Disclaimer: see chapter 1
Beta: Queen Sereya
Warning: There is some character bashing. If you like Buffy, Willow, or Ecklie, I suggest turning away now.
Spoilers: There is some vague reference to a couple CSI: Miami episodes. Specifically, Dispo Day and Lost Son. If you haven’t seen them, don’t worry. Just know that Speed had trouble *cough, cough* with his gun in both episodes.
Dedication: This one is dedicated to Kayron, one of my readers. Her insight into the characters made me squeal in joy that someone not only noticed what traits Xander had kept from his past life, but also figured out what would happen next. Thanks for reading, Kayron.
Chapter 10: December Madness
The quiet December night was broken by the sudden wailing scream of a child.
Grissom woke, gasping in pain. He felt a sharp burning sensation in his chest and his hand went up to rest near his heart. The pain lessened to a dull ache and he became aware of other noises. Specifically, his son’s cries.
Hearing Xander’s pain filled wail, Grissom staggered out of his room. He blinked as he entered his son’s room; for a moment it had looked like an overexposed picture, one room on top of the one he knew was there.
“Xander. . . .” Grissom gasped.
Xander was curled up in the middle of the bed, clutching his chest. The boy’s eyes stared at the foot of his bed in fear, even as he continued to cry out for his daddy and papa.
Grissom grabbed the child, wrapping his arms around him tightly. He settled the child in his lap. He looked Xander over, but could find nothing wrong. He settled for offering what comfort he could, not that it helped. Xander continued to scream, tears dripping from his fear filled eyes to run down his little red face.
Grissom was raising his head to see what Xander was focused on when he heard Mac’s ghostly voice growl, “Who is that?”
Grissom glanced at the side of the bed and caught the faint outline of a bare-chested Mac Taylor. Grissom knew that Mac was in his apartment in New York, probably sleeping, but to his eye, it looked as if a ghostly, transparent version of the man was standing next to the toddler’s bed. Finally, having the chance to look at the foot of the bed, Grissom’s eyes widened. “Rosenberg.”
The girl’s eyes glanced at Grissom, but she didn’t’ stop her steady chanting. Grissom had a faint impression of candle light surrounding her. Her voice at one point rose in volume and Xander immediately cringed and screamed louder. Seconds later, Grissom felt the burning sensation deepen for a moment. A grunt from Mac told him the man had also felt the dull pain.
He desperately wanted the girl to stop whatever she was doing, but could not think of any way to do it, so he settled for glaring at her. She quailed and her voice waivered, but it didn’t stop. Finally, they all felt when an unknown power swelled up and the pain suddenly stopped. Xander collapsed as if some strings had been cut. As the ghostly images faded, Grissom heard Rosenberg scream in protest. All he was left with was a sobbing child in his arms.
Grissom was still rocking Xander back and forth when he heard the phone ringing from the other room. He frowned. It was 2:30 in the morning, who would be calling at this time of the night?
He clambered up off the bed with Xander’s arms clutched tightly around his neck and made his way to the insistent phone. Rubbing his child’s back, offering comfort, he shifted him to one side and picking up the phone answered, “Grissom.”
“Grissom? It’s Mac,” The voice said. “Are you two alright? I just had the strangest dream. A red haired young woman was attacking Xander. You called her—“
“Rosenberg,” Grissom finished for him.
Mac paused before replying, “That really happened?”
Grissom looked down at the still sniffling child. “Yes. It did.”
“Do we know what she was trying to do?”
“I don’t know, but I have an upset little boy here.” Grissom said grimly.
“Let me talk with him.” Mac demanded.
Grissom tried to pull the child’s head up, but Xander whimpered and clung on tighter. Grissom sighed. “Let me put you on speaker.”
Grissom quickly reached over and hit the right button. He shifted Xander so he was closer to the phone base where Mac’s voice would come out of.
“Xander?” Mac asked softly.
Xander lifted his head and blinking, looked at the phone base. With a small wavering voice, he asked, “D. . .d. . ..daddy?”
“Yes, Xander,” Mac said, “It’s Daddy.”
Xander sniffled. “Daddy. Hurts, Daddy. Hurts.”
Grissom hugged him tighter as Mac responded to the pain in his son’s voice. “I know baby, I know. But, you let Papa Grissom help you, ‘kay? He’ll make the hurting stop.”
Xander nodded his head, trusting his Daddy and Papa to make things right.
Ecklie slowly paused in his paper work. He felt an itching on the back of his neck. His hand reached back to rub his neck.
He looked up and his eyes widened in surprise. He frowned at Grissom who was carrying his child in his arms. Xander was clutching tightly to his Papa’s neck, his eyes half open, staring at Ecklie as if he were some bug on a pin, ready to be dissected.
“What are you doing here with him?” Ecklie asked.
“I’m picking up my check,” Grissom said.
“And the boy?” Ecklie asked, frowning at the child. “Didn’t you have some sort of nanny for him?”
Grissom looked down at his son and frowned. “Xander’s a little sick. Running a slight fever so the nanny can’t take him. So, I’m taking a sick day.”
Ecklie nodded and studied the child. He did look a little down, even if he was still staring intently at him.
“Mac Taylor,” Mac answered his phone.
Xander smiled at his voice. “Daddy.”
“Hello, Xander. Grissom. I assume your calling with good news.”
Grissom smiled down at his son who was once again settled in his lap. “Yes. The final ruling came from the judge today. Xander’s ours. We’ll share joint custody as we discussed.”
Mac sighed in relief. “That’s good. But then, we knew this would happen. The DNA proves he’s ours.”
Grissom nodded. “Yes. I just wish I knew why those girls sued for custody. They couldn’t possibly win.”
Mac said, “I don’t know. I’m just glad it’s over. Now, Xander. I want to hear all about your day.”
Xander grinned. He hugged the phone base and started to babble about his day, which consisted of his protecting the anthills in the park from the mean Sally girl and cookies before naptime. Not that Mac understood any of that, nor could he see the grand hand gestures Xander was doing. He just wanted to hear the child’s bright voice.
Xander paused as someone interrupted his story by knocking on the front door. Grissom turned to look and frowned. Getting up, he placed Xander in the seat. “I’ve got to see who that is. Keep talking to Daddy, Xander.”
Xander nodded and began to babble again.
Grissom slowly opened the front door and stared at the two young ladies on his front porch.
The willowy blonde ducked her head while the younger brunette stared back. “You Gil Grissom?”
Grissom nodded. “And you are?”
The blonde looked up. “I. . .I’m Tara MaClay and this is Dawn Summers. We’re here about your son.”
Grissom glanced quickly back to the other room where Xander was being occupied by his Daddy. He turned back to look at the two girls sharply. “What about him?”
Tara and Dawn exchanged looks. “We wanted to apologize for what Buffy and Willow put you through.”
“And ex. . .explain how you got X. . ..Xander,” Tara said.
Grissom stared at the girls for a few moments trying to determine if they were telling the truth. Finally, he nodded and stepped to the side. “Come in. I have Detective Taylor on the line and you can explain to him as well.”
Dawn nodded and followed him in. He led the girls over to where Xander was in front of the desk. Dawn squealed softly, “Look Tara, isn’t he cute!”
Xander turned, saw the girls and yelped in fear. He lunged for his Papa and the man scooped the frightened child up into his arms. Dawn’s eyes watered as she tried to apologize for scaring the boy. Xander peered at her cautiously, held protectively in his Papa’s arms.
“It’s fine, Miss Summers,” Grissom said. “I believe you had some explanation for us?”
Dawn wiped at her eyes and nodded. She looked at Tara to explain since magic was her thing. “W. . ..well sir. First y. . .you have to believe in m. ..magic.”
Grissom raised his brow.
Tara gulped. “I. . ..I can give a dem. . . demonstration. . .”
Grissom nodded as Mac remained silent on the other side of the phone.
Tara looked around and finally decided on a nearby paperweight. She nodded at the rock like object, telling Grissom to pay attention to it and then closed her eyes. Grissom watched as the paperweight, a gift he had received many years ago, began to float in the air. He looked at it in wonder and then turned to watch Tara who was biting her lip in concentration. Slowly she let the paperweight drift back down to the table.
“What’d she do?” Mac asked as he couldn’t see the flying rock.
“Lifted my paperweight with no hands or strings,” Grissom said.
“Hmph. Better than my proof,” Mac said. “Sheldon’s ex set my trash on fire.”
Grissom looked at the two girls. “Okay. Let’s say I believe in magic. What’s that have to do with Xander.”
The two girls looked at each other and Dawn explained how Xander had first been de-aged and then sent to them for a new life.
Grissom frowned. “So, Rosenberg was trying to make Xander’s DNA match hers?”
Tara nodded. “B. . ..but you can only do so much with magic. And changing the basic structure of something is difficult to do. Things like to remain how they are. So changing the DNA structure of something takes a lot of power.”
Dawn nodded. “Yeah, and there were already complications with what happened the first time Xander’s DNA was converted.”
Grissom stared at her and Mac said, “Explain.”
Dawn and Tara shared a glance. Dawn started, “You see, with Tara’s wish, Xander was only supposed to get one father. The magic was sending him to New York and changing his DNA as he went, but something interfered.”
Grissom frowned. “The hell mouth you said. You said it was also responsible for all the plane problems we’d had.”
Tara nodded. “Y. . ..yes. It tried to keep Xander and warped the spell. Making him your s. . .son as well, Dr. Grissom.”
“So the reason Rosenberg’s spell failed, was?” Mac asked.
“Xander’s cells have been stressed so much that they can’t change form without hurting him and possibly killing him,” Dawn said bluntly.
Tara nodded as Grissom hugged Xander tightly. “H. . he’s very lucky to have survived when the original w. . .wish spell was warped.”
“He’s still your son,” Dawn rushed to say. “No matter how he was created. Please don’t throw him away, just because he became yours through some twisted spell. . ..”
Grissom glared at the girl. “He is my son.”
Mac’s voice agreed from the speakerphone. “And we will not abandon him. He will have a happy life.”
Grissom nodded. “After all that’s what you wished for, isn’t it, Miss MaClay?”
Tara nodded, smiling shyly at Grissom.
“So what’s going to happen to Rosenberg?” Mac asked. “Should we expect another attack from her?”
Dawn shook her head. “No. That’s been taking care of. When the hell mouth realized Xander was being hurt, it stripped her powers from her. Tara felt it happening and was able to make it so she would have her powers back if she needed to help control the hell mouth. But otherwise, she’s normal girl again.”
Grissom nodded. “Good. What about this. . ..hell mouth. . .Will there be any problems with it?”
Dawn looked at Tara. “N. . no. . .The hell mouth likes Xander. . .and i. .it’s like a little puppy. It doesn’t understand w. . .why Xander left. But, as long as Xander st. . . stays in Las Vegas for at least a few days out of the year, it should be fine.
Grissom nodded and quickly showed the two girls out. He sat back down in front of the phone to discuss what he had learned with Mac.
Ecklie held onto a package, his eyes narrowing as he saw his target. “Grissom!”
Grissom turned around. “Conrad. What can I do for you?”
“I know your taking Christmas off. So I wanted to give you this before you go. Merry Christmas.” Ecklie said offering the package wrapped in brown paper.
Grissom accepted the package while saying, “You didn’t need to. But Merry Christmas.”
Ecklie looked on expectantly. “Well, open it up. It’s something I’m sure you can use.”
Grissom blinked. He looked down at the light package. Opening the package, he stared at the plastic wrapped blue cloth. It had one big piece with to thin straps for arms and one long one attached to the big piece on one end and to a small circle on the other.
Grissom looked up at Ecklie, not sure what to say. Ecklie smiled. “It’s a Child’s safety harness. That way your bra-, boy won’t wander off on you.”
Grissom blinked. “Oh. . . uh. . .Thanks, Conrad. That’s very thoughtful of you.”
Ecklie left smiling while Grissom stared down at the gift and grimaced.
Grissom yawned, his hand shot out to fumble with the alarm clock. He opened his eyes and stared blearily at the red digits of the clock. Kt was seven am. He groaned. He’d only gotten to sleep three hours ago. Turning onto his back, he stared at the ceiling. It had taken him hours to set everything up in the living room, but it would be worth it. After all, it was Xander’s first Christmas with him.
He had talked with Mac and they had decided that Xander would celebrate Christmas with him and then in a few days he would send Xander to New York to celebrate the New Year with his Daddy. But that would be in a few days. Now it was Christmas. The presents were out under the tree and all that was needed was an excited toddler. After a moment, Grissom frowned. He had told Xander about Santa and the child had seemed excited so where was he?
Grissom swung his legs over and shivered as his feet hit the cold floor. He quickly put on his slippers before heading for his son’s room. He glanced at the living room. No Xander. That meant he was still in his little toddler-sized bed. They had a busy morning ahead and they needed to get started. Most of the lab would be over later and they had presents to open before that happened.
Grissom paused in his son’s doorway and smiled. Xander looked so sweet and innocent peacefully sleeping there. He walked over and gently brushed the bangs back from the boy’s face.
Xander’s eyes blinked open and he smiled. With a whispered breath, he said, “Papa.”
“Good morning, Xander,” Grissom said. “Merry Christmas, son. You ready for a big day?”
Xander looked at his Papa confused.
Grissom smiled. “You remember what I told you about Christmas?”
Xander nodded. He softly asked, “San-ta?”
Grissom nodded. “Yes. Santa. Do you remember I told you how Santa brings good little boys presents on Christmas?”
Xander looked at his newest friend, Davie. Davie was a present from his Hodses, a big stuffed spider that Xander could hold onto with one hand and loved since he had gotten it. Hodses had given the present early as he couldn’t make it to the big party. He held up Davie and asked, “Presents?”
Grissom chuckled. “Yes, Xander. Presents like Davie. But, we’ll have to see what Santa brought. Are you ready?”
Xander’s eyes widened at the thought of more presents. He nodded his head and allowed his Papa to lead him out to the living room. His eyes widened as he caught site of movement on the coffee table. He made his way over to it and stared at the small little creatures through the plastic. He turned to his Papa and grinned, “Pets.”
Grissom nodded as Xander turned back to watch them. “Yes. Those are ants and you can watch them building their nests. It’s called an ant farm.”
Xander continued to watch his new pets. They were even better than the roaches.
Grissom cleared his throat to make Xander look at him. “There’s more.”
Xander looked at him curiously and Grissom pointed to a brightly wrapped rectangular shape. Mildly interested, Xander toddled over to look at the green wrapped object. He looked at his Papa confused.
Grissom chuckled and showed him how to open the present. “Remember how we opened the gift from Hodges.”
Xander grinned and ripped open the gift. He squealed and started to play with the bright fire truck. He loved it.
After a few minutes, his Papa reached over and took the truck from him. Xander pouted, but his Papa just smiled at him gently as he put the truck by the ant farm. “Xander there’s more presents to open up.”
Xander’s eyes widened. “More?”
Grissom nodded and turned Xander to see all the presents. Xander squealed and clapped his hands in excitement. This was going to be a good day.
Speed rested his head on the table. This case had been a hard one. He had flown up to New York two days ago and had been going nonstop ever since. But it was finally over, the bad guy caught. All that was left was paperwork. As he sighed into his arms, he could hear Danny Messer, the CSI detective he had been working with, fixing something for them both to eat, across the room. As hungry as he was, Speed wasn’t sure he’d be able to eat whatever Danny prepared. Sleep sounded really good right now.
Speed blinked into his arms in confusion. Was something tugging on his shirt? He raised his head and looked to the side. Small brown eyes stared at him intently. Speed smiled at the child who smiled back shyly. “Who are you?”
Danny turned around and groaned. “Tha’s Xander. Mac’s kid.” Danny made his way over to the table, crouched down to Xander’s level and asked the boy, “Did you wander away from Daddy, Xander?”
Xander didn’t answer, his eyes never leaving Speed’s waist as the man smiled down at the tyke.
“Yes, he did,” Don Flack said from the doorway. Walking into the room, he smiled down at Xander as he continued, “Mac’s looking everywhere.”
Lindsey walked into the break room and stopped in her tracks, noticing the boy. “He shouldn’t be here!”
“Great observation, Monroe,” Don said. “Why don’t you go tell Mac his kid’s here.”
“He doesn’t know you,” Don explained, “and he’s been having problems with strangers lately. We’ll make sure he stays put.”
“But. . .” Lindsey protested, “I don’t even know where Mac is.”
“Try the morgue,” Danny suggested. “If he’s looking for Xander, that’d be one of the first places he’d look. Xander likes Sid’s stories.”
“Fine.” Lindsey stormed off.
Speed stared at the door, only to look down at an insistent tugging at his pant legs. He looked at Xander who was frowning as he tugged at the object attached to Speed’s waist. Speed frowned and grabbed Xander’s hands. “No. That’s not something for you to play with kid.”
Xander whimpered and tried to reach the object again. “Bad!”
Danny scooped Xander up. “Yep, yer right. Guns can be bad. But Speed knows how to use it safely, just like Daddy and Papa.”
Xander shook his head violently. Danny struggled to hold onto him as he wriggled in protest. “Bad! Bad! Bad!”
Speed looked on in shock as Danny had to wrap his arms around the toddler to keep him still.
“I’ve never seen Xander act like this. He’s been around cops and guns since his dads got him. There’s no reason for him to be scared of a gun,” Don said thoughtfully. He turned to Speed. “Can I see your gun?”
Speed gave him a wary look before handing it over. As he handed over the gun, Xander quieted down and watched intently as Don looked over the weapon. Speed asked, “What are you looking for?”
Don examined the gun. “Xander has this uncanny ability to know when something’s not right. He kept trying ta give me hugs when my last girl broke up with me. I figured you’d be like Messer. He hates his piece and doesn’t clean it unless I remind him to.”
Speed frowned. “As you can see. I’ve been cleaning it every couple weeks. After that dispo day scare, I’ve made sure it’s clean.”
“Yer right. It’s a little dirty, but not that bad,” Don agreed and started to hand the gun back. “I just wanted to check. . .Hey!”
Xander who had fallen silent as Don had looked at the gun, broke free of Danny’s grasp and lunged for the gun, making it fly from Don’s hands to clatter against the tile floor. “Noooo! Bad!”
“Xander!” Don frowned at the boy.
Xander just stared back. “Bad.”
Danny walked over and picked up the fallen weapon. Looking it over, he blinked. “Ah, guys? You might want to look at this. . ..”
The others turned to see what Danny had found. The firing pin, which at first glance seemed perfectly normal, was bent slightly to the right and looked a little weak in the middle. In fact, the whole piece looked like it was going to break. There was almost no chance this gun would fire properly.
Speed gasped. “If I had gotten into a gun fight with that. . .”
“You’d be dead,” Don finished.
The three men turned to look at the child who merely looked back and firmly said, “Bad.”
Xander looked around the office. Empty. Good. He could finish here and get back to Papa. In one hand, he clutched his special spider-friend, in the other he held onto the small yellow box he needed for this mission.
Frowning, he looked around the office. His eyes looked over everything and finally settled on the desk as he smiled. He could work with this. He quickly set about brightening the place up. Hopefully, this would make Icky smile.
An hour later, Ecklie walked into his office. He needed the file on his desk. He grabbed it and walked out the door, only to stop as he looked at the folder. “Grissom!”
Hodges, who had been passing by, looked at Ecklie curiously. “He left a half hour ago. Did you need him for something?”
“That. . . that ‘thing’,” Ecklie growled, “did this!”
Hodges frowned when Ecklie referred to Xander as a ‘thing’. Normally Hodges couldn’t stand children, but there was something about the child. He was a good boy and Hodges didn’t like anyone calling him names, not even Ecklie.
He looked over the folder which was covered in a child’s haphazard drawings. Swirls of bright red, green, and blue were interspaced by blobs of yellow, orange, and purple creating something of a psychedelic effect.
“That ‘spawn’ ruined my folders!” Ecklie shouted.
“I’m sure he didn’t mean to, Director,” Hodges said placatingly. “He’s only a little boy.”
“Maybe, you could call Grissom and find out why Xander would color on your folders,” Hodges suggested.
Ecklie glared some more before turning around and storming back to his office.
Hodges watched him go. He was certain the whole mess would be cleared up. There was no way Xander had used Ecklie’s folders as coloring paper with malicious intent. The boy was just too nice.
Next time: What You Do To Me. . .