Chapter 4: A Fresh Start
A/N: The end of this chapter went to a different place than I expected.
Challenge: #1718 'Xander: the lost and found' by marshalos.
Thanks to my beta: zigpal.
Disclaimer: BtVS characters belong to Joss Whedon / Mutant Enemy. CSI: Miami characters belong to Anthony E. Zuiker, Carol Mendelsohn, Ann Donahue and CBS. I claim no rights to any copyrighted material. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission.
Somewhere in the air
After many tearful hugs from Willow and manly half-hugs from Jesse, Xander was ready to leave Sunnydale. Speed got a handshake and warning from Jesse and a hug and warning from Willow. Both demanded lots of calls and/or emails from both of them about how Xander was doing in Miami.
During the plane ride, Speed explained his plans to Xander, "First of all, you'll be meeting a couple of my coworkers when we get home. Alexx is our medical examiner, and she's bringing lists of places for us to live and doctors for us to get a second opinion from. She'll also probably have dinner ready…and breakfast, and…well, you see where I'm going with that. Horatio – or as we normally call him, H – will be there to make sure Alexx doesn't mother hen us too much. When you're feeling up to it, I'll introduce you to Calleigh, Eric and Megan," he promised before remembering a couple other people. "Oh, and Frank and Yelina."
"How much have you told them about me?" Xander asked, wondering if he would have to deal with pitying looks for a long time; not because of the illness, but because of the abuse.
Which was something Speed already guessed would be a concern, so he reassured his brother, "I told H that you were sick, but not about the Harrises or what they did to you. I will warn you, though, these people are trained investigators. They could figure it out on their own. If they say or do anything that makes you feel uncomfortable, just let me know and I'll have them back off. These people aren't just my coworkers, Xander; they are my friends as well. As much as you trust Jesse and Willow, I trust them."
Xander grinned at the assessment. "You can't get a better comparison than that," he quipped.
"Anyway, depending on how you feel, we'll look at the apartments Alexx gives us over the next few days. By then, we should have an appointment or two set up with doctors. If they say it's okay, I'll get you registered for school once we know where we're going to live. If you can't go back to school right away, I'll get you a tutor so you don't fall behind."
Feeling a bit overwhelmed, Xander choked back his emotions as best he could, then checked, "Are you sure you can afford all this? I'm sure I could make due with sleeping on the couch so you don't have to get a bigger place. Or Willow could tutor me over the phone or internet."
Despite the fact he wasn't considered the warmest of men, Speed proved he had the ability to be when necessary. He turned in his seat so he could put his hand on Xander's shoulder – because holding his hand was too…touchy-feely for either of them – and said, "I told you, our parents left us some money; this isn't any trouble at all."
After they gathered their luggage, the brothers were surprised to hear somebody calling out to them. Well, Speed was surprised since Xander wasn't used to his new last name and therefore didn't recognize it when the man yelled it.
"H! What are you doing here?" Speed asked of his boss.
"Figured that with your brother and his bags, you would need a ride home," Horatio pointed out. "Do you want me to drive him, or I could drive your motorcycle and you could take the Hummer?"
Speed knew that H was great with kids, but the slightly panicked look on Xander's face made the decision very easy for him. "You take the bike." Both of the older men could almost hear the teen's sigh of relief. Speed sighed, "Guess I'll have to either rent a car or buy one this weekend. I thought about it on the plane ride to California, but then forgot when we came back."
"You have a lot on your mind," Horatio replied in an effort to make his friend feel better. "It's not as if you couldn't have rented a car here when you realized your mistake."
"Good point. Oh…guess I'd better handle the intros," Speed said. "Xander, this is Horatio Caine. He runs the crime lab where I work. H, this is my brother, Xander Michael Speedle. Or that will be his name when we officially change it."
"Nice to meet you, Mr. Caine," Xander said, shaking the man's hand.
Horatio smiled at the nervous youth and replied easily, "Just call me Horatio…or H, if you feel like it. Now, let's get your things in the Hummer."
A short drive later, and the three were back at Speed's studio apartment. Not surprisingly, a certain maternally-driven beauty was waiting for them there.
Because she wasn't sure how the boy would take a stranger grabbing him, Alexx settled for grabbing Speed in a tight hug. He might not appreciate it either, but she didn't care; she needed to hug somebody. "Oh, sweetie, how are you doing?" she fluttered, stroking his hair in a comforting fashion.
Although he had been warned, nothing in Xander's personal experience could prepare him for Alexx Woods. Jessica Harris didn't deserve the title of mom – in more ways than one. Sheila Rosenberg wasn't much better. She wasn't abusive, but Willow's mom went from neglecting her daughter to making the tiniest decisions for her…like clothing choices. It didn't matter that Sheila's choices made Willow a subject of ridicule; something Willow most likely never mentioned to her mother. The only decent mother of their group was Jesse's. Louisa McNally was caring woman. She never minded setting an extra place for either/both of her son's friends at the dinner table. But once the kids hit their teens, she laid off the shows of public affection…for the most part.
She certainly wouldn't have gone as far as the woman currently mauling his brother.
A glance at Horatio confirmed that this wasn't unusual – even if it was slightly amusing to watch.
He was stunned when she turned to him and kept right on gushing, "And you, baby boy, must be Tim's brother. Xander, right?" After receiving a nod as a reply, Alexx couldn't help herself. She carefully, but firmly hugged the astonished teen. "We're going to get you all better, then have the biggest party to celebrate you two finding each other again after all these years!"
Part of him wanted to be embarrassed by her actions, but the show of motherly affection was too much for Xander. To his internal horror, he started crying in her arms.
Speed tried to help by suggesting they go inside for some privacy. After getting Alexx and Xander to the couch, he and H went back to unload the bags, plus the stuff Alexx brought. She simply handed her keys over while she comforted the emotionally exhausted boy. It didn't shock them that by the time they finished, Xander had fallen asleep on her shoulder.