More Than Boyfriends and Girlfriends.
Xander looked at his closet and then at his helper, who just shook her head. "What? I look decent in them. A bit secretarial but decent."
"Xander, you look frumpy," she assured him. "Being in LA's scene was one things. Being here is another. Now, I went to one of the local gay websites and found a place that does consignment and sales. That means it'll be cheaper and you can get rid of some of the frumpy stuff, like the flowered dress."
"I like that one."
She gave him a look and shook her head. "There is no way I'm letting you dress like a secretary. Even if I do have to ask Ryan what would be appropriate. Should I?" He shook his head quickly. "Are you sure?"
"Good. Then let's pack up a few of these and head over there. They're open until seven." She pulled out four of the outfits and smiled when he handed over the flowered dress with a sigh. "Good boy. Come on. You're driving since I can't yet." She packed those into a plastic bag and handed him his keys and wallet, walking out with him. She even held onto the clothes and steered him into the shop when they got there. One of the saleswomen, who wasn't naturally female by her adam's apple, smiled at them. "My buddy here has a problem. We're from near LA and the ladies out there did a *fantastic* job of making him look decent but he's got a date." She handed over the plastic bag. "He's got broader shoulders so they went for secretarial and frumpy teacher for him."
"I looked fine," Xander complained, but weakly. "I need a new wig too."
Dawn looked at him and nodded. "Ya think?" She looked at the giggling saleswoman. "I know LA's standards and the ones in Miami are different but he's got a good date. With a really nice guy."
"Well, I can use three of these. The last one's a bit too uptight for us. He'd get better action for that one online from the Northeast. They do frumpy so much more often than we do down here." She looked Xander over. "Fair trade?" He shrugged and nodded. "Then come here, sweetie. What's your name?"
She smiled and led him to look at things. "How long have you been dressing?"
"A few years now. Mostly for stress," he admitted quietly, glancing around. He looked at her. "Dawn's my shopping buddy."
"That can be beneficial." She patted him on the hand. "Now, around here we like tighter things." He looked really hesitant. "I know. You're fairly broad. Ever think about doing a short course of the hormones to slim down?"
"I didn't want to go that far," Xander admitted. "Like I said, mostly for stress relief."
She nodded, getting that. She led him to something, making him look at her. "Trust me. We have a lot of very fit women down here, Xander." She led him into a changing room, handing over that and another dress. "That one's a bit more expensive, about fifteen dollars past the trade I can give you. The other one would be covered fully and then you'd have to deal with undergarments."
"I have some of those."
"You need new pantyhose," Dawn called. "They never last past the first wear." Xander came out in the first dress and she shook her head. "Too tight. Even tucked you'd still show." The saleswoman nodded and gave him something different to try on. This one was still knit but a bit looser and less clingy. "I like that one." Xander looked at himself and nodded. "See, it was a good idea I had." She looked at her supporter. "What shoes would he wear with that?"
"I have black ones, Dawn. The dress is light green, it'll go."
"No it won't," both women complained. She took Xander over to their wigs, pantyhose, and shoes section, letting him pick out what he needed. Then the poor dear had to look at new panties. His elastic was starting to wear out. She got him kitted out for sixty dollars past the trade value and made him a happy girl. Dawn waved and took Xander home to work on the wig. It was only a few shades lighter than Xander's natural hair so it looked good on him. With a bit of curling along the bottom edge the wig looked fine as well. They had to put it up when the landlord came by and Xander quickly changed to go talk to him. Especially since the rent wasn't due for another two weeks.
Xander looked at the woman in the mirror once Dawn was done, then at her. "I look different."
"I'd say." She stood him up and looked him over. "You shaved, I'm impressed. Armpits too?"
"Yes," he sighed.
She smiled. "Good. Now, let's see you walk in those." Xander strolled, sashaying a bit to compensate for the higher center of balance men naturally had. "Even better. Um, hate to say it but you need to tuck it in a bit tighter." Xander looked down and went into the bathroom to do that. She heard someone knock on the door and went out to see who it was. "Eric," she said, a bit loudly. "What's up?"
"I got blackmailed into being Ryan's messenger. He got hit on the way out of the parking lot so he'll be about an hour late and he couldn't remember your phone number. His phone got magnetized and wiped Wednesday."
"Sure, I can pass that message on. Thank you." She kissed him on the cheek. "If I was older I'd crush on you," she teased. He blushed and walked off smiling. She closed the door. "It's safe." Xander came out, leaning against the wall, one shoulder pressed against it with his arms crossed over his chest. "He is cute."
"He is. He's not your type. He's a player, Dawn. Ryan said so."
"Fine. He's still cute. I'm at the age where I'm supposed to look for cute, not good in bed."
"True. You had better not find out how good anyone is in bed for a while."
She smiled. "Not a problem. I'm hating the boy things at the moment. Did you hear?" He nodded. "Good. Now what're we going to do about the landlord?"
"Buy the house when it comes up for drug seizure." He heard someone coming up the walkway and went back to the bathroom.
Dawn opened the door at the knock. "Yes, officer?"
"Is a Mr. Alexander Harris here?"
"Um....." She considered it. "Let me check?" He nodded, staying there. She leaned into the bathroom. "Don't you dare." He sighed. "I'm sure he's not going to say anything."
"Fine," he complained, coming out. The officer gave him an odd look. "It's for charity."
"Oh, all right then, sir. Drag queen on the side?"
"Maybe. We're seeing." He nodded, handing over the papers. "What's this?"
"I paid my rent. I don't owe him shit."
"He said you turned him in for drug use?"
"That would be because he was sniffing in front of me and he tried to get me to pay rent for next month before it was due. I can fight this, right?"
"Yes, sir. Then again that's from the city's drug seizure office. You may be able to arrange to buy it from them since you're a tenant." He noticed someone else pulling in. "You know people at the lab?"
"I worked on the lab when it was being rebuilt," he admitted. "Thank you, Officer. Is their number on here?" He nodded. "I'll talk with them tomorrow," he promised, smiling.
"Thank you, sir. You might want to check, you have some lipstick on your teeth. Good luck with your audition." He walked off, nodding at Horatio.
Xander looked at him. "Please don't," he said quietly.
"What you do is your own business, Xander. I figured it was a stress reaction."
"But he's got a date tonight," Dawn said happily.
"Ah. That's where Mr. Wolfe was going. He's been talking about you all week. The drug seizure office?" Xander nodded. "Call Chad tomorrow. He can walk you through your options. Especially since you have Dawn and a good job with multiple clean drug tests." Xander nodded at that. "Good boy." He smiled. "You do look very charming like that. Did she need a babysitter tonight? My nephew wanted out of the house and he was going to do something with some of his friends. They're about the same age."
Horatio nodded. "Most likely. I got roped into chaperoning with his mother."
"Sure. Let me change."
"Nothing too Buffyish," Xander ordered.
Dawn rolled her eyes. "I'm not like that, thank you!" She went to change into something hipper and more comfortable for a few hours with some other teenagers. She came out and Horatio nodded it was appropriate. "Let me grab my wallet and watch. When is my curfew?"
"Thanks, mom." She kissed him on the cheek with a smile. "She would fuss with your hair some more. I'm not good with hair. Don't wait up if you get back first." She headed out with Horatio. "So, what's your nephew like?"
"Ray Junior's a bit confused at the moment about which path his life is going to take."
"Don't worry, I won't tell him a thing about what we used to do."
"Thank you, Dawn, I'd appreciate that." He let her into the passenger side of the hummer and drove off with her. This was his subtle way of introducing his nephew to the concept of 'nice girls'. Yelina would think she was charming he was sure.
Xander sat down to read the letter, comfortable in the dress. At least until someone else knocked. "It's been like Grand Central Station," he complained as he got up, finding a very nervous Ryan on the other side. "You sent Eric?"
"I couldn't remember your number and my phone got erased." He smiled when he looked her over. "You look pretty."
"Thank you. Dawn made me sell some of my older stuff that she said made me look frumpy. I'm still not sure about the new wig."
Ryan smiled. "It looks good on you. Ready?"
"Let me get my purse. I didn't even think about packing it." She went into her bedroom to find that Dawn already had. Her smaller wallet. Her ID was in there. Smaller keyring with keys. Breath spray. He looked at the lube and condoms in the bottom then sighed, looking up. "At least she's a positive thinker." He walked out smiling. "Dawn packed it for me."
"She put in condoms."
"At least she's up to date on safer sex." Ryan grinned. "I'm not a first date sort."
"Good. Now, let's go have a nice night. You can tell me who else showed up." He led her out to his car once she had locked the door, letting her in like a proper gentleman should. He walked around to get in and drive. "What happened?"
"The landlord came back to demand more money when it wasn't owed. I turned him in for sniffing drugs in front of me."
"Talk to Chad down at the drug seizure office. He's helped some others buy the seized properties."
"That's what your boss said. He got here just after the officer did."
"Why was Horatio here?" he asked as he backed down the driveway.
"To bring Dawn to wherever he was chaperoning his nephew." Ryan snickered. "He said he's a bit confused."
"A worldly girl like Dawn will blow him away," he assured him. "But they'll get along very well. Ray lost his father a few years back." Xander nodded at that. Ryan put the car into drive and went forward, putting a hand on top of hers. "Relax. I don't bite unless I'm invited to."
"It's good that you're not a vampire. I'd hate to have to stake you, Ryan." He grinned and chuckled. "Not kidding."
"I know. That's why it's so cute." He shot him a grin at a stoplight. "Did you eat?"
"Dawn made dinner while I was showering."
"Good. Then right to the club?"
"Yes, there's a number of transexuals and those who only crossdress there. Like I said, I've brought others there before. It's a very safe place." Xander relaxed at that. "Did the officer give you trouble?"
"I told him it was for a charity thing and he wished me well with my audition."
"Well, if you could sing," he offered with a grin.
"Can't. Don't try. Don't want to try. I have horrible stage fright."
"I'll keep you off the stage," he promised, reaching over to hold her hand.
"I don't want to sound like a nag or anything but why do you date guys who crossdress?"
Ryan considered it for a few minutes, then glanced over with a smile. "You know how things can get really crazy when you're working and dating?" Xander groaned and nodded. "Well, I discovered a long time ago that dating guys who dress up like you do, or who go all the way, usually means there's a bit more defined roles. Which I like. Not that I'm a control freak, because I'm not, but I like to have things a bit more steady in my personal life. Plus, some of you are very pretty women and more than pretty enough for me to drool on but you don't get PMS and make me scared for my life."
Xander giggled at that and kissed him on the cheek. "You'd be surprised but I'd never have to get PMS. I'll sic Dawn on others." Ryan beamed at that and nodded eagerly, stealing a kiss at a light. Then they moved on. Xander settled back into his seat. "Things usually get more defined this way?"
"It adds some spice and some mystery but also if you think about it, I'll get times to go fully macho, very protective alpha male over you. You'll have times to lean on me. That's the way these things are supposed to work, but this way I get to enjoy them in public and flirt with a pretty woman who flirts back."
"Sure." Xander wasn't sure about the reasons he used but Ryan had said he dated other crossdressers before. "Your boss won't say anything, right?"
"He'd better not. I'd hate to have to sic Dawn on him." Xander giggled and ran her hand up his arm. "Be yourself, Xander. That's all I want you to do. To look pretty for me tonight and to be yourself. Nothing more is expected."
"I can go with that." They pulled into a parking lot and parked, Ryan turning to look at her. "Do I look okay?"
"The wig's a bit crooked," he admitted, fixing it for her. "There, better. Ready? Just relax and remember it's a safe place." Xander nodded and let him get out, coming around to help him out. She smoothed down her dress and Ryan picked of a piece of lint but it was on her back so she didn't do more than shiver. "Been a while?"
"Yeah," she said quietly, taking his hand to walk inside with him. He liked this, the bar was like the one in LA that he used to go to but now he had someone with him. Ryan showed her to a small table and got them some wine spritzers, which were light enough for her. "I haven't dated in a really long time," she said quietly. "My girlfriends weren't interested in that stuff and the one boyfriend I've had wasn't either. He didn't want to go out that often."
"It's a shame. It's one of the finer old traditions. Then again, maybe that's why they didn't work out. You didn't get the chance to talk to them and know them deeper than the bedroom." He took a drink and looked around then back at her. "Relax."
She turned her face away. "Ryan, that's one of my former bosses," he said quietly. "I don't know why he's here but he tried to blackmail me in the past."
"I've got it," Ryan soothed, stroking her cheek then down her throat. "Shift closer." She did. "Should I call you Xander?"
"Alex is a nice, non-gendered name," he agreed with a smile. "You sure you don't want dinner?"
"No, she made me a lot of pasta." She smiled at him. "So, what do you think of her?"
"I think she's a great young lady and I'm hoping she grows up very well. You're doing a good job with her, Alex. Relax. He's hitting on someone else." She leaned on his arm and he smiled. "That's right, trust me," he soothed, taking her hand to hold. "They have a DJ here some nights. Probably in a while. Do you dance?"
"Not very well."
"It's a matter of following along," he soothed. "I'm not great at it either." She smiled. "I'm much better at the clubbing stuff but sometimes it's nice to just hold and move instead of bumping and brushing all night long." A man came over to their table. "Hi."
"Do I know you?"
"Probably not. Detective Ryan Wolfe," he said, holding out a hand with a smile.
"Not you, her."
"That I seriously doubt. You don't sound like you're from Texas."
"Oh. Never mind." He walked off again.
He smiled at her and Xander grinned back. "See?" She nodded and sipped some of her wine. They both watched as the DJ set up for the night then Ryan led her out there to try to dance. It wasn't so bad but she was still having problems wanting to lead. He snapped her bra strap and she blushed, leaning on him instead. "See, easier." He nodded, relaxing in his arms. The guy who worried Xander came over to cut in and he shook his head. "Sorry, mine. I'm possessive." He danced her off to a new part of the floor, making her laugh, a light and happy sound. It was enough to make him tense up. After another song he led them back to his table, sniffing their drinks. Instead of chancing it he ordered another one, getting something more refreshing and lighter. She sat down next to him to drink with him, smiling happily. "When do you have to be at work tomorrow?"
"Shift starts at eight and we're doing a major push. So probably seven." She checked his watch and then looked at him. "I've probably got another hour, two at most, before I turn back into a pumpkin."
"Oh, I don't know, you could be a glass slipper," he offered with a grin.
"No, they hurt." She took another drink and watched the other couples. "He's dancing with someone else and still staring," she said quietly.
"Finish up, we'll head back to your place and watch something?" She smiled and finished her drink, making sure she got her purse. Ryan nodded one of the waiters over, whispering in his ear. "Alex, you said blackmail?"
"I was going to be his or he'd fire me and out me," she said quietly. "He connived his boyfriend after that onto hormones to slim down."
The waiter nodded. "I'll let someone know. Thank you, dear. You look very nice tonight." She smiled and walked off to talk to the manager. She could talk to the people out in LA and verify things like that. They didn't want that sort in their club.
Ryan led Xander back out to his car, putting her back into her seat. Then he walked around to get in. He found someone in his way. "Excuse me, I need to get in there."
"No you don't. I'm sure your boss....." Ryan pointed at a nearby hummer at the gay club next door. The man's eyes widened. "Your boss...."
"Possibly. My boss's official position is that he doesn't care where I stick it as long as I'm happy, content, and don't bring fights into the lab. Anything else?" he asked patiently. "Because you're keeping my date waiting."
"She's a bitch."
"How would you know?" The man let out an amused laugh. "One last time. Move. Now. Next time I get to fulfill bondage fantasies." The man got out of the way. "Thank you. Have a nice night." He got in and drove off, calling Horatio's office phone. "It's me, boss. I just got harassed while out in case anyone makes a complaint. I told him he had one last chance to move or I was going to fulfill bondage fantasies. Just an FYI." He hung up and heard Xander giggle. "That way he can counter it if they wake him up incredibly early to complain again. They've done it to others."
"I don't think he's going to. He might try my job but was that your boss?"
"No. Horatio's hummer is marked differently. That was probably Delko out on a late call. His last one was there just as he was heading home." He grinned and turned the corner. "Eric will shoot him down too. Don't worry about it."
"Are you sure?"
"He won't say a thing to me or you. Eric realizes I'm not fully straight the same way I know Eric likes anything with a pulse." He shrugged and grinned again. "It happens, Xander. Trust me, he won't say a word."
"As long as you're sure."
"I'm sure." He took her hand to hold. "Want to go for a drive and watch the water or head home?"
"Driving's nice. I haven't done this in a while." She blushed. "The last time I did I was taking a girlfriend out to make out with her."
"I leave that up to you." He kissed her on the back of the hand. "That's all up to you, Alex." She nodded and smiled at him. "Want to head there? There's a great view."
"Up to you, you're driving." Ryan grinned and headed to where he was thinking. It was fairly private but it did have a great view of the city and the water. He parked and let Xander sigh at the view. "See, great view."
"Very pretty view. It's views like that that make me want to be artistic so I can capture it." She looked at him. "I'm not in the least bit."
"Ever tried pictures?"
"I have but they come out fuzzy." She shrugged and grinned. "It's quiet. Something I haven't heard since we moved from Sunnydale."
"How big was Sunnydale?"
"A few thousand people. Not very large." She undid her seatbelt and looked at him. "It was a pretty place to live but there was a strong current of denial and the dark side of the town wasn't that happy making, Ryan."
"I know you've seen horrible things, Xander. I looked up the town online." He stroked her cheek with the back of his hand. "I'm not like that. Miami's not either."
"Not too much. Thankfully since I gave it up to protect Dawn and make sure she had an adult influence until she was an adult herself."
"That's noble of you." He took a kiss. "Sorry, couldn't help it."
"You look good in my lipstick," she teased.
"Yeah but I can't pull off the pantyhose. Tried a few times." Xander stared. "Really. I have a slight case of OCD. It didn't work very well for me."
"I'm sorry." She kissed him again. "So that's why you understand us."
"Very well." He took another kiss. "I feel like a teenager." He grinned. "And naughty since you're only twenty-two." He took another kiss. "Plus you're very pretty in both forms, Xander." Xander moaned at that. "You are." He took a gentler kiss. "Very strong and manly in one, enough to make me jealous sometimes when I watched you work on our lab, and then that strength radiates out of you like this. It's beautiful." He took another one. "Are we doing this here?"
Xander blushed. "I've only had the one, Ryan."
"I know, dear." He pulled her a bit closer. "You get to make those decisions. I always leave it up to whoever I'm with." Xander moaned and took another one. "Tell me about your girlfriends?"
"Hmm. Charming. No wonder you didn't get to date." He stroked her cheek. "Slow down. This car is not big enough to do this properly if you're heading there." Xander smiled at that. "Touching yes, groping's good too, the car's not big enough for anything else."
"Does Eric take the sex hummer," he teased.
"All the time. Then again they've got hidden cameras in them too. Someday someone's going to take a strap to him for the twins in the hummer last week." She giggled at that. "He did. They were cute too." He stole another kiss. "I still like my special friends to be more mature and able to speak."
"Thankfully I'm not like my ex the nympho then. All she talked about was money and sex or how she used to torture men."
"Eww." He took another kiss. "I'm sorry I brought her up." Another kiss. "Forget her and let me take you home?"
"It's nearly eleven, she should be in bed and your couch has got to be more comfortable. Nothing further than you decide, Alex." Xander nodded and he smiled, holding her hand while he started the car and headed back to her place. She let them inside and they stopped to listen for Dawn, who was snoring. He grinned and pushed her onto the couch, sitting beside her. "There, less like a teenager." Xander giggled and cuddled him. "Are you sure?"
"The one thing I learned from Sunnydale was that you never know if you're not going to wake up in the morning."
"However far you're comfortable with," he reminded her, taking another kiss. Xander unleashed it all on him, letting him be driven back into the couch. Ryan let her do whatever she wanted, stroking up and down her sides. Xander yelped at one point so he let go of that spot. "Sorry."
"It's all right. The bra is pinching." She grinned. "Um...." She looked around then listened to Dawn's room. She was still snoring now and then. She nodded toward her bedroom. "I'm not usually this easy, but..."
"If that's what you want," he promised, standing up and helping her up. He looked at the top of her thigh highs and grinned. "You really did get dressed up for me." She blushed and led him into her room, closing the door. "Set the alarm first just in case." Xander did that and he got to watch her puttering around the room. He saw the look in the closet and pulled out the small nightgown, looking at it. "It's pretty, like you." Xander gave him a look. "If you want. I don't mind." Xander blushed and went across the hall to change. Ryan got down to his t-shirt and boxers, without the socks even though his feet were cold. He undid the top of the bed, folding them down. Xander came back and he swallowed. "Very nice," he assured her, holding out a hand. She came over and he got in next to her, stroking her stomach while taking a kiss. "If we're going to go all the way tonight I need to know some things," he pointed out. She pointed at the bedside table, making him smile. "That's one thing. Another thing, are you a 'it's a clit and pussy when I'm female' girl or not? I've had both and I won't upset you."
Xander swallowed and nodded. "It can be."
"All up to you," he reminded her with a smile, stroking over one artificially plumped up breast. "How are you doing that?"
"Good pecs and a gel bra," he said with a wicked grin. "It's the only muscles I really admire having at all times." Ryan leaned down to nip one through the nightgown, making him shiver and clutch his head. "I liked that."
"Responsive is a good thing," Ryan promised, moving to play with her and explore her body. He got down to the man panties, the ones that tucked her in, and used his thumb to caress the head. Xander arched up and whimpered. "I've got you," he soothed, stroking her stomach. "Should I use two fingers in you and tease your clit with my thumb, like I would the other women?" Xander nodded at that, thumping her head on the pillow. "Good girl. If that's what you want." He moved to find the lube and start the preparation. Xander was wiggling and writhing under his hands so he had to take off the panties and one hand on her clit and the other back and forth inside her. She was keening now. It was loud and beautiful. He slid a condom on with a bit of a struggle but it was all right. "Relax, Alex. Let me in," he whispered as he started to move into her. Xander let out a swear, making him laugh.
"Good. Just relax. I've got you." He kissed her again once he was inside, letting it stay there for now. Xander was wiggling under him so he moved down to play with her nipples again, moving the nightgown out of his way. He took his t-shirt off as well and it joined his boxers and the nightgown on the end of the bed. Xander was beautiful. He whispered that to her as he got to work, making her hiss and scratch up his back but it was a good feeling and she was having fun. She flipped him over and got on top, riding him. "That's right, Alex. Let me have it all," he encouraged, stroking her chest and stomach. He pinched her nipple and she came, making him follow because of the suction and tension around him. He pulled her down to kiss her again, cuddling up with her. "I'm here if you want me to stay." He forced the condom off and tossed it in the plastic trashcan next to the bed.
"Bed's too cold without someone," she admitted, stroking his chest. "I don't want to seem too forward, Ryan. You've taken over my senses and it's like I was in heat."
"Being in heat is fine," he assured her with a smile. He took another kiss and pulled her closer, pulling the sheets back up around them. "Our next date we'll try for something a bit more slow." Xander blushed at that. "Yes, Xander, I'm still going to bother you for dates," he teased. "Every week if you want."
"I should get our next one."
Ryan kissed him on the cheek. "It's still my turn since he cut tonight short. The time after that is yours." Xander shivered and nodded. "I'm not like the others Dawn said you dated. I make more than you do and I'm more than capable of being a gentleman on a date." Xander nodded, snuggling into his chest, head on his shoulder. "Shh, you rest. Next time we'll do dinner and the club?"
"I'd like that."
"Good. Now, you rest. We've got to get up early in the morning so we both make it to work on time." Xander nodded, yawning into his throat. He went back to stroking her back, smiling as she fell asleep in his arms. It was a good feeling. He hoped this one lasted longer than his last one.
Ryan walked into work the next morning, running into the boss. "Did he make a complaint?"
"He tried. About both of us. Who had the hummer at the Stirrup?"
"It was the one Eric was driving yesterday. I'd assume him." He grinned. "Thank you, Horatio."
"I'm not going to say anything, Ryan. That family deserves someone special to love them. If you do it for them, then I'm fine with it. You know that." Ryan nodded. "Good. Now, how was Dawn?"
"Asleep when we got back and barely awake and mumbling when I left. Did it not go okay at the mall?"
"She and my nephew bonded over losing family," he admitted. "Yelina wasn't that impressed with it but she understood. She's also a bit older than he is so she's wary."
"She and Xander were baiting each other when I was guarding them about her not dating for at least another year, Horatio."
"Good. I like that. It shows good sense." He smiled. "Were you a gentleman?"
"I was, but that guy's his former boss, the one who was blackmailing him."
"Ah. No wonder. Keep me informed if he does anything else."
"We told one of the waitresses, they'll call to verify that stuff out of LA, boss. If he's that big of a predator, he'll be banned." He smirked at Eric as he walked in. "Hey."
"Morning." He grinned back. "Nice night in?"
"Good date actually," he said happily. "So, what was the case at the Golden Stirrup? I saw the hummer."
Eric coughed and blushed. "I was following up on some interviews."
"That's fine. Let me know if you need help," Ryan offered, walking off.
"Eric," Horatio said quietly. "Tell me you didn't take an official vehicle out on a date," he ordered.
"Um, well... mine's in the shop, H. I swear I won't do it again."
"Eric, you do know that they put hidden cameras into those, don't you?" he asked, looking amused. "I know the autopool supervisor has had many fun hours watching and rewatching you with a set of very blonde nineteen-year-old twins." Eric blushed and looked down. "Not to mention the two cheerleaders from FSU you had in there." Eric gave him a panicked look. "He sent me tape of that one and suggested I let you know about the cameras, Eric."
"My car will be out of the shop tonight and I swear I didn't last night, Horatio. I promise I didn't bring anyone back to the hummer."
"Thank you, Eric. One less confused person I have to deal with today. I did think the one cheerleader was very cute."
"Want his number?" he teased.
"That's not my thing and he was much too young for me, Eric. Just remember about the cameras."
"Yes, H. Sorry."
"That's all right. You know I don't care until it interferes with work, Eric. Unlike your stalker." He gave him a look and walked off, going back to his office to check his email for new footage. He didn't get any so it must have been the truth. The autopool chief got more and more distressed every time Eric used the hummers like a rolling sex pad. They had all been cute but apparently the fact Eric had slept with his niece last week had annoyed him. He hoped no formal complaints would be made. He hated having to knock heads in Internal Affairs or to do the paperwork to put a reprimand in his file.
Alexx, their shift's ME, gave Ryan a look when he came onto her current scene. "Have a good night, baby?"
"I did," he agreed happily. "A very nice date with some cuddling at the end."
"When do I get to meet this girl?"
Ryan looked at her then around. "Alexx, I don't necessarily date *girls*," he said quietly. She blushed at that and swatted him on the shoulder. "I don't. Not always. Sometimes only part of the time."
"What do you mean part of the time?"
"Like sometimes they're not," he offered quietly.
Her eyes went wide behind her sunglasses. "Really?" He nodded. "Interesting. I did not know that. Not that it matters to me, Ryan. You're like one of the kids. Now, when do I get to meet him?"
"You already have. He stepped on your toes to save a guy's life."
She dropped the arm she was looking at the wound on. "That mouthy little construction boy?" she hissed. He nodded, smiling. "Well.... He's pretty."
"Very." He grinned and leaned closer. "He gives good cuddles too, Alexx. Plus he's got his sister to take care of."
"I'll be meeting them all soon," she ordered.
"Thank you, baby. Now, let's look at our poor man here."
Ryan looked then he blinked a few times. Then he called Horatio. "Hey, boss, the guy who made the complaint is dead and my current scene. I don't think I should be the one working it." He stepped back. "No, I was talking with Alexx and just now noticed it. Sure. Thanks." He hung up. "You're getting Calleigh."
"What did he do? He complained about you?"
Ryan glanced around again then pulled her up and carefully away from the scene. "That's the guy who Xander used to work for," he said quietly. "He saw him at a gay club and tried to blackmail him. Xander also said he tried to force his last boyfriend out there on hormones to make him more trannie than not." She blinked at that. "He's a predator and I let someone know that last night when Xander told me. The community doesn't need that."
"Okay. I'll keep that in mind and let Calleigh know quietly. Construction?" He nodded. "Thank you, Ryan. Go get a new assignment from Horatio, dear." He nodded, going to do that while she went back to looking at her body. She didn't feel a bit of sympathy for him any more. Calleigh parked and got out, coming over to sign in. "We need to talk about this one."
"Why?" She started with pictures. "How do we think he died?"
"Multiple stab wounds. Blood soaked into the ground." She looked up. "Ryan couldn't work it because he made a complaint about him being out on a date last night."
"I saw the smile and the bounce in his step. It was almost scary," she agreed with a grin. "What's up with this one?" She found his wallet and looked in it. "Mr. Mark Hevert. Sunnydale, California. Why does that name sound familiar?"
"Because one of his former workers he was trying to blackmail came down here to work and ended up saving that guy who got the glass in the neck." Calleigh blinked at that. "Apparently Xander was out at a club that was...mixed."
"So he blackmailed him?" Alexx nodded. "Anything else I should know?"
"Xander told Ryan that the guy had forced his last boyfriend on hormones."
"Charming! Last of the sympathy I felt for him. Where did they see him last night?"
"Not a clue. All I know is that he was on a date."
"I'll ask him later. It could be important." She paused while taking pictures. "Hold on. Xander's gay?" she asked quietly. Alexx shrugged. "I never would've expected it from him. He seems to watch a lot of women while they walk but he's never disgusting about it and he even blushed when I caught him watching Valera that one time."
"He could be both."
"Then again, how did he and Ryan talk about this guy when Ryan only saw him last night?"
"That I'm not talking about."
"Ah...." She smiled suddenly. "Sounds like I get to tease Ryan."
"I wouldn't. He got cuddles last night."
"That's why he was so bouncy and happy then," she agreed happily. "Well, if they work it's all good. We'll hurt them if they hurt Ryan." That got a smirk and a nod. "Anything else I should know?"
"Multiple stab wounds, blood soaked in the ground. He was killed here I'd say." They looked at the nearest building. "Looks like we may have video."
"I'll check once I'm done here." She smiled. "Did you hear? Eric got another discussion with Horatio in the halls about using the hummer as a sextoy."
"Another set of twins?"
"Not a clue," she admitted. "Just a short, quiet talk in the foyer again." She grinned. "Wonder where he was."
"We'll tease him about that later. Make sure he knows the tape of him and those twins is now nearly viral around the station." Calleigh giggled. "They were adorable, if just babies."
"He said they were nineteen when I asked."
"Like I said, just babies!" She bundled up the body with the body haulers and they took him away. "Have fun."
"Oh, I will." Especially when she got to tease Ryan later. He wasn't one for first date sex so it must've been good cuddles.
Xander looked up from his boss's watching the house go up when someone cleared their throat. He looked at the officer. "Another problem?"
"Summons to appear, sir." He handed it over. Then he nodded politely and left.
The boss looked at him. "Do I want to know?"
"My landlord was sniffing drugs in front of me and I turned him in," he said dryly, shrugging a bit. "He was trying to play with the rent and demanded next month's in the middle of the month. He tried to say I had underpaid him too."
"Charming. Dawn all right?"
"Just fine. Our house has now been seized but I can go to the guy in the office later on and talk to him about that. That's why I said I'd probably be back late from lunch."
"That's fine, Xander. Planning on buying it?"
"I am. It'll be cheaper since it's drug seizure property now. Someone suggested they wouldn't have a problem with me doing that either."
"Good. Keep me informed." Xander nodded. "When do you have to go?"
Xander read over the legal words. "Um, the 23rd." He handed it over. "Dawn probably got one too."
"Fill out leave papers for me but leave the date blank in case it changes." Xander nodded at that, handing over a set. "Waiting?"
"I doubt he's going to take a deal. The officer I talked to said the baggie full of white powder that was in his briefcase was probably enough for a felony."
"I'm sorry, kid."
"So am I. I just hope I can buy the house. I've got the FEMA funds coming from the Sunnydale stuff."
"They said six-to-eight weeks. It's been five."
"Sure. Let's hope so. I know last year it took months."
"It had better not," Xander said dryly. "If so, I'll pay Dawn back for more. We like that house and it's comfortable." He blushed some and coughed. "Sorry. Good and happy date last night."
"Good." He grinned. "He nice?" Xander stared at him. "The guard told me that one CSI guy, the young one, came back and asked you out here. Not like I care." Another cop car pulled in and he blinked at the young woman getting out of the hummer. "Huh. Another one from the lab. Think it's about that?"
"Not with the way she looks." He walked over there. "Did something happen to the last site, ma'am?"
"No, Xander. Actually we had a small issue. Your former employer ended up dead last night and I needed to talk to you about him." Xander moaned and nodded, letting her over to the picnic tables where his boss was. "His former boss from Sunnydale ended up dead."
"I'm sorry to hear that, almost. What little I heard about him he was a bastard."
"Xander, how do I wire the two-twenty plug?" someone from inside called.
"Give me ten, get a drink, guys," he yelled back. That got a cheer and they came out to get drinks and go lounge fro a few minutes. He looked at her. "Let me guess, someone mentioned Ryan ran into him last night?"
She licked her lips and sat across from him. "That and the tape from the club was a bit enlightening." She grinned. "I don't care. I don't need to know. It's not relevant."
"It's what he was going to blackmail me about," he admitted quietly. "It's a stress thing mostly."
"That's fine. Though I will warn you that if you hurt Ryan the whole lab will be helping hide your body when Alexx gets done with you. Understood?" He nodded, grinning at that. "Okay, now what was he doing back there?"
Xander took her pen to play with. "Mostly he was trying to blackmail me. He got his last boyfriend onto the hormones to make him more girlish and femme for him. He worked on another crew and was out but they screwed him majorly. He was on them long enough that he sprouted and changed a lot. Ever see Ziggy Stardust stuff?" She nodded. "He looks about like that now. He'll never get back to the way he was before. He was probably going to try to do the same thing to me since I heard that he had done the same to someone else." She nodded more slowly at that. He wrote down a phone number. "That's the shop I went to in LA. Talk to Erin. I went to her for advice when he started on me and she's the one who told me about his last boyfriend. She's a major link in that chain. One of the few *good* shops out there."
"I'll do that," she agreed, smiling at him. "Did he threaten you or Ryan last night?"
"Ryan lied and told him he had never met me before, that I was from Texas. He's the reason we left early. He tried to interrupt a dance and then kept staring at me while he was dancing with someone else." He blushed. "So we went for a drive."
"Xander, I don't need details."
He looked at her. "If Ryan needs an alibi I can give it," he said quietly.
"I'll keep that in mind." She took her pen back, making notes while holding it very carefully. "I promise I'm not going to say anything, Xander. I could care less what you do in your spare time as long as it's legal."
"I turned in my landlord for snorting stuff in front of me."
"Good! We like that attitude." She smiled and patted his hand. "Did he say anything?"
"Just asked if he knew me and tried to get close to me. He glared so we went for a drive."
"Sure. I'm sure it wasn't Ryan, Xander. Ryan wouldn't have been stupid enough to leave him laying in a small grassy area beside a bank." He grinned at that. "Ryan's native so he would've fed him to the alligators." She gathered everything up. "If you can think of anything else or hear anything else, let me know." She headed back to her hummer and drove off.
"Wow," the boss said, blinking in shock. "That's one strong woman."
"She'd have to be to deal with some of the bastards they probably get through the office," Xander said quietly, looking up at him. "Ryan said she's not dating."
"I'm married, kid. Unfortunately." He grinned at him. "Get back to work and let me know if you need any help with the house stuff." Xander nodded, going to lead his crew back inside. The boss went to put the summons into Xander's car and head back to the office with the leave paperwork, making a note why he was being summoned into court. His site supe gave him an odd look. "His landlord was snorting from a big bag of powder in his briefcase in front of him. He turned him in."
"Good! That's a good thing! He'll have to move?"
"They seized it as drug assets. He's trying to buy it."
"I hope he can." He looked at him. "Anything else happen? I got a call saying some construction guy was found dead."
"Yeah, his former supe. The one who was blackmailing him. Apparently when Sunnydale fell in he came down here." He grimaced. "The little blonde one came to ask him. He did blush a lot about his date last night."
"Awwww," he said with a bright grin. "I heard she's like a cream puff if she likes you."
"She must've liked him. She even let him play with her pen for a bit."
"Good. How's his house looking?"
"They're doing the wiring. It's looking great so far. All the extra volunteers are doing good and asking questions. The few doing the siding are going good too. He's a good lead."
"Good. I'll have to go out with the inspector to make sure." He smiled. "We don't have one opening do we?"
"Not yet but he'd be up for it." He looked up as Dawn walked in. "You know he's at the habitat site, right?"
"Of course I do. I helped out there last weekend." She smiled and handed him something. "Xander called and said you needed copies of the paperwork about the landlord, just in case?"
"I could use it just in case," he admitted, copying them. "How did you get down here?"
"Bus. I'm on my way to the mall." That got a smile and a nod and he handed them back once he had finished making copies. "Well, I'm off to be cute and a teenager. If he calls panicking, remind him he let me." She grinned and put back on her sunglasses then headed out. It was a nice mall. She and a few of the kids from last night had agreed to go to the movies today. She found Ray Junior already there. "Hi."
"Hi. We got stood up. Marty's grounded by her mom for being a smartass this morning and Todd's got a standing thing he was trying to use us to wiggle out of but his mother said no."
"That's fine. We're buddies, Ray. I know that." He grinned and nodded, taking her over to buy tickets with her and figure out what they were going to watch. She ended up laughing through most of the monster movie but it was cute. He gave her a few funny looks. "Ask your uncle about our former town, Ray. They're so cute." He grinned at that. So what if he thought she was odd. When they came out it was getting dark. "I've gotta check with the big brother." She called him. "I'm out of the movies and having a snack. No, you eat. I'll be home in a bit." She looked up when someone came over to them. "No, I'm good, Xander. I'm with Horatio's nephew Ray. We're going to have a snack then head home. Thanks." She hung up. "Hi, did you need something?" she asked the man staring at them.
"Who're you, his girlfriend?"
"I'm a super bitch about protecting my *friends* thank you. Anything else or should I start screaming that you're a rapist?" He backed off at that. "Shoo, keep going. Your breath leaves much to be desired for stables." He stomped off. She looked at Ray, who was still pale. "Come on, milkshakes cure everything."
"I should head to Mom's."
"We can do that once we get a shake. He won't touch you, Ray. Not with me here." He stared at her. She looked back. "My sister used to be one of the few protectors in our former town. Do you really think I didn't learn a thing or two? He won't touch you while you're with me." He nodded and they went to get milkshakes then she took a cab back to his place. She could catch the bus from there. He nodded and she followed him inside. "Hi, Mrs. Salas. I brought Ray home since our friends stood us up for the movies. I promise I even covered his eyes during the scary parts."
"She did," Ray agreed, smirking at her, then punching her on the arm.
She snorted. "Please! My sister was stronger than Xander, Ray. She did that so much better." She grinned at him. "So, when's the next group meeting?"
"Next weekend. We try nearly every weekend. Hopefully Martty won't smart off to her mom again about her choice of cartoons being dumb. Her mom watches Winx Club."
Dawn grinned. "It's very girl power. It's also gaggingly cute." Yelina just stared at her. "It's about witches and fairies. Teenage witches and fairies. With a hero's academy up the street to let the girls crush majorly. Buffy used to watch it too." Yelina just shook her head. "Anyway, bus should be coming soon. You behave, call me if you want me to show up again. I know a few of them didn't like me."
"They're not used to you and they think you're a bit psycho for laughing at horror movies."
"With my former town?" She snorted. "FEMA just bought the town to put up a giant fence, Ray. They're only creatures and they don't even use swords." She shrugged and waved. "Let me know. I'm off for dinner with the overprotective big brother." She grinned and walked out. "Bye, Mrs. Salas."
"Bye, Dawn," she called. "I feel like we had a hurricane in here."
"That's because that guy came up to us in the mall and she went hyper-protective about me," he admitted. "I didn't even get a chance to point out I'm the *guy* and it's my job."
His mother looked at him. "Are you all right?"
"I'm fine. She made him go away by being mean and snarking at him. Then she got me a milkshake and got us here in a cab. She said her sister used to be her town's protector? Why?"
"I don't know," she admitted. "I'll ask your uncle. He probably does since he had to handle their case when someone tried to kidnap her." She walked him into the kitchen. "I made food. Did you ruin your dinner?"
"No, of course not. I only had a large popcorn and a soda at the movies and then a milkshake, mom." He followed, finishing his milkshake so he could have dinner.
Dawn got off at the wrong stop, looking at the crime lab. She went inside and up to the receptionist. "Is Lieutenant Caine here?" She nodded and paged him. She gave him a weak smile. "Before you hear otherwise, some skanky dark haired guy with tremendously bad breath came up to Ray Junior and I at the movies. I drove him off by being super protective bitch, in honor of Buffy's former act of that, and got him a milkshake before taking him home. I also let slip that my sister used to be super protective bitch of Sunnydale but nothing further, though he did give me funny looks for laughing at the creatures in the movies because *way* not the right way to kill that. Anyway, I thought you should know that someone came up to him. I didn't want to worry his mom. I know mine worried a lot when something came up to me in the mall," she babbled and smiled. "So he's fine and at home. And now I'm going to go home and have dinner with the super big brother protective person. Have a better night, Lieutenant."
"Dawn," he said, stopping her from leaving. "Can you describe this man? Dark haired? How tall?"
"Ummm.... Bit bigger than you. Not as well muscled though. Ray turned into a sheet at him being there. I threatened to start yelling that he was a rapist if he and his bad breath didn't leave."
"I see. Do you remember was he darker pale or lighter pale?"
"Lighter, like Ray turned."
"What was he wearing?"
"Blue jeans and a dark shirt."
"Okay. Where were you two when you ran into him? So I can get footage from Mall Security?"
"Right outside the side theater entrance. We'd just come out of the new gore flick."
"Thank you, Dawn. I did need to know that and his mother would worry. If you see him again, do not go near him. He is a very bad person."
"Don't talk down to me, Lieutenant. I mean, please! My sister killed things that were trying to eat people." She rolled her eyes. "Not like I didn't realize and see some of it, especially when they took me." He smiled at that. "So, he a pedophile, a murderer, or just a regular scumbag?"
"Regular scumbag," Ryan said as he came up to them. "Need a ride?"
"That depends, gonna wake me up again?" she teased with a bright grin. "Not that I minded but if you ever hurt Xander not even they will be able to find little bits and pieces of you after I've ripped you to shreds and fed you to something that'll enjoy hearing you scream. Comprende?"
"Understood," he agreed, still smiling.
"Good, then I'd love a ride. Saves on bus fare." He smiled and she looked at the Lieutenant. "Should I worry about him coming after me and can I kick his ass if he does?"
"If he does, you alert someone and you let us handle it, Dawn. He's very skilled."
"All right. If you say so. But if he touches me I'm turning Uber-Wicca and doing a Willow homage on his ass." She shrugged and grinned. "It's a neat thing watching them go 'foom' and light on fire." He smiled at that and nodded. "Not kidding. Did it to a vampire last month when one tried for me at school in the basement. Really not polite of him. Anyway, time to head home. Ryan, are you coming for dinner?"
"I can. If you both want."
"I don't care." She took his arm and walked him out. "Thanks, Lieutenant, have a good night."
"You as well, Dawn." He smiled. Then shook his head. That was one hyper young woman but it was a good thing to know. He went to call Ray to talk to him while someone got the surveillance footage from the mall. "Ray...." He smiled when his mother took the phone. "Dawn came here and told me. Is he all right?" He blinked at the question. "Yelina, you've been to a few of the darker parts of town, correct?" He nodded at her assertion she knew what he was talking about. "Dawn's big sister was the Slayer, Yelina. She's partially trained and can easily handle it if they get into mild trouble." He smiled. "No, she's safe. Her sister died in an accident right after her mother did. That's why Xander's not hunting and protecting her. She's lost most of her family except for Xander and a few friends of his in LA. No, I think they're a good pair for each other. They'll help each other heal from their shared grief, Yelina. Besides, no one is as protective as Xander is of Dawn. No, I think they'll be fine together." Frank came to the door and he waved him in. "No, I think it'll be fine. Tell him it had a high mugging rate and she was neighborhood patrol. That's fine. I'm getting footage now, Yelina. Thank you." He hung up. "The bastard came back, Frank."
"I got the footage you sent an officer for. It's definitely him." He came in and looked at him. "Who was the girl?"
"Remember the construction worker who saved the one man's life after he had been pierced by the glass?"
"Yeah, Xander. Guy with the really horrible sunburn. Why?"
"That was his little sister Dawn."
"Ah. So she's got a clue and she's protective as her big brother? That's fine I guess. As long as Yelina doesn't think they're going to date. She'd freak if he dated a girl that babbling and cute."
Horatio smiled. "She lost her family, Frank. They're healing with each other and neither think they're ready to date yet."
"That's fine then. Anything else we can do tonight?"
"Only if we can find him."
"Mall security had him getting into a green Horizon. We're tracking it now. It may be stolen."
"Good. Keep me informed. I'm doing paperwork."
"Sure. Did I hear the kid busted a drug dealer?"
"His landlord, Frank. He was sniffing it in front of him." He looked up at him. "So now he's got to go through the drug seizure office."
"Well, let's hope Chad's being nice then. He seemed like a very nice kid."
"He did and he is. We might also be seeing more of him now and then since he and Ryan Wolfe have struck up a friendship."
Frank looked at him then smirked. "Please, Horatio. The boy came in looking like he got laid by his soulmate last night."
"I stay out of those sorts of things unless it becomes pertinent to a case. Which this one may but I hope not."
"The dead construction guy?"
"Is Xander's former boss who was blackmailing him. He told Calleigh he could give Ryan an alibi."
"Which means he's got a good one. As long as he can't teleport and Wolfe doesn't sleep like the dead."
"He doesn't," Calleigh said from the doorway. "I used the pen he was playing with to get epithelials and a fingerprint for him. No match to the foreign DNA we found on the dead construction worker." Horatio smiled at that. "There's a rumor that Dawn was here babbling about your nephew being in trouble?"
"Someone came up to them in the mall," Frank told her. "She came to let Horatio know since she thought his momma might get a bit upset."
"No, not Yelina," she said with a bright smile. "He still living?"
"So far," Horatio agreed. "I'm waiting to see if we can find him so we can have a chat."
"Excellent. Let me know if I can help."
"Any matches on the DNA we did find?" Frank asked.
"Shoot. Sometimes it works."
"And sometimes it doesn't," she agreed. "Then again it could be relatives of his last boyfriend from what I heard. We're still poking around in his past, Horatio. But I'm at a stopping point for the night. There's nothing more I can do until tomorrow."
"That's fine," he agreed. "Have fun." She smiled and winked before leaving. He smirked at Frank. "It's good she's happy."
"Her being happy is always better than us being scared and hiding for our lives," he agreed, smirking back. "So this kid? He gonna be a problem?"
"He shouldn't be, Frank. Not unless something or someone comes for him or his little sister."
"Sure, I get that." He walked off, heading home as well since he was done for the day.
Horatio got back to his paperwork. It was the bane of his existence but what else did he have to go home to tonight.
Xander looked up and stared when Dawn drug Ryan in. "Why did you go to his work?" he asked finally.
"Someone with really bad breath came up to Ray Junior and I at the mall so I let his uncle know. Ryan offered to spare my allowance the bus fare."
"Oh, okay. Ryan, want dinner? It's not much but it's food."
"Sure." He grinned. "She invited me right after threatening me."
"Dawn!" Xander complained.
She swatted him on the arm. "Shut up, Xander. Like I told him and his boss, if he hurts you not even the greatest of great people in his job will ever find his molecules once I'm done with him."
"You told his *boss*?" Xander asked. He looked really scared.
"Yup, and he laughed," Dawn agreed dryly. She shoved him into Ryan's arms. "Kiss him stupid so his brain works?"
"That's mean," Ryan said firmly.
"Yay. He thinks better once he's gone through the stupid setting." She went to get them dinner, putting out plates and making sure Xander had more. "I'm waiting."
Ryan kissed Xander. "He said it was fine with him as long as I didn't hurt you," he said quietly. "Horatio doesn't care. He got to pick on Eric this morning for his thing with the hummer." Xander blushed at that. "It'll be fine, Xander. None of my coworkers care but Alexx and she wants to meet you if we stay serious." Xander looked stunned. "She's adopted me. She wants to mother you two too."
"She can mother Dawn all she wants but I had one of those. A sucky one but one."
"He's never been mothered a day in his life," Dawn complained. "My mother tried too and couldn't get much farther than that, Ryan. Break it to him slowly. Like how a proper lover should be. Because I know you're not the money sucker that Anya was. Then again, I did learn a lot about sex ed from her."
"Dawn!" Xander shouted, looking horrified. Ryan giggled.
"Oh, you have no idea. All she talked about was money and sex. I learned a lot about investments and that tongue thing he apparently can do." She shrugged. "When I find me a real man I'll let you teach it to him, Xander. Now, eat." She put down milk after sniffing it too. "Now."
Ryan kissed Xander again, making him look at him. "It'll be okay. She's looking out for you, Xander," he said quietly. "She only wants the best for you." Xander relaxed at that. "Besides, this way I know where the others went wrong." He grinned and winked. "Now, let's eat."
"Please. You two will need energy to wake me up again tonight." Xander walked out blushing bright red and went to hide in the bathroom. She made shooing motions so Ryan went to get Xander and make him calm down again. She smiled at her good work. Ryan would definitely protect Xander if something happened to her. Or from her if she turned into the grump her sister could be. "Food's getting cold," she called ten minutes later. "Unless you two are having a romantic bath and if you are, let me in there for ten minutes so I can go to the bathroom so you can hog it the rest of the night."
They came out and got down to eating, discussing work things. It was the only safe topic around her.
Because a mischievous Dawn was a horrible thing on her family.
Xander came out of his bedroom the morning of the trial date.
"Put on real clothes. You've got court today," she reminded him, handing him some coffee. He took it into the bedroom and came out in dress pants and a nice shirt. "Did we get the house stuff settled?"
"Yup. Twenty minutes after he's convicted I can put an offer down on the house. He said it should go pretty cheaply since it's not well rented." He sipped his coffee, looking her over. "You're not skipping today."
"They gave me one of those neat papers too," she said dryly.
"Oh." He nodded and finished up then they headed out together, going to the courthouse. They showed their paperwork and were told which way to go, then headed up the stairs. It was still pretty early. The prosecutor who had talked to both of them shook their hands. "How long should this last? She should be in school."
"Hopefully not more than today," he admitted. "Did you work things out about your house?"
"Twenty minutes after someone says 'guilty' I can go put an offer down on it to keep it."
"Good. I hope you can, sir." He pointed at a bench. "Sit there until you're called." Xander nodded, sitting down with her. "It shouldn't be more than a few hours."
"Maybe I should've brought a book," Dawn quipped.
"Maybe I should've brought a book," he agreed, grinning at her. "So, wasn't there a test today?"
"Yesterday. I had to take it early thanks to this." The lawyer slipped inside and she turned to face him. "It did not make for a happy Dawn when I had to take the math test a day early. I mean, why not a day late?"
"Unfair advantage to the other kids."
"Oh. Well, it still sucks." He nodded, giving her a hug. "I'll be fine. It can't be any worse than the social workers out in Cali."
"I hope not. They were annoying wenches."
"Well, yeah," she admitted dryly. "By the way, they did get my case transferred down here finally and I did get a visit after school. I pointed out I was fourteen and could stay home for a mere three hours and do homework, plus probably fix some of the dinner that night. I told her where you worked and all that, but that you weren't going to be there today thanks to you turning in this putz for using drugs in front of you. She did not look amused."
"They often aren't," he sighed. "They see so many bad parents that they can't even smile at the good ones." He gave her a squeeze. "It'll be fine. The boss knows where I am and why I have you. He's got all the attendant paperwork as well." She nodded, resting against his shoulder.
"No PDA, sir," the guard said firmly.
"She's my little sister, dude, shove it," Xander said, glaring at him. "It's early, she should be in school, and now we've got to deal with this case because we did the right thing. It's not PDA. It's called a cuddle and it's what good parents do." He huffed off. "Yay," he said quietly. "Apparently today's a pissing off day."
"Hmm. It's the shirt, Xander. The last time you wore it you pissed off people too." She sat up and looked at him. "I saw the payment to my trust."
"I said I was going to pay it back. The FEMA check finally came in."
"If we need it, we can borrow against it again," she promised, taking his hand to hold. She went back to resting against his shoulder. At least until alarms started to go off and the guards and any officers in the building ran for the doorway. "Looks like someone tried to sneak in a gun and got belligerent."
"Yup," he sighed, watching the stairs. Someone came up with a machine gun and he let Dawn go, lunging for him to smack him into the wall of the staircase. "Stupid," he complained. He shoved him back down it and ducked a few gunshots. "Ha." He picked up a nearby book someone had left laying around and threw it at one of them, pegging him in the chest. It made him quit firing at the guards and they got him. He checked, no more coming up so he went back to his seat. "I knew I should've brought a book."
"Next time you can have my math book," she quipped back. She smiled at him. "Still got it, Xanny."
"Thanks, Dawnie. No one brings a gun near you and doesn't get it back." She nodded. The attorney came out to peek around. "They're all downstairs and it's probably handled by now." Someone came running up the stairs with a gun in his hand. "Shoe?" She handed one of her heels over. He weighed it for a moment then pegged the guy as he ran past in the back of the head, making him stumble. He got up to get her shoe, tossing it back. Then he stomped him on the back. "Quit pissing me off and do not bring weapons near my little sister," he ordered coldly. "Are we clear?" The man whimpered and nodded. "Good." He got off him and went back to his seat. "Time yet?"
"Yes, it is," the prosecutor admitted. "Mr. Harris?" He came in. "We'd normally have the bailiff but he's busy."
"That's fine. Dawn can handle herself," he admitted. He walked up to the box he pointed at, turning to look around. "Do I have to take the oath to anyone else?"
"You can take it to me, young man," the judge offered, holding out a bible. "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?"
"I do, so help me Goddess," he agreed, staring at him. "Not Christian, sorry."
"That's all right. It's still holy. Sit. State your name for the records?"
Xander sat. "My name is Alexander Lavelle Harris."
"Mr. Harris, please state your relationship with the defendant?" the attorney asked.
"I'm his tenant. I just started renting off him this month." Dawn was pushed in by a guard. "Um, is she allowed in here?"
"She just bit someone, it's safer, sir," the bailiff offered. "She said you're her guardian?"
"I am. Dawn, sit. Did another one come up?"
"Yup, and tried to use me as a hostage," she said bitterly. "The old foot stomp didn't work because he had on steel toed shoes. So I bit the arm he unwisely had in front of my face."
"That's my girl." He grinned. "We'll have ice cream for lunch. Sit and behave."
"Sure." She sat down and looked at the attorney, who shrugged and went on with it. She smiled at the bailiff who walked off shaking his head.
Horatio walked up to where the pair were eating ice cream. "I heard he took a deal after your testimony?" he asked as he sat down.
"He did and I already filed the paperwork to buy the house," Xander agreed. "He's already submitted it. Thank you for your help, Lieutenant."
"It's not a problem, Xander. It was wrong of them to take it from you because your landlord was selling and using drugs." He looked at him then at Dawn, then back at him. "You did hear she bit one of the people today at the courthouse?"
"Yeah, I was on the stand so I had to leave her alone."
"He had on steel toed shoes, not like a foot stomp worked," Dawn offered, pushing some of her hair back and eating another bite. "It worked and I didn't draw blood, Lieutenant. Can I be charged for that?"
"No, that does fall under self defense," he admitted.
"Oh, good, I don't want either of us in trouble for Xander defending me or me getting nibbly." She ate another bite.
"Him defending you?" Horatio asked, looking at Xander.
"Dawn, mouth issues?" Xander prompted. "Just like last night, dear."
"Sorry, Xander. I didn't mean to embarrass you and Ryan."
"Fine." He looked at him. "Yes, I did peg one in the head with one of her shoes when he ran past with a gun. I got another one when he came up the stairs with a gun and slammed him into the wall then gave him a shove down. The other one I hit with a book someone had left out."
Horatio stared at him. "I wondered who had thrown the book. Nice toss."
"Did you ever think about joining the department?"
"It's dangerous," he said simply. "Plus they'd hate my past history with combat and protection. It does come out now and then."
Dawn nodded. "Xanny still has it when he knocked the guy on the stairs." She stuffed her mouth again at his look. "Hey, praise is good."
"It is," Horatio agreed, smiling at her. "Are you and Ray Junior going out again this weekend?"
"It's supposed to be the whole group but last time one got grounded for dissing her mom's cartoons and the other one had therapy and couldn't come but yeah, if he wants to. He's got my cell. I hope I didn't freak him out by being all protecto-girl and stuff. Did I?" she asked. She shook his head and she smiled and relaxed. "Good. Haven't heard from him since then."
"He's been grounded," Horatio admitted. "He tried to shoplift."
"Been there, done that," Dawn sighed. She put down her spoon. "It's not that great, it's to get attention. I would've done anything to have Buffy and mom notice me but they were both wrapped up in her job and the only one who saw me was Xander. He verbally bitchslapped me until I realized I wasn't alone and they ignored him more than me. That's when our partnership started up. You gotta admit, the Xander and Dawn show is pretty cute," she offered with a grin.
"It is. I believe his are more bad friends."
She snorted. "I met the bad friends. I'm going to have one eaten, Lieutenant. I'll gladly hang out with Ray Junior more often if he wants. I can honestly say been there done that about most of that stuff and show him bigger and badder thugs."
"Spike is not coming to Miami," Xander said firmly. "Do not call and ask for him to again."
"Yes, Xander," she sighed. "I miss Spike."
"I don't care if you do miss the bleached wonder. We don't need Spike down here."
"Please? Just for a visit?"
"No," he said impatiently. "I don't want to have to stake him the first time he decides to nibble." He ate another bite at the amused look. "He's barely around," he said dryly.
"He was a London street thug in the times of Oliver Twist," Dawn said happily. "He was my second favorite babysitter and he helped Xander teach me self-defense stuff."
"I would prefer we not have any more dangerous people in Miami," Horatio said calmly.
"He's still chipped. He can't eat people," Xander told him. "He's just annoying as hell." He stuffed his mouth again at Dawn's pleading look. "No, I don't want to see Spike. You can keep emailing him."
"He's in Orlando, how hard is it to call?" she countered.
"You don't have long distance on your phone plan," he noted dryly. "And no more dipping into your trust for extra minutes."
"Then I need to up my plan," she complained.
"No, you need to quit babbling like Willow," he complained. "Or use the phone at home." She nodded, accepting that. "I had better not see any long distances calls to Orlando either." He paused. "Why is Spike in Orlando?"
"He's terrorizing Mickey Mouse and enjoying the new MGM stuff."
"Oh." He nodded. "Figures."
Horatio shook his head and couldn't help but smile. "I'll need to get statements from both of you about what happened today, kids."
"They came up the stairs with guns around Dawn. Not like I was gonna allow that," Xander complained.
"Which is a very good sentiment. What would happen if he had shot you?"
"It'd be the third time," Xander said dryly, then he shrugged. "He had his gun at waist height, Lieutenant. Without a miracle he wasn't going to do more than wound me. He was looking behind him anyway. That's how I managed to smack his head into the wall and send him rolling back down the stairs." He finished his ice cream. "Eat your lunch, Dawn." She smiled and dug in. "Sorry, we deserved a treat."
"You do." He looked at Xander. "It was still dangerous," he said quietly.
"So was the risk he'd take Dawn hostage like the later guy did."
"You forget, I'm trained in street combat, Lieutenant Caine. My training is against things that're stronger and faster than I am. Now I only use it for self defense and in defense on Dawnie."
"I understand. You could be an asset to the department, Xander."
"They'd never accept my past," he reminded him then he shrugged. "Plus a lot more chance of leaving her before she's eighteen. I don't want her in the system."
"I agree. Do we have a will?"
"If I die, she goes to Cordelia out in LA. Or out to Angel and his crew." Dawn nodded at that. "I've got paperwork leaving her to them."
"If you and Ryan get seriously serious can we amend that? He's a nice guy," Dawn offered.
Xander blushed. "It'd have to mean we'd be together long term, Dawn. On our first anniversary I'll ask him if he wants me to amend it." She nodded, finishing her ice cream. "Do you want us to write out statements here?"
"We usually tape them for later transcription," Horatio offered. "Do you two need a ride back to the lab?"
"No, we're okay to drive," Dawn said, smiling at him. "I promise not to make him dawdle."
"Thank you, Dawn. I'll see you both there." He got up and headed out to go back to the office and make sure Ryan could handle taking their statements. Ryan needed to know what Xander was capable of doing. It would be something that could tear them apart later.
Xander looked at Dawn. "I don't dawdle."
"Now and then you do. We should go. That way you can blush and stammer at Ryan again." He blushed but got up and left with her. She came back to get her jacket but followed.
Xander smiled at his boss the next morning. "I'm back, he took a deal. Our offer on the house was put in and we'll know within weeks."
"Why were you at the crime lab yesterday? One of the guys saw you."
"We were in the courthouse when they tried to do a cheap assault."
"Oh. So you had to give statements?"
"Yeah, Dawn bit the guy who tried to take her hostage. Which one told you I was there?"
Xander shook his head. "He gossips worse than my ex Anya." He put on his toolbelt. "How did my team do yesterday?"
"Pretty good. We're doing cabinets and the last room of painting." He smirked. "You've done good with them."
"Thanks, boss." He grinned and headed inside. "I'm back!" he called. He stopped to look at a wall. "Who painted this?" Someone came out looking sheepish. "Clean it up." She nodded, going to do that. He went to check the kitchen, adjusting one of the cabinets that wasn't fully hitched in yet. "We do not leave cabinets hanging, guys. It can strip the screws and then they fall at a later date and give Habitat for Humanity a bad name." That got a nod and they went back to looking at what needed to be done today. He checked the rest of the house and came out to amend the list. They were a few days ahead of schedule. It was definitely making him happy.
Dawn met up with Ray Junior after school. "Hi. You don't think I'm really psycho, right?"
"No, not in the least," he admitted, grinning at her. "Heading home?"
"Yup. We're waiting on phone calls about our purchase of the house." They nodded and he followed her home, finding officers at the door. "Excuse me?" she called. One of them turned to look at her. "I live here is there a problem?"
"Ma'am, there was an eviction order?"
"Which was put on hold. We put an offer in on the house with a guy named Chad at the drug seizure office." One of them nodded and went to make the call. "Xander's at the site and I can call him if I need to." The officer came back. "Do we still have to move?"
"No, Miss. It was put on hold," he told his partner. "The offer was being held for forty- eight hours while they see if anyone else wanted to offer for it." That got a nod. He looked at Dawn. "He did say to tell you there had been one other one." She nodded at that. "So your parents might want to call."
"Guardian. He's my big brother." That got a nod. "Anything else?" They shook their heads. "I'll tell him. Thank you, officers." They headed off and she got them inside, going to call Xander immediately. "I came home to two guys in uniforms, Xander. No, they didn't get the memo about the eviction being on hold. So they called and found out there's another offer. You need to call that Chad guy. No, I'm here with Ray Junior. Of course I'll call his mom," she said, rolling her eyes. "Homework, Xander. What else? Oh, please! I'm not ready for the sex yet and you *know* I'm not like that. Thanks." She hung up. "Don't forget to call your mom. He doesn't want her to yell at me."
Ray Junior smiled and called her desk. "Mom, it's me. I'm with Dawn working on the social studies stuff. I'm fine and I'll be home for supper. Or if you get off early come pick me up here. Uncle H probably has the address."
"If not, Ryan does. He and some guy named Eric stayed with us that last day."
"If not, she said Ryan or Eric have the address since they guarded them here. Laters." He hung up. "Gotta love voicemail."
Dawn nodded. "True. I'm a year ahead of you in social studies. Do you need help?" He nodded. "Sure. I did okay." She sat down at the table with him, working on his homework for a while.
Xander looked up from his explanations at the sound of an impolite cough. "Give me a few." He went back to explaining how to put in a garbage disposal and the guy nodded, heading inside to attempt it. "Yes?" he asked. "Are you with Habitat?"
"No, I'm with the Department of Children's Services," she admitted. "I'm Mrs. Priont."
"Hi. Xander Harris. Are you the one who got Dawn's case from Cali?" She nodded. "Then let's sit down. Guys, I'm taking ten, behave," he called. He sat down across from her. "What can I do for you, ma'am?"
"First, I wanted to go over things with you. You do have to report to us monthly, Mr. Harris, about your income."
"I'm not accepting any help for her. She doesn't need it."
"She is on a state medical card."
"No she's not. She was for two weeks when her sister had custody of her, but she hasn't been since then."
"I have the paperwork saying they never took her off."
"Interesting. I haven't gotten one and we left fairly quickly after her sister died."
"That's fine, I'll straighten that out for you, Mr. Harris."
"All right then." She relaxed some. "Now, even without that we do have to talk about finances."
"I make a good salary here. When we first moved, before my first paycheck, and when we had an emergency move due to someone trying to break in and take her, we did dip into a few thousand of her trust but I've been paying that back."
"I see. Why did you move?"
"Sunnydale was getting more and more dangerous by the day," he admitted quietly, shifting some. He clasped his hands on the table then looked at her. "Sunnydale had a very high death rate. Her sister and I were both involved in the protection of the citizens now and then."
"A neighborhood patrol?"
Xander nodded. "Yes. Something like that only less organized now and then. Mostly for the kids around our own age. Mostly to keep the predators off them in the club in town and things." She nodded at that. "Her mother died and then her sister died two weeks later. Between the memories and grief starting to choke the both of us and the danger in the town, I decided to move her. She agreed that it was a wise decision and she picked Miami. We invited the rest of our group to come with us. They didn't and they died about two months after we got here." She made notes on that. "We went back for their funerals and Dawn was nearly attacked that day." She dropped her pen to stare at him. "It was handled," he said quietly. "I made sure she was safe. As did a few friends who were in LA at the time." She nodded more slowly at that. "The state of California gave me custody because I had a real job. I was in a steady relationship at that time but she left shortly after Dawn's sister died. Down here, Dawn's in a good school. She's talked me into paying the fees out of her trust since I did say it was for education. She's paid a small allowance out of it." The boss pulled up. "Sorry, boss, social worker visited. I'll be back in there in a few and use this as my later break."
"Sure," he agreed, nodding at her. "I talked to her yesterday, Harris. I need to do an inspection."
"Stephni's doing a garbage disposal. Can you check on her?"
"Thanks. Look at the living room painting too? She corrected it and it's still soaking in."
"I can do that too." He went inside to watch over the kids. He knew Xander wouldn't claim this time as work time, he was honest like that.
Xander looked at her again, giving her a small smile. "I can't spend too long."
"I understand. Has she made friends?"
"She has. Including one nephew of a police officer."
"Good. I like that. They're usually very upstanding young children." She stared at him. "You leave her alone in the afternoons?"
"She's fourteen. She's not a baby to burn the house down. She can actually cook. I trust her not to do anything stupid. She's got her cell and half the time she spends it doing homework and surfing the internet at school. She calls me when she gets home and if there's a problem. Or if she has to run out and get groceries for dinner. She likes to mother me for some reason." She smiled at that, making another note. "I protest but she's a horrible nag."
"I saw." She looked at him again. "You're doing all right with her?"
"Right now the budget's fairly tight. We're waiting to hear if we can buy the house we're in since our landlord was just convicted of selling and using drugs in front of us. I turned him in."
"I heard she was at the courthouse during that assault."
"She did what I told her to. She stomped his foot and when that didn't work she bit him and got free, going to hide and let the professionals take care of it," he said simply.
"You have her in self-defense classes?"
"One of her sister's exes was military. He's the reason we moved. I've taught her and another of her sister's exes has helped since he used to be a thug at her age."
"All right. For now I'm going to leave things as they are but I do want to talk to you more again."
"I'm only here until noon on most Saturdays. This job'll be done in a few weeks and I'll have a few days off then. Call my boss and he'll tell you when so you can schedule."
"That would be acceptable, Mr. Harris. Go back to work. He can't punish you for me being here."
"No but it's not fair to my crew," he admitted, shaking her hand before going inside. "Sorry, guys. Dawn's social worker just got picked."
"Why does she have one? Is she in trouble?" one of the mothers on the crew asked.
"No, I'm not her natural family. They died," he said quietly. "So I was like her big brother before and now I have custody."
"Awww." She hugged him. "It'll be fine. You're a nice guy. Can you help me cover this spot?"
"Sure." He picked up a brush to teach her the right way to paint again. The boss clapped him on the back. "I told her to call you to see when my next free day was so she could schedule me during off time, boss."
"Thanks, Harris. That's what I wanted you to do." He looked at him paint. "Not your best skill?"
"This wallboard sucks it in like there's nothing on top of it. I'm hoping this is the humidity since it's the third coat of wallboard sealer?"
"It is. After this, paint the color you're supposed to."
"Yes, sir." He got back to work rolling the walls with her help.
The boss watched, nodding as they went along. "This one won't be sucked in," he agreed. "It'll be fine. Good job so far."
"Boss, I promise, I won't be turning anyone else in that'll mean I'll have to take off for court dates," he said dryly, giving him a look. That got a smirk. "Or have the social worker come back again."
"Good. You're a good worker, Xander. These things happen to the other guys, just not in the same month."
"I hope I don't have another roller coaster month like this one," he complained. His phone rang and he checked it then looked at his boss. "Guy from the drug seizure office." He answered it. "This is Harris. Speak." He listened then he nodded. "I can do that just above it. It'll mean dipping into some savings but I can do that." He smiled. "That works then. Thank you." He hung up. "I have the house," he said proudly. "I'll need to get my next paycheck cashed before I can put down the money, boss. Payday's Friday, right?"
"Right. I can get it to you tomorrow if you need it."
"No, Friday's fine. I'm signing things Monday. That gives her forty-eight to figure out if she wants to counter-offer again. Which means we've got to dip into Dawn's savings." He grimaced and went back to work. "So things will definitely settle down soon."
"Good. I like that." He looked at the other rooms. "Xander, the closet?"
"Two of the bolts were stripped. I called the store, they're supposed to be delivering them here and we haven't gotten 'em yet. That's why I called you, boss."
"I'll check with the Habitat office," he said, patting him on the back again. "Good job and good decision."
"I would've told you in your voicemail but it cut me off."
"It was full. We had a guy on one of the downtown sites back an endloader into a pickup." Xander hissed and shook his head. "So it was full. I don't mind. I needed to come inspect anyway and I'll make sure you get those bolts either tonight or early tomorrow." Xander's phone rang and he sighed, making the boss grin. "Dawn?"
"Yup." He answered it. "What?" He paused and handed his boss the brush. "Be right there. Is he down? Put him in the closet. Is that Ray Junior? Good, call his mom or his uncle and tell them. I'll be right there." He hung up and looked at him. "Some creepy bastard that came up to Dawn in the mall just tried to break in. She got him with a frying pan. I need to go, I'll be back to make up the hours tonight or tomorrow, boss." He hurried out, heading home. He wanted to know why this guy was after his little sister.
"He is one fierce pappa," the woman who had been painting with him said. "I wish my man was that protective of me and my kids."
The boss got to work on the painting. "He does good work too." He checked his watch. It was only an hour before quitting time. "She is one spoiled and pampered princess now and then."
"Every girl her age is," she agreed. Another woman came out. "Dawn called, someone tried to break into their house. Some creepy guy who came up to her in the mall. She got him with a frying pan."
"Good! That boy is good for her!" she agreed. "Praise the Lord for her finding someone so good to finish raising her since her momma died!" The boss grinned at that. "Sir, can you come help me move this fridge back into place? I got the water line hooked up and now it won't move."
"Sure." He put down the paint roller and came to help.
Xander stormed inside the house and around the officers, making Dawn look at him. "You okay?"
"I didn't kill him."
"Good. Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," she sighed, hugging him. "I promise I'm fine. Ray Junior was very impressed with my frying pan skills since I was making grilled cheese at the time." Ray laughed at that and nodded. "See? Now go find out who creepy guy is so you can kick his ass with Ray's uncle."
"Sure." He looked at the guy, tipping his face up. "Do I know you?" He slowly shook his head, looking dazed. "Have anything to do with the Initiative or Sunnydale?" He shook his head again, looking confused. "Have anything to do with Buffy?" He shuddered but shook his head. "You knew Buffy?"
"Hmm. Good." He let his chin go, looking at Dawn. "Doesn't look like it's ours." The guy lunged away from the officer and tried to knock Xander over but he kicked him back and down, then stomped on his chest, making him whimper in pain. "That was terminally stupid," he sneered, staring down at him. "You're damn lucky there's almost no weapons in the house." The man coughed. "Good! I hope I punctured your lung! You came in and threatened my little sister!" he shouted.
"Want him," he gasped. "Please! Hurts!"
Xander leaned down, putting more pressure on the foot standing on him. "Good. I'm glad it hurts. I don't care if you were coming after Ray and she got in the way. You're damn lucky I don't have a weapon." The man nodded. "Now, I suggest you confess," he sneered. "Then they might take you to the ER or let the block doc take you." He got off him and kicked him in the side. "That's for trying to attack me, stupid." He spat on him and moved to look at Dawn's wrist since she was rubbing it. "Bad swing angle?"
"Heavy damn pan," she complained, letting him look at it. "I swung funny," she assured him. "I'm fine."
"I froze," Ray admitted.
"She's used to danger, our former town was more dangerous," Xander told him. "We're still both retired." He grinned at him. "You okay?"
"Did you remember to tell your mom or uncle?"
"Oops?" he offered with a grin.
"Call someone there who's not one of them."
"Call Ryan. He can come for dinner," Dawn said with a shrug. "He was really nice and protective when he was watching us after someone tried to take me." Ray gaped at her. "My sister's ex is military and unhinged. Kept talking about vampires." Ray just moaned and pulled out his phone, calling the number he had for Eric, heading into the kitchen to get a soda. "Get me one too please, Ray." She looked at Xander. "I only knocked him down and drug him by his nose."
"That's fine. We may have the house."
"Whoo-hoo!" she cheered, getting up to hug him. "You are my favorite fussy person, big brother. I'll even make Spike leave you alone when he comes down for a visit."
"Sure." He sat down with her, letting Ray have her other side. He took the soda Ray handed him. "Thanks, Ray."
"Welcome, Xander." He looked at Dawn then at him. "Why was your town so dangerous? I looked it up online and there's some weird stuff about it."
"Some of it's true, but you'd have to ask your uncle why," he admitted. That got a nod. "Sorry, I don't want to rob anyone of any innocence they have left."
Dawn looked at him then at Xander. "I want to introduce him to Spike. He thinks he knows thugs." Ray moaned.
"As long as you make sure Spike's still safe first," he said firmly.
"Of course," she said, patting him on the knee. "It'll be fun." She smiled at Ray. "It'll be okay. Spike was one of my favorite babysitters and he helped me learn self defense."
"That's pretty cool."
"He's a former British thug."
"Very cool then. Sure, I can meet with your old friend and babysitter."
"Cool." Dawn smiled as Eric stomped in. "I hit him with the frying pan and drug him into the closet by his nose."
"He was coming in the kitchen window and we were here alone. He came up to us in the mall and was creepy so I drove him off then too."
"Uh-huh. Ray, does your uncle know?" Ray nodded. "Xander?"
"She told me and I went back over her self-defense that night." Ryan stomped in. "Hi. You got called too?"
"I did." He looked at the guy then at Xander. "That's more than a frying pan."
"He rushed Xander and Xander kicked his butt," Ray admitted with a grin. "Kicked him back when he lunged, stomped on his chest for trying to go after Dawn. Kicked him on the side for trying him."
"Interesting." He looked at Xander. He started to say something and just smiled instead. "So I take it you're good in self-defense?"
"With my past?"
"Point. Is this your past, her past, or something else?"
"Ask Uncle Horatio. He knows about the guy and the guy didn't know anything about her former town when Xander asked him," Ray told him.
"Sure." He called Horatio. "Boss, Ryan. Dawn and your nephew Ray just defeated an intruder. No, Dawn smacked him with a hot frying pan by the burns on his forehead and Xander had to kick him a few times when he tried to get free. I don't know why the officers didn't stop him, boss. No, we're here." He hung up. "He's on his way." He looked at the officers. "You guys let him handle it?"
"He lunged at him and the guy kicked him before we could react, sir," one said firmly. "Then we stared in awe."
Xander grinned. "Thanks, guys, but I'm nowhere near Bruce Lee." Dawn pinched him, making him yelp. "Ow! Heathen wench! Watch me not order pizza tonight to celebrate maybe having the house." Ryan and Eric both smiled at that. "I bid above the top limit the other lady set," he admitted with a grin. "She's got forty-eight to decide and I go to sign papers on Monday."
"That's super," Ryan said with a smile. "It's going to be a while before we clear out so you can order." Horatio and Yelina walked in together with Frank behind them.
"Sorry, mom, I froze. Dawn hit him with the pan she was making us grilled cheese in." He gave his uncle a sheepish look. "She's amazing."
"So I've seen. Congratulations, Xander. The other woman was his wife and excluded." Xander got up and snoopy danced, making him smile at the younger man. "Celebrate later. What happened to him?"
"I hit him with the frying pan and drug him into the closet by the nose. The officers got here and handcuffed him. When Xander got here Ray asked if it was about me or him. Xander asked him if he knew what a Sunnydale was. He said no. The guy tried to lunge at Xander so Xander kicked him back then stomped on his chest to do a bit of mild ranting and sneering, then he got him in the side for trying him. The chest stomp was for trying to hurt me."
Yelina blinked at that then at Xander, who shrugged and sat down again, grinning sweetly. "How well trained are you, Xander?"
"Well enough to defend myself and others if I had to."
"I see. Can you help Horatio teach my son?"
"Of course. If he wants me to."
Horatio smiled. "We can work on Dawn's together, Xander. Mr. Wolfe can help us." Dawn beamed at that. He smirked at her. "You're all right?"
"My wrist is a bit sore. It was an odd angle and the pan's super major heavy cast iron. It's a pain to clean too. All scrubbing and nastiness. Super bitchy pan to use but it was clean and on top of the stove."
"I was going to make that pan bread you wanted tonight. That was to remind myself," Xander admitted.
"We can have it tomorrow night when we get a new pan," she said, patting him on the knee again. She looked at Ray Junior, then at his mom. "Can we go to my room so we're out of the way? We'll leave the door open even though I'm nowhere near ready for the sex yet or dating stuff."
"Go ahead, children," she agreed. Dawn smiled and got up, pulling Ray with her to listen to music. "She's very strong."
"She had to watch her sister and I go out to protect others every night for most of her life," Xander said quietly. "Of course she is, Detective." He gave her a look. "She's also just as protective as I am. She'll protect Ray if they're together up to the point when someone steps in to help her." That got a nod. "She's also very good at running."
"Plus she had the same sort of problems Ray did before her sister died," Horatio shared quietly.
"Yup, and she just said Spike's going to be here soon. She's planning on showing Ray that his little thug buddies ain't nothin' using him. Fortunately he's mostly harmless now," he assured her. "He was one of Dawn's favorite babysitters because he let her get away with *everything*."
"We'll see. I'd like to meet this man first."
"Sure, if I can. He's not real fond of daytime." Yelina stared at him in horror. "The Initiative got him first," he said quietly, staring her down. "He's harmless. He babysat Dawn and got tortured by us for years. He's been off tormenting Mickey Mouse and riding the night coasters at MGM in Orlando."
"I'd still rather be there."
"So will I," he promised with a grin. That got a nod and he looked at Ryan, then at Horatio. "Any of the others who wants to can come too."
"Sure," Ryan agreed. "He got any good stories about you as a gangly teenager?"
"He thinks I'm still a gangly teenagers and a useless whelp. He'll tell you all sorts of stories about how I fell and tripped during patrols and things." That got a small grin from Eric. "I know, and I did, just not as often as he thinks." He shrugged. "Anyone need anything? We should have bottles of water in the fridge."
"No thank you, sir," one of the officers offered. He looked at Horatio. "Should we drag him back for interrogation?"
"Please," Horatio agreed. "Frank, Yelina, go with him. I'll gather Ray Junior together and follow." They nodded, taking him with them. "Boys, do the scene." They nodded, going to do the kitchen window and the frying pan. He looked at Xander. "It'll be fine."
Xander nodded. "I know it will." He grinned. "It still only happens when something happens around Dawn."
"I like that, Xander. Are you sure I can't talk you into joining the department?" Eric gave him an odd look from the kitchen.
"It's still too dangerous, Lieutenant. Would you like to stay for dinner?"
"No, that's all right. I've got plans. Thank you anyway, Xander." He smiled, heading for Dawn's room. They were playing music on her computer. "Come on, Ray. We're going back to the station for a formal statement." Dawn looked at him. "Eric can take yours, Dawn." She nodded, ejecting a CD and handing it to his nephew. "Copying?"
"She's got some great music, Uncle Horatio." He grinned at Dawn. "Saturday afternoon?"
"Call me. I'm here and bored." He nodded, going to put the CD away safely and grab his books to head out. He'd later find out he'd have to switch social studies books with her in the morning but that was all right with him. He had his homework safely stored away.
Eric finished taking fingerprints and came back inside. "Dawn, let's get a statement," he called. She came out of her room, giving him an interested look. "Here or your room's either fine."
"Xander, pizza me?" she begged. "Can Eric stay?"
"If he wants," Xander agreed. He looked at Ryan. "Or you," he offered with a grin.
"I might have to drop stuff off but I'll be back later," he promised with a grin of his own.
"Wolfe, I'll drop it off. You'll sugar me to death with the sap," Eric complained, making Dawn giggle and punch him on the arm. "Ow!"
"Sorry, I learned how to hit from Buffy." She led him back to her room and sat down on her bed so he could take the statement he'd need.
Ryan sat down next to Xander. "So, what sort of pizza?"
"Dominoes." He pulled out his phone and called them. "Hi, need to make an order for delivery please? Harris. That's us. What's on special? That's good. Supreme. One cheese. Thanks." He hung up and looked at the hallway. "Thirty-five minutes. Clean your room before you come back out."
"It's not that messy," Eric called.
Xander shrugged. "I have to give parental orders now and then."
"I know you do." He took his hand to hold. "How was work?"
"I owe them an hour and a half for today. The social worker showed up for a preliminary interview since they've just got the paperwork from Cali." He looked out the door at his peering neighbor. "Someone tried to break in," he called. "Dawn got them with a frying pan. There were so many cops because one was an officer's nephew." She ducked back over the fence. "There, so the older ladies up the street hear the truth." He grinned and Ryan smirked, shaking his head. "They're very good at watching the house and I gave one neighbor my cellphone number in case something happened to Dawn." He nodded at that. "I've gotten all sorts of calls about 'was she supposed to wear that'." Ryan snickered. "Now and then she does have very adult taste in clothes." He squeezed Ryan's hand then Eric came out. "Are you sure you don't need him or want to stay for pizza, Eric?"
"It's good, Xander. Thanks." He grinned and walked off, closing the door behind him. One of the neighbors on the unfenced side stopped him. "Is there a problem, ma'am?"
"Are they in trouble? I know they've had some with the landlord."
"The landlord got busted for using drugs in front of Xander, ma'am. Today was a break- in and an officer's nephew was in the house. That's why so many of us came. The later detectives were his family."
"That's sweet," she said, smiling and patting his hand. "Can I get you to check on a smell for me? I can't make it into the basement and there's an awful smell. I'm hoping it's not Horace."
"Horace, ma'am? Your pet?"
"No, my husband. He's been dead for years." He just nodded and followed her back, gagging at the stench of dead people. She opened the basement door and pointed at the pull cord. "There's the light."
"I'll check. You stay there, ma'am." He turned on the light and went down there, finding a dead husband's corpse, a fairly old one, and a lot of dead rats too. He called Alexx. "I'm checking a suspicious smell at one of Xander's neighbor's. No, she said she was worried it was her dead husband, and it appears it is. Along with a lot of dead rats. Thanks, Alexx. That's where I am." He hung up and went back up the stairs. "Ma'am, I'm sorry to say it is your husband."
"Shoot, I had hoped when I killed him he would've quit stinking up my house. What does it take to make that man quit stinking? Poison didn't. The butcher knife didn't either." She frowned at him. "How do you make them quit smelling?"
"Usually I use an air spray," he offered. "Why don't we sit on your couch and wait for someone to come take him away. That way he quits smelling up the house." She nodded and put on some water for tea, making them some tea before taking him to the sitting room. Where he opened all the windows and doors to air out the residence.
Ryan heard the siren and looked outside at the ME's van pulling up and another officer. "Huh. I wonder what that is?"
"Misses Rower," Dawn told him. "She wanted to know why her husband wouldn't quit stinking. She said she killed him a few years back."
"She didn't bury him very well either," Xander admitted. "Smelled worse than a crypt in there when I went to change her back lightbulb for her."
Ryan stared at him. "From now on, tell us about those, okay?"
"Sure," they agreed, then shrugged. Xander got up to sign the slip for the pizza guy and took the food to the table.
Ryan waved at Alexx. "They told them she killed him a few years back."
"Oh, good." She went in there to handle it, shaking her head the whole way. She was still telling Eric how her husband stunk up the house all the time and that's why she killed him. Eric saw her and nodded at the open door, excusing himself to go down with her. "They were right." Eric gave her an odd look. "Ryan said they told that family he's with that she killed him a few years back."
"Yeah, but why the new stink?"
"Something probably burrowed in and died from the poison. That's the only thing that would've killed so many rats."
"She mentioned poison and a butcher knife."
"She wanted to make sure he quit being so smelly then." She got down to check the body, nodding. "Yup, we've got a burrowing thing in here that's dead too. That's the stench of the moment." She picked up the dead rats, putting them into a tupperware box and then the body got picked up and taken back to the van, driven back to the station. She smiled at Eric. "We should bring her."
"We should but I don't think she's too lucid," he said quietly.
"Yay. You know the rules." She went to spray herself with fabric refresher then went to check on Ryan, finding Xander and Dawn arguing about house colors. "I've always liked a mild blue," she offered.
"I want something watery but not too blue," Dawn admitted. "Who're you?"
"That's Alexx, she's our ME," Ryan admitted, letting her in. "Alexx, this is Dawn Summers and Xander Harris."
"Hi." She smiled at them and then especially at Xander. "He's okay?"
"He's just fine. He backed his endloader into a pickup." She giggled at that. "Have pizza with us, please. We're celebrating probably getting this house."
"Thank you, sugar." She went to get a slice and came out to chat with them, getting to know her baby's significant other. "Which site are you working on now?"
"The Habitat site we donated time and manpower to. We're nearly done," Xander said proudly. Dawn smiled at him. "Which means I'll be back uptown soon." He ate another bite. "So, Ryan said you adopted him. You can mother Dawn all you want."
"He doesn't understand," Dawn told him, patting her on the wrist. "My mother tried to and he used to get this look on his face like she was doing alien experiments." Alexx giggled at that. "So why did you adopt Ryan?"
"He needed it. The poor baby was all alone."
"I've got an uncle. He's not fully sane but I've got one."
"They found Uncle Rory's body," Xander told them. "So they've declared him dead."
"So the FEMA guys are coming back?" Dawn asked.
"I already sent back the paperwork."
"Oh, good. Then we can definitely afford the house. If we have to dip back into my trust you'll pay me back out of that." Xander nodded. "Excellent." She smiled at Ryan. "So, I know what you do but I should be a nosy child to make sure you're good enough to suit my Xander buddy. After all, he was my first crush. Only the most special won't get his ass kicked by me."
"Fire away," he agreed happily.
"Have you ever had to doctor a case to keep someone innocent from harm?"
He blinked at her. "You don't ask the easy ones. It hasn't come up yet," he admitted.
She nodded at that. "That's a reasonable answer I guess. Where do you stand on the killing of spousal abusers?" She ate a bite of pizza, staring at him.
"I think they should be locked away so they can only hurt other spousal abusers," he admitted after a moment's thought. "By that time, therapy doesn't always prove effective to keep it from happening again. Now those who kill their spouse or significant other? They deserve the needle." She beamed at that. "The same as child molesters do." She nodded. "The same as I think rapists should."
"Good. I like that. How do you feel about vampires?"
"I'm not fond of them, what little I know. I'm hoping you're right and Spike's mostly harmless."
"He's still chipped," she promised.
Alexx coughed. "We know vampires?"
"I hunted vampires with her older sister," Xander admitted. "Field medicine. Like I said the first time we met," he told Alexx. "Not like we could go to the hospital for it." Dawn nodded at that. "The first time I met her I saved someone in front of her."
"Big piece of glass in his neck."
"Eww." She shook her head. "I don't want to deal with gross things for a living. That's why I'll never really and fully hunt." Xander gave her a hug. "Mr. Mush, eat." He laughed and dug hin again. "I guess I should find something I want to be."
"You've got time," Ryan assured her calmly. "I didn't know I wanted to be an officer until I was nineteen and in college." She smiled at that. "You can ask Alexx and I what we do if you were thinking about it," he offered.
"I'm not sure I could handle being an officer. I mean, it's dangerous, like Xander told your bossman. But it's also got to be frustrating now and then when the bad guy gets away."
"It can be," Ryan admitted. "But we usually get them the next time they screw up." She nodded at that, smiling a bit. "If you wanted to think about it, I'd gladly sit down and give you the long 'so you want to be an officer/CSI' talk." She beamed and nodded. "Sure, this weekend?"
"I'm going out with Ray Junior and the gang."
"Provided his mother doesn't buy a leash," Xander reminded her.
"Good point." She finished her slice. "Anyone want more?" Xander handed over his plate and so did Ryan so she got them more and added another one to Alexx's plate too, earning a smile. "I learned fussing from my mother and fashion from my sister."
"Thou shalt not wear the backless shirts your sister did," Xander said firmly. "Not until you're old enough to club."
"Yes, dad." She looked up. "I'm not even ready for that yet, and he's already starting."
"Don't worry, baby, when you date he'll put you in clothes you can't get out of," Alexx assured her with a smile. She grinned back. "How is school going?"
"Different. We don't have found body fire drills down here. When they find one down here they put us in lockdown instead of calling a fire drill. It's very different." She ate another bite. Then she looked at her. "If Xander lets me I do babysit." Xander nodded that he'd allow it. "Which would supplement my pitiful sixty dollar a month allowance."
"That's more than I got," Ryan offered.
"Me too," Xander agreed. "I was doing odd jobs by her age whenever I wanted money."
She looked at him. "You said I can't get a job until I'm seventeen."
"You can't. Reminding myself why I worked." She nodded at that, giving him a hug. "Did you know you were on a medical card?"
"Yeah, I have my last one in my wallet so they could search by number." He nodded at that. "I haven't had one since we moved."
"The social worker noted it today. She said she'd check into it." Dawn nodded at that, going back to nibbling. "So, do we like the Ray?"
"I like him a lot as a friend and if he turns into the hottie his uncle is, there's some definite droolage coming but he's younger than me and I'm not ready for the sex yet, Xander. I'm not even ready for real dating."
"Just checking," he promised, kissing her on the head. "Anything else I should know?"
"Can I use some of my trust for shopping?"
"Fine," she complained, frowning at him. "I'd get you cute stuff."
"No, Dawn. I make more than enough to take you school shopping." She sighed and nodded. " Thank you. You have more clothes than I do."
"Yes, dad." He grinned at her. "Um, the rest of the stuff in storage is being moved down here. Angel arranged it on you."
"How much more is this one going to cost?"
"It's not. The local storage place is less and he wanted it out of Sunnydale." She looked at him. "So, um....."
He considered it. "I don't care if you get into Buffy's things but you are not to bring her weapons here. Understood?" She nodded at that. "Good. I've got my hunting pack in the bottom of my closet if we need it." She gave him a hug. "I know, princess. If you want to steal some of their clothes you can."
"Yes, Xander." She went back to eating. "Can I have Ray help me if he wants?"
"If he wants. Don't blackmail him into it." She nodded quickly. "He may not be ready for that step yet, Dawn."
"I know, but we've got Willow's and Giles' stuff too. That's the real reason he moved it, in case something of theirs went active."
"You can have Willow's altar and that stuff. You do not use it without permission, you do not use it like she would have, and you are being tutored in it."
"Yes, Xander." She stared at him. "That's more than reasonable but I wanted Tara's altar and he sent it down too." Xander slumped. "She's still asleep," she said quietly, taking his hand. "He said Cordy's not doing great either, Xander." He nodded at that. "So we're going to have to talk about the paperwork stuff."
"I know," he admitted, looking at them. "Sorry, we didn't mean to bring anyone down. It's a hard life and we die young doing it. That's why I gave it up for her." She smiled at him and took his hand to squeeze. "Good."
"Xander, if you need it, I'll help," Ryan reminded him. He got a smile. "I'm great at organizing."
"You should do his closet," Dawn told him. "It's a wreck and a half, Ryan. I had to make him look cute the other night. Had to *drag* him to find something cute and non-frumpy."
"It was not," Xander complained.
She stared at him and nodded. "Yes it was. Even the saleswoman said it was, Xander."
"I liked you in that outfit," Ryan said quietly, getting a blush. "We can do the closet stuff later. How much stuff is in storage?"
"If they sent Willow's stuff, probably some of her parent's stuff. If they sent Giles', a lot of books," Xander admitted. "We had to remove the school's library before graduation." Ryan moaned. "That's the same noise my back made." Ryan giggled at that. "Anyway, it'll mostly stay in storage." Dawn looked at him. "I doubt you need the books or that the Watchers are coming down to get them."
"They might." He shrugged at that. "Plus the sword collection."
"It can stay in storage," he said in a sing-song voice. He paused. "Hold on, that means they probated his will." She nodded. "Who did he leave things to?"
"The remainder of the group or Buffy and us. Gunn was there for you since Angel said you hadn't been notified while you were up during the funeral." She grinned. "So I really can afford some new clothes."
"You have so much it spills out of your closet and onto your floor. You don't need them. When you outgrow them you can have more."
"Yes, Xander," she sighed, digging in again. She looked at the giggling Alexx. "Isn't he such a good daddy?"
"Very and I know he'll make my baby boy very happy," she said, smiling at him.
"Calleigh's already warned me," he promised.
"Good. I'm sure they could hide your remains for me," she agreed happily. She stood up. "I should go back and autopsy the neighbor's husband. Thank you for dinner, children, and I'll see you soon. We'll have a picnic so you can meet the biological children and my husband." She smiled and kissed Dawn on the cheek, then petted the two boys before heading out. She was very sure Xander and Ryan suited each other. They were both weird in the same ways and nothing touched what was Xander's. So her baby would be well protected if something happened to her.
Xander looked at Ryan. "I feel like I should sigh in relief."
Dawn nodded. "Meeting parents for the first time can be relatively nerve wracking I read." She snuggled against his arm. "Ryan, the flowered dress was one they wouldn't take when I drug him. So trying is okay on that but it didn't work." She looked at Xander. "You know, some of Buffy's stuff might fit you, or Mom's."
"Your mother would've freaked out if she had known, Dawn."
"She did know, Xander." She gave him a look. "She knew. I told her. I couldn't keep the secret totally when you needed pantyhose help." She shrugged. "She would want it to go to charity or you could bum some."
"We'll think about it."
"Good. Now, what're we going to do about the Cordy stuff?" Xander sighed. "Best to get the depressing things all out at once."
"I don't know," he admitted. "I'm not sure I trust Wesley to watch you properly. Or Gunn. I respect Gunn and Wes but I'm not sure they're ready to be daddy sorts. I definitely don't trust Angel with that soul clause." He looked at Ryan. "I told her I'd talk to you about this when we had our first year anniversary."
"I'd make a horrible parent," Ryan said, eyes wide. "I really will." Dawn giggled. "Seriously. Me having OCD means that you'd be scrubbing the bathroom and your room every single day, Dawn. There would be no such things as clothes on the floor. It's one of those things I knew a long time ago." She nodded at that. "So, I wouldn't care but I'd be so terrible at it."
"But you make a good uncle."
"I do," he agreed, smiling at her. "I make a terrific uncle. Maybe even a stepdad as long as there's a layer between me and the person I'm going to traumatize by trying to make them OCD too."
Xander grinned at that. "Not getting that far ahead."
"True. Stating a firm line," Ryan assured him.
Dawn looked up at Xander. "What about his coworkers? We trust them and about half of them have figured out or have been told what went on in Sunnydale."
Xander considered it. "That's a hell of a burden, Dawn. We barely know them." He looked at her. "Really."
"Yeah, true, but they know. Besides, it's not like I'm a toddler. I'm fourteen now. This is only in case of accidents and stuff so I have someone there so the state can't snatch me and put me into foster care again." Ryan raised an eyebrow. "When mom died, they didn't think Buffy was fit for a week so I ended up in foster care. It wasn't that terrible but I hated it. I'm not going there again. Ever." Xander gave her a hug. "Eat." Xander took a bite and she grinned. "I can agree to Wes or Gunn. Gunn might be the cooler one."
"They could die and they'd have to give up hunting," Xander reminded her.
"True." She snuggled back into his side. "We'll call them later. That way you can get the manifest of what is coming down exactly." Xander nodded. "Plus figure out where all of Giles' crap went since he had that estate issue." Xander moaned at that. "We might even have to go back for a few days."
"Hopefully not this month. I've missed too many hours already this month." She nodded, getting comfortable with a small yawn. "Why don't you head to bed?" he suggested quietly. "We'll be quiet and good boys while you nap." She nodded, going to take a shower and do that. "Sorry."
"No, you have to think about those things. You're her guardian and you have to think about it to protect her." He leaned forward. "I'm flattered but I'd still make a horrible guardian."
"I said the same thing." He grinned. "It's not a problem. I'm still not thrilled with the life expectancy she'd have out in LA with the hunting they do and hell's lawyers on their case all the time." He put his plate on the floor and laid down. "I'm also very unsure about borrowing any of Joyce's clothes."
"So don't." He grinned. "I might enjoy taking you shopping." Xander blushed at that. "Really." He grinned brighter when Dawn came out to steal Xander's plate and refill it, taking it back to her room with another soda. "Night, Dawn."
"Good night, Ryan. I'm leaving my music on quietly so you don't have to be super quiet. You guys can watch tv or make him clean his closet or something." She winked at him and went back to her room, shutting the door.
"She's adorable when she's pushy."
"She is," Xander agreed, grinning at him. "I could do some laundry. Give me a few." He heaved himself up with a groan and went to gather his dirty clothes then put them into the washer. He found Ryan in his closet and blushed. "Sorry it's such a wreck."
"It's not. You sorted most everything by type of clothes." He pulled him closer, pointing at something. "Was that the dress she was talking about?" Xander nodded. He grinned at him. "Did you look like a librarian?"
"I so do," he agreed, shrugging some. "But it hides the big shoulders and arms."
Ryan kissed him again. "There's other ways of doing that and I don't mind some muscles on my girl." He took another kiss and looked at the closet again. "What do you look like in the black dress?" Xander frowned so he pointed. Xander pulled it out. "Dawn?"
"Dawn!" he snapped. Her door was locked and they heard her giggle. "You're in trouble. You're grounded!"
"It'll look good on you," she called back. "Try it on and see." She giggled again.
Xander sighed and shook his head. "Sorry."
"Try it on, let's see," Ryan encouraged, stroking Xander's hips. "You don't even have to put on everything." He sat down on the bed and Xander shimmied out of his clothes, putting them into the basket. He slid the dress over his head, earning a moan. "I do like that. It skims everything." He stood up and walked Xander over to her mirror, making her look. "See, not bulky. You look like a woman who works out." Xander smiled at that. "Plus it's soft. I like soft things." He ran his hand over the short sleeves, then nibbled on Xander's ear. "I like you in this, you need another one for our next date like this."
Xander turned to look at him. "Can our next date be as guys?"
"Sure. Did you want to go do guy things?"
"It's all the same to me."
"Then we can hit a gay club and it'll be fine," he promised, kissing him again. The dress was easily moved and gave him total access to what he wanted to touch and nibble on. Xander pulled the dress off and Ryan hung it back up then got his boyfriend onto the bed and out of his boxers. Ryan's clothes were put on top of the dresser. "Alarm?" Xander turned on the alarm and things were good and nice again, including the cuddles afterward. Then Xander looked up and gave him a wicked grin. Ryan arched an eyebrow up, holding in a smirk at his naughty look. Xander moved down to lick Ryan clean from where they had rubbed off against each other. Ryan grabbed the headboard, hissing in pleasure as Xander used his tongue and little nibbles to clean him, making it even better. Then Xander swallowed him. Ryan keened as he arched up. Xander went down further. He watched his head move up and down, making it great again. He finally came again and went limp, panting hard. "Xander," he said, pulling him up to kiss. "How did you want it?"
"In?" he suggested.
Ryan rolled onto his stomach, letting him have whatever he wanted. "Gently. It's been a while." Xander nodded and got to work slowly and carefully preparing and stretching him. It was like torture. Finally he pushed back and Xander laughed, sheathing himself in him. That got a moan and it was even better than the blow job. Xander wasn't a gentle rider after the first few minutes when he was fully into it, but it was so good. If he could've gotten off a third time, he would've woken Dawn and the rest of the neighborhood. Instead, Xander woke Dawn and half the neighborhood. He was vocal and it was great. Finally Xander flopped down on his back, letting Ryan pull him around to cuddle him. Xander gave him a kiss and a slight grin. "You're amazing."
"Welcome. It was well deserved. Now, we should rest." Xander nodded and they curled up together, comfortable. At least until someone pounded on the door. Ryan groaned and got up, going to talk to the officer. "What?" he asked, showing his ID. "I'm his boyfriend."
"Sorry, sir. They said he was in here having sex with his little sister?"
"Eww. You can tell the nosy neighbors I'm here. Thank you, Officer."
"No, thank you, sir. I didn't want to break anything that horrific up tonight." He blushed. "A little more quietly?"
"We have to be up at six. We're done for the night."
"Thanks, sir." He headed off, going to tell the neighbor who had flagged him down it wasn't him molesting his little sister, it was him molesting his boyfriend, which made her gasp but quit sobbing about it. She nodded and went back inside. He wrote it up as a noise complaint about sex. Then he left it there. At least until he had to come back and tell a few neighbors to be more quiet when the young girl in the house called to complain about some of her neighbors getting too loud while they fantasized about the two guys.
Xander looked up from his new site five weeks later when his name was yelled, moaning at the person standing there. "I'm on lunch soon. Tell her that," he called. The lawyer nodded and stomped back to her car. He groaned and said a silent prayer that he didn't have to slay at work today. He knew exactly who Lilah Morgan was. She had shown up at the funeral and Angel had told him. His boss looked at him and he shrugged. "Not like I have a clue. She's one of hell's lawyers. She's been fighting with the friend we stayed with during the funerals."
"Yeah, that's what I told her. I'm not taking off time unless it's about Dawn." He shrugged and got back to work. His boss gave him a fond look. "Boss, did I make up all those hours?"
"You did. I'm very proud of that." He went to look at the lawyer. "I don't know if you realize this but causing him to miss time working cuts down on his check," he said dryly. "Do you have a good reason for interrupting him at work?"
"I'm over the probate of his friends wills," she said with a grimace. "I do not want to deal with that man at all."
"Well, he gets his lunch at noon. So you've got a short wait. Do we need to call his daughter?"
"No," Xander called. "She doesn't get near Dawn. Not without a weapon in my hand."
"Fine," he called back. "He's a bit protective."
She looked at him. "He has good reason to be. I'm not the nicest lawyer."
"Well, he said you were one of hell's lawyers."
She nodded. "I am."
He walked off at that. If she was like that he didn't want to stay. He looked at Xander, who growled and hissed back at her. "She agreed with you. She's one of hell's lawyers."
"Literally, boss." He finished what he was doing and went for a drink. "What did she want?"
"Crap," he complained. "Just what I don't need today." He finished up what he was doing and got a nod to take off five minutes early for lunch. He walked out to get his lunch out of the truck, getting another bottle of water, nodding her to the tables. He sat across from her. "What is Wolfram and Hart doing in the probated wills of a witch and a Watcher?" He opened up his lunch and dug out his sandwich, taking a bite.
"The court appointed us."
"Pity but I'm laughing inside. Why?"
"They didn't have one." She stared at him. "Gunn stood in your family's stead."
"I knew that. And?" He ate another bite. He made a 'go on' motion. "And?" he asked again once he had swallowed.
"And, with the absence of reasonable wills...."
"Giles and Willow both had reasonable wills. We made out new ones every year."
"His still mentioned Buffy and her mother."
"I know that. We do them in January. They both died since then."
"Whatever. The judge said that the rest of the will was to be enacted. It left whatever they had left to whoever was left in the little group you had." She sneered at him. "Which means you and Miss Summers, who is a minor child."
"I'm ten seconds from hitting you. Keep going."
"I need you to sign paperwork." She pulled it out. "Also, I was given a missive from Wesley. He'd like Giles books."
"Wesley knows my phone number." He stared at her, then at the papers, taking the pen one of the guys handed him. "Is any of this going to Tara's care?"
"No. She wasn't mentioned in Rupert Giles' will. The state has her care with Angel overseeing," she sneered. He backhanded her, making her shriek. "Sorry," she sneered.
"You should be. Tara's the best woman who ever fucking lived. Women like you dirty the name of woman. She's the one the Goddess meant when she made women." He looked over the forms again. "By the way, that was for the soul release clause." He handed that page back and got to work on the other ones. He handed another sheet back unsigned. "You're not going near Dawn unless I've got a weapon in my hand, Miss Morgan. Anything else I can do for you today? If not, I'll expect it here in storage within the week, like Angel said." He stared at her and unclicked the pen, handing it back to his coworker. "Anything else?"
"No," she sneered. "You'll pay for that."
"Sorry, honey, I retired. Go yank Angel. I hear it makes him happy." She shrieked and took a swing but he pushed her down again. "Go yank Angel. You're not welcome in Miami, you or your firm." She stomped off to her car, backing off. He borrowed one guy's lighter, lighting those sheets on fire. He tossed it back. "I hate that woman. Her only purpose is to cause misery and dissension."
"You hit a woman?" his boss asked.
"She's not a woman. She's a fucking creature who wants to hurt Dawn and take her from me to use as a sacrifice to gain power." He stared at him. "Ever hear of a law firm Wolfram and Hart?" He nodded slowly then shuddered. "She's one of their up and coming." He stood up. "On that cheery note, I'm going to go start pounding in studs again," he said dryly, going to do that. Lunch was nice but oh well. He called Dawn on his walk. "It's me. Watch your ass. Lilah Morgan's doing the probate. She had paper with soul clauses. Do not sign anything and if she comes near you, you head for Ryan or Horatio. Understand?" He hung up on her voicemail. Then he called Ryan. "It's me. I just had to hit one of hell's lawyers. Watch for Dawn to come running if Miss Morgan comes after her. She is one of Wolfram and Hart's up and coming and she had paperwork from the probates that had soul clauses." He hung on his inquisitive noise, picking up his hammer and going back to work. Before he ranted and screamed at someone. He knew she wouldn't arrest him for hitting her. It would make her look worse to her bosses since he had no value to them.
Ryan hung up and looked at his phone, then at Calleigh who was at the next table. "Do we know anything about a Wolfram and Hart law firm?" She choked and nodded, reaching for her tea. "I'll wait." She finally started breathing again. "What do we know?"
"They defend the scum of the earth," she said, blinking at him. "Why?"
"One of them showed up at Xander's work with forms for the probate stuff. He warned me Dawn may come running. He sounded...less than pleased." His phone rang again. "Wolfe." He listened. "No, they're bad guys," he told Xander's coworker. "Even we can't stand them. No, if he hit her, he had good reason. Xander doesn't hit people without a reason. No, it's a reasonable thing. Did she threaten Dawn?" He smiled. "That's why he did it then. No, he won't get in trouble. Because hurting him has no value for these guys and these guys are all about the power plays," he told him. "Thanks for letting me know. Sure. Later." He hung up and put his head down then looked at her. "He hit her twice."
"Doesn't surprise me if she was threatening Dawn. What's going on? Probates? They're criminal lawyers."
"From what little I've heard, they've got their hands in a few pies," he admitted, looking at her. "Dawn's told me that much and that they're bad guys, nothing else." He called her school. "I need to get an urgent message to Dawn Summers?" He smirked. "That's fine, thank you." He hung up and called Xander back. "She's skipping today." He nodded. "I know that. You're not normally violent and Dawn said they're bad guys. Calleigh said they defend the scum of the earth. Thanks." He hung up when he saw Frank. "Frank?" He came in. "Let the guys know if they see Xander's sister Dawn that they have to bring her here for *her* safety? At least until Xander's off work. The people for their friend's wills is out and they're majorly bad guys who want to kill her for whatever she can do for them."
"Like, did you see what she did at the picnic?"
"Wish I didn't but yeah. I don't want to know how she caught that falling kid. Oh, wait, they did?"
"They do know. They're more than willing to kill her to get it. Xander hit one of their reps twice."
"Wonderful. Is he in trouble?" Calleigh asked.
"Not yet." Ryan sighed and put up his lunch. "Anyway, Dawn's skipping school. She's allowed two per term."
"I'll put it out informally." He paused then looked at him. "Ray Junior skipping?"
"Yup," he said with a smirk. "The secretary at her school said it was odd that they were gone together, along with a few other kids."
"I'll let Horatio know. Hopefully she's with the idiots." He walked off to find Horatio. Yelina would throw a fit. Horatio would go there and throw a fit. He found him coming back. "Good news and bad news."
"What's the bad news?" Eric asked.
"Someone from Wolfram and Hart came down to talk to Xander about his friend's wills. Mentioned Dawn. Xander struck her twice."
"Xander hit a girl?" Eric asked. Frank nodded.
"And the good news?" Horatio asked.
"Ryan tried to call her school to warn her. She's skipping. The secretary told him it was strange how she and a few boys were all missing on the same day."
"I'll kill him," Horatio sighed, heading back to his hummer.
"Remember, she'll protect him," Eric called after him.
"I don't care, Eric." He got into his hummer, slamming the door. Then he pulled out and turned on his phone, looking at the GPS reading he had to the chip he had stuck in his nephew's arm without his mother knowing. He found them in an alleyway, Dawn beating the snot out of one of them. He parked and got out, glaring at his nephew.
"Don't look at me," Ray defended, stepping away. "They hauled her off the bus and out here. I just followed, Uncle Horatio. I swear."
"You couldn't call?"
"They wanted us to prove we were better," Dawn said, pushing back her hair. She looked at him then shrugged. "They kidnaped my ass off the bus. I'm sorry but this sucks." She walked away from the one she had been kicking. "What's up, Lieutenant?"
"Dawn, you're skipping school."
"Not intentionally. The bright guy there with the red hair has a gun." He took off running. "Move further and I'm frying your ass," she yelled. He stopped and fell to his knees. "Good boy. Now come here!" she snapped, pointing beside her. He came back, whimpering and looking at Horatio for support. She smiled at him. "Sorry. I lost my temper earlier." She frisked him and found the gun, handing it to him. "That got shoved in my ribs to get me off the bus."
"In the intervening hours?"
"Ray Junior hunted my tired butt down," she admitted. "Not a clue where I was. I was rather unconscious from him batting me on the head with it." She showed him the spot. "See?"
"I do. You're in danger."
"From more than them?" She looked around. "Ray, where's my backpack?" He pointed at it and she got it, finding her phone and listening to the voicemail. She turned and kicked the building. "Fuck me." She looked at Ray Junior. "He's right, I'm in real danger. Am I going to wherever Xander's hiding or am I going with you?"
"You're coming with me, Dawn. He's still at work. He hit her twice."
"Good! The woman wants to split my chest open, take the power I have, and then fuck the hole!"
"Eww," Ray Junior said.
"Sorry. Bad flashbacks from the last woman who tried it. Thankfully Xander's ex managed to trap her somewhere and they both died. Unfortunately. I kinda liked Anya." She shrugged and handed Ray Junior his backpack, grinning at him. "You make a good knight. If you don't watch out, you'll become Xander some year soon."
"No thanks. I try to stay with the normal stuff."
She nodded. "I keep trying too it just comes back now and then. Lead on, Lieutenant. They're very sorry they kidnaped me, they have been since I woke up."
"Get into the hummer while I get someone to arrest them." They got in and she went over his homework with him. Horatio calmed his temper while he made the call to dispatch. Then he called Xander. "I have both children. Apparently Dawn was kidnaped by a student with a gun." He listened and nodded. "That's fine. I'm bringing her back with me and they're being arrested. Of course. Just stay calm. They'll be at the station when you get done. She did listen to the voicemail and she kicked a wall. Swore a bit. Was beating up on one of the boys when I got here. Thank you. I'll see you when you get off work." He hung up and looked at the officers pulling onto the street, waving them over. He handed one the gun. "They kidnaped Miss Summers from the bus with that this morning. My nephew decided to play hero without calling." That got a wince. "We're going back to the
lab now. She was bruising them horribly for kidnaping and knocking her unconscious. She made that one beg," he said, pointing at one.
"That works for us, Lieutenant. You'll get her statement?" He nodded and headed around to get in and drive. Dawn smiled and waved. He waved back, shaking his head once she was gone. Some girls were really tough. Good thing considering what these boys could've done to her. He and his partner got to work handcuffing and calling help because there were six of them. Most of them bruised. This was going to make a good story for the other officers to brag about.
Xander walked into the lab, smiling nicely at the receptionist. "My daughter, the moron who beat up on her kidnapers instead of calling someone?"
"In the break room, Mr. Harris."
"Thank you." He signed in and took his badge, heading that way. "Dawn Anabelle Summers!" he snapped. She squeaked and jumped, giving him a guilty look. "You couldn't *call* someone?"
"My phone was in my backpack and they took my backpack when they took me off the bus!" she defended, stomping a foot. "Then they knocked me out. I'm lucky Ray Junior found me. He said they were talking about the sort of fun I'd be." He growled at that and she backed up. "Not my fault. He had a gun."
"Is he living?"
"Begging. I made him beg. I kicked a few asses when he got me free because they tried to stop us when they came back with beer." He gave her a look. "Honest! I'm not making it up! I swear, Xander! You know I'm not going to lie to you!"
"Do we need to take you to the ER?"
"No, I'd know if they touched me. Right?" She looked at the officer with her. "Wouldn't I know if they had touched me?" She nodded. "Oh, good. Even with their greasy fingers, right?"
"Yup, if you're still a virgin, you'd know."
"Okay, good." She smiled at him. "I don't know what's going on, Xander. I don't know if it's related to Lilah Morgan showing up or not. Though I did gross out Ray Junior earlier."
"Fine." He took a deep breath. "Are you all right?" he asked calmly.
"A bit cranky. I haven't eaten since breakfast."
"Are you clear to go home?"
"The Lieutenant wanted to talk to you first," the officer offered. She pointed behind him.
Xander turned. "Is she okay?"
"She's fine. The boys didn't press charges for kicking their asses." He moved closer. "What is going on?"
"They want Dawn for what she can do and they want to raid Giles' and Willow's stuff," he said quietly. "The paper she tried to get me to sign has soul clauses."
Horatio nodded. "She's fine, though she was a bit graphic and made Ray Junior gag with a description of how they wanted to kill her."
"It's entirely possible, whatever she said," he agreed quietly. Horatio nodded at that. "She'll be safe. I know how to ward the house and so does she." He glanced around and leaned closer. "She's one of the strongest white witches in the world, Lieutenant. Of course they want her. That's why Angel wants to take her back." That got a nod. He pulled back. "So we'll be fine. I've heard she's left already. Did those boys talk about why they wanted her?"
"So far they said it was their idea to take her and molest her."
"And they're going to jail, right?"
"They are. They did it to another girl by the evidence we found in their lair. We're hoping they'll be tried as adults."
"Thank you. And thank your nephew, Lieutenant. You've got a good boy there. Can I take her home?" Horatio nodded so he went to gather Dawn, starting with a hug. "I've got you. We'll ward the house," he whispered. She nodded and grabbed her things, stuffing them back into her backpack and heading out with him. "Are you okay?" he asked again once they were alone. "No yelling, no going to beat them. Are you okay?"
"A small headache where the one hit me on the head with the gun and knocked me out." She let him look at it. "I'm a bit dizzy."
"It's a small concussion. I've had those so it'll be okay." She nodded and he drove them home, finding a letter on the door. He looked at it and called the number. "I thought I did all the paperwork and handed over all the money." He listened then nodded. "Okay, I get that. I get paid next week. Can I have an extension until then?" He smiled. "Thank you, sir. No, I just bought it. Like a bit over a month ago," he admitted. He smiled. "That's fine, I can bring that down tomorrow and we can work on it. Thank you, sir." He hung up and walked the paper inside. "He was behind on the tax payments too." She groaned. "It's fine. Since we just bought it we might not have to pay his back taxes." He came in and looked in the fridge. "What am I cooking?" Someone knocked. "Who is it?" he called.
"It's the food delivery woman," Alexx called. Dawn squealed and went to open it, giving her a hug. "How are you feeling, sweetie?"
"Not the first time I've been taken," she admitted. "Some people took me to get my sister." She hugged her. "Thank you for feeding us." She grinned when she pulled back. "Xander's still growling mentally. I should call Ryan."
"He's got a late shift tonight, honey." She walked her into the kitchen. "Xander, go get the food out of the front seat?" He nodded and went to do that. She snooped and looked at the letter. "He can get that fixed."
"It was the last owner," she agreed. "He'll bring stuff down tomorrow during lunch. Or I will since I'm probably not going to school in the morning." Xander came in and looked at her. "Unless I'm being driven?"
"You could be," he agreed. "Just watch out if Wolfram and Hart come tonight. Thank you, Alexx."
"You're welcome, baby," she said, smiling and kissing him on the cheek. "Now, you feed her." Dawn looked a bit nauseous. "Headache?"
"Gun butt to the head. Mild concussion," Xander offered. She gave him an odd look. "I've had like fifteen concussions. I know my concussions." He dished up food. "Are you staying for dinner to baby her?"
"Yes you can," Dawn agreed, getting her a plate and something to drink. She did pour the milk down the sink and got them water instead. "Have to fix that tomorrow."
"You're not going anywhere," Xander said in a sing-song manner.
Xander smirked at her. "Behave." Someone knocked on the door. "What?"
"Let me in," Ryan called.
Xander came out to let him in, smiling at the stuff in his hands. "Did you cook too?"
"No, I ordered. Hi, Alexx." He kissed her on the cheek and added food to their plates, getting his own. "I'm in on a visit. Unfortunately I've got another four hours of work at the very least tonight on my present case." He pulled Xander closer to kiss him. "It'll be fine, Xander. She's safe. She's home. The kids are in jail. She wasn't touched." Xander relaxed and nodded. Ryan smiled and took another kiss, making Xander relax against him. "Should I come over after I'm done?" he whispered. Xander nodded at that. "Sure." He let him go. "Now, let's eat once Alexx quits fussing over Dawn's head."
"Tylenol," Xander told him. "Take some pepto too. It'll help your stomach." She went to do that. "My head hit many walls," he said dryly. "That's why I'm good with concussions."
"You needed more parents watching over you," Alexx told him. Ryan nodded since his mouth was full.
"We had each other," Xander assured her. Dawn came out grimacing. "You okay?"
"I'm fine. Stupid period started again," she complained. "By the way we need to hit the store anyway."
"Sure," Xander agreed, smiling at her. "Are we sure..."
"Eww! Yes. Jump off it!" She sat down and looked at Ryan. "Can't you make him drop this?"
"Xander, you're upsetting her," Ryan pointed out gently. "She's back to making snarky comments, we'll let her cuddle tonight if she has nightmares."
"I'll drop it," he sighed. "I'm trying to help, Dawn."
"I know. You're trying very hard and are very trying at the moment. Remember, not the first time," she said, staring at him. He nodded at that. "You know, I realized I missed Anya earlier."
Xander grinned. "Now and then I do too. She was definitely going to go insane soon." She nodded at that. "I'll tell you later, Ryan."
"Sure." He held his hand, giving it a squeeze. "Eat."
"I'm eating. Thank you, guys." Someone else knocked on the door. "Yes?" he called as he got up, going to look at the woman standing there. "Mrs. Priont. What's up?"
"Your daughter was skipping school today?"
"I allow her two a term but no, she was kidnaped today from the bus." He let her in, nodding at the officers. "Come on in." He pointed at the kitchen. "Ryan and Alexx brought over dinner."
"Geez!" Dawn complained when she saw her caseworker. "I'm fine, thank you. When I woke up, I kicked their asses."
Ryan coughed and handed over a copy of her statement. "What she told Lieutenant Caine. His nephew went after her and found her. He helped her escape. Caine found them both while she was kicking one of the people who had taken her."
"They came back from deciding if they were going to molest me or not."
The social worker looked at her. "You seem very calm."
"I've had someone else take me. I panicked then because she wanted to make me bleed. I'm still wondering if this has to do with my former family's wills being probated."
"Not the actual family, the made family," Xander said quietly at her odd look in his direction. "My best friend since kindergarten, her sister's mentor. My best friend's girlfriend is still in a coma. My ex girlfriend is in a coma for a different reason." Dawn gave him an odd look. "Cordy."
"I knew it wasn't Anya. What happened?"
"The slimy thing that got her that last time. Angel's watching over them both."
"Oh." She nodded. "I hope they both wake up. I'll miss Cordy."
The social worker stared at her for a moment. "You sound like it doesn't matter."
"Lady, I've lost my mother, my sister, the women who were like my aunts. I've lost everyone in my life but Xander. Cordy wasn't really in my life. I'm going to be more upset if Tara doesn't wake up because she was a good and kind woman who spent a lot of hours helping me grieve after I lost the others. So jump off it. I've already seen my town be eaten by something. What else did you want? It's not like I'm going to start crying! I mean hell! They were all involved in protecting the town from the extremely high death rate. If Cordelia got attacked from that, then she went out doing what she wanted to do." She stood up. "The only one I care about out there is Tara. If she dies I'll cry. If Cordelia dies I'll mourn her and know she went how she wanted to go."
"Sit," Xander ordered quietly. He glared at the social worker. "She's got a concussion. Do you fucking well mind, woman?" She looked stunned. "She was taken off her bus this morning at gunpoint. She was knocked unconscious. If it wasn't for Lieutenant Caine's nephew, she might've been raped and killed. I don't think she needs this tonight. Now, do you have a reason for coming in here with officers tonight because she skipped *a* day?"
"I don't like your insinuation, young man."
"I don't like you being in here with cops," he shot back, smirking at her. "Anything else? We've got some shit to go over as a family because this may be related back to my ex, Cordelia in case you missed that, and her attack." She stepped back. "We're still trying to figure out if the same person paid the boys this morning to take her."
"Calm down," Ryan ordered.
"You're not calm, Sugar," Alexx said, rubbing his arm. "I know you want to protect Dawn and you're doing an amazing job. Someone should've reported that she got drug off the bus and didn't." She glared at the officers. "Do I know you?" They shook their heads but looked away. "Pity." She looked at Dawn again. "Sit." She sat. Alexx looked at the social worker. "I'm Medical Examiner Woods. I'm a mother myself. You came because the girl skipped *a* day? With two officers?"
"With her past...."
"I was shoplifting to get attention," Dawn said acidly. "Xander's the one who stopped my ass. Thank you for asking first." The social worker glared at her. "I'm more than old enough to know what the hell I'm doing."
"Dawn," Xander said, "room." She sighed and stomped off. "And no candles tonight. You can play online later."
He looked at the social worker. "She stopped shoplifting about six months before her mother died. She wanted attention because her mother and sister were caught up in her sister's life and hobbies. The same as most of the rest of us were. Yes, I got her stopped. Her mother realized what was going on a few weeks later and they talked and worked it out too. That's not a worry you need to have. You need to have a worry about the boys who took her off the bus at gunpoint. Dawn hasn't been in trouble in *months*. You're driving her back there."
"I'm removing her from this house."
"Do you have a court order?" She sniffed. "Unless you do, that's illegal. You get one you come back. And I can guarantee you'll lose her within hours." He stared her down. "Anything else? And are you being paid by Wolfram and Hart?" She went pale at that name and stepped away. "Huh. I think that's a yes."
"I know that's a yes," Ryan admitted. "Boys, she's taking bribes to hurt this girl." They stepped into the kitchen and he pulled his ID and badge. "Bring her back to the lab. I'll be back there within an hour to question her. She's taking bribes to hurt this young woman."
"We'll take her right there, sir."
"Thank you. If anyone asks, tell them she was here to hurt Dawn Summers. They all know her." That got a nod and they walked her off. "Thank you, officers." He looked at Xander, then pulled him closer. "Calm down. It's all right. It'll be fine. I promise it'll be fine." Xander shook his head. "It will be."
"If it's Wolfram and Hart, they're powerful."
"They're not going to get her, Xander. We'll protect her with you. Remember, you're not alone. Not this time." Xander relaxed and nodded. "Good. Dawn?" She came out. "She was in the employ of Wolfram and Hart," he said quietly.
"Should've known she stunk." She flopped back down. "Are we okay?" she asked Xander, who nodded. "Remember, they can help you now."
"I know." He calmed himself fully. "We'll be fine." She nodded. "For now, protect yourself. We'll do the wards together tonight." She nodded at that and dug back in. "Then we'll go get groceries." She smiled. "That way you don't have to sleep in the tub tonight. Have Ray pick up your homework tomorrow." She nodded at that, going to write him an email. Xander pulled out his phone to leave a message on the school's system. "This is Xander Harris for my daughter, Dawn Summers. Since she was taken off a bus at gunpoint today I'm keeping her out tomorrow and possibly the next day to make sure she's all right and healed. I'll expect Ray Caine to pick up her homework. He'll have an email with her classes." He hung up and looked at Alexx. "I'm having a mental fit."
"I know. Eat, it'll be okay. We'll help you." He nodded, digging in again. Dawn came back to finish her dinner too. Alexx wrapped the rest into the fridge and said something quietly to Ryan before leaving.
"I've got to go question her," Ryan offered. Xander smiled and kissed him. "I'll be back when I'm done, Xander." He headed off, going back to the station. He ran into his boss, who nodded. "You heard?"
"I did. She's blustering that she's not in anyone but the state's employ."
Ryan snorted. "Yeah, and I believe that." He headed back there, slamming the door open. She tried to glare and he raised an eyebrow. "I was there when you confessed. Let's not try that." Her attorney started to bluster. "She tried to cause intentional harm to a young woman that was kidnaped today at gunpoint on her way to school. Then a lawyer from the same law firm that was paying your client came to visit her father at work. Would you like to explain that?"
"She's only in the employ of the state."
"Really?" He smirked. "You do know we have enough evidence to get a warrant to check her bank records?" She went very pale at that. "How much did they pay you?"
"Three hundred thousand. They said she's very desired," she said quietly.
"Shut up," her lawyer demanded.
"What company do you work for?" Ryan asked. "By any chance it's not Wolfram and Hart, is it?" He swallowed. "Then you're a suspect and you can't work as her attorney." He leaned on the table. "Write it out," he ordered coldly. He got her some paper and a pen. "If you do there's a chance you'll get probation and just lose your license."
"If you do, they're going to make your life a living hell," the lawyer warned.
"If Wolfram and Hart try, they're in for a huge damn shock," Ryan assured him. He went pale and Ryan smirked. "Yeah. You're bothering the last two Sunnydale residents."
"Do you know why?"
"Yeah, I do," he said smugly, smirking at him. "The same as I know what else will happen next." The lawyer leaned back, giving him a horrified look. "You failed. Are your bosses going to appreciate that? Or are they going to kill you."
"I can't and won't turn. They'll kill me in jail. I'll be rewarded for loyalty." He stood up. "You don't have a reason to keep me."
"Yeah I do. Since we know that Wolfram and Hart was part of this and you're here? Oh yeah, I can hold you for at least a few more hours." The man glared at him and he glared back. "You forget who I'm working with," he said quietly. He smirked. The man pulled something out of the handle of his briefcase and lunged at the social worker but he managed to stop him by pushing him into the window. "Could use some help!" Ryan yelled. Officers came rushing in. "He's got a shiv!" They got it away from him and dragged him off. He looked at the shaken woman. "You see how they repay loyalty?" She nodded and went back to writing. "About all of it that you know," he ordered coldly. "Nothing is touching that young woman."
"I understand." She handed him over the paper and looked at him. "There, what I know."
He read it over. "Nothing about the earlier kidnaping?"
"Just that it had fouled their plans," she admitted. "One of them tipped Ray Caine."
Horatio stepped in. "How?"
"I don't know," she admitted calmly, looking out in the hall as the lawyer struggled with the officers. Then back at him. "They'll kill me."
"Not if I can stop them."
She nodded. "As a social worker, you need to watch them harder. Also, you need to have him sign new papers about the chain of custody if something happens to him. The others are always in danger. We'd never accept it." She rested her hands on the table, staring at him. "Also, he should have something done about his temper."
"He only has a temper when someone tries to attack either if them," Ryan told her. She nodded at that. "Did you put this into her file?"
"No. I put in a mention that she had missed school." She pulled out her PDA and made a note, letting him see it. "Is that good enough?"
"It is." He handed it to Horatio. "Can you send that?" Horatio looked and nodded, sending it to her digital file. "Anything else?"
"He needs to have her watched closer."
"She's always monitored and she can always reach him," Ryan pointed out. "She's fourteen, not four."
"True but she's still considered below the age of reasonable action."
Ryan snorted. "Lady, do you know anything about Sunnydale?" She swallowed and nodded. "Her sister and Xander, plus others, used to go out hunting and protecting Sunnydale. Her sister was the slayer." She moaned at that. "She's well into reasonable thought and actions. Xander gave it up to protect her. Still think there's a violence issue?"
"No." She took her PDA back and made another note, sending it to the file. "I've put in that he is very protective and can get violent if she's threatened but not in other circumstances. That way no one will threaten her openly."
"There shouldn't be a reason for it to happen at all," Horatio noted. "Anything else you know?"
"Miss Morgan is still in town. She didn't leave."
"She will be joining you," Horatio noted calmly. "Thank you." He went to arrange that, going to read Dawn's social services file. It did say what she said. He sent a note to their boss by email, bringing her down to the station. He handed over the PDA personally. "She found out he was violent when she was threatened when your social worker threatened her after she was kidnaped," he said quietly. "Xander will defend her with his life if necessary."
"That's a good parent in my book." She read over the notes in the open file. "Why was she absent?"
"She was kidnaped at gunpoint off the bus."
"Damn." She looked at him. "Any idea why?"
"She was taking bribes from a law firm who wanted to harm Miss Summers."
"I don't know."
"That's fine. Can I hit her?"
"If you can through the bars."
"I can try." She walked out to find her worker and scream about how her clients needed her, not to have her fired.
Ryan looked at her. "I have a question," he asked when the tirade ended. She looked at him. "If one of the guardians given custody down the chain was gay, would it matter?"
"It would in this state. With her original one being California?" She shrugged. "I can't see a problem."
"Good. Right now it's shifting since the next one in line is in a coma." That got a shudder. "The same people who paid your employee."
"Charming," she said bitterly. "The others?"
"Protecting others against the same people," he admitted. "Xander gave up that crusade to protect her."
"Get her someone here in Miami who is beyond reproach. One of you would be fine."
"If they're gay?"
"I don't care. Get her someone locally soon." That got a nod. "How do you know about this?"
"I'm dating him," he admitted.
"Oh. Not you."
"I'm not a suitable candidate for other reasons." She smirked at that. "I have OCD."
"You're right. You're not. Get one of your coworkers, anyone even temporarily. Especially if her life is in danger."
"Agreed. We'll have it drawn up tonight." She nodded. "Simple legalese?"
"Would be fine." He nodded and walked out so the officers could take her. She watched her being taken away and went to call her boss to let him know. Because they would have to do case reviews, but she could keep them from going after this child since she had looked it over. She'd take this one personally.
Xander walked up to the two people with Ryan the next day. "I know, it's odd, I'm not sweaty," he said when Calleigh grinned at him. "I had to take today off. She was kidnaped yesterday and she's at home today. A few hours is one thing. A whole day is different." He sat down with them. "A problem came up. I need a local person to join the chain of custody if something happens to me. Ryan can't because of his OCD."
Calleigh nodded. "I can understand why."
"Actually, the others are all either fighting the same fight or in a coma," Xander admitted, then he shrugged. "We're like an unhappy family really."
"That's understandable. They want someone who can help you and her if something happens and you get hurt at work," Eric agreed. "They won't let Ryan because he's got OCD?"
"Yup. It can cause a lot of problems and they'd be looking over his shoulder all the time plus he said he couldn't." That got nods. He grinned at Ryan. "You could speak."
"My idea is to ask Horatio."
"That's a big favor to ask," Calleigh told him.
"Yeah but if I'm killed by someone who comes after her, then she's going to need someone protective," Xander pointed out. "They can even have the house and all that stuff. As long as they protect her and make sure she makes it to college. Preferably with graduating into a career."
Eric smirked. "I'll take further down the list but not second. As a backup, if I had to, but not immediately if you get hit by a car. My mother would get a kick out of her."
"I'm with him," Calleigh agreed. "Further down the list, sure. Next after you? Can't happen. I'd probably end up turning the girl into another gun girl."
Xander shrugged. "Do I care? She's already good with crossbows." Calleigh looked stunned. "Fact of the life, Calleigh. I'm a great shot with a crossbow and a few other weapons." She gaped. "Yeah. Part of the life we lived. If she wants to follow you I'd be honored if she came to bug you with questions."
"Sure. I wouldn't mind."
"I get first crack," Ryan said, smirking at them. "Let's ask Horatio, Xander. You need someone they can't say a thing about and he already knows about her and all that stuff."
Xander nodded. "Yeah but he's single and I'm not sure he could handle Dawn if something happened."
"Nothing's going to happen so it's a moot point," Ryan pointed out patiently. "This is just if you get smacked by a car or something and get knocked out for a few days." Xander gave him a look. "That's my positive thought of the day and I'm sticking with it."
"Sure." He grinned at him. "Is he out or in?"
"He's inside hiding from Stetler," Eric offered, texting him. Horatio came out a few minutes later, looking a bit amused. "Xander had to ask you something, H."
"The social workers demanded that I change the chain of custody for Dawn because everyone else is either in a coma or another fighter."
"True." He sat beside Calleigh. "I heard what they told Ryan."
"Eric and I agreed that we'd do further down the list but not his next in line," Calleigh offered. "They won't let Ryan because of his OCD."
"It can be troublesome and lead to a lot of conflict and mental therapy," Ryan admitted. "The constant nagging. The cleaning all night. The stress of the routine change. On top of a teenager."
"True." Horatio looked at Xander. "You wanted to put me on the list?" Xander nodded. "Where?"
"Next after me. Before it was Cordelia but she's still in a coma."
"I understand. Are we foreseeing a need for this to be put into action?"
"You never know but I hope not. I do need someone who can put up with Dawn and make sure she's going to school and hopefully into college. Her trust will pay for it." Horatio nodded at that. "I wouldn't care. If I die, whoever can have the house so she's not uprooted. They can have most of my stuff." He shrugged. "I've got to rewrite my will too since everyone but one person in it is dead or comatose and she's at home."
"I'd be honored, Xander, but I couldn't let her and Ray Junior date."
Xander shrugged. "Right now she's buying him a video game in thanks for helping save her." He smiled at that. "I think they'll be friends. She could use more friends who understand her."
"True. He does understand her better than most everyone."
"Which means you'd have a translator," Calleigh teased, nudging him with her elbow. "So will you?"
"I will. I'd be honored." Xander smiled and relaxed. "However if you die I'm having her bring you back."
"Sure." He grinned at him then at Ryan. "Dinner out tonight? My treat?"
"Works for me. Should I change?"
"I like the sweater vests." He winked and got up. "Thanks, guys." He headed to his car. "Oh, Ryan, the tax thing was straightened out." He jogged over and headed home to make sure Dawn was still all right.
"Aww," Calleigh teased. "That's so cute!"
"I know I am," he agreed with a wicked smirk.
Eric snickered. "Not modest at all, are you?"
"With a guy like Xander as my boyfriend? Would you be?"
"Xander's not sweet enough for me." He smirked back and got up, heading inside. "I'm heading back to chem."
"I'm going to ballistics," Calleigh agreed, going after him.
Ryan looked at Horatio. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. She is a very nice young woman and it would mean a good future CSI." He smiled. "Should I amend some paperwork?"
"Well...." He considered it, sipping his water, then looked around again. "Horatio, it's been a few weeks and it's like I'm hit by lightening every time he touches me," he confessed quietly. "I'm not one to do anything more than a goodnight kiss on the first date and we went a lot farther than that. It felt like home. Even if we fight it's still easy to make up. We had a disagreement about something a few weeks back and it lasted all of six hours because he was pouting and I was miserable."
Horatio smiled. "It's rare but when you find it you keep it, Ryan. Do anything you have to so you keep it." Ryan nodded at that. "Does his...."
"Not the first one and it's more than happy to me. I love him because of it and for other reasons beyond that. Anything. Like that, not like that, oh, God, I have it bad," he moaned. Horatio smirked and nodded. "It's only been a few months."
"I know, Ryan, but it'll only get stronger if it's meant to be." He patted him on the arm. "I'll call Xander first if something happens to you," he assured him quietly. "Does he do that for you?"
"Yeah," he said with a goofy grin. "It's a great stress relief for him and I kinda like it about him. It drew me and then I realized how special and great he was. It's like I don't even care that he's nearly seven years younger." Horatio nodded at that, still smiling. "It's... if this is love it's like the flu."
"It can be," he agreed quietly. "Cherish it, Ryan. Because you never know when things will happen. He could get hurt on the job. He could get hit by a car. He's got to know this, Ryan, so you don't end up mourning like Yelina did."
"I know, but I'm having scary thoughts, Horatio. Like rings and sharing a house thoughts."
Horatio smiled and nodded. "That's the way it works, Ryan. If you're that serious I'll put him on your paperwork."
"I want to talk to him first, Horatio. He's worried how it'll affect my job." His boss nodded. "Will it? I know you don't care...."
"Someone like Rick Stetler would but you know we don't. We put up with Eric being a slut for years." Ryan grinned at that. "Let me know after you talk to him. As your significant other, he would be entitled to your life insurance policy and to make medical decisions for you. That we do need to know."
"Yes, Horatio. I'll talk with him tonight. Or maybe not. It's still only been a few months."
"Sometimes love hits you like that and sometime's it's a slow, creeping thing that wakes you suddenly in the middle of the night with the realization, Mr. Wolfe." He stood up. "Remember, you're in a dangerous profession and so is he." Ryan swallowed, looking ill. "Talk to him when you're ready, Ryan." He went back inside, going to find the paperwork he'd need.
Ryan walked into the house and looked at Dawn. "You look cute."
"Thank you. We've got a dance tonight," she complained, grimacing. "I'm going with some of the other girls." He grinned. "Do I look dorky?"
"Just a bit," he admitted. "Go put on something better and more fun."
"They said my blue skirt wasn't acceptable."
"So wear the green one and the black shirt," Xander said from the kitchen. She squealed and went to look at the new clothes he wasn't supposed to know she had, then came out redressed and her hair redone. "Better. Happier?"
"Much!" She hugged them both. "Don't wait up. Ray Junior's mom is picking me up and bringing me back." They both nodded and she grabbed her purse, checking it on the way out. "Night."
"Night, Dawn." He came out of the kitchen once they had driven off, showing that he had dressed up in the black dress and heels. "Hi."
Ryan moaned and kissed her. "Hi." He leaned his forehead against hers. "Can we talk?"
"Are you dumping me?"
"No, baby, no. Horatio raised a point." He looked in Xander's eyes. "He wanted to know about me putting you on my paperwork as my significant other, Xander." Xander shivered. "I think it's too soon but he made me realize that this was like lightening striking me and I'm so happy with you." He took another kiss. "I want you to think about it. I know it's soon, very soon, but I was having scary marriage thoughts when he asked me."
"That's way too fast," Xander said, looking scared.
"I know. I want to be official with you but I'm not ready for more than dating yet." Xander relaxed and smiled. "But I do want to put you on my paperwork. It'd make us more official. The same as I think I should import some clothes for the nights I stay over."
"Can I have a sweater vest to borrow?" he teased, playing with the one his boyfriend was wearing. "Does that mean that you're my official boyfriend?"
"I am. We're so going steady," he teased. Xander giggled at that and kissed him again. "So, can I?" Xander nodded. "Can we do the medical power of attorney thing?"
"I already have one with you on it. They won't let Dawn do it."
"Good point." He grinned and caught a grope and another kiss. "Dinner?"
"Dinner." He took him out to the car, letting Ryan drive. He whispered the address, getting a shiver. "My treat."
"Sure." He grinned. "Then the club?"
"Then the club or this other one I heard about."
He backed down the driveway. "Which one?"
Ryan pulled over with a moan, looking at him. "Xander, lots and lots of people have sex there," he told him. "In the open."
"Is it mandatory?"
"No, baby, it's not. It depends on where you sit in the bar." Xander shifted closer. "It used to be two bars. A biker bar and a gay bar. They were pretty cool next to each other. We have a lot of gay bikers and they visited each other now and then. Until one night when the wall between came down for some debatable reason. Now, if you sit closer to the biker side, you end up getting propositioned and if you're in the biker bar itself it's pretty much a sign that you want to ride their bike or them." He kissed the back of her hand. "It's a very nice club, very open, very friendly, but if we went they'd expect you in my lap and at least one person would want to have you too." He kissed him again, looking at him. "I'd have to get jealous." Xander swallowed. "We can still go but you had to know that."
"Okay," she said quietly. "If you agree."
"I do but I may still end up taking you there at the table." Xander blushed and gave him a look. "Up to you."
"I'll leave it up to you, Ryan."
He sighed and smiled. "Every now and then I like to go tease." She blushed harder. "You're more than pretty enough to tease, Alex." He kissed her again. "Now, dinner." She nodded and he straightened himself out, taking her out to dinner, where she did indeed pay. They chatted and talked about what he had been proposing earlier. Xander told him the paperwork had been drawn up and faxed over to him. So they all had stuff to sign in the morning. Then she started to play with his leg, getting a heated look over dessert. "Naughty," he whispered. She shrugged and ducked her head, looking up at him. "Finish up. We'll go for a ride first." She licked her spoon off and put it down, staring at him. He finished his dessert, he'd need the calories later. He could feel a Xander sex marathon coming on. He walked her out to the car and drove them to the club they had discussed, letting her make the decision. She got out and gave him a look, making him hurry after her and take her hand to hold. They walked inside and found it packed. "What's going on tonight?"
"Not something anyone should miss." He got them a table halfway across the club, making her blush bright red. "It's close enough to the bar," he whispered. "It's too packed for anyone to really try anything or to be pushy." Xander nodded, snuggling into his side. One of her hands was on his thigh. He hissed and tensed up, tightening his stomach muscles.
"I love seeing you like that," she whispered. "All the muscles standing out, all tense and ready to explode into action." He gave her a sideways look and she grinned. "I'm in a teasing mood, Ryan."
"You certainly are," he promised, putting her hand higher up his thigh, getting a warm, soft chuckle and her playing with the muscles under her fingers. He let out a breath suddenly when her knuckles grazed him. A biker and his 'girl' sat down with them, giving them a nod. "Hey."
"Hey. You two up for some play?"
"I'm a bit shy," Xander told him. "Plus I'm very much his."
"It's a bit crowded or we'd be closer to the bar," Ryan admitted. "If you want to have fun, go ahead." He grinned and tipped his head before kissing his 'girl'. You could tell, she wasn't tucked in or anything. Her shorts were girl shorts and he was nearly hanging out of them. Those and the heels plus the lack of any falsies or bra made it very clear. Xander went back to stroking Ryan's leg, watching the crowd. She let her knuckles brush him again and he reached down to stop her hand. She gave him a look. "Teasing is fine, baby, but if you keep that up, I'm having you on the table where everyone can see," he whispered. She shivered and shifted a bit closer. "If I do that, you're never getting rid of me. What I claim as mine stays mine." She stroked his leg again. "Last warning."
"I'm up for the pronouncement but not the claiming."
Ryan looked at her, then around, then back at her. He stared at her. She squeezed his thigh. "Do you need to belong?" he whispered. She nodded. "Then you're mine, Xander. No matter which side you're in, you're mine. All mine. Anyone who touches you gets my nightstick up their ass." Xander tensed up, he could see his stomach tighten. "Oooh, are you hard?" he teased, whispering it in her ear. Xander nodded at that. "Should I finger your clit, Alex?"
"Not here," she panted.
"Because then I get to claim you as mine," she said in a normal tone of voice, giving him a kiss.
"How long have you two been together?" the girl with them asked.
"A few months," Ryan said, grinning at her. "I was having scary permanent thoughts earlier too." He looked at her. He cleared his throat. "Xander, would you stay with me? Marriage optional later?"
She blinked at him. "Like moving in?"
"Sometime relatively soon."
She blushed and nodded quickly, looking around then kissing him. "I wouldn't mind. The daughter loves you."
Ryan smiled and nodded. "Then you're mine." He kissed her hard, deep, making her moan and start to climb into his lap. The tables around them cheered. "She said yes," he called. That got a louder cheer and he looked at her. "Mine."
"And you're mine."
"I am that." He smiled and stroked her arm. "Home?"
"Dawn's not home yet."
"True, which means we can be noisy." Xander grinned and they headed out. He wanted Xander every which way he could have her. When they pulled into the driveway he leaned over. "I'm going to bury myself so far inside your pussy you're never going to feel like it's not in there," he hissed. She smirked at that. "I am. Inside, Alex. I want to debauch you." She got out and headed inside. He only paused long enough to gather some strength to hold out taking her on the couch. He hurried inside once his car was locked, going to kiss her, touch her, take her, over and over until she screamed and he passed out. Before he did he was nice enough to set the alarm since they'd both need to get up in about four hours. Then he laid down on top of her shoulder and cuddled her. It was a great thing. He was happy. He didn't even care that the bed was messy, he was too worn out to care.
Ryan walked in the next morning with papers in his hand. He found Eric and Calleigh making coffee. "Sign." He let them have what they'd need. They signed it and he grinned. "Thanks." He walked off, still bouncy and happy, though he was seriously sleep deprived at the moment. Xander had woken up with a nightmare and they had went through a round of calming, long, slow blowjobs that had taken up another hour of their sleep time. He found Horatio and Frank together, handing him all the papers. "Some of those need signed, some need filed, and one needs witnessed."
Horatio smiled and flipped through them, then looked at him. "Interesting."
"Very." He yawned. "I'm moving this weekend probably."
"Need help?" Frank asked.
"Not really. I've got a big, strong construction worker to help me." He grinned.
"My wife made me have that goofy grin once. It was right before she started to talk invitations."
"We've already gotten that out of the way. Right before we fell back asleep the second time, Frank." He clapped him on the arm and Horatio handed back what he needed. "Thanks, boss."
"Welcome, Mr. Wolfe, and congratulations."
He grinned. "He wanted to go to Bounce and we talked before we went to dinner, then there, then later on. We're holding off on the official stuff for a few more months, make sure we can stand each other for real."
"Good idea. I'll have some paperwork for you to fill out during lunch. Now, go to work and we'll make sure you're mostly in the lab today since you're yawning again," he said smugly. Ryan shrugged through his yawn and walked off, going to fax what needed to be faxed where it needed to go.
Xander wandered onto his site and looked at his boss, who gave him an odd look. "Flu?"
"I'm moving my boyfriend in this weekend and we're marrying in a few months if we can still stand each other."
His boss smiled. "Yeah, I have that same arrangement. Been like this now for twenty years, Xander. I wish you luck."
"Thanks. Ryan's a pretty special guy. He accepts and revels in who I am." He grinned. "So I'm saving vacation days for a short honeymoon."
"Of course you are. Let me know in advance, all right?" Xander nodded and headed out, still yawning. He shook his head, smiling at his back. His lover and crew chief, Thomas, gave him a look. "They're getting married in a few months, once they figure out if they can live together."
Thomas smiled. "I remember those days. I never got any sleep," he agreed quietly, smirking at him. He saw Xander yawning again. "Go get some coffee, Harris. You can't sleep on the job until lunch."
"Yes, sir." He got some coffee and drank it quickly, then went back to work.
"He really doesn't slack," Thomas pointed out. "Even with everything going on with his daughter he's still here more than most single parents."
"He made up all his hours too," the boss agreed happily. "When is that one crew lead leaving?"
"We'll see. Let him get past this honeymoon phase he'll be in when they first move in."
Xander looked at him. "Not like it'll be much different," he mouthed. They both laughed and he got to work on his present assignment. Bricking the outside of the building. He had a large shady brim that hooked onto his hard hat. He was not getting burned like that ever again.
The older couple shared a look and smiled at the half of a younger couple. Looks like they could play marriage counselor to him too. They watched as Dawn came over after school, squealing happily when she pounced him and kissed him on the cheek. Then she ran off back to her cab and home. Yeah, he was good. Very good. No matter what he wore on his nights off.