As the group entered Xander’s home, the young man hummed as he put away the leftover drinks. Watching their second youngest member with worried eyes, Team Seven sat in the living room, leaving the only place to sit between Ezra and Vin.
Sauntering back into the room with a dray of alcohol, Ezra and Vin shared a worried look before Xander could sit down. Holding a bottle of beer in his hands, Xander began to pick at the label.
“You all realize that my home life wasn’t all suns and roses, but what you don’t know that it was its own version of Hell. My father was a drunken lout, one that enjoyed taking his pain out on his wife and only son. Whenever my mother tried to stop the beatings, she would end up hiding in the house for a few days, before leaving her bedroom, walking stiffly. I do believe that my father would rape her during those instances where she tried to save me pain. What I hoped she never learned was that while she was healing, I got the double dose of beatings, since she wasn’t there to take part of the brunt as well.” He took a long swallow of his beer.
“My best friend, Jesse, was the only one that knew how bad my home life was, and his parents did what he could to help me out. But the cops were corrupt, and didn’t care about a snot nosed kid getting beaten at home, or his mother being severely injured as well. By the time I was nine, I had a room at the hospital just for me, and all the nurses and doctors knew me by name. CPS couldn’t work in our town because of the corruption, and my only option was to take it, or run. At the age of nine, running isn’t an option, and I couldn’t leave my mother in such a place alone.” He peeled off the label and blinked at the buildup of tears.
“By the time I would have been old enough to run, I had just lost Jesse, and Willow needed the support. Giles might have had an idea, but Buffy needed so much help because of her family’s divorce that he couldn’t help me at the time. By the time he, and the others, realized what my home life was really like, I had just left my fiancée. Giles tried to make up for it, but the girls were being a bear about me leaving Anya that he could only help me when they weren’t around. It didn’t help that she died a year later, and that I went to Africa right afterwards.” With that he downed the rest of his beer and sat with his head in his hands.
The men looked at Xander in shock at what he had to deal with, Ezra and Vin were murmuring in his ears and rubbing his back. But the whole situation was horrible, and yet Chris was glad that they got this out into the open.
“Well, I can say that your father’s brand of vocalizing his disappointments was wrong. I know that when Adam and Sarah were alive I would never hit them. Yeah, I could get angry at them, and I might have to go beat something up, but I had a punching bag for that. Taking your anger out on those that you’re supposed to love, it’s just wrong. No man should do that to his family.” Chris’ voice brought Xander’s red rimmed eyes up to meet his own.
“My father was a hard man to please, but he never beat me or my sister. Yes, he abused us with words, but we were never struck by his hand.” Josiah’s voice took Xander’s attention next.
“Most of us don’t remember our fathers, but I just know that if they had been there, that they would be the good fathers that you hear about.” Xander blew his nose in the Kleenex that he was given and curled into Vin and Ezra’s embrace.
“Ezra, Vin, you both take good care of my boy. If he’ll be calling me Dad, then I’ll just have to treat him like a son.” Xander shot up at those words, and went to pounce on Chris, but was held back by Ezra’s arms.
“Now, now Xander, he’s been waiting to do that since you called him Dad and hung up on him a few weeks back. You also know that he’ll do everything to get back at you if you pounce him in the here and now.” Ezra’s voice broke through the indignation, and he sat back and pouted at the blond man.
“You’re so cruel. I thought you loved me?” He batted his lashes at the group of men, and they burst into laughter. Getting another hug, Xander sighed as he went to get a few boxes from the garage.
“Well, since you’re all in such good spirits, you can help me put the furniture together for the spare room. This will give me a chance to look over the last spare room tonight and see if there is anything extra I need for it.” Sniffing one last time, as if he had been insulted, Xander marched out to the garage, and tried to hide his smile. He wasn’t successful as Buck pulled him into a headlock and ruffled his hair.
They would get over the many traumas that they had, simply because they were family. A good family was there to help you when you need it, and these men were helping Xander’s soul in a way that none of them could imagine.
The disposal run had been a success, and twenty more criminals were off the streets. Each route had a small shipment, and the plans went off without any difficulties. Horatio was so pleased that he asked Chris if he and his men could come down in four months time to teach the ATF agents in Miami on what to do for disposal runs. Chris mentioned that he would think about it, but it would give them ample time to spend with Xander and Ryan, so he made a reminder to tell AD Travis about it.
Xander and Ryan seemed to be having an invigorating discussion, as the pair of them were bouncing about and had a very troublesome gleam in their eyes.
Wait, was that a head set?
Getting closer, Chris saw that it was, and on the screen before them was a Goth girl with black pigtails bouncing about. Getting closer, he decided to listen in, and he was very glad that he did.
“Abby, our favorite Goth girl, tell us of the foes that were slain in DC.” Xander acted everything out, causing both Abby and Ryan to laugh.
“Not much, Gibbs got another addition. Katelyn Todd is her name, and I think she hates Tony.” Abby bit her lip.
“Well, will you and Tony be going to the convention in just over two months?” Chris was a bit confused at the mention of this convention.
“Oh yeah! I so got boss man to let us go. The things you CSI’s and lab techs come up with is so cool! Oh, and I got that database started, and I know that when you start working with the ATF, we three can finish it in no time at all.” She began to bounce.
“It’ll be cool; knowing what type of explosion went off by the sight alone! That will help with so many cases! I just know that I’ll get the team’s help with this. All of the guys love a good explosion.” Ryan nodded.
“Well, I can see how you’ll get better results that I would, but I did the main frame for it.” She pouted at the pair.
“That’s why we wanted you in with us. You know so much about systems, it makes sense that you’d set it up! That and I know JD will want to go over it with you and help you protect it more.”
“This is so cool; I gotta go, the boss man’s samples just gave me something, so we’ll chat later.”
“Talk to you later Abs, oh and let Tony know that he’s welcome to visit!” With that said, the connection was cut.
“Convention?” Came Chris’s dry tone.
“Yep, it’s for all levels, so I bet that AD Travis will let you go, if only to give the ‘hands off’ warning to the other agencies.” Xander had the gall to give him a sweet smile.
“I’m positive that all seven of us will be there. So, who are Tony, Abby and Katelyn?” Xander gave him another sweet smile.
“Abby is the tech in DC that I was telling you about. Tony is Special Agent Gibbs’ senior agent and Katelyn is his newest hire.”
“No stealing from Gibbs.”
“I like having my balls attached to my dick man. I’m not suicidal either.” The dry response brought a chuckle from Chris.
Smirking at the two CSI’s, Chris made his way to where the rest of his team was waiting, and sat comfortably beside Buck. He just loved poking at Xander, the kid poked back, just like Ezra did. With that all said and done, the seven men went over the final bits of paperwork before their last night in Miami came to an end. Only Vin and Ezra would remain behind, but only for three more days. There were many busts to consider, and AD Travis would want them working for their pay soon enough.
It was two weeks later that Eric had returned to the lab. The man seemed to be a walking shell, and Xander frowned. However, the frown faded away as Ryan stepped up to the despondent man and some life slowly began to fill the Cuban’s body. It was that moment that Xander knew that Eric had come full circle and apologized to Ryan. He could only hope that this was a permanent condition and not a fling that would be used to cause more pain.
Xander frowned upon the upset look on Natalia’s face and all the pieces fell into place. Telling Calleigh that he had to ask Horatio something about his time sheets, Xander made his way to the Lieutenant’s office at a sedate pace. His mind was working furiously at the signs that had always been there. Natalia had practically encouraged Eric and Ryan’s fights, like it was a game to her. She seemed to hunt for any bit of bad gossip that she could find about the team. Also, her pay check and past jobs could not allow her to afford the high end clothes and shoes that she was wearing. He remembered Cordelia’s lessons in shopping, and knew that every pair she wore was at least a grand out of her pocket. Knocking on the door to the man’s office, Xander smiled upon seeing Rick Stetler as well.
“Please stay as well Stetler, I know who the mole is and feel downright stupid for not figuring it out sooner.”
“What makes you think you know who it is?” Rick asked with a sarcastic edge.
“The clues she’s been leaving.”
“She, our mole is a woman?” Horatio sounded so confused that Xander had to hold back the cooing that wanted to escape.
“Natalia Boa Vista to be exact.” He held up his hand to stop the questions. “Firstly, she encouraged the rift between Ryan and Eric. She would always be sneaking over and whispering that it was the other’s fault and that no one else understood what they were going through. I know this because Ryan told me when he was ranting about Eric one night and Eric told me when we met up for drinks two nights ago.”
He sighed, “Then we have the fact that she is a gossip hound. Now that normally isn’t a bad thing, because we all like gossip. But she hounds on the bad stuff. Like Eric’s sister being sick and having to be around pot to help her eat, or Ryan being hurt because he didn’t have backup, or even about your brother’s stunt as an undercover operative.” He ran a hand through his hair and nodded at the stunned and angry looks.
“Yeah, and then there is the final kicker; her clothes.”
“Now you’re pulling straws.” Rick scoffed.
“Do you know how much the outfit she’s wearing today costs?”
“Not really, no.” Rick was now just as confused as Horatio.
“Five grand, the top costs a thousand dollars, the pants a thousand five hundred dollars and the shoes are twenty five hundred dollars. Now, how does she make that much money on a county paycheck? Considering each outfit she has worn since she’s been here has ranged from twenty five hundred dollars to six grand.” He looked at both men and waited for their response.
“How do you know the cost of the clothes?” Horatio was curious, if the clothes were really that expensive, then they had a reason to wonder.
“My ex, Cordelia loved clothes; the more expensive the better. Natalia is wearing designer labels, all of which cost a pretty penny, which is too pretty for a county paycheck. If she says she got it off a sales rack, she’s lying because those are in style NOW, not last year or the year before.”
“Thank you for this insight Mr Harris.” The smiles on Stetler and H’s faces were lethal.
“Ask JD to hack her accounts, Chris heard that you got a Mole, and he hates spies within an office. He’d do it without batting an eye, especially if you said I suggested it.”
“Thank you Xander, we’ll call him now, and speak with Miss Boa Vista tomorrow morning, with the proof and paperwork.”
“We just got the lab back together, I’d hate for it to be torn apart because of someone else’s agenda.” With that, Xander left the office and went back to the ballistics lab with a spring in his step.
“Why so happy Xander?” Came the voice of the one who had been under discussion.
“Oh, Horatio was going over my time sheets, since I’ve been pulling a few extra hours, he told me I could get an extra day off. He’d hate to be accused of abusing his manpower.”
“Alright, you know if you need anything, you can talk to me right?” She had been trying to get him into bed for a while, and he enjoyed playing clueless.
“That’s cool, if I need an ear or a shoulder, I’ll come by, talk to you later Natalia.” With that he went to his lab, a small smirk on his face after leaving a flustered Natalia behind. She would reap what she sowed, and he would enjoy it.
The next day brought a vengeful grin to his face. Natalia Boa Vista would rue the day she tried to break the team. He knew they could find the main leak through her, and while she claimed she only told good things about the lab, Horatio and Rick weren’t buying it. The proof was slapped down before her, and she folded like man who bet all his money playing Ezra at poker. She told them everything about why she had been chosen and what the plans for the lab had been.
With this new information in hand, Natalia was released from her position and escorted out of the building. She was warned, however, that the only reason she could call them was if she was in moral peril. Backstabbers and liars were not welcomed in the department unless you were using it to help catch criminals.
She had left with her tail between her legs and Xander got to explain to Eric and Ryan why she was the mole. They had been disgusted at how well they had been played, and Xander told them that she should have tried something other than bedding people for information. Fucking the people you work with wasn’t always a good thing. If you were going to get involved with a coworker, it should be a serious relationship, because a fling would cloud your judgment much worse than being lovers would.
When asked if he had experience with that, Xander smiled softly and let his eyes glaze over with his thoughts about Ezra and Vin. Oh he knew, and he was willing to take the risks. None of the men realized that Horatio had been listening, and his blue eyes seemed to fill with determination at Xander’s words. Giving the men one last look, and lingering on Ryan’s form once more, Horatio went to his office to plan. Yes, he would follow Xander’s advice, and make it worthwhile too.
PS..... Clicky Clicky! there be dragons here!