Law and Orderly Chaos. by Voracity2
Summary: Willow decides that they need more people for graduation's battle. Unfortunately, she didn't plan on how to put them back together again. So the newest Xander has to find his own way in the world.
Categories: Buffy Stories & Crossovers > CSI/NCIS Characters: None
Series: None
Chapters: 12 Completed: Yes Word count: 188797 Read: 47075 Published: 02/15/2023 Updated: 02/15/2023
Story Notes:
Someone wanted me to put up stuff for Evil Author Day so.....

1. Part 1 by Voracity2

2. Part 2 by Voracity2

3. Part 3 by Voracity2

4. Part 4 by Voracity2

5. Part 5 by Voracity2

6. Part 6 by Voracity2

7. Part 7 by Voracity2

8. Part 8 by Voracity2

9. Part 9 by Voracity2

10. Part 10 by Voracity2

11. Part 11 by Voracity2

12. Part 12 by Voracity2

Part 1 by Voracity2
Law and Orderly Chaos






Willow was stressing. Graduation was in four days. Things were going a bit weird to her sensibilities. Of course, she had no idea about battle anythings. She didn't even play role playing games. And they were trusting Xander to handle things. Which she didn't like. Buffy didn't like it either but neither one of them could plan a battle and Giles' plans had forgotten about others being there beyond the team. So Xander was doing it and she was still stressing about that. "We don't have enough people," she told Buffy.

The slayer nodded at her. "I know that. We'll do what we can with what we have. At the worst, we all die," she said dryly, staring at her best friend then smiling. "It'll be *fine*, Willow. Quit stressing out. Not like you can suddenly call up a unit of slayers for me to be backed up by."

"No. I can't. I have no idea how to do that." She bit her lip. "I can maybe do something to make a temporary set of twins?"

Giles cleared his throat. "That is dangerous and it would leave whoever it was done to more vulnerable and able to be killed, Willow." He stared at her. "Do quit stressing as you're stressing the rest of us out." She slumped but nodded. "We have good plans. We'll manage it," he said more calmly. "In a few days it'll all be done with and we'll be past another apocalypse."

She nodded, going to her home to think up ways she could help more. She did look up that twin idea. The online notes said it would render one twin weaker so that was a bad idea. She looked up other ways to call more fighters to help them. Oz came over to calm her down so that was a welcome change of thought. He was good at it too.

But the idea was stuck in her head.

***

Xander walked into the library the day before graduation, making Giles smile at him until he saw the second Xander walking in. "Oh, dear. How did that happen? A temporal or realm spell?" he asked, trying to stay calm.

"No, I went to bed last night and this morning woke up twins in the same outfit I went to sleep in, on both of us," the second xander said dryly.

"We checked, we have the same memories. I pinched myself and he didn't feel it. He's not a vamp like that one we nearly had."

"Since we know there's a ton of magic using people in town but most of them wouldn't want us to be twins," the second Xander continued dryly. "Would you, that lesser you Wesley, or a certain redhead want to tell us how this happened?"

"I did not do so," Giles said. He sighed. "Wesley doesn't have that level of skill." He did a magical test. "He's a fully separate entity. No shared traits beyond being twins." He frowned. "Oh, dear. I see the principal."

Both Xanders smirked at the short, irritating man as he stomped into the library. "Hey, Principal Snyder," they said in unison then smirked and waved. "How're you today?" The man stopped, staring at them then moaning as he stomped off again. They shared a look then looked at Giles, who smiled at that move. "So," they said in unison.

"I'll see what she was thinking. As far as I can tell it won't be undone. Or can't be undone actually." He rubbed his eyes then picked up his glasses to put on. "For now, do you have the same level of skills?"

"Yeah, as far as we can tell," the second xander said.

Buffy walked in and stared then nodded and walked off. "I don't want to know about the freaky this time. I don't have the energy for this."

"Yell at the redhead," the first Xander called after her. She waved back that she had heard. He rolled his eyes, looking at his twin. "Well, looks like we'll have someone to talk to on our road trip in a few days I guess." He sighed.

"We'll figure it out." He patted him on the arm and went to go figure some things out while the first Xander went to class. They had worked that out earlier. Giles got to moan and complain until he could find Willow to talk to her.

Oz saw both Xanders and went "Huh, twins?" then stared at the Xander in front of him.

"We think there's a female redheaded person who did it," that Xander admitted. "No clue though. Woke up this way today."

Oz just nodded, walking off. "I'll talk to her if Buffy hasn't." He shook his head quickly but this was Sunnydale. There were weirder things than Xander waking up being twins.

***

"But I thought Xander was sitting out," Willow said that night while they were cleaning up injuries.

Both Xanders stared at her. "No, Willow, we had plans to be there helping. That was actually the plan." Buffy nodded but sighed. "I'm sorry you had that thought but oh well!" She shrank down. He looked up then went back to helping Buffy's injured ankle.

The other one was working on his own cut on his bicep from a scale. He finally got done and handed Buffy the medical tape so she could use it on the bandage Willow was putting on for her. "We're off," they told the girls. "Our roadtrip calls." They walked off together.

"We'll send postcards," the second Xander said.

"Okay, have fun," Buffy called after them. "Don't get arrested."

The second Xander turned to grin at her. "Why would we do that? That's not very fun." He turned around and went back to hiking to where their car was waiting in their storage area. He got into the passenger's seat, letting Xander drive them off. They were free of Sunnydale until they had enough of the rest of reality. Who knew when they'd come back and how far they'd get. But first they needed to go to Disney. So Anaheim here they come!

Buffy looked at Willow. "That was actually the battle plan, Willow." She pouted but nodded. "Maybe they'll figure it out on the roadtrip thing this summer." She hugged her. "You should go home. It's getting dark." Willow got her stake and went home to sit in her empty house. Buffy went back to her own house, getting a hug from her mother. "Mom, don't freak, but Willow created twins of Xander."

"So there's three of him?"

"No, just two." Joyce sighed but nodded. "She thought he'd be sitting out or just evacuating people so she thought it'd be safer when we needed more people. So they're going on their road trip and Willow's pouty. What's for dinner?" she asked hopefully.

"Soup. I wasn't sure you'd be home tonight." Buffy followed to get some dinner. "Do you need an ER?"

She shook her head. "Xander did the cuts on my ankle and Willow got my arm." She let her see it. "Besides, our ER is more for killing people." She slurped some soup and sighed. "That's nice. I've been hungry all day." She went back to inhaling soup. Her mother warmed up more for her. She was a nice mom that way.

***

Buffy looked up as Xander walked up to where she was standing on the park's little bridge. "Did you find someone to get that wackiness fixed?" she asked, sounding happier.

"Nope. He's outside town talking to someone we're now penpals with." He looked down at her. Even in the heels she was wearing she was shorter. "But we're back."

"That's cool. I guess. Still twins?" He nodded. "Huh." She shrugged. "I guess it means that you don't have to worry about things while we go on patrol and you help Giles at the store."

He snorted. "Things have not changed, Buffy." She scowled. "I've seen kitten demons to be more scared of."

"I'm the slayer."

"You're the slayer who slept with a vampire, made him lose his soul, and then didn't even *regret* when he killed your watcher's girlfriend," he said quietly, staring at her. Buffy went pale and backed up a step. "I'm the same Xander I was." He smiled sweetly at her. "So, let's patrol?"

"I guess," she sighed. "But if you get hurt I get to nag."

He snorted. "The last time you nagged me over something I didn't do you fell into a grave yourself then complained I gave you back what you gave me." She rolled her eyes, huffed a bit, and walked off. So he went with her. They met up with the other Xander at the other end of the park. "Hey. How's Abby?"

"Pretty good. Things are okay enough in DC." He walked on Buffy's other side.

"What sort of deadly is this one?" Buffy asked dryly.

"Goth but a forensic lab tech," the second Xander said happily. Buffy stopped to stare at him oddly. "Yeah. She does know by the way. It's all over the bulletin boards online." She whined but nodded, walking off shaking her head.

"She is really sweet," the first Xander said. "Kinda cute. Wears goth clothes and has pigtails." Buffy gave him an odd look. "That's what she wants to wear."

"Why?"

"Because she finds it fun."

"Oh. So she's a groupie thing?"

"Nope. Ran into it in New Orleans when she was a teenage girl." Buffy grimaced but nodded. "So she's been paying attention since then. She showed up right after we took out the Overlord over Western LA to buy us a drink for that and see if we were really the normal guys you said we were."

"You are." She paused. "You did what?"

"He was drooling on us while asking if we were tasty. He was also allergic to the metal that they make quarters out of. I flicked one at him and he yelled, tried to attack the bartender, so we had to to save the rest of the people in the club," the first Xander admitted. Then he grinned and shrugged when Buffy stared at him. "Not the first."

"You're normal, Xander. Stay normal."

"No, we're Xanders, we're not normal." He stared at her. "Also, Abby noted that we've got a problem in town. A huge problem in town. The demonic bulletin boards have been having fits about it. Which was why she really showed up to talk to us since we were the first ones out of Sunnydale in years who had a clue."

"Big demon like the mayor?" she guessed.

"Worse. Military," the second Xander said, handing over his notes. "What we took from the bulletin boards."

She read them over as they walked. "Oh, no." She grimaced. "That's bad." They nodded. "I'll have Willow look. Do you guys need to stop at the motel?"

"Already did," the first Xander quipped. She nodded as she walked off. She ran into Willow. "We're back," he said dryly.

Willow smiled and waved. "Hey, Guys. Is Buffy walking you to the motel?"

"Why would we need walked?" the second Xander asked her.

"It's dangerous...."

Both Xanders held up a hand. "We've done this for three years, the same as you have," the second one told her. "That problem got old in high school." He stared at her until she backed up. He looked at his twin then at Buffy. "Let me go check in with Giles." He took the notes back. "So he can make notes too." He walked off. A vampire popped out to try to eat him so he punched it and staked it before walking over the ash. "Thank you for the welcome home," he quipped.

The first Xander nodded. "Yeah, he's right. He's just blunt because he didn't get much sleep last night." He shrugged and glared at the vampire staring at him from the street. "Yes, we're back. Are you here to bow at my specialness?" he quipped.

The vampire shook his head. "You're weird, Harris."

"Sometimes." He grinned and shot him with his mini crossbow. "Bye. Thanks for the input." He walked on. "The papers had Shady Rest tonight, Buffster?"

"Yeah, I guess. That was what the paper said." She walked off with Willow, who was scowling. "It'll be fine, I'm here," Buffy told her.

Xander turned to stare at her. "Do you remember having the flu so bad you were in the hospital?" She blanched but nodded. "If I could handle it then to protect your blonde self, I can do it now." She slumped but nodded. "Really. We're the same people we were at graduation." He walked off shaking his head again.

"Are you going to start college next semester?" Willow asked, trying to change the subject.

"Nope. I'm not a college sort, Willow. Why would I waste my time and money that way?" He looked at her. "Nothing I like doing is included in a major at the college." She slumped. "Within a week I'll have another job and we'll figure out an apartment, all that stuff.

"Some people go to college and study a lot for a lot of money, some of us do the work people like you count on to get stuff done that you don't want to do yourself." He gave her a pointed look. "It's just as important, even when you're working fast food. Or else you wouldn't get to eat slightly tasty and yet cheap burgers and fries."

"Point, I guess." She glanced at Buffy. "She's going. We're not sure what she's taking yet."

Xander nodded. "Great. I hope she has fun in classes. It's not something I value." He shrugged and grinned. "I'd rather work as a plumber or something."

"Oh. So the vo-tech?"

"Not sure. The closest one barely has any offerings anymore." They continued to walk, stake a few vampires, all that good stuff. He met up with Xander at the motel. "Giles give you the same 'you're normal' talk?"

"Yup," the other Xander agreed dryly. "Then I reminded him I'd been doing it for three years. He cleaned his glasses a bit and agreed with that." They shared an eye roll. "Job services tomorrow?"

"Yeah. We can do that. I planned on looking around the town during the daylight hours."

"Not a bad idea. I'll sign us both up." That got a nod and they settled in for the night. They'd had jobs in high school for money and their roadtrip fund. They could easily find *something*, even if it wasn't something good. And they'd put up with the girls being little girlish assholes at the same time, same as usual.

***

It was nearly the spring and the usual was happening. They were working their way up to dealing with a huge problem. This time a sanctioned problem. The Xanders were arguing about turning them in. The second Xander wanted to. The first one said it wouldn't do any good. They already knew they were here and what they were doing.

The second Xander called their friend Abby to talk to her about it anyway. The first Xander just nodded at that decision. Abby did not know much more than what was on the bulletin boards. She hacked in at his suggestion and started to call for help. So maybe they could do something. Maybe.

Xander still had to go in with the group to do that spell to defeat the new monster of the spring. And some military guys. Not like Buffy would shoot one to protect herself, even in the leg to make them fall down and quit shooting at them. They fixed things and got out of there.

Buffy looked exhausted. "Movies?"

"Later," the second Xander said. "I need a shower." She nodded and they all went to do that then gathered in her living room to rest and do a post-battle movie.

***

Xander looked up from his construction job, seeing the guys in the dark sedan with federal plates pulling in to park. He nudged his twin, who looked and sighed. But nodded. They were probably in for it for that problem. The original Xander walked out there to talk to them when the supervisor looked his way. "Yes, guys? You're interrupting our day job?"

"Mr. Harris, you were caught on film...."

"Yes, I'm well aware *your* people sent people to my town to torture and tear apart beings," he interrupted. The agent stepped back, looking horrified. "We figured you didn't care about what they were doing since you guys looked the other way about them. My twin decided not everyone had to know so called a penpal we have out that way to make sure. What about it?"

"Not sitting well after your first battle?" he asked smugly.

Xander snorted. "Not my first battle." The agent looked confused. "Clearly, you know less than half of anything about this town, dude. Anything else? I've got to earn my paycheck." He walked off anyway before the guy could answer. He heard the agent huff but he didn't chase after him.

Xander got all the way to lunch before someone else showed up. That one sat across from them with a tablet, letting them see it. It had the agency name branded across the edge with a property of sticker. Xander looked then shrugged. "Well, it's about three-quarters right," he offered, pushing it back. He ate a bite of his sandwich. His twin was chewing hard.

"We're not going to charge you two."

"Great. Good to know that the guys who helped stop the torture are seen as good guys," the second one said, making that agent glare. "You can't tell me they didn't."

"No, we cannot. The stuff NCIS found and told us about showed what they were doing in all the wrong minded details." Both Xanders nodded. "We just wanted a report on what happened."

Xander got into a site for him and let him see it. "Our thinking journal for after patrol things."

"Okay." He read that and nodded slowly. "Damn it." He looked at them. "Why not sooner?"

"The first time we were evacuating a friend," the second Xander said bluntly. "We got argued with that it was necessary. Then she realized."

The agent sighed but nodded once. "Okay. So you went back to finish the problem?"

"And their monster," the first Xander agreed.

"That's a great thing." He went back over those notes, copying them for his own report. "Anything not in here?"

"Probably a lot," the second Xander admitted. "Not that you'd hear about that anyway."

"Is it germane to their trials?" They shook their heads. "That's good then." He tipped his head to the side. "How long has your team been around?"

"Tenth grade," the original Xander admitted.

"Oh, so you probably know what happened to this building you're finishing the destruction of?" They nodded. "What happened? We don't have a report." Xander nodded and got up, taking him to the burn pit pile, which had parts in it. "What is that?"

"That was the thing that attacked our graduation," Xander told him then patted him on the arm. "It was going to eat us all and then go move onto more populated areas. You're welcome." He went to finish lunch and then go back to his spot on the team. His twin followed just after that since he had an extra granola bar today.

The agent took pictures and sent it to his supervisor, who was horrified at that story. He did pick up a smaller piece to bag so they could see what it had been. The DNA people were very confused about the odd DNA that was mixed with human DNA. They couldn't break it down further than that. Abby sent over a tape from the graduation battle when he noted to the agents on this case about that pile of parts.

They all didn't want to see that but it explained a lot. A few agents really needed help for the sour stomachs that night. They couldn't deny the tape. It was in official custody of the FBI. It had been taken from the site's aftermath apparently. Not tampered with in evidence. The LA FBI office hated that and had went on ignoring that town once they figured out what had happened.

***

The second Xander was really tired of the putdowns and glared at the girls, who walked off. He was proud of himself, he had let them walk off. He looked at his twin, who shook his head. "I..." he started.

"You go calm down. I'll do a turn at the Bronze," the original Xander said quietly and calmly. "They're like this sometimes then they need something."

"Yeah, I hate feeling used. That's why I won't go near Anya either."

Xander nodded. "I get that and more for me."

"Point." He popped his neck then nodded. "I.... I think I'm done for a bit."

"Okay, I get that. I'll probably join you some day soon." They hugged. "Be safe."

"I can do that." He went to the shop, staring at Giles. "I've had enough of the put downs," he said quietly and calmly. "I'm about to finish burning the witch at a stake."

Giles winced. "I've tried to stop them."

"Not really, Giles. You ignored it a lot earlier." Giles frowned at that. "Didn't say a word." He looked around. "I'm done. I'm truly and fully done. My twin said he's not yet. Apparently he got the patience with the bitches that I don't have." He grabbed a few things of his. He hesitated over his usual sword and axe. Then shook his head. "He'll need 'em."

He looked at Giles again. "Watch over my twin please. Before he has to stab the witch?" He walked off, going home to make plans. He didn't have the money to just move so he had to find some somehow. Of course, somehow happened in Sunnydale sometimes if you were smart. He knew just where to start with that plan. His twin came home to treat the attempted bite mark. "Go with me tomorrow to up the bank account?"

"Yeah. I figured you were going to do that and checked a few on the way home. They're still mostly there. All but the one on third. The dirty cops probably got that."

"It would've been hard to explain anyway." They made plans until about daybreak then went to loot some demon hoarding sites. None of the peaceful ones. Nothing that would end up hurting someone. But the old mayor had things stored that he didn't need anymore. Some vampires had things they didn't need anymore once they found them there. They split it pretty evenly. The Xander going got five percent more than his twin because moving was expensive. His twin had insisted. Then he left town. He'd come back for important funerals. Maybe.

***

Two Years Later

***

New Xander, now Alex, was staring at the letter from his twin. They talked all the time. So a letter was unusual. He opened it and stared then nodded, making plans for his twin's needs. He hated the 'just in case I die' letter. He considered going back but his twin's letter told him it wouldn't matter and it'd only get both of them dead. To stay there, to baby his things he was sending his way to protect if he fell. Including his extra weapons.

Alex considered it then went to rent somewhere for it to land. He'd check it over once it got there. Someone tried to intercept it and wasn't happy to get his last boyfriend up his nose for it. His present boyfriend knew but didn't *realize*. But he was good to him most of the time. He'd put up with the boyfriend for now. He got home that night from all that and his daytime part-time job in an office, nodding at the boyfriend. "Xander's going into a battle so I'm getting his storage shed."

"Is he going to be moving this way?" he asked, staring up at him from his reading.

"Probably not. He still considers it his duty but this battle's too big."

"Battle?" he asked with a grin. "Like a real battle?"

Alex stared at him and nodded. "Yeah. Like a real battle." His boyfriend sat up straighter to stare at him. He let him see the letter. His boyfriend handed it back after reading it. "So in a few days I'm going to be super tense and pacing until I hear he's made it out alive."

"Are you wanting to go closer?"

"No. I don't want to go back to there. I went back for two funerals and that was more than enough. I miss my twin but ...he's still got the duty and I couldn't stand the others in the unit to put it bluntly." That got a nod. "So I have no idea but I know he's injured." He went to make some cocoa and then settle on the couch with the news.

"Will we have to sort his stuff for him?"

"If he dies I'll sort out the things. You'd hate his comic collection." His boyfriend sneered about comics. "We both have a pretty good collection."

"Didn't you sell yours?"

"No." He stared at him. "I'm not giving up something that makes me happy." He went back to the news. "It's all in safe storage."

"Well, if his death kills you too, I'll make sure any other collector can have it."

Xander grinned. "You're not on the paperwork. I've had that storage area for three years, dear." He grinned. "I got it well before you met me." He scowled. "I did. I've never amended that and Xander's stuff is under the same name at another place because I know most of his is swords probably. Or crossbows." He sipped his cocoa and went back to watching the news.

His boyfriend huffed a few times but went back to reading. Maybe it was time to get a better boyfriend. When his boyfriend went to bed he stayed up to consider things. This was his house. In his name. The boyfriend didn't have his name on anything in it. His boyfriend seemed to think Alex was a sugar baby who had been left things. So whatever but he wasn't on the deed.

***

Alex looked at the officer there to try to eject him. "Officer, it's *my* house. My name is on the deed." He nodded. "I'm going to the office to get it out of the safe if you want to follow me." They did that, his partner joining him from the car. He pulled out the deed to show him. "I bought it."

The officer read it over and let his partner have it to read. "That's stamped," his partner agreed. "That's the original deed from the sale." He handed it back. "Your lover said it's his house."

"No, the only thing he has is some clothes and his car. He somehow thinks I'm a sugar baby who got left things. He's got no hold on my accounts, my house, or anything. I know better than that." He let them see the bank statement for his primary account.

"Okay, are you going to evict him?" the second officer asked, handing the statement back.

"Yes I am. You can tell his dentist self that if you want." He grinned, going upstairs to pack the few clothes into a few bags and hand them over. "Here, all his stuff. Oh, I forgot a few things." He went to get a few books that were his. "His, boring. Not my style. And he hated my comic books." He grinned with a shrug. "Oh well. I can do better."

They nodded, taking it to talk to the complaining dentist. Who loudly shouted that it was his house now. The officer told him about the deed, the bank statement, and how the guy had the proper paperwork, plus had packed his things for him. The bags were handed over and they made a note on the paperwork. If the dentist wanted to sue the kid, that was his thing.

***

Alex saw the stuff coming in and nodded. "This storage area. Unless I need two?" he asked the driver.

"No, sir. It'll barely fit." He got out to put things in there. Xander took one thing to put on top of others but that was fine. "Sorry, didn't realize it was fragile."

"It's an urn," he said quietly. That got a nod and they were more careful. "Is my twin still alive?"

"As of yesterday," the driver said with a grin. Alex nodded at that, taking the picture Xander had sent him with. "Pity about his eye injury."

"Yeah it is. He never mentioned that so it's gotta be recent." He grimaced, tucking the picture into his pocket. He helped move the rest of the stuff and let the storage place, which had good security, lock it. He did warn them about his ex-boyfriend, who was trying to be a dick. He had tried to get into Alex's storage area too. The storage place hadn't allowed it thankfully. He went to move some of his too.

He had a few things left from Sunnydale. It went into a more uptight storage system that had armed guards. He talked to them about his twin, showing them that picture. They agreed he was the only one allowed in there. The boyfriend's picture got noted as an ex who was trying to claim things that weren't his.

Alex went to talk to his boss at the law firm. They were more than happy to file a restraining order for their front desk guy. The dentist was very upset and tried to sue but the judge pointed out he didn't have rights to any property, they'd only been together for six months. That wasn't long enough for patrimony. So Gerrard the dentist huffed off and left Alex alone. Which was just fine with him.

***

Xander made it to DC a few months later, finding his twin working. He walked into the law office and the security guard frowned then looked at the desk then back at him. "We're twins," he said with a grin. "I'm finally off the west coast so I came to take my brother to lunch."

"Give me twenty more," Alex called. "Have a seat, twin'o mine." He looked at him. "That looks better than I expected." He got back to work on his typing, letting his boss know that his twin was visiting suddenly. He got the afternoon off and they went to eat and talk, and make plans. Xander told him the bad news about Sunnydale. And about his upcoming trip to Africa. Alex just stared at im. "Why?"

"Because it's needed," he admitted. "The girls need me. They don't know yet. They only have the download."

"I get that. Why you?"

He sighed. "It has to be someone."

"Or you could be safer."

"I could," he agreed with a nod. "And sometimes that's a really good idea." He took a sip of his tea then put the glass down. "I need to grieve for Anya. I can do some good helping those girls." He stared at him. "I know you don't understand...."

"No, I do. I fully understand and remember why we started on that path. I don't understand you not giving yourself time to heal. To grieve and heal the injuries, all that."

"It's gone."

"I realize that." He stared at him. "Are you fully healed? Able to do all the stuff you used to do?"

"Mostly."

"Is that going to impact things?"

"Probably." He sighed and finished his tea. "I need to go grieve anyway."

"I get that. I totally get that. Anya was important to you. You should grieve her. And all the others that fell." He stared at him. "But someday you'll have to say it's enough."

"Is it though? They're still out there taking out innocent kids."

Alex nodded at that. "Yeah. You making a small dent helps some. Or you could go make a specific antigen to stop them all."

"Too many species according to Willow." Alex stared at him, handing over his glass of ice water so his twin could drink it. "I know. But I can get away from that nagging too." He smirked a bit. "Plus I'll be traveling. I wanted to travel more."

"Okay. Let me know how you're going and when you need it, I have a couch. Unless my ex burns down the house."

He snorted. "Bad?"

"Dentist. Thought I was the sugar baby of our relationship."

Xander rolled his eye. "Figures. My last one's kinda....an assassin I think."

Alex sighed but nodded. "That figures. I'll watch out for them."

"Her."

"Her then." He grinned. "Be careful? Don't let them nag you?"

"If I can." He finished the water and looked around then at him. "What're you doing beyond the desk job?"

"Mostly that. I'm taking some law classes after hours to be a paralegal. It's boring but well paid. I have SCA some weekends and Habitat projects I just suddenly show up on to help with." He grinned. "I'm not totally bored."

"That's good. Um...."

"Yes, your stuff can stay in storage here," he said dryly, nodding a bit. "I doubt you want to move your comic collection to travel with you in Africa."

"Thanks." Xander grinned. Alex leaned over to hug him. "Thanks, evil twin."

"Oh, I'll go evil if I have to." He stared at him. "Including on the redheaded one who tried to nag me last year."

"She had an addiction problem."

"Could've called that coming in high school," Alex quipped back.

"True." They finished up and Xander got one last hug before heading for the airport and his traveling to the baby slayers. Alex went to the lone place he kept in touch with his old life through. He looked at the bartender. "Can you let me know if my twin gets in *more* trouble? Or his ex the assassin shows up in town?"

"Yeah, Harris." He nodded with a grin. "He good?"

"Bit depressed. He lost Anya in the battle. So he's going to check on the slayers that didn't get to Sunnydale."

"That's a hell of a trip."

"We do like to travel." He grinned. "Oh, that one wanting that vase? No. I still have it. He won't pay for it." He smirked. "Do I need to go back to find more stuff?"

"Could help," he admitted. "Half of them sank but not all of them."

"I can do that for my vacay this year. Thanks, man." He shook his hand and went back to work. His boss gave him an odd look. "He was on run-through on his way to go to Africa to travel around." His boss nodded at that, going back to his office. He was half-demon and knew who Xander was, and who Alex really was. So it was all good and he was safe here.

Even when someone came in to kill the lawyer that hadn't won his lawsuit. Then he got up to beat that guy before the guard could. He stared at him. "Really?" he asked. "Is this legal?" The man moaned and cried. "Good!" The guard was getting an officer in. Alex went back behind his desk, smiling at the officer. "He upset me rather a lot," he said happily. "But now I don't need to go to the gym."

The officer looked at the guy then at Alex. "You hit him, sir?"

"A lot." He smiled. "He came in with that pea shooter." He pointed at it.

The officer got it and arrested the guy so he could take him to get some stitches before going to be booked into the jail.

Alex got back to his paperwork he had to type up. His boss's sigh was loud but sounded slightly amused.

***

A year later, Alex looked up as Abby rushed up to him at the Habitat site. "Hey, Abby. Long time no hear."

"I know, and I'm super sorry, Alex, but it's an emergency. There's a terrorist who wants me and Tony. Can I use your basement?"

"Sure." He nodded at the boss. "Personal emergency. Sorry."

"Thanks for the time you put in today, Harris." He shook his hand and Xander took Abby back to his place. She called her buddy, who came over. Abby checked then let him in. "Tony, this is Alex Harris. He's an older penpal for a few years now."

Alex waved from the kitchen. "Hey, Tony. Pleasure to meet you." He shook his hand with a smile. "So, terrorist? Do I need to do more than turn on the special security system?"

"I think we should be fine," he admitted smoothly.

Alex smiled. "Dude, I've seen worse than a terrorist." He led them to the basement. "Here you go. Two rooms, three couches. Big tv. Surround sound. Bathroom." He opened the door. "Come up to the kitchen if you need more than the stuff in the mini fridge if it has anything. I haven't hosted a movie party so not sure when the last time it was filled." He checked and grimaced. "I'll make a grocery order to be delivered." He walked off doing that. "Abby, want more than comfort food?"

"Please, Alex."

"Okay." He grinned at Tony. "Anything you need me to put on the list?"

"They could trace it here."

"No they can't. Not with the guys I use. They retired from the CIA." He smiled before walking off. "Use the kitchen if you want or need, guys. I'm going to be on the couch going over the bank statement. I'm undercounting ten bucks somewhere."

"Okay. Thanks," Tony said, looking confused. He looked at Abby. "Is he normal?" he asked quietly.

She shook her head with a grin. "Not in the least. But no one's getting in here."

"Okay." He'd trust her. They heard when groceries got there and Alex making out with the delivery person. Then the guy left and their host brought down snacks, drinks, and stuffed the mini fridge area. Then he winked before walking off again. He sat down to look up this odd person. This was odder than he was used to. Though...it was an Abby contact.

They heard when someone broke in, Tony hopping up to go help. He found someone being eaten by a fog of something from a vase that looked like a bad Chinese antique knock off. "What is that?" he asked.

Alex looked at him. "He really wants this vase because he wants Mortimer in there to be his new master. Mortimer isn't interested in him so he came out to talk to his wannabe worshiper. Mortimer won the talk." The husk of the demon dropped the ground and turned to ash. "Hey, nice to clean up after yourself. Thanks!" He waved. He looked at the fog, which flowed back into the vase. "Thanks, Mortimer."

"Welcome, Harris," it grunted.

He put the vase back on the table and looked at Tony. "No, I'm not normal." He grinned. "But I'm just like that. You're still safe here, Tony. Quit stressing."

"Will someone report him missing?"

"No. Anyone who knew him I'll tell in a second. The bar will probably host a toast in his honor, and then they'll mostly forget about him." He called the bar, letting Tony hear the cheer that the guy was eaten. He hung up and put the phone away. "The world is a wider place than you think, hotty one."
He patted him on the arm. "I used to live there. Now I'm here." He stared at him. "Go rest, have the headache I know you have, all that." Tony walked off looking confused. Alex tipped his head to watch him walk off. It was a great view.

***

Tony looked at Abby later that night. "Are you sure he's...good?" he asked.

She sighed, staring at him, nodding. "Yes, I am." She pulled up the information sheet on the twins, letting him see it. He sat down to read, looking displeased but not at the subject. She smiled when he stared at her. "Yeah, they're strong because they had to be. This one couldn't take more combat so he left. His twin's somewhere." She flapped a hand then smiled again. "They're sweet boys, just very protective."

"The guy earlier?"

"Was probably a demon."

"Oh." He went back to reading up on their host. "Gibbs would not like this."

"He didn't like it when the twins told me about something going on and I told others to go stop it." She shrugged when he looked. "They were both there then. This one left right after that."

"I get that." He handed the phone back with a sigh. "Do others know?"

"Not right now. By the rumors coming off the west coast that may change soon." He winced. "Yeah but I'm not sure why." She got comfy again. "It'll be fine. If the one after you comes this way, he might want to date Alex to be honest. Some have wanted to date his twin."

"I saw that." He rubbed his forehead. "Wow."

"Yeah." She nodded with a grin. "So you can see why I asked him for help."

"I can, yes. He's very protective and very helpful. And doesn't drool at me like a few of your friends." She punched him on the arm, making him wince and rub it.

"Sorry, forgot you were in the car crash yesterday." She leaned against that arm, letting him turn on a movie and turn the sound down for now. They were safe down here and Alex was a nice, protective, good boy host. For now.

***

Gibbs knocked on the door McGee told him to go to, finding a young guy without a shirt there. "Are my agent and lab tech here?"

Alex stared at him. "Thankfully Abby showed us pictures, Gibbs. Abby, visitor."

"Bad or good visitor?" she called back.

"A growling one." He let him in and shut the door, then went back to get his package and come back in. Abby came up to bring Gibbs to the basement. He checked then put it on the shelf next to the other vase, which hummed in pleasure. "No," he told the vase. "It's for the thing out west."

"Fine," it muttered. "It'll double-cross them to go after the girls."

Alex looked at the vase. "I know that. It'll have a better reason though. Including some of my blood going." The vase moaned and Alex smiled at it. "Exactly."

"Fine. Can I go?"

"No. I can't ship you out there safely."

"Pity. All those slayers are luscious."

"Uh-huh, and underage and not innocent."

"Point. Pity." He went quiet since the normal was coming back. It did sniff him and sighed in pleasure.

Alex shrugged at the look Gibbs gave him. "Not me. The air system does that sometimes. You're not my type, Gibbs. I'm not into Daddies." He went to the kitchen.

Abby came up. "We're really safe here, Gibbs." Alex nodded with a smirk while he sipped some milk from the quart jug.

Gibbs huffed. "We'll get them tomorrow so you don't have to watch over DiNozzo and his movie habit."

"I have no problem watching over either of them. They've been safely in the basement outside of dinner prep." He shrugged with a grin. "I told them to the use the kitchen since there's not even a burner or a microwave down there."

"Thank you for the help." He left, going to get McGee to find out who that guy was. He didn't like to be sighed about and he didn't like people who lived in a big, nice house without looking like they belonged there. What McGee found upset him because it looked like he was a guy who sucked up to lovers to buy him things like the house. He wanted Abby far away from that sort.

He'd find out differently in a few weeks when there was a ...something in LA that the guy was seen at. Gibbs was horrified when the guy opened something and a being came out. Then he gave it some of his blood so the demon decided he'd be good and just suck in what he could. All those girls got warned so got out of the way.

It ended the portal as well by sucking it in too. The ...being belched at that but went back into the thing holding it, which looked like a cheap urn. "What the hell was that?" he demanded to Abby.

She looked up from watching. "What Alex and his twin Xander used to do before Alex left the life and Xander wasn't recalled for this one."

"This one?" he demanded.

"Yeah. There's been a few every year, Gibbs." She smirked. "Alex used to help his twin and that team, the original team, out by there. Then he left after one really bad event to come to DC to start over. His current boss talked him into taking paralegal training." She went back to typing at some people online while watching the battle.

"He's fine. He's got a sword now so it's all good. Even though the witches are complaining that he gave the demon his own blood because it could mean the thing tries to hunt him down to eat him." She spun to look at him then grinned. "It was stupidly necessary since they didn't have a way to take out the portal."

She turned back to it. "It's amazing how many agents aren't there. Or the military. You'd expect they'd jump into an invasion in their own city. I would've expected at least Homeland but nope. Only two agents." She stared. "That's really weak. I hope the president has a good yell at them for not showing up to help."

He stomped off shaking his head, going to the old director to talk to him. "Did you see that thing in LA?"

"Yes, and the lack of agents responding was noted," he said dryly, staring at him. "Yes, those were demons from another plane trying to overrun the city to eat the people so the ones behind it could take over and then the US. Yes, they're real. Abby knew, yes."

Director Morrow nodded a bit with a smile. Gibbs was so flustered. "Yes, they're all girls. Though now they're all over the age of adulthood, the old version of their group wasn't that way and was a lot worse. Thankfully they blew up a few years ago and the new one was rebuilt around the girls to protect them. No, you cannot get into that."

"Abby wanted the president to yell."

"I'm sure he will be. Not at me as I sent orders to go help."

"That one guy guarded her and DiNozzo."

"Interesting. Abby makes some amazing friends. Though I'm not sure how he got there since he's supposedly in Africa having his own battle today."

"Abby said they're twins," he said dryly.

"Oh, I did not know that." He added that to a file. "Thank you for that, Gibbs." He stared at him. "It was one of them that tipped Abby off about that group out there." Gibbs stomped off to go talk to Abby again. Director Tom Morrow just smiled. Seeing Gibbs that upset was a fun thing as long as it wasn't aimed at you.

***

"Mr. Harris," the agent walking in said. "We need to talk to you about our response teams for such emergencies."

Alex looked up. "Sorry, wrong twin for that." He smiled slightly. "My twin is presently in Africa already doing that and I retired years ago." He stared at him. "That's not going to change."

"There was only one birth recorded."

He shrugged. "We've been twins for a very long time." He pulled out his phone to call. "You got ten?"

His twin nodded. "Yeah, I'm just sitting up and groaning in agony while wishing pain killers worked." Alex let the agent see the phone. "Oh, hey, FBI guy. Sorry but Buffy didn't call me back for that and I had one yesterday since it was considered an auspicious day to try to invade."

"Are you an LMD or something?" the agent demanded.

"No, I'm Xander, that's Alex, and we're twins. Have been for a while now." He smirked a bit. "Though if you ask Buffy she'll probably complain that I'm a normal guy and Alex is retired."

"We're making a national response team."

Xander shrugged with a wince. "Sorry, I'm already doing my duty and one of us has to survive so my twin's retired. Also, you might look into the last time the US government got into demon things. We had to stop that one with a lot of prejudice." He looked to the side. "You good, slightly less evil twin?"

"Today. I got a bit nagged by someone about bringing Victor out there with Jacob to take down the portal."

"Not like the girls had explosives. They didn't ask me to find any," Xander admitted. "You were there?"

"It was an invasion. I'll fall in slightly to help with those bigger problems. I'd hate to start to run a resistance group instead."

"Point. Did you run into anyone else?"

"No, just the nagging witch. They didn't see me at all. Faith may have but she ignored me hard."

"Great." He grinned and nodded. "Agent guy, if you guys start down the same road they did last time, we'll have to end it again. There's people in place to handle those things. You should go to Cleveland to talk to them and leave my retired twin alone." He hung up.

Alex put his phone back with a nod. "I retired three years ago from all that."

The agent huffed off. Alex waved at his back. His boss stared at him. Alex stared back then shrugged. "Do not go join their hunting groups," his boss warned.

"Only to take it down from the inside. I did help my twin end the Initiative."

"Good point. They do that again...."

"I'll start filing court papers against them while the Council takes them down behind the scenes. That way victims get some answers and hopefully it'll shut it down faster with some publicity."

"Good idea." He went back to his desk to pass that around.

Alex looked at his phone as it rang. "Aww, my last ex said I'm hot with a sword." He sent back a 'thank you, it's an old habit' and left it there. He did not want Gerrard back by any means. Though it was nice the agents were trying something new already since Gerrard had been killed a few months back by a vampire while drunk and pouting about not getting his house.

***

Xander looked at the general staring at him. "What?"

"You were in LA too?"

"No, that's my twin. He's retired from all this glamorous, injuring stuff." He waved a hand around. "He showed up to help during it because it was an invasion." He adjusted his eye patch. "He's still got his other eye."

"Oh." He nodded. "That makes sense. The US wanted to talk to you as well."

"We saw the last time the US got into the demonic community and tried to destroy it. We're not going to do that this time. We'd have to break it again." He walked around him. "I'm sure my twin's had fun telling them that."

"Probably." He followed to go over the plans for the current problem.

***

Alex looked at the agent who had tried to lure him somewhere. "Fake eye?" the agent asked.

"No. My twin lost his eye before Sunnydale fell in. Over a year after I left Sunnydale for good."

"That won't work this time," he said smugly.

Alex pulled something out of his back pocket and put it in the guy's hand. "You've hereby been served with the paperwork for the lawsuit the demonic community is filing about your last attempt at getting into their faces." He got up and smiled. "Have a great day." He left him there spluttering.

Someone tried to get into his way so he stared at them. "Didn't I shoot you before?" The guy got out of the way. "Thanks." He went to tell them that he had started the lawsuit and had served the first paper. The demon community was not happy but they said it was a good idea to save them this time.

Alex's boss got the paperwork to look over that night. It had everything, including the last program's problems and how they got ended. "Do you have the information on that, Harris?" he called.

Alex leaned in and then opened a closet to point. "Right there, boss. Everything Willow hacked, everything from Abby hacking them and telling others. Where their own files are, where the bastards are presently stationed, all that. Without outing the Council." He grinned.

"The judge won't allow hacked evidence."

"Well, I can go rescue their computers. They're still sitting out there. Still full of information." The boss stared at him, mouth open. "I was going to go back to loot the remains for artifacts for my vacay anyway."

"Is that how you afforded the house you have?"

"That and we found things Wilkins left after he died." He grinned again. "Plus a few demon stashes and some vampire enclave stuff. If I had liked leather clothes I would've had a full wardrobe for both of us. Then we split it."

His boss sighed. "Will others be displeased?"

"No. They haven't been yet. I left some of the most important things like the Gem of Amara's stash. Well, I took a quarter of it but I left all the big stuff. It was a bit gaudy."

His boss sighed but nodded. "That's good. What if this gets the community hunted?"

"They're already trying that. They can ask the judge to stop it."

"I didn't think about that." Alex laid out the strategy he was using, getting a smile from his boss. Who hated it but it was a great idea. "If they hate on you I'll have to fire you."

"That's fine. I can go play sugar baby for a few weeks." He shrugged. "Or I can go sell a whole lot of artifacts I have. I've let out a few now and then when someone really needed one for a less than apocalyptic reason. I've got a few more healing ones that I'm willing to let go fairly cheaply if I'm asked. Which everyone knows."

"I had no idea about that, Harris." Alex pulled up his site on the usual bulletin board, letting him see it. "Oh." He nodded, handing it back. "That makes a bit of sense but seems mercenary."

"I make it cheap for important things that are necessary or life saving. Or I lend them temporarily. I've only lost one that way and I misjudged why someone wanted something and told others that when they complained about me selling that thing."

"Reasonable," he decided, going back to the lawsuit. "Can we really move those computers with what happened out there?"

"Yeah. Xander checked on it before they left. It's under the former college and that wasn't touched by the sucking."

"Good to know. Would that be considered trespassing?"

"No. The base isn't listed as a base or government property. The town's listed as a secured area and only former residents are allowed out there. Which I am one of."

"True." He nodded. "Can we get them out of there subtly?"

"Yeah. I can do that. And take pictures of the base." He grinned. "Though we have some from before the sucking." He got into the boxes to show him those.

"You've obviously been taking the information gathering seriously."

"I did the drives when I left. Xander and I both took out the hard drives and had them copied. I've got two different copies and the originals in the box. Plus the computer brain parts that Abby said we'd need. Xander pulled them at her command a few months later." He grinned again.

"We have *all* their files. They left them when they abandoned the base and the base was never listed as a base in the Pentagon. It wasn't even listed as a rental. The only thing they listed was the frat house that was their cover and that was listed as a rental they abandoned. They still owed the college six grand for that semester actually."

"Huh." He nodded, going over the rest of the boxes. "If it's admissible that's great."

"It should be. They abandoned it. No one ever came back to get anything. Including the bodies. We had to dump them outside the national guard base in town and they tried to leave them there until we tipped off the cops and they went to complain about the openly sitting bodies."

"Is that in here?" Xander looked then pointed. "Oh, that is abandoned." He nodded. "So that's just gathered and handed over....does the community know?"

"Yeah. I've told the healers I have it and let them have a copy so they could search for families to notify them. The healers on K. The ones who do the census."

"That's reasonable." He nodded once. "Did they?"

"Mostly. Xander tried the healers out there but they said they couldn't do anything with it so give it to them. It was one of the first things I did in town after checking into a hotel."

"Good. I like that action. It shows you do care about the community."

"Of course I do. Most of you are peaceful and I appreciate anything peaceful. I did come into being in Sunnydale and Xander grew up around half the town being non-human. Plus he does still have mermaid taint."

"I forgot about that."

"And the possessions and now visions." His boss winced. "Yeah, how we feel too. Those suckers hurt."

"I've heard they do." He stared at him. "I know you were split."

"Talk to the redhead. She did it before grad." He snapped his fingers. "By the way, another ascension, next year."

"Gross."

"Yeah, we think the same thing." He grinned while nodding. "I'm not falling in for that. Unless it's the fate of the world, no. I'm retired."

"Even better." He put things back. "We'll try it."

"The judge, even if he throws it out, can order them to stop any hunt teams."

"Yes he can. That's actually very tactical. The community isn't fully happy."

"They're very worried about being blown open and I get that but will the congressional hearing about it, which was announced today, do anything else?"

"I had not heard that." He looked it up and told others, who groaned. "You'll get to see your former friends."

"Not likely. They still think Xander's normal and if he is I definitely am." He walked off. "I've nearly got that one letter finished. I'm proofreading."

"Fine. Thank you, Alex." He talked to the higher ups in the community and they agreed a judge siding with them would stop the hunts legally and if they didn't stop they could have them stopped legally by others. If they'd stick up for them. They noted a slayer was coming to DC to handle the community's problems so they could talk to her about it as well. It was one of the older girls who had some experience and was said to be a good slayer. "Harris, do you know our new slayer?"

"I left right after the Initiative raid, boss. That'd be my twin."

"Oh, point." He went back to it, including what information they had thanks to Xander doing things. It was a good thing for the community's actual law team. They showed up to get the boxes of information for themselves before the agents got there to arrest the lawyer for 'pretending to be human'.

Alex got up to get into the agent's face. "That is not legal," he noted. "That is not an actual law."

"The president said it is," he sneered. "I can arrest you as well."

"You're going to be hard pressed to prove anything and I'll just bring down the jail." He smirked a bit. "He's human if he said he is and being not human isn't against the law. *Nothing* in any law book states that. And really, you're just a bigot." The agent took a swing at him so Xander got him back. "Yeah, not putting up with that, boy." He stared down at him.

"You can try to arrest me for that but what you're doing isn't legal so it's not resisting arrest. And let me call someone." He reached for his phone but his boss shook his head. "Oh, no, I've had enough of this shit." He called someone and talked to them in another language then came back to grin at that agent. "Your boss is on his way. We can wait."

"He'll agree with me, demon!" he sneered.

"I'm not a demon. Never was." He smirked a bit. "Combat veteran against the ones who were causing problems, which is less than ten percent of the demonic community, but not a demon myself." The agent tried to get him again so Alex broke his wrist for it. "No. Not legal." Someone in a suit stomped in. "Hey, Bob."

"Harris." He stared at him. "We all forgot you were twins." Alex grinned and nodded. "Who's this?"

"Said he was yours. Tried to arrest my boss for supposedly not being human." He looked at him. "That's not a legal law on the books."

"No it's not but the president is considering it," he admitted. Alex grinned and showed him that lawsuit's paperwork. "Oh, shit."

Alex nodded with a grin. "Yeah. And remember, we're from Sunnydale. We helped end that nastiness out there." He beamed. "I'm pretty sure, since I know what the dangerous ones in the area are like, that my boss isn't one."

"No, he's probably not worse than any other lawyer in this city," he agreed. He looked at his moaning agent. "Get your ass up." He stood up carefully, holding his wrist. "What are you doing?"

"We're to take in all the non-human beings in this city." He showed him his orders. "And who're you?"

"The director over internal affairs at the FBI," he said, showing him his ID. The agent went pale. "No, I don't believe that's legal." He looked that over. "Not signed by a judge. Not legally enforceable."

"I'm worried they have others already," Alex said. "Do I need to remember going to raid the Initiative with the team out there?"

"No," the Internal Affairs director said slowly. "I'll look into that and make sure they get back if there are some." Alex pointed at that paperwork. "That's true. I'll have a judge sign a cease and desist letter tonight, Harris." He dragged his agent off to go do that. That agent got put into custody but not arrested.

The judge that saw that lawsuit and what that director found about the ones already taken, released them immediately to get medical attention. He scheduled that lawsuit for the next week since it was such an emergency. Alex showed up to help the healers with something that would help them heal others, nodding at the head healer as he handed it over.

"Ten bucks." She paid with a smile and pat of a flipper to him. He went to guard the healers office from his car tonight. Just in case they needed to stop them being raided and killed. He missed the vampire coming in the back door but they got that one down themselves. The agents tried but Alex got out to stand in front of the door, staring at them. One pulled down his glasses to show off his slit eyes. Alex let them in and went back to his car.

***

"Watcher Harris," an agent said as he walked up to him in the mall.

Alex looked at him. "Wrong twin, dude. He's in Africa. I'm Alex and I retired years ago."

"You're what?"

Alex stared at him. "I'm Alex, you're using Xander's title. He's the watcher; I retired years ago. And frankly, all this stress is making me wish I hadn't helped that problem be ended."

"Is that why he has an eyepatch?" Alex nodded. "Oh. Okay. You were the one in LA?" Alex nodded again. "What did you use?"

"An artifact that's been around for years now. It ate the energy from the demons that had been summoned over here and the portal itself."

"All right." He nodded, making that note on his phone. "Why did you do that?"

"Because I'm not Xander. He'd have weapons. I don't do that outside some minor things like my swords. Not all battles take physically violent responses. Sometimes you have to work smarter. While it does mean that trapped being is attuned to me, it also means he can find me someday if someone needs him to."

"Uh-huh. That house you live in?"

"Is my house. I bought it."

"Your ex, Dr. Gerrard Likens, said it was his."

"He's lying and he's dead."

"What?" he demanded.

"He died a few months after I kicked him out. A vampire found him drunken and pouty about not getting what's mine for himself. He thought I had been a sugar baby and I wasn't. I've had the money since I left Sunnydale. I bought the house when I landed in DC and decided to stay after a few months in an apartment."

"How did you afford that?"

"I found a few artifacts in Sunnydale that belonged to no one living." He smirked a bit. "Being the kids who ran all over town and finding all the hidden things that have been hidden out there for generations means that I could find them and pack them up as I walked off into the sunset."

"Oh." He nodded, making that note as well. "We're making a new hunting team."

"And my twin will be hard pressed to not take you out when you threaten the peaceful community. Which is ninety percent of them. I'd probably be drawn in to help stop that horror in the making." The agent looked horrified at that.

"My last act in Sunnydale was helping remove the last attempt at the government getting in the face of the peaceful community by torturing them, tearing them apart, not caring if they took kids or adults or even harmful things. It was so horrifying my twin was immune to walking into the aftermath of a massacre because he'd seen worse bringing them down."

The agent took a step back. "Should that start again, we'd be honor bound, and proud of ourselves, to take them down and out for good. We won't stand for another one starting. That is considered an honor debt to end." He tipped his chin up. "We're not going to let them be *subjects* or *hostiles* again."

"We wouldn't do that. We have information from somewhere."

"Yes, probably them."

"Oh." He made that note on his phone. "We know nothing about that."

"And yet, your ID says Homeland and a whole bunch of you are there because that's where the tribunal put them."

"Oh." He made that note and whoever was on the other end screamed about that. That one called to yell at him. He let Alex have the phone to answer him.

"What, don't believe it happened? Look up the Initiative project," he said impatiently. "We'll all be *damned* if it starts again. And if you're Homeland too, you already have the ones who should've went to jail instead among you." That person looked it up and started to yell at someone on that end.

"Exactly. *Good* people won't stand for agents going after peaceful beings because they look different." He handed the phone back. "Beyond that, have a better day." He walked off to get a drink and pretzel then go to the bookstore.

The agent listened. "No, they're twins. His twin is apparently the watcher. I have no idea how that worked, sir. He did not say. Yes, sir. No, bookstore." He hung up, going back to the office to dig into that project to make sure they weren't the same thing.

They were, and there were some similar names. They'd regret that when the director heard and had a fit on them for trying to restart their bad ideas. This time, they went to jail if they had made a single move towards that old idea.

The judge over that lawsuit came to snoop about things. That got him handed the information on those agents. It gave him copies to compare those files against. They weren't complete but the files on those hard drives were much more graphic.

***

Xander was dragged in front of the congressional hearing. So was Alex. They shared a look then shrugged. "See, I told you we were twins," Xander told the agents who had him. "I was busy that day saving parts of Africa from about the same thing, only with fewer slayers around to help." He got his arm free again. "That was pretty imaginative," he told his twin.

Alex smiled and nodded. "Yes it was and it worked. I didn't have the weapons I'd need to help otherwise."

"Why were you there?" one of the agents on him asked Alex.

Alex stared at him oddly. "It was possibly the end of humanity. Why weren't you there? Because only two agents showed up. I'm pretty sure LA has more than two agents in the city." The agents around them glared. "Sorry but truth, people. None of you stepped in to help. None of you called in backup who could've helped more.

"None of you called a military base. You decided to let some young women save your asses." He got punched for that. He rubbed his eye. "Well, if the truth hurts, you're doing something wrong." Another one tried to hit him but he blocked it and glared until that one backed away shuddering.

"If an eighteen-year-old girl can do it, I'm pretty sure a full blown, fully adult agent, can handle it the same way. Other than that, I'm retired, people." His twin snickered but nodded. "You should be damn lucky I did step in and bring that artifact that ended that portal so it didn't go for *hours* more. We could still be fighting it and without the slayers because they were getting injured. What would you be doing then?" The agent tried to hit him again so Xander stepped in to stop him. "I can hit him back."

"I know that. It's my turn." He stared at the agents. "Unlike me, who hasn't retired yet, he didn't have weapons to help with all that. I could've found a friend who had something I could've bought cheaply somehow. He doesn't have those contacts. He used what he had and at least *we* were handling the problems instead of hiding in a closet." He looked at his twin's face. "We almost match."

"If I lose my eye, someone's going to die for it," Alex said dryly. "It'll mean I don't get the same level of dates." Someone in the room opened the door and stared. "Yes, we're twins," he said sarcastically. "Have been twins." They got shown in and sat down, looking unimpressed. Buffy stared down at them so they shrugged.

"Did someone hit you?" Buffy asked.

"A weak ass agent who was too scared to show up," Alex said dryly, looking at her. "They didn't like being asked why none of them showed up."

"Because they wanted women to do it for them so they could then attack them and say we're all bad for being women," Buffy said. "As far as I can tell," she said when Giles cleared his throat. "Because that's what happened."

"That's about what I see in Africa," Xander agreed with a nod, not looking at her. "They learned to stop that before I moved all my girls and made them do it themselves." He smirked a bit. "It stopped a lot of problems and a lot of coming for the baby slayers. Guess what happened when I had to protect one of the babies."

Giles cleared his throat again. "Yes I've seen those reports. Is that one all right, Xander?"

"Yup. Just fine now." He grinned at him. "They really hate doing it on their own. I'll give advice to them but I'm not their army either. I'll show up for major problems but not the things they decided was weird."

"That's reasonable," Giles decided. He looked at the people staring at them. "We usually don't see Xander. He's in Africa training the young slayers down there who're staying at home."

"And the other twin?" one of the congressional members asked.

"Oh, I retired," Alex said with a slight grin. "Before I blew up the town." Buffy shivered. "With the vampires in it."

The congressional members shared a look. "Then why are you here?"

"Because agents can't tell the difference between myself and my twin," he said with a handwave at Xander. "Though I was at that invasion. Because we could've lost humanity. I didn't want to unretire but I'm not the sort to let humanity fall due to some beings summoning a lot of nibbling little bastards who wanted to eat us all so the summoners could take over."

"I can see that point," the head of the panel decided. "Are you going to keep being unretired?"

"No. Especially not after what we've seen going on in the last few weeks. Frankly, I'm wondering why agents weren't there. I'm pretty sure there's more than two agents in all of LA and the surrounding areas. The battle took three hours. They could've driven from San Diego's bases as well." The congressional people all winced.

"Also, as a note. The peaceful community is just that. Peaceful. Ninety percent of them are peaceful, decent beings who just look funny. I don't know why people hate them for looking funny, I think it's about the same as when we used to consider Asian people and Black people funny looking so therefore not human. Just because you look weird doesn't mean you're a bad being."

"We were both there, with the Sunnydale team, when the government wanted to take out the peaceful community by torture," Xander added. "We hated to bring down that whole group. I didn't want to have to shoot some. I *did*. We needed to save their victims. We won't let it restart."

Alex nodded. "There's a lawsuit to stop all that going on again and to find out the facts of that one," he told his twin.

"Great job." He punched him on the arm with a smile.

"They have no legal standing," one sneered.

"By law, neither do you as women were considered property," Alex said. "It's still on the books that women don't have legal rights. In every single state. It's not that hard to bring that back. I'd hate it and fight against that, but it's a possibility." She shuddered, leaning away from them.

"By law, there's only three people on that panel that actually have votes. Even with the amendments, they can be removed. Do we want that? No. Do we think the same racist people would've went after the peaceful community the same way? Yeah, probably. Not like they haven't been here longer than humanity."

"You can't prove that!" she shouted, standing up. She looked like she was about to throw the bible in her hand at them.

"Actually, we can. We do have written evidence," Giles said pleasantly. "In the opening notes it's stated that it's the written account of the verbal accounts of how slayers got started." He handed over the photocopied pages. "The slayers spirit was made to combat the demons that were preying on humans.

"That is a copy of the translated version. Which was first written in Linear B and the earlier version of hieroglyphics. We have original papyri with the account that was finally written down instead of given from watcher to watcher. We're all taught to memorize it and if we can't recite it in our sleep a few years later, we were removed from the Council."

The woman was spluttering but oh well.

Buffy nodded. "I've meditated to talk to the spirit of the first slayer, Sineya, many times. She's connected to each slayer. When we're called, a part of our spirit joins hers so later slayers can learn from all of us." She smiled a bit. "Sineya was most amused that we have pants. Thought it was handy for hunting. She had a forehead ridge and Native-style face paint designs."

The head of the panel stared at her. "You can do that?"

"Yes. She's in each slayer. What we know she knows and can pass on if we ask. If one of my slayers is in trouble, she can meditate with the spirit and get some ideas. If we're all meditating around the same time sometimes we can connect slightly." She grinned. "It's actually very comforting that we have that support of all the slayers that came before us. Though now and then we do get dreams from them about corsets."

Xander nodded. "The babies I'm training are all amused by that. They had to ask what a corset was after one of those dreams. Their mothers just groaned. I told them about how women used to wear those."

"Can you talk to her too?" the religious one sneered.

"Actually, yes. Because of an incident where Buffy had to call up Sineya's strengths to help her with a battle we were all in, there was a slight magical connection created. I can meditate and find her to talk to her to help some of the girls." He smiled. "She thinks it's neat there's finally people helping with the duty."

"I wasn't part of that spell. There were only four parts to fill and I was extra. Went in to help anyway."

"I didn't even think about that," Buffy admitted, looking at him. "Or I wouldn't have let you."

"I would've kicked you on the butt and went anyway," he told her firmly. She huffed but quit staring at him. "I retired right after that raid."

"Raid?" the head of the panel said.

"Going to save the victims," Alex said. "They abandoned everything there so we had to go back to check for more victims and took the bodies of the soldiers to the local reserve base to drop off."

The head of the panel looked at the others then at them. "Can you prove any of that?" Alex sighed and handed over a USB keydrive. "What's this?"

"Evidence from their own film. That particular being is the same as a six-year-old and he eats dead leaves. His whole family was killed. He was the last one they killed so he could watch them all die first." They watched it and the religious one flinched first but only looked horrified.

"Please turn that off," another one said quietly. They did. "The government did that?"

Xander nodded. "Yes. With Rangers going to gather specimens, or as they called them Hostiles, to hand to the science teams." That one heaved again. "That's why we went in to save them."

"That and the head person was making a hybrid human/demon parts monster," Buffy said. "It was my job to stop that. Which is why we did that connecting spell. They handled the soldiers and got the pens free."

"Then I went back a few days later to check for more victims because some were still missing," Xander said. "I found all the bodies just laying there. Most had been injured then died by their own hands. I had the not-so-nice duty to drag them to the reserve base and put them against the gate because they refused to take them back. Then the PD made them put them in a morgue."

"So we're looking at two distinct groups of failures," the head of the panel said then nodded once. "Rangers, you're sure?"

"It was the patches they were wearing," Buffy said. "The one I dated was. He turned on them at the end." She looked at Alex. "Is he in town?"

"Jail. He was part of the new hunting group that had to be stopped."

She grimaced but nodded with a sigh. "That's good then. He went back." She looked at Giles then at the panel. "What did you want us to do? Not fight to save humanity? I've been doing it since I was fifteen. Xander's been helping since he was sixteen. Willow too." She waved a hand at them. "We save people a whole lot. It's the duty."

"Sometimes it's smaller, sometimes it's larger," Xander agreed.

"So you're saying there's going to be more?" the head of the panel demanded.

"Yeah." Alex nodded with a wince. "Next year, on some eclipse, you'll have someone locally doing an ascension rite. Which means they'll go from a human that made deals to a huge demon worm. I've heard the sixty foot version instead of the bigger ones." Buffy shuddered. "When you see it, blow the head off." The others nodded at that.

"Have someone make sure how many they ate," Buffy said. "The one we saw could probably eat about ten people an hour at least." The head of the panel looked horrified. She shrugged. "They're rare and usually caught because there's a lot of sacrificing to get there."

"That version had the least amount of human sacrifices," Giles said. "Only two sacrificial rites if I remember right. The biggest version took three different sacrificial rites, one of them of at least twelve newborns. The former mayor of Sunnydale stole the hospital's nursery." The panel shuddered at that plain tone of voice. "We did not manage to stop him. Which eclipse next year?" he asked, looking down at the twins. Alex shrugged. "Hmm. How many eclipses next year?"

"I think two," Willow said quietly. "I'll look it up later to warn the local slayer."

"If he hears he can take it outside town to a field," Xander said. "It'd be strategic. Do we know which one?" he asked his twin, who shook his head. "Poker?"

"No. Actually the news board out of London."

"May I use my phone?" Xander asked, getting a nod. He looked that up and sighed. "Oh, no. It's a judge." He let the panel see that. "Immortal for the last hundred days. So capture and hold him then blow off the head." He took his phone back and turned it off.

"Changing him back?" the religious one demanded. They all shook their heads. "But someone...."

"You have to do those rites yourself," Giles told her. "You have to want that power, you have to do the rites yourself, you have to do the ones to yourself by yourself. Nothing can change them back since they'd protest and fight against it even if it were possible. It'd ruin their power grab. Some people do very extreme things for power. Like running for office."

"That one just sacrificed a lot for it in other ways," Buffy added. "I have no idea why people want that sort of power but I never got beyond head cheerleader before I got called to being a slayer. You guys sacrificed some of your privacy and stuff for your power."

The religious one sneered. "It's not like that."

"It is like that," another said. "We had privacy before we ran for office. Now we don't have as much and we have people who judge us on everything." He looked at them. "Though we've never had massed protests outside our homes."

Buffy nodded. "We tried to drive them off to protect the minis."

"Surely you can get rid of that *calling*," the religious one sneered.

"No, we can't. It's with us until we die. In fact, I have died. Twice now." The woman shuddered at that. "Still have the calling," Buffy said dryly. "Once I drowned and Xander did CPR. The other one, Willow intervened." She shrugged. "Still a slayer. Still have the active calling. Though that's how we found out that there can be multiple slayers at once. My drowning led to another being called."

"Before it was one was called, fought, died to call another," Giles agreed. "Now they're presently all activated and future ones will probably be activated at a reasonable teenage age so they can train then and make decisions if they want to patrol or do the duty, or to fade back to a perfectly normal life. We support both choices. Including paying for college for our girls."

"Why is she the senior one?" another member asked.

"I'm the oldest," Buffy said. "The last called individually. We consider Faith the Mother Slayer because she was the last before the mass sending so it came from her to the others through the slayer spirit. Me, Kendra, who died and called Faith, then the whole group to fight the First Evil."

"Is that something that can come back?" the head of the panel asked.

"She's loosened when someone's not fully brought back from the dead. We hope not but I realize what grief is. Just before I died the second time I lost my mother." Xander patted her on the arm. She grinned at him. Then at them. "She was the strength I leaned on for years after being called, even when she didn't know."

"How did she not know?" the religious one demanded. "Good mothers would."

"Because I didn't tell her. My first watcher didn't tell her. Giles didn't tell her and he was my second." She waved a hand at him. "She thought I was sneaking out to go club and meet a guy. Instead I was sneaking off to go patrol cemeteries for vampires with Willow and the Xanders." She waved a hand at them. "When she found out, because I blurted during a moment of great stress, she freaked out a bit then understood."

"In the old days of the *old* Council, the girls were often removed from their families so they were raised with the training," Giles said. "As soon as I took control to rebuild things, I ordered that stopped and their families found so they could find them if they wanted. Some we can't find one so they're our family. It really is like a large sorority of young women."

"No older women were called?"

"There's a few. They've mostly retired and are doing support things," Giles said. "They're the wiser, older female voices of reason and advice. One is our Counselor for the slayers that want to talk to her. One of our doctors is the sister of one who is presently in college. The ones who are agents are still doing their duties, just now they have a second job to attend to if it happens around them."

"Looking it up, the two agents that appeared in LA's battle, one had an aunt who had been so it probably got talked about in the family," Xander said. "The other I couldn't find a connection but plenty of people don't want to let humanity fall." He looked at the panel again. "We do what we have to do so you guys don't have to mourn a teenager or young adult being turned. Were you going to help us do that?"

"Why do you do it?" the head of the panel asked.

"The vampires took the one guy I'd known since before I could talk," Xander said firmly. "The one I could always count on. The one who was always with me." The head of the panel nodded at that. "We got the ones that got him then I realized that it meant one little girl had to do the duty by herself if I wasn't there helping. Seems like the wrong thing to let go on to me."

"No, it's not right that all of humanity hangs on the back of one young woman. Or even a group of young women." He looked at Buffy then at Giles. "How many are there now?"

"Sixty fully patrol cleared and farmed out to various international locations. Sixteen in the US to cover the whole country and hellmouth. Under the age of patrol clearable there's over two hundred world wide. I will not be specific in case they're attacked again."

Xander nodded. "I sure hated to blow up the people that came for one of my minis I'm training since she's four. I did, and the locals hated it, but she's four and can't protect herself yet. That makes it my duty as her training watcher." Alex rubbed his arm, calming him down. "Thanks," he said quietly.

"Not a problem." He looked at the panel. "I don't see what the point of this is. You guys saw it the same as the rest of the world that was paying attention did. Many of them have convinced themselves it was something else. You aren't finding out what made it happen, because that's been on the news a lot. You're not here finding out how you can help it not happen again, because no one's asked that."

"You don't think we should have a hearing on how wrong things are handling big problems in this country?" the woman sneered.

"No. Because the Council's been around for thousands of years. This government and all the other ones grew up with them whispering in ears to not worry about those boogey monsters under your bed." She snorted at that. "Hasn't it?" he asked Giles.

"Yes. We first started to call ourselves the Council of Watchers back in Ancient Mesopotamia. It rather stuck as the group's name," he said blandly, looking at him. "Though he is correct. We're not going to give you anything that will help you harm the young slayers. Or any slayer actually. We are very protective over the young ones, making sure they get a normal life. Which should not include death threats."

"The only thing this panel could reasonably find out is how to help make sure it doesn't happen again and why there were only two agents in all of the ones in LA and the surrounding area, no military people, nothing like that, in over three hours. Or that night," Alex added.

"We're not amused that you're wasting our time, our very precious free time when we're not on duty or working, to ask us about this instead of asking them why they failed so hard. I mean, you pulled my twin from Africa and he wasn't even there. His girls are probably in danger without him being nearby."

"They're guarding each other," he admitted. "With some people I trust. If I'm wrong and they're hurt, someone's going to die. A lot."

"A lot?" the woman sneered.

"Yes. There's a whole lot of difference between a nice, clean head shot and what I'd do when I took a few hours to kill them for harming little girls who had no choice in being born this way. The calling is gifted before birth." She shuddered again. "They have no choice in that and it's not like we can remove it. Unless you think going around to kill them for daring to be born is good?"

"God would hate you all," she sneered.

"Then let them come down and tell us that," Xander quipped back. "I've spoken to three different god beings and they didn't. They appreciated that the slayers kept down chaos and problems among the community so they could all live in peace and quiet harmony." She went on a rant about that. Xander leaned back to watch her have her fit. "Oh well, dear. A lot of the community came from other realms. Their higher ups came with them."

"We should burn them down!" she shouted.

"Why? Two were teaching english at my college back in Sunnydale," Buffy said dryly. "The only wrong thing they did was really like boring books to teach us. I still have no idea what I was supposed to learn from Jane Austen."

"Manners," Giles told her firmly. "The greatest majority of the peaceful community are other dimensional natives. The rest were here already and bred down from the original demonic courts." The woman went on another fit about that. "Dear, do calm yourself. We can prove it with some archeological digs. Three ancient demon cities have been found in the last ten years. We can pull up the papers on them if you wish." She went on another swearing rant.

Buffy stood up. "Sorry, but I need to take a trip to the little girls' room."

"Not ladies?" the woman sneered.

Buffy stared at her coldly. "No, because many of us aren't ladies. I don't have that sort of manners sometimes, even though my mother was great and tried. Bitches may fit as an accurate label but shouldn't probably be used in this sort of situation and while some of us are women, some of us aren't worthy of that title."

She gave her a pointed look. "I'd rather go take a break than to air the thoughts your little ranting about your problems are giving me. So please excuse me for a minute while *I* act like a lady." She walked off. It was the better, wiser, more adult choice.

"She's right and she's also not noting that you misquoted over ten passages you just tried to shout about," Willow said. "Should I pull them up so you can read them? I can do it in Latin, in English, or in the new translation that fixed some of King James' problems if you want, ma'am." The woman stomped off. Willow smiled and waved at her back. "Have a great week and remember the Three Fold Rule!" She put her hand down at Giles' glare. "I didn't breech the rule."

"No you did not but be more polite, Willow."

"Yes, Giles. Sorry, I let my temper get the better of me instead of going for a potty break." They heard yelling and then Buffy came back in wiping at her hands with a paper towel.

Giles stared at her. "Did you have to defend yourself?"

"No. The yelling was someone worried that they'd make the agents deal with our duty. I pointed out calmly that no one was expecting it because no one was asking why they hadn't." She sat down. "Sorry, I needed a short break." She put the paper towel into her purse.

"You don't expect us to ask the agents why they didn't help?"

"No," she said bluntly. "You haven't. You've had three weeks and you didn't. The president hasn't. No one has. Which is fine. We're used to working in the shadows. But I will not allow anyone to threaten my minis. Or my older slayers. I am the head slayer. It is my duty to protect them too. If I have to against people, well, Faith said jail was hard but I can survive I guess." She shrugged. "I won't let their lives be hurt by anyone." The panel shifted at that.

"Amen. And I'm the rabid bitch of protectors over the girls," Xander added.

"Language," Giles snapped.

"It's a quote and one of my official titles in the Underground," Xander quipped with a grin for him. He looked at the panel again. "For people who've sworn to help the people of this country, you're sure looking at the wrong people for helping the people of this country be alive today." He stood up. "Anything else? I haven't seen my twin in over a year and I'm going to take him to lunch." Alex got up with him and walked off. Buffy and Willow followed.

Giles cleared his throat. "I believe they're correct though I do apologize for some of the language used here today. We await the panel telling us how others are going to help us do our duty or if it's still just ours to handle." He got up and left after the younger ones so he could nag them. The twins had been stopped by a reporter so Alex was giving a good comment while Xander stood there looking awkward. It showed he was going to law school to be a paralegal. Giles would chew on them all over lunch in the park.

In the hearing room, an agent stood up. "Sir, most of us who are senior agents agree with that. That's our job to protect people, not a bunch of young women. When are we to appear here to answer why no agents showed up?"

"You're stationed in DC, DiNozzo."

"I know that and when that ascension next year happens I expect agents to be there and maybe one slayer."

"Do you know what that is?" another one asked.

"Yes, the FBI has film from the younger peoples' graduation where their mayor did that. They watched it once, ignored it afterwards, and forgot that the town existed again." He came up to show them the video. "That is from the dropped video camera."

He let them play it on the room's tv, all of them looking horrified. "We have one of *those* here?"

"Apparently, sir. Should I deliver a summons to my director for you? Or both since they were mid-transition?"

"No, we have one ready for all the agency directors," another one said, turning that off. "That's...fantastic but nasty."

"He did the biggest version I'm told."

The whole panel nodded. "We'll be talking to agency directors tomorrow, DiNozzo. You can spread that for us?"

"Of course, sir." He left to go do that. His director was still having a fit. "You testify tomorrow," he called into the office to avoid having her throw something at him.

"We are not going to do that!" she yelled, glaring at him.

"None of the Marines or the Navy people will *ever* let an eighteen-year-old girl protect them instead of doing it on their own. That's not who soldiers are," he shot back. "Maybe some fainting agents in the FBI or Homeland but we are a military agency." He walked off. "You testify tomorrow. They'll send the summons later."

She slammed the door and went back to her fit.

Tony went down to his desk, staring at Gibbs.

"If I had been closer I'd have jumped in too," McGee said. "I couldn't have done much but I could've helped with evacs of injured or civilians." He looked at Tony. "Didn't Abby hide you and her with one of those twins?"

"Yeah, the one with both eyes." He nodded, sitting down again. "He was pretty nice. Bit goofy. Happy enough to host us. Let us bum the kitchen whenever we wanted. The couches were comfy."

Gibbs stared at him. "I still don't believe any of that."

"Not my fault," DiNozzo said dryly. "That's all on you, Gibbs." He stared at him. "Though I doubt you'd let the girls do it on their own."

"No, that's not the Marine way." He went back to work, listening the bits of gossip going around in the section behind his desk. He had a lot to think about. This was not something he was expecting to happen or something he was used to but those kids were right. That was the military's job, not some girls' job to do.

***

Alex and Xander were out at a club that night when they ran into DiNozzo. Who was having an argument with someone. Someone who tried to hit him with a gun. Alex strolled over, Xander right behind him. Xander handled the bad guy, Alex removed DiNozzo. The bouncer came over to break it up. Xander was staring at the guy, making him back away.

"I don't think this is a good idea," Xander said bluntly. "Head injuries suck. I've had a few concussions." The man tried to hit him so Xander punched him back and made him scream in pain since he had broke his ribs with his. "Yeah, I have some muscles," he said dryly. "No assaulting nice guys my twin knows." He looked at the bouncer then at his twin. "He good?"

"Light concussion." Alex looked over then at him. "Want helped to an ER?"

"I'm good," he said quietly. "Thanks, Alex."

"Welcome. Didn't think you wanted to be beaten that way." He patted him on the cheek, letting the bouncer handle him. "Guys, be more gentle. Concussions suck." They got him to an ambulance and the other guy expelled. The twins went back onto the floor. They could handle it if someone yelled because Tony had been at work instead of at play.

***
Part 2 by Voracity2
"You keep running into my agent," Gibbs said the next day when he ran into Alex on his way to work.

"I guess he's just lucky." He smiled at him. "Because I am amazing. How's his head?"

"Fine. Why were you at that club?"

"Xander spotted a whole bunch of pretty girls being let in and picked it instead of one of my usual. Which I've seen Tony at before." He took his coffee, paid a tip, and left. "Gotta go to work. Tell him we said feel better and Xander's already on his way back to Africa."

Gibbs growled a bit but he couldn't fault that reason if it was the truth. He wasn't sure it was. He followed him back to the law office, finding him getting in a officer's face.

"Why are you raiding my job?" he demanded. "Are you one of those who're coming after my boss again?"

"No. Your office's guard is under arrest for threatening his ex drunkenly last night by text," the officer said.

"Oh. Okay. Sorry but we've had some problems."

"We don't have that noted."

Alex stared at him. "Yeah, I know." He nodded. They huffed but did take that guard with them. He went inside. "You good, boss?" No answer. He looked. No boss. He checked his schedule, no court date. No meeting. Not at home as his family was off at a safe location. He texted him and no answer. He went out there to stop an officer. "My boss may be missing." He looked at the guard. "Did you see him earlier?"

"No, Harris."

"At all?"

"Not since I left last night. He put something on your desk." Alex went to look then came out to show the officer, who called that in. "Bad?"

"Those hunters. Again." He stared at the officer, who shook his head with a sigh. "He's a good lawyer for many people."

"I'm sure he is." He looked him up. "Listed as detained by immigration?"

"He was born in Virginia. I don't know why."

The officer showed him that entry. "You can call them to see."

"I can do that and my twin. To make sure he actually made it onto the plane home." He walked off calling his twin first. Xander was in the airport, had no problems with Customs. Was about to board soon. He'd pay attention though. Alex hung up and locked up the office, taking that information to one of the community bars. He wasn't really allowed there, but.... The bouncer tried to stop him. "My boss got detained by immigration for being born in Virginia." He showed him the paperwork.

"Elliot's not in today, Harris."

"Anyone else and is he missing too? Since those two are drinking buddies?"

"That I don't know." He took them to show to someone inside and tell them that. He came back with the papers. "Elliot's ex said he was camping."

"The man hates dirt. Even puddles in the city. Why is he camping?"

"No clue." He sighed.

"Okay, well if I'm right, let me know so I can help somehow?"

"Your twin left earlier."

"He just got on a plane about ten minutes ago. I called him on the way over."

"No, his plane took off an hour ago." He looked it up. Alex did the same thing. "Or not. How...."

"Yeah, not sure. And hell, Xander got all the calm." The bouncer stared at him. He grinned. "Redheaded tornado wanted more people for grad and thought Xander *had* to be out of harm's way," he said quietly but sarcastically. "So we woke up this way." The bouncer sighed but nodded. He checked the bulletin board for the other two names, letting him see it. The bouncer winced but nodded. "So.... Do we have a response to this? Or do I get to go full on Xander?"

"You can't do that. He's got experience you don't."

"I may have left after the base raid, but that doesn't mean anything. You guys know I cleaned up a few messes that tried to get into my face." He walked off thinking. If they had a response from the community he'd help it. If not...well, he had a response for the community. People might hate that in DC though. He wasn't subtle.

Xander wasn't either but Alex tended to make a bigger mess and had a worse temper. Maybe he could use something owed as a poker debt? No that may be a bad thing. That was limited and may not get everyone out of there. Though he did stop in at another community bar to whisper in one guy's ear, getting a moan and a nod. "Can you?"

"I can't save your twin and boss," he said, looking at him. "Unless you want me to leave the kids?"

"Hell no. Get the kids out of there and to a healer or someone if you can. I'll go be a Xander I guess."

"Your twin's boss will get mad."

"I'm not employed by Giles. My boss is presently there. With my twin." He grimaced. "Gotta go fix that. He needs his owed debts." He walked off, going to the bank then to another type of bar, going to find someone. He smiled as he leaned down in front of him. "My twin and my boss both got captured with a lot of other people and kids. I have an owed debt getting the kids. Can you get my boss and twin? Or should I do it myself and make a mess?"

"They'd hate either option and we're under orders not to." Xander put the envelope with money. "Not even for that."

"Sure. I'll go solve that myself like a real Xander." He winked, picking up the money, using it to go buy something at the bar. The bartender winced when he saw him but oh well. He got the three things he wanted and went to go break into that science lab with razor wire and armed guards. He got one graze but that guy went down to a non-fatal shot.

He did try for non-fatal. He was also wearing an eyepatch. If they were confused that was fine. If not, that was fine. The patch was special. He got into the cells, getting his boss first. "Go. I've got someone rescuing the kids by wish."

"You...Harris?" he demanded.

"Yeah. Ya think?" He pointed. He went to free his twin. Other guards were showing up looking amused. Until the demon snot bomb went off and they all moaned as they fell down. He got Xander out, handing over the eye patch since he was missing his. "It's your special one."

"Great. They decided we're all immigrants for some reason."

"This isn't listed as an immigration facility. Go for it." He handed him the bag. "You can bum. I just bought them." He grinned. Xander took it with a smirk and went to handle a bitch. Alex went to force his boss out. "This is not a legal immigration facility, boss."

"If I leave they'll charge me with that."

"They can't do that. You were born in Virginia." The guy sighed at that. "Let's go? This isn't listed as an immigration facility. This is listed as a science lab."

"Shit." They got taken from there to a legitimate immigration facility by Alex's plot. Xander disappeared thanks to a witch with the rest of the kids in the facility, after telling the people guarding them where they were going. That got a crying mom and a happier few other people. Apparently his owed wish had only gotten the injured ones. Alex's boss walked up to the gate.

"Myself and the others were taken by supposed immigration agents, who weren't wearing the new ICE coats, and put in a facility that was listed as a science lab instead of an immigration facility. We need to make sure of our status before we're fully rescued please." The agent on the gate called the higher ups to come straighten that out. The boss told them where it was, and what had happened. They investigated, found it wasn't them, and they were all released.

He really had to talk to his secretarial guy. Though Alex was a nice enough guy. Xander was a pacing menace when he was bored or upset. Alex was much calmer. That's why that facility wasn't in ruins. He got a text and looked then brought it back to the gate agent. "There had been kids. These ones got evacuated to a healer's office uptown." He let him see the picture, making him heave. "Can you let them know that and the rest of the kids were taken to Cleveland's healers?"

"I can do that, sir. Thank you for letting us know." The lawyer nodded as he walked off looking calmer. He called that in and his boss went to investigate that too. Those kids were in bad shape. Those agents, if they were agents, were going to be in a world of hurt when they found them.

***

Alex came out of the healer's office, looking at the agents pulling in. "I'm sorry, people, but this is a healer's office. You are not going to be allowed to go harm injured people seeing a doctor. We're not supposed to resist but since I helped some injured kids get to another one earlier, I'm not going to let healers get hurt. They're incredibly precious."

One agent walked over. "Kid...."

Alex stared at him. "Not really."

"You're mouthy."

"And I'm right." He smiled. "And unless you have a warrant or a reason to need a healer, why are you here illegally?"

The agent blinked a few times. "You a lawyer?"

"Paralegal. Maybe later I'll go for the full ride."

"We can arrest you."

Alex grinned. "That's not legal either. If I'm stopping you from going in there illegally, that's not a problem for me legally. That's a problem for you for being here illegally. Which my twin will sing about."

"I heard he's in Africa."

"Now. I had to go make sure he got there earlier." He stared at the agent.

"Shit, you are him."

"I are him," he quipped back with a smile and a nod. "Yeah. I'm the hidden Harris spawn. Why?"

"We wanted to get notes on what was done to those kids." Alex looked at the three cars then at him. "We were hoping we wouldn't have to meet an army protecting them."

"I tried to hire some earlier but they didn't want to protect my twin for me. And I took them to Persimmons not here."

"Oh, okay. How bad?"

"I used an owed poker debt to have someone else move them from there. He said he could only move five, told me there were kids, and moved them when I agreed. Then we found more there so my twin kindly had a witch move them for him."

The agent shook his head. "That's probably illegal."

"To raid a lab facility for their experiments? Maybe. What's more illegal though?"

The agent considered that. "It's immigration."

"No, it's not." He showed him what he had pulled up earlier and copied a few times. "That's the site where they were. They went to an immigration facility to make sure they wouldn't get blamed for being rescued."

He took it to look at and sighed loudly. "No, that's not immigration at all. They destroyed the building in the rescue?"

"No. I made a huge hole in a wall when I couldn't get the doors open on the way out. It was still standing when we left."

The agent handed it back, going to talk to his boss then come back. "The other healers?"

"They got sent to Persimmons over on K."

"I can ask them for details so we can arrest the fake agents."

"Are they fake agents or agents faking being in another group?" Alex asked.

"I don't know yet. Either way it's still impersonating an immigration agent." He tipped his head. "You're rabid."

"Healers are precious and often hunted for their skills. So are seers."

"Oh." He nodded. "I didn't think about that. Okay, we'll go politely ask that healer."

"She does have a gang protecting her clinic."

"I can handle that." He got in to drive off, letting the others follow him.

Alex looked back at the staring receptionist, who smiled at him. "You're safer."

"We do try, Harris. I've alerted them that agents are showing up to talk about those kids. It was wise to let them evacuate the kids."

"I had no idea they had kids until I asked them to get my twin and my boss. I'm just glad he realized it." He stretched. "Need me?"

"No, our guards are coming back. Go rest."

"I should probably go to work and check the voicemail." He grimaced. "Though my boss is probably pissed at me." She nodded. "It figures. But if I have to find a new job, I'll figure it out. Maybe I will go to law school after all." He strolled off to grab his car so he could go to work. He walked in and nodded at the boss before sitting down and getting into things to handle the daily tasks. Including sorting the mail. He went to hand over his personal mail and then went back to typing.

"That was dangerous, Harris."

"It was necessary."

"Still dangerous."

"Yeah, I'm almost missing having my life threatened," he said dryly. "But I can't hack physical battles where I'm being put down by both sides."

His boss nodded at that. "Fine. Are you injured?"

"Not even more than a graze, I've already cleaned it up."

"Are you a paramedic?"

"Learned from Willow's mom's books. Just like she did."

"Wow."

He leaned over to look in there. "I've been doing my own stitches since I was six, Boss. I'm a bit better than I should be." He sat back up then decided to run a bug scanner around the office. He found a few he handed over then went to check the guard's usual seat to make sure he hadn't left anything. He went back to his own desk. "By the way, Billy got arrested for drunk texting his ex last night."

"Charming!"

"That's when we found out you were missing."

"Even worse." He sighed. "Did you tell others?"

"Yeah. I went to the bar by the Cressida. Elliot's wife told the bouncer that he's camping. The bouncer and I thought that was weird so I looked it up on the bulletin boards."

His boss did that and groaned. "He hates dirt. Why would he be camping?"

"Wasn't he there?"

"No."

"Shit!"

"Let us handle it, Harris."

"Okay. You'll ask if you need my help. I tried to hire someone more official but they had all been warned off."

"Even better and more charming. Do you think they'll turn that in?"

"It's not illegal to hire someone to rescue my twin."

"If they're under governmental holding....."

"That site was listed as a lab. Not immigration."

"I saw that."

"Those agents weren't ICE."

"Oh. Didn't think about that."

"I did. Because people hate my twin for doing the work he does." He sighed loudly. "I really wanted to talk to him about retiring but he likes his minis."

"Someday he'll get too battle tired too."

Alex leaned over to look at him. "It's very likely he'll die in the field." His boss nodded that was true. "Which I'll hate and have to go avenge." He sat up again. "Also I dropped the film in the box to be developed on the way out."

"My son will thank you for that. He was supposed to."

"Sure." He got back to menial tasks that he actually enjoyed doing. It wasn't hard and gave him a way to think about things. That's why he always did a proofread for things like twinkies showing up in things he typed.

***

Alex looked at the judge who had gotten the case for the peaceful community. "Yes, Your Honor, I am a fully graduated paralegal. The community has another legal team but they're busy with other things." He stared at him. "I'm also related to this issue as my twin is Watcher Xander Harris, the trainer for the slayers in Africa. I used to hunt with the team in Sunnydale until I retired a few years back."

"So you do know a good bit about the community." Alex nodded. "Are they in agreement?"

Alex looked at them. "We are, Your Honor. It gives us a way to stop the confiscation of our people. Multiple times already."

"I can see that being necessary." He let the sides call for their opening statements. The other side had a few lawyers. Alex listened then shook his head at one point, making himself a note. When it was his turn he stood up. "Who are they to say that looking different is illegal, Your Honor?"

The judge looked startled at that. "In the not so distant past, they said the same thing about people from the Asian continent, about Black people, about Native peoples. Many of the peaceful community have been on this plane for longer than humans." He looked at that side, who winced. "We can get written records based on the original calling of the slayer. One was presented to Congress."

He looked at the judge again. "Beyond that, even the ones that moved here, mostly to get away from horrible despots and wars, are living peacefully. Paying their taxes, running businesses. Being good citizens. Only about ten percent of them are out to cause problems.

"Maybe thirteen if you take the higher estimate of how many vampires there are on this plane since so many are just hungry and not really discriminate enough to feed from other sources that aren't running happy meals." He looked over then at the judge again. "Since when has the government had the right to decide if someone's sentient and sane?

"I thought we got rid of that with the eugenics movement, which was also racist. Also, we have proof that the government knew about the peaceful community before all this. They had a *charming* project in my former town where Rangers and some scientists decided to figure out their biology by means of torture.

"Literal torture, not figurative, ow that hurts sort. Of the pulling apart while alive. Of skinning while alive. Of burning while alive," he said, staring at them. "In fact two of the people at that table know about that project. One was on the clean up team and tribunals. The other was one of them." He looked at the judge again.

"If a being is sentient, is proven sentient, can go to college and pass classes better than I can, isn't that putting them on the same level as a standard whitebread American human? If we're against them because some are purple or blue or red, then that's really racist. I thought the government was against that." He sat down. "Also, my clients would like to hear about any family that may still be missing. All their victims weren't accounted for. If they're able to be saved we should do that sooner instead of later."

The judge nodded. "I can see those points. Is that project classified?"

"I didn't sign an NDA. No one's asked anyone on the Sunnydale team to sign any sort of non-disclosure agreement. Is it classified now? Yes. Am I under that restriction as I do not work with classified materials and I was there to help bring down the base? No because they didn't tell me I had to not talk about it."

"Oh. I see." He nodded. "The hard drives you presented?"

"They abandoned the base after we brought down the project, Your Honor. My twin and I went to strip the hard drives." He presented some papers. "This is the only notice in the system of that whole base. It's the frat house they were using as a cover as the base was underground. It does not mention the base. The college didn't mention the base. The town didn't mention the base. The government didn't mention the base.

"As we did not use their entry, we used the alternate entry in the woods, we did not trespass on government property. Also, that was weeks after they had abandoned it. They even left bodies there rotting. Didn't pick up their injured." He handed over pictures. "When we went in to check for other victims because we heard some were still missing we found that."

The judge grimaced as he looked at them. "They left the soldiers?"

"Yes, Your Honor. My twin dropped them at the local reserve base. Which did not want to deal with it so they left the bodies sitting there until we tipped off the local PD and they made them put them in a morgue."

"Oh, dear." He went back through the pictures, including the computer ones. "What did you take of it?"

"Mother board with the chips and the hard drives in case there was some sort of cryptography thing going on. We asked someone who knew more about computers than we do and she said to just in case."

"Is she going to testify?"

"I have not asked. Would she? I'd think so. When I told her about all this, she alerted people who got them shut down from this end of the problem."

"Oh." He nodded, handing the pictures back. Alex waved a hand so he put them into evidence. "How sure are you that two of the government's side were there?"

"Pictures of the tribunal?" He handed it over with a smirk. "Also, the duty jacket of one of them." He handed that over.

"Oh, he was listed as permanent duty assignment, Homeland, but he went to law school." He nodded, looking over there. Then at Alex. "I may not have a classified rating high enough for this, Mr. Harris."

"You do. The project's currently closed and sealed but it's rated at ten, Your Honor."

"I do have a security rating above that, yes." He looked at the other side. "I know you have motions to suppress most of their evidence?"

"It was illegally gotten, Your Honor. Even if they abandoned it, it was still a base." That paperwork was handed over. "That is not what I have." He let the judge have those, which gave them to Xander.

"Your Honor, this is dated six weeks ago," Alex said. He pointed. "That date there is six weeks ago. When they tried to restart it and that address is not in Sunnydale. That street did not exist." He looked at him. "The Initiative base was under the college's eastern edge and into the woods. There was also no such road in Sunnydale." He handed them back. "Is that where the current ones are?" The lawyer shuddered.

The judge looked at him. "Can you prove that? I know Sunnydale is destroyed due to something."

Alex turned on his phone and pulled up a map with a list of roads. He let the judge have it. "As of when it closed. It hasn't been updated."

"How would you know?" the other lawyer demanded.

"Because I lived there my whole life until I got to DC," he said sarcastically. "I got four months of a road trip after graduation, got stuck in Oxnard due to car problems, but that's over twenty years of being the kid who searched around town, got into everything, found so many wrong things the mayor actually tried to stop us from doing it. Because we found his gold stash and called a librarian, who called a reporter, who told the mayor. We got given a certificate and got a picture in the paper."

"There was only one of you," he sneered.

Alex nodded. "Yeah. My twin and I were split one night by magic. The witch had problems and thought we needed more people for graduation but never planned to put us back together. So yes, I am the magical twin of Xander Harris." He grinned. "Good job finding that!" He held up two thumbs. "But I'm also my own person. Have been for years.

"The city swore up and down we were twins and made sure the proper paperwork was there. The state of California just nodded because Sunnydale did." He smiled. "You can ask Rosenburg how she did that. Though there was an incident where we were triplets for a few days thanks to a troll with a hammer. When you deal with magic sometimes things aren't normal."

His boss stared at him then nodded. "We knew that, Your Honor. We share information among the communities."

Alex nodded. "I've kept in touch with a great many beings I used to know out in Sunnydale. I play poker with a few."

The lawyer slumped, looking at the judge. Who nodded. "You do have a legal birth certificate?" Alex handed it over from his bag. "Oh, I see they did give you one. Is that a corrected copy?"

"Willow forged our original one because my mother was too drunk to file her own birth certificate at first. The school didn't care, they were dirty to the mayor too, but Willow got worried it'd cause problems so made one and got the date wrong. I did have the date corrected for both of us to our acknowledged birthday."

"How drunk was your mother?"

"She was apparently drunk enough that she didn't realize she was in labor, just complained while mopping up the new fluids, and called the paramedics to save her from the thing trying to eat her leg. Which wasn't the kraken but was the infant she gave birth to. She had no idea she was even pregnant. Then again, she was a good quart of gin a day sort."

"Oh." The judge let out a shudder. "I've seen bad parents."

"We did amazing raising ourselves," Alex agreed happily with a smile. "Even if we did go everywhere in town and spotted so many wrong things. And kind of drove a librarian nuts for not having comic books."

The judge shook his head. "You're very weird."

"Yes but they demanded I show how things were out there," Alex shot back, staring at that lawyer. "Feel better?" He shrank away from him. He looked at the judge again. "Anyway, that date is still six weeks ago, that area is not in Sunnydale, and it'll be something I research later on, Your Honor."

"How did you leave the town?"

"I looted from some vampire clans, some of the shiny things that were laying in crypts that didn't belong to anyone, set up a trust fund I split with my twin, and then left. I retired after the last base raid on the Initiative."

"I can see why," he admitted, going back over the government's motions. "None of your paperwork pertains to Sunnydale, gentlemen." He looked at them. "It's all that same address."

"There was a small attempt to get back to that project but it was stopped within weeks and we assumed they were talking about that, Your Honor."

Alex looked over at him. "In Georgia? They didn't get more than three people before someone higher up got them free." He sat up again.

"No, not Georgia." He sighed. "In Tulsa."

"Tulsa had thirteen beings that had been shipped off from Sunnydale," a demon in the theater seats said, standing up. "My group ended that one and got them free, Your Honor. There was evidence of two others but we informed the healers so they could notify families." He sat down. "That was also not at that address as that one was actually illegally on Tribal lands and the address wasn't a street, it was a county route. I can look that up if you need it."

"Please. I'd like to see evidence from all the other versions." He frowned at Alex then at the others. "I'm going to allow this until you can show me proof of which incident those are from. This lawsuit only covers the group in Sunnydale and the current goings on." They nodded, making notes on what to look up. "Okay. Onto the second motion. It comes from Mr. Harris' side.
"I see they're asking for a restraining order to keep the government from presently confiscating people. Have they?" Alex handed over sheets with pictures, including incident reports. He took it with a sigh to look at. "That's at least less disturbing but still bad." He looked at one then at the other side. "Was there not already a restraining order?"

"It ran out yesterday, and we are not aware of an official government group, Your Honor." He stood up. "We're aware there is one. We're aware some are actually agents. They're pretending to be from agencies they're not from. Many have been arrested. I have no idea how many are missing and we agree that there should be a restraining order until this is settled into law. Especially with some of the atrocities of the past groups. We don't want to make Mr. Harris have to rescue anyone else."

"I've only rescued people twice," he said with a smirk. "But my twin's fine."

"Good. We heard he's having a huge problem this week down there."

"Two actually, back to back so he'll handle one, fly to the other, get a nap on the plane, and handle it."

The lawyer nodded. "We honor Mr. Harris and his twin for their service but we all agree that no one should be in custody until this is settled. If there are, it is not an official group sanctioned by the government."

"Then how do we stop it?" the judge asked. "Will another restraining order work?"

"I'm hoping," the lawyer said. "We did agree to not fight against that motion, Your Honor. None of us want to torture beings who aren't human. We may not want them in the US. Even if they were born here. Even if they're good citizens who just look funny. But we do not want to torture them."

The judge nodded. "Good. Find information that group for me?" He looked at Xander, who looked at the others, who handed up what they had. "Yours, Mr. Harris?"

"I only know of one and I rescued those kids last night. They were trying to confiscate an egg nursery. Only one egg got moved and the caretakers said they think it'll be okay."

"That's good of you." He looked it over and sighed. "That's where that address is." He let the lawyer see that. Who sighed but nodded at that information. "I'm going to halt their work. One way or another. The US is to arrest them to stop them if they must, or stop them however they must, and hand any beings back to their peoples. Any particular hospital?"

"We have healers set up around the city," the one in the theater seats said calmly and quietly. "We don't usually go to human hospitals."

"I can understand that." He wrote out that order. "We have one last motion. I see paperwork to suspend any talk about that prior project. Which is the hinge of the case itself." He looked at them. "I'm going to look into the legality of classification before I rule on that. So if the President comes to tell me to butt out, I have to rule without that information."

"We can talk about it without talking about them," Alex offered. "They were still captured and tortured, Your Honor."

"That's not exactly how that works. But it has been allowed in the past. I'll check on that and tell you tomorrow at two." He banged his gavel and they stood up when he did to go back to his office with the evidence piles and boxes.

Alex sat down with a sigh, looking at his boss. "You're doing okay," he admitted. "Bit scattered but you're just like that, Harris." He patted him on the shoulder. "Going for the full ride?"

"Thinking about it." He packed up his things and put his bag back on his shoulder. "Let me go make mac'n'cheese. I deserve something gooey for dinner." They nodded and let him do that while they gathered to talk.

***

Buffy walked into the court room a few days later with a baby in her arms and looking messed up. "Alex." He hopped up to take the baby from her since it wouldn't let her go. "They tried to grab a nursery center in Cleveland," she said quietly. "We rescued most of them but two are still missing. She's a twin and her twin's one of the missing. Their little sister is the other. Willow can't track them. We're hoping your twinness can help."

"I'll see what I can do. Sit, Buffy." He looked at the judge. "Your Honor, I'm needed to help find her twin and little sister." He looked down. "You can grip me all you want. I know about being a twin." He kissed her on the forehead. "We'll let a healer see you as soon as we walk out of here." He looked at him. "May I call for a time out?"

"You may and I'll allow that. How do you plan on finding her?"

"My twin's known as the bastard protector of slayers, Your Honor. I can hunt just as well as he can." He gathered his bag and walked off with the kid. Buffy followed. They went to a healer, who took the baby to treat immediately. They were all paying attention to the hearing. Alex got his pendant out and put it around her neck, making her calm down at the energy she could cling to. He looked at the healer. "Let me hunt?"

"Be careful. They'd consider you one of us," she warned.

"Nah. Xander has the mermaid taint, not me." He grinned and left, locking his bag in the car. Buffy went with him. One of the demon clubs tried to stop them but Buffy stared. "There's missing kids," Alex told him.

"We heard. They're not local, Knight." He stared at him. "Are you going to turn into your twin?"

"Nah. I have all the temper. He got the weapons." He grinned. "Any idea which state?"

"We've heard rumors about Nebraska. We've heard rumors about Plath, North Dakota. We can't be sure."

"Is Mortimer in and will he do a tracking for us?"

"I can ask. He is behind the bar." He went to ask, bringing out a small coaster. "Blue is closer." Buffy smiled and patted him on the arm as she followed Xander and called the witches.

They got there and Alex pulled out a few hidden things he carried. That whole base went up but the innocents were safe. Those demons were really nice to stay confined. They didn't find the kids so went to the other one. That took a few hours to trace around town. When they did, the locals came out to help them. No kids but they had evidence on where they were. Buffy took that for the court case.

Alex got sent there with a weapon he bummed from his brother's storage area. The kids were mostly okay, bit injured but would live. The humans.... The locals decided to come arrest them for him when the cops from the last area called them to warn them he was coming to help those kids. Which was nice of them. He got the three kids he had found back with him. Buffy sighed, taking the extra. It struggled so Xander took her back to cuddle. "It's probably my hellmouth taint," he told her.

"Could be. Healers?"

"None nearby," an officer said, coming over. "Are they good?"

"Maybe," Alex said. "Probably." He looked at the officer. "Can you clean up my mess?"

"Gladly. Who're you, just for the records?"

"Alex Harris. I retired from hunting about five years ago now but they have stolen kids." That got a nod. "Let me get them back to DC and a healer. Their sister's there." Buffy called and the coven sent them back to the courtroom since it was early but they were there. "Sorry, I meant for them to send me to the healer. Boss, get a healer? They're sucking at my hellmouth taint."

"Already calling," someone said, coming up to help. "They'll live, Harris."

Alex nodded. "That's what I wanted. The one on my back? I think she's asleep."

"I'm hoping she is. She's clearly got head trauma with that dent."

"Your Honor," the government's head lawyer complained. "This is highly prejudicial."

"I did not plan for them to send me here," Alex told him. "I expected to land closer to a healer. But the witches are tired and so are we." Buffy nodded, letting the healer in when she got there and making sure she could hold the kids. She went with her.

"You stay," the healer ordered quietly. "It's too important." He nodded and she took the kids with Buffy and a few guards. Buffy rushed back to hand over those papers then went again.

Alex looked at himself. "Sorry, Your Honor. This was not a planned stop." He put the papers down on the table. "My bag's in the car." He sat down. "Sorry about the sweat and smoke damage."

"Did you find that one's sibling?" he asked.

"Yes, two of those were. The other one's a child of a member of the Demonic Council of Cleveland. Her first birthday had pictures all over the underground because she's a sweet little hellion that her parents tried very hard to have."

"I can understand how that happens. I know humans who've done that." He looked. "Are those being presented?"

"These are from the desk area in one of the facilities we raided. I haven't looked through it yet." He flipped through it. "Aww, they have plans of blaming things on Xander." He let the other side's lawyers see that. They groaned. "He wasn't in the US then. That was about two weeks after he went to Africa." He went back to looking then handed them over. "We raided that one facility to find the kids based on that evidence."

The judge read through it, taking that one sheet. He snorted. "They think your twin's twenty-nine."

"I think we're twenty-six, nearly twenty-seven," Alex said, looking over there. Then at the judge. Who was shaking his head. "Those were not legally gathered as we went through the desk to find the other facility. The local police arrested those ones we found."

"Alive?"

"Injured mostly but yes. Even if I have to shoot another human I tend to go for injuring instead of killing unless I have no choice."

"That's good of you." The judge went over it. "Mr. Harris, give me an end game of your plan."

"Stopping all this, legal acknowledgment that they're sentient beings who can decide things for themselves, and giving the families the information on their still missing members at the baseline. At best prompting a way for those who're here through illegal immigration a way to fight for citizenship.

"Acknowledging that some of them are already citizens and entitled to the rights and responsibilities of all human citizens. We'd *like* to see these sort of projects stopped for good. We figure that'll take a different court case. Or someone with really big shoes using them as suppositories. We're not sure if anyone wears that big of shoes however."

The judge smiled. "You're right about the last one. Path to citizenship, that would probably take a higher level court."

"I have no doubt that the other side will try to appeal whatever you think, Your Honor. Or we'll have to."

"Possibly." He stared at him then at the others. "I find most of you are sentient. The ones I've talked to mostly have been. One grunted a bit but I was told he had problems with English." He looked at the other side.

"No, Your Honor, we do not have a problem with those. The president himself said it was going to be necessary to stop things and we were to agree they were sentient, some were born here, some immigrated here, and that the present plans are bad. If we find any information we can hand it over."

"The healers keep track of the census," one of the ones with Xander said. "They're the ones that gave us information about any family in Sunnydale." That got a nod. "We are still missing at least three hundred beings, Your Honor, just from Sunnydale."

"I understand that and I agree you should be told what happened to your relatives and if there's a way to relocate the remains to be allowed to do that. I see no problem with sentience or naturally being born here. Full legal rights....should be assumed but may not be." He stared at Xander. "You started this for them they said."

"I did. It was important to protect the community. As you've seen."

"I have." He nodded a bit. "Not asking for redress?"

Alex looked at his team, who all shook their heads. "They said no, Your Honor. That would also get a lot more people mad than this will."

"Point." He nodded. "You have laid out evidence that they're sentient. That they're mostly good beings. You included crime statistics."

"Done by the healers as well."

"That's nice of them. No courts?"

Alex's boss smiled and nodded. "Of course we do. It's a bit hidden within our own city council. That's where he got the figures from."

"Interesting. Do you go by US laws?"

"Ours are a bit more strict since outing the community will often be a death sentence."

"On Mr. Harris?"

"No. We cannot punish him for protecting the people of our community. He made capable, quiet, calm arguments to protect us. He's done much more huffy things in the past."

"I've heard." He looked at Alex, who just smiled. "Was it you or your twin that blew that one building?"

"I just blew a hole in the wall since the door wouldn't open for us," Alex said. "It was standing when I removed the people they had supposedly arrested for being illegal immigrants. By the records, ICE said it went down six hours later."

"Wonderful. Is your twin into weapons?"

"Everyone looks hot with artillery, Your Honor," he quipped with a smile, getting swatted by his boss. "You can't handle an invasion level problem with just a sword."

"No, you can't," he agreed. "All right, I'm going to agree with the basics here. The community is to be handed any information found about their members that were taken and/or harmed. Every family deserves the right to know. They are noted as sentient beings with the full rights and responsibilities of humans. That does include paying taxes and all that.

"While I find some of you very weird, and a few a bit worrying because flesh eaters bring up bad associations in my mind, I find most of you to be generally pleasant, sensible beings able to make your own decisions. I cannot grant you the full range of citizenship, that takes an act of Congress, but I can give you legal rights so you can do things you need to do legally. Being born here means you're automatically US citizens and there's no reason to doubt that.

"Stopping the problems, I will order them stopped. It may not end them all but it does give you an order that can be enforced when someone finds another one starting. I hope the government is done with that but I'm guessing we're all realistic that ending this current one will take some time and energy. Hopefully the president will agree." He looked at them then nodded.

"I find you a bit weird, but I say the same thing about teenagers in the malls. Really I find you less weird than some of the kids I've seen in malls." He signed the order and handed them over to be handed out. "I wish you luck with any future legal proceedings and stopping those groups. Have a good day, people." They broke out in cheers so he got to go back to his office happier.

Alex smiled at his boss. "Go for the full ride, kid. Though I'm moving the office to Alexandria. It's safer and the wife said so."

"I can find another job while I take a few classes as I can, Boss. I'll miss having you nag about my hair." He gave him a hug and packed up, going to find his car and then go home to shower, calm down, and celebrate.

The demons all smiled at that and led the way to celebrate this. Someone would try to interfere but the local slayer kicked him on the ass as she walked behind him. He huffed off since a girl had dared to overpower him. She leaned into the bar. "Giles, Faith, and Buffy all said congrats," she called in.

"Willow said the same thing but it was through a pencil since she was writing in a magic book she shouldn't have again. Let me know if you have problems or need help finding people. That's my job since Alex is retired." She waved with a grin. "Got my number hanging up?" A few nodded.

"Cool. I've got a kegger to go party at because vampires are going to take over the college again apparently." She strolled off to handle that. It was her duty after all. Not that she didn't enjoy it sometimes. Maybe she'd bag herself a hotty college boy.

The demons got to be happy with all that.

***

The next time Alex ran into DiNozzo, it was at his college. He had to take a mandatory lesser level class while doing some of his mandatory upper level classes for law school. It had been a peaceful few years. The hunting of the peaceful community had finally been stopped. Alex was getting his nicely wanted retirement from fighting.

A few people had tried to loot Sunnydale before he could but most of them had been killed by leftover vampires. He had gotten another two weeks to finish his cleaning out so he was set. It was a decent enough life. And then he ran into the one he used to protect. He saw the look in his direction but played it cool. If an agent was here, that was probably a big thing instead of him retiring as well. He'd talk to him later.

After class DiNozzo stopped him with a look. "You're going higher?" he asked with a smile.

"Law school. I'm a second year but I had to take a few mandatory lower ones. Corporate law is less stress for me but in a new stressful way as I hate math."

Tony patted him on the shoulder. "You'll manage at least a C. I allow calculators."

"Thanks." He stared at the room then at him. A woman came in and he nodded. "Sorry, I'll quit monopolizing my teacher. Never enough fun times outside of work things and even though I'm confused he can fix me later." He walked off. "Have a good day, Prof, and thanks."

She stopped him. "My father has a picture of you."

He grinned. "Does it have an eyepatch wearing me?" She nodded slowly. "That's my twin. He's the guy training slayers in Africa."

"Oh." She nodded. "That's interesting."

"I retired from all that years ago. I'm not meant for battles. I'm meant to be pretty, smart, and do other sorts of good things for people." He grinned. "But I'm sure my twin would say hi if he knew."

"I'll let him know." Alex smiled and left them to talk. "He's ...interesting."

"He is. I met him years ago in a club." She nodded at that. "He's in the law program but had to take a few lesser mandatories."

"That happens." She walked off with him once he had his things so they could go eat on the lawn. They saw that goofy young one chasing someone and pouncing them then getting up to frisk them and give whatever he had found back to someone else.

"Thank you, Alex," the girl said, hugging him. "He's an idiot."

"I had an ex like that. He thankfully died a few months later while being pouty and drunk. Hopefully yours just grows up." He glared at the guy, making him run off. He walked her off. "C'mon, I'll make sure you get back to your dorm."

"Thanks." She let him walk her off. "I'm in the same hall as Eustace."

"I remember her. She needed some walking home too. There's a lot of failed young men at this college for some reason." She giggled but nodded. "Hopefully they all grow up after this." He nodded at the guard coming their way. "I got her keys and phone back from the ex that stole them just now. He went for a run."

He waved a hand in the air in the right direction. "Another failed male specimen that even the biology department can't figure out the classification of." The girl giggled at that, hiding it on his arm. "They really can't. They can't be human with how they are."

"I'm sure the biology department will enjoy naming their species," the guard said dryly, looking at her. "Are you going to press charges?"

"You guys said I couldn't get a restraining order," she said sarcastically. "So I guess I'll just have to ask Alex to walk me back to my dorm a few times."

The guard sighed but nodded. "We'll see what we can do. Have you filled out forms?" She nodded. "I'll look it up, Miss...."

"Barman."

"I'll look that up and have a talk with that failed male being. I'd hate my son to be that way." She smiled and let Alex walk her past him.

"Thank you," they said together. Then shared a grin.

She giggled but it was nice. The guard went to ask the teacher if he had seen them. "He's one of the cross country team," he said. "He's in my intro class."

"That'll help as well. Thank you, Professor." He went to report that and look up her reports. She had reported him twice. Both for stalking. Great. Just what the college needs.

***

Alex walked around the arguing set a few weeks later, shaking his head. "Get off the sidewalk before the kids in the wheelchairs have to run you over!" They flinched but did that. "Thank you!" He went to be irritated with his teacher at her office. "What did I do wrong? I wrote the paper on a case I helped defend." He handed it over and the information from the case. "I'm the one that started it, that filed it, and that did all the work. I know exactly what I did as a paralegal."

The teacher blinked. "It's distasteful," she said.

"Well, oh well!" He stared at her. "I don't put up with hateful shit against anyone! And you graded me down for it." He leaned on the doorframe. "You hating the peaceful community is *your* problem and it's not supposed to be brought into your job by what I know."

"I can flunk you from the program, Harris."

"You can *try*. I can appeal." She glared. He stared back. "Unlike half the trust fund kids in the program, I'm fully aware of all my rights. And responsibilities. This program is already racist in a lot of ways. Including against women being in it as we've got two and they both have male first names. I'm hoping women find out and sue you guys for it."

He grinned. "I don't need to suck up to you for grades, Professor Talbot, but I'll be damned if you're going to leave remarks on my paper that I didn't know what I was writing about when it's something I personally handled. I will appeal that grade and that paper and all that you've graded unfairly this semester, and help the two women who made it in do the same thing since you've counted them down too."

"Harris," another teacher yelled up the hall.

"Bite me. She decided to count down my paper about the civil rights case for the peaceful community and told me I had no idea what I was talking about when I handled it as a paralegal." He looked at her again. The head of the program was huffy but Alex just stared at him too. He took the paper back to hand to him. "I'm the paralegal that handled the case. I'm fairly certain I know what I did in my own history."

The chair looked at the paper's remarks and grimaced. "Well, that's distasteful."

"No, it's downright racist," he said dryly. "The same as how she doesn't allow women into the program is. Or any member of the peaceful community."

"I don't think we've had any apply."

Alex stared at him. "They know which colleges are prejudice against them. The same as I'm sure women do and don't apply here because she and the others don't let them in. And when we do get a rare one, they basically run them over and out of the program, including glorifying sexual assault like this one and Dr. Loranda have."

"I...."

"I don't like racists of any form. Especially when it steps into my face. And I corrected Dr. Loranda on his too." The chair winced at that reminder. "I'm going to appeal her grading me at all. It's clear she's got a bias."

"It is with those remarks." He looked it up. "You were the paralegal."

"I was," he said proudly. "And then I decided to take the advice to go for the full ride. Maybe I should've picked a less...closed minded program but this is closest to my house."

"You're on financial aid anyway," the teacher sneered, standing up. "I can have that ended."

"Lady, I'm worth more than the college has in emergency trust funds," he said dryly with a smirk. "Even if I lost it all tomorrow, I can survive that way. I worked for years before moving to DC. Some of us are *real* people, not fake ones like you." The chair glared at him. "She's the one that's trying to get people interested in a reality show about lawyers. No one wants to watch us read law books!"

"No, probably not. She's not wealthy enough for a real housewives sort of show either." He looked at him. "Yours may be."

"The last woman I dated tortured men for being dicks to their women," he said dryly, smirking a bit. "She really loved it too. Gave it up for us while she was with me and my twin, but then went right back to it when they broke up." The chair winced. "Anyanka was just like that. It was her hobby that she turned into a career."

"I've heard her muttered about," he complained quietly.

Alex smiled. "I'm actually very bi and my last boyfriend was last month but he got pouty I didn't want or need a sugar baby. I wanted a real relationship." He shrugged. "It happens. I'll find someone somewhere someday."

"I..." The chair nodded. "You may be the only gay person in the program, Harris."

He shrugged. "That's fine. As long as I don't have to deal with racist crap. Like I am today with her."

"Sometimes you'll have to work with lawyers like that in the field."

Alex stared at him. "No I won't. Because if it starts around me I'll give it back. They'll give up sooner than I will. I had to deal with bitchy women who thought I was less than useful who were friends for *years*. I can outlast any little racist brat on the job and sneer at them until they give up and hike off to suck their thumb under Mommy's skirts."

"Lawyers are stubborn," he noted.

Alex grinned. "Last month, my twin brother outlasted six weeks of battle to finally get the big problem that kept thinking he was weak. I'm pretty sure I'm just as stubborn." The chair slumped, staring at him oddly. He grinned. "Yeah, my twin's a watcher. The guy in Africa actually."

"Wow. I've only heard about him a few times."

"They don't report on his battles over here."

"So he does that and you do this?"

"I retired to do other sorts of good things for humanity."

"That's reasonable. I suppose that means you're not going to be a prosecutor?"

"Not likely." He grinned and shook his head. "I hate the taste of ass so I'd never kiss it that way."

The chair nodded. "That is an often necessary lunch in the law field." He looked at the teacher. "Has she had any other papers?"

"We have one more due and one test."

"They're demons!" she shouted. "They're evil by definition!"

"Mostly they're just normal sorts who look different," Alex countered reasonably. "Some are from other dimensions, some are from here, but they look different. The evil kind you mostly have to summon. Seen those a few times." He grinned. "Though some have wanted power, and a lot went to law school. Wolfram and Hart prove that." He smiled at her. "By the way, you may want to warn anyone going to them that their contracts have soul debt clauses."

The chair moaned. "I've warned them all to read all contracts. They should know how by the time they're graduating. If they did not, that was a choice they made."

"Some lawyers may not mind," Xander agreed. "But still, a few good ones were desperate because people like her didn't want more women in the field of law. I had to warn her myself last year. Then got her to look at a few light sided firms."

The chair nodded. "That figures. Have you decided on a specialization area?"

"Business it seems. I can do some of the defense work if I need to, it's my minor and I'm taking those classes, but business law seems to be ...cleaner to me mostly. And I can help people who're setting up new businesses. Plus help those who're fighting racist ideology about their businesses."

"That's fine," the chair agreed. He looked at his teacher, who stormed off and slammed her door. "Was that an admission of guilt and resignation?" he called after her.

"YES! I REFUSE to work with those sorts!" She pointed at Alex then got onto the elevator to stomp off. Unfortunately she got hit by a car in the parking lot. Not fatally but enough to break her leg.

Alex looked out at the screaming. "She ran into a car backing out." He sighed. "She'll try to sue me for that I'm sure." He rolled his eyes. "She was also teaching against the book and against the laws in her specialist class on state's rights." He walked off. "Can that paper be regraded?"

"Yes, Harris. I can do that."

"Thank you, Sir. Should I tell the other students?"

"I'll be looking over all the papers. I'll make that announcement. And look at how she's staffed our students." He went to talk to his other teachers. He clearly needed to hire. And to fix a few problems before the program got sued.

***

Alex had gotten done yelling back at the incel frat house's stunt saying sexual assault was a great thing and had to hurry to class. Though he got stopped by two women fighting against someone with a gun. "Gun!" he shouted as he pounced the guy. It got him off the girls and the guy tried to swing on him so he fought back.

He had upped his hand-to-hand with classes from the college. He finally got the guy down and out, knocking him out with a punch to make sure, and looked up. His accounting professor was there with the girls, guarding them. "They good?" he asked.

"Fine," DiNozzo said. "You?"

"I'm fine." He checked himself. "Yeah, I'm good." He got up with a groan. "My knees hate kneeling though." He walked over. "You two okay?" he asked gently. One was crying but nodded. "Okay. Let's sit. I'm sure there's some sort of officer coming soon to yell at me for pouncing him for having a gun on you two."

They got them onto a bench with their bags they had dropped. Alex's bag got pulled over too. He walked over to grab the gun and put it on the ground near them. "So he can't get it again." They nodded, letting out the crying now. Two security staff ran over. "His gun's over here," he called with a point. "He was holding it on these two women when I spotted him and yelled about the gun then pounced to beat his ass."

"He did a really good job," DiNozzo said happily. "I only had to guard the two young women."

"Thank you, Professor. Which one?"

"Accounting." He smiled and handed over a card. That got a nod and it was put into the record of this.

The other officer looked at Alex. "You did what?"

"Spotted him holding a gun on them so I noted it loudly, so others could run away, and then I beat his ass."

"Oh." He nodded. "Is that how you're supposed to handle that?"

"Yes." He stared at him, making him back up. "Be damned if I want to help someone not die today. Pouncing him meant he dropped the gun. Beating his ass was very stress relieving from law classes. And it kept him from going after the two girls again." He looked over at the sound of movement. "He's got another one!"

He moved the officer and kicked the guy, making the gun go off into the ground and the guy got cuffed by the security officers. They patted him down and got his knife too. Alex pointed. "His first one I dropped there. That way he couldn't reach it. Didn't even think about fingerprints though."

"That's actually sensible and most people wouldn't think about leaving fingerprints," DiNozzo said, patting him on the shoulder. "Calm down. They're here now and can kick his ass."

Xander nodded. "True." He looked around. "Can you guys tell Professor Lava Brain that I was here and not just skipping?"

"Yes," the security agents agreed.

"Soloman in Legal?" one asked. Alex nodded with a sigh, sitting down next to the girls. One hesitated so he pulled her closer to cuddle, helping her calm down. He let her go when she calmed down, looking at the other one to see if she wanted a hug too. She shook her head so he just sat there looking like the good boy he tried to be.

The security guys came over to take statements about why the guy had the gun pulled on them. It made their week that they had stopped a mugging gone sideways. The law student was helpful and wrote the report for his part for them. The professor cooperated and was pleasant to them. The girls got walked back to their dorms and they got to call three teachers to tell them their students had missed for a reasonable reason.

Alex showed up after class, shrugging when the teacher stared at him. "The security guys called."

"I got that voicemail just now. You did what?"

"The guy had a gun on two girls in the quad! What did you want me to do? I relieved some stress from class beating him but otherwise I had just been picking on the sexual assault is good protest on my way to class. I turned around and there was a guy with a gun."

The teacher sighed. "Are you in trouble?"

"They didn't say I was in trouble for knocking him down and out. If I am I can argue against that."

"Point," she admitted. "Fine. You have a paper due in a week, still. We went over that next chapter today, Harris." He grinned and handed over the paper with a smile. She looked through it. "Your formatting is weird."

"That's what the computer considers legal formatting. I can reprint in regular college formatting."

"No, that is weird legal formatting. Word?" He nodded. "That figures." She glanced through it again. "You're missing a conclusion?"

"It's not concluded yet." He looked over and pointed. "Then I laid out the possible conclusions. It won't be out for three months."

"Point." She read it over and nodded. "I'll accept this." She stared at him. "Not exactly the point of the assignment."

"I could've just presented my paper on the case I helped with. I didn't think it was legal and the chair hated that it lost him a teacher."

"Oh, that one. I heard later on from gossip." She gave him a pointed look.

"I hate all racism. In all forms."

"Good. That makes you a nicer person to be around." She walked off. "I'll accept this."

"Thank you." He skipped off. "I'm doing the three cases against the slayers for the bigger paper."

"That's reasonable with who I've heard you are," she agreed, still walking. "Make it reasonable please."

"Yes, Professor." He skipped off to get ice cream because he now had the rest of the day off. He got his ice cream but they were having a 'debate' in the caf about consent. He paused by it. "I always say 'I wanna fuck you' or something like that. If they don't answer 'yes' then I can pull back and make sure of what they want to do instead.

"If you can't manage that, the answer's always no and you're the asshole who was going to rape someone who couldn't give consent. Not like you have to be formal and ask in proper english. Just 'you want some of my dick in you' and if they say yes, hey, you've got consent," he told them. They were so young. He had been that young and he remembered being that young but damn! They looked at him.

He nodded. "It's not that hard to get consent. If they can't consent then that's rape. If they're drunk, asleep, unconscious, whatever. It's yes or all no." He shrugged, going back to licking his popsicle. "It's easy enough to do in a club's bathroom, in an apartment, in a car, in a park, wherever you're getting down and funky.

"Do you want some of me, yes is all you need to do. Unless you're into something kinky and then it's a talk beforehand about it by the standards of that community." He walked off again. "Don't be like that frat that was just chanting loudly about how they like to sexually assault people."

"No, we're hoping not to," one agreed, looking confused. He looked at the others. "I mean, he's right." The others nodded they agreed. "It doesn't have to be a huge talk. Well, I guess some kinkier things may need one for some reason but I have no idea about that. Not my community."

The others nodded they were with that and got down to their signs about consent, using his words for it. Younger students would understand that easily enough.

***

Alex was stopped by Jeanne, Tony's girlfriend. "Hey, what's up, girlfriend of my professor?"

She blinked a few times. "My father wanted to talk to you, Xander."

"No, I'm Alex. Xander's still in Africa." He grinned slightly. "We're twins."

"He said there's only one of you."

"And yet, I was here when there was a battle just the other day. I can't be in two places at once. I'm not quite that mythical yet."

"I...." She called her father. "Father, he insists they're twins."

Alex leaned over to wave. "Yeah, my twin Xander is down there, sir. I can't be in two places at once. I'm great but not mythical yet." He grinned. "Xander's missing an eye, I'm not."

"I can see you're not. I have worked with your twin."

"That's great! The girls could use a lot of help. Thank you for that." He leaned out of view and shrugged. "I retired from all that years ago. Or else my twin probably wouldn't be missing an eye."

Her father said something so she nodded and hung up. "I guess that makes sense. He wanted to talk to your twin about future business things."

"I'm sure Xander would like that. The girls need all the help they can get sometimes." He smiled slightly. "He said they're all little smartass hellions but he loves them like sisters."

"I guess you do get close to people you're training." She smiled. "I'll make sure Father knows that better." She looked around. Alex looked and pointed. "Oh, that is his car. Thank you." She walked off.

He wrote his twin an email and sent it. Just in case that was a bad thing. He was still there when he saw Jeanne's father talk Tony into his limo instead of his car. That set off his Batman senses. He watched them drive off and considered calling someone but he had no idea who Tony was working for right now.

He went for his own car, then decided to be smart and check the car. "Oh, fuck!" he shouted loudly. "SECURITY!" he bellowed. One came jogging over. "Bomb!" he called when he got closer. "Under the engine, behind the left front wheel." The guard stopped and called that in. Alex walked off grimacing. He decided to call someone, who did track Tony.

It wasn't good and they also sent someone to pick him up so he could track them himself. He got there as Tony got shoved out of the car and then the car blew up. He raced over to help Tony, knowing the people in the car were dead. "Hey," he said, helping him. "Injured?" Tony nodded a tiny bit. "Okay. Let's get you back to my place and safer. Anything huge that'll definitely need the ER?"

"Need stitches," he said, sounding fuzzy.

"I can do that." He grinned at the odd look. "Had to learn from a friend's mom's medical books when I was little. I'm actually really good at it but my twin has more practice." He helped him up and the team took them back to his house. "Thanks, guys."

"Welcome, Harris," they agreed, going back to report to their boss.

Alex got Tony onto the couch and got his medical kit, coming back to treat the injuries, get him some ice for his sore head, and then handed him the phone. He moaned at that. "Want me to call Gibbs?"

"He's going to growl."

"If he hears you got blown up, he'll growl more."

"Point." He called the one he was undercover for. "I'm alive. They're not." He hung up and sighed. "I need to tell someone in the FBI and I don't know his number."

"So tell my contact who stares in horrified awe at me dating," he quipped, going to look outside. He ran out there to their car, nodding. "DiNozzo needs you. I had to rescue him after he got thrown from a car that blew up a block later." The agent frowned but came in. He waved a hand.

"Agent DiNozzo?"

Tony rolled his head to look at him. "I was undercover. The driver shot the Frog and shoved me out then the car exploded," he said quietly. "My head hurts. Alex did my stitches. The guy was CIA."

"Also, his girlfriend stopped me to try to tell me I'm my twin," Alex said. "I proved we weren't by talking to her dad on the video call. Then I went to my car and found a bomb."

The agent nodded. "Okay. So how did you get home?"

"Bar team."

"Oh." He nodded. "All right. Let me call this in. Is he safe here?"

"Yeah. I'm not going to do more than keep him in ice packs. I'm not Xander, no one attacks my house."

"Point. There's a question about how you got the money?"

"I looted the stuff vampires owned in Sunnydale before I left? Split it with my twin?"

"Oh. Yeah, I guess. I'll report that." He went to make that report from the car. His boss didn't know who was over the undercover but he could ask a few quiet questions over toward NCIS. A few agents came to rescue Tony from Alex but he was resting and healing well. They took him back to NCIS.

Alex cleaned up the mess and relaxed again. Tony came back that night so Alex let him in and let him collapse on the couch. "Bad day?"

"Yes." He groaned. Alex got up to get him another ice pack and came back to hand it over plus sit next to him so he wasn't alone. Sometimes not being alone was the best thing. "Wake me up in a few hours?"

"Sure. Done that a few times." Tony smiled but let himself drift off. It was safe here. He turned on the security alarm and got his books to read up for his next class. He really hated being in college but he knew it'd be helpful some day. Plus he did get to party like a college kids some days. Even if they were so very young to him.

Tony hummed. "Only been twenty minutes. I'm just studying. Sleep, Tony." He hummed again and drifted off again. He woke up fully when Alex took off the ice pack but then got to go back to sleep. It was the bad part of head injuries.

***

Alex sent out invitations to his graduation, smiling at the few he had to send. Xander couldn't get back. Well, he could but it'd mean that somewhere in Central Africa had to deal with its own battle. He'd try since the battle was two days before his graduation ceremony. Tony's got sent, and got returned with a writing that wasn't Tony's that he was not accepting personal mail there.

He sent one to his former boss, who sent back a 'good job' card and a small gift certificate to help him get a new suit. He considered it then went to see Tony at work. He got lunch time. Most of the time. He showed up and found Tony outside glaring at the building. "I just showed up to invite you to my graduation so I have someone there who can take pictures," he said happily, handing over that same invitation.

Tony stared at him. "Xander can't get back?"

"Probably not. Somewhere in the center of Africa has a battle two days before then. He'll try but you're one of my few friends in the area. And my boss sent me something to get a new tie to go with my new suit." He held up the gift certificate then tucked it back into his pocket to keep it safe.

Tony looked at the note. "She's going to get it." He grinned and opened it then made a note on his phone. "If I'm not out of town." Alex hugged him with a grin. "Are you getting honors cords?"

"I'm lucky I made it through. Books and I aren't really friendly. I mean, 2.3 in high school and that was actually trying most of the time. I'm above a 3.0 but not that far above."

"So well in hireable ranges," Tony said with a smile.

"Yeah. I went business for speciality and I've already done the pre-bar test and passed it well enough that I'm not totally worried for the actual bar." Tony smiled at that, nodding some. "So I'll be okay. If not, I'm still a paralegal and I passed that test so I can get a job. Not like I don't have a job."

"True." He patted him on the cheek. "How is the new job?"

"Deadly boring. The firm got bought out by another firm and they're all uptight and annoying as hell. I think one was trying to tap my phone the other day." He did a hand wave slowly in the air. "I brought that up and they said the new people are uptight so I'm looking for a better firm to work with anyway. Be damned if I want to turn into an uptight earlier era Bush republican. Reagan loving I am not."

"Only people who don't remember what he did like him anymore." He patted him again. "I'll be there if I can."

Alex grinned. "Thanks, Tony."

"What are you doing here?" Gibbs demanded.

Alex looked at him. "Inviting him to my graduation from law school. What are you doing here, Agent Gibbs?" The man glared. Alex stared back. "I've seen worse from teenage girls who were cheerleaders and I dated her. Are you auditioning to replace her in my bedroom?" Gibbs choked at that. He grinned at Tony. "Cordelia was not that sweet or nice. Queen C was kinda also the bitch queen quite often. He really does remind me a lot of her."

Tony gave him a hug with a grin. "Thank you, Alex. Go have fun before he recovers."

"I'm not scared of him." He let him go with a smile. "You be safe. Or if you have to get another head injury come camp on the couch so you have someone who'll wake you up." He patted him on the cheek. "Though, quit getting hurt, Tony. Before one of those less-than-logical beings gets you killed. Some of us would miss you." He strolled off.

Tony smirked at Gibbs. "I've seen pictures of Cordelia, Boss. She was pretty and fashionable. I guess you can't compare to her after all." He walked around him. "I'm still on lunch before I smite Ziva."

"Go back to your desk," he growled.

Tony looked at him. "I'm allowed to have a lunch. That is the law." He gave him a pointed look before going to get something to eat.

"DiNozzo...."

"Don't care, Gibbs." He waved a hand like Alex did. "Maybe the kid has the right idea and I should hit law school too." Gibbs groaned but stomped back inside to glare at Ziva and have a talk about her problems of the day. Tony came back with his lunch and settled in to eat it while he proofread.

McGee looked over. "Report?" he asked quietly. "Gibbs is in a horrible snit."

"Yeah, Alex Harris just compared him to a bitchy cheerleader and found him lacking." He shot him a grin. "He showed up to invite me to graduation."

"I thought he was older."

"He worked for years. He's graduating law school."

"Oh, congratulate him for me. That's really hard." He went back to what he was doing. Tony was nibbling while typing a few corrections.

The director came down the stairs. She spotted the invitation and snatched it. "I thought I sent that back."

"Which means you just admitted to a federal crime. Tampering with the mail," Tony quipped, taking it back to stare at her. "I am allowed to have friends, Director."

"He compromised your undercover."

"Bullshit. Jeanne's father found out from someone CIA. Would you like that letter explaining that again?" He stared at her. "I gave you the last copy. And frankly, my private life is none of your business. Not my friends, not anything else I do. Not like he knows what my home address is and sending it here is very nice of him. Now, anything else, Director?"

She stepped back, looking horrified. He looked at the thing that had appeared beside him. "What?" It mumbled something he didn't understand. "I don't speak that language but if you're tracking Alex, he's probably grocery shopping then going home. It's his day for it." The thing nodded and left.

He stared at the director again, making her stomp off again. "Have fun with your broom practice, Director," he muttered, glaring at her back. McGee tried not to laugh at that. He looked over. "She might even play quidditch." McGee did laugh at that. Gibbs and Ziva David came off the elevator together. "You missed the Director trying to prove she's tougher, Boss. Pity she's not that scary either." He went back to proofreading and eating.

"Are you still on lunch, DiNozzo?"

He ate another bite and nodded. "Since I'm not even supposed to be here today? Yes." Gibbs winced. "That was *your* call to bring me off injury leave early for no reason. So yes, I'm eating things I need to finish healing the problem in my leg. Hopefully it'll stop the cramping soon." He went back to it.

"You don't have any backed up reports."

"No, I did that a few days back when I couldn't stand up from the couch for almost a day. This is for continuing ed classes. Which are required for all agents."

"I did mine last month," McGee said.

"I did most of mine but I'm missing the investigative session," Tony said. "So I'm working on that. Just have to get the paper done." He smirked at McGee. "Then I'm done for two years."

"I've got some next year. I spread them out to give me a break between." He looked them up and sighed. "She added two more classes."

"Already done 'em. Injury leave is good for something."

"Maybe I need to get injured again so I can just sit and do them all in one week," McGee muttered. Tony snickered, shaking his head. "I know, it's not worth the pain."

"No, it's not." He started a spell checker, finding the last few things, and then a grammar checker to find anything else. Then he saved it down and sent it to the class address. He got an email back that it had been sent and received. "That's good." He got out of that and went back to the surfing he was doing.

Gibbs stared at him. "What are you doing now, DiNozzo?"

"Looking at realty sites, Gibbs. Since I don't have any work I need to do." He didn't even look up.

"You are being snippy," Ziva said. Tony stared at her until she backed down. "Perhaps you should go back to bed?"

"I would be on the couch recovering but someone pulled me off injury leave when I still had another five days before the injury you helped cause seals, Agent David." She shrank down again. He went back to surfing.

"You're fine," Gibbs said.

Tony snorted. "No I'm not. I've already had to have two bandage changes due to the stitches snapping and Ducky having to redo them." He stared at him. Gibbs glared. He stared back. "Do I really need more scars in my life? Law school's looking like a nicer alternative all the time." He looked up the various law schools he could attend. The one Alex had went to had a bad reputation but good credits for prior work.

Probably why Alex had went there. There was another in town and it was a better program but wouldn't give him any credit for his years in law enforcement. That was a bad decision to make so he looked at others.

University of Virginia's looked decent and it was within commuting distance. Had a lot of distance learning. He asked them to send him information on that program and in his notes he added that he was currently a federal agent at NCIS and had prior law enforcement service as well. They would like that in a student. Plus he'd have to do less research for some papers. Hopefully.

He got out of that page and went to a few others he liked because he liked some of their graduates. Only one wasn't nearby. He'd have to move to Pennsylvania. Which...wasn't actually a bad thing. He sent an email to HR to get his education hours looked at to see how many he had left.

They sent back one almost immediately that it was no longer a category they had on file, the director had removed it. So that was fine. He'd just do it without that. Gibbs was huffy but oh well. "We no longer have education hours, Probie."

"That's odd. I had one last time I looked." He looked at that. "She did take it out. Great. They demand classes for continuing ed and then don't count those hours as work hours. Just absolutely marvelous." He huffed.

"That was my feeling too," Tony said, looking at him. McGee looked back. "One section of the required classes is only given in two weeks for the next year. Thankfully I took it last year and it's only every five."

McGee looked then smiled at his screen. "I took that two years ago. I have time." He sighed in pleasure. "I only need four of the classes in a year. I can do that on weekends I guess." He went over what each one would need.

"What classes?" Ziva demanded.

Tony looked at her. "All federal agents in all agencies, including this one, have mandatory continuing education classes so we're not stuck without current information and skills. FLETC should've taught you that. You have a total of twelve classes that are due at least bi-yearly and one that's due every five years. The classes range from five hour seminars to three months of classes you can do online.

"That one's a pain but it is on field investigative techniques. If you don't take them, they can fire you, Ziva. Sometimes they'll ignore it, like in Gibbs' case because he's years behind. Again. Last time they put him on desk duty until he did at least four of the classes. They can outright fire you for not having them. And they do audit that randomly for every agency."

"Mine got audited last year," McGee said. "I passed the audit, got praised for keeping up, and then they warned Gibbs about his."

Gibbs rolled his eyes. "It's not mandatory."

Tony pulled up the pertinent code and put it on the main monitor. "Yes it is. For all agents." He pointed at it. "That is in the manual and she cannot override that. Only the president can override that order." He grinned and erased it from the monitor since the director was coming back. He looked at Ziva. "How far behind are you? Days like this, we catch a few hours of it so we have something to do. They're rare so we take advantage of it." She huffed but got back into the reports she had backed up.

"DiNozzo, since you're bored, proofread her reports," Gibbs said.

"That's illegal," he said in a sing-song voice. "That would be tampering with her statement and reports. Only supervisors can do that. I am not her supervisor. I'm not going to be fired and blackballed for taking over duties that only a supervisor can do."

Gibbs glared. "That is not a rule either."

"Yes it is," McGee said, pulling up that to show him. "Written by Director Sheppard, Boss. Before it could have been delegated for education on how to write better reports." He pulled up the last one. "It's now illegal." He sat back down to get into his continuing ed again. The Director paused to glare at them. "Doing federally mandated continuing ed, ma'am, since you took our ed hours out."

"You're not required."

"We're a federal agency, we're required." He put back up that statement for her. "The only one who can undo that is the oversight board over all agencies or the President." He looked at her. "We have to have it. They'll audit otherwise." He went back to work. "Shoot. I have the updated HR panel this time."

Tony laughed. "This year's wasn't so bad. Just an update of the last one and the seminar was only three hours. It's on tape. I played it and answered the questions while I made dinner."

"Oh, good. That's an every other year course. I hate that one." He got into that file to see what forms it came in. He looked at the ending questions and he could answer most of them. He put in his headphones and went over that one to answer the questions he didn't have an immediate answer for. The Director went to call someone and have a fit on them.

Tony went back to the realty site. Did he want to buy? He wasn't sure. Was he staying in DC? He wasn't sure. He shifted and winced, holding his thigh. He checked, no new blood at least. He put pressure on it and it quit hurting for a little while. He finished his lunch so he could take his antibiotic and something for the pain. That helped a little bit at least.

One house caught his eye. It was near Alex's townhouse. Not a bad neighborhood. He grimaced. "That's way too high for that level of house." He went back to looking at condos. With how often he wasn't home, it'd pay to have the condo's amenities.

Gibbs was still mad but oh well. He'd be even more mad when someone from Internal Affairs came up to talk to Tony. Tony blinked at him. "Agent DiNozzo, HR has informed us you're missing medical release forms from your last three injuries." Tony pointed at Gibbs. "I'm aware you're supposed to be on injury leave today," he said patiently.

"Yes but I got called in by Gibbs. And told if I didn't show up he was going to fire me. So I'm on desk duty apparently. Gibbs decided he overruled that. And the last few times too. He told me Ducky could do it, when he's not allowed by NCIS law. I've done what I can and gotten belated ones from my doc when I went to have stitches taken out." He pulled the file he kept of NCIS necessary paperwork out. "That's all I have."

He looked at them, then looked at Gibbs. "That's a violation of federal law and his human rights." Gibbs glared. "You're not that scary, Gibbs." He looked at Tony. "Stitches?"

"Ducky had to redo some earlier," he admitted. "It hurts like a bitch right now but I can do desk duty. Since I have nothing to do and I just finished a continuing ed section, I'm looking at real estate."

"Good. We're doing an audit of that last week." He handed over a letter to each of them.

Tony looked. "I'm not due those." He got into the system to show him. "See?"

"Oh, you're not. Huh. We got into all agencies database instead of ours." He made that note. "Print that." Tony did that. McGee did his too. "Very nice, Agent McGee. Thank you." He looked them over. "That does fit yours. All but next year's."

"Already starting. I'm doing the HR one right now." He smiled and let him see the screen.

"Excellent. That one will need to be updated next year as well because they're changing a few of the rules about what you're supposed to take yearly. They're dropping one of the classes and including it in another one then changing the title of another." That got a nod. "But it is that HR one to go over the manual so short at least. We know you guys are busy since your overtime records are heinous and also a problem with federal guidelines."

Both male agents smiled at him like they were stupid. "We know why, boys. Relax. You're not in trouble." He looked at Gibbs. "You're years behind, Special Agent Gibbs. It is mandatory. You have a single week from yesterday to show that you have done at least six classes or you will be suspended to non-office time to do them. Which means taking them with the rookie agents at FLETC. Am I clear?"

"I was told it was no longer mandatory."

"Someone lied to you and the president is looking at this issue because of the FBI messing up. So we're all complaint or we're all in trouble." He looked at Ziva then at Gibbs. "Also, you should be aware that the president is aware of your team's ...assistant, who is not an actual agent as she's not a US citizen. Going for her citizenship is good, and he likes that. It still won't count until she takes that oath. And the updating classes.

"As she's your team's addition, if you go on suspension so does she because neither lower agent is of high enough rank to oversee anything she does. That is the law. That is what the Oversight people have noted." He handed over that folder. "That's the legal orders on how to handle foreign agents working with a team. They wanted you handed a copy. And your director." He walked off to go up the stairs to the walkway. "People," he said loudly.

"I am Internal Affairs for NCIS and other military investigative agencies. The president has called an audit of continuing education classes, which we did last week. You have a *week* from yesterday to be up to date. Some of you are very far behind. I'm announcing this now instead of enjoying so many people being suspended next week because we were informed that HR no longer has education hours allowed." He shrugged.

"Some of you are years behind. Do this year's and last year's if you can. You have until 5pm on a week from yesterday. Or else we will be forced to suspend you. That is the presidential order because some people in the FBI screwed up. It made the news." That got a few groans.

"Remember, if you're suspended, you only have two weeks, have to take it with the rookies in FLETC, and they're not doing it soon so you'd be fired if you haven't complied within that two weeks, with the rookies. Am I clear?" They mostly nodded. "Good. Sorry but at least I'm not here to suspend half the floor."

He went in to tell the Director what she had done wrong according to the oversight people and the president. She called him and he told her to follow orders and hung up on her. So that was pleasant. He was having a nice day. He stopped at DiNozzo's desk again.

"Going to UVA isn't a bad idea but their school is hard and won't give you credit for work credit. The one where you did that undercover isn't a favored school but they will. And they're cheaper. The other choice is good but a pain to get into. They only accept five percent of the applicants. Good luck." He left again.

Tony nodded. "That's good to know. Were you checking up on me?" he called.

"Wanting to see what was so bad that you had to break injury leave. Then we found out why." He shot him a look. "Go home. Get actual clearance. Until then you can't come back."

Tony nodded, packing up to do that. "I talk to my doc in two days anyway."

"Good." He smiled. "Get clearance for the head injuries too, DiNozzo. The president said it's a running joke about your concussions." He smirked a bit, getting onto the elevator.

"I can do that too," he sighed. "Even though I hate MRI's." He looked at Gibbs. "I can't go against direct orders, Boss." He left, going home to rest. And order dinner. He was still hungry.

Gibbs glared at McGee, then at Ziva. "Show her how to get into that, McGee." He came over to get her into the continuing education program. Then he got to teach the other team leaders, including Gibbs, when the director called a meeting.

Everyone was mad. It was a great day to be NCIS if you had followed regulations.

***

Tony came over that weekend, walking in when Alex opened the door and going to flop down on the couch. "I'm screwed."

"Is that something you wanted to be?" He closed the door and came over to give him a hug. "Why are you screwed?"

"My doc said I get one more concussion and he'll pull me from the field."

"Okay. So now what? Are you looking at options other than NCIS? Would some other agency protect your head better?"

"They hate that I managed to survive Gibbs and think it gave me a weird view of the world."

"You probably already had it."

"True." He put his head back down. "I was thinking about law school."

"I had some fun," Alex said with a grin. "Broke some people too." That got a nod. "You have a lot of options, especially if you're willing to do college. There's finance stuff, there's legal stuff, there's running for Congress...." He shrugged. "You could even do medical school so you could mentor the next agent that turns into you."

"I could. I don't want to do medical school." He stared at him. "Congress?"

"Yeah, you could. You know how things should be and how they really are."

"True. Not something I wanted." He put his head back down. "I'd put that below medical school right now."

"Or you could use it to protect the agencies that are working right." He grinned. "They want to cut your whole agency out of the budget. They have no idea who you are."

"Fuck. That's going to be bad. They wanted us to do updated continuing ed so we can be transferred to other agencies," he realized. "Oh, no." He sat up. "What's your source?"

"CNN this morning."

Tony looked it up on his phone, finding it. Then he called Gibbs. "Found out why we're all doing updating paperwork, Boss. NCIS was trying to be removed from the budget. That way they could farm out the good agents to other agencies without many problems. CNN this morning." He hung up and laid back down. Alex sat beside his head and petted through his hair. "That's nice," he said quietly.

"You're welcome. I know very well that sometimes you just need someone there. I ended up going clubbing for a few of mine."

"Yeah, so have I," Tony admitted quietly. "It doesn't always help enough."

"No but it's something." Tony nodded so he went back to petting him while he thought. He had to make some choices. Did he jump ship sooner? Did he stick it out? Maybe get another head injury and therefore be forced out of his job due to too much damage? Go to medical school? Go to law school? Run for congress? That thought made him shudder. He didn't even know how to start that. "How is looking for a new firm going?"

"I've had two interviews. I took the bar last week and I'm waiting on results. Things will be easier then." Tony nodded. "I'm not hurting for money, Tony."

"I realize that." He shifted his feet. "I hate head injuries."

"Then get fewer of them. That's an option. Even if you just changed teams it'd probably cut down on that."

"Point. None of the other teams get injured like we do." Someone pounded on the door. "Not sure who that is."

"I think that's your director," Alex said, looking out the window. "It's a limo." He got up, going to answer it before she made another attempt to break down his door. "Yes?" he asked. "Why did you come to visit today, ma'am?"

"Is my agent here?" she demanded, trying to push her way inside. Alex stopped her. "I'm going to tell everyone he's gay."

"That's a blatant lie and he's dated enough women in this city that they all know him." He smiled a bit. "Beyond that, he's napping on the couch. We are friends. He can nap on my couch if he wants. I doubt I'm his type anyway."

Tony strolled over. "You're kind of my type but you're a guy. If you were a girl I might've flirted." He stared at the director. "Yes, Madam Director?"

"You...." She looked him over. "Napping?"

"Yes. I needed a nap after having an MRI earlier. The noise always gives me a headache, even with ear plugs." She glared. He stared back. "Why did you come all the way out here?"

"This...thing..." she said with a hand wave at Alex. "Is getting you in trouble, DiNozzo."

"I'm still fully human," Alex said.

"You're not. You're one of *them*."

"No. My twin's been exposed to demon blood. I haven't. I do work with the peaceful community. I grew up around a lot of them. Went to school with plenty too. Still human though. I'm just tolerant. It's a pity more people aren't." She tried to hit him so he held her off. "Lady, don't make me punch you back.

"I can defend myself against any charges you'll bring as I have a taping home security system. And an agent watching again." He waved at him, getting a huffy agent. "Can you please take this heaving, hissy fit throwing woman out of my vicinity? She just accused me of not being a human and tainting Agent DiNozzo by being his friend and letting him nap off a headache."

"I can do that, Mr. Harris. Director Sheppard, he's fully human. We've tested some of his twin's blood once, and had the computer system fully shut down to protect him."

"Yeah, Xander has a few things that he's caught over the years. He really hates blood hunters."

"I can't say I like them either," the agent said.

"Me either," Tony added. "She's decided he's leading me astray."

"DiNozzo, you've dated seventy women in the last four years. Save some for the rest of us. And if you take in that one, make him quit being bouncy." He walked her off to force her into her car and make her go away. "I heard your agency's being shut down, Director."

He smiled. "I look forward to seeing what agents my people poach from yours. Which probably won't be DiNozzo since Gibbs made him act weird and superhuman. We don't allow agents to wear capes." He walked off back to his car to keep watch over Alex.

Tony shut the door. "Why are they watching you?"

"Someone went after a nursery again and I heard, went to defend it. They got really horrified that I'll unretire for that sort of thing. Watching me means that I let them know if the agents are trying them again. I need to call in that Sheppard's that prejudice but they probably have the place bugged." He shrugged. "We'll figure it out." Tony nodded, going back to the couch and his bad thoughts.

***
Part 3 by Voracity2
Director Sheppard was sneering at her head of HR, and her HR person's secretary. "What is this important?"

"I'm suing the agency for breaking ADA laws," the secretary said dryly. "Do you think perhaps that's important now, Director? Because this meeting was called last week about your refusal to follow federal level laws about how certain forms are used, filled out, and handled. Thereby making us complicit in your criminal activity. I don't want to be an accomplice so I've already turned that in when I was forced to because you blew this off last week."

She stared at her, ignoring the sneer the director still had. "Beyond that, your restructuring," she said dryly, using air quotes, "has broken ADA laws about access to bathrooms and how people who're disabled are supposed to get out of the building if it's attacked. Do you consider either of those more important enough for you to actually do your job about?"

The head of HR cleared her throat. "She's correct on all that, Director. The way you've had us doing personnel records is violating federal laws and standards and we can be held accountable. Because you did not come to the meeting we called last week about this, we were forced to talk to the oversight committee about how to handle your newly sent down regulations.
"They bluntly said we are to follow federal law and if you complain we are to have you arrested." She slid those over. "That is the legal standards we hae for personnel and other files under our control. Your new standards are wrong in those highlighted areas."

Director Sheppard looked at it and frowned. "I sent that."

"Yes, and it's wrong by federal law," the head of HR said bluntly. "We are not going to be fired and blackballed, and possibly arrested, for violating those. So therefore, you're going to have to redo that so they're in line with the federal standards and regulations. Also, your building plans are out of line with ADA laws.

"You removed my floor's bathroom, which means that we have to travel three floors to use one. Which doesn't work when the elevator doesn't work. As you've inconvenienced people enough that they've tied up the elevators too often to be relied upon, that is a violation of ADA laws and really, Agent Gibbs is in a lot of violations anyway."

She slid over a pile of memos. "All those he's violated in the last six months. Some he's been violating for years now." She smiled a bit. "It's not like the nineteen agents in this building who use mobility devices can use the stairs." She waved a hand at her assistant.

"Which meant we had to get people to lift this one down the stairs one day last week because your people are thoughtlessly tying up necessary devices. So you need to either return our bathroom, which you took over for a storage room for some reason, or build us another few elevators and a few conference rooms so Gibbs and others can use them appropriately. Before we have to charge him with that as well."

The director spluttered. "No agents are on mobility devices!" she complained, sneering at the secretary. "You're not an agent and the building is meant for agents."

"No agency is solely made up of agents, Director," the secretary said dryly. "And yes, three agents are on mobility devices. They're on canes. They're senior agents who are on present desk duty due to injuries." She smirked a bit. "Eighty percent of your agency is made up of non-agents. Like the lab people and the morgue people, and all your admin people."

She slid over something. "These are the ADA regulations. Which your chosen designer, and I use that term loosely with how horrible they did, ignored. That is also federal law and, well, you're being sued over it." She shrugged. "Everyone knows ADA laws, Director. They were made in the seventies. They're older than you are."

"I don't have to...."

The head of HR smirked and shook her head. "Yes you do have to follow them or you can be held personally liable. Each violation can cost you up to ten thousand dollars. You're up to eighty within the last four weeks alone. Is that what you want to have happen to your legacy in this agency?"

The director spluttered. "It doesn't matter and I can fire that one!" she said with a hand wave at that secretary.

"Which would mean she could sue you and the agency for unlawful and illegal firing," the head of HR said bluntly, staring at her, still smirking some. "If you want NCIS to be closed, that's a bad way to do that as it'll look bad on all the agents who have to find new jobs. As there's rumors that Congress wants to dot hat...."

"CNN had it all this week," the secretary agreed dryly, smiling at her. "They thought it might be a good idea but people at JAG explained why it's not."

The director stomped off. They sent her a copy of all those memos and the complaints made, then sent a copy of the in-office video to the oversight committee and the Internal Affairs desk. The head of IA came up to talk to them. The head of HR smiled slightly at him, she did like that one. He was an honest asshole about everything. "We tried to inform her of the problems."

"You did," he agreed, looking at the secretary. "She's going to try to fire you."

"I can sue. I've already got one started about all this mess due to ADA violations. I included her allowing Gibbs to commandeer the elevator."

The head of IA accepted that lawyer's card so he could check into it. "I'll talk to Gibbs. The oversight people about the HR files?"

"They're highly upset. They're sending up complaints."

"So she could be in real trouble," the head of Internal Affairs decided. "Thank you, ladies. I hope it'll be fixed. We'd hate to lose you. I more than most know how strong an admin team is and how much they can screw up an agency."

"But we're not that sort," the secretary said with a wink as she rolled off.

"Unless forced to," the head of HR agreed happily, going to make her own notes and make sure they both had copies of that tape for later use.

The head of internal affairs called in to check on that lawsuit and the parameters. Then he went to talk to Gibbs. He stared at him. "You're getting the agency sued for violating ADA rules." Gibbs choked on his coffee. "Quit stranding the elevator, Gibbs. We only have the one elevator thanks to the director.

"We have at least eight people in the building who're on mobility devices who must use it. Especially since the director has closed bathrooms on certain floors, like the admin floor." He gave him a pointed look. "You alone led to one having to be carried down the stairs last week to be able to go home. So stop it. You're being sued for that by the way."

Gibbs winced, slumping some. "The director is also being sued for that, you were included to the side and as a cause of it. In the future, don't strand the elevator. Go outside if you need to hold a conference or a talk. Or use a storage room. Quit using the elevator as privately hoarded property. Unless you want the admin teams to totally screw up the agency completely over this problem?"

"No, I don't."

"Good!" He smirked a bit. "Then let's try better." He gave McGee a pointed look.

"I helped carry her," McGee said. "That sucks. Including for the few agents who're on injury leave and desk duty."

"It does," the head of HR agreed blandly, looking at Gibbs again. "Find another way."

"Fine."

"Thank you!" He walked off to go talk to the director. She had someone who had served her in the last few minutes so now she knew why she was being sued. Personally sued and the suits against NCIS as well as legal sent them up at her request. She had a good pile on her desk. "I have talked to Gibbs about his problem with the elevator. He'll find another method to get privacy." He smirked at her. "I also talked to the oversight people. Wih how they want to close us, you going against federal laws gives them a great reason, Director." He left to go update his resume. There was no way NCIS was going to last past this event. Sheppard wasn't that smart politically.

***

Tony got called to testify by Sheppard. He was nicely enough dressed. He spoke the same spoiled asshole language they did. So she was making him do it instead of her. He got sworn in and sat down. "Senators, may I have a moment first?" They nodded. "I believe none of you realize what NCIS is or does. That's understandable with how many agencies in the area use initials. We are the law enforcement for the Marines and the Navy. ACIS does the Army. JAG does the Air Force and trials. We are important."

"Actually, I did not know what your agency did," the head of the panel said. "Can it be combined with ACIS?"

"No. We can barely combine the Marines and Navy and only because the Marines came off the Navy. The army's investigative agencies and my agency do have to work together sometimes but we do tend to deal with different things. My team is for major crimes, felonies, done to or by members of those two forces. ACIS doesn't split that way and they actually don't have as much work because we have agents on ships and bases plus the investigative teams."

"So if someone robs a mini mart...."

"There's other teams for that," Tony said.

"All right." He nodded. "Your background includes other federal service?"

"My background is law enforcement in three city departments and then NCIS. I have worked with other agencies. I have done an undercover my Director asked me to handle, which was multi agency. I have not been a member of any other investigative agency."

"So you're an officer and then an agent, all about enforcing the law," the head of the panel said. Tony nodded. "All right. Can we not combine all three agencies together?"

"No, sir. They have too much work as is and are needed to do their own work." His phone turned on. "Sorry. I had that turned off." He looked. "It's my team leader," he muttered. "May I growl for a second?" They nodded. He answered.

"I'm in front of Congress talking about NCIS. Is it an emergency that you turned my phone on, McGee?" He listened. "No." He hung up and turned it back off, and took out the battery. They went in different pockets. "Sorry. My supervising agent had my team's technical agent hack my phone to turn it on. I apologize for him."

The head of the panel shook his head. "Who is your supervisor?"

"Jethro Gibbs."

"We've heard of him," another one said with a sigh.

Tony smiled at him. "I remember raiding your former boss's office, Representative."

"That's where I knew you from." Tony nodded. "That explains a lot. Are all your agents like you?"

"No. My team lives by Gibbs' rules. Most agents are normal agents within NCIS."

"Huh?" the head of the panel asked, looking down there.

"His supervising agent's laws for his team state things like you're always on call, even if it's your day off. They've been known to be at the office for thirty-six hours straight due to a case. One without a missing person." Tony nodded at that. "He's also got a Mossad agent on his team?"

"Ziva David was given to our team to liaison after one of my team was killed by a terrorist," Tony said.

"Don't like her?"

"She's had some rough times but I feel about her like I do most agents. She's competent in her areas, has some flaws because she's human, and is learning more about how to be a field agent like all of us."

That got a nod. "DiNozzo, that was the most polite way to say her records are spotty, NCIS has multiple forms of problems with her, and their Internal Affairs department has issues with her I've ever heard," the Representative who knew Tony said dryly.

"I'm not IA, Representative. I have no idea what is in their minds or their files. Ziva is part of my team and she has a place on it."

"Well, just in case you didn't know, many of us are irritated by her presence in your agency."

"That's not my call. That's the Director's orders, Representative."

"Point." He stared at him. "You've been seen with Alex Harris."

"I have. I've ran into him a few times and he's helped me in the past when I was injured. Abby, our lab tech, introduced us. He's an interesting guy."

"Why is the FBI watching him?"

"They think he'll be indicative of the next major apocalypse battle that he'd have to unretire for. They don't like watching the slayers themselves and are banned from that. His twin's the Watcher in Africa. So if his twin calls in a warning or sends a letter apologizing for possibly getting dead during the next battle he has, they have some warning."

The head of the panel stared at him. "He has?"

"Alex said he got the fourth one the other day. He hates that his twin brother still does the duty and is proud he does the duty he does, but hates it for him."

"I hate it for the kid," the head of the panel sighed. "And for the girls." Tony nodded at that. "I guess that makes sense. So not a boyfriend?"

"No, Representative. Not a boyfriend. He's never even flirted. He said he would've but he knows I'm straight."

"Pity. He could be a good match for you. And probably against Gibbs."

Tony smiled. "The last time they met, Alex told him he reminded him of a cheerleader from high school he had briefly dated who was mean and he lost that comparison against her." The whole panel laughed at that. "Gibbs doesn't like him, my director doesn't like him, but I'm allowed to have supportive friends. She showed up to complain that I was napping a headache off on his couch after an MRI."

"Let's go into that," the one on the other end sighed. "Agent DiNozzo, do you try to get so injured?"

"No, ma'am. I really wish I'd quit getting hurt."

She nodded. "We all think that's a good idea. Is that a training thing?"

"Most of the time it's lack of additional people. Our team only has us four. If we had eight or ten, it'd be easier to not get clubbed on the head, or they could get it instead. We'd have more people to chase down suspects and the like so I wouldn't get another graze."

"Is that because your agency's so small?"

"In part and also we work in small teams on cases. There's a few teams that have six people. Ours only has four. That's not my call. I turned down my chances to run some teams that were offered because I didn't want that sort of responsibility. I don't want to be the guy in charge who sends someone into a situation where they'll get shot. Run in the field yes. Sending them into a dangerous situation where I know they'll get injured? Not what I want on my soul. That's a decision I made long ago."

"I can understand that. I wouldn't want that sort of responsibility either," she said, staring at him. "If we gave NCIS a raise would they hire more agents?"

"I'm not over that but there's a few places where some replacement agents have been needed due to retirement or firing." He sipped his water. "That's one reason why we have Ziva David."

"Okay," she said. She looked at the others then at him again. "What if it's a terrorism case?"

"We've had a few of those, ma'am. If a case comes and it's our turn, we handle it. If it's a felony it's ours. That would fall under that."

"Did you handle that terrorist that got your teammate dead?"

"The case? Yes. Even against orders," he said honestly but firmly. "Did I end that terrorist? No. He broke into Agent Gibbs' house while he was home. He was taunting him by shooting our teammate and going after Ducky's assistant and him. He finally decided to go after Gibbs and lost."

She nodded. "So he did die?"

"As far as I know, Gibbs did his duty, ma'am. I didn't get to see the body but I'm told he died. Gibbs had been a sniper so he's a fairly good shot."

She nodded again. "All right. Good for him. The world needs fewer people like that." Tony nodded at that. "Have you picked an agency to go to if we do remove your agency?"

"I've had offers from one that I may take up. I'm not sure if that's still a good offer due to recent injuries. It's been suggested I could go to medical school or law school as well. Or run for one of your seats." He smiled. "I'm keeping all options open in my mind. Though I do hate moving and job hunting."

"We all hate moving," the head of the panel said dryly. "How many head injuries have you had?"

"Seven that I know of."

They stared at him. "Is that like boxers have?"

"I'm not showing that damage as of this point in time. They made me get that checked recently. I've been warned not to get many others." He grimaced. "I'm in good health overall."

"You had the plague a few years back."

"It got mailed to the office," he agreed. "I survived."

The woman on the panel stared at him. "You survived? Without additional problems?"

"I have to be careful not to get the flu or any chest condition. I got the pneumonic plague and had a lot of chest congestion. Now I get it easier so I need to avoid that." He stared at her. "I'm fine now, ma'am."

"Are all agents like you?"

"I have no idea. I know I was a bit softer, happier, and had fewer scars as a detective in Baltimore. Other than that, life changes us all."

"I'd hate that for myself or my children."

"I'd hate it if I had kids."

She nodded. "Maybe someday?"

"Maybe if I find someone who's willing to stay with me. I've dated a lot. The president's joked about my dating, but no one stays. There's too many women who don't want substance, they want up front flash." Someone kicked in the door and he had his gun in hand before the door fully opened, pointing it at them.

"Freeze, Federal Agent!" The man froze and stared, hands going up. Tony stared then put up his gun when Capitol Guards showed up. He sat back down after locking his gun back down in the holster. "Sorry. Force of habit."

"No, you're very good at that," she said, eyes wide. "Well." Tony shrugged. "Do you expect other NCIS agents to react that fast?"

"Yes."

"Is that how your teammate died?"

"Sniper head shot from a nearby building."

"You can't get out of the way of those," she sighed. "I'm sorry for your loss, DiNozzo."

"Thank you, ma'am."

The rest of the panel shared a look. "If we could combine one of the agencies with another?" the head of the panel asked.

"Didn't you do that with Homeland already, sir?"

"Well, I suppose."

"I know a lot of people wonder what they're doing since they seem to react and not stop. I know Immigration is thought to be overreaching. Civilian outpouring of anger at agencies usually hits those two and the TSA for groping children and demanding cancer patients take off sterile dressings in the open air of the airport. We all think it'd be great if they were *agents* instead of just needing a GED."

"They don't need a degree?" the female asked.

"No, ma'am. They need a GED. They don't have to take any agency's training academy. They don't have to do our continuing education things that all agents have to do. That and they think I'm a danger because I've got an Italian last name. I'm forever getting picked for secondary patting down even with my badge."

They sighed. "We'll look into them next week," the head of the panel said, making that note. "Can we combine an agency to save money?"

"If you plan on saving money by making half the agents in both agencies quit? Perhaps. If you want to keep good agents working well, no, sir. In fact, of all the agencies we have the least amount of budget. We run on a shoestring. Our Director demands we're taking up slack from other agencies. It'd be nice if they paid us to do their work for them. A few of them owe me money for doing their work for them." He grimaced but let it clear up.

"I've heard rumors about a long term undercover," the head of the panel said.

Tony nodded. "Yes I was part of one."

"How did you get found out?"

"The subject checked too hard and whoever was supposed to lay out a background failed horribly. I nearly got blown up with them. He checked into Alex Harris because the one I was working around to get to her father spotted him talking to me on campus after a class I had taught. He apparently knew his twin. They tried to bomb his car too. Though I'm not certain who put the bomb there."

"We are," the female said. "It wasn't the arms dealer."

"Charming. I'll go punch someone in the nose over that for him." She chuckled. "He wasn't part of that. He was going to law school." She winced. "They included outsiders probably because they're against his twin's job. I know my director is. She accused him of not being human and me of dating him."

"Your director's a piece of work," she said.

Tony smiled. "I cannot comment on that statement, ma'am. It won't look good on me no matter what I answer."

"Point. You can play politics. Maybe you should try for a seat up here?"

He smiled. "Maybe. I'm keeping all my options open."

She nodded. "Run for office, DiNozzo. You'll do a better than some of our coworkers, who are mostly less than brainy. It'd be nice to have someone who thought before he spoke."

"I'll consider that the next time something comes open." He smiled. She chuckled and nodded. He looked at the head of the panel. "NCIS is a stand alone agency. We do a lot of work. The week before I went on injury leave the last time I had forty-three hours of overtime. If we didn't do a great bit of work, I wouldn't have that. I'd never sleep behind my desk during cases. I'd never have whole weeks I never see my house and movies. Thankfully I don't have a relationship or a pet waiting on me."

The female representative looked confused. "You slept behind your desk?"

"During cases, if we're in the middle, we don't go home."

"Is that NCIS rules or Gibbs rules?" she asked.

"Other teams do the same things at time. Maybe not as often as we do but others teams do have the same thing."

She nodded. "If they did that at the FBI, the supervisor would be fired."

"Yes, but we tend to take any crossover cases from the FBI to solve them before they do. It's just easier than trying to make them not be scared of Gibbs, ma'am."

"So you're doing eighty hour weeks?"

He nodded. "Sometimes."

"How many weeks a year do you have at least twenty hours of overtime, Agent DiNozzo?"

"Forty-three last year. Thirty-seven the year before."

She sighed. "Well, if you have to switch agencies then you'll have fewer hours at work probably."

"Perhaps. I get the job done. We all get the job done."

"Yes but you're human."

He nodded. "I've got the scars to remind me of that, ma'am."

She sighed, slumping and looking at the others. "We're going to clarify which agency does what, DiNozzo." He took some paper and wrote that out for her. "Oh. That's a nice way of putting the CIA, spooky geeks and weird spies."

"All the ones I know of," he said.

"The ones I've met as well." She handed that down. "I liked how you described Homeland as the new home of semi-talented agents and small agencies that got sucked in."

"It was how it was designed."

The head of the panel smiled. "All good points." He looked at him. "Could you be pushing for NCIS to get a raise?"

"I think if you did, the Director would dance about it, sir. I know a few agents didn't get their time in or cost of living raise this year. There was a huge fit. They almost all walked out one day."

"Okay so you guys need a new pair of shoestrings to hang by," the head of the panel decided. Tony nodded. "What about ACIS?"

"They have a good budget and their snack machines are nicer than ours. Our director canceled most of ours. Including the one that held snack cakes for those long afternoons. We went from fourteen in the building to two in the building. And we need a new coffee maker that does multiple pots. The last one broke and got replaced by two smaller Mr. Coffees, which make crap coffee and only hold twelve cups each. Most agents have at least a pot a day habit."

"How much is Gibbs' coffee habit?" she asked.

"Up to four pots a day if we're there all night."

She shook her head with a sigh. "Anything else you know your agency really needs?"

"I've heard that the computer servers are being updated. Not sure how that'll go. We have some needs in the lab for forensics. The floor's computers are a bit old and should be replaced in about two years. We could use the conference room back since my boss tends to use a stranded elevator and there's only one. We could use more agents as well to replace ones who're gone."

They just nodded. "We can see that." They shared a look. "Thank you, Agent DiNozzo. We'll take that into account when we talk about NCIS and their place in the budget."

"Thank you, Congress members." He nodded at them before leaving.

They shared another look. "NCIS is apparently being run like a war camp. Is that a good idea?"

"No," the female said. "We can ask the others if they're as threadbare as NCIS is."

"We have ACIS waiting," the head of the panel said. "Go get them for me." The guard went to find them and bring them in. They had to give up nagging an agent. "Bad time for you?" the head of the panel asked dryly.

"My assistant just informed me that I've had an agent injured in the field but it's not a serious injury. He got hit by a car and it broke his foot and ankle." He sat down. "I saw Agent DiNozzo. ACIS is run like a normal agency, we don't have agents like Gibbs."

"They've had forty-three weeks of at least twenty hours of overtime?" the female asked.

"That few?" he asked. "Interesting."

"Do your people have that same level?"

"No, ma'am. We don't have Gibbs running our floor. Or running over our floor."

"So it's an NCIS problem alone?"

"Probably, yes, ma'am."

"All right." She handed over the list. "Agent DiNozzo told us what each agency handled."

He looked smiled. "I don't like us being compared to Gibbs as the Gibbs for the Army but it's accurate." He handed it back.

"Is your agency running on a shoestring too?"

"No. NCIS used to not be that bad but you did cut them five percent and Jennifer Sheppard is not Tom Morrow, who is now in Homeland."

That got a nod. "So if we got rid of Director Sheppard and put in someone who's run an agency before?"

"It may solve some things but not all. They are underfunded compared to ACIS and JAG." That got a nod and a note made. "Though getting a different director would probably cure a lot of problems."

"DiNozzo said that they're doing the work of other agencies?" the head of the panel said.

"Representative, I'd have to have a closed hearing to speak on that subject," he said bluntly. "Though I will note that Gibbs will take over cases if they're cross-agency to get the thing solved faster and without someone complaining at him. He steps on a lot of toes and if we hear it's a crossover I only allow a few teams to work with them so they don't feel disrespected."

That got a nod. "Close the hearing," he ordered. "Cut off the broadcasting camera too please." That got closed and they got into the grittier details that DiNozzo hadn't shared so he didn't embarrass his agency. Including about that undercover he had went on for his director and her CIA contacts.

***

DiNozzo showed back up after his hearing, putting his bag on his desk before heading upstairs. "I told them we're good, but underfunded. They've done some research," he told the secretary. "But I did make a good case not to shut us down." He went back to gather his bag again. He handed Gibbs his paperwork. "A copy for the records you keep. Dr. Pitt sent it to HR by fax already." He stared at him. "I'm to retest in six months so another MRI." He walked off. "And I'm not allowed back until next week." He left again.

"What?" Gibbs demanded. He read those over. It was his medical clearance to resume duties. It was blatantly dated, and circled in red ink, that he was due back next Tuesday. "DiNozzo!"

"Elevator's already gone, boss," McGee said from his desk.

"Damn it."

"The doctor's keeping him at home?" He looked up. "Is that about the brain MRI he had to have or the leg cramps from the graze?"

Gibbs stared at him. "What?" he demanded.

"They had to make him get clearance for the head injuries he's had since he's had two concussions in a year," McGee said, staring at him. "He said he's got to do another one in six months before he left. I'm not sure if the medical clearance is because of that or the graze?"

"I'm hoping the graze." He stomped off with his phone to call his senior agent. If that was about concussion then they had to have a realistic talk about how hurt DiNozzo got. Tony wasn't answering the phone so he tried his doctor, who said he didn't have legal reason to know anything about Tony's medical care. Then he hung up on him. He tried DiNozzo again, getting him on his headset since he was driving.

"Concussion damage?" he demanded. He listened, actually listened. Then he heard how DiNozzo pointed out no other agents in the officer ever seemed to even get a graze. And he admitted he'd have to quit if he got another head injury. So he was looking at colleges while he was off on injury leave. Then he hung up but Gibbs had heard screeching tires.

Tony called back twenty minutes later to tell Gibbs he needed backup since some agents had just tried to run him off the road and shot at his car. He had flipped them with a ramming maneuver off the edge of the road. Gibbs headed for the car and called Fornell on the way. It was another agency, the FBI had to slightly handle it. FBI agents made it there first but they were their internal affairs people. So DiNozzo had called them probably.

Tony leaned on the side of his car, waving at the new agents. He had pulled off to the side so it didn't affect traffic. "Those three tried to ram me off the road. They shot at my car so I bumped them back and they skidded then flipped off the road. I haven't went to check on them so they didn't try to shoot me again. So what's their malfunction?"

The FBI agent in the lead shrugged. "Let me go ask, DiNozzo." He went down to check on them. "Nope, can't do that. They shot each other."

Tony looked up then down there. "They yours?"

"One is. I had him under investigation recently. We were thinking we'd have to send Fornell to bother you because his brother's a Marine who was known to sell drugs." He came back up with help from his partner. He stared at Tony. "You were the one who arrested him while you were on injury leave after the plague."

"The guy who tried to sell me smack while I was walking in the park?"

"Yes, him," he said with a nod. "The driver was his brother. I'm guessing it's probably about that." Tony huffed but nodded, crossing his arms over the chest. "I'll look into it and call your desk."

"I'm on enforced injury leave until Tuesday. Our IA enforced the rules."

"Good. About time." He called that in and got a tow truck, a forensics team, and Fornell to come liaison since no one wanted to work with Gibbs. Especially when he was huffy about his senior agent. He looked around, spotting another agent. He noticed DiNozzo was staring that way too. "Do you have a safe location you can stay tonight?"

"I have a friend who'd let me have a couch." He called him. "It's me. Can I bum the couch again? No, someone tried to run me off the road. Thanks, Alex. Yeah, if you go out tonight I can amuse myself with your movies. Thanks, Alex." He hung up. "Alex said I can stay with him tonight. He's going clubbing but he'll make sure the house is safe."

"That's fine. We watch over that boy so we can have hints when it's another bad thing coming since his brother warns him. I'll have the neighborhood watcher stay and send someone else to watch the kid in the clubs." He called that in and he got driven there by Fornell when he got there. The IA agent looked at Gibbs. "He'll be safe there."

"Should I put out a warning with McGee?"

"He wasn't involved. If I find out it's about more than that I'll let you know." He got out of the way of the tow truck, pointing over the hill. "Forensics team is about a mile away, I can see their van," he told the driver. "They flipped off the road after trying to ram someone else off it. This one will be evidence but it's the victim's car."

The driver nodded, going to check the car to see how hard it'd be to pull it back up. He came back up. "I can haul that one up fairly easily. I'll get a flatbed to come get the victim's car. He good?"

"He's fine. On his way to a friend's couch." That got a nod. "Though he's on Gibbs' team at NCIS."

The driver looked at him. "We've heard about you from other agents." He pointed for the forensics team. They started with DiNozzo's car since it'd have fewer samples to take. The other car would take longer to search. Especially with three dead bodies.

Gibbs huffed but drove back to the office to tell McGee so they could watch out for him too.

***

Tony sat up when he heard the door slam. "Bad night in the club?" he asked.

"Two of Xander's ex's decided to try to see if I was fun. So I'm banned from the gay bar on sixth for beating their asses and pointing out I didn't date dicks that dirty. Then I smirked evilly and told the bouncer coming over that they were my twin's ex's and arms dealers." Tony moaned, shaking his head.

"They are. They're not even great ones. Xander said they were pathetic at it and got him junky things." He smiled a bit. "Then the agent wanted to know about that stuff. I pointed out no one gave the slayers weapons from this or any other government. How did they expect them to handle huge emergencies that would need more than swords?"

He shrugged with a grin. "The guy got horrified that Xander's had to buy some weapons, the girls use swords, and we expected the government to jump the hell in so I don't have to be unretired. The agent tried to take a swing at me for me pointing that out so he's probably in trouble once he gets out of the ER.

"I gave a note to the paramedics for the supervisor that showed up for him. And I told the one outside, who was also horrified." He took off his t-shirt. "I didn't even get good stress relief." He grinned. "Also, that thing earlier wasn't about that drug case. Taking you from Gibbs means that he'll not be as effective. They think you're too pretty to be effective." Tony snorted, sending that text around. "They're in the service of Mr. Marcanthin."

"I have no idea who that is," he said, looking it up. "Hmm, higher up political minion."

"Keeper of the tapes of whores. He runs a brothel or six for senators." Tony looked at him and sent that off. Alex looked him up for Tony through his contacts and let him see it. Tony moaned, copying all that to his own phone so he could send it around. "He doesn't want to come near me at the moment. I'm not politically inclined and he's not sure if I can't get a slayer called here to get into his face. Which I don't need one to do that for me." He beamed. "Everyone still considers me lower class."

"You dress lower class and swear some, Alex."

"Point. I guess I can't shake the bad upbringing." He winked. "Though they're saying the only way to protect yourself and NCIS is to run for office to be their political knight."

"I'd hate that."

"Yeah but a few seers have seen you doing that to protect yourself and others."

Tony laid back down. "Great. Is that one coming here?"

Alex snorted. "Not if he's not smart. Is he that smart?"

"That's a good question."

"Besides, I'll just move." He went up to his room. Then he came back down. "My storage area hasn't been checked recently. Let me do that." He went to the office to check on that. Someone had tried to get into it. A few things were missing. So he activated the spellwork he had paid for and all his things returned. All of Xander's things returned. Though one of the comics was pissed on.

He passed on a message that he'd be there tomorrow to check it to their security team, who probably shuddered. Alex patted the statue next to him. "May wondrous amounts of attention grace my enemies' lives," he cast. It went out and suddenly all his enemies were finding out a few things they didn't want to be known as.

He went back to his bedroom to relieve his stress the old fashioned way, but quietly so he didn't embarrass the only real friend he had in town.

***

Tony walked past Gibbs the next day, nodding at him. "Some seers have seen me during visions being a politician."

"That's a horrible way to end up," Gibbs complained. "Cite your source last night?"

"Alex looked him up." He grinned. "Then he wished attention on him." Gibbs shuddered at that. "Exactly." He smiled. "He learned how to be vindictive from girls."

"It shows. Why did he beat an agent last night?"

"The agent was horrified the slayers have to buy weapons on the black market because no government gives them any for big incidences." Gibbs drank his coffee but was wincing. "Exactly. That and Alex pointed out they could at least bring some when they jumped in to help. The agent was horrified they expected him to protect the US."

Gibbs nodded. "How high up did they see you?"

"The visions showed me being a senator in a few years. When we have the next best thing to the invasion. Our upcoming one of an ascension is today." Gibbs grimaced but nodded. "Blow the head off, Gibbs. It'll take artillery. Or trapping it in a building and blowing it up. Unless they captured the guy and held him somewhere they can get him when he changes."

"Damn it."

"Then next year's mild. Another civil rights push will have a few riots. Which the slayers won't do more than step in to protect the demons from humans. The year after that...." He smiled. "Well, I'll gladly be out of the way somehow. Have fun with that!" He went back to his walk to figure out how to become a senator. He voted every time he needed to but he had stayed out of politics beyond that. How did one start to become a senator?

Gibbs called Fornell. "We have that ascension today if they haven't captured him." He hung up. He got something to settle his stomach so he could deal with people later. They had agents all over the city to handle an ascension. And a slayer. He was proved wrong because the slayer was injured within minutes and Tony had helped evacuate her then gave orders to handle it to the agents showing up to complain.

They protested but one got eaten so they had to handle the problem. He field commanded very well. Alex showed up with something and handed it over. They shot it at the demon worm, severing his spinal cord but not fully cutting off the head. Alex handed over a sword and Tony went to do it himself since the other agents were being whiny sorts.

The news captured a few good pictures of him with a sword and defeating the demon. Then more agents showed up to yell at them so Tony yelled back, getting into their faces to impart sense at the top of his lungs. Alex had gotten the slayer to an ER that was hidden and then back to Cleveland for the week to heal.

One of the agents tried Tony and Alex intervened by walking over there and standing between them then reminding them that they were agents, had been less than a block away, and this was a threat to the people of DC. Which was their job so why hadn't they done it? They tried to arrest him but the president himself showed up to end that and yell at them about the same things.

He thanked Tony and Alex. Told them to go calm down and clean up. They faded out of the mess to Alex's car and drove off. The president got to see the demon himself and then talk to the agents about how their responses weren't very appropriate this time. They had to do better as senior agents in the nation's capitol.

A few quit but that was their problem. The president nicely made a speech about how he'd be figuring out a proper response with his agencies in the morning. After they took this one off and cleaned up the mess. It turned out there was another one. It came to eat its rival. It nearly ate the president but he managed to get out of the way and away from the car the thing had tried to trap him against.

That's when the military people showed up and blew it up. They had been chasing it but hadn't managed to capture it. One of Tony's group yelled how to kill it while guarding the president. They finally blew his head off. Killed the presidential limo to do it but it had worked. The thing didn't get to eat anyone.

The president huffed and sent out quiet orders about tomorrow's meetings and to reward the agents who had done 'real agent work'. A few agents looked upset at that but oh well! The military troop leant the president a ride back with his driver and guards so they could clean up the mess. The news people were happier with that than they were reporting on failed agents doing nothing to protect the US. Well, some reporters loved to showcase agent failures but that was just their style.

***

Buffy was called for the meeting the next day. She got out of the car, straightening out her dress and hair. The reporters all shouted at her. "I don't speak shouting," she called. "I only speak girl. Though if you're asking if we knew about it. Yeah, we warned you guys last year! We warned Congress last year!"

The reporters shut up and looked at each other. She nodded. "Someone warned them the other day too from what we saw when the hotty agent guy was testifying. Someone's not paying attention." She walked inside with her purse. "Hi, Senior Slayer Summers. I got called for a meeting." She let them have her ID.

The guards got her through the body scanners and took her to the meeting area. The agency heads glared at her. She smiled back. "We warned you guys. When we were in front of Congress we noted it. When the hotty agent guy was testifying he noted it. You're not listening. And leave Alex Harris alone. He's retired from all that. We're lucky we still have his twin brother with how bad some of us treat him for being normal." She sat down in the seat that had her name on it.

"So you guys do buy weapons?" the head of the FBI demanded.

"Did you give us weapons to fight things with? Or bring them with you during a battle?" She stared at him. "We need them sometimes and however we get them we do. Since you guys don't want to help, we have to go to less legal people. Or in Xander's case that's called dating." She smirked a tiny bit.

"Most of the ones he's dated may be on some sort of list with your people but most of them I'd trust around my minis and I don't trust most of yours. Because they'll torture the girls. You've proven that." She shrugged. "Thankfully Xander had them rescued." She grinned. "Sorry about that property damage though."

He groaned. "Damn."

"If we were guys battling demons, would you treat us the same way?"

"Probably. You're battling demons."

She rolled her eyes. "We can go on vacay for good. Let the US handle all their own problems. Including the hellmouth." He shook his head, he did not want that. "Then take the training modules we made up for you guys and back up the girls!" She beamed. "We'd all enjoy it not just being us. Most of us who're patrol cleared are tired of battles again."

"You have other girls."

She glared at that person. "I'm not going to allow a little kid anywhere near a battle unless they're defending their lives so they can get away," she said coldly. "If *you're* that sort of being, I'm really sorry for your agency." He shrank away from her.

The president walked in. "I agree. The girls who're underage need and deserve to be little girls. Hopefully happy little girls." He sat down. "If I find one of you has been trying to force little girls into battle I'm going to kick your ass like I'm in a college bar fight." He looked around the tables. He looked at Buffy. "I paused to look that up. You did warn us. Told us who one was."

"We only heard about one from the demon underground." She pulled something out of her pocket, sliding it down to him. "The books on ascension. There's five main ways and one screwy side way. That's all the rites, all the stuff they have to do and buy. Including the poisonous spiders most forms eat before their last hundred days of immortality."

He ran that so they could go over it. Maybe they could ban a few.

"How many others are doing that?" the president asked.

"According to the demon underground, three. But the CIA like group from one realm said there's another one but they're not totally sure if he's doing it right. They think he's doing the screwy one. They're not sure if that'll even work. No one knew about the first one yesterday. The second was the one we told you about."

"He was under watch," one of the agents said. "We knew he'd be doing something wrong this year. I was not informed of what."

"We told Congress when they called us to talk to them," Buffy said. "So whose fault is that?"

"I think the one that passed it on," he admitted. He leaned back, rubbing his forehead. "Sir, my agents are mad at us but none of us are trained for that."

"Giles offered you guys training modules," Buffy said.

He grimaced. "I hope some of mine took initiative and used them. Do we have an office in Cleveland?"

"All but the Ohio version of the state FBI office were closed last year," Buffy said dryly. "They didn't want to deal with it."

The president grimaced. "That sucks." He looked around the tables. "Can we fix that problem?"

"Can you fix that problem with people who try to capture my girls and minis to torture them?" Buffy asked him.

"I hope so," he told her. "Is that common?" She nodded. "Oh, no."

"Sir, they're also getting weapons from underground sources," the head of the FBI said.

"You guys don't donate," Buffy said with a shrug. "What did you want us to do? As you saw yesterday, the local slayer you had was way injured by trying to lure it into a trap with just a sword. Thankfully Alex found one of his twin brothers' dates and got something for her then got her home to us to recuperate."

The president looked at her. "We don't give you guys weapons?" She shook her head. "Do we just show up with them at battles?"

She snorted. "Since when have your people shown up at battles?"

He blinked a few times. "Oh. I didn't realize that. We don't show up at battles?" he asked the others. They looked it up and shook their heads. "Why not? Are other countries this bad?"

She smiled. "France pretends we're all mental patients because of *course* there's no demons in France," she said dryly. "England has very few problems and likes to cover them up but they have agents who handle it sometimes for us and then tell us.

"Most of Europe has an Interpol agent who goes with the girls to do all those reports you guys love so much but he can't fight and he's one slayer's dad. If we sneak into a country we call him and he'll show up to make a report happen while we're sneaking back out. Asia's pretty well taken over most of their problems, outside some civil rights things.

"They had priests and people handling it as soon as it started. Africa.... Xander basically gets called out of bed to go handle things but he did train a whole lot of generals. They don't like him but they respect him because he's the only guy who jumps into a battle with a battle axe and weapons and makes the others join him.

"They hate to see him coming to warn them but they appreciate the warning so they can cover it up. They bring weapons with them but don't give him any. If he has any, he dated. Which they don't like either but they realize Xander needs to date so he's not just lonely and sad and pouty warrior guy. And they do give him nice weapons he's used to save them."

"We know not a thing about anything your girls do," the head of the FBI said.

Buffy smiled. "We don't work for you. We're not going to be all reporty to you. If you want to find out what's going on, show up! Heck, have a few people hire on as field watchers. Though we do make sure they can't harm the girls and won't suddenly turn on them to go back to being agents. We do protect the minis so much they complain."

The head of the CIA shook his head. "Most of my people consider them like a necessary, effective militia. If something happens near one of your girls they tend to get them out of the way if they can."

"I remember and she said thank you. Though she did need to pack a few things before they hustled her out of that since she's on long term meds and is now missing family photos. Thankfully some survived the explosion and fire but she did say to thank your guys for getting her out of the way."

"I'd hope more of mine would think about that issue," he admitted. "Can your girls pack in under ten minutes?"

"Most of us for important things. We've had to evacuate the center a few times over the years we've been there. Mostly because something was attacking it. The girls all know about emergency bags and that stuff."

"I'll make a note to tell the agents to let them get that unless it's an immediate need to rush them off." He made himself a note. "How many attacks does your center get?"

"Daily? The pickup truck brigade of hating girls comes nearly daily to yell at the minis as they get off the bus. Some of them try to breach the wards daily. Bigger threats than angry men? Every two, three months. We have to evacuate about every sixth or so."

He nodded. "Can we stop those men?"

"We'd all love it if you did since Cleveland's arrested some and it hasn't stopped them. We could use the armed guards again but some of the middle school girls drooled and some of the minis treated them like dogs they adopted so we had to go with another idea for guarding to save the guards." She smiled and pulled up a video. "Xander said to show this off today."

They all watched. "That guard on the right is a wanted former agent," the head of the CIA said dryly.

Buffy grinned at him. "He was really patient with the girls trying to get them to play and petting them. I told them to quit but they're being girls."

He groaned. He hung his head and shook it. "I'll see if I can find him and make sure he won't hurt the slayers." She smiled at that, ending the file. It turned itself back on. "Rosenburg?" he guessed.

"Probably." The film fast forwarded to past where it had been then paused.

The head of the FBI stood up. "That's a terrorist."

"That's Gary, the guard guy," Buffy said. "One of his cousins is a slayer and he was doing that to check up on her." She looked at him. "He didn't try to hurt any of the girls."

He sat back down with a sigh. "He didn't try to take any of the slayers out?"

"No. He protected the minis a few times from the pickup truck brigade. Though anymore they mostly drive Hondas and Nissans instead of trucks." She grimaced. "So boring."

"Have you done anything about them?"

"Xander, when he's back, likes to sit outside and shoot flare rounds at their tires." She grinned. "He considers it good practice. He started out with crossbow bolts but the tires are too thick unless he's sitting on top of the fence again. The police wanted him to stop that but they came back to annoy Xander and the police officer about girls saving them so the officer just said to not harm anyone not associated and walked off to report them for vehicle violations."

"Does his twin do that?"

She looked at that one. "His twin Alex is retired. He left Sunnydale not long after the Initiative raids. We were kinda putting down the twins because they're normal. Alex got huffy and left before he blew up the town with us in it. Xander felt the duty stronger so he stayed and tried to kick my butt a lot. Which is handy since he stopped Willow and things."

The president shook his head. "You guys are nuts."

"Yeah, sometimes, but we've got a dorm full of girls of all ages in the house being squealy about any stray animals in the area, or anything else pettable really."

"My girls did the same thing," the President sighed with a nod. "You've just got more of them."

She nodded quickly. "Especially with the last few that got taken from their families by CPS that we're fighting to give back." She gave one guy a pointed look. "You're not going to make us your warrior slaves. Sorry but no. And all the kids who have been in CPS custody wanted you to stop it. Before some other kid that needs the help isn't getting it because of all this." He glared but the president stared at him. He shrank down.

"I'd like to hear more about that," the President told him. "Today. After this." He nodded once. He looked at the perky blonde again. "Any other things that could help your girls survive longer?"

"Just get us what we need so Xander can date for better reasons than stress relief and weapons and stop the yahoos who hate we're girls that save them. The foster care stuff is a whole other plot."

He patted her on the hand. "We can work on those with you, Buffy." She smiled at that. "Can't we," he told the others. They nodded because they knew that was an order.

***

Tony frowned at his phone. No answer. Again. Gibbs cleared his throat. "I haven't heard from Alex in weeks," he admitted. "Not sure why. No one's answering his phone." He called up his name in the system. No arrests. Though he was apparently being held in a hospital. That was weird. He looked into it. Then he got that canceled so he could go pick him up tonight.
The hospital tried something else so he went down there with a judicial order to stop it. It only took a minute with a judge that he knew, and that Alex knew from the clubs. He walked in and held up the papers to the nurse. "Let's get him out of here before you all get raided for illegal experimentation."

"That's...."

"A judicial order," Tony said bluntly, staring at her. "The same as I'm a federal agent, Nurse." She hurried off to get someone. Including a guard. Tony put his badge on his belt, giving the guard a pointed look, making him back up. He handed the facility director the order. "That is a cease and desist and let him go order. Do I need to use smaller words for you?"

"He's not human!"

"He is human."

"He was made by magic!"

"So?" Tony shrugged. "Pregnancy is pretty magical too with how many things can go wrong. He's still a human. So hand him over and his things, and expect a lawsuit."

"He has no legal standing."

"I doubt that. The government didn't say that."

"That's who told us," he sneered.

"Fine. I'll go get him and his things myself." He looked outside at the sound of brakes, nodding at the officers stomping in. "We have a release order on a patient they're torturing, guys. I'm NCIS Agent DiNozzo from Gibbs' team." He handed the officer with the highest rank that letter. "Let's go get Alex please."

"That is a judicial order to shut down all experiments and to hand that young man back." He looked up. "Boys, go find him and his things." They went to do that. "What sort of facility is this, Agent DiNozzo?"

"One where they decided Alex isn't human." The officer winced. "Exactly. I'm really getting towards Gibbs anger levels." He followed the officers, waving the head officer over at the sight in one room. "Is that legal?" he demanded with a point.

He looked. "No, I don't believe it is." He called that in and got more help to shut this facility down. They found Alex, and he was in rough shape. His things were found in the office. The director had been trying to get into his bank account apparently. Tony helped Alex up and out to an ambulance, nodding at them. The paramedic wouldn't look at him. "He needs an ER."

"Yes, he does, Agent DiNozzo."

"Did he do something to piss off the community?" he asked.

"He's not one of us."

"Yes, that's why he's still protecting you and getting people free when they're captured. Shitty that no one did that for him. Or told those of us who could." He stared at him.

"That was his twin."

"No, not in DC. Xander's only been here a few times." The paramedic shrank away from him. "Yeah, all those raids to get the captured free were him." He looked at the agent pulling in. "Take him and go. I need to go commit assault. He goes to a *good* hospital."

"Yes, Agent DiNozzo." He got Alex loaded and took him to the ER.

Tony walked over to that smirking agent and hit him as hard as he could, knocking him down onto the pavement. "So, you're into human experimentation. Let's get you signed up for one then." He stared down at him, hands on his hips. Gibbs pulled in and Tony waved. "Arrest him before I shoot him, Boss. They had Alex here too. He's in hellish shape. So are the others."

Gibbs looked at him. "The director likes this and told me to stop you."

"Well fuck her." He called someone. "It's DiNozzo. I found the latest experimentation facility since Alex Harris was in it. Where I am right now. Officers are here to shut it down. Gibbs is here at the director's orders to stop me. Come help one side or another, Fornell. And bring some backup." He hung up and stared at his boss.

Gibbs stared at him but he could see the coldness and anger starting to gather. This DiNozzo, he was scared of. "I'm not following Sheppard's orders. This is foul, DiNozzo. You know that."

"Then let's go help." He walked in there with Gibbs behind him barking orders into his phone. The director tried to call but Tony hung up on her. She tried again. He did the same thing. The next one was the White House. He answered that one. "DiNozzo." He listened. "Please do. I found them experimenting on humans again." He waited until the president took the phone from his assistant.

"Sir, did you want me to set any of them on fire for human experimentation or just have them arrested? I can shoot a few to make myself feel better if you want." He listened to him. "Yes, that's the order I got. And I found him in shitty, hellish shape. I hope like hell he gets them back for this. And I hope they all enjoy their stints in jail."

"Demons don't have rights," the director yelled. "Neither do magical clones!"

Tony listened. "The president just said you're wrong." The man struggled but the officers cuffed him anyway and took him to a car. "Yes, sir. I need to hand this over so I can go with Alex. Apparently his other friends are just as shitty as this facility." He listened. "Agreed. I called Fornell and told him to pick a side, Sir. No, Gibbs is here." He handed the phone over. "The President."

"Sir," he snapped. He listened. "DiNozzo, go calm down Harris. He's magically beating the ER we think."

"Good. He should hit this one instead though." He walked off to go do that, glaring at a few demons who were officers. They shrank away from him.

Gibbs listened to the orders. "Yes, sir. My director tried to make me stop Agent DiNozzo. Yes, have a good talk with her, Mr. President. I'm sure you can make her have some sense. Thank you, Sir. Yes, we're shutting it down right now. Is there another one?" He listened and made a note on a pad from a nurse's station.

"I can look into that tonight, Sir. Thank you. Are we getting more agents in to help as this isn't technically in my jurisdiction or am I getting temporary powers?" He smirked a bit. "I'll give you a report by tomorrow, Sir." He hung up.

"This is the other facility they run," he said, handing it over. "The President said to shatter it so it can't be rebuilt with this one." The officer called that in and more officers went to help the patients there. Gibbs went to supervise the handing over of the patients. He didn't want to look at them, they were all tortured.

***

Xander heard the news third hand and stared at the demon who told him, making it back away. "Excuse me? Someone went after my twin?"

"They think you're the one whose helped the ones in DC."

"I haven't been in DC since they pulled us before Congress. How would I do that?"

"They're not smart."

"Clearly politics rotted some people's cores." He finished his poker hand, got up with his winnings, and went to pack his things for a few days while making a few phone calls. By the next morning he was back in DC at his brother's hospital room. He tapped then walked in, getting a nod from Tony. "Who in the fuck did it?"

"Same ones. Sam Finn was in charge."

"I'm going to kill her ass." He looked at his twin, wincing. "He going to be okay?" he asked quietly.

"Yeah. I think he's stuck in a meditative state."

"Pain killers don't work on us. We learned that long ago." He came over to wake his twin up. "I'm going to go kill someone. Give me names?"

Alex blinked a few times. "I have no idea but I'm going to help."

Tony pushed him back into the bed. "That's my job to help him, Alex."

He blinked at him. "How..."

"You didn't answer the phone for three days when I was inviting you to dinner. I also snapped at people who should've been paying attention."

"I haven't had a nosy guard since I hit that one."

"I can fix that shit," Xander said bluntly. Then he grinned and kissed him on the forehead. "I'll be back in a few hours. We'll hang out until you're out of here."

"You have a battle in a few weeks probably."

"I had one earlier and they handled it for me." He smirked. "The girls all said to get well. Let me go talk to someone." He strolled off with his axe on his back. Someone tried to stop him so he stared at them until they backed away. He walked into the bar where his twin usually went. "People, do you realize how badly you just broke the trust between the slayers, the whole Council, and yourselves?" he asked the room at large. They all stared at him. "Yeah, my twin got captured and tortured. I'm back to baby him."

"But...." the bartender started. "He's human."

"He admitted to being a magical clone. The FBI said that was close enough," Xander told him. That got a few winces. "Did I not ask you people to watch over my twin?" A few nodded. "Then why the fuck didn't you?"

"He's just hanging out."

"Bullshit. He's done a lot that I wasn't here for." Those pouty ones stared at him. "Yeah, this is my first time back in DC since the Congressional hearing. Those rescues, it's been Alex. All him. He may be retired but he doesn't let this shit go on. Even though you guys did it to him. And that pisses me the fuck off in a permanent manner.

"I've already told Buffy and Willow. They had to knock Giles out before he went back to black magic. Are you understanding how badly you've fucked your community? Also, as I heard there's a hidden other facility. You'd better hope whichever agent is sitting beside him right now handles it. Because unless there's kids, well you guys let it be done to my twin. Am I heard?"

They all looked disturbed and a few horrified but nodded. "This had better never happen again. He's protected you guys for years, just differently than I have. It's shitty that you turned your back on him again." Someone shouted and rushed in so he turned to hit him. "Shut the fuck up." He looked at the room again. "If you want to negotiate a peace treaty, call Buffy or Faith. Because I don't have it for you anymore and neither will my twin."

He walked over the other guy and out to go find out how bad it really was. Bandages didn't tell him much. Records would. He ran into an FBI agent, who looked horrified. "Yeah, my twin being captured and tortured brought me back. Which agency has Sam Finn in custody?"

"She's not been found."

"Great. I need to hunt," he purred. "Let me do that." He called his own contacts, who told him what he wanted to know and asked to please renew the peace treaty with DC. He looked at his phone then put it back against his ear. "That's not up to me. That's up to my twin. The one who's been saving their asses for years now." He hung up. That he could handle. If agents were following him, he'd still get there first.

***

Xander walked into NCIS, dragging Sam's dead body. "Gibbs wants her body. Her husband's in the trunk bleeding to death. Wanna call him for me?" The guard called immediately. He dropped her body in front of Gibbs when he stormed off the elevator. "That thing is no longer a danger to my twin. Her husband's in the trunk bleeding. She decided to try to take them both out and missed anything important on him."

"You must be the twin."

"I am. Want the husband? If not, I'm giving him to the community in Cleveland for a trial."

"Will it be a legal one?"

"Probably. He's got a lot of sins to be recounted."

"We'd like to witness it so we can report on his punishments."

"Most of them are death penalties, Agent Gibbs."

"Still."

"Then ask them. They may not mind." He nodded. "Come get him to read him his rights. I'll let them know to come pick him up." He walked off calling that in. Faith relayed that to the group up there, who did come down to get him that night with full judicial paperwork. Gibbs requested to be able to view the hearing. They agreed it was fine. Xander was hovering over his twin brother. They expected that and the temper. They'd have to see how bad Alex's temper was.

***

Alex looked at the picture on his laptop from home. "I'm sorry I missed my other interview appointment. I was being held and tortured."

"You were?" the lawyer said with a smile. Alex shifted to show off the bandages on his chest, making that one lose his smile. "Oh." He cleared his throat. "I think that's an acceptable reason to miss an interview with us, Mr. Harris. When do you plan to take the bar?"

"I've already taken it and passed. I passed in the upper eightieth percentile."

"We have you as having taken part of it." He looked at the forms. "I don't see the criminal training."

"I'm applying for a business legal position, not a criminal. Though that's one I did take the classes for."

"Oh." He got into the results sheet that were copied into the application. "Oh, that position. Yes, I can see that I was thinking of the other open one." He read that over. "I'll have to see if that position is still open and call you back in a few days when you feel better?"

"I go home in a week."

"That's fine. I can call back in exactly a week." He smiled. "Do feel better." He hung up.

Alex stopped the video chatting software shaking his head with a sigh. He put his laptop aside and relaxed again, looking at his twin. "They weren't my top choice anyway. Though they don't work with the community."

"Do you want to keep working with the community?" Xander asked.

"I don't know," Alex admitted. "It's pretty shitty that this happened and no one checked on me for two weeks. Much less that they didn't even try to get any of us help."

"They thought I was the one doing the rescues apparently."

"Bullshit! They knew where you were. You made CNN last month for a battle."

"I did?" Alex nodded. "Oh. Well. Yeah they should've realized. I don't know. I know I'm really mad and they need to set up a new peace treaty with the Council. Giles got so mad he nearly went back to magic." He stroked his twin's arm. "Itching?"

"Yeah. Some. That skin numbing stuff is great but wears out too fast." He sighed. He summoned the nurse. "When can I get more of the numbing stuff? I'm itching again."

"Another three hours, Mr. Harris. You go through that very fast."

"A lot of meds just don't work on us," Xander told her. "Painkillers never work outside local and the novocaine shot only works for twenty minutes. Most other meds barely work on me but work slightly better on him. I'm amused that the cream works at all."

"It's got some lidocaine in it. I'll make that note. You could rest."

"I am resting. Usually I'd be at the gym right now," Alex said dryly. "Though I need to find a new one." He looked at his twin. "My house?"

"Safe. Your accounts too. I talked to the bank for you. They found the fraud, stopped it, paid you back, and are suing them. There were a few they were questioning. Did you order from Dior?"

"Why would I?" he asked, looking confused. "Am I a woman?"

"No." He pulled up the questionable ones.

Alex looked. "That next to last was mine. I ordered it a bit ago and they charge when they ship it. Did you check my credit cards?"

"Yup. Told them the same thing." He patted him again, looking at the nurse. "Is he still on track to get out next week?"

"He'll get out Saturday if that one wound heals a bit more," she offered.

"Cool. I'll see if we can get a witchly healing spell."

Alex looked at him. "They loathe me."

"They hate me just as much," he said with a grin. Alex sighed but nodded. He grinned at the nurse, who went to make notes about that problem with the cream running out too fast. Xander got onto the bed, giving his twin the cuddle he wanted. It was good for his brother. The nurses would ignore it.

***

The lawyer interviewing Alex looked through things again for show. "Why did you choose that law program?" he asked, looking at him. "It's not the better program in the area."

"I had went through their paralegal program a year earlier so everything transferred in. Plus it's closer to my house by about an hour with usual traffic."

"That's reasonable," he decided. "We know they tend to be a bit biased."

"Yes, that's why I got one teacher fired," he said with a smile and a nod. "For getting in my face about being the paralegal that helped the peaceful community with their first lawsuit. Another two hated to have me in class because I'm bisexual, leaning strongly towards gay. They hated that and I didn't care but I will push back if it happens in my face. I also pointed out that there was a lack of women in the program to the chair of department." He smiled again. "He blamed that on the one that huffed off to quit her job."

"Oh." He nodded. "Which teacher?"

"The one who was supposedly teaching ethics," he said dryly. He pointed at his class records. "That one."

"Oh, her." He nodded with a grimace. "We didn't like how she was teaching anyway."

"She hated that I was that paralegal. She tried to mark my paper on it down and made a lot of disparaging comments. So I went to face her down and the chair showed up to see why I was sneering in her doorway. He regraded it. I told her that had been my case and I was very aware of what I had done personally. She hated that and the chair told her to regrade it so she huffed off, then got hit by a car in the parking lot that was backing out. She tried to sue the school and me and the judge tossed them both out."

"Excellent of them." He made a note. "Do you still work with the peaceful community?"

"For legal things? Yes. Otherwise, I'm not able to pull the rescues I had been doing for years. I've got another six weeks of bandage changes for burns on my lower back. They're talking about redoing the peace treaty with the Council and the local slayer." He stared at him. "I don't mind most of the community but they saw me doing things and then told me it was my twin doing it."

He grinned slightly. "They're nearly as good at that as Buffy and Willow are in Cleveland about my twin and what he's handled. So I can and will for legal things but unless it's kids, I'm out of the rescue business unless I have to. Like I retired from Council things before Sunnydale fell in, now I'm retired from more."

"I can understand that. Your twin's the one in Africa?"

Alex smiled and nodded. "Yeah, that's my twin Xander. I've talked to him and his trainees, they all seem very sweet. One thought I should show her my stuffed animal since she was going to show me hers. She giggled about my plushie I had on the couch from another friend."

"That is sweet of her." He smiled at that. "I see corporate classes so business law?"

"Yes. Mostly to help new business owners get through all the tape and hassle of starting up. While I can do other contracts, I wouldn't mind focusing on business law for that purpose. I'm actually excellent at contract law." He smiled. "My highest grade. So I can do wills as well. I took that optional class."

He looked over the grade records, nodding. "I see you did take that. That's a mentally stimulating part of the law field." He looked up.

"I wanted to help business owners like the one in the paper yesterday be able to deal with all that hell they get for being peaceful community and all the tape that suddenly appears to stick to them for it and being a business owner. I still think I'd like that."

He nodded. "That's an excellent reason. As you know we do help the peaceful community here." Alex nodded with a smile. "Are they mad at you?"

"I have no idea. And I don't really care if they're mad that Xander made them see that they thought he was doing stuff I was. It was their blindness on that issue that let me be tortured for two weeks by Sam Finn's people." The lawyer winced.

"Exactly. So I'm not going to be upset at them for it. They were willfully blind. That doesn't impact my job here or elsewhere. The ones who did it aren't business owners and wouldn't come to me for a will anyway. They'd go to my former boss in Roanoke. Or to Curtis out in Alexandria."

"Point." He nodded once. "He does handle those for the community. We do a lot of litigation for multiple reasons."

"I did take my minor in criminal law. It was pushed that it was standard and then you did something on top of it so I did enough hours to get a minor in it. I haven't taken any specialist test in that area. I took the general one."

"I saw that and you did a good job for your first test." Alex grinned and nodded. "Did you celebrate that?"

"No one to really celebrate with that. I've got a few friends in the area but they were busy. They did come to graduation."

"Many people have more than a few friends."

"I had more but some were normals and I was desperately trying to be one of them after retiring. They decided I was a bit weird when a vampire in a club just got a shrug instead of a horrified reaction. I have some casual friends in a few clubs. I could've went there but I would've been the one buying all the drinks and I don't want to pick up a sugar baby."

"I can see that. A few good friends is better than casual acquaintances. How did you get that money?"

"I looted in Sunnydale. Vampire's stashes, a few abandoned artifacts I'm protecting." He grinned. "My twin and I split it. That was right before I left town for good and I've went back twice. Once before it fell in to visit and to get something Xander said was being an annoying artifact.

"The other time after it fell in to scout to see what was still abandoned there and get it away from the leaking hole before it became the problem of the week to handle. I nicely gave Xander all the weapons I found outside a sword and another battle axe."

"So nothing illegal and mostly the same level as archeology only with modern things."

"One vampire clan had an ancient Hand of Glory that was still burning after thirty years. It was dated in the sixteen hundreds. I had to put it out and store it somewhere safer before someone else activated it. It really was more protective than most things." He shifted to cross his feet. "I've got a few in hiding, safely away from all sides."

"I know you've sold some."

He nodded. "Nothing that would cause an apocalypse, nothing too dangerous. I sold one that can enhance healers for ten dollars after one of the bad rescues." The lawyer smiled at that. "They looked it up and realized it could become addicting so they use it sparingly but they should have control of that."

"I agree. That's their duty. Would you work with them?"

"I already do. I was helping a few file medical board paperwork to clear up the whole 'healers aren't licensed professionals' movement that started last month. Pro-bono because healers are necessary and important even outside the community."

"True. I hadn't heard about that."

"Patricia filed one and got it back because she had written in the wrong address box. So I went over it with the directions so she and the others could fill it out properly and then send them in with certified copies sitting in their safes. Someone will try to toss them out but they can go legal to get that fixed. They're already having to and I promised if they wanted me I'd be there."

"We have someone helping that group of healers. They presented the instructions and the papers. He said they filled it out oddly but it was in line with the manual they had to fill them out with. He had them fill out a second set just in case and that did get turned down. Not sure what's going on there."

"Doctors got mad that touch healers exist," Alex said with a shrug. "And they're healers, not official doctors or osteopaths or anything like that. They look at them like they do foreign trained docs as far as I can tell."

"That makes sense. I'll tell him about that." He made a note on his notepad. "Are theirs as bad as ours?"

"Remember doing the paperwork for the financial department? Same level as all that and tax forms."

"Ah." He nodded. "So they did it to screw people up." He smiled and nodded. "That figures." He made another note. "Were you on scholarship?"

"No. I self paid. Which is nice since that college was ten grand less a year but I could've hacked the other's prices."

"Good." He nodded. "Let me talk to the head partners of the firm. We'll see where this goes." Alex shook his hand and left. He went to talk to the senior partners. "He's very interesting. Said he helped with the paperwork problem the healers are having."

"He did good by their manual but they do that to screw up people," the senior partner said, looking at him. "Is he still trying to hang onto the community?"

"He pointed out that his twin's been in Africa since the congressional hearings. As did Xander himself when he showed up to help his twin." The senior partner looked confused. "All those rescues? Was Alex Harris, not Xander Harris." He looked smug. "And he's retiring more fully as he's still got six weeks of burn healing to do thanks to Sam Finn's people." The senior partner winced at that. "He's wanting to work on business law things like the red tape hassles we've had over the last few years."

"He may do good at that. He's very stubborn."

"His twin went into an invasion level battle with just his battle axe and a lot of people we'd think were nearly terrorists to protect Africa. I think he comes by it naturally."

"Point. Why did Finn want him?"

"He admitted he was a magical clone of Xander."

"Oh, that." He nodded. "Is he one of ours?"

"No idea. Could he be? Yes. He'd do good working with our contracts department and helping out in business things. His hiring contract would be looked over very hard I'm sure."

"Why did he go to that program?"

"An hour less commute, it was cheaper, he had went through them to get his paralegal degree so everything transferred in."

"That's sensible. But Harris has always been sensible." He considered it. "Is he fit for that position?"

"Yes." He nodded. "I worry that he'll hate our contract." He handed over one. "This is one he had with his last boss when he was taking the paralegal classes."

The senior partner looked it over. "That one in Latin...that's a turn around clause?"

"If they turned on him on purpose, yes." He grinned. "Harris does know about Wolfram and Hart. He was at the invasion with an artifact and then a sword."

"Point." He handed it back with a smile. "That's goofy. But maybe not enforceable."

"That's legal by the demon courts. And the US courts will uphold that." He smirked a bit. "He'll put the same one in ours."

"True." He considered it. "Would we be liable for that?"

"If we turn on him on purpose."

"Politics may mean that we'd have to," the senior partner admitted. "That's a hitch to getting a new person in. Has anyone else applied?"

"Two other fresh faced young lawyers with hopes and dreams."

"Did they have that sort of contract experience?"

"They have no experience. Including interning."

"Oh, them," he said with a grimace but a nod. "If we can get Harris to leave that off, hire him."

"I can suggest that." He went to talk to Harris about that clause he'd want. He had it worded better now. It was enforceable. It was powerful. Almost a curse. It would mean Harris could collect their souls if they turned on him on purpose. This Harris was the sneaky one apparently.

***

Tony walked up the hall of the Congressional Office Building, shaking his head at the happy looks his way. His target was just ahead, coming out of his office it looked like. "Representative D'Anders, we should go into your office," he said in his usual bland, agent voice.

He smiled at the agent. "Are you going to talk about taking up a position as was suggested?"

"No, I'm here about your wife's murder, sir," he said. The man stiffened at that. "We really should take this out of public view. Arresting you out here would be a spectacle and we do like to not cause one. It looks like we're favoring one party over the other."

"This is preposterous! I'm the one who reported it!"

Tony stared at him. "Sir, we have proof. Including your registered handgun. With your fingerprints on it, not smudged from someone else using it with gloves on. Including on the ammo's casing. We have proof that your two-and-a-half alibis are all going to be going in as accomplices.

"We have proof that one helped you with it, and the other one-and-a-half clearly lied to the investigative team." He shifted closer. "It is your choice if we walk out of here like I'm taking you to talk to you about this or if I arrest you here and you walk out in cuffs," he said more quietly.

"I didn't do it!"

"Representative, we have you on camera. Both at the Naval Academy and from the toll pass sensors that take pictures when someone pays with a pass to make sure it's the one it belongs to and isn't stolen." He stared at him. "This is your last opportunity to walk out of here and not create a spectacle."

"Agent DiNozzo," another representative said with a smile.

Tony stared at him. "I'm here to arrest you too but I'll get you after the actual murderer. That convenient wing challenge that night? We can prove where your car was, Representative Williams. The Naval Academy has a lot of cameras these days." That man looked horrified. "So, would you like to walk out with us politely and calmly or should I create a scene?"

"You can't do this!" D'Anders shouted.

"Bull," Tony said normally. He whistled and waved his badge. "Capitol Officers!" he bellowed. One came running. "Help me escort the two murderers out please? I have cuffs but they're going to try something stupid."

"Yes, sir. Which agency are you?"

"NCIS." He showed his ID, stopping D'Anders before he could move. Williams tried to run but another senator stopped him. "Thank you, ma'am. He's at least an accomplice to homicide." He cuffed them both and read them their rights. He let the Capitol officers get the other two to talk to.

Of course, a reporter ran over. "What did they do? Is this about Representative D'Anders' wife's murder?" he shouted.

"No comment," Tony shot back. The man huffed and tried to get around him to get better pictures. Tony moved him out of the way and stared at him. "We do not play politics and we do not allow spectacles during arrests, sir. Back off or join them in a cell." The man got led off by another officer. Tony shook his head, looking at the building's police force. "I'm so sorry you have to deal with that sort of being."

"Us too," he admitted. "They did?"

Tony grimaced. "There's a lot of lying and a lot of proof. I can't comment, it could damage the court case." That got a nod. He got the other two into the car and got in to drive them back to the shipyards.

"I want my lawyer!" D'Anders demanded.

"Have him come to the shipyard, sir. You'll be in an interrogation room and I'm sure they know how to handle that." He called in with his wireless earbud. "Gibbs, me. I have all four. The Capitol Police were helpful. No, D'Anders wanted to create a spectacle so two got taken out in cuffs. I told off a reporter too."

He hung up because a car tried to cut him off. "Hmm. I wonder who that is." They tried to stop him but he rammed one on the front end, making them spin off. He was in the agency's car, he could put dents in it. "People, hold on. Let me evade these people trying to free you." One growled at that.

"Don't even start, Representative Henry. We have them on camera at the Academy. You have to sign in to get on the grounds," he said dryly. That one, who was the half an alibi, groaned. He called back. "Gibbs, me. I've got three FBI cars trying to stop us. Get me backup," he ordered, leaving it on for now. Gibbs shouted that at McGee so hopefully it'd help before they got stopped.

Nope, they got boxed in and forced off the road. Tony got out with the keys and locked the car audibly with the remote. "Guys, I'm NCIS Agent DiNozzo and I have four suspects in the car. Are you this dumb?" he demanded. One stomped over to him and took a swing. Tony hit him back. "We also have agency cams going."

He knocked that guy down and stood on his throat, making him gasp and try to get him off. "Move some more," he ordered, glancing down. The guy quit moving. Two cop cars showed up. "Guys, I'm Special Agent DiNozzo from NCIS, I have suspects in a homicide in the car," he announced.

The officers came over to check the one he was standing on and got him to the rear of the car. The other agents were calling in. He looked at the officer with him. "I have a homicide suspect and his three accomplices that lied for him in the car," he noted. "I've also got Gibbs on my earpiece."

"Sir, we were told to stop your car because you were a kidnaper," one of the officers said.

Tony got out his ID to show it. "I'm not the kidnaping kind. Been there before myself, hated it. Wouldn't do it anyway. That's not a legal way to arrest people."

"They said you are," another officer said as he came over.

"Yeah, one killed his cheating wife and the lover at the Naval Academy," Tony said sarcastically. "The other three lied and/or helped." The officer winced at that. "Of course they did. We can go to the station so you can put them in a cell and you can call in for my arrest warrant. It's in the car anyway so you can check it." They sighed but one reached in to get it from the front windshield. He checked the four suspects and then closed the door. "They still bitching?" Tony asked dryly.

"Swearing their lawyers would be the best ever," that officer said sarcastically. He called in that warrant to check it and nodded. "It's real, boys. They're NCIS arrests. If he's the same DiNozzo he's a senior NCIS agent on Gibbs' team." That got a nod and they got away from Tony. "Who're they?"

"They cut us off and tried to run us off the road. They did box us in so I had to pull to the shoulder," Tony said. "The one I was standing on tried to hit me first so I knocked him down and immobilized him without risking myself or my suspects." He listened. "He said Gibbs sent your senior officer a picture of my ID so he can send it to you so you can verify who I am."

"We're the FBI," the other one said. "NCIS is just a phony agency."

"Bullshit," Tony said dryly. "We're the Navy and Marine cops." He smirked. "Which means I deal with worse than you'll ever try to be daily and more stubborn. Though I'm pretty sure Gibbs has called Fornell or your Internal Affairs about this." The agent yelled and tried to hit im so Tony ducked to the side and sent him into the trunk to hold down. "Cuffs?" he asked politely.

"Gladly." The officers cuffed those other agents. The text came through and it was Tony, though he looked younger and less tired in the picture. They sent that back and it was agreed they could escort him to the office. Tony got back in to drive as soon as they had sent off the agents and had picked who was accompanying them.

He smirked at the one in the front seat. "Nice try! Give it an 'A' for effort!" He smirked, pulling out and following all the traffic rules. Normal officers would gladly write agents tickets for traffic offenses. He showed his ID to get into the shipyard, getting a nod. "There's an officer helping by following us," he said. "Let him in too?"

"If he wants to, Agent DiNozzo. Gibbs ordered some extra guards at the front door."

"That'll work for me. Thanks, Douggie." He drove in and parked in front of the building, nodding at the guards waiting. "Gibbs send you down?" They nodded. "I've got four suspects."

"Great, DiNozzo," one said dryly. "I'm sure Gibbs will have fun growling."

"Probably. I will be." The officer pulled up and Tony did the paperwork for him so it was officially noted then let them get lunch on the way back. He even suggested the caf up the street since it was so good and cheap. The officers smiled at that and went there to see what they had. It was good and cheap food. Tony walked in D'Anders while they got the others. "Their lawyers here yet?" he asked as he walked past Gibbs.

"Not yet. None of them. The agents that stopped you?"

"No clue, Gibbs. They didn't admit who had sent them to free these ones."

"Charming. More politics," Gibbs muttered, following the group. "We're using Room B, people. Put the accomplices in there." That got a nod from the guards. "Tony, you've got Room 2 waiting."

"Great. I love that room that has such bad acoustics." He grimaced. "Do we have the good microphone ready too?"

"Abby set it up," he agreed. He hitched the three accomplices to the table and went to monitor Tony's suspect handling. He did have the good microphone and the sound was adjusted so it sounded right. McGee came down to talk to the others about their roles and let them inform their lawyers they needed them badly. It was going to be a long afternoon.

The Director came down to stare at DiNozzo. "You arrested four members of Congress. This is going to look horrible on us, DiNozzo. They're going to cut our funding!"

He stared at her for a second because clearly she was stupid. "Did you want me to let the guy who killed two people at the Naval Academy go? The other three just lied and one drove him up there to help him." She winced at that. "So I don't really care about the fallout. I'm not going to play politics. He killed his wife and her lover with his registered handgun.

"The one drove him up there. We have pictures of them together, including at the Academy's parking lot. I'm not going to go easy on a murderer because he's got power, Director. That's unethical. If the politics goes toward shutting us down, you can quote me." He walked off shaking his head. "Gibbs, is his lawyer here yet?" he called.

"One's signing in. Gate said another one's pulled in. Along with a higher up from the White House."

Tony shrugged. "I don't care. They did it, they get charged for it. If he wants to apply pressure, I'm going to walk away. I know what ethics are and it's not politics," he told the Chief of Staff since he got off the elevator.

"We could push back at NCIS," he said pleasantly.

"If your boss really wants to suck off the grieving murderer in there, that's his problem. I gave him the option of walking out and not making a scandal. He refused. Then the other one showed up and I had to get the Capitol Officers to help so I didn't have to spend all night finding them at home and their hidey holes with their mistresses." The Chief of Staff huffed at that.

Tony stared back. "We have them on camera at the murder scene. We have fingerprints. We have how they got up there since another drove him. The other two just lied about their wing challenge and when he got there. They probably thought he was with a lover." He walked off again.

"You should probably learn how to play politics, DiNozzo," the Chief of Staff ordered.

Tony smirked at him. "I already know. It's just that I don't like the taste of ass. I'm not going to kiss an ass and ignore a double homicide." The man glared. Tony stared back. "Are you an added accomplice, Sir? You seem to be overly interested in this case."

"No! You arrested four members of a political party!"

"Yes, one's a murderer, one's an accomplice, and the other two lied to help cover it up, thereby becoming an accomplice after the fact and probably aiding in a conspiracy. Unlike *some* agents I'm not going to let that go. That's unethical. It's against the law. We do uphold the law here, Sir." He stared at him until the man huffed and left calling someone.

"Tell the SecNav I said hi," he said with a smile and a wave at his back. "Tell him to bring pictures of the new herd of puppies we heard his dog had too. Abby would love a picture of them." The man glared before getting on the elevator. He looked at the director. "Anything else, Director Sheppard?" He tried to look interested.

"If we get a budget cut you're going first," she warned, stomping off.

He waved at her back too. Gibbs glared at him. He stared back. "What?"

"Nice work," he said. "Go get him to confess."

"He's trying to hum himself into calmness. I'm giving him time to find some false security." He went back in there. He heard the lawyer show up but it was for one of the others. "Hmm. Theirs are faster than yours." He stared at him. "So, you protested her boinking a nineteen-year-old cadet?" he asked dryly. "How old is your mistress, Representative D'Anders?"

"I don't have one," he sneered. "I believe in the sanctity of marriage."

"Ah." He nodded. "So that's why you killed them both while pretending to be there to check on your son's flu?" The man kept glaring. Tony stared at him. He laid out pictures. "Of you at the Academy that night. We print out things so hackers can't rearrange data." He showed it to him. "Since it's not showing it must be a back harness that night."

He showed another picture. "In the hallway outside the room your wife and the cadet was shot in. Your son's in another building." He put down another picture. "From the toll system when your driving buddy paid for the toll." He stared at him. "We have beautiful shots of him from the parking lot too."

"Those are all modified," he sneered. "I can prove that."

"I doubt that. Labs have to have yearly certifications to prove they're up to standards and pulling stills off a security video isn't that hard. Teenagers can do it." He smiled at the man coming in. "His lawyer?" The man nodded. "Great, come join us and look at these interesting security pictures we have of him and one of his two-and-a-half accomplices. One only swore he was at the wing challenge, but didn't lie beyond that," he said at the confused look.

"May I have a moment with him?"

"Sure. I can step outside."

"Can you halt the recording devices?"

"That's up to the tech running them." He looked at the mirror, getting the lights flashed. "I guess he is." He stepped outside with the file. He had left one picture in there but they had better views of them at the toll station. He handed those to McGee, who smiled as he went back into his room.

The other two demanded to to go a separate room since they didn't want to associate with a true suspect. McGee humored that and let Gibbs talk to them. Tony went back in when the door was opened. "Did you advise him to cooperate?"

"I want to see the evidence."

"Sure, I can lay it all our for him and you." He sat down after glancing at the tech area. The lights flashed again. He went to check then came back. "Our forensic tech is running the audio pickup system right now." He sat down to go over the whole case. The lawyer was grimacing while looking at his client. "So, would he like to make a statement?"

"Can we talk about a deal?"

"I'm not the prosecutor. I'm the agent who's arresting him," Tony told the lawyer. "We can get one down here. Abby, get a prosecutor?" he called.

"Already coming," she called back over the intercom. "About another twenty, Tony."

"Thanks." He looked at the lawyer. McGee leaned in. "Prosecutor?"

"Signing in now. Let me go run the equipment for Abby." He went to do that, finding she had turned up the volume some but he arranged things so it was recording properly for evidence. She grinned at him. He checked the audio, turning it back up slightly since it was staticky.

Gibbs stepped in with his written, signed statements. The lawyer was not happy. McGee's were brought in too. That one had clammed up immediately when his lawyer got there and glared at him. The lawyer advised his client that he really should talk to the prosecutor about a deal. She was shown in and came over to negotiate. She was going easy on him but she had a politically based career. Tony wasn't happy but at least he was pleading guilty.

***
Part 4 by Voracity2
Tony was summoned back to Congress less than a week later. He showed up in a nice enough suit, still looking tired. He took an oath then sat down and stared at the members of the ethics committee. "I know I'm probably here because I had to arrest a few of you." They nodded as a group.

He handed over the folder he had carried in. "Copies of the case against two and the other two were accomplices after the fact, bordering on conspiracy but the prosecutor didn't want to do that. She decided it'd look bad and it would be publically noted instead. That is a copy to be put into the official records."

They looked it over. "This sucks," one said bluntly, staring at him.

Tony stared back. "I don't do more than follow the evidence, Senator Andrews. I don't make up evidence, I don't use my gut instinct. We have him on camera at the crime scene. Then he went to a wing challenge that was his alibi."

"I saw," he admitted, handing it on. "Did he decide to go to trial?"

"Took a deal. A very light deal. The prosecutor was worried about how it'd look to arrest two representatives and decided not to charge the other two with more than public shame."

"Hell," another said quietly. "So they are actually guilty." Tony nodded. "What happened when you came to arrest them?"

"We do not want to cause a scene, Senator Williams. I offered to walk him out to the car without cuffs but he got loud, started the scene, and refused to comply. I had no choice but to officially arrest him and the driving buddy he had. I did call loudly for a Capitol Officer because I was without backup and had two suspects to walk out. They could've escaped if I hadn't. His team got the other two for me, helped me hitch them into the car, and I sneered at a reporter trying to get the story of his life."

"Ah." He nodded. "You were going to quietly arrest him?"

"I'm well aware of politics, sir. I'm well aware of the power of it and the chewing it could cause my agency if I had just went full out tackle and pounced him to cuff. Plus I would've spent the rest of the night trying to find the other three. Representative D'Anders did not comply with simple orders so I had to go to a harsher step in the arrest process. I'm still tracking who tried to stop us on the way to the shipyards. Internal Affairs at the FBI is not being very chatty over that."

"Shipyards?" he asked.

"Yes, Senator, I'm an NCIS agent. One of the senior agents. I serve on the major crimes response team, under Gibbs. The murders occurred at the Naval Academy so it was our jurisdiction to solve."

"I have no idea about any agencies outside the CIA and the FBI, Agent DiNozzo."

He smiled. "NCIS is the military oversight for the Navy and Marines. If they commit a crime or a crime is committed against one, or on a base that is ours, we handle it."

"Oh. Okay. So I'm assuming the army has one?"

"ACIS," Tony agreed with a nod.

"Oh, okay. There's so many agencies in this town."

"He gave the appropriations people a quick list," the head of the panel said. "We can pass that around." He looked at Tony. "You were polite."

"Of course. It never hurts and if they underestimate me for being polite that's their fault."

"Good point." He nodded. "Did your director help?"

"No, she told me if this got our funding cut I was the first one fired," he said dryly but then smiled. They smiled back at that admission.

"So this whole thing was because his wife was cheating?" the head of the panel asked.

Tony nodded. "Apparently. That's what his statement said."

"We have to decide to censure him for that," the head of the panel said.

"He took a plea bargain this morning, Senators. Therefore he's heading to jail. I think that's almost automatic in that case, isn't it? He can't perform his duties."

"Good point." He nodded, looking at the others then sighed. "It really is most inconvenient to have this happen now."

"We solved the case within a week, Senator. We didn't pick the timing, he did."

"Also a good point. Well." He sighed. "Why wasn't the FBI included?"

"It happened at the Naval Academy so it was our jurisdiction and one of the victims was a cadet so our jurisdiction. We only include the FBI on cases when it's crossing agencies or steps on their toes."

"I didn't realize that. So you're like an FBI agent, have all the same rights and responsibilities?"

"Yes," Tony said with a nod. "Just dealing with Navy and Marine crimes. Sometimes we overlap and share a case but usually none of ours are partially theirs. They have their own duties, the same as we do, and we sometimes have to cross with ACIS but again, that's rare."

"I didn't realize that you were a full agent."

"Yes, Senator. I'm a full senior agent of NCIS and we do arrest. We do crime scenes, we arrest, we do everything the FBI does within our jurisdiction."

"That makes sense that you don't have to drag another agent with you to arrest people," he decided. "Did he get read his rights?"

"I read them both their rights on the way to the car and I repeated it to the one I had in interrogation. It's protocol that we repeat them in sight of the recording equipment if they're in an interrogation room. Three of the four had their lawyers there. The other one had his on vacation so he borrowed one of the other ones. He wasn't in a great deal of trouble since he was only part of the coverup conspiracy."

"Not the other two?"

"Capitol Police got them for me. I'm assuming they did read them their rights but that's one reason we redo them in the interrogation room."

"Makes sense," he decided with a nod. "Your director didn't come down to help?"

"No. She was worried about how this would look on the agency."

"Oh. I've seen some political people that were like that," he decided.

"Director Sheppard can be that way, Senators, but she is our director. She will stick up for NCIS."

"Oh, you've got *her*," one said with a sneer and a head shake. "Sorry to hear that you're under her, DiNozzo."

"Thank you, sir, but Gibbs is worse."

"We've heard," that one agreed dryly, smiling at the others that looked at him. "That one with the coffee who barked a lot last year? That's Gibbs, his senior agent. Probably why he came by himself to arrest four people as well."

"Oh," a few said with a nod. They remembered him.

The head of the panel shook his head. "You live in an interesting job, DiNozzo. You're dismissed." Tony stood up and nodded then left. He looked at the others. "If he's in jail we really do automatically censure him. His state's going to have a fit. Has it hit the press yet?"

"No idea," one said. "So we censure that one?" The others nodded and they made it official for the records.

***

Alex was at the bookstore he liked when he ran into Tony trying to get away from someone shooting at him. He put Tony behind him as he ducked into an alley and hid him. The guy stared at him. He stared back. "Did you need something?"

"I saw that, kid."

Alex shrugged. Then threw something at him, making the guy try to shoot it. It went off in his face and he screamed. "Yeah, that's acidic," he said dryly.

Tony sighed. "Thanks, Alex." He patted him as he walked around him to arrest the guy. "He chased me from the coffee shop because I walked out with a cookie." He put the guy in cuffs. "Can that eat his skin?"

Alex shrugged. "Not sure. Probably at least first degree burns but it's vinegar based. So it can probably easily be rinsed off and neutralized if not."

"Okay. Let me get him someone." He called in and looked around. Alex went into the bookstore and found a few he wanted, then left via the other entrance. Tony looked at the local officers who showed up. "An acquaintance threw something acidic on him to make him stop it. He tried to shoot it before it hit him so it went off in his face. He said it's vinegar based."

"Okay," one decided. "He was the one racing down the street to get away from you?"

"Other way around, guys. He was chasing me and shooting on a crowded street. He caught me coming out of the coffee shop up the block." He waved a hand. "I have no idea why he was shooting at me or if he was following me."

"You're an officer and therefore evil," the guy moaned.

Tony stared at him. "I'm a federal agent," he corrected then smirked. "My boss is the evil asshole of the agency though." One of the officers snorted. "I serve under Gibbs, guys." That got a nod, they had heard rumors. "Have him. Please."

"Gladly, Agent...."

"DiNozzo. I'm second-in-command on our MCR team at NCIS."

One of the officers squinted. "Navy?"

"And Marines," he said with a smile and a nod.

"Wow, so a lot of stubborn people," the other officer said. "Good luck with that. The one who threw whatever it was?"

"Disappeared into the bookstore. He's someone I've seen at the club a few times." That got a nod. "He said it's vinegar based and should rinse off or maybe be neutralized easily. Shouldn't do more than scald his face."

"We can let the ER know. Have a better day, Agent DiNozzo."

"You guys too. Have an easy, quiet day." He went to the coffee shop again. He had worn out that cookie getting away from the idiot. He needed and deserved another one.

***

The next time the duo met, Alex was being held hostage by something. Tony was carried in. "What are you doing?" Alex demanded.

"You're both suitable sacrifices," the demon said happily.

"You're fucking nuts. I'm in no way fit to be a sacrifice and neither is Tony."

"You have not had lovers."

"Bullshit! I've had a ton of male and female lovers. I've had two in the last week. Are you blind?"

The demon blinked. "You have not spilled blood."

"You're still blind. I'm the twin of Xander Harris. Do you think I haven't had to spill blood to defend myself recently?" The demon pouted at that. "Tony, that guy," he said with a hand wave of his bound hands. "Is an agent. He's shot more than a few and dates more people that I do. He's dated half the city."

The demon huffed. "They said you would be a suitable sacrifice!"

"Well, I'm not, so you need to tell whoever told you that they're stupid."

"They are." He went to call someone.

Alex heard the voice and groaned. "Willow Fucking Rosenburg!" he growled loudly. "I'm going to kill your ass if you did that!"

"Oh, crappiles of snot!" her voice complained and hung up.

Alex huffed. "Great. The former best friend is stupider than I thought." He got his hands free and went to check on Tony, who was starting to wake up. "You're just tied up and knocked out chemically by the demon who thinks we're innocents," he said quietly. "Just stay there." He looked at the demon stomping back in. "So, now that you know we're not suitable.... can we go home? I need dinner."

"No! I cannot let others hear about my plans! You should realize that," he said smugly. "And you have no weapons."

Alex pulled out something then nodded and lunged, hitting the demon on the chest. "I'm never fully unarmed. I know better!" He fought the thing, getting its sword to use instead of the smaller knife. The demon laughed but oh well. He blew it up using something else in his pocket.

"Yay, emergency kit," he sneered as he beheaded it. "I should claim your status and wealth." He looked up with a huff. "Really? You try me this way? Not like I'm going to lay down and die." He waved. "I want his status and wealth given to my twin!" He felt it leave and go to Africa. He walked over to free Tony, helping him sit up. "Want dinner?"

Tony stared at him. "I'm not sure I want to eat right now." He got helped up and out to the demon's car. Theirs weren't there. He brought Tony home with him to make sure he was fine and the demon hadn't tainted him. He was fine, just disgusted. He told the local cops so they could come pick up the car and go pick up the remains of that demon.

***

Alex bounced up to NCIS's front desk the next morning. "I need Gibbs please."

"He's not in yet. Can McGee or David do?"

"McGee could." He called him. He smiled at the young guy coming out of the elevator. "Agent McGee?" He nodded. "I'm Alex Harris, Tony's friend. I had to rescue us both from a potential sacrifice last night. He's on my couch right now with a huge migraine from the stuff the demon gave him to knock him out. It was partially ketamine and he said he's not exactly having a reaction but he's got a migraine. He wanted Gibbs told."

"Is the human doing it arrested?"

"Some unkind really stupid person told the demon that Tony and I were both innocents who hadn't ever spilled blood," Alex said dryly. "He's not a concern. I made sure."

"Oh. Okay." He nodded. Then he shook his head quickly. "Why would he think that?"

"Someone who's an idiot told him that and he didn't look." Alex shrugged. "Dumb begets dumb sometimes. Thankfully I had my emergency kit." He grinned. "Anyway, let me pick up some juice for him." He headed back to his car to go to the store then home.

McGee looked at the guard, who was shaking his head too. "I think that's an only Tony or Abby problem," he decided, going back to his desk. Gibbs came off the elevator. "Tony's on Alex Harris' couch with a migraine after a demon knocked him out because someone stupid told the demon he was an innocent. The demon tried to get them both but apparently Alex Harris defeated it."

Gibbs looked at him then put his coffee cup down. "Is DiNozzo alright?"

"Harris said whatever it used had some ketamine so he has a migraine like the last time he got exposed I guess."

"Oh, that stuff. Sure. I'll check on him at lunch." He sat down with a huff. "The bouncy one was here?"

"Yeah. I took the report for you, boss." McGee went back to logging in for the day and starting what he'd need.

Gibbs shook his head with a slight sigh. He sent Tony an email demanding a report on what had happened and got one back fairly quickly. So DiNozzo would probably be fine. He hoped. Tony was miserable when he was on desk duty. He passed that up to the director, who was even more unhappy with that. Plus a lot of chewing on from Congress about how her agent had done his duty to catch a murderer by himself.

***

Alex answered the door. "Hey, semi-scary ME guy. What's up?" he asked dryly.

"I got sent to check on Anthony for the director," he said with a smile.

"Sure. He's on the couch trying to explain to me how two characters that are the same are actually not the same and they both lead back to an earlier third character that no one's heard of." He let him in by getting out of the way. "Tony, you're being checked on."

"That figures." He sat up with a moan, holding his head. "It had ketamine, Ducky."

"I heard." He checked him over then sighed. "Have you eaten?"

"And kept it down. Alex isn't a bad cook." He grinned at the guy then at Ducky. "I just have a little disco in my skull going off."

"Hmm." He checked his eyes again. "Did you thump your head again?"

"Not that I knew of. I don't feel like a concussion." He looked at Alex. "Any idea what else he used?"

"Guys like him would probably buy off the street. He didn't need us to be pure of chemicals so he wouldn't have popped for the really expensive potions. So it was probably fast acting, a dart because I found a shot mark on my shoulder when I checked, and didn't have a paralytic since I could fully move and so could you."

"So a street drug?" Tony guessed. Alex shrugged. "Any way to figure it out?"

"They're still hating on me for me hating that they didn't stick up for me."

"Ah." Tony nodded then held his forehead with a wince.

"Just don't start having visions," Alex joked. "Xander said those suck and they hurt a lot. Plus we've seen seers die of their visions causing damage."

"Yeah, let's not do that," Tony agreed, looking at him. "Is Xander okay?"

"We're not the standard humans," Alex said with a grin. "It's slower with his."

Ducky stared at him. "He can't stop them?"

"No and nothing works on the pain either according to him."

"He can't have some debt take them from him?"

Alex stared at him. "My twin only sees huge battles that usually end up being apocalypse battles. Would he trust someone else to tell them that one was coming?"

"Well, no, I wouldn't either," Ducky admitted then huffed at the end. "That is truly disturbing though."

Alex nodded. "His trainees think so too. But they appreciate he gets them instead of the slayer dream version, which can be creepy."

Ducky shook his head quickly. "That is very weird."

"Then again, we were born right next to the hellmouth," Alex quipped with a grin. "If there's weird, we've probably seen it and shrugged it off."

"Point," Tony said, laying back down. "Need to pull blood?"

"Yes. Did the ER you went to last night do so?" he asked, pulling out what he'd need.

"No, I don't like ER's," Alex said. "He didn't ask to go to one. So we just home treated the headaches." Ducky stared at him. "If he looked too compromised I would've went there but he wasn't. He was lucid, answering questions and joking, just had a headache and the munchies. The same as I did.

"It's just that reaction to ketamine, which they can't really do anything about and couldn't then since it'd been long enough for him to wake up. So you can't undrug him because it's metabolized fairly well by then. Which I have to wonder why it took him so long to get you there, Tony."

"We can check for what was in it," Ducky said. "Though he should go to an ER if he's damaged, Mr. Harris."

Alex stared at him. "We grew up reading Willow's mom's medical textbooks. Xander and I are both a bit better than paramedic trained. If he seemed to be reacting too hard I would've gotten him there. He wasn't and he didn't ask to go to one either. We drove past three on the way here. I would've stopped if he seemed to want to go or needed to go."

"Experience can train other things into you," Ducky said.

"Yeah, I know that from my six concussions before graduation," he said dryly. "And Xander's had a few more since then."

"Oh, dear."

"Yeah." Alex grinned at him. "We're also very good at stitching, splinting, and can go up to the point of removing minorly inconvenient things like spear tips from someone. Though Xander is ahead of me because he had to read an obstetric textbook to help one of the girls since there wasn't a doctor local to her area."

Ducky grimaced. "That's....sad in many ways, lad." He drew blood from Tony. "All right. You rest. Try to save everyone from Gibbs tomorrow." He patted him on the head. "Try to eat as well to help that be flushed out of your body." He looked at Alex. "How good are you at those sort of things?"

Alex took off his shirt and pointed at one scar. "I did that while dead drunk in a mirror with kitchen thread and a pair of pliers attached to a back scratcher at ten."

Ducky looked and winced. "Oh, dear. Ten?" he demanded.

"Yeah, that's when I got cut." He turned to look at him. "We've been handling our own medical care for a *long* time. Though Willow used to stitch us when she was feeling generous and her parents weren't home. I wish she had been able to take out my appendix instead of the hacks at Sunnydale General. But hey, I survived. A lot didn't."

Ducky walked off shaking his head with another sigh. He really didn't understand young men like that one.

Alex looked at Tony and shrugged, going to lock the door. Then he came back. "Want to try the sandwich again? It's probably soft from the dressing."

"Please." He took his plate from the fridge and settled in to try to eat while going back to explaining the origins of the character trope that Alex had stumbled into.

***

Tony got onto the elevator the next morning and it was a bad idea. He got off at the first stop, pausing to catch his breath. He blinked at the director. "I'm mildly allergic to ketamine. It makes me dizzy, nauseous, and elevators made it worse." He straightened up. "But I'll sit at my desk and growl at people today so no one has to deal with Gibbs."

He took the stairs slowly up three floors before she said anything. He sat at his desk with a sigh of pleasure to be sitting down. McGee looked over at him. "Last time the ketamine gave me three days of stomach and head problems. So day two, going about normal."

"I remember. What did your host do that made Ducky groan in his office for an hour?"

"Alex admitted he had done a lot of self healing. Including his own stitches. He also noted that he read medical textbooks as a kid." McGee winced but nodded once. "He does neat stitches. I've seen a few over the last few years and they were well done. As professional looking as the ones from Bethesda's ER."

"No wonder he groaned." He got back to what he was doing. "Gibbs was in a pouty mood instead of a foul one yesterday," he said quietly, glancing at him.

Tony nodded. "I explained how opera influenced everything modern literature." Gibbs came off the elevator so he nodded carefully. "I made it vertical today."

Gibbs stared at him. "Ketamine?"

"Very," Tony sighed. "But I'm down to nauseous when I move instead of just randomly. So the usual day two effects."

"Did you keep down food?" Gibbs asked, staring at him.

"Yeah, I did fine until I got here and got on the elevator, Boss."

"That figures. You're grounded for the day."

"Thank you. I'd hate to puke on someone because of your driving." Gibbs scowled but Tony stared back. "I would. You are worse than an elevator, Boss."

"Point." He sat down behind his desk, looking at the empty one. "Any idea?" The boys both shook their heads. "Great. McGee, text her."

"Okay." He did that and didn't get an answer back. "No answer," he said after five minutes. He looked at Tony, who was all but asleep sitting up. Then at Gibbs. "Let me call." He called, still no answer. He shook his head as he hung up, pulling up the GPS on her phone. "JAG courtroom three, Boss."

"I didn't know we had a hearing today," he said, looking that up on the court schedule. "We don't. That's....naturalization. All right." He closed that browser window out for now. Tony let out a snuffle and woke himself up. "DiNozzo, need to go use Ducky's office?"

"No thanks. He gave me a really disappointed look when he came to draw blood. I would like to know what it was for future reference. And if we've found out who those agents were that tried to stop me."

Gibbs looked at him. "They haven't gotten back to you yet?" Tony shook his head slowly. "Call Ducky about your blood results." Tony did that while he called the FBI Internal Affairs division. "It's Gibbs. Who were those agents? We haven't heard yet. Because my agent got kidnaped by a demon trying to sacrifice him the day before last," he said dryly.

"And it does matter if it's related or if we have to run into them again." He listened to the blustering. "I don't care!" he snapped. "You're keeping threats away from agents." He got hung up on so called someone else. "It's Gibbs. Who were those agents that tried to get DiNozzo when he was arresting the representative?" He listened. "I don't care! They threatened my agent and if they're still employed we could run into them again, Sir."

Tony got up to come take the phone. "SecNav, this is DiNozzo. As it was an attempted attack on myself while doing the duties I've been assigned by NCIS that is an act of terrorism and I will have them up on charges. Politics be damned. You played plenty to get to your spot and if I have to join that game we'll see what I learned from the training academies I went to that had it as a class," he growled.

"Now, who were they? Before I decide you're part of them, Sir." Gibbs winced at that. "If I have to, I can do that. All the way to the top. Suing to get that information would work that way as well and out them publically. Now, were they the Henderson-run group or the one run by Starva? Or were they some third party group of morons who shouldn't have badges?"

He listened to the man bluster. "That's fine. I'll start with an FOI request in a few minutes and then sue when it's blocked," he said smoothly. Then he smirked. "Well, no, I've all but decided to go to law school after I leave here, SecNav. After all, I won't be here forever and people want me to go law and maybe even run for office. How will that look on your own political ambitions?"

He hung up on the man. "If it's not here in ten minutes I have the FOI request already started and sent." He sat back down with a huff. "Ducky said my blood work results were locked by order of the Director, Boss. Would you like to go get them from her? Or should I go growl? I think I can do a good impersonation of you growling after years of hearing it."

Gibbs stared at him. "Not cute, DiNozzo."

"I know, the nausea is making me too green for that. It's not really my color." Gibbs walked off shaking his head to go talk to the director about her stupid this time. He got notice that the FOI request was blocked so sent over papers that Alex had prepared to sue them for threatening his life while he was on duty. It went with a nice cover letter outlining all the laws they had broken, including terrorism laws. It made Tony happy that someone over there was going to be screaming soon.

McGee looked at him then sighed loudly. "Will we have an FBI?"

"Do we need an FBI?" Tony asked back, looking at him.

"Probably. They have jurisdictions we don't."

"Homeland has that covered. They overlap."

McGee thought about that. "Well.... would we rather have Homeland or the FBI?"

Tony considered that. "I'd rather have the small agencies that did it on their own before they got rolled into Homeland because they ignore a lot of their duties, which usually falls on the shoulders of everyone else without warning.

"The FBI...if they reformatted so they were actually doing legal things again, that'd be great." They shared a look and Tony grinned. "Them losing the sixty-four agents aligned to three terrorist organizations won't matter too much to them, even if one of them is the SecNav's daughter's boyfriend."

McGee nodded. "I hate politics."

"I try to avoid it but sometimes it tries to bite me."

"Why were they going to sacrifice you?"

"Alex heard who the demon called to tell her she was wrong about us being blood and sexual innocents," he said dryly. McGee moaned. "And I'm pretty sure he named her a Rosenburg."

"Like that one witch?"

"Yeah. From what he noted during the argument before he kicked the demon around and killed it? Yeah, her."

"Charming." He nodded at that. "You've shot people on the job."

"Yeah, so has Alex." He shrugged with a grin. "She's got problems but that demon's dead. Alex stole his sword and killed it. When we got back to his place he told the locals to come take the demon's car we had borrowed and let them go clean up the mess."

"I'm so glad we don't have to do that," McGee told his computer monitor then shook his head quickly. "Those three groups? Are they spreading?"

"Into Homeland. One's got a CIA guy trying to stop it and failing hard." He smirked a bit. "They're not going to be happy since I've sent that same lawsuit to a few reporters I used to date and files to back up why I asked about those groups. After all, it's not our jurisdiction to arrest at the FBI." He smiled like a politician. McGee shivered but nodded and let out a tiny whine at that evilness.

They both heard the shouting from up there so Tony got up and strolled up there, having had much practice after concussions he could make it look casual. He walked into the office without knocking. "Gibbs, she's helping aid the three terrorist groups in the FBI," he said. "I've already filed a lawsuit since they turned down the freedom of information act request. Let her hang with her political friends."

He walked off again. "If Congress members call her *her* in a derogatory manner, they're not pleased and if they cut the office I'll go to law school and maybe take up the calls to become a politician." He waved a hand in the air with a smirk for his boss, who was shuddering. "By the way, I announced the lawsuit I filed as our jurisdiction doesn't include arresting FBI agents for their terroristic ideas."

"I was trying to protect your reputation," she sneered, standing up.

Tony snorted. "Alex said it was someone like Rosenburg who told the demons that I hadn't shot anyone. Clearly he didn't look at things since he thought we were both innocent." He smiled. "I can prove I'm not." She shuddered, stepping away from him. "Also, you're not entitled to any medical information at all, Director. That's illegal." He found the folder on the secretary's desk with his name on it.

He looked inside. "Hmm. Personnel jacket." He looked at her. "Blood test results? So I can tell others that I got exposed? I have no doubt someone's going to try to drug test me this week as a political move." She threw it at him and Gibbs walked off shaking his head.

"Thanks!" He waved and walked off reading them. "Well, I was right, it was ketamine laced and it's a club drug, Boss." He let him see it before taking it back and taking the file down to personnel. He handed it over with a smile. "The Director wanted information she wasn't entitled to by law?"

"She thinks you have two kids too."

"No. I'm snipped. No kids at all." He smiled. "Not that it'd matter to here."

"No, it wouldn't and she doesn't have the right to that information if it's not in your file. She's trying to say you lied on your forms, DiNozzo."

Tony laughed. "No. I didn't. I did exclude my paternal donor as he's not in my life and I only talk to him when he shows up to annoy me. He's noted as my father but we don't associate." He walked off. "You can warn her or send her the regulations on what she's allowed to have from my file."

"I've done that. She got mad."

Tony shot her another grin from the doorway. "That's her problem." He walked back up the stairs and into the back of the Internal Affairs people for NCIS. "I knew she'd have me drug tested." He handed over the results. "You'll find that and some sherry from some mushrooms I made myself last night. Let's go pee in a cup."

The group stared at it then at him. "The Director stated you lied on your forms," the lead one said. "She said you're hiding a family."

"She's full of shit. I'm snipped, have no kids that I know of, and while I did not fully include my father we don't associate so he's not relevant. I asked first. Let's see her proof." They handed over a file. He read it over, frowning. "That's my Uncle." He handed it back. "I'm not named after him either. We don't share a name and I'm not sixty." They looked at it and nodded.

"Any other proof she decided to dig up? Though we all knew about his second family. His marriage was politically sound and business based. She doesn't mind that his mistress is his real family. She didn't want to get married either but her parents made her for their own business dealings."

"It sucks at that level," the lead agent said. "She claims that your uncle doesn't exist." Tony frowned but sat down with a sigh to pull up the man's facebook page, letting them see it. Including pictures of him with his second family in Cozumel, Mexico. "That's the same man," he agreed. "The same children too." He looked at Tony. "What is her problem?"

"I'm not under her thumb. I'm better liked among politicians than she is. And I'm in her way of getting Gibbs back for good. Plus she had me on an undercover op that turned nearly fatal for me and she had to cover up because it's not fully legal. She flashed back to when she was CIA."

"I've heard. That op is now classified."

Tony grinned, shaking his head. "I did not ask for that and I did not sign an NDA for it. My agency one does not cover undercovers. That's come up in the past when the FBI tried to step into one of them." He leaned back, hands behind his head, smiling at them. "I'm sure you remember Presser showing up."

"Don't remind me, DiNozzo." He looked at the other agents then him. "Let's go drug test you before anyone says things."

"I'm told that a witch told the demon I was a blood and sexual innocent. He took her word for it instead of looking. Myself and Alex Harris both."

"Ah, that name. She stated you're in a relationship with him which violates the law."

"I usually sleep on his couch. He has a guest room I can use but I often fall asleep to his movies when I'm visiting. I'm allowed to have non-sexual friends."

"You are. Many teams are like that as bonding anyway." He took him to let him pee in a cup then had it run in the labs. One herb came up but it wasn't banned. He went to report that to the director, who was throwing an awesome fit with someone on the phone. "You'd think former agents would have better investigative capabilities, Director." He laid out the evidence.

"That's his uncle. Who is in Mexico with his second family. Who DiNozzo said was known about by everyone since his marriage was for the business deal. Including the fact that the uncle has a very nice, very filled facebook page since two days after it noted he joined the site. The first post on his page was his happy retirement message." He stared at her.

"He's still in an illegal relationship!" she said with a point.

"He's not sleeping with Alex Harris. I talked to him personally and he laughed at the idea. Tony's not into his type and he's not dangerous enough to attract a Harris since his twin is drawn to arms dealers and the like." She shuddered, backing away from him. "Alex Harris told us how that kidnaping happened and we were all amused that someone was that stupid that they thought he hadn't had to fire in the field."

He stared at her. "We also have the test results of what he got exposed to." He stared at her. "Politics will ruin every agency, Director." He walked off looking happier. "Gibbs, did you do your mandatory CE updating?" he ordered as he walked down the stairs. "There's nineteen seminars, you did three."

"I did five," he corrected. "I put it on the same system they showed me." He pulled it up to show him. "I've since done two others."

"Good!" He nodded at his junior agents. "Keep going. There's still talk of us being shut as an agency. If you don't have them you get to retire to being a civilian for good. Other agencies hated that you might come up for hiring." He looked at Tony. "The FBI now hates you."

"Oh, I figured," he said dryly, smiling at him. "Especially since I found terrorists over there." The agent winced and moaned, sounding aroused. "Exactly." He smiled. "Have a great day."

"You too." He left to go tell the other agents. They had to watch over that way to see if anyone at NCIS was compromised. The fact the SecNav was covering for his daughter's boyfriend was amusing to them all. One of them told their Secret Service girlfriend so they could clean up their mess too.

That afternoon a senior agent from the Secret Service showed up to stare at Tony. "Thank you for finding those groups when they came after you, Agent DiNozzo. Plus finding all the ones willing to hide them from the law." He smiled at him, getting a grin back. "They will not try to attack you again."

"Why did they try to attack me the first time?"

"It would ruin your team and bring down NCIS slowly, which would let them work on their own goals without having to run into Agent McGee. It went with the political plan to defund the agency." He looked at him then at Tony. He looked at Gibbs. "They thought you were too slow and old school to get in their way until they tried something major but they'd shoot you then."

He looked at Tony again. "You can relax that they're all fired and going to jail. Including the one in the CIA who was playing with them to further his own agenda." He handed over the lawsuit's paperwork. "This will be settled quietly with the notice of their arrests and convictions. Which lawyer did those? They're positively evil."

"Alex Harris." He grinned. "He's a club buddy and sometimes we watch movies."

The agent nodded at that. "That figures."

"Was it related back to the ones against him?"

"Yes, one of them did. And the demon, who the Witch Rosenburg admitted she intentionally gave the demon your names to make sure the demon was distracted while the slayers had to handle a battle soon."

"Alex killed it. I was still woozy."

"I'm sure you were. With that drug in your system, I would've been in the hospital."

"I have experience being dizzy at work."

"We've heard." He glared at Gibbs then at him. "Someone over there is willing to give you a spot to help fix the problems but they'd probably fire you at first chance to finish hiding it."

"I'm fine here. If I have to retire from here I've talked myself into going to law school. And people have asked me to run for a higher office."

The senior agent winced but nodded. "There's been visions where you were one and handling the emergency going on." He stared at him. "Have fun at law school when you go there. By the way, your director is being called before Congress to testify about how she runs this agency." He walked off. "Thank you for finding the messy corner, DiNozzo. Next time call us before you go to the press?"

"Maybe." He smirked at him. "Sometimes they're faster."

"True, they are. But noisy." He went up to the head office to give over that summons. "That is an order to appear before Congress in two days at one in the afternoon to defend NCIS."

"DiNozzo can. They like him."

"They want to talk to you about how you've run things, Director Sheppard." He left, going to tell his boss about all that.

Tim McGee looked at Tony. "This is the second time I've been really proud that I was agent. The other time was when I first got my badge." Tony grinned. "There's agents scared of me finding out they're dirty." He smiled at Gibbs then got back to his necessary reports.

Tony smirked at Gibbs. "I'm sure Alex would be happy that an agent thought his lawsuit filing was good."

"Probably," he agreed dryly. "If you find more, let me know. And find Agent David."

"She's still at JAG," McGee said after checking her phone's GPS.

Tony called over there. "It's me," he said quietly. "Gibbs is mad that no one told him they were borrowing Ziva David. Should he growl at someone tomorrow or will she be back?" He smiled. "I'm good. Just a bit headachy and dizzy still. So who wanted her?" He heard and winced.

"Ah." He nodded. "Should we expect her tomorrow or is she still testifying?" He winced again. "Okay. Thanks. Let me know when she's released back here? Thanks." He hung up. "It's a multi-agency testimony about liaison agents from other countries, Boss."

Gibbs winced as he nodded. "Understood. Tomorrow?"

"Maybe after noon."

"Great." He sipped his coffee and got up to refill his cup. "Go home, you two." They fled for the day before he got back to his desk. He had to see how much flooding the coming storm was going to cause. He hated politics. It always brought problems.

***

Tony hummed as he walked up the halls of Congress, again. A few people gave him dirty looks so he stared at the worst offender. "I'm not here for you. Your thefts only marginally hit the Marines and Navy and it's not a major crime I would need to handle, Senator." The man huffed off. Tony went to the right office, knocking before walking in. He smiled at the assistant. "He called for me? I'm Agent DiNozzo."

"Yes, sir." The assistant announced him and the senator let him in.

"What did you need my help with, Senator?" He sat down comfortably in the visitor chair.

"I have two important but minor problems I think you could help me with, Agent DiNozzo. And one major one that's probably going to end up on your plate soon." He handed that file over.

Tony looked it over. "Circumstantial but bad. I can look into that." He looked up. "I don't usually do favors however. I don't like to play politics with my job."

"Two may be. My daughter is dating two different military members. I cannot get a background check done on them for the life of me, no matter who I ask. They are your sort of being if they're as dirty as I think."

Tony looked one up on his phone then shook his head. "Special Services." He put his phone back up. "I looked up your daughter's file." He stood up. "Let me look at this problem, Senator. Thank you for turning it in when you ran into it."

"My daughter's file?"

"Yes. I've seen her name a few times on files that were sideways related to a few cases." He smiled. "She's strong. You raised a strong girl." He left with the file. He did tell Gibbs on his way to the car so he was warned that politics was coming. Gibbs hated that but wanted to end that problem soon.

By the time Tony got back to the office, he had a pissed off daughter waiting. "Agent DiNozzo, did you expose me to my father?" she demanded when he came off the elevator.

"He wanted me to do a background check on the two boyfriends he thinks you have. So I did a small check on your name and noted you were Special Services. Which is all he got told." He smiled. "He wanted to bribe me with a robbery case." He sat in his desk chair. "Your file, which we've run into a few times as a side of a case, is not listed as classified." She huffed.

He pulled it up to show her. "All I mentioned was Special Services. Which could mean you're a secretary to a Spec Ops group. Or you could be an agent. It's up to you to divert his attention. I'd use the pregnancy if you haven't told him yet."

She rubbed her stomach but nodded. "I haven't." She stared at him.

"That's all I told him and he could have heard that from other sources. They didn't cover your backside very well, Valerie." He smiled at her. "Which meant he no longer tried to get me to do him a favor to do a background check on your two boyfriends."

"They're not but Dad won't accept that." She stared at him. "Why?"

"Because I'm pretty ethical. He had found the edges of a theft ring."

"Oh, charming. We've already stopped that though."

"We'll make sure," Gibbs told her.

"I realize that. Thank you for not outing me fruther."

"No need to or any reason to, Valerie. Go tell your dad the happy news that you're knocked up and neither one of those he's worried are scummy are the father."

"He'll scream." She walked off, going to calm her father down. He had already told her mother, who was calm. She already knew all this. She couldn't lie to her mother, she knew everything. Her boss had told her mother everything and then sent her to talk to the harridan herself.

Tony looked at Gibbs, who was shaking his head.

***

Alex showed up at NCIS a few days later, eyes wide. "Is DiNozzo in? Or maybe Gibbs or McGee? My brother's recent date is a big problem. Huge, big problem. And an active duty Marine."

"Abusive?" the guard asked, calling up there.

Alex grinned. "No, that's one thing he's not. He's really sweet to my twin. Treats him great. But I'm pretty sure he sold a nuke."

"Oh, shit," the guard said. "In the US?"

"No, my twin's the watcher in Africa."

"Not sure that's worse or not," the guard admitted. Gibbs came off the elevator. "Him, sir."

Alex looked at him. "He's a problem and yet not a whole problem." He led him off to tell him about Xander's current date. Xander had introduced them so he had done a background check then talked to his twin. Who agreed he was bad but not evil for a change. Gibbs looked the guy up and groaned at what he saw. Alex nodded.

"I like how he treats Xander. I like how he's supportive of the girls. I like how he's helping. But I don't want to visit my twin in a radiation ward. I warned him not to be harmful to my twin or I'd get him. And then I heard he sold a nuke. I can't let Xander get involved in that, even if it might help his battles someday."

"I can talk to someone over that way to see if that rumor was true, and point out your twin's in a hard spot. If we can get him to stop selling higher level weapons he may be helpful for your twin."

Alex hugged him. "That's what I was hoping for! Thank you!" He ran off to go back to work.

Gibbs called someone at the Pentagon about that problem. He could reign in his soldier. If he was undercover it'd be handled without hurting the twin brother. Because no one wanted to see Alex destroy things or people to save his twin. They had realized that Xander was bad enough when he had helped his twin heal. They didn't want to see what Alex would do. He was unpredictable, hyper, and tilted toward doing wacky things with artifacts that could destroy a country. No one wanted to see if blood told.

***

Alex was pouty because his twin's boyfriend wasn't mad at him. He realized that Alex would tell someone and he had agreed to reformat his business interests to help support Xander and his trainees better. Which meant Alex just reminded him to be good to his twin or else he'd kill him in the most messy manner he could. Xander had rolled his eyes but grinned at the extensive shovel talk.

Someone kicked in the door and stomped in with a gun. Alex didn't have time to hit his security alarm. But he was still a Harris. The guy screamed as he went down to the thrown knife Alex had been using to cut some cheese into chunks. "Really?" he asked. The guy had a few buddies but Alex had the first guy's gun and shot them all non-fatally. Then he picked up one's phone to call from it since his was in the living room.

The head of the community's security team leaned in. "Mr. Harris?" he called.

"I'm alive. They're alive but injured." He leaned out of the kitchen, nibbling on some cheese. "I've already called 911 on myself using their phone. Can you grab mine? It's in the living room." He pointed. The guard came in to get it for him. "They have any backup out there?"

"One driver. My people have already flattened his tires and gotten the driver out and cuffed for the locals." He looked at them then at his resident. "Are you all right?"

"Pissed. I'm wondering if this is because of my twin's boyfriend?" he asked, staring at them. They shook their heads. "Then why did you break in here?"

"General Zod sent us," one moaned, trying to move.

"Yeah, the bad guy from Superman sent you," he said dryly. "You sure about that?"

"He's not that one." He sat up, wincing as the guard cuffed him then the others. "General Amera Zod."

"Have no idea who that is. Is he a general that's worked with my twin in Africa?"

The military person stared at him oddly. "What?"

"We're twins. Xander's the Watcher in Africa. I'm a lawyer. Which means I'm suing your general since I have to move. He can fund the move." He ate another piece of cheese, waving at the officer in the doorway. "Come join us, Officer. They said they were sent by a General Zod, who I have no idea about.

"I'm hearing who that general is." He stared at the guy, dialing his twin, letting him see them. "So tell us all about this General Amera Zod." The guy clammed up so he looked at his phone's screen. It was Xander and his boyfriend. "I thought for sure it was some of yours, Stephen."

"No, not mine, Alex. I wouldn't hurt Xander's twin. Even if you are the mean one."

Alex smiled. "I'm the crafty and hyper one. Feel lucky Xander doesn't bounce anymore." He looked at the soldiers. "But not yours?"

"No. No idea. He's not down here that I know of."

"No, he's a demon king's general from Za-ra'frat'c," Xander said. "And that's a despot but his people consider him a god king when he's just a sorcerer. Why would he attack you with humans?"

"I have no clue," Alex said, eating another piece of cheese. "Really I don't and now I really should move. So he can fund it. I'm going to sue him in the demon courts for this." He grinned. "Let me work up that paperwork. Be safer, Xander? Please?"

"I try. You try harder too." He hung up with a wave, looking at his boyfriend. "Do you think that one got us confused or do you think he thinks taking Alex out would kill me?"

"Probably the second one. You mentioned the hammer incident."

"Point." He nodded. "He's way behind the time if it was that." He took a kiss. "I'm going to teach math."

"Have fun. I'll come help her with history later." He watched his boyfriend stroll off and shook his head. He had some business to do first, which Xander did not need to know about because he really didn't want to fight his twin. Alex was not mentally as stable as Xander was as far as he could tell. It was nearly as bad as Rosenburg but he was going to end that witch soon if she tried to break them up again.

***

Alex's lawsuit was turned down by the courts but instead, he sent a threat of his own. The general tried to sue him but Alex pointed out the general had sent people to kill him. He was well within his right to use a poker debt to send a threat. The judge laughed and told him he was a human so he pointed out he wasn't. He was a special human. That made the judge huff but oh well!

The higher court's judge team showed up and told him who Alex was, told Alex off for the threat, that he had to deal with the general some other way. So Alex shot him then and there. Then the supposed god-king that oversaw that general. The judges gasped but Alex shrugged back and said 'what else do you expect me to do?'

He claimed their status and wealth with another filing. The judges shuddered because that was an old law that he had found. The judges ejected him but had to give it to him since he had conquered that one. Which meant Alex didn't have to pay anything to move.

His townhouse was on track to sell within three months. His new house looking was boring him to death. Finding this one had bored him too. His realtor met with him that night. His last one wasn't available right now, he was off-plane.

"Harris," he said with a nod. "You have had a great many rumors about you recently."

Alex smiled. "Thanks. I'm proud I ended that threat to my life who had people break into my house to kill me."

"It's said that Toth's hammer got you split," he said with a smile.

"No. Xander was split with that. I got split the day of graduation thanks to the redheaded tornado. She put him back together when that hammer hit him and made us triplets for a few days."

The demon stared at him. "What?"

Alex nodded with a grin. "Yeah, I'm from the Rosenburgian bad idea fund. The hammer hit Xander, I had already left Sunnydale then." He shrugged. "The triplet was neat. We did talk. He told me when he found out."

"Oh." He hung his head and sent someone a message. "Then why are you moving?"

"I had to deal with General Zod." Alex took the phone to get into the site that held the better demon intelligence network, logging into it with his own log-in. "There."

He read it over slowly and shuddered, looking at him. "You took out the god-king."

"Yeah, he decided to hear that same bad rumor and try to kill me to get my twin." He shrugged but grinned. "We're not fainting damsels. That got driven out of us by the time we were six. You don't get to be a damsel in our family in Sunnydale. So, I need to move to a safer house. Preferably not in Alexandria. The houses are outrageous out there."

The demon blinked at him. "Many will be upset that you took them out."

"Then they shouldn't have come after me in my own home."

"You're just a human."

"And humans have the right of self defense. All of us. The same as all of you do." He grimaced. "Sorry but that's the truth and I'm sorry you hate that I protected myself and my twin. It's kinda the job I do sometimes."

"You're still a human. You're prey to ones like that."

Alex leaned closer. "The last time humans were really prey, they ended up creating Sineya, the first slayer," he said quietly, staring at him. "Do you want them to make a new line? Buffy's all about making the girls' lives easier." The demon shuddered at that idea. Alex grinned and nodded. "They should not have stepped into my face. They did. They lost. Did you expect me to cry about it?"

"No."

"I did try to sue him first but the judge laughed. So I handled it as a real Harris does. What did the community expect?"

"I guess." He huffed. "Why come to me?"

"Your brother helped me find the last house. He even did it very fast because I find house hunting very boring. I've got a short list of needs and wants. I'm asking not to be in Alexandria due to the prices and uptight people. I'd like to stay in my current area-ish.

"I know where everything is but I really don't want to live in an HOA again if I can help it. Mine's cool right now but they're voting in whining things so I was going to want to move anyway." He pushed over his list. "That's all I need and will veto one on."

He looked at the list. "That's not extensive. Four bedrooms?" He looked at him.

"One'll be an office. The second will be my safe area. The other can be visitor parking."

"That makes sense for one such as you." He went back to it. "You don't want open concept?"

"I don't want anything that looks like it was made by a Keebler elf because it's cookie cutter. I need something interesting to stare at. Walls let me put up things to stare at."

The realtor nodded at that, going back to the list. "It's not a hard list." He pulled up his listings and looked through them, picking a few selection criteria. "Condo?"

"I don't want neighbors that'll complain if I'm watching movies all night when my date was dumb. Again. My present ones complain about that. Townhouse again I'd probably go for. Row house, I find them kinda skinny width wise but I know they happen in this area so I'd have to see it. Apartment style, no thank you."

"It has amenities."

"Which is great but still...too many neighbors who may get hurt the next time someone tries to hurt me because of my twin." He turned to glare at the demon coming into the coffee shop. Who whined. "I'm still Alex, not Xander. You were stalking my brother."

"I wanted to talk to you about my suit of him."

"Xander will never go to a non-human lover unless he has to. And I like his current boyfriend. Even though he's not the best guy, he's good to Xander." The demon pouted. "Sorry but I won't talk him into that sort of situation." He turned back around. "Xander's current boyfriend isn't *bad* but he's not nice. Nicer than some. Nicer than Anya was."

The demon patted him. "I could claim you instead."

Alex looked at him. "I believe in the Drotoxin protocol," he warned. "And no, you're not my type. I like well built and human male. I'm pretty narrow minded that way to get away from the serial killers that wanted me who were women."

The demon pouted. "I'd be nice to you."

Alex shook his head. "I don't need a sugar daddy. I have a job." The demon pouted but bought a drink to go pout with. Alex looked at the realtor again, shrugging some. "It's been months since that happened," he said quietly. "Am I leaking hellmouth taint?"

"Not that I can tell." He went back to his listings. "There's three that may do." He let him see them. "We can look at them tomorrow?"

"Tomorrow's bad. I've got to go yell at the SBA for someone for making up rules that don't exist that bothered his company's paperwork. The next day I'm probably open. Pending me punching some bigoted agent."

"That's doable in the morning for me." He made a note. "Call me at nine."

"I can do that." He put a note into his phone. "Thank you." He shook his hand and left to go work on packing things that the movers shouldn't touch.

The demon rolled his eyes but it was nice he'd get a good commission out of this weird human's needs.

***

Xander watched the virtual tour of his twin's new house. "That's sweet," he told the video. He had saved it down to watch after this battle because he knew he'd be damaged. His boyfriend walked into the hospital room, getting a weak wave and a grin. "I saved down his virtual house tour to watch while I healed."

"I do the same thing with some books I find boring. Did he find a nice place?" He settled on the bed next to Xander to watch over his arm.

"Pretty nice. Stand alone. Has walls because open concept would drive him nuts and make him paranoid."

"I thought it'd be the other way around."

Xander looked at him, shaking his head. "We know beings who can go invisible so any light streams would have to catch them. With walls, you can check against the color. Even if they're fully invisible it's easier to see against a wall than in the open." He pointed at one in the corner. "Like that one."

Stephen went to look by poking at it. It turned into a warrior, who was not amused. "Why're you here?"

"We wanted to talk to the Watcher about his twin."

Xander looked at him. "Is my twin going evil? Or is he having problems with a legal case he's handling?"

"He has ranted muchly about someone making up rules about demon owned businesses that aren't real but he did take out our King and his top military advisor."

"Alex wouldn't want to rule the people there but your former king and that general did have him attacked in his former house. He wasn't going to let it go. I would've destroyed the palace instead of trying to sue him first and then taking him out in the courtroom."

The warrior considered that. "He would not want to be our new king?"

"No, probably not. Alex is a lawyer who specializes in business stuff so negotiations would probably go well with him."

"Our King thought killing him would hurt you."

"No, he's not the product of that hammer. He's the product of Rosenburg doing it before graduation," he said dryly. "Hurting him would piss me off and your whole realm would go thanks to the magical nuke I know the whereabouts of." He smiled. "I'm highly protective of my twin and he's the same way about me because we know what sort of hell our lives are.

"Frankly, when I die, Alex is going to show up and blow the fuck out of whoever managed it. Then go mourn for me. I've warned him a few times it may happen and he was very upset about it but he was more than ready to show up and solve a bitch."

The warrior sighed but nodded. "Is he trained?"

"Am I trained?"

"Point." He hung his head and nodded. "I will have my king's heirs go talk to him and see if he will give over the throne."

Xander picked up his phone to call him. "Are you open to negotiating to give back the throne part of that stuff you won by conquest rules?"

Alex grinned. "I'm in the middle of a negotiation right now but yeah, I guess. I don't want to be a king. Or a queen, someone offered to make me their queen earlier today because you turned them down, Xander." He smirked. "Have them show up peacefully at my office sometime in the next few days. I'm busy tomorrow morning and the day after I'm busy after three."

"I'll let that warrior know." He blew a kiss. "Have fun. They think you're evil."

Alex grinned. "If I'm the evil one of us two, I'm fine with that." He waved and hung up, smiling at the parties staring at him. "My twin." They just nodded at that.

Xander grinned at the warrior. "I will tell the heirs that," the warrior said. "Thank you, Watcher Harris." He bowed and disappeared.

Stephen sat beside him again, getting a grin back. "Did your twin say someone offered to make him their queen because you turned them down?"

"Yeah. I don't know which one. There's been two of those." He shrugged and winced. "Ow. I hate stitches." He sighed and relaxed again, then snuggled against his boyfriend's arm, going back to the house tour video.

"He's going to want to paint," Stephen said.

"He can do that. We both learned how on the construction site." He shot his boyfriend a grin. "He does Habitat work now and then too."

"That's good of him to give back." He let Xander cuddle. He realized that Xander felt bad and really could use a hug.

***

Alex danced up to Tony in the club, grinning at him. "I successfully negotiated to give the throne back to the heirs, kept ninety percent of the money I won by taking out that one that attacked me at the old house, and kept the status." He handed him a small card and danced off again.

Tony read it then put it into his jeans pocket. He followed Alex to find out what had happened this time. The one he was here to watch would be easy enough to watch while talking to Alex. Alex was in a goofy, happy mood so it was fun to use him as cover while watching someone. Alex wouldn't mind.

***

A few hours later, Alex opened the door, staring at the officer. "Yes? Did I snore too loudly?"

"Is this person related to you, sir?" he asked with a point at the car. "He was found unconscious in his car."

"That is a friend and NCIS Agent Tony DiNozzo, under Gibbs, but yes he can nap on my couch. He's done it more than once." He came out to nudge Tony, getting moaned at. "Hey, it's me. Head injury again?" Tony heaved but shook his head without opening his eyes. "Need an ER?"

"Please. Gonna heave."

"Okay, I have a half bath you can use while the nice officer gets you an ambulance?" he asked him. The officer nodded and called that in while Xander got Tony to his new half bath so he could get sick. He checked Tony over.

"Not a head injury. You got stabbed, Tony. It's a huge needle mark with a lump of stuff that didn't get absorbed." The paramedic came to the doorway. "Hey." He waved him over. "Just found this helping him get out of his t-shirt." He got out of the way. "He's mostly out of it, very fuzzy minded."

"That's bad," the paramedic agreed. "Is he yours?"

"A friend. This is NCIS Agent DiNozzo, under Gibbs."

"Oh! We've heard stories about him and head injuries."

"No, his eyes aren't dilated when I checked. No lump. I've helped him through a few concussions and this isn't how he handles those."

"Okay. We can talk to him in the ER." He helped him up when he quit heaving, letting Alex clean up the mess for them after taking a small sample of the puke that hadn't hit the water. "That'll help."

"Earlier he was working in the same club I was being happy and celebrating in. I gave him my new address since I just moved."

"That figures," the officer agreed. "We found the card in his pocket but not his ID."

"That he had earlier," Alex said. "It was in his back left pocket because it nearly fell out so I had to push it back in since his back was turned to me. It's a club we've both been in a few times so the bouncers know us. Tony stopped a robbery there about two years ago and I've kicked a few butts that were being problems that the bouncers didn't see."

The officer nodded. "That can be helpful. I can have his car searched for it."

"If not, it was probably the one who drugged him. He was on duty earlier. He was watching some military gun running guy. Or at least that's what the guy said he did when he tried to hit on me. I draw dangerous people," he said at the odd look. "At least this one's not a serial killer." He shrugged but grimaced. "Not the first."

"Okay," the officer decided, taking that down. "Any idea who his medical contact is?"

"No. Probably Gibbs would." He frowned, going for his phone. "I have Tony's phone number. Oh, no, I have one of his teammates' numbers." He called her. "Agent David, this is Alex Harris. Tony was found unconscious and drugged in his car and is being taken to an ER." He looked over. "Which ER?"

"General," the paramedic said.

"The paramedic said General and he's without his ID or wallet. Can you tell Gibbs? Thank you." He hung up before she said anything. "If I had Abby's new phone number," he muttered. "Crap. I need to get that."

"I'm sure Gibbs will hear," the officer said. "Thank you, Mr. Harris."

"Not a problem." He grinned. "Tony's a buddy. He's spent a few concussions on my couch. If he gets released today he can come back to nap."

That got a nod and they left with him and the ambulance. That helped a few things and his boss called Gibbs when he heard. Gibbs hadn't been told by his agent but Gibbs could handle that in the morning.

***

Alex breezed into the hospital room and put down the lollipop tree then patted Tony on the shoulder. "Sugar free, a whole lot of flavor without a lot of calories or sugar. Are you okay?"

"I'm good. How did you hear?"

"They found my new address in your pocket so brought you to me. That's when I found the needle mark and let you puke in the new half-bath off the living room. I called your teammate Ziva to tell Gibbs."

Gibbs cleared his throat. "You told Ziva?"

"I called her." He let him see his call log. "Isn't that hers?"

"Yes, that is. I wish she had told me sooner. Before I heard it from the DC Metro."

Xander shrugged. "I didn't have your number or McGee's number so I couldn't do that myself."

"That's fine, kid." He looked at his agent then at him. "You moved?"

"An off-world general decided killing me in my own house would mean my twin died too," he said dryly. "He lost." Gibbs shuddered. "And I moved. Now I don't have an HOA." He beamed. "No more complaining neighbors either!" He beamed at Tony. "If you need the couch today that's fine. You know where I keep my spare key or there's an access code on this door. It's my birthday."

"I can do that. Thanks, Alex."

"Welcome. The coffee flavored suckers are a bit weird, too milky to me, but you like milky coffee. And you have cherry, grape, and orange. I almost let them put a rootbeer but that's a really weak taste and I know being in here you'll need something to cure dry mouth and give you flavor to cover up the taste of the meds." He gave him a short hug then left again.

Tony looked and got one of the ones marked coffee. He tossed one to Gibbs too before opening his to suck on. "Not bad. That does cure the dry mouth and the taste." He licked his lips and went back to it. The nurse came in to stare at him. "Sugar free," he said with a grin. "Alex was in the hospital for two weeks a few months back."

"Fine." She nodded. She left him alone about that. "At least you won't choke." She went back to make notes in case someone else stole one.

Tony looked at his boss. "Going to talk to Ziva?"

"Yes, I am." He stuck the sucker in his mouth and hummed. "That is fancy coffee instead of straight coffee, but not bad." He relaxed again. He went back to the office that afternoon, staring at McGee. "You, Abby, and Ducky talk to see which number Alex Harris gets from one of you."

"I'll gladly give him mine," McGee said. "He's a good contact to have. Why does he need one?"

"He only had Ziva's," he said, staring at her. "She did not tell me that Tony was in the emergency room thanks to someone knocking him out and drugging him after he was off-duty last night." She winced. "In the future, I will know the second you hang up," he ordered. "Even if you don't think it's important. If it impacts the team, I'm to know immediately as soon as you do. Am I clear, Agent David?"

"Yes, Gibbs. It won't happen again."

"Thank you." He looked at McGee. "Find out who did it. He was found in his car near that club he was doing surveillance in last night."

"On it," he agreed, hacking the camera system to find it. "Boss." He let him see them coming out of the club together, Alex giggling while leaning on Tony's arm. Then he went to his own car and Tony went to his, making notes on what looked like his tablet. It had a bigger screen than his phone.

Someone obscured in what looked like a knock off ninja costume snuck up on the car and blew a dart at Tony's arm, knocking him out. They saw him take the glowing screen and a few other things from the car. "Was that his ID case, Boss?"

"He didn't have it on him when the cops found him," he said. "He had Harris' new address in his pocket so they brought him there. Alex had him sent to the ER after letting him puke a lot. He called Ziva to tell me and he found the shot mark."

"Nice work from him." McGee went looking. "That's someone else, a bouncer maybe? He's familiar."

"Enlarge it?" McGee did and Gibbs stared at the blurry picture. "That's the guy on row three." He went to talk to him. The guy saw him and blinked but got up and backed away. "You spotted DiNozzo being unconscious. Did you call it in?" he demanded.

"I thought he was asleep after a night in the club. Probably needed a nap after some cheap ass in the bathroom!" He was backing away further. "I thought his door was unlocked from carelessness."

"No. He had been drugged not even ten minutes earlier. Did you see anything?"

"I don't think so."

"Go watch the film. I want a full report. Next time, you call me to tell me my agent was screwing up so I can deal with it."

"I didn't want him to get into trouble for his stress relief."

"I don't care. I want to know." That got a nod and he hurried over to look at what McGee had found. Gibbs walked off shaking his head.

"Gibbs, he thinks the ninja wannabe is a female."

Gibbs stared at the image. "Not very busty but short, good hips. Could be," he agreed. "Anything else you noticed, Mercator?"

"She's in a jeep." He pointed. "That jeep left next and the driver was a dark haired or wearing a head scarf that was dark."

Gibbs stared. "Call up the details on that make of Jeep. Take measurements and tell me how tall she is, McGee."

"Is that how Tony does it?" He got into those with Mercator's help, he knew how to find car facts. They found out she was probably about five-foot-six and they could get a partial license plate on the jeep from a camera a few blocks over. Though there were two so they looked them both up. That gave them five car owners, two to car rental agencies.

McGee looked at Gibbs. "Six possible cars with the part of the license plates we found a few blocks off following the car. Two identical jeeps." Gibbs nodded once. "Two go to rentals. The others are owned by three owners. One's got his and hers." He handed over the list. "Want me to find their current locations?"

"Start with the rental agencies," he decided. "If they're pros they wouldn't use their own cars."

"Good point," McGee said. He looked at Mercator, who shrugged.

"I hadn't thought of that either. What got taken?"

"It looked like his tablet, he had been making notes on a larger glowing screen, and a few other things. He wasn't found with his ID case."

"Ooooh. That's going to be a bad investigation."

"I've already alerted Internal Affairs," Gibbs told him. "They can keep track of who else has it."

McGee found the rental agencies and called one. "It's Agent McGee at NCIS....oh, it's good you're preferred through the agency. We caught what we think may be one of your cars on a surveillance video last night. We have a jeep, licence plate KBA-1785." He listened. "That's the one. We're not totally sure, but was it out last night?"

He considered what she said, making notes. "That's good to know. Has it been cleaned? Can we come look at it for forensics? No, we won't damage it. Thank you, ma'am. Within a half-hour." He hung up and looked at Gibbs. "Someone using the agency's name rented it last night, Boss. Not cleaned yet."

Gibbs got up and grabbed things. "Get Abby to meet us there." He walked off. "David." She followed. McGee called Abby and got around Mercator, who went to relax finally since Gibbs wasn't going to keep growling at him.

***

Tony looked up from watching horrible daytime tv while sucking on a cherry lollipop, humming as the agent came into his room. "Is this about whoever drugged me and stole my ID?" he asked.

The agent nodded. "Your ID wasn't found, Agent DiNozzo." He stared at him. "What happened?"

"Which agent are you? And which agency? You don't look like NCIS Internal Affairs."

"I'm FBI." He held up his ID.

"Huh." He nodded then got up to look out the door before turning and beating that guy when he blocked the blow at his head. "That won't work. Gibbs hits harder when we're boxing." He banged the guy's head on the railing of the bed then huffed. "Nurse, can I have a security guard?" he called. "This agent just tried to hit me for some stupid reason."

A guard came running. "Sir? You assaulted an agent?"

"I am an agent," Tony told him dryly. "Last night I was drugged somehow and then had my ID case stolen. This one came in and I went to check for his backup because I recognized his name as one of the agents I got fired for being a terrorist. I blocked his hit at me and fought back. Can I bum some cuffs?"

"Sure. Should you be out of bed?"

"No." Tony tossed the lollipop he had dropped then laid back down, but sitting up. The head of the bed nicely came up far enough. He called the number he had memorized in case of emergencies. "Abby, is Gibbs able to be found?" She handed the phone over.

"I have an agent here named Ambry Hendricks. Yes, that one, Gibbs. Part of that terrorist group in the FBI. No, hospital security guard. Thanks." He hung up. "Gibbs will send an agent I recognize and know isn't part of that to come gather him from your team. Thank you for the help."

"Hopefully they can put a guard on your door."

"If I have to, I'll go sleep it off on a friend's couch. He wouldn't care even if he's got a lover in." He sighed but stared at the agent as he was taken off.

***

In fact, Alex was at his new house arguing with an officer that the trespasser was from the last owner and he was the new one. Including having a copy of the deed pulled out to show it had been sold. The ex-husband of the last owner got removed with his two suitcases while yelling about it but Alex was nice enough to keep the dogs he had brought for now.

He didn't want them to go to the pound for their human being an idiot. The officer didn't want to deal with the dogs. Alex looked at his neighbor who had come over to help by telling the officers who he was. She patted him on the arm then the dogs on the head. They knew her enough to be comfortable with her.

It was an amusing day for the officer apparently. But at least he got to play with the dogs. He'd never had a dog before. He'd have to look up how to play with them, what to feed them, and what they'd need when he was at work the next day.

***

Alex smiled at his boss the next day. "I inherited them last night, Boss."

"Why?" he asked patiently, letting the dogs sniff his hands. They allowed small dogs in the office. These were not small dogs.

"The last owner's ex-husband showed up with two suitcases, the dogs, and broke into my new house." The senior lawyer winced at that. "Which is why I had to rush home to get him out of there. Before he planted something or broke something. The officer tried to argue he could stay until I produced the copy of the deed and showed the ex-husband that. Who then threw a fit.

"The officer agreed he could go to a hotel since I had no idea who that was. The neighbor came over to help get him gone. He was the reason the last owner sold the house and moved without telling anyone where. He was complaining that I was sending his dogs to the pound and the officer got huffy that the neighbor expected him to do something about it as an officer.

"So I said they could stay for a few days until he got back out of jail. So apparently I inherited the dogs and if he doesn't come back, well, they're my first pets." He grinned. "I have no idea what to do with dogs but they said you couldn't leave them alone in the house for eight hours. They also said they liked to fetch balls and chew on things."

"They make chewtoys, Harris," he said patiently. "I'll have Alexsis come teach you about dogs. She's had them since she was a toddler and her mother raised show dogs so she can talk to you about training and how they can stay home somehow." He went to talk to her. "Harris just got two bigger dogs dumped on him by the last owner's ex-husband."

She looked up at him. "What?" He repeated that. "Why?"

"The ex-husband of the last owner broke in so he had to rush home to evict him. He had brought his dogs."

"So he's gotten two dogs when that one ditches town?"

"Probably. He's never had a pet. He went online."

"I can go talk to him about pets. C'mon, Boris." Her poodle got up and followed her to the other office. She sniffed the two fluffy mutts that were probably part lab and something with hound in the name. They woofed and the poodle hopped up on a couch to sleep. The other two hopped up since Xander didn't say anything. She smiled. "Where did you look?"

"I started with animal planet's message board." He finished typing and saved the document then looked at her. "The officer took him in for breaking and entering and being a pain in my ass. But the officer didn't want to take the dogs anywhere when the neighbor tried to get him to and the guy was yelling about the pound and I'm evil for sending them there."

"He was manipulating you to take his dogs."

"I figured." He sighed. "This is what I found." He showed her his notes when she sat down. "They said you can't really leave dogs home all day without a way to go walk and pee and stuff."

"Sometimes true." She looked over the notes then smiled. "Okay, they're some fussy pet owners with spoiled dogs." She looked at him. "Most reasonably priced dog foods are nutritionally completely. You don't need the stuff that's twenty bucks a handful. Did he tell you their names or if they're sick?"

"He called one Duke and the other Devil."

"So he's a sports fan." One woofed so she leaned over to smile and pet them. "Good boy. Which are you?"

"I think he's Duke." The dog woofed again. "He answers to it."

"He does." She petted them all then looked at him. "They seem like they're nice dogs. Maybe older. Did they meet you for breakfast when you got up?"

"No, they came in after I got coffee down."

"Their former human was probably bad about feeding them then. Set up a schedule. Dogs, like toddlers, like schedules."

"I know nothing about kids either."

"I get that." She smiled at his wide-eyed look of horror. "We can go over what you'll want to get them. Including toys. Dogs love toys." He beamed and nodded, pulling up a local pet store's site. She helped him order things and taught him how to take them for a good walk. They both peed quickly and kept looking back.

"Relax, guys. We're not the mean people. Want to pee on more things? My Boris would. He never takes less than ten minutes." She helped him learn how to control them better. One tried to go after a squirrel but Boris just barked at it. That dog stopped and slunk down so she reassured it with Alex's help.

That calmed the dog down. Yup, their former human had been a bad owner. When they went back in she went over how to handle them going to a doggy daycare place and which vet to take them to that night. They might need shots. Or be sick. Alex was looking like a fussy first time pet owner. A very lenient, spoiling one.

***

Xander looked at his phone's new email, tipping his head to the side. "Accidental dog acquisition?" he mumbled. "Really, Alex?"

The general he was working with looked at him oddly. "What?"

"My twin." He let him see the email. "First pet in the family as far as I know. I have no idea what to do with a dog outside pet it and throw a ball."

The general handed the phone back, just nodding. "They can be trained for more than that." He got back to the plans for the upcoming battle.

Xander leaned over to point at something. "That's a huge dip in the field. We can drive them into it?"

"We can definitely try and layer the tank on the other side with the gun brigades."

***

Alex saw his security alert and sighed, calling through his home speaker system. "Whoever is in my house, you're trespassing and there's an officer already on the way to remove you by force before I have to show up to beat your ass. This is your only five second warning." He realized the last intruder had bothered his security camera and huffed, sending an email to his security people to fix it.

Tony looked up. "It's me, Alex." No answer. So he called. "It's me in the house. I broke in to sleep. Sure, I can do that. I don't mind dogs." He smiled. "Thanks. Yeah, if the security company show up to fix the camera I'll vet them then let them in." He hung up and laid down for now, turning on a movie to nap to. He'd nap until Alex got home later. He got woken up by a warm, wet nose. He blinked, then petted the dog gently. "Hey, doggo."

"That's Devil," Alex quipped. That dog barked and his tail wagged. "I know, you're both good dogs." He let them have a treat. "This is the Tony. He's a buddy who has couch rights." Tony let them both be petted as he sat up. They liked him petting so they curled up around him. He looked at them on the couch then looked at Alex, who shrugged but grinned. "I inherited."

"From an ex?"

"Not my ex. The ex of the last owner. He broke in to move back with his lost love, who moved and didn't leave a forwarding address."

"Ah." Tony nodded, going back to petting them. "That's good of you to adopt them." He got comfortable, getting doggy friends. He hadn't had a dog before. These were nice, calm dogs. He might like to have a dog when he wasn't working insane hours at NCIS.

He patted one of them on the paw when they sniffed his lollipop tree. "Not for dogs please." That one gave him a scared look but laid back down. He smiled and petted them. "I'm not going to be mean to you and neither will Alex. You're good dogs." They rested on him again.

"Alexsis at the office thinks I'm going to spoil them greatly. And I probably will."

Tony nodded. "It's easy to do. I've seen a few friend's dogs that were so spoiled they'd only drink bottled water and fresh food that was home cooked. So seriously spoiled." The dogs shifted so he could pet them better. They went to bark at the door when someone knocked.

Alex went to answer it. "Thank you for the doorbell, guys." He petted them and let Gibbs in. "He's on the couch again." He walked off. "Food time!" he cooed. The dogs ran to their bowls and got fed. Then he washed his hands and started on dinner for them.

Gibbs gave the dogs an odd look then looked at Alex. "You adopted?"

"Inherited."

"From...."

"Last owner's ex-husband who broke in yesterday. He couldn't take them to jail and I hate the pound."

Gibbs nodded once. "That figures." He went to check on Tony. "They still don't have your ID case. Or your tablet."

"I stopped to check on the car and had it sent to my garage to be checked over. They planted a tracking device at least."

"Great." The dogs came out to hop up around Tony again. "They're allowed on the furniture?"

"I wouldn't force kids I had to sit on the floor," Alex said dryly. "Or put them in a crate. Kids don't belong in cages and they can sit on the couch."

"All right. It's your house," Gibbs decided with a nod. "They might rip it up."

"They're fine," Alex assured him. "I can have it recovered if I have to."

"Sure. They'll be spoiled."

"They're eight. The vet said they've got maybe three years left. It should be a happy three years."

Gibbs just nodded at that idea. Tony was grinning while petting the dogs. "You could get one, DiNozzo."

"Not while I work at NCIS." He stared at him. "I've had whole weeks when I didn't make it home. That's an unacceptable thing when you have kids or pets." He went back to petting them. "IA say anything about the one I had arrested?"

"Nope. Just sighed in displeasure when I told them."

"Do they have my badge?"

"They have no idea who has your tablet or your ID case."

"I already turned off the tablet's everything and long distance wiped it. It's in Alexandria. I told Internal Affairs that." He stared at Gibbs. "I'm starting to connect dots in a strange way."

"Me too. I can't prove it."

Alex came out to hand Gibbs his phone. "Rumors?" He went back to dinner prep.

Gibbs read it over. "That makes sense." He let Tony see it. "That was my second idea."

"I thought it might be the director again," Tony admitted, putting the phone on the coffee table.

"We'll see. I'm going to be leading that investigation." Tony grinned at that. "With Fornell."

"Tell him I said hi."

"I can do that." He texted him and got one back about that address being a school. They had found the stolen tablet there being used by some kids. No relation to any agent but one there was a kid of an agent. He let Tony see it and the video from the security camera.

Tony frowned. "That's the wrong shoulder I was hit on."

"I found the mark on his right one," Alex agreed.

Gibbs stared then texted that to McGee. Who checked the camera. Yup, it had been cut into. And Mercator was in trouble for having darted him. He was already escaping but they found him that night at the train station in Richmond. Gibbs went to talk to him. Again. This time he wouldn't get to be helpful. He knew who had given him orders and had left a tape at his house for his wife to hand over while he escaped. He'd have sent for her later.

Tony relaxed, enjoying petting the dogs until dinner. They didn't beg. He thought that was odd so he offered them some meat each. They loved him for that. Alex did the same. "They need to act like regular dogs," Tony decided.

***

A few days later, Tony showed up at Gibbs' house, staring at him when he came in from work. "I got a visit earlier by an FBI agent who said I was being fired for finding dirty agents. So I pointed out I found three terrorist groups within the FBI. It's not about that. It's about that undercover. The CIA is mad."

Gibbs winced. "You sure?"

"According to the senior bureau chief of Baltimore that showed up earlier." He smirked a bit. "He got sent so it was subtle."

Gibbs nodded once. "So what are you doing?"

"I'm suing her." He handed over the papers. "And the agency. And a few others." He smirked happily. "By the way, my ID and badge are in Fornell's desk. Have been for two days. He didn't want involved but kept it from disappearing."

Gibbs called him. "Tell me what's happened," he ordered. "Yes, about him before you complain." He listened then huffed. "That's not going to happen. DiNozzo, you can't sue NCIS."

"Yes I can. They've tried to blackball me and take my retirement. I have to so I get that back." Gibbs muttered as he walked off talking to his buddy in the FBI. "I've already told the Secret Service guy who got the others for me because I was suing them to out those plots," he called after him.

"He swore a lot because he dropped food in his lap and then told his boss, who went to stomp someone." He grinned again when Gibbs walked back to the doorway to stare at him. "They asked me to. I was nice before I filed it." He crossed his feet. "Which is why I got a senior agent showing up on my doorstep about two hours afterward."

Gibbs listened to Fornell telling him what was going on and huffed again. "The President has heard and laughed."

"Well, he shouldn't have put a spook in charge of the military cops." He shrugged. Then he smiled. "She also tried to backdate my paperwork so I wasn't listed as an agent six months ago, when we got that group problem and the rape cases."

"Do the prosecutors know?" Gibbs demanded.

"Yeah, they were my third call. They looked, said she only got half the paperwork, and then promised to hang her from the statue out in front of the agency. He told the JAG while on the phone with me and the JAG has a really dirty mouth. Did you know he can swear in two languages, Gibbs?"

"I don't want to know that now, DiNozzo." He stared at him. "You're okay?"

"Amused as hell," he said smugly. "Because even if she wins, she loses. She's backed into a corner. There's no political recovery here."

"She could have you sniped."

"Alex is my heir at the moment and he's *the* vindictive queen I only temp as." He smiled. "And he knows to tell *everyone*. We're talking made into a tv movie telling everyone. And he's not going to be scared by agents."

"Oh, fuck," he muttered, going back to the kitchen talk with Fornell. Who agreed about that end game. There were a lot of higher ups who were scared thanks to her pulling that undercover and how she had managed it. Up to the president's desk and he was going to be found out too thanks to Tony telling press people.

Gibbs was about to start swearing but he wanted to not be heard doing it. In the living room, Tony turned on the tv and laughed at a few things. That laughter made his butt clench because that was not a good sound. Oh, this was going to be so evil. Especially if Tony had told all the people he knew.

***
Part 5 by Voracity2
Tony was at his third congressional hearing. He smiled at the staring senators. "You wanted to talk to me, Senators?"

"Agent DiNozzo, are you trying to bring down your agency?"

"No, I'm just fighting back from the plots that started. From the three terrorist groups in the FBI that I turned in, to my director trying to play politics without a full hand, to the current lawsuit to get my own retirement back and to undo the backdating of my firing date because that'll screw up a few cases that have already been decided.

"Including about six rape cases and a group that decided to get drugged up and sacrifice a few other probies in their group to make it to the level of general." He clasped his hands on the table and leaned forward some. "I'm only fighting for what's mine by rights. She pushed at me, I pushed back. And then she decided to warp the agency to her will for material gain."

The head of the panel stared at him. "Okay, start back at the beginning. Let the rest of us catch up."

"Remember the representative I had to arrest for killing his wife and her boyfriend?" They all nodded. "On the way back to the shipyards for the formal arrest, we were stopped by agents. Who tried to ram me off the road. Thankfully I got help and they stopped them. Looking that up, the FBI would not tell us why they had tried that. So I went looking."

"And you found?" the head of the panel asked.

"Three terrorist groups, Senator Randalls. Those agents were all aligned to one, but I did find two others." The senator slumped, staring at him. "Which I turned in. The FBI's internal affairs people did not want to handle it. So I tried an FOI request to get information on why they were trying to stop me from arresting that representative.

"That got turned down for specious reasons so I went with a statement in the press and suing the IA people for bothering another agency's work on purpose to hide that. That allowed others to work and fix it, plus arrest those people involved. Which the Secret Service did."

"Was the representative involved?"

"Yes." Tony smiled. "He was helping them plan how to manipulate the FBI so their group could come into higher power. It'd give him a bit of power behind his seat so he could move over to this house and then possibly up the power chain." The lead senator winced at that. "They could stop his enemies basically. He's not the first who's done that. We all know that."

He waved a hand around then clasped them again. "After that, there were a few incidents that my director decided to butt into that were not relevant to the agency and she did it because she had sent me on an undercover. Which was about borderline illegal. Definitely not NCIS work. In fact, the CIA took out the one I was doing surveillance on. Her former masters were mad that she was going after this one arms dealer. Again."

He sipped his water casually then put the glass down. "Somehow she decided me nearly being taken to be sacrificed by a demon, thanks to a witch who had only known that I know the brother of a watcher, meant that my records had to be sealed. Permanently.

"I was drugged. I got blood taken by our ME, it was tested, I worked with our Internal Affairs and agreed easily to the drug test they wanted thanks to her demanding. She had my personnel file that she should not have had access to and was using it to try to say I lied on it and I was my uncle.

"She tried to accuse me of having a hidden family and two kids, when that's not my sin. She's tried to interfere in our team's cases. She had me drugged by another NCIS agent after I had been watching someone in a club one night for a case.

"I ended up having my ID stolen and ended up in the ER. Thankfully I had the new address of a friend in my pocket. The officer that found me unconscious in my car brought me to him." He smiled and handed the usher something. "The full file that my current attorney has. That includes the later problems since that drugging."

They looked through it and one huffed, looking at Tony. "So she arranged that to discredit you?"

"Apparently. If she had some other reason, it was probably to try to cover up that undercover. All this started after that. Asking around, I found a lot of bad ideas she's done. There's a reason I have one of the top solve rates in the whole agency, Senators." He smiled. "As I proved by investigating the problems that were hitting in my direction but not at me until I was drugged. Then there were a lot of things that were just out of place. So I found out why."

The lead senator looked at him. "You're an asshole."

"Thank you," Tony quipped back with a smile. "When I have to be, I am. I like that about myself. Especially when people try to screw with me to cover up what they're doing wrong. I didn't like it when I was a detective. I don't like it as an agent. And now, if I can't go back, I've already signed up for law school. I can be a prosecutor. I do know the law and all the ways it's broken."

"She's tried to get you to shut up?" Another senator looked at her notes then at him.

"The order to take me in as a witness to a case that never happened that the president signed?" Tony asked. "Yeah, she blew some political capital for that. The Secret Service said there wasn't a reason. He tried anyway and the judge I went to for a stay ended it already, ma'am."

"Why would the president...."

Tony shrugged, shaking his head a bit. "I'm not going to speculate. I don't know why he owed her that favor. I don't really care why she had that favor, Senator. But I'm not going to lay down and let people run me over."

"That's very feminine of you, Mr. DiNozzo."

Tony smirked. "I was raised by someone in the financial world, Senator." She shuddered. "One who also had a former president's phone number in his rolodex. I grew up seeing my father using that and went to schools like he did. Even though I was disowned for not wanting to do financial work, I did learn how to be just like them."

She shuddered. "That's your father?"

"Which one? I have an uncle and a father. My uncle recently retired. Daria is my aunt if that's what you're asking."

"Oh, I've met your uncle and father," she said quietly. "I could see them doing this."

Tony grinned. "I'm sure he'd be proud. Since this is only the most open part of me fixing this problem. Because this being an open court case means that other agencies can look at the evidence to find the problem. They're trying not to but ....well...I heard you guys talked to my former teammate, Ziva David." A few flinched at that. He nodded. "Same person behind her too," he quipped.

"If we reinstate you and get rid of the director, would that make you calm down?" that woman asked.

"No. Because I wouldn't want to get my badge back that way. It'll mean a few of the worst problems in the government go unarrested. While people are trying not to do that, there's people who're ethical and will stop the dirtiness going on, Senator."

"Are you insinuating there's one of us who is?"

"Two of you have actually tried," he corrected. "This hearing is part of that actually." She glared at the others then at him. "One of you not in this room is also implicated as a backer for one of those terrorist groups. Overall, there's six members of Congress involved in that messiness that tried to come for me. I'm an honest man, an honest and ethical agent, and was an ethical detective when I wore that badge. I don't let such dirtiness go on without stopping it. It'll endanger other officers."

"Should we be amused by arrests?" she asked dryly.

"Four of them, yes. Two they probably won't want to touch because that would get them hunted for finding that level of dirt. Because when the VP is dirty to an overseas organization, and is all but felating the group's boss, that's a political nightmare that can bring down a lot of others."

"Prove it," the head of the panel demanded.

Tony pulled out that file and held it out. "That's on his wife. Do you want his as well?" He smiled. "That's in a safety deposit box. It's been handed over to Homeland. My copy of all of these are in multiple safety deposit boxes." The usher took the file to let them see it.

The head of the panel spluttered and glared at him. Tony stared back. "I do not make up evidence. I will follow where it leads me. In that case, it led to a few bigger problems. Like her having a totally bogus charity that she's using to fund her shopping habit."

"This could endanger your whole team, DiNozzo."

"Who said I had their help, Senator?" He smiled. "I was an officer for over ten years then became an agent at NCIS. I was a detective for seven years before I was recruited at NCIS. I spent years there too. I'm an excellent investigator. I may not hack like some agents can. I may not be a Marine like Gibbs is, but I am one hell of an investigator. That's just a listing. At the end is the evidence list I handed the agent I gave them to."

They looked and one moaned at that, shaking his head. "Agent DiNozzo, are you being vindictive?"

"No, I wanted to know who tried to kill me for doing my job correctly. I wouldn't be doing this if they hadn't tried to interfere with me doing my job and tried to take me out. I think that's a reasonable thing any agent or detective would do."

"Maybe," the head of the panel complained. He looked at the evidence list again. "How did you get their filings?"

"They're mandated to be publically available so people can look them over. It's on their website in that case."

The senator moaned. "Can you prove that?" Tony nodded, pulling out his new tablet to get into that page and show him. He looked at it, comparing what was in the notes to that. "Oh. She has been. Oh, hell."

Tony nodded. "If they had just left me alone, Senators. But they did not. Which meant I had to go looking to find out why." He shrugged. "I'm not a sidewalk and I'm not a road block."

"You know, this makes you look like one of those conspiracy nuts," another senator said happily.

Tony looked at him. "Senator, to be blunt, I can prove mine. I don't need a tinfoil hat. If someone doesn't want to believe, that's fine. But I am going to make sure that all this rot is excised and exorcized. Before it gets more good agents harmed. It's already gotten three Secret Service agents killed for pointless reasons that didn't really shield them any or make people not look their way.

"If they had been paying attention they could've fixed all this last year. Then one of your congress members wouldn't be in jail for killing his wife and her boyfriend, because they're the ones that told him she was cheating. Three agents would be alive. Another ten or eleven would still be employed and they were they ones doing the real work. Including the one that was guarding your children last year." The senator glared.

Tony stared back. "They considered him a danger to them because he found out a few things. I'm sorry for his family's loss. If his boss had looked at *why* they would've stopped it then if they're not dirty themselves. I haven't went fully up the chain for all of them. I expected some to turn evidence to save their asses in prison.

"Because they may not get preferential treatment as dirty agents." The senator shuddered but looked away from him. "If they continue to try to shut me up," Tony said happily. "Well, then I've got people who can shout about it for me even if I'm dead. And they're very good at it. Including press people already going over my case. There's no way any *good* man or *good* agent would let this rot keep going. That makes them dirty too."

"We can have you confined as a material witness," the conspiracy theorist said happily.

"No you can't, Senator. The judge earlier said there's no reason for that and stayed the order. You can check while I'm here if you wish."

"The president doesn't want this to go down, DiNozzo."

"Then he should've kept himself in his pants," Tony shot back, smirking a bit. "I know it's politics to kiss each other's butts but the law isn't about politics. And frankly, if I take the hints some have given me and become one of you myself, things are going to be less political and more ethical again."

He gave that one a pointed look, making him shudder. He stood up. "Have a great day, Senators. I'm going to go take a friend's dogs for a walk." He strolled off looking less than concerned. One agent tried to stop him so he stared at them. "Ignoring that got agents dead. Nearly got me dead. Be damned if I'm going to let that dirtiness happen." He walked around him and out to get a ride. Gibbs was waiting on him so he walked around him, taking his keys. "Thanks for watching the car, Gibbs."

"You good?"

"Really, really pissed off," he said with an evil little smirk. "Because I'll be damned if I'm going to be someone's toy unless I'm on top." He got in to drive off. He went to snatch Xander's dogs and take them to the park to play. They needed to learn how to play again. Alex did remind him not to get his dogs shot at, because then he'd have to be a bastard to whoever had tried it and leave Tony being a cheerleader.

For some reason that idea worried Tony.

***

Alex was downtown when something huge happened. He stared then sighed and took film, sending it to Gibbs, to Buffy's phone, to Giles' phone in case he had it, and to a news station. Then he watched what was going on. A portal was not a good thing. He sat on a bench, sipping his coffee, staring at the things starting to gather.

He saw DC's slayer rush over and took film for Buffy so she knew how bad it was going to be. He had to hop up and go save her life too because she tried to hit one of the guards and nearly got killed. "Hey!" he shouted. "Quit picking on her. That's her job, the same as yours is to stand there and look important."

"Watcher Harris," the guard sneered.

"Wrong Xander, dude. I'm Alex." He pointed. "Behind me, Sandra." She shook her head. "Now!" he barked. She backed up. He stared at the guard. "If you wanted to talk to my brother, he's somewhere on the western coast of Africa today I think. You should go talk to him instead of showing up here in DC."

"You are nothing," he sneered. "You don't even have your axe."

"Dude, that's Xander's weapon. I'm still Alex. He's a watcher, I'm a lawyer. Which means I fuck you up and play with your mind too." He looked at the slayer. "Sword?"

"Alex?" she asked.

"Now!" She handed him hers and rushed off to get another one.

Xander checked it then grimaced. "I'm going to spank her for the spots of rust." The guard laughed and lunged but Alex held him off and kicked the guy back, making him shout. That brought others of his kind. "Your guard here was terribly rude."

"Watcher Harris!" one crowed.

"Wrong Xander. I'm Alex." He smirked. "I'm not Xander." They shouted and tried to rush him. Sanda came back with another weapon to help him. Alex decided to use his emergency wish and called out for his weapons. No answer so he smirked up for a second. "Denying what you owe me means that I get to call for a penalty one." A single weapon fell in front of him. "That's not mine. But I can use it."

He grabbed it up, swung it at one's head and then fired it on the portal, making it shatter. "Aww, sweet tinkly things." He stared at the guards, now trapped here. "Hmmm," he hummed tunelessly in a few keys and a few times. "Interesting. Now what are you going to do?"

"My people will save me," one sneered. "They won't let their heir perish here."

Alex stared at him. "Keep it up, I'm going to give you to something to be eaten." The guy reared back, looking horrified. Alex grinned. "Like I said, I'm not Xander. I'm the lawyer. So I can fight you, defeat you, and then fuck with your mind until you beg me to stop. Then make you pay me for the hours I spent working on you." He smiled. "If you want to go, go. Please. We'd *all* like that."

"We were showing up in peace," the heir said.

Alex stared at him. "Really?" He smirked a bit. "Then why didn't you send a diplomat who'd say that instead of a warrior looking for a fight?" He waved a hand at the one on the ground. "If you had said it was a diplomatic visit, people wouldn't have had such a problem with you appearing in the middle of this country's capitol city."

"I...my grandfather would want people to surrender to him."

Alex laughed. "Really? Are you sure that's what's going to happen?"

"We have a massive army!" he shouted. "We can defeat anyone!"

"And yet...." Alex waved a hand around. "It took me this time and our army, just one of our branches of soldiers, are *millions* of people. Not to mention the other three branches of our military." The heir looked horrified. "We have *billions* of people on this planet. This country has the largest military and weapons." He smiled. "So, are you certain you wanted to try to take us over?"

"We will still prevail!" one of the guards said, hopping up to get Alex. Who hit him with the launcher device. He went down again.

"Hmm," Sandra said, pushing her hair back and looking at him. "Alex?"

"I think they should go home. They can probably open that portal again somehow so they can flee back home to tell them about how hard humanity is to win against." He looked at the soldier stomping over. "Lieutenant."

"Which watcher are you?"

"I'm not. My twin is." He grinned. "I'm retired. I was just getting coffee for lunch." He looked at the heir again. The guards were guarding him. "Send some way to get home, beings. Before I get fully angry."

"You destroyed the portal," the heir complained.

Alex stared at him. "And your people opened it from the other side originally." He waved a hand. "You can go or you can sit in a jail cell until someone comes to bail you out."

"They would think I failed."

"Well....." Alex smirked at him. "You kinda found reality and it's a vicious, biting thing in your case. Now, don't you have some way to call home?" The heir and guards all shook their heads. He sighed, looking at Sandra, who was calling someone.

"Rosenburg said she could do that. The remains that you blew up are still there to pull together. It's like a zombie portal. If she can't do it here, she'll have to do it somewhere neutral."

"Then the best place would be a military base with a lot of soldiers standing there to greet the people who want *peaceful* relations," Alex said, looking at the lieutenant, who was nodding that was a good idea. "Is your team here or are you just off today?"

"Hearing in court. Someone decided to beat my car."

"Sorry to hear that." Alex looked at the witches appearing, waving a hand. "The heir who thinks we're *easy*."

Willow huffed. "Great. You didn't call your twin?"

Alex stared at her oddly then looked at the other witches. "It's not like he lost his skill set, Willow," one told her, rolling her eyes. "Thank you, Alex."

"Welcome." He handed Sandra the launcher but the military guy took it. "I know but the one who owes me the debt to call my own weapons here failed. Miserably." He smirked a bit. "Which means I get to take my vindictive self to talk to a poker buddy." Suddenly there was a box at his feet. He looked inside and hummed. "Yeah, that's not mine but that's sweet. Was that in Xander's stored stuff maybe?" he called, looking up.

A female appeared, nodding. "It was meant to go to him, Alex. He got some of yours just now."

"Well, tell him to replace them." He handed the box over. "How much of mine did he get?"

"Only three things. He said he only needed three things." She shrugged, taking it with her. Xander said he didn't need it and the generals were glaring that Xander knew about higher level artillery again so she went to hide it among Alex's hidden weapons for now. She left Xander a note so he could get it back.

Alex shook his head. "Did your people try this in another area perhaps?" he asked the heir. Who slowly shook his head. "Huh. Wonder what the twin's doing today then." He shrugged and walked off. "I'm off for a tasty muffin and another coffee. Let me know if I have to be his lawyer to get him bail, Lieutenant."

"Um, sure, I guess." He looked at the witches. Then at the slayer.

"Locally they'll arrest a demon and then give him really high bail if he's a problem. Alex has had to fight for a few of them to get bail because their lawyers are busy. He's still helpful and neutral. Even if the community is somehow mad at him again for whatever imaginary reason they've decided on this time." She looked at her sword. "That's the backup in the car. He's going to nag that it has rust." She walked off. "Need me, coven ladies?"

"No, Sandra," Willow sighed. "I can do this." She pulled together the portal and reopened it. "Yours?"

The top guard looked and shook his head. "That's our enemy's capitol city."

"Where my girlfriend lives," the heir muttered. "Her mother hates that though." The guards stared at him. "She does!"

Willow nodded. "Just don't take lessons from Shakespear. Elope and start your own area instead." She fixed it and saw the massing armies. "There you go."

The heir sighed. "Can we have a picture of the local militaries massing?" he asked quietly. "So we can prove why it's not a good idea."

"Yeah, I have my cadet class's graduation photo in my wallet," the lieutenant said, pulling it out. "That's just one class from one of three military colleges. That's not the massed military units in formation."

The heir walked over. "I ran into Watcher Harris' twin, Sire. He pointed out that their militaries are more massive than ours, and have higher weapons at hand." He showed him the picture. "That one, who is a lieutenant, said this was his graduation class's photo. From one of three military colleges and does not hold the rest of the military. Watcher Harris' twin said they have *millions* of people in their military and billions on that planet." He went back to hand it over then came back.

Willow smiled and waved. "He's right, we do. We also have four or five branches of military if you count the Coast Guard. We have water, air, and land military groups. Who all number in the millions." She called up a picture. "This is yesterday's military exercise in Cleveland. That's just the groups on to help the slayers. That's a tenth of one base's people."

The demon king looked and winced. "I was not aware of that."

Willow smiled. "Alex thought you might not be. Your heir showed some diplomacy and smarts. Thankfully Alex is retired so he only got a few of the guards." She smiled at the heir. "I wish upon you to have a long, happy, healthy, safe life even if you do end up in some position of power." He smiled at that.

"And, trust me here, love is too precious to waste. Take your girlfriend to elope soon." She looked at the king, who was staring at his grandson. Then she smiled. "Love's a terrible thing to waste." She walked back over and let the portal close once the others were back over there.

"There. Let me end the power traces." She did that and sighed in pleasure. "All better." She strolled off. "Alex's muffin idea is probably a good one and he'd know good muffins. Let's get one?" The witches nodded, going with her.

The lieutenant finishing making his report and headed to the courthouse. His boss was going to be...amused.

***

Alex's boss leaned into his office. "You have weapons?"

He smiled. "I'm owed a few debts that I can call in for weapons in case the world is going to end or I'm at ground zero of an invasion. Which I was then."

"Oh." He nodded. "Does your twin have weapons?"

"Xander's the only watcher in Africa. Don't you think he may need them?"

"Probably." He nodded, going to tell the one who had told him to ask that. It was a better thing that his lawyer didn't have weapons since he dealt with a lot of whiny people. Though his dogs were coming along nicely apparently since they were napping on his couch and didn't wake up when he leaned in.

***

Alex faced off with the most bigoted judge in the area. He shook his head. "Your Honor, none of those charges are actually laws," he noted patiently. "Have not been laws when they tried this before. Still aren't laws now. Probably won't ever be laws because they're racist. I have no idea why that one unit of police officers, and this one particular prosecutor, are so involved in making up laws.

"The rest of the DA's office is overloaded and complains a lot about that. Yet here we are with one who keeps making up more laws to give himself more work. Why are we talking about this again since we've had it with nine other judges for six other people in the last month?"

The judge stared at him. "Repeat offenders?"

"For sitting on their front porches. Apparently they looked funny while reading the paper." He grimaced at the other lawyer then at the judge. "This time my client was on his way to work. In his own car. Not disobeying any traffic laws. Actually used his turn signals. Him using them was removed from the original charge sheet."

He handed it over. "Why are they targeting the community to give themselves more work and yet ignoring actual, physical crimes going on? Do they not have work to do? I could've sworn there's been a rash of robberies in that same neighborhood they should be handling. Not to mention the three deaths that made it to the news." He looked at the other side. "I have no idea why the city puts up with them making themselves more work and ignoring their actual jobs."

The judge sighed. "None of this is a law but many of us would like that being's sort to leave the area, Mr. Harris. The same as we would you."

Alex smirked. "Sorry but they were here before your family moved in ten years ago, Your Honor. The local community's museum has a written peace treaty with the local native tribes. Apparently there had been an argument over some prey that was being hunted by both sides. Then again, the Council has written records taken from oral histories that go back to before people farming that demons had control.

"That's why they made the slayer line." The judge grimaced at that reminder. "Now, can my client please go grovel with his boss to stay employed? Though I'm sure he's been told his employee got arrested for following traffic laws. It's like a money grab for the city but racially motivated and so very heinously wrong by every law code ever."

"Mr. Harris, has anyone told you you're an asshole?" the judge demanded.

Alex smiled and nodded. "And I usually thank them for that, Your Honor. I'm very proud that standing up for the right thing makes me an asshole of great proportion. Someday I might even run for congress to make sure this shit's stopped." He beamed at him. The judge shuddered. "Can my client go to work now?"

"Fine. These are not legal charges," he complained. He tossed the papers aside. "I'm going to talk to the DA's office over this."

"Have fun. We've talked to the press already and the mayor's office got a call from someone else, Your Honor," Alex said happily. The judge winced at that. "At least it's not an election year." He smiled at his client. "Let's get you unbooked so you can go to work and so can I. I have to nag the SBA again this afternoon."

The judge signed the order to release him and Alex got him checked out and then to work. The car being impounded would take another hearing in front of another judge. Alex walked into work, shrugging at his boss' look. "I had to help someone who got arrested for daring to follow traffic and driving laws. One of the charges was that he used his turn signals."

His boss shook his head. "Did you take criminal law, Harris?"

"My minor. I did end up taking the bar in that category too. I got slightly less than great but I did pass that section just in case I need it." He smiled. "It's been a long day and I know I have to talk to the SBA again this afternoon over that warehouse." He went to his office to log into his computer and look up that case to refresh himself.

His boss went to tell the others, one of which told the community's law team. They were amused at that arrest too and Harris helping out without being asked to by them. They had to figure out how many he had handled and what the outcomes had been. And who was paying him for it.

***

Alex looked at his phone, grimacing as he answered it. "Yes?" The dogs ran at her huff. "You just made my dogs run from you, Buffy. So why did you call to huff at me?"

"You have dogs?"

"Yes, I adopted two dogs."

"You're retired, Alex."

"I'm the one who informed you it was starting, Summers. I was sitting right there when it started. Did you want me to let Sandra die?"

"No! Of course not!" The dog barked quietly. "Oh, hey, Doggy."

"It's all right, Duke. She's not close enough to bite you. C'mere, you two." They hopped up around him. He petted them, his phone on his thigh. "Buffy, just don't even start. If I'm the one standing there and it happens of course I'm going to handle it if no one else can. Did you want me to allow the attempted invasion of DC?"

"No," she said patiently.

"I did start out by informing people. Including agents who never showed up."

"Crap. Why would you do that?"

"That's their job. Especially in DC, Buffy," he said dryly. "Even Sandra has to defer to them in DC."

"Oh." She sounded pouty now. "Are your dogs cute?"

"They're dogs, of course they're nice. They're not purse dogs but they're good dogs." They stared at him hopefully. "Go get the treat bag, Devil." He ran to get it and brought it back. "Good job!" He gave them both a treat and more pets. "They had horrible humans before me so I'm teaching them to act like dogs."

"Oh, okay. Sure. I guess that's good. Should we change Sandra out?"

"She's in college. Won't that screw something up for her?" he asked dryly.

"Point I guess." She sighed. "Fine! Just don't jump in next time. You upset Willow a lot."

He shrugged even though he knew she couldn't see it. "Not my call to make. I was sitting right there." He hung up with a sigh and went back to petting the dogs. He looked at them. "Sometimes girls aren't worth it." They settled in to be loved on for stress relief. He picked up a letter to reread and laugh at it, then called his twin. "You know that demonic law firm that Angel had to keep tangling with? They sent me a letter in your name telling me to cease and desist helping the community."

"Why did they send it in his name?" Stephen asked.

"They're the lawyers for the greater evils of this world. Wolfram and Hart. They also ask for soul debts in any contracts."

"Charming! Did they intend you to be Xander or are they trying to get Xander to quit?"

"I have no idea. I was going to call them with him on the line. Hold on, let me do that." He conferenced in the call. "This is Alexander Harris, and Mr. Simmons sent me a very laughable letter. Let me speak to him please." He was on hold for a short period of time.

"Mr. Harris."

"Both of us. We are twins," Alex said dryly. "We've both laughed at your letter."

"No one wants your help, Mr. Harris."

"Then they can turn it down. Frankly, my twin's not going to quit being a watcher and I'm not going to quit being a lawyer. Especially as I'm the one who's doing the business contracts being screwed up." He smirked at his phone. "You have no right or reason to get into mine or my twin's business, Mr. Simmons. I'm not part of your law firm."

"The US Demonic Congress hired me to write that," he sneered back.

Alex snorted. "Yes, I've met a few of them. They have no right or reason to get into whoever hires me to help them. And for them not wanting me to help anyone, they sure send people to me to end their problems with the government over their business licenses. I'm afraid that your letter is just a joke that made my dogs amused when they peed on it. Now, is there anything else you wanted to try?"

"We can sue you to stop you."

"You mean my whole agency?" Alex asked dryly. "We do work for the peaceful community locally when they ask us to." He smirked at the phone. "But by your statements I'm guessing you're too stupid to realize you addressed the letter to my twin instead of to me?" The man growled. "Awww, you're so fierce," he said sarcastically.

"I'm sure you're great at what you do but I'm not going to bend over for a firm that puts soul contracts in their paperwork. Or who stuck up for and helped cause an invasion of this country, which I had to step into to help stop. Now, is there any other mealy minded attempt going on out there that I'll laugh at? I mean, I can ruin your business very easily."

"I'll have that whole law office of yours turned in," he sneered.

"We're all human. We're just tolerant and good. But for that threat, I'm going to turn you in to the FBI with all that we know about your group. Including that problematic little idol thing you have going on. I heard you're missing six sacrifices since Connor saved the last group. Let's see how well you handle having your contracts exposed." He hung up on that one. "So," he said dryly.

Stephen cleared his throat. "Can they do that?"

"No. They could try to buy the office and won't manage it. Hell, I'm worth more than they are I think. I know Xander is." He grimaced. "By the way, the one who wanted him to be a queen showed up *again*. Third time in a month. Can you have him talk to that one? I'm too fabulous to be a queen of a demon realm and I'd hate the gowns."

"Yeah, I can do that," Stephen said. "I talked to him before."

"Thanks, Stephen. Did he get the dog pictures?"

"We did. They seem like good dogs." They barked at the phone. "That's cute. I'll tell him once he's out of the bathroom, Alex." He hung up and burst out laughing.

Alex sent the one he often argued with about business contracts the information on Wolfram and Hart, and how they're rebuilding. It was illegal to attempt to invade the country. That one growled back but agreed they needed investigated. He found out the hard way that any investigation was cursed, but he only got a broken leg. The guy had been helping Alex with businesses that were being targeted for having demon employees or owners. The community liked him at the moment. Wolfram and Hart...not so much.

***

Alex walked into his boss's office the next day with the dogs. "They're being guard dogs." He grinned and put down the files. The copy of that letter was on top.

The senior partner looked at it then at him. "That's huge, Harris."

"Yeah. I gave information over that ended their last sacrifice of six people. Connor found them in time." He grinned. "They're so stupid. They really are. And I turned them in for their little contract problem." He pulled that out and let his boss find the post-it he had stuck on it.

The older lawyer frowned as he read it. "Yeah, all their employee contracts too. Their ones they do work for too." He smiled and nodded a bit. "They've apparently cursed anyone who tries to investigate it. Also, he tried to tell me the USDC tried to stop me for doing any work, even though half of the ones I handle are referred to us by the USDC."

"Are you back in asshole mode, Harris?" he asked dryly.

"You bet I am!" he said happily. "And they're tied up in one of the groups that Tony DiNozzo had to stop out of the FBI. They were backing one of them without the agents knowing." He pointed at that. "I've slipped that to Tony but I have no idea who's handling the rest of that investigation. I found enough to fully convict the full board of more than arranging that invasion of LA."

"That's going to cause some talk."

Alex grinned smugly. "Let them talk. It'll only make my rep grow as being honest, good for the community and others, and being ethical."

"True."

"I've also noted that I may be retired to be a lawyer but that just means I get to play with their minds after I beat them in whatever manner I need to." He shrugged. "If you want to you can tell others they reformed in Vegas. That's their new LA office apparently. The old one is being rebuilt still. Though I think Connor wants to blow it up this time."

His boss looked at the paperwork again, nodding some. "That is enough to sue them and get them in a great deal of trouble if agents were listening."

Alex looked at a painting then at him. "Are you sure they're not?" He walked off with the dogs. "That's all copies. Tony has a copy too. So does the USDC's council and their legal team. Have fun watching me do some mental torture, boss."

"Sure, Harris. Don't get the law firm sued."

"Of course not. And if so I'll go run for congress to get the all beings are equal under the law rule started." The dogs barked as they walked past a coworker's door. "Good boys to greet Patricia! Morning, dear."

That lawyer shook her head but was smiling. The dogs were nice and Xander was goofy. She went to see what they had been talking about. She hadn't heard most of it through the wall. Their boss was talking to someone and it looked interesting. "Can I help?"

"This is dirtiness that could get people harmed, Patricia," he said. "I'd hate to have your husband harmed."

"Okay." She looked at it then went back to her desk to get a file and bring it back. She was working on one of their subordinate company's business licenses. He smiled at that so she went back to her desk.

***

"Mr. Harris," a reporter called as he came out of work a few days later. "Someone's made a claim that you're fighting against a demonic entity even though you've been supporting the peaceful community for years?"

Alex smiled and nodded. "I'm fully against anything evil. That law firm, and a few foreign nationals, were behind the LA invasion. Since nothing's been done even though it's illegal to try to invade the country.... I felt I had to step in. Especially since I've been gathering information for years. Then they tried to step into my face. They're going to lose for that."

She shuddered, stepping back. He grinned a bit. "They're still putting soul claiming clauses in all their contracts. They're still fighting to protect the most evil things. They're still sacrificing people. They're responsible for, directly having paid for it, the attack on the judge in Oregon that hit the news last week.

"Should anyone look away from such problems? Especially when they try to step into your face for doing the right thing most of the time?" He looked at the cameraman. "I noticed that your camera is one to try to capture souls from taping them. That won't really work on me and it won't work on over half of humanity.

"They have to be really weakly connected for that and that usually means they're sick somehow. Like that one senator was complaining about? Whoever he was ranting got captured is probably sick." He walked around them. "Anything else today?"

"Are you still retired from the Council?"

"Yeah." He nodded. "I only have to step into things if they step into my face or happen right in front of me." He stared at her. "Have a great night." He got into his car and drove off to pick up his dogs from doggy daycare.

She looked at her cameraman. "Did it capture him?"

"No. He's right, it couldn't." He put his camera down. "Is this going to really upset the bosses?"

She nodded. "It's not our fault though. We can't capture him by ourselves." She walked off. Of course, an agent got in her way to arrest them. It saved them from their bosses at Wolfram and Hart. Otherwise they would've been sacrificed for the failure. The agents let them know after they got done raiding that office.

***

The agent in charge of the Wolfram and Hart case stopped Harris the next morning. "Are you a vindictive teenage girl?"

"No but I did learn a lot from always being around two," he quipped back with a smirk. The dogs sniffed him and then went to pee on a light pole before coming back to stand beside their human. "Why do you ask?"

"You're acting like it's a personal vendetta."

"It is." He nodded with a grin. "They're trying to ruin my career and what I choose to do. I worked my ass off to get through law school and they're trying to make me quit. If Buffy Summers couldn't make me quit what I decided was something I had to do, that my twin is still doing, then I'm sure not going to let myself be driven out of my career by a bunch of lesser bitches."

He gave him a pointed look then smiled again. "Did you have fun with them last night? We heard they got busted. Did you get the basement room and the bio-secure lab? Or the sacrificial victims in their cells? The other basement?"

"What lab?" he demanded. "Where is the lab?"

"Basement."

"We did not find a basement. Come with us please?"

"Let me get the dogs inside the daycare." He took them to log them in. "I'm showing them where something is." He winked. "Be back later so they can go to the office." He petted them both and left to do that. He walked into the building then found the protections. He canceled most of them. "I need silver," he muttered, patting himself down.

"Anyone got some silver? In any form but dust preferably." No one said anything. "Huh. Got a hammer?" he called. One was handed over so he swung and broke the figures. Someone screamed about him hurting her kid. He looked. "Did you give them your kid to build it on?" he demanded.

She nodded, crying. He shook his head then looked at the agent. "Okay." He used the hammer to expose the powering crystal and broke it. "Your kid's hopefully free." He checked, no other crystal. He broke the last few figures. He walked around it and got the last one. Then he used it on the panel next to the elevator. It broke and became visible.

He hit the button to call the elevator to go down. He waved at the agents and took them down to the basement. He pointed. "According to the available building plans, hostages, sacrificial altar room, lab," he said with points. "There's a big cavern for no reason I'm aware of too." He got out of the way and went back upstairs, grinning at the staring people. "You really thought you'd get me to give up when even Buffy and Willow couldn't?" He walked off laughing. "To quote my ex Cordelia Chase: As if, losers!"

"We'll end her too!" one shouted, struggling to get up.

Alex turned to look at him. "You think you can end the Messenger for the Powers That Be? Really?" The man shrank away from him. "Well, if you have her trapped, we'll figure it out and free her. Then get out of her way. We don't need to see the mess she'll make." He walked off smirking evilly. "I really should claim all your status in the demon courts for conquering you. Hmmm. That would really up my poker debt count too." He nodded. "I can file that paperwork later with the demon courts."

"The government would have to claim it," an agent told him.

Alex smiled. "The money yes. The status with the demon courts? Could they actually do that? I can. I helped end a few of their works before today." That agent shuddered. "Connor could probably do it easiest. I can offer to split it with him." He walked out humming a catchy tune he had heard on the radio earlier.

The agent looked at his senior agent. "Is he sane?"

"He's a lawyer. Specializing in business things but has helped the peaceful community with other matters. His twin's a watcher."

"Oh, that's that guy." He took a deep breath. "At least he didn't really have a weapon this time." He looked around then at his boss. "Do others not realize what he's done locally?"

"The only one who probably does is DiNozzo. They're friends or something."

"Probably just friends. DiNozzo dated half the city," another agent said. "Including both of my ex's. I thought that proved bravery better than following Gibbs did."

The senior agent shook his head. "Find out if they need help downstairs. Their radios aren't working." An agent went down there with an open connection and found out they needed paramedics, SWAT teams to kill the huge demon in the cavern and the two in the altar area waiting to feed, and some geeks to clean up the lab.

***

Tony smiled at the agents who were coming to nag him. "We knew about Wolfram and Hart at least a decade before the LA invasion. Including their biolab in LA. You guys decided it was fine since they were government contractors. Have we found out who's covered underneath those contracts yet to try to save them?"

The agents stopped and looked at each other. "What?" one asked.

"Wolfrm and Hart were government contractors. They had contract work for things like big purchases with new companies and the like." That got a nod. "We know they layered soul claiming clauses in their contracts with everyone, including with the government. Whose got stolen?"

"Did NCIS have one?" he asked.

"Director Sheppard tried to have them sign on but they were stopped because that was right before the invasion. They were too busy and rescheduled but never made it back."

The agents shared another look. "We need to look into that. Do you know that mouthy lawyer guy?"

"Harris? Yeah. We met a few times at a club we both enjoy. He guarded me and Abby once. I can rest my concussions over on his couch. Why? Alex is really nice until you get into his face about something or threaten him or someone he's protecting. Or his dogs now."

The agents nodded. "We thought he was Xander."

"That's his twin, the watcher. Xander's the guy in Africa."

"Oh," they said together. "So he's...trained but not doing the work?"

"Retired," Tony said. "Years ago. Then he came here. Went to paralegal school and then regular law school. Now he specializes in business things with a slight side of criminal defense when needed."

The agents walked off together shaking their heads. They had their jobs done better by a *lawyer*. A business lawyer. It was embarrassing. One told their supervisor about that contract problem. He pulled up their names in the system to look at that. There were a lot of agents in possible trouble if they couldn't break those. Including their agents.

***

Xander walked into the community's law firm, handing over something with a wink for the receptionist. "Tony warned them earlier that W&H used to do contract work for the government and various agencies. They're going to be pulling them to see if they have soul contracts. And then panicking when they do." He strolled off. "Lindsay over at the SBA is not happy with your brother's plumbing business. He keeps forgetting to file forms and taxes. We talk about it next week."

"I'll let him know, Alex. Thank you!" She smiled and took that to the senior partners to let them know it may get them more work or it may make someone panic. She could talk to her brother over lunch.

***

Tony came out from winning his suit against NCIS and the FBI much happier. He decided to go to lunch and treat himself. He was on his way to his favorite treat to himself when he ran into a huge problem. Of course, he didn't have a badge or a gun. Well, he had a knife and a gun but he wasn't supposed to step in as an agent. He called it in. Until he saw them pulling on the kid then walked over.

"Hey! Put the kid down!" he ordered. "Before you hurt it!" They dropped the kid and ran away. "Fucking morons!" he muttered. An officer came running. "The male went that way, the female that way," he said with a point. "She's over there with the pink sweater. They were pulling on the kid's arms until I yelled at them to put it down before they hurt it."

"An agent, sir?"

"Former." He looked at the kid. "You okay?" he asked, squatting down. "Hey. Hi. I know it's scary but are you sore? Do you hurt?" The baby just lifted its arms to be cuddled. One of the officers did. "Sure." Tony stood up. "I know nothing about kids," he said quietly. "Beyond that you're not supposed to be pulling on their arms like you're going to pull them off."

"We can check on the cameras. Can you describe the parents?"

Tony looked and pointed. "Pink sweater lady. The dad's....." He looked then pointed. "Had a shirt like green shirt guy but had a mustache that looked fake and his shirt looked more green from where I was. Also lighter jeans." That got a nod. Two officers went to get the mother. She tried to run but the other spectators stopped her.

"He was trying to steal her!" she shouted.

"You two were arguing about money," Tony told her. "Loudly. I heard you across the street, lady." He looked at the kid again. "Need a statement?" he asked the officer holding her. He nodded, letting Tony fill it out for him.

A paramedic came over. "I heard we had a kid being pulled on?" The officer let him see her. "Hey, sweetheart. I'm going to check for booboos. Okay? Do you have a parent?"

"I'm hoping one of the ones pulling on her arms was," Tony admitted, looking over. "Percy."

"DiNozzo?"

"Yup, but not an agent anymore." He grinned. "They tried politics. So I ruined things. They had her by the arms and were pulling while arguing about money. I yelled and they dropped her from about chest height."

"Okay." He checked her arms, finding they were both sore and stiff. Her knees had some bruises but she was about that age to crawl and walk so fall. Only one other bruise on her back and that could have been from them dropping her. "She looks like she might be okay," he said. "We can take her if we need or you guys want to," he told the officer.

"Please. That way we can officially find a parent." He looked at the woman, who was trying to get away again. "Is she the mother?"

"She's my niece! I'm babysitting. My boyfriend tried to snatch her and we were arguing over the money he stole from me."

"Okay, we can start there," the officers decided. "Do you know her mother's number?" She nodded, letting them have her phone. "We can call her to the ER."

"She's getting dental work done today. That's why I'm sitting her." She looked at Tony. "You're mean!"

"To stop you from hurting the kid instead of screaming? If you had yelled, people would've helped you and he probably would've run off." She sulked at that. He looked at the officers, who waved him off. "Have an easier day, guys." He went back to his trek for treats. He needed a better one now. Then he had to go talk to his new professors. They wanted to talk about his experience with the law.

***

Tony smiled as Alex opened his door and let him in to play with the dogs. "My professors said being in law enforcement didn't mean I knew the law."

"Yeah, I got that and then reminded them that they had taught me to be a paralegal not that long before then." He grinned. "They're stuck up sometimes."

"They are. I passed the tests they demanded. So I'm a second year." Alex grinned and hugged him. "Thanks, Alex. Can I bum your notes?"

"Sure. They're in the office."

"Should I not look in case of weapons?"

Alex grinned. "Why would they be in the office, Tony? There's only two swords and the gun I got as a poker debt I was checking over before starting dinner." Tony nodded, going to look for his notes. He came out reading the three-ring binder of second year notes. The dogs hopped up around him to get petted while he read so he alternated which hand held the notebook.

Alex got back to making dinner and feeding the dogs. It was homey. Very homey. Alex almost felt like he had when he had his last temporary boyfriend of three days. The guy had decided he was weird and left to go to some club kid. He went to talk to Tony about the classes he'd be driven nuts by and about formatting for papers. He had taken too long to learn that and had gotten a few lower grades from it.

***

Tony looked at his newest teacher the first day of class when he asked who had experience. The teacher looked at him. "You do, and which one are you?"

"Tony DiNozzo. Yes, I was an officer and detective and then a federal agent at NCIS for years. Fourteen years between the two."

The teacher blinked. "Now you're going into criminal law?" Tony smiled and nodded. "Got injured?"

"Politics. They tried to run me over to not let out stories that I could tell and used politics. So I sued." He smirked a bit. "Now I'll see this from this side."

"I can understand that. Politics is rampant at colleges and a lot of bigger law firms. The rest of you will have to learn how to make a good impression on everyone, even the ones you hate, fairly quickly. Even when you're exhausted. Another word for intern is packmule. You'll be exhausted often."

"Learn how to fake a smile without it looking fake," Tony said. "And learn your caffeine and sleep schedule tolerance. We'll all need it."

The professor looked at him. "NCIS....navy?"

"And Marines," Tony agreed.

"We have two cases that involve your people."

"Cool. I was on the MCR team. Major crime response," he explained at the confused looks. "We handled felony level crimes."

The rest of the kids nodded at that. The teacher smiled at him. "It may be harder for him because he's set in his ways and has to deal with a second set of laws. The military uses their own set of laws."

"UCMJ," Tony quipped. The students moaned. "Only worry about it if you're going into the service. And keep every single paper you get given. Copy the ones you hand over just in case for your own later studying." The professor nodded quickly at that.

One of them looked at him. "Did you get to skip classes?" Tony nodded. "Oh." She pouted. "All of your first year?"

"I had to take orientation and this one."

"Oh." She slumped. "So I'm guessing he's the bar set?"

"No," the professor said. "Not in the least. We expect more from him and will grade him harder. He's got years of experience writing things like reports." He grinned at Tony.

"They talked about the two styles of papers. Which do we use?"

"Legal. It's a mix." He got them all the books to go over. It was a small pamphlet.

"Alex was right, that's a bit different," Tony decided. He grinned at a staring other student. "I have a buddy who's doing business law." That got a nod. "He started as a paralegal and went up."

The professor shook his head. "That's not that uncommon. It happens in nursing and doctors too." He clapped his hands. "This is Research 1. So I'm going to teach you how to read legal codes. It's boring but you have to do it. We all get bored by it. Whoever writes laws writes in Yoda sometimes."

A few giggled at that. "Anyone else have legal experience?" A few had doing something secretarial at a law office so that was great. He went over the parts of a written code and how to cite it, how to read it, how to understand it, twist it, and deconstruct it. They all took notes.

***

Tony came home after his testing for the year and collapsed on his couch. He was groaning but he was exhausted. He felt a warm nose and looked to the right. "Hey, Devil. Why are you here? Did I forget you earlier?"

Alex came out to help Tony sit up and gave him a hug. "I remember the post test headache very well. So I'm lending you a dog tonight for dinner company. Drop him with me tomorrow on your way to class." He smiled. "I ordered you dinner from your Italian place to celebrate it being done."

Tony smirked at that. Alex grinned back. "Just think, the bar is harder." He winked. "Duke's with the vets tonight. He ate a dead thing and then wouldn't quit throwing up. Or else I'd lend you both dogs." He petted his dog. "He's great to cuddle."

"I could go out and party."

"Your usual club to pick up in is shut down thanks to a raid. They had pros." Tony groaned and shook his head. "The college bar is full of twenty-three-year-old kids. And this keeps him from my date tonight, who was the one who gave Duke the dead thing to eat. So I'm going to go commit date homicide probably." He hugged his dog.

"Don't worry, you won't need to bail me out. She's got an international dead or alive warrant." He breezed out, going to cook himself dinner at home while waiting on the girlfriend of the moment. She was very huffy when she got there so he darted her and settled in to eat while staring at her. They'd have a great talk in a little bit. Once he wasn't as angry.

Tony looked at the dog with him, shaking his head. "Your human is weird." He patted himself so Devil jumped up to cuddle. "Quit stressing. Daddy will see you tomorrow. Just like doggy daycare but overnight." He petted the dog to keep him calm. He hadn't really been away from Alex since he had been adopted by him. Or his playmate. Devil liked to stress out so Tony could help him be calm.

He did get up to get dinner from the delivery guy, tipping him. It was the cheapest dinner, only cost him five bucks. Devil padded after him, woofing quietly at the bag. "That's right, it's dinner you can beg for." He settled down with the two dishes, smiling at the scent. "Aww, that's good." He let Devil have a noodle full of cheese sauce and the dog got happier with that treat. Tony could eat, pet the dog, watch a movie, and destress without worrying about college kids. He was that talented.

***

Alex was at a conference, mostly to hear about new laws and learn how to start a political movement to make things better in the world, when people with guns stomped in. He sighed, staring at the guy in the lead. "Stephen, why are you taking lawyers hostage?" he asked, walking over.

"I'm not, Alex. I'm here to guard you. Xander sent me to get me out of the way of a threat that he thinks will show up here this weekend."

"Hmm. The Gozer wannabe?"

"Some woman...not supernaturally related though."

"Oh, *her*." He nodded, leading him to the security office. "Guys, can you show him the pictures of the one I inconvenienced in the closet for being a murderous cunt?" They did that and Stephen snorted but shook his head. "Not her?"

"No, she's bad and I know agents who'd *love* to hear about her arrest. Most of them are in Zimbabwe." The security guys smiled. "We don't mean to alarm anyone but his twin sent me to guard him from something." He let them see it.

Alex took it to stare at. "Oh, her." He nodded with a grimace. He handed it back. "She'd run from the technical things and I didn't plan on really leaving the hotel." He looked at his twin's boyfriend. "Is this something like the one single time I felt him be so injured I felt compelled to go to Africa? I basically woke up in Africa to a soldier giving me horrified looks."

"Probably," Stephen said dryly. "So apparently we're supposed to guard each other this weekend."

"Okay, sure. I won't even flirt with your security team. Or you of course since you're my twin's boyfriend." He patted him on the arm. "I'm going to go learn how to start a political action group." He grinned. "Make your guys less panicking."

"Boys, calm down, watch for the target, watch for other targets since they like Alex like they do Xander." His team nodded. "Be subtle if you can. These are lawyers so therefore smart but assholes." They went to more civilian guarding status and hid some of the weapons, going to follow Alex around.

Stephen went to be his bodyguard and attend the seminars with him. It was boring as hell but he did learn how to organize communities to work together toward a common goal, usually a socially conscious one. It was weird but then again Alex was a lawyer. Xander would've fallen asleep with him during some of them. Though Alex asked good questions.

***

"Dortmyer," Alex called up a street, waving at her. "C'mere please? Xander sent you a message." She strolled over. "You freaked my twin out a lot," he said once she was closer. "His message was to stop it before he had to sic something on you again." She grimaced at that reminder. "And that your daughter's apparently stalking *me* and not him?" He waved a hand at Stephen. "I've had some great time being surrounded by hotty guys that I can't flirt with but I doubt they'd let me go date Stephanie."

The assassin pouted. "She's a good girl, Alex."

"I know that. I remember that from our single date last year when she got upset that I'm not like a more civilized Tarzan like Xander is according to her." He gave her a pointed look. "So why is she trying to come back into my bedroom?"

"You're probably as good as you twin."

"I'm better. I learned how to get my woo on." He looked smug. "That's why I've had three stalkers from ex's." She took a kiss and he made her beg for it by pulling her hair back. He broke the kiss. "Like Xander, your poisoned lipstick won't work on me, Belinda." He smirked a bit. "But it was great of you to try to audition to be my next crazy girlfriend."

He let her go, stepping back. "You worried Xander so much he sent his boyfriend to guard me." She purred at that thought. "No, we're not sharing. Stephen would die of all the fabulousness of us being in bed together," he said dryly. "So, we have a problem with your daughter."

"I'm sure she's not going to take the contract to kill you, Alex."

"That'd be a first for a woman that hits on me," he said sarcastically. She nodded that was true. "Still....." The agents waiting and watching came to arrest her. "I don't want to play that sort of game. Bad cop in an interview maybe if I get to hold the handcuffs but not turn the assassin. Though I have turned a few assassins."

He smirked. "Have fun talking to them. I think Paulo's somewhere in town." She went pale. "And you know I made him happy enough to stay with me for six weeks." He waved with a grin. "Have a great weekend, Belinda."

"Fine. I'll go with the agents. They can fight Paulo for me." She let herself be led off. "I'll tell the daughter she can't kill you."

"Already got her under arrest too," Stephen said happily with his own wave. "You two can have a family reunion in jail." He patted Alex on the shoulder to keep him from rushing over to stop the other lover who was stomping over. "Don't interfere. I want to see this one."

She caught sight of him and groaned. "Let me go!" she demanded. "Before he takes you all out." They got her into the car but she managed to get free of the cuffs in time to go stop her ex-husband Paulo from taking out the agents so he could have another fight with her about their kids.

Alex walked over. "People. Stephanie's where she's heading, Paulo. She decided I was fun for some reason." His ex winced at that. "I thought maybe they could get her some help."

"She could use it! You are fun, but too hard to dirty up. Not at all girlfriend material, Alex."

"There's a demon who wants me to be his queen who'd disagree with that."

The assassins looked at him then huffed and tried to walk away but the agents got them both arrested and into separate cars so they could talk to them both. Alex waved with a grin. Stephen came over to control him before he went after them both to beat them to death for this stunt. Stephen looked at Alex, shaking his head. "Thankfully no one challenges me for Xander's hand in bed."

"Only kidnaps him?" Alex quipped.

"True, I tried to forget about that. What is he facing this weekend?"

"Two ascensions together. They're *soulmates* to hear them speak of it." Stephen moaned but nodded. "And then a possible battle because it's auspicious. The girls are going to one in New York."

"Charming." He walked Alex off, taking him to get the dogs and go home. Xander was definitely the lower maintenance one of the twins and the less sarcastic one. It was easier to hang out with Xander than it was with Alex; he had clearly picked the right twin for his needs and wants.

***

Xander smiled as his boyfriend walked back into his camping area. "Alex okay?"

"He's very boring," Stephen said, then winced. "I mean....he's good at what he does. He befuddled a few people's minds, easily unfortunately, but he's never does anything but work and play with his dogs."

"He does need a date," Xander said dryly. "Did you stop that thing that wanted him?"

"And the one who wanted him to be his queen." He flopped down, staring at Xander. "He really needs to find something else in his life."

"He's retired. He doesn't get to have all the thrilling things we get." He looked up then at him. "General Kamden wondered where you were. I told him you were guarding my very normal twin."

"Yes, I saw his third-in-command, who tried to come kidnap Alex." He smirked a bit. "Pity about him being hurt, a lot, and then arrested. Alex looked up from something he was working on and snorted at his whining about not capturing him to make you do what the general wants." He looked Xander over. "You're injured," he stated.

With the way Xander was sitting, the way he was wearing such baggy clothes, he was clearly injured. That and he was padded around the center so he was either bloated, injured, or pregnant. "By the way, Willow showed up." He rolled his eyes.

"She wanted to check her oldest friend's boyfriend. Alex walked off rolling his eyes most epically. I thought his eyes might not come back down," he finished sarcastically. "So is that a bandage or did she make you pregnant already? She's promised when we want kids, she can do that for us."

Xander stared at him oddly. "I'd kill her. Immediately. Then go sob on the slayers to help me guard whatever horror she made me pregnant with." Stephen grinned at that. "Yeah, I got a few scale cuts from the ascensions and then two grazes from another thing that happened before the battle. I nearly missed the battle for getting those cleaned up. But your ex-girlfriend would say hi I'm sure if she was able to talk through the broken jaw."

"You hit her?"

"No. Petry was there and hit her for trying to flirt with me first. She's with him. Or was with him. They had the mother of all domestics about her flirting with me. Which is why she shot at me, to prove she was only trying to ruin me."

Stephen grimaced. "I'm going to have a talk with both of them. Petry knows better." He got up to check Xander's injuries. It was like foreplay for them sometimes. That and handling the weapons before battles. Xander let him with a sigh but he was pleased his boyfriend cared enough to fuss at him.

***

Alex leaned into the office of the head of the United States Demonic Council. "I have a wacky idea." The secretary was looking a bit weirded out and worried. "What if we start a push to make a law that says 'every being is equal under the law'? That'll include everyone. It shouldn't be too controversial. It'd help with some of the racial disparity we've seen."

The secretary nodded slowly. "People will complain no matter what because it came from one of the community, Harris."

He grinned. "We can start it with someone else. Get them to head it. It's something that should be stated but isn't."

"Someone will still complain about demons and legal things."

"That's PR problems."

"True. We've been working on that for years." She frowned. "I can suggest it to the boss, Harris. How would you even do that? It'd have to be an amendment level law."

"Political action committee, grass roots movements?"

"Point. I'll breach it with him."

"Great!" He grinned. "The DA that kept having people arrested for being demons quit because his wife was found to have taken up with an incubus to piss him off." He winked and left to go to work.

She went to tell her boss that news. He could decide if it was politically a sound move to make for the whole community. It seemed to be something that shouldn't need to be said but it could end a few problems for the ones being persecuted.

***

Alex looked at that same bigoted judge, this time over someone else's problems. "Your Honor, must we keep meeting this way? I still have no idea why those officers decided to make themselves more work when they're ignoring actual crimes going on. This one was simply grocery shopping. He wasn't trying to shoplift.

"He had to run out to the car to grab his wallet and left the cart near a register with a word for the cashier. The thing she thought he was stealing was actually his egg. Thankfully his wife could claim said egg before the ones over on the other side of the room destroyed it," he finished sarcastically.

He looked over there, seeing the glares. "Also, I know they're supposedly pro-life but they were arrested and beaten a lot for trying to tear down a nursery and preschool center for the community.

"I know I beat one of them pretty badly. They were with that priest that's been talked about non-stop on certain channels." He smiled at them. "I'm not sure if they're even supposed to be on their jobs since supposedly they were suspended for that."

The judge rubbed his eyebrow. "I'd like to never see you again, Mr. Harris. Especially for things like this." He looked at the file. "The cashier called on him?"

"For carrying his egg in a carrier on his chest," Alex said with a nod. "He came back in and store security stopped him, looked at the egg, groaned, and let him check out. Then three officers showed up to arrest him for buying groceries for his family."

"They lay eggs?"

"His species does. They're distantly related to ducks." He smiled at the guy then at the judge. "They're very honest people, and usually very law abiding."

"Why do they lay eggs?"

"Some species have primate style births, some lay eggs, some give birth like marsupials." Alex shrugged. "That's how their people evolved. Why is him having an egg any more weird than a kangaroo having a worm looking baby in a pouch or us having them inside our bodies?"

"I....well, that makes some sense but most people are more used to how humans give birth so we find it a bit weird. Though many find kangaroos weird too I guess. Is there a species like that?"

"There's three planes with species that do the pouch thing," Alex said with a nod. "All but one is very peaceful. They're a warrior clan that has kept despots out of their people for over three millennia."

"Do they look like kangaroos?"

"No, the only species I know of that does are pets, and they're bonded to their owners. If their owner tries to rehome them or dies, they die of it too."

"Interesting." He nodded, making that note for himself. "All right, so they arrested him for paying for his groceries?"

"Apparently," Alex agreed. "When they searched him and he kept them from throwing the egg at the ground to intentionally kill it, they didn't find anything he was trying to sneak out. He had a half-roll of certs in his pocket but it was his with how it had been used."

The judge nodded, looking at the officers. "Do you have any excuse for any of that?"

"He's not normal!" the lead officer complained, pointing at them. "No one accepts that stuff!"

"Some of us are tolerant," Alex shot back. "The town I grew up in had a lot of peaceful beings who were hiding there because they looked a bit weird. The hellmouth in Sunnydale had twice as many non-humans as humans and only ten percent of them were dangerous. Mostly vampires." Alex stared at him. "Every being is equal under the law and yet you've proven a few times that you're into prejudice against anyone who isn't you." He looked at the judge again.

"Everyone should be equal under the law," the judge agreed. "Though that's not stated and is in fact stated against that theory."

"Then they made a few constitutional amendments to stop that," Alex said.

"Point." The judge looked at the person then at the officers. "Was there any proof he had shoplifted anything?" They growled but shook their heads. "Mr. Harris, is he a good citizen?"

"He's got a job that many would not appreciate," Alex admitted. "But someone's got to keep down the bad in the community if the local slayer's not available."

"So he's a hunter?" the judge asked.

Alex looked at his client, who nodded. "I am. My clan is called when there's an attempt to upset the community by outing things or someone trying a takeover move."

Alex shrugged at the judge. "So he's a slayer but not a girl. I kinda fit into that myself if something happens in front of me."

"A few wanted us to take you out for outing Wolfram and Hart," the client admitted.

Alex smirked at him. "They came after me." He looked at the judge again, blocking the hit at him and glaring at the client. "Want to meet me in a battle ring?" The demon shook his head quickly, backing down. Alex smiled at the judge. "I outed a demonic law firm that works for the wrong side and does neat things like human sacrifices for power; they're the reason that the judge you interned with died."

The judge rubbed his eyebrow again. "He was?"

"Not me," the client said. "But yes, Wolfram and Hart were behind that order. He was going to butt into the community's ability to self govern."

Alex shrugged. "I've known people who fought them since the year I graduated high school, Your Honor. They're evil. They're behind the invasion of LA. So of course I stepped back when they tried to get into my face."

The judge nodded but was smiling. "Nice work from what I heard."

"Thank you. I was about to try to claim their status in the demon courts but Connor out in LA had more right to it."

The demon client looked at him oddly. "Why would you?"

Alex looked at him. "Because sometimes I or my twin need to handle things." He smirked at him. "The same as I have been since I got to DC."

"Oh." He slumped but grimaced, almost pouting.

Alex smiled at the judge. Who was shaking his head but looked amused. "So can my client go home to baby his egg, Your Honor?"

"I suppose as there's no evidence he was going to shoplift." He signed the order and let the guy go free. "Mr. Harris, must we keep meeting this way?"

"Whenever I'm hired to handle this," he assured him happily. "Make them stop it and we only have to see each other at the lawyer bars when someone in the SBA or Homeland annoy me over some demon's company."

"If I could make them stop it, I would, Harris. They're giving me a lot more work too."

"Then enforce that everyone's equal under the law," Alex said with a smile. The judge stared at him. "State it legally so they can challenge it and lose."

"Is that a push?"

"I'm starting a PAC to make it one. I learned how to community organize." He smirked like a politician. "Someone's got to work between the USDC and the US Congress."

The judge shuddered and shook his head. "I wish you much luck with that, Mr. Harris. It could use being done." He stared at him. "Politics later in your life?"

"Probably not unless I have to so everyone's protected. I mean, there's some crackhead that saw into another realm where I was the president but I'm not looking toward that here." He smiled again.

The judge just nodded once. Then looked at the other side. "You realize you're pushing him to make plans, right?" They groaned and sat back down. "If you keep doing this, it just makes him want to be more politically savvy. Someday he'll become president if you keep pushing him." They all shuddered at that. "Exactly. So stop it. That way he has to calm down." They nodded, stomping off almost pouting. He smiled at Harris. "You're going to drive us nuts."

"Only if I have to, though I reserve that for people I *really* like. Who have been deadly mostly." He shrugged but grinned. The judge shook his head quickly but signed the order to let that one go and went to talk to the other judges about that idea and the future PAC. If they could make Harris quit having to act to protect others...they'd all get some free afternoons.

Alex looked at the demon. "Let's get you home to your egg."

"Thank you, Harris." He went to get unarrested. Plus tell others about what Harris was doing. They all thought Xander was the annoying one among the twins.

***

Alex looked at the man in his office doorway. "What can I do for you?" he asked, waving a hand at his guest chair. "Are you having a problem with a business matter?"

"We wanted to look at some demonic body systems for our zoology program, Mr. Harris."

"I can put you in touch with the community but I can't really give you that sort of information myself." He blinked a few times. "There's healers, have you talked to them about that sort of material? They have to learn it so they probably have the textbooks handy."

"I hadn't thought of that," he admitted. "I know you've been busy in Africa."

"That's my twin," Alex said with a smile. "I'm retired from all that unless it happens in front of me or threatens me. Or tries to end the world. I'd hate to never have decent Thai food again." He grinned. "I can definitely put up in touch with the healers to see if they can loan you books or even maybe draw up what you need to use to teach others."

"Is the community going to allow that?"

"That would be up to them. The USDC, the Demonic Congress, hasn't put out anything on that subject for the overall communities in the US. They probably would defer to the healers' wants on that. Though I know they have been mad that emergency rooms won't treat certain groups."

"I hadn't thought about that." Alex nodded, looking up a number on his computer then handing it over. "Oh, they're close to the college."

Alex nodded. "They're the head healers in the area. They have the research team too. They're the ones that throw the conferences and all that."

"That's actually probably what I need then. Thank you, Mr. Harris." He shook his hand and left.

"Have a great day," Alex called after him. He sent the healers an email about that and him having given that professor their phone number, email, and the business office's address. That way any patients weren't endangered. He left it there and made a note for his boss that he had referred them to someone more capable of handling that problem.

"Harris," his boss called.

Alex got up and went up there. "What's up, Boss?"

"Why are you speaking on behalf of the USDC?"

"I'm not."

"You were noted as talking about a community group?"

"Which isn't just about them. It'd stop a lot of the other hate crimes and it would also mean that those corporate bastards that buy their way out of trouble can't." He leaned on the doorway, his arms crossed. "Stating all beings are equal under the law means that racially, species, and gender are all covered for everyone. I also noted I was going to start community organizing among everyone, not just the peaceful community."

"Okay," he said. "That's simplistic."

"Sometimes the simple things are meaningful. It's not stated in the law. It's assumed. We've seen assumptions overturned repeatedly by the courts. We have amendments that stated it kind of. This would wrap all those together nicely and would give people a way to enforce certain laws equally."

"That's a pipe dream. Especially about the ultra rich."

"Probably but it gives the DOJ an added tool."

He considered it, leaning back. "Did you tell anyone at the USDC?"

"I leaned into Stephanie's office to talk to her assistant."

"That's nice. The judge?"

"The biggest uneven judge in the city? That's why those sort use him to try to get demons in trouble."

"I've heard." He stared at him. "You go to the law bars?"

"When I seriously need a drink thanks to the SBA and Homeland," Alex said dryly. "It's the closest bar to their offices. Not like I want to drink and I'll keep myself down to one drink in that sort of situation so I don't look like my father was."

The boss nodded at that. "I always thought you went to the hip clubs."

"At night sometimes." He grinned. "My sort of bad girls don't frequent those though. Oh, and if Homeland shows up about the last date, she's in Daytona this week. I already slipped a note to the agents I've worked with. They all realize that no good person is drawn to either of us Harrises." He let out a smug look at the person behind him. "Hey, Patricia."

"Did you date again?"

"Last week. She's in Daytona."

"Charming. Is she a thief like the last one?"

"Political assassin." She sighed but nodded. "What do you think about starting a full DC community wide push to start a law stating everyone's equal under the law? Stated as every being. Human and not."

She considered it, then shrugged. "Sounds simple and it'd probably go to the courts but others would probably appreciate it. The peaceful community might not like it so much but it'd be handy to defend themselves." She walked off. "Let me know how your organizing is going."

"I will." He looked at his boss, who was rolling his eyes. "I did take lessons in how to community organize."

"You're still weird, Harris."

Alex grinned. "You know, someone in the healers saw across the realms to see if any Xander was normal. She found one that was president of his US." The higher up looked horrified at that. Alex grinned. "Thankfully not in my plans. Or the one that was in the agency that became the enforcing wall between humanity and the peaceful communities. He made sure it was legal, ethical, and ran the slayers too." He smirked as he walked off.

"Shit," his boss muttered. "If you're going to run for office, quit first," he called after him.

"I don't want to do that, boss. I feel very sorry for the one over there."

"I feel sorry for that world," he muttered, telling the other higher ups in the law firm and the ones he knew on the USDC. They found out who had scried, had her do it in front of them so they could see it, and were stunned that he was good at it but horrified that Xander Harris, any Xander Harris, was the president of the US. It was a good threat to use against their enemies.

***

Alex showed up in an airport, going through their customs desk. He smiled at the horrified looking agent. "You probably met my twin Xander. Right?" he asked with a smile. She nodded and shuddered. "I'm in visiting him." She stamped his passport and let him leave the airport but she did warn her supervising agents.

Alex went to the courthouse, going to check on his twin. The officers glared. He smiled and held up his ID. "You're not him?" one demanded.

"No, I'm his twin. I'm also his personal lawyer." He beamed. "And for Stephen if he's in here too." The officer backed away shaking his head. He went to check on his twin, who looked bad. "Did they do that to you? Because that's illegal even by their laws. Thankfully I've finally gotten an international law license to help you and the girls." He leaned on the bars, staring at his twin. "Did you find corruption and they wanted to shut you up or did you try to prevent something before it happened?"

"Both." Xander walked over. "Giles is trying."

"That's who told me." He smirked at the staring officer, who was shuddering. "So, let's get this started." He looked at his twin again. "What did you do?" Xander told him in his ear, getting a nod. "Sounds reasonable." He walked off to talk to the officers, who hated him already by the looks they were giving.

"I can let that one prove himself. If he's in his last phase he's immortal. If he's human he probably doesn't have any sort of healing gift. You can cut him on a limb in a non-fatal way to prove that. As long as it's about a hundred days before he changes."

"The eclipse is in one-hundred-three-days," an officer said. "We still can't release your twin."

"Thankfully I'm the lawyer of the two of us." Alex grinned. The officer shuddered. "With an international certification. I made sure in case my twin ran into just such a problem. Or the slayers." He looked around. "I haven't seen Stephen. Is he not here yet?"

"He's in Nairobi," that officer said, staring at him. "We have heard about how you came to be."

"The redheaded witch got panicky before graduation? Yeah. But since then I've done a lot of things. Including retired from the Council before I beat the living shit out of a few of them." He looked back at Willow, who was pale. "You needed something, Willow?"

"We came to bail Xander out?"

"He's not being offered bail," the officer noted.

"I can get that changed through a judge," Alex chirped. The officers all shuddered. "Unless that's the one that's turning? I heard it was a president but I know he may not be the only one who wants that power."

"No, the president told the judge not to grant bail."

"We can ask again," Alex said happily. "Because if he's not there you guys have to handle all your own problems." He grinned. They groaned at that. "Exactly. So let me start a petition to get him released to home arrest." He walked off to do that, pulling out his laptop to type on.

Willow swallowed. "Are you evil?" she demanded quietly.

He smirked at her. "Only when I have to be because my twin's in trouble. Haven't figured that out yet?" She squeaked and left. He hummed, going back to it. "She tried to babyfy my twin recently. And turned him into a girl for a few hours. And a cat once. I was not pleased." The listening officers went the other way because they didn't want to deal with it. Any of this situation.

***

Alex was still there for the ascension attempt. He even had some weapons. They had tried to stop him too. They couldn't arrest him because they had no evidence he had done anything at all beyond going to his hotel room and helping his twin with his legal defense or calling Tony to talk to his dogs.

They had tried to beat him once and hadn't liked what had happened when he had pulled out a collapsible rod and beaten them into the ER that night. They really wanted to stop him from ending their people's issue. He sighed and aimed at the guy doing the changing chant. The officers around him were trying not to watch.

The guy almost managed it but failed at the last minute, changing into something else. "Awww. He failed." He fired on it anyway, making it go up in a large gout of flame. "Pity. Loser." He made sure the new demon was dead from the fire before looking at the ones around him. He waved at the staring people. "My twin's still locked up. Of course I'm helping him."

He glared at the staring judge. Who was also trying to change. "Go ahead. I'm waiting. I have patience, unlike Xander." The man tried to run as he changed but got tripped by his human clothes tearing and tangling in his legs. The military got him down and killed. Alex looked at the officers. "Can my brother go free now?"

"The judge said he could earlier," one said quietly. "He's headed for an emergency room."

"You're going to be lucky if I don't sue your people on his behalf for all that." He strolled off. They tried to get him but he could fight that off. Including the new graze by Stephen. "He's in the ER, Stephen. I'm going to sue them for that shit." He finished walking off. He'd deal with his twin's boyfriend in a bit. "Let me go baby my twin." He glared at Stephen, who shrank away from him. "Good idea."

He got Xander out of the hospital, back to his house that night, and did indeed sue the hell out of those people. Every single named one on the records, all the police department, the two prisoners they had beat his twin, everyone. When someone tried to turn it down he added additional evidence and went to the press there. They weren't happy with their president or judge. Or the third one trying it that had also failed but had mostly stayed human. The peaceful community had ended that attempt themselves.

***

Xander answered the door, staring at the nice looking guy on the other side. "Alex is in the bathroom for about ten minutes. I forgot how to make microwave nachos and it upset his belly. He's too delicate these days." He let him in. "I'm guessing you're his coworker?"

"Someday. I'm Tony." He smiled and shook the hand held out. "I know you're his twin."

"I barely remember seeing you when he was in the hospital."

Alex came out shaking his head. "It wasn't your cooking, it was the ranch dressing." He hugged Tony. "Come to play with the dogs?"

"That too. My teacher's a bitch." He settled in on the couch with the dogs, letting them come play with him. He'd had them while Alex was helping his twin. "Someone FBI wanted me to ask you what you were doing over there, Alex."

"My beloved evil half was being his lawyer self and then he blew the hell out of the president I got arrested for trying to stop from sacrificing babies," Xander said dryly.

Tony patted him on the shoulder. "It's good he did get stopped. Are you okay?"

"Mostly. Though I'm not sure where my twin got that weapon?"

Alex grinned. "Weapons fairy." He grinned at Tony, who was rolling his eyes. "What? Sometimes they visit me instead of him." He shrugged but made them some coffee. "Milk, Tony?"

"Please." He came in to fix his own cup and went back to play with the dogs some more.

Alex brought out things for him and his twin, settling in his chair. "Why else did you come over? Because all teachers are bitches as far as I could tell."

"Mine for Torts is being an epic dumbass of galactic proportions."

"Is he an alien?" Xander asked, looking happy. "The only one of those I've met was really stupid too. He tried to tell me I was just a human and we were weak."

Alex shook his head. "No comment about the one downtown." He sipped his coffee when Tony gave him an odd look. He grinned at the continued staring. "No. Comment."

"Is he a danger to the US?" Tony asked finally.

"He's still breathing," Alex said. Xander burst out giggling, nodding at that. "Is yours?"

"Went home before I let the sixteen succuba I summoned have him. They agreed, he looked sour and had backed up energies. He wasn't even good enough to be a comic book villain. I was so disappointed at what aliens were like."

Tony patted him on the arm. "It could've been a political level one."

"Oh, he probably was. He was wearing something like velvet and silk. Really decorated jacket that looked like he had watched a Beatles movie." He flapped a hand and took a sip of his coffee. "So damn boring." He looked at his twin. "Is my boyfriend still around?"

"They called in his debts for trying to shoot me after I dealt with that presidential idiot." He grinned. "I think he's alive but you'll have to go ask for him back."

Xander sighed but nodded. "He was mostly good to me but started to think I was weak."

"Well, he probably doesn't think you are now," Alex said cheerfully, grinning at him. "They've showed him exactly what you've done. He apparently missed some stuff."

"On purpose," Xander shot back.

Alex grinned at him. "Pity."

"Fuck." Devil barked at him. "I know, your daddy probably doesn't have to swear at too many people."

"Bullshit. I work against the government. I swear at a lot of people and they're happy when I'm venting instead of suing." He smirked. "I did get a bit meaner than usual for one that's had repeated problems. I pointed out they were better to two groups of assassins than they were this guy who shipped pork products."

He sipped his coffee. "They're not amused with me. I think I may be banned from the building. Again." He grinned at Tony. "They hate it when I have to show up. They'll call a meeting in a few days then get really mad that they've banned me from the building and send someone else who'll swear at them for me."

"I think I want to stay criminal law," Tony decided, petting the dogs again. They were happy with his petting. It was nice to be liked for something good. "Did you talk to my last girlfriend, Alex?"

"She called me to warn me to leave you alone because knowing me would tank your future career. I laughed and hung up on her."

"Ah, that one. No, Gretchen."

"Assassin lady I dated last year?" Alex quipped. "Yes, I did. She had a contract out on you too but wanted to see if you lived up to gossip." Tony stared at him. He grinned and sipped his coffee. "It was so nice she got so tired she begged for some help to get free of my tongue and fingers." Xander snickered, shaking his head.

"Seriously, called her bestie, who's a secretary on the Hill and she just joined in to spare her killing little girlfriend. They both came out to agents in the morning because someone was tracking one of the ladies. He stared at me so I shrugged and said I was protecting you by diverting her attention. Then I went to get breakfast and go shower."

Tony shook his head with a sigh, staring at the dogs. "Is that why Calibra called me to tell me she was sorry to have tossed me over?"

"Maybe. Not sure. That one said her name was Helen."

"Oh, her." He nodded once. "She was uptight."

"Until I made her squeal. Loudly. Then she cried that she had given up all those wild things to become respectable. The girls hugged, I cuddled, then I diverted the assassin again. Her bestie joined in."

Tony sighed again. "Thanks."

"Welcome. I left a message on your voicemail."

"Yeah, my phone got tapped."

"Which is illegal," Xander quipped.

Tony looked at him. "They may have a secret warrant."

"Look it up yet?" Alex asked.

"I don't have access."

"I do. I won some." He waved a hand, letting Tony go use his computer to look that up. Since they heard Tony swearing at someone, he guessed it was idiots in the government again. Alex answered the phone. "Yes, Willow?" he asked patiently.

"Did Xander get released for real? There's talk about calling him back about all that."

"I managed to stop him from sacrificing the babies but he went around it," Xander said. "And yes, they released me to go get medical treatment. I'm not under anything saying I have to stay there, Willow." He looked up then sighed and petted the dogs again. "I can check later when I call my girls."

"You could come home."

"Cleveland isn't home and I hate that hellmouth. It hates me just as much," he said patiently. "Or don't you remember it opening up and staying open for four days until I could get out of the city?"

"Oh, that," she said, sounding like she was pouting. "Giles would like to see you."

"I'm in DC. He can get here. I'm sure he can call Alex to find a restaurant we can meet up at or in the park over hotdogs, whatever."

"Oh. Okay. I'll let him know. Be safe. I know Alex is retired so probably hiring guards or something."

Alex snorted. "Not likely. The only ones who want me dead locally are Wolfram and Hart or a few officers who I have to keep fighting for arresting peaceful community members. Maybe someone at the Small Business Association because I've exposed the bigots over there who're causing problems." He sipped his coffee.

"But you're retired."

"And if something happens in front of me I'll handle a bitch," Alex said dryly. "The same as you would. Well, maybe not the same way but I'd still handle it." He waved at the phone. "Night." He hung up, looking at Xander.

"Did she really say she'd make me pregnant?"

"Yeah. Stephen nearly decked her for it." He grinned. His twin smirked back. "She also offered to rechange you into a girl."

"No, I don't like that idea." They shared a grin and got comfy with the dogs. "What if they come after the furry kids?"

"I'll go so thrill kill they'll never find all the parts," Alex said simply. "Especially if it's Wolfram and Hart. They tried once and I spent the next day disabling their mechanisms for political power. Did Giles note the favor owing politicians in Congress yet?"

"Not to me. He may have not seen it."

"Point." He nodded slightly. "I can make sure they hear more widely than around DC. It is an election year in a year." They shared an other grin.

Tony came out. "Yes, Sheppard is still trying."

"Isn't she nearly dead of something?"

"No clue? Haven't seen the witch," Tony said dryly.

"No, that's in Cleveland," Xander said. "She offered to change me into a girl or make me pregnant for my boyfriend."

Tony stared at him. "Really?" They nodded. "That's fucked up," Tony decided then sighed. "I've got L3 tests next week. I can't believe it's been a year."

Xander grinned at him. "You'll ace them better than Alex did."

"Yeah, a few things I can answer in my sleep," he admitted, sitting down and getting a dog in his lap. "Hey, Duke." He petted him slowly while thinking. "I can probably do something about her."

Alex grinned at him. "Use the politics against her, Tony."

"I hate doing that."

"So do I but sometimes you gotta just let it go so you can stand back and smirk while things fall apart around them."

"Point. That is pretty," Tony said.

Xander snickered quietly. "I enjoy watching that too. There's a few who've done that to themselves by not letting me handle things." The twins shared a grin and Alex went to make snacks and more coffee. Xander looked at Tony. "So, are you two...." He swished his hand in the air.

"No. He's a good friend but we're not together, Xander."

"Someone wanted me to have you when you ran for office," Alex said. "Be your politically savvy wife."

"I've stopped two plots to make you and whoever you were with at the time screw like succuba in heat," Xander said.

Alex looked at him. "I stopped one by pointing out I only have the dogs here usually. Was yours from the Succuba Guild?"

"No. Though one was. They think you're not fun."

"I'm not for them. They can't eat off me." He brought over the cheesy garlic bread and more coffee. "Lunch." They dug in and nibbled while working over the current plots in their lives. They all had plots to defeat. Maybe they could solve each other's.

***
Part 6 by Voracity2
Xander walked up to someone a few days later. "I'm going to butt in so my twin doesn't have to play politics." He smiled.

The agent stared at him. "You're the watcher twin, right?"

"Yup, sure am." He beamed and nodded. "And there's a few plots against my twin and against that nice guy Tony he knows. Including some cranky woman sort who thinks she's going to own him for not doing what she wants. I'd hate for her to make the plan that she has to sex drug them and make them fuck come into being. I mean, I stopped the succuba doing that."

The agent blinked a few times. "What woman?"

"Sheppard something or other?"

"Is she the one who fired DiNozzo?"

"Yeah." Xander nodded with a grin. "Yeah, that's his name. They're going over strategies for the L3 tests he's got next week while playing with the dogs. This is after Wolfram and Hart tried to get the dogs last night. Pity about them. And the mess someone had to clean up. I'm pretty glad I've got stuff in storage up here."

He smiled at the paleness that was starting. "Can you guys maybe protect my twin for me? Because I don't want Alex to go into evil queen mode. There's already one demon who thinks he'll make a great queen for him but Alex isn't that sort of empress of evil."

"Yeah, I can pass that along."

"Great." He snapped his fingers. "By the way, Alex and Tony came up with this to hand to whoever that woman thing is." He handed it over from his back pocket. "Apparently her plots are annoying them and Alex is teaching his buddy how to be the evil empress that even Ming the Merciless would bow before. He's almost all the way past Power Rangers villain today."

"Ooooh. My kids watch that," he muttered, looking at the form. "Oh, dear."

"Oh, yeah. They've been doing things like blocking his email and voicemail so he didn't get messages from his professors."

"Crap. I'll have someone hand that to her, Mr. Harris."

"Thanks!" He grinned. "I'm getting some nice donuts on my way back to Africa. Alex let my boyfriend be taken by someone for being an ass to him recently so I have to go rescue him before they decide he's a fun slave." He sighed. "Donut shop is this way?"

"Around the corner to the left, Mr. Harris." He pointed. "Thank you."

"Welcome. Have fun. He will be. He's even wearing fancy clothes and silk boxers to make him happy while he does it. Buffy taught us to have the perfect outfit for things."

The agent shuddered. "I'll tell someone." He went to tell his boss, who was not happy! Especially with the idea that Alex Harris was wearing clothes that made him sexually happy while making plots against the problems and plots in his and his friend's life. The supervising agent sent the paperwork over with a junior agent who could duck if she shot at them. Then he went to spread gossip. DC lived on scandals and gossip.

***

Tony answered his phone after his last class of the semester. "DiNozzo." He listened. "You're full of shit, Director Sheppard. I'm not going to rejoin NCIS to guard you for any reason. You tried to have me killed." He hung up and sighed, going to email someone from the computer lab. McGee would need warned before she pulled him in.

In NCIS, McGee looked at his email then at Gibbs. "The former director tried to get Tony to guard her on some sort of mission."

Gibbs blinked a few times. "What?" McGee forwarded it so he could read it. "That makes no sense."

"Sounds like she's trying to get him again?"

"Maybe," Gibbs said, sending back an email to Tony to be careful. There was no telling what sort of plot this was.

***

Alex pulled up beside Tony, opening the other door and nodding. So he got in and went with him. "You okay?"

"Yeah, she showed up and tried to kidnap me at gunpoint." He frowned. "She said only I could guard her. I pointed out she wanted Gibbs, not me as I'm not an agent right now thanks to her." He rubbed his forehead. "I had her arrested."

Alex nodded. "Good. She needs it." He pulled up in front of a doctor's office. "Go get that blood pressure checked? You're red."

Tony looked at himself in the visor mirror then groaned and went inside to have his doctor check him over. Thankfully it didn't take that long. Alex drove him to a pharmacy too. "This is not how I wanted to end this school year."

"Me either. My law firm's in talks with another one to buy them to be joined in unholy union. So I may be starting my own office."

"Well, you can afford that."

"Yeah. And the one who tried to get into it was very sorry. I'm getting the rest back or I'm going to destroy them." He grinned at Tony. Then looked at the road again. "Tonight probably. Want to dog sit?"

"That's calming, I can do that. Thanks, Alex."

"Welcome." They paused to get Tony's new blood pressure pill then back to Alex's house so Alex could go destroy a law firm. Again. This time he wasn't going to be quite as nice. He wasn't going to go full on Xander but he was going to be a bitch they didn't want to try again. Even if they tried to laugh at him for it. Until he pulled out his status and beat one of the higher ups, thereby taking his status too.

They transferred his money back to him that night and he shut down all the offices. The three higher demons showed up but he had weapons. Xander's weapons but still weapons. Alex smiled at his mess. "I'm surprised Cordy isn't here being a cheerleader for that," he told the mess he had made. "Hmm. Hope she's having a happy night." He turned around to find a slayer there. "Hey, Faith." He grinned. "They decided to try shit against me."

She looked around him at the mess then at him. "What were they?"

"Wolfram and Hart's top three. I've got to go gather all my new status points and things. Wanna help?"

"Sure, I guess. As long as I don't have to walk over human remains." She looked at the mess as they walked past it. "Gross."

"I bummed from Xander." He grinned. "But no more big problems from the evil law firm. Remind me to break their soul storage device too."

"I can definitely do that." They went in to gather all the little parts they had claimed from clients. Alex did tip over the soul holding device, then kicked it until it broke for good. A lot of people got the feeling of relief once he was done. He gathered a last few, looking at them and handing her some. She had to use her shirt to hold them all. He walked out with his chosen few. "Get the rest, Faith. Give them to Giles."

"I can do that probably. He'll be here tomorrow to testify about this law firm."

Alex grinned. "Tell him he's welcome and they tried to step into my face. Again."

"I guess I can do that too." She looked and grabbed a few last things. "You don't want the sword? It's shiny."

"It'll soul bond itself to the user."

"Yeah, don't need that," she decided, putting it back. She grabbed something she had dropped and put it into her shirt, following Xander out. She smiled at the staring people. "What?"

"You're a slayer," one said.

"I'm Senior Slayer Faith. Alex retired from us. Giles sent me after him."

"Oh, shit," that one muttered. "He's not the one in Africa?"

Alex smiled back at him. "No, I'm his twin. I'm the lawyer." He waved and held the door for her, humming as they walked off together. Another demon appeared but it was D'Hoffryn. "Howdy. Nice night, isn't it?"

The lord of vengeance demons stared at him. "You cannot hold those, Harris."

"I can hold those. They can sit in my safe."

"You're human."

"Mostly. I do carry hellmouth taint." The demon lord sighed. "The rest are going to Giles."

"It can taint a human," he said, looking at Faith.

"Glad I'm a slayer then?" she guessed. "I'll let him know to bring a big box."

The higher demon moaned. "It's a bad thing."

Alex grinned and looked up. "I claim all the status that I just won via conquering the Lords Wolf, Ram, and Hart," he intoned. "By the Laws of Haraman, I am the winner so therefore won their status, holdings, and wealth." A thunderclap went off. He grinned at the higher demon. "Better?"

"Damn it. This could complicate things for your twin."

"I doubt that. I'll share with Xander and replace the stuff I had to borrow." He walked around him, patting him on the arm. "Remember, I'm a lawyer, I do think about things."

"Crap." He disappeared to spread that around.

Faith walked off giggling. "I love watching you confuse people."

Alex grinned at her. "It is enjoyable." He let her into his car and took her back to their hotel. Giles was not pleased to see them. "They came after me. Again. I warned them." He shrugged. "She's got yours." He strolled off. "Call me for lunch tomorrow. I'm just working against my law office being bought out, or planning on starting my own."

"He made a huge mess, Giles. Three high level demons."

"Oh, dear." He let her in to look those markers over, putting them all in a safe for now. "I'll get a secure box to put them in tomorrow." He patted her on the arm. "Go rest, Faith."

"Really, I got there after the mess. I just helped him gather them from the office place. And didn't take the sword he said would soul bind the user."

"That's an excellent idea." He went to call the higher watchers. They could all have a lot of fits without them having to hear them. Or them going off on Alex. Because the boy would probably shoot back at them.

***

Alex smiled at the lawyers staring at him. He had made an unhappy noise about the upcoming merger they were pressing on them. "I don't think that would benefit this firm, which has often worked for the peaceful community. Your firm's methods are questionable ethically and really distasteful criminally. How would that help the firm or the peaceful community?"

The man making the proposal stared at him. "I heard you were business law."

"Yes but I also have passed the bar in Criminal law and hold an international certificate in case I'm needed to help my twin again."

"Oh." He looked at the higher ups.

"When did you get the international one, Harris?"

"Last year. Took me a bit longer to study for it. Xander got arrested for stopping someone in power who was sacrificing newborns so he could do an ascension. That's why I had the vacation." He smiled. "That one's in both criminal and contract law."

"That makes sense for you." He looked at the one pushing the merger. "How would this help us with our mission to help the peaceful community?"

"We were looking to join into that ourselves."

"Then the proper thing is to tell the USDC's legal board so they can add your name to the list," his usual boss said.

Alex nodded. "They don't even demand paperwork. They put you on the referral list until someone complains about you then look into it. There's not enough of us on it."

"Do you handle criminal matters?"

"Yes. Mostly ones that have been arrested for stupid and/or prejudice reasons." He grinned. "There's a few judges who realize I'm an asshole but I'm right."

The man shook his head. "Are all of your people that rabid?" he asked the partners.

"Yes." They smiled. "It would be good for our bottom line, Harris."

Alex looked at him. "So would charging a standard rate?" he suggested. "I know and like that we charge a lesser than usual rate for some cases, but some of the corporate stuff I usually handle could be raised to a standard rate. Not all of them, a lot of them are struggling financially due to the harassment, but the ones like that Builder Corporation that's a front for the demonic mafia? We could easily charge them the standard rates."

"Is it?"

"Yeah." He nodded. "I always research what's said about the companies I'm helping so I can make good arguments and know if there's a landmine like the assassin's guild you had me going to talk to about their problems. Which was nice because the SBA really liked them more than they do small businesses."

The partners shared a look then looked at the supervisor over the business people. He pulled it up and let them see it. "Oh, they are," one of the partners said. "Is that a legal business, Harris?"

"Yes. I made sure first. I got talked into helping the assassin's guild but I make sure they're all legal otherwise."

Patricia cleared her throat. "I've had one of those too but when I brought it up Alex took it to talk to them about their problems and added them during another talk about another business. I wasn't sure if it was a legal business."

Alex shrugged. "Mostly. One of the people at the top wasn't really legal. I met with him before I did that because it was the same problem that plumbing business had, lack of forms and taxes."

"Wow," she said, staring at him. "Was it easy?"

"Pretty." He nodded with a grin. "I know you're ethical, Patricia, and want to stay that way." She nodded. He looked at the other one in his section. "Alexsis. Have you had any?"

"Only two over the last five years, Alex. I noted it to them and they fixed it. They looked like Capone."

Alex nodded. "That figures. Some do. They live in clans that does look like the mafia structure." He looked at the partners, who were smirking at him. "What? They play kitten poker too. One owes me about ten kittens right now and I owe another one two kittens."

His boss sighed. "Again?"

"Yeah. I play kitten poker at least once a month to keep track of what my twin's doing. That's how I found out I needed to go defend him for stopping a president from wanting more power."

His boss shook his head. "President?"

"It was a president, his wife, and a judge, who was the one who refused Xander bail. He agreed to let him out after the ascension, signed the paperwork beforehand so he could hunt him down to eat him after he changed." He grinned. "So I filled in. The community down there got the wife, the judge kept tripping and I got him.

"The president and the judge didn't make it to full on ascended demon and instead turned into some sort of sludgy, flaming higher level being. Still went up in flames." He leaned back and crossed his feet under the table. "I'm retired from the Council. Well, from the Sunnydale team that remade the Council."

The one wanting to merge the firms blinked at him. "You've led a weird life, Mr. Harris."

"My twin does it better. His boyfriend thinks I'm boring."

He nodded at that, looking at the partners. "Do you have many like him?"

"Only two I think. The other's from a family of demon hunters." Alex looked down at him. "Gail in criminal, Harris. She's laughed about your idea for the law."

"It'd help and could help a lot of other problems as well."

"Yes it could," he agreed. "It's simplistic and assumed, which means it can be overturned or fixed in other ways." He looked at the merger person. "We do have very dynamic people and very smart people. Then we have Alex, who says he turns into the empress of evil sometimes when people force him."

"Yes, and I enjoy it. I wear silk and other pretty things to make myself happy while I'm in evil mode," Alex purred.

Alexsis looked at him. "TMI, Harris."

"Sorry!" He grinned at her. "Didn't mean to overshare. Especially since you're evil enough to want to flirt with me."

"I grew out of that when I got to know you, Alex." She smirked back. "You're kinda too bouncy for me."

"True, I can be." He grinned at his staring higher ups. "Like any Harris, I'm often dated by those who aren't really legal and happy with humanity. They enjoy the hunt and then I get to have a real date again."

His boss shook his head. "Harris!"

"Sorry. I'll just sit here and look smarter than I am."

Alexsis looked at him. "You got decent enough grades."

"And struggled the whole way," he assured her. "Law classes drove me nuts."

"It did it to all of us," Patricia assured him. "What was your score for the international bar?"

"About seventy-ninth percentile." He grimaced. "Enough but not great."

His boss nodded. "You did better on ours."

"The international is a monster," Alex told him. "Nineteen parts sort of monster. I had to learn laws from over sixty countries because I overstudied." His boss winced. "Yeah. Tony helped me study while I helped him with his L2 classes and some of his L3. I can retake a part of it next year if I want to."

His boss nodded. "It never hurts. Especially if you have to change because of the merger."

"I'll start my own out of the house."

"Not a bad idea. Low cost of ownership," his boss agreed with a nod.

The partners all nodded at that idea. "So, how will this help us with the needs of the peaceful community?"

The one over the merger sighed a tiny bit. "It would help us add to your skills and cases. We have a few bigger cases that some of your people could help us with." She looked at Alex. "Including some business advising."

"Most of mine have been bigotted assholes who hate the peaceful community," he admitted with a grimace. "Making paperwork disappear, changing rules, trying to end their companies." He nodded at that. "When I looked your firm up, you barely dealt with cases like ours. Criminal you did a few of but mostly you were the lighter version of Wolfram and Hart."

"We've heard that comparison."

"Did the agents have fun with them today?" Alex asked with a grin.

The man stared at him. "That was you?"

"They stepped in my face again." He smirked a bit. "Tried to shoot at my dog too." Alexsis winced at that. "But yes, I'm the one who turned them in originally."

"Oh. Interesting."

"We also saw that you had two ethically unreasonable cases that you took and followed through with, even though you didn't have to. You offered to take those cases from a lesser firm that you've tried to absorb."

"They couldn't handle those with the agency they had."

Alex nodded. "You still took on the case to get a higher up free of charges for starting an invasion of LA. And the case that was basically a demonic mafia guy for killing three families because he wanted their homes."

The senior partners looked that up so Alex slid down his tablet. They read them over and stared at the merger person. "They did," one agreed, sliding the tablet back. "We are ethical here. We pride ourselves on staying ethical. Even if Alex does sometimes have things after work that make people look at us oddly."

Alex looked down and shrugged. "I'm usually having fun, boss." He sat back again. "Tony was thinking about looking at our openings in criminal next year."

"When he's passed the bar, let us know," the senior partners agreed.

Alex smiled. "He's L3, just finished the tests."

"Good luck to him," Alexsis said. "Fourth year nearly killed me."

"You and me both," Alex agreed. "I fell asleep during my last tests and snored so loudly they woke me up to make me stop. So I didn't get to take one section over. I had to hurry up the essay."

"That explains a lot," his boss said.

Alex grinned at him. "I'm shocked I did that good too."

The merger lawyer looked at him. "Is he the reason you're hesitating?"

"Alex has a finely tuned sense of danger," his supervisor said happily. "It comes from years of needing it at home." Alex nodded at that. "Is that making you uneasy?"

"It's making me unhappy. It's not making me sweaty but I am worried about how this'll make us look. After having dinner with a few of their contract people to check out the potential merger, they told me some things that aren't very...happy making. Like they're pushed to take cases even if they don't think it's a good idea.

"They're money driven instead of case or cause driven." He tipped his head to look at the guy. "That they're pushed for so many hours a week even over their stated contracted hours. They noted that they got asked if that was their actual hours worked if it was low."

"That is a bit worrying to how we work," his supervisor agreed. "We tend to check cases to make sure they're ethical and a good reason. We're firm on our hours billed and don't try to add on somehow. Or double bill. Alex almost did that once by accident so we went over his hours worked and why he had worked on two at once. They were the same issue but we don't allow double billing." He looked at his bosses. "We could take them over and add them to our agency."

The bosses considered that. "That may not increase our profits enough to pay for them. Plus buying that group would cost us a lot."

Alex nodded. "True. Are we in bad enough shape that the merger is make or break?"

"No," his supervisor said. "It would benefit our bottom lines. It would also benefit us with some extra people for overtime."

Alex looked at his team then at him. "Criminal?"

"Yes. And health care both have," he agreed with a slight nod. He looked down. "Do you have power of attorney paperwork after that incident a few years back?"

"Yeah. I redid it after that. It devolves to Tony if my twin can't be reached. It's in my office safe with the deed to the house and my will." He grinned at Patricia. "Thank you for that warning. Someone did try to change the title to my house so I have it locked down and noted legally that I'm not going to sell it. It was another attempt by Wolfram and Hart."

His boss looked at him. "Are they going to continue doing that?"

"No. I fixed that last night for good, boss. And claimed their status." He grinned. "They tried to shoot my dog. Faith said that I made a mess when a demon lord showed up."

His boss blinked a few times. "Faith?"

"Senior Slayer Faith." He grinned.

"Oh." He nodded. "That's fine. Their heads were evil and had soul clauses."

Alex nodded. "Tony had to tell the government they had some too. They had done some contractual work for a few agencies." His boss winced. Alex waved a hand in the air. "Broke it."

"Thank you, Harris." He looked at the senior partners then at the merger person again.

He licked his lips. "Mr. Harris, how did you do that?"

"My twin is still Xander Harris. I was still on the Sunnydale team until after we took down the Initiative." He raised an eyebrow and smiled. "I'm retired not helpless. I won't stand for evil. Especially the one that had LA invaded by nibbling little bastards. I pride myself on helping and being fine with anything peaceful. No matter the species or where they come from.

"If they're peaceful I'm okay with them. If they're not....it had better not start around me." He shrugged a bit. "I'll step in if I'm the only one there or it starts in my face. That's why I went to law school, to help the peaceful community that's being discriminated against by stupid things like paranoid people. Thankfully I found people who think the same way." He waved a hand around.

"I see." He looked at the partners.

"We feel about the same way about most beings. Though a few cases have made us worried about the ethics of handling it." He looked down at Alex. "The mafia case?" He pulled up the files for him to go over. "That was ethically handled. Nice work, Harris."

"Thank you, sir. I try to stay very ethical."

"It's a good thing."

Alex looked at him. "Can you not assign me to the vampire house case then? I'd feel a conflict."

"We've talked," his supervisor said. "They did ask for you."

"Yes, but I hunted because vampires are fucking assholes and took out the one person that would've kept me from hunting. I'm not sure if I can be impartial."

"They're using a feeder."

"That's nice. It's still vampires. My one thing I will not allow near me."

That got a nod. "We can look at it. Patricia and Alexsis can't do it."

Alex grimaced. "Then I want a second behind me please. That way I do not misstep because they're vampires."

"I can do that," his supervisor agreed. "Conference me in with everything. They did ask for you."

Alex looked at him. "Did they know who I was?"

"Don't know."

"Point. If I must."

"Thank you."

"Though they're having pipe dreams. They want to incorporate the house as a non-profit charity for other vampires."

His supervisor considered that. "Not likely."

"I think they should incorporate as a service agency," Patricia said.

Alex nodded. "That's what I was thinking. Or as a brothel since that's one service they offer. If they're a service agency they can't do that under the same company umbrella."

Patricia grimaced. "That's so weird."

Alex looked at her and nodded. "It is." He looked at his boss, pulling up his notes. "That's what I have from them so far."

He looked it over. "Service agency would be doable but they would have to unload the sexual components and we wouldn't be ethically capable of helping with that part." He slid the tablet back. Alex nodded. "We can talk to them tonight."

"Okay. I have something at nine though."

"I didn't know that."

"I may be able to reschedule." He sent an email and got back a 'sure' and a picture of his dogs pouting. "Tony said my dogs are pouty. He ran out of puppy treats." He ordered some to be delivered to him then put his tablet aside again. "Sorry. He needed puppy treats and dog food since he's destressing by dog sitting today."

His supervisor nodded. "The dinner with him?"

"Giles. I can go after ten."

His supervisor nodded at that. "We'll make sure you make it." He sent an email to that client to let him know about the change of time. "Where are you two meeting?"

"Cabal."

"We can meet there. They wanted in Arlington." He added that and got an agreement. "Okay." He put his phone up with a smile.

"You'd handle helping them set up a service agency?"

"Yes. If they hire us for that," the supervisor said with a smile. "It's not my favorite thing and we'll have to put out some rules about what we can handle and what we can't." The partners agreed with that by nod. The merger lawyer was giving him an odd look. "We do practice ethics here. He's right to bring that up to us since we're all together." Patricia and Alexsis both passed down files for him to glance over. "Patricia?"

"That's why I'm asking."

"Did you have Alexsis look it over?"

"I have," Alexsis agreed. "And I wasn't sure if that was something we could handle."

Alex leaned over to look. "I handled yours last year, Alexsis. Are they trying again?"

"Yes. He mentioned that and that you're scary intense but he's heard the SBA has banned you again."

"Yeah and like last time they've called a meeting, got mad that I wasn't there, I told them why again, and they yelled at the agent who banned me." He grinned. "It's ended again. I warned them that second business wasn't a great idea. It'd need a lot of extra paperwork since it's a club."

She nodded. "It would."

He looked at Patricia's and grimaced. "Eww."

Patricia nodded. "That was my first impression too. It's a need."

"It is. That's going to need someone from health care and their regs probably since they want to recycle it into the peaceful community's menu." He grimaced. "And it'll get a lot of hell."

"Probably," she agreed, looking at their supervisor.

"I think it could happen. Didn't we have one?"

"They got shut down last year," Alex said, looking it up. "For that very reason and people considering it foul." He let Patricia see.

"That's going to suck," she said. "But we can see what'd be needed at least. That way they could make plans and come back."

"That's reasonable. Talk to Helva in Health Care," their supervisor said, handing them back. "Alexsis, I think you can handle that ethically but you have to make sure they know where the ethics line is drawn and what you can handle for them." She nodded. He looked at the partners, who nodded they agreed. The merger lawyer was staring at them. "We don't handle certain types of cases. Including those who're criminally guilty but trying to get out of it. Or things like brothels starting up."

Alex sat up, leaning on the table. "Bottom line, is the merger going to enhance our reputations or theirs?" he asked the partners. "Will it be us being swallowed up and chewed into their usual methods or are we going to be more of a sub office, doing what we've always been doing?"

The partners shared a look. "Those are good ideas, Harris." He looked at the merger lawyer. "We can go over those later. We'll take a meeting."

"That's fine. I'll let our merger team know about them and schedule a meeting with your team." He shook hands and went to tell them. Their company would have some serious qualms about how ethical they were. Especially that one. They had no idea anyone had such tight ties to the peaceful community.

***

The senior partners gathered everyone together. "The merger is off," the original lawyer in the group said. He looked at everyone. "They thought we were too ethical for them." A few laughed. "Especially our criminal section." He looked at them. "They were horrified that you don't take cases that you know are wrong. They are the sort that'll take any case because of the money."

"Yet buying other law firms means they spend more," one of the people from health care said. "If they quit doing that it might help their bottom lines."

The boss nodded. "True. They want to be multi-national instead of regional." That got a sigh and a nod from a lot of them. "They also noted our business and contract department are uptight." All of them shrugged at that. "And they found it weird they had pets."

"Would they be happier if they were non-furry kids?" Alex joked.

"No. They didn't want that either, Alex." He looked around. "So the merger is off but we've gotten a few other groups who wanted to talk to us about the same thing. They think we're in financial trouble and we are not but they want to absorb smaller groups." He looked around. "I will not compromise our ethical standpoint." That got some smiles and a few nods. "Any other notes to be made?"

"One of their clients tried to come to us," one of the criminal people noted. "But he's guilty and trying to get out of it. We said we could help him negotiate a deal for lesser sentences. He hated that. He wanted someone to defend him. But I'm not sure if he was actually guilty." He looked at Alex. "He thinks you'd stop us from representing him."

"Not really. Why would I?"

"He's related to Wolfram and Hart."

Alex shrugged. "If they're guilty, they're guilty. Most of them are not only guilty but dirty as hell. And possibly stupid if they didn't read their contracts and see the soul claiming clause. Most of us wouldn't sign a contract with that in there."

That one shook his head. "No, we wouldn't." He looked at the boss again. "I went over it with my supervisor and he agreed, by the rumors the guy was guilty."

"Want me to ask?" Alex asked.

"No. That way you can't be called compromised."

"Okay. Let me know." He looked at the boss, who was shaking his head.

That reminded Alex, he had to find out if the law firm was part of the status of the demon lords or a separate business he had to end immediately. He made himself a note while the others asked questions of the senior team.

Someone sent him a house listing to look at and he wondered who they were but he did give his opinion on it being a nice looking house, but a bit farther out than most people would want since it was over two miles to transit, and driving in DC sucked.

Otherwise it was a nice looking house that had some very bland furnishing and paint colors, and no area to watch tv in. He put his phone back after looking up that number to see who they were. It was a cellphone number so not really listed properly. He'd figure that out later.

***

Alex looked at the top lawyers that had done work for the old Lords over Wolfram and Hart. "I really wasn't going to take the law firm; I was sure it was a separate business entity, people." They groaned at that. "I had no intention of taking the law firm. But frankly, I've broken the soul capturing device." They shivered. "And you're all free. Because if it stays mine I'm going to eliminate the threat to the world."

He shrugged but grinned. "Anything else to talk about?" They shook their heads. "Then let's end this sad agency of stupid ideas and bad law ethics." He clapped his hands, pulling out papers. "If it's mine I think I want to do this." He let them see it.

"The senior board would hate that but they're mostly banished now," one of them admitted, staring at him. "It's said you were in Sunnydale."

"Yes, we grew up in Sunnydale when we were just one Xander Harris. Born and bred there actually. Born really near the hellmouth too. Which is why I was so amused you guys came after me for my job and not my hellmouth taint." He smirked at their groans. "Yeah, me and the twin were the shortcut they needed. Pity. They could've used Cordelia Chase too but, well, Angel apparently got in their way too often." He smirked again.

That one blinked. "You knew Chase?"

"Yeah, we're the same Xander she dated in high school who screwed up. The same one backing up Buffy." He grinned. "I'm sure Cordelia would be happy you made it out of there, Lindsay. She told us about you."

"Oh." He blinked a few times. "Oh, crap."

"Yeah. And Connor would probably say hi too. I told him about taking out the top echelon of the law firm and he laughed himself literally sick until Gunn got told and went on a laughing spree too."

"Shit. You're the one from Sunnydale."

"Yes I am. The taunter of Angel, and Angelus. The backup for the slayers. And my twin was the Unseen Seer according to the First Evil from what he said."

"Shit," another one muttered. They shared a look then looked at him. "We could use that to take him out."

Alex grinned. "Doing that means I go to avenge him. Do we want to know what I've learned from my dates? Unlike his, who're pretty often involved in weapons....." He shrugged but smiled.

"Shit," they all muttered. They went over that paperwork again. It was clean, ethically sound, and legally allowable. They'd hate it but oh well. They took it back to the rest of the senior board, who sneered but said they could rebuild better without the bad reputation the invasion gave them.

So they signed it, not having read it well enough to read the clause that gave all their demonic status to Alex and his twin, or to Connor and Gunn. Alex sent all that at Connor and Gunn so they had some status to back them up for the next apocalypse battle in LA, which was in about three weeks. And started by this same law firm.

Those same minions thought they'd get a golden parachute payment for the law firm's demise, it was in their original contract. But with a new owner comes new contracts, which they did not sign. Alex had added in a clause saying they could get back what they paid into the firm to get their positions. Which in most cases wasn't monetary, it was blood and souls. It meant Gunn lost one of his status markers, but he'd still have enough for the upcoming apocalypse. The lower minions and lawyers just got to run free.

Alex sat back and giggled while hearing Connor and Gunn wondering how they had suddenly got status enough to stop the upcoming apocalypse cold by pulling rank. If not, Xander certainly did now and he'd be there for it.

***

Alex looked at the senior partners of his own law firm. "I've cleared up where I had an accidental lawyer acquisition going on." He handed over that paperwork. "I've broken the one soul capturing device they had. I've had the six altars broken by alerting the slayers there, and one's still going to find it next week, she's got finals.

"I've released all the soul clauses they had hold of by that contract and taking their status. There's a lot of people who didn't know they were under one who're now safe." He smiled at their shocked looks. "They came after me. One tried to shoot my dogs. Pity. But I did release all that lovely problem bearing guild back into the world."

They read it over and one laughed at that clause. "That's evil, Harris."

Alex smiled at him. "Thank you! Sometimes my twin calls me the Evil Empress of the Universe."

Another one nodded, still snickering. "I can see why, Harris." He went over the details of the shut down and how it was going. "They were fined by the government."

"Which got paid. As I clearly stated, as of taking it over, the old contracts for any position were void and you were entitled to what you paid in to get that position. Only one had to get paid and they paid that out of office petty cash I'm told. I've ordered the doors shut and locked, gave them until last night to clean out desks, alerted the local police in those areas to check for victims, and got many of them raided to make sure they didn't sacrifice any victims on the way out.

"There's about thirty lawyers out of all of them that aren't in jail for that as the police raids found the evidence and logs on their sacrifices for power. They brilliantly called the Council and got one of the old liners in the library portion that told them what they were for and how they were done. Without knowing anything about the law firm. Giles called me this morning to thank me for getting rid of that great evil and letting the old liner complain and help actually fight evil this time." He shifted his weight but grinned.

"You certainly caused some chaotic hell," one of them said with a smile for him.

"Well, Janus did like us one year. Giles told me that we're like a kid between him and Ethan Rayne." They all smiled at that. "Xander saves the world one way and I do it in smaller, more slightly evil manners." He shrugged but smiled. "But I wanted to tell on myself before gossip got started and I got into trouble." He handed over a file. "On all their lawyers. So you can tell others if they apply for new careers."

One of them looked it over, nodding a bit. "We almost hired one of them years ago." He looked the kid over. "I've heard an agent got mad that you were wearing fancy clothes to bring down evil and silk boxers to make yourself happier while you did it."

Alex grinned. "Buffy said you have to have the perfect outfit to stop an apocalypse."

"Point."

"And this does mean Connor and Gunn can stop the one in a few weeks without much of a fight, or Xander can if they can't. Together they have enough status to cancel the Council of Nine."

"Shit," one said in awe. Alex winked and left them to talk. They shared a look. "It's good he's getting happy, ethical evil this week."

"It is," they agreed, going over those files in case one did apply to them or other firms they knew were ethical. They'd pass this around so Harris was warned about. Only a Harris could use chaotic intent and the law to bring down a great evil.

***

Alex looked at his vet. "I have no idea what's wrong but Duke's been crazy worried recently. Like the level of neurotic. So I'm guessing Devil's sick somehow and they're worried he's going to pass; that Duke's going to be without him since Duke's pretty clingy to him."

The vet looked that one over, then petted the other dog. "He's just old, Duke. So are you." He checked him over and looked at Alex. "How did you get them? Do you know their past owners?"

"The person who used to own my house got a divorce, left the area after selling the house, and didn't leave a forwarding address. Her ex-husband broke into the house and brought his dogs. He kept telling the officers they were getting back together, he had seen how bad he was." The vet winced.

"When he got arrested, the officer didn't want to bring the dogs to the pound, which I fully understand, I hate the pound, and the guy was shouting I was evil to send his poor, lonely dogs to the pound. They'd die without him," he said dryly. "So I adopted. I gave him three days to pick them up and he didn't even try so they're mine."

"That's certainly humane but a bit odd of you."

Alex shrugged. "They're my first pets. The house would be bigger and lonelier without them."

"Many people have dogs for that reason. Did we check for a chip?"

"I have no clue what you're talking about. I saw your partner when I got them. That first day to make sure they were healthy since they seemed depressed."

"Okay, let's do that." He went to make sure there wasn't one. One did but it was from a pound in Omaha. He wrote them an email about that but the adopter hadn't filed the paperwork for the dog. He came back. "The microchip is to help find their owners if they get lost."

"Oh!" He nodded. "Okay. Should I do that?"

"One has one and you can file that they're now your dogs. Most vets and pounds do recommend them so we can find you if they get loose."

"Is it painful?"

"No more so than any other shot. I can do the other one and give you the information to file." Alex nodded with a smile. He got the things to do that. "Okay." He handed over the brochure. "This is for them. Amend the files later." Alex nodded at that. "Second, the one dog isn't sick, but he is apparently in his senior years."

"Your partner said they'd have about two more years at this point."

"Probably about a year-and-a-half. This slowing down is normal. Like a human, they get exhausted easier. They'll eat less." He looked at the pair then at the owner. "Speaking of, they're getting a bit chubby. Not fat yet, and it's not a problem yet, but they are gaining a good bit of weight."

"The guy last year said they were a bit skinny. I feed what the back of the bag of dog food says to."

"I'm pretty sure, like most dog owners, you've got a bag of treats somewhere nearby." Alex pulled them out of his bag to show him. "Those are good, and they have dental benefits too. Nice choice, but they probably only need one a day." He handed them back. "You can give them a piece of crunchy dry food for that and it'd be a few less calories."

"My coworker said I'd probably spoil them for however long they had left and she was probably right, I agreed I probably would." He put the dog treats back, making the dogs whine. "When we get home," he said patiently. The vet laughed at that. "It helps when we're driving and stuck in traffic too." He looked at them then at him. "I'm worried if one's sick, the other's going to follow them very fast because they don't like being separated."

"That's happened sometimes but you could get them a young one soon to give them a puppy to bond to and help them go on. Like a widow with a child."

"Does that work? And does it have to be a puppy? I suck at training. They were already housetrained. Thankfully."

"You can get a young one that's not that young from any rescue or pound. Because county and city pounds have to take in any animal that comes so they often have to put some down but rescues get to pick and choose which ones they want to take in."

"So I can get one that's got a few more years and they'll bond, and it'll hold whichever one here when the first one goes? Then when the second goes, I'll get another dog for them to bond to?"

"Basically that's how many do it. Do you own your own home?"

"I do. I'm not sure if I could handle a third dog though." He looked down. "How would I even do that?"

"They might react poorly if you bring them with you to pick one out but if you talk to the pound they can probably help match personalities and activity levels."

"That could be good. They're office couch hounds." He looked down then at him. "Is there a good one?"

"Talk to Maribel," he said, handing over a copied address. "She's good at finding the right homes for adoptions." Alex smiled and nodded, tucking that into his bag. "For right now, encourage them to walk, to play some if you can. You can't force it but you can encourage them. They probably can't manage a full few miles but they can do a block or so at the moment." That got a nod. "I think you have at least a year." Duke barked and nudged Devil's head with his nose. "Hmm."

"Yeah, I've seen a few of those." He put Devil on the table. Duke huffed and moved closer, sniffing up at him.

The doctor looked him over. "Oh, he's got a slight fever. And he's probably feeling miserable. Table food?"

"Meat only. No sauce, I lick it off if there's sauce. Though they did break into the Thai food the other night and belched all night after puking up my leftovers I was planning for breakfast. Someone can open the fridge," he said with a point at Duke.

"Many dogs have done that." He checked him over again. "He's got a bit of what looks like mild pancreatitis. Which is like an upset stomach but worse and has some pain. We can give him a shot to help with that and you can get him to eat some pepto to ease the stomach ache."

"How? I can't even drink that stuff."

"Sometimes you've got to squirt it in their mouth. Like with a syringe that doesn't have a needle on it." He did that for him to show him. "Give it again in the morning." Alex nodded, taking those. "You're not doing bad for your first dogs. They're good, healthy, happy looking hounds, Mr. Harris."

"They're expensive too." He looked down. "Does that dog insurance cover appointments?"

"Some do." He smiled. "Overall, it works out to about the same."

"That makes sense. Thank you." He shook his hand and took the dogs to pay the fees and take them home. Devil puked up the pepto but Duke didn't seem too worried about that. Alex hated to clean that out of his car but maybe he'd let a detailer do it for him in the morning. That was kinda gross.

***

Xander finally got into his email, finding one from his twin. One that had pictures by the size. He opened it, pouting at the news. He liked the dogs. He had really liked to nap with the dogs. They were great dogs, like his stepdogs. He was still pouting when Stephen limped in. "The thing out there bite you again?"

"The goat got my thigh," he complained, sitting down. "Why are you pouting? One of the girls sick or pregnant?"

"The dogs are getting old. The vet suggested he get a third dog for them to bond to because he was worried one would pass and the other would follow out of grief." He let him see the picture. "Apparently my twin is running a senior home for dogs. The newest one is seven, expected to live to about fifteen, and the dogs are very confused about that lap dog. But it'll sit in his lap while he pets the other two so they're fond of it at least."

"What is it? Beyond fluffy?"

"It's a Keeshond. He said it's a smaller herding or hunting dog so it gets along well with the two mixed hounds. And they enjoy watching Prince...well, there's a few choices he's fighting over naming him." Stephen snorted at that. "The shelter named him Prince...so Alex is going to add on a real name. He's trying to decide between Caspian, Humperdink, and Valiant."

Stephen shook his head with a sigh. "Only your twin or some girl." Xander grinned at that. "He shouldn't go with Humperdink. Almost no one will get that joke."

"Plenty of people know the Princess Bride."

"Uh-huh." Stephen stared at him. "How do you know about that movie?"

"Willow's mother really liked it. Said it gave a good moral lesson about grandfathers being good to help with sick grandkids. Then she usually told Willow she wasn't allowed to have kids."

"Ah." He nodded, getting up to go beat that goat for getting him again.

"Leave the goat alone. It thinks you're fun. Goats butt heads to play, Stephen."

"Fine." He waved a hand. "Why would he go with Caspian?"

"He thinks the actor's hot."

"Oh." He nodded. "I have no idea about that. I read the book." He went out to find that goat to take out for later food.

Xander went to save his gifted goat from his boyfriend, kissing him until he was in a better mood. He'd answer his twin later.

***

Alex looked at his coworkers the next morning. "I need naming help."

"Why?" Alexsis asked patiently.

"The dogs are getting old and the vet told me to get them a slightly younger buddy so they had someone new to cling to." He grinned and showed a picture. "The shelter named him Prince so is he going to be a Prince Valiant, a Prince Caspian, or a Prince Humperdink?"

Patricia looked at him oddly, blinking a few times. "How many dogs are you going to have, Alex?"

"Just these three. He said I've got maybe a year-and-a-half with Duke and Devil. If Devil goes, Duke's going to follow him if he's left alone."

"So getting a new friend will expand his friends and help him hold steady if something happens," Alexsis said, nodding. "I can agree with it. What is Prince? Beyond fluffy?"

"A Keeshond." He grinned. "They're friendly, cuddly, and need a lot of brushing. Margaret at the shelter said at least twice a week. But he's nicely a lap pet and he'll sit there and let me pet the other two as long as he's on my lap."

The ladies nodded at that. "Caspian," Alexsis said. "He's the adventurer and stronger than Valiant. Humperdink was evil, Alex."

"The little guy got up onto a counter somehow and carried the dog treat bag over to hand it to Duke so they could all share it."

"Okay, so your fluffy friend is a bit naughty," she said with a smile. "Caspian."

"Okay. I was leaning that way, the actor's hot."

"Did you see the new thing he was in?" she asked.

"New thing?"

"Go look it up," Patricia said, patting him on the arm. "My husband likes it." Alex beamed, hugged them both, and bounced back to his office. The two ladies shared a look and went to gossip with their friends about the new dog and why so no one complained at Alex when they inevitably came in with the other two.

The dogs did doggy daycare most days but about once a week they came to the office to keep people calm and happier. Alexsis had started to bring her dog in on days he didn't so her poor Boris could be petted by their stressed out intern Martin. And a few other lawyers who needed some stress petting and cuddling time. Boris had helped a few through divorces.

***

Xander read the updated email from his twin, grinning at the new pictures of the little pack of dogs, and the fact that there was a show he'd like if he could watch it. "That's cool. And Caspian's cute. He probably does tricks." He shook his head, smiling at the guys standing in the doorway. "My twin got a third dog because his are getting old and worried about being alone." He put his phone down after hitting the button to record things. "So what do we want today?"

They lunged at him and he pulled a machete to beat them all. He got injured, a lot, but only one of them survived it. That one ran away but the slayer he was working with got him with her crossbow. "Shit," he muttered with a sigh, sitting up holding his side. He turned off the recording, but forgot to delete it as he got up to go check on his trainee. She was huffy until she saw him then she screamed for her mother and came to do what she could to baby him.

The mini's mother was not happy but at least he had survived.

The ones who did it, wouldn't. Stephen found the phone and the 'save file' message still showing. He watched it then went to handle whatever problem that was. Xander needed to be more delicate right now. Then he got to complain at Willow for stealing Xander to get him help. Not to an ER but she wanted to nag him about needing help sometimes. Not about the injuries, but about being a man training young girls.

Alex got him that night and got into a fight that sent Willow running for Buffy and Giles, who told her off for kidnaping Xander from Africa. She sent him back from the ER, without warning. Alex went back home, he had to work the next day. Willow could be huffy, pouty, and cry a lot thanks to being spanked by Giles.

Stephen caught Xander when he fell from midair, helping him stand. "Let's get you to an ER. I see the bracelet?"

"Alex got me there. She kidnaped me before they could do more than scowl."

"We have a doctor nearby," Stephen said patiently, walking him that way. "Can I go smite the witch?"

Xander looked at him. "Alex tried but she ran for her life. Giles and Buffy both yelled at her."

"That's sweet of them to finally do that." He shook his head with a grimace, walking Xander to the doctor's office. He was going to get that witch. He really was. Maybe she'd sacrifice herself to help humanity before he got there though.

***

Alex got referred to a nice company that did speciality leather working for Tony's graduation present. It'd take a few months so he'd start early. He smiled as he was let into the shop. "Hi, I'm Alex Harris. I have an appointment."

"Yes, sir. What sort of bag were you needing?"

"It's a graduation present for a friend that's finishing his law degree this year." He put down pictures of Tony. "He's a former federal agent and officer. Now he's L4 and nearly done in about seven more months." He grinned. "I was hoping for something...practical yet helpful. I got your name from Staven McHenry."

"I remember his bag. We can do a great present like that. What type were you thinking?"

Alex pulled out his phone to show him a picture. "This is the Cambridge Satchel Co. 15-Inch Batchel. I think it's practical, roomy, fashionable, which Tony is all of those and a movie guy, and a former NCIS agent who had to do undercover work now and then in his career.

"Now he's going criminal law." He let him have the phone to look at the pictures. It was a dual carrying style messenger bag/briefcase hybrid with a front pouch and two straps holding the top flap down. It had a messenger strap and carry handle both.

"That's not that hard. We have something like that." He handed the phone back, getting his book of styles out. "We have one that's very like that. What sort of practical necessities do you think he'll need?"

"A hidden panel maybe? Maybe a weapons storage bottom opening? If possible? Because bad guys like Tony, usually ones that like to date me." He grimaced but let it clear up. "Tony's boss made sure he always carried at least a knife and he's used to having his sidearm too."

"We can easily do those. A slide compartment on the bottom, with a fingerprint lock?"

Alex beamed. "You can?"

"Yes, that's not that hard. How many users will he need to input?"

"Maybe three at the most. Not sure and if I ask him it'd spoil the surprise."

"Good point." He looked him over. "It won't be cheap." Alex put money on the counter, making the older man nod and smile. "I didn't think you were that sort."

"I slightly am. And a lawyer myself. I deal in contract law."

He looked at him. "You're one of those Harris."

"I am." He nodded with a grin. "My twin's still serving in Africa, though he's on a plane today to go handle the upcoming problem in LA in a few days."

The old man nodded. "That's handy." He made out the slip for the case. "Black, brown?"

"What's more fashionable? Tony's not afraid of most darker colors. Though I've never seen him wear a pastel in more than a shirt. He was a Fed though so...I guess dress code."

"Black's useful and good for everything," the old man decided, getting a nod for that. He let Alex see it to nod and sign off then pay him. Even though there was a slight upcharge of ten percent. Alex didn't mention that at all. "It'll take me about four months."

"He's got seven before he graduates so that's fine." He smiled. "Thank you." He shook his hand and handed over his business card. "Let me know and I'll pop up here to New York to pick it up." He beamed. "I thought about getting him a suit but I ran into the suit maker of an agency and I didn't think Tony would want to be reminded of his past job. Have a great day." He bounced out, happy with his present giving skills.

The old man nodded. "I'm sure they would've enjoyed that agent." He went to tell his people about the order. Their bags were handmade and all custom work. The modifications the boy wanted were easily incorporated.

***

Xander hopped up to where the newest apocalypse was going to happen in LA, shaking his head at the worried looks. "Idiot men who hated that women were protecting them," he said dryly. "Then Willow pulled me from where I was trying to get up to go get treatment and kept me hostage for a few hours to yell that I was a guy training young women so therefore I had to ask *her* to help me do what I've been doing for so many years.

"Apparently the theory that girls in Africa are still young women, civilization is over there too, and a lot of those news stories are propaganda missed her highness' asshole brain." He looked at the demon who appeared. "Is that it? Dude, I beat your sister last week!" he shouted. "Go the fuck home! Tell your mom it was me so she can huff some more and more people send me flowers for doing it!" He waved.

The demon stared then started to cry. "Why do you have status?"

"Because my twin got a bit evil and claimed it for both of us." He grinned and waved at the new one showing up. "Coming to try again?" he asked her. She saw him and whined. "Go. The fuck. Home!" he said with a point. "Now please! We don't need your shit on top of the one that's coming later!"

"Our father said to come watch him conquer to learn how it's done," the son complained.

Xander stared at him. "How it's done is me having weapons and blowing the fuck out of him. I've proven I'm good at it, haven't I?"

They whined and went to tell Daddy that the mean human was there to stop him too. He showed up to stop that and Xander blew him up before the kids could get there. That solved the pre-apocalypse battle. They could wait on the other one. They tried to deny the order so a local demon came to tell them about the status.

They couldn't win the battle but they could lose their whole realm and everything on it. They put up a small fight until Xander got more weapons. The new idiots realized what those shiny things were because one of them had seen it before and let out a scream that echoed around the area. It was bad enough that it scared a few stray animals hiding from them.

They decided they didn't really want these people or this plane anyway. So much stress in their lives. Too much work. Oh well! They'd try when humanity was falling. They fled for their lives and Xander still shot one to make him die.

Gunn looked at him. "He bothering your trainees?"

"He bothered me and my twin. His mother keeps trying to have her older son capture my twin to be his queen so she can retire. Alex is not a happy Harris about that. Three times in a month," he sighed, looking at them. They both snickered. "Yeah but...." He shrugged, leaning on the weapons tube. "But hey, we're done early!" He grinned at the girls showing up. "Unless another one shows up, we're done, ladies."

"But you're men," Willow said.

"Well, duh! Yeah, we are! And we handled it!" He glared at her, making her back away slowly. He looked at the new demon who appeared. "Yes?"

"Great One Knight, may we speak? Your twin is disturbing."

"Is he laughing so hard everyone's creeped out again?" he asked dryly.

"He has been helping those who get arrested for weird things and the community was not aware of that."

"If they called on him for help, of course he did. He's a lawyer, they do that."

"The community in DC has a legal team."

"Who are very overworked from what I've heard from my twin. The law firm he works in has done a lot of good work with the community."

"Point. But that is a different form of law."

"Yeah it was his minor."

"Oh." He nodded. "I understand. He won't do full criminal things?"

"No. His law firm has some people who handle just that."

"That's good. What of the law firm he destroyed?"

"He disbanded it. He freed all the soul debts too. He thinks there might be one last soul capturing device but he'll handle that when he can."

That got a nod from the demon. "That's pleasant of him. Thank him for us?"

"Of course. We've all hated Wolfram and Hart since the first thing we heard about them from Cordelia."

"The Messenger?"

"Yeah. We knew her in high school." He grinned. The demon slumped, shaking his head. "We heard a lot about how bad the law firm for hell was. Then he ran into them trying to force him to quit helping people and quit doing his job. They actually went after Alex, so he had some fun." He smirked. "I'm proud he managed it. Including the mess he made of those three top demons of the firm."

The demon sighed, looking at him. "He defeated them?"

"He made a huge mess by defeating them," Faith said, coming over. "I got there after that, and it was a mess that made me gag. A lot. I couldn't even tell how many there were." The demon shuddered. "Like any Harris, you step into their face and they'll react."

"He reacted against them."

Xander shook his head with a hand wave added. "They tried him first. They actually threatened to sue him to make him quit doing his job helping community owned businesses." That demon winced. "He didn't do more than turn in that they were also demonically owned, and the bad things they had done, until they tried to shoot at his dog."

The demon whined and shuddered, shrinking in on himself. "They did it to themselves. Thankfully Alex is a nice guy who has ethics so he released all their soul debts and let them free to prove what sort of ethics they have. If someone higher up has a problem with that, sorry but yay. My twin's proven he's got ethics and the same sort of stubborn I have."

"Point." He looked at the slayers then at Xander. "Will there be a battle today?"

"I think we solved it," Gunn told him. "If not, we'll solve it when it happens."

The demon nodded. "Thank you all." He disappeared to tell the others waiting what had been said.

Xander looked at Gunn and shrugged. "Breakfast ice cream sundaes?"

"You're too old for ice cream for breakfast. Have it as a post breakfast snack," Gunn said.

"Point. I have been craving it." They walked off together, letting the girls figure things out.

"That's not good for you," Buffy called after him. Xander flipped her off without turning around or looking at her. She huffed. "Men!"

Faith looked at her. "That sounds like a great breakfast for me too. It wouldn't be the first time." She jogged to catch up. "Are we going for waffles first, boys?"

They grinned at her and agreed, letting her get her own food.

Buffy and the others went to have muffins and girl food instead just in case there was another battle attempt. None of them understood the guys.

***

Alex had gotten to pick up the present and was waiting on Tony to come out of his testing. He came out and moaned, stretching up. Alex whistled, bringing him over. "Did you drive? I know you were tired last night."

"I did. I had to, my wallet was missing under the couch somehow. Caspian apparently thought it was a toy again." He leaned on the car. Alex opened the door and pointed at the back seat. Tony frowned. "What's that?"

"A graduation present, Tony." He smirked. "You made it. Now all you have is the bar. Speaking of, when is grad?"

"Two weeks." He handed him an invitation from his backpack. "I was going to drop that off tomorrow." He picked up the present, getting in to open it in the car. He moaned, touching the fine grained black leather that looked like it was slightly textured. "This is sweet, Alex." He gave him a hug. "Thank you!"

"You're welcome! You need a great briefcase." He smiled. "And it's got a surprise I'll let you figure out later." He winked. Tony laughed, giving him a hug before getting out and heading for his own car with the new briefcase and the box. Alex drove off, making Tony grin. He got into his own car to look it over.

Inside the front flap was the maker's brochure. That made Tony moan, these were *special* briefcases. He found the instructions for the hidden panel and figured it out. Inside there was the instructions to input the fingerprint for the reader on the false bottom panel. He flipped it over to look at that, inputting himself.

It slid for him and he moaned. Two new sharp knives suitable for fighting, one for throwing, and a holster for a handgun with slots for extra clips. "Oh, this is *sweet*, Alex!" he cooed. He looked it over for other surprises. The handle hid a slim, nail file sized, knife. And a pointy metal file to pick locks with.

He had a little magnet on the inside of the top flap to hold it shut that could be taken off. It was big enough to hold his laptop, his files, and if he had to a spare shirt. This was the nicest present he'd ever gotten. He went home to pet his new leather friend. This was almost as great as a dog.

***

Tony was out to go to a study group of his fellow students for the bar. They were going to be at a nice bar to drink and eat while studying and quizzing each other. Of course, that was not what was happening tonight. He had been run into a parked car by another two cars trying to shoot at him. He was in an alley, huffing as he was being shot at.

Thankfully he had decided to grab his new briefcase. The sliding panel was a bit tough to get open when you were hurrying but he managed it and fired back at two of them. They ran off at the sound of sirens so he put the gun back and quickly changed his shirt before going back to his car. The dirty shirt got thrown out as he walked past the dumpster he had been hiding behind.

He met the local officers, shrugging. "Federal plates, really idiotic FBI agents," he reported to one he knew. "Silnay was one of them." That one winced. "Forced me off the road while shooting at me." He leaned against his car and pointed at a hole. "You'll want the forensics team. Six agents, five guns shooting at me. Really dumbass agents I'm going to turn in shortly. I need to grab my phone."

He pointed. The officer got it for him and handed it over. "Thanks. Gibbs, me. Silnay and five other feebs shot at me to get me off the road and then tried to chase me into an alley." He listened to the swearing. "Exactly. Have fun and I'll tell Fornell's voicemail myself." He hung up and called him. "I just saw some of yours," he told the voicemail.

"Silnay and five others were shooting at me to get me off the road and into an alley but I handled them and they ran from LEO. Have fun with them, Fornell." He hung up and put the phone into his briefcase. "I'm supposed to be studying with a group of students for the bar, guys. Can I head there? It's about six blocks at that sports bar."

"Let us take some info, DiNozzo."

"Sure." He nodded at the forensics people. "Feebs shot at me to drive me off the road." They groaned but came over to grab the bullets. The agents had pulled a few but missed sixteen bullets. "It's going to my garage," he said, pulling his card out of his wallet. "This is my car guy." They took note of that and had the car towed for examination. "Have a better night, guys." He looked at the officers handling the scene.

"DiNozzo, did you shoot back?"

"Yeah. I'm still licensed to carry concealed."

"We may need the gun for ballistics."

"That assumes their bosses let them go to jail," Tony said dryly. "Theyr'e fairly failing at everything." His phone rang so he pulled it out. "DiNozzo. I'm on my way, just had a slight accident so I'm about six blocks away, Sarah. Let me finish with the accident report." He grinned. "Sure, about a half-hour. Order a beer for me please, something foreign and dark tonight? Thanks." He hung up and looked at the officer again. "The bar exam is going to drive me nuts."

"You're a lawyer now?" the officer asked, looking confused.

"I figured I've seen the law from that side, now I'll see it from the other side. I'm going to become my very own version of Law and Order," he quipped with a grin. A car pulled up beside them and he moved the officer when a gun came out. "Idiot, Silnay?"

"I'm an agent."

"You're a disgrace and I've already told others." He smirked and waved. "The officers won't help you."

"We can find a cause to arrest you, DiNozzo."

"Be aware that I'm wearing a body camera," he quipped. The car sped off. Tony looked at the officer, who moaned. He let him have the chip to copy with the forensics people. He put it back into the camera. "Need me for more, guys?"

"You moved yet?" the officer who knew him asked.

"Not yet. Law school rotted my brains and I'm rent controlled." He grinned slightly. "And they accept my friend's dogs showing up to calm me down after tests."

The officers nodded at that factoid. "Go ahead, DiNozzo. We'll come find you if we need more." Tony nodded, strolling off with his briefcase and the jacket he had grabbed from the backseat. The officer looked at the others. "He was on Gibbs' team at NCIS. Senior agent for seven years above McGee."

"That man has balls then," another said. "Trapped between McGee and Gibbs? A rough textured rock and a wall of geek."

The others smiled at that description. It was pretty accurate and the new guy on the team was crap to work with. Tony breezed in, went to wash his hands, and showed up at the table to sip his beer with a head shake. The other students smiled and shifted to make room for him.

***

Tony was out to destress from opening his exam results, happy with his life at the moment. Of course, that's when he ran into Alex, and they both ran into the people who wanted to get them together to discredit Alex. Someone tried to release a gas into the club. Tony smelled it and looked around, stopping his dancing. The girl he was dancing with huffed.

"No, someone's released something. Go. Outside, now, tell a bouncer." She shuddered but did that. He went to tell the bartender to shut things down, but he was passed out. So Tony pulled the fire alarm. That worked. There wasn't a huge crowd tonight so they ran. Alex showed up next to him, staring at him. "Gas."

Alex sniffed then checked the bartender, hefting him up. "Let's go. Lock the register." Tony did that and they carried the bartender between them. A bouncer came over. "We locked the register. He was unconscious."

"I smelled gas. It smells bitter."

"We smelled that. You're an officer?"

"Was an agent. Now I'm a lawyer." Alex punched him on the arm with a grin. "Thanks, Alex."

"Good job! You probably did better than I did."

"I got ninetieth percentile." Alex grinned at him before hitting him on the arm again. "I was celebrating," Tony told the bouncer.

"I can see why. I know that's hard." He jogged over to tell the others and the fire engine that was showing up. "We had some sort of gas release."

"Like natural?" The fire chief asked as he got out.

"Smells bitter, not natural gas egg stink."

"Okay. Guys, put on a breather," he ordered. "We have a chemical release we think. Good thinking to clear the club by pulling the alarm."

"The guy was an agent. He just passed his bar."

"Good job for him then," the driver said as he walked around the front. They went inside to look, finding the canisters easily enough. One went to check the bartender when someone pointed out he was unconscious. That let them find another canister under the bar. They called in officers and agents. The driver came out to talk to a few people. "Anyone have any funny symptoms?" he called. "Headache, sweating unexpectedly, itchy, hallucinations?"

"Itching," Alex offered. "I've been scratching the spot where the bartender's arm was sitting." He let the paramedic take a swab. "But I'm pretty immune to most poisons and things."

Tony checked himself and nodded. "I've got welts where he was resting on me too." The paramedic looked and nodded, taking another swab. "So was he the guy who released it?"

"Not sure yet," the fireman said. He looked at the others being kept there, going to check a few who looked spacey. They got to go to the ER. So did Tony and Alex.

Tony looked at the paramedic. "I have specific medical orders," he said quietly. "Because I've had the plague."

The paramedic blinked a few times. "You have?"

"It got sent to the office when I was an agent." He shrugged. "If they need it, Bethesda treated me. Dr. Pitt is my doc."

"All right, I can note that if it's important." He looked at the others. "Do any of you have chronic medical conditions?"

"Yeah, you cannot hook me to any sort of machine. I carry some radiation that'll mess them up permanently. I was in St. Andrew's, that private hospital, a few years back after some torture."

"Cancer?" the paramedic guessed.

Alex grinned and shook his head. "Spatial. It's from where I grew up. Full of radiation." That got a nod. "I know I screwed up two blood pressure and one heart monitor and the nurses said they could not be repaired."

Tony nodded. "He does. The nurses were not amused by that."

"Are you two together?" the paramedic asked.

"He's my power of attorney if no one can find my twin in Africa," Alex said. Then he shrugged a bit. "He's my buddy, not my boyfriend."

"Okay," he said, making note of that. "Mr. DiNozzo?"

"It had been Jethro Gibbs at NCIS but I haven't reset it since I left them."

"They're out of town right now anyway," Alex told him. "Someone was tracking McGee and complained they were in Niagra Falls about a case that led back there."

Tony nodded. "We used to hate those cases."

"Are you still an agent?" the paramedic asked.

Tony shook his head. "I got fired for refusing to break ethical conduct rules. Then I fought back." He smirked a bit. "Now I'm a new lawyer."

"Great." He nodded. "Makes good career sense." They pulled into the ER and he got out. "We had a chemical release in a club. These ones showed symptoms. I've got three of them staring off into space, two with itchy, hive type things, and one that's coming in another ambulance that's unconscious but we're not sure if we was one releasing it or not since it was found right underneath his station."

The nurse nodded. "Let's get the space cases into one area, the other two in another." They did that and she stared at Alex. "Oh, it's you."

Alex grinned at her and gave her a hug. "I promise, I'm just itchy in one spot that the bartender's bare skin was touching."

"Good." She let them have a room together and went to check on the other three. They were probably needing more care. Officers showed up with a repot from their lab about the canisters, which was very helpful. The three spaced out ones got admitted for the night. The other two got something to help with the itching and something to treat them in case they did start to feel more exposed later on.

Tony grinned at Alex. "Let's go play with your dogs."

"Okay," Alex agreed with a nod. "Caspian's going to beg you to pet."

"Of course, he loves my petting. That's why he's so fluffy." They left together to make sure neither one would need to come back later. They both felt a bit horny but they could ignore it while playing with the dogs.

***

Tony looked at the man who had invited him to the park, staring at him over the top of his sunglasses. "What's up, Fornell? Why were they shooting at me this time?"

"They wanted you out of the way to stop you from testifying against the ones that you found were terrorists." He sat beside him on the bench. "That gas release was a whole other plot."

"Great. Which one?"

"To discredit your buddy by making him be gay."

"Alex is pretty bi and it's well known," Tony said dryly.

"I've heard. They're just as dumb as the other plot." He shifted to look at him better. "There's a push to make you run for something."

Tony nodded. "I've heard. I'm not totally against that but I just passed the bar last week. I've got interviews right now. I have one this afternoon."

"Good luck." He looked around then at him again. "They're going to be weird about things with him."

"Alex is a nice guy until you fuck with him." He smirked a bit. "He's proven that a few times."

"They're mad at him for his former job."

"I know. I've heard that a few times. He'd just shrug and date his next bad girl. I'm surprised you're not still tracking who he dates."

"We gave up when our brains warped at the assassin twins."

"The girls, the two sets of guys, or the mixed twins?"

"Mixed," he growled. "He's dated three other sets of assassins?"

"Yeah. That I know of. Could've been more."

"How does he find them?"

"He doesn't. He lets them find him. He likes to be hunted instead of flirting. He doesn't flirt all that well and said it makes him feel like he's offering himself for sale."

"I've seen that happen in others." He grimaced. "Why does he have three dogs?"

"The first two were abandoned with him so he adopted. They're really close and a bit neurotic if they're not together but they're getting older. The vet suggested it so whichever of the pair that survives isn't alone."

"That's reasonable I suppose." He stood up. "Gibbs is still your medical power of attorney."

"Not true, I changed it this morning with a letter to Gibbs to find out who killed me," he said dryly with a grin.

"Have you talked to anyone over there recently?"

"Nope. Outside the one warning about Sheppard, haven't heard a thing since the day I got driven off." He stood up too, staring at him. "You can tell them I'm happy if they ask. I'm doing good. Got a good, high rating on the bar." He walked off. "Thanks for letting me know. Tell me if you hear they're going to try again."

"I can do that." He went back to his car to go back to NCIS. He looked at Gibbs. "They shot at him to get him away from testifying about the terrorists he found over there."

Gibbs sighed. "Really?"

"Ran him off a city street while shooting at him. He had to handle it before LEO got there." He grinned. "He said you're not his sole power of attorney now but there's a letter allowing you to find out who killed him."

"I'd probably be able to."

"You'll probably need to. DiNozzo's in the way of the ones against Alex Harris too. They tried to drug the club they were in celebrating DiNozzo getting a ninety-second percentile on the bar exam."

"That's fantastic. I hope he can find a job in a normal law firm."

"Not sure yet. He's still interviewing." He stared at him. "You may still have some authority, he didn't say."

"Fine." He picked up a pen to go back to his correcting reports. "Any other fun news?"

"They tried to drug them to discredit Harris by him being gay with DiNozzo. Even though everyone knows he's dated multiple sets of assassins and single ones too."

"He's dated what?" Gibbs demanded.

"Yup." Fornell looked smug. "DiNozzo identified at least four sets of twin assassins. Plus the single ones. That's one reason we used to watch him." They shared a look. "Plenty of non-evil ones who think DiNozzo should go political think Harris would make a great spouse for him. They'd like to enforce it somehow if he's ever elected." He walked off. "Have fun with all that. The terrorist groups' trials is next week."

"I'll keep an ear out for them to try more stupid things," Gibbs complained.

"Have fun. I've got to work on the escort detail." He went back to his office to handle that detail.

Gibbs shook his head. "Only DiNozzo," he muttered.

McGee looked over. "They tried him to make him handle it. Seems they were wrong to do that."

Gibbs nodded. "Probably. Though it's good Sheppard didn't ruin him."

"That's a really good exam score. He shouldn't have much problem getting a job. Or a seat in Congress." He went back to his current report, sending it over. He hated being the senior agent some days. Though it was way too quiet on the floor today.

***

Alex rushed to the vet's office, after shouting that at his boss, getting there in time to pet his two dogs. Duke was in real trouble and Devil was howling in misery with Caspian. "Hey," he said, kneeling to pet them. "I'm right here, guys. I'm here. Daddy's here." He petted them to calm them down. Someone came over. "Is Duke okay?"

"He had a seizure but we got it stopped," the vet tech said calmly. "They're very bonded."

"Devil and Duke were abandoned with me so I adopted." He looked up at her. "Was it exposure to something at doggy daycare?"

"No. We don't think so since he had an empty stomach."

"No, he ate breakfast. They got wet food this morning. They inhaled it like the snack hoovers they are." He got up, picking up both dogs. Caspian climbed up on top of his shoulder and resting on Devil's hind end. "Can we see him?"

"Of course. This way, Mr. Harris." She led them to the room where Devil was resting. "We've sedated him to stop the seizure. He's napping comfortably."

"Is this going to be something to medicate for the rest of his life?"

"Not sure yet. The vet can answer that tomorrow." He nodded, letting the dogs sniff Duke, letting Devil nudge him. "He's just napping, sweetie," she said, petting Devil's ear. "It's okay. He's just fine. He's just napping." Devil woofed, looking at his human, who cuddled him. "He should be fine. I'll get the vet in here." She went to do that. "The dogs are still very worried about their littermate."

He nodded. "That's something he was worried about. That's why they got the smaller dog." He went in there with the test results. "Devil's seizure looks to be related to his empty stomach."

"No, the dogs inhaled their wet breakfast this morning. I was sipping coffee to make sure they ate their own. Now and then Prince Caspian will bogart everyone's if I don't watch him."

"Okay. He was fully empty. Did he perhaps have the runs or anything?"

"No." He shook his head. "If he had I couldn't have sent him to doggy daycare. They don't allow sick dogs."

"Interesting. His body read that it was fully empty." He let him see the results. "This is low, that's his electrolytes."

"So gatorade? Can he drink that like normal?" Alex's nose scrunched up. "Or is powerade better?"

"We can rehydrate him here. We'll do some fluid under the skin, we've already started that. We've got him on an IV to give him fluids."

"Will he need meds again?"

"Probably not as long as it's related only to this."

"Could it be related to other things that're hidden?"

"I don't see signs of cancer with his fairly average white blood cell counts. Have you noticed any injuries?"

"No, not in the least. The last time he limped I was in here almost immediately. He had sprained his foot."

"I remember reading that. You are a very fussy dog parent." Alex shrugged but grinned a bit. Caspian barked. "You're a good friend to them, Prince Caspian." He petted that dog. Duke let out a whine. Both dogs whined back at him and nosed him so he calmed down. "He's fine, dogs." He looked at the human again. "For tonight, we're going to keep him here." Alex winced. "I know. They're very bonded. Even the new one it seems."

"Yeah. That second night, Caspian was very good to steal the treat bag off the counter to give to Duke. He lays in the lap while they lay beside me to get petted. They seem to enjoy me brushing him because it means I ignore their baths for a few more hours."

The vet smiled. "That can work. Groomers?"

"Nah. I get into my old speedo and remember I swam a few matches in high school." He looked at Caspian, who licked his cheek. "Thanks, dear." He looked at the vet again. "Is he going to be sedated all night?"

"Yes. That would also ease his anxiety at not having them with him. We can give you something to help Devil sleep tonight if you think it'll be needed."

"Duke does...okay-ish with just me. We've had one other vet overnight and Devil nearly worried himself into an ulcer according to Tony. But I wasn't there either, I was having a talk with the one who tried to poison Duke."

The vet smiled. "Sometimes you have to have such talks with a former paramour. I just divorced mine."

"We barely dated. She got jealous of the dogs." He shook his head quickly, making Caspian move and dig his claws in. "Sorry," he said with a wince. "I won't move, Caspian. You can let go of my shoulder please." Caspian licked him and eased his claws out of his shoulder. "Thank you." He looked at the vet again. "But he'll be okay?"

"He'll be fine. You can pick him up tomorrow at eight."

"Oooh. I'm due in court at eight-thirty. Probably all day." He grimaced. "I could bring him with me but that leaves the other two in doggy daycare without him." He considered it. "Any earlier pickup spots?"

"We're here at seven-thirty for morning feeds."

"Thanks." He grinned. "That'll help. The judge can bark back. I've had to bring a dog in before that was a therapy dog and he hated it but oh well!" The vet snickered. "Okay, guys. Devil's going to nap tonight with the nice vet guy. You guys are going with me to work for about an hour and then we'll go home, get a nice dinner, and worry tonight. Okay?"

They whined so he let them both lick Duke until he growled about it - he hated to be fussed at by them - but Xander left with them. He took them back to the office, heading inside. "Sorry, Stephen," he told his supervisor. "Emergencies happen."

"What happened?"

"Duke had a seizure at doggy daycare. They think he's dehydrated. So he's got an overnight sedated. My other two are worried sick. So I'll bring him to court with me tomorrow."

"The judge wouldn't allow that, Alex."

"He can't go to doggy daycare when he's sick." He shrugged. "I'm sure I'm not the first, but maybe the first with the furry kid."

"Probably. If the judge fines you, you get to explain it to the higher ups."

"Of course." He grinned. "Let me finish up for today and calm them down." He went to his office to do that. Caspian was sitting on top of Devil's back to nuzzle him so he was calm at least. Alexsis leaned in. "Duke had a seizure. They thought he hadn't eaten but I saw him gulp breakfast. They said he's a bit dehydrated."

"That's good then. Easily fixed." Alex nodded with a sigh. "He'll be fine."

"Those two will worry all night."

"They probably will." She came in to pet the two dogs. "You boys are good." She looked at him. "You can't bring the dog into the courtroom."

"I can't leave him in the car."

"Point."

"I'm probably not the first. If I get fined I'll pay it. My client will like to pet him to keep calm."

"Probably. The judge won't."

"The judge can pet him if he's nice and decent. I'd let him pet for stress relief. I'm sure he probably needs it."

"Also probably true." She smiled. "If you have to I can pick him up from you." She went back to talk to her poodle. That one came in to rest with the two boys and made them relax again. Boris was a part-time pack member.

***
Part 7 by Voracity2
Alex walked his dog into the courtroom, having him lay down under the table. The judge stared at him. "I had to pick him up from the vets. He had an overnight from seizures and the daycare I use won't let him come in. So he's being a therapy dog today for stress relief if someone needs some petting time to calm down." He sat down with a fake smile.

The judge looked at the other table then at him. "Is that really considered appropriate to you, Mr. Harris?"

"I'm sure that I'm not the first who had to bring in a kid, mine're just fuzzy."

"No lover to take care of him for you?"

"No, I doubt the jewel thief and assassin I was dating last month would be a good dog babysitter today. Especially since she's in Argentina overthrowing someone or other."

The judge blinked. "They were what?"

Alex shrugged. "Not the first one, Your Honor. Only those at least mildly naughty will love me like I should be valued. I am precious enough for a thief to covet and steal."

The judge nodded once at that. "I can order you to send him somewhere."

"Then I can hold my part via video chat."

"Whatever," he muttered. "If he messes up my courtroom you clean it up."

"Of course. He's my dog. Why wouldn't I as I apologize?" he asked with a confused look.

The judge nodded. "Fine. Your client could probably use the stress relief petting."

"I'm open to others who need it borrowing his ears for that. As long as they're not mean."

"I'll consider that later, Mr. Harris." The other parties came in and sat down, the one beside Alex looking at the dog. He petted him after getting a hand sniffed and settled in. "Are we ready to start?"

"Yes, Your Honor," both lawyers agreed.

"Go ahead, Mr. Prescott."

"Sir, my clients allege that the other side's business is harmful to their environment and neighborhood. They say it's lowered property values. They also say that they're loud, noisy, and messy. He wanted them shut down and forced to move if they keep the business open."

Alex shook his head as he stood up. "Your Honor, that being over there doesn't even live in that neighborhood he's complaining about. His registered address is in Fairlawn and the business is a few blocks away in Anacostia." He handed that map over. "I think this is another case of hatred due to someone not being a standard white person." He sat down.

The judge looked at that map. "Has your client moved, Mr. Prescott?"

"No, Your Honor, but his house looks at that neighborhood. His window faces that street's other end so he's seen all sorts of being traipsing to that business."

"I see. What was this business again?"

"A training gym," Alex said. "He works with both community people and normal, average humans who box and fight train. Including me for my weekly sword practice."

"Most of us who know you don't consider you the average person, Mr. Harris."

Alex smiled. "Thank you!"

The judge rolled his eyes. "No being cutesy." He went over the information. "Is that a solidly community neighborhood? Living wise and work wise?"

"No," Alex said. "It's a mixed neighborhood. There's been a few gentrifiers, or whatever they're called when people move in and then call the cops repeatedly because the ones already living there aren't like them." The judge stared at him. "I just call them pathetic whiny bitches, Your Honor. One tried that with my old neighborhood and I had her arrested for annoying me to no end one Sunday morning for not being of her faith. She was trying to arrange us all to have to go to her church by community guidelines."

The judge just nodded. "I've heard some HOA areas are like that." He went back to the information. "Does your client live there as well, Mr. Harris?"

Alex looked at him. "No, Your Honor. I live about two blocks away toward inner Anacostia. I live in a safer neighborhood full of community and no pathetic whining ones. We ran them off years ago."

"Good. Everyone should have a safe place to live," he admitted. He looked at the other side. "Does he have pictures showing the things going on?"

"A few, Your Honor." Mr. Prescott handed them over. "From his bedroom window."

"Hmm. A few very interesting looking beings. Is the gym that purple facade?"

"No, the dark purple is a bookstore run by hippie witches," the gym owner said. "The light purple is a grocery that does a lot of inter-realm staples. My gym is about three doors down from the light purple store, Your Honor."

"Is your gym in this picture?" He handed it to the bailiff to hand over.

He took it to look at. "No, Your Honor, this isn't my neighborhood. That purple store there is actually a procurer of herbs from off realm. Used by priests and meditative sorts and the new age sort of humans." He handed it back. "Mine's around the corner to the right and three-quarters up the block." He pulled up his map to show him. "I'm there. That store is here." He let them have the phone to show him.

"Interesting. I can see that on the google street view." He handed it back and accepted the picture. "So it seems Mr. Prescott's client is complaining to the wrong person." He looked at him. "Have you talked to the owners of those businesses?" That man growled at that, glaring at the judge. He looked at Alex. "Have you heard he has since he refused to answer?"

"He tried to run them out by complaining and calling the cops for them being harmless beings who run a business. The officers fined him and told him to stop it." The man stood up and started to rant about unnatural beings.

"Dude, don't make me defend my client from you in front of my dog. I'll hurt you more for that." He stared at him as he stood up. The guy backed away slowly. "I am one of the defenders of DC. You are not going to do this in front of my sick dog. Or else I will counter sue.

"I've always said I'm a lawyer so I can taunt you, torture you, defend you, screw with your mind, and then make you pay me for the hours I worked doing it. Make me prove it in here." The man whined and hid behind his lawyer. Alex sat back down. "Sorry, Your Honor. Bit of a temper moment. I hate bigots. Even when the community itself has some against other species I don't like it and speak up against it."

The judge just nodded. "At least the bailiff didn't have to arrest him for that." The dog barked quietly. "Is he sick again?"

"He knows I'm pissed and wants me to calm down." He smiled and pulled his dog into his lap to pet him. "You're a very good boy." The dog whined a bit. "May I have a moment to let him use the lawn?"

"I think we're done," the judge admitted. "Since that business isn't the one he's actually complaining about."

"I'll make them all leave! None of them should be here!" the human shouted.

Alex put the dog onto the table and walked over there, staring at him. "The community was here long before white people. We have proof, with written treaties wih the natives, that they were here first. If you don't like it, move. The city can always fill itself with people who aren't bigots." The guy took a swing at him but Alex caught his fist and squeezed it, staring at the guy until he backed down again. "I've had enough of this. I'm going to bill you for the court fees." He smiled. "Plus my bill."

"I think that's fair," Prescott admitted. "Since he filed a false claim. He should pay court costs and both attorney's fees, Your Honor."

"I can agree with that," the judge decided. The dog whined. "Mr. Harris."

Alex picked up his dog and a plastic bag. "Let me take him out for a moment. He was sick yesterday and had to spend overnight at the vets." He went to do that and came back about ten minutes later. "There, all better and cleaned up. We even both washed our paws." He sat down again, smiling at the judge. "If he's willing to talk settlement I've voice dictated a preliminary offer while we were watering a bush. I can send it to your secretary to print?"

The judge stared at him. "Well...." He looked at Prescott. "There is the countersuit." Prescott looked amused but nodded. "Go ahead, Mr. Harris." He pulled out his phone to send that and she brought it in a few minutes later. "Thank you, Marjorie."

"Welcome, Sir." She looked at Alex. "You're evil."

He grinned. "I can't be fully evil, I'm not wearing silk and happy clothes." She walked off giggling. He looked at his client. "She's a very nice grandma sort of lady but would never flirt with me because she's not dangerous."

"Thankfully," the judge agreed. He read it over and snickered. "That is slightly evil, Mr. Harris."

"I can run home and put on special silk stuff so I can be my full evil empress self as my twin calls me." He grinned. "I'm willing to negotiate from that point."

"Has your client seen it yet?" He let the bailiff hand it over so it could be read by the client. That got a moan for the evilness.

"Harris, did you have chocolate for breakfast again?" the demon complained, handing it back.

Alex smiled and nodded. "I had to run through so I had Starbucks for breakfast on the way here. My mocha whatever-that-thing-is-called was very nice to me." He handed it to Prescott, who read it and moaned as he handed it to his client. "We can start negotiations there. Yes?" Duke hopped up in his lap so he cuddled him and petted him while they argued in a corner about it. The demon petted the ears again, getting a quiet bark and a lick of his hand but Duke napped on his human.

Prescott came back shaking his head. "Your Honor, I believe Mr. Harris is evil. I'm sure now why his twin calls him the evil empress at times." Alex grinned at him. "We'd like to avoid having to settle this and just forget it happened. Though my client has agreed paying court and attorney fees is going to be nicer to him instead of paying off this and that. He'd like to just pay those."

Alex looked over. "Ten thousand for annoying him and wages lost for the time he had to spend working against this plot. Plus court and both attorney fees."

Prescott looked at his client, who huffed and nodded, sitting down to sulk. "I think he'll agree to that, Your Honor."

"I would like to note a non-payment penalty," Alex said. "Because he's pouty."

"If he doesn't pay it within a good set of time, say ninety days, he'll be liable for double all that." The judge signed off on that and let them sign it. Then he dismissed the case. Harris walked off with his dog trotting beside him and his client protectively in front of him so the idiot couldn't try to harm him. The judge looked at the bailiff. "Did the dog do more than drool?"

"I can't even see drool, Your Honor. He was well behaved. Harris has done good spoiling his dogs but making sure they're well trained."

"Still very weird. I do not want to make that a precedent." He went back to his office to make notes on that case so others would hear about it. He could just see some lawyer bringing in their purse dog.

***

Alex's supervisor came into his office about an hour after he had gotten back, closing the door. "You brought your dog."

"He couldn't go to daycare." He saved what he was working on to look at him. "The judge fussed a bit but I promised to clean up after him. He only needed one short break and I used it to dictate a settlement agreement for the countersuit."

Stephen, his supervisor blinked a few times. "Okay. And he just sat there?"

"Mostly under the table. At the end he was in my lap getting a cuddle while I was being smug for defeating the bigot." He printed what he had been typing and handed it over. "The conclusion I was going to put into the file for him. I'm about halfway done with it."

He read it over, nodding at that. "The judge wanted you warned not to do it again."

"I probably won't have to." He looked at his dog, seeing him looking upset. "Stephen, let me handle this. Not sure if this is a new seizure or him just being upset by you being mad at me." Stephen got out of the way so he took him outside to let him rest in the sun on some grass. Sure enough, he threw up.

Alex picked up some of it with the baggie in his pocket and took him to the vet's. He had to hand the leash to the door guard. "I have to grab my keys to take him to the vet's again." He rushed up the stairs. "He threw up blood, Stephen. Can you yell later?"

"I won't yell. You did okay but next time find someone to babysit the dog."

"Yes, sir." He grabbed what he needed and locked his office, heading down to grab his dog and take him back to the vet's. He made it faster than normal and parked with a screech of brakes, getting out to carry the dog inside. "He started to throw up. I think he's had another seizure, he went stiff and trembled. I picked up some of the puke since it looked like blood." He let the vet tech take the dog and the baggy. "Let me go lock my car." He ran out to do that and came back.

The vet waved him into the room. "What are you feeding him?"

"The usual wet food." He looked up his last order to show him. "It's supposed to be good."

"It is. It's apparently what's upsetting his stomach. Has he eaten since this morning?"

"He stole a bite of danish on the way back from the courthouse and licked some of my whipped cream after I picked him up. It was on my hand and he licked it before I could pet him with it."

"You took him to court?"

"Yeah, he can't go to doggy daycare when he's sick. That's what I thought was a seizure in the car." He pointed.

The vet nodded. "That is one. Okay, let's start with a med and let me look at that under a microscope." He got him sedated and went to do that. That could work while the blood scans ran. He came back twenty minutes later, adding a new medicine. "He's allergic to the food. His body's getting rid of it anyway it can." Alex groaned but nodded once.

"He's a bit dehydrated again. We can do another night of sedation and start him on something to ease the allergic reaction." Alex nodded at that. "He can go home with that. You can call if he has another one. This should stop that. For tonight, just very soft things for the other two. Are they having problems?"

"Caspian's been shedding but I think he sheds all the time. He's fluffy."

"He is fluffy and they probably do shed, but we can change the food. That's supposed to be a good brand but there's better."

"That Blue stuff, they won't eat it. I tried that first and went to the purple cans that Devil puked but Duke ate and liked, to this stuff."

"We have some stuff here for sensitive stomachs and that's grain free. We can try that. Did he throw up after you picked him up? He ate right before then."

"No. Not when I had him. He had to pee a lot at the courthouse and pooped a bit but it was just a bit looser than normal. That's why we both washed our paws."

"We can go to that." He went to get him a few cans of that. "This is what we fed him this morning. It stinks to humans but dogs seem to like it." The vet tech leaned in. "Did he eat this morning?"

"Barely. He turned his nose up until I hand fed him."

"Yeah, he'll do that when he hates something but wants to nibble," Alex agreed with a nod. "Is there a better alternative he'll want to eat? Beyond spam? Because all three dogs will eat spam. I ran out of dog food and the store was closed so I had to give them spam one night about two weeks ago."

"Well, it's a grain free meat product," the vet tech admitted. She got a few other cans, taking those back.

"These are cat food," the vet called after her. He went to get something else but even slightly sedated the dog wouldn't get near that can. "He's picky tonight."

"He's sick so probably. Spam tonight?"

"Not my favorite idea but if he'll eat it and keep it down, no more than four ounces."

"I can do that. Maybe try potted meat since it's already chopped up." The vet sighed but nodded at that. "If he'll eat it and it's not bad for him...." He shrugged. "Is it going to hurt him?"

"No. Not in the least. As long as that's not all his diet. It's not very complete and I doubt he can take vitamin drops."

"They don't have doggy Flintstones? Or gummies?"

"No," the vet admitted with a smile for him. "Not yet. Many dogs would like that though." He patted him on the arm. "He can go home tonight. Call if he has another. Baby him for a bit and bring him back in a week to look over. Make sure he drinks. You can add some beef broth to his dish too. He'd probably like to drink that with the meat products."

"I can do that. I'm not a bad cook actually." He grinned. "Thanks, guys." He picked up Duke to carry him out to the car. Then he came in to pay the bill and then take him to the grocery store. He turned on the air for a few minutes to make sure the car stayed cold. He got out and locked the car, seeing someone staring while pulling out her phone. People like her would call on him.

"He's really sick, I need to get him some broth, and I was running the a/c so it's about seventy in there. I'll be back in ten minutes." He ran in to get those things and came back eight minutes later, making the staring, mad person huff. "He's sick. He had a seizure earlier. He needed meat and broth stuff." She huffed off. He opened the door, looking at the dog as he put the bag down. "Hey, Duke, I'm back." The dog whined so he petted him then got in to drive him home.

He called his supervisor Stephen on the way. "It's me. I've got to stay home with Duke tomorrow. He had another seizure. He's on weird food. He's getting potted meat and broth. No, he's slightly sedated. We think it may have been an allergy to the last food." He heard a beep and pulled out of the way of the stupid person. He shook his head.

"Idiot people on the roads tonight." He sighed, checking and taking off again. "Sorry. Had to take a breather in there before I got run over. No, I think we'll be okay. The vet said to bring him back next week or if he has another seizure. So we'll see with the potted meat and broth tonight. Yeah, they do like spam so they should like this. And if not, I got three cans of spam too.

"They loved that a few weeks back. Thanks, Stephen. Yeah I can work from home tomorrow. Thanks." He hung up with a sigh, looking back at the dog then at the road around him. The same car came back around and Alex switched streets. The car followed so he pulled into a parking lot to stare at the car until they ran off again. "Well, that sucked. Wonder who they were."

He went home, parking and getting out to grab the bags and then the dog. They walked in and he kicked the door shut, looking at the other two dogs. "We're home, puppies." They came out of the bedroom, laying around Duke on the couch. "I know but he'll be okay. He's just still sick." He petted them before going to fix their dinner. His could wait until his stomach wasn't upset. He wasn't ready to lose a dog friend yet.

***

Tony came to bail Alex out of jail, staring at him. "What did you do?"

"I beat the living shit out of the guy who broke into my house to try to poison me and the dogs. He admitted to the officers that he did try to poison them via the water supply. The vet agreed it was consistent with his symptoms. They're all at the vet's."

"That's fine. We can go pick up the dogs." Tony let him pay his bail and leave with him. "Are you in real trouble?"

"No. Second degree assault." He grimaced. "It would've been homicide but the neighbors called the cops about the break-in and they got there too soon."

"Calm down," Tony ordered, patting him on the back. "Just stay calm. We'll go get the dogs." Alex nodded. "Quit going full on Xander as you usually put it." Alex took a deep breath and nodded once. "Good. Let's go. Who took them there?"

"One of the officers after I called. So they know why and what's going on and that they ate spam tonight. They hated the potted meat."

"That's good I guess. They can?"

"They wanted him on meat only food." He grimaced. "The vet said it'd be okay since they liked it and they hate the special wet food for sensitive tummies." He ran a hand through his hair. "Let's get the dogs."

"Yup." He took him to do that. The vet tech smiled at him. "Were they positive for that?" She nodded. "Are they okay?"

"Duke tried to eat my face when I gave him some ham from my sandwich by accident." The guys grinned. "The vet's given them stuff to help flush their systems. They should be fine. Duke hasn't had a new seizure. So watch for those and bring them back in a week unless he has another one."

"Yes, ma'am." He went to pick up his dogs, getting happy barks and wiggles. "Hey, guys. Let's go home and figure out if anyone else broke in. Just in case I have to go kick another ass." Tony helped by taking Caspian's leash. The dog pouted at him. "You can walk with Tony, Caspian. Just to the car." They went out with him and he paid their boarding and visit fees, then went out to the car with them. They hopped into the backseat for him laying down immediately so he could hitch them in. Xander got in, Tony got in to drive, and they took off. "I probably need to move," Alex said quietly.

"Probably. Can you afford to move?"

"Yeah. I still have money. As far as I know I have money," he said dryly. "I did earlier."

"Is your job going to complain?"

"I'll send Stephen an email in a few." He waved a hand in the air. Caspian barked. "You're okay, baby." He looked back. "Tony, is that car following us holding a guy with an assault rifle?"

"Yup. Sure is." Alex huffed but tightened the seat belt while Tony sped up. A few more cars showed up. So did an officer to stop the car with the guy sitting in the window with the gun. They still got bumped into the cars around them and knocked silly on the airbags. One of the guys ran over to shoot at them but Caspian was mad. Someone had touched their humans! The guy had to back away into an officer to keep from getting his face ripped off. And he didn't make it fast enough to not get bitten.

"Pup, down," the officer ordered. The dog growled at them. "I know smaller dogs are fierce, dog, but don't bite officers."

"Down," a voice called. "Lay down, Caspian." The dog barked but did lay down obediently. He came jogging over. "Guys, that's one of my coworkers. I'm an intern at one's law office. That's Duke, Devil, and Caspian is the small one."

"Great. Thank you, sir. Which one do you work with?"

"That's Alex's car and him in the passenger's seat."

"Okay. Can you sit here with them for a few minutes? We can get a paramedic and we can't have them bitten."

"Yeah, that's fine. I was going to dinner with my fiancée." Alex moaned, rubbing his forehead. "Calm down, Alex. You were in a wreck."

Alex blinked at him. "Go eat with your future fiancée. She'll get mad and stomp off if you're late the day you want to propose, Martin."

"Once you're fully awake. I called her on the way over here to stop Caspian from eating the bad guy."

Alex grinned back at his dogs. "Thanks for the guarding, guys." He petted them, getting out to sit in the back with them. "Tony?" he called loudly. "You good?"

"I hate concussions," he muttered, rubbing his forehead. "Damn it. I don't need another one." He sat back, wincing. A paramedic came over to check him. He rolled his head to look at him. "I hate concussions."

"I remember seeing you on a few scenes with them, Agent DiNozzo."

"They ran me out of NCIS. Now I'm a lawyer."

"Great job that pays better and less stress." He checked him over. "Not a concussion. Just a bit of a headache." Tony sighed in pleasure. "Do the dogs need a vet?"

"We just came from there so I hope not. It'd be the fourth time in two days," Alex said. He wiped off Duke's drool. "Messy," he teased with a smile. "But a good messy boy." They all cuddled the daddy. "Martin, girlfriend. She's going to huff off because she's high maintenance."

"Not that bad. She'll understand, Alex." He called her. "Alex said to update you. He's okay, he's awake again. Caspian nearly ate the guy who wrecked them when he stomped over with a gun. He did get the guy's cheek. No, Alex said I should update you and tell you I'm nearly ready to be on my way there again." He grinned. "I'll tell him you said to be more careful, Amber. See you in about a half-hour." He hung up, staring at him. "She said to be more careful. That some bad boy would hate to find you like this."

Alex looked around then at him. "I don't see any of my ex's. Thankfully. Go ahead, Martin. Thank you for the help and I hope she squeals and pounces you while shouting yes." He grinned, heading back to his car. "Do you have it with you?"

"In the glovebox." He smiled and waved, getting in to drive off.

Alex looked at the staring officer. "That's my office's intern in our business department. He's proposing tonight."

"That's always an exciting time. Any idea why they did this?"

"Well, I work with the peaceful community so there's always someone who hates that. And I did win against a bigot earlier this week who was trying to drive people out of their businesses because he can see their street." The officer winced. "Tony's a former agent at NCIS. He had to take out terrorists and other major crimes. He's had a few who've tried him in the last few months."

Tony nodded, rubbing his forehead again. "Not sure who they were. I didn't get a great look. I was picking up Alex from kicking the ass of the idiots who broke into his house to try to poison his dogs. He had to pay a minimal bail."

"Okay," the officer said, calling that in to check. "No, he's not going to be violating his bail for this. We do have to warn you to keep your dog from biting people." He gave Alex a pointed look, getting a shrug back. "Is he trained?"

"Yeah, he's taking the good citizenship classes and test. All three of mine have." He looked at Duke. "He's been sick."

"That's sad but hopefully he'll be better now. That's my supervisor."

Alex looked and waved. "Which one were they after?" he called.

"You, Mr. Harris. They hate your twin and what you do here to protect others," an officer said. "He's an idiot."

"I think I need to move again," Alex sighed. The officers reacted to some guy running over with a gun. "Hey, stop it! If you're here for Xander and Stephen, just stop it. If you're not, well, I've got a headache, dear." The guy tried to grab him so he got out to beat his ass too. He stared down at him. "Was that a good idea?" he asked. He pulled out his phone to call his twin on video call, turning the camera around. "Isn't that Stephen's guy?"

"Former guy. He tried to hit on one of the baby slayers so Stephen about killed him and then made him hike off before he did die of it," Xander said casually. "You're bruised, beloved evil twin'o mine?"

"Second attack in a day," Alex complained. "I had to make bail for the earlier one who broke into the house to complain they hadn't been able to poison the dogs."

"Like fuck that'll happen," Xander complained back. "I need to take a vacay up there to help you and guard you. Before you go fully evil to fight back, Alex."

Alex turned the camera back to his side, grinning at his twin. "If you want to vacay you know I don't mind."

"I know. Is Tony okay since I can see him in the background?"

"They caused a car crash so he's got a headache. I've got a headache. Caspian nearly ate the guy who tried to show up to shoot us afterward."

"Good dog, Caspian!" he cooed. The keeshond barked at that, wagging his tail. Alex squatted down so Xander could see him. "You were such a good boy to defend the daddy and Uncle Tony. Yes you were!" he cooed. "You're a great good boy, Cassie." Alex petted him with a smile. "They deserve doggy treats."

"Tonight it's spam again. Duke's stomach is still ripped up." He looked at the phone again, standing up with Caspian being held. "Does he have any warrants so the local guys here can deal with him?"

"Oh, yeah," Xander agreed with a nod. "Stephen, that idiot tried my twin," he called. "They need to know what else to arrest him on."

Stephen stomped into view. "What?" Xander explained it to him. "I didn't think Caspian would be that tough. That's a good little dog." He nodded. "Let me have the officer, Alex." Alex let him have the phone while he sat back in the car with the dogs to pet them all. The phone was handed back. "Are you okay?"

"They stopped us via car crash."

"Ah."

"We had just bailed me out for defeating the idiot who broke into the house. I've got to move again. And get a new car."

"You need a bodyguard for a bit, Alex. Let someone else beat the idiots. That way everyone underestimates you again." Alex sighed but nodded at that idea. "I'll talk to my ex-girlfriend in the area. She might know someone who does real estate stuff."

"Okay. Thanks. The one who helped me last time broke up."

"I'll call her in a few. Are they arresting you again?"

Alex looked at the officer, who shook his head. "They said no."

"Just protect yourself and whoever that guy is."

"That's Tony," Xander told him, kissing him on the cheek. "I was going to take a vacay to straighten some people out."

Stephen smiled at that. "If you want, we can do that. Drop your minis in Cleveland on the way to DC."

"I could like that. We could use a vacay before the upcoming run of problems."

"Sure. I'll get things arranged tonight." He looked at the screen again. "Be safer, Alex. We'll be there in a few days." He walked off happier. He smiled at his second-in-command. "Alex's dog Prince Caspian nearly ripped off a guy's face for trying to harm his human."

"Awww! Keeshond are hunting dogs for vermin but that's cool of him."

"Andrews was up there."

"Like fuck that'll go!" he chirped with a grin. "We going on vacation, boss?"

"Yes we are. We'll let the girls hit Cleveland for a few days." That got a nod and he went to tell others that plan so they could arrange things. Stephen went to calm Xander down once he was off the phone. He hated it when his twin was threatened by idiots.

***

Alex sighed, flopping down on the free side of the conference table. "No sleep," he admitted. "Headache from the car crash they forced on us." He leaned forward. "So I know you're worried."

"You got arrested."

"For beating the living shit out of the guy who broke into my house. He shouted that he should've tried harder to poison the dogs. The officer nicely brought the dogs to the vet's for me. That is why Duke was throwing up and having seizures. He's better now. The charges were dropped by the prosecutor when I pointed out I was protecting myself and my house. And he's lucky the guy was alive since the neighbors called the cops about the break-in too fast."

The senior partners all nodded at that. "Are you still in trouble?" one asked.

"No. The charges were dropped. I got the bail money back. I've talked to a realtor about moving. Again. My twin's boyfriend had an ex who is helping me." That got a slight smile and a nod. "The dogs are all okay. The officer didn't do more than warn me about Caspian biting the guy who ran up to shoot us after making the car crash."

"They did what?" Alex handed over copies of the reports. They read them over and one of the quad huffed. "Oh, dear," he said, handing them back. "So it was the cases."

"Bigots are bigots. Some try legal stupidity. Some try illegal stupidity. In this case he tried a few of each to make sure which one fit right." Alex grimaced. "My temper's still high about that."

"The dogs are all right now?" another asked.

Alex smiled and nodded. "They're back at doggy daycare. They've really enjoyed their spam and beef broth every other night. They're still not willing to eat regular wet food. Though they'll still eat crunchies."

"That's fine," the third one agreed with a head nod. "Any other news you want to tell us before we hear from gossip?"

"Martin, the intern, showed up during the accident to help and made Caspian quit going after someone."

"That's good of him," they agreed together. They shared a look then nodded.

"It sounds like he'll go far," the third one said bluntly. "Can he handle pressure?"

"Probably. He did remember to warn his girlfriend he'd be late. When I told him to go because he had huge plans to propose he called her again to tell her he was closer to being on his way. I haven't heard how his proposal went."

The senior partners all nodded. "That's important and it was good he did try to help the dogs." Alex grinned at that. "Your friend you've been seen with?"

"Tony? He's interviewing in a lot of spots right now. He asked if we had an opening and we said no. He passed with ninety-second percentile for criminal law." They smiled at that, nodding some. "He said he's had nineteen interviews with sixteen legal groups but nothing's been offered yet. If we need someone he could probably apply quickly."

"Our criminal department is full," one admitted. "Why did you have someone in the poker hall send you to Cleveland a while back?"

"Willow decided to kidnap my twin after he had fought off a group of idiots who hated being protected by girls. He was heading for medical treatment when she kidnaped him to complain about things that weren't related and wouldn't get him medical attention. So I went up to yell at her and get Xander to the ER. The witches sent him back while he was in the ER before he got treated but his boyfriend did get him treatment down there. Stephen also ended that problem for him. They won't be trying again probably."

"That's what a good lover does. Are you dating?"

"I've been on dates. Nothing's lasted more than a few months," Alex admitted. "I almost wished but I know how double sided that could be. Especially with the plot to discredit me by drugging someone else so we had to screw." He cleared his throat. "That was the gas attack on a club Tony and I were celebrating his bar scores in."

"We heard," they agreed.

Alex grinned. "He's had plenty of opportunity and hasn't flirted. I don't flirt all that well so I let others flirt with me. Anytime I try to flirt I get sneered at."

They just nodded at that. They shared a look then at him. "Are you moving?"

"Yes. Soon. Until then the house has security and I've got an emergency switch to carry around. I had to change security companies since they didn't tell me someone had snuck around the house to poison some of the water somehow. They said they only covered the front door. Even though they have a camera on the back door."

"Is the new one better?"

"Much better." Alex grinned. "Bit more expensive by about a hundred a month but more secure and paranoid."

"Good for you then," one decided. The others nodded. "Have you been arrested before this?"

"Mistaken identity once, they thought I was some hobo guy when I was just tired and napping in the car on the way home from L4 classes one day. When they finally got around to asking me what my name was I told them why I had been napping in my own car, in a parking lot that I paid for. They decided I wasn't the bum they had expected and let me go. They decided I was smart to not drive that tired.

"A few times with the community things, but I consider two of those civil rights arrests. The other one they were trying to shut me up so arrested me. I made bail, brought it to the press, and the charges were mysteriously dropped. The two civil rights arrests I paid my fine and a few others' fines. One had been for the protest in Maryland when I defended that nursery area during it.

"The judge fined me a hundred bucks for protecting the egg nursery from the cops coming to beat us all to death for wanting rights. He asked why I didn't fight it and I did note that I had thrown the first punch so it was a legal and ethical arrest but they were going to be sued for the sixty broken bones the whole group got, including my six total."

"The other?"

"The incident you guys hated to hear that I handled to get Wallia free from that group of idiots who thought all demons could grant wishes and boons. Since I protested the police weren't arresting the kidnappers, they arrested me."

"I remember hearing about that and frowning. Why didn't the defense group do it?"

"The local defense group isn't that hot to protect and serve, just to make statements and handle bigger problems like if that program comes back again. They were willing to let the locals handle it so they could be forced to deal with the problems and they could make their own statement to look good. Wallia wouldn't have survived if I hadn't went when Xander told me what was going on according to the news."

"I remember hearing that. Does she know that they didn't respond? She said they sent you."

He shrugged. "I'm not going to correct that assumption. For all I know one of them was the one who told Xander to tell me to go save her."

"Point." They shared another look. "You're not in trouble for being arrested." Alex grinned at them. "Though we do think you're being a bit...tough."

"He kicked in my front door."

"We understand that but we've heard rumors of you being a bit violent," another said.

"Only when I have to be."

"You've used a fight ring?"

"I use one about once a week to stay in practice. Plus I have one afternoon with sword practice just in case. I've been doing that since my second month here when my former boss suggested it."

"We can see the reason behind it, Alex. We're just hearing rumors that you're becoming a violent asshole," one told him.

"No, that's Xander's title more than me." He grinned a bit. "He had to get the locals down there organized again for something huge. I usually only fight if someone starts it. Though I will make sure to make it bad enough to be an example of why you don't do it again."

"The one who broke in, is he going to sue you for damages? Or hospital bills?"

"He slurred he was going to try but I think, since he kicked in my door, he's not got a leg to stand on legally. Even if they do fix the break in his left leg I gave him."

"Is he still in the hospital?"

Alex shrugged. "I haven't asked. To be honest he won't be coming back anyway since he is arrested for that breaking and threatening. Also for animal abuse. And I've started a legal suit to sue him for damages to the house and vet bills. Plus another ten grand for making me lose my temper that way and another fifty grand for the worrying I had to do over Duke's health. I paid Brodchow to read it over for me and have it delivered."

"I'm sure it amused her," they decided. "Is that the only suit you have going?"

"Two others. One of Wolfram and Hart's people tried to get into my face and challenge my licenses. I've stopped him and now I'm annoying him into suicide I hope. That particular one made Brodchow laugh evilly and made a few others run to hide in the office." He grinned. "The others' a non-payment for the last house.

"They paid eighty percent and then quit so I had to sue them and the bank to get the rest. They'll settle out of court because it looks bad on their lender to stop payments that way. Especially since it should have all come at once instead of in installments like they did. They're a failing lender."

"That's very reasonable. And you paying Melissa was nice too."

"It's official work time so I needed to pay her instead of asking for a favor. I occasionally ask for her to read over a new contract for my typos but usually I hit up Patricia for those. She does it for most of us in our corner of the office."

That got a nod and a smile. "I have a secretary to do that for me," one agreed with a nod. "Are the dogs going to stay all right?"

"Duke and Devil are both old dogs," he admitted. "So I'm going to be really sad. I got Prince Caspian on the vet's suggestions because Duke and Devil are so close I thought one might follow the other if he died. And when Duke got sick, both Devil and Caspian howled in misery and worried a lot about him. They're still following him everywhere just in case he gets sick again. The vet thinks I've got a year-and-a-half with them. Caspian's about eight now so I've got maybe five, maybe seven years with him."

That got a nod. "It's hard when you lose a pet, especially your first one," another of them agreed. "My daughter sobbed for nine weeks when her hamster died." Alex grinned and nodded back. "They have been very good in the office."

"Alexsis and I switch off days that we bring in our dogs. That way Martin and anyone else who's overly stressed can pet them to calm down."

"That's actually not a bad policy to work out and they don't ever make a mess."

"No, we clean it up immediately if they do. It's not fair to let others clean up after our furry kids. She and I both have put cleaning supplies in the maintenance closet if we need them. She's been a great teacher about how to handle pet things."

"She is good at that. Boris is the most fussy poodle that's not fussy about his fur I've ever met," the last one agreed. "All right. Are you off today?"

Alex looked at his watch then at them. "I don't have to be. Originally I was but I did take yesterday off as an emergency day. So I can go man the desk today if you need me to."

"Go ahead then." They let him go and looked at each other again. "It's always reasonable but others panic about the twins so much."

The others grimaced. "He's always in the right when he does things, and it doesn't look bad on us because he does what has to be done by someone." The others made agreeing noises. "I like the goofball. He reminds me of my brother."

"He does remind me of your brother," another agreed with a smile for him. "Has your wife met him?"

"She sniffled that he reminded her so much of my brother and he had to awkwardly comfort her for it." They smiled. They did like how much work Alex brought them. But he never took advantage of anything or looked bad on them.

***

Alex looked at his potential new house then at the woman next to him. "House shopping drives me nuts but this is probably too much. It's only me and three dogs. This thing is *huge*. It looks like a castle."

"It's four bedrooms so you can have guests. It has a spectacular office for you. It has a walk in closet. It has a great kitchen."

Alex just nodded. "This should probably go to someone like Tony. I'm a lower class kid. I've only seen houses like this in pictures on tv."

"Well, let's go look anyway. At least it'll be an experience."

He nodded, following her inside the house. The house was only one story but the ceilings were high once you got out of the entryway. Though the entryway was impressive looking. They walked into a living space that was huge enough to have an echo. It had wood floors, which he liked. It had a few areas off to the sides.

Outside the massive windows was a sitting garden but pretty small. To one side was the hallway to the bedrooms. The other side held the kitchen, and past the kitchen was the promised office area. Alex walked in and moaned. Deep teak wood shelves lined the wall behind the massive wooden desk with an ergonomic chair.

The walls around the room had some other shelves, mostly looking like they'd fit picture frames instead of heavy law books. "I could put my whole comic collection on those. It'd mean they didn't have to sit in storage I guess." He went to look at one that looked a bit odd, finding a safe closet behind that bookshelf. "Wow."

He went to look at the kitchen. Shiny appliances, which wasn't his favorite. Gas stove, which wasn't his favorite, but he didn't really do much cooking. Huge commercial sized fridge like the ones in schools. Nice pantry area. "I could put a whole lot of cans of spam for the dogs in there." He closed it gently then went to look outside again. "It's fussy."

"It's for show," she reminded him. "People expect lawyers to have status."

"I'm not that sort of lawyer usually." He looked at her. "I'm a lowly law clerk."

"Yes but you have money, Alex."

"The taxes must take a lot of it every year." He went to look at the bedrooms since she wanted to go that way. She was heading that way so he followed. Nice guest bathroom, looked a bit vintage with the soaking tub. The bedrooms looked okay. He looked for signs of damage, because a house like this being in his price point meant there was something wrong. "Roof?" he asked her.

"Could use replaced and the skylights need to be examined and probably replaced too," she admitted. "The windows are double paned but not greatly efficient. Someone tried to install solar panels but it holed the roof too much." He nodded at that. "It shows there was a leak in the master bathroom. One wall's tiles are leaning."

She took him to show him that room. The master bedroom was smaller than he had expected. "I think you could probably take the wall out between the next bedroom to expand this if you wanted. That one had that odd angled area thanks to this one's closet so you can fix that."

"That's not that hard," he agreed, looking in the closet. It was a legitimate bedroom in its own right. "I could let my next bad boy or girl live in here." He went to look at the signs of damage and then the bathroom. Which wasn't that big. "I'd have to adjust this out to fix this tiny shower problem." He looked at her. "The other bathroom looks nicer than this one."

"The last owner said that was his wife's bathroom, Alex. She liked the tub."

"I like the tub too." He checked the tilted tiles, nodding. "It'll have to be fixed. It's probably in the studs too. So, how far into my price point is this?"

"I can negotiate it down to about a mil," she offered. "Maybe a bit more?"

"I paid like eight hundred for my last one but it didn't have this much room." He walked around the room. He still did some construction work now and then when he had the time to hit a Habitat site but he also knew how much work it took to replace a roof. Or how much expense it'd be. "Would solar work here?"

"The trees might need to be trimmed. I don't know how the sun goes all day. You'd have to watch it for a few days to track that to plan where to put it." She led him out through the door to the garden in there, taking him to the garage that wasn't attached. "There's a security gate that'll open for you to park." He nodded, checking that. "I'm guessing the roof out here needs replaced too."

Alex nodded. "Yeah. It's damp in here and there's evidence of a leak." He pointed at the water streaks on the wall. "I like it but I feel like I'm playing dress up while being here. Or that the owner will come out soon and expect me to be staff."

She smiled. "A lot of people do but within your price range it's this or a row house."

"I don't want the dogs in a row house. They need yard. They need to run around with their toys."

"You can unfuss the garden area." She led him to look at it again. "You can remove some of the pavers and the planting beds, make it grass instead. The dogs would probably love the sod you'd put down." She looked at him. "It is safe. It has a good security system already installed. It could be bigger but it is impressive."

"I still feel like I'm out of uniform for the staff." She smiled, walking him off. "I should bring Tony here to give me advice." He frowned. "The dogs would be exploring for days."

"They'll learn to love the new space, Alex."

"True." He sighed. "I like the single family home instead of the row houses or anything like that. I especially don't want an HOA ever again." She nodded. "But this is too big and I won't have time to do the work myself. And I don't think I could move in while they were replacing the roof."

He looked around again. "Of course, if I don't take it, some scummy house flipping idiot will do something to the gorgeous woodwork." She nodded that was true. He sighed. "Anything else within my price range that's about half this space?"

"No. There's very few single families on the market and they're all outside your price range unless you want to open the wallet to go over two mil, Alex."

He groaned. "Replacing the roof will take at least a week. And I couldn't start the day that I took ownership." She nodded that was probably true. "And I do have to move." He looked at the library again. "This is way too big for just me."

"Probably." She smiled. "But someday you may find the great evil one that'll stay with you. Your twin has."

"I have the feeling someday I'm going to have to go avenge both of them." He sighed again then nodded. "I guess the dogs will see the fussiness as a new plaything." She smiled and pulled out forms for him to look over. "I've got to sell the old house. My funds aren't low but I'm a bit paranoid about being broke just as I buy a new house. And the old one's not been listed yet.

"I was going to wait another two months to do that to make sure no one else wanted to invade there for any reason." He looked around again. "Yeah, let's buy this one. Can we get a discount because of the roof? Or the damage? That's going to be a bit of work there."

"Alex, it's already discounted. Usually this house would go for well over five mil."

"Damn. But I guess. I do have it right now." She smiled, letting him put in a few things. He signed it and handed it back. "Get it sent in today so I can start making plans?"

"Sure." She walked off calling the realtor selling this old house, letting him know. She did try to get ten thousand taken off or closing costs handled. They agreed to cover closing costs when the realtor called them about the offer. She smiled as she came back. Alex was in the kitchen staring at the cabinets. They were older but in good shape and a pretty mahogany wood. "They'll cover closing costs for you. They accepted for listing price." He grinned at that, nodding. "You'll want an inspection."

He nodded. "I will. Right after I sign so I can make sure it's not something that'll cause me more problems. I'll go through it with the contractor I hire to see what else needs fixed." She smiled and led him back to the car to take him to that office so they could start the buying process.

***

Alex walked up to where his coworkers were eating lunch together, sighing as he sat down. "I need people with taste in a few months to tell me how I'm decorating."

"I heard you were selling the house because that guy kicked in the door," Alexsis said.

He nodded. "And the only one the realtor found in my price range is *huge*. Beautiful but *huge*. I have a library now." They giggled. "Needs a new roof and some reno in the bathrooms. I need to up it to solar panels as well for backup power. And put in a generator." He groaned, slumping some.

"I have no idea how to decorate that thing. My furniture is cute and comfy but I'm not sure if it'll look good there. And somehow I keep getting a bigger and bigger house. And the garden is a *garden*, like stuffy people reading in it garden. So I've got to arrange for some extra grass."

Alexsis and Patricia both patted him on the arm. "We can give run-by advice," Patricia assured him with a smile. "Or you could hire a decorator."

"I'd hate to have to yell at her about wanting to paint all the woodwork." They smiled. "Huge library, pretty wood built-in bookcases this time." They nodded at that. "There's no painting that wood. That's one reason I bought the house, because someone would."

"You'll handle it, Alex." Alexsis smiled at their intern Martin. "Is it true she said yes?"

"No," he pouted. "She said not yet. She wants me out of my internship first to see where I'm going to end up." He sat down next to Alex. "She also wants us to get a house first so we're more solid."

Alex looked at him. "Does she appreciate you and all the guy that you are or is she one of the ones that's going to change you completely? I ask because I dated one of the last ones. No one seemed to appreciate her most of the time. I got told I should dump her a lot."

"No, she's not like that. We do share a lot of common interests. I've seen a few couples like that on House Hunters when I'm at home. I told her about them and she assured me she'd only class up my life and make me wear better suits."

Alex grinned, patting him on the arm. "My realtor found me a huge house. Pretty expensive but needs a ton of work with the roof being bad."

Martin shook his head. "I can barely change a light bulb."

"She said there's a ton of row houses open. Some of them are nicer. May need some paint."

"I can talk to her about that. Thanks, Alex. The girl you dated back in Sunnydale was that bad?"

"She cared, at least about me, but she was the loudly talking about our sex life to complain she wasn't getting her five orgasms a night sort. She wanted me to pay for everything even though she had a job." Martin shuddered. "Oh, she was the sort to call it that too. Believe me, I got better at it to make the complaining stop. If you find yourself with a spouse like Anya, well, guard the accounts and good luck." He patted him on the arm again.

"I can't see how any woman is like that," Patricia said. "And why did you put up with it?"

"She had been rehumaned by us accidentally." Alex looked at her. "I took her to the prom. Xander was about to marry her but she would've been miserable so they ended the wedding at the altar when he walked to make her happier." He pulled out his phone to pull up a few of the older videos for them to watch. "That's Anya."

They watched her in horrified awe. "Who's the redhead?"

"Rosenburg." He grimaced. "The same witch that said she could make my twin pregnant for his boyfriend."

"Oh." They went onto another video, shaking their heads.

Alexsis slid the phone back to him. "I would've walked long before then."

"She didn't try to kill us, which was miraculous in those days. And sometimes now." Martin moaned at that. He grinned at him. "See, you can have a bad gauge there."

"If I ever dated someone that loud my mother would give me seventy-two in a clinic to straighten me out." Martin shook his head quickly. "Mine's a lot nicer, Alex. And more subtle. And never complains or fights with me in public."

"Good job then." He smiled at him. "Good luck with the house hunt too. It drives me to napping to look at houses. Not sure if the new house is a nightmare or a dream though."

"Nightmare with the reno work at first," Alexsis offered. "What did you buy?" Alex looked up the listing to show her. She moaned. "Oh. Wasn't that sold recently? I saw that noted in an article." She looked it up to show him.

"No, I'm buying it from the court case," he admitted. "I found that and asked. They're the court-appointed realtor to handle the estate of the one that did that since she committed suicide in jail for embarrassing her family so much. But the roof is shot enough that there's water damage in a bathroom and it may need some plumbing help too."

They just patted him for that. "At least I know construction." Martin snickered. The ladies grinned at him for admitting that. "I worked it back in Sunnydale and I still do some Habitat hours here and there when I have free time. Which isn't as often as I like."

"That's good of you," Martin agreed. His phone rang. "Oops, time for our lunchtime chat." He got up to walk off talking to her.

"Tell her we said hello and we'll happily give you house ideas," Alex called after him. He looked at the ladies. "How do you even replot a garden that stuffy?"

"Take out some stuff?" Alexsis offered. "We can come over to look once you get the keys."

"I was going to bring Tony over next week. He grew up on Long Island to money." They smiled and nodded. "He wanted me to get better suits too."

"You two would make a nice couple."

"Tony's straight."

"Pity, dear." The ladies got back to eating. "Aren't you having lunch?"

"I snacked on the way to sign the final papers," Alex admitted. They smiled at him for that. "And if not, I have paperwork this afternoon so I can inhale a granola bar without Caspian begging for it." They giggled at that. The dog did beg very well. He had trained Devil and Duke to beg better.

***

Alex walked Tony and the contractor through the new house. "I do not want to touch a single bit of the woodwork," he said. "In any meaning. Especially not the pretty stuff in my new office. Or the kitchen cabinets. I like wood."

"Many people do," the contractor said patiently, looking at everything. "Did you do an inspection?"

"I figured you'd have it done to give me a list of what had to be done. I don't want to change anything but the laundry room. I like my current washer better than the ones in there."

"Okay." They looked in that area, getting a nod. "Is it going to fit?"

"Mine are smaller so hopefully. Mine are also older but they work better."

"That can happen." He went to look over the kitchen. "Appliances?"

"They're shiny and I'm not into stainless really. They work so I'll let it go for now. Especially since we'd have to fill in the wall around the fridge."

"That is a huge fridge," Tony agreed. "You could downsize to a less massive fridge and that'll add a bit to the hallway there."

Alex looked then nodded. "I could. That would add on stuff though and might hurt the cabinets." He looked at the contractor.

"The fridge has a frame and we can cut down the top piece of trim to move it in." He came over to look and nodded. "That's just trim, Mr. Harris."

"Okay then I'm okay with that." That got a nod and he made a note of it. "The stove hopefully works. It's huge and I single guy cook."

"That's a pretty standard size commercial stove," the contractor told him. "Though it is gas."

"I know, which cooks seem to like. I have *no* clue about that."

"We can make sure it works and the gas line's not plugged." He led them outside to the garden area. "I have no idea about this."

"I was advised to take some of the planters out to add some grass for the dogs. I can probably do that myself over the summer though."

"Okay. The utility shut offs?"

Alex shrugged. "I just got the keys three days ago. I haven't done more than roam around a bit. I'm guessing the garagey area?" He pointed. "That looks like the gas meter."

They went to look and he noted where they were and what was in there. The contractor blinked then sighed. "We'll need to turn this in."

Alex looked then shook his head with a sigh. "I didn't tour out here. More than looking at the space between the garage and the fence. It's a bit of a tight turn." He did call someone. "Hi, I just bought a house and found what looks like a grow house in the garage." He gave the address and they promised to send someone over.

He thanked them and hung up, finding the ladder he had used to let them go up to the roof. "The realtor said that they tried to install solar panels. Which I do want as a backup power source and I need to add a generator too just in case. I'm not exactly a prepper but I've seen a few apocalypses in my day."

The contractor nodded at that. "I can see that. They really did screw a part of the roof and one part looks like it's about to cave in."

"That's over the master bathroom probably. Which has damp walls that let the tiles tilt. The roof is a priority and then that bathroom. Then other needed things."

"That makes good sense." They came down when the officer pulled in the front drive.

"Hi, Alex Harris," he said with a smile and a wave. "I just bought the house, got the keys three days ago. I don't know why someone didn't see that since the house was part of a fraud thing and I bought it from the courts." He led them to it. "This isn't my thing at all."

The officers looked it over and nodded. "It's not got active plants so we can take the seeds," one decided. "This is a huge place."

Alex nodded. "Someone kept breaking into my last one so I needed somewhere more defensible." They nodded they understood. "If you need to tell that judge, it was Judge Reyes who handled the fraud and the sale of the house thanks to the estate and the fraud of the last owner inheriting it and selling it three times to different people."

"I saw that in the papers." They smiled. "It should be fine and we can't confiscate it without active plants."

"Can you guys check around to make sure there's not more? Or should I and just burn them?"

"You should. The city would have to sell it when we confiscate it."

"Okay, I can do that. Thanks, guys." They took what they needed to confiscate and went to make a report on it. Alex went back to Tony and the contractor. "If we find more, we can burn it. Or else they can confiscate it."

"True," Tony agreed. "I had forgotten about that." They went to check the grounds pretty quickly. Then came back to go back inside. "What about that garage?"

"The fence is almost touching it. So I open the gate with the remote, then the garage door with that remote," Alex said. "Maybe we can combine them with that other little garage so I have more room?" he asked the contractor.

"That could help." They went to look at that. He nodded. "You can move it back a bit for that. That way you have more room between the fence and the garage to park a car. I'm shocked they let that go with the permits." They went back inside to the library. Tony sighed in pleasure. "I can see why you don't want them touched."

Alex nodded. "Please. I think I bought the house to save these from people who'd want to paint them for being wood."

"I've seen a few, Mr. Harris." He smiled, making a note on his form. They went over the bedrooms, marking a few other spots of possible water damage.

Tony opened the main bedroom's area, staring at it. "You can host parties in here, Alex."

"I can store my next bad girl in the closet. It's apartment sized," he quipped. "Thankfully I didn't marry Anya." He let them see it and Tony moaned but nodded. "I won't run out of room this century."

"No, you won't," Tony agreed. They went to the bathroom. "Oh, that's damaged."

"It is," the contractor agreed, pressing on the tiles. "That's going to have all come out."

Alex nodded, waving a hand. "That's why I'd expect to happen. Plus probably some studs thanks to mold." That got a smile. "I like the tub. It's not long enough so I have to sit with my knees bent. The shower's a bit ...narrow. I don't really need two sinks but I know that'll go for later resale." He looked around. "Can we match the other woods? Or the kitchen's? Teak's super expensive but waterproof, but *super* expensive."

"I can definitely match the kitchen's cabinets. They're pretty standard in design." He looked at the toilet area. "There's a tiny closet in here."

"Tiny linen closet for towels is fine," Alex said. "Another behemoth of a closet, use it to up the shower?"

"That's reasonable." He measured and nodded. "We can spread it that way and shift the toilet."

Alex came over. "Shift the toilet here, facing the room? That way I'm not trapped in a corner if something happens? Closet beside it to take up this area," he said, moving to that spot. "Then shower, tub..." He pointed. "Leave the sinks where they are but make it prettier? That'd give that space behind the tub to it and use the wall between the toilet and shower for the pipes?"

He looked at the contractor. "I'd say put the wall between the tub and the shower but that'll be a huge wall and block the view in case someone else breaks in. In the guest bathroom I do need a pull down showerhead to bathe the dogs."

"Not bad ideas. The sewer pipe to the street is back in that corner so that'd be easier for the septic lines." He nodded, making notes about that. "Glass shower walls?"

"Non breakable? Please? And I need a bench in the shower in case I break another rib?"

"I can do that." He measured it out and made notes. "That's not a ton of work. The roof is going to take at least a week."

"I know." Alex nodded. "And if you open a wall and find faulty plumbing that'll take extra. Or electrical. The box looks newer. It still has the Lowes sticker on it." He led them to it. He had a half basement. "I was thinking this would be a good place for the backup generator unless we get flooding? And the stuff for the solar panels?"

"That's not a bad placement. Solar may need to be behind the garage. The generator should be nearer to the main house. I need to check specs for that to see how much clearance it needs and what sort of venting."

"That's fine." Alex smiled and nodded. "I expect there's going to be some fixing in some areas with that roof problem. I just worry about another huge storm hitting and us being without power for days on end. Or a demonic apocalypse that takes out the city and I have to hold a siege here." He sighed. "Sorry, I retired."

The contractor smiled and nodded. "I've got two of my guys who are preppers who worry about the same events. We can work on that." Alex smiled and nodded. "Let's go back to the kitchen to work on the estimate. Then I'll find someone to do a thorough inspection." It was expensive but mostly necessary. A few of the trees near the house needed to be trimmed to make more room for the solar panels. That could happen easily enough too.

***

Xander showed up for a vacation and because he was injured and limping on crutches. Of course, he showed up to his twin's house while there was a moving truck. He limped in and found his twin. "Are you going bougie and hiring movers?"

"Yes I am. While the dogs are in doggy daycare they can heft things and I can do more paperwork I didn't get to yesterday." He gave him a hug. "The new house has a room for you. I even put in handcuffs so Stephen can lock you to the bed to fuss at you." He smirked a bit.

Xander shook his head. "Not if he values his life." He watched them move everything. "Why are you moving? You liked it here."

"Until the guy broke in complaining he hadn't worked hard enough to poison the dogs."

"Ah." He nodded at that. "He alive?"

"Probably. Unless he died in jail." They shared a look. "Caspian will adore having you pet him too. Though he'll probably be confused. He's smart but a smartass."

"He's your dog, of course he is." A mover had to get around them. "Sorry, taking up more room than normal." He watched them pack and move things. Then looked at his twin, who grinned. "Much easier than hauling things in the old car. Or a U-Haul."

"My new neighbors would call the cops if a U-Haul showed up. They did on the contractors who had to replace the roof. Twice. In an hour." Xander snickered. "They were very understanding. And only one incident which meant I had to clean paint off my pretty study shelves. The contractor fired him for it and had one of his guys help me clean it off before it set. Then fix the color where a few places it had sank in. I have a study now that has really pretty teak shelves."

"Awww." He stared at him oddly. "Is that important?"

"It was about the only choice of house when I was looking and if I hadn't taken it, some tacky person would've painted over them, Xander. And it was that or a row house with the dogs."

"No, they need a yard."

"That's a later project. I have a Gilesy garden area."

"Oooh." He winced. "Sorry to hear that."

"I can arrange things. There's planters. And trees."

"The dogs could like trees if DC has squirrels."

"They do. I brought them over a few days back to let them sniff the garden area. The contractor was in the process of complying with a zoning issue and moving the garage back another three feet from the gateway. But I do have security." He grinned. "And if I ever lose my mind and host parties, it's a great place to do it. I paid my coworker's salary today to go sit and watch things there to make sure no one tries to break in there because of my job."

"Was it about your job?"

"Yeah." He nodded. "There's still haters."

"Be honest, Alex. There's probably always going to be haters," Xander reminded him. "There's still Klan members, so there's always going to be people who hate the community."

"True." He gave him a hug. "It's depressing. But I can barely treat you to lunch."

Xander smirked. "Spent it all?"

"No. This house is being sold in a few weeks. It'll pay for the new house almost completely." They watched the movers finish up and checked the house over then paid their boss, locking up the house to head to the new one. They stopped to get the dogs, which meant Xander got to sit in the backseat to be mugged by lapping dogs. They did adore him.

Alex grinned, pulling into his new garage and closing the door. He got them out and pointed. "That way, dogs. New house. We live here now." He helped Xander steady himself and let him limp inside first.

"Wow," Xander said, looking at the kitchen. "Damn. I can see why you wanted to protect the wood?" The woman on the sofa pointed so he hopped that way to look at the office area. He moaned. "Oh. Twin'o mine, wow."

"Yeah. If I hadn't taken this one, someone without taste would've painted them white or something." He hugged his coworker. "Thanks, Alexsis. Did Boris like the yard?"

"He adored those trees," she said smugly. "Yours will too. Hey, boys." They barked and let her pet them. "Boris is in the master bathroom staring in awe at the tub. He wanted a bath so I know what I'm doing tonight."

He laughed. "The spare has the pull down shower head for dog baths."

"He's a poodle, Alex. He wanted the jets in your tub." She got up to go get her dog. "Boris, Alex is here." The dog came running out to bark and dance around him, getting petted and loved on. "Good boy. They all thought you needed to buy more clothes to fill that closet."

"I'm going to let my next bad girl or boy rent in there since it's apartment sized." She walked out laughing, letting him help his twin to hop around.

Alex grinned at his twin. "She taught me how to be a pet parent."

"You said that and she seems like a great buddy." They went to look in the master bedroom, Xander moaning. "You could hold orgies in here."

Alex shrugged. "Not something I routinely do," he admitted, cracking up the movers in there shifting the dresser. "There's a plug there."

"If we put it next to the plug it'll block the door opening fully."

"Can we shift it to the closet wall?" He pointed. "Put it between those two?" They nodded, doing that for him. "Thank you." He gave them a tip once everything was in the house and put about where he'd want it. The kitchen hadn't been unpacked beyond the fridge being filled and the freezer. The boxes with clothes were in the closet, stacked neatly against one wall. The bed was together but not made. The box for the bathroom was in there.

Xander looked at his twin. "I've never wanted a house this big or this nice before. Stephen would probably make fun of me for it if I did."

He shrugged. "It was this or a row house. There wasn't much on the market when I had to move thanks to security." He grimaced. "It's way too big, and I said that multiple times. Even though I lusted over the wood in the study." They went back to the living room area.

The dogs were sniffing around and Alex left open a door for them to go outside. The yard was completely fenced with nine foot fences and he had made sure even Caspian couldn't get between the bars. They both vegged and caught up until the dogs came back to cuddle the humans.

***

"You ever get to a point and don't know where to go from there?" Tony asked Alex.

Alex nodded. "All the time. When I graduated both times. After most apocalypse battles. You kinda look around and go 'now what'. Then about half the time I went to get some water to drink before I reached for something harder." The one holding them hostage glared at him. He stared back. "What?"

"Apocalypses are fairy tales."

"Gee, and yet I've been in a few." The guy tried to menace him. "Dude, don't even. I'm retired from the Council's group." The man shuddered, backing off, going to tell the others. Alex smirked and waved his shoulder. "Have a good run from my wrath!" He shifted. "Got a knife?"

"I do," he agreed, cutting Alex free, who got his. Then they shared a look and went to figure out how to fix it. Tony grinned at the officers storming in. "They're all in a conference." He pointed. "Alex scared them."

"Alex is going to act like his puppies and bite someone," Alex quipped. "Because this was a bad day to skip breakfast." He sighed. "Let me go release more hostages."

"Who're you two?" one demanded.

"The tall, pretty one was an agent," another officer told him.

"Formerly NCIS," Tony agreed with a grin. "Alex is a retired demon hunter." They all moaned. "Now we're both lawyers." He grinned. "They just decided to take the bank hostage while we were putting money in so we could hit lunch."

"And I've got court this afternoon," Alex called, coming back with the security guard. The guy was huffing hard. "Not sure if he's having something like an asthma attack." He handed him over gently. "Can we escape the bad guys who're kinda wooses?" The door opened and someone started to shoot but Alex stole Tony's knife to throw at him.

"I *hate* shopping! Quit trying to make me have to buy new clothes!" That one whined and the others gave up when they saw the SWAT team waiting on them. "Great!" Alex clapped. "Let me get a snack on the way to the courthouse." He checked his watch. "I'm going to be late." He checked himself, going to find his wallet and keys form the pile the hostage takers had gathered from everyone.

"Great." He hiked out, handing Tony's wallet to him on his way past him. "I've got Judge Riveria over a demonic business license. Again. He hates me already and I'm really happy with that." He walked outside, shaking his head as he walked past the helping officers. "They're down. And begging. And wooses. Gotta go to court, guys. 'Scuse me."

He found his car and drove off, heading for the court house. He walked into the courtroom. "Sorry, Your Honor. There was a hostage action I got caught in because I was getting money for lunch." He nodded at the bailiff. "If SWAT shows up to yell at me, that's fine. We kinda made them a bit worried when we handled it with others." He looked at the judge, grinning at him.

"Is that dirt on your shoulder, Mr. Harris?"

Alex pulled it out to look at. "No, Your Honor, that's probably gunshot residue. They tried to hit me and didn't quite make it before I got them back." He smiled. "I was a bit unhappy because I've missed breakfast. So, can we start with opening statements and handing over a whole lot of stuff to you?"

"You can I guess," he said with a nod. "We'll call this case to order." He lightly banged his gavel. "Hostage takers at a bank?"

"It's on the news," the bailiff said. "They caught him leaving saying he had to get here because you hated him, Your Honor."

"He does," Alex agreed dryly.

"You're hyper," the judge said dryly.

Alex smiled. "Especially when I haven't had breakfast, but they weren't nice enough hostage takers to let me have coffee." He shrugged. "Some days are like that."

"Only for you, Harris. Okay, let's get this started and hopefully finished today." They presented their evidence and all the facts, though the other side's facts were more 'fact-airytales' considering they were fictional and Alex could prove it.

Only one he didn't have a rebuttal for and the client did. The judge was amused about the fact-airytales but not that much since it was illegal and perjury, which Alex got happy telling them about. The judge glared so he calmed down again. "Next time, Mr. Harris, eat before you get here."

"I was trying to do that, Your Honor. They didn't want to cooperate. Not my fault they decided to take a bank hostage to make a moot, pointless demand. Tony and I agreed it was basically a plea to be put in jail or out of everyone's misery."

The judge sighed. "Fine." He waved a hand. "Does your boss see you in this state?"

"More than once. But the last time it was a bad girl of epic proportions and I spent all night answering to agents who hated her career of political assassinations." The judge moaned, shaking his head.

"He's well known to date people like that," the client said. "The community has rumors of him and his twin brother both dating that way."

He grinned. "Xander's boyfriend Stephen isn't really *good* but he's good to him so I don't mind them. Or Stephen doing naughty things to get the girls weapons."

"Weapons?" the judge demanded.

"My twin's the watcher in Africa, Your Honor. Sometimes he needs some."

"I suppose that's a point and of course no government is going to put up with all that stuff so they don't give them over," he sighed. He rubbed his forehead again. "Mr. Harris, could we convince you to practice law on the other coast?"

"No, Your Honor. I just bought a new house." He smiled. "And people want me to run for office too. Harder to do out in LA."

The judge moaned, slumping and shaking his head. "Why?"

"Because I'm ethical, fair, and will keep protecting people like my clients, Your Honor." He smiled at his client then at him. "They want my friend Tony to run too. He's so far refused."

"Uh-huh." He nodded at that. "Go have breakfast, Mr. Harris. Your client's proven his point and his business license is safe." He banged his gavel. "The damages are awarded as asked for and pouted about by the other side." He looked at Alex. "You could run to be a judge."

"I may some day," he agreed. "When I'm out of my funner years. I've only been a lawyer for a few years."

"Point." He banged his gavel and walked off shaking his head. He needed to have a nap. Harris was sapping all the energy from the courtroom today.

Alex beamed at his client. "We can go over the damages awarded tonight if you want but I really do need to stop for at least a muffin."

"I can do that tomorrow, Alex. Have a good night."

"You too!" He got his things and left to go find something to eat before he bit someone. There were too many bad ones here who'd like him to do that to them so he needed a tasty burger instead. He ate most of it on the way back to the office. "I'll apologize to the judge about being bouncy if I need to," he said as he walked past his supervisor.

He ran into a poodle, who was staring at him. "It has mustard, Boris." He licked a piece of the burger clean of it with a sigh and handed it over, making him bark and run back to Mommy. "I liked the mustard off, Alexsis." He went to his own office to finish his brunch.

She came to the door. "What did you give him?"

"Piece of my burger that I'm having for brunch since I didn't get breakfast." He grimaced. "And I was late to court thanks to some hostage takers at the bank. He begs by stare very well."

"Try not to give him people food, Alex?" she asked. "He's had an upset stomach."

"It's a cheap burger with a tiny bit of cheese, but I did lick the mustard and ketchup off the top."

"Thank you. Treats only." She went back to check on her dog, who was now napping on her spare chair. She checked but her baby was fine, just napping, and farting a bit. She rolled her eyes but got back to work.

Alex finished his second burger in a hurry so he could type up the case's ending sheet for the group to go over and bill hours. Then he had another case to start to research. He looked around. "Did I have Caspian today?" he asked himself.

"No, he's in the daycare," Alexsis called back. "You got him to feel better about four this morning by your emails."

"Oh, okay. Thanks, Alexsis. It's been a long day." He went back to work. His boss came to the door so he grinned hopefully at him. "Judge Riveria wants me to go practice on the west coast again. I'm sorry I was a bit bouncy but I hadn't even had breakfast."

He nodded. "Why were you late?"

"Guys taking hostages at the bank I use?"

"Why?" he asked patiently.

"We're not sure. Tony and I met up there to go to brunch before court and neither of us were certain if it was a request to go back to jail that way or maybe get shot for someone to get insurance."

"Dying in a criminal act wouldn't pay out that way," his supervisor said. "So you were bouncy?"

"I was really hungry. Caspian threw up half the night. I didn't get breakfast. The hostage takers wouldn't even let me have coffee, Stephen."

He just nodded. "Have you had some since then?"

"I got a burger on the way back here," he said happily. "Even if I did give Boris a piece when he begged."

"Have more caffeine."

"My client said he'd be here tomorrow to go over the details of the settlement."

"That's fine." He went to make note. Alex forwarded the closure report to him so he could see what had happened and handle it if he wasn't there. You never knew what would happen. The officers could get mad at him for helping handle things before they got there. It wouldn't be the first time.

Stephen came back. "They said that the plot to get you to run for office is now to get you to be your friend's wife and let him run for office."

"We can both do that and if we fall into bed, that's fine." He smiled. "Tony's really mostly straight though. If he flirted I'd let him."

"Great. You could use someone to help fill up that huge house of yours."

"I told her it'd be too big but it was about the only one. Or I'd have to go back to a row house setup."

"The dogs would hate having no yard." He left him to work. It lasted for about an hour. "Harris?" he called up the hallway.

Alex came out, knife casually hidden up his sleeve. "What's up?" He looked at the man standing there. "Wesley? You got sent back?"

"I did." He smirked a bit. "What are you doing here?"

"Let me guess, the PTB forgot we're twins?" he asked dryly.

"Well...."

"Xander's back at home. Has been for over a month and a half."

"Are you sure?"

"Unless he died and I'd probably know. I do when he's seriously injured."

"Oh." He nodded then tried to attack but Alex got him with the dagger and pinned him to a wall. "Lad," he sighed.

Alex looked at the guard. "Go get my phone and dial the number for Giles please." The guard nodded, doing that. He came back with it on speaker. "Giles, it's Alex. It's a huge thing. Did you know the PTB sent back someone else?"

"Lad, he's in the kitchen. Let me get the phone to him," a female voice said. "Rupert, it's a young guy who sounds like Xander!"

"Well, I'm his twin so yeah, we mostly do." Wesley tried to get free but Alex got him in the nuts with the dagger so he quit moving as he fell down with a moan. He took the phone to hold with a grin. "Thanks, Greg. Watch him please?" He waved as the video connected. "Hey. Did you know the PTB sent back someone?"

"No. Who?" Alex showed him the one on the ground. "Is that Wesley?" he demanded.

"He thought I was Xander and attacked me for being employed. He struggled so I stabbed him lightly in the balls."

"Oh, dear." He took off his glasses. "Why would he care? The PTB hate your brother and yourself, still."

"They're welcome for not being bored after humanity would've died from Xander saving it," Alex said dryly. Wesley moaned at that. "What do you want me to do with him?"

"I'd say he may need medical attention, but I'm not certain if they sent him back or someone else did."

"Are we looking at a situation like the First?" Alex asked, looking tired.

"I haven't heard at all." He put back on his glasses. "Get him to Sandra?"

"She left last week to go to Cambridge, Mass for college, her masters."

"Does DC not have a slayer?"

"One of the feds is one who didn't want to patrol."

"I'll contact her through Buffy and have her come pick him up. Can you keep him there safely?"

"I doubt he's going to move or I'm going to stick an emergency Grover egg on him." Wesley whined at that idea. He grinned at him then at the phone. "We all know I'm not the nice one. Xander would be very amused."

"Probably," Giles agreed. "I'll try to get her there within an hour. I'll let you know what's going on as soon as I talk to him." He hung up calling for Buffy to bring her phone to him.

Alex put his phone into his pocket. "Sure, you can sit in my closet, Wes. I'll go pull out my emergency kit to get the egg baby that'll eat your insides. We'll have fun while I research for a case." He hauled him up with a moan for his shoulder, hiking him to his closet to stuff him in there. Then he sat down with a huff to get back to work.

He noted it on his time sheet. He smiled at the criminal lawyer who came to his doorway. "He's in trouble but there's an agent coming for him. There's a first aid kit in there if he wants to use it. He can moan I'm mean and I'll be pleased." He smiled again. "We'll figure out why a harbinger of doom showed up here instead of Cleveland or with my twin."

"You're acting like this is normal, Harris."

"Earlier today I was helping end some hostage takers who didn't appreciate that I'm truly not that pleasant when you push at me." He grinned. "They didn't even remember I'm a twin. He probably wanted Xander."

"Great." He went to tell the higher ups that. He came back. "Are you going to be arrested for whatever this morning?"

"They didn't try to when I had to run off for court. Though I think they were still groaning. Tony could've told them where I was."

"Great." He went to tell them that with the other news.

Alex looked up. "Cordy, if you can hear me, might want to let someone know if he was officially sent back or if he's from the First's crap again." He went back to his research. The agent/slayer showed up with a huff. "Hey," he said with a grin. "How're you, Shelly?"

"A bit pissed this happened here. I wanted to stay retired."

"So do I."

"Aren't you in Africa?"

"I'm Xander's twin. He's still in Africa."

"Oh, good." She opened the closet door at his point. "Well, you're a bad omen no matter what."

"He told me the PTB sent him but I'm not sure. He can go to Giles. I'm assuming if he wanted to he used the first aid kit that was in there." She nodded at that. "I stabbed him lightly in the balls for fighting against me."

She looked at him. "That's evil for a guy to do to a guy."

"Which is why they never expect it of me." He smirked. "Let me know if he says anything about me or this law firm please."

"I can do that." She hauled him up. "Did you read him his rights?"

"It wouldn't have mattered if I had if he's arrested. One of you has to do it, not me."

"Point." She walked Wesley off in cuffs, making him stumble a few times. Giles was on his way down to talk to him. The guy was listed as dead. He was going to be under arrest, even with freaky things.

***

Xander was pouting with Alex, both of them in Cleveland for the weekend for something going on. Xander wasn't happy that Stephen had refused to come, leaving him at the mercy of all the women. Alex wasn't happy that he had been summoned by Willow, who had told his bosses she was going to have to summon him. She had decided to unretire him for this event for some reason against his will. Thankfully Tony could dog sit for him since this was apparently an emergency.

"We have to have guys to fight this," Willow told them. "It'll eat women."

Alex stared at her then at the other watchers. "You've got nineteen here. Plus Connor and Gunn."

"They can't fight," she snorted.

"Neither could we when we started," Xander reminded her. "And you think we still can't." She huffed off. He glared at her back. "I need to sic something on her to lick her again."

Alex looked at him. "I may have a poker debt who'd do that." He glared at the watchers staring at them. "So, you've decided to be useless this time?" They stomped off. He waved at their backs. "We'll see you later I'm sure." They slammed the library door. He looked at his twin, who shrugged back. "Any idea what the hell this is going to be?"

"Some debutante demon who hates girls?" he guessed. "My poker circle has not a clue."

"Mine either when I called them after Tony to make sure he could dog and house sit." They looked things up online and Xander texted Gunn to see if he had heard anything. Nothing. And no one said anything about it not being something girls could fight.

"Fuck this," Xander said quietly. "I need Stephen's belt." He texted him, getting a huff back because they had something going on but his people were fixing it for them. "Great. He's got a huge problem too." He texted the nearest generals to see if they could help Stephen and his team. They were already helping and things were going bad. "Damn it!" He got up, stomping out to glare at Willow. "You took me away from something that's taking six militaries and my boyfriend to fight. Send me home. Now."

"I...we need you here!"

"Bullshit. They need me there. I have the weapons locked to my fingerprints." He glared at a witch nearby, who nodded and sent him. He ran to get the weapons trunk open and came out to fire on it with the others. "Case is open, people." The military guys ran to get some too. "Fucking witches," he told a general. "But it'll eat women," he said in falsetto. They all nodded at that. They'd seen one of those before. "By the rumors underground, there wasn't. Unless it's this one."

"No, this won't eat women," one general called. "It didn't one of mine. Swatted at her greatly but didn't try to do more than disable her."

"Okay. Good to know." He got something else to fire on it. It finally died and he sighed, slumping against the weapons tube. Stephen looked over from his spot. "The witches sent me back," he called with a wave. "There's nineteen watchers in Cleveland but apparently they can't fight."

"I'd stop that in a heartbeat," Stephen said, coming over. "You good?"

"Just tired from the hefting and toting." He accepted a hug and they found something to clean up the mess.

***

Alex turned off the tv that the scrying spell had been attached to. "Well, that was bad." He looked at the witches. "Why is there nothing on this in the underground?"

They shook their heads. "Willow heard it from somewhere."

Alex nodded. "And the other watchers?"

"They can't fight."

"They can fight. They learned in school," Alex reminded her. "That's more than Xander and I had when we jumped in when we met Buffy. We could only throw rocks." They winced. "Frankly, that's part of their job. Why are you letting them get away with it?"

"They're important," one sneered. "You're...."

"The guy defending the peaceful community in DC? Yeah! I am!" He nodded, smirking at her. "While making sure they're not arrested for looking funny and straightening out those that try to close down businesses for their owners being from the community. I've got three jobs to do at once. And they've all impacted my law career.

"Thank the Goddess that I don't have a family and kids to take care of instead of dogs. I have a good friend who likes to dog sit." They stomped off. Alex muttered, looking at Giles, who was cleaning his glasses. "You know I'm right."

"I do," he agreed with a nod. "I'll be in the same battle, lad."

Alex snorted. "Giles, you can barely walk today thanks to your ankle. You can fire on people." He nodded, smiling some. "Otherwise, are we sure something's going to happen?"

"She's apparently heard rumors during a poker game."

"None of the poker circuit claims to know anything about this. Not mine or Xander's contacts." He sat down. "For that matter, what are we supposed to use to defeat this great evil thing?"

"I have no idea what it'll take. She's not sure what it is."

Buffy stomped in with Faith behind her. "What are you doing here?" Buffy demanded. "You retired!"

"Willow called my bosses and then kidnaped me to come handle it. It was me and Xander but he had a real battle to deal with, including the six militaries helping him. So he's back there." He leaned back, waving a hand. "We know nothing about this being or why the other watchers can't fight suddenly."

"It's dangerous to men," Faith said, looking confused.

"Willow told us it's dangerous to women," Alex told her.

"Not that we know of," Buffy said, going to find Willow. "We'll figure it out since it's tonight."

"Tell us what we need to use on it too," Alex called after her. "Since all my weapons but my sidearm are at home." Faith winced at that. He nodded. "Called my bosses and then kidnaped me from the office. Thankfully Tony can dog sit and house sit."

***
Part 8 by Voracity2
Alex looked up from his hospital bed in DC, waving at his coworker. "Hey, Alexsis. Are my dogs okay? I'm going home tonight."

"They're fine, Alex. What the heck?"

"Not my doing!" he said in a sing-song. "Rosenburg called the bosses then kidnaped my ass." She winced. "After the battle, Giles made her admit what she had done. Though I do need to talk to our bosses because she said she told them I wouldn't be able to come back."

"Oh, dear."

"Yeah." He stared at her. "If so, I'll miss you when I start my own office. I do have that nice library for it." She patted him on the arm. "At least Xander has Stephen to baby him," he said, looking at his leg. It had a lot of stitches. A whole lot of stitches down it.

"Alex, good lovers don't like heros. They're always banged up and have to run off to do things," she said gently.

He nodded. "That's why I was retired. Not my choice. She told me that only men could fight it. Apparently Xander and I an old history point that she doesn't want the new girls to see. I need to go kick her ass at her tribunal but the witches are hiding her again."

"You'll heal," she said. "Then you can kick her around."

"Oh, it's going to be epic," he assured her dryly. "The boys at home?"

"Yeah. They're napping in your library. They've taken over the couch again. The bosses tried to tell us you weren't going to be back before your messenger got there." He grinned. "No idea what's going on."

"I'm going to find out. This pisses me off and brings me back to Xander land. Or I could suggest Xander come back to find out for me."

She patted him on the arm again. "We'll all figure it out with you. Let me get back to work. Are you coming in tomorrow?"

"Yeah. I'll have a cane but yup." She nodded, going to pass that news around. He laid there and seethed. Someone really needed to be destroyed as only a Xander could. If it was his bosses, well.... He could start his own law firm.

***

Alex strolled in the next morning, staring at the waiting bosses. "You gave me to her?" he asked.

"She said it was an emergency and they needed more skilled men," one said.

Alex shook his head. "You were telling people I wasn't coming back." They winced. "So what did she actually say? And do be aware I can put a truth spell on the building." He stared at them.

"She said that the Council was trying to get rid of the ones who were looking bad on them."

"My twin's saved the world a number of times because his trainees are little kids. I've done that a few times myself." He gave them a pointed look. "If you want me gone that much I'll gladly go start my own firm to compete with this one." One winced at that.

"You did take out a law firm."

"No, I took out a threat to my life," he said patiently. "They tried me and lost. I did not start that, I just finished it. The same as I do any fight that starts on me." That lawyer stepped away from him. "You're breaching my contract, and the contract of everyone here possibly, to cooperate with the same addicted witch who thought all of Africa dying was perfectly fine."

Another winced. "I've enjoyed my time working here and learning from people, but *really*." Another one shrank away from him. "Now, am I still employed? Or are you going to try something else to endanger my life? Because I have to say, this isn't endearing me to breaking my contract peacefully."

"We could just fire you, Harris."

Alex smiled. "Firing me for this means that I get to sue you for unlawful termination. My contract states why I can be fired. As I can prove you gave me to her to be kidnaped and killed....." He shrugged. Then he smiled.

"You can't prove that."

"I can prove that. I've got a copy of the security tapes. Every one of us can log into them and download them for later client purposes." He smiled when they all winced. "A lot of us do that as part of the client files so no one can come back and dispute why they hired us or that they hired us. All phone calls are recorded as part of the security system." All four higher ups winced at that. "We're lawyers, we're conniving and we're sneaky, but we also have CYA down pat."

"Are you going to punish us now?" one demanded.

"If you make me. You guys are the ones who started this fight by giving me to the idiot addict to kill me. I have no idea why you wanted to kill me."

"You hold status, which shouldn't go to a human," one said.

Alex nodded. "Then again I'm not the normal human." He smirked a bit. "Anyone can hold status. Ghengis Khan held status because he took over three demon villages. Thomas Jefferson had status because he accidentally took in a demon as a slave. The fact I've had status since I was seventeen, because I won it in a poker game, doesn't mean jack to anyone unless I have to pull it out to pull rank.

"The fact I have more now, thanks to someone trying me, doesn't mean anything to anyone unless I'm in front of a demonic court or using it to shut a higher level demon up when they're doing something stupid. I used it last month to stop a drunken idiot and made him go home instead of losing his temper on a human.

'If I wanted to use it more often I would've taken up the offer to become the queen of a demon realm. Which was why Wolfram and Hart started on me. They got scared that I was strong enough to turn that offer down and mean it. It showed that Xander and I were a real threat to them taking over humanity.

"He proves it often and so do I by protecting this area. The fact I have a day job just means that I'm not leaning on my trust for daily coffee things. Especially since I make about sixty-percent of what most lawyers make. And about thirty percent of what Patricia made when she came in." He smiled a bit. They groaned at that fact. "I was willing to put up with that because I like the work I do here. Or did here."

"We..." The four of them looked at each other. "You do draw attention to yourself."

"When?"

"You freed that group last month. Everyone heard," the most senior partner said.

Alex shook his head. "Wasn't me. I was going to handle it but Bradley and his group got there first." He shifted his weight, leaning on the wall. Boris came running out to bark at him. "Hey, Boris." He cooed as he petted his ears. "I don't have a single treat on me, sorry, dear. Go back to mommy?" The poodle ran back to his human.

Alex looked at them. "Everyone knew that wasn't me. The same as they know that Bradley is a watcher spawn so he knows enough to do the work for real. It did save me some work. I appreciate him for that. We traded sword cleaner recipes. He's not bad. Not too jump happy."

"We heard it was you."

"No. I asked if I needed to and got told Bradley did it. You can check if you want." He pulled out his phone to call a bar. "It's Alex," he said, putting it on speaker. "My bosses think I saved that group last month."

"No, that was Bradley," the guy on the other end complained. "Are you still alive?"

"Yeah, the addicted cunt of a witch tried really hard but I am a Xander. I have a ton of stitches on a leg, it tried to split it the long-way instead of cutting it off, but I'm fully alive."

"We've been told that he's bothered the community greatly over helping things that weren't a problem," one of the partners said. "And who are you?"

"I'm the bartender and bookkeeper at the poker hall on M," he said dryly. "The boss of the poker circuit in this area of the city. That rumor, and that whining, has been started by the ones at Wolfram and Hart who are still complaining he shut them down to save himself." Alex grinned at that. "Harris is really pretty inactive these days unless someone bigger asks. Harris, what is with the house?"

"My new house? It's too big for me but it has really pretty wood."

"There was a person trying to sell it on you."

"I get to spank someone because I'm not selling that house. There had been someone who tried that before I bought it from the courts." He cleared his throat. "Who was trying to sell it?"

"Your coworker."

"Ah." He nodded, looking at his bosses. "Even if I had died, I have a will. A very iron clad will. Tony gets the house and the dogs. He knows that."

"They can charm him," the bartender reminded him.

Alex snorted. "Tony used to be the senior agent under Gibbs," he said dryly. "He's more stubborn than anyone. Even me. We proved this when he out-stubborned me about Merideth."

"Damn," the bartender sighed. "I'll let others know."

"Did they get into my house?"

"No, your protections held. They did have pictures."

"That tells me which one it was." He looked at his bosses. "Trying me that way is really not ethical. Isn't this firm rabid about ethics?"

"It used to be," the bartender on the phone quipped. "Sometimes they're lawyers though."

"Hey!" Alex complained. "I'm ethical most of the time."

"You are, kid. Anything else?"

"No. Thank you. I'll pay Barney tonight since I'm out of the hospital. You can tell the others that the addict had this plot to remove us. Which means that she once again wants all of Africa to die."

"They'll go on a hunt. They've all but called it already, Harris."

"No, if she's killed, Xander and I get to do it. I've needed to smite her since she made us twins without our permission."

"You have fun with that, Harris. The community wants to end her."

"The coven is hiding her. Again. Let Xander help? I'm not in shape to hunt this week."

"How bad?" the bartender asked. "Holly's boyfriend has been a dick again."

"Ninety-something stitches down my left leg from mid-thigh down thanks to that stupid sword of his. Thankfully I borrowed Xander's axe. Tell Holly I'll gladly help her file a restraining order in both courts."

"I can do that, Harris. Feel better." He hung up.

Alex put his phone up, staring at his bosses. "So you decided to sabotage me based on the worst, most stereotypical evil lawyers ever's words?" He smiled a bit. "Gee, thanks." They groaned. "If you're firing me, I'm going to push my contract's fines." Boris came back so he petted him again.

"Tell your human I'm not mad at you, you're a good dog. Your human, not so good of a good human." Boris panted so he petted him and teased him a bit with a grin. Boris ran back to his human's office. Alex looked at him. "I'd never take out this shit on an innocent like a dog. Unlike many." They groaned. "So, do I pack my desk and enforce my contract's penalties?"

"Yes," one said. "You bring too much attention and you do things like be kidnapped."

"You guys gave her how to get me through the wards." He walked off, going to pack his desk. He petted Boris again then leaned in to look at his former coworker. "I'd never take out your sins on your dog. The dog's an innocent." She winced at that. "Don't try it again either, Alexsis. Everyone knows I have a will." He paused in on a few others to say goodbye and tell them to call if they wanted his help.

He went home to play with his dogs. They were happy to have him back early. He was happy to put his things in his office and send out a few emails checking on open positions. Just in case he didn't want to start his own office. He also got his other lawyer friend to go after his old bosses for contract violations. His contract said they'd pay him off if they tried to sell him to some demons or other evil entities. They were going to have to pay a lot for what they did.

"I'm a lawyer, you fuck with me I fuck back and make you pay me for the hours I worked doing it," he told the dogs, who loved him so lapped him for it.

***

Alex looked at the judge over his termination suit. "Your Honor, they were immediately responsible for my kidnaping." He handed over a statement. "From the witch that kidnaped and tried to kill me, from her own coven tribunal about her sins and issues. The office has protections on it. My office had painted on, specifically made against that witch, protections around the room as well. They had to get those from my former bosses."

"I see she says she kidnaped you to remove you because having people who weren't slayers looked bad on them?" He looked up.

"She kidnaped me and my twin. My twin brother is the watcher in Africa. He had to leave early to go handle a battle in his area of the world with his boyfriend."

"Is that her problem with him?"

"The girlfriend she nearly destroyed the world after losing would've been really mad at her if it was," he said dryly. The judge winced at that. "Yeah, same addicted witch. She's also why I'm a twin. She decided we needed more people before a battle and I just *had* to be out of the fighting so I'd be helping remove possible victims. We woke up this way one morning."

The judge shook his head. "The Council is very weird."

"Yes but Willow's had a magic addiction since before we graduated high school. It got worse when she stared to suck in black magic on purpose for the high about a year after graduation."

"Damn."

"Yes, and she's never even tried to put us back together. Right now, the theory is that if we die, we'll absorb the other's essence back but no one's sure. So trying to kill Xander, as she stated, meant that she had to get us both. Which my bosses kindly taught her how to kidnap me to do." He waved a hand at them. "Then my former law firm had one of my coworkers try to sell my house on me, without authority. As I was still alive and just injured...." He shrugged. "And she knew that. She visited me in the hospital."

"Are they against you for other reasons?" the judge asked sarcastically.

"I had to fight a personal battle earlier last year and it apparently freaked some people out realizing I'm still a Harris. Wolfram and Hart tried to attack me personally and lost. They stated that they were a bit upset about me having status suddenly, even though I'd had most of that since I was seventeen and won it in a poker game. That didn't matter until I took down the law firm that used to order judge and lawyer assassinations and was behind the LA invasion."

"How did you do that?"

Alex grinned. "First I turned them in for their dirty natures. Then when that only made them mad they tried to attack more bluntly and I fought that off. Then their senior partners, all higher ranking demon lords, tried to physically attack me and, well, I won. I made a mess."

"By yourself?"

"Yes. Slayer Faith showed up after I made a mess. I borrowed one of my brother's weapons. And used my sword on the minion they sent first."

The judge shook his head quickly. "So you shut them down?"

"Yes. After I broke and dissolved all the soul owning contracts they had and the stored souls they had captured already. I found out a few weeks later that meant I had inherited the law firm so I shut it down formally at that time by dissolving it and paying back whatever they had paid to get into their positions.

"Only one needed to be paid money. It came out of petty cash. I can pull up the files on all that. I did alert the feds investigating them that I had done so and all the paperwork was copied for their investigations into the individual lawyers. It made their case a bit harder but easier to get them up for arrest since they were all under soul capturing clauses in their contracts."

"That's good of you, Mr. Harris. How did you win status?"

He grinned. "Kitten poker back in high school. One of them owed me about twelve kittens and had no money. I agreed he could honor the debt some other way, thinking it might be handy to be able to call on him if we had a huge problem in Sunnydale. Instead I won his status. He was the third son of some warlord despot."

"So you actually already had status when you signed on?"

"I did. And that was well known among the community. It's in my profile on the demon intelligence network site, which the company would've used to do part of the background check on me." He let him see it. "This is today's."

The judge looked it over and nodded. "It does list that you won status at seventeen." He hummed. "It lists you in a relationship?"

"There's a plot there," he sighed. "We're friends but Tony's never hit on me."

"It's listing Anyanka?"

"Xander's former fiancee. She had been a vengeance demon for over a millennia but lost her position and they took up. She was dating him when we were split but he ...enjoyed her ideas more than I did."

"Is she evil now?"

"She died in the last battle in Sunnydale. If she's back, my twin's going to have a fit. Especially if it restarts the First Evil things. Or his boyfriend will snipe her."

"She's not evil?"

"She was the one that women who were scorned or abused call on to make vengeance wishes."

The judge shuddered. "I've seen some women that would've done very nasty things to their ex's thanks to divorces."

Alex grinned again. "She turned one man into the only flush toilet in his Central American village because he beat his wife for not putting the toilet seat up for him."

"So yes, she could be dangerous and nasty if warranted," the judge decided. "Not your type?"

"I didn't like how she made a paycheck and expected us to pay for everything. Including her birth control pills that we made sure she went on. She tried not to for a bit but I had a talk with her about how mothers were poor and had to take care of others, like a non-religious nun. She decided that was bad for her need for money and sex."

"Ah." He nodded. "Seen a few of those too," he admitted, going back to it. "Why does your contract have a clause in latin? And what does it say?"

"It's a 'you cannot turn on me intentionally without me getting you back for it clause, Judge Mathias." He smirked at his former bosses, who winced. "While I adored most of my former coworkers, there's one who was told to try to sell my new house on me and the higher ups who did try to aid and abet having me killed."

"There's no specific penalty?"

Alex looked then pointed. "It's in that clause. All the penalties are."

He read it over, nodding. "That's nasty but if they hadn't turned on you it wouldn't be in effect. It states that there's no penalty if you quit of your own free will." He sighed. "You're a bit devious, Mr. Harris."

"Yes, sir. I learned from Anya and always being surrounded by girls since right before I was sixteen."

The judge just nodded at that. "The real question is this enforceable as a clause."

"They signed it after reading it over." Alex shrugged but smiled. "They knew it was there. It's in plain, simple language. I wrote it during law school and the torts teacher laughed her butt off about me putting in that clause but agreed if they signed it with that in there it was legally binding."

"True, lawyers should know to read their contracts." He looked at the other side. "Did he leave of his own free will?"

"Yes, Your Honor," one said.

Alex pulled up the security footage he had saved down. He slid the tablet over to the judge. "We were allowed to download the security footage to put in with client records so we could go back if there was a question of what they hired us to help them with."

The judge watched it then shook his head. "That's him being fired." He looked at them and they handed over their version. "Boys, whoever did that is bad. It's clearly not the same person as they forgot he was injured." He let them see the original. "The cane's on the wrong side in some frames. It flickers." They grimaced at that. "Could that clause be in action?"

"I don't have magic," Alex admitted. "So maybe it's just guilty conscience. We were the most ethical lawyers in the city." He looked at his former supervisor. "So what was their payoff for that? And was it Wolfram and Hart aligned?"

One nodded. "It was. It got you into the open, Harris."

Alex smirked. "I'm still a Harris."

"They can get you for your brother's weapons."

Alex shook his head. "I have permission. The same as Xander does. They said they knew I was holding some of his here in storage in case something happened in the city."

The judge cleared his throat. "You have weapons?"

"Do you think he could take on an invasion with just a sword?" Alex asked him.

"I didn't think about that. I know you're retired."

"Unless I have to be," he agreed. "Or it happens in front of me."

"You went to commando things," the judge said.

"When the government was trying to capture the community members to torture and destroy? Yes I had to. No one else was. I'm not about to stand by and let people be tortured."

"I wouldn't either," the judge agreed. "They complained you're very much like Rambo sometimes, Mr. Harris."

Alex snickered, shaking his head. "Not really. I train weekly in case I have to do something or have to fall into something like another invasion. I'll beat someone that tries to break in now and then but otherwise I'm not the violent one of the two of us. He's in Africa handling battles with armies who want to cover them up."

The judge nodded once. "I can see how that goes. He's probably got to be." Alex nodded at that. He looked at the higher ups again. "So you plotted against him to get some benefit for yourselves. What is that going to do for your law firm's reputation? He's right, you were always seen as very ethical."

"We're dissolving the law firm," one admitted. "We all wanted to retire."

"Then sell it to Chambord," Alex told them.

"He can't afford it, Harris."

"He can afford it. The firm's not worth that much. I'm pretty sure the guy begging on the corner earlier could've afforded it now." They groaned at that. He looked at the judge. "I am not asking to deal with that. My new job is pressuring me to be less ethical and I'm about to walk off and start my own firm from the house."

The judge nodded. "It's not that profitable sometimes."

"That's fine. I can do what I've been doing and survive easily. Handling the contract and business problems, now and then having to go call a bigot a bigot about going after the community for daring to do things like drive and live in their city. I've already applied to the USDC to do that and they've accepted it."

"All right," the judge agreed. "So you're looking for damages?"

"I am. I learned to be a vindictive teenage girl to quote a few agents I've worked with. I'm highly disappointed in my former employers and their plots. I wouldn't still be healing the cut on my leg if it wasn't for them. I wouldn't have nearly died if it wasn't for them."

"Your house, is it still fine legally?"

"Yeah." He nodded. "I complained a bit about buying the house that was too big for me but it was the only one I found and it was more than what I needed. But it is too big for me and my dogs. Everyone knows I bought that house."

"That one with the stone work and the library?" the judge asked. Alex smiled and nodded. "How many rooms was that?"

"Four bedrooms and the library area." He sighed. "The dogs love my study."

"Dogs can be good that way." He looked at them. "It would be better for the other lawyers if you did retire and sell the law firm to someone in it as new partners." They nodded they knew that. "Would you want to go back, Mr. Harris?"

Alex shook his head. "No, Your Honor. Not with that betrayal. My coworker I was very close with, who visited me in the hospital and taught me how to handle my first ever dogs, helped them do all this. None of the others said a word to me." He waved a hand in the air. "I don't want to be with them."

"I can understand that." He looked over the contract again. "I'm going to go with the clauses in the contract. You did it on purpose to gain benefit. It wasn't a well meaning mistake. It was intentional and if he had died, his estate could've sued you all for that." He looked at them then at Alex. "You have a will?"

"Yes, it names Tony as my executor and inheritor. He'll enjoy my study and my dogs love him."

"Good." He looked at the other side again, who did not look happy. "It appears greed won over ethics. Again. I hate to see it happen but apparently you all decided to lose ethics greatly for greed." He put the file back together, handing Alex back his tablet and forms. "They are to forfeit whatever boon or monetary gain they got for screwing you over plus that termination clause of two million dollars to help you set up your own law firm, Mr. Harris."

"Thank you, Judge Mathias."

"It's only correct and ethical." He tapped his gavel on the table. "I hope you like your retirements, gentlemen." They nodded and left. He leaned back, considering that clause. It was mean but apparently a good idea. He's have to think about doing something like that the next time he had to sign a personal contract.

In the hall, Alex looked at his former bosses. "I'm going home. Send any paperwork there." He walked off putting on his sunglasses.

The other lawyers all got to bitch with ones at the lawyer bars, who talked to Alex's new bosses. When they tried to push him next time he walked off. He wasn't going to break his ethics for expediency and greed.

***

Tony DiNozzo looked at his current law firm's higher ups, shaking his head. "I am not going to bend the law to get someone who did something that disgusting off. I'm sorry but I'm not comfortable doing that. Also, you have me scheduled to second-chair on a case where I was an agent arresting them.

"That's a huge no-go legally. I asked that question specifically and it's a huge conflict of interest. They suggested that I actually change the city I'm going to practice in to avoid being on any case that I might have glanced at." They glared but he glared back. "Sorry but I do believe in ethics and I'm not going to be part of a case I can't stand to even read, much less defend someone about."

"We're taking this case, DiNozzo."

"Then you can move it around my desk please. I've already got three open cases that're going to trial within a month. I wouldn't have time anyway."

"All of us do overtime."

"As do I, but there's no reason for me to be doing eighteen hour days."

"No one else can handle either of those."

"I'm not going to compromise my ethics to second-chair on a case where I was involved. It'll get tossed out even though the prosecutors threw it to us to do for them. It's a conflict of interest. I'm not going to lose my new law license to do that. Nor am I going to defend someone that I can't personally stand his crimes that we all know he's guilty of. He needs to plead."

"You still have to."

"No I don't." Tony shook his head. "And I will note it to the prosecutor's office that I cannot handle that case as I was involved. If they had checked the case they would've seen my name on the arrest report. They swore when they looked at that and found it then apologized for that when I did inform them that they had to get some other lowly paid intern."

"We don't have others to handle it and you should not have done that without telling us first," the senior partner said.

"I did. You ignored it." The man glared. "For that matter, you have four lawyers who only work six hours a week. Get them to do those."

"The world's not fair," one quipped smugly. "You're an intern."

"Yes and I'm also right. Ethically I cannot do those cases. In either case. That one defense case I'd have to note that he would need to plea bargain immediately and the prosecutor throw-off it's unethical of me to handle. The head DA was very mad his people didn't think to check the file before passing it off as being small fry and not important enough for them to handle for press attention."

He smirked. "I'm more than aware of how the world works, people. Been there since I was a teenager." They huffed but oh well. Tony walked off. "I'm going to go work on my actual three cases. Have a better day."

"We can fire you," one called after him.

Tony waved without turning around. "You go right ahead with that idea. Not like I have to work. I can retire and do prenups in Miami Beach whenever I want to do something." He went back to his desk and looked at the new file dropped on it, going to hand it back. "I was the arresting agent on that one," he said, handing it back.

"That's a conflict of interest. I had to tell the DA about that since they didn't check." He went back to his desk. He had plenty of things to get done here. Even if he wasn't sure he wanted to stay here. Did he really want to work for these people?

Too bad his office didn't allow dogs, he could use the petting time. He'd have to see what Alex was doing that night.

***

Tony let himself in. "Alex, I'm borrowing a dog," he called as he walked in. He heard a groan and sighed. "So you've got a date," he complained. Caspian came running to bark frantically at him so he followed. Nope, not a date. Though maybe a prior date. "Did someone stab you?" he demanded. Alex nodded with a wince. "Why?" He checked him over. "Was it a sniper shot?"

"Yeah. As I got out of the car," he moaned, waving. "Help me up? I didn't make it all the way to cleaning it up when the cops got here."

"Sure. We can hit an ER."

"No thanks. Probably too dangerous." Tony helped him into the bathroom, where he did take care of the injury, and call his twin back. "Why was your boyfriend's ex-wife shooting at me?" he demanded quietly. "Because I'm about to handle her." He listened to Xander ask that to Stephen, who swore and said he'd handle her himself.

It was probably her mistaking him for Xander. "Great. Thanks! The PD has her though." He hung up. "Charming." He got to work on the stitches he needed, making Tony wince. "I've done a lot of my own over the years, Tony." He looked at him. "Checking on me?"

"Borrowing a dog. My law firm is unethical in the extreme."

"Sure, go ahead. Give whichever dog got you an extra treat for being such a good boy."

"Caspian's living up to his namesake." He went to do that, treating all the dogs and petting Caspian once they had regular food too since the bowls were empty. He went to answer the door. "Yes, Officer?"

"Are you the homeowner?"

"He's in the bathroom cleaning up an injury where someone shot him with something that looked like a metal tooth. Can I help with anything?"

"We were going to ask about his construction still going on? One neighbor's complaining."

"Alex, are you still doing construction stuff here?" he called.

"I had to use a sledge to break up some stones so I could put down more grass," he said as he came out. "I haven't had actual construction people here in well over five months, Officer."

"They said you've had some today, sir."

"No." He shook his head. "I've been home since just before noon. There hasn't been any. Of course, half of my neighbors are snotty cows who hate me for not being country club material, even though I'm worth more than a lot of the senators are."

"Oh. Okay. So no construction workers at all?"

"No." He shook his head. "We had officers here earlier. Apparently my twin's boyfriend's ex-wife was the one who shot at me. I did get her arrested after I beat her a bit for it. When I called them he said it was probably mistaken identity but no clue." He shook his head slightly.

Tony looked at him. "Why would she care? Didn't Xander say that Stephen was celebrating over ten years without her?"

"Yeah and they've been together now for six. So no clue, really. Stephen said he'd handle it though." He looked at the officer again. "Did they say what sort of construction people?" The officer shook his head. "Hmm. Well, if they tell you let me know so I can check the security cameras." He walked off. "Tony, want meat for dinner?"

"You probably need meat for dinner to replace the blood you lost." He frowned at his back then at the officer, shrugging a bit. "We can check the cameras later to make sure but he'd know. He's the owner."

"I know this house has a criminal history."

"The one who inherited it tried to sell it to three different people at the same time. Alex bought it from the court sale after that. He made sure when he bought it."

"Oh. Okay. I'll let them know that they caught something else. Thank you, sir." He walked off. Tony closed the door and headed toward the kitchen. The door was kicked in and Alex threw the knife he was using at the officer to take him out. Tony looked down at him. "I'm a former federal agent. Is that really wise?" The man whined, rolling around.

"Boys, just stare at him." All the dogs barked. Tony called it in. "Do you have interior cameras?" he asked as he talked to dispatch, getting a nod. "Good. That'll stop some of the problems. Go start them for me?" Alex did that from his laptop in the office. Tony looked at the officer running over. "The owner's pulling up the interior cameras for you, Officer."

"What happened?"

"He knocked politely, told us the neighbors were complaining about construction things, which there wasn't. We told him that, explained some of the neighbors are snotty, he left, I turned around, and then he kicked in the door so the owner got him with the knife he was using to chop up stew meat." He pointed. "He's got the interior cameras up in the office."

Alex leaned out and waved. "In here, Officer. My security system tapes a lot."

He came in to look, groaning at what he saw. "Okay, so he was attacking."

"He apparently was." Alex winced as he shrugged. "No clue. This is the second attempt on my life today and I'm a bit mad about it." The officer stared at him so he moved his shirt to show the bandage. "Earlier's when I got home." He put his shirt back down.

"So are you under death threat?"

"No clue. I haven't had the chance to look yet." The officer scowled. "I'm a lawyer. Tony's now a lawyer." The officer nodded at that, going to tell the others.

Tony frowned at one then called an officer he knew, heading for the kitchen to get some privacy. He came back to look at that officer, who looked comically horrified. "Hanover just said hello and that you didn't have a legitimate badge. So why are you here?" The other officers stared at that one then at him.

"Lieutenant Hanover is out of the DC Metro Park office." They called that in to talk to him themselves while they kept that one from moving and one asked about the other one. He was an officer but not on duty. That got internal affairs down. They were never happy but this one was smiling.

Alex looked at him and shrugged. "He broke my door in." That guy stared at him. Alex shrugged again then winced. "Second attempt on me today. Any idea why?"

"Your former bosses are mad at you?" he guessed.

Alex snorted. "I won against them earlier so probably but they did it to themselves thanks to the Wolfram and Hart remains."

"We heard about that, Harris. Nice work taking out the evil."

"It seems to be a hobby of mine," he said dryly. "I need to put the meat up." Tony did that for him. "Okay, thanks." He stared at the officers. "Am I in trouble for defending myself and my house?" They all shook their heads. "Then can he please quit bleeding on my floors before I have to refinish them? If you do just a spot it'll never match so I'd have to do all of them."

"Ambulance is backing up now," one said. He stared at Alex. "You're awfully cold, Sir."

"This is my second attempted killing today. Well, the second attempt to kill me today. I have no idea why yet. I'm really mad though. I'd like to have a fit without you guys overhearing it." They nodded they understood that. "And I'm pretty sure that if I have to, I'm going to go find someone and make them suffer for doing this to me today. I had a good day until I got home." He went back to the kitchen.

A higher officer showed up. "Why is no one under arrest for harming one of ours?"

"Because he was trying to kill the homeowner," Tony said dryly. "He's not on duty, not supposed to be here, and definitely not supposed to break in the door to try to shoot him after asking questions about a neighbor complaining about non-existent construction work." The officer glared at him. "I did that *so* much better as a detective in Baltimore and then a Fed," he sneered back. The officer said a quiet 'shit' and lost his attitude. He looked at Alex. "If they do try to arrest you I'll defend you until I have to hand it to a non-involved party."

"Cool. Thanks." He smiled, petting his dogs. He stared. "Devil, why is there blood on you? Did I do that?" He moaned as he knelt down to check him over. "Oh. You've got a graze, boy. Tony, we need to go to the vet's." He hopped up with a wince and a hold of his side. "Drag him outside people, people. I need to take my dog to get emergency treatment. Tony can house and other dogs sit." Duke whined. "I know, I'm going to get him treated right now." He petted him, letting Duke and Caspian nudge Devil before he carried him off.

"Watch your side," Tony called after him. "If you start bleeding again, go to an ER and I'll pick up Devil." He rubbed his forehead but sighed, nodding at McGee since he was coming in. "Why call you guys?"

"He's on Reserve status," he said. "They had to."

"Tape's in the office," Tony said with a point. "This is Alex's house."

"It's nice but big."

"Yeah, he's complained about that too. It was the only one the realtor found though." McGee went to copy down the tape with the higher officer stomping that way to view it too.

McGee and the officer came back together. "He's right, it's justified. The guy broke in to kill him after complaining about construction things." The officers nodded, taking him to be arrested at the hospital. The higher up huffed and stomped off. McGee looked at Tony. "Are you liking being retired?"

"Most of the time. My current law firm is barely ethical so I'm thinking about switching or starting my own. Then again, Alex may start one too so we could probably combine. There's also people who still want me to run for Congress."

McGee patted him on the arm. "At least you're used to slimy people like them from cases."

"I grew up around a lot who'd like that sort of job," he admitted with a smirk. "Watch the dog's tail." McGee looked down and waved. "That's Duke and Caspian. Duke and Devil are both elderly dogs so the vet told Alex to get Caspian as a companion."

"That makes sense." He let them sniff his hand and petted them. "They seem like nice dogs for you to dogsit."

"They're like step-dogs." That got a nod. "Tell everyone I said hi if they want to hear it?"

"I can do that. Have fun fixing the door."

"The thing is solid wood with a metal core. And Alex used to work construction." McGee grinned but left him to it and cleaning up any mess. The small blood pool got cleaned up then the kitchen, then the door since it was a bit warm today. He settled on a couch to look up a site he knew held contracts. Yup, there was one on Alex and it wasn't from another lawyer.

"Oh, he's going to be so mad," he told the two dogs, getting cuddled back. He turned on the tv and the video calling system in there, waving with a grin when Xander answered it looking confused. "The second attempt on your twin's life got one of the dogs grazed so he's at the vet's with Devil."

Xander winced. "Who put a contract on my twin?" Stephen stared at him oddly from the background.

"It's listed as a name that sounds like she writes new age hippie books from England. Hipasia McDaniels-Raven."

"One of the Devon Coven," Xander said, his voice going cold. Tony sent him a copy of that page by email, letting him open it. "Fuck them."

"You go right ahead. I haven't told Alex yet. He's at the vet's with a pretty good cut on his side. Whoever did the first one used something shaped like a flying pyramid to pierce him. He made it to bed and collapsed there instead of getting it cleaned."

Xander nodded at that. "I'm going to kill those bitches."

"Did you get the tribunal transcripts from your twin?" Tony asked him.

"No, I hadn't known there was one," he said casually, getting into his email to find it. "Oh, someone read it for me." He glared at his boyfriend.

"I didn't want to stress you out before the battle next week, Xander."

"And the witches are supposed to show up for it so this way I'd be warned if they did something bad," he shot back, reading over them. "Oh, fuck them!"

Tony nodded. "That's probably going to be your twin's reaction when he gets home. If he gets home thinking about it. He might need to hit an ER."

Xander nodded once. "I'm going to have to say something. Can you do that double calling?"

"Yeah. Alex may not know how though." He got it started. "Calling who? I see a few names in his constant list."

"Giles if you can."

"I see Faith's name." He dialed her and waved. "Can you see us both, Slayer Faith?"

"I sure can, and I'm thinking something happened in DC to Alex?"

"Yes. Someone named Hipasia McDaniels-Raven put a contract on Alex's life," Tony said.

"After Willow's tribunal. It was noted that some of the witches thought she was right to remove me and him to make sure we're forever gotten out of the Council's way," Xander said.

"Um....let me get a few tweedies and Andrew." She looked around. "Guys, got a conference call," she called. "Where the fuck is Giles?"

"Language," Buffy called back. The tiny slayers were giggling. "You girls don't get to say that word yet." She came into view. "What's going on?"

"A witch put a contract out to kill Alex and Xander."

"Excuse me?" Buffy demanded. "GILES!" He came jogging out. "Which others did we need?"

"I have no idea, that's your job to figure out," Tony told her. He looked at Giles. "Did you read the notes from the tribunal, Mr. Giles?"

"I attended and did talk them down from their point of hating Xander again."

"Until they put a contract out on Alex's life?"

"Excuse me?" he demanded. Tony sent that to Faith's listed email so she could pull it up. "Oh, dear." He nodded. "Xander, do be careful when they show up to help you next week."

"I wouldn't have called today if there hadn't been two different attempts on Alex's life," Tony said dryly. "One here at the house."

"Shit," Faith muttered. "Yeah, that's bad." She looked at Giles, who was cleaning his glasses. "We can stop that, right?"

"I dearly hope so. Hopefully with a sword," he said as he walked off. "I'm going to talk to the ones here, ladies. Warn the girls, shall we?"

"Yeah, I'm going to do that," Buffy agreed, staying there. "And staying away from that temper."

"His?" Xander snorted. "Tony, something's happened somewhere."

"I can go get him from whatever, Xander. I'm a lawyer too." He smirked and waved, hanging up. He made sure the house was locked appropriately and went to find Duke at the pound, because they had gotten him from the car, and take him home then go to find Alex. He had been detained.

He smirked at the sergeant who was trying to get in his way. "I'm his lawyer and that was ruled a good thing since the supposed officer was trying to enact a contract on his life." They glared. He stared back. "I did it better when I wore the badge. Move. Get me my client. At least no one's tried to take him out for that contract here. Though, you're in trouble if someone did attack him. That is against the law."

"He took out an officer."

"He wasn't dead. He left that house in cuffs and still alive. If one of the brotherhood got him on the way to the ER, that's their doing, not Harris'. After all, the guy shouldn't have been dirty." He shrugged. "If the truth hurts, you're telling lies. Now, let's get this sad event over with. Before we both sue you."

"He's nothing."

"He's actually a lawyer." He smirked. "A very well respected lawyer." Another officer came over. "Great. Get me my client, who was not arrested for protecting himself when a dirty cop burst into his house to kill him to fulfill a contract." The officer looked horrified. "Now please. And if there's more than one I'll help the others too I guess."

"Who're you?" he demanded.

"Anthony DiNozzo. Attorney." He smirked. "Here for Alex Harris, also an attorney." The officer shrank away from him. "If I have to ask again I'm going to get the FBI into it as there is a contract started by an international idiot witch." He did call them when nothing got done. Within thirty minutes there was an agent there and he got a copy of the files from McGee to watch on the way. Tony shook his hand. "Thank you for helping us tonight, Agent Misters."

"DiNozzo. Retirement from NCIS suits you."

"I need to work for a better law firm but usually. I haven't been shot at in over a year."

"That's a miracle for you. Let's get him. Now, people. That was ruled self defense."

"He shot a cop!"

"He did not, he threw a knife," Tony said. "Unless there was another one?"

Agent Misters nodded. "The one who stopped him for erratic driving for soothing his dog tried to kill him too so he wrestled the gun from him and hit him on the ankle then drove off after dropping the gun on him. I came from that scene."

"Ah." Tony nodded at that. "Great. More dirty cops. Just brilliant. I remember when the badge meant you were a good person. Pity it's lost that meaning since I wore one." The agent nodded. "Now, where is he?" They got him and he was injured. A lot. "Oh, damn it," he muttered. "Okay, we're going to the ER."

Alex blinked at him. "They're needing one too." He glared at the officer coming over. "Going to try to rape me this time too? Didn't get hit hard enough last time?"

"There's cameras all over the station, kid," the agent said.

Tony looked at him. "Yes, and they control them. This unit is known for brutality. Otherwise I might've left Alex here to keep him safe from that contract."

"Who is that? The name's weird."

"She's a witch."

"Oh. That figures with a name like Hipasia."

Alex blinked at him. "One of the coven?"

"Yeah." Tony nodded. "Fairly low level contract but they said you're not very good or very hard."

"Bullshit. I've survived hell, I can survive this pettiness." He got helped up. "So, can I go now? Since you guys illegally detained me. Before I pull out my lawyer cred and sue the department?"

"There's no evidence, boy," one said.

"And yet, evidence," Alex said, waving a hand at himself. "Including your ring, mother fucker. It's probably distinctive." The officer tried to hit him again so Alex broke the guy's face for him. "No, not into that. I'm not a masochist. And since you took the swing first, I can charge you with assault."

"No one's going to stand up for you," the officer laughed.

Alex smirked at him. "You sure? Because yeah, I can get the tapes that a certain realm does of all of us." He held out a hand and it appeared with a note that it blew that favor whoever owed him. He smiled. "See, there's a few realms with a better intelligence network than the CIA. They think my twin's really fascinatingly weird and I'm kinda boring but important and I do heavy stuff."

He sucked in a bit of spit. "So...." He handed the agent the tape. Then took it from him to give to Tony. That way it couldn't disappear somehow. "Try it again." They backed away from him.

"You know this means we'll get you each time we see you out," one sneered.

"For defending myself against dirty cops? How *just* you guys are! You must be really *great* at your job." He sneered back. "And I've seen teenage girls who do that better." That one went to tell the others. He smiled at the agent. "Thank you for the help."

"Oh, you're welcome. Can we stop that contract?"

"Please do before I end that witch. And the redheaded bitch we grew up with." He walked off leaning on Tony's arm. He smiled and waved at a few glaring officers. "If I get this for taking out dirty ones of you, that's you joining them in the filth. I hope you're good with that. And your families who'll have to live it down." Tony patted him and took him to an ER. "Devil okay?"

"He's at home. They sent him to the pound. The worker there bandaged the graze when I told her what had happened and showed that I was the step-parent for them." Alex sighed but nodded, getting helped into a car. "I can get an ambulance."

"Why give them the happies?"

"Point. Some of them probably got off on it."

"Yeah, the sample's on my shirt." He took it off to put into a plastic bag Tony had in there. "Do I act against them?"

"Make it a huge note online with proof. Note that they're going to retaliate and so therefore are just letting others know. Make a huge stink online."

"I can do that. Thanks, Tony. I know it puts you in a bad spot and made you kill favors."

"Nah. No one likes dirty cops." Behind them a set of lights came on but he looked and sighed, pulling oer. "FBI. Sit still." He rolled the window down halfway. "I'm taking him to an ER for a forensic audit. What did you need?" A gun was pulled on them. He stared back. "Wow, yay," he said flatly. Alex muttered and flicked a finger, making the guy scream. "That sounds like it hurt." He looked at Alex, who grinned. "Favor?"

"Poker debt. Can we go? I'd like some drugs."

"I can see that." He called that in to the dispatch line and took off. "Did you recognize him?"

"Yeah that was McGinnis, that guy on the list." He leaned his head on the window. "Oops, sorry, blood."

"Windows clean, Alex. Rest. Please. Just don't pass out." He pulled into an ER he liked, he had sampled the wares of many of them over his years in DC, and got out to help him inside. "Hey, Lacey." His ex glared at him. "This is Alex, he's a lawyer, and he caught a dirty cop so they beat him for it. Can we get him treated? He's got injuries from an earlier one he stitched himself."

"He looks bad." She came to test him and got him back to a room. A trauma doc came in to help them. Alex really did need it.

"I'm not staying overnight," Alex moaned as he was shifted. "It's not safe and I want my dogs. Before those dirty ones try them."

"I turned your security system on high," Tony reminded him. "And turned on the special system. There's someone in your garden area but otherwise no one's come near the house. And..." He hit a control on the phone. "That one's really sorry thanks to your lightening system." Alex smirked at that. "He ran off. The dogs are cuddled on the couch around Devil."

"You have a dog named Devil?" the nurse asked him, giving him an odd look.

"I adopted them when the idiot broke into my former house with them and then complained I was mean enough to send them to the pound. Devil and Duke are my first two dogs. They came with those names. Something about sports." He grinned. "They're older."

"That's sweet of you then."

"He had to give them a friend because they were so co-dependant," Tony told her. "Little Prince Caspian sometimes lives up to his name. He got me earlier to help Alex with his earlier injury he stitched himself."

The doctor looked at him. "You did?"

"I've been doing my own since I was ten," he admitted. "I've done a lot of them." He pointed. "Those that they ripped on purpose."

The doctor looked then nodded. "It looked nicely done. We can redo those. Your whole chest is going to look like a lot of bandages."

"We needed a forensic audit done too please," Tony said with a smile. "He caught a dirty cop so the rest piled on."

"Ah." That got a nod and they did that and bagged the clothes. "You're an agent?"

"Used to be." He smiled. "Now I'm a lawyer. Specializing in ethical criminal cases."

"I'm one too but I specialize in business things," Alex admitted. "Mostly helping the peaceful community with starting new businesses and weird rules that the government has. I mean, how many rules do you have to have about clothes in a spa when the whole species is nudist by nature and the ones coming in are too usually?"

"I hadn't thought about that," the doctor admitted. "Are you a member?"

"No. I'm a retired demon hunter."

"Oh."

"My twin's the watcher in Africa."

"Ah!" He nodded. "That makes sense. You retired and defend against evil a different way."

Alex nodded with a grin. "Often. It's when I get unretired too." The doctor smiled and got back to treating him.

***

Alex limped into a meeting the next day, nodding. "Sorry, I'm a bit slow with injuries right now," he told the judge. "Didn't mean to be two minutes late, Your Honor."

"What did you do?" he demanded patiently.

"A dirty cop broke into my house to kill me for a witch in England's contract," he said dryly. "Then the rest of them got mad that I defended myself by injuring him. They tried to hurt one of my dogs too." He sat down with a sigh and relaxed, then winced and straightened up. "But I'm here now and I'm ready to start if they are."

"Good, Mr. Harris. Are you on anything?"

Alex snorted, shaking his head. "Pain killers have *never* worked on me, Your Honor. I wish. I *really* wish. After this I'm going to find something to knock my ass out so I can rest through the three broken and one cracked ribs." He smiled.

The judge shuddered. "DC metro?"

"Yup, sure was. That nice unit by that big industrial area. A friend put it up online for me. Including the tape we have of them doing it." He smiled sweetly. The judge shuddered. "But...I'm still awake. I'm here, and let's get started so I can go be in pain with my dogs at home pouting at me."

"Gladly. All right, people. We're here over some weird rules about clothes it seems."

"Your Honor, most of us consider it a necessity for beings to wear clothes," the other side complained.

"If they wear clothes, it can make them suffocate," Alex shot back. "They breathe through their skin. All the community that goes into their spa know that their species is naked because they have to be. The ones who're different species do wear more clothes if they can."

The judge nodded. "I'd worry about hygiene things. Hairs shedding onto someone, things like that."

"Their species does sweat," Alex told him with a nod. "But they're not working in fields where that would be a problem. A few are masseuses." He looked at his client.

"The client would have a towel on and it's stated on a sign up front that many of our employee's species cannot wear clothes due to it being harmful. If someone wants, they can have another masseuse help them. We have two that are of other species and they do wear sarongs."

"That seems like a reasonable accommodation."

"We put up the signs when they started that, Your Honor." He showed him signs from around the shop.

"I see one's very large and purple. He looks like he'd do a great massage with all three of his hands." He handed the picture over.

"What if humans go in, Your Honor?"

"They can hopefully read?" Alex asked dryly. "And there had been one human who did work there, someone's spouse."

"She's a nail tech," the client said.

The other side looked over. "He married a human?"

"He accidentally infected her with his mating scent because he was obsessed. It has to be let out purposefully but he was young and obsessed and she liked him back so decided not to detox it."

"It's been on their version of a Hallmark channel," Alex quipped. "It was well done and well shot, even I liked it."

The government's lawyer shook his head quickly. "I guess they're happy then. If a human comes in would they complain?"

"If they're that sort why would they be going there except to find something to complain about?" Alex asked back. "I think we call them Karens these days."

"True," the lawyer agreed with a nod. "It was one of those who filed against them." Someone kicked the door in and tried to come in but Alex threw his briefcase and hit the guy on the head, knocking him out.

"Mr. Harris, while you're here, let the bailiff protect us all," the judge ordered. "You're too sore for that I'm sure."

"I'm not used to others doing that," he admitted, looking sheepish. "Sorry to usurp."

"It's fine," the bailiff said, going to get the briefcase and arrest that guy. "What did you want?" he asked him.

"Him! We can get our Lord back with his blood," he whined.

Alex looked out there. "I'm not Xander!"

"You took out Lord Wolf!"

"Oh, him. Yeah. I blew up the bad, evil lawyer and his cohorts. Yay me. My blood won't bring him back."

"You carry his essence."

"Dude, I used a grenade launcher. No I don't. I have his *status*, not his essence. Sorry!" He waved a bit with a grin. The guy started to cry as he was arrested. Alex shook his head quickly then sighed.

The other lawyer looked at him. "Why did you have a weapon that strong?"

"I was holding it for Xander for US based emergencies?"

"Oh. That."

"I have permission."

"Good point."

"And they were evil. Behind the invasion in LA."

"That's reasonable then. By your usual things, that's very you, Harris." Alex smiled and nodded. "Who did start that contract?"

"A side witch to the Devon Coven thanks to Willow's bull this last time." He tried to shrug and winced with a whine. "Ow. Ribs." He held himself until he was under control. "Okay, let's get back to this. Before someone else gets a bad idea."

The judge stared at him. "Are you all right?"

"Not really but I'll survive and piss off more people by doing it."

"Good point. That's something said about you often." The judge shook his head. "I hope my kids never have to be as tough as you are, Harris."

"I doubt you're a drunk like my parents were," he quipped back with a smile.

"No, I never touch the stuff." He was happier with that.

The governmental lawyer shook his head. "I barely touch the stuff and once I have kids, I'm going to be stopping that."

Alex smirked at him, punching him on the arm. "I saw you and your girlfriend. She seemed nicer than anything I've ever dated."

"Yes she is." He smiled. "She's very nice and womanly. She bakes."

"Then hey, a keeper! The last one I had that baked was also a jewel thief."

The demon client looked at Alex. "Was that the red haired one?"

"No, that was Jenella. She was a bodyguard who did a few beatings for cash. Very good girl for my usual ones but she decided I was weird because I liked comics. Hannah baked."

"She did seem nice and only liked to gather pretty things like a dragon would." The client looked at the other side. "We are willing to go with reasonable rules but we cannot kill our employees to make them put on clothes."

"I can see how that's a problem. You've done a lot of what we could suggest but we can't just remake a rule."

"You can put a health exemption," Alex noted. "There's already one in place and they wanted to be put under that."

"I looked at that, that's for people who're sick but not dealing with people. We don't think it'll stretch." He looked at the judge.

"Looking at that exemption, it won't fit in this situation but it can be remade to cover that and this sort of situation. We cannot make them do things that would harm their health on purpose. What do the ones who don't work in this sort of field do for employment?"

"Usually they're monks," the client said happily. "Very nice earth beings. Not many of them have emigrated down here but some came for education."

"I can see how that goes. I can't rule to make them do things that can suffocate them." Alex winced as he shifted. "We'll be done soon, Harris."

"I'm fine. Just had to shift. My phone just beeped in my pocket but it was Xander's beep so I'll answer him in a few."

"Fine." He looked at the other side. "How can we get that exemption recrafted?"

"We've talked about it and we like this idea," he said, handing it over to be looked over.

The judge nodded. "Doesn't exactly cover this." He let the client see it.

"Two of ours are veiled, that would bother theirs." He slid it to Alex.

"Take out that third sentence and rewrite it this way," he said, grabbing a pen to fix it for him. "How's that?"

His client looked then nodded. "That would cover all of us. And the temples."

"That was another thing that got complained about," the governmental lawyer admitted. "Naked people where kids could see them and get horrified at adult bodies."

Alex snorted. "A good part of Europe apparently runs around naked in front of their families and they do saunas the same way by what I've heard from some friends over that way."

"Yes, but this is the US," the judge said. "And we're horrified by naked bodies. It's where we were started by Puritans." He looked at the client. "Do they have walls?"

"One may not do that, there's no room at the temple. Though they may be willing to move, I do not speak for them."

"That's not a bad idea," the governmental lawyer said. "As long as they're not blatantly sitting outside naked to draw attention." He shrugged. "Walls are great and keeps people who'll complain out."

Alex nodded. "I like mine for that too. And that one temple's not going to be a problem. Someone tried to shoot at them and they got horrified so they're looking into moving. The one down by the museum will be. That one the higher holy people have to come in to find the spot and that's the only spot they found in DC. They showed up about two years ago."

"I remember them and they are naked but for face veils," his client agreed, considering it. "They could probably move closer to nature. They're not a nature sect, they're actually a chaos sect, but they may have walls."

"Nothing can fully block the sun from their view," Alex reminded him. "So they have pretty walls that aren't real effective."

The judge considered that. "Can the walls be about shoulder height?"

"In all but one direction and that one's near a condo grouping," Alex said. "I went looking to see if any other cases were going to be impacted by this decision. Some people there would like them to move too. Their condo's pool looks on their garden area and there's no wall there because it's nearly on the sidewalk. But they won't buy food, only grow it. They're vegan and picky about what veggies they'll eat."

"Isn't there a daycare near there?" the client asked.

"Yes but they have walls to protect the kids. That's mostly the condos complaining in their case."

The other lawyer looked that up. "We have noted they need to put up a wall. Even the fancy, holey walls they have already would be better and we could argue about that later. They're trying to buy another plot around theirs for the garden."

"If they could get the back one behind them it'd be good," Alex said. "Same sunlight for growing probably."

The judge nodded. "I can see how that would happen. As long as that can be worked out."

"We're willing to work with them if we have the proper rules." He sent that text to his boss. Who didn't like that wording so he pointed out why and it'd cover a few other issues. His boss sent back an order. "The higher ups don't really like that wording but we can gladly work out something similar that we'll enjoy twisting for cases." He smiled a bit at Alex.

"You know I like it when you guys do that. It's half my business."

"True." He looked at the client. "Can we continue this until we can rewrite that and then see if it'll be the solution?"

"Of course! If it's a good solution we'd all enjoy that, no matter where it came from."

"Ask Zuma," Alex said then moaned and held his head. "I didn't want my twin's visions," he muttered then sighed. "Great. He's probably unconscious." He pulled out his phone with a wince to look. "Yup, that's Stephen. Xander's knocked cold by a lion pouncing him? Huh."

He sent a text back. "Oh, the lion's unpossessed and Xander's waking up with a slight concussion. Great!" He waved at his phone as he answered. He looked at his client then the other lawyer. "Zuma is the high priest of Magaret, She of the Leopard Print priests.

"Their group often has knowledge of all kinds of species that may be down here and any specific needs. So they'd probably know what would need warped. I've asked them in the past for the one that was for that market. That one that made you swear off meat for six months."

"I remember that case. And that priest you introduced me to. I can ask him if he'll advise us on that rule to see what's needed."

"He won't like the spa," the client said. "They consider such things frivolous even though it can be healing."

"Yeah, they're 'no medical attention or you're unholy' sorts," Alex agreed with a nod.

"I can keep that in mind and ask if that would harm any species." He made himself a note. "Thank you. Give us a few weeks?"

"Gladly," the judge agreed. "I have the third open."

Alex looked at his calendar. "I'm meeting someone at the SBA over the Seagrims gift." The lawyer winced at that. "At least they're willing to support small businesses. Even though they did want to eat people. Living people." He sighed. "They know it's against the rules."

"I'm expecting that to end up back here," the other lawyer admitted.

Alex nodded. "I have no idea but possibly." He sighed. "It's a necessity but...."

The judge held up a hand. "I've been briefed about that one to give advice so it'll have to go to Judge Morans."

"That was shooting themselves in the foot," Alex said dryly.

"Indeed. But I did advise on the legality and the problems they'd have doing that here in the US."

"They originally had one in the city in Turkey," the client said then sighed. "The locals heard and nearly bombed the city to get rid of them."

Alex nodded. "Thankfully the slayer there got it straightened out and just had them go to save that ancient demon city. Mara did good work."

"She did," the client agreed with a nod. "How is Slayer Faith?"

"Tony called her last night with Xander to talk about that contract a witch put out on me." He grinned. "She swore in front of the minis and they all stared in awe from what he said. Then she got Buffy to swear."

"Oooh, dear."

"Yup." He sighed. "But we'll handle it, as always."

"Good luck with that," his client said. "So the third, that morning?"

"That morning's more open," Alex agreed. "The meeting's not until ten."

"I'm going to be at that one anyway so I can have them move ours back a bit," the other lawyer said. "It makes sense."

The judge nodded and penned that in. "I'll get you here first thing at eight, people. Go mediate and Harris, go heal."

"I hope so." They packed up and he went home to cuddle with his dogs. They all liked to cuddle the sore spots as furry heating pads.

The other lawyer smiled. "I didn't know Harris was of an off-world religion," he joked.

"He's not," the client said. "He self treats. Has for years. He's really good at stitches too. He's helped our healers a number of times." He smiled at their horrified looks. "He and his twin have done that for decades now."

"Damn," the lawyer muttered. "I'm never going to be that tough."

"Then again, you'll never have to face down that *witch* in a snit either."

"Point. Thankfully." He left to go make prayers in thanks for that. The judge did too. The client went to tell the others how it was going. And what had happened to Harris this time.

They really did enjoy him being entertaining.

***

Tony, being sneaky and at Alex's house to make sure he stayed okay and to help him get around, because he was so out of it right now on the pain, used Alex's system to call a friend he met overseas. He waved as it connected. "Hey!" He smiled. "Got something for you to pass on if you would."

"Case related?"

"A member of the Devon Coven put a contract out on someone."

"Excuse me? Those hippie witches that look down their nose at everyone not them?" He nodded with a grin.

"That'll cause a problem," Alex called. "They'll come for me harder because you went outside them."

"She dated one, Alex, and she'll pass it on to someone who can handle it quietly and isn't too far off their beaten down path." He grinned at her. "I'm at the house of Alex Harris."

"Related to the guy in Africa I'm assuming?"

"His twin." He forwarded those emails he had sent to Faith.

She read them over and nodded. "Like hell that'll go." She smiled. "I do know one that's an officer but is one of their grandkids."

"I figured you might know someone. I did tell the FBI last night because a dirty cop here in DC tried to take the contract on him so I had to rescue him from DC Metro."

"That's fine. The more the merrier." He smirked a bit. "That tribunal?"

"The redheaded danger to humanity?"

"That one they're not mentioning in case she hears and shows up?"

"Yup."

"Oh, dear." She nodded. "Okay. I can gladly pass that on, Tony. How're you doing?"

"Retired and finished law school and now finding a new law firm to work for. I got told one more concussion and I'd be in a rest home."

"That makes sense with how many you've had." She nodded once. "Lawyer looks good on you."

He smiled. "I get to wear pretty suits and not get shot at. I haven't been shot at in over a year."

"That's amazing for you." She smiled. "Call the usual way?"

"If you want me to." He grinned. "I'm only here playing with Alex's dogs and to make sure he's okay."

"Sure. Next week? I'm in town."

"Tell me when and invite me somewhere, I'll be there and no cases I'll have to run out to handle during it."

"Good enough. I'll email when I get there." She hung up and called her contact. "I'm forwarding you information on one of your kin," she said dryly as she did that. "It came from a former agent in DC." She heard her read it and burst out swearing. "You have fun with that. He did have to alert the FBI, apparently some sort of dirty cop tried to act on it so the victim had to defend himself from half the cops.

"Yup, you have fun! They were worried that I might be too unreleated." She laughed. "Tell my brother I said hi and to be safer if they try you for handling that." She hung up and got back to her current bit of work. Maybe Tony had the right idea, retiring to a less stressful job with fewer hours. He had looked good and healthy.

Tony looked at the dogs around him, petting them. "Maybe I've got a date next week, guys." They snuggled in. Their daddy was too sore to snuggle right now.

***

A reporter ran up to Alex and Tony, who were out for a mutual case. "Mr. Harris, where did that tape come from?" he shouted as he ran.

Alex shrugged but smirked at him. "For all I know I'm part of the most boring sitcom ever," he quipped. "It came from another realm that watches this one. Could've been from their intelligence people, who're better at it than the CIA is, or it could've been entertainment. My twin's been entertainment for them a few times. I heard they taped his last anniversary present to show it for amusement."

The reporter blinked a few times. "There are?"

"Yeah," Tony said with a nod. "Three that I've heard which have better intelligence systems than any down here."

"Which one are you?" the reporter asked.

Tony grinned, handing over a card. "Tony DiNozzo, Attorney."

"Do you work with the peaceful community?"

"Sometimes. I'm not against that but I specialize in criminal cases like Alex does business ones."

"That's interesting. So today's a meeting?"

"No, we have a joint case about a business enterprise," Tony admitted. "Something community related." That got a nod and the reporter walked off. Tony and Alex got through security at the courthouse, being taken to the right courtroom by a guard. Tony looked at him. "Why?" he asked quietly.

"We've had three death threats today about your case. We remembered about Harris' cases," the guard told him quietly. "If it's going to happen here it'll be around him." Alex looked at him. "Please let us handle it, Mr. Harris?"

"Sure, I can pretend to be a damsel and just guard the courtroom if I have to."

"Thank you." He let them in and stationed a few guards outside that courtroom. This could be really bad but he had no idea why this case had gotten so much attention.

Alex and Tony went to different tables, Tony was working for the government this time.

The judge looked at them. "I'm sure you've heard we've had a death threat due to this case." Everyone nodded. "Good. Mr. Harris, please let the bailiff handle it."

"If he can, I'll gladly do that. I'm still a bit sore from the broken ribs. I unfortunately don't have a self-healing talent, Your Honor."

"That's good to know," he said dryly, smirking at him. "Are you armed?"

Alex carefully shrugged. "They confiscated mine and Mr. DiNozzo's sidearms. We came in together."

"I'm aware you two know each other, Harris. A lot of people think you're cute together."

"I'm still into women," Tony said dryly. The judge smirked at him. "Mostly." The judge got them all sworn in. "Your Honor, the government is very worried about this new business. We understand it's the species' means of eating but the government felt it had to draw a line at animal and human abuse.

"We understand they like to eat living things. I know there's a small following of people who eat live seafood, including whole, live, small octopuses. But we feel we have to draw a line in this case because it does lead to a lot of things that humans would find questionable and probably downright nasty."

The judge nodded. This one wasn't a great judge about community things but he was at least mostly fair. "Mr. Harris?"

"As my colleague said, it is their means of eating, Your Honor. While I myself do find it very disturbing and weird and it makes me physically ill to consider it, they have to eat something and their bodies require live food. And they're mostly allergic to seafood."

"Is this a biological need?" the judge asked.

"I've asked a healer. Her short answer was yes and then a heave." He handed over a folder. "That is what the senior healers, the ones who keep track and do the research, have on their species. It does list the need for live food. Apparently there's something bodily like a hormone that can destroy their brains if they eat too much non-living meat based material."

The judge looked it over. "Have you seen this, Mr. DiNozzo?"

"I went with him, Your Honor. That way I could ask my own questions. There's no convenient bypass with a medicine that would mimic that need. Though she did say someone was working on it."

"Do they just eat animals?" the judge sighed.

"No," Xander said with a head shake. "It's traditional on their majority birthday and any huge life event to eat a living being who is of a higher level, up to a human that they had found." He sighed. "They do mostly hide these needs behind very high walls. The issue here is that a procurer wants to set up a business to give them what they want and need."

"I get that," the judge said, putting that folder aside. "I could see animals a lot better than I could humans however."

"Your Honor, they had a PETA protest and ate one of them, then said she tasted funny," Tony said with a grimace. "She told them she'd rather they eat her than a dog. So they did." The judge shook his head quickly. "There was a cannibal in Germany about a decade ago who took applications to have someone to eat and got something like sixty applications. The news didn't give an accurate count. So I'm sure these ones would have volunteers as well."

"I'm sure most of them have therapists," the judge said. He swallowed some water. "So the questions before us are the legitimacy of the business practice of procuring them food sources. If they can use certain species or not. Can they use humans at all, which I'm not inclined to agree to. Unless that is a critical need for some health reason, I'm not going to grant the use of humans." The client grimaced at that. "And I'm sure someone will be watching over them to see if they kidnap anyone."

"There's unfortunately a slave trade on some realms," Alex told him.

"I've heard that. It is unfortunate and something I hope we can end."

"We all hope that," Tony agreed. Alex nodded he agreed. "The government has regulations on how you treat and kill animals for slaughter. Will this new business follow those regulations?"

"They need the fear hormones," the client told him.

Tony nodded. "I understand why. The healer told us both why and how that was a need. But the government has set down rules for a more humane slaughter industry. We would require them to follow that. Perhaps even to the point of sedating their food sources."

"That wouldn't hurt them but it would cut down on the things they need from the live flesh," Alex told him.

The judge nodded. "I can see that point being in contention. Our rules for slaughterhouses aren't actually all that humane but they do require the animals to be in good health and certain regulations being met. Including some about sanitation." He tapped his pen a few times. "What is the possible business' plans to meet up to those?"

"We keep their food in good condition. They wouldn't want something sick unless they're human. That they can bend on but not with the more common animal feedings." Alex handed over the business plan, which included all that.

"That does include which rules would be countered by their practices, what their practices are, and the needs they'd have to bend towards." He read through the rest. "How would they get the human needs met?"

"They have agreed to sponsor trips to a place where that is a less ...watched over thing," the client said.

The judge nodded once. "That would probably get agents into the mix." He went back to the business plan. "I really do not like this," the judge said. "But it is a plan on how to get around some rules." He looked at Tony. "Your people?"

"Are horrified that it's even being asked," Tony admitted. "Which is why they went out of the office to not have to say that their own people caved." He grimaced. "They've told me that the business plan they submitted was good, but some of those rules are going to be held steady, even with that biological need. Their line in the sand is more sentient animals. They do not want anything bigger than a guinea pig. And no humans."

Tony handed over their recent decisions on this case. Including from a meeting recently. "They are not wanting to bend on a good bit of the rules because doing so would mean that the slaughterhouses that are less ethical would use it to their advantage."

The judge nodded at that. "I can see that happening. Most of the time, these cases can lead to a tweaked rule or three. Things that are simple to defend still as ethically, socially, and health-related regulations." Tony and Alex both nodded. "I think we need to go over each rule and see where such tweaks may exist already." Alex handed over a copy with a smile. "Oh, thank you, Mr. Harris. The prior tweaks?"

"Only two of my prior cases would relate but some of the tweaks on the books for corporate farms would fit some of this. They're meant for larger businesses and corporate farming practices. If Tony's bosses are amenable it could be stretched back to smaller businesses since this is a breeding and farming situation.

"Though neither side is representing the USDA. I've sent in a request to them about all this as this is a breeding issue as well, and they've stated they want nothing to do with this idea." He handed that letter over. "So they left it in Tony's bosses' hands."

"My bosses really would like it to not happen at all. They can see the many ways the laws can be twisted by others. Including some serial killers since they start with animal killings usually. Sometimes they catch them on that instead of their later kills."

The judge grimaced again. "I can see that point as well." He made himself notes. "Have you seen these precedents?" he asked Tony.

"It was presented at our last meeting by Mr. Harris. My boss snorted but did agree some of this would be under those rules, though not entirely. We're very worried about how others will use those rules later on."

"It is something to be worried about," the judge agreed with a nod. He looked at him. "Aren't you a second year rookie?"

"With a history in law enforcement, Your Honor. I've seen a lot of twisted people who took rules like this as a challenge."

"Interesting." He went back to it. "We need to go over these one by one, even though it's listed how it would affect or need to be changed. That way we can go over each precedent, why it was a precedent, and what exactly will need changed." He looked at the client. "I know it's not an immediate solution."

"No, we did not expect one today," he lied with a smile.

Alex smirked at him. "This judge is very careful about the laws he has to help people tweak." He looked at the judge again. "Judge Corboran was one of the judges, Your Honor."

"I saw our former coworker who went on many anti-demon community rants," he said dryly. "I know a lot of this has a bias, Mr. Harris. I'm trying to be fair but protective. We have to follow a lot of the rules. Though there's a few that're really stupid." Tony snickered at that.

"We have two hours left today, let's start with that review so we can hopefully work some of it out with the lesser problematic ones." They all nodded, going over the first rule that would have to be bent. That needed a gentle tweak. They could handle that and not cause later hell for the department. The other rules would take a lot of tugging and yanking and probably some hair loss. And a few very upset stomachs.

***
Part 9 by Voracity2
Alex looked at the woman stomping up to him. "Yes, ma'am?" he asked.

"Are you defending a business that wants to eat people?" she demanded.

He sighed. "We're working out what rules would have to be followed strictly if they did open anything that would procure live food sources, though not humans. The judge has made it clear that they cannot deal with human victims. Even if their people do sometimes, at special life events, take a victim from the slave trades on other realms." He stared at her. "They're not going to be doing that in the US."

"They should go home!" she shouted with a point.

"Yeah but their realm got destroyed by a military incident that basically released a nuke level bomb as a test. Over three-quarters of their people died. The rest went to various other realms. There's nineteen of them on this realm. Most of them went to realms that would be more suitable to their physical needs." She gaped in horrified awe. He nodded.

"They're very slow breeders. They're trying to stay within regulations and know that the US won't allow them to eat people. Even if some people would volunteer like a certain PETA member recently did to keep them from eating a dog." He shrugged.

"My job is to help them deal with government regulations that they'll have to follow and set up agreements on any tweaks to laws that may be needed. And really, we're all fighting against laws that could later be twisted for someone like Dahmer or that cannibal in Germany who took applications for new food sources and got sixty." She shuddered, stepping away looking horrified. "They're not the first."

"That's still disgusting!"

"Yes," he said with a nod. "And they feel the same way about people who eat vegetables because it would kill them if they did. They actually need live meat to live. It can cause them to slowly die of brain changes. Do you expect them to die for needing different things?" She huffed but slumped.

"They've all but agreed to never take a human in the US. The other day a PETA member did volunteer and they took her up on it, and that was really stupid of her, but ...." He shrugged again. "What do you want them to do? If they die off, their species isn't all that ancient but it is a species. Are you really into genocide?"

"No," she admitted, grimacing. "They have to eat live meat?"

"Yeah." He nodded. "It's unfortunate but it will cause brain changes if they don't. Usually they do eat animals. So do other species though." She pouted but nodded. "It's just these ones that take a human for specific, important life events. They're finding some way to deal with that. Including someone doing a research study to see if we have any medicines that can ease that problem for them so they don't eat humans."

"There are?"

"The senior healers have researchers and one team is looking at their needs to see if something can help with that. They're trying to live within the rules the government put out. They're not asking for huge exemptions and their business would supply small animals to others who also eat small animals. Including some vampires. The kitten poker circuit could use it too." She grimaced but shook her head. "Plenty of species do eat flesh. So do we, we just call it chicken and steak."

"I didn't think about that."

He nodded. "To that species, humans are like super expensive steaks that cost you a hundred bucks an ounce."

"I can understand that," she admitted. "But it's disgusting."

"We all agree with that. Me, the other lawyers, the judge, and they know that humans see it that way. We're trying to work it out so they can do small animals and work out any rules for future food procurers for the community that needs fleshy things to eat. There's only so many cat breeders that'll work with the community. And no shelters will do more than give them the ones that're going to be put down anyway."

"It's still gross."

He nodded. "Many of them would see vegans the same way. Including some plant based species. A PETA member ran into one of them and ran off crying because the plant being ate meat. Apparently they didn't realize some plants are carnivores." He sighed. "We're doing what we can to make a happy medium between the two sides. The judge made it clear he won't agree to them having humans."

"Well." She looked at her staring friends then at him. "Why take on that case?"

"Because later on, there'll be people who're breeding other animals for the community so we have to set up the rules now for them too. And even cannibals are entitled to legal representation. Plus I'm a single lawyer in my own business. I have to support my dogs somehow."

She nodded. "I guess I can see that. It's still gross."

He nodded. "I feel the same way about the people who willingly eat bugs just because they're crunchy. My twin's in an area that has a drought now and then so they *have* to eat bugs sometimes for protein. I can't hold that against them for eating to survive even if I do hate the hipsters who make them into suckers. They really defiled the sacred candy in my opinion."

She snorted, walking off shaking her head. "At least you're honest and ethical."

"I do try," he assured her. "I pride myself on being ethical." He went back to his trip to the grocery store. It was only a block from his house so he could walk it. He saw an officer glaring and ignored him but paid attention to where he was. Just in case they tried to attack him again. He stared in the meat case, grimacing at the selection. "How do you make a roast?" he asked himself. He looked at a nearby woman. "How do you make a roast, ma'am?"

"Slow cooker," she quipped.

"Oh. Okay. I don't think I have one of those." He pouted. "I wanted cow." He picked up some stuff and some chips then checked out to walk home. He nearly made it before someone tried to run into him. He glared at the demon and they rushed off. "I'm going to talk to the poker hall," he told himself. He went home to put up his food and make dinner, looking at his email.

Someone was complaining he was undermining the client so he explained to them how the US judicial system handled business problems that came to them from the government, and how realistically some things weren't going to be allowed. Ever. And he had told his client that. He had been very clear about what he could do to help that client and how it would probably end up. He hadn't hid anything from his client, or any other client. He was ethical and usually over explained according to most of them.

"Ask any of them." He sent that email and went back to his dinner. The dogs looked over from the couch so he put down food for them too. They ran in to eat and then got to spend some daddy time outside with him. They loved to play in the dirt he hadn't covered up with sod yet. It let Duke dig holes, which he adored doing.

***

Tony looked at the lawyer that was bothering him. "Alex told them exactly what he could and could not do. He's always ethical about that. He also probably told them exactly how far they could push their wants and needs with the court or the government. He was honest about them never allowing them to take humans.

"There's only one judge in DC would allow that and that's because he's a serial rapist and killer but no one's arrested him yet because he's got blackmail on someone. If you ask that client, they'll tell you that. Or ask Alex and he's got film from all meetings in case these sort of questions come up legally."

"Is that standard?"

"I take voice recordings. Most of us do with new clients. That way we're covered if they want to protest a legal issue with our service."

"I didn't realize that."

"The firm he used to work for had security cameras taping the whole building and they pulled from them."

"We didn't know that was standard."

Tony nodded with a grin. "It is. Pretty much all lawyers do that as far as I know. We were taught it was a standard practice in our third year class."

"Oh." He nodded at that, grimacing some. "How is that case going?"

"We're working the more obviously weird rules that would have to be bent while making sure they can't be twisted by later groups who want to mistreat animals. We're making sure it'll be standard for all the procurers in the community. Including the breeders for the kitten poker circuit."

"I can see that I guess. Is Harris all right?"

"Bit pissed. A friend he'd known since the first day of kindergarten tried to kill him and then others tried to kill him to help her ideas."

"Oh. We hadn't heard."

"One of the coven decided the redheaded thang had a point to try to kill both of the twins. Put out a contract." That demon winced but nodded. "He's still pissed off."

"I would be disappointed too." He looked at the lawyer who had just come in. "Do you tape all new client meetings?"

"I tape every single meeting, voice recordings mostly. Cameras would be too obvious in my office." He got a drink and sat down with them. "Why?"

"Alex's case," Tony told him.

"Ah. Yeah. He had to have told the group that they wouldn't get permission for human eating." Tony nodded. "No judge would do that."

"Moranth would," Tony quipped. "He's a serial rapist and killer. He's just got blackmail."

"Can you prove that?" the lawyer asked with a smirk. "Otherwise that's just nasty gossip, DiNozzo."

"Yeah, I worked one of the cases. He squirreled out of it by trying to throw his son under the bus to make reasonable doubt. The DNA was too clouded."

"Shit."

"Yeah." He grinned and nodded. "That's why he got sent to family court instead of criminal."

"That makes sense." He sipped his drink, nodding as he swallowed. "Anyway, Harris feeling better?"

"Mostly back to full Alex ways and means," Tony quipped. "Still a bit sore and really pissed at some magic using beings."

"I'd be pissed too," the demon said. "He protected her for years."

Tony nodded. "He was morose and told me. He was missing a few things." He finished his drink. "We go in for the final hearing, we hope, next week. That'll set down precedents for animal procurers for the community. We're making sure that some unethical corporate farms can't twist them to allow them to slip by with shitty practices. The client's been there each and every hearing to help with what's needed versus what's wanted."

"Which is what you'd expect," the other lawyer agreed. "It's how we all handle those things when the community has to fight outstanding regulations."

Tony nodded. "I've helped with a few that weren't community related. We bring in proof of why, we bring in how we can rearrange it, and then if the government won't work with us we go to court and let a judge sort it out."

"Are you and Harris teaming up after this case?" the other lawyer asked.

"Not sure. Running a law office is really boring." The other lawyer nodded at that, smiling at him. "It may solve some things for both of us but I'm not sure. Though I do like working out of Alex's study. It's got some great woodwork he preserved. Plus there's the dogs."

The demon shook his head. "He may lose one soon."

"They are old and the vet said they've probably got about eight months or so left by their age and conditions. We'll help Alex handle it." The demon nodded, going to share that news around. He looked at the other lawyer. "How have you stood to do this for years?"

"Sure beats living by someone else's rules." He smiled as he finished his drink. "Though I need someone to handle a tax matter. Go to someone decent not cheap to do business taxes."

"I was going to Perkins. One of his newbies is one of my former classmates."

"I did that last year and got audited. They missed a few things."

"Then maybe I'll go see Miranda at the IRS to see who she'd recommend. She's an ex, she'll probably send me to someone mean but expensive. Like she was." The other lawyer stared at him, smiling some. "I've dated a good few times. Being at NCIS cut down on repeated dates so I had to start all over again about every four months."

"Wow." He blinked. "I'm glad I found my wife in my undergrad and she stood with me." He shook his head, going to get another drink.

"I had one of those but then she found I was going law enforcement and left me to go with a frat brother who went to med school." He shrugged but got his own second drink, sitting down again. Usually he got a few people to come asking him about some legal case they were going over. Tonight would hopefully have at least one case coming out of it. He could use a new job in a few weeks.

***

Alex sighed as he looked at his new client a few days later, shaking his head. "You need to plea. You won't get out of it. The lawyer knows the poker circuit too." The demon moaned. "I'm sorry, I can help you plea but I can't defend you from that. If I did, people would hate me for breaking my own ethics. And all a lawyer has is their reputation. So do you want to talk about plea bargains you could make?"

"No! I want to be free of all this!"

"Then hindsight shows that you should've went through with the divorce instead of having her eaten by a poker debt." He stared at him.

"Wolfram and Hart would have defended me!"

"Yes, and they were evil. They had LA invaded. It meant I had to unretire to go help fight it." The demon shuddered, shrinking away from him. "They had no ethics. I have a lot of ethics. That's probably why they came after me and made me break them." He smiled. "I can talk to the prosecutor about a plea bargain."

"I will not give in to human justice."

"The prosecutor has offered to take you to the demon courts." The demon whined and shook his head quickly. That would mean he could be killed by his former wife's family in a blood debt or be sold into slavery if found guilty. He did not want that.

"I can stand up for you while you have your arraignment today but I'm not going to help you get out of this charge. I can help you lessen the consequences with a plea bargain. The prosecutor is *livid* to get you behind bars though. And he's talked to your wife's family and your two children." The demon winced at that reminder. "It's up to you who stands with you at the arraignment. I will do that much as there's no one else in line to take that job."

"How would I even do that?"

"You can plead whatever you want. If you plead guilty they'll go to a plea bargain hearing quickly to get the case out of the system. It's overcrowded. You can plead guilty and ask for a deal that gets you to your punishment within days instead of waiting months and then serving whatever sentence they give you.

"You can plead guilty by reason of temporary or permanent insanity. That would mean you go from there to a psychiatric exam. If you're found sane then you're going to trial. If not, they'll rest the case until you're sane. Then have the trial. So you'll spend longer inside.

"You can plead innocent and they'll schedule a trial and either give you a public defender or give you a few days to find a new lawyer to support you. You have a few minutes to decide and then the guards will take you to the courtroom, where I'll meet you, and you can plea however you want."

"Could they just send me away?"

"I have no idea what the prosecutor is thinking. I can ask him for his ideas to tell you the way he's leaning. That's well within the ethical code even if you don't continue with me. Would you like me to?" The demon nodded, waving a hand. "Okay. I'll see you up there." He looked at the waiting guard, who came in to lead him off.

Alex went to find the prosecutor, finding him in his office. "We're meeting in a few minutes for an arraignment. I explained his options to him and that I could not continue if he wanted to beat that. He wanted to know what leaning a plea may contain to make a decision."

The prosecutor smiled at him. "Hadley is taking it over for me. I've got to recuse myself due to knowing him from the poker circuit."

"Oh, great. Is she still in breeding evil mode?"

"She's a human but yes, Alex. Her pregnancy has made her permanently evil minded. It did to my wife too but it made her all the more sexy for it."

"Maybe that's who I need to date them. Hadley?" he called, tipping his head back. She leaned out of her office. "I hear I'm facing you for an arraignment in about a hour."

"Are you sticking with him?"

"I've informed him I could not stay with him if he wanted to plead innocent so he wanted to know what sort of leaning your breeding mood has turned your evil mind toward. Not promising but he's curious about his options."

She stroked her pregnant stomach. "I hate spousal abusers. Absolutely hate them. Could his people be held securely in a jail?"

"They can eat people, usually eat flesh. They're not particularly tough usually. Him personally I have no idea if he's ever been in a fight."

"So a super max situation and restrictions will be needed to make sure he's healthy." She considered it, leaning on the wall. "I'm leaning more towards prison for at least twenty years to be honest. To make sure it never happens again."

"Expulsion from the realm?" Alex offered.

"Hell no!"

"Her family could petition the demonic courts to take him out legally."

"Which I'd cheer for," she quipped with a grin. "I won't go below fifteen years in a super max."

"I'll let him know that's how you're leaning. Thanks, lady, and I hope it's not permanently evil." He stared at her stomach. "It's moving."

"It kicks," she said dryly. "All kids do that."

"I know nothing about kids," he said dryly, smiling at her. "The pregnant teens in Sunnydale got driven out of town because the hellmouth caused birth defects. Which I carry some of and why I told you not to get too close to me just in case."

"That's sweet, Alex, but she'll be fine. The next great prosecutor and maybe a judge."

He grinned. "Can't wait to see her take the bench if she has your brains and messy nature." She hit him on the arm but he grinned, going to talk to his client. His client hated that idea when he explained what a super max prison was like. So it looked like this was a once-off case for him. They looked back at the people coming in for the arraignment and Alex winced. "That's the head of the poker circuit," he muttered, going to talk to him. "Good morning."

"Harris," he said with a nod. "Are you his attorney?"

"For this arraignment. I've told him I won't take this case if wants to plead innocent after today because I have ethics."

"That's reasonable. Is there a plea offered?"

"Not yet and not formally. I asked the DA how she was leaning and she's given me that answer. I've informed him and he's considering his options. It's up to him."

"That's reasonable." He nodded. "I will be here to claim him for the children and the demonic court."

"I'll let the DA know that. She's mean but she purrs at the meanness of the demon courts." That one smiled at that. "Are his kids okay?"

"They were taken in by those veiled nuns."

"They seem nice when I run into one." He went back to talk to his client, who was whining again. "We may be able to get the judge to agree to hold you down here then release you to the courts up there instead of handing you over immediately."

"So I suffer for longer?"

"True."

He moaned. "I do not like my options."

Alex nodded. "Should've probably just went with the divorce then. Hadley wants to make sure no one else tries this. There's been a few humans who did the same thing through the poker circuit and they're in a jail for life. Or longer. A few are in for years longer than they're expected to live."

The demon blinked. "They would hold them alive?"

"No. It means they're going to die in there. You can be held to multiple life sentences and still only serve the course of your life."

The demon looked at the head of the poker circuit then at him. "What would you do?"

"I would've went for the divorce." The head of the poker circuit laughed at that. "Right now, your choice is to plea or not to plea and to fight going to the demon courts or not. If you plead innocent and have to go to a trial, you take your chances on the outcome and the demon court would have to wait until after the end of your trial to try to claim you for punishment."

"I should just end myself."

"Don't do it in the courtroom," Alex said. "But you wouldn't be the first in jail who did that." He stared at him. "It is up to you how you plea today. You can change it later if you choose innocent and make a deal at a later point." He nodded at the two lawyers coming in. "She's the DA over your case. The other had to recuse himself due to conflict of interest; he knows the poker circuit."

The demon nodded at that. "The other?"

"I believe that's a federal prosecutor for the Department of Justice." The man looked over and smiled smugly. "Yes, he is. For this case?" The guy smiled and nodded again. "Okay." He looked at him. "I'd plea. I really would plea. That's my best advice to you. You'll only face a trial if you plea innocent today and keep it. You can change to a deal at a later date if you plead innocent today.

"Or you can have me go talk to her about a deal for real. You'll have to make up your mind by the time the judge calls your case in about twenty minutes probably." He stepped back and sat down. "I'll note you need certain things to help you stay alive if you're going to be in jail."

"Thank you. They tried to feed me eggs this morning."

"Yeah. Eggs are pretty standard," Alex said with a nod. "Cheap protein."

"It is the unborn."

"No, eggs for human consumption aren't fertilized. The hens are kept away from any roosters and their reproductive organs. Like a woman having a cycle because she didn't get pregnant."

"Oh, I did not know that." He considered it and his options. He was screwed. Truly screwed. He looked at the head of the poker circuit and who had come with him. That was a demonic court prosecutor. Three prosecutors there to prove he was an idiot. He really should just die easily and humanely. He got called up and looked at the prosecutors stepping up.

"Your Honor," Hadley said happily. "We come here with a new addition. This is DOJ Prosecutor Hammish. He's here to want to take over this case."

"Are you formally turning it over?" the judge asked.

"He wants us to, he'll be presenting paperwork for that in a few."

"So a separate hearing. All right. I see others in addition, Mr. Harris?"

"This is the head of the local poker circuit, Your Honor. With him is one of the top mutli-realm prosecutors for the demonic courts, Mr. Aalanthanke. He is analogous to Mr. Hammish." That one nodded, stepping forward.

The judge accepted his credentials to look at, handing them back with a nod. "I take it from your client's expression he realizes he's in a lot of trouble?"

"Yes, Your Honor, I have explained to him all the options he has. He's aware of that and that I may not be able to continue to be his lawyer due to ethical concerns. I would refer him to someone like Kellers and Fritch for a trial. They're excellent and ethical."

"I've heard that." He looked at the lawyers then the client. "I'll let you gather yourself then ask how you plea, Sir."

"I'm an idiot," the demon said quietly. "I really am." He gathered himself. "I want to plead not guilty at the moment, Your Honor. I like to take risks."

The judge nodded with a smile. "I can see that option being risky. All right. Do we have precedence for the trial or does the federal court? I'm told the demonic courts would have to take control of him after his verdict?"

"That is the agreement we set up," that prosecutor said. "We would sit in to help do the prosecution."

"That's a reasonable option," the judge agreed. "Mr. Hammish, why does the federal government think this is their business instead of regular felony courts?"

"He used an inter-state contact to allegedly eat his wife, Your Honor. In fact it went across realms. Is that why the demonic courts want him?"

"No, we have a blood debt law," that lawyer said. "His children want to kill him greatly with their maternal family members."

"Oh, that's interesting." He nodded. "The government does believe in the death penalty so I don't see that as a conflict I'd argue against." He smiled at him and shook his hand. "Pleasure to learn more about the demonic courts."

"It's wonderful to learn more about this realm's version." He shook his hand. "Mr. Harris, are you qualified for the demon courts?"

"I have status and what they called a participatory license to handle minor cases of business matters but not criminal. It was granted after the Seppeson case had to sit in both courts. That way it didn't have to go through another three lawyers to handle it all at once."

"How do you have status?" he asked.

Alex stared at him. "Beating enemies. I conquered, I won."

"I do like those laws and how some was gifted to the LA team."

"I like Connor, he's a neat guy who doesn't understand a lot about women."

That lawyer smiled and nodded. "We've seen. What status do you have?" The head of the poker circuit handed him a slim book so he could look that up. "Oh." He let him see it.

Alex smiled and taped one. "They came after me last month so I fought back." He shrugged but smiled. "I had to defend myself. Even if I did have a sword."

The lawyer shivered. "Your twin is amusing as well."

"We do try. I heard some sitcom somewhere watched Alex now and then to see what he was doing."

"Hmm, that's an amusing show. We enjoy watching him and his boyfriend having arguments about things like your twin being too tough."

"Sometimes Stephen thinks Xander's a princess." He shrugged but smiled. "He thinks I'm boring."

"Some people need action," the head of the poker circuit said. He handed the book back. "You will not defend him in front of us?"

"I handle business matters up there. I can handle a criminal case down here but my ethics state I will not take a case I know is worrying to defend. If I cannot say that the person deserves to be found innocent, then I will not take a case."

"That's ethical and correct to do so," that lawyer agreed. The other two prosecutors nodded they agreed. "We would adore helping the trial for this one," he told the judge.

"Then we'll hold a trial." He banged his gavel.

"Your Honor, I have the healer's briefing sheet on his people's medical and nutritional needs," Alex said, handing it to the bailiff. "We'd like him to stay safe as well."

"Specially protected ward is fine," the judge agreed, looking it over. "A bit dietary restricted so I'll make sure the jail knows, Mr. Harris. We want hin healthy so he can stand trial." He looked at the demon, who shrank down. He looked at the prosecutors. "Is the federal government going to take this over?"

"Just on that count, Your Honor. The conspiracy charge. The murder charge is all yours. If we can do it at the same time, my bosses will not fully mind. That way we don't have to have it twice."

"I can allow that as a preliminary but the trial judge will have to formally agree as you know." He signed that order. "I wish you luck, sir. It looks like you may need it." The demon moaned but nodded, letting himself be led out. He handed that officer the briefing sheet, getting a nod bad.

Downstairs, that officer handed that one over. "His species briefing sheet from Harris." The transport officers looked it over and nodded. "And this guy has *three* prosecutors coming for him. A demon court one, a federal one, and a local one."

"I should have paid for the divorce," the demon muttered, looking down.

"We can put him on suicide risk," the transport officer said happily. "It'll go with the protection order." He led him to the bus to lock him to his seat, then went to get the others. He could walk that one and one other one on suicide watch in personally to make sure someone knew.

Alex looked at the demon court prosecutor. "Have any of you thought about giving a lecture to our law schools about how the demon courts are run?"

"I had not. It's not a bad idea," he admitted happily. "We may get new lawyers. Some have started here and then come up to our own training academy." He smiled at the other two.

"We can talk about that over lunch. My baby's hungry," Hadley said, walking off with them to talk about the case and other matters.

Alex smiled at the head of the poker circuit, who nodded back. "Are they over being mad at me again?"

"Yes." He walked off with him. "Mostly. Though one would want to claim Caspian as a snack."

"I'd kill him. Greatly. It'd be a huge mess."

"We know. He thinks having pets is weird."

"He can bite me and I'll just break his jaw but if he touches my dogs I'm going to have to make a mess."

The demon patted him on the back. "We know, Harris. You're more protective over them than you are that nice one you talk with."

"Tony? He's a buddy. I doubt he'll turn on me like the Great Magical Disaster did."

"We still have her banished for that."

"Don't tempt me to get a wish to banish her for real." He sighed. "Is Stephen back on thinking Xander's a princess?"

"Yes. Quite. He doesn't want him to go into the upcoming battle because he could die."

"I'll expect the usual letter then." He grimaced. "Will they need me?"

"I have no idea. I know before you followed the urge to the airport and woke up on the plane."

"Thankfully Tony could dog sit that week." He sighed as they walked outside. There were guards there. "Am I in trouble?" They nodded. "For?"

"You exist," one said smugly.

Alex waved them on. "C'mon then. Let me make this mess."

"Don't even!" a court guard yelled. More came running. "Harris, you know better."

"They came to kill me, they can shoot their wads and I'll handle the mess so you can hose them off the steps." He looked at the demon. "You should go be safe. I'll be in there tonight for the meeting."

"If you're sure."

"I'm sure I'll survive this." The demon nodded left him to it. He stared at the idiots. "Well?"

"They will not or their arrests aren't going to be pretty," a guard said.

"He's against the local cops," one sneered.

"I got attacked by a dirty cop," Alex sneered back. "He started it. I just got him in the shoulder with a knife. You guys killed him yourselves. There's copies of the tapes in a few places, which shows they carried him out of the house alive." One tried to shoot at him but the guards got him for it. The others used that as a distraction to try to get Alex. Who defended himself.

He got a bit injured but he beat most of them. One got a lucky swing at his face so blacked his eye. Alex got him in the face with his briefcase for it. That made the guy fall down the stairs. Alex waved. "Bye. Have a great trip." He kicked the one coming for him from the side and they blocked it but couldn't fully block the briefcase or the guard who got him from behind. "Wow," Alex said sarcastically. "How brilliant you are since there's cameras here too.

"We're going to show them at their trials," the head guard for the courthouse said as he came down to join them. "Harris, do you suck that hard usually?"

"I'm on stairs and don't have a sword," he quipped with a smirk for him. "And I didn't pull my gun, or my knife, which I'd usually have done."

"Point. Thank you for that. We didn't need civilians involved."

"I hate collateral damage. I'd have run for the alley around the corner and taken them on there."

The head guard stared at him. "Not the greatest plan but nice thought to keep civilians out of it. They're ours now so you go get an ice pack."

"I'll use my lunchtime meal replacement coffee drink to ice it later. Have fun and let me know what their malfunction was this time." He strolled off shaking his head as he walked over one. "Did they send you to throw you away as victims?" he quipped. That one struggled but the officers held him down.

"Boys, they're offending me with their lack of skills," the head guard ordered. "Get them locked in and arraigned so they can go to jail today." They dragged the team off to do that. It wasn't the first time they'd had people fighting on the courthouse steps. Probably wouldn't be the last. It was just nice not to need an ambulance.

***

Alex had been having the worst day when he got Xander's 'if I die' letter. He called his twin, walking away from the person trying to argue with him at his fence's gateway. "If you should die again from that problem down there I'm going to show up, invade over there, and sacrifice them all to bring your ass back to life, twin'o mine. I'll have a ton of fun doing it.

"Everyone will realize that I'm going to bring you back as they die. Including anyone trying to stop me thanks to the zombie army I'll make from them." Xander giggled at that. "Not kidding, Xander. I'm totally serious. You either win that thing or I'm going to make sure that humanity suffers for not backing you up. Am I clear?" he asked pleasantly.

"And I'm going to make sure the ones down there hear I said that. Have a good apocalypse sex night with Stephen, dear." He blew a kiss and hung up then growled and texted a few people. He turned back to the complaining neighbor sort, smiling at her. "Sorry, my twin's about to go into a huge demon battle without any humans backing him up so I'm going to destroy parts of Africa. You wanted to talk about what about my fence?"

She blinked. "Your dogs get out all the time!"

"Bullshit. I made sure my smallest dog could not get through them. We made sure there's no way unless my dogs somehow learned to climb a tree to hop over the fence, which Caspian is that smart, or if they can suddenly work a fingerprint coded lock."

"We see them all the time!" She pointed. "She's seen them a number of times. There's one now!"

He looked. "That's a grayhound type dog of some kind or another. Two of mine are hunting hound types and one's a keeshond. Which is a fluffy hunter type dog." He whistled and waved a treat from his pocket, getting that dog over to them. "Hey, sweetie, let me check your collar."

He checked for a nametag. "Halley's Comet McCallister." He looked at that neighbor, who went pale. "Isn't that the complaining wench on the end of the block?" he asked with a point. She nodded slowly. "Want help walking them back so you can tell her the dogs are getting out?"

"Please," she said, clearing her throat. "We thought they were yours."

"I'm well aware that the neighbor you quoted and others think I'm playing dress up by owning my house. And I really don't care what they think about me. They'll probably never need my skills as a lawyer who handles business problems like government regulations and none of them are part of the peaceful community." She winced at that. He smiled.

"It's the only house I found when I was looking and it's got really pretty woodwork I was happy I could save from some tacky person who'd want to paint it white because it's natural wood." He waved the other dog over, getting a bark but the dog didn't come over. "Duke," he called. "Bring me a leash please."

The dog barked, ran back inside, got his leash, and ran back out with the other two and their leashes. "Okay, we can all walk the dogs back together to make them feel safer. C'mon, baby. Treat?" He waved one. He threw it and the dog came to get it then came closer for the next one until the woman could catch it and put on the leash. "Okay, let's walk you guys home." He nodded. "This way, kids." He whistled and they followed him.

"Oh, her gate's open! No wonder they got out!" the woman complained, going to the door.

Alex cleared his throat. "That's open, isn't it?" She nodded before knocking. It swung open. She looked and gasped, moving away. Alex looked then handed her the leashes. "Take them to the side yard," he said gently with a point. "Call the neighbors to find her husband or lover or older kid, whoever can take the dogs for her."

She nodded, going to do that with them and closed the gate for now. It had an easy latch. Alex called that in. "Hi, I'm delivering my neighbor her escaping dogs and found her house with the gate open, the front door open, and her having committed suicide in the living room," he said quietly and calmly.

"Gun in her hand sort, ma'am. Myself and another neighbor are here and found her. Yes, that's my address. She's at the end of the block, at the beginning end, that Georgian tan brick one please. Thank you. Yes, we'll stay here with her dogs and mine. They're a bit skittish so mine are calming them down."

He let Caspian sniff him and get a treat. "Stay out here, Caspian. She needs an officer, not a doggy." He hung up and went to feed the other two their treats. They were happy and the two grayhounds got another one each and some petting. Another neighbor stomped over. "Ma'am, no, this is a crime scene," he ordered. "We found a crime scene." She gasped and ran off to tell the others. He petted the dogs to keep them calm.

"You're very calm."

"I've seen worse than this," he admitted quietly. "And me having a hissy fit about this won't help anything. It won't change what she did or that she or someone intentionally let the dogs roam free since whenever it happened. She was probably hoping they'd be adopted." He looked at the dogs. "I hope you guys have a good human stepparent like mine do."

"She and her husband split a few years back. I called his phone and left a voicemail."

"The officers can alert him that his ex died," he said. "That's what they're for sometimes." She nodded. "Maybe they can drop the dogs off too. Not sure if he'll take them in." She scowled at him. "Some people hate dogs and some are allergic to dogs. Plus grayhounds need to run and play a few times a day then collapse on a couch for the rest of it."

An officer came to the gateway. "The neighbor and I who found that are over here with the dogs," he called. "Mine and this woman's dogs. We were bringing them back when I noticed the door was open. She knocked and it swung open so I called."

The officer came in and looked in there, nodding. "That's a good reason to call us." He called in what they'd need then came over. "Which are hers?" Alex pointed. "They're cute."

"She's been divorced for about three years," the neighbor said, looking frantic. "I left him a voicemail about the dogs."

"That's fine. We can alert him so he can claim the body and make plans, ma'am. If we have to, we can get them to their vet's or a shelter for the night or so." He looked at the others. "Yours?"

"She came over to complain my dogs were running free when they weren't. I gave them treats to lure them closer and put leashes on them so we could bring them back. Mine are keeping them from getting anxiety."

"We've seen them for the last few days and the neighbors were *certain* they were his."

"Some of the neighbors consider me beneath their gardeners," Alex said, getting a huff from the neighbor. He stared at her. "Prove me wrong."

"You aren't exactly our social class, Mr. Harris."

"I'm worth more than most of you thanks to my trust." He grinned at her moan. "Just because I grew up the kid of drunks doesn't mean I'm worthless. I'm a damn good attorney. Very ethical too." He looked at the officer again. "They've complained at me about things I've never done a few times."

That got a nod. "I've seen that happen when the neighbors aren't nice people. I'm sure they're not happy with you being someone who works."

"Probably." An ambulance crew came in. "Guys, if they have dog food can we claim it for her dogs?" he called.

"I can clear their bowls and bring them out with some water," the officer agreed, going to do that with the crime scene people who were showing up. The dogs got some food, Alex's dogs didn't react too hard thanks to him distracting them. The other dogs needed a good few meals with the way they were inhaling their food.

The officer got to go talk to the former husband, who knew nothing about the dogs. He said he'd have to figure out if he could have them at his condo. The officer came back with that news. "Can I bring the rest of their toys and food with them to the shelter or vet?" he asked the crime scene people. "That way they're set up for a few days?"

"Yeah, they could probably enjoy that. They'll have to hold them until we find out if she had a will," the crime scene person said, calling that in.

Another neighbor came over. "Did she have a problem with her new girlfriend or whoever that woman who showed up once a month was?" she asked the officer on the gate.

"No, ma'am, it looks like it might've been a suicide," he admitted.

"Brenda, do you know who'd take the dogs?" the neighbor with Xander called, coming over to her. "The dogs running around that Belinda was complaining about were her grayhounds. The husband's not sure if he can or not."

"She had some woman who showed up each month to hang out with her I think. Or maybe she was a part-time housekeeper?"

Alex looked at her. "Do you have a picture of her car, Brenda?" She blinked at him. "They can look up the licence plate to find out who she is to alert her if she knows who takes the dogs."

"Those are hers?"

"They're McCallisters by the name tags on their collars."

"Oh, well...." She nodded, going to find out if anyone had that picture. One did and brought a copy over for the officers. Turns out she was a housekeeper and she did know where the will was. She was due in a few days so that was probably why the door was left open and the dogs let out. She came right over to find the will for them. That meant she found the suicide letter laying on top of it. It said who the dogs went to. She had been sick and terminal but hadn't told anyone.

Alex looked at the dogs then at the officer staring at them. "I can dog sit for a few hours. It'll be like a home version of doggy daycare. I can't take them for good though."

"That could help. The shelter's overcrowded." He checked, the food was nothing special. The toys could go with the dogs and the neighbor helped Alex get them back to his house for now. He went to tell the others that, getting a nod of thanks for handling that problem.

Alex looked at the neighbor as they walked back there. "I got Devil and Duke because my last house's owner had moved without telling her ex-husband so he broke in three days after I moved in and brought his dogs. He was *sure* she'd take him back. I had to have him arrested and he complained I'd send the dogs to a shelter. So I gave him three days and he never came back. They're my first dogs."

She patted him on the arm. "They're very well behaved dogs. I've never seen such nice dogs."

He nodded. "They're great dogs. They're old though." She nodded, patting him again. "They were so co-dependent that the vet suggested I get Caspian to give them a reason to go on if one died suddenly. He's certainly bonded well and does neat things like break into the fridge for them." She giggled.

"But they're all great dogs. It's great having a cuddly thing there. Better than a few of my lovers have been. They actually cuddle when my past ones didn't." He let them into the gate. "Okay, guys." He let the dogs off the leash once the gate was closed. The two grayhounds whined at the gate. "No, you're being babysat, guys. We'll be up here until someone comes to pick you up for the mommy sort."

He nodded her to come with him to the side yard. "C'mon, we'll go to the garden. Duke's still digging holes so I haven't put down sod yet." They settled around the table to let the dogs play and run around. The grayhounds were tired of running so laid down on the metal settee out there. Alex's three ran around then hopped up to cuddle those two dogs. They did it at doggy daycare too.

"Awww."

"They pile on the others at doggy daycare when they go, just a huge pile of dogs." He grinned at her. "They're mostly good dogs. Even if Caspian did knock a roast off the counter last night to feed themselves while I napped." She giggled.

"Seriously! I had it defrosting. I woke up at the sound and came out to find them trying to pull it apart. They managed it and settled in to gnaw on it. I cooked it and gave it back. They were happier than I was since that meant I needed a burger delivered." He looked at the person parking outside the gate. "Yes, do we know you?" he called.

"Delivery for Mr. Harris?"

"Side gate," he called. "I'll meet you there." He got up and went to find out what it was. He took the papers, looking at them before signing the paper saying he had gotten it. "Legal filing?"

"Yes, sir, from a law firm."

"Okay. Thanks." He went back to sit down and stare at what they were. He snorted. That was laughable and not an artifact he had. He rolled his eyes as he sat down and watched over the dogs again. The dog's daddy showed up from up the street. "It's open," Alex called when he spotted him, undoing it with his phone's app. "Are you the ex?"

"I am. Are you Harris?"

"I am." He waved him over. "She had the two grayhounds."

He stared then sighed. "They're cute. I'm allowed one dog."

"I doubt you'll be able to separate them. They're pretty dependant on each other. Dogs do form packs."

"I heard that. I know nothing about dogs."

"Two of my three over there are my first ones too. Someone broke into my house with them and I didn't want to send them to the pound." The man shook his head. "One's named Halley's Comet and the other's Perseid Shower. I guess she liked star stuff?"

"Her undergrad was in astronomy." He went to check the dogs, getting stared at by a small, fluffy dog. "I won't hurt them, dog. Can I have them? Their mommy left them to me."

"Did she leave the door open?" Alex asked. The husband nodded, looking at him. "So she expected them to find a new owner?"

"Probably or be picked up and they'd find her that way. I don't understand that."

"The officers said she was sick," the neighbor said gently. "It was in her note."

"Damn it." He sighed and petted the two dogs he was apparently inheriting. "We'll figure it out, guys. If I can't, my mother may like you guys. Or my sister. She's got a farm."

"Grayhounds run really fast for about twenty minutes and then become couch potatoes," Alex told him. "I looked them up when I was deciding what sort of dog to get as the older two's companion."

"That's interesting. I know they're race dogs." He got up, taking the leashes from Alex to put on them and the bag of toys. He smiled. "That'll make you guys happier."

"Their food was good quality but nothing special like grain free," Alex said. "Purina One."

"I can figure that out. We'll...figure stuff out," he told the dogs. They both stared up at him. "C'mon, guys. Or are you girls?"

Alex tipped his head to look. "One of each I think. Perseid has a penis."

"That's good to know." Alex looked up a name and number, writing it down to give to him. "Your vet?"

"Yes and they're very used to me asking odd first time dog questions. They're good. And not expensive like a few I've seen."

"Thanks." He took them to his car so they could go home. He had to figure out what to do with a dog. And tell his friends and family so they could figure out a funeral. She had preplanned most everything but a headstone and what music to play at it. It had been with her will.

Alex looked at the neighbor. "He should be fine to handle it."

"I hope so. I've never seen anything but society dogs."

Alex grinned. "I bring mine to work now and then too but they can't fit in a purse. They just sit underneath the table in the courtroom."

She smiled at that. "It's good a judge will allow that." She shook his hand and went back to her house to tell the neighborhood about what had happened and how nice Alex actually was.

Alex looked at his dogs. "Thank you, guys. You helped them a lot. They'll have a good night with the new daddy sort." He petted them and took them inside to nap on the couch again. They liked doing that together.

***

Xander hung up with his stressed seeming twin, looking at Stephen. "He said if I die from this one he's going to raid there, sacrifice everyone to bring me back, and if anyone stops him he'll make them his zombie army."

His boyfriend Stephen blinked a few times. "Does he know how to make zombies?"

"From what I understand it's not that hard. We've stopped a few trying it." He considered it. "He'd probably hate to get that bloody and messy, but I guess he'd have fun. With no one to stop him since I'd be dead."

Stephen just nodded. "I'd try to stop him."

"Are you wanting to be his zombie army?" Xander asked with a smile.

"No. I doubt he can do it."

"I don't. Alex will always surprise you. Like I do." He sipped his tea and went back to planning how he'd handle this upcoming problem.

"Was he drunk?"

"Sounded stressed." They shared a look then shrugged. Alex was the weird Harris. He had probably gotten it from College. It had made Buffy weird, Willow weird, and now Alex weird. It had to be something at colleges. Maybe someone would study that and end whatever tainting that was.

***

Alex looked at the demonic court's judge, shaking his head. "Your Honor, they're wasting the court's valuable time and patience. I don't have that artifact. I haven't for years. I sold it to a healer cheaply when we were having a run of having to rescue the community from the government before all the lawsuits. That healer realized that it could become addicting but they needed the power boosting to help all the victims."

The judge stared at him. "That's noble of you."

"While I'm an asshole, I'm not that sort of asshole, Your Honor." He stared at the other side. "That was well known so I don't know why they decided to try to come after me."

"You're an artifact finder, you can get it and hand it over."

"No I'm not. I found a few laying around Sunnydale but I'm not an artifact person by trade. I'm a business lawyer by trade. I'll pick up things here and there and sometimes sell them but ...." He shrugged. "Indiana Jones I am not, sir."

The judge snorted. "You'd look bad in the hat, Harris."

"Actually, I looked hot when I went as him for a Halloween a few years back," he offered with a grin. "And I can use the whip." He looked at the other side again. "So, are you done wasting everyone's time? Because I'm going to put forward a motion that you pay for the court's time and my time for trying this." The demon winced at that. He handed the paperwork to the judge. "I usually quip that lawyers are the sort of being to make you pay when you make us work because you're doing stupid things."

"I remember doing that a lot," the judge said with a smile, signing that order and handing it to the other side. "Have fun collecting from him."

"I'll put a lien on his business if I have to. Thankfully it didn't take too much of my time today and I'm not that expensive." The guy whined at that, looking at the form. "I charge lesser rates for those who need my services to help their businesses. That's not your fee scale though." He beamed and waved a hand. "Have a great day, Your Honor."

"What artifacts do you still have, Harris?"

Alex grinned. "A few in storage. I still have the two that were with me before the invasion too. They love the new house and the dogs. They love to talk to the dogs when they're bored." He strolled off to go home. He found Tony in there talking with someone. "Hey. Did you bring a date over?" he quipped, heading for the kitchen.

"It's a client," Tony said dryly. He smiled at her. "Sorry, that's Alex. He had to go argue in front of the demonic court."

She just nodded. "Why?"

"Someone tried to get something I sold to a healer a few years ago," Alex said, bringing them some bottles of water and his coffee. "He didn't like that I sold it to a healer." He walked off. "The dogs outside, Tony?"

"Yeah. Though Duke's having a tired day again."

"Yeah. He's had a few of those. And an emergency trip to the vet's for a seizure again too. It sucks that he's getting so old." He went to play with his dogs.

Tony smiled at her. "We're working out of his home office most of the time."

"I can understand that. It's cheaper than renting an office and it's a pretty office."

"It is. I love his study." They went back to her case, seeing where he could help her family with their case. Caspian came running in to hide underneath him so he pulled him into his lap to pet and calm down. "Alex?" he called.

"Caspian got scared of Duke's newest seizure," he called back with a sigh. "It's okay, Caspian. We'll deal with it." He came in to get his own dog to go calm down and let them baby Duke for a bit longer.

***

Alex came back from the vet's alone, shaking his head at Tony's look. Tony gave him a hug even though a client was in there. He sighed. "They'll send his ashes," he said quietly. "I need to go hug my dogs."

"You have court later," Tony reminded him.

"I know. Give me an hour." He went to hug Caspian and Duke, Devil had suffered a sudden, intense heart attack apparently. Duke was whining when he saw his human alone. So Xander settled in to pet both of his dogs. "It'll be okay, guys. You still have me. You still have each other," he said calmly and quietly, wanting to cry.

He hated death. He so hated death. He was so tired of death. If he found out something had caused that heart attack beyond old age or too many treats, he'd show whoever had done it that while he made them a nice restraining order and warning to death.

Tony looked at the client, who looked upset. "Duke's been sick with seizures for a bit," he said quietly. "But Devil had a heart attack from what he said when he walked him out."

"Poor guy. We know the dogs were important to him. The whole community will be sorry he lost one of them." She texted someone then got back to her divorce case.

***

Alex looked at the judge that afternoon then sighed. "Your Honor, I'm not in the best mood for this," he admitted. "And I don't mean to be mean to the other side, but I feel I'm going to snap to punish the idiots this time. This is the third time we've argued over this same rule for this same company with the same people behind it. Must we do this again?"

The judge looked at him. "Bad night?"

"I had to put down Devil earlier for his heart attack," he said quietly. The judge winced. "So I'm really not in the mood for someone who's making me redo my earlier work."

"No, I can see that. I'm sorry you lost your dog, Harris." He looked at the other side. "While he's in no mood to be polite, he's correct that we've argued about this rule before for this same business and this same complaint. It's been settled twice before this new issue has come up.

"Why do you consider this a situation where we need to reargue it? That was not explained to me yet, even though I've asked that question myself. Your filing explaining how this is different shows that it wasn't. It was brilliantly circular reasoning but still, people."

"Your Honor, our newest complaint about this rule comes from another agency's complaints to us," he said, glaring at Xander. Who glared back. He saw the fist clench and decided to shift a bit away. "We don't want Mr. Harris to be so upset in your courtroom or to even want to beat us, but we do have to act on complaints about such matters, especially from other government agencies."

"That *agency*," Alex said blandly. "Is a group of bigots that's not actually listed as an agency by the government. In any format." He stared at him. "They never have been! Even when the Red Trials happened thanks to Hoover and his idiot buddies who wanted another war to start immediately, they weren't a real agency. Though they're going by the same name."

"They're listed on the classified agency list. They proved that to my supervisor."

Alex rolled his eyes, calling that up. "That list? Find them," he offered, handing over his tablet. The lawyer moaned when he didn't find it. "They're an ancient group of bigots trying to find a foothold to take out the peaceful community or to scare them into going quiet," Alex said, taking his tablet back.

"They've been that since that fraternity was started by some of Hoover's people. We covered them in my government history class when I was taking paralegal training, Your Honor. Let him prove they have the status to even make a complaint."

"They do have to follow up on all complaints," the judge said. "But that sounds fishy. The group's name?" The lawyer handed over the complaint sheet. He looked them up himself. "I do see they're a fairly hateful fraternity of various government employees from more than one agency." He looked at the lawyer.

"My supervisor said we had to follow up and challenge that rule, Your Honor," he sighed with a shrug. "I'm like all other people, beholden to my paycheck for doing what my job demands within the bounds of ethics."

Alex stared at him. "Ethics?" he asked dryly. "This isn't even a harmful business. It's a grocery store that sells some imported fruit things and a lot of really nice cereals at great prices. They're looking for an easy target to try again. And then I'm going to have to defend the community like I'm actually my twin again. It's been building up again. They've been all over social media to start with raids again." He looked at the judge.

"Beyond that, the complaint this time has nothing to do with their business. He runs a grocery store with his family. Yes they do have some imported fruit and nuts. They don't even sell meat products that aren't canned or preserved, because they do carry bacon but it's really expensive bacon. This complaint has nothing to do with their business, Your Honor. It's a waste of time and money and my anger to have to deal with this at all."

The judge nodded. "True, I could be hearing a more important case instead of this." He looked over things then at the government's attorney. "Do you actually sell meat?" he asked the grocer.

"No. Some canned meat because some beings do like them. We do sell a few things of bacon in one corner. Most of our clients are herbivores, Your Honor. This is film from inside my store." Alex handed it over to the bailiff to run.

The judge watched it carefully. "That's a nice brand of generic bacon. My wife buys that. Nothing else outside? In a back room?"

"We do not enjoy eating meat," the grocer said. "My whole people are vegetarians. We only eat meat when we're in heat and that happens only once a decade. That's why we carry that bacon in that case in the corner next to the other needs for heats."

The judge nodded, looking at Alex, who pulled out their briefing sheet to prove that. "I see that's what's listed by the healers." He handed that back and looked at the other side. "That complaint seems to have no merit. Who went to look at the store to see if it was relevant?"

"My supervisor."

"The same one who took that complaint?" Alex asked. The other side's lawyer nodded at that. "Guess we know who's got a viewpoint bias."

The judge nodded. "It seems they may have. The only thing I saw that was possibly out of code was the vegetables didn't have a system that hosed them down with water to help them stay cool."

"Underneath that case has a cooling plate," the grocer said happily. "And we do not wax our fruit skins to make them shiny."

"That's actually a good thing," the judge said, making that note. He looked at the other side. "Can you honestly say that they have merit to bring this complaint or anything that could violate that rule based on an inspection of that store or that tape?"

"Only what my supervisor said, Sir." He handed that paperwork over.

He frowned. "Something's not right but I don't know what." He handed it to Alex.

"The address is wrong, Your Honor. That's the downstairs of one of the minor fighting clubs. I have no idea what they do during the daytime." He handed it back to the other lawyer.

The grocer shook his head. "We do not go there and I don't believe it's a store but it's a few blocks from my store. We thought about opening there but that's a street that holds many carnivore species, which would mean less profits for us."

The judge nodded. "It is?" he asked, taking it back. He compared it. "Oh, it is." He smiled at the lawyer. "There, you can tell them that. If you find that business being non-compliant you can bring it back to us." He handed ti back. "Until then, a vegetarian store doesn't violate rules about living meat products." He banged his gavel. "Mr. Harris, I hope you heal faster and your other dogs are all right."

"Duke's been having seizures for weeks," he said quietly. "So I may need to find Caspian a new friend to cling to too. If I don't lose him to grief since they're a pretty strong pack." The grocer patted him and he flinched. "Not there, please. I have stitches there." The grocer quit being mad and nodded. "Sorry. I jumped when there was a crash outside and got cut helping someone out of a wrecked truck." He rubbed his forehead. "Are we done, Your Honor?"

"Go home, hug your dogs, Harris."

"Thanks." He shook his client's hand, getting a sad smile back. "Let me know if they try it again."

"Of course. Go hug the dogs." Alex nodded, heading home to do that. "I'm hoping they were just old. Or else he will send a very bad messenger."

The other side's lawyer nodded. "They are both older dogs. I hope so too. I like Alex a lot, he's a nice guy, but he scares me sometimes when he gets angry."

The demon smiled and nodded. "Us too! Though he doesn't often get mad at us." He picked up what he had brought in. "Thank you, Your Honor." He left, going back to the store to tell the others.

The other lawyer shook his head, looking at the judge. "Does he have another one?"

"Not until next week or so. I hope he doesn't lose the other one yet. The small dog will mourn greatly and he'll have to get a puppy."

The lawyer nodded. "That's why he got Caspian. The older dogs were so tight he was worried they'd follow if one died." He gathered his things. "Let me go tell my boss Alex thinks he's a bigoted ass. Which...." He shrugged. He left the judge to his next case.

The judge shook his head. "Let's hope this doesn't turn into another hunt situation. Harris will have to go evil to fix it. Again."

***

A few months later, Alex showed up in court with Caspian in a baby snugglie on his chest. "Sorry, he has separation anxiety, Your Honor."

"He's an adorable snack," the demon next to him said.

Alex stared at him. "I'd hope my dog never does become one. I'd hate that." The demon nodded and backed away.

The judge, the same judge, looked at him. "Duke?"

"Last weekend," he admitted. "Anytime I leave the house, Caspian starts to howl, chew on his back legs, and stress to the point where he's making himself sick. Sorry to break court protocol."

"At least he's not a crying baby," he admitted. "Have him behave, not leave a mess or you clean it up, and behave reasonably."

"He should." He patted the dog on the ear, settling in. The other lawyer came in and saw the dog, pausing to pet it. "Thanks."

"Caspian's a good boy, Harris. I heard about Duke and Devil."

"He's got such bad separation anxiety. He's got valium now as needed."

"Poor guy." He got into position. "Your Honor, I'm ready."

"We're ready," Alex agreed. "And once again it's a group pushing to review a law you've already seen."

"I noticed that. Same supervisor?"

"Yes, sir, and the higher ups said I had to defend it again, Your Honor." He shrugged but grimaced. "It's ethical and my duty as a government employee."

"Have we seen it related to this business before?" the judge asked. Caspian wiggled but settled down with some petting.

"No, Your Honor, this business is a dojo that runs a fighting ring. They do follow that rule but I'm not sure if that rule even applies to them really." Alex shrugged but grimaced at his client then at the judge. "They don't have a changing area to need the hygiene rules for showers and the like. They don't have a bathroom at all as far as I know."

"We have one, it's been inhabited by one of the higher slug demons who makes bets," the client said. "We use the store's downstairs."

Alex nodded. "I go before I go in to cheer on someone." He handed over a video tape to the bailiff. "On their facility."

The judge watched it with the other lawyer, nodding along.

"Is it within city regs to not have any bathroom?" the other side's lawyer asked.

"Dojos usually would have a changing area to rule over but it's not mandatory," Alex said. "Plenty of businesses don't have bathrooms either. Even for their employees."

"Good point. If they're not changing clothes there's no reason to have one," he decided. He looked at the judge after handing over the complaint form.

The judge read it over. "They don't have that facility at all and it's noted that theirs looks filthy?" He let Alex see it with his client.

"That's the store downstairs," the client said, handing it back. "That's owned by someone else, Your Honor." He sat down again, rubbing his sore knee. "Sorry but I took a header in a fight last night."

Alex patted him on the shoulder. "Could've been a lot worse since that guy had an illegal weapon in there." He looked at the judge again. "I'm having deja vu about the problems this supervisor is causing, Your Honor. He's once again blaming another business for things they're not doing. This is the third I've heard of." He looked at the other side.

"Fourth. I have court in a few hours about another case with the same sort of complaints."

Alex looked at the judge and sighed, sitting down too to pet his dog. Caspian barked quietly. "I know but it's okay." Caspian settled down. Alex frowned, sniffing the air. "Bailiff, I smell gas."

He sniffed then coughed. "I do too. Your Honor, maybe we should adjourn to another area?" He coughed again.

Alex let Caspian out of the carrier and put him under the desk. "You stay hidden if something happens, Caspian." Someone tried to break in and the bailiff moved to handle it but was gassed. Alex took a swing then avoided the gas to the face so he could kick that one around until they called their backup people. "Caspian, move the judge please."

"I can handle myself, Harris," the judge said, pulling his sidearm.

Alex looked at his client. "I'll make sure Caspian gets to your friend Tony and no one mistakes him as a snack." He and the other lawyer got led to a back corridor by another person in a uniform. Who wasn't a friendly person when he pulled a gun on them. He handed off the dog and blocked the other lawyer's body to protect him. "You will not win. Harris will destroy you."

"We'll get him too," he sneered. "And his dog." He tried to shoot the dog so the demon beat him into a bloody mess.

"Really?" the demon asked. "That's interesting." He looked at the lawyer.

"I'm getting help," he said, calling that in to the one he was already calling. Agents and officers rushed back to help them. "He pulled a gun on us," the lawyer reported. "This nice man defended us from the ones busting into the courtroom. I have Alex Harris' dog and he was beating someone into a mess for taking out a bailiff."

"That's fine," an agent agreed, coming over. "We can get you to safety, both of you." He led them off to a nearby coffee shop. "Stay here. We'll get a statement in a few minutes."

"Thank you. If Tony DiNozzo shows up, tell him I have the dog?"

"If I can, sir." He went back to help. He did run into DiNozzo. "The lawyer we removed for his safety has a dog for you?"

"He's got a small, fluffy thing?" The agent nodded. "That's Alex Harris' dog and he's grieving so hard he had to have sedatives so Alex was carrying him around today I guess." He went to find Alex, finding him injured. Not too badly injured but definitely injured. "Hey." Alex blinked at him, growling a bit. "I thought that was your twin."

"No," he sighed, rubbing his face then looking at his hands. "Eww." He got a paper towel from the bailiff's desk to clean his hands and face off then tossed it out. "Who has Caspian?"

"The agent said a lawyer."

"So probably Patricks," he decided. "All right." An officer stomped over to him. "The first we knew, I smelled gas. The bailiff smelled it when I reported it and moved to stop the ones breaking in but got gassed directly to the face. So I beat a motherfucker for it." The officer stepped back, looking scared. Alex grinned a bit. "What did they want? I didn't ask. It'd take too much attention when he got backup."

"Sir, we have bailiffs and court officers," one said.

"And I protected the one in here who was gassed," Alex said. "We have cameras in here and the judge can tell you that himself if you ask him."

"We'll be doing that. Are you all right? Need medical?"

"I want my dog to make sure he's safe but I'm guessing he's fine for the moment," he said blandly. "I've had worse defending this city, Officer." The officer blinked. He smiled back. "I'm Alex Harris."

"Oh. Him. Okay. You know we hate you?"

"Is that because I had to injure a dirty officer who tried to kill me? Or some other reason?"

"No, I think it's the defending demons thing."

Alex nodded. "Yeah, hatred's on the rise in the city. It sucks a lot that peaceful people can't be peaceful." The officer winced at that. Alex looked at Tony. "Go get Caspian? He's got huge anxiety. His carrier's on the table with my briefcase."

"Yeah, I can do that. He likes to cuddle and watch movies with me when I steal him." He went to find them and the dog. Who was licking up a bit of coffee flavored milk. Tony shook his head but the dog whined at him. "Your human's fine. Just has a split lip and sore hands." He picked him up, putting on the baby carrier to put him into it. "Thanks, Patricks."

"Welcome, DiNozzo. Is Alex in trouble?"

"With the way the officer got into his face about defending the courtroom, not sure. But Caspian loves to watch movies with me." That got a small smile. He saw something pulling up outside. "That's an MRAP. What's it doing here? This isn't a riot or military maneuver." He watched who got out and called that in to the agent inside he knew and Gibbs on the same call.

"There's an MRAP spilling guys in camos and no rank markings on their arms outside the east courthouse entrance," he said. "No, I don't see a single military rank, Gibbs. But the MRAP does have a military tag." He shifted. "DC Metro's ones have a parade tag, not the base tag this one's wearing, Gibbs.

"Yeah, that base. Please do since we just had the courthouse invaded by idiot bigots." He hung up and looked at them. "You guys protect yourselves if they come this way. I don't have any weapons on me but my sidearm and my knife." He petted the dog to keep him calm. Alex was led out by an agent and handed to an officer, who checked him over then pointed at the coffee shop so he went that way.

Alex walked in and sighed. "The military yahoos wanted their cultists back and they're not happy. One tried to sneer that I can use a sword but I pointed out I can use all sorts of weapons, including theirs." He took his dog to pet, calming him down. "You know the Tony. Daddy's fine and you know the Tony. So calm down. Don't get sick on me, Caspian. Daddy couldn't stand that." He settled into a chair to pet him and calm down. An agent stomped over. "Do we know him?" he asked.

"Yeah, I do," Patricks said. "He's my supervisor's son. Brandon," he said with a nod when he came in. "What's going on?"

"Courthouse is closed."

"Any idea where we're going for later hearings today? I've got one at two."

"Not sure." He looked at Alex. "You beat three guys, Mr. Harris?"

Alex stared at him. "Not the first time?" He shrugged, going back to fussing at his dog. "Did Patricks feed you milk? That was nice of him. I know you like it sometimes."

"It was that or something that may've had chocolate, Alex."

"It's fine. He does like coffee sometimes and milk sometimes." He looked at the agent again. "Yeah, I defended the courtroom and the judge when they gassed the bailiff. It's the guy I am."

"The officer that led us off to safety tried to get me," Patricks said. "And your client." That one nodded. "He defended me."

"Thanks," Alex told him. "Patricks is pretty fair and a lot of his section are bigger assholes."

"I figured it's better to save the ones who make rules before they make rules to avoid such things," he said. He smiled at the agent. "We have seen Alex fighting before. He does well enough for it not being his career."

"Okay." He looked at him. "Why?"

"I'm one of the defenders of DC?" he asked dryly. "I've defended the peaceful community a bunch of times."

"Oh. All right. Stay in here for a bit. Is your dog all right?"

"He lost his packmates and has huge anxiety issues. Tony's his step-human though."

"Decent enough." He went to report that. He heard his father start yelling and looked. "Dad, your guy's in the coffee shop," he called with a point. "He's safe. He got defended by the guy he was arguing against." He looked at the other agents. Gibbs stomped over. "Gibbs, the military guys are here to gather their stupid people. They're still inside."

"Why aren't they wearing proper uniforms then?" he asked dryly, going to check on that. That was still fishy. DiNozzo had good instincts. "Boys," he snapped. A few jumped. "What is going on?" He pulled his ID. "NCIS."

"We're Army, sir," one reported.

"Then why are you driving an MRAP from a Marine base?" Someone walked up behind him. "CID?" he asked.

"I am, Gibbs." He held up his ID. "Why are Army people here driving a Marine base vehicle?" he asked them.

"We just took the first one we found," one of them said, shaking his head. "Really, sirs."

"That's not a shared base," Gibbs noted. "Not even their parking lots. They're near each other...." One of them pulled a gun on him and he knocked them down and out. The CID guy got a few more. Gibbs still got injured. So did the CID guy. Officers ran to get more help for the new gunshots.

Tony looked and sighed. "I'm not an agent," he said.

"Go," Alex ordered. "If you have to go, go." He looked at Caspian. "Can you sit with Patricks for me? Please?" The dog whined at him. "Okay. Let me know if you need me, Tony."

"Got it. They'll accept it from me as a former agent where they won't you." He ran over to help. "Can I help?" A few nodded. "Where's Gibbs?"

"Back hallway, by the juvenile courts," one reported. "With the military people."

"Right where we're heading," another added.

"Great." They headed that way, Tony in the middle of the group. He got to Gibbs to check on him then the other guy. Gibbs got pulled into the courtroom then the other guy. They were safer in there and injured but not badly. He called that in.

"McGee, me. Gibbs is injured, side shot, not badly off. So is the guy carrying CID creds. His says Thompson. They're in Courtroom 8 for safety reasons. Gibbs was knocked out but not really bleeding. Alert the bus people." He hung up and followed the others shaking his head. "I thought I gave up being shot at," he muttered.

One of the officers snickered at that. "I used to be Gibbs' senior agent. Seven years of being shot at and getting concussions." He shot at someone shooting at them, making them fall. He got a few more in non-fatal ways. The rest were gotten from the other side. "That's nice." The officers went to stop whoever that was in case they were making sure their friends weren't being captured. Tony went back to check on the two injured people.

A paramedic jogged up the hall. "DiNozzo?" he called. Tony opened the door for him. "Just these two?"

"In here. I have no idea about others. These two were facing down the military people here and got shot somehow. Gibbs has a side wound and it's not too bad. Thompson I'm not sure where he's shot but he's clearly got some blood on him."

"Okay. Thanks. Let me work." He knelt to check them and make sure they were safe to move. "Did you move them?"

"Out of the hallway. It wasn't safe out there. No broken bones to worry about."

"Good point."

"Maybe I should've went to medical school instead of law school," he quipped. He went to check the door, finding a new guy out there. But this one he knew. "General," he snapped. The guy flinched then stared at him. "Your guys were taken out by the back corridor." He pointed. "They somehow shot Gibbs and a CID guy named Thompson."

"I'm going to beat their asses for that, DiNozzo. Why're you here?"

"I went to law school." He smirked. "I gave up being shot at."

"Good luck with that today."

"Too late today."

"More paramedics are coming in," he told that one. "Let me go stomp some people."

"Why were guys who said they were Army driving a Marine tagged vehicle?" Tony asked. "Gibbs muttered they were Army."

The general stared at him. "I have no clue," he admitted. "But I can figure that out for him." He went to do that. "General on deck!" he shouted, making some of the people jump and the military guys able to flinch do so. "What the fuck are you doing!" he demanded. "I know two of you were Army and got discharged. I sat on your boards."

The officers stared so he smirked. "I'm the top JAG for the city, boys. That means I'm a judge and a general. They will answer to me somehow." He stared at them. "Well? I'm waiting." That got some silence so he'd get to ask them again later. Harmon Rabb was not one to mess with plebes playing dress up. Especially not ones who broke into a courthouse to kill people.

***

Alex looked at the nice detective that showed up that night, letting him into his house. "What's wrong now?"

"They were going to try to take you out, Mr. Harris. They were acting against the ones supporting demon owned businesses."

"We've noticed that there's an upswing of violence against the community. I've noted it to some of them myself when I saw it online. It doesn't shock me any. Why did they go after others?"

"They were going to make sure the other judges couldn't do the same thing."

Alex nodded. "That's a really stupid plan."

"Yes it was." He smiled a bit with a nod. "Have you received any threats?"

"I get threats all the time. I tend to put them into a photo album and laugh at them when I need a good chuckle." He went to get it from the office, bringing it back for him. "That's this year's album."

"Do you tell agents?"

"They don't care. I've done that and they complained each time I brought in a new one. Thankfully I'm very self protective."

"You let me inside."

"I have intent based wards. If you had been here to hurt me you couldn't have walked in."

"Oh, good to know." He read through them, nodding at one. "One of them did send one. May I?"

"Sure. In the back is the accounting of who sent earlier ones so I can check names without having to go look through them all."

"That's handy too." He glanced at that, nodding a bit. "There's another familiar name from today. Is your dog all right?"

"He's a bit paranoid. We lost my other two dogs in the last month. He got worried I smelled like blood but otherwise he's fine. Thank you for asking. The other lawyer I was arguing with protected him very well for me."

"That's good." He nodded, closing the album. "Let me take this to photocopy for evidence, sir."

"That's fine." He nodded a bit. "Have fun with them. I like to have fun with that sort. Not that they like it but I like to make fun of them greatly."

"We've been doing that all day. Thank you, Mr. Harris. The bailiff will survive but he's presently got a bit of pneumonia from the gas."

"Been there, done that, it sucks. I'll send him some candy. It helped me." The detective smiled and left. Alex looked at his dog. "We'll go watch some more tv." Caspian barked and followed him back to the bedroom to do that. When someone tried to break in, Alex heard and had a gun in hand well before they made it back to the bedroom and had hit the alarm's button to summon help.

Caspian was under the bed for him. He stared at him, pointing the gun at them. "So, what was your idea?" The being blinked then shook his head. "Yeah, me. What's the thought here? You broke into my house after I had to help defend a courthouse? Is that a wise decision?"

"I... You are not what I was expecting."

"Why? Because I've got a gun?"

"I can not be killed by that."

Alex grinned at him. "It's silver coated. I always pack silver coated hollow points with blessings applied to them." The demon flinched, staring at him. "You broke into my house?" An officer tapped the demon on the arm, making him turn to deal with him but he got knocked down and arrested. "Thanks, guys." Caspian barked. "The dog said thank you too. How much damage did he do?"

"One window's broken, sir." He looked at him. "Silver coated hollow points you had blessed?"

"Yeah. I've had to handle some peaceful beings who decided to not be peaceful."

"Oh. Oh, you're him. Okay. We'll take him out, Mr. Harris. Thank you for stopping him." They left with the demon. Alex could fix his window somehow for the night.

Alex looked down, getting Caspian back up to cuddle so they could go fix that. It was weird his wards didn't work so he'd check them. The guy had a ward breaking rune stone so that was a nice thing to have in his arsenal too. He'd make it into a keychain for himself or Tony.

***
Part 10 by Voracity2
Alex sat in front of Tony, frowning at him. "I talked to the vet about getting Caspian a new friend and he was all for it but when I brought Caspian to the pound he freaked out."

"He remembered being there?"

"No idea. The worker wasn't impressed either." He grimaced. "I talked to a few rescues in the area and they hated that he's grieving so hard."

"Some rescues are good and some are there to make money," Tony reminded him. "What about the one you got Caspian from?" He petted the small dog.

"I talked to her first and she's moved to a different center. She remembered Caspian and agreed he'd probably like a friend again. No clue how though."

"Well, talk to other rescues. If you have to, there's ones in Virginia and Maryland that you can daytrip to."

"I've been looking at them. I also put a general note out on my limited facebook posting for the business. I got a few 'why don't you talk to the one that's on tv'."

"There's a rehab show about rehabbing rescues and shelters or there's a few on reality tv. One does a lot of good work."

"I don't think a bigger dog will love the yard that much. I don't have a ton of room to roam."

"You'll probably want something about the same size as the hounds were," Tony agreed with a nod. "Just for cuddling on the couch purposes." He took Caspian to pet since the dog was wiggling. Caspian tried to get down so he grabbed the leash to take him outside to pee on something. Then he brought him back. "He peed."

"That's good for him." He stared at his dog, patting his lap. Caspian decided to cling to Tony instead by hopping into his lap. "Thanks for the walking."

"Welcome. Do we have any open cases?"

"Three. Two are in mediation. One's going nowhere fast and that's the client's fault for not giving me details." That got a nod from Tony. "I'm supposed to meet one later tonight though."

"That'll be good." He looked down. "I've got that divorce case this afternoon. You can't come with me. Judge Martha will not allow dogs, mostly because hers gets panicky about them getting playful together." Caspian curled up to nap so Tony smirked at the pushy thing. "Nice try, Caspian." He petted him anyway. Alex grinned at him for that. "He's very teenage girlish."

"Sometimes." He nodded. "I almost thought about a great dane. They say they're lap dogs."

"They're huge lap dogs. They will back up to sit on your lap but their front paws can still be on the floor. Probably a bit too big, Alex."

"Damn. They're supposed to be great, cuddly dogs."

"The bigger the dog, the less the lifespan," Tony warned.

"Point. I've probably got Caspian for another four years at least. He was seven when I got him."

"So yeah, he's probably got about fifteen years total." He went back to petting the dog after drinking some coffee. "Anything else going on today since you called?"

"I'm *so* bored."

"You could use a hobby or a girlfriend," Tony agreed with a grin. "They're good hobbies too."

"You know I can't flirt. I try and it turns them off for some reason."

"Yeah, I don't understand that. Though it was nice your last one was an agent. Not a good one but an agent. Better than the assassins."

"They were sweet to me. One still emails now and then. We go have fun when she's in town. Caspian really loved the redheaded one. She gave nice ear pets to him. He even let her get to belly petting."

"Awwww. Belinda was still an assassin, Alex."

He shrugged. "She only did ones for good causes."

"Uh-huh." He sipped his coffee again then went back to petting the dog. He looked down at the quiet bark. "Hey," he said, letting that dog sniff his fingers. "Who are you, pup?"

Alex looked then around. "That's Boris' new friend. Hey, Alexsis."

"Alex, Tony," she said with a nod as she walked in to get her dog. "Hey, Caspian." She petted his ears. "I heard about Duke and Devil, Alex. I'm sorry you lost them."

"Thanks." He smiled a bit. "Caspian's had a lot of anxiety so he's becoming a law dog."

She nodded. "Boris has too. That's why I got him the friend." She let Alex pet his ears after getting sniffed. The dog hopped into Alex's lap and sniffed Caspian, who blinked at him before standing up to sniff back. They decided they could be friends. "Awww." She took her dog back. "Have fun, guys. Nice to see you again, Caspian." She petted him again before going to get her own coffee and then go to her new job.

"It was nice you were good to the young one, Caspian," Alex said, petting his head. "Good boy." Caspian looked up at Tony, who smiled and petted him. "I wonder if he'll do okay with a new pack member."

"He'd love a pack member. Even if you suddenly got handed a kid, he'd probably enjoy the new pack. Keeshonds are pack animals."

"True. Maybe not a hound this time."

Tony nodded. "There's a lot of dogs who could use some love. You definitely could use another pack member too."

"True. How's Gibbs?"

"Growling. His arm's in a sling since he checked himself out, went home, and fell down his basement stairs. Broke his shoulderblade." Alex shook his head with a sigh. "Yeah. He's growling a lot."

"Maybe he could use a cat?"

"Cats? I'm not sure. Could you do a cat with him?"

"I have no clue," he admitted. "I know nothing about cats." He took his dog back, staring at him. "If you can quit panicking, we can go look at other dogs we might want to bring home for you to have someone to cuddle up to again. Can you do that? Please? I'd like it if you quit getting so neurotic and panicky."

Caspian licked him so he put him back into the chest carrier, getting a grin from Tony. "I'm going to the shelter up the street. They seem okay. Very League of Super Pets, but seem okay." He got himself a coffee to go then went up the street with it, talking to Caspian. Who freaked out. "Hey! We're going in there to adopt, not drop you off! Stop it!"

He calmed him down by staring at him. "Really, behave." Caspian calmed himself down. "I'm not letting you go and if I die, you go to Tony, who you adore anyway. So calm the hell down, Caspian." The dog whined but did calm down. "Thank you. Much better good boy."

He put him back into the carrier and petted him as they walked in. The shelter worker had seen that. "We just lost his two packmates. We originally adopted him because the two hounds were very co-dependant. This is Prince Caspian. We got him from a shelter on the east side of the city."

"He seems sweet." She let him sniff her hand then petted him. "Is he sick?"

"He's grieving a lot. We have to give him valium if I leave him at the house by himself. I'm not sure if he'll bond to one but the vet agreed it could help him. He's good with other pets." He looked around. "You don't have any evil genius pets, right?"

"No." She smiled. "I saw that movie. We do not have an evil genius naked guinea pig." Alex grinned at her for that. "What did you have before?"

"Two hounds. Their former human was the owner of my former house's ex-husband. She moved without telling him. So he broke in to try to move back with them. I let the dogs stay and told him he had three days when I got him for breaking and entering. He never came back so I inherited Duke and Devil." He showed her pictures. She smiled at that, touching one. "They were my first dogs. Duke had seizures for his last six weeks and Devil had a heart attack."

"I'm sorry for their loss."

"Me too. I was so worried they'd follow the first one who passed so we got Caspian."

"That makes good sense. Gives them more friends." She led him around. Caspian got put down on a leash to walk with them. He sniffed at a few but ignored them after that. "I know, she's got a cold," she told the dog. "But she's a really nice dog. Not at all fluffy like you are."

Alex stared. "What's that?" He pointed.

She looked. "That's a Dwelf. It's a hairless breed of cat who're bred to have dwarfism for short legs. But he was born taller than the owner wanted." She let him pet the cat. Caspian sniffed and sat down, looking confused. The cat hissed a bit but calmed down at the petting. "He doesn't seem to mind cats."

"No. He's licked a few strays that got into the dog park we like."

"Do you own or rent?"

"I own. I have a semi-decent yard that still has holes from Duke digging them. I never got around to filling them in on him and putting in sod because he would've dug it back up."

"Dogs can do that." She smiled, putting the cat back on the cat tree. Caspian barked frantically. "I think he wants a cat?"

"He may want a cat." He picked Caspian up to let him investigate her more. She appreciated his furriness. "Is that who you want as a new packmate? I know nothing about cats, Caspian. We'll have to learn."

"Cats can be stand-offish sometimes but they don't need a lot of work outside the cleaning of the litterbox. She's pretty smart."

"Caspian was the brains of my trio. He used to get up on the counter to grab the treat bag for them all the time." Caspian stared at him. "They're in the car. You can have one when we go back to it." Caspian went back to investigating the cat. "Maybe he does want a cat friend." He shrugged. "I have no idea about eighty percent of the time."

She smiled at that, nodding some. "It's often like that. If they could talk to explain things that'd be nice. We can see if he still wants her after seeing a few more possible friends."

"Okay." He took Caspian. "You can have her back later." Caspian got put back down and was walked off to look at the other pets. He found one and whined at him until he uncurled. "Awww, you're scared, little one. I'm not mean." He let the dog sniff him. That one came over to lick his hand, looking hopeful. He looked at Caspian. "Do you want to go home with him?" He looked up. "Is he fixed?"

"He is. He's very shy. Do you have a lot of visitors?"

"I have a law office out of the study but not really. Only Tony usually, who I kinda work with." He let the dog come out to sit near them. "Hey." He patted his lap and the dog crawled into it, letting him pet him. "Caspian, do we like him?"

Caspian sniffed then sneezed and forced his way into the lap too. The first dog got upset but Alex petted him again so he calmed down. "He seems to enjoy you."

"He does." He stared at him. "Well? Caspian? Are we bringing him home?" Caspian sniffed the dog again then sighed and laid down. "Are you sure? We can make him our packmate if you want." He petted them both. Caspian got a bit jealous but let the new dog be petted. "I guess he likes him."

"Excellent." She went to get the paperwork for him to go over with her. They'd have to check the home, do a visit with the dog. Of course, on the way out, Caspian tried to steal a cat. She giggled at that, pointing at where Caspian was trying to lift the dwelf. "Well?" she asked him.

"I.... Don't see a problem I guess. Will the other dog like her?"

"They get along pretty well. She'll curl up with any dog that's fluffy to keep warm. She really needs some clothes when it gets cold."

Alex nodded. "I guess we can do that. It's a different trio so maybe he'll be happier."

"If not, we'll allow them to come back." He nodded, paying the fee for the cat too. "I can bring them over this afternoon."

"Thanks." He grinned, taking Caspian with him, without the cat. "We need to go home," he told him. "Where the treats are. That way you can see if the cat will like the house, Caspian." Caspian struggled. "You can have her. I promise you can have her. They need to bring her over later. So calm down." He put them in the car and put Caspian in the dog carrier that was hitched in. He got him a treat and then drove them off. "You're very picky, dog."

Caspian started to howl for his missing friend. When they got home, he went running around then came back to bark at his human until he brought him that cat. Alex stared at him, enduring it. When the worker got there that afternoon he carried the cat off to sit with her in the study. The doggy social worker laughed at that and let the other dog out.

That one went to sniff around the house, finding the duo in the study. He curled up near them. The cat huffed and went to curl up on top of him. Caspian followed his naked little friend. It worked well for them he guessed. The social worker was pleased and let Alex have them but promised she'd do a visit in a day to check on them.

Alex decided he had to go to the pet store. He knew nothing about cats. Or what they'd need.

***

Alex brought the new trio to his vet, shaking his head at the smile from his vet. "Caspian decided to shoplift a cat."

"I see the naked cat." He stared at her. "Is she supposed to be that height?"

"She's dwelf?"

"Oh, one of those crossbreeds that bred for a defect," the vet said with a nod. "Dwarfism in animals is a defect but some people think they're adorable. They're designer breeds."

"I'm not usually a label hunter but Caspian literally tried to steal her. The other dog we liked but he's a bit scared. Still. Caspian and he get along but the cat's playing peacekeeper I think."

"Sometimes they will. Do they fight?"

"No. Caspian kinda...ignores him maybe? He's a bit jealous of lap time but if she curls up with him he will."

"They'll get used to each other." He checked the dwelf over first. "What's her name?"

"I haven't decided yet. For either of them."

He nodded. "We'll figure that out soon." He frowned. "She's got a small heart defect. A murmur. Not too bad. Something to pay attention to. Nothing that should shorten her life at this stage."

"Any idea how old she is?"

"She's an adult but I have no idea." He grimaced. "Her teeth are in good shape so I'd say not too old." Alex nodded at that. He pulled over the other dog to pet and check over. Caspian did come over to get his own attention. "I need to check this one over, Caspian, then I'll look at you. Jealous dog. Pet your cat." He petted the cat and Caspian went to bathe her, getting a dirty look from the cat. He smiled at Alex, who shrugged. "They'll work that out slowly. Sometimes dogs are mean to each other but they seem to be okay. Caspian's just jealous. Has it helped his grief?"

"He let me leave them home together to rest while I went grocery shopping. Caspian got up to patrol the house once but then went to curl back up with his naked friend there. The other one didn't even wake up."

"He may be a very clingy dog. Or this one may." He checked him over. "You're a bit older, dog. You're fully probably at least seven." Alex nodded at that. "He's in decent health. Could use a few pounds."

"He got regular food from Caspian's stash last night."

"That's fine. Did he try to eat the cat's food?"

"My food hog there did. I had to drive him off. She's found a cabinet she likes to hide on top of when Caspian gets too clingy."

"That's a cat thing," the vet assured him with a smile. He finished his check and looked at the shot record. "He's only missing one I'd suggest but it's usually a puppy shot."

"Did Caspian get it?"

"We can give it now." Alex nodded so he did that and chipped them both. "Are you letting the cat run free?"

"No. I wouldn't do that with the dogs, I wouldn't do it with a cat. Domesticated means they live in a building you provide."

"They do," the vet said, smiling at that. "It's a good thing, especially in a city."

"I don't think I could do country. I'm used to towns and cities."

"That's fine, Alex." He petted Caspian and checked him over, making him smug. "Behave, Caspian. It's okay if your human pets the other dog. He needs loved." The dog settled down while his human petted the other dog and the vet got him. "Are you planning any other animals?"

"Caspian tried to bring home a bunny he found somewhere but I think it was meant to be a playtoy. I had to save it from him at the dog park. The other dog sat beside me and wouldn't even try to play, even when I threw a stick. He will in the yard."

"Some dogs are shy. He may have had a few bad experiences."

"I figured he was. Or there for a long time."

"That's also possible." He looked at them. "Was it a good shelter?"

"It reminded me of the one on League of Super Pets."

"Oh, that one." He nodded. "That's a good enough place." He petted Caspian again. "His valium?"

"I haven't given him any in a week but I do have court, so a longer time out of the house, in a few days. That night was the night we got the new pets and he did calm down and let everyone sleep around him."

"So we can probably cut it down to a half-pill?"

"I usually try a half pill first and then a second half if he needs it."

"That's fine, Alex. It's smart." He looked at the dog. "I think you can make it very rare and only for the worst moments." Alex nodded at that. "So maybe it'll help. You have cameras inside the house?" Alex grinned and nodded. "Good, then you can check on him now and then that day?"

"The judge is used to that. The other one has a kid he checks on constantly."

"I know that happens." He let Caspian go, watching him go cuddle the poor cat. The other dog curled up near them until the cat moved to lay between them, making Caspian cuddle him. "I can see what you mean. They should be fine. Even if she's not home, at the worst Caspian would probably just ignore him for a bit. That one will get used to it soon enough." Alex nodded, grinning again. "They'll learn to get along."

"As long as it won't turn into attacking."

"It shouldn't."

"Good. I was worried. Caspian's a bit...tough sometimes."

"He's your dog. Dogs will become more like their owners." He smirked. Alex grinned back. "Okay. Get the cat some clothes. She'll need it if it's below sixty."

"I've got a few shirts. Will she need that many?"

"You'll need to bathe her once a week. Without fur, her skin oils won't be dissipated. So warm, shallow sink of water once a week. Use a washcloth to clean her ears and around her face. You won't be able to do it with just water and soap. Just wipe those off, don't use soap." Alex nodded, making himself a note. "I doubt your cat's going to ever be the one that has a whole closet of clothes but enough to probably change at least every-other-day. Just for hygiene reasons. The pet store probably can tell you where you can get her some. Name them soon so you can get them used to it." Alex nodded at that. "Got any ideas so I can put it on their files?"

"She'll be Selena."

He smiled. "After Cat Woman?" Alex grinned and nodded. "Him?"

"I don't know yet." The dog got petted. "We'll figure it out or you'll be called Santa." The vet laughed at that, making a note about a possible name. "Any other things?"

"Her food should be more meat than not. Cats need more meat than dogs. He hasn't shown a problem with food?"

"He ate. A lot."

"You can probably feed him a bit more than what you feed Caspian. Who is getting a bit chunky again." He gave him a pointed look. Alex shrugged at that. "Also, watch out for dogs and litter boxes. Some dogs will eat cat turds and clumping litter isn't good for their systems."

"Her litter box is in a bathroom that I never use."

"That's a good thing. Easily cleaned up when she kicks the litter out covering things up." He petted them again. "You're good for today." Alex smiled, putting everyone back into the carrier. He smiled as they paid and left to go home. Where Alex had to call about the break in and his security system not going off. Someone had thrown some paint in his study so he had to clean paint off his woodwork. With a lot of swearing.

***

Tony came over that night, staring at the new piece of furniture. He blinked a few times. "Did Caspian need a cat tree?"

"No, Selena needed a cat tree to keep her off the counters when she wants on top of the cabinets," Alex called. "I'm still scrubbing paint off."

"Okay. Who's Selena?" Caspian barked so he looked. "Oh. It's one of those aliens. Okay." He went into the study with the stuff Alex had asked him to pick up. "Wanted this?"

"Please." He took the spirits to coat the rag and go back to scrubbing. "Caspian tried to shoplift Selena. The other dog I'm not sure about yet but she's friendly with them both and Caspian likes to ignore him. She'll snuggle him and Caspian will follow."

"Interesting." He rolled up his sleeves to help him.

"Thanks." They shared a grin. "Break in. The security company didn't alert me but did alert the cops. Your divorce case."

"Figures. Him or her?"

"Her."

"So my client. I'll have a talk with her after I bill her for the hours we'll spend cleaning." Alex grinned and nodded. "No, doggy, not around that. It'll hurt you," Tony told the new one. "Maybe name him Bruce?"

"He's really shy."

"Hmm. I'd probably go with Bogart. He seems like the quietly competent sort."

"He does." He nodded, going back to scrubbing. "Wasn't he an actor?"

"Yeah. It doesn't go with your fandom names theme."

"I'm not against that. Like that, Bogart? I said if I couldn't find one I'll call him Santa."

Tony looked then nodded. "Santa may work too. He seems to like it."

"Okay, so Santa it is. Lots of those cute holiday movies have Santa in them."

"They do. Rankin-Bass was great." They finished the cleaning around midnight and made sure all the chemicals were cleaned up and put away properly. Then Alex had to give Selena her first bath. She didn't *mind* but she did glare at him for it. Tony tested the water. "May be a bit too cool. Think slightly more than body temp next time." He watched him carefully wipe her face and ears off then do her back. "That's so weird."

"Without fur they said her skin oils just sit there. Until Caspian gives her another bath."

"That's probably cute." He got a towel for him and held her while Alex rinsed out the sink. She got patted dry then put into a kitty shirt that said 'cat' on it in sparkles. She got put onto the cat tree. She curled up and got comfy. Caspian came over to bark so she huffed but went to lay with him and his fluffy warmth. Tony grinned. Santa moved closer so she lounged on his back and let Caspian have her front to cover her in floof.

"That's very cute," Tony decided, taking pictures. He settled in to get to know Santa better. The cat lifted her head to stare at him so he petted her ears. "You're very soft. Softer than I thought aliens were." Santa laid his head back down so he went back to petting him. He liked that.

Alex turned on a movie and they settled in to watch the newest Star Wars animated movie. Santa ended up in his lap. Caspian didn't get jealous. He got the cat into Alex's lap to cuddle him. Alex had to shift to give Selena more room but that was fine. Tony fell asleep there with Santa laying on him and it was nice. He had missed someone cuddling him and snoring on him. Alex was on the other end of the large couch so they each got cuddled with furry things. And a naked cat.

In the morning, Tony decided Santa should be his dog instead. That way he wouldn't get ignored. Alex pouted but was happy for him. It was nice to have a reason to go home. Even a fluffy one that was named Santa.

***

Caspian and Selena were getting along famously, even when someone tried to break into the house. Which made Caspian go for their faces with his teeth. He scored too. And on an officer that came to help stop the screaming going on. Alex got there to pull his dog off him and stared at the one breaking in. "You knew not to get near my house or my dog," he told him. "Caspian's very protective of me and Selena."

"Girlfriend?" the officer wiping off the dog drool asked. Alex pointed at the cat hissing from on top of a cabinet. "Oh, cat." He stared. "One of those hairless ones?"

"She's called a dwelf and yeah, Caspian adopted her for us." He petted his dog to calm him down. "What was this one going to do? And who sent him so I can go take my displeasure out on them?" The officer blinked at him. He grinned. "I'm Alex Harris, Officer."

"I've heard about you defending a daycare the other day," he said, eyes wide.

"They should have been sacrifices to our greatness!" the demon protested. Alex kicked him in the face for that. "Hey!" He struggled so Alex kicked him again, knocking him out.

"No, I don't like sacrificial victims. It makes me mad." He looked at the officer. "I wish you luck with him. His sort do eat live flesh. Not human but living fish and seafood."

"You know the demonic community?"

"I'm the guy who fights the government regulations so they can own businesses." Alex smiled. "And some limited defense cases."

"Wow," the officer said then nodded. "Okay. Thank you, Mr. Harris. Your dog stopped him at the doorway apparently."

Alex went to look then came back. "Yeah, he only broke in the door before Caspian went for his face."

"You should train him not to attack officers."

"The last time we were broken in on, the guy was wearing a uniform. Caspian castrated that one. Fully ripped it all off while they screamed. He's very protective of his pack." He grinned, petting his dog. "Prince Caspian is very helpful at times." He put him down.

"Go play with Selena and check her." Caspian stared up at his cat friend, barking until she huffed and jumped down to nudge him as she walked past him on her way to the litter box. He followed and then they went to nap on her cat tree in the sun again. Alex grinned at the officer. "He shoplifted her from a shelter."

"Ah." He nodded.

"He was named Prince by the shelter that took him in. I named him well. He lives up to his name."

"I'm sure he does." He nodded at that, getting that victim up to take to his car and arrest him. Harris wouldn't let the dog get either of them again. Harris went back to talking to his neighbors up the street about something they were getting loud about. The shift supervisor was going to be very amused about that fluffy little dog being that tough. Though he did look up who Prince Caspian was to see if the name fit. Apparently...it did.

***

Alex walked into the community's meeting that night, putting down a few forms. "He actually tried to get me to do his preliminary hearing after breaking into my house because I saved that daycare." They all winced. He stared around then at them. "Also, I saw someone tried to auction off my dog, which is still at home safely. Like. Fucking. Hell."

He stared at that one, making them shrink down. "Don't you owe me cats?" That one whined. "Pay me tonight. I've had enough of the fucking with me again. I can go do profitable things instead." He stared at another demon, who winced.

"Also, all outstanding bills will be turned over to collections if they're past due. Outside of two that I know can't pay yet and they were more important cases to me. I'll send a list if there's any questions." He walked off again. "Quit trying to fuck with me and my wood shelves, people. You don't want me to repay that favor."

"No, we do not," one of the Council for the City noted. "Sorry, Harris." He looked at the same people. "Stop it before he quits defending us." They all shrank down. He looked at those papers, handing them to another counselor. "Put that before the defense team?"

"I can do that but they won't want to do that since he's clearly guilty." He looked at the forms. "And injured. Apparently Caspian bit him a few times."

"It's a good guard for him," another agreed, taking the forms to look at. "They refused to represent him a few months back when he was sicced on another human's house. Maybe he should let the dog eat him."

"Has any seen this new cat of his?" the first counselor asked. "It has no fur."

"That is weird but some have been bred for that," the female one said. "Selena is apparently very cute. She has to wear clothes because she'll get cold."

"Ah." He nodded. "The ones who eat cats would hate that. They like furred ones. They say it makes it taste better."

"Hmm." She shrugged. "Humans think them cute. His is also shorter than normal so many consider those cute as well."

"Cute and short?" one of the listening ones snorted. "Not one we would accept at a table."

"Which Harris would never offer," the head counselor said happily. "He would steal all the pets from the tables." That got a few nods. They got back to the things they had to talk about tonight before Harris interrupted them. They were interrupted by one of the local defenders showing up smoking. "Did you get hit with holy water?"

"No, Senior. I am burning off the things they sprayed on me to try to get humans into the egg repository. The eggs are safe, we need more guards tonight. Harris is not answering his phone."

"He was just here so he's probably driving," the female counselor said. "Are they all safe?"

"None got past us."

"I will call up our guards to aid you." She went to do that and came back. "They're with a group in Alexandria." She grimaced. "I will find a way to find Harris."

"Please. We had a few injuries."

"Why were the humans invading?"

"We are not sure why the mob was invading." They all stared at him. "They were."

"Call DiNozzo, have him get someone to handle that. They're often criminals from what you see in the movies."

"I can do that on my way back." He handed over the pictures he had. "Of the ones we had to take out."

"Give those to DiNozzo too." He nodded, taking them back once they had looked at them to go back to his spot.

Tony showed up there to get the pictures and talk to someone in the local police. Alex showed up a few hours later with coffee and food for them and a gun for himself. That let them have a break to rest for a few hours. When the humans tried again, Alex got something out of his car and came back, setting up the field gun.

An older one but a powerful weapon from the second world war that bullets were fed into and through at a fast rate. A few laughed but they hated being injured. The rest tried to flee but officers were showing up to the shots fired calls. The council showed up to talk to them too. They were amused at Harris' weapons stash.

Alex smiled at the staring officer. "Sometimes you gotta have a bigger gun than an idiot." He shrugged. "It's not illegal to own."

"No, probably not since the last century, when it was in military use. Restored?"

Alex smiled and nodded. "Yes, it was. I got it at auction from the restorer."

"Ah." The officer nodded. "It's a bit loud and people will worry."

"Then make the mob quit trying to grab the eggs here for whatever reason they have today." He grinned again. "The one that tried the backdoor got eaten and then regurged probably if you wanted that mess."

"I don't but we can have someone clean that up for you. What is this building?"

"Egg nursery."

"Oh." He nodded. "Okay. Let us..." He looked at the mess. "We'll clean up the mess and make sure they can't do this again. We'll encourage them to make a treaty." He walked off to make a few calls from his radio while he zip tied people to arrest them. The regurgitated mess, he was not touching. Not his department. The ME's people were grossed out but that was their job. "It's an egg nursery," he told that team. "For some reason they wanted in there."

"We're all protective of kids," the ME said as he came over. "Well, that's nicer than I thought it might be. It's not sludge, just chewed up." The others groaned at that. "Get a shovel from the truck." They did that for him. "Any other bodies?"

"One. He died from the gunshot wounds. Some guy up front has a world war two field machine gun, complete with stand."

The ME moaned but nodded. "Sweet of him." He went to gather that body as well. He paused at the gun. "My father used one of those in Vietnam," he told the young man.

Alex smiled at him. "I found it at auction from the restoration guy."

"It's sweet, sir."

"Thank you. It's a nice baby," he said, patting it. "And useful during an all out assault."

"I can see that." He gathered the other body and his assistants came to grab the bag with the body to carry it to the truck.

Alex sipped his coffee, grinning at the staring guards. "What?"

"At least it's not something higher," one said with a smile and a nod.

"True. I haven't had to use an artifact or a higher weapon yet." They just smiled at that. Harris was just like that; both of them were. Xander may have caused more damage, he was less subtle.

***

Tony looked at the arraignment judge the next morning. "Sir, I am not able to defend this being, as I have noted to him and others. Even though the court has assigned it. He allegedly broke into a friend's house to kill him and despoil his woodwork. I cannot defend him ethically."

The judge stared at him. "Can you stand there and let him lie about his plea, DiNozzo?"

"I can but it may be counted against him or me later, Your Honor."

"That's fine. He can get another lawyer later. For right now, let's not delay the inevitable. Does he have a plea?"

"I am never guilty," the demon said.

"Uh-huh. Remanded into custody without bail," the judge told him. "Does he have a species sheet?"

Tony grimaced. "I do not have one for him, Your Honor. Sorry. I know he eats raw seafood."

"They can look it up in the manual then." They led him off and Tony settled in to wait on his actual client to show up. He was in a few arraignments. "All right, Mr. DiNozzo, let's get on with this one."

"Sir, my actual client is not a prostitute. She's a priestess for a sect that does need sex to survive. She was hoping for that, not trying to solicit attention for money."

The judge blinked. "Species sheet?" Tony handed that over. "Oh, I see that." He frowned. "So she was at her temple?"

"No, she was out and about, Your Honor. They don't really have a temple that I'm aware of. You'd have to ask someone like Alex Harris that. He's busy right now defending an egg nursery from the mob."

The judge blinked a few times. "Wow." He nodded. "I wish him luck."

"He pulled out a world war two field machine gun, Your Honor." He smiled. "He got really upset. I had to feed his dog and cat this morning."

The judge shuddered but nodded. "Yes, I wish him much luck with that." He looked at the prosecutor's table. "Do you have anything stating she was definitely soliciting attention?"

"She did ask for money."

"Temples take donations," Tony quipped. "Just like churches do. Even if not, you can't criminalize her for seeking something her species needs to exist. You can't punish people for eating steaks, you can't criminalize her for eating energy."

"There's got to be a line somewhere," the prosecutor said dryly.

"Still, Your Honor. Even if she did ask for a donation and then sex, that doesn't mean she was prostituting herself any more than anyone who sells food for money is."

The judge sighed. "Does she want to make a plea bargain for a fine or would she rather go to trial?"

Tony looked at his client, hissing in her ear. She nodded. "We do not consider that prostitution but if it would ease things I could plea for a minor inconvenience fee."

Tony looked at the other side. Who just nodded. "Standard fine is fifteen hundred," the prosecutor said.

Tony snorted. "You gave one two hundred earlier."

"I did," he admitted. "She was broke. She had a bad night." He stared at him. "Five hundred. Only noted, not going on her record." The woman huffed but nodded. "Good. Your Honor?"

"That works. That's something to bring up for rule inclusion really. Have fun with Judge Mathias." He banged his gavel. "Pay the fine within thirty days." She nodded and they took her to be checked out so she could pay her fine. Her temple could cover it. The judge shook his head. He really did wish them well over that rule exemption.

***

Tony let McGee into Alex's house, nodding at him. "He's at court. He'll be back in an hour if you need Alex."

"I was checking on you. Your name got noted at an assault?"

"I helped the defense team when the mob tried to raid an egg nursery. Got some officers alerted." He looked up at the cat. "I'm not feeding you up there, Selena. You have to come down. McGee's not scary and he won't sneeze on you." She stretched but did come down when he poured food out for her. Caspian barked happily as his bowl was filled.

McGee looked at the hairless cat. "I've seen pictures of those."

"She's a dwelf, a dwarf one bred for that." He looked at him. "Caspian tried to shoplift her when Alex went to get him a new friend, which became my dog Santa."

McGee grinned. "Alex named it?"

"Yeah." He nodded. "But it's nice having something there to curl up around on the couch."

"Do the girlfriends like it?"

"Some. Santa hates them though. Won't let a single one pet him. I'm betting his last owner had been a female." He looked at the cat brushing against him. "Thanks, Selena." McGee snickered then nodded. "Yeah. She's Alex's first cat."

"She seems pretty easy to take care of."

"Weekly baths." Alex walked in and gave him an odd look. "He was checking why I was noted at an assault."

"Ah." He nodded at McGee. "Mathias is going nuts. He wanted the case today to change business models so they were a brothel instead of a temple."

"I remember defending a priestess."

"Not that one. The naked vegan one."

"Oh." He nodded. "Why?"

"Someone was horrified they were naked and had no external sexual organs. Told the guy in for Christopher that if they changed into a brothel they'd get less hell from them."

"You'd think it'd be more," Tony said, considering that. "But hey..." He shrugged. "It'd earn them money?"

"Yup." He looked at McGee. Then at Tony again. "I'll let you two catch up. How's Santa?"

"He's good. At dog daycare for some playtime." Alex grinned, going to his office. Caspian stared at McGee then followed his human. "Caspian's very protective."

"I've heard that." He petted the cat that came to stare at him. "I'm not mean, Selena." She hopped up onto her cat tree so she could get on top of the cabinet again. "It's nice she's not on the counter."

"He had a can of compressed air when she tried. Then he put up the cat tree for her." He checked it, getting some paper towels to clean up her dried up cat regurg. "Must you really throw up food?" he asked her.

"At least it's not in a shoe," McGee quipped.

"Most of the time they can't get into the closet. Alex learned to leave it closed to save the dog fur cleaning. The two hounds shed greatly but hated to be brushed." He shrugged and went to start on dinner if he could find something to eat. He frowned at the fridge.

"So, are you two moving in together soon?" McGee asked.

"No. We're just friends, McGee." He looked at him oddly. "Why would you think we're dating?"

"You're making dinner for you two."

"We have a case to go over and I cook better than Alex does. It's easier than ordering."

"I guess. Let us know if you need housewarming presents." He left to tell Abby and Ziva. Though he had to pull up a picture of what a dwelf was for Ziva. She got a bit freaked out at the naked, short cat.

Tony went to talk to Alex. "My former coworker thought we're dating since I was going to make dinner if you had food. Which you don't."

Alex grimaced. "I haven't been recently. I haven't had time." They shared a look. "Do a grocery order?"

"How's your trust looking this year?"

"Not bad. I'm on target. I could use more to put into it, but that happens sometimes. I warned the community council I'm going to have to send some bills to collections if they don't start paying. Outside the two domestic abuse cases and probably the name change one." He sent one of the council an email to let him know and added another case to the 'I know they can't pay yet' list. "That way he can reassure those ones." He looked at the begging dog then at Tony. "Do I have treats?"

"I haven't seen any. Any in your bag?"

Alex pulled it over to look, tossing Caspian one from in there. "I'm out. So yeah, groceries and pet store."

Tony grinned, leaning in the doorway. "I can run to get Santa so we can do that together."

"Okay. Let's do that. Maybe we'll pick up dinner on the way home?"

"Maybe we can pick up groceries on the way home. It's better for you and cheaper, Alex." He walked off, going to grab his dog then meet Alex at the pet store. He got there first. Alex pulled in a few minutes later so he knew that Caspian was being fussy. He got out with Santa, putting him into the back of a cart. Santa barked happily, his tail wagging. Alex had Caspian in the carrier again. "He fussy?" Tony joked.

"Yes!" he sighed. "He almost insisted we bring the cat too. I promised we'd get her treats and catnip toys." He petted his dog on the head. "It's good he loves his cat."

"It is." They walked in together and the lady on the door smiled at them. "They're fussy pets."

"Many are," she said, petting them both. "They're cute dogs, sirs. They must love your household."

"No, we're just friends," Tony said. She blushed but grinned. "Not the first to say that though." They went to the dog toy section, finding a few new things. Which Santa hated and Caspian didn't want to play with. So Alex got the toys for the cat first. That made Caspian happier once he added a treat from the special bin.

A few bags of treats. A bag of food for each pet. Some wet food for the cat. Tony got his own dog food and they got them new treats from the special bin as they checked out. Both dogs were nicely patient today for the treats. Santa really loved their treats with the dog-safe frosting.

Caspian started to howl so Alex looked at him. "What?" Caspian wiggled so he let him down and followed where he wanted to go, picking him up so he could stare in the cat cage. "We've already given you a cat to adore, Caspian. Do you really need a second? And will Selena like that?" The worker in that area snickered.

"I went to get him a new friend, who ended up with my buddy over there, and he nearly shoplifted a dwelf cat. Now there's this one?" He stared at the cat. "Really, Caspian?" Caspian wiggled over to lick a cat then stared at him. Alex sighed, staring at him. "Will Selena like that?"

It was a long haired blonde cat with black and white spots. Tony strolled over with the bags in his cart. Alex had gotten in line first so had already paid. Santa came over to sniff, making the cat give him an odd look then at the other dog that was sniffing her.

"I think he's determined, sir."

"I think he's a bit pushy," he sighed. He let the cat sniff him and petted her ears, making her purr happily. "At least Selena will be smothered with fur to stay warm." Tony snickered at that. "She will." He looked at Caspian, who was happily nosing the cat. "Wow." He sighed again, looking at the worker, who got the paperwork for her. "Fixed?"

"Yes. Already fixed. From a nearby shelter."

"I guess. We'll probably name her Harley Quinn since our hairless cat is named Selena." Tony nodded, patting him on the back. "I guess." He filled it out and let her box up the cat. "If our other cat hates her?"

"You have thirty days," she assured him.

"Okay."

"If not, Santa seems to like her," Tony said, looking at his dog oddly. "We do not need a cat too, Santa." The worker smiled at him for that. "He adopted Santa but I stole him." Thankfully Santa only wanted more toys.

"I get mine this food," Alex said, showing her the bag. "Will she need something else?"

"That should be fine," the worker assured him. "Ask your vet if she has problems with it."

"Okay. Thanks." He took the box of cat to the car so they could load up and go home. Tony came home with him, after pausing at the grocery store. Alex had Santa so he didn't have to wait in the car and chew on the seats again. Alex walked in with the dogs. "Selena, Caspian got you a furry friend." He put down the box and opened it, then pointed for the cat coming down.

Harley stuck her head up and meowed. Selena meowed back, coming over to sniff her. She hissed. "Hey! Be nicer to Caspian's other cat. And Santa." He went to get the bags and came back with them, tossing some catnip on the floor for them and then threw some toys around. The cats enjoyed that. Selena hissed a bit but let it go since Harley laid on top of her to smother her in floof.

Santa came over to lap at both cats then went to lay on the couch. That's what he did all night at home. Caspian laid down next to the cats to cuddle them. It was cute enough for a picture. Selena meowed so Harley nuzzled her and went back to lounging on her. She got cat-huffed at but it happened sometimes.

Finally Selena got free and hopped up onto her cat tree to go onto the cabinets. Harley tried the counter and got air sprayed. That made her go to the cat tree to get away from it and hiss at him. He shrugged. "Yay. No being on the counter. Use the tree." He patted a level, letting her get up there then join Selena on the cabinets.

Caspian hopped up until he got to his usual spot and laid there to look outside. "We are not getting a third cat to make a trio of Sirens, Caspian. Really, we're not." He put down the second bowl of food for her and went to get a drink and sit to watch some tv with the other dog. "I think I'm becoming a hoarder," he told Santa. "I really do." Santa just panted and accepted petting. Not a lot of help there.

That night, Harley decided to lay on his face to choke him with her floof. He tucked her under his arm and curled around her instead. She didn't like that and decided to sleep on his side. It meant it was hard for him to move all night but she was clearly comfortable. And cuddly. Caspian came in to nap on the other pillow. Selena hid under the blankets on Caspian's side of the bed like usual. So everyone but him got comfortable. Santa was sleeping on his human like the lounging dog he was.

Tony was nice enough to take a picture when he got up first the next morning. It was goofy but it was very Alex.

***

Alex sighed as his vet walked into the exam room. "Caspian," he explained at the amused look. "He demanded from the pet store." He slumped, shaking his head. "At least Tony has Santa."

"I've seen Santa since then." He looked at the cat. "You're very fluffy."

"She likes being spoiled by brushing, but she hissed at Selena getting a bath. She's very cuddly. She keeps trying to kill me with her floof. I'm a bit worried he's going to want a third cat I'll have to name Ivy."

The vet snickered. "I saw that movie." He looked her over, nodding. "Not bad. I can add a dewormer just in case."

"Please if you think she needs it." He waved a hand with a sigh. "I think Caspian has a hoarding problem. He wouldn't even look at the new toys until we got some for Selena. We were checking out when he started to get demanding to go look at the cats and picked her."

"She looks good and the pet store you use does go through a nice shelter." He smiled. "If there's a third, that's not that unusual. Maybe it'll be short haired so less brushing."

"At least Santa doesn't try to shoplift cats." He petted her. "But I don't mind," he told the cat. "You're a nice enough cat, Harley. You really are. Even if you are homicidal." She purred at that and let the vet do what he wanted to do until he chipped her, then she hissed and swatted.

"Hey, be nicer. It has to be done in case Caspian lets you out." He petted her again to calm her down, picking her up to cuddle. She calmed down and hid her head in his shirt. The vet was smiling. "At least I'm learning a lot about cats."

"You're not doing bad." He smiled and closed the folder. "She's good for another eight months if you bring them back all together for their yearly shots."

"I can try that. If she doesn't suffocate me some night."

"Some cats do like to lay on their owner's throats and faces. Gently move her."

"I tucked her under my arm and flipped onto my side to curl around her. She decides to sleep on my side instead."

"Cats can be picky. Is the food doing okay with her?"

"I haven't seen more than the usual regurg Selena does when she eats too fast."

"That's good. Let me know if you have more problems."

"Caspian's very cuddly with them. And Selena's never cold." He shook his hand and put her back into the carrier so they could pay and go home. She got released once they got inside and she went to curl up with the other two on the couch. Somehow two small cats and a smallish dog took up a whole couch. It was against the law of physics but they were animals so didn't know about physics or laws. Alex went to his office to do some work instead of relaxing on the couch. They followed to nap on the couch in there.

***

Alex walked into the courtroom with Harley on his chest in the carrier this time, nodding at the judge. He put his bag down and Selena yawned and stretched from there. "You called us in suddenly and the house is being sprayed because my neighbor released termites. They don't accept cats at doggy daycare and Tony's building threatened to throw him out if he let them stay over for more than a few hours. Sorry!" He shrugged.

The judge sighed and shook his head. "It figures. Why did you get such a fluffy cat to go with the fluffy dog?"

"Caspian picked them." He picked up Selena, who yawned and glared. Then put her back into the bag. "He shoplifted that one from a shelter and nearly this one from the pet store."

The judge smiled at that. "You're a very good pet owner, Harris."

"I try. Though Harley is still trying to kill me at night with her floof."

"Some cats do that. My wife's last kitten did until I kicked it out of the bedroom."

"Then I'd have huffy animals all day." He sat down, petting the cat that was trying to wiggle free. "No. You stay in there or you go nap with Selena," he ordered quietly. "We do not get to roam in a courtroom. Even Caspian can't do that." The judge was snickering. The other lawyer came in and paused then petted the cat and Alex both on the head. "My neighbor released termites."

"We heard. She's in the FDA so on another floor and complaining that you're not her sort again."

"She can bite me. Next time I'm taking an axe to her ugly trees." The other lawyer snickered. "But we can't leave them somewhere without boarding them and that would freak them both out."

"I fully understand that," the other lawyer agreed smugly. He put his briefcase down. "Your Honor, the reason for this emergency hearing is that my supervisor has decided we do not need to and will not bend any rules for the peaceful community back to 2004."

"I doubt that'll fly," Alex said dryly. "Some of that has been codified into full laws."

The other side smiled at him. "They're pushing to have those overthrown."

"So it's another concentrated effort against the community," Alex said. The lawyer shrugged but grinned at him. "Yeah, let me start by outing some people who owe a large portion of themselves," he muttered. The judge stared at him. "We know plenty do, Your Honor. I can totally blow this whole thing up with just a single leak to the right person."

The judge cleared his throat. "That would be dangerous for you and your pets, Mr. Harris."

Alex grinned, but winked at the other side, making him shudder. "Sure beats having to defend places and rescue people. Unlike my twin, I don't specialize in weapons."

"Which we like," the judge agreed patiently. "Is that the most helpful thing though?"

"No, but the injunction I'm going to ask for is."

"Granted," the judge agreed. "I'm not going to ignore my last few years of work for the higher ups at the SBA."

That lawyer shrugged. "I'm beholden to my paycheck-giving people, Your Honor. That is not the feeling of most of us, but the higher ups...."

"Are probably on a soul clock timer, or want to be and got turned down," Alex quipped, standing up again. "I'll let the community know. Does that mean I don't have to show up tomorrow for the hearing?"

"They said we're not bending at all, Harris."

The judge smiled. "No. Sorry. We will delay tomorrow's hearing about that herbal store."

"Isn't tomorrow's the new temple?" Alex asked.

He looked at his scheduling book. "It is. We've got three hearings in the next few weeks. I'm going to continue all of them, issue an injunction so the cannot do that without a hearing on that rule breaking, because that does violate the agency's laws," the judge said dryly. "They can argue in front of Judge Mercer, which is not ideal," he agreed when Alex started to say something. "But it's his turn unless you want this to last for a month?"

"Not really. I'll have the community file papers later today. Maybe Judge Mercer will recuse himself for conflict of interest since he'd like to kill all the community."

"You're not that lucky, Harris," the judge assured him. Alex shrugged but smiled. "Good luck. You have an injunction starting today until the end of the hearing about it." The other side smiled at that and nodded, accepting that paperwork. "Good luck, Harris."

"I've survived this long," he quipped, picking up his bag and taking the paperwork from the other lawyer to go talk to the community. Selena growled in the car but he stared at her. "Yay." She calmed down once Harley was in the bag with her. He drove to the bar the community defense team hung out in until they were needed, looking at them.

"Let's go inside." Selena howled to get free of the floof so he put her into his carrier. Harley wiggled out to join her so he sighed and did that, going inside with the paperwork. "People, we need to have a sudden meeting," he announced as he walked in.

"It's too early for drama, not even the queenly vampires are up yet," one of the lawyers he wanted quipped back.

Alex put the papers in front of him. "The SBA has decided that they are going to retroactively not bend on any rules back to 2004." The lawyer choked. "There's an injunction until that can be debated in court but that would probably mean Judge Mercer."

The lawyer finally quit coughing and drank his beer, then stared at him. "Why?"

"I'm guessing either he's owing someone or he's one of the rejected ones." He grinned. "We need to file paperwork today though. Or early tomorrow."

"Oh, we will be. Is this a big move?"

"With all the threats recently? Yup."

"Shit." He called his bosses to come down there with the local council. Then he went over the paperwork Alex had been given. He stared at the meowing thing then sighed and shook his head. "Why are you carrying them like you do the dog?"

"Someone put termites on my house. It's being sprayed. They can't go to doggy daycare and Tony's building won't allow cats to do more than visit."

"Great." He stared at the frantically meowing thing then sighed. "And a fluffy one."

"Caspian decided to adopt. I'm hoping there's not a third." The lawyer patted them both. "He won't eat you and anyone that tried I'd kill, ladies. Calm down." They quit meowing. He went out to some grass to let them pee one at a time then put them back in the carrier to go back inside. He grinned at the incoming huffy person. "My idea is that we release the list."

The higher lawyer blinked a few times. "Would that help?"

"It could short circuit all the hell that the community is getting. All the threats, all that."

"Let me see if this one is on the list or not," he said. He took the forms to look at while his minion finished his lunch. "Shit."

"Judge Mathias said we'd probably get Judge Mercer. Who really is a kill them all sort. So that's going to have to be added in to the strategy." That got a nod with a grimace. "But Judge Mathias did give us an injunction. Which could be overturned but probably not. I won't make a bet on it though. Which means we need a preemptive action while we file."

"Okay," he agreed with a nod. "Has your twin had a vision?"

"I haven't talked to him since last night when I was complaining that I was having to relocate for a few days for termite spraying thanks to a neighbor."

The lawyer winced. "Why would they?"

"I'm still not their kind and she's in the FDA. I've already filed civil charges against her and am suing her for her stupid."

"Ah." He nodded. "Good luck."

Alex smirked. "She's going to try to complain that a demon moved in there. I'm still human. Much more than my twin is."

The lawyer flinched, staring at him. Alex grinned back. "Oh, dear."

"Oh, yeah." He nodded with a grin. "Muchly. One of the other neighbors told me. Pity she's stupid."

"You have fun playing with her, Harris."

"I don't want to own her house. She has gross trees she never takes care of." He sat down, petting the cats. He did text the doggy daycare that he had an emergency meeting so he'd have to run by to pick up Caspian in a few hours if that was fine. They agreed it was fine until about six. Alex checked his watch and agreed. "I've got to pick up Caspian by six." He put his phone back to stare at the people coming in. "Which other agencies started on what the SBA has?" he asked.

"The DOJ is trying not to prosecute for hate crimes," one admitted, coming over to look. "That's nasty."

"They've been making false complaints and hadn't gotten anywhere," Alex said.

"He wanted to release the list," the top lawyer said.

"We can do that as part of the filing," the councilor decided. "Proof of why they're doing it."

"I'd say give it to Fox News first," Alex offered. Then he smirked evilly. "They do so love to complain that demons own people."

The councilor patted him on the arm. "That's evil."

"Thank you!" He smiled and petted the cats. "Since Caspian adopted such a fluffy one, now I can be like Blowfeld."

"She's not a white persian," the councilor said.

"So I have more style." He shrugged. His phone beeped so he pulled it out to answer it. "Hey, twin'o'mine."

"Hey." He looked. "What are you wearing?"

"Selena and Harley. Caspian decided to demand Harley's adoption the other night."

He blinked a few times. "So you're petting a really fluffy cat?"

"Yes, because I have more style than Blowfeld."

"I'm sure you do, Alex," Stephen said from behind Xander.

Alex grinned and waved at him. "We're having an emergency summit because the SBA is trying to retroactively deny any rule changes to 2004."

"Yeah, I was going to warn you that we've heard they're going to try to attack you and others up there."

"And yet, I'm still human," he said dryly then smirked a bit. "Which is my neighbor's problem and why I got termites being sprayed for. She's in the FDA."

"Charming!" Alex grinned. Xander shook his head and sighed. "How's Caspian?"

"At doggy daycare but he was okay. Have you had a vision?"

"Yes, of you accepting a nomination."

"Ah." He nodded. "Some people up here have had that one about Tony."

"No, both of you got nominated."

"Awwww. Well, ...I guess I can still work alongside that."

"I have no idea how that works," Xander said. "And don't invite me up?"

"Hell no! I get elected you can come up and help me mourn, Xan."

"Point. Giles is going to choke himself to death."

"Hmm. Tell the blonde?"

"I do not want to hear that fit. I have to work with her at a meeting next week. Will you have a spare bed we can bum then?"

"Yeah. For you, definitely. For Faith. Not for the rest."

"Great!" He grinned. "Thanks." He hung up.

Alex put his phone back and stared at the higher lawyer, who had gotten his own drink to gulp as he walked back. "Xander's only been off-time."

"Shit," the bartender muttered, going to get more liquor. They'd need it tonight.

Alex grinned. "I love spreading such cheer." The councilor patted him on the arm but they settled in to make plans. Alex had to leave to get his dog but came back to get more involved. The community's legal defense squad was not happy to do that filing but they had a lot of it they could do. Even if everyone was having tail-clenching ideas.

***

Alex looked at the guy stomping up to his fence, waving at him as he watered his tree. "What's up, Officer?"

"The neighbors have complained that you're squatting here and you're a demon, sir."

Alex stared at him. "I'm fully human. This is my house. They're bigotted cunts. Who I'm suing because they intentionally gave me termites." He smiled. "I can prove I'm still human."

"Sir, maybe...."

"No, I'm not moving. I'm not moving my law office that works with the peaceful community. They can suck it the fuck up." The officer winced at that. He smiled and waved at the neighbor huffing over looking smug. "You've gotten me confused with my twin again but you're welcome for still being around." He looked at the officer again.

"We did stop the battle last week that would've taken her as a food source." He went back to watering the trees. "Other than that, I can prove I own my house. This isn't their first attempt at this stupidity and I'm really tired of it. They keep it up and I'm going to buy all their houses and then evict them for better beings."

The officer walked off calling that in. His shift supervisor read what had been tried and denied. "Why do you stay here?"

"I enjoy this house. This was my third house due to threats. I'm not moving again and even if they burn me out I'm going to rebuild it with just as pretty of woodwork. Only maybe I'll fix the kitchen." The officer shook his head. Caspian came out to sniff at the fence. "Don't even." Caspian sat beside him. "Much nicer. Did you let the cats out?" He went to check and came back once he found they were on the cabinets again. Caspian was sniffing at the officer. "He's fine, Caspian."

"He seems like a nice dog."

"He is but he's adopted two cats. I never saw myself with cats before him." The officer snickered at that. A neighbor stomped over. He smiled and waved at her. "Yes, Miss Annoying Trophy Wife?"

"You're not human and only humans can live here," she sneered.

"I am human. I work with the peaceful community. And if it wasn't for me and my twin, you'd be dead. So huff off back to your sugar daddy." He waved a hand. "That was not a rule when I bought my house for cash. And I can prove I'm fully human." She shrieked and tried to hit him so he turned the water hose on her, making her shriek for all new reasons.

"This is dry clean only!" she yelled.

"Then step off. Actions have consequences and you came over here to be a bitch. This is your consequence and I can keep wetting you down to see if you melt." He stared at her. She tried to hit him again so the water got turned back on her. She walked off fake crying to complain to the neighbors. He grinned at the officer. "I could've just hit her."

"Please don't, I don't want to arrest you for assault," he said. That one and a few others came over so he called for backup and turned on his body camera. "Ladies, he's human. He's just a lawyer."

Alex nodded. "I am a lawyer. I work with the peaceful community. I'm also very tolerant because I'm allowing you to live in my neighborhood." They tried to attack him so he hosed them all down. He switched the nozzle to make it spray in a more concentrated, harder stream. "The Wizard of Oz was wrong, witches don't melt!" Caspian barked. He looked down at him.

"Behave." Caspian ran back to the house and started to bark so he went to put out the attempted fire and beat that one nearly to death. The trophy wife's husband was going to need to ask his plastic surgeon coworkers for some help. He dragged him over to the officer to hand him over. Then handed over the molitov bottle he had emptied on the way. "Trying to light my back door on fire."

The officer looked at him. "Maybe you should get some guards."

Alex grinned. "They burn my house, the weapons I'm holding for my twin brother will go up and destroy them all." He smiled and showed his miniaturized card. "My twin's the watcher in Africa. I have some of his spares."

"Ohkay," the officer decided, looking that card over. "Anything too huge?"

"Nothing nuclear. He used that last month to save Mozambique."

The officer blinked then went to talk to the supervising officer showing up. They came back together. "Mr. Harris, how large are they?" the supervisor asked.

"Right now I have a few larger pieces of artillery for him but nothing that'll do more than destroy a building. Now and then I need to borrow to save this city but he just smiles while we have weapons time."

"Your twin is the Watcher guy in Africa?"

"Yeah. Xander's my twin. He's a watcher, I'm a lawyer. We each defend people in our own ways."

"True, that would help. What's their issue?"

"I help the peaceful community and they're worthless."

"Ah." He nodded. "This isn't the first call."

"No. And almost none of them have been real or from me."

"No, I've noticed that." He looked down at the dog then at him. "Yours?"

"Yeah, his two cats are inside the house. Which is why I made the mess the trophy whore is crying on. He was trying to burn down my house." He smiled. The trophy wife tried to attack him again so he picked up the hose and got her again. She still tried to come over the fence. "You do that and I'm going to hit you too. Girls can take a punch." She got pulled off by the officers. He put the hose down again, shrugging some. "I had been watering my trees."

"That's reasonable," the supervisor said. "What's going on today?"

"The wet one there tried to tell me that I can't own here because apparently I'm not human. Even though I am. And I've been here longer than she has. She and one of her two besties moved in last year. I've been here for a few. The other one's been here for years and hates me for some unknown reason. Probably because I laughed about joining a country club. It's just not my scene. A whole bunch of boring people who know nothing about reality partying in the most boring way possible."

The supervisor nodded. "I can see that point of view. Their problem today?"

The officer shook his head. "The woman he sprayed just now called in to say he was squatting here and a demon, wanted me to remove the illegal occupant. She tried to attack him physically so he turned the hose on her, Sir."

"Which made her scream it was dry clean only," Alex added sarcastically. "Then she stomped off to come back with her besties and her husband tried to burn my house. Thankfully I have the hose hooked up back there to do the new sod."

"Do you talk with most of the neighbors?"

"No. I don't really care about a lot of their petty fits. I'm nice to the ones who're nice. The rest, I tend to ignore."

"He's a demon!" one shouted.

"I'm a human who is a lawyer who defends the peaceful community," Alex shot back. "And you can't prove otherwise." The woman shrank away from him looking horrified. He looked behind him. "Hey, give me a few. They're trying again and we'll go over your divorce in a few."

"That's fine, Harris. Can I remove Caspian inside?"

"Please. And watch out for him to pounce the cats off the top of the cabinets?"

"I can do that and make sure your cats are fine." He took the dog inside, talking to him to keep him calm. Caspian did go up to check on his cat friends but didn't knock them off this time. He watched outside, shaking his head as he let others know they were stupidly trying the Knight again.

Alex shrugged. "Sorry but I'm handling his divorce for him. Need me for more?"

"No." The supervising officer stared at them then looked at him again. "It may not be safe."

"Oh, it'll be safe. If I have to make it safe, I can do that." He smiled, taking his card back. "I don't want to have to. I'd like to have a nice, friendly relationship with all my neighbors. They're not allowing that. That's their choice." He walked off. "Have fun with them. I'll turn off the hose once they're gone." He went inside to take his client to work on the divorce filing.

"He could have done a lot worse than just hosed you down," the lower officer told them. He looked at the moaning guy then at the paramedics hurrying over. "This homeowner caught that guy trying to burn his house. He got him for it."

"Great," the paramedic said with a nod. "Harris had a light touch today."

"You know about him?" the supervisor asked.

"He's one of the guys that has to help defend the peaceful community. He also rescued some over the years. A few months back he was defending an egg nursery with an old world war two field machine gun. We had a lot of fun picking up those guys."

"Is he military?"

The paramedic shrugged. "No idea. He doesn't go in for destruction but he'll make a mess if he has to." He looked at the body he was working on. "And he did." His partner helped him stabilize the guy then get him into the ambulance with an officer.

The lower officer shifted his weight. "He said this is his third house due to threats. He likes this house so he's not leaving."

"I wouldn't. Especially since they came later. Giving in shows fear." He helped clean up the whining women. "I'm sure your own lawyers will happily take your calls to get you out of jail, ladies." He walked them off.

***

Alex looked at the judge hearing the attempted suing him for damages to that guy. "Your Honor, I caught him trying to burn my house with a molitov." He handed over the police report. "Yes, I beat the threat to my house and my pets. His wife had attacked me at my gate after trying to get an officer to come evict me from my house because she hates anyone not like her.

"I hosed her down, because I had been watering my trees. She ran off to get hubby and her girlfriends, then came back to whine some more and tried to attack me in front of the officer she had called. I'll admit I broke his face. I did a good job breaking his face. But I was defending my house and livelihood since I do run my law office out of my study."

The judge cleared his throat. "Are you against paying for his medical care?"

"Yes. Actions have consequences and his actions led to me beating him for trying to burn my house down. I've been in that neighborhood now for nearly three years and they've barely been there for ten months. Let them move if they hate the neighbors. They don't even live near me. They live on the other end of the block."

"I see." He looked that defense over, shaking his head. "I see he was arrested for that attempted arson. They've deferred the plea bargain phase until he can speak clearly." He looked at the pictures. "Are you a boxer, Mr. Harris?"

"No. I grew up hunting bad members of the peaceful community who try to not remain peaceful."

The judge cleared his throat. "You're that Harris."

"I am." He smiled. "Which is apparently their whiny minded problem."

"Ah." He nodded, going back over it then shook his head. "That isn't self defense but it is defense of your property. He could've shot them instead," he told the other lawyer.

"Then he probably could've gone back to work," the lawyer complained.

Alex shook his head. "No, I'm fairly accurate. He wouldn't have gotten up again. Ever." The lawyer flinched at that. "I don't play with threats. I handle plenty of them, both to myself and this city's residents. I learned not to let them get back up." He looked at the judge again. "All I had was a knife. I'm really happy I didn't think about pulling it."

"Me too." He looked at the filings again. "This is a mess." The lawyer huffed. "But he was right to defend his house. He could have probably had the officers already there handle it."

"No time and my gate has a passcode lock so I would've had to run back to let him in. My security system was on so it has a fingerprint or a passcode lock. All my clients use the gate back by my garage so they can park in front of it."

"That's not a bad idea. Is that gate weak?"

"No, that one I have a separate code. It's in the alley but if I know I have a client coming I'll turn that specific gate off."

"That makes sense since you work from home." He looked at the other side. "Your client's reasoning behind arson being a good idea?"

"He upset the man's wife, Your Honor."

"I sprayed her with a hose when she tried to physically attack me," Alex said dryly. "Then she shrieked about her outfit being dry clean only." He looked at the judge again. "I'm not moving and if they did burn my house down, I'd just rebuild with even more woodwork after I destroyed whoever did it for hurting my pets."

"I heard you had to bring your dog in a few times."

"And the new cat once," he agreed dryly. "They had put termites in my house and I had to have it sprayed." He handed that bill over. "Which is why I'm countersuing. I've had enough."

"That's nasty. And the rest of the times the neighbors tried something, according to police reports." He read through them. "This seems to be a constant problem."

"It's like crunchy granola on top of the yogurt of my life," Alex said dryly. "I have too many other threats right now to deal with theirs or play nice, Your Honor."

"I've heard rumors about another threat against the community."

Alex nodded. "And Judge Mercer refused to do the ethical thing and recuse himself from the case." The judge stared at him. "He's said repeatedly that he'd like to kill all the peaceful community members after watching him smash their eggs and kids. That's not really being impartial."

"No it's not. We have an ethics board...."

"I've already talked to them too," Alex quipped then grinned. "Though it's nice he's on the list of people who tried to get demonic attention and didn't." The judge's eyes widened as he stared at him. Alex grinned back. "It was part of the evidence in the case, Judge Aarrons."

"Oh, dear. Does he know that?"

"If he read anything."

"Oh, dear." He went back to the current case with a cleared throat. "That's going to be more messy than this is."

"They can move," Alex quipped.

"True, they could." He looked at that lawyer. "He does seem to have a point and a reasonable reason to have beaten your client."

"Are you sure you're impartial, Your Honor? You seem to know this person."

"Yes, he's seen me in court," Alex said sarcastically. "Defending beings against being arrested for undue charges. Frankly, he probably still thinks I'm an asshole who needs to calm down because I outted a whole unit of police who were dirty and arresting peaceful community members for looking funny." The lawyer winced at that. "He agreed I was an asshole then and I'm still an asshole now."

"That's true, and I've seen him in court too," the judge agreed. "We don't have a social relationship and I do not tend to go anywhere Mr. Harris would hang out." He looked at Alex. "You didn't get another representative?"

"No, Tony wanted too many favors to borrow my hot tub for a date." He grinned. "He's busy today anyway."

The judge shook his head at that. "That figures." He went back over things. "I'm seeing a long history of people complaining that you have a house, Mr. Harris." Alex nodded at that. "Before they moved in."

"One of the attacking women was one of the earlier ones."

"Ah." He went back to it. "I don't see a reason why he wouldn't have beaten the guy on the street, much less defending his house." The other lawyer slumped. "Frankly, I don't find Mr. Harris liable for his medical care. Or his lost wages.

"He was involved in a criminal action when he was beaten. If he had been holding up a store and gotten beaten we wouldn't allow the robber to hold someone accountable for it. I'm not inclined to do that this time." He handed back the papers. "Nice try, Mr. Edwards." He looked at Alex. "Are you moving?"

"I like my house and I'm tired of moving. That was my third house due to threats. If they try something I'm going to rebuild bigger and more fabulous with more woodwork."

The judge smiled. "I can see that point, Mr. Harris. Good luck with them."

"Let them move, Your Honor. I'm sure they could get a nice price for their houses that they renovated."

"You didn't?"

"I had to replace a roof and undo water damage. Otherwise, not really. I did one bathroom because it was in plastic." He shrugged. "That one had water damage anyway. Tony says my kitchen's nineties fabulous but I have commercial appliances."

The judge just nodded at that. "You may want to up that some day."

"If I sell." He smiled at the other lawyer. "I look forward to arguing against you again," he said, holding out a hand, like he had in law school. The guy groaned but shook it and left. "Let me go brush Caspian and one of his cats. They're both too fluffy. The other one gets a bath tomorrow." He picked up his bag and left.

The judge snickered, shaking his head at that. Alex was still an asshole of epic proportions.

***

Alex walked out of the preliminary hearing, shaking his head at the staring press people. "It was continued as the judge realized he was part of the filing," he reported. "So it has to be reassigned." The reporters surged. "Ach! Not that close!" They backed off. "Judge Mercer realized he was a member of a group that would be impacting this hearing so he has agreed to hand the case over.

"It will be reassigned this week. We all hope that the judge they assign it to is a reasonable being. Most of them are." He nodded at the legal team coming out together talking. "Ask them for anything other than the case was continued. I'm just their backup." He got out of the way.

"Thank you, Harris," one said. "Yes, it was continued because Judge Mercer has a close relationship with a group that is mentioned in the case. He agreed to hand it over when it was pointed out. We all hope the next judge is reasonable. Many in this district are." He walked around Alex. "Let Mr. Harris get back to his pets. He's backing us up on this case, not headlining it."

"I don't need that sort of attention," Alex quipped with a grin for a reporter. That's why he was staring that way when a car sped up. "Move," he ordered, pushing through the reporters to go guard the senior lawyers. He pounced one down as they were shot at.

Another one fell to one but it wasn't fatal. Alex winced as he stood up, looking around. No agents or officers so he pulled his weapon and got the car to disable it. The people got out to rampage up there but he kicked one down with a wince for his knee.

He shot the other three so he didn't hurt that knee again, going for wounding this time. They had chest armor on. They needed to be able to speak. One tried to limp off but a reporter got him tripped and stood on him "Thank you," he called. "Paul, you good?"

"This hurts like hell," he complaining, holding his arm's hole. "Brian?"

"I think I knocked him out when I pounced," Alex said, checking him. "Yup. Just unconscious." He called in the ambulance for the community. They got there as the officers did. "Guys, I knocked Brian out when I pounced him to get him out of the way. He's barely starting to groan. Sorry but they were aiming at him. Paul's got a through-and-through." They nodded, coming to check them. Alex looked at the staring officer. "No one else was here. Need my sidearm?"

The officer nodded. "We do, Mr. Harris. Are you Rambo?"

He looked at himself, ran a hand over his hair to check for the bandana, then looked at the gun he handed over. "I don't seem to look like him and I don't have an assault rifle. I left them living so you can ask them what their stupid idea was since they attacked us on federal property."

The officer winced at that. "Point. Are you injured?"

"Pissed. Hurt my knee pouncing, it bent sideways. Then I kicked with it," he said with a grimace, looking at his knee. "Probably needs iced and wrapped." He looked at the other officers again. "Did you expect me to let them kill people?" They groaned. "We've all seen me defending the community's spaces I'm sure." He looked at the officer in front of him again. "Have fun with them and when can I get my gun back?"

"Registered?"

"Yes." He smiled and nodded. "All my handguns are registered and my crossbows too. You guys don't register anything else I own."

"Point." He nodded at the agent stomping over. "Mr. Harris stopped the assailants."

"Mr. Harris was giving flirty eyes to a reporter so he was looking that way when they sped up and spun out," Alex quipped.

"I didn't realize he was flirting but I'm married. Sorry!"

Alex smiled at her. "Only the deadly like me anyway, dear. You're much too nice to be one of mine." She blushed at that, ducking her head. He looked at the agent again. "I was the only one here to handle it." He shrugged. "What did you expect me to do?"

"Scream like a normal civilian," the agent admitted.

Alex laughed. "Oh, man, that almost makes my knee feel better." He kept snickering as he limped off. "If you're going to arrest me do it at the ER please. I need my knee looked at." He got in with the two lawyers, nodding at the paramedic. "I can guard them until we get to the healer's. Then I'll hit an ER for my knee. Worry about them."

"I can and will, Harris. You're a very weird human."

"I grew up in Sunnydale." He smirked a bit. "It did it to all of us."

"I can tell that." They got to the healer's office and got out, letting Alex help him move the gurneys inside.

"I pounced Brian to protect him and it banged his head on the courthouse stairs," Alex told the healer, walking around her. "Paul got a through-and-through."

"Thank you, Harris. Why are you limping?"

"Got my knee when I pounced. It shifted sideways." He grimaced. "I need to ice and wrap it." He patted one healer on the arm. "You call me if you need me to guard you tonight. Let me eat and wrap that knee first." She nodded, letting him go. The paramedic gave him a ride to where his car was parked. He went home to handle his knee, feed his pets, and himself.

***

Tony was guarding the healers that night when the cranky people showed up again. He smirked at them and waved. "Hey, guys." He walked closer. "Are we going to try something stupid?" They tried to shoot at him so yup, they were. They didn't like him answering that with his own wounding shots. Or Alex's from where he was sitting. Tony had made him sit.

"My field gun's in the car if we need it," he quipped.

Tony looked back at him. "I'd hope we didn't, Alex." He smiled at the officers showing up. "These yahoos decided to try to be tough. They really don't make that grade."

The officers came over to see what had happened since they had a video camera set up in clear view of everything. One officer stepped into Tony's face. "You're not an agent now," he sneered. "You're interfering in a police matter. We can charge you for that, DiNozzo."

"Thankfully I'm not. Since two of those were, I'd hate to go on report for dealing with their failure at being human. Those locker room talks never seem to go unnoticed these days." He smiled again. "I don't need that sort of attention."

The officer sneered. "You're not that tough, DiNozzo."

Alex stood up and came over. "Are you mad that you couldn't get time off to handle this yourself?" He smiled at the officer. "Though, does your clan like that about you?" The officer flinched back. "How's your brother? I haven't seen him in weeks. This is Hobart's brother, Tony."

"Oh. Hey. Alex introduced us at the bar one night while we were working with a client on something."

The officer stomped off to drive off. Both guys waved at his back. Another officer stared at them. "We already knew, guys. Calm down."

"Sure, if you make them quit," Tony said dryly. "By the way, the ones that got the egg depository last night? We had substituted eggs for other types. Mostly ostrich and emu eggs sold commercially. Though one was poisonous."

Alex nodded. "We couldn't move that one and the nursery staff said if they destroyed it, it'd stop a later threat to humanity and the city. I'm sorry they poisoned themselves but the other ones would've been worse." He grinned.

"Good to know it was poisonous," another officer said. "Did you tell them?"

"Of course. Right after we told those guys that they were fake eggs." Alex limped back to his seat. "Tony said he'd handcuff me if I didn't sit my ass down."

"He's worse than Kate was when she was injured," Tony said dryly. "Or Gibbs. I didn't think that was possible." They all groaned and cleaned up the mess Tony had made. The tape was turned back on so they could keep taping what was going on.

Someone was not going to be happy about that tape. But oh well! They had done it to themselves.

***

Alex walked out of the first day of real trial, shaking his head but smiling at the waiting reporters. "Again, guys?" A few nodded. "We did opening statements. We laid out our evidence stacks. Including the list of people who have sold part of themselves. Or wanted to sell part of themselves and didn't manage it."

A few of the reporters moaned. He smiled at one of them. Who shook her head quickly. "I know you guys are too nice to flirt with. Paul and Brian are going out the back door though." They went to find them. Alex walked off to find his car, finding Tony with the pets there. "Did something happen?"

"I need to bum a room until I can move. My building's decided to go condo suddenly without warning anyone and wanted money up front today."

"You can buy there if you want."

"I don't want. I like the neighbors but the building's people are bad. They never fix anything and they're slow to do anything but raise the rent."

"Thankfully I have a few spare beds, even though Faith and Xander are taking up two of them. At worst you can have the couch."

"Thanks." He smiled at a staring reporter. "I'm mid-move. Got to find a place."

"Good luck. It took me months."

"It did me too last time." He looked at the pets then at Alex. "Stephen scared Harley by squealing. She went on threat status alpha and nearly attacked everyone. I'm saving Faith."

"That's fine. I don't mind my pets. Or your pet that used to be my pet." He got in to pet them all. Selena slinked over the armrest to settle in his lap. Harley meowed while climbing up the back of the seat to sit on his shoulder. Caspian and Santa both barked so he reached back to pet them in their harnesses.

"Hey, guys. Did you miss the daddy today?" Tony got in to drive, making sure Harley didn't rush out. "Ah! You know better, Harley! You only go outside on a leash! Before you make Caspian adopt a third cat." The reporter who had heard that laughed. "He did!" Tony shook his head but drove them off to get dinner then go back to the house. He walked in, hearing the breathy noises. "Cool." He winked at Faith since she was on the couch, getting swatted for it. "We got Korean beef for dinner."

"I'm with that but Stephen's apparently in heat."

"I wonder if he got into that drugged mail I got sent," Alex asked Tony, who looked confused. "Someone sent me succuba making drugs. I, of course, had a nice date night and sent them a thank you letter." Faith moaned, shaking her head. Tony just patted him on the shoulder then swatted him on the head. "Guys, if one of you got into the drugged mail, sorry! I thought I put a post-it on it! We brought dinner when you're done."

"Twenty more!" Xander ordered. Then Stephen yelped.

"Okay," Alex agreed, going to dish up dinner. Caspian barked so he fed all the pets too. "I know it was time. I was going to put yours down after ours." He petted his dog, making him happy as he munched. Both cats got their own food then went back onto the cat tree.

Faith looked then at him. "Your fluffy cat tried to sit on my head."

"She does that to me too. I think she's secretly homicidal but no clue. I'm told cats can do that." He petted Harley. "I did name her after Harley Quinn though since we already had Selena." She looked confused. "Cat Woman."

"Oh." She nodded. "Okay. Geek things." She patted him on the cheek, getting her plate to go back to the couch to eat. Santa looked over. "Sorry, I don't share, dog."

"Santa, no begging," Tony ordered. His dog put his head back down, looking hopeful.

"He's really good," Faith quipped but didn't give him any. "Go ask Daddy for some, Santa." He ran over to Tony and Alex when Tony patted his thigh. Tony did give him a small piece of beef. Which meant Caspian got some to lick off. He didn't like the spices so Santa got that one too. The cats got to sniff some of the sauce and turned their noses up at it so there was no more begging.

Xander came out to get his plate, sitting at the table. "Yeah, I checked your mail."

Alex gave him a hug with a grin. "I sent them a thank you note because I had a nice date night from touching the outside of the envelope." He sat back up to eat. Stephen moaned but came out once he was redressed to get his own dinner. Santa tried to beg them but Xander just petted him and Stephen ignored him. They could watch movies later so Stephen had time to recover.

***
Part 11 by Voracity2
The judge over the hearing cleared his throat during the next court date. "I have been told we've received threats due to this case." He looked at both sides then at the bailiff. Then at Alex and Tony, who was helping for the week because this was going into a few of his past cases.

"Your Honor, I realize I have to let the bailiff defend the courtroom," Alex said with a nod and a smile. "Unless he falls I'm to go to personal defense and defend the other lawyers if necessary."

"That was one point I was going to make, Mr. Harris. I know you and Mr. DiNozzo both work with the local defense squad we have sometimes. I was going to suggest bodyguards for your team."

"I can ask my twin's boyfriend if I can borrow some of his minions." Alex grinned.

Tony patted him on the back. "Are commandos going to help a lot this time? Stephen works with a really strong bunch of guys who help his twin defend Africa and the baby slayers he has down there."

The judge just nodded. "In the courtroom, the bailiff leads all defense maneuvers unless he's injured, boys." They both nodded at that. "If something should happen I constantly wear body armor. You're welcome to do the same thing but do not be visibly weaponed in my courtroom please. The courthouse guards will freak out. Again. They asked me to speak to a few of you after this morning's scans." He gave DiNozzo a stare.

"I'm licensed to carry concealed, Your Honor."

"I figured you were since they let you carry it in." He looked at Alex.

"They didn't even find half of mine," he said dryly with a smirk. "They're hidden."

"I do not need to know, Mr. Harris, but let the bailiff handle it please, boys." They nodded. "Thank you. I'm to be alerted if they attack you again. Harris, I heard about the one who tried your house earlier?"

"I haven't." He looked at his phone, texting his twin, who was on the couch. "Awww, the spoiled ones who should've melted the other day tried again. They almost burned a tree but Stephen went to beat them for me. That's sweet of him. I need to get Stephen a present." He looked at Tony.

"If he's got a sweet tooth, get him pastries. At the worst he can tease Xander with them."

"True." He considered it and made an order with a note to thank him for that help. Then he put his phone up. "My house is fine, Your Honor. Thank you for letting me know something had happened."

"Did that involve this case?" the judge asked patiently.

"No, this is spoiled neighbors who moved in after I did who hate that I'm not into their country club and Barbie/Sugar Daddy lifestyle. The first one tried to attack in front of an officer she had called while I was watering my trees so I hosed her and she shrieked about wearing dry clean only."

The judge nodded. "I know some wives like that," he admitted. "They give my ex-wife a headache."

"I'm wondering what sort of protection she had up so she didn't melt with her besties." Tony patted him again to calm him down.

The judge just nodded. "Good luck if you have to move."

"I was there first. They can hike it to spoiled baby girl land."

The other side's lawyer was looking at him. "They didn't charge you for that?"

"She attacked me in front of the officer she called to complain about me living there. Her husband tried to sue me for medical costs when I found him trying to burn my house down so beat him. He lost that case. He hired Grobas."

The lawyer winced. "He went cheap." He looked at the judge. "Are you expecting my clients to be the cause of the threats?"

"So far it's been ones who've filed briefs on your client's behalfs. Do warn them that I will not accept them making the actual threats."

"I will, Your Honor."

"Thank you." He looked at the other side. "Are we ready to restart?" They nodded. He looked at the other side, who nodded. "Good, then let's start with the extensive list of cases that have been held on behalf of the community and what sort of case it was."

"We have it in a spreadsheet if that'll help," Alex offered, holding it up.

"That's actually helpful." He looked it over. "Arranged by date or type, Mr. Harris?"

"Type on the first page. The others are by date."

"Okay." He looked at that, looking over the list. "Including which rules had to be altered. That's actually very helpful." Alex handed the other side a copy too. "I'm seeing a lot of health department type of cases?"

"Some," Alex agreed with a nod. "A lot of them were also business rules about taxes and how to set one up, if they're even allowed, and how to implement specific needs."

"The most contentious one was the food source procurement," the senior lawyer said. "That one wanted a lot of very legally risque sources of food."

"I heard something about that when Mathias needed opinions. He asked many of us." He looked at that one and nodded at the results and what had been altered. He went back to the rest of the list. "This one with the spa?"

"They're a naked species," Alex said. "The rules said they had to wear something but covering the skin with even a bandaid would suffocate them. We worked that out with a few hours of work."

"Interesting cases." He looked at the other side. "Why do you think it's wrong?"

"Human businesses don't have these sort of rule splitting and altering, Your Honor."

"Yes they do. I've worked for three human businesses that had the same problem," Alex said. "Two were married into the community, one had a former owner that had been a vampire before he died and she took it over on her brother." He dug up that sheet to hand over. "Those?"

"Oh." He looked them over. "It's listed under Judge Carbinet."

"Yup, her," Alex said with a nod. "She's the other one that deals with business cases in these situations. Outside the district it's usually Mathias for Maryland and Polymar in Virginia."

The judge nodded, making that note for himself. "I've met all those judges." He looked at the list again. "This...grocery store? It's listed a few times."

"The senior agents at the SBA decided to start throwing out complaints without actually visiting the grocery store," the head lawyer said. "They complained about things that were not actually going on."

"The other side's lawyer in those cases had to note that he was beholden to his paycheck having person so he had to follow up on the complaints and his supervising agent had determined he had to go to court even if it wasn't fully necessary," Alex added. He handed over a statement. "From him, Your Honor. He's since left the SBA. Which means I've got to break a new lawyer into not annoying people over petty things."

The judge looked at him. "You've worked with a few."

"Yes but only two have been lawyers. That one's left, the other's on paternity leave for another month."

The judge nodded once. "That makes sense." He read that over and let the other side read it as well. That lawyer huffed. "I'm seeing most of these are minor rules that'll lead to red tape?"

"Mostly," Alex agreed. "Some of it was working out species needs versus government ideas. That spa case was one of those. They had put up a note at the front desk to warn anyone not aware so it came down to 'anyone who went there would probably realize or could ask for a masseuse of another group."

"That makes sense and the government often doesn't." He looked at that side. "Why would that bother your clients?"

"It's special privileges, Your Honor. Human businesses wouldn't get that."

"If humans breathed through their skin they would," Tony told him.

"Yes but they don't. If they can't conform to the rules we all live by they shouldn't have special rules just for them."

Alex looked at him. "Your neighbor can poison you by sneezing near you," he said bluntly. "The one upstairs." The lawyer flinched from that. "Do you want rules to protect you from accidental things or do you want to keep thinking everyone's just like you?"

"How do you know that?"

"She complained about you."

The man shuddered. "That's horrifying."

"So the fact that there's a rule about how to protect others from that is still wrong to you?"

"Yes! It's not what humans would do! If she can't live by our rules she should leave!"

"She can't leave. Her planet was destroyed when she was a toddler thanks to someone like our current president taking control." The man shuddered again, moving away from him. "There's no home there anymore. He literally destroyed their whole world.

"It's dust and ash floating through space. The last two hundred thousand of her people got to flee and her mother was lucky to be one and pregnant. He had killed most of the other pregnant women he had found. So are you still against her living by rules to protect you and others?"

"It's still special rules!"

"Uh-huh. And yet, humans do have special rules. Otherwise we wouldn't have drug laws because humans won't leave stuff that can kill them alone. We wouldn't have OSHA rules or product protection rules." He stared at him. "You sure they're the only ones that get special rules?" The lawyer huffed and sat down. He looked at the judge, shaking his head. "I'm happy she adopted the practical, sensible rules to keep her from accidentally poisoning someone."

"I'm glad they're responsible for that as well," the judge agreed with a nod. "That's reasonable to protect everyone. Are there others like that?"

"There's three from a very rare species of people who are like the gorgons of myths," Brian the lawyer noted. "They're veiled for that reason. One was living in France and they tried to make her take it off until it froze people as she had warned. They nicely decided she could keep her veils on. Gave her a permission card if someone stopped her."

"There's about ninety of their people left," Paul the lawyer said with a slight nod. "They're slowly dying out because of some blood chemistry thing that somehow got introduced."

Alex looked at him. "Allergist," he said bluntly. "Hypathia went to an allergist to cure hers." They looked startled. "She said something about grass."

"Oh!" He nodded, sending that text message. He looked at the judge again. "Sorry, Your Honor. That may well help the remaining members."

"That's fine. I expect things like that. The same as I know that all of you defending members under arrest often give over species sheets."

"That way no one can lie about special needs," Tony agreed with a slight nod. "Food, living, or other needs. We do have two that are allergic to metal so cuffing them could kill one of them and the other will get big, explosive hives. The officers at the courthouse for those cases like that because it means they have knowledge of how to handle needs so they don't get sued and it gives them less chance to lie about needing special things."

"I think that's logical. Does it include all that?" Alex dug one out to let him see. "Oh, I see it does. Species health sheet for allergies, food needs, and sunlight allergic in this case." He handed it back with a nod. "That probably saves some pain on someone's part and a few lawsuits."

"That's why we did it," Alex said with a nod. "They have a manual that has all of them at the jail itself. This lets the transport and holding guys know what's going on too."

"Excellent reasoning." He looked at the other side. "If you had a human with a specific medical need wouldn't they have to follow that?"

"I don't know many humans who have those sort of problems."

"There's humans who cannot stand sunlight," Alex said. "And some who're allergic to water. It gives them hives." The lawyer slumped at that. "And I'm told if you force vegetarians who've been on their diets for too long to eat meat it'll actually give them such bad GI problems they're sickened to the point of possible hospitalization from the diarrhea. Humans have weird medical needs too. We'd expect them to tell the jail."

"We would," the judge said with a nod. "That's not really specially warping rules." He went back to the case files he needed to look up. "This grocery store is a vegetarian place?"

"Their people only eat meat when they're in heat and mostly just canned meat and possibly some bacon. They sell a few cans of meat and a few packages of bacon in a corner cooler."

The judge nodded. "I can see that too." He looked at the other side. "So, what rules are you protesting being shifted around? One noted they had to change a single word that didn't change the meaning but it was more inclusive because they changed it from 'people' to 'beings'."

"They should not be able to alter any rules, Your Honor. They would not do it for us."

"That depends on the realm," Paul said. "Some realms do not like humans. Some realms are very open. Most of the open ones have very few rules and they are all inclusive of all species. There's still some realms that treat humans as slaves. They basically won the war against humans. Change is coming slowly to many of them but it will be years. Then again, humans still have slavery in the jails and some illegal versions."

The judge tipped his head but nodded once. "That's actually good to know. I see how that happens, the winner makes the rules." He looked at the lawyer. "Would you go there to argue that they can't flex their rules to be inclusive?"

"I would not go there. Demons aren't decent beings."

Alex cleared his throat. "Throwing such slurs around is beneath you," he warned. The lawyer stared at him so he stared back. "By the way, saw your comments last night." The lawyer smirked so Alex handed over paperwork. "For you, sir." He looked and burst out laughing. "Because you personally drove a few younger beings into violent action." The judge cleared his throat so it was handed over. "They asked me to please deliver it."

The judge looked it over and looked that case up then sighed. "He made them act?"

Alex handed over the file for that case. "I made a copy of their files." The judge accepted it and looked it over, wincing. "Exactly. He's not quite Charles Manson but he's a junior cult leader of the group."

"That's probably not good to handle during this."

"Yes, sir, but I'm tired of the evil smug asshole vibes and I'm fighting off pulling out an inoculation against it with my own version."

The judge stared at him. "There's no egos in here, Mr. Harris."

"I don't have ego, Your Honor. I have a baseline of barbarian warrior going on."

Tony shook his head. "You shouldn't have to put on furs to fight a battle."

The judge shook his head and handed it back. "I'll allow that handover. I want to see how it goes." He went back to the present case and smiled. "I see one wasn't really twisted, they were arguing it didn't need to be twisted?"

"The Henderson Gym?" Alex guessed.

"One of mine," Tony said. "His sister's candle shop."

"He's right," the judge said. "Henderson's Gym wasn't any real twisting it looks like, just a word inclusion." He looked that one case up and nodded. "That was sweet of them."

"They were willing to add on rules in case she was carrying scents that could affect humans more than normal. She doesn't. She runs a nice, normal candle shop. Though the berry ones smell a lot more like woods than berries."

"I suppose that's nice of them. When did all this change?"

"After the last election," Alex said dryly. "About four months before people were starting to complain and threaten the community." He waved a hand at that lawyer. "Then the election. Complaints were made up and acted on. Police raids on businesses that aren't doing anything started. People got picked up by extermination teams again."

"Can you prove that?" the lawyer sneered at him.

"Yeah. I'm one of the defenders of the community and this city," Alex said, staring him down. "Want my bullet count from the last one?" The man flinched back, looking horrified. "By the way, those were children your brother-in-law tried to kill. Which is why he's in jail thanks to the FBI." The lawyer took a swing at him so Alex hit him in the stomach and knocked him down to whine on the floor. "I don't let people hit me, dude."

Tony patted him again. "We're both part-time defenders of the community." He smiled at the judge. "By the way, Your Honor, your wife is in an ER. They alerted us they rescued her in the last hour." The judge sighed and slumped. "She's fine. Not hurt at all. That same gang took her and just put her in a closet.

"Not tied up, just in a closet to protect her. They found someone threatening her and tried to protect her. The community team rescued her from the closet and got an officer to take a statement if they need arrested." He let the bailiff have his phone with the message up.

He read it and handed it back. "The one threatening her?"

"Ask the PD, Your Honor. I've been here." Alex texted someone and handed over his phone so he could see the answer himself. "Or have him ask one of the team."

The judge looked at the answer and thanked them for it. He handed the phone back. "I was not going to let it influence me."

Alex nodded. "We know." He tossed his phone back into his bag. "You're ethical. Unlike many."

"When did you know about that?"

"When one of them asked me if I knew what the kid was talking about. He had called in for help after rescuing her and accidentally kidnaping her to help her. They didn't speak teenager."

"That's kind of you, Harris." He looked at the other side, who was glaring. "I wouldn't start with who tried to kidnap my wife." The man shut his mouth. "Mr. Harris, shouldn't you have told me you knew?"

"No, that's not my duty. My duty is to translate sometimes. The community defense team would've had you called and told from the ER. If you ask your secretary they probably did." He went to check on that, coming back nodding. "Your Honor, if I outed each thing I knew about some of you there'd be a few open spots on the benches considering a few are drunk strippers."

The judge snorted at that. "And I've accidentally caught a few out whoring around on his super religious wife. I believe in discretion and I'm here to help argue the legal basis of the case. If I had heard that she had been kidnaped and come running to you to warn you, that would've prejudiced the case and my place in it."

"Point."

"Plus, I knew she was safe."

"Also a point." He stared at him. Then at the other side. "This really does mean that I should not rule on this."

"That leaves one option of Judge Carpiold," Paul the demonic lawyer sighed. "Who is very biased and would have to recuse himself because he's been involved in killing a young female being, Your Honor. Or they'd have to appoint a special judge. Harris didn't tell me either so I could not ethically be conflicted." Alex nodded he had done it for that reason.

The judge considered it. "I'm going to take opinions on that from our senior judge. We're dismissed for the day." He banged his gavel and went to talk to him after talking to his wife. Who was just fine, no longer scared, and happy that the demon had saved her from being shouted at by biting the idiot human's arm. It made the judge reconsider who was ethically a mess.

It definitely wasn't Harris and the senior judge agreed with that when he took it to his hands. The judge agreed he did not have to recuse himself, he was not the first judge to have a spouse bothered by one side, or saved by the other side, and the senior judge would watch over his case to make sure he wasn't tilted emotionally. He went over the details already presented, groaning at the list.

***

Paul the lawyer looked at his team. "We may have to leak the list because of that current bill up for debate."

Alex raised a hand. "Go to a reporter. Make a statement on the case, note that they're on the list of people who have sold themselves or have been turned down for selling themselves."

"No one's offered. We've put out we're willing to talk about the case."

"You're going to reporters who're real journalists, not the slimy sort. Either that or put a statement up on social media that doesn't hurt the case about that fact." He shifted. "Not like the list isn't known about."

"We can't do that. It'll look bad on us," a junior lawyer said.

"Or we could quip it sometime," Tony offered from his seat. "Someone asked if there was a list and I said yes. They asked if it was made up and was the president on it. I noted his soul's already dirty. They didn't need to buy his soul, they already got to claim it from his cheating." The lawyers winced. "The lawyer didn't mention it again." He shrugged.

"I need to see if those problematic neighbors are on the list." Alex looked at Tony. "That may hinge on the vision Xander had."

"It could," he agreed with a nod. "With how many congressional members are on it." He considered it. "Probably actually." Alex grinned at him. "Great."

"You'll make a fine senator or whatever," Alex assured him.

"True." He leaned back again. "I can leak it. They'll expect it from me and I don't want them in congress. I'm basically an outsider and not part of the case. And really, I hate my representatives." He smiled slowly then winked. "I can definitely do that." He got handed a copy of the list and went to talk to a former girlfriend. Who was married now. He smiled as he walked into her psychiatry office. "I need to talk to your sister but you scared her off talking to me in case she flirted."

"Why?" she asked carefully. That look was almost unholy.

"Because she's dating someone who's sold his soul and they could claim hers if he did the right paperwork for the prenup." He let her see that page of the list and pointed. "Isn't she getting ready to marry him? The announcement was in the paper."

"She is." She winced at the detail for how much and why. "That's...dumb."

"That's actually pretty common. There's a lot of those on the list."

"There's a real list?"

"Yeah. They keep track of that." He grinned. "There's also a betting book that shows owed favors. I have an entry in there but someone owes me three and I owe someone a slight favor for legal fees."

She slumped, staring at him oddly. "Why?"

"That one was poker, the other ones were cases that couldn't pay right off. So if they pay I'll let them free of it. Can you tell her to meet me somewhere? Or would you like to tell her?"

"I'll...I'll ask her what she wants." He grinned, handing that over before leaving her to talk to her sister. She told the next client that it'd be a minute, she had a family problem to make a call about then she'd be with them. She called her sister, holding her forehead. "It's me. There's an issue and my ex Tony, remember him? Yes, him.

"He's a lawyer now with the peaceful community and he found your fiancee's name on a list of those who've sold themselves. Forty percent for test passing." She leaned back, rubbing her forehead. "I have a copy of the page in front of me, Bri. Yeah, I can find a way to see the whole list to make sure it's real but he said if the prenup had the right clauses it could put you into the same debt."

She listened. "Please. I'll get it from him tonight. He said he'd meet you if you wanted." She nodded, texting Tony from her cellphone. "Okay, we'll talk to him tonight at six he said. At my driveway." She hung up and took a few deep breaths before going to see her next patient. It was going to be a long afternoon.

Tony brought over the whole list that night, letting them look up people they knew. She unfortunately found a few, and one client. Her sister was crying about her fiancee's debts. And their brother's slight one to save her when they were little kids. It was only five percent but she hadn't known he had done that. The sister was a staffer in a DC representative's office so her boss being on the list wasn't that great to her either.

Tony had a name of someone who could help her out of the prenup from hell. That lawyer could shout about things since his son was on there.

***

Tony walked up to a senator, handing him the copy of the book. "The one you were talking to? He was part of Wolfram and Hart before they were taken down for being evil. Especially after they had LA invaded." He grinned. The guy was looking horrified. "His contracts probably have partial soul clauses so he can have one back. This is a copy of the debt book."

The guy snatched it to look over, finding his name and why. "Hanifold can help you get out of it, Senator. She's done it with others. That thirty percent will slightly grow back I'm told but only about one percent a year. You won't live another thirty-eight years plus a few years for a comfortable safety gap."

"Why did you tell me this?"

"You'd rather everyone find out when it comes out during that court case?"

"No!" He glared. "Why must it come out?"

"Because people in that list who didn't do it by accident started the problems." He walked off. "Hanifold is in Baltimore. She dresses like an extreme drag queen."

The guy stomped off to complain loudly that the list actually *existed!* It was supposed to be some sort of fairytale. They looked at it and realized they had warning that there was a shitshow coming up if that was outed as part of that case. Their kind had started that case and the movement. Now they were going to pay for it. All their plans to ruin the demons were going to bite them badly enough to give them rabies.

***

The judge looked at Tony, who he had called in. "Why did you leak that list?"

"My ex girlfriend's sister was about to marry someone who's on the list and her prenup had her surrendering part of her soul to give to him." The judge winced. "Yes, I warned her. And I warned an asshole I didn't want to but he could get information on a lawyer who could help someone like his son get out of soul debts. Since there's no way they accepted the soul of a five-year-old disabled boy." The judge blinked. "That means he can find whoever did that and stomp them before they get more kids."

"I did not hear that part."

"Maybe he didn't look under his name at his son's, Your Honor. I was trying to save his poor kid's life. And my ex's sister's life. It meant she had someone do a background check and found his two felonies and one arrest that was pleaded down to minor assault instead of domestic abuse."

The judge nodded once. "Okay, that's reasonable. It's logical. It's underhanded."

"We knew it'd leak somehow. Better to warn a few people that it was going to leak to save them than not in my opinion. I could've went on the news and shouted about it instead."

The judge shook his head with a sigh. "That's very underhanded but not unethical." He stared at him. "Were you going to warn others?"

"Hanna Mercator-Plathe."

He looked that name up and winced. "Oh!" Tony nodded. "How?"

"Her father apparently. Her, all her kids, because he decided she wasn't his kid. Even though there's paternity tests showing it. Do I want that woman, who is a foster mother, to be beholden that way?"

"Would it hit the foster children?"

"I'm not sure. I've been referring people to Hanifold in Baltimore. She's gotten a lot of people free of ones they didn't agree to."

"I remember her makeup." He licked his lips. "I will allow you to tell her."

"I'll send Alex if you want."

"Please do." He stared at him. "It's already leaked."

"I find it amusing how many of the other side's team is on it."

"I noticed that." He stared at him. "That's bordering on unethical."

"I'm trying not to." He shrugged. "Sorry, Your Honor. Though that is a major point in our defense strategy."

"Fine." He waved a hand. "Have her told."

"I can do that. Sorry I transgressed."

"Don't do it again."

"Yes, sir." He walked off telling Alex that.

***

Alex knocked on a door. "Mrs. Mercator-Plathe, I'm Alex Harris, and the judge over a case I'm covering had me come to inform you of something. Want to talk out here quietly?"

She blinked. "Is it about my foster children?"

"Your father actually." He pulled her out gently and let her sit down on the swing, handing her the papers. "We were going over the list that was handed to the judge over the case involving the peaceful community." She grimaced. "We're worried that what he did could impact the foster kids you care for." He pointed. "That's your name."

She looked and stared, then huffed, standing up. "Are you certain?"

"Yes, ma'am. We've been referring people to a lawyer named Hanifold up in Baltimore. She's really good at this particular situation. She's gotten a lot of people who didn't agree of their own free wills free. As he claimed your children, she can hopefully get them free and make sure it won't impact the foster children. Which is why the judge sent me. We've told a few people that were innocently claimed without their permission."

"Oh, dear." She nodded. "I'll talk to them. How would they know?"

"I'm pretty sure she has something artifact-wise that can tell. There's about twenty of them in the US and I'm told if she doesn't have it in hand she knows where it is and can use it. We've told *you* about this so you can handle it for your family." He stared at her, getting a nod. "We are not reporting this and the judge has not said this was a situation to report.

"Though one of your former foster children is on there, claimed when she was a toddler." He pointed at that name. She winced at that, nodding once. "We personally find that foul. All of us who work with the community, and they're not their sort of being. They're higher level demons, not peaceful community members."

"I can understand that. I'd distance myself from them."

"No, literally, they're higher level beings. The ones who've immigrated here don't have powers to do that." She blinked a few times. "Whole different species of being. Those are demons, not peaceful community members." He shrugged. "But I did my duty to warn you. Her last name is Hanifold, she's in Baltimore. She has really loud makeup I'm told. I've never met with her but some of the lawyers I work with have."

She sighed and nodded. "I can look into her. Thank you, Mr. Harris."

"I'm sorry I had to alert you to this, ma'am." He bowed a tiny bit and left, leaving her to swear at him, her parents, and others. She had to check on her foster children. She could find that lawyer and have her check the children. She had lived a good life, it wouldn't catch her. The lawyer would prove her wrong but she could help her fix that and protect the children.

***

A reporter caught Alex out and about with Caspian and ran up on him. "Don't get near the dog, if he's threatened he may bite," he warned when he spotted her running that way. She paused out of snapping range since Caspian was growling. "What's wrong, ma'am?"

"Is there really a list?"

"There is. The community keeps track because they're often preyed on by that same sort." He stared at her. "There's also a betting book for those who owe others favors. I have five listed and one that seems to have been lost somehow."

She blinked. "You do?"

"Poker," he said with a grin. "They owe me."

"Oh." She nodded. "But there is an actual list? Of those who've made deals?"

"And a sub-list in it that has people who tried and were turned down because both categories are dangerous for the community." He shifted closer, calming Caspian down. He saw someone sneaking up on them. "If something happens to me, Caspian goes to Tony DiNozzo, that lawyer I work with frequently," he said quietly, nodding at that person.

She looked, her cameraman turning that way too. The man spotted them and ran the other way. He sighed. "Great. I was out to get lunch." He looked at her again. "Yes, there's a list. There's a lot of names on it. There's a number that aren't on there of their own free will.

"It's not often heard of but if someone's sold themselves they can include a capturing clause in a prenup or other legal document. That's one problem that Wolfram and Hart had caused. Thankfully they got stopped." He looked at his dog then at her again.

"There's some that promised their kids. There's some that promised a spouse. A few cases of fully selling themselves over the years. In two cases they somehow sold themselves twice." He grimaced. "They're both in Congress though." She winced at that, nodding slightly.

"Are you on that list?" she asked him.

"No. My parents wouldn't have been answered. They were drunk all the time. They wouldn't have understood the slurring."

"Yet you're not the most upscale lawyer."

"Yeah, I'm not. I was a paralegal at first. Then I went back to law school." He smiled. "School sucked, greatly sucked, but I managed it and got pretty decent scores. I'm proud of that considering how bad Sunnydale's schools had been."

She stared at him. "Is law school really that bad?"

"Yes." He nodded. "It's third hardest after vet school and med school. After us is pharmacy, then specialized medicine training."

She shivered. "I didn't realize that."

He nodded. "Vets have to memorize not only one body system like med students do, but they also have to be able to improvise since not everything's meant for animals."

"I didn't think about that." She blinked a few times. "He's back."

"We're going to get lunch somewhere else," he quipped, walking around her. "Have a better day."

"You..you too," she called after him, waving slightly. She looked at her cameraman, who was wincing. "We'll follow to make sure there's not a fight." He nodded, following her just in case. Sure enough that guy tried something but Alex drove away while he had been shot at. They had caught it all on film. The officers showing up got shown that and they weren't happy. They could find that idiot however. You didn't get to fire off guns in the middle of Georgetown and get away with it.

***

Alex looked at the judge during the next hearing. "Your Honor, is the other side not coming today?" he asked. "They seem to be invisible and I doubt it's because they've been ignored for so long."

"What?" the judge asked.

"In my high school we had a girl who was ignored for so long she turned invisible. Literally." The judge shook his head quickly. "The government took her in."

"Oh, dear."

"Are the other side's lawyers invisible for some other reason?"

"I've called to let them know they're tardy, Mr. Harris. I gave them another ten minutes to let me know what's going on." He checked with the bailiff, who shook his head. "Any word from my secretary?"

"She's at the doctor's today, sir. She'll be back after lunch unless they send her in for immediate tests. Which she said they shouldn't since it was a new medicine follow up."

"All right," he agreed. "Go check my voicemail?"

"She has it forwarded to my desk. Nothing's come in outside your wife saying your son's under suspension for PDA."

"Charming of him." He looked at the lawyers. "Any idea?"

"I haven't asked," Alex admitted, looking at the others, who all shook their heads. Alex did text someone, getting something back. "One of them is missing, his soul debt was called in when he was in a car crash. Not dead from it but the officers saw him being claimed and got him to an ER. He's in a bed. That was one of the junior ones that hasn't been in the courtroom." He put his phone back into his bag. "It wasn't said they were staring at his body or by his bedside waiting on him to wake up."

"That sucks," the judge said. "Did he deserve that?"

"He sold forty-two percent of his soul to get through his bar," Alex said, finding his name in the list and handing it over. "The demon jumped the gun but some of them are panicky girls."

"I know the community sees a difference."

"Yes, most of the peaceful community can't grant gifts or wishes." The judge blinked at that. "The ones they're talking to about those things are closer to what the biblical meaning is. They're not the same sort of being. These guys are the version of what would've been analogous to humans for their realms.

"Those demons, they're not. They're higher level beings. Some would've been analogous to mutants on their realm to use comic language, but most are higher level beings. Regular beings can't grant you wishes or give you gifts."

"I hadn't considered that." He did, then sighed. "I can see that point. So even they would call them demons?"

"Yes," Paul the lawyer said with a nod. "We do. Even the ones that are not causing problems. Forty percent of them are peaceful, and the community has two or three that show up for stress relief and to play kitten poker against Alex." He nodded at that. "They're amused by his twin."

Alex grinned at him. "Stephen said I'm the boring twin. No one's amused at me because I don't do much."

The judge stared at him. "You've stopped a lot of problems, Harris. Quit putting yourself down before I mandate self esteem workshops."

"My twin saves the world, Your Honor. I'm realistic. I help save some of the city, sometimes. This is probably what the siblings of those in capes and uniforms feel."

"Probably. Still low self esteem, Mr. Harris." He looked at the amused lawyers. "Can anyone summon them?"

"If you go looking it's not that hard to find. A few sources are online. Mostly they're still in Latin but it's not hard to find a translation. If the translator isn't any good, then it's up to that being to allow that summoning or not. If it's properly done then they have to show up but don't have to grant anything."

"I summoned one to help Xander," Alex said with a slight nod. "To keep him out of a battle. And didn't ask for anything, just kept him in the circle and made him watch Golden Girls with me until Xander said it was done and he could go free. I let him free with a smirk and a 'next time maybe I'll ask for an end to my twin having to fight'. He groaned and went home since he couldn't help the general that had wanted to summon him for help."

The judge blinked. "You didn't ask for anything?"

"No. I just trapped him. The only thing I asked him is if he wanted some water. I let him know up front that I wasn't going to ask for anything, this was just to make the battle easier on my twin. He huffed a lot but laughed at Golden Girls."

"Many of the community like it as well," Paul agreed with a nod and a smile. "I'm almost surprised you didn't try to stuff him into an artifact, Harris."

"Nah. He's needed down there to handle things like his temple. He's not usually dangerous, but they were going to use him to deal with the battle. It brought it back to minor artillery instead of my twin needing to blow up a quarter of a country with a nuke."

The judge nodded slowly at that. "Well, that's interesting. What translator do you use?" he asked then cleared his throat.

"I learned to read Latin in high school from Rupert Giles, the guy in charge of the Council. He was our school librarian so he could work with the Slayer Buffy. The redheaded menace and I both learned Latin that way."

The judge blinked a few times. "What redheaded menace?"

"We do not say her name because she'd hear, show up, throw a fit at Alex, and accidentally get us as well," Paul told him. "The witch has already tried to kill him repeatedly because his twin is helping the slayers and they've convinced her it should only be the girls again."

The judge sighed but nodded. "Is it a soap opera in that world?"

"The main Council building has at least ten teenage girls in it at all times and at least another five older young women of about college age. Plus the tiny minis, Your Honor."

"Understood. That's a soap opera waiting to happen." He looked over as the door opened and a courthouse guard came in with his mail. "Thank you."

"We noticed she was gone, Your Honor." He handed it over. "There's some massing people on the south side of the building for a protest against another case where the judge is letting an abusive spouse do whatever he wants to sue his former spouse."

"We can avoid that when we leave," he promised. "Thank you." He nodded and left. He looked at the mail, checking the time. "Well, they're officially late. I'll have today's transcripts sent to them so they can read what was said. I guess we'll continue this until tomorrow." He banged his gavel and all the ones there left. The judge looked at his bailiff, who checked the phone and shook his head. "My son was doing PDA with someone?"

"Your wife was nearly spitting about him kissing one of the girl's soccer team to prove a point to the teacher that was being an idiot according to her. So he got suspended for the kissing."

"It's nice he wasn't just groping." He shook his head, taking his phone out to call his wife. "What happened?" He listened then sighed. "It's good he was sticking up for her and the others. I won't yell about that but he should be more subtle. I know he's fourteen so he doesn't understand subtle yet, but he should learn how to do that more subtly and politically. Sure, I'll probably be home on time.

"My first case had a side that didn't show up so it was continued. My later schedule is hearing plea bargains." He smiled. "I'll see you for dinner." He hung up and put his phone back into his pocket. "He was protecting a girl being harassed by idiots and the teacher didn't want to help her. So he stopped it by kissing her and then glaring at them. They walked off laughing but they got stopped by a kid that reminds me of Harris."

"The world keeps getting more dangerous so it makes more kids like him," the bailiff said.

"True." He went back to his mail. Filings on other cases. He went to log into the criminal court's time clock so he could get some work done early today.

***

Alex walked in the next morning before anyone else. He handed over a copy of the newspaper, folded to a certain area. He pointed. "On the one who had the crash," he said quietly. The judge looked and grimaced at that. "Also, their office is closed. I spun by there to see if they finally had the amicus briefs ready to hand over copies as a favor and they're locked, no one in the office. No guards even on the office. No sign. The local coffee shop didn't say they'd been in today or yesterday."

"So they left?"

"I have no idea. Just reporting what I saw, Your Honor." He went to sit down and play on his phone for now.

"No briefcase, Mr. Harris?"

"Not today, Your Honor. It's being repaired. Harley decided she hated it and not only scratched it a lot but threw up on the thankfully closed lid." The judge snickered. "She knows I carry that when I leave the hosue without one of them. It apparently pissed her off this morning. She's living up to her namesake's mood swings."

The judge just nodded at that, still snickering. The bailiff looked at him. "You've brought your cats to court?"

"The day we had spraying and an emergency meeting that started this case. My neighbors had put termites on my house so we were spraying. Caspian went to doggy daycare to play but they won't accept cats. No other option so I had Harley in the carrier and Selena in my bag. They came out to sit in the carrier when we had a community meeting.

"I so named them right. Selena's a slinky hairless cat who can sneak around but can suddenly break out in showy cat acrobatics. Harley's a bit homicidal and likes to try to suffocate people with her floof. But between her and Caspian, Selena's never cold."

The judge was laughing louder, nodding at that. "It sounds like an amusing household. Didn't you get another dog instead?"

"I did. We were at the shelter to pick up Santa, which Tony stole from me, and Caspian decided to shoplift Selena." He showed him pictures. A lawyer came in and scowled. "Showing cat pictures." He smiled and showed him. "Caspian demanded we adopt Harley from the pet store's adoption cages one night when we were getting new toys and food." He sat down again.

"Your cat's hairless?"

"Selena is a dwelf, which is a dwarf species of hairless cat. She's still slinky and sneaky and sometime does a lot of acrobatic things." He changed pictures. "That's Harley and she's loud, boisterous, and tries to murder people by suffocation with her floof. Caspian loves his cats. I'm hoping we don't have to adopt a third so I have the Sirens. Finding a cat to name Poison Ivy is going to be hard unless I dye her green."

The lawyer shook his head quickly to clear it. "You're very weird, Harris."

"Yes, but I enjoy myself this way." He smiled. "I swung by to get those amicus briefs as a favor to Paul." They were handed over so he looked through them. "Not our copy. We sent that to you," he said, handing a few back. He read the others, handing them to the team when they came in together. It was the full higher ups on the team today.

Everyone heard a meow and looked at him, getting a head shake back. It wasn't his cat. The judge looked and found it. "Rasputin!" he chided. "What are you doing in here?"

Alex looked at the cat. "Why is it injured?" The judge flinched. "Bailiff, she's got a cut or something on her shoulders." The bailiff came over but the cat hissed at him. Alex came over carefully, because cats would run from a threat to pick them up. He scooped her up, making her struggle. "Shhhhh," he said in her ear, calming her down. "It's all right. My cats do the same thing." He let the bailiff see her shoulders, and the judge, who called the judge who owned that cat.

"I'm sorry, we had a break-in last night. The idiot dropped his knife on him. I had him in my office since he's on meds and partial sedation." She took him from Alex. "That's a good boy." She looked at him. "Don't you have a cat?"

"I have two." He smiled. "He didn't do more than hiss when I picked him up to let the bailiff check the injury."

"That's fine then, Harris. Thank you." She walked off talking to her cat about not escaping her office. He had to stay in there and nap to feel better.

Alex sat down with a grin at his team. "He's a cute cat but if he lives up to his namesake she's got to be driven nuts."

"She's got Rasputin and Ghengis Khan," the judge said dryly. "They're terrorizing her house nightly, Harris. Thank you."

"Not a problem. I'd hate to see an animal hurt."

"Yet, some of the community eat cats," the other lawyer sneered.

"So? We eat chickens. They don't hurt the cats they eat. Most of them are sedated. They're well taken care of before then. Unlike most commercial farm animals." The lawyer looked disgusted. "They're usually adopted from shelters, the ones on their last few minutes.

"So their last few weeks is in a happier environment. And many of the beings who would eat cats also eat fish and chicken and pork and cow and goat. If they need it living, they don't treat goats as nicely but they don't really panic them and scare them to death. They're looked over by the same people that do commercial farm animals for welfare checks."

The judge shook his head. "I hadn't thought about that. They are overlooked by whoever oversees farms?"

"Yes." He smiled. "That was the Anderson case. Noted by the name none of us could say in June of three years ago."

The judge looked at that name then in the system, nodding at that. "They do. They had to set up humane rules for treatment, feeding, welfare, and checks." He closed that file again and looked at the other side. "The USDA noted that was stricter than the rules they had for farm animals but agreed if they were willing to go above and beyond the rules set it was fine."

"Still, they're pets!"

"Some people keep pet ducks and pet goats," Alex said with a nod. "And pet pigs. I know one of his office has a pet miniature pig." He looked at him. "And yet you probably eat bacon since I can smell it on you. You clearly dripped some on your tie." He waved a hand at it.

The judge snickered. "He's right. You did drip onto your tie." The lawyer took it off and put it into his bag. "You know this how?"

"Seen her at the pet store getting food."

"Ah." He nodded.

The lawyer grimaced. ""She eats pork chops in front of her pet too. We all find that disturbing."

The judge nodded. "I would consider it odd of her." He looked at Alex. "Do you go there?"

"No. Even if you owe someone some cats from a poker game, you can even it out in cash."

"Oh, I didn't realize that. Is there a chart?"

"Each one's equaled out at about fifty bucks each for me," Alex said. "Owing me or me owing them."

"Younger ones are usually worth more," Brian said from behind the briefs he was reading. He put them down. "Many of us find poker to be distasteful but Alex uses it to keep track of what his twin is doing." Alex nodded. "And any rumors of problems coming up for the area."

"Your twin doesn't share?"

"No. Now and then I get a letter saying 'if I die my comics are yours and let Stephen avenge me' but otherwise he doesn't like to worry me." He shrugged. "Every now and then I yell back about him handling something that a military should have."

The judge shook his head. "Is he in that sort of danger?"

"Yes!" He nodded. "Including last week!" He huffed. "I need to go kick his butt again. I really do. I'll have to distract his boyfriend Stephen, but I can do that. I'll just ask a few of my former dates to help."

The lawyer next to him patted him on the head. "You can beat your brother later, Harris."

"I know. He's injured. Again." He grimaced. "Thanks to the redheaded menace actually."

Willow showed up. "I did not hurt Xander!" she complained. He threw something at her, making her duck. "Hey! I'm going to smite you!"

The bailiff knocked her down and cuffed her. "Sir, let me get someone to arrest her for threatening people in your courtroom." He called that in. Within a minute the security team came in to carry her off.

"Thanks, guys," Alex called after them. "Watch out, she's an addicted magic user." Willow struggled but she wasn't getting free of the flexcuffs. He took a few deep breaths. "Excuse me for a moment. Let me go calm down and call someone," he said as calmly as he could. He went into the hall to do that while he finished losing his temper. He found her coming up the hall and hit her, just the once, knocking her out. "Escaping prisoner!" he shouted, staring down at her. More guards came running. "This one?"

"This one knocked out that team, sir. Thank you."

"She's a witch who has an addiction to her skills," he told them, staring at one. "Fully. She's tried to kill myself and my twin over our duties. If I see her next time I'm going to let someone need a mop."

"Understood. Why was she arrested?"

"I was complaining about how she had hurt my twin during a recent battle on purpose so she showed up to complain about me hating that my twin got injured. She got arrested for that." They nodded and took her with them, in two pairs of special flex cuffs. She was still unconscious.

Alex had been on the phone with Faith during that so he heard her venting. He put it back up against his ear. "She's back under arrest, Faith." He hung up and calmed himself again then went back in there. "She's back in custody. They're using the special restraints on her this time." He sat down. "Sorry for my needing a moment, Your Honor."

"No, I like that reason. Better in the hallway than in here, Mr. Harris." He opened the session. "Let's get back to the case." A new, older witch appeared so the bailiff led her out to talk to her about how to appear outside the courthouse so they wouldn't be arrested for that. He let the security team have her to let her go nag Willow. It wouldn't get her released but she could nag.

***

Up in Cleveland, Faith hung up and looked up then around. "Giles, Willow got arrested in DC going after Alex because he had complained she had hurt Xander during that battle!" she yelled. She sat down, shaking her head. He came in to stare at her, handing her some tea. "Thanks." She sipped it. "He complained about her hurting Xander, not by name, and she showed up in the courtroom. He said she's under arrest. She got free and came for him so he knocked her out apparently so she's still under arrest."

"I'll have the older ladies go nag her. If they want her out of jail they can bail her out." He left to do that and swear in his office at that girl's actions. She was now firmly Coven instead of the Council so she didn't look as bad on them. He did send an apology email to Alex for having to deal with her.

***

Alex came out after they had won the case, and realizing that the government would appeal that ruling, but he felt good, he felt right. He felt like he was going to be sick because a lot of people were staring at him and he couldn't tell how many were dangerous to him. "People," he said. "The legal team is going out a more safe exit," he announced, getting a few grimaces.

"The judge's ruling will be formally announced in another hour from his office. He was a bit worried about safety issues with the week we've had of threats." He looked around. "I'm not authorized to speak for the community or the legal team. You'd have to talk to their spokesperson, who was on the news this morning on that daytime talk show." He looked around again. "But you've already missed them leaving so you should probably wait on the judge's announcement."

He walked around them, being helped there by a few of the courthouse guards. With two attempts to get the judge in the courtroom, and another few attempted assaults, no one wanted to see another attack today. He was the most vulnerable, and he knew he was a sitting duck for the sniper on the building he had noticed. He glanced at the guard then at the sniper, getting his attention.

He called that in subtly as he escorted Alex to the guarded car service he was using today. He had on body armor, but that was chest guarding, not head guarding. He got into the car then winced and held his head, getting out in a hurry. The driver still set off the bomb, blowing him to his knees with the blast radius. He groaned, getting helped up by one of the guards. The sniper tried to take a shot so Alex moved them both out of good view. He'd have to lean over to shoot at them, which if he did would expose him to being harmed.

Cops showed up to handle the explosion and the sniper. The reporters were covering it, mostly. Two weren't filming anything, just staring and smiling. He hated that station anyway. Alex glared at the sniper, then flipped him off. "You missed, worthless motherfucker! Come down and try it again, coward!" The guy tried to shoot at him but didn't manage it, but it did let the officers know where he was and they got him. He sucked in a breath, looking at the staring officers. "He was a coward!"

"You're pushing your luck, Mr. Harris," one said.

"At least you knew where he was, he's not sneaking down to try to blend in with the crowd." That got a slight nod of agreement. He looked around. "It's nice two of the reporters didn't even film anything," he quipped loudly. The others turned their cameras on him so he faded into the shadows to be snuck off by the cops. Who were guarding his house too.

He walked in and shut the door, leaning against it. His security system went onto high with all the special systems. His pets were safely with Tony tonight. He made himself stand up and go take off the dirty shirt, checking his new bruises in the mirror. He thought about taking a shower but he wasn't sure if someone could still break in so that was dangerous.

He took some tylenol and went to make dinner from the leftovers Tony had left him. Pasta with veggies was good. He called his twin on the video system, getting Stephen, who was grimacing. "You let him get injured again?"

"Bad outcome of the case?" he asked back.

"Nope. But a sniper and a bomb and I'm really tired. Xander injured or just hiding from you?"

"Working with his mini outside. Xander, it's your twin," he bellowed, taking the phone out there to him.

The little girl stared at the phone then at Xander then back at the phone. Xander patted her on the head. "I told you I have a twin brother. That's Alex, my twin." He stared at him. "Bad outcome?"

"Good outcome unless the judge changes his mind. But sniper, bomb..." He shrugged. "I'm tired."

"That figures. You okay?"

"Bit bruised. I had a sudden headpain that showed me I needed to get out of the car so I was about twenty feet away."

"Damn," Xander said but nodded. "You all alone?"

"Tony has the pets. Just in case."

"Security system?" Stephen asked.

"Yup, all on." He nodded, eating something, then grimacing. "Tony made them with peanut butter?" Xander snickered at that. He shrugged and ate it anyway. "Even if it was poisoned I'll be fine." He grinned at the girl. "It's great to meet his trainees, sweetie." She said something. He beamed back and answered.

"I made sure I learned the same languages Xander did just in case I had to help one of you girls." She asked him if he was a watcher. "No, I'm a lawyer. I talk to judges for people. Mostly people who own businesses who're having problems." She asked him a lot of questions to take his mind off the bad day he had had. It was sweet of her and he promised to send Xander pictures for her to see his pets.

He hung up and laid down to watch tv, sighing in displeasure. Caspian would be a great cuddle right now. But it wasn't safe and he needed his dog to be safe. People knew about Tony and his pets but no one knew where Tony had moved. Or that he was off on vacation this week at some spa that allowed pet guests too. Santa and Caspian were probably loving being pampered and spoiled by people who brushed them. The cats, they'd put up with it.

He sighed when his security system went off but it was a client so he let him in and went to see what was going on. A few mundane things would be nice right now.

***

Tony showed back up a few days later, after all the attacks had been stopped, breezing in with the two pet carriers and bags over his arms. "We're back! Harley nearly freaked out at being brushed."

"She tried that with me so we cuddled a lot. She quit before I had to keep cuddling," Alex said as he came out of the office, taking each pet to cuddle and love on then put in their usual spots around the cat tree/couch area. He sniffed Caspian then grinned. "Did you get oiled, Cassie?" He nuzzled noses and put him onto his spot on the cat tree. Selena curled up around him and Harley flopped on top of them to snuggle. Santa went to the couch to dig under the pillows and get comfortable for a nap. "Were they good?"

"They were fine. The dogs really enjoyed the spa. Harley liked it once they made her smell nice and feel soft. Selena liked their whirlpool attachment during her bath. It was sweet how she lounged for a few minutes until I took a picture. Then she huffed and let herself be gently cleaned off." He handed over the bag of toys and treats.

"They gave them so many treats it's not funny. I don't think they ate regular food the whole time." Alex gave him a hug too and petted everyone again before going back to the office. All the pets came in to lounge around him in there with Tony following Santa since he was the last one going. "How bad was it? The news covered some but your yard looks like a bomb went off."

Alex looked at him. "Two," he said blandly. "The electronic shields held though. Still are."

Tony blinked a few times. "Were they stopped?"

"I hope so!" Caspian looked at him. "I'm okay, Caspian. Cuddle your cats." He looked at Tony again. "They tried the judge a lot too. His family's in hiding too. The other lawyers haven't been seen in public for their own safety.

"The other side's lawyers have been threatened too but only one attack on them by the people who were mad they had failed them. We're *hoping* the president puts out something to stop it." Tony nodded, sitting across from him. "Otherwise, it's just a day in the land of paranoia really. We've had them before."

Tony nodded once at that. "But it's good when it's not that bad."

"It is," Alex agreed. "It'd be nice if this point of hell is done with for real. I'm a bit scared you came back early."

"No, this is when I was planning on coming back."

"Not what I meant."

"I know." He grinned. "We'll handle it and I'm camping on your couch for a few days to help." Alex nodded at that, smiling some. "New case?"

"Cases are suspended until the appeal is filed. We know they will. The SBA's people are happy enough to not have the work right now but they're not sure when things are going to start getting back to normal. I'm not sure if I will get cases to help with again. The community's happy but cautious. We're on eggshells."

"I fully understand that. We'll figure it out. If they come here again we'll handle it. Though I saw you yelling at the sniper on the news?" He gave him a pointed look.

"It drew him to expose himself."

"Yeah, still boldly stupid." Alex shrugged but grinned. "Your back healing?"

"Still a bit bruised but I'm fine. It didn't do more than bruise me." He leaned back. Caspian jumped up to sit in his lap. "Okay, I can pet the doggy." He petted Caspian, keeping himself calm. "I'm happy you're staying over but if they're threatened you're taking them back."

"Agreed and I'll get you another security person."

Alex nodded. "If I need it, I won't argue."

"Good!" He grinned at the cats, who rolled over at the loss of heated fluff over them. Santa let Selena snuggle into his side to stay warm. Tony looked at the thermometer in there, then reached over to turn it up. Then Tony got her some clothes to put on. She didn't like it but it was warmer and cute.

Alex had picked up cute cat clothes for her naked self. Alex grinned and got back to his email. "Did you use peanut butter in that pasta dish?"

"No. Why would I have?"

"It tasted like peanut sauce."

"Huh. That's weird." He considered it then went to see if there was more of his leftovers left. Yup, other things smelled like peanut sauce. "Alex, is it possible we're in a dream thingy?" he called, putting them back.

"Yeah, it's possible. If we are, are we in yours or mine?"

"I'm hoping mine." He considered it then nodded once and tried to wake himself up. Nope.

Alex came out to open a hidden doorway behind a bookshelf, then the safe door in there with the fingerprint. He looked at something on the shelves in there. "Wanna tell me what's going on?"

"They gassed you," the vase's denizen said. "You're unconscious. Your friend isn't but he meditated his way in. It's nice he brought the pets."

"How do we end it?"

"I have no clue, Second Xander. It's not something a demon can do."

Alex looked at the vase then nodded. "Thanks, dude." He closed the vault door then centered his mind, then pushed, hard. The spell broke and he woke up with a sigh, sitting up on the bed and taking the things on his chest off. Nurses came running. He glared at one, making her back away slowly. "How long has it been since the judgement?"

"What judgement?" she asked. She had a suspicious accent. Alex grimaced. "Sir?"

"I'm an American citizen. Are we in the US?" She shook her head slowly. "I should be. I live near DC."

"You're in England."

"I shouldn't be. How did I get here?"

"Someone dropped you at the ER, sir."

"Ah." He nodded. "Mysterious. Female, like the coven, female like a slayer, or someone else?"

"I was not informed."

"Can I ask the security guys if they saved a picture?" She went to get one and call the police on him. He clearly wasn't supposed to be in England. Alex looked at the security guy, who was demonic. "What am I doing in England?"

"We're in Canada, sir."

"She just said England."

"What? Maybe you misheard?"

Alex stared at him then around. He felt his link to Xander twinge and grimaced then yanked on it. Xander's link to the cosmos as a shaman helped pull him back. So he woke up again, staring at the guy beside his bed, who was petting his cat. "They let Selena in and not Caspian?" he asked quietly.

"Yeah. She's hairless so I snuck her in. You good?"

"Is this another sub-dream thingy?"

"Nope."

"How long since the judgement?"

"Three days. They tried to blow up the house. Didn't make it. You got knocked out."

"Yeah. By someone not with the bomb. Because I was trapped in a vision. Tell Xander I'm fine? I had to yank on our connection."

"He called me." He did text him, getting a note back from Stephen that he had felt that and smiled but was yelling at some higher being. "Stephen said he's yelling at a higher being."

Alex nodded. "Not a bad idea. Is the house okay?"

"It's fine. Which is why it was weird you were unconscious."

"Yeah. The second vision had me in a hospital in England."

Tony raised an eyebrow. "Were they helping?"

"The security guy tried to tell me Canada but he looked like Giles' cousin that's a watcher." He lifted the head of the bed up, then took some water to drink. "No nurses?"

"Not yet. Which is weird." He handed over the cat so he could check that. Yup, the nurses were being held by a witch. Tony cleared his throat. "We do not threaten nurses. They really run the hospital, ladies." He stared at them when they glared at him. One tried to attack. It shed off him. "Yeah, that won't work, ladies." They tried to send things to hit him. He blocked it.

"You're very Sith today, huh?" One shrieked and tried to physically attack so he knocked her down and stared down at her. "If this is a third vision thing, we'll fix that too. You always underestimated the twins." She tried to pull up a spell so he pulled his gun. "Mine's faster." She went limp, looking horrified. "Great!" He grinned at the free nurses. "Alex is awake. His cat is being fussy."

"We don't allow pets," the nurse ordered. "They shed fur!"

"She's hairless! He doesn't have physical injuries."

She went in to check him, then blinked at the cat. "You are hairless."

"My keeshond Prince Caspian decided to try to shoplift her from a shelter. This is Selena."

"From Cat Woman?" she guessed. He grinned and nodded. "That's sweet. She's sweet seeming. We don't allow pets...."

He shrugged. "I didn't sneak her in."

"You didn't summon her?"

"I don't have magic."

"Oh!" She smiled. "That's interesting. So what happened?"

"Some sort of psychic landscape thingy. My twin helped."

"Twins can be odd." She came over to check him. "Do you know those women?"

"Yeah, one tried to kill me once. I hear older British women?" She nodded. "So the Devon Coven."

"Oh, that's then." She went to tell the others that and help them get arrested. She glared at Tony. "Only service animals and I doubt his cat is a service animal even if she is good therapy."

"I was going to let some kids upstairs pet her too if you want." He smiled. "She's a good girl. She worried a lot and started to stress lick Harley, who's furry. I'm saving us hairballs from hell."

"She goes home with you."

"Alex will probably try to go home with me too."

She huffed. "Maybe." She went to check her fellow nurses.

Tony went back in there. "The older witches are mad that you had this problem. They're also insane."

"As long as this isn't another psychic landscape."

"I doubt it. They wouldn't have been drawn in."

Alex shrugged, petting his cat. "She's got some more peach fuzz/cashmere feeling stuff."

"She does?" He took her to pet and nodded. "She does. Huh." He sat back down. "I promised to let kids pet her too."

"She's usually calm so I don't mind if she doesn't."

"Cool." He looked over as Xander strolled in. "Maybe we are in another landscape."

"Maybe," Xander said, looking at his twin. "What did you do?"

"I have no effin' clue," he said dryly. "Yeah, we are. I can't swear." They shared a look then looked at Tony, who grinned as he petted the cat. "You're not DiNozzo." The landscape of the hospital room faded out. Alex and Xander were left together. They shared a look and pulled up their status and limited gifts, then yanked.

Willow appeared and attacked so they beat her back until she was begging for mercy. "I have no mercy anymore," Alex told her. "I lost it somewhere in one of these landscapes. And my cat had better be in good shape or else I'm going to kill your dumb ass and leave you locked in here, Willow." She tried to magic him but Xander kicked her on the skull, knocking her out. "Tony?" Alex asked.

"No idea. I'm meditating and out of my body. I'm not sure if you're out of your body."

"It's a psychic landscape so it's her fault. How did you get into it?"

"You pulled me in when you yanked. I was trying to find you." They shared a hug. "Let's go." He led him back out to the normal non-physical plane. Alex got pulled back to his body. Xander went to his and opened his eyes, looking at Stephen. "Find out if DiNozzo is all right? He had the pets."

"Yeah, he's good. I've been texting him. He woke up out of the dream, he had been napping on Alex's couch. He woke up swearing at witches."

"Yeah, the redheaded addict did it apparently." Stephen growled. "She's probably trapped up there for now." He made himself stand up, get a drink, go pee, then come back in to deal with physical things. It was too easy to get trapped on the astral plane for him.

***

In DC, Alex woke up but he was at home. He hummed, looking around his room. He got up to go get a drink, pee, find something to eat because he was starving. He found Tony on his couch with the pets around him. Alex handed him some coffee as he walked past him again. "Going to shower. How long ago was the judgement?"

"That's tomorrow. I'm going to the spa tonight. I stopped by to get the pets." He sat up to drink and pet everyone to check them over. "What was that?"

"Psychic landscapes. The redheaded one."

"Damn. Are we still in one?"

"No. I didn't need to pee in them."

"Oh, that's good." He nodded, taking the pets to the spa with him. They all faded out once he walked out the door with them. That wasn't good. He woke up in the spa and it was nicer. He checked them then called Alex's phone, hoping to wake him up. Nope but he did call Xander, who was awake and out of it.

He had been kicked out by Alex, who was fighting something. Alex finally won and got free by himself. He won against whatever was going on. Was a bit more injured. Was a bit more bruised. Was really, really angry. Tony sent pictures of the pets being fine and all being cuddled. It calmed Alex down enough to not want to fly to England.

***

In Africa on the farm, Xander blinked himself awake again and looked around. "Huh, I thought he had decorated more with wall hangings."

Stephen blinked a few times. "Hey, Alex. Did you possess your twin?"

"I think I'm in the wrong body. Let me fix that." He meditated until he found Xander, switching with him to send him back to his own body, and woke up in his own room. That was nice. The room was a bit smokey but there wasn't an alarm going. He got up to check, scaring a firefighter. "Did they actually manage to set the house on fire, guys?"

"We thought you were dead."

"Some witch tried awfully hard," he said dryly. "She's presently damaged enough that she may die on the psychic plane." He looked around then at them. "So what happened?"

"They tried to set the house on fire. You have some smoke damage from a tree. You have protections up?"

"Yeah, I do." He nodded. "How did you guys get in?"

"The security company let us in the side gate."

"Oh, okay." He nodded. "That's sweet. They never told me how they'd do that since the front one's fingerprint coded." He got some water from the fridge, going to check his office. He got into his safe room behind the bookcase again, looking at the demon in there. "Are we actually back home?" he asked the vases.

"Yup," another one said. "We're all back to normal, Alex. Can we have the witch?"

"Don't tempt me. She's on the psychic plane and injured."

"Awww," they complained.

An artifact who never spoke up cleared his throat. "She could come back."

"She'd better keep her ass over there then." Alex sipped his water. "You sure we're home?" They all said 'yes' so he smiled. "Thanks, guys. Let me know. Okay?" He closed it again and looked at the staring people. "I've hoarded some dangerous artifacts for years. They're safe in there. Not out eating people." They groaned. "Though I really want to throw one in the middle of the beings who keep trying me." He walked off again. "I've got to pee. Thanks for the house saving, guys. I'd miss my fussy, too big house."

"Not a problem. We're glad you're not dead and the house was saved. That's a lot of wood in your study."

"It is, and one of the reason why I bought this house. Someone tacky would've painted it."

The firemen left after making sure the smoke was cleared and the house was okay. They told the officers watching the house that the owner had woken up after something weird but he was walking around and talking to the artifacts he held in a safe.

When the next attack happened, Alex decided he was mean. He got something out of the other safe, throwing it at the people trying his fence, making them scream as it broke on them and spread gasses that made them hallucinate. He grinned at the officers who hadn't stopped them. "It's a hallucinogenic gas. It's making them think I'm Godzilla."

He sipped his water with a smirk. "I've got more." They hurried the people to the hospital and one came to see what that gas really was. Alex mixed a new batch for him so he could figure that out since he didn't know the name of it. They were happy it wasn't lethal and was only a bit mean. Alex grinned at him. "I have worse. I was being pleasant."

"We understand. We're going to keep guarding you, Mr. Harris."

"Since I got trapped in a psychic landscape earlier, it is after the judgement, we won?"

"You did," he agreed with a nod. "How does that happen?"

"A few witches. I beat one so she's stuck on the psychic plane until she can get back to her body. I doubt she'll try that again." He went back to get more water. He had to make sure he was fine. Xander said he was fine and still in his own body. Stephen hadn't been in the other ones. Alex corrected that since Tony had talked to them by text.

Alex went out to check his car. His new car. Willow wouldn't realize he had traded cars right before the last few hearings and it hadn't been pictured since it had been in the garage this whole time. Yup, his car. His car he could drive and go get a burger somewhere far from the house that she wouldn't know existed because it wasn't on social media or talked about. Crappy burgers but it was a local place that no one not local ate at. It had been near his original law firm.

So yeah, it looked like he was back in his body for good.

***

It had been a month since the last attack. No one had come to Alex for a case. No new cases were filed. The President had put out an executive order stopping the attempt. But still, he didn't have any work to do. So he went to play poker. He got a few dirty looks. "What did I do this time?" he asked as he sat at a table.

"You attacked the witches."

"They attacked me. They had me stuck in a psychic landscape that I couldn't come out of without help from Xander." They hissed and winced. "If they were helping her and got some of the beating she got for that, then oh well, they shouldn't have attacked me." He smiled prettily at the one who had told him. "Any other sins you guys think I've done?"

"The judge said you're slightly an asshole."

"Half the judges in DC think I'm an asshole and I'm okay with that. Me being an asshole means that I've solved a lot of cases. Which also means I don't have any current cases so I'm bored." They groaned at that. He grinned at one. "I'm still taking new cases."

"No one's had any cases. They're working things out themselves without our help," one of the defense lawyers for the community lied.

Alex smirked at him. "Really?" That one groaned at being caught lying. "Your eye twitches when you lie. Thankfully not when you bluff." He paid in and the dealer stared at him. He stared back. "Are we still stuck in a psychic landscape?"

"I hope not. If so, my girlfriend wouldn't want to breed. She's in heat."

"Oooh, I found the greatest oils for massages. It's for fur so it'll help." He looked it up to show him. "It smells really nice. Tony took Caspian to a spa with the pets to protect them and they used it. He's totally soft and