THE PRODIGAL ZEPPO
Disclaimer: This is a crossover between the nighttime soap opera Dynasty, and Buffy: the Vampire Slayer. Don't sue me, I'm poor. I only own the plot. Everyone else belongs to MutantEnemy, Joss Whedon, Esther Shapiro, the WB and Fox. Now, on with the plot!
Alexander Lavelle Harris came back to consciousness by degrees. He was in a lot of pain and he slowly began to take note of where he was. Judging by the smell of the air, and the soft beeping in the background, he’d guess that he was in a hospital.
His memory of what had happened came back to him slowly. He, Willow and Buffy had just finished off getting rid of The Judge for good, and had a pizza to celebrate. He’d been in such a good mood; he’d forgotten to be on the lookout for Tony. The minute he’d crawled into his bedroom via the window, the older man had laid into him with a belt, taking him by surprise and knocking the sixteen year old down to the floor.
The last thing that Xander remembered was his mother trying to stop Tony, only to be flung against the wall headfirst, a loud ‘crack’ telling him that she had shattered her skull and was dead. He had fainted from the pain after that.
He became aware of a familiar red head snoring softly at his side, and he smiled at the thought of his bestest bud keeping a bedside vigil over him.
“Wills?” he croaked, and her head shot up with a loud ‘snap’.
"Anywaythe copssaythatyouradoptedandthatyou'rerealfatherishere!” the young redhead babbled earnestly.
“Breathe, Willow, breathe!” he heard Giles say and Xander carefully turned his head to look over at the Watcher.
“Hey there Giles, what’s the what?”
Rupert Giles smiled sadly at the sight of the boy he considered to be his son laying in the hospital bed. It had been a very close call for the boy, as he’d been suffering from multiple contusions, broken ribs, a broken arm and blood loss. Tony Harris was now in jail awaiting bail for the murder of his wife and the attempted murder of his son. If Giles were to have his way, the man would burn for the next fifty thousand years in the deepest pit of hell for his sins.
“Your father is in jail, as Willow has said Xander. Your mother tried to intervene when Tony started beating you, but he killed her. The DA has filed charges and he’s awaiting bail. As it turns out, you are adopted. When the doctor’s ran a DNA test on your blood, it was determined that you were not related to either Tony or Jessica.”
“I knew that,” the young man said hoarsely, “I went looking for my birth certificate, so that I could get my GED and get emancipated. Imagine my surprise when I found the adoption papers, and my birth certificate in the attic. My real mom’s name was Antoinette Jackson, and my dad’s name was Michael Torrance of Billings, Montana. If you’re going to look for him, look there.”
“Actually, I’m already here,” said a new voice, and Xander turned to see who it was that had spoken. He saw a very handsome man in his mid to late forties with jet black hair and stormy grey eyes standing by the door. The clothes he wore just screamed ‘money’, and he was accompanied by a petite woman in her thirties with long, curly black hair, and large dark eyes.
“I’m your father,” the man stated, “I was once known as Michael Torrance of Billings, Montana, but I also have another name: Adam Carrington.”
“Doesn’t ring a bell,” Xander stated quietly, feeling somewhat woozy from the meds that were coursing through his system.
“Never mind, we’ll talk when you feel better.”
“All right! Your fifteen minutes are up! This boy needs rest!” said a female voice that just had to belong to a nurse resembling a Valkyrie, and sure enough, it did. She shooed everyone out of the room, even Willow, who was protesting that she couldn’t leave him all alone.
The nurse prevailed in the end, and Xander was left alone. He fell asleep once more, completely unaware of the turmoil that was about to start in the hallway.
Buffy looked up at Adam Carrington in full angry-uber-protective mode. She was keeping her inner Slayer on a leash, but it was still active enough to make the older man extremely uncomfortable in her presence.
“Are you evil?” she asked point blank and Adam raised his eyebrows at the question.
“I beg your pardon?”
“It’s a simple question: Are you evil?”
“No, I’m not.” He said truthfully. He had changed from the angry young man he had been, when he’d first come to Denver in search of his identity.
“Buffy, leave the man alone; he had nothing to do with Xander’s injuries.”
“He can still hurt him.” The Slayer said flatly.
“How’d you find out about Xander?” Willow asked softly, and he turned his attention to her.
“I got a call two days ago from the Sunnydale police. They’d found out that Xander wasn’t related to the Harris’s, and dug up a copy of his birth certificate. They got in contact with me in Colorado, and told me about my son, and what had happened to him. How long has this been going on?”
Willow lowered her eyes uncomfortably, “Weeelll, there were times when we were little and he would come over to my house, and not let me hug him. I think that it’s been going on for a few years, but Tony has gotten really nuts in the past six months or so. He lost his job, and Jessica has been a mess for years. We were all coming home after a study session, and stopped for a slice of pizza. We didn’t hear about Xander until later when the police came to my parents’ house. They told us that he nearly died from being hurt so bad.”
Willow started to cry, and Giles put his arms around her, “Don’t cry Willow, Xander is going to be just fine. Once all of the legalities are taken care of, I’m sure that Mr. Carrington will accept Xander into his home,” the look on the older Brit’s face told Adam that he had better damned well do just that.
Buffy pulled a handkerchief out of her pocket, “Come on Wills, let’s get you home so that you can change. You’ve been worrying yourself sick over Xander for two days. We better play catch up on the homework crap otherwise we’ll be stuck in detention…again!”
“My homework’s been done,” the little redhead said quietly, and Buffy shook her head.
“Willow, Willow, Willow; you have got to learn to prioritize. Friends first, fashion second, homework dead last.”
“You only say that ‘cause you’re flunking French II.”
Buffy grumbled at bit at that, but managed to lead her friend away without further ado, leaving Giles alone with Adam and his wife.
He took off his glasses and leveled his best ‘Ripper’ glare at them. “I hope that the two of you are not planning on going anywhere for the duration. Xander is going to need you, as well as us, if he’s going to recover from this.”
“Be rest assured, Mr. Giles, my entire family and I will be here for Xander. Once he’s recovered enough to travel, my wife Kirby and I are planning to take him home with us to Denver. As his father, I have certain rights, and I can legally claim him, seeing as he has no one else to take care of him.”
“Good,” the Watcher stated, putting his glasses back on. “Just a few words about Sunnydale; don’t go out after dark; don’t invite anyone into your hotel room that doesn’t belong there; if you are religious at all, wear something that affirms your faith at all times, and don’t overwhelm Xander all at once. He doesn’t trust easily.”
“I can sympathize, believe me. I had and still have plenty of trust issues,” Adam said, and Kirby wrapped her free arm around his waist in support.
He had done his homework on the town of Sunnydale and was appalled at the amount of murders, gang violence and other assorted things that took place in this town. The thought that a child of his had grown up in a place like this, with a pair of drug and alcohol addicted abusers had nearly been too much for Adam’s self-control.
Right now, he had full legal custody of his son, and once Xander was well enough to be moved, he was getting him the hell out of this town. If he wanted to come back here later on after he was legally an adult, there was little that Adam or even Blake would be able to do to stop him.
Three weeks later, Xander was released from the hospital. Although still weak, he was extremely chipper, mostly due to Willow and Buffy sneaking him Twinkies while his father and the nurses weren’t looking.
Alexis had gotten wind of what had happened to him, and had made it her personal business to sink the career of Principal Snyder. After her lawyers had gotten through with his stunted rear end, the former principal of Sunnydale High School was now flipping burgers at a burger restaurant, unable to get a job anywhere near children.
Joyce Summers insisted on throwing Xander a small party at her house, and naturally, Buffy, Willow and Cordelia Chase had invited nearly half the school to the small house to say goodbye to him.
Giles had revealed some rather…interesting news before the majority of the attendees came to the house.
“Well, to make a long story short, it seems that Xander’s Uncle Rory has gotten a lawyer on his brother’s behalf, and it seems that Tony has pleaded insanity.”
There had been a loud chorus of “WHAT!?” from everyone, Buffy and Adam being the loudest.
Giles had simply held up one finger and the tumult died in an instant, “As I was saying Rory Harris has placed his brother in an institution and signed over all his powers of attorney to the doctors.” He waited a moment, and saw the interest starting to take a hold of his audience.
“It seems that there are new, experimental treatments for Tony’s cirrhosis. Treatments with rather nasty…side effects shall we say,” he smirked and everyone started grinning.
“Um, G-man; how nasty are we talking here?” Xander had asked, nursing a soda and affecting as disinterested tone as he could manage.
“Very nasty; extreme nausea; debilitating headaches; diarrhea; loss of bladder control; things of that nature.” The Watcher accepted a glass of iced tea from Joyce with a very Ripper-ish grin in his face, and saw that there identical feral grins on every face in the room.
“Giles, you are the most sneaky, rotten, underhanded, evil individual I have ever met in my sixteen years. I am truly, truly pleased to be in the presence of such greatness.” Xander had quipped, his grin had been the most feral of all, and had frightened the hell out of his father, stepmother and grandmother.
Right now, Xander was sitting outside in the backyard, with Willow and Buffy, watching the other kids have a good time, as well as Alexis getting caught up in the festivities. The frosty Englishwoman was actually getting along with Joyce, and they were deep in a discussion about art history.
“There’s something I never thought I would see,” the now familiar voice of Adam said behind them, making the three of them jump, “My mother actually being more than semi-nice to someone who isn’t even anywhere near her financial equal. It’s a bit disconcerting, to tell you the truth.”
“Is she really that bad, Mr. Carrington?” Willow asked, taking a sip of her diet soda.
“No, actually she’s worst.”
“Congrats Xander, you have Medea for a grandma.” Buffy said with a bit of cattiness, which made Kirby squirt her diet soda out of her nose. After her coughing fit subsided, she leaned against her husband, giggling madly.
“That suits your mother to a ‘T’!” she gasped out, as Adam rubbed her back gently. He simply rolled his eyes at her amusement, grinning all the while.
After the majority of the kids had gone home, well before sunset, Xander tore into the presents that Buffy and the others had gotten him.
“Neat!” he said, looking over the latest X-Men graphic novel, “I’ve been waiting for this to come out! I’ll read it later!”
Cordy had actually gotten him a CD player, to replace the one that Tony had destroyed in his rampage, as well as a couple of Hawaiian shirts; in much better taste than the ones that Alexis and Adam had found when they’d gone through his things while he’d still been recovering.
Alexis had been appalled at her grandson’s apparent lack of taste, and had insisted on burning the shirts in the house’s fireplace. Adam had agreed with her, but had managed to save a couple of things just the same. There was no sense in depriving his son of the things he was most familiar with just because he was moving away.
Giles had gotten Xander a good set of throwing knives, once he’d discovered that the younger man had a very keen eye, as well as a nasty fastball. He’d figured that combining the two would keep him alive over the next few years, even if he was moving to Denver.
Buffy and Willow had put their heads together and had gotten him a stack of his favorite CD artists, some twenty in all.
By the time he got onto the plane to Denver, Xander was completely exhausted. He settled into his seat with a sigh.
He wasn’t too happy at leaving Sunnydale, especially with Spike and Drusilla on the loose, but there was no helping it. Until he was eighteen, he was officially his father’s responsibility.
As for his father, Xander hadn’t quite made up his mind about him. He knew that there was a dark side to the man, but he also knew that it would never express itself in an abusive rage.
Kirby was easy to read; she was warm, loving, compassionate, and was fiercely protective of anyone that she considered to be family. She had surprised Xander by accepting him as family immediately, something that touched him deeply. Jessica hadn’t been all that affectionate or accepting of him, not even when he’d been little.
As for Alexis, this was one woman who Xander was glad was on his side. Anyone who deliberately made an enemy of her deserved what they got; in his opinion, doing so was as stupid as going into the sleeping dragon’s cave, knocking on its nose, and saying, “Hi there! I’m here to steal your treasure. I hope you don’t mind.”
“Alexander? Are you all right?” Alexis asked, and he opened his eyes to look at her.
“I’m all right, Grandma. I’m just tired; today was a heck of a day.”
“Indeed it was dear. How you managed to grow up sane in that town I’ll never understand.”
“I had Jesse and Willow to help me out with the worst of it; they stuck by me through everything that I went through.”
Alexis knew the truth about Sunnydale and the Hellmouth; Adam had told her everything, and once the screaming and cursing had died down, she had insisted on joining him and Kirby there. She wasn’t about to let a grandchild of hers stay in a place like that.
She might be a vicious, evil, conniving, greedy woman, but underneath it all, Alexis loved all of her grandchildren dearly. With them, she didn’t have to pretend to be anything, or put on any masks for them; they accepted her as she was without question or condition.
“I’m sorry about Jesse, son.” Adam said, handing him a pillow, and helping him adjust his seat, “I know that he was like a brother to you. He didn’t deserve to die the way that he did.”
Xander had told Adam about how he’d had to stake Jesse when he was still in the hospital, back when they’d first started getting acquainted with each other. Adam had listened to the tale with horrified fascination, and at the end, he had gathered his weeping son into his arms, and held him until the grief had passed.
When the plane landed in Denver a couple of hours later, Xander woke up just enough to put on his new winter coat, and stagger to the limousine that was waiting for them. He fell asleep again, and stayed that way during the entire ride to the Carrington estate. Adam woke him gently when they got to the enormous mansion, and the half-asleep teen was barely aware of being steered up two flights of stairs, and into a vast bedroom, where his father carefully undressed him and put him into a pair of pajamas. Xander promptly fell against the pillows and lapsed back into sleep, not even registering it when the lights were turned off.
When Xander woke up again, it was broad daylight. According to the clock on the nightstand, he’d been asleep for over twenty-four hours straight! He got out of the huge and oh-so-comfortable bed, shuffled over to the bureau, and got out clean underwear, socks, a pair of brand new jeans, and a blue shirt.
After taking a shower in a bathroom that dwarfed his old bedroom back in Sunnydale, Xander felt a million times better. He looked himself over in the full length mirror, and whistled at the sight of all the bruises that he had on his torso. They were turning yellow and green, and were thankfully no longer black and blue, fortunately, he decided.
He dressed, and found his way to the staircase. Xander took in the huge paintings on the walls, and smirked at the thought of Cordelia having absolute fits over this house. It made her parents place look like a beach bungalow, and he was kind of looking forward to rubbing her face in it, just a little, when he saw her again.
Following his nose, he managed to find his way to the dining room, where most of the family was waiting for him.
“Oh sure, a guy sleeps for one measly little day, and you all have to eat without him,” he said to get their attention. Sure enough, every head at the table came up at the sound of his voice, and there were even a few grins at his remark.
“Xander! You’re finally awake!” Kirby said, getting out of her chair and going over to Xander to hug him. “How are you feeling?”
“Starved. What’s to eat?”
“Anything you want,” she said, “But first some introductions…” she took him by the arm, and led him to where Blake was standing.
“This is your grandfather, Blake Carrington.” She said, pulling a slightly reluctant Xander behind her.
He looked at his grandfather, taking in the older man’s appearance. A pleasant enough face, very distinguished, with gray hair, and the same brown eyes as Xander; he was about the same height, and gave off the impression of an old wolf who was not yet ready to give up leading the pack.
“Hello, Alexander. Welcome to the family.” Blake said, shaking Xander’s hand.
“Please, just Xander. Every time someone calls me Alexander, I never know who they’re talking about.” He replied.
“This is my wife, Krystal.” Blake said, introducing him to a stunningly beautiful woman in her mid forties, with silver-blond hair and crystal blue eyes.
“Hello,” Xander said, feeling tongue-tied in her presence.
“We’re glad to have you here Xander,” Krystal said in her soft voice.
He was introduced to his Aunt Fallon and her ex-husband Jeff, along with their children, Blake, always called L.B., and his sister, Lauren; as well as to his Uncle Steven, his boyfriend Jake, Steven’s ex-wife Sammy Jo, and their son Danny; to his Aunt Kristina, who was all of eleven years old, and clearly had inherited her mother’s beauty; and finally to his three younger half-siblings, who were all of six years old, and clearly took after their father.
The two little girls, Alaina and Alexis were identical down to their long black hair, grey eyes, and mischievous little faces. The boy, Michael was nearly identical to his father in looks, but something told Xander that Adam’s vicious streak was completely absent from the boy.
The smell of the food came to him, and he eagerly served himself from the buffet table, making sure to keep his portions small, as the doctor had warned him back in Sunnyhell not to overload his system with too much food at once.
Blake asked him a few questions about school and his friends, and what his adoptive parents had been like. Xander had been questioned by experts, namely one Willow Rosenberg, and knew a master manipulator when he saw one. He neatly avoided talking about the darker side of Sunnydale, mostly to avoid scaring the crap out of the kids, not to mention giving the rest of the family conniption fits, and after having breakfast, sat down with his parents, Blake and Krystal in the spacious den.
“I’ve looked at your transcripts from Sunnydale Xander, and I have to admit….I’ve never seen remarks from teachers like these.” Blake began, holding up a thick folder that contained Xander’s entire educational background starting from kindergarten.
“Huh! Well, no matter what Mrs. Kominsky said, I definitely did not bring that skunk into the classroom when I was seven. The porcupine I’ll admit to, but not the skunk!”
All heads turned toward him, and he flushed as he cursed himself for a big mouth.
“You brought a porcupine to school?” Adam asked, shocked.
“Well, it was dead! I thought it would be a neat thing for the others to see! I had it in a bag and everything so I wouldn’t get pricked.”
Krystal snorted in laughter, and Adam put his hand over his eyes, trying not to laugh. Kirby didn’t even bother to try to stop herself; she started giggling, and even Blake chuckled over it.
“I’ve looked at the reports from the school nurse about the bruises that you used to show, and the woman was remarkably negligent about reporting her suspicions of abuse.”
“Uh, Grandpa? Was this Nurse Mary?”
“Yes, it was.”
“She sort of ended up dead when she threatened to go to the cops; she was found dead of a barbeque fork to the neck a week later.”
Blake snorted, “Xander, I know about Sunnydale’s peculiar history. I’ve met the Mayor personally, and he’s one of the few people on the face of this planet that scares the hell out of me. I’ve had business dealings with a few demons in the past, very few mind you, but I’ve had them.”
Xander’s mouth dropped open in shock, “What kind of demons, Grandpa?”
“Oh, them,” Xander said with a sight of relief, “The only things they’re really interested in is a pint of Guinness ale, soccer matches on TV, and playing the stock market. How did your deals go by the way?”
“Profitable.” Was all that Blake said about those deals.
“Now, Adam told me that you wanted to test out of the school system and get your GED, so that you could become an emancipated minor.”
“Yeah, I figured that it was the only legitimate way that I could get away from Tony and Jessica. I wasn’t really a son to them; I was an indentured servant, only good for cleaning the house, and cooking the food.”
“Well, you won’t have to worry about that here. However, becoming emancipated is out of the question. No judge will allow it, seeing as how you haven’t even settled into your new home yet, and have no record of abuse here. There’s also the fact that the family has more than enough money to support you, so you don’t have to do it yourself.”
Xander scowled a bit, but didn’t say anything. He’d kind of figured it would turn out that way.
“So what happens to me now?” he asked.
“I’m going to have you evaluated as to where you should really be academically speaking.” Adam said quietly, “If you’re anything like me, you’re smarter than most kids. You’re probably the equal of your friend Willow.”
Xander smirked at that, “I know. I just played dumb so that people would underestimate me. They always harped on the fact that I was flunking English Lit, but it never occurred to them that it was Advanced English Lit. My other classes were all right, it was just the teachers that sucked. Especially Snyder, he was a real piece of…..”
“Language Xander,” Blake chided softly.
“…work.” The teen finished somewhat glumly, giving his grandfather a glare that went straight over the older man’s head.
“Once the evaluation is done, we’ll see about placing you in school, or getting you a tutor. In the meantime, once you’re feeling up to it, your grandmother insists on taking you shopping.” Adam stated.
“AAAAAAGGGGGHHHHH! NOT SHOPPING! PLEASE, ANYTHING BUT THAT!” Xander yowled. “I HATE SHOPPING! Please don’t make me go Dad, I don’t wanna!”
The others started giggling at the whiny behavior that Xander was exhibiting. It was a relief from the too-grown-up demeanor he’d been exhibiting for the past hour, to tell the truth.
Adam grinned at Xander, completely unrepentant. “Sorry son, she’s a force of nature, and I for one, don’t get in the way of a hurricane.”
Xander grumbled something in Assyrian, which no one understood, but managed to get the gist of from his tone.
He sank back into the comfy chair he was sitting in, and glared at his father, who didn’t even blink.
“Okay, I’ll go. But I get to pick what I’m going to wear, not Grandma!”
“Does that mean really loud Hawaiian shirts, T-shirts with horrid slogans and unknown bands, comic books that no one has ever heard of, and Twinkies?” Blake asked with a twinkle in his eyes.
For a moment, Xander’s face was completely poker straight; then it happened.
A truly evil, terrifying, monstrous grin spread out over his face, and his eyes seemed to glow an odd shade of green. The laugh that came out of him was not even remotely human, but more like that of a hyena.
He kept on laughing for several minutes, scaring the absolute crap out of everyone.
Finally, he sobered up somewhat and looked at them all, “What? You didn’t think that She was gone, did you? If anything, the beating I took from Tony has made her even more determined to stick around.”
“Who’s she?” Kirby asked in a small voice.
He told them about the Primal Hyena that had possessed him about a year before, and what the other members of the Pack had done to Herbert the Pig, and Principal Flutie. While he’d been there for the devouring of the school mascot, he had NOT taken part in what they had done to the mild mannered school principal.
At the end of the explanation, the entire gathering looked a bit green around the gills, and Adam’s eyes had gone ice cold at what this all meant for the family.
“What does she intend to do with us, Xander?” he asked quietly.
“Don’t worry Dad,” Xander said, “She knows that you’re all good people and would never hurt me. She knows that Grandpa is the Alpha of the group, and she’s not about to challenge him. It’s just that she’s kind of lonely, all by herself with no other pack members. I did some research on hyenas and it turns out that when they aren’t threatened, they are really pretty loving when it comes to their families. Believe me, she’s no threat.”
“What about the children? Are they in any danger?” Fallon asked.
“Nope,” he answered, “She loved kids, and will always look to protect them. As for forming a pack, I’ll do that eventually. You know…take a mate, have kids, have a real home….stuff like that.”
The tension drained out of the room at that statement. It was terrifying to see the newest member of the family change so quickly, and emit such a dangerous aura, but it was paradoxically reassuring to know that he was no threat to them or the children.
Three days later, thanks to the faster healing he had inherited from the Hyena, Xander was completely healed of all of his injuries. He had been evaluated by a top notch expert in the field, who had taken one look at the score on the test, looked at Xander’s actual grades, and decried the California school system in the most obscene terms possible.
Xander’s ears had rung for a good half hour after that; he didn’t know that there were women in the world with that kind of vocabulary, much less that there were women who were willing to use it. Out loud. For long periods of time. With a lot of creativity.
Alexis took this as her cue to take her grandson shopping, and get him clothes that a Carrington should wear!
Right now, Xander was being measured for a tuxedo, so that he could attend some of the family’s more glitzy parties during the winter holidays. So far, he had been stuck in the leg with a pin no less than three times, his stomach was grumbling to all and sundry, and his grandmother was sitting there like the Cheshire Cat, grinning smugly at his predicament.
He already had a pile of dress shirts, ties, socks, underwear (and how embarrassing was it to have your grandmother pick that out?) pajamas, a solid silk bathrobe, dress shoes that cost more than any ten pairs of sneakers he’d ever worn in his life, and even a couple of cummerbunds.
Figuring that she’d heard his cousins and siblings whine their way out of whatever shopping expeditions she’d taken them on, and had heard it all, this situation clearly called for different tactics.
The question was: what tactic to use that she’d be completely unprepared for?
Belching and farting were cliché, passé, and déclassé to say the least, and he didn’t really want her THAT mad at him. He simply wanted her ticked off. At least a little bit.
‘The old gum snapping trick should work here,’ he thought, carefully keeping his thoughts from his face. ‘It certainly worked on Willow and Buffy that one time they made me their pack horse last summer at the shoe store.’
With his back to Alexis, Xander carefully took a stick of gum from the pocket of his shirt, removed it from the wrapper, and popped it into his mouth.
After the sugar was good and dissolved, he snapped the gum; once or twice, just to get her attention.
She glared at him frostily, and he put on his best ‘harmless doofus’ façade. It had fooled better people than her in the past, and there was no way she wouldn’t fall for it.
She did, and looked away from him, consulting with the tailor over certain fabric swatches that the man had produced from somewhere.
Once her attention was off of Xander, he waited patiently as the assistant continued to poke pins into the fabric, and occasionally, his leg. Xander looked down at the hapless dipstick, and growled softly, his dark eyes as hard as diamonds.
The assistant made the mistake of actually looking up at him, took one look at his eyes, and squeaked in fright at the hardened gaze.
“No more poking me in the leg, or I poke you in the eyeball,” Xander said, too softly for Alexis and the head tailor to hear, “Do you read me?”
The assistant nodded, and from then on was more careful with the pins.
Xander started up with the gum snapping again, faster this time. The assistant flinched at the noise, but gamely kept up what he was doing. Alexis, really annoyed by now, turned her gaze on her grandchild to scold him for being disruptive.
Her frosty green glare was met head on by a frosty brown one, and for several minutes, no one in the room dared to breathe as the two engaged in a silent battle of wills.
Two minutes ticked by; then three, then four. Once the clock had ticked off five minutes and twenty-five seconds, Alexis said “All right, I think that’s enough for now. We’ll come back later on for the fitting after you’ve got the mockup ready. Thank you Pierre.”
“You are welcome Mrs. Colby. It is always a pleasure to serve you.” The head tailor said, thankful that this session was over. He’d dealt with younger children who were more cooperative than the teenager standing on the fitting stool, and he was more than grateful to see him go.
Xander hopped off of the stool, humming happily at being released from durance vile, and changed back into his jeans.
Once they were out of the tailor shop, Xander then proceeded to drag his grandmother on his idea of a shopping trip.
The first stop was a comic book store, where Xander started up an account for all of his favorite titles, and managed to score a few that he didn’t currently have.
The second was a store that sold Hawaiian shirts in the most lurid colors and patterns on the planet. Alexis took one look at the shirts displayed in the window, and flatly refused to go in. Xander simply smiled disarmingly at her, went inside, and came out again some twenty minutes later with several bags full of the wretchedly colorful things.
After that, they stopped at the local Foot Locker, where Xander picked up three pairs of sneakers that were on sale. Just because his dad and extended family had money, it didn’t mean that Xander was going to waste his by paying full price. Even the shirts had been on special, but there was no need to tell Alexis that.
By now, Alexis was well and truly pissed off with him, so he decided to call it quits and not make her take him out for a slice of pizza.
The drive home in the limo was silent for the most part, each of them ignoring the other. Xander knew that Alexis was going to give his father an earful about his behavior, but considering that he hadn’t eaten since breakfast, and had to endure numerous pokes in the leg from that dipstick assistant, he had let her off easy. Had he wanted to, he could have been a REAL pain in the patootie, and not only driven her up the wall, but across the ceiling.
When they reached the mansion, Xander was nearly booted out of the limo by his irate grandmother, who stomped in ahead of him, leaving him and the chauffeur alone outside.
“What’d you do to piss her off?” the man wanted to know.
“Not much; I just snapped my gum in the tailor shop. Like a good little maniac should.”
The chauffeur simply looked at him with wide eyes, “And that’s it? There’s got to be more to the story than just that!”
“I also made her come with me into the comic store, the Hawaiian shirt place, and Foot Locker.”
“Dang kid! You really like playing with fire, don’t you?”
“Please!” Xander scoffed, “I’ve dealt with worst than her in my time. Compared to some of the people I’ve known, Nan is a cupcake.”
“You call her Nan?”
“Not just yet, but I’m gonna. It should drive her nuts enough to keep her from bugging Grandpa and Krystal for a good couple of months.”
The chauffeur whistled in appreciation, and insisted on helping the former Zeppo with his bags.
As Xander entered the house, he greeted Gerard kindly, and politely asked him to make sure that his bags were taken up to his room.
“I’d do it myself Gerard, but I get the feeling that my dad is going to have a fit over how I behaved with Nan today.”
“I understand perfectly, Mr. Xander. Shall I check to see if your will is up to date?”
“Don’t fuss about it, Gerard. Compared to Tony, Dad is a pussycat.”
Gerard raised an eyebrow at that; for Adam Carrington to be called a pussycat by his son, the poor boy’s adopted father must have truly been a piece of shite.
Xander walked into the study, where Alexis was indeed expounding on his dreadful behavior not only to his father and stepmother, but also to Blake, Krystal, and the rest of the adult memebers of the family.
As her back was to him, she didn’t take any notice of him entering the room. Adam managed to catch his eye, and to Xander’s relief, he saw only amusement in those grey orbs.
“Mother,” Adam said, after Alexis finally ran out of breath, “It’s not as if he went into a screaming fit in the middle of the mall. All he did was snap his gum and drag you to a couple of stores. Remember how Michael was when you tried to have him fitted for a tux? He actually turned blue in the face from all the screaming he did.”
Confronted with that little tidbit, Alexis quieted down, and turned to face Xander, who actually looked contrite.
“I’m sorry that I drove you spare, Nan.” He said, watching the other sputter at the appellation he’d stuck Alexis with, “But I hadn’t eaten since breakfast, the assistant kept using my leg for a pincushion, and all you did was sit there and grin about it. I had to get even with you somehow.”
“And you did it very well,” the Englishwoman drawled. Now that she thought about it, it was quite amusing. She’d have to keep an eye on this one; he was going to be even sneakier than his father and grandfather by the time he was grown up.