"
"He's a Watcher, a former one but we've called some out of retirement to watch over areas for us again. Since the original group was blown to hell." He ate another bite of his sandwich and chewed while the man considered this new information. "I will say this now. Should there be a new Initiative built, I'd have to stop them."
"I'm trying to make sure no one else gets one, Mr. Harris."
"Then talk to Rupert back in Sunnydale. He's part of the Council. Him, Wes. A few others."
"Mr. Wyndham-Pryce died," he noted dryly.
"That doesn't mean he didn't come back. Remember, the Powers That Be are still powerful for the Champions, the Slayers, and those who do the job." He finished his sandwich, looking at him. "Ask."
"I shall. I had no idea that they were reforming. They're in Sunnydale?" Xander nodded. "Then I'll ask politely."
"Thank you." He smirked. "I'd hate to be called back to work on the Council. I don't want a seat. I'm good being a field Watcher."
"As you seem very skilled to be," he agreed. He looked at someone as they came running and whispered in his ear. "I know." He looked at Xander. "You have a taser system?"
"Of course. I'm not going to rely on the magic one Wes and I put on." He got up. "Shall we?" That got a nod and the new agent led him up there. He walked over to it, turning it off with his remote, making the agents around it jump. "You expected me to not guard an heirloom I inherited from a man who was like my brother?" he asked dryly.
"Who are you?" one guy said, looking him over. "You're not the usual sort."
"Cadet Harris. In for my day-long thing."
"He's been with us since the shooting, down in Sub-Four," the other agent assured him.
"You shot behind Fedders," one of the other guys noted.
"No, I shot once he fell. That's the first I knew there was a problem. He and my fellow cadet got shot in front of me and I took out that person and the other two coming." He shrugged. "It's what I do."
"Can we see your gun, kid?" the first agent demanded. Xander pulled it and handed it over. "This is nice. How did you get it in?"
"Magic," he said with an eyebrow quirk. "I'm like that." He held out a hand. "Did you need it for ballistics?"
"You'll never work here."
"Who said I wanted to? This is the one the teacher picked for us. Which means we're hated for being good and not the standard Feeb sort." He wiggled his fingers. "May I have my weapon back?" he asked calmly. The man handed it back. "Thank you." He put it back but didn't activate the spell. "We were told we had the right to carry."
"You do." He moved closer, staring at him. "Who are you?"
"Cadet Alexander Harris. Look it up," he snapped back, glaring at him. "That's not going to work. I know cheerleaders tougher than you." He grinned. "Now, I'm going to rearm my security system, and then I'm going to allow myself to be led back to where I was. Was there a problem with my security system?"
"They blew most of the parking lot," one of the guys standing around noted, waving a hand. "All but your bike."
Xander looked at him, then at the other agent, who shrugged. Xander looked at him. "That bike was given to me by a man who was as close to me as my brother. He said it'd never fail, never get injured if someone shot at me, and he was dead when I got it. Maybe his ghost is guarding it." The man looked stunned so he looked behind him, raising an eyebrow at the creature coming out. "Please tell me you work here," he said in one of the more common demon languages.
"I do. That is a nice bike."
"The Hunter Wesley gave it to me. As you very well know. The same as you know who I am and that my bike will take your hand off if you touch it."
"I do. Calm down." He looked at the agents. "His brother's kind were like me. They warded it."
"Fine. He could've said he was part of Orion," one guy complained.
"He's not. We're looking at him as a specialist for some duties." He looked at the hunter. "You know his language?" he asked Xander.
"I read his language and I speak enough of the common tongues to not get killed for misspeaking in the bars." He shrugged and grinned. "It came in handy."
"I can see that. Alexander, this is Homer, one of our hunting teams in Orion."
Xander bowed properly. "Well met, Hunter Homer," he said in the demon tongue.
"Well met, Hunter Harris."
"Watcher," he corrected.
"Ah. No wonder. You're the local Watcher too?" Xander nodded. "Very well then. You should be aware that not all of us have left. There's a new enclave that just moved in to feed off the last dregs of the magic."
"I saw and felt. I'm dealing with them soon. Thank you for the warning though." He smiled at him. "Do your kind have anything in the massive species libraries that might account for the energy warping we had going on? I was asked to study that."
"There is some. I'll see if you're allowed to know and see." He bowed again and backed off. "Have a nice day, Harris."
"You as well," he agreed, smiling at him. He looked at the other agents, then turned back on the security system. "Anything else?" They shook their heads. "Then I thank you for warning me something tried to get my bike. Both my bike and my car are like that." He took the agent's arm and walked back inside with him, going back to work.
Gibbs looked up as someone stopped in front of his desk, taking the folder they held out. "What's this?" He looked inside and moaned. "The kids okay?"
"LaRange had a shoulder injury, she'll be able to do her internship with you, as she requested. Harris shot three of them," he said blandly, staring at him. "Who the hell is Harris?"
"Ask the director," he noted, putting it aside for DiNozzo to look at later. He looked at him. "I've only been working with the kid to get him ready for field work."
"He's more than ready and Orion wants him."
"He'd go specialist for them," McGee offered from his desk, looking over. "Sorry but Orion can't use another hunter from what we were told by the people they've approached, and he's not good in their main areas. They'll go to him for specialist purposes with permission." He looked at him and smiled. "I remember you when I went to the academy, sir. You sent me to the CIA too." The man stomped off so he printed off the email and handed it over. "Xander sent it about an hour ago. He said not to worry about it if you got told." He went back to his desk.
"Why didn't you tell me an hour ago, McGee?"
"Because you hadn't been told at that time, Boss."
"I want to know about these things before someone comes to try to intimidate me."
"Yes, Boss, from now on I'll do that right away."
"Good." He looked over as Tony came off the elevator, handing him the email and the file. "From the CIA this morning."
"What did he do?" Tony asked, taking it and going back to his seat. He looked at the email and snorted, shaking his head. "He warned, it's a bad thing." He flipped open the report and groaned. "Wonderful." He looked at the email again then back at the report, nodding a few times. "Extremely wonderful, Boss. Is he in trouble?"
"No. Both of them will be here for their internship on time."
"He wasn't hurt," McGee told him.
"He will be later," Tony muttered, handing it to Kate when she came in.
She looked at it, then nodded. "He seemed like the sort to jump in to me too." She smiled at Gibbs. "If I have to do another orientation lecture, I'm going to have Xander come shoot them. If I don't. Can't I come back to work?"
"Go ask the director, he wanted you to go through them."
She went to bother the director, earning a long stare when she appeared. "I can wait, sir."
"What's wrong, Agent Todd?"
"Orientation, again, sir. I'm going to have to hurt them. I nearly did the first time, this time I'm bringing Harris with me tomorrow so he can hurt them."
That got a faint smile. "Fine. Report for duty. I'll allow you to be reprimanded by Gibbs if you get into trouble with the computer use policy, like McGee does constantly."
"Hey you wanted him for his computer skills," she noted dryly.
"Point. How is Harris? I didn't get the file."
"It said he's fine and Fi-Fi LeRange has a shoulder injury. Is that her real name?"
"No, it's a cover. She's the daughter of someone and everyone knows that but they don't know of who so they can't suck up to her for her father's sake."
"Oh, wonderful. Thank you, sir." She headed back down to her desk, glaring at Gibbs. "You get to complain if I mess up too badly on anything they would've tortured me with for the next few days."
Gibbs called down there. "Prestons, Gibbs. I've stolen Todd back with the Director's knowledge. Tough, it's not like she didn't do it before she got taken." He hung up and went back to his reading. "We should have a case soon."
"Good. I'm sure I've still got some that were leftover when I...disappeared." He looked at her. "Unsolveds?"
"In your bottom desk drawer," he noted dryly, smirking at her. "I expect you to spend the time wisely, Todd."
"Yes, sir." She pulled them out and got to work, nibbling on a pretzel while she went back over them.
"No food at the desk," Tony called. "Memo number 12548."
She looked at him. "Then what's your soda, Tony?"
"Good for me and a drink, Kate."
"Children," Gibbs said impatiently. "Remember, we're getting Harris and LeRange in for two weeks starting Monday. Prepare for the worst now so we've got time to work on them and make them reasonable agents."
"I wondered why she had a stripper's name," Tony muttered but he got to work.
"Wasn't she a cop first, Boss?" McGee asked, smiling at Adrian Marquez as she came in.
"She was, in Albany."
Marquez walked up to Gibbs, glancing at Kate. "Boss, I feel odd sitting in Agent Todd's former desk. Would you like us to switch so I can have McGee closer when I make the computer explode again? That way she can keep DiNozzo on the job?"
"That's up to you two, Marquez."
"Sorry, Kate?" She smiled. "You look like a hanger-on over there. This way I'll get LaRange and you get Harris."
"Sure," she decided, packing everything up so they could switch desks. "Are the cadets sharing the spare desk, Gibbs?"
"Yup. It's only for two weeks. I'm sure they can tag-team write reports and things. It's not like I want them doing more than taking statements and working beside one of the more experienced agents," he said without looking up. He had no idea how Xander would handle his first crime scene, he wanted someone there to hold his hand and keep him from doing stupid shit. "Not you, DiNozzo," he ordered, just thinking about that.
"No, Boss, I wasn't going to suggest it. I was thinking Kate would be good for that. She can frustrate him to no end. I'll take LaRange if you want. She's a former cop and so am I. I'll understand where she's coming from."
"Good idea, DiNozzo, your first this month. Now get back to work." His phone rang and he answered it. "Gibbs." He listened to the report and smirked. "That's not my fault, Director. Yell at the boy himself." He hung up and shook his head. "They found out why Xander's bike was still standing in the parking lot as well," he noted dryly. "They like him over there."
"He'll never go CIA," Tony said firmly, staring him down. "You know the kid sees you like his alternate father," he said at the stare back. "There's no way he'd go over there, Gibbs."
"Good point. Make sure he understands why he's going to be handcuffed to Todd when he gets here when you go to chew him a new one later, DiNozzo."
"Yes, Boss. I'm planning on that anyway." He leaned back and put his feet up, going over the case file he had pulled out. "Can we give them some of the cold cases and let them see if they come up with a new angle?"
"Sure," he agreed. "That's good training for the first week." That got smiles all around. "McGee, how's the other team doing? I don't want my agents poached at the wrong moment."
"Doing busts today, Boss. They've found the main head of the connection and are taking him and his top people down as we speak."
"Good. Excellent. Will they need to borrow you again?"
"No, Boss. Just some mop up and their agent is back and cleared for field duty."
"Even better. Marquez, anything you want to report on the people who've been borrowing you?"
"They're back at full strength as well, Boss. She just came back from maternity leave and is cleared for field duty as well."
"Good. Take two of Todd's cold cases and get to work."
"Yes, Boss." She went to get the two Kate wanted her to have, grinning at her. She liked Kate, a lot, and they worked well together. "Anything I should know?"
"Yeah, they're two I'm pretty sure who did it but I can't prove it. One's a porn ring gone wrong and one's a stripper killer."
"Oooh, fun. Just like my old job," she said with a smirk, heading back to her seat. She got everything arranged and got comfortable to look it over. Then she put back up her chair. It fell again. "Boss, permission to poach furniture?"
"Go for it," he agreed dryly. "Let them fill out requisitions for new chairs." He watched as she rolled her chair to the next team's row and brought one back. "That one works?"
"It's high enough for me," she assured him, "and firm enough." She sat down and sighed in pleasure, getting back to work.
The phone on Gibbs' desk rung and they all stared at it, they were bored and on edge anyway.
"Gibbs." He took down information and noticed the whole team gathering their bags and coats. "We'll be right there." He hung up. "Marquez, get the truck. McGee, ride with her. Todd, we're taking my car."
"Gee, Boss, am I staying?" Tony demanded as he followed.
"You can have the back seat," Kate said with a smug look back at him. They piled in and Marquez snatched the paper to look at, making her braver than she was. "What's the case, Boss?"
"Kidnaped wife. The daughter called it in."
"I'm having a flashback to the mini-Gibbs," Tony joked.
"Not even close. They were at her daughter's beauty pageant. The daughter's eight." Everyone winced, they all had problems with little kids dressed up like they were being sold. "Let's go." His people headed for their vehicle and they went.
Xander walked into the house and shut the door, locking it and leaning against it. "Damn," he said, seeing Abby. "Nothing to do tonight?"
"No. Gibbs told me to come chew you a new one since Tony's busy on a kidnaping." She moved closer, pulled him away from the door, and swatted him on the head. "How stupid are you!"
"He wanted me to be shot?" he demanded, heading for the kitchen.
"No, but you used magic at Langley."
"They've got their own people doing it there," he called, grabbing a soda. He handed it off and took a second one for himself. Then he sat down at the table and looked at her. "I did what I had to do to protect my life. If I had been more on the ball I wouldn't have let the two in front of me get shot, Abby."
"It doesn't matter."
"It was partially staged by one of their own."
"I figured that out earlier when they were wondering why my bike was still standing. There were other cars still standing and my bike was away from the blast area. Why come after it?" He popped the top and took a drink. "Besides, it got me into the Orion project most of the day."
She looked at him, then looked him over. "You went in that?"
"I don't own a tie, Abby."
"Fine." She sat down and looked at him. "You need wardrobe help."
"Tony took me shopping."
"Apparently not enough. Can you even move around in those pants?" He nodded, looking at her. "Are you sure? They're nearly clubbing tight."
"I wear my pants this way for a reason. I'm used to tighter things. That way I don't get tangled up in them."
"Fine." She pouted at him. "Are you okay?"
"No caffeine all day," he complained, taking another drink. She smiled at him. "I'm fine, I got the person shooting at me and the two others who came running. Then I got told alllll about the Orion project and what they were doing and agreed they could come to me if Gibbs didn't need me at that moment." He took another drink. "He even got us sandwiches for lunch."
"There's some leftover lasagna from when we had that dinner," she offered. "You can microwave it."
"I'm going Middle Eastern tonight," he decided, getting up again. "Are you supposed to go with me?" She nodded. "Sure. Let's go." He led her out to his bike, giving her his spare helmet, and taking off with her. She whooped behind him and held on. It was fun and relaxing, and they could take the back streets to avoid most of the traffic. By the time he got back, Tony was home and Abby was babbling happily. "Go okay?" he asked, grinning at him. "I got enough for you in case you got done too." He headed back to the kitchen to get more caffeine. He needed more caffeine. He was starting to live on the stuff now.
Abby patted him on the arm. "You need to give him more wardrobe help. He wore that to Langley. He looks very goth."
Tony sighed and nodded. "Right after I yell at him for using magic there."
"They already knew. They've got a project that uses it and his bike wasn't near the explosion so he knew they were staging it somehow."
"What about the people he had to kill?" Tony asked.
"I'm not thinking about them or else I'm going to puke," Xander called. "Come eat."
"How can you do that?" Tony asked, walking back there. He got a hug and relaxed. Xander was fine. "You wore that?"
"Kate said so."
He groaned and shook his head. "No more fashion advice from Kate unless it's clubbing stuff, Xander." He looked him over, and the coat on the back of the chair, then him again. "No. We've got to fix that. Even if I have to match outfits for you, we've got to fix that."
"I don't care what I wear as long as I'm covered," he noted patiently. "If you care that much, have fun in my closet later," he said with a small shrug. "Tomorrow's a 'jeans' day according to our syllabus." He ate another bite. "Sit and eat with me, Tony. You too, Abby."
"Yes, dear." She sat down primly and dug out her own dinner. "Is McGee done yet, Tony?"
"Probably. He said something about going home to write."
She nodded. "That's what he told me too. I was kinda hoping for a naughty surprise. Not like the one where he couldn't answer the phone because he had tied himself down and I panicked and called Gibbs, but a naughty surprise."
Tony cracked, having to lean down to laugh at that memory. "Gibbs' face was priceless," he agreed.
"It was," she agreed happily. "We've got to tell Kate that story."
Xander shook his head. "I wish someone had videotaped it for me." He ate another bite and looked at Abby. "What did you think I was going to wear today?"
"Something less goth than all black and your green jacket," she pointed out. "Around our office it's cool with just that, but really, Xander."
"I'll work on his wardrobe later tonight," Tony promised her. "After we finish eating." She beamed and hurried up so they could go shopping. "Then some clubbing afterward?" he suggested quietly. "To help you forget?" Xander nodded, taking a deep breath before taking another bite. "It's okay."
"It's not. I'll break down tonight and have nightmares. Fair warning about being kicked."
Tony shrugged. "I'll manage it. I have to pick up some new shirts anyway. Kate ruined my one from this morning by spewing coffee on it after McGee made a dirty joke to Marquez and she overheard."
"Fluffy makes dirty jokes like that?" he asked. Tony nodded. "Interesting. I never knew that. Congrats, Abby."
"Thank you. I'm very proud of my boy." She wiped her mouth and stood up to toss out her trash. "I'll see you guys soon." She headed out, closing the door behind her.
Tony smiled at him, taking the food from both their hands and putting it down. "You know you can talk to me, right?" Xander swallowed and nodded. "So whenever you're ready, it's all good to me. I'm here. I've been there before."
"I know. I'm still processing. It's not like I had a choice, they were wearing vests. I didn't have a choice with the way they were coming in except to go for a head shot. Even if they could've been agents."
"From what we got in the report, I don't blame you. You made a decision based on what you saw at the scene. It's all any of us can be expected to do. Of course, your first board and IAD time can be rather upsetting."
"I talked to them on the way back. That's why I'm nauseous. He stunk like death." He shuddered. "Shopping? Where? Same mall?"
"No, not this time. I'm going to take you to a few places I go this time." He stole a kiss. "Feel free to wake me up to talk if you need to. Gibbs realizes I might be late tomorrow to help you over this." Xander gave him a grateful smile. "By the way, your instructor came up and told him in person."
"I figured he would have. He hates me."
"Yeah, he does," he agreed dryly. "Finish up and let's go."
"Let's just go," Xander told him. "I'm full."
"Sure." He put their leftovers in the fridge for later and walked him out. "Your car or mine?"
"Yours. Just in case someone tries something."
"Okay." He watched Xander get in then got in himself, wiggling a bit to get comfortable and finding his keys.
Tony walked Xander into the store he liked most, smiling at the saleswoman. "This is Xander. He's going to be joining us in the office. So he'll need something appropriate for NCIS and for the FBI since he's in the Academy and they're being picky."
"What's his budget?"
"What mine usually is. It's gotta make him look good." He gave Xander a gentle nudge. "She takes care of me, Xander. Go with her." He nodded, letting the woman walk him off while Tony went to find himself some new shirts. He made a mental note to hit the dry cleaner as well. He knew he had forgotten something on the way to work this morning. He saw an outfit he really liked and took it to try it on, coming out to look at himself.
"No, you look like a college professor," Xander teased, grinning at him. He looked at himself. "A turtleneck and a coat?"
"Yes, dear. I can do that."
"Yes, but you're very much prettier than I am." He looked at her. "I'm a dangerous guy. A weapons guy. Make me look like a mob enforcer if you've got to but I'm not the pretty boy he is."
"Sure," she agreed, taking him back to get him a new outfit. She smiled at Tony. "He is adorable."
"Yeah but he's only soft and fluffy when it's among friends. Don't make him look like Family, okay?"
"I'm sure we can ride that line."
"The last time someone said that, I came out looking like a rapper," Xander called.
"You did kind of, yeah," Tony agreed. He looked at himself again, considering it.
"Shirt needs to be tighter," she said as she walked past him again.
"Thanks." He went to change back and find something else to wear. He kept the pants in his 'maybe' pile and the new shirt was found. It was silk so he hoped he wouldn't have to deal with a muddy, bloody, or oily case tomorrow, and especially not a dumpster case, but it made him look hot and wanted. Xander drooled when he saw him. That alone made him pick up two of them and another pair of pants. Xander got a look over and he sighed, shaking his head. "No. I don't like that."
She sighed and looked at Tony. "You're being picky tonight."
"He's got to look professional but not squishy. He's a good guy to comfort a witness but he's also the guy who'll pull first. Besides, he'd trip if his pants were that loose."
She looked at him and sighed. "So we want him to look hot, yet professional, and a bit dangerous but not too dangerous?" Xander beamed and nodded. "You know that's impossible, right?"
"It is?" he asked, looking pitiful.
She sighed and went to find him something else to try on. This one was better. Much better. It had been the shirt Tony had tried on first and a pair of good pants. Still a bit loose because you didn't want to advertise what you were carrying at work, but not too baggy. Xander came out and looked at himself, then seemed to wobble. "Closer?"
"I like that shirt on him better than I did on me," Tony admitted. He put his things by the register and went to look for better shirts for Xander. This needed his lover's touch, not a woman's touch. "You still need at least two good suits, Xander. Full suits."
"Yes, Tony," he sighed. "I hate ties."
"Tough. Court cases require ties so you look competent."
"Yes, sir." He went back to change once Tony brought him clothes, coming out in it. "This is more me," he said, looking in the mirror.
"It also makes you look very dangerous," she said. "Plus it's not very professional looking."
"No, but that's his usual look," Tony told her. "That's so you can build off it and he's getting that anyway. His butt looks good in it." Xander turned to look at his butt in the mirror, then smirked and nodded.
She looked at him, then went back to try again. At least now she knew. The outfit from earlier was obviously someone else's choice. This time when the boy came out he looked much more professional and much hotter. "How about that?"
"I look preppie," Xander told her.
"Which is a good thing," Tony assured him, patting him on the back. He looked at it, then took the jacket off him, handing it off to her. "Get him something in blue, green, or goth red. Or black. Those are the major colors in his wardrobe." She nodded and went to do that, coming back with a black coat that made Xander look much better. "There, that one," he agreed. "That's one outfit down. Pack each outfit together so I can hang them together," he told her, giving Xander a shove into the changing room. She handed over some new outfits and he grinned. "He wore the all black outfit today and a green jacket to Langley."
"I heard on the news they had a problem. Was it solved?" He nodded, pointing in the changing room. "Ooh, he was there?" she asked quietly.
"Yeah, and he helped solve it. Hence him needing to look just a bit dangerous. Either that or really innocent so he can hide it. He's got a pretty good personality and is able to change now and then when necessary. He's going to be good going undercover, like I am."
She nodded and went to get him more stuff, finding four more outfits for the kid. Tony made sure he paid for this round, then drug him up the street. She relaxed. It had made him look wonderful but it was an exacting job living up to DiNozzo's standards for hotness in his boyfriend. Even if they hadn't said anything, it was really obvious.
Tony parked his car and got out, walking around to let Xander out and taking his arm. He looked good in his present outfit. It suited his body and his main personality. He walked him into the upscale gay club he had found online, paying the cover, and getting Xander onto the floor. His boy moved very well and that outfit didn't hide his assets at all. He saw him wince once but the button being undone cured that and he had an armful of warm, wiggling, happy, hot lover willing to do anything for him. Of course, that's when his phone went off. He groaned and pulled it out, then nodded for Xander's benefit, walking out with him. "DiNozzo," he answered, sounding a bit upset to his own ear. "No, Boss, we're downtown after I made Xander get some more professional looking clothes. Why?" He listened and held his forehead. "Why are we being called in on this?" He nodded and looked at Xander. "So I take it you need him too? Sure thing, Boss. Within a half hour." He hung up and looked at Xander. "Two of the guys you got earlier were Marine snipers. It's now our case since you're one of ours according to our agency. The director likes you," he said dryly.
"That's fine. I can come in and go over it again and help wherever I have to," he agreed gently, taking his arm and going back to the car. "Lead on, Tony."
"Thanks." He got in once he had made sure Xander was in, heading back to the office. They got back there in nearly record time and the night guards only gave Xander a cursory exam with the handwand before giving him his usual pass, as shown by the nibble marks the time he had been up here and pacing to let out the worry about some test scores. They went up together and he dropped his coat on the desk, looking at his boss, who still had some sawdust on him. "Boss, need a fabric brush?" he asked dryly, sitting down. "What's up?"
Gibbs looked from him to Xander and then back at him. "That's a bit too formal for the office, DiNozzo."
"I had him out to have fun, Boss. Bite me." That got an amused look. "And tomorrow he might have to change or go to class like that anyway." He gave him a long stare. "What's going on?" he asked again.
"Two of the four men taken down were active reserve Marines. The other two were former Marines. They're tracking down which agent there got them involved but they need the investigation from this end. Since Harris is officially acknowledged as our trainee," he said, looking at Xander. "How did that happen?"
"Morrow," he said dryly. "I mentioned to two people that I hoped to come back here since I had worked with you a bit and was learning good stuff from you." He leaned against the front of Kate's desk, arms crossed as he looked at him. "Sorry if it upsets you but most of them figured out who I was by that mention."
"No, it didn't upset me. It's the way the field works." He looked at Tony again. "Go over their records. Xander, you take the two you didn't have to shoot."
"What about the fifth?" Xander asked. "I got two head shots and one leg."
"He's not ours. He's a former Ranger, now on reserve for the Army. JAG gets those." He went back to his desk. "You can borrow the spare desk, kid."
"Sure, Boss." He sat down, putting his jacket carefully across the seat behind him. Then he got down to work pulling up their profiles to see if there was any communication between them. "I've got phone records," he announced. "Going to and from Quantico, Langley, and the Academy," he reported nearly an hour later. "I've also got some similar phone records between the shooters and one other number." Gibbs came over to look over his shoulder, Tony right behind them. He highlighted each set in a different color. "That's the academy," he said, pointing at the blue one.
Gibbs moved the chair and Tony picked up the remote, putting it up onto the main screen so they could look at it easier and enlarged. "What room is that to, kid?"
Xander got back to work looking it up with his Academy access. "Weapons Training Master, Boss. So that's Darvit." He pulled up his fact sheet from the Academy and looked at it, then at the ones he had pulled up for the Marines. "They served in the same unit but not at the same time."
Gibbs took the remote and put everything up on the screen so he could flip back and forth. "I heard about them but they're a special skills task force. Special Ops group," he admitted, considering it.
"Would this count as one of those?" Xander asked. "Not to be rude or anything but I doubt there're normal people who do this."
"No, this would count," he agreed. "What's that other number?"
"I can't find it in reverse look up," Xander told him.
Tony sat down to look it up in the special government ones that Xander wouldn't have access to. "That would be the Under-Secretary's fax line," he said, looking at his boss. "At the FBI."
"Wonderful. Let me call Fornell since it's some of their people too." He went to do that, bringing him at a run since it implicated so many agents. He went back to flipping through them. "Xander, pull up anything on that unit you can legitimately pull up."
"Sure." He got down to it, glancing at Tony. "If McGee were here, he could hack."
"You don't hack the Pentagon unless you want the SEALs on your door two hours later," Tony reminded him.
"Willow did and unless they're the ones who gave Joyce her brain tumor they never found her." Gibbs looked at him. "Buffy's mom died of a sudden brain tumor. No indication before she passed out that anything was wrong. Not even a dizzy spell. Then suddenly she collapsed. She had surgery. She died a few weeks later of a supposed complication. Buffy found her on the couch." He got back to work, biting the inside of his mouth to stop the bad thoughts he was having. He found what he wanted and in an odd place. "Boss, are we allowed to look online at some crackpot's site if it's looking more and more legitimate?" he asked. Gibbs came over and he looked at him. "They got information on stuff I know is right," he said quietly, clicking on that link. Then on the other one. "I don't know how much you can trust and they don't name sources."
"That's fine. What else did you find?"
"Some personal webpages. The Pentagon directory only lists that they're there and at Camp Pendleton as a home base, but it said that various members were assigned to the Internal Affair's department at this time." Gibbs nodded and went back to his reading so Xander moved around him. "Should I start a pot of coffee, Boss?"
"Yes. Thank you." He sat down, reading it carefully. Some of this stuff he could verify was correct and some he couldn't. He'd give it about a sixty percent rating based on what he knew, which could be helpful. He printed the pages off, noticing they came up with a 'privacy is our strong suit' marking instead of the actual text. He sent it to the main screen and got up to let Tony read it too. "I'd give it sixty percent for accuracy for what I know." The elevator opened and he looked at Fornell as he came off. "Morning."
"Not really. What's going on?" Tony flipped back to the phone records, showing them in a split screen view. He looked and sighed. "The Weapons Master." He noticed who was coming out and raised an eyebrow. "He's yours?" he demanded.
Xander looked at him and nodded. "I'm learning a lot off Gibbs. I figure that's why the teacher hates my ass." He handed Gibbs and Tony both cups then went to get a soda instead. "There's coffee, Fornell."
"How do you know him?" Tony demanded.
"I came in to teach the 'Bureau Way' section since the teacher was out with a migraine." Xander smiled sweetly at him. "He asked questions about the other agencies and things I didn't know. The usual teacher said he's been like that the whole time."
"Everyone there knows I'm not there to go to the FBI," Xander reminded him. "How's Fi- Fi's shoulder?"
"Fine. She'll be fine. She'll be able to attend classes day after next, but she'll be excused form anything physical." He looked at Gibbs. "I wish you luck."
"He works well with my team," he noted dryly. He pointed at the phone records. "The other one in common is your director's Under-Secretary's fax line."
"Wonderful." He looked at them, then at the kid. "Get me a cup too."
"Do I look small, fuzzy, and like I live on a golf course?" he taunted back, getting back to work. "Shit," he said, backing away. "Gibbs, virus. Shut it and isolate me." Tony came over to pull the proper cords. "Double shit, I wasn't even on a high end site."
Gibbs went to check Tony's, finding it showing the skull and crossbones too. He snapped his fingers and Tony came over to isolate his too. "Check mine." Tony went to check it, taking all the cords. "Me too?"
"Not yet, Boss."
Xander picked up the phone, not getting a dial tone. "We got no voice." He pulled out his cell and used it. "McGee, we just got a virus at the office while tracking down the new case. Black background, green skull and crossbones. Yeah, toxic green. We've pulled the LAN cords but mine and Tony's have got it and we've got sensitive stuff up on the main screen. Thanks." He hung up. "He'll be here within ten minutes. They're out to dinner, Boss."
"That's fine. Hopefully he's careful," he agreed, moving between the systems. This screen only fed from the computers, it wasn't hooked up to the network beyond as a screen, so they could keep whatever up here for however long it took. He noticed Xander heading down to the elevator and raised an eyebrow. "DiNozzo? What is he doing?"
"Not a clue, Boss. I don't read minds. Presently. Still working on that for you." He looked at Fornell. "You guys or the CIA?"
"Could be either," he admitted. "Whichever way this goes, it's going to get messy."
"You think?" Gibbs asked dryly, glaring at him. The kid came back looking calmer. "Issues that made you run?"
"Had to puke," he said sarcastically. "I also called the nice guy I had lunch with today and he said it's not them. He said the Orion project got the same thing and they've traced it back to the same unit. I just asked if they had been hacked because of earlier." He handed over the note he had written down for him. "Morgans said to tell you that," he said quietly, staring at him. "And I went to get my spare damn gun since I wasn't wearing one at the club."
"Fine. Good instincts," he agreed, reading the note. He handed it to Fornell, who groaned. "DiNozzo." He took the note to read. "Get McGee onto that when he comes. I wanna have a talk with someone and Fornell's coming with me."
"You sure, Boss? I can back you up."
"Not yet. They're coming here for now." He went down to the lobby, going to wait blatantly outside the doors for his contact to show up and give him more information. He saw McGee come in from the parking garage with Abby and smirked. "Nearly on time too."
"There was a wreck on the beltway," Fornell told him. "It's backing up traffic. I was at the office." He looked over as a car pulled in, tensing up. "I don't know them," he said quietly.
"Me either." A window opened and he was moving before he thought. Which was a good thing with the bullets coming out. He heard someone return fire and pulled out his weapon, firing from his spot. He heard a higher caliber gun go off behind him and looked back. "Cover is good," he called.
"I'm warded. They can't hit me." Xander took more careful aim and got the shooter through the window, then the driver's side window while the others got the car and the tires. When it stopped he ran over to open the door, letting the body fall out. "Boss, in uniform and not appropriately dressed," he reported when Gibbs came over. "Unless they've changed since the last time I saw you in yours."
Gibbs looked then shook his head. "No, that's not the right way to wear that," he admitted. He got Xander out of the way. "Inside and we're going to have a talk."
"I've got a way to protect myself from it," he defended. Gibbs glared at him. "Sorry, yes, Boss." He headed to call Ducky from the front desk. They'd need him too. He got Dawn. "Dawn, Xander. We need Ducky at the office ASAP. Someone just tried to driveby Fornell and Gibbs." He hung up and went to help. He cleared his throat when someone called for a medic. "I'm technically a paramedic. Will I do? Tony, go get me Ducky's spare kit!" he yelled, heading back over. There had been a passenger. "No other casualties?" he demanded as he got down to evaluate him.
"No, sir. Who are you?" the guard asked.
"Harris. Intern on Gibbs' team," he muttered quietly. Tony handed over the bag and he dug into it, finding gloves first, and then a set of bandages and clamps. He clamped the bleeding spot since it was a major vein. "Get the ambulance here now," he ordered. "Tell them I had to clamp off a vein because it was gushing." He put pressure on the rest of the wound, leaning on it. "Gibbs, he's lucid enough to moan," he called when he got one. Gibbs came over to try to get the guy to talk. If not, he might be killed on the way to the hospital or there. The regular paramedics came in. "Guys, I'm licensed," he called. "He had a gushing vein and I did an end clamp to save his life," he admitted, getting out of the way. They looked and nodded, taking his vitals, moving quickly.
"He's a suspect," Gibbs told them. "Someone goes with you. DiNozzo."
"On it, Boss." He followed once they got into the ambulance and headed off. He could always get a ride back with someone or a cab.
Gibbs helped Xander up, watching as he packed the bag again. "You'll have to clean the stuff you got blood on."
"I know. I'll tell Ducky what I had to do too." He looked at him. "He should be able to come back from that unless someone kills him for it." He held up his wallet. "But I did take this."
Gibbs smirked. "Good boy. Inside, Ducky just pulled in. I saw his car."
Xander looked at him, then shook his head, pulling him away. "You've got a small graze, Jethro." He pulled on some new gloves and got to work on his cheek. "Damn close call, Boss," he said quietly as he worked.
"And I've still got shields to protect me from being shot. Plus the guards were shooting from the same position. I was covered."
"We're not supposed to let others know you can do that stuff."
"Bite me. I got the driver and the shooter."
"Good point. Nice reflexes too." He looked over as Ducky came running out. "We had one living, Ducky. I let DiNozzo get your kit for him."
"He is fully licensed and his scores were nearly perfect," he admitted, coming down to look. "Just a mild graze."
"I'm going to butterfly it," Xander told him. "Go check on the bodies, doc, I've got him." Ducky nodded and went after seeing Xander cleaning it out again. "By the way, I got your kit a bit dirty. There was a lag between the patient being found and Tony coming back. I'll clean it later."
"Thank you, Xander." He checked the other two bodies, doing preliminary examinations.
McGee and Abby came out together. "Boss, I've isolated our whole floor," he told him. "I didn't think you'd want me here until this was over with since you had the guards."
"That's fine, McGee. Having all our files wiped would be just as bad. Work the scene."
"Yes, sir. Do we know who the main shooter was?"
Xander looked up. "Me. I got the driver and the shooter. I'm not sure about the guy who got taken for the one in his shoulder who was a passenger, but I got his wallet." Gibbs tossed that to Abby. "I'll take photos in a second, McGee, let me finish with his cheek." He carefully put the other butterfly bandage where it was needed, then unwrapped a bandage and put it over it. "There you go, Boss. Let me go clean my hands and I'll grab the camera." He got up, closing the case and taking it back to the morgue so he could clean up with the special and better soap they used in there. Then he went back upstairs to snitch Tony's camera and memory card. He came back down, getting sucked in so he wouldn't have to think.
Gibbs swatted Abby when she tried to fuss over him. "Get pictures of their faces, run them, now, Abby. I want to know what the hell is going on."
"Yes, Boss." She went to change out Xander's memory card and download the pictures he already had. Someone was going to pay and she'd get to have popcorn. She was even nice enough to call Kate and Marquez, both of who called Gibbs and got told to stay at home for now. That way some members of the team were safe in case they came after them again. Of course, neither listened and came in breaking most of the District's speed laws. She found the profiles and printed them off, just in case, then went back over the other evidence. If they had to, they could use Xander's computers and lab. She knew that. He'd let them. She wasn't wanting that virus down here though. At the first hint of a wobble she disconnected her system to isolate it. The dreaded insignia came up and she took what she had up there. "I'm infected now too," she announced, handing the files to Gibbs. "This time's shooters."
"Is there a way to download from the main screen without hooking back into the system?" he asked her.
"I don't know. I'll ask McGee." She went to do that, leaning out the remains of the lobby doors. "McGee, Gibbs needs a technical hand. They managed to save some of the information before the virus hit."
Xander looked at him. "There's a bunch of stuff on the main screen," he admitted quietly.
"I'll see what I can do. Can I borrow your system?"
"Of course. Just don't get my house shot up." He gave him a look and got back to work taking inch-by-inch pictures of the inside of the car. "Abby, I need that other memory card back!" he yelled a few minutes later. "I'm nearly full!"
"I've got the laptop to download," she called back, coming out to do that. She looked as they downloaded, then at him. "Damn you're thorough."
"I'm supposed to be, I'm still in training." He got back to work, letting Marquez take over the front seat since he was still in the back. "I'm nearly done back here," he admitted a few shots later. "What next?"
"Statements," Kate assured him. She handed Abby the camera once he backed away from there, walking him back inside. "I need one on what happened earlier too." He nodded and she could tell he was going to be sick. "Come on. Do you have anything else to wear?"
"In the trunk of Tony's car. He took me shopping." They detoured that way and came back with stuff for him, and a small bag for Abby that the guys had found. She let him change and clean up any remaining blood he might have on him, then took him to the conference room to do it in there. It was kinder than the interrogation room and had a bathroom just ten feet away. That was a good thing considering it hit him about thirty minutes into the questioning.
Tony came back, looking at the scene of the chaos. It was almost all cleaned up. They were hosing down the blood on the pavement. So their teams had gotten what they needed already. He hurried inside, nodding at the guards. "Everyone still alive?"
"No new attacks, Agent DiNozzo," one reported. He logged him in and then watched him run upstairs. "This is bad," he told the guard next to him. It was a new guy. "We don't get attacked very often."
"That's fine. I expected that this wasn't the usual by looking at Frank. He's a bit older than the usual in active combat."
"True, but he's a good guy," he said, looking at the other guard. He stood up as Gibbs came down. "Agent Gibbs, we're doing as ordered and cleaning up the rest of the blood right now. We've called the director to notify him, and the windows will be replaced within a day. Do you have any other orders until the Director makes it back from Canaan Valley, Agent Gibbs?"
"Not yet," he said calmly. He looked at the guy next to him, then at the guards he knew. "How many of you guys are there?"
"Ten," Frank called. "Is Harris all right, Gibbs? He looked a bit pale when Todd drug him in."
"He's fine. It's his second official shooting, the first was at Langley today." That got a wince. "He'll be fine I'm sure. I'll tell him you asked, Frank." He looked at the new guy again. "Who're you? I don't remember you being here before."
"I started last night, Agent Gibbs, sir."
"Don't sir me," he ordered calmly. "Name?"
"Peterson. Scott Peterson."
"Like the guy they just got out in Cali for murder?" Xander asked as he came off the elevator. He gave Frank a weak look. "We've got you guys on cam upstairs just in case and thanks." He patted him on the arm. "You're going to see me every day for two weeks starting next week."
"I look forward to it. At least they'll eat." He looked at the new guy. "I was off last night."
"I wasn't," the guy at the desk offered. "He started last night, Agent Gibbs. The boss vouched for him. I can get the boss on the phone if you want."
"Watch him for now. No visitors in or out without my authorization," he ordered. The guards all nodded at that. "Harris is an exception since he's an intern. Call me directly," he ordered, heading off again. He could easily call the guards they used to check on the new guy. He didn't believe in coincidences. And he knew Xander was paranoid so it was started already on McGee's laptop. Xander's paranoia had been the reason they came down to check on the new guy when he had noticed him.
"Classified, Boss," McGee said at the long stare. "I'm trying to figure out agency right now."
"What classification, McGee?"
He hit three more key strokes then looked up. "CIA," he said, showing it to him. "I did manage to download copies from the screen, Boss. It's on here and I've burned DVD copies of it and the photos that were made of the scene." He pointed at the one next to him. "Along with a copy hidden in your desk in the spot you usually find the bourbon flask."
"Thank you, McGee. Next time ask first."
"Yes, Boss." He took his laptop back. "Should I call someone over there?"
"No. I don't know who to trust." Xander came back and held out a business card. "Who's this? Did you pull it out of midair?"
"Sorta. It landed next to me. That's what Orion does, Gibbs. It monitors people without them knowing so they figure out who to spy on later." Gibbs arched an eyebrow so Xander touched the pendant he wore all the time since the last run-in with the Initiative. "This way, Boss."
"You or us?"
"You. I saw your face earlier. I don't know why. Maybe they're scared you'll growl them to death too."
"Thank you." He went to make the call from his cell, even though it wasn't secured on his end it'd tell him a hell of a lot and he wasn't going to count on the phones not being tapped in the office. The voice on the other end told him some new facts, which were very nice, and then ordered him to meet him with Harris later. That Harris could verify what he said with a simple truth spell. That gave him some hope of solving this sooner and he went to check on Ducky. "Any new information, Ducky?"
"Xander shot both of them according to Abigail's visual match under a microscope and the one in the hospital did die on the operating table when the wrong medicine was given to him. They're most upset but going very quietly to the FBI with that information since Fornell sent someone he trusted over there." He handed over the fingerprint cards he had made. "All yours," he offered.
"Thank you. We have a possible profile on them already."
"We'll see. Both of them have had extensive plastic surgery in the last year but DNA and fingerprints are harder to fake."
"Even better. Do we have DNA samples?"
"We do. Now if Abigail had a lab it would be nice."
"We have a lab available to us," he reminded him quietly, going to take everything to Abby for her use. "McGee, take Abby and go to the hidden lab. Make sure you're not followed and have Dawn make sure nothing and no one gets into the house."
"The blue dots on the kitchen wall," Xander said, taking the laptop to get back to the searching he was doing. It was keeping him calm while Tony and Kate worked their contacts. Gibbs coughed so he looked up at him. "What?"
"That card was to someone who said you can come to a meet with me and verify something he's going to tell me."
"Of course. Give me ten minutes to hit the bathroom and find my other necklace." Gibbs nodded so he handed it to Tony and went to do that, going at a trot. This was not a time to walk slowly or run, but some quickness was in order. He came back and found his other necklace, putting it on with his coat and heading after Gibbs. He made sure he had his weapon and it was reloaded, Tony had done that so he wouldn't have to. He slid into the front seat and buckled up, knowing how Gibbs drove.
"You okay, kid?"
"I'll be fine. I shook and puked after I staked Jesse," he noted calmly. "I figure it doesn't happen often to you guys. Most everyone's scared of you and Kate when she's on the rag."
Gibbs smirked at that, shaking his head. "She's going to hit you for saying that."
"She already has. Don't worry about it." They pulled out into traffic and he started mentally chanting the only truth spell he knew by heart under his breath. So what if it was demonic, it worked!
Back at the office, Tony and Kate were sharing looks. "He fine?" he asked quietly.
"Puked, pushed it out of his mind to dwell on later. Expect some nightmares." She gave him a gentle, kind smile. "He'll be fine, Tony. I promise he will. He's not the sort to dwell too long or go suicidal over having to do something to save lives. He'll react a bit stronger than you probably did your first time, but he's a bit more gentle than you ever seem to realize until you get to know him. By the way, that outfit he was wearing when I got here? Nice job. He looked good."
"That's what I was going for. I noticed he had to change." She nodded. "Ruined?"
"Lots of blood from the passenger. Possibly not ruined with a good dry cleaner." He nodded and got back to doing what he could. "Why was he at the CIA?"
"He's not the favored student of the bunch," he reminded her. "Fornell about had kittens when he saw Xander. He even told Fornell to get his own coffee."
"The boy's strong but inside he's this big ball of mush," she reminded him. "Be there for him when he's ready to go over it again. " Tony nodded. "Do we have any good news?"
"McGee thinks he can save the computers but he's not sure yet. He said he's seen this one write a new program on an infected machine that tells it to fry its wiring. He thinks we shut off the feed in time since the screen is usually reversed when it gets to that stage. He's got Willow's laptop there as well." He looked at her. "On the DVD's are copies of what we found before we were hit. Including phone records indicating the perps called the Academy and things like that." She glared at him and he nodded. "The weapon master's office. The director's under-secretary's fax line. They're also all past or present members of one unit in the Marines, a Special Ops group according to Gibbs. Xander was checking into that when we got hit."
"Can we find another member?"
"I don't know how without computers."
She smiled and pulled out her cellphone, calling someone she knew at JAG. "Hey, it's Kate Todd. Is she in?" She smiled. "Thank you. Yes, they found me after that bastard Ari had me knocked out and taken. Sure. Thanks." He listened to the hold music for a minute then giggled at the swearing. "Are you guys virused too?" She got up and Tony flipped to the proper section. "No, I need to know something about a Marine group and we were just hit with a virus. Because the shooters at Langley had four of them and there's connections back into the CIA, the FBI, and us at the moment," she admitted. "Plus, we were hit with a really nasty virus when we started to check on this unit. No, just general information and if possible someone we could talk to legitimately. Or even a roster if you can find one. Please." She walked off, talking more quietly until she got to the bathroom. It may echo in there but it was the most secure room in the whole building since it didn't have video cameras everywhere. "Thank you," she said as she came back out. "Of course. Dinner whenever you want. Just call to make sure I'm not on a case and give me ten minutes to change into something less decent." That got another laugh and she smiled. "Thanks, dear. Love you too. Laters." She hung up and handed Tony the notes she had made. "There's three of them in Leavenworth and a few people in the Secret Service who used to be, plus one current guard at the White House who's a member. She's pulling a roster for us. We can call Gibbs now and he can take Xander to talk to them. Xander tends to make people want to talk."
"Xander probably shouldn't tonight."
"He'll be fine, Tony, and he's shoved it aside."
"And he'll still go for violence first tonight and probably tomorrow," he pointed out dryly. "Call Gibbs." He made copies of the notes for his own use, just in case something else disappeared, and handed them back to her. "Thank you."
"Not a problem. Where are you at in your contacts?"
"There's two cops in the local area that used to be members," he admitted. "One's been missing for three days."
McGee came in, looking happy. "We can fix the computers. Willow had a virus that will counteract this one and then I can cure that one."
"Kate's calling Gibbs," he noted. "Marquez?"
"Staying with Abby. She's working on the fingerprints and DNA samples. She's having to do it the round-about way. His lab doesn't include an actual DNA synthesizer." He sat down at the spare desk and got to work, inserting the DVD first. "This one can run a DVD, right?"
"It should be able to. The rest of them can," Kate agreed. She called Gibbs, smiling at the surly answer. "Gibbs, I've got some news and so does McGee. No, he thinks he can counter-virus the computers then cure the new one. One of Willow's. Of course. Also, I called a friend in JAG. She's given us some idea. She's ran into the unit before over something and she said there's three in Leavenworth and one on White House duty, plus a few in the Secret Service. Tony said he's found two in the local LEO but one's been missing for the last three days. McGee said Abby's working on the stuff from the bodies. Sure." She made another note and handed it to Tony. "Look at that. You good, Boss, or do you need help?" She nodded again. "Okay. We'll do what we can until we're up and running." She hung up and looked at McGee. "He said it had better work or else you're filling out the paperwork for the new computers."
Tony hung up from his quick call. "No connection according to that person but that doesn't mean much at the moment." He noted that down so he could give it to Gibbs a bit later. "Where were they?"
"K Street. Xander was chanting in the background quietly."
"The guy from Orion said he could use a truth charm," he said quietly, shrugging a bit. "I don't even pretend to understand."
"Me either," she agreed. "Xander and Marquez can handle that stuff. I have enough problems with normal people." She got back to her searching since her computer was still uninfected. She was working subtly, going in obscure ways while she searched. The trial outcomes site that JAG kept on record. The Secret Service registry. She did update her profile at that time, just in case someone needed to know and so she wouldn't have to see another listing of herself as 'died in the line of duty'. It was making her have shivers and shakes. She looked at Tony, who was holding his head. She dug into her purse and tossed something over, making him flinch. "You okay? Take some." He opened the bottle of Advil and took some out, then closed it and tossed it back.
"I'm fine. Thank you." He swallowed them with his coffee and got up to get more, taking Kate's cup with him. He heard McGee swearing and smiled. "I guess it wasn't working according to plan," he muttered as he mixed creamer into his, then carried them back out. "Problems, Fluffy?"
"No," he said darkly, glaring at the computer. "Not now." He fixed what he had been doing and it quit making the grinding noise it had been. He ran her cure and it cured that one. He checked and smiled, getting up to compare the screen in front of him to the main screen. "It looks like it may have worked but it put a smiley face in place of every 'K' in the system." He took the DVD and went to work on Tony's computer. Then he came back to save everything Xander had been working on under a different folder, restarting the machine. That was the real test. If it didn't reboot properly, he wouldn't reboot Tony's system so they wouldn't lose that one totally. By the time Gibbs came in with a silent Xander following him, the computers were all cleared. "Boss, computers are mostly up and running," he announced. "Only one remaining problem."
"Why are there smiley faces?" he demanded, pointing at his monitor.
"In place of all the 'K's, Boss. I'm working on that problem now. You can easily search but whatever you work on that's going to happen. I'm working on how to replace that now."
"Reload the operating system overtop of the current one," Xander told him, looking at him. "That'll overwrite any faulty files and it won't erase everything."
"Good idea," he agreed, smiling at him. "Having a Willow moment?"
"Tara." He walked off, going to slam his fist into the wall a few times before heading down to pace around the parking garage.
"Boss?" Tony asked. "Permission to follow and question?"
"They called her back to talk to her," he said quietly, typing into his search engine. He looked at Tony once he hit the 'send' button. "She gave over some information and then hugged Xander, which made him break down. He'll be fine. He's started to heal from earlier." Tony nodded. "Any new progress?"
"I'm just now getting up. Here's who we know was in there," he admitted, handing over his information. "I'm going to check on him." Gibbs nodded so he headed down the elevator, finding Xander looking out one of the windows. "Hey," he said quietly, making him jump and turn around. "You good?"
Tony smiled and moved closer, tipping his chin up. "Did it hurt her?" He shook his head. "Does she blame you for Willow?" He shook his head. "Then why are you so upset?"
"She said Joyce isn't there and that she can't blame me for Willow," he admitted, looking at him. "I blame me for Willow, for not stopping her and letting her talk me into helping her."
Tony nodded, patting him on the back. "I understand. Why isn't Joyce up there?"
"We don't know yet. I've got to report that to Giles, who will certainly tell Dawnie." He sighed and shook his head. "I don't know what to do. It could be important or mean something. The fact that she told me means it could be important."
"Or it could mean she's down here watching over her last daughter."
"It could be," he agreed quietly. He shook his head. "She can do that from up there though."
"Maybe she and Ducky's mom are talking," he offered, making Xander give him a sad smile. "You should rest sometime soon, Xander. You still have class tomorrow."
"I can't. They can come back."
"If they do, you'll wake up. I promise you you will." He looked over as the main door opened, frowning at the car coming up the ramp. "Who in the hell is that?" he muttered, reaching for his gun. The car parked in the director's spot and he started to pull it from his holster. The director got out and he relaxed, looking at him.
"Taking a stress break, Director. Today was his first and second shooting of a human."
"Understood. Gibbs in residence or is he stalking someone to kill them?"
"In residence. McGee's working on getting the computers fully up. We're mostly there." That got a nod. "Do you need an escort, Director?"
"No, I'll be fine that short distance, Agent DiNozzo. Intern Harris, it happens to the best and the worst of us. All you can do is move forward and deal with it," he said more gently. "It doesn't make you a bad person, it makes *them* bad people for making you shoot them." He headed for the elevator.
Xander nodded, then looked around for cameras before hugging Tony. "I'm still mad at them and me."
"You did good and you protected yourself. That's what's important, Xander." He gave him a squeeze and let him go. "Now, let's go back to work and I'll make sure Gibbs knows you've got to rest tonight so you can attend classes later today."
"It's after midnight?" Tony nodded, leading him back inside. "Hell. I'm supposed to dress down tomorrow."
"We didn't get you any jeans and I know you won't have any chance to get home before class." He walked him off the elevator. "Boss, did we remember Xander has class tomorrow?"
"I hadn't. Go ahead and crash behind the spare desk, kid. We'll wake you if something happens."
"I can do a few more hours," he offered quietly.
Gibbs looked at him. "This is going to get into databases you don't have access to," he pointed out. "Nor should I let you do what you have tonight. So nap, before I have to snap and yell."
"Yes, Boss." He went to make himself a bed and lay down, getting comfortable. He could change and shower in the gym before class. He set his watch alarm and closed his eyes, making himself relax and drift off.
Tony looked at him. "He needs a note excusing his clothes. He's supposed to be in jeans tomorrow."
"I can do that," he agreed. "Is he going in that?"
"He can. I took him shopping and there's a bunch of clothes in the car, Boss."
"Then pick out whatever and I'll excuse it." Tony nodded and went down to do that, making him smirk. "That won't get you out of searching," he called after him.
"A quick walk to energize my brain, Boss. I made another pot of coffee too." The elevator doors shut on his grin. Gibbs could be predictable some days.
Xander walked into his class the next morning, handing over the note at the sneer on his teacher's face. "Sorry, I was called in to help at NCIS last night after the assault. I didn't have time to change."
"Yet you got a shower?"
"In their locker room. I borrowed Agent Todd's shampoo since she let me and it smells nicer." He sat down in his usual desk. "Besides, I've got to find out if I can move in it in the field anyway."
"What happened last night?" another cadet asked, turning to look at him. "I heard there was a driveby."
"As far as we can tell, it's somehow related to the incident at the CIA yesterday but they're still tracing links. No telling how long it'll take." Gibbs had told him to use that story if anyone asked and to let him know who asked. He noticed his teacher's speculative look. "It's a joint operation and we also got a virus last night."
"Were you surfing porn?" she sneered.
"No. Not me. What I want they don't have online." She looked stunned so he glared back. "Can we break for a soda yet?"
"Go, Harris," she ordered coldly. He went to the break room to get a drink and type in that text message to Tony, then came back and sat down again. "As you can see, some of you didn't follow orders," she announced.
"I'm guessing he was busy all night," Fi-Fi said as she walked in, her arm in a sling. "Sorry, so was I. You get sweats." She sat down, putting her feet up on the chair in front of her. "I handed my doctor's excuse to the director over the Academy, ma'am. He's accepted it and told all the teachers. Should we head to the course and the range?"
"No, not yet. The rest aren't here yet."
"There was a spill coming in from Maryland," Xander told her. "I doubt they know how to get around it." He looked at Fi-Fi. "You good?"
"I'm good enough. I've got a mild pain killer. I'll let you check the bandages later." He nodded.
"Why would you let *him* do that?" the teacher sneered.
"Because he's a licensed paramedic?" she retorted coldly. "Along with a massage therapist for training purposes. I liked how well he worked on my back after I sprained it a few weeks back, ma'am. Maybe you should let him work on some of your stress too." The door banged open and people walked in. Xander shook his head so she stayed where she was. "You sure?" she hissed. He nodded. "Okay."
"Agent Rhonda Darvit," the man in the lead, Fornell, said, pulling out a folded piece of paper. "I have a warrant for yours and your husband's arrest for questioning regarding the shooting incident at the CIA and the one at NCIS last night. Come with me please?"
"How dare you!" she shrieked, looking at Xander. "I didn't do this!"
"Shut up," he sighed. "If you didn't do it, Fornell can help you. If you did, he'll keep Gibbs from killing you." She backed away and he stood up, moving closer. He pulled her guns and frisked her, handing over the one in her bra and the dagger from inside the top of her pantyhose. "Here," he said, handing her over. "Before we're more tainted. Some of the kids in here will make good agents, Agent Fornell. Will this impact their training?"
"That hasn't been decided yet but you'll all be tested. For now, hang out in here. The other students are being stopped at the gates and questioned. The agents with me will be doing you lot in here." He looked at Xander. "Excluding you and Fi-Fi."
"No, no special treatment," she ordered, standing up. "I may have been shot in one of those but that doesn't prove I wasn't involved. She said so."
"Agreed," he decided. "It'll be fair and impartial." He looked at Xander. "You agree?"
"I'm up to it. I puked over killing people last night, I can do it again today." Fornell cracked a smile and led their teacher off. "Fi-Fi, need a soda?"
"We can do the questioning in there," one of the agents ordered. "We can take her first since she should probably be in bed."
"I'm good, I've got mild pain killers. Take the others first. I could use a soda though." Xander handed over his and she smiled. "Ever the gallant knight, Harris?"
"Now and then. Sue me, I'm a nice guy sometimes." The agents standing around snickered and so did their classmates. "Hey, I didn't say always, just sometimes." He looked at them. "I volunteer to go first, that way I can get back to my internship."
"I'm heading with you," she ordered. He shrugged. "I can't drive, Xander."
"Cool by me, Fi-Fi." He looked at them again. "That good with you?"
"Fine with us, Harris. Come along please?" He followed the agent out, going to get another soda first, much to the guy's amusement. "Where's your internship?"
"NCIS. I'm one of the people who shot yesterday at Langley and I got the shooter and driver last night during that assault," he reported formally. "I've already talked to IAD for the Langley one but nothing yet from NCIS."
"You've been talked to?" Xander nodded. "By?"
"Special Agent Todd."
"No, Ari kidnaped her. He knocked her out with a very strong sedative and they found her. She said so. You can call there and check if you want."
"I'll drive you kids over," he ordered. "That way you don't have to have her on the bike."
"Thank you, sir." He sat down and popped open his soda, taking a drink. "Sorry, damn long night."
"I understand. Let's start back at when you got up yesterday, okay?" Xander nodded, taking the pen to write it down for him. The kid even put it in complete sentences and in report format. "You're training under Todd?"
"DiNozzo and Gibbs," he admitted, handing it over with the pen. "Until I woke up this morning at NCIS."
He read it over, nodding slowly. "You weren't aware of the shooter?"
"No, sir. I was behind the one guy and Fi-Fi. I'm horrible with names."
"Yeah, him," he said, nodding. "Like I said, I'm horrible with names."
"That's okay. I'm sure you remember them by other means."
"Nicknames. Based on traits."
That got a small smile. "That can work too. What project were you sitting with?"
"Something in the covert area. It's not my secret to tell; they were pimping their program since it's in my areas of speciality." He took another drink. "When you start the academy are you exposed to something that makes you need more caffeine?"
"No, kid. We can't explain it, it's part of the indoctrination process." He went back to his reading. "Where were you when the shooting happened?"
"Upstairs. I ran down the stairs instead of waiting for the elevator. The guards were returning fire when I got out there. I took up a position in front of the doors and just to the left and rear of Agent Gibbs' spot." That got another nod. "The guards were going for incapacitation shots on the car. Tires, gas tank, things like that. I went for the driver's side window and the sniper."
"That's fine, son. Good shooting."
"Lucky," he admitted. "The passenger died in the OR. That got passed back to Agent Fornell from what I was told."
That got another nod. "It did. I've already got a report and autopsy on him. It wasn't the same bullet as taken out of the driver." He looked at the boy. "This could make a guy reconsider his choices."
"I know that but I respect Gibbs and what he does. Besides, I know this isn't the normal day, sir. If it was, you'd never have enough people and all you could get were the suicidal people and the psychos."
"True," he admitted with a smile. "You're to do the range within a week, you know that correct?" He nodded. "And reload your gun?"
"Agent DiNozzo spared me that last night and I'll do the range today while you're talking to Cadet LaRange."
"That's fine, that's actually a very good idea, son. You sure you want to stay here?" Xander nodded. "Good. You'll make one hell of an agent."
"I can only hope I live up to Gibbs' very high standards, sir."
"Good man. I'll release you to the range and send her down there." He nodded, getting up and heading that way with his soda. Yes, he wanted to see Kate Todd for himself and tell Gibbs what an asset he had in that boy.
Xander walked into the unit, looking calm, cool, and collected. He stopped in front of his boss. "Our teacher, Darvit, did break under interrogation, Special Agent Gibbs, and we were all questioned this morning. Her husband, the Weaponsmaster, is still under interrogation. The status of our Academy training has been put on hold but those of us with our internship planned for us are allowed to go on so that an evaluation can be made and handed back to see who has been tainted by her evil bitchiness. As such, the agent in charge of evaluating myself and Cadet LaRange is here to talk to you about ours. He's in the next elevator up. I'm also to hand you this," he said, handing over the letter from the range instructor. "I was ordered to go within the week and that's his evaluation of me."
"Sit, kid," he ordered. Xander nodded and went to sit at the unused desk while he read it. He relaxed. It said the kid broke down during the reloading but he got through it and his scores were consistent. He looked at him. "Good. Next time, we're going together to make sure you're fine." Xander nodded once at that. The elevator opened and he stood up, looking at the agent coming off. "Fornell?"
"More or less. The other agent is in charge of these two fuck ups, Jethro." He looked at Xander, then at him. "He frisks very well."
"I taught him," he admitted. "More problems?"
"No, I came over to give you this. Miss LaRange had to stop in to see Ducky to get permission to report for desk duty and he accompanied her." He looked at Xander, then back at him. "How was his range this morning?"
"Decent enough," he noted quietly. "Good enough for me."
"Good. His training file has the big stamp of 'reject for active FBI service' on it." Xander snickered. "You know something about that?" Xander nodded.
"Harris," Gibbs warned.
"The director, the appointed guy, came down to look us over one day on the course. We only had the PT instructor in that day and it was my day to run the exercises. I had them doing stuff I do instead of the running, jumping jacks, jogging, or aerobics the others did. It looked silly but most of them couldn't walk by the end of the hour. I got my point across and they stepped it up the next class. He decided I was an idiot for doing things that way and I just smirked at him and asked him who he was, a trainer? Then I pointed out I was actually trained to train others and he stomped off snarling."
"We're in better shape than most classes according to the Agent doing our PT, Agent Gibbs," Fi-Fi said as she came in. "Sir, reporting for desk duty starting tomorrow until the end of our usual internship period, two and a half weeks from now." She saluted him.
"At ease, Cadet, and don't sir me."
"Sorry, Agent Gibbs. We were instructed to sir everyone at the Academy, even the women."
"That's fine. What did Ducky say?"
"I could ride a desk starting tomorrow. Nothing else for at least a week or until the stitches were mostly healed and then only very light duty, which is what he would expect from a trainee anyway."
"Good." He looked at the other agent. "Their evaluations?" Two folders were handed over and he sat down to read them, nodding at hers. He looked at Xander's, then at the kid. "You want to explain the computer failure?"
"No," he said firmly, smirking at him. "You already heard about that one, mostly in the screaming and ranting phase, Gibbs."
"I remember that." He got back to reading, then put them on his desk. "So, when do they go back?"
"At the time you would normally have sent them back. Two and a half weeks from now, Agent Gibbs. I know this is an imposition and out of the ordinary but we do need an evaluation of their skills and if they were tainted by this plan."
"I can do that. Anything else I should know?"
"Yeah, Harris doesn't jog."
"I know. He does other things though. He'll learn." The agent nodded. "Standard evaluations or are there forms?"
"There are and I'll have some delivered the day before they come back. We're still trying to decide if they have to take the classes over or not. Your evaluations will count toward that decision as well. That'll be based on the group average." That got another nod. "Thank you for your patience. I know rookie cadets can be trying."
"I've been sanding on Harris now for almost a year," he admitted dryly. "Two and a half weeks aren't that bad."
"Good. He shows good promise for your agency." He smirked. "May I borrow Agent Todd?"
"If she's not busy. She can take a break for now." That got another nod and a smile and the agent left, taking Kate to talk to her in the break room. He had missed her! Gibbs looked at Xander, scowl already in place. "Didn't I tell you not to show off?"
"I didn't! I did ask some questions about protocol and dress code over here. That's what irritated Fornell so often."
"He did," he admitted. "They decided this showed favoritism and that he's a smart ass." He shrugged. "I knew that when I looked at him. You put up with the earrings?"
"I put up with Abby. Earrings are going to come out during shift."
"Fine. Thank you." He got up and walked off smiling happily.
"All but the sapphire one, Boss," Xander said quietly. "I can't take that one out without having to reset what's on it."
"Fine. Even though it's noticeable."
"Sorry, Boss. I could put it on the nipple ring if you want," he said dryly. "That'll take me a bit though. Or I can get a new one put in."
"No," Tony ordered quietly. "No more holes, Xander."
"Yes, sir." He looked at Gibbs, who just scowled some more. So he smiled his most sweet and nice smile. "You knew I was like this when you met me. I'm like the puppy that won't leave you alone after you feed me."
"Fine. Wear as few as possible and try to make that one less noticeable."
"Yes, Boss." He worked the same concealment he had on his gun over those and they faded from view. "Better?"
"He does that on his gun too. It's really wrong," Fi-Fi complained. "I can't do that and I can't hide one in my bra well enough to go undercover with it on." Gibbs looked at her. "Sorry, Gibbs, pain killers taking over my mouth. What's the dress code?"
"Pants. Decent but not too dressy. You never know when you'll be in mud, trash, oil, or blood."
"Yes, s...boss." She saluted him again. "Are we in the office?" He nodded. "That's fine. Cold case detail?" That got another nod and another smirk. "That's fine with me. I expect to earn my way the same way Xander has, Agent Gibbs. That's why I'm going in under an assumed name."
"I know your father. It's fairly apparent who you really are." She shrugged. "I don't play favorites, LaRange. Just do what you're told, hop when I tell you to, and don't call me sir."
"Yes, Agent Gibbs."
"Just Gibbs is fine."
"Thank you, Gibbs. I'm going to go home and sleep off the pain killer, then come back straight in the morning. I'll see you then." He nodded and she left, letting the guards call her a cab since she was near her apartment.
"I warned her not to call you sir," Xander offered. "She forgot. It really is a good pain killer."
"I've been there myself," he admitted.
"He smiled at us," Tony told him, smiling at him. "They made you do the range today?"
"They said within a week and I'm not one to put it off. Besides, I don't want to freeze if something else happens. I want to be over this a bit more than I was when I went in." Tony smiled at him for that. "Did you go through that?"
"I put it off because I was still pretty deep in thought. Gibbs?"
"My DI made me go that same day," he admitted. "Made me shoot until I broke."
"I broke during the reloading," Xander admitted with a small sigh. "What case work, Gibbs?"
"You could go home."
"No I can't. These assholes who made me kill them are still out there. So are their bosses and their pay men. I want them off the street before I relax, that way they can't make someone else do it. Therefore, I'm here until we all go home." He stood up to look at him. "What's my job right now, Boss?"
"Finish your nap from last night."
"Bite me," he mouthed, staring him down. "Job?" he asked again.
"Finish pulling up backgrounds on everyone. Even the ones you shot."
"Good by me. Is the computer still working?" That got a nod. "Even better." He sat down to start working on what McGee sent him, earning a smile for that. He did a quick read over, then got back to work, typing fast and accurately for now. When he had full backgrounds done he burned it down and handed that to Gibbs. "Here, all their backgrounds including financial, medical, any online address that their names are mentioned in or on - sorted by relevance - and their military files, what wasn't listed as classified. Also where they were in the timeline of that unit and who they served with based on the roster Kate sent me." Gibbs gave him a long stare. "I didn't want to chance it being erased again," he explained, waving the CD. It was taken and run. "What next?"
"Get some soda. You're jumpy." Xander sighed and did that, bringing him back another cup of coffee. "I thought you weren't a gopher."
"Not for Fornell I'm not," he snorted, sitting down again. "The guy needs the stick shoved up the other hole. He came in being a prancing bastard and didn't change much because some of us asked about other agencies. A few of us wanted to go Secret Service and he yelled at them too."
Gibbs shook his head, paging through the information. It was cross-referenced by tabs. It was nicely done. "What program did you do this in?"
"The one Fl...McGee taught me last week, Boss. Why, was it the wrong one?"
"No, the right program, just wondering." He looked at McGee, who only smiled happily at him. "Do we all have that?"
"No. Tony doesn't, Boss. It wouldn't run on his system, it needs a processor upgrade."
"Get to that, would you, McGee."
"I can't do that, Boss. I don't have the equipment or the clean and sterile area to do it in."
Gibbs looked at him. "Can't?"
"I can take it to have it done, but to do major computer work like that and make sure the system isn't compromised by dust or anything, I've got to have a cleaner area than in here. Somewhere sterile with the proper set up, plus the chips and boards handy. Which we don't have. Once we do, I can do that for him. I'll put that program on first thing, Boss."
"Good. Do it as soon as you can." That got another nod and he went back to reading. "They all have bank accounts in the same spot?" he asked, looking at the conclusion page once he found it. It listed all the similarities and where they were in the unit and who else was there at that time. "Harris, did you do a search on any of these other people?"
"Two of them, Boss, since they came up already listed. I'm working on their backgrounds now. Agent Todd had the rest I think."
"Thank you." He got back to the links, smiling at the unobvious ones. Things like they all used the same bank branch to deposit pay checks. Even though it was away from where two of them lived. "Todd!" he called. She came jogging out and looked at what he was looking at. "Is there one of those closer?" She nodded, she used that bank. "Then why use that one?"
"I'll cross-reference any of the others with bank accounts at that bank, Boss." She got back to work, smiling at her friend when he left. Xander came over to hand her a copy of both CD's and the other to Gibbs, who ran it and looked at those. She looked over all the information, putting them onto the same screen so she could go side-by-side with it. Then she pulled up her searches and got back to work with those links in mind. It wasn't a lot. Banks, favorite restaurants called all the time. A few similar numbers on three of them and one that was different but nearly the same. She came up with something and looked up. "Boss, found a linking person." She got out of the way, showing him the link to the woman three of them had called and taken out to dinner constantly, and the other had called her cell nearly as often.
Xander came over to look. "I know her. She's the receptionist at the CIA," he noted quietly. "She's the one who checked me in yesterday." Kate looked at him so he shrugged. "She was."
"That's our link back then," Gibbs decided. "Good work so far." He went to call Fornell and his partner at the CIA that they were working with, having him meet him there. He took the CD's with him. It had been the smallest things that linked them. They were obviously trying to hide the connection.
Tony walked Xander back into the house, finally, and right up to the bedroom. He was half asleep and looked so adorable, pouting about not being tired. Fortunately even Gibbs was tired since it was nearly five in the morning and they all had the next day off since they had wrapped up the case. Gibbs had made sure Xander wasn't going to get too cocky but it had been mostly his work with Kate. Those two would do well together when she finally got him in another day and a half. He pushed Xander into a sitting position on the bed, making him stay sitting up until he got the shirt off him and put on the dresser. Then he got to work pulling off the pants, shoes, socks, and boxers, tossing them onto the dresser too. He got his boyfriend under the covers and stripped himself down, then decided to close all the shades and blinds. Even though no one *should* be peeking, he was sure someone was and he wasn't usually wrong in these feelings of his. He climbed into the bed and snuggled in, turning off the lights. Tomorrow he would get to rearrange Xander's closets, he had agreed. Xander was getting a total makeover courtesy of his magic fingers. Once they finally woke up.
Tony woke up and looked at the man leaning over him, smirking at Gibbs. "Horny, Boss?"
"No, DiNozzo. Where's Harris?"
"I don't know, Boss." He sat up, making sure the sheets stayed on his hips. "He was here when I went to sleep."
Gibbs looked around, then at him. "Where are his clothes?" Tony looked at the dresser and pointed. "Okay. Now see if anything is missing. That way we can put out a notice."
"He could've just went for breakfast, Boss." He found his robe and put it on before getting out and going to the closet. He blinked, frowning at the closet. "Did Abby arrange things?"
"No, and she called after she was woken up by someone breaking in about an hour ago." Tony glared at him. "You still tired, DiNozzo?"
"Boss, unless you want hit back," he warned. "Who?"
"I don't know and neither did she. She called Dawn, it wasn't her. It wasn't Eliana, Marquez, or Kate. He didn't answer his cell."
Tony walked over to the pants on the dresser, finding the cellphone. Instead he went downstairs, going to the altar. He found the thing Xander had told him to light on fire if he was ever missing. He did that and looked at the address that came up, taking it down on the paper on the desk. He opened the door and handed it to Gibbs. "He's there."
"That's where he is. He said if he ever went missing, to burn something and take down the address. That's the address that showed up." He showed him the glowing marks on the wall behind him. "See?"
"Fine." He went to call his friends in the PD to meet him there. The team was still off and until it was found out whether or not it was a kidnaping, he wasn't going to jump yet. Breaking in on McGee that time had shown him some caution. He went off, taking his coffee with him. DiNozzo would be dressed, fed, and awake by the time he got back with his toy.
Gibbs walked the boy in question in, handing him over to Tony. "He's still asleep. The person who took him is very sorry for rearranging his closet too. She saw the cops and me and broke down crying. It was one of his classmates." He went back to the kitchen. "Any coffee made?"
"Yeah, Boss." He walked Xander back up the stairs, stripping him back down and putting him back into the bed. He got a light whimper so he kissed him. "You rest," he said gently. "We can play with your clothes later." Xander nodded, blowing a few kisses and curling up on his side around Tony's pillow. He smiled and stroked over his hair. Then he went to ask his boss who this future corpse was. "Boss? Is she dead yet or can I do that?"
"No, DiNozzo. She needs mental help. She understands that he's not hers. She was promised protection from you too." He handed him a cup of coffee. "What's on today's agenda?"
"Rearranging his closet. Possibly buying him more clothes. Taking the stuff he needs to go to the dry cleaners. The usual stuff."
"Shopping is usual?" he asked dryly. He heard footsteps and leaned out of the kitchen. Xander padded in and hugged Tony. "That's so cute I'm going to be sick."
"He had a few nightmares last night." He patted him on the back. "Xander, you're going to make Gibbs puke." He got a frown and a nearly-open eyed look. "You're in the kitchen. Gibbs is watching and planning on taking a picture of you like this. I'm sure Kate and Abby would think it's cute but I'd never hear the end of it. Can you at least put on pants?"
Xander glared at Gibbs. "Mine."
"Sure, but shouldn't you sleep first, then you can have him?"
"Mine," he growled again.
"Fine, yours." He backed up another step. "Just put on clothes."
Xander stomped off, coming back with clothes on and still growling. "Better?"
"Much, thank you. I didn't need to know that much about your boxer choices."
Xander stuck his tongue out. "Just for that, I'm going to make you go shopping with the shopping god there."
"Boss, you could use a few new shirts. Your favorite one has a few holes," Tony told him. "You were swearing at it when it got burned at the last explosion."
"I don't shop."
"Then I'd get married again," Xander quipped. "Soon. Because you dress worse than me sometimes." Gibbs glared at him and he grinned back. "Come on, we can go together."
"I don't need to shop."
"Keep it up and I'll knock you out and send one of my stalkers after you," he joked.
"Um, stalkers?" Tony asked. "As in plural?"
Xander smiled and moved slowly away. "Ever, yeah." He took off running.
Tony took off after him, catching him on the stairs. "What stalkers?" he demanded, making Xander look at him. "Xander! What stalkers?"
"Just some older ones," he promised weakly. "Except for my classmate."
"Uh-huh. Boss?" Gibbs came out and he looked amused. "There's been more than one?" he demanded. "More than six?" he asked at the continuing amused look. "More than ten?"
"Seven," he admitted, taking a sip of coffee.
"Gibbs!" Xander complained. Well, whined but he would never admit he whined. "None of them were seriously dangerous stalkers until my classmate this morning."
"How often has she been here?"
"I don't know!"
"How often was your closet arranged?" Gibbs asked.
"Four, five times? I thought it was Kate or Tony or even Abby!"
"Uh-huh," Tony said, staring at him. "Boss, can you please interrogate my mate here? I want to find out who I'm going to go hyper protective on." He handed Xander over and went upstairs to rearrange the closet how it should be, including putting outfits together. Whoever had done this had very bad taste. The outfits she had put together were hideous and would make Xander look very bad. "Where are his leathers?" he called.
"I don't know," Xander called back.
"They're missing, Xander."
"Shit." He came jogging up the stairs and opened the free-standing closet door, looking inside. "Okay, this was supposed to be locked," he noted. "And there's things not in here either." He got out of the way and looked in the other closet, pulling out the things that had been crossed over while Tony got the other stuff. They rearranged things to Tony's liking, Xander not caring except for a few things. Those had been put into the special closet and it was relocked. "Sorry, special," he muttered.
Tony caught him by the arm and made him look at him. "What would you be doing if I had another one?" he asked quietly.
"I feel about the same." Xander sighed and nodded. "So tell me these things?" he suggested, moving closer. "Next time it might be more than an annoying teenager who thinks you're hot." Xander nodded again and hugged him. "Thank you. Now tell me," he ordered quietly.
"There's been seven of them," he sighed. "Most of them were discouraged easily enough after a few days of me being a bastard to them. This one I wasn't even aware of. I thought it was Kate, Abby, or you in here." He looked at him. "Did you buy me the odd underwear?" Tony shook his head. "Then we need to clean out that drawer. I'm not touching any of those except the few heirloom pieces I'm keeping in that closet."
"Wanna explain that closet to me?"
"Stuff from Sunnydale. Stuff I wanted to keep to remind me." He sat on the bed, looking at him. "You're really pissed, huh?"
"Kinda, yeah," he admitted. "Gibbs," he called. Gibbs came up the stairs, looking in the room. "Any details you want to fill in?"
"Many of them," he admitted. "Do you want the case files? One of them reported him for stalking her. Xander had a long talk with them and the cops followed him for two days and found her stalking him, so the charges were dropped." Xander pulled a pillow over to cover his face. "It was done quietly when they found out he was a cadet. Nothing came of it and the instructors over there never found out." He leaned against the wall. "Anything else he didn't say?"
"He just asked if I bought him the odd underwear."
"So, shopping?" Gibbs suggested.
Xander looked at him and nodded. "With you, since you need it too. Or else I'm calling Kate and Abby to drag you."
"I'm not that mean to you."
Xander shrugged. "Yes you are." He grinned and nodded. "You really are, Boss. By the way, I could use *more* self esteem, not less, okay?" He stood up and looked around his room, then at his mate. "What'm I wearing today?"
"You let him dress you?" Gibbs asked, looking amused.
"I don't care as long as I'm covered," he said smartly, looking at him. "That's up to him. It depends on how hot he wants me to look this time and this way you can decide what I start wearing to work." He pulled out a pair of pants, which made Tony smirk. "He wants me to wear this."
Gibbs looked, then at him. "Can you run and jump in it?" Xander nodded. "Can you crawl in it?" Xander nodded again. "Then I don't care, kid." Xander went into the bathroom to change and came out and suddenly he understood. "Oh, that reason." He shook his head. "Not the best idea. He'd be a bit distracted."
"It's a nice look for him," Tony offered.
"Change, kid. I'll let you two drag me to get a few new shirts."
"Thanks, Boss." Tony picked out clothes for both of them.
"I'm not going anywhere with you two wearing that stuff. Wear *normal* clothes, DiNozzo." He went back downstairs, shaking his head the whole way. Those two were going to drive him insane in the office with their playing. Xander and Tony came down wearing their hunting clothes. "Boys."
"This way they can figure out faster what he needs to wear," Tony explained. "Besides, he was good, he told me about them when I asked. He deserves a treat."
"I still don't want to be seen with you two looking like you sell yourselves. At least put on different shirts." Xander trudged back up the stairs, getting them other shirts to put on, longer ones. "Thank you." He found the travel mug Xander had bought for him and poured more coffee into it, heading out to the car. Xander's car. He got into the back and buckled up. He knew how the boy drove. People might complain about his driving but Xander was ten times worse.
Abby looked up as Gibbs came in wearing new clothes. It nearly made her gasp. "Did you get married again?" she demanded, pulling him over to look at him in the better light coming in from the windows. "Why didn't you tell me you got married again!" She swatted at him. "At least this one has some taste in clothes, not like the last two, but I still wanted to come, Gibbs!"
"DiNozzo and Harris made me buy it," he said grimly.
"You're in with them?"
"No!" he said, glaring at her. "Don't even have that thought."
"Sure. It's a hot one, Dawn was right." She grinned at him. "Can't I have it alone at night?"
"If you do, I don't want to hear about it, Abby." He walked off shaking his head. He turned and looked at her. "Why did you think I can't buy a new shirt?"
"Because you're Gibbs!" she snorted. "You never shop!" She rolled her eyes and walked off. DiNozzo and Harris came in together and she whistled. "That's a nice look, Xander. You look sweet and nice and gentle and innocent. Boy, is that going to make questioning people go well." She skipped off, winking at Tony. "I thought he had gotten married again," she called.
"No, that was Xander's fault," he called after her, smiling at his boss as they walked in. "As ordered, Boss, I stopped to make sure he got here on time." He sat behind his desk and Xander went to his, then came back to frisk his desk for files. "Bored already?"
"The boss promised me cold cases to look over," he defended. "I figured you had better ones." He found the stack and brought it back to his desk to look through. "Thanks, Boss."
"Whatever, Harris. Give me suggestions by the end of the day on at least three of those."
Gibbs looked over as Fi-Fi came in, looking smart in a well-put-together pants outfit. "That'll do. Can you get dirty in it?"
"Yes, Boss. Not a problem. Back in Albany I crawled through trash in it. Even on a barge." She stood in front of him. "What am I doing, Boss?"
"Cold cases. I want at least three suggestions by the end of the day."
"Yes, Boss." She looked at the other desk. "Chair?"
"Harris, give her the chair."
"Yes, Boss." He got up and sat in the corner with his report and the soda he had with him this time. She smiled at him so he shrugged. "You're injured it works for me." He went back to looking at it. "Can I have my notepad and pens?" They were pushed over so he could use them. "Thank you." He started to take notes, getting into the case. That's why he heard the gasp and looked up. "Ducky?" he asked quietly. She nodded. He got up and looked at the man holding Ducky hostage. "Let the old man go," he ordered coldly. "Holding the doctor isn't going to do you any good. After all, we can fix him up. Everyone in the city likes Ducky." The man tightened the leash he had around the older man's neck. "Last chance, man."
"Stand down, Harris," Gibbs ordered.
"Sure." He moved in front of Fi-Fi, leaning on the wall. "Let him go. It'll go better on you. You might live."
"Stand down," Kate ordered.
"Just warning him. After all, I'm not armed." The man stared at him so he stared back, making him take a step back. He didn't pull Ducky back and Xander loosened the dagger on his wrist, then shook his head. "You need to let him go." The man whimpered and took another step back. He looked at Ducky, getting a nod. He threw the knife and Ducky ducked on cue. The guy gasped as the knife landed in his throat. "I told you so." He came over to pull Ducky out of the way, looking at his throat. "Hey, Doc." He called down to the lab. "Abby, get me Ducky's bag and come kick the idiot who had him." He hung up and got him sitting, looking at his throat. "It'll be okay. Just a small abrasion," he said calmly, quietly calming him down. "You'll be fine, Ducky."
"I'm a bit tired."
"I know. Let me put some creme on it and maybe a bit of gauze and then we can take you home to be pampered by your mom." Ducky swallowed and nodded. Abby brought the bag. "I've got to get my kit up here," he said with a grin. "I keep forgetting it."
"At least you let me know when you use mine," he offered. He looked at Abby. "I'm fine."
"Bullshit! You've got ligature marks! Where is that idiot!" She turned and stomped back to Gibbs. "Who the hell dared hurt Ducky!" she yelled in his face. "I want him and I want him now!" She stomped a foot. "Right now!"
"He's locked in the interrogation room," he said, just looking back at her. "I'm sure Xander can go remove the knife he used on him in a minute."
Xander finished up on Ducky. "Sorry, my moral code says victims first, not most injured first. I'm evil that way." He closed up the case and smiled at him. "Better?" That got a nod. "You know what to take and how to rest. Did he hit you on the head?"
"No, thankfully not. He got me coming out of the car."
"That sucks. I'll yell at the guards myself if Gibbs doesn't." He headed to the interrogation rooms to follow Tony, who had drug the guy off. He put the case on the table and put on a new pair of gloves, yanking out the knife and getting to work bandaging the wound. "He'll need surgery."
"Paramedics are coming," he admitted quietly. "Where's your gun?"
"I don't know, where did you put it when you took it off me?"
"Damn. I guess she took it if it wasn't on the dresser." He watched Xander work, opening the door at the knock. He looked at the guards. "You guys let Ducky be taken hostage?" he demanded coolly.
"From the parking garage," Xander noted calmly. He looked at his handiwork. The guy wasn't gasping for breath, he wasn't bleeding through the bandages, he was awake and looking like he was pleading for his life. He stared back, leaning down into his face. "Like I said, everyone in this city likes Ducky. Every EMT, every doctor, every nurse likes Ducky. You're in for a very rough time in the prison infirmary." He stepped back and looked at the guard. "Paramedics?"
"At the gates, Harris."
"Good." He moved closer, wiping off his dagger on a bit of gauze and putting it back. "So, how was he taken in the parking garage? Are the cameras out? Can we help with that?"
"I don't know, sir. Frank's finding that out with the boss."
"Good. 'Cause Gibbs is pissed."
The guard moaned. "We know. We're figuring it out." He got out of the way as Gibbs poked him and walked past him. "Agent Gibbs, we're figuring out why we didn't see it."
"You'd better," he agreed. He looked at Xander. "What part of stand down don't you understand?"
"The part where I was giving you a better shot of getting just him. He focused on me, letting you and Kate move and shift some to get a better target lock." Gibbs blinked and he shrugged. "That's what they told us to do at the Academy. Yell at the stupid bitch who taught me! Normally I would've rushed him and gotten him down onto the floor! Ducky saw what I was going to do and ducked." He looked at the paramedics coming in. "He had a dagger in the throat. He'll need cleaned up and closed. He's not gasping for breath or bleeding now. I wrapped it very tightly. He had Doctor Mallard hostage with a rope around the neck."
"He's fucked when the docs get him then," one of the paramedics offered. He looked at the guy's neck. "Better than you did on your exam, Harris."
"I've had some practice recently," he said dryly. He looked at Gibbs, then went to work cleaning up his mess and closing back up the kit, noting what he had used in both on them. Then he walked back to where Ducky was being pampered by Kate and Abby. He handed over the kit and the note. "We've got to refill mine so I can bring it," he noted dryly.
Ducky looked at him. "We probably should," he agreed. "We'll do that tonight, Xander."
"Okay," he agreed happily. "Good following, Ducky, and I'd have killed him if he had hurt you." He gave him a hug then went back to his corner and his case.
Ducky smiled at Gibbs as he came in. "We do need to refill his kit, Jethro."
"How out of date is it?"
"Most of the meds," Xander offered. "If I had it my way instead of just that kit, I'd have a better one in the car and on the bike somehow." He made another note and glanced up as someone stood in front of him. "I didn't push you behind me because you're a girl, I did it because you're injured. Get over it, LaRange."
"Fine. Don't do it again."
He looked up. "Bite me. You know me better than that. You're injured, I'm not. Besides, I do casual violence better than you do. Until you become mean and evil too, blow off." She smirked so he went back to work. He sat up and looked at Tony. "Tony, on the Teris case did you ever talk to the daughter? I can't find it in here."
"I didn't. She was out of town."
"Yeah but the scout master said she wasn't." He got up to show him that notation. "She told Kate the kid got a call and came back suddenly. That's how she found her parents." Tony looked, frowning a bit as he read that over.
"I'm sure I told him that," Kate offered.
Tony looked at her. "I was in the hospital by then," he reminded her. He went back to it, then tapped something. "That's not a bad idea, Xander. We should talk to her again. Guilt could make her break now."
"That's the thing," he said, turning to a later report. "When the inter-agency reports started to come in, this was stuck in there but it's not noted on the index. That would be a pretty good reason to kill them, right?" he asked quietly, tapping a few lines about how the family had been suspected of abusing the younger daughter, not the one who was a suspect but the younger one."
"It says they were cleared," he said, looking at his protege.
"So? That doesn't mean the older daughter believed it or didn't know better."
"True, and we do routinely follow up cold cases. Just check in to talk to the survivors and let them know we're still working on them. I'll look and see where she is. Nice suggestion, Xander." He clapped him on the arm. "I didn't see your med kit in the bathroom," he said quietly.
"It's under the altar. I cut myself last week. I need to do a total refill. Everything's expired but the neosporin." He went back to his corner, going back to work on the next one. Tony could handle that and his notes could be turned in as a suggestion.
Gibbs came back and looked at the spare desk, finding the female intern there. "Harris." Xander lifted up from the corner. "Find a chair."
"No extra ones, Boss, and this is good for my back." He got back to work.
"That was an order."
"Yes, Boss." He got up and went to find a chair, smiling at the person giving him an odd look. "Gibbs said to quit sitting on the floor."
"He can write a requisition and tell Marquez I want my chair back."
"Yell at her, she's off today," he said, slinking back to their row. "They won't let me poach, Boss. Sorry." He went back to his corner seat and got back to work, taking a drink of his soda. On another sheet of paper he started a shopping list for his medical kit at home and where he'd find some of that. Ducky would have to help with the meds unless he wanted to go to an illegal source, but that probably wasn't a good idea. His pen was snatched from him and he looked up. "They wouldn't let me steal a chair. They said for you to do a requisition and to tell Marquez to give back the one she stole."
"You can work at her desk."
"She told me not to and I'm scared of her, Boss. She's a scary, scary woman." Fi-Fi chuckled so he kicked her chair. "Just you wait." He looked at him. "I'm fine and this way I can concentrate instead of stare out the windows."
"You can't use the computers."
"Boss, I'm not using the computers for this. I'm going over the case file and reading and seeing if any holes were left. Then I'm making suggestions based on that. I can look up addresses and things after lunch when it's my turn at the desk."
"Use. Marquez's. Desk," he ordered firmly.
"Yes, Boss." He slunk over there, going to use her desk. He turned on the computer and stared. "I'll trade back after lunch, LaRange."
"What's wrong with her computer this time?" McGee moaned.
"Nothing's coming on." He pushed the button again then checked the cords. Then he wiggled things and he got some noise of a fan, but the computer came up 'non system disk or no disk in a drive'. "McGee?" he asked dryly. "Did you take the hard drive?"
"No." He came over to look and whimpered, getting his tools to break it open again. He got the cover off and looked inside, then at Gibbs. "Boss, someone stole the hard drive and most of the interior of this computer."
"Can't you fix it?"
"No, Boss. This is just a case." He walked off, going to ask Abby if she knew what had happened. Maybe it was a joke about how bad she was with one. He hoped. If not, they had people stealing computer parts in the office. He came back and looked at Gibbs. "Boss, Abby says she doesn't know what happened and looking back at the security tapes, it was turned off last night on this whole floor."
"The cameras were turned off for thirty minutes on this floor last night," he said again. He swallowed. "I don't know why yet, but she's trying to figure it out while she's muttering about stabbing the idiot who hurt Ducky again."
"Go find one of the guards, Harris. Tell them I want to talk to them."
"Yes, Boss." He went to do that, jogging down the stairs. He grinned at the boss who was down there, tugging on his arms. "Gibbs wants to talk about the security cameras going off last night and some missing stuff in our cubicles."
"I wasn't here last night," he defended.
"You're the boss," he said dryly. "Frank, were you on last night?" That got a nod. "Good. You and your boss are wanted by Gibbs. He said the cameras went off last night and we're missing stuff?" Frank glared and walked over, walking his boss to the elevator and up there. Xander got on there with them. "Thanks, Frank. Marquez's computer is just a case now. We're checking the others on the floor if I know McGee and Abby."
"That's good. We like that. Do they know what's going on?"
"Not yet. Abby had it." They got off and he followed them. "Here, Boss. Frank and his boss." He went back to his work. The seat was comfortable. "I need one of these at home."
"You need another floor," McGee told him. "That way you can have an office and a room for your altar."
"Marquez wanted me to move it to the training room." Frank gave him an odd look so he looked back. "Yes, I'm not Christian. Sorry."
"That's your choice to go to hell."
Xander grinned. "Been there, done that. Wasn't that bad really." That got an odd look from Kate. "I was." Frank opened his mouth. He got up and whispered in his ear, getting a shudder. "That's why I'm not Christian."
"I can accept your choice, Harris. You're good enough in my book and I'll pray for you." He patted him on the arm. "Agent Gibbs, the security footage Abby pulled up?"
"Is in her lab. Let's go." They walked that way. "I want answers."
"I want answers, Gibbs!" Frank assured him. "Forget you, I wanna know who in the hell did this!" Gibbs smirked at him. "This is horrible and I'm tired of these things happening here."
"There've been others?"
Frank nodded. "In HR last month. It's an open investigation on the Director's desk."
"It's going to be on mine in ten minutes," he promised.
Xander smirked at McGee. "At least it wasn't my fault."
"And it's not something I can fix," he agreed happily. He sat down to get back to work. "How was your last stalker?"
"Caught. Gibbs scared at her for me and then told some others."
"Who told you, Probie?" Tony called, looking down at him. "I didn't know until Gibbs told me."
"Oooh," he said, wincing.
"Did Gibbs spank Xander?" Kate asked.
"Not quite," Tony assured her, looking at McGee. "Who told you?"
"Abby." He grinned at him. "She tells me all the good gossip."
"You missed it this morning," Kate told him. "Abby accused Gibbs of getting married again since he had on a new shirt. She was really upset that she hadn't been invited."
McGee started to laugh but then quit when Gibbs came back. "Any news on where the parts are, Boss?" he asked, trying to stop grinning.
"Something funny, McGee?"
"No, sir. I asked Harris about his last stalker, sir."
"You think that's funny?"
"No, Boss, but I think the reaction Abby had when she told me was."
"It couldn't be any better than the one she had when I burst into your apartment last time," he noted dryly. McGee blushed bright red and ducked his head. "I'm sure you've got work to do, McGee?" He nodded and got back to work. "Harris?"
"Yes, Boss? I'm working very hard on this case. Not looking at the naked pictures that were found on the computer." He looked up and pointed at the stack. "They're even turned over so I can't look."
"How can you examine the pictures that way?"
"I glanced at them but otherwise I'd be staring at the naked people, Boss. I haven't found that comfy mental line since they look younger than Dawn." He went back to work. Gibbs came over to snatch the pictures and then put them carefully back down after the first one. "That's why I turned them over, Boss. I couldn't stand to look at them either."
"Wise decision. DiNozzo, any word on your new lead?"
"Not good ones, Boss. She's dead. She died about six months after her parents did of an overdose. Her suicide note was listed in the case file but I can't access it and I've got a call in to see if it was related, just in case she confessed in it. I'm waiting on word back."
"Good. Let me know. LaRange?" She blinked up at him. "Took the pain killers?" She nodded slowly. "Maybe you should take today off?"
"Hell no," she slurred.
Xander's head popped up and he came over to look at her. "What the hell are you taking?" he asked her. She pointed at her purse so he carefully dug in there and looked at it. "Gibbs, get Ducky up here." He called down to the morgue, bringing the doctor. He held up the pills. "Isn't that too strong? I thought that was covered under 'overdose' in class."
He looked and nodded. "It was. Jethro, call the paramedics back. That is much too strong for her system." He let Xander help him lay her out on the floor. "Amanda, dear, look at me?" She smiled at him. "I do know who you are, dear. Let us get that nasty medicine out of your system and you can come back the day after next, all right?" She nodded, thumping her head on the floor. "That's a good girl." The paramedics came. "Someone botched her medicine refill," he noted. He showed them the bottle and the directions. They whimpered. "She's slurring and fairly pliable."
"We'll take her right away, Doctor Mallard." They loaded her up and started an IV in the elevator so they could get it out of her system, asking her when she took her last pills.
Xander tossed him the bottle. "There ya go."
"Thank you. I'll warn her father that she'll be fine." He headed to the elevator and went up.
Gibbs looked at it and smirked. "I knew it."
Tony hung up the phone and looked at him. "She confessed that she couldn't bear the thought of her sister committing homicide and not stopping her, Boss. The sister's body was found just minutes later when we went for the initial call. Remember, she was in the bedroom on her bed?" Gibbs nodded. "She OD'd in there." He handed over the copy of what he had taken down. "So we can close this one on our end too."
"They never told us?"
"No reason to, Boss. They didn't know we were involved."
"Fine. Make whatever notes you need and file it." Tony nodded and went back to his desk. "Nearly, Harris."
"It was only a suggestion, Boss."
"No, it was a good catch," he assured him. "It probably would've led you to the truth anyway. She would've broken under the guilt." Xander smiled and went back to work. "Don't get cocky though."
"I'm not, Boss. Never been cocky a day in my life." The director stopped at his desk and stared at him. "I'm not," he offered with a grin. "I'm not cocky, there's many other words that describe me so much better."
"What happened to my daughter?"
"Her meds were elephant strength. They'll probably pump her stomach in case, do a lot of IV fluids, monitor the usual things that could go with that much pain killers, like they would any other OD. In this case I'd ask her doctor why he wrote something that strong." He shrugged and got back to work. "I promise I'll put my bag in my car once I have it refilled, Director."
"We don't have a copy of your licenses on file, Harris." He pulled out his wallet and laid them out in a neat row in front of the file. He looked at them, then at him. "How in the hell?"
"I got bored, Director. A bored Xander is a dangerous Xander. Just ask Gibbs." He gave him a shy grin. "Besides, I like to cook. I'm not good at it, but I like to cook."
"You're taking cooking classes?" McGee asked.
"Hell yeah. Did you see my oatmeal cookie disaster the other day?"
"No, but I smelled it." He grimaced and shook his head. "How far are you?"
"This is butter, butter is good." He looked at the director again, seeing the humor in his eyes. "Technically I took part of it earlier, in Sunnydale, and then I carried those records here. It got me put into the higher level classes, Director." Gibbs came over to look, then looked at him. "What?" he defended. "You've seen me studying for most of those, Gibbs." He looked at the director again. "I promise I'll do what I can to drive my car in since I can't hide my paramedic's kit on my bike."
"Buy a saddle bag and stuff it full," he suggested, walking off shaking his head. He went to order Ducky to refill the bags and keep records on Harris' licenses. That way they wouldn't run out anytime soon. There was no way he wanted them to not be stocked in case of an emergency.
Gibbs handed over the cards after he got done flipping through them. "Just cooking?"
"I've been too busy to double up like I had been," he offered quietly. "Hell, Gibbs, you saw me during my practicals. That's why my badge was chewed on that day."
"Fine. You did your field hours?" Xander nodded. "All of them?" Xander nodded again. "How long is this good for?"
"Two years. Then I have to take a six-hour refresher, pass the test, and get it renewed."
"Keep up on that. I don't want you to let any of them lapse."
"Yes, Boss. Should I learn how to make Japanese food too? It's offered."
"No," he said, shaking his head. "I'm not fond of sushi or rice." He went back to his desk, looking at Tony, who was smiling. "You knew and didn't tell me?"
"About three of them and the cooking lessons I suggested he take."
"Harris, hand those to him." Xander moaned. "Now." Xander trudged over to hand over his cards. He smirked at the look Tony gave his lover. "Maybe you should make him tell you those things as his best friend, DiNozzo."
"Maybe I should," he agreed, staring Xander down. "All those days you weren't bored?" Xander nodded, sighing a bit and looking down. "Not that I mind, but you can brag, Xander."
"Bragging is wrong and Buffyish," he defended, going back to work. "I'm not like that."
"Obviously. Anything else I should know as your best friend?"
Xander blushed and mumbled something into the case folder.
"What was that?" McGee asked, looking at him. "That sounded a lot like you're buying Abby some new lab equipment for your basement."
"She begs really well," he defended, nearly whining again. "Besides, I'm trained to give in to begging women!"
"How expensive is this equipment?" Gibbs asked.
"Don't ask. She said the Director wouldn't let her get a new one." He got back to work until Tony walked over and lifted his chin. "Not that expensive," he defended at the long stare. "Under a million."
"How far under a million?" he asked patiently.
"What is this thing?"
He shrugged. "Abby demanded, I'm trained to listen to demanding or whining women. She's got the order form in her desk because she's debating between two models. Ask her." He gave him a sheepish look. "Sorry," he said quietly, going back to work.
"I'm starting to see how your friends used to take advantage of you," Kate admitted. Xander glared at her. "Didn't they?"
"No, they decided I was helpless, useless, and only there to ferry, haul, tote, and fix things unless I was being the bait," he said coolly. She backed down at that. "It was my two actual girlfriends who trained me to listen to whining women." He got back to work, leaning back so he didn't have to look at her.
"Can't I bring them back?" Tony muttered as he walked down to Abby's lab. She smiled at him. "What piece of lab equipment?" She blushed and looked down. "Abby?" he said calmly.
"Sorry, Tony, but we need a new one...."
"Abby!" he snapped. She slumped and nodded. "What piece of lab equipment?" She got the catalog and showed it to him. "Don't we have one of these?"
"Ours is out of date," she complained. "The Director won't even let me update it! This way we get a backup if we need it and we get the upgrade too!" She gave him a hopeful look. "I'm willing to go for the less expensive one."
He moaned and walked off with the catalog, handing it to Gibbs. "She wants a redundant backup at the house and an upgrade for the office, Boss. I'm going to the parking garage before I put her in the morgue freezer for a bit." He headed for the elevator, going down to throw a fit.
Gibbs looked at Xander, then at the catalog. "You are not to buy Abby anything that doesn't come in black velvet, black PVC, has spikes on it, or that costs more than fifty bucks, Harris. Do you understand me?" Xander gave him a long stare. "I don't care how much she whines, begs, or anything else. Nothing unless it's in black, has spikes, is made of velvet or PVC, and it had better not cost more than fifty bucks."
"Lunch?" he asked.
"That either. She and McGee can buy her own lunch." He nodded, ducking his head. He went to talk to Abby, who was pouting at the order form. "You better not have ordered it."
"I haven't. I was going to make my choice tomorrow, sleep on it over the weekend, and then order it on Monday," she said, still pouting. "We need it, Gibbs. What happens if we get another case and can't use this lab?"
"There's an FBI lab we can take over. There's six college labs in town we can commandeer. There's a few good ones that belong to the City Police department. You do not have Xander order you a new tech toy for his lab at the house. I don't care why, that's using him."
"He said I could," she defended. He glared and she backed down again. "I guess it was a bad idea. It'd draw attention to his home lab," she sighed.
"Thank you," he said, handing her back the catalog. "How much is the update?"
"Six hundred and the director already said no. Said to get Harris or DiNozzo to pay for it."
"I'll be having a talk with him," he assured her calmly. "Anything else he's ordered for you?"
"Just a pretty piece of jewelry," she offered sheepishly. "It was online and I'm paying him back for the next year."
"What was it?" he demanded. She pulled the box out of her worktable and showed him. He blinked at the skull hanging off the black velvet. "Is that silver?"
She nodded. "And real rubies for the eyes and blood," she said. "I'm paying him back."
"You'd better. He's not to buy you anything that's not velvet, PVC, black, has spikes, or over fifty bucks, Abby. You don't use him that way even if he lets you."
"Yes, Gibbs. Tell him I'm sorry?"
"No. That's your job." She nodded, walking in front of him. He followed her, handing Kate the catalog. She could withstand Abby the best. "Abby?"
"Xander, I'm sorry. I shouldn't have asked you for the really expensive toy for the lab. It was mean and not what friends do." She leaned over to hug him. "I'm sorry, I'll learn better." He nodded, patting her on the back. "Thank you. Forgive me?" He nodded, giving her a look. "Thank you. Can I buy you lunch?"
"No, I brought lunch. You can taste test some of my cooking class stuff."
She hesitated then nodded. "Sure," she agreed, smiling at him. "Thank you, Xander." she bounced off, going back to her lab to put on her new choker. It was really pretty and it did set off her outfit very well. Plus she was paying him back.
Gibbs sat down and looked at Tony as he came back, looking just as unmussed and calm as ever. "You good now? Need another break?"
"No, Boss, I'm fine." Xander looked at him. "What?"
"He helped her buy a new necklace too but she's paying him back."
"It's very pretty," McGee told him. "Plus she said she's paying him back."
He shook his head and sighed, sitting behind his desk. He reminded himself that this was 'new rich boy' syndrome and it would get better. Xander was reasonable, he just wanted someone to spoil. "Xander, about that shadow box?" he asked. "Why is it in the living room?"
"I didn't want it in the bedroom, the altar room, or the gym," he offered. "That leaves the basement or the pantry."
"How about inside your special closet?" Tony suggested. "With the other stuff you kept from Sunnydale?" Xander leaned forward to look at him. "Really. That way it's special and not everyone can see it, and be scared by it, but you can still keep it with the other special stuff." Xander shook his head. "Can you at least move it so it's next to the windows?" Xander nodded at that. "Thank you. It scared me when I came in this morning."
"Would that be the box with the pink sweater, the two silver things, and the gold thing?" Kate asked with a blush. Tony nodded, then shook his head and shuddered. "What does that represent?"
"His ex, Anya. She died in Sunnydale. One of those isn't silver, it's platinum. She got it without his knowledge."
"Platinum?" she demanded, noticing Xander was back on the floor behind the desk. "Platinum?"
"It's nearly solid too," McGee said dryly. "Abby saw them up close and personal one day. All three of them."
"Who makes those things?" she demanded.
"Tiffanys," Xander said dryly from his hidden spot. "Two were presents, the platinum one was her idea and she got it somehow. I don't know how but she was like that."
She got up and came over to look at him since he was nearly under the desk this time. "You bought her the other two?"
He looked at her. "Xander's are trained from a very young age to give into whining and begging women," he said dryly, staring at her. "Having dated Anya and Cordelia, it's how I was trained to be a man and a boyfriend. Cordy wasn't so much a 'want' person but she did like to be spoiled and Anya demanded gifts. Constantly. That and sex. It's how I remember her." Kate gave him a long stare. "Really. Ask Abby, she found one of her journals in the child's casket of sex toys."
"Casket?" she asked.
"Don't ask," McGee told her. "Really, just don't ask."
"Hey, if you ever have kids, just get it recovered inside for them," Tony joked.
"My mother has an heirloom cradle and crib. They're going in those. If the kid wants to turn goth at a later date, he or she can do that," he announced. "Once they're teenagers. Until then they can dress in black *and* another color." He bent back over his case file. "Ask Gibbs, he was there when the rest of Anya's stuff showed up, Kate."
Gibbs looked at him. "Just for that, you're doing the next dumpster," he assured him. He looked at Kate. "It was a child's casket. It did have things I couldn't identify and don't want to be able to identify, including a snake thing. It did go home with Abby. You can ask her about it after work. Now, let Harris work. He's here to learn and he can't do that when he's hiding from you." She went back to her seat. "Harris." Xander reappeared and started making notes again. "Thank you. Are there any other matters we need to discuss as a group?"
"No, no more group topics, Boss," Tony assured him. "When's lunch again?"
"It's barely ten, DiNozzo. You can wait." He glanced at Xander, who was looking up and muttering. "Praying?"
Xander nodded. "For a long case," he mouthed. "So I can escape. One where no one's really hurt." He looked at the case file again. "McGee, if you had an IP address from five years ago, can you do anything with that?"
"Not unless they're still there, using the same ISP, and the same computer," he said, looking at him. "Why?"
"Child porn case," he admitted. "No suspects linking the dead guy back to his dealer or anything like that. Only emails with full headers." McGee came over to look. "I didn't think you could but I figured I'd ask."
"At least you ask questions," he said happily, smiling at him. "It was a good one."
"Thanks. I don't get along well with delicate things. Big, gross, heavy things and the less complicated the better. The more delicate, fragile, or precise it is, the more it's going to break around me."
"Then we'll do something to make sure your camera doesn't break," he promised with a grin, looking at the emails. "Hotmail. Anonymous if you want it to be. Probably a made- up name since it's Frank Smith." Xander flipped a few more pages, coming up with something in that name. "Or maybe not. Maybe it's a second identity for him," he admitted, looking at that. "Boss?" Gibbs came over to look. "This case was yours and DiNozzo's. Do you remember Mr. Smith?"
"Just as some bland, geriatric guy with a wheeze." He looked at the case file, then at him. "We can check it out. It's not unheard of for kids to be a Smith." He handed it to McGee. "Run that name down, see where it ends you. He might be dead. That's almost three years old now."
"I had the really old files in that one, Boss," Tony admitted. "That way the kids got them first and tomorrow they can work on the newer stuff once we figure out if they're any good at it."
"That's fine, DiNozzo. It makes sense. Your second time this month, I'm nearly impressed."
"Thanks, Boss, I knew you loved me."
"If I was closer, I'd hit you for that," he assured him.
"I'm sure you'll get me later." Xander giggled at that so he looked at him, silently telling him he'd be getting some too. He handed back the licenses he had been staring at, watching him put them into the billfold portion. "You need to put them in a better location. They can fall out."
"I've almost lost my wallet twice in the last week anyway," he noted dryly.
"Did your teachers know about your 'victim first' methodology?" Tony asked him.
Xander looked up and nodded. "We argued about it for about a week. I can answer it correctly when asked but I blatantly stated I'd be heading for the victim first. That they didn't deserve to suffer any longer for the crime of being a victim. She argued that ignoring the perp could cause them to not be able to pay their debt to society. I pointed out it was still better than someone dying for being picked on. We came to an impasse and she agreed it was probably better since I wasn't going to be a full-time paramedic, just on call for you guys and other agencies I was working with at that time. She said she understood and on many levels she agreed with me, but that I had to answer it correctly in order to pass my licensing, which I did. My morals and being able to spit out the right answer are two different parts of my brain."
"That's fine. I agree with you on that," he admitted. "The perp can die for his sins unless we need to question him if he hurt a victim that much and no victim deserves to further suffer while their tormentor gets treated."
"That's what she agreed with me about, but that it was still the law to do it worst case first as long as we were in a triage situation." Tony nodded at that. "As long as I keep answering it correctly on the tests I'm fine with it. I made my peace with that moral bit of lapsing."
Tony smiled at that. "Anything else you want to tell me before I give you truth serum tonight?"
"I'm highly resistant?" he offered with a smirk.
"No you're not."
"Fuck," Xander muttered, looking at the new file in front of him. "Never mind."
Tony patted him on the head. "Always stick with the lie if you're going to lie about those things, Xander." He went back to his desk, planning how he could get hold of some truth serum. Kate sent him an IM giving him an address. Then she smirked at him. He smirked back and wrote it down then erased it. Another message popped up of 'tape it for me so I can do a profile on him' and he looked at her again. She gave him a pleading look and he shrugged a maybe, then closed that one. That would intrude on their privacy and he was sure there were some things that Xander didn't want her to know. Besides, this way he would find out why Xander liked to cuddle so much. He was always trying to cuddle. He saw Gibbs staring at him and looked back. "Problems, Boss?" he asked quietly.
"You're not looking at 'rate my tush' sites again, are you?"
"No, Boss. Planning my night mentally."
"Not in the office, DiNozzo."
"Not that stuff, Boss. I don't need help planning *that* stuff." He smirked at him and got comfortable again so he could get back to work, or play. Either was good for him since they didn't have a new case and all his reports were caught up.
Xander came out of the bathroom and found himself pounced and put onto the bed. He looked at his pouncer, smiling at his mate. "What did I do to deserve that?"
"Kate wanted me to tape you while under truth serum."
"If you put me under truth serum, I'm kicking you out."
"Then talk to me so I won't have to." Xander sighed and looked at him. "Seriously, Xander. You never tell me anything unless I ask."
"I'm not going to start suddenly blurting out stuff, Tony. You know that. When you ask, I do answer."
"Good point. But you never ask."
"I figured you'd let me know when you were ready to talk. Even Gibbs told me you don't talk about your past."
"I don't usually but you could ask," he offered. "You want to know how I grew up? About my parents? Family pets?"
"You had a dog and a horse that you rented for rides," he told him. "You told me that when we got into that discussion." That got a grin and Tony kissed him. "What did you want me to know?"
"You never talk about your parents."
"They're better off dead."
"I feel the same way but mine are unfortunately living."
"You need me to summon something to fix that for you?"
"No," he said patiently. "That's not what I was talking about. I'm still working myself up so I'm ready for the day they do die and I hear the nice words of 'of course they cut you out of the will, Anthony, that's what disinherited means' from one of their lawyers."
Xander pulled him down for another kiss. "If they do, you can protest the will. It's not legal to do that." He stole another kiss. "And I'll be there with you if we're together." He stole a third kiss and smiled. "My parents weren't that great. Drunks, yelling, fighting with each other all the time. I got verbal abuse mostly, a few swats now and then when my father got really royally drunk and pissed at me for making a noise. Once when he had a hangover from some moonshine someone gave him. I mostly stayed out of the way and hung with Jesse and Willow until they passed out for the night." He swallowed. "I used to sleep outside every Christmas. His boss always gave him a liquor bonus since he knew he drank and it was worse that night."
Tony cuddled him. "Are they living?"
"They decided not to relocate when Sunnydale started to go. They refused to leave their house. I'm guessing they got sucked into hell alive. The house was gone when we went back two days later to look at the damage. Giles hasn't said he's seen them or anything, not that he would or know what they looked like." He looked at him, shrugging a little bit, as much as he could move. "I don't know what you want me to say."
"Did your father ride you because he thought you were gay?"
"Now and then. Then he figured I was banging Willow, his words, so I was okay enough in his book at that point. He tried to hit on her once and she told her mother, who came to scream at him. From that point on, she wasn't allowed in our house but I was more than welcome to come visit her."
"How old was she?"
"I don't really remember. It's like I have bits and pieces of my life before Buffy came. I maybe remember thirty minutes total. The stuff that'd flash before your eyes sort of things. Nothing really exciting ever happened. Sunnydale wasn't for the excitement."
"Wow. I remember birthdays and parties and all that stuff. The scratchy uniforms and all that." Xander shifted to give him a cuddle. "Were you any good in school?"
"Nope. Diagnosed as a slow learner and nearly put into the special kids class and on the short bus." He stole another kiss. "Willow basically kept me out of it."
"I saw your SAT score down in your office. How did you get an 1100 with that bad of an education?"
"I don't know," he admitted. "Principal Snyder thought I cheated." He grimaced. "He was wrong, I didn't. I guess it's because I do better with hands-on learning. Like the paramedic and massage therapy stuff. Almost none of it was book stuff, just hands-on training. I do good at that stuff. That's how I learned explosives and construction and all the other stuff I'm good at." That got him another squeeze. "I thought I had prayed hard enough before the test. Not that I was going to use it but I wanted to prove I could be smart. Buffy's scores were crap because she nearly fell asleep since she'd been out on patrol the night before."
"Yeah, but I needed less beauty sleep. That's why I'm so bulky and ugly now." Tony popped him upside the head. "I am." He got another one. "Tony!"
"You are not. You may not look like Clark Gable, but you're not ugly. You're not blocky or bulky or anything nearing it or fat. You're well muscled, Xander. Get it right. Muscle weighs more than fat. You're also not ugly. Even if you had really bad scars around your eye you wouldn't be ugly."
"Tony, this is an old problem you're not going to solve, quit frustrating yourself," Xander told him quietly.
"No! No real boyfriend would let you keep putting yourself down."
"If I don't then I get overconfident and I fail, Tony. I like the low self esteem better. It keeps me realistic about my skills and I can stretch beyond it, but if I try to raise myself up, I end up going too far and failing. Then I'm laughed at and shunned and sometimes nearly killed. I don't want that."
Tony pulled him closer, cuddling him tightly. "We all fail at something, Xander. I failed at being the son my parents wanted. I failed at the future they wanted. Hell, at one point in time my mother wanted me to be a doctor but I used to faint at the sight of blood." He tipped his face up to make him look at him. "Just because you failed a few times doesn't mean you can't keep trying."
"I do now and then. I can and do reach beyond it or I'd never have gotten any of those licenses. Buffy thought they were stupid and unnecessary, taking time away from helping with the slayers. That Giles and the other adults had it."
Tony sighed. "I want to dig her up sometimes and chew her a new one about how much she screwed you up." Xander started to move but he held him still. "I won't and I can't," he assured him, staring into his eyes. "I know that I can't. I also know that she's not the root cause of your self esteem issue. That doesn't mean you needed friends who put you down."
"Tony, let go."
"Nope. Sorry." He cuddled him tighter, putting a leg over his. "I like holding you."
"You undervalue me too. Everyone does."
"That's because we don't know what you can really do."
"Which then leads to me failing when people expect too much from me," he pointed out.
"What did we expect you to do that you couldn't, Xander?"
"I'm still waiting for it."
"Yeah, well, Gibbs doesn't play that way. He never has. He never will. He expects you to be honest about your skills and what you can and can't do, how much you can do, and how long you can stand things. You discounting yourself this way hurts the team."
"What if I kinda know something but not enough."
"Then he'll suggest you finish learning it as soon as you can and ask you what parts you know. He did that to me too. It's not a bad thing."
"It's not." He kissed him on the forehead. "Tell me something you can do that you don't think I can."
"I don't know what you can do."
"Everyone has things they can do."
"Okay, I can wash clothes without sorting them."
"Which probably isn't good for them, but you're right. My upbringing would make me sort the laundry into color grouped loads and then do them appropriately when I had to. My housekeeper taught me that." Xander frowned at him. "It's not like my mother did laundry and I asked before I went off to college against their will."
"Oh." He relaxed and Tony pulled him closer again. "I'm don't need to be kept from leaving."
"I'm comfortable. You make a good pillow."
"I'm not leaving."
"You tried to."
"I was going to go into the bathroom."
"Tough. I can't talk to you in there or cuddle you this way." He stole another kiss. "Tell me something you can kinda do but not fully. Something you found in a book or something you started to learn but didn't finish yet."
"Most of my high school classes were that way."
"Besides those, Xander. Something else, a skill sorta thing."
"I kinda know a bit about some very kinky things?" he offered. "When I was working at the club one of my regular drink buyers was part of that and he told me some stories about his club and the things that went on."
"Okay. Not what I was expecting. Did you ever go?" Xander shook his head quickly. "Were you scared?"
"Yup. He was talking about nearly freezing bodies to lower the body's levels so the people who like dead people could have fun but they wouldn't be an actual dead person. That and the talk about using people who looked like kids even if they weren't to satisfy those urges safely and legally."
"I've heard about places like that," he admitted after a moment's thought. "Where was this place?"
"LA. Where else?"
"Good point." He kissed him on the forehead. "Was it legal?"
"Borderline and he quit coming a few weeks before I left. One of the workers there ran into a problem and it was getting them attention. He wanted me to go work for him as a sub."
"I can't see you as a submissive," he admitted. "Or as a dom really."
"Tell me something you can kinda do?" he asked quietly.
"I can almost knit. My grandmother tried to teach me. I can't tell the difference between knitting and purling but I know there is one. I almost made a whole potholder by myself. I can latch hook and I can crochet but I always end up with wobbly lines."
"I don't seem to have anything that innocent."
"That's why I want to go back and yell at your friends for you," he assured him, kissing him on the forehead again. "What about the language skills. Did they even know?"
"Now and then I was reading something I clearly shouldn't have been able to and Giles would take it away from me and tell me to quit pretending. So I'd quote and he'd glare. Tell me I was being childish. I went to him once and said I wanted to learn and he laughed and said first I should master my native language." Tony groaned. "So, no. Tell me something else?"
"I made a few latex molds once as part of an extra credit project for my English teacher. She was over the drama program too so they were for a play. I really enjoyed playing with the mold but it never quite turned out exactly right because I'm not much of a sculptor." Xander snuggled in closer, rubbing his nose on his chest. "Is that nuzzling or is it drippy?"
"I should say drippy so I can go use the bathroom," he said in a teasing voice. Tony smiled and let him go, watching as he went in there. He came back a minute later and crawled in again. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." He kissed him again. "You brushed your teeth?"
"I had onion breath."
"So do I. Is it bothering you?" Xander shook his head. "Then it wasn't necessary." He got up to do his anyway. Just so Xander wouldn't feel bad for doing it. He came out and found his boyfriend under the blankets, getting naked and climbing in with him. "What else can you do?"
"I almost tamed a wild kitten, but my mother ran it off by shrieking about furry creatures and rats. It was a bit scrawny but not that bad." Tony smiled at that. "What else can you do?"
"I'm very good at teaching what I know but I don't have the patience for it," he admitted.
"Can you teach me how to latch hook? That's the stuff that looks like a carpet, right?" Tony nodded. "You can?"
"Sure, it's not that hard. It was something I could do when I broke my arm or my leg when I was younger."
"You broke both?"
"I played many sports and yeah, I broke both over the years. You?"
"See, better than me." He stole a kiss and grinned. "What're you wearing tomorrow?"
"I don't know. I'm wondering what you're wearing tomorrow since you didn't bring over any more clothes."
Xander chuckled and kissed him. "Go get clothes and come back, Tony. Even if we have to buy you a new closet or add on another level to the house for more closet space." Tony grinned and climbed out of bed, putting on the basic clothes necessary for a quick trip back to his apartment. Xander snuggled into the warm spot, content and happy.
Gibbs looked up at the end of the trainees' evaluation period, handing the newly-arrived supervising agent the forms he had been made to fill out. "For both of them."
"Thank you, Agent Gibbs. We're worried about Harris."
"He's never going to be anyplace but here," he reminded him.
"True, which is why we don't mind the obvious combat veteran who didn't tell us where or how, but we're sure you know?" That got a nod. "Covert Ops?" he guessed.
"I did, he said ask you or the kid himself." Gibbs just smirked. "Did he lie on his application?"
"No, he came from a town that was filled with that cult. He ended up working against them. It's all home-grown combat experience," he admitted.
"So, he knows about that stuff?"
"Some. That's why we've been working with him."
"Oh. Okay. We got a briefing on the Initiative counter-movement against that group a few weeks back."
"Why?" he asked, staying calm. "Did they escape again?"
"No, sir, but the trials are coming up and we'll be providing escort service since none of our agents were involved. It'll be closed hearings as far as I was told. So I'll probably see you there."
"Thank you. By the way, Harris isn't dangerous to anyone physically unless he has to be. Just mental agony."
The agent smirked. "So Fornell said, sir. Thank you for this. Are they back there?" That got a nod. "Did they get into the field?"
"Two different cases."
"Wonderful. Thank you." He headed off, going back to the office to hand those forms in. Fornell took them to look them over. "No one told them about the upcoming trials?"
"Not yet," he muttered. "Where's his combat experience?"
"Against that cult, sir. Agent Gibbs said he grew up surrounded by them and he fought against them. He called home-grown combat experience." He smirked at him. "I'm assuming we'll be seeing the kid there since Gibbs said he was working with that team on that cult thing."
"I'm assuming so too," he agreed, looking at him. "Anything else he let slip?"
"He's only dangerous to mental states, not physical beings. He said they went out on two cases as well."
"Thank you." He got back to work looking them over, then smirked. He didn't like Harris. He didn't want him to graduate the same academy he had went to..... His mental complaining was interrupted by the phone. "Fornell," he said, then he stood up. "Yes, sir, what can I do for you today, sir?" he asked respectfully. He listened, his jaw dropping. "You know about this boy?" He listened, he really listened to what was being said and not said. "And you're sure you want to saddle NCIS with that young man, sir?" He nodded. "No, sir, not questioning your decisions, sir." He squeezed his eyes shut and kept in the growl. "Yes, sir, that is an option at the moment. Most of the cadets aren't ready to move into any specialist classes but a few with prior experience are. Do you want me to add him to that group so he can go work part-time for Gibbs, sir?" He rubbed his forehead and reminded himself it wasn't him that would have that headache every day. "Yes, sir, of course, sir, and thank you, Director." He hung up and sat back down again. He filled out some paperwork to make Harris and a few others graduate sooner. They had the skills, they were all going to other agencies and the one who was thinking about staying at the FBI wanted to take more specialist classes so they could work on him for longer. These ones had passed the basic levels necessary to work for someone else and give them migraines and ulcers.
Xander bounded into the bullpen and ran over to hug Gibbs. "I passed!" he said excitedly. "I passed, I passed second highest after Fi-Fi because I fucked up an essay question, but I passed and graduation is next weekend. You're coming, right?"
"Of course I am. Can I be put down now?" Xander let him go with a 'sorry' grin and backed up a step. "Invitations?" Xander handed him one. "Thank you. Did you reserve enough seats for all of us?" Xander nodded. "And you have your forms in here, right?"
"Yup, but the Director said I couldn't start until September thanks to the budget and the overtime stuff so I'm going to be listed as an intern and not paid but you can decide when you need me."
"Fair enough," he agreed. He put a hand on his shoulder, keeping him from bouncing. "You told them how many were coming, right?"
"Yup, and I listed you by name so they can print the invitations and send them. I ran out of room for one of you but Fi-Fi invited Adrian for me."
"That's fine," Marquez agreed. "She told me. She got tops?" Xander beamed and nodded. "Good job, both of you."
"Thank you. I majorly messed up on an essay question." He shrugged. "Still only a point and a half off perfect." Tony choked at that so he beamed at him. "I'm a good boy."
"You are. That's about what I got on my final test too." He smiled at him. "Good job, Xander."
"Thank you." He beamed at Abby and Ducky as they came up. He had called and said he had good news. He bounced over to hug them. "I got second highest in the ones being allowed to graduate and you're all invited." He got a pat on the back from Ducky. "I had to list Dawnie as your date, Ducky."
"That's fine, Xander. She is a charming companion at times." He patted him on the cheek. "I'm very proud and I know Rupert would be too."
"I tried to call him and I got Wes, who was really happy for me and yelled at me for using my headset while I was riding over, and he said he'd tell Giles. I start officially in September."
"That's even better. That way you have time to play around this summer."
"I'm going to be interning," he assured him, pouting a bit. "You don't get the whole summer away from me."
"I never expected I would." He stroked his hair back into place. "Be a good boy and we'll all have dinner tonight."
"Then I need to buy a bigger table." Tony laughed at that so he looked at him. "I was thinking about adding onto the house since we're always joking about needing at least one more room."
"We don't need it," Tony assured him. "We'll move stuff around this weekend, Xander." Xander nodded, accepting that. "Go shopping and figure out what we're having." Xander beamed and hugged him, then Gibbs, then Abby, then Ducky, then bounced out like he was on springs. "What time is graduation, Boss?"
"Next weekend, Sunday afternoon at two." He went to call upstairs, getting the director's secretary. "I need my whole team off the on-call list next weekend. Academy graduation. No, Harris and LaRange have both graduated. He can call and ask," he noted dryly, hanging up. "She hasn't told him yet."
Kate snickered. "I'm sure we'd hear squealing if she had."
The director trotted down the stairs and came over. "Scores are out?" Gibbs smirked and nodded. "How did Harris do?"
"One essay off perfect," Tony said proudly. "A point and a half, second highest."
"Second?" he asked calmly.
Gibbs smirked at him. "Our other intern scored highest, director. We need graduation off."
"That's fine," he agreed happily. "I'll have you taken off everything but the 'absolute emergency' on-call list." He looked at the invitation, then at him. "I hope I have one of those?"
"LaRange said you were on her list, they had to split up some of the personnel," Kate told him with a grin. "She had to invite Marquez for Xander as well, sir."
"That's fine then. Thank you for that good news, Jethro. You'll be off at the normal time that Friday." He walked away happy and smiling. His daughter was top of her class!
"I was fifth in mine," Kate offered.
"I was tops in mine," Tony bragged. "Same score though."
Gibbs smirked and shook his head, looking at Ducky. "Suit and tie, right?" That got a nod. "Good. Abby, try to look a bit normal. Remember, this is the FBI we'll be surrounded by. No dog collars."
"Yes, Gibbs. Formal gown or not?"
"Sure. Who's dressing Xander?"
"He has three suits, I'll make sure he's in one," Tony reminded her. "Since I'm his wardrobe advisor at the moment." That got a knowing smirk from everyone. "He wanted to wear a Hawaiian print shirt and jeans yesterday," he defended.
"Yeah, I've seen those shirts," Gibbs agreed. "Back to work, kids, we can celebrate later." Everyone got back to work, or tried to. Tony kept getting happy smirks from most everyone all day. It's not like everyone didn't *know* after all.
Xander finished the letter and blatantly snooped in Tony's address book, finding the one for his cousin, the one who had come down to get him to leave Tony alone. He carefully wrote it out and put on a stamp, then put his address book just where it had been. The envelope went down to the nearest drop box and then he came back to make sure there was no evidence that he was writing to Tony's family. Because really, they had no idea how influential and good their son was. Or how many lives he saved. Or even how good he was to him. If you had parents and they seemed to have a problem understanding you, they should at least be helped to understand what they were giving up. And hey, maybe they'd decide to like Tony again so he'd be happier about that. Maybe with their ages going up they had learned to accept others for being themselves. And if not, it was only a wasted hour working on the letter and a stamp. Plus the extra sheets of paper he had been writing on top of so no one could do an impression tracing. Just in case he got upset with him.
Because there was no way Tony was going to know that he did this for him.
Tony walked into the house first, smiling at the smell of cooking food. "You cooked?"
"I carefully followed the recipes and called my cooking instructor for help when I got stuck on something. She said I was dumb to even try with how I burned cookies." He stole a kiss. "See?" he offered, pointing in the dining room, which had an actual table in it now. "I moved the desk upstairs and the altar now takes up that area. So whoever gets on that end will have incense and herb smells on them. It also collapses and rolls so I can move it out of the way when I need to." He stole another kiss and went to check on dinner, finding Dawn back there. "Am I doing okay?"
"You're doing fine," she assured him before giving him a hard hug. "Congratulations."
He beamed. "Thank you. Did you hear from Giles?"
"Not yet. I can call if you want." He nodded and she knew it was important to him. She walked into the back yard to make the call, leaving him to fuss over dinner. She smiled at the gruff voice answering. "Giles, you haven't called to offer your congratulations to Xander for graduating yet." She listened to him complain. "Well, it is, since he's working with the others who handled the problem. Yes, those people, including your uncle." She smirked. "Want him now?" She nodded. "That's fine." She hung up and walked inside. "They've got a problem with one of the girls going out unannounced and screwing around so he's writing you a letter," she said, kissing him on the cheek. He looked at her. "Really." He gave her a longer look. "Fine, Wes hadn't told him and he's stunned at the moment so he's writing you a long letter."
"Sure," he agreed, less happy now.
Tony came in and gave him a hug. "I'm very proud of you," he whispered. "Gibbs is very proud of you and I'm sure Giles is if he realized how hard this was to do." He kissed him gently, getting that happier smile back. "Table cloth?"
"Are nasty things that you have to wash," he reminded him. "Only used for picnics."
"Sure." He got out the plates, going to set the table for everyone.
Dawn, being sneaky, wrote a text message to Abby's phone since she was still at work and could tell Ducky to call his nephew and chew him a new one. She looked in the training area, smiling at how the weapons were now arranged behind the desk. The desk was behind the practice dummies and safely out of the way but it made a very good statement about who Xander was that he had swords and pikes and battle axes hanging behind his head. She noticed one was missing and walked in, finding it against the wall, like he had been using it. She carefully wiped the handle and put it back in the spot waiting for it, then nodded. He had arranged them so the battle axe was the attention getter of the group. It was a nice look. She glanced in the bedroom, finding the bed made and a second wardrobe in there in the corner. "Interesting," she said quietly, heading downstairs. "Xander, I put your battle axe back on the wall."
Tony snuck up to look, grinning at the office area. Sometimes his baby was so butch. Then he went into the bedroom to use the bathroom and take off his tie, and maybe put on a more casual shirt. He saw the second closet and opened it, blinking at the clothes in there. He opened one of the drawers, finding his sort of underwear and socks in them. He checked the shirt he knew wasn't his, and it was in the right size. He smiled. Xander was in a spoiling mood. He had even picked up his dry cleaning apparently. He changed into jeans and a t-shirt, then came down to steal another kiss. "I like the new closet." Xander gave him a sheepish look. "Thank you for picking up my dry cleaning."
"Welcome. I didn't know if you wanted it here or at home."
"Here's good for now." He stole another kiss. "You didn't have to."
"I did, my closet's so full the clothes are holding each other up without hangers." That got another smile. "It is."
"It is," he agreed. "Maybe we should put some stuff down in the pantry." Xander shook his head. "No?"
"No. It's full too." He stole another kiss and grinned at him. "You're not mad?"
"No, I'm not mad. Do they all fit me?" That got a nod. "Took my dry cleaning in with you?" he joked. That got a blush and a nod. "Good thinking. Very sneaky." Xander just blushed again and gave him a shy grin. "What's for dinner?"
"Food. Where's everyone else?"
"Traffic. Gibbs had to change his shirt. He got all sweaty in the boxing ring earlier. Ducky and Abby were finishing up on some reports the Director handed them. McGee stayed with her. Kate and Marquez went home to change then show up. So you've got about a half hour."
"Which is about what I planned," he admitted. "The meat's still got to rest when it's done. Dawn, can you come test the meat?"
"Sure, Xander." She came out of the pantry, then pointed. "Who took you shopping at the wine shop?"
"The guy who runs it." He smiled. "Get out something that'll go with dinner, Tony?"
"Sure." He looked at the meat, then at him, raising an eyebrow. Xander blushed and shrugged a bit, looking sheepish. "This isn't a beginning lesson so I'm really impressed. Even if you did overcook it."
"It's supposed to barely be pink inside," Dawn told him. "Which means it's perfect and the crust is just a bit browned." She found the new potholders, breaking the little plastic tie holding them together, and pulled out the meat to rest. She watched as Xander adjusted the oven's temperature and put in a cake pan a few minutes later. "Damn, full dinner?" He beamed and nodded. "Good work, Xander!" She hugged him and looked at the other stuff, then went to help Tony with the wine selection. She coughed and pointed at a bottle. "That one?"
"Is a dessert wine and needs chilled."
"We're having cake for dessert."
"Okay." He went to put that one in the fridge and came back to find something to go with the rest of dinner. "Veggies are bland or not?"
"Corn, potatoes. Broccoli."
He pulled down one and handed it over. "You are having soda."
"Yes, sir." She went to put that in the fridge to chill as well, then got the wine glasses. Everyone knew they could have soda or milk or water instead if they wanted. They could still use the good glasses. She checked the table and smiled, going back to finish helping. Gibbs came in first, followed by Abby, Ducky, and McGee a few minutes later. Then the ladies showed up. "Xander *cooked*," she announced. She checked on the cake, taking it out since it was clearly done too. Probably a bit overdone but that was fine with her. Icing and frosting cured all. He smiled and winked, handing her the icing in the bottle from the fridge. She drizzled it on and then let it cool.
Gibbs looked at the wines and Tony reached around him to get the one for dinner. "Why two?"
"One for dessert, Boss." He took it into the dining room. "Who wants wine with dinner?" he called.
"I'm good with that," Kate agreed.
"I'd rather have soda, Tony," Marquez admitted, getting herself one and picking out a seat.
"I can have soda or milk," Dawn called, smiling at Ducky.
"You're more than old enough to have a glass of wine with dinner, Dawn." He walked her in there, picking out their seats and making sure Tony filled her glass as well. Gibbs helped by carrying in the meat, making him look quite surprised. Stuffed lamb roll with a crust of cashews and walnuts was not something a beginner did. The veggies came in with Kate and Marquez, then Xander came in and sat down, smiling happily. "Shall I carve, Xander?"
"You probably should. There's metal skewers in there to keep it together before it cooked so watch out." He handed over the knives he had carried in and the other serving utensils. Tony sat at the other end of the table, smiling at him. "I feel like a real family."
"Me too," Ducky admitted. "Like a Sunday dinner." He pulled the first skewer and carefully started to carve. "What's in the middle?"
"Stuffing. I got the recipe from my book for cooking class. I hope it goes."
"It should. It's soaked up plenty of the flavor already." He handed Jethro the first slice, then started to carve more off. Once everyone was served, Xander dug in and he smiled at him, taking that giant leap of faith himself. It was very good. "Excellently done, Xander."
"Thank you, Ducky." He beamed at them. "I tried very hard. That's why I bought the new table." That got some laughs and they all dug in. Xander excused himself when the phone rang, sliding past Gibbs, Abby, and McGee to answer the one in the kitchen. "Hello?" He smiled at the voice. "Hi, Giles." He listened to the quiet words of congratulations, even though Giles admitted he didn't know why he had done it, and smiled. "Thank you. It means a lot to me. Tony, Gibbs, and Ducky are here, plus Dawn. Did you want to talk to any of them?" He smiled. "Thanks, Giles. You have a good night." He hung up and went back into the dining room, sliding back into place. "That was Giles congratulating me. So whoever called to chew him a new one, thank you, it meant a lot to me." Ducky shrugged a bit. "I know he doesn't understand and he admitted as much to me, but he did have an honest congratulations for me." He looked at Tony. "Do you realize I hadn't paid off the mortgage yet?" That got a head shake and another bite eaten. "Neither had I until earlier when I did that. Did you like the office?"
"I do. It suits you to sit in front of all the weapons that way," he teased. "It makes you look dangerous." Xander blushed and grinned. "Boss, are we on this weekend to change out for graduation weekend?"
"No. I wasn't told we were. So only if too many cases come in for the team on call. Why?" He finished his last bite of dinner and put his fork down. "That was really good, Xander. Good job." Xander preened under that praise. That's when Gibbs realized the kid saw him as a father figure and looked up to him. It made him...proud in a lot of ways. "What are you wearing to graduation?"
"I asked at the shop when I went to pick up something for Tony today and they suggested I get something new for it."
"Of course they did," Dawn agreed dryly. "Is it hot looking?"
"I look very good, but kinda professional in it. She suggested that since this was so special I should go kinda upscale and spoil myself rotten."
"Am I going to have to look in the closet?" Tony asked. Xander nodded, smirking at him. "Is it still in a bag?" Xander nodded at that. "Good. Can we put your t-shirts into the drawers so you have more room in your closet?"
"We can but I need more drawers. Mine are full."
"You need to clean some of those out, Xander."
"They only hold a few shirts."
"Why buy a dresser that small anyway?" Dawn asked.
"It's what they had at the thrift shop."
"Ah." She nodded. "You could get something bigger and better and give that one back to charity. Along with that one couch no one likes to sit on."
"That's tomorrow," he offered, grinning at him. "I've already arranged it. I know I'm blowing money today but I wanted this to feel like *my* home since now I own it." Tony shrugged at that, he could understand it. "And it's not been that much really. I kept it under one of my old paychecks when I was working construction." Tony raised an eyebrow at that. "That's not that much," he said quietly. "Paying off the mortgage took more."
"It probably did," he agreed, smiling at him. "I don't mind you doing that, Xander. I just wanted you to show some fiscal responsibility."
"I know you are. Once your nest is complete you can spoil me by buying me chocolate bars again. Okay?" Xander nodded and smiled back. "What's your next class?"
"How to manage the money stuff and understand what I'm doing with it. Because I probably should." Everyone nodded at that. "My brokerage has these little seminars and I've been invited to them. That way I know what I'm doing a little bit more when they give me advice."
"That's not a bad idea," Gibbs agreed. "If you have stuff like that you should understand what you're doing with it. That way you don't go broke spoiling Abby."
"I'm not going to go broke unless I have *major* medical expenses that won't be covered by my insurance," he said happily. "Tony helps me with that but it's tiring doing his stuff and my stuff and worrying about the retirement stuff he's got and all that. Plus it's kinda depressing." Tony nodded at that, he hated dealing with their finances. "Since all I know how to do is balance my checkbook, I should probably learn much more about that."
"Good, then you can help me with mine. Suddenly I'm getting a salary from the Council plus I find out that Buffy had insurance on her life?" Xander nodded. "Was that a group thing?" He nodded again, looking grim. "Then who got Willow's?"
"Me. She figured I'd be taking care of you and use it on your education and upkeep."
"Oh, good. Thank you. By the way, did anyone ever tell California I moved out here so they could amend the custody agreement?"
"No, but I think Wesley had to go down and talk to them when they wondered where you were. They were told you were out here with me but living with an older family friend, one where you got a very nice, comfortable, and nurturing spot for your last few months of being underaged, but where you had a small job helping out and that Ducky was a well respected ME out here in the government. I know Wesley called the Director, who backed it up to the social workers who hated my ass."
"Why didn't they like you?" Kate asked.
"They thought a construction worker like me would harass her or try to take her to bed. When I pointed out I was grieving for my lost fiance at that point in time, they said it was all the more reason. That a female would be safer. Willow tried to tell them I had a boyfriend and they said in that case I'd never have custody of her. The social worker was a bit...prejudice. She got taken off the case when Willow made a formal complaint against the woman for hating her girlfriend and the new one said that Willow was the better choice due to her starting a real education so she had a future, whereas I only had worked for so long." He took another sip of his wine. "Then they found my old social services record and that pretty much closed that debate."
Dawn patted him on the hand. "I wrote a nastygram about that myself. They didn't listen to me, but I did write one." He nodded, giving her a gentle smile. "So, what's next with the house?"
"Fixing the closet issues. Mine's way too narrow." Tony nodded at that, it was barely big enough to stand in the doorway of. "I don't know how yet but I need to do something about that."
"There's the spare closet in the training room now that the weapons aren't in it," Marquez offered.
"I'd have to refinish it. It's got splinters and cracks and things. Tony would freak if I put the good clothes in there. I was thinking about moving the memory closet in there though." Tony raised an eyebrow and he shrugged. "I don't need to look in it every day, and it's kinda blocking that view. I figured if I had to I could get one matching the new one and put it there instead so the neighbors couldn't look in."
"If you want," Tony agreed. "That would give you four more small drawers."
"And I could put the suit stuff in there."
"And you could put the suits in there," he agreed with a smile. "Plus most of your other work clothes." Xander grinned at the obvious statement Tony had caught him in. "If that's what you want, I'll help." Xander beamed at him. "Are we moving it tonight?"
"If we can. If not, tomorrow's fine. The dresser, those couches, and the old recliner are all being given away tomorrow. They're coming to pick it up so I've got to check for any spare change and stuff." That got an amused grin from Gibbs. "I know I lost a twenty in there a few weeks back and I think one of my licenses is in there."
"I told you you needed to protect those better," Tony teased. "You need a new wallet anyway, Xander. Put that in the closet too."
"Why? I only got it because it was cheap." He grinned. "I've got a new one upstairs I have to fill up. It's got those nice plastic things to hold those things."
"We still need to refill both medical kits," Ducky reminded him. "I wish I had been able to get to yours sooner."
Xander shrugged and grinned at him. "I kinda did mine already. I sent Wes a list and he sent back everything and then some. So I've got a saddlebag on the bike that has the standard holy water, bandages, neosporin, a few stitching kits, gloves, and blister packs of drugs in a field kit and my real field kit is fully stocked and refilled better than it had been. I still have to look up what a few of them are, but it's fully filled like the one they stock at the training camp."
Ducky blinked. "Where is it?"
"I was refilling it in the living room. I was going to haul it into my trunk tonight." Ducky got up and went to look, coming back with a small scowl. "What?"
"He sent you controlled narcotics through the mail?"
"No, magic gram."
"Oh. I see. Still, you don't need the morphine or the dilatin or two or three of those. I'll keep those in my kit, Xander."
"Sure, if you want, Ducky. You can poach the rest of the box too. He said you could since I'm helping you now and then."
"Thank you, Xander. Did you talk to your instructors about knowing more field medicine than you should given your license?"
"Yeah, I blurted out a question about doing stitching on site if needed and she gave me this look and asked if I was qualified. I pointed out I had to do it in the past and had learned from a very good source, the same one most doctors learned from, and that it hadn't been so unusual in my former life. She said I couldn't do that but she did pull me aside after class and quizzed me with her doctor husband on what I did know. He said if I could get past the classes I should just head to med school instead. He didn't want me in a situation where I had to do something and got into trouble for it."
"So you're as qualified as one of the underground doctors that the mob and those guys use?" McGee asked. He learned something new about Xander each time he actually sat around with him.
"Most of them are doctors who've been discredited," Dawn told him. "But yeah, he is. He and Willow took classes under one one summer. There was a vampire one who ended up in Sunnydale treating injuries and Buffy was off with dad then so they found him and he begged not to be staked because he wasn't hurting others, he was a doctor, and on and on and Willow broke down and started to ask about stuff she had read in the medical texts she used to play doctor with. In exchange for his life, he taught them what he knew. Xander could probably do limited field surgery if he had to." Xander nodded at that. "You did?"
"I ended up delivering that demon baby a few years back," he reminded her. "That was a c-section since they didn't have another way out. She's still living too the last time I checked on her." Ducky gaped at him so he grinned. "It was necessary. Who do you think stitched us up when we got hurt? Sunnydale's ER was a vamp hunting ground, Ducky."
"I remember, but still. I had no idea you had this knowledge when I came out or else I would've made you two tell me what you knew when Rupert got hurt that time."
"We were kinda shy and neither of us brag," Xander reminded him. "Bragging was Buffy, not us." Dawn nodded at that, sipping the rest of her wine. "Dessert anyone?"
"Nice change of topic," Kate said smugly. "What else can you do, Xander? Tony, go get dessert."
"No, I wanna hear. How far up did he teach you?"
"How to stitch, bandage, set, the usual field medicine stuff to stabilize someone until you could get them into a field hospital. So, up to and including how to clamp off arteries properly and put in a shunt around the damaged area using two needles and some tubing. I'm basically medic trained according to my EMT teacher." He got up and slid out again. "Who wants milk or dessert wine?"
"I'll go for milk," Marquez offered, blinking at Gibbs. "Did you know this?" He shook his head. "Damn. I'm impressed at what you have to have to be a Watcher."
"Giles has up to the EMT stuff," Dawn told her. "Some self-defense training but he's not good at it. Wes is better. Some magic, some other skills. Xander's a bit better than most. When he finds something he can do, he runs with it until he gets frustrated and upset. He would probably be able to do real surgery at times if he hadn't nearly sliced his thumb off when Giles suddenly called to check on him that time. They were teaching them on a vampire who was willing. Said she liked it. That's how he learned stitching and stuff too." Ducky moaned and shook his head. "You learned on cadavers and so did he and Willow." He nodded at that, patting her on the hand. "Just one who could go 'ouch' and 'that's a nerve' and 'oooh, tingles' when the guy tried to teach Willow brain surgery."
"Which I did not attempt," Xander said as he came back with the bottle of wine for Tony to open under one arm, the milk in one hand, and the cake pan in the other. Tony grabbed the wine and the opener he had left on the table. Xander handed Gibbs the cake, smiling at him. "You can cut." He sat back down and poured himself some milk, then handed it to Dawn. "You've had enough."
"I have," she agreed. She passed it down to Marquez, who was on their side of the table.
Tony poured himself some wine and sniffed it before tasting it, then handed the bottle to Kate. "It's very good wine. The owner of the shop led him to the perfect one for the dark chocolate." He accepted the cake when it came to him, smiling at it. It was handed to Marquez, who was on his other side, then back up to Xander, who got the last piece. "This was very nicely done, Xander. Did you save any for your teacher?"
"There's some of the meat left and the cake was what we went over in class last week." He dug in and moaned, taking a drink of milk. "Perfectly done. I'm proud of myself."
"I'm proud of you too, kid. I couldn't have done this." Gibbs dug in, keeping himself from moaning at the flavor of the cake. It had gooey chocolate in the center and it went well with the drier cake, plus the icing topped it off nicely. The wine set off the flavors so he only tasted the chocolate as an aftertaste. It was well put together. "Bring in the whole menu and make another of these for her."
"She'd complain that the cake was too dry, like she did last time," he offered. "But I'm going to do that anyway when I go in tomorrow morning. Unless I'm supposed to be in tomorrow, Gibbs?"
"No, that's fine. What days are your cooking classes? Or did you just want to work afternoons?"
"Afternoons are fine. My cooking classes end in three weeks and then I can go to a weekends only lesson schedule." That got a nod. "Is that okay?"
"That's fine, Xander. You're an intern. You don't have to pull full time hours until we pay you for them." He ate another bite and it was still just as good. He wasn't one for chocolate usually but he could understand why some people pigged out on it like Xander and Tony did.
Dawn leaned over to kiss him on the cheek. "I love you. If I ever get married, I want this to be my wedding cake." He blushed and nodded at that. "Thank you." She smiled at everyone else, who was grinning at her. "A girl's gotta think about these things now and then." She smiled at Ducky. "I'm sure you have too."
"I have." He ate another bite and smiled at Abby, who was stealing off McGee's plate. "Let him have his own treat, Abigail."
"He'll get his treat later," she assured him, taking his plate and giving him hers.
He stole it back, taking half of it. Then he handed it back, smiling at her.
"You two are so cute," Dawn cooed.
"Too much sweetness," Gibbs complained.
"Sorry, Boss," she said with a wicked smirk. He snorted and shook his head. "If I major in something useful can I come help too?"
"We'll see. By then I may have retired and let Kate or Tony have the team."
"Awww, Boss," Kate said, smiling at him. "Thank you."
"Still too much sap," he ordered. That got a laugh from Tony and Xander. Which was a good thing. "So, what else do you know how to do?"
Xander blushed and ducked his head. "Mostly just odd stuff I kinda picked up here and there. When I was stranded and working at the strip club in Oxnard, I learned a lot about an 'anything goes' club that was helping people stay just this side of legal with their desires. Things like that." He finished his last bite then his milk, glancing at Tony. Who smiled at him. "What did you tell him?"
"That I was going to teach you how to latch hook."
"Oh, that's fine then." He looked at him. "I did two weeks at a meat packing plant. Which is why there's no mystery meat allowed in this house." That got a nod and Gibbs leaned back to look at him. "I, um, did some fast food work, that strip club, um, I was a personal assistant to someone for two weeks and he was running a house where people paid him to beat their asses. Um," he thought back and hit on something more innocent, "I was a secretary for two weeks or so. So I know how to make good coffee from that."
"You do make okay coffee," he agreed.
"House where they beat asses as in a dom's house?" Abby asked. Xander nodded. "Wow. Like collared and chained guys crawling around?"
"And then some," he agreed dryly. "Dawn's still too young for this conversation and so am I."
"Me too," Gibbs agreed. "DiNozzo, do you think he can go undercover?"
"I think he could, Boss. Why?"
"Because sometimes we need someone a bit younger than you and he could do that."
"He can, Boss. He's got good instincts for it."
"That's what he does when he goes hunting anyway. It's a different personality," Kate pointed out.
"Kinda but it's still all him," Dawn assured her. "That's just a deeper, darker part of Xander's mind." She finished her cake. "Well trained and honed by many nights in Sunnydale and a few possessions."
"True," Xander agreed. "I don't know which I use more. The hyena or the soldier, or one of the later ones that didn't happen before the battle in Sunnydale."
"I still think it sucks that Angel used you that way to disperse the spirit," Dawn said firmly, staring at him.
"He was a nice guy but I didn't get any accountant memories. Unfortunately. I could use some now and then." He nodded at the milk. "Can I have that back?" It was handed down to him. "Thank you." He poured some more and handed it back so it could go back in its former spot. "By the way, Gibbs, who's the spirit in the parking garage? I've seen him once or twice and he just stares mournfully at me."
"An agent who shot himself a few years back after a really bad case," he said quietly. "Is he wanting to talk?"
"He said to tell someone he's sorry and then he faded out. That's what he does each time but I can't figure out the name. I'd need someone to act as a guide if I went closer to talk to him to get it."
"No," Tony said firmly. "Suggest he go haunt them."
"He can't. I have the feeling that they're dead too and he hasn't accepted it."
"I'll think about it, Xander," Gibbs said firmly.
"He's just in such pain, ya know?" Gibbs nodded. "Thank you."
"Welcome." He looked down at Tony, who didn't look too happy. Then back at Xander. "Just cooking classes?"
"I haven't had time to double up thanks to the academy stuff," he defended.
"No online classes?" he asked. Xander blushed at that. "For?" he asked calmly.
"Learning how to use the programs on the computer better. Some HTML stuff. This way I don't end up blowing up the computer."
"That's a good thing," he agreed. "No hacking stuff?"
"Nope. I don't want to be tempted. I might get into a fight with Fornell some day and then want to hack him and that would be a bad thing." Everyone nodded at that, a few giving him smug looks. "I know he hates me because I'm a smart ass and I know my shit. I don't care that he hates me for being a smart ass and knowing my shit. I don't work with him. His isn't an opinion I care about unless and until we're going into the field and since we did the mock 'break in and take down' exercise with him on my team and me leading he knows he can trust me to know what I'm doing in the field."
"They did the hostile takedown lessons with agents?" Kate asked. Xander nodded. "Since when?"
"Since the teacher ordered them to come help. We had six other former cops in the class, other than Fi-Fi and a few other veterans. They thought we could do it and defended it by pointing out it was in the service of getting terrorists out." He shrugged. "I was a good boy, I led my team of the untrained people in. He was there to grade us all during it and to watch us as the senior agent. I wasn't named lead but the guy who was was making crappy plans so I stepped in and pointed out that it was leaving six team members open to being shot and two openings for our target to get away. He said 'fine, then you do it' and I did. I got us in, the suspect taken down, one minor graze to an arm, and then out and back to the vehicle in a faster, smoother time. And yes, the paintball hurt like hell from what I'm told. Fi-Fi has this need to jump in and prove herself and they decided that since she's a fuckup she was on my team for everything. She was my buddy."
"What grade did you get?" Gibbs asked. "I never got those reports." Yet if he got his way. At least he knew who to ask.
"Ten points off for the graze to her arm. Fornell took off another two for one of the guys flinching at the sight of the blood colored paintball. It was fairly realistic. He gave my plans an eighty percent because he didn't like me and still doesn't like me. We got in and got out in six-point-three-six minutes. Cleared the whole scene. The guy who did the grading from the helmet cam I and Fornell were wearing gave me a ninety-seven, taking off three points for that graze. The other team got in and out in eleven and a half or so and had no injuries, but they didn't secure the scene, which was a hotel room. No one checked in the shower." That got a nod. "They got a ninety-five for it. That's when Fornell started onto me about combat training I hadn't put on my application."
"He asked me through the agent who came to get the evals," Gibbs admitted. "I told him you went against that cult for a few years, it was from that." He gave him a knowing smirk. "That was the first, what was the second?" Only the second score went on your records.
"Fi-Fi had a tighter leash and I had her watching the rear this time. She's good and focused on it. But she still likes to jump in now and then, the same as I do. I took point, this time it was a house. A full house. We got in and out in thirty minutes, twenty seconds. I got a ninety-eight because one of my guys forgot to Miranda him until we were outside. The other team set off their alarms and had four people shot. They were given a second chance two days later and passed with a ninety for a greater time and more troubles. I worked with my team during a dinner out to go over the strategies for what we were going to do. I went over the same plan the second time as the first and pointed out the differences, pointing out we were told it was going to at least be an apartment that we were going into. I designated people to do each and every task, making sure they knew it, and the alarm guy got taught how to cut and redirect them without setting them off. I asked the teacher over that and he agreed that it was a good thing to learn so he taught both of us. I'm still iffy on that skill, Gibbs. Can I take more lessons in that?"
"Please. It could come in very handy." Xander beamed and nodded at that. "I don't see Mirandaing until outside as a bad thing."
"Me either. I did order him to give it all at once, once we had all the suspects captured and handcuffed or bagged. That way I wouldn't lose him or have to shift him back in the line while he did it for each one. I had them do it in the truck." That got some laughs and a nod from Gibbs. "Still in an acceptable place but later than I should have by the FBI's standards according to the grader of the tapes. Fornell walked in with us that time too. He grudgingly gave me a 'damn perfect' on it and Fi-Fi assured him that I had worked with the unskilled people myself, I hadn't delegated anything but that one task."
"I'm going to get a copy of your training evals, Xander."
"Sure. I'd like to see some of them."
"I can agree to that." He smirked at Tony and Kate. "You two, where did your groups score?"
"Maryland didn't have us do that," Tony admitted. "We were expected to learn that in the field by being behind someone who knew it better."
Kate shrugged. "I was on the untrained team and we barely passed both of them. Our trained team got cited for being cocky and stupid though. My class wasn't the same as Xander's. We didn't have agents, only helmet cams."
"We had more experienced people in ours," Xander pointed out. "They said so, that's why we got more senior agents in to help us. That way they could start the protege system going sooner. They wanted Fornell to leash me," he said with a grin. "He hates me, still."
"He does," Gibbs agreed. "He'll learn. He feels the same way about me, kid." He stood up and stretched. Then he sat back down. "What time is it?"
"Eight, Boss," McGee offered.
"We should be getting home," Ducky told Dawn, who smiled and nodded. "Did you drive over?"
"Bus from the library," she lied. She had used magic but he hated it when she did that. She kissed him on the cheek and stood up, then kissed Xander on the cheek. "You did good. Mommy would be so proud of you," she whispered. She walked out on Ducky 's arm.
Tony smiled at him. "Whatever she said, I probably agree."
"She said her mom would've been proud of me too."
"She probably would have been, I am," Kate assured him. She stood up. "I'll see you tomorrow afternoon, Xander."
"Me too," Marquez offered.
Abby got up to give him a hug and a kiss on the forehead. "I am so proud, you beat Kate's score." She gave him a hug around the neck, then hauled McGee up, letting him wave and mouth 'good job' before she drug him off.
Gibbs looked at the table. "I'll help clean up." They got up to put things away, the rest of the wine going into the fridge. Xander wrapped up a plate of the leftovers for his teacher and put it away specially, then smiled at him. "You two have fun playing in the closets. Celebrate, guys, you did very good." He walked out, still smiling.
Tony pulled Xander closer, kissing him slowly and deeply. "I agree, you did so good, Xander. You deserve a treat. What would you like?"
"I can do that. Anything else?"
He smirked. "Whatever your wickeder instincts can come up with?"
"I can do that too," he agreed, leading him upstairs.