Author's Note: Welcome to Episode 5. As always reviews are most welcome! For this story I've incorporated an actual famous - and haunted - location in New York City; however, I've changed the names to protect the innocent ... and not so innocent. I don't want to step on any toes as far as facts and copyrights. After all, I don't own any of it.
You don't absolutely have to have read the previous episodes to be able to read this one but a few of the story arcs and subplots may initially be confusing. If you haven't read the previous stories they are as follows:
Episode 1: Missing Heart (story complete)
Episode 2: Rules of Engagement (story complete)
Episode 3: Buried Above Ground (story complete)
Episode 4: Bridget Over Troubled Waters (story in progress, crossover with CSI: Vegas, coauthored with and being posted by CSIFanRider)
Episode 5: The Haunted Hotel (in progress)
Links for the above episodes can be found in my profile, so feel free to click away. Also, I'd like to once again mention that smuffly, CSIFanRider, and I have pulled together some of the best stories here at Fan Fiction that have Adam Ross as a main character. There's over sixty of them at last count. The link for that community can also be found under my profile.
Last bit of explanation before getting out of your way so you can start reading is this, all of the stories that I write use actual series canon as their basis where at all possible. This includes character behavior, ages, personal back stories, relationships as they stood at the end of season 9, etc. However, if you see that I've blundered and have missed or messed up please feel free to call me on it in a PM. When in doubt I try and go back and watch the actual series episode of use resources like CSI Wiki or the actors' reading of their character's motivations. I'm not averse however to someone fact checking what I write. So yeah, let me know if something is out of kilter.
And without further ado ... The Haunted Hotel
The man, woman, and child sat in the cabin of the business class jet and just stared around. The man said, "Whoa, this is … just … wow."
The small woman, his companion, agreed with a silent nod while she busied herself adjusting the nervous child's seatbelt so that it fit snuggly but was still comfortable. An attendant … the woman wasn't sure if they were really still called a stewardess on such a small plane … came over to help. "Mr. Webber said to make sure you had everything you needed," the young woman said with a genuine smile. "After we get airborne there are some S-N-A-C-K-S that might be nice. We'll serve a meal once we get to cruising altitude and the seatbelt sign is off."
Adam nodded at the attendant and said, "Thanks." After she left to do whatever her other duties were Adam looked at his significant other and asked, "You sure Christine said she'd be able to meet us at the airport? It is going to be cold when we land, maybe even some snow on the ground by morning. I hate to bother her but …"
Emi nodded. "I told her the same thing but she just told me to hush, that it wasn't a bother and to stop fussing about it She said her staff could manage one afternoon without her ... or that she needed new staff." Emi rolled her eyes a little remembering Christine's tone when she'd said it. "She got the house key from Lindsey since she had to be in court or I would have asked her instead. When Christine got over to the house she said Mrs. Morrisey helped to find the boxes that I told her about. They didn't even have to dig them out. I'm just glad that we finally finished painting the room."
Adam was glad as well but more because he knew how the blood stains on the floors and walls had always bothered Emi, bringing back terrible memories that she fought to deal with. He quickly sought to change the subject. "I still can't believe that you kept all of the stuff that belonged to your little brother. I mean that's a good thing," he said not wanting her to think he was criticizing. "But are you sure you want to do that? I thought you said you were going to pack their stuff away in that cedar chest your father made because it still upset you too much to give them away."
Emi shrugged trying to appear nonchalant when that's really the last thing she felt. "Ma made most of Marty and Mary's clothes. I told you she was a part time seamstress to bring in a little extra money when she could. I don't know why the idea of giving them to Charlie doesn't bother me, it just doesn't. Ma didn't use cheap fabric so everything has held up. I have already gotten rid of the things that couldn't be saved.\, I just don't want you to think I'm being cheap for the sake of being cheap and I hope I didn't misjudge the sizes. I'm pretty sure Marty's last winter coat will fit Charlie but it might be a little big on him."
The little boy in question sighed and shrugged. "I'm a shrimp. Daddy says …"
Both Adam and Emi fought not saying something derogatory about "Daddy" and instead Adam said, "Don't worry about it Kiddo. Some of the men in our family are just late bloomers. Your father and grandfather weren't but Uncle Brian and I were. Everyone is different."
Emi added, "Hmph, from where I'm sitting you're no shrimp."
Charlie looked over and then bashfully looked down but both Adam and Emi could see he was trying to hide a grin. Emi's own size fell well below the fiftieth percentile, and always had since birth so she sympathized with people who experienced the "short" side of life.
Little Charlie looked up at Adam with those gorgeous blue eyes of his and asked, "Uncle Da, is there really going to be snow in York City?"
Emi could see Adam melting and from any other child she probably would have wondered if the little dickens wasn't trying to intentionally pull his heart strings but experience had proven that Charlie was simply what he was … a sensitive child still dealing with the amazement of finding himself loved and wanted.
While she watched Adam answer the little boy's question … and the endless stream that seemed to follow that one … Emi remembered when Charlie had started calling Adam "Uncle Da." She and the little boy had been discussing what a family was, how they didn't always look like what was on tv or in story books, but that they were still very much a family. Emi had given Charlie some examples from her own background – without the complicating factor of what had happened to her own childhood when she was twelve years old – and paid special attention to her father whom she called "Da" as was traditional in her half Irish family. In particular, she explained that her Da had taken care of her and helped her when she felt scared or confused about what was going on, how he made sure she had food in her belly and a roof over her head, and numerous other things. Charlie had never been treated very well by his own father but had been nearly terrified at the idea of being separated from him and being put under Adam's guardianship.
That night Adam had returned from the tech conference where they'd been at in Las Vegas and had brought the boy cheese crackers and vegetable soup, Charlie's two favorite foods, hoping to coax him into eating. It was in that moment that something clicked for Charlie. After a moment of simply looking at Adam like a curious baby bird, you could practically see the wheels turning in his head, the boy had practically flown off the bed and attached himself to Adam's leg and said, "Uncle Da! Uncle Da! You're here! And you brought me soup!"
Emi had made a bee line for the bathroom and it had taken a while for her to get herself under control enough that she could come out and act like nothing was unusual. It wasn't until after Charlie had finally fallen into an exhausted slumber that Emi was able to explain things to Adam. They'd turned the lights off so that Charlie would stay asleep and they could cuddle a bit in one of the hotel chairs. They were looking out of the window at the lights of the Las Vegas strip as it was spread out below and Emi felt a wet drop hit her hand and then another, and they hadn't been from her. Adam vowed that he couldn't leave the boy, that there had to be some way that child protective services would let them bring him home to NYC with them.
It was then that Emi had called in a couple of favors. In the past she'd done some work for a few wealthy families, some of them were even powerful families. And one in particular had connections to Vegas and, if rumors were true, meddled politically for their own advantage. Granted the jobs had often been at the behest of her federal contractors but she'd still made her own friends – or at least contacts – along the way. She hadn't told Adam she was doing this until after she was sure it was going to work. She knew it was a huge risk for their relationship and for a moment she was sure she had gone too far. Instead Adam had taken her into a nearly bruising hug and emotionally whispered into her ear where only she could hear, "Thank you." He'd said nothing more about it, much to Emi's relief.
And now here they were flying home in Marcus Webber's private corporate jet … an offer he'd made after finding out they were having a difficult time finding a return flight for all three of them due to the holidays fast approaching. Marcus had opted to stay in Vegas for at least a few more days but the flight had already been scheduled and he said it would make more sense for Adam to fly in his place since the plane was also loaded with the equipment that Adam would be taking to the NYC crime lab to test in real life criminal investigation cases. Personally Emi thought that Marcus was more comfortable finding some way to repay Adam for his help since Adam had refused to accept any financial reimbursement for beta testing the equipment; and, decided for once not to look a gift horse in the mouth.
The one fly in the ointment that had come up was when they had been given Charlie's possessions. The sum total was in a back pack that was smaller than the shoe box that held Adam's newest pair of running shoes and was barely half full. Most people took more to the beach than all the items in this world that Charlie was able to call his own. What few clothes he had would be completely unsuitable for winter in New York. While Adam wound up the last of the case he was working on, Emi had done her best to find a few things that would at least keep him from freezing before they could get back to their home where she knew she would be able to outfit him better.
The stewardess came back around and said they were about to taxi onto the runway so Adam and Emi sat down and buckled up.
"Uncle Da?" Charlie's eyes were wide opened and scared.
"Hey, it's ok. I'm right here Little Man," Adam told him.
At take-off Charlie didn't hyperventilate but he did get shaky and a few tears leaked out of his eyes. Afterwards the boy became silent and nearly withdrawn before whispering, "I didn't mean to cry. Please don't be sorry."
It took both Adam and Emi a moment to understand he meant for them not to be sorry that they were bringing him home with them. Adam tried to ham and up and say, "Sorry? Are you kidding? Absolutely no way. I got you now, you just try and get away. Bwahahahahaha." Then he tickled Charlie and the little boy forgot about his fears and giggled though Emi suspected that she and Adam had their work cut out for them in building Charlie's self-esteem.
The flight itself was uneventful but long enough that both Charlie and Emi dozed. The stewardess came out to see if they needed anything but returned quietly to the small galley after catching Adam looking at both Charlie and Emi with something akin to wonder and protectiveness.
For his part Adam couldn't quite seem to believe how much his life had changed over the last year. He'd thought his life was over and was almost glad to be done with it. Now he didn't think he'd ever want it to be over even with all of the strange bumps and turns nearly every day seemed to bring. He didn't want to think about what might happen in the future when his brother got out of prison, that he might have to fight to keep Charlie, but he knew they would eventually have to come up with some plan to address the possibilities; not for their own sake but because they needed to protect Charlie. Adam had been serious; when he made the commitment to raise his nephew he didn't intend on only giving it a half measure or keeping the boy at arm's length.
As he looked over Adam saw a single tear slide down Emi's face. He reached over and gently brushed it away and then sat back, careful not to wake her. Regardless of how much better she was feeling – and thank God for that – she was still recovering her strength from her most recent ordeal. The bruises had almost completely faded but he knew she still had nightmares, though not as numerous as she'd had at first. But he didn't think this time that is what the tear was about. From the look on her face she was once again dreaming of her daughter, of Reni.
In her dreams Emi watched Reni doing the things that she'd been unable to do in life. She ran around in a field of flowers that never faded or wilted. She laughed and played with other children, her body no longer bent and twisted, her eyes no longer hampered by thick glasses, long hair bouncing as she ran, and her laughter light and happy and unhampered by the aches and pains her body suffered from, her mind no longer hampered by the limitations she'd been born with. "Mommy! Look at me! Look at me! Look what I can do now!"
"I'm watching Reni! I'm watching!" Emi called back.
This dream was a little different from all of the others where all Emi got to do was laugh and clap from the sidelines. For the first time Reni came almost close enough for Emi to touch. In her surprise she failed to see the little boy that Reni was pulling along with her. "Mommy, he needs you now. Take care of him."
"Gotta go. Bye!"
Emi went to grab Reni but she was already running back into the flowers and Emi knew she couldn't follow her there, not to that special and sacred place. She'd tried many times but she'd finally learned that all she could do was watch and she learned to be content, if not fully satisfied, with that. But then she felt a tug on her hand and looked down. The little boy that Reni had brought her was Charlie, but a Charlie with all of that ridiculous hair dye all grown out. The last thing she remembered from her dream was bending down and picking him up so that he could watch Reni running and laughing as well.