Disclaimer: I don't own any of these shows. Not Buffy, not CSI, and especially not House MD. I'm just borrowing for a bit.
Beta: Queen Sereya
Warning: Hodges is OOC. I don’t think he knows how to deal with kids and to actually try to be nice to one, not knowing how his gesture will be received . . .*shakes head*
AN: This story is a part of my Xander Grissom universe. If you haven't read 'Chance to Change', although not necessary, I'd recommend doing that first.
//Las Vegas Crime Lab, December 23//
Grissom strode down the hall, Xander balanced on one hip. It was the last day before Grissom’s scheduled Christmas Vacation and he had gotten a call from Ecklie about some papers that needed to be signed. Unfortunately, Xander’s usual nanny had already flown back to Michigan to visit family and Lindsey was sick so Mrs. Willows couldn’t watch him. Grissom decided it would be fine as was only going to be there for a few minutes.
“Grissom!” A voice called out as he passed the trace lab.
Grissom turned around, frowning and looked down hoping that Xander hadn't stirred. Xander had been with the Willows, when they had realized Lindsey was sick. All the big people had been worried about Lindsey’s illness and then they were worried over Xander, wondering if he would become sick as well..
On top of that, his Papa had been really excited lately, talking about some red wearing big person with a white beard and reindeer, whatever those were. Xander really didn’t understand it, but his Papa was excited, which made Xander excited. All that excitement, along with the worry about Lindsey being sick, and then him possibly catching it, had tuckered him out and he was quite content to let his papa carry him everywhere while he napped. Besides, Papa had a very nice shoulder.
Grissom looked at Hodges questioningly.
“I’m glad you and Xander are here. Hold on a moment,” Hodges said before hurrying back into his lab. Grissom watched him go warily.
Hodges returned quickly, one hand behind his back. He took a nervous breath before beginning, “I know you’re having a Christmas party on the 26th. . .”
“You’ve already said you couldn’t make it, David,” Grissom interrupted. Catharine had convinced him that a Christmas party for his field techs and some of the lab techs they worked closely with would be a good social event for everyone. Besides, it would allow everyone to see Xander and give any presents they had gotten the much-loved child. Half the lab treated Xander as if he was their own, or at least like a favorite nephew. However, Nick had bowed out for family reasons. It was the one time of the year his whole family was able to gather and was a big affair for the Stokes family. Hodges, likewise, had declined the invitation due to previous plans.
“Yes . . . well . . . Here,” Hodges said, bringing his hand around to reveal a medium sized package wrapped in slivery-blue wrapping paper. The package had little shape and was impossible to tell what it was. Grissom raised his eyebrow in question. “It’s for Xander. I . . . I thought he might like it.
Hodges looked at the ground so he didn’t see Grissom’s soft smile as he looked down at his son. Grissom looked back at Hodges before he suggested, “Why don’t we wake him up so he can open it?”
Hodges jerked his head up, his eyes widening. He didn’t know kids that well and he wasn’t sure if he had gotten an appropriate gift. He definitely didn’t want to be there when it was opened, so he protested. “No, that’s alright. . .”
But Grissom was already jostling Xander awake. Hodges fell silent as Xander blinked his eyes open sleepily. He looked curiously at his papa. “Xander, David has a present for you.”
Xander blinked and then turned to look where his Papa was. He let out a bright smile when he saw Hodges standing there. The man sighed and then handed Xander the brightly wrapped blob. Xander held it with both hands and looked at it curiously. He glanced at Hodges and then his papa. What was he supposed to do with it?
“Open it up, Xander.” Grissom said gently, but Xander still didn’t understand. Finally, Hodges reached over and teared open the top corner of wrapper. Xander gasped in surprise and smiled shyly. He could see something fuzzy in there. He poked his finger in experimentally and smiled. Whatever it was, it was soft. Sucking on his bottom lip he tore the wrapping a little more. He stopped to glance up at his Papa, who nodded encouragingly. His smile grew and he tore the wrapping enthusiastically and then stared.
It was a big fuzzy spider. Well, a stuffed spider with a black body and brown legs. Hodges waited nervously, hoping he had made the right choice. It had taken him six shops before he found one that actually had bugs and spiders as stuffed animals. Apparently, insects weren’t big in the plush department, but he believed it would be the perfect gift for the toddler. Now he stared at the child, waiting for his response. Finally letting the wrappings drift to the floor, Xander hugged his new friend.
Grissom smiled. “Thank you, David. It’s the perfect gift for him.”
Hodges sighed in relief. “I wasn’t sure what to get him, but every child needs a confidant.”
Grissom raised his eyebrow and Hodges pinked slightly, his gaze dropping. Noticing the torn wrapping paper, he immediately crouched down. “I’ll just clean this up. . .”
Both Grissom and Xander watched him for a moment before Grissom thanked him again and continued to his office.
Grissom placed his son down on a chair where he happily cuddled his new friend. As he was finishing the last report, Greg poked his head in. “Hey, Gris. Didn’t think you’d be here. I heard about Lindsey.”
Grissom calmly placed his pen down. “Did you need something, Greg?”
Greg shook his head as he stepped into the crowded office. “No. I thought you had gone home, so when I saw the light on I decided to check.”
“Just some last minute paperwork,” Grissom nodded as Greg glanced down at the cuddling child and smiled. Xander looked up and smiled back. Greg crouched down to stare at Xander and pulling lightly on one of the spider’s legs he asked, “So who’s your new friend, Xander?”
Grissom glanced over. “Hodges got it for him.”
Greg’s eyes widened in surprise that Hodges would get such a thoughtful gift. Hodges and him tended to rub each other the wrong way. Greg was an optimistic guy and Hodges was one of the few people that could get him down. At Xander’s worried expression, he quickly wiped the frown from his face and smiled at the child. “So, what’s his name?”
Xander looked at him in confusion.
Greg smiled. “Every friend needs a name and since he’s yours, you get to name him.”
Xander looked down at the stuffed animal thoughtfully. He glanced at his Papa. What was that name he had called his Hodses. . . Hesitantly, he said, “Davie?”
Xander snuck a quick glance at his papa, who smiled at him and then turned to Greg who was grinning at him. Greg wanted to be there when Xander told Hodges the spider’s name. “I think that’s a great name.”
//years later, January 16//
“Come on in, Rob,” Xander said as he flung his keys on the side table. It had been a rough week, with House hounding them for answers, terrible snowstorms, and patients that would just not heal. Was it any wonder that once everything had settled down, Xander had invited his friend over for a nice, quiet drink. “Bathroom’s through the main bedroom over there.”
Xander had been working with Chase for months now and there had been many nights they had gotten to know each other over drinks, quickly become good friends. Strangely enough, this was the first time Xander had anyone over his place since he had moved to New Jersey.
Chase nodded as he went to clean up. Finishing up, his steps froze as he caught sight of the object displayed proudly on an almost empty shelf. It was a stuffed spider. Not the usual decoration for a bachelor. The spider looked well loved. Its coat faded a dull grey and even worn down in a few spots. “Uh, Xander.”
Xander poked his head in, “Yeah?”
Chase nodded toward the spider. “A stuffed spider?”
Xander looked over and blushed. “That’s Davie. He was a present from a good friend. I keep him out to remind me of back home.”
Chase nodded, a soft smile spreading across his face as he remembered his own distant home. “That’s understandable. Every once in awhile a splurge to make myself a home cooked meal like I used to eat before I came here.”
Xander smiled at his friend, glad he understood. “So, drinks?”
Chase nodded. “After this last week, we need it.”