Xander was contemplating on how to work on the floors, Friday afternoon, when the doorbell rang. Wiping his hands on the rag attached to his belt, Xander smiled upon seeing Ray standing there, dressed in old jeans and a t-shirt.
“Ray, I’m glad that you could make it! Come in, and keep your shoes on. Do you own work boots or something similar?”
“No, I don’t own work boots, why?”
“They protect your feet if you drop something on them. I knew a guy that dropped his hammer and he didn’t have boots, he almost lost a toe. So, this weekend we’ll see about getting you a good pair that’ll help with any outdoor chore, or project.”
“Oh, that makes sense.”
“Yep; but today, we’ll be working on redoing the floors. I managed to pull the old cabinets out of the kitchen and ripped up the old flooring. Gods, it was a mess. Luckily, we don’t have to do much to the second story. I’ll be putting up floating floors there; down here we’re putting in hardwood.”
“What’s the difference?” Ray asked as he put down the time and date that he had entered at on Xander’s little board.
“Floating floors take about a full day for a floor. Hardwood takes a bit longer, but is basically glued in place. You’ll see as we do it. I’m also doing a floating floor upstairs because I have to fix the walls and everything too. The only thing that I don’t have to touch is the bathrooms, which I’m glad, because bathrooms are hell to work in.”
Ray snickered at the shudder that flowed through Xander and they began to work on the floor. As they worked from one corner of the living room to the other, Xander explained why getting the first floor finished would be a good thing.
“Only the bedrooms are upstairs. We have one small bathroom down here, basically a toilet and a sink. When getting a house ready, you want to work towards having as many parts functional as possible while working. Since we’re just doing repairs, even though they are major ones, getting the main floor done is key. As of right now, I have no kitchen. I have appliances coming in on Monday, so we have the whole weekend to get the kitchen up to standard. I have the supplies in the garage and once we get the flooring done, then we can slowly begin to set up the lower cupboards before the main cabinets.” Motioning Ray to follow him once they finished the living room, Xander pointed at the marks on the walls.
“The markings on the walls in the kitchen are there to tell us where each appliance has to go. The dishwasher goes here, the stove there, the fridge over here. This will give us room to maneuver as we don’t want it to be too tight and leave no room for the appliances to work. That is why there is always a gap between the wall, cabinets and stove, dishwasher, and fridge, when they have specific spots in a kitchen.” Leading Ray back to the hallway they continued to work on the floor.
“Why did you choose construction?”
“I love working with my hands. Just watching a home come together with some sweat, effort and a few people swearing when they hit their thumbs, it’s all worth it for me. You know how an artist will be pleased and all glow-y when they finish a piece? Well finishing a project is like that for me. It’s a sense of accomplishment that goes ‘I built that’, and it’s a hearty feeling.”
“Wow, so it’s like when Uncle H solves a case and puts the bad guys away.”
“Yep, just like that.”
The pair continued to work in silence and managed to finish up to the kitchen before the doorbell rang. Wiping his hands, Xander blinked at the sight of Yelina and Horatio on his front step. Opening the door, he gave both a wry smile.
“Can I help you with anything? Ray and I are almost done with the floor, and we’re about to work in the dining room before doing the kitchen.”
“No, it’s not that, Horatio and I were just wondering if you needed any more help.”
“Not at the moment. It’s just a two man job right now, but tomorrow, we might need an extra hand or two, we’ll be doing the cabinets then. For that, we’ll need two people to hold and two to screw in, if we want to work faster, why?”
“Would you mind if we helped?”
“Not really, but Ray needs to get work boots to keep helping me. I don’t want him to get hurt because he was wearing the wrong foot wear.”
“We can get that for him now.”
“Cool, work boots need to be about half a size bigger than what he’d normally wear. Feet swell pretty fast when one is doing construction. Oh and you should get him some wool socks to put over a pair of cotton ones to help with the buildup of moisture.”
“It’s to keep him for chafing his feet to the point where he loses a layer of skin or two. I’ve seen people get hamburger feet from not wearing the proper layers when it comes to working on your feet all day and it’s downright nasty. Also, it’ll keep him from getting blood blisters and an infection if he does it that way too.”
“Oh; so, old clothes and work boots?”
“That’ll be perfect Yelina.”
“Ray can you come here for a minute, your mom needs your shoe size!” Xander called to where Ray was getting the packs of hardwood flooring out to do the dining room, and smiled when the teenager came over and told his mother his size.
“This is the brand I use. It lasts a long time, as my last pair was eight years old before I had to buy these one brand new.”
“Thank you and we’ll be by tomorrow, around nine-ish?”
“Nine is good, gives me time to eat and freshen up. Also, it’ll give me a chance to get some food in for when it’s time for a snack.”
“Until tomorrow then, and Ray, dinner is in the oven for you.”
With that, Yelina and Horatio left, leaving both Xander and Ray watching them with bemused expressions.
“Well, that floor isn’t going to finish itself.” With that, both went back to tacking the floor into place, before the buffering and shining could be done.
The week had passed fairly quickly, and Xander was pleased with the downstairs portion of the house. Hardwood floors gleamed in the light, walls were painted in earthy tones, the kitchen looked like a real kitchen, and the furniture had arrived on Friday to fill up the dining room and the living room.
The living room held two leather sofas, three lazy boys, two black marble coffee tables, three massive bookshelves, in cherry wood – one for movies, one for books and one for pictures and knickknacks – and the walls were painted a blue grey that let the rest of the room stand out. The drapes were heavy and thick, for the days when the sun was too bright, and allowed the room to be bathed in darkness, perfect for nights where watching the game, or movies, on the fifty-two inch flat screen television.
The kitchen was decked out in classic dark marble counter tops and cherry wood cupboards, accenting the pale blue walls and fluorescent lighting that Xander installed to give the most light for the least amount of wattage. All of the electronics were black, giving the room a darker and cleaner look.
The dining room had the cherry wood table, with throne chairs, two china cabinets – one full of fine bone china and the other with the regular dishes – and a chest that held silverware and tablecloths for all occasions. The walls were painted in a soft shade of sandy gold, and were accented with ‘Lady Luck’ green stencils of various western scenes.
The banister and stairs were done with a fine black marble finish, and had been accented with more of the cherry wood that dominated the house. Xander had made a small closet under the stairs for shoes, windbreakers, umbrellas and a few towels. The door seemed to melt into the paneled wall, and Xander smiled when he got the door to seem invisible unless you were facing it directly.
He would have to work on the bedrooms after work and on weekends from now on, as Xander knew he was going to start work the next morning. Luckily, he had a locker already set up, and had all of his gear locked away. Horatio was the only one with a spare key, and the only other person allowed into his locker unless there was an emergency. He already had his permit to carry weapons, open and concealed, listed in the federal database, so he didn’t have to worry about changing the thing, only to have to change it back when he returned to Denver.
Sighing as he wandered into the kitchen, Xander pulled out a packet of pizza pockets and zapped them in the microwave while he dialed Chris’ number at the ranch.
“Hey Chris,” Xander could hear the exhaustion in his own voice and mentally told himself to go to bed when he was done talking to the others.
“Xander, you ok? You sound like you’re about to kneel over.”
“I’m ok, just really tired.” He yawned, “Good news, I got the first floor of the house done, and I’ll send you guys the pics after work tomorrow; should have the net up by then.”
“Good, give me a minute and I’ll have ya on the speaker so that we can all chat with ya.” Xander waited for the click and smiled upon hearing it. “Can you hear me Xan?”
“Loud and clear, cowboy, I hear you loud and clear.”
“God dammed it, I ain’t a damned cowboy!” Xander snickered and could hear the others laughing to. Pulling out his pizza pockets, Xander began to eat.
“So, what’s new in Denver?”
“Just busted a major player here, and just so you know, we’re all coming down at the end of the month. Apparently the police down there need our help with something, and we were called in specifically by a lieutenant Horatio Caine.”
“What’s wrong Xan?” JD’s voice came over the line.
“Caine is my boss for the year that I’m here.”
“Well shit on a stick.” Buck’s voice was muffled and Xander had to bite back a bark of laughter.
“You think there’ll be a problem with us coming down?” Josiah’s voice came over the speaker.
“Well, I’ll have to invest in popcorn and drinks, but no, I see no issues with the seven of you coming down. I do think you’ll have to help me fix the upstairs of the house when you get in, but that’s about all the problems I can see from it.” Xander was positive that they could hear the smirk in his voice, and wondered if Chris was going to rain down upon the people of Miami.
“Xander, will you mind if Mr. Tanner and Ah stay a bit longer in Miami? We did say we were going to visit you.” Xander let a wicked smirk take over his face.
“I don’t mind. The pair of you could go bikini watching while I’m at the lab for my lousy thirty hour weeks.”
“Thirty hours?” Nathan’s voice sounded strained.
“Yeah, it’s to teach interns how to deal with the lab setting. Once we’ve been here a while, then we slowly do more work alone, but since we only get two to three grand a month, they can’t make us work too much.”
“That still sucks pard.” Vin’s voice was soft as it came over the line, bringing a smile to Xander’s face.
“I know, but it’s to help me climb the totem pole of being a ballistics tech.”
“Well, we wish you luck with that, and remember not to get too carried away at work, you have to finish flipping the house you’re in.” Chris’ voice came over the line with a hint of teasing.
“I know that! That’s why I’m paying a kid to help me when he’s not in school. I get a helper, he gets cash and experience.”
“Good, now, off to bed with you. You’re three hours ahead of us and it’s seven at night here. You have to be at work for eight I believe, so off to bed with you.”
“Yes dad, night guys!” With that Xander hung up with a laugh at Chris’ curses that he wasn’t Xander’s father.
Washing his dishes and locking the doors before wandering upstairs, Xander let out a yawn as he made his way into the master bedroom. Stripping down to his boxers, Xander slipped under the covers and smiled, Team Seven would be here in three-ish weeks. He wondered how bad Chris and Horatio would react to each other’s Alpha dog syndrome. With that thought in his mind, Xander drifted off into a peaceful sleep.