Foes of Friends.
Alex looked at the group of high school students touring the lab. Mac was late on a scene so he was stuck since he was nicer. Everyone else was out too and his beloved eviler twin was hiding in their exemplar in case one of the teens got a crush. "What sort of questions do you guys have?"
"Is there any way to know that you're meant or not meant to be a field tech?" one of the boys asked, sounding bored.
"If you can't find Waldo and all the little extras they want you to find, I'd consider the lab harder than field work." Everyone stared at him at that. He smiled. "How can you find a single strand of hair on a carpet if you can't find Waldo? A lot of what we do is up-close and personal searching. On our knees looking at carpets or a floor or the sidewalk. Searching walls for blood spray, urine stains, other bodily fluids. You spend a lot of time needing very good search patterns, eyesight itself, and the ability to find the smallest of tiny clues that could help you."
"So, doing those _Where's Waldo_ books can help?" the teacher asked.
"If you're doing them right, then you learn or develop a visual search method. Whether you go up and down, left to right, right to left, in small spirals, whatever. If you're good at that, find all the little things then advance to hidden object games. You need a lot of ability to find something on a piece of clothes." He held up a finger and got one from Adam's lab. It was covered in plastic. "This is a current piece of evidence." He looked it over. "When Adam left for a potty break, he left about ten hairs." He held it up. "Come see but don't touch or sneeze on it." They came up to look. "Can you find the hairs?"
One of the students looked at him. "There's hairs?" Xander looked and pointed out a few. They all groaned. "You learn that in college, right?"
"Some of it you should come in with if you want in the field instead of the lab. The lab, you have to do things like this. In the field, you can find things like this on a carpet, on a sidewalk, on a floor, wherever the body is." He put it back when he saw Adam glaring. "Showing them that they need to be able to find tiny things." He went back to them, grinning. This was nearly as bad as weapons show off day at the company and talking to generals. The kids were sitting down again. "We do have a lit magnifying glass but sometimes it gets in the way or you can't bring it with you. Doing it in the lab means you do it here, you don't have to worry about wind trails or breezes stealing small things, no fear of animals coming up to bite you. My twin and I did our post-school internships in Miami. Everglades 'gators will eat CSI as well." They all shuddered. He pointed at one. "You had a question."
"Hidden object games?"
"On a site like iwin or pogo or even yahoo games you can find hidden object games. Basically you're searching a scene for things." They all nodded. "Some have pretty good plotlines. Some don't. I'd learn how to do those, because it can help you with that search pattern issue. You need to have a good method of working to be in the field." He nodded. "C'mon, we're going to recreation." He walked them off. "Adam?" He gave them a horrified look and followed. "Not yours, dude. The last one still up?"
"Yeah." He got them into that room. "Booties, gloves," he ordered, holding up the boxes. "It's mandatory." They all put them on, including them. He walked them around the edge of the room. "Each room you enter, each scene, there's always a single path so we keep our own interference and anything we might drop or drip down." He showed them. "In this room it's this one. Generally it's around the edge and the most direct path. The first one there sets it and we all follow it." They nodded.
Xander waved them closer. "This was Constatine, right?" he murmured in Adam's ear, getting a nod. "This one, the scene was brought in because there was something really strange. Can anyone tell us where the body died?"
Adam saw the confused looks and pointed. "Right there."
"You mean that's the actual couch?" the teacher asked, shuddering.
"How are we supposed to check it for clues if it's not?" Xander asked. "It doesn't do us any good to look at a replica." She backed out of the way. He smiled. "Welcome to the world of forensics. By the way, bodies stink. A lot." Adam nodded quickly at that. "The longer they've been dead, the more they stink until you're at the skeletal stage. Also, bodies who die tend to release the rest of the urine and fecal matter." They all shuddered. Adam nodded. "The scene can be just as bad. Go into the field because you want to figure out why someone died and to catch the people who need it, not because it's neat. It is neat, it's very cool. But it's also some long nights due to cases. Not every case, and if it starts being every case, find a therapist." A few slumped. "Be one of us because you want to be one of us, to solve crimes, catch assholes who do shit that no one else should be doing, all that. Just be realistic. Your in-school won't tell you any of this so they don't scare you off. We're honest if you ask us stuff."
"How did this person die?" Mac asked as he walked in, shooting Xander a dirty look.
Xander looked at Adam. "Methane gas inhalation. We found the spot the canister was attached to under the couch. I put the report on your desk before I left last night, Mac."
"Good to know." He moved out there once he had on his own booties. He looked at the students. "Sorry I'm late. The last scene ran a bit longer than I hoped." He looked at Xander. "Thank you for filling in."
"Not a problem, Mac. You know I'm going to tell the truth but encourage the kids to go where they need and should be."
"I do. Go back to ballistics and wait on Stella. She's got that new automatic rifle."
"Cool!" He beamed and left them there.
Mac looked at Adam. "Xander's idea, bossman."
"I know it was, Adam." Adam escaped. "Adam's not comfortable with public speaking really." He looked around. "This is some of one of our recent scenes." He looked at the group. "Do you have any questions?"
"Do we do this sort of thing every case?" a female asked.
"No. Less than two percent of the time. Most of the time we can find things easily enough at the scene. It's very rare that we need to isolate part of a scene to search it. Most of those are vehicles." He smiled. "In this case, we had a hard time finding the cause of death that related to the scene. Adam mentioned methane gas and we couldn't find the source there. So we brought it back to search better."
The teacher raised a hand. "He only had one eye."
"Yes he does," Mac agreed. "He lost it before his training. The lab is one place where disabled officers are easiest assimilated. We have ways of helping them work, of compensating for whatever they have problems with, and even the ones in wheelchairs can work in the lab."
"I didn't realize that."
"We've had a DNA tech in a wheelchair."
"Oh." She nodded. "I didn't realize you could keep disabled officers."
"We have a few in this borough that are on false limbs. It takes them some time to get used to things before they can come back to the force but once they're ready we have a union that helps them make sure they can function. Some end up on desk duty but some are in the field, chasing after people just like the rest of us. The twins started their education after that eye loss. He and his twin used to be construction workers."
"Do you encourage people to work before going to school?" one of the boys asked.
"I think the more down-to-earth you are when you join the force the better. You can't come to work the next morning after a night of partying." A few giggled. "Especially since every department in the country randomly drug tests and that does catch alcohol consumption." A few whimpered. "Starting in your in-school internship. During your post-school internship you'll get it more often than anyone else in your department."
Xander leaned in. "Yes, they do. Three times more often. Also, bosses hate it when you have a hangover. And please, Goddess, don't wear club clothes like some of the ones we were with." He looked at Mac. "The Commissioner and the Mayor are fuming up my hallway and doorway, Mac. Steam coming out the ears, muttering in their native slime sucker language, all that."
"Coming. Want to take over?"
Xander shrugged and came in, looking at them. He smiled. "C'mon, we'll go where you can sit." They walked back to the break room. Xander got a soda and grinned. "You can't really have them in the lab."
"So you can't keep one on your desk?" the teacher asked.
"Depends on the lab. I have a bottle that seals inside my desk drawer but nothing that could be tipped over in even the most liberal labs. Most of them, not in the lab space at all. Your desk if it's not in your lab, maybe, but not in the labs." He opened it and took a sip. "My twin stole it." He took another drink. "What sort of other questions do you guys have?"
"Do you really have to have a Masters?" the teacher asked.
"My twin and I went through a newer four-year/five-year program. It condenses it by taking out all the extra stuff. It's geared more like a nursing program with a five-year set schedule and you should always add in language classes at the first year level. It's good if you're fluent in more than one, but you need to know the basic words like 'stop it before I arrest you' in as many languages as you can." He looked around, seeing the amused looks.
"In cities like this, we have over a hundred languages represented. Less than half the people in the city speak fluent english. They can probably understand the most common things. I would definitely learn basic phrases in Arabic, Spanish, Chinese, and possibly another Asian language. Portugese as well though it's very close to Spanish but not exactly the same. French if you're going to stay near the Canadian border. Even if you can't say more than 'stop it, get down on the ground and put your hands behind your head, you're under arrest, do you need a translator, do you speak english, and are you carrying any weapons or drugs' that's probably going to be helpful. That's all things that officers have to ask when getting a suspect."
"You ask them if they have weapons?" the teacher asked, looking confused.
"If they tell us they're carrying a knife or a gun we're a lot happier than if we find it. The ones who've been there before know that telling us is going to make it go nicer on them and maybe a bit easier. It makes them look cooperative. You ask and if they say no then you find something, they're screwed."
"Oh, I see." She nodded, looking at her students. "Have any of you been patted down?"
"During a field trip like this," one girl said.
Xander nodded. "A lot of us do that. We can do that so you know how it goes. By the way, men do pat down women in the field. Women do pat down men. Unless you're throwing a hissy or in a burqa. That can be counted as resisting arrest if you throw a hissy." They all nodded. Don Flack walked past. "Don?" He came back. "Can you show them how the pat-down goes?"
"Sure." He looked across the class, pointing at one. "You look like you're ticklish." He smirked. The kid nodded quickly. "I'll try." He stood the kid in front of them and patted him down clinically and quickly. "Two knives, a pack of gum, a roll of antacids, and a bottle of biological goo/fake mint stuff." He handed it back, looking at the group who was staring at him. He smirked. "Every suspect. Every arrest. Some of the times you do a traffic stop if you think you have cause."
The teacher raised a hand. "This one said that you'd have to pat down women. That doesn't cause problems?"
"No, ma'am. I'd never grope a suspect. I have to check there for weapons but otherwise I don't touch them there." He pointed at one girl. "You game?" She nodded and he patted her down. "No weapons, only a set of keys." He handed them back to her. "Did you feel uncomfortable with that?"
"No, Detective. That was fairly quick, I didn't feel groped."
"If they grope, they're doing it wrong," Don told her. She beamed and they both sat down. He looked at the teacher again. "Good officers don't let their hands drift. Even if they're patting down their spouses or significant others for whatever reason." Her mouth dropped open. "Xander's had a few of those who needed to be arrested. It was a lot of fun watching him date."
"I still date," Xander complained. "Just not recently. There's been no time."
Don smirked. "Good!" He walked off to the kids laughing, going back to finding Stella. She was just coming in with a rifle. "Ooh, is that the new one?"
"It is," she agreed happily, heading for ballistics. She saw Xander and glanced then hurried on. She hated talking to tours. She found Mac in there being chewed on. "Sorry," she said, handing it to Alex. "New one."
"I heard." He nodded Don in to come help him look it over. When the Mayor huffed he looked at him. "It's my lab. If you want to chew on him, take him to his office, sir. It's disrespectful to yell at the boss in front of his minions. We have to decide if we agree or not." The commissioner stared at him. Xander stared back. "We would."
"Are you enjoying your time here?" he demanded.
Alex smirked. "Yes, sir, and I'll continue enjoying the hell out of working here while I'm filling out paperwork for those nice grants later tonight." The higher ups backed up. Xander smiled. "Alex Harris," he said, holding out a hand.
"Oh, dear," the Mayor sighed. "We can definitely take him to his office, CSI Harris."
"Thank you, sir. We don't want to hold up justice." They stomped off. He looked at Mac and Alex offered him his spare candybar from the desk. "You need it," he said quietly. "The sleeping gas canister is next to your right hip if you need that too."
Mac shook his head. "I shouldn't need the sleeping gas." He took the candy bar off. He could probably use it later.
Alex looked at Stella. "The kids are starting their tours."
"Twin bond?" she asked dryly.
"No, I can see Adam frantically moving chemicals away from the edges of his table."
She looked over her shoulder and waved. "Let me know," she said as she walked off.
Don smirked, going over the gun with him. "Never seen one?"
"I got to fire the prototype but my beloved twin was busy that day rewiring our security system of the time." Don snickered. They switched off when the group got to their lab. He took them over the rest of the tour. Avoiding Mac's office because he could hear yelling from up the hall. Finally the kids were gone and Alex was really tired of the yelling still going on. He listened then leaned in. "Sirs, why do you think yelling at him about shit that's not his job is going to make it his job?" They glared at him. He stared back. "He wasn't on that case."
"The person who was arrested couldn't have done it," the Mayor said. "He was with us all weekend!"
"No, by his toll passcard he left for over seven hours. You thought he was off screwing his mistress according to your wife, sir." The Commissioner gaped in horror. He looked at him instead. "I'm blunt, I don't need this job; I do it because I love it. So yes, I'm absolutely blunt when I need to be." He walked in and shut the door. "For form's sake, that case was my twin brother's. We know he did it because we found his semen in her in four places."
"Four?" the Mayor demanded. "How four? There's only three openings!"
"Her navel. He dribbled. Or prematurely ejaculated on the way down." He gave him a look. "Also, we're very sure it was him. He confessed, crying and sobbing when my twin reminded him he'd be in gen pop and would be someone's bitch within minutes because he's fat, slow, weak, whimpering, and ugly." He crossed his arms over his chest. "Yelling at the boss for us finding the person who did it, even if it's someone you like, isn't going to do anything to change the facts, sir."
"Are you sure you enjoy working for us?" the Mayor demanded coldly.
Alex stared at him. "I can easily go back to my weapons design firm and make myself and my twins more millions, sir. Or move it to Miami." He stared at him. The man blanched. "Personally, I don't give a damn if he's your boyfriend. If he did it, he did it. I don't have to play politics, have tact when politics come near me, none of it," he told the Commissioner when he opened his mouth. "I could care less what sort of politics is going on. Politics is one of the biggest problems in this department. We don't change facts to suit politics. If we did, we're not officers. Our job is to find the truth, even if it's uncomfortable. Even if you don't like it and he's sucking you off. We don't care. Our job is to find out who did it even if the higher ups whimper and bitch. Now, can we have our boss back? We need him to look over a new case." They stomped off. He looked at Mac. "Welcome," he said quietly.
"They might try to cut your budget."
"Mac, since when do I take a paycheck?" he countered. "And half the exemplar is mine." Mac smiled. "Eat the candybar, Mac. You need it. It's pathetic when boyfriends try to protect their lovers." He walked off to Mac snickering. He ran into the Commissioner in his lab. "Sir, with all due respect get out of *my* guns." He gave him a dirty look. "They're not donated, they're from my private exemplar. Not the lab's." He got out of them. "Also, you should know I don't take a paycheck." He locked the exemplar cage again. "Was there something else you needed?"
"You need to learn to show tact, boy. Especially if you want to move up."
"I don't care about rank raises." He shrugged, leaning against his exam table. "My twin and I own a multi-million dollar artillery design firm. I don't need this job, I do it because I like the work, I'm good at it, and it's my way of giving back."
"You don't want a higher rank?"
"You don't want to run a lab?"
"Hell no. Why do I want that sort of stress and having to deal with higher ups who play *politics*?" He shuddered. "I'd rather go back to do another tour in Africa." The Commissioner stared at him oddly. "Some of us hate your sort of job because the requirements require us to rim people we wouldn't normally touch with a plague suit on. If I'm going to play with an ass, it's going to be one I like." The Commissioner spluttered and choked. Xander waited. "I'm not sure why any politician would ever want to play politics. To me it's more useless than ... well New Coke." He shifted his stance. "For that matter, sir, you have no right to get into *my* guns. The NYPD exemplar is in the other room. That is mine and that means you were trying to touch private property without a valid cause or a warrant." He stared at him. "Now, did you have any other questions for me, sir? If not, I have to go arrest an Internal Affairs officer who beat the shit out of his girlfriend earlier."
"He did what?" he demanded.
"Beat the hell out of his girlfriend." He stared back. "Since he's a boxing champ they wanted to have someone with them who could kick his ass if he resisted."
The Commissioner stomped off but Mac was gone. Stella got found. "Is that little fairy serious?"
She looked at him. "Eyepatch or without, sir? They're twins." He choked again. She stared. "If you're asking if he was serious about not having tact or disliking politics, yes. We all adore that around here. Politics is our main cause of headaches and stress. Even if the facts back us up, people complain when we find out that they're doing evil things."
"Including how his wife might not like his mistress writing a book," Xander called as he walked behind him. "It was in the Post this morning."
Stella smiled at him. "They don't have tact and they date serial killers. It's amazing how much it's helped our jobs." He stomped off. She waved. She hated politics just as much but she needed her job. "Thanks, 1."
Alex quit leaning against his car when the idiot came of the building. Xander straightened up too. "Bill Timas." He stiffened, staring at them. He pulled out his cuffs. "You're under arrest for assault with intent to kill." The man started to shift. "Oh, please do, dude. That's why they sent us."
Xander smirked, cracking his knuckles. "Please, we had the Commissioner and Mayor in the lab plus a high school tour."
The man considered his options, looking around. There were a few other officers. He pulled off his gun holster and put it on the ground.
"Aww," Xander complained. "Damn it." He came over to arrest him, reading his miranda rights. He handed him over then took the gun to look over and unload before handing it over. "Two bullets missing. Do an official bullet count there." The officer nodded, walking him off. "Well, what else should we do with our night, Pinky?" he quipped as he walked back to the car.
"I was thinking building the next pretty, sexy piece of artillery, my evil other half. You?"
"Sure, we can stop by that place with the wood oven."
"Coal fired is New York style," one of the other cops sneered.
"It leaves an aftertaste from the coal," Alex said with a grimace. "I can get just as good of a crust with a wood oven without that aftertaste." He wrote down an address. "Try it. We love it there. They do everything from old school to California. You can ask for either the classics menu or the modern one." He grinned. "It's all carry out. The oven is *huge*."
"I might try it," he decided. He walked off to follow his partner.
The twins went to get pizza and brag they had referred them, getting them a cheek kiss from the waitress. Then they went to the lab to play around.
Mac walked in from the meeting the next morning. "Boys!" he yelled into ballistics since they were in the firing pen. They came out to stare at him. "He's still pissed at us."
2 canceled his screen saver. "He wants to be a Kennedy." He went back in there.
1 grinned. "We're having afterglow after last night's lab work." He went back to work too.
Mac printed the information and went to his office. It did make his mood better. So did the envelope on his desk that was the grant paperwork he needed and a pre-approval letter of another one.
Stella leaned in. "The Commissioner just got hit by a cruiser."
"I'm assuming he pissed them off too. I was going to offer him a mint to soothe his throat before he went to suck up to the Mayor last night since he made it sore yelling." Mac shook his head. "You okay?"
"I'm fine. The lab is fine. He's upset that the man did confess." He looked up. "We really have to teach the twins what tact means."
"They wouldn't be the twins with tact, Mac." She walked off to giggle at that thought. The twins, tactful? No way!
Mac sent the grant paperwork where it needed to go and settled into his day of paperwork, unfortunately. Hopefully he'd have a new scene soon. Of course, his day didn't get any better when he saw Alex go running, not sprinting but all-out running, past his doorway. He came out to follow, hearing shouting. Alex made it there right before him and took a flying leap at some guy's back, knocking him down and them into a glass wall. Officers were trying to get the other one down. Mac pulled his gun. "Put it down now!" he snapped in his best command voice.
Xander walked up with a gun in hand, pointing it at the idiot with a shotgun. "Now, fucker, you've already pissed me off and this is the last moment of your life."
Mac glanced at him. "Did you bring in the new design?"
"No, we have it in the exemplar in case of emergencies," he quipped. He armed it, making it whine. The guy dropped the shotgun, backing up with his hands up, looking nervous. Xander stared him down until he started to cry, then he got to sneer. "Good bitch." He turned it off. "Pity though. Oh, Brain," he said dryly. Alex let the guy up and able to breathe again. "He under arrest?"
"He is now," Mac said, hauling him up to cuff him. The other officers had the other guy. "Did anyone get hurt?"
"He fired into the ceiling," Alex said with a point. "I heard the shot."
Mac looked up then at them. "Pull it." Alex nodded, going to get the ladder. He looked at the officers. "Book them. Now. Before I take the artillery myself." They hauled the crying people off. Mac took a deep breath, looking at his problem child. "You keep artillery in your portion of the exemplar?"
"Yeah. What if we need it and can't get to the company right away?" He shrugged then walked off. "Let me put this back."
"I want a list," Mac ordered.
Xander grinned at him. "That would divulge classified materials, Mac. Ask my nicer half. 2 might let it slip for a good incentive, like a night off so we can get laid again." He finished his trek back there.
Don Flack leaned in a minute later. "You have artillery, here?" he demanded dryly.
Xander nodded. "Why wouldn't we? We have some guns in the cars."
"I don't wanna know," he ordered. He came in to look then came out to look at the boy. "Four cases? Are we going to be invaded?"
"I don't know, are we?"
"Good point," he admitted.
"Plus, nearly an hour to the company if something does happen."
"Also a good point." He walked off shaking his head. "Only four things, Mac, but remember that the boys have weapons in their cars if they're ever stolen."
"If they steal my car I'm fucking up their lives then they can beg for mercy from the PD," Alex called on his way back to trace. "I might even find one of the slavers I kept having to beat off before and sell them for that."
"Sure," Don said with a grin.
"Should you, I'll be arresting you too," Mac called, shaking his head but smiling. That was a good joke of the boys'. "Four?"
"Four cases. A few bigger handguns that I'd guess probably had bad recoil with how huge the barrel is."
Mac went to look, then came out to look at the twin in there. He held up one. Xander took it from him and flipped back on the safety. "What is that?"
"Handy," he said dryly, putting it beside where he was working on a report. "Very handy."
"Does it fire flare rounds?"
"If I load it with magnesium rounds," he said dryly. "Ammo is under the red box." Mac went in to look, gasping at what he said. "Like I said, it's handy. I've seen one on the street but they're kinda rare since they're 'spensive."
"I'd say," Mac complained, coming out to put the gun back. He came back to look at him. "You're really scary sometimes, Xander. That's not usually a compliment I give," he said at the grin.
"We love you too, bossman," Xander said, giving him a hug and a happy grin. "Thank you!" He got back to work. Mac walked off shaking his head. Xander happily texted his brother that and he got happier too. Especially since Adam and Sheldon agreed with Mac.
Faith looked around the lab that night, sighing in displeasure. "Where are they this time, Len?" she asked the demon security guard.
"What back vault?"
"Their private one." He smirked, pushing a button. "They'll be right out. You can wait with the FBI agent stomping this way."
She got out of the way but shook her head when Alex came out. "Dinner?"
"Few," he said, looking at the agent. "Yes?"
"Sir, are you Alexander Harris?"
"One of us."
The agent looked confused. "There's only one birth certificate." His twin came out. "Clones?" he guessed.
"Twins. Our parents were like that," Xander quipped, sounding sarcastic. "Why?"
"Sir, we were told that you have access to the weapons underground," he said bluntly.
"That's funny, I thought we only sold weapons to the other weapons companies and some generals," Alex said, looking at his twin. "Don't we?"
"The last I knew." They looked at the agent again, who looked confused. "You actually came to talk to us without having any research done? Are your bosses happy with that sloppy performance?"
"It's not sloppy," he sneered.
They both pulled out their lab credentials and nodded. "Yeah it is," they said in unison. The agent winced.
Faith coughed. "They're a weapons design firm."
"Though we do know some people in that area thanks to the job and one we're retired from," Alex said. "We never dealt but we were... on the protection patrol in a few areas."
"Like a protection gang or a vigilante group?" the agent sneered. They pulled out their Council ID. Faith pulled out hers. The agent had to look that up and went pale. "Um...." He looked up. "You're... What?"
"Yeah," Xander said dryly. "Why don't you ask your boss to explain the Council to you." He nodded, going to call from his car. He looked at Faith. "Dinner? Was it sushi?"
"I'm not eating fancy bait and rice," she complained. "Japanese is fine though. Private vault?"
Alex smiled. "Like we're giving you guys some of our favorite stuff," he snorted. "No one else gets to play in it."
"Uh-huh. I should tell B that. Let her come beg to see."
"Fat chance," Xander told her. "We're beyond begging from those sources." They walked her back to the break room to order dinner and talk about the next patrol they needed to do. Vampires were massing again in the city. The four of them needed to go, the other slayer being asleep probably at the moment. They'd tell her later since she didn't have a very demanding job. The agent stomped back in. "Back again?" he asked, eating a bite of food.
"The Council got destroyed," he said happily.
"That was years ago and they reformed in Cleveland," Faith told him. "That was right before the battle that made their hometown sink in, which all three of us were in, and the invasion in LA."
The agent looked confused again.
Alex sighed and walked him out, driving him back to his office and walking him to his boss's office. "Is this dumb puppy yours?" he asked dryly.
"He's not a dog or stupid, Mr. Harris. I know the Council was destroyed."
"You mean before we reformed it in Cleveland?"
"What?" he demanded.
Xander sighed and called someone in DC. "Henderson, Harris." He put him on speaker. "I'm here with the local FBI where the company is and they're confused. You guys never told anyone that we reformed?"
"I did, apparently they're five, six years behind in memos."
"He knows arms dealers and he designs them," the agent told his boss.
"Yes, they do," the agent on the phone said dryly. "They're a top rated weapons design firm that sells only to those on the Pentagon safe list."
"He knows underground arms dealers."
"Of course he does. He's the former armorer for the Council's team in Sunnydale and partially in LA," the person on the phone said. "Plus he dated a few, they ran into a few in Africa because they needed stuff or got taken hostage by them. I'll send you the full dossier later. What did you need with them?"
"We were going to question them about the Ambrax people that were selling under the table," the agent told him.
"Ambrax? Those posers reformed? Huh. I thought you guys in the Louisiana branch shut them down for good six years ago," Xander said dryly.
"I'll come up and help them, Harris. How's your lab?"
"The company lab's good. We just got something nice done the other day. Manhattan's doing good too. Though the higher ups are about to get a rude awakening the next time they come in and yell at us for doing what we're supposed to be doing."
"Have fun with that. Remember, the city's very vast and you need a City Council and Mayor. Don't drive them too nuts."
"Take all my fun," he complained. "I'm going back to dinner. Have fun with them. I don't know if they're both dumb puppies or not." He left shaking his head.
"Aren't you missing an eye?" one agent asked, looking confused.
"That's my twin."
"One birth certificate," he started to protest.
"Read _Spider Robinson_," he quipped back, walking around him. "He had twins like us."
"Oh. Okay." He went to look up that reference. He had no idea that books like that existed.
Xander finally made it back and found Don in there with Faith. "I'm *so* moving us to Canada if the stupidity doesn't stop. They're killing my brain cells and I don't have that many left after all the concussions." He went to the lab to get back to work.
His twin laughed. "Apparently it went worse there."
Don nodded. "Maybe." He and Faith followed but the kids wouldn't let them into more than the slayer vaults. "So, can we have another Pippen tank?" he asked finally after the nagging wasn't working.
"Our new engineer is working on one for Bomb Squad," Alex said with a grin.
"Wonderful. Can we have one in the precinct that does coffee runs?"
"The one we gave to the team in Denver can make and deliver coffee," he said.
"Yeah, I hear they're kinda possessive of that thing since it also cleans their shared barn," Don said dryly. He leaned on a table. "Please?"
"If you can talk your boss into it," Alex said.
"Thanks, guys. So, this other vault?"
"Our toys," they said firmly, staring at them. They backed off at that. They knew they weren't going to get into it. Those two never gave up their toys. Xander was not that sort of sharer.
Mac walked into an agent ambush the next morning. "What now?" he complained as he walked around them.
"Our local office near where the boys are working was drugged, Detective."
Mac stopped walking to look at him. "The twins?"
"Not a problem with them but they got gassed and drugged to forget that they had heard more about them. I don't know why or how." He handed over a folder. "They forgot six years worth of things and the boys have only been up here for about a year."
Mac nodded, looking at the information. "I'll give it to them. Thank you for letting me know there was a problem."
"One of them called last night to tell me there was a problem. We're still finding the bottom of it. Just let them know."
"I can do that. You might note that if anyone steals their cars they do carry an emergency weapons kit."
"I'd expect nothing less of those two, Detective. They're scarily efficient and effective. We love 'em for it but we worry more about someone getting into their vaults." He walked off, taking the elevator back to the ground floor so he could go back to the city office and work on straightening this out farther. Using mind control on the FBI was a serious crime. One they shot you for after they said 'guilty of treason'.
Mac reread the file on the way to his office. He'd talk to the boys when they finally got in.
Alex walked into the building in Cleveland that night, staring at the slayer that came running to see who it was - almost no one just walked into the International Council of Watchers without an invite. "2!" she squealed, giving him a hug.
"Hey, Sym." He gave her a squeeze back. "Andrew in?"
"Did you need recipes to woo that special evil someone?" she teased.
He smirked. "Not hardly at the moment. Too much overtime and we think our boss does it on purpose." She giggled, pointing toward the kitchen. "Who else is here?"
"Buffy and Willow are having a movie night."
"Cool. Don't tell them I'm here. I'll pop up later if I have time." She nodded, going back to where she was lounging and supposedly doing homework but instead chatting with the other girls over the newest boyband. Alex walked back to the kitchen, finding Andrew doing 'mystical cooking things' as the guy called it. "Drew." Andrew flinched and turned around. He looked at him. He leaned on a counter, staring at him.
"I didn't do that spell over the FBI," he said quietly.
"I know that. Know who did?" He shook his head. "Check to make sure it's not on us? The DA forgot us too once he saw us." Andrew got what he needed and found it, nodding. "Who?" He pointed upstairs. He sighed. "Thanks."
"Welcome. I have no idea why, Alex."
"I'm thinking she'll be talking to Devon later," he muttered, getting a nod back. "Needed?" he asked. Andrew nodded again, pointing at his arm. Alex pulled him closer to look then nodded. "Yup. That needs casted, Andrew. Even an air cast. It's got a pretty obvious break. I'd start with x-rays."
"I have to cook dinner."
Alex smiled. "The girls can survive for a few hours on what you've already got done and leftovers, Andrew. You spoil them horribly. Even Wendy said so." Andrew beamed at that compliment. "Go get x-rays."
Alex held up a hand. "I know. I've been there myself. Kia!" he called. He knew she could drive. She came bounding in and gave him a hug. "Andrew's arm is broken, he needs x-rays no matter what Buffy says."
"Sure. C'mon, Andrew. Then we'll get ice cream to go with that fantastic cake you made us earlier." He nodded, following.
Alex went up to Buffy's room, where the girls usually hid from the others. He walked in without knocking, making Willow squeak and pull up a fireball. "Oh, so do it," he said dryly. She hugged him and so did Buffy. "Buffster, I sent Andrew to the ER for x-rays. That knot on his arm meant it was broken." She winced and hissed. "Also...." He looked at Willow. "Memory spells again?"
"I am not."
"I had Andrew check, Willow, since the damn DA forgot who we were after seeing us." She flinched, slumping down some. "That's going to mean a lot of people going free. Plus the FBI would like you to talk to them about that. They consider it a very bad thing."
"I was trying to protect you two and the company! People were investigating you!"
"Yeah, thanks to those conspiracies we get a lot and they don't find anything because there's nothing to find, Willow. We have Graham Miller in to nark to the DOD if we do." She huffed. "You *memory charmed* the *FBI*," he pointed out.
"You needed protected!" she shot back.
"That doesn't really protect us, Willow. It makes us look hellishly guilty. Like we're trying to hide something." She whined. "Yay. Fix it. Tonight." He looked at Buffy. "How did Andrew's arm get broken?"
"She was trying to summon something and it banged him into a wall."
"What was she summoning? A piano?"
"No, a can of soda." Alex stared at her. "We just thought it was an accident."
"Buffy, she's not supposed to be having accidents. Especially not ones that harm people," he said more gently. "I think maybe she and Devon need to chat?"
Buffy sighed but nodded. "She memory charmed the FBI?"
"Yeah, to forget things for the last six years." Buffy slumped, shaking her head. "Basically. By the way, Willow, as we do sell to government groups and weapons manufacturers we're open to inspection at any given time. They all know that. All of us are."
"But... but they said you have a vault that no one can get into and are going to get into it."
"Yeah, that's our toy vault, Willow." He stared at her. "Stuff the girls will probably not ever get but it amused us wonderfully." She flinched at that. "I think maybe you and the coven.... Tonight."
"I'm fine," she huffed, standing up. "It was an accident."
"Willow, how does something that weighs half a pound break an arm?"
"It shoved him."
"How can a can of soda shove anyone?" he countered. "It's got no weight." She glared. He stared back. "You can call Devon or I'm calling Devon."
"You won't," she sneered, raising a hand.
"Hey!" Buffy shouted. "No magicking Alex."
"It'd be useless anyway," Alex told her. "The twin's already heard and called."
"I can fix that," Willow said. Alex punched her and knocked her out.
"Really?" he asked her body. "You sure?" He looked at Buffy. "Want me to make her plane reservations?"
"Please. Is she going to be in trouble?"
"I have no idea," he said honestly, handing her a card. "That's the agent who handles it whenever we find something too huge to cover up in New York." She nodded, grabbing her cellphone to call him. His phone beeped with a plane reservation. "Cool. Graham made them for her." He sent back a thank you. "We can get her there within an hour." He hauled her up and put her over his shoulder. Buffy got her passport and bank cards. Then Alex hiked her down to his car and to the airport.
Willow wasn't a heavy sleeper but he had given her a good shot to the chin. She was starting to come around by the time he was halfway to the airport. She moaned. "I don't give a damn and if you try to magic us, the protections on the car will start an alarm that will draw cops." She whimpered. "I don't give a damn. If I have to take time off work to deliver you, so be it." He glared at her.
They got to the airport and he walked her inside, by her arm. A guard gave him a worried look so he pulled his NYPD ID. "She's going to her aunt's for doing stupid shit." He picked up her ticket for her, noting that she didn't have any bags because she was going for an intervention. The ticket agent made that note. That way the Air Marshall would know to watch her and they'd have security escorts.
He showed his ID to the guard on the screening station. "It's against protocol but if I don't walk her onto that plane she'll try to leave." She was trying to get free now. So he nerve pinched her. The guard gave him a horrified look. "She's a junkie and I'm sending her to her aunt for some straightening out time," he said quietly. "Before she does more than break someone's arm."
"Why did she do that?"
"She wanted a soda and it somehow ended up with him shoved into a wall."
"I can have you escorted with her, sir," he promised, calling that in. What he got back amused him. "The FBI would like to talk to her?"
"She's ICW," he said quietly. "They want to make sure what happened." That got a nod and a guard hand-wanded her and him before escorting them on. "Thank you."
"Not a problem, Mr. Harris. Is she going to be okay?"
"Not if she fights with me. I'll kick her ass good for it this time. I lived through the last one, barely. Never again." The agent showed up at the gate a few minutes later. "How bad is Andrew's arm?" he asked.
"Yeah, she broke it trying to get a soda. Claimed the soda can shoved him into a wall."
The agent squeezed his eyes shut. "She's behind that problem in the office by your lab?"
"She decided the inquisition that we go through each time someone wants to get nosy was someone investigating us and decided to protect us. It also worked on the DA."
"She's going to her 'aunt' in Devon."
"I've heard about them." He sat down, nodding the guard that he could go. He nodded back and left. "Why?"
"I don't know. She mentioned our special toy vault," he said quietly. "All I know is she cast it. Andrew proved it. Andrew got a broken arm because she was floating out a soda. She thought it was just fine. I have no idea. If I have to get on that plane with her to make sure she gets to Devon, so be it."
"I'll hand her to the Air Marshall. She is a junkie going to her straightening out."
"After what happened when she lost it with her grief, I can't go through that again," he said quietly. "I just can't. I barely lived the last time."
"What happened then?"
"Someone killed her girlfriend by accident. So she tried to end the world." The agent shuddered. "I got her stopped but she hit me with so much at the time that our helper had a demon that he owed come up and suck the crap out of me because his kind fed on it. I fed most of the clan that night."
"You did?" she asked quietly.
He looked at her, nodding. "Yeah, I nearly died, Willow. You nearly killed me then. This time, you're trying my career and could've gotten a lot of agents dead. And if it had been Andrew's head that hit? With that much force it might've killed him too. You're going to Devon. I don't give a damn if I have to try to change you and ship you as a pet." She flinched but nodded, looking down. He looked at the agent. "I'm going to move across the row so you can talk to her about the FBI's response to her little problem."
He got up and moved away far enough that they had some privacy. He wasn't going to be able to shield her from that. Minor things maybe but not making the FBI lose up to six years of memories. Willow sniffled then burst out crying. Alex looked at the agent, who motioned him to stay. Hey, if it broke this relapse he was for it. He texted his twin then Buffy to let her know what was going on. The agent nodded him back over so he walked over and sat down again. "She's going to Devon."
"Yes she is. She's to talk to us every single week to give us progress reports from her and her mentor over there." Willow nodded, looking at her hands. "That'll decide if she can come home."
"That seems fair with the way she endangered you guys." He looked at her. "You made them forget cases and things too." She flinched. He looked at the agent. "I might try to cover if it was smaller, but we all know I can't this time and I'm trying to get her help."
"We understand, CSI Harris. I'm all for her getting help. Once she's on the plane I've got the coven's number and I'll be calling them with the information. That way they can be waiting on her." He looked at her. "If you ever slip again, Miss Rosenburg, you had better hope you do not compromise anything that touches on any law enforcement effort," he said quietly. "This time, you were overzealous and caused problems. Next time, you'll be in jail with the Finns." He stood up. "Am I clear?" She nodded. Willow shuddered, staring at her hands, unable to look at them.
"Thank you," Alex said quietly.
"I understand why. I've met other addicts in the past that got clean, stayed clean for years, then had a sudden relapse due to stress. I know what you guys do. I know how important she is. This is her only chance." The flight was called and helped her up. "Let's go." He walked her into the Air Marshall, presenting her and telling him the cover story. The Air Marshall nodded and made sure she was in easy sight range of him for the flight. He came back to find Alex staring. "Thank you, Harris."
Alex nodded. "NP. She's been my friend for decades now." He looked at him.
"Maybe you should go to the family of addicts meetings, kid. It might help. You're not at fault."
"We're all watching but missed it."
"That's not your job. That's hers. Even addicts have to have some personal responsibility and take the consequences of their actions." Alex nodded at that, walking off. He went back to the Council, the agent followed, then went to his boss to make a report on that. Including that she was a true addict to black magic and had nearly caused her own apocalypse in the past, but the team had stopped her. He understood grief but that was too strong.
Alex walked back into work, heading right to Mac. "They let her go to Devon. If she's making good progress back to normal, they'll let her come home to be watched. If not, she's staying with the coven I guess."
"Thank god. It got removed. The DA called to say it had been and wanted to know what happened. I handed him the information the agent gave me for the report, just in case it came up sometime." He looked the boy over. "You okay?"
"No. She's been my friend now for two decades, Mac. I feel like I should be beating her ass for it but I know it's not my job. Plus she might kill me for it."
"That's what families of addicts go through, Alex. It'll be fine. Go sit with your twin." He nodded, going to get comfort from him. Mac added the resolution to that report and sent it to the other agent in case he hadn't heard. Mac was worried but the twins would bounce back soon enough. Even if 1 was bouncy because he was upset. 2 needed a hug and his twin was the best at that. Or Evie but she was at home, where she should be. Sheldon walked in. "Problems on the newest case?"
"The twins looked wiped."
"They were dealing with an issue a friend had," he said.
"This is beyond that, Mac. This is like someone drained them." Mac got up and walked down to ballistics to check them. Sheldon followed, being his doctorish self. They were all but knocked out in their exemplar. He checked, they had pulses and were breathing. "They were up and moving when I was just in here," he said quietly.
Mac called Faith, who said she'd call the coven and Andrew for him. She couldn't really help with a magic problem beyond ending the witch.
Someone appeared in a quiet pop of noise. "Detective," he said respectfully. He walked in to look at them. "Boys," he sighed.
"Are you Mr. Giles?" Sheldon asked.
"No, I'm not." He smiled. "I'm Ethan Rayne."
"I've heard of you," Mac said firmly.
"Rupert begged. He can't counter her if this is Miss Rosenburg. I can." He searched them, coming up with the spell. One of them grabbed his hand and squeezed. "I must. She's draining you two too far."
"The plane has problems," that twin muttered. "She's trying to keep it in the air until they can land it."
"I see." He felt along that link and found they were right, adding his own strength to hers. The plane was safely landed, they were only a few minutes from their destination. The boys slumped with a sigh and Ethan blasted Willow into unconsciousness. That way she'd be easier to handle and she would release the energy she had stolen from them. The bond snapped and the boys felt more normal. He eased out of the way and gave them his own shot of energy. He straightened up.
"They'll have Janus' own headache," he said to Taylor. "They need to rest to regain strength. She was indeed trying to save all their lives. One of the engines wasn't working." Mac winced at that. "They were thankfully near the airport out there. They landed and she's knocked out for the coven to handle." He nodded and left, going home to recharge himself. Rupert now owed him quite a lot. He really needed to make the bastard practice his own magic again.
Mac looked at them. "Get them a blanket, Sheldon. Let them nap. We'll seal ballistics for a few hours." He nodded, doing that and coming back to check them over. They weren't gray anymore, it was probably time for a nap. Mac pulled out their bottle of advil and some waters for them, putting them next to their makeshift bed. Then he went to make a report on that and call Cleveland himself.
Tony looked at the new email he got sent. "The boys are down with something," he said quietly. He responded and told Graham to let him know if he needed more help. Graham told him why and Tony nodded. "They called it a miracle," he replied. He deleted them and got back to his report. Gibbs looked at him. "The twins were helping Rosenburg when she was flying to England recently," he told him quietly. "They're down with a flu-like problem."
"That's fine. Are you going to have to take time off to go up there?"
"Probably not. We're between show offs. They've been building in the labs." He smirked. "Graham said that Faith and others are mad that they haven't seen into their personal toy vault."
"What do they have in it?"
"No clue. Only those two can get into it."
"Fine." He waved a hand. "Report?"
"Nearly done." He finished it and did the proofreading/grammar checks he needed to do. "She was on *that* flight, boss," he said when he was done.
"Then I guess it's a good thing she was, DiNozzo."
Tony nodded. "Probably, yeah." He considered it. He was thankful she had saved so many lives but he wasn't sure how. He wasn't sure he wanted to know how really.
"Work, don't think," Gibbs ordered.
"Become the government stereotype," McGee quipped from his desk.
"Why? I'm not FBI," Tony snorted, cracking his teammate up. Gibbs just shook his head. He finished up some things that needed to be done and sent them on too. He'd talk to the twins later. No one had bothered him about the company in months. He hoped it wasn't because of that spell.
Xander sat down in front of one of the local coven in New York, giving her a tired look. "What is she doing now?"
She read him and grimaced. "The link was cut but that's not done correctly. Who did it?"
"Rosenburg. She sucked out of us to save her flight when it had an engine problem." He groaned, rubbing his forehead. "Now I'm getting more of those." He texted something to Don Flack so he'd be warned that he was going to have a bad chase later when someone shot at him. He looked at her. "How do I stop it?"
She got him something and handed it to him. "Release her into the earth." Xander nodded, sipping the tea and concentrating like the shaman had taught him. Eventually the link eased. His twin was still wasted and now sucking off him but he came in a few minutes later and got some of his own. He was worse since he had been in direct contact with her. She helped him with the releasing and they both felt better. "Do it daily if you must," she ordered. "She should not link into anyone." Xander dialed his phone and handed it over. She heard the voice on the other side. "The coven that is holding that witch who is sucking off the Harris twins?" The boys nodded. She walked off talking to that witch. They had to break it from her end too. She came back to hand the phone over. "Hopefully she stays this time."
"That's up to the FBI," Alex said dryly. He and his twin paid for her help, gave her a kiss on the cheek that made her laugh, and went to meditate out at the company in their mini-woods. They felt something wrong with the earth and knew what it was but they could only warn the generals they knew. Hopefully the spell hadn't worked on them as well. They warned the team in Denver too. They were way too damn close to things this time.
The witches in Devon made Willow drain all her magic and cut all her links to it for three days to make sure she wasn't sucking off anything or anyone else. When they saw her starting to draw it in again, they stopped all those little fissures and straws she had into other places. Including the old and new Hellmouths. That was dangerous and would probably kill the humans she was sucking from. They finally got her completely free and let things seal over before letting her wake up. She might've fought them but now she was better. They hoped. They made their report to the FBI agent. They were happy she had saved the plane, the same as the coven was, but it was still too much for her to do. She had to learn that she was still mortal, not the Goddess.
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