Warning: There is some character bashing. If you like Buffy, Willow, or Ecklie, I suggest turning away now.
Disclaimer: See Chapter One
Beta: Queen Sereya
Chapter 9: Battles Won.
“Mac Taylor, here,” A voice said gruffly over the phone.
“Mac, it’s Grissom,” Grissom said as he settled his son in his lap.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t get out there. How’s the suit going?” Mac asked.
Grissom sighed. “I’ve asked a friend to take the case. He was able to move it to an LA court for an impartial judge. Xander and I go this Friday.”
“Well, you’ll have my number and that letter I faxed you . . . can I talk to Xander? How’s he taking things?”
“He seems to be doing okay. A bit clingy. A little sad, I think he knows I’m upset.” Grissom looked down at his son who was playing with his shirtfront. “Did you want to talk to Daddy Mac, Xander?”
Xander blinked, looking up at his Papa’s eyes, he shyly nodded his head and Grissom switched on the speakerphone.
“Xander?” Mac asked.
Xander squealed, “Daddy!”
“Hi, Xander,” Grissom could hear the smile in Mac’s voice. “How’re you doing, son?”
Xander frowned. “Papa shit.”
“What?!?” Both Grissom and Mac said. Xander flinched at the volume of their protests and Grissom hugged him in comfort.
“How did he. . ?” Mac asked.
“I don’t know,” Grissom said looking down at his son. “Xander, where did you here that word?”
Xander looked up to see his Papa frowning at him. “Shit bad?”
Grissom nodded. “Very bad. I don’t want to hear you say that again. Or I’ll have to wash your mouth out with soap.”
Xander made a face. He had tasted the bubbles from his bath before and they tasted nasty.
Mac spoke up from the phone. “Xander, do you think you could tell us where you heard that word? Were you in Las Vegas with Papa Grissom?”
Xander shook his head not realizing that his daddy couldn’t see him.
“Were you visiting Daddy Mac?” Grissom prompted.
Xander nodded enthusiastically. “And Unc'a Danny an’ Unc'a Don an’ Unc'a. . . “
Xander paused, trying to remember the last man that had been there.
“I think I know who it was,” Mac growled, “I’ll handle it.”
Mac quickly finished the conversation and got up from his desk chair. Heading for the trace lab, he saw his target coming out of fingerprints. “Danny!”
Danny turned around to see Mac barreling toward him. “Yeah Mac? You need something?”
Mac glared at him. “I want you to tone your language down in front of Xander.”
Danny blinked. “But, I ain’t said nothing in front of yer kid, Mac. I’m more careful than that.”
“Then you explain how my son learned the word ‘shit’ when he was with you and Don,” Mac said.
Danny frowned, thinking back, his eyes widened as he remembered that incident. “It wasn’t me Mac. It was Hawkes. I swear.”
Mac raised his eyebrow in disbelief. “You expect me to believe that Sheldon swore in front of a two year old?”
Danny glared. “I do if it’s the truth, Mac. I didn’t teach yer kid any bad words.”
“He’s telling you the truth, Mac” Mac turned to see Flack standing behind him. Flack confirmed Danny’s statement. “I was there Mac. And Hawkes swore when he found out about Xander’s arrival at Doc Grissom’s place.”
“Sheldon?” Mac asked.
Danny and Don both nodded.
Mac rubbed the bridge of his nose and sighed. He looked up at Flack. “What are you doing in the lab?”
Flack shrugged. “Messer called me said he might have a led.”
“Which I do.” Danny held up the folder he was holding.
Mac watched the two walk of heads bent close together discussing their case and went back to his office to re-fill out the inventory request forms that seemed to have disappeared.
Sitting on the defendant’s side, Grissom was dressed in a nice dark grey suit. He looked at his good friend, Jason Brandt, a Los Angeles DA, and then glanced at the plaintiffs. They were two barely legal girls, couldn’t be more than 20, no matter what they wore. One was a short, bleach blonde who wore a light pink business dress that she looked extremely uncomfortable in. She was leaning back in her chair. The other was a shorthaired redhead. She looked more comfortable in her dark blue business dress and was busily sorting through some papers. She glanced at the blonde and noticing her posture, leaned over to whisper to her. The blonde immediately sat up straighter. The redhead appeared to be in charge. She would probably be the speaker, as they had not brought a lawyer with them. Grissom still couldn’t believe that some 'girls' were taking him to court over Xander. How did they know about Xander? Could one of them be the surrogate mother? Even if there was no evidence of one, they assumed that there was one. He shook his head. He would find out soon.
“All rise,” the bailiff said, “the honorable Judge Winsom presiding over case # 32523, Rosenberg and Summers vs. Grissom and Taylor.
The judge sat down and had everyone else sit down. Noticing that the defendants were missing someone, he asked, “Are all parties here?”
“No, your honor,” Grissom’s lawyer explained, “Due to the expediency of this hearing, New York Detective Mac Taylor was unable to attend. He sent a letter stating this and will abide by any decisions made in this case.”
Jason handed over the letter that Mac had faxed to Grissom. The two girls looked shocked at hearing that Taylor was a cop.
The judge looked it over before nodding. “I understand this is over the custody of a young child. Where, may I ask, is the child currently?”
“With my coworker, Greg Sanders,” Grissom said, “They’re staying at the hotel in case you need him, sir.”
“Why didn’t you simply bring the child here?” The judge asked.
“I didn’t want him to become upset at the proceedings or to disrupt you court room sir.”
Judge Winsom nodded. He turned to the plaintiffs. “You young girls have filed suit for custody of one, Alexander Grissom. On what bases do you make this claim?”
The redhead gulped. “Your honor, I’m Willow Rosenberg and this is Buffy Summers. We’re good friends to the father of the child, an Alexander Harris. I have a note,” she held up a loose leaf paper that held a hand written note, “saying that should anything happen to him, we would become little Xander’s guardians.”
The judge looked at the note he was given. “This note makes no mention of Alexander Grissom. How do you know the child is the one you seek?”
“It has to be him!” Willow said vehemently. “It has to. You see, Xander, that is Big Xander died in an accident a few months ago and his son has been missing ever since. We’ve been trying to track him down for months and finally found him mentioned when Detective Taylor and Grissom filed for custody.”
“Have you made any provisions for the child?” Judge Winsom asked.
Willow and Buffy glanced at each other. Willow looked at the judge. “None, your honor. We’ve been too busy looking for Xander Jr..”
The judge frowned and looked down at his notes. He turned his gaze on Grissom.
“Dr. Grissom, what sorts of provisions have been made on behalf of the child’s well being?”
Willow’s eyes widened and her head jerked around to stare at Grissom. Buffy turned as well, but, unlike Willow, her mouth was open in shock. Grissom stared back at them. He had earned that title and didn’t care what they thought. They were the ones who had decided to go through with this suit. Willow swallowed hard and noticing her friend’s undignified expression nudged her in the side.
Meanwhile, Grissom had turned back to the judge to answer the question. “Your honor, I have the full support of my colleagues, one of which is the mother of a ten year old girl. I have already discussed living arrangements and future schools for Xander with Detective Taylor and have converted my guest room to a boy’s room.”
The judge raised his eyebrow. “I was under the impression that the child was only two. Aren’t you getting ahead of yourself?”
Grissom shook his head. “No, sir. We wanted to be prepared and see what was out there so we can make the best possible decision when the time comes.”
The judge nodded and looked down at his notes. Looking up at Grissom and his lawyer, he said, “I believe you had some evidence for your side, gentlemen?”
“Yes, sir,” Jason said. He handed over a couple pieces of paper, one of which was sealed in a plastic evidence bag. “I have the note Dr. Grissom received when the child was left with him, as well as the results of the parental DNA testing done in both the New York and Las Vegas Crime Labs.”
Judge Winsom looked over the paper and glanced up sharply as he read the bottom of the reports. “This says there are two biological fathers? Is that possible?”
Willow gasped and looked at Buffy in concern when her face began to turn red. They hadn’t known that Xander’s DNA had changed. This could complicate things. While watching Buffy, Willow tried to work out how to fix this in her head.
Grissom nodded to the judge’s question. “It’s very possible, sir. In a laboratory setting, it is possible to combine DNA from different donors. In fact, it is the basis of invitro fertilization. The only difference is the mother’s DNA was replaced with a male’s.”
Judge Winsom looked intrigued. He hadn’t known that was possible.
“No! Xander’s ours!” Buffy burst out. She stood up abruptly, glaring at Grissom and standing in a defensive position. “You can’t take him! He’s mine!”
The judge frowned at Buffy. “Young lady, I will not have shouting in my court room. If you do not sit down quietly, I will hold you in contempt.”
Willow snagged Buffy’s arm and pulled her back down. She tilted her head as she looked at the papers on the judge’s desk. Finally, nodding to herself, she stood up calmly. “Your honor, I want to apologize for Buffy. She was really close to Xander. Both senior and junior. You see, little Xander is her favorite nephew.” She looked down at the table in front of her, shooting her friend a quick warning glance before continuing her speech, “. . .And we didn’t want anyone to know but. . .well, Xander Junior is mine.”
The courtroom stared at her and Grissom’s eyes narrowed as he studied her. Judge Winsom asked, “You’re the mother?”
She nodded. “Yes, sir.”
He glanced down at the DNA results. “There’s no evidence of any maternal DNA.”
“Isn’t that a little odd, your honor?” She asked innocently.
Judge Winsom raised his eyebrow. “What are you suggesting, Ms. Rosenberg?”
Willow glanced at Grissom before looking at the judge. “Well, they we’re in charge of both labs, your honor.”
“Are you insinuating that two of the top Crime Labs in the country would falsify the results of a DNA test to their benefit?” Judge Winsom asked.
Willow glanced significantly at Grissom who stared blandly back at her as if asking her if she was really going to question his lab’s ethics. Turning back to the judge, she shook her head. “No, sir. Just that the result is of a personal interest to them and ‘mistakes’ could have been made in the rush to get answers.”
Grissom’s eyes narrowed. She was questioning the reliability of his lab, no matter what she said.
“All we’re asking, your honor,” she continued, “is that an impartial lab run the tests.”
Judge Winsom looked over the case notes and noted that the DNA had been sent to another top Crime Lab. It could be reasonable to assume that various crime labs in the country would have relations with each other. But the young lady couldn’t keep calling them biased, right? He looked up, making eye contact with the young woman who seemed to be murmuring under her breath and felt himself freeze. She gazed directly at his eyes and he couldn’t look away. She glanced at Grissom’s side and the judge followed her gaze, his brow furrowing. Slowly, his eyes turned back to her intense stare. He opened his mouth and then closed it.
Finally, shaking his head as if he were coming out of a daze he turned to Grissom and his lawyer who had been having a whispered conversation while the judge had been thinking over Willow’s request. He asked the lawyer, “Is this acceptable to your clients, Mr. Brandt?”
Jason glanced briefly at Grissom before nodding his head curtly, “Yes, your honor.”
“Then, I hereby order the parties of Detective Mac Taylor, Dr. Gil Grissom, Willow Rosenberg and the child,” Judge Winsom paused to look at his papers, “Alexander Grissom to be tested at a Los Angels testing facility or a similar facility if you are unable to go there. All parties have one week to comply. Until the testing has been completed, the child shall remain where he is. We will reconvene in two weeks."
Judge Winsom brought his gavel down hard.
“I don’t get it, Wills,” Buffy said as she shut the hotel door, “Why didn’t Xander recognize us. He clung to that Grey dude.”
“Grey?” Willow asked. “You mean Grissom, Buffy?”
Buffy nodded as she flung her purse on the counter. “Gris, grey, it’s the same word isn’t it? I mean gris is Spanish for grey, right?”
A throat clearing caused Buffy to whirl around. Her eyes widened at the sight of her younger sister, arms crossed, eyes blazing, glaring at her. “Dawn! And Tara. What are you two doing in LA?”
Tara sat in the armchair, watching the two teens fidget. She didn’t say anything, just gave Willow a disapproving look. Dawn tapped her foot. “Did you think we wouldn’t find out? Were you even thinking?”
Buffy frowned. “Dawn that is no way to talk to me. I’m the older one here.”
Dawn snorted. “You’re not acting like it.”
Willow held her hands up. “We need Xander back.”
Buffy nodded. “Even if he’s a baby,” Willow winced as Buffy continued, “He’s the reason the hell mouth has been acting up. That’s what that spell said.”
“No,” Dawn said, “You and Willow did that when you did that spell de-aging spell.”
Buffy glared at her sister while Willow pouted.
Tara sighed and looking sadly at her girlfriend said, “Willow, d . . . don’t forget your p . . . promise.”
When Willow had de-aged Xander, they had had a long talk about abusing magic. In the end, Willow had promised to only do major magic if necessary.
“I remember,” Willow said looking down so no one could see the slight gleam in her eyes, she would do the right thing.
Xander watched his favorite person intently, beaming when His Hodses would pause to look at him before taking another bite of his sandwich. Hodges glanced at the boy again. Yup, he was still sitting there, letting his legs swing back and forth, staring at him. Occasionally, when the child realized he was looking back at him, Xander’s face would light up and he would give him the biggest grin.
Both man and boy jumped when the break room door slammed open and Ecklie stormed in looking furious. “Hodges! Why aren’t you in Trace? What are you doing in here?”
Xander frowned as Hodges blinked. “I’m taking my lunch break, Director.”
“It’s 8:40,” Ecklie glared.
“There wasn’t any pending tests,” Hodges explained, “I didn’t have a chance to have any breakfast tonight and thought I could have my lunch now, since I’m watching Xander and I could just work through my normal lunch time later.”
“I decide when you eat lunch, not you,” Ecklie snarled.
Ecklie then turned his glare on Xander and the boy eyed him curiously. Normally, Xander hated when people glared at him like that, but this was different. Ickie wasn’t angry; Xander could tell that. He wasn’t sure what was wrong with the man, but Xander was sure he’d figure it out. After all, his Papa was always telling him how smart he was.
“”What is that brat doing here?” Ecklie asked.
Hodges looked at Xander. “The Sherriff wanted to speak with Grissom, short notice. Since I wasn’t busy, He asked me to watch his son during the meeting."
Ecklie’s eyes narrowed. “Do you know what the Sherriff wanted to discuss with him?”
“No, Director,” Hodges said, “Grissom didn’t say.”
“Fine,” Ecklie said, “Get back to work when they’re done and let me know if you find out what they discussed. I can’t do my job effectively if there are secrets floating around the lab.”
As Ecklie left, Hodges noticed that Xander was smiling before the boy tilted his head and got a thoughtful expression as he stared at the door. He didn’t know what the child was thinking about, but with the way Xander acted around him, Hodges didn’t think he was thinking about mischief.
Xander smiled sweetly as Ecklie headed toward the door, already yelling at the next person he saw. He had figured out what was wrong with Ickie. He wasn’t angry. He was sad and upset. Why? Xander didn’t know, nor did he want to. Now, Xander just needed to think of how to fix Ickie and make him happy.
Next time: December Madness