A Problem Child
Fandoms: BtVS and Stargate SG1
Summary: Willow and Daniel find out that Chris has been suspended from school for fighting...
Timelines: Set about 3 years after 'Sudden Changes'.
Author’s Note: This is a companion fic to ‘Sudden Changes’. Edited: 27/01/12.
Disclaimer: BtVS and Stargate SG1 belong to Mutant Enemy and MGM respectively.
It had been almost three years since he’d been given the book, the pages were so thick with information that Chris still hadn’t yet been able to finish it; he was still translating pages two-hundred and five through to two-hundred and eight; his dad had offered to help him, or maybe show him some of his own workings-out...
But Chris had wanted to do it himself.
He loved the book.
It had been the best birthday present he’d ever had, and so it was treated as such; no new creases or tears could be seen on the book, no juice stains or chocolate fingerprints; he wanted it to stay absolutely perfect.
The book made him feel close with his dad, and the grandparents he’d never met- the Jacksons, not the Rosenbergs- mostly, it just made him feel better when he was sad; he could go his mom and dad, too, but there were times when he couldn’t.
And at the moment, he couldn’t.
But, anyway, what kind of eight year old goes to his mom and dad all the time?
He wasn’t a baby; he was eight.
Well, he was almost eight.
Besides, his dad was working until dinner time and his mom was busy with Lucas-the-Mucus; he’d given his baby brother that nickname last week after he’d spit-up, he had a cold; his mom was a little worried about him.
Chris shut the book and pushed it away from him, his elbows touched the table before him and he scrubbed his face with his hands; he wished that he wasn’t grounded, he’d be able to talk to his mom about Josh and why he’d been suspended from school that afternoon.
It wasn’t as if he’d meant to do it, it was an accident... really, it was...
The teacher hadn’t even let him explain, and Josh wasn’t exactly able to tell her what had happened; his lip had been split... and that butt-wipe of a teacher had thought that Chris had started it all; he’d never started a playground fight in his whole life!
“Chris!” His mom called from downstairs.
Darn it; was she telepathic?
He hoped not.
“Can you come downstairs?” it wasn’t a question, “We need to talk.”
Chris sighed, those hated four words, “Okay, mom!”
He slid from his wooden chair and, trying not to trip over the stuffed Pikachu toy lying on his carpet, made his way out onto the landing and down the stairs. He passed the clock hanging on the wall opposite the foot of the stairs, it was four o’clock; his dad would be home in a few hours, they were going to play Dominos after dinner.
But he probably wouldn’t get to.
Stupid Greg, stupid mean-little-pig Greg; even though he wasn’t little; he was a year older than Chris and in his class; the teacher liked him because he was really tidy, and because his dad was a Gym instructor in the school.
Chris scowled as he entered the kitchen, glancing at his little brother; the kid seemed to be trying to stretch an Elmo toy over his head, he was also eyeing the cookie jar that happened to be a few feet out of his reach; he didn’t have to go to school; his mom had said that he was too little. He looked away from his little brother and saw that his mom was sitting at the dinner table, she nodded at the seat.
“Sit,” she didn’t look angry, but she did look as if she was going to lecture him.
Chris sat at the table opposite his mom; he waited for her to start the lecture.
Surprisingly, she smiled very slightly at him, “Tell me what happened.”
Chris blinked, then all the words rushed forwards, “It wasn’t me who started it, mom. It was Greg; he’s always beating up on my friends.”
Was it him, or did his mom look as though she knew something?
“Is this particular friend’s name ‘Josh’ by any chance?” she asked, expectantly.
Chris nodded, not knowing what to say.
His mom sighed and clasped her hands together on the table, “You’ve got a little visitor in the living room.”
Perplexed, he waited until she gestured at him to vacate the table; he climbed from the chair and ran into the living room, wanting to know who it was; though he kind of already guessed, “Josh!”
A thin, pale boy was sitting on the couch watching television; he turned his anxious gaze to Chris, “Hiya, I told ya mum what happened at school.”
Chris glanced back to his mom, she nodded to him; he turned back to his best friend, “You did? Is your lip really totalled?”
Josh nodded, touching his lip gingerly, “Mmhm, I’ll tell the teacher what happened; Greg was asking for it, hugely.”
Chris shifted from foot to foot, and decided not to tell his buddy that he’d only broken the boy’s nose by accident; he swore those boxes had appeared right out of thin air; and that darn wall hadn’t been of any help at all, “Um... yeah.”
Josh took in his surroundings, and scratched his blond head absentmindedly, “I should probably go, my mum’ll be home soon.”
Chris nodded and saw that his mom and stood up from the chair she was on, he wondered if he was still grounded or not; it would be cool if he wasn’t, it would be even better if his dad didn’t have to know that he’d been suspended.
“Thank you for coming over, Josh,” she smiled at the boy, “Are you sure you don’t wanna stay over for dinner?”
Josh could stay over?!
Chris grinned, and turned to his buddy; but his heart sank a little, Josh wore an apologetic smile on his face, “You can’t stay?”
Josh shook his head, his British accent more pronounced, “I have to go home. Sorry, Miss.”
Chris pulled a face, his friend was the best; but he was weird!
“That’s fine, maybe another time,” she replied, walking the boy to the front door, “I’ll see if I can’t get Chris back into school soon.”
Josh smiled, winced, and then nodded, “That’s mega, seeya back at school, Chris.”
“See ya,” Chris waved half-heartedly, disappointed.
“Thanks for the cookies, Miss. Rosenberg,” he said as he stepped out of the house, “Bye.”
She watched until Josh was out of sight, then closed the door; she gave him a look, “I suppose I’m gonna be spending all day tomorrow on the phone to the school.”
Chris lowered his gaze, feeling guilty, “Sorry, mom; it really was an accident. He really looked like he was gonna hurt Josh, too. Are you gonna tell dad?”
She ushered him over to the couch, “Well, I’m gonna have to, kiddo.”
Jack was gonna laugh himself silly over this one, Daniel shook his head and couldn’t resist a smile; neither he, nor Willow, had been popular in school; both of them ridiculed and mocked, and at no time had either of them thrown a punch at their tormentors.
Well, Daniel had instigated and won that brawl so many years ago, but he had been under the influence of the Atanik armbands; so that was hardly a breakthrough.
“I’m still grounded aren’t I?”
At his son’s morose tone, Daniel looked at his son over his dinner plate; spearing his last potato at the end of his fork, he considered Chris’s question for a few moments. As much as he would love to foster the small part of him that brightened at the thought of a bully, whatever their age, getting their comeuppance, he doubted that allowing his son to believe that using his fists was the only answer was a decent parenting skill.
On the other hand, he was quite proud of him for sticking up for his best friend.
So, Daniel and Willow would compromise.
“Yes, Chris,” he replied, “You are still grounded.”
Chris’s shoulders slumped, and he glared at his green beans; a pale flush bloomed over his cheeks.
Daniel sighed at glanced at his wife, silently letting her continue.
“However, seeing as we would have to give you two weeks’-
His oldest child and son looked upset, “Two weeks!?”
Willow gave him a look, “Let me finish. Considering that it’s your birthday next week, we’ve compromised a little.”
Chris blinked hopefully, looking a little tearful, “What do you mean? Can we still go to Water World? Can we?”
Daniel and Willow glanced at each other, and he decided to take over, “That’s up to you, Chris; we’re giving you two options. We can let the two weeks’ stand, and we don’t go to Water World-
Actually, Daniel wanted to go too; plus he had specifically asked for his downtime to be next weekend so that he wouldn’t miss Chris’s eighth birthday.
-or,” Daniel paused, “or we can postpone it until after next weekend.”
Chris’s eyes went wide, “Next weekend, next weekend!”
Daniel held up his free hand silencing him, “The catch is that your two weeks will turn into four weeks, and that month will start the following week we get back.”
Chris’s mouth was open, “Four weeks?”
Daniel nodded, knowing what was coming next; he was glad that they’d done this after dinner, rather that during, “Four weeks.”
Chris’s lower lip trembled, “B-but Nate’s Birthday party is on the fourteenth, I said I’d come... there’ll be a clown, a-and cotton candy...and... it’s not fair!”
Willow pushed her plate away, “Sweetie, you broke that kid’s nose.”
Tears fell onto his empty plate, “But... it was a-an accident... and he was being a big, stupid jerk anyways!”
Daniel placed his fork back down on his plate, along with the potato, suddenly he didn’t feel like eating it, “Chris, the bottom line is: you have those two choices.”
“But it’s Nate’s party,” he cried tearfully, “Every kid in my class is going!”
Willow shook her head, “You don’t have to choose right now, it’s-
Chris pushed himself away from the table, the chair legs scraped loudly, and then he slid off and ran from the room sobbing, “It’s not fair!”
Daniel grimaced, “Ugh... that went well.”
Willow let out a long sigh, then looked a little pained, “I guess it could have been worse.”
Lucas, who had been remarkably quiet during the whole conversation, laughed and picked up a handful of spaghetti, holding it above his head; looking a little too mischievous for a boy who was only two years old.
Willow pointed her best warning finger, “Lucas...”
The pale strings of pasta landed with a splat on the table in front of Lucas, the infant giggled as his mother shook her head in dismay.
Taking pity on his wife, Daniel rose from his chair and picked his plate up, “I’ll clear everything up.”
Willow smiled, looking tired, “I’ll go talk to Chris in twenty minutes. That ought to give him time to calm down.”
Daniel paused in mid stride to the kitchen, a thought suddenly occurred to him, “Do you think it was a complete accident... not on purpose, per se,
She frowned, gesturing for him to elaborate, “But...
Daniel shook his head, dismissing the thought, “I-it doesn’t matter.”
Willow’s lips twitched, “Daniel, Chris is just a kid- boys get into fights all the time. There was this one time when Xander saw Percy West picking on me in fifth grade... it was the same thing, Xan was sticking up for me, and Chris just wanted to help his friend.”
Daniel nodded, and hoped that their son wasn’t still too upset after he’d done the dishes, “I guess if Chris just accepts his punishment, then the objective is pretty much achieved.”
The redhead agreed with a smile, “If he does his chores, his homework then... well, I’ll guess we’ll just wait and see... maybe we’ll let him go to Nate’s party.”
Lucas splayed his orange-stained hands at his parents, and stuck his tongue out playfully; his blue eyes, very much like his and Chris’s, followed him until Daniel picked the baby up, “Here we go,” he teased, tickling his stomach a little.
Chris glared at the wall, tears still stinging his eyes, “Not fair,” he mumbled under his breath, “Not fair
Each word was punctuated with a slashing motion, his fingers were curled into imaginary claws; each swipe sending the stuffing from his teddy-bear flying into the air, the toy would join the two others under his bed- the curtain would hide them away.
He never looked under his bed anymore.