Chapter 5: A Second Chance
A/N: This is short, but I've been stuck on this chapter for the longest time. Hopefully now that I've gotten past this one, the rest will come easier. Let me know if there are particular episodes from CSI: Miami that you'd like me to play with (aside from the obvious 'Lost Son' where Speed dies).
Timeline change for CSI: Miami: 'Tinder Box' took place at the beginning of season 1, not the end.
Challenge: #1718 'Xander: the lost and found' by marshalos.
Thanks to my beta: LadySybyl.
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.
Speed and Xander's new apartment
A few months later…
Even after his rather embarrassing introduction to Alexx when he broke down in tears, Xander wanted to build a shrine to the woman for being one of the greatest human beings he had ever known. Okay, so part of that was because of his new diagnosis – something that wasn't directly her doing – but she was the one who suggested the doctors for him to see, so he was more than willing to give her the credit.
He couldn't remember the name of his new condition, but there had been several cases where it was misdiagnosed as leukemia. It had something to do with humid conditions, which was why the doctors didn't test for it in Sunnydale – where it was usually dry – but they did in Miami – where it felt like he was in a steam bath at times…even this early in the fall.
Although it was still involved, the treatment for this new thing was a lot easier than leukemia. There weren't even any blood transfusions or bone marrow transplants involved.
While he wasn't excited to get back to school right away, Xander admitted he'd put up with more school days if it meant he got to live.
Xander was almost sure that if he had muted the phone, he still would have heard Willow's squeal of glee when she found out about the mistake from the three thousand miles or so they were separated. Jesse was only slightly less exuberant about it.
Speed's team was pretty pumped, too. He got to meet the whole group when they threw a 'Misdiagnosed/Housewarming' party for the two brothers. Eric was like the cool uncle-type and promised to take him diving when his treatment was over. Frank was okay, but a little too old for Xander to feel connected to. He almost drooled over the female members – was there a rule about attractive people in that department or something? – but personality-wise, he liked Calleigh the best. Yelina and Megan felt a little standoff-ish to him.
Their new apartment was at least twice as big as Speed's old place. That was understandable since he had a studio before and now they had a two bedroom/two bathroom townhouse. Xander worried about the major price increase that his brother had to pay now, but Speed assured him again that it wasn't a problem.
It was closer to the crime lab so now Speed didn't have to commute as far. On the weekends, Speed showed him which buses to take to get to the mall and the beach…just in case he wanted to get out of the apartment and Speed was working on a case.
Speaking of cases, he needed to get back to emailing Willow and Jesse about one that gave his brother some restless nights.
It was a normal night for Xander. Speed came home from work, spent some time with Xander, then at Xander's insistence accepted an invite from Eric to go to a club. Xander promised to do his homework, then head to bed at eleven if the guys weren't back – which he didn't expect them to be.
He was a little surprised when he woke up and didn't see any signs that Speed came home. It made him wonder if his older brother would make a habit of hooking up with women and not coming home without calling. Before he left, he decided to check if there was anything wrong.
Before he could get more than his greeting out, Speed started rambling, "Oh god! I forgot to call and let you know I wouldn't be home! There was a fire at the nightclub we went to and we sort of went straight to work, helping the victims and preserving the scene. Before you ask, both Eric and I are okay, but some people did die and a lot more were hurt."
Xander immediately left him off the hook for not keeping him in the loop. "Don't worry about me, you just do your thing. Let me know if there's something I can do to help – even if it's just running for dinner for you guys."
"Thanks, little brother," Speed replied gratefully. "You just concentrate on school and I'll call the house later if I have to work late."
Turned out it was 16 dead and over 50 in the hospital…plus one murder victim found in a back room.
In the end, they found out that the bouncer had tried to set a small fire so he could look like a hero. He wanted to be a firefighter and was turned down by the department because he wasn't impressive enough. Problem was that he forgot that fires are pretty much impossible to control. Especially when dealing with an owner who doesn't take the basic steps to ensure people's safety by installing sprinklers and chaining exit doors… Well, it was a combination of greed and bad luck that turned it into a horrible tragedy.
It was a punch in the gut to Eric and Speed that the man they had been so grateful for during the fire was the reason for all the death and destruction. It was a painful reminder that nobody was above suspicion, not even new friends like Danny Maxwell.
Xander had his work cut out for him to get his brother and 'uncle' out of their funks, but he was more than willing to give it a shot. Some diving with Eric and some story-swapping with Speed…and a practical joke or two on the others did wonders for reminding the CSI crew of the innocence of youth that they were doing their jobs to protect. If he hadn't already had a place in their hearts by being Speed's little brother, Xander earned one by helping to alleviate their melancholy with his antics.
End of flashback…
The email he got back from his best buds shocked the h-e-double hockey sticks out of Xander. And if he was totally honest, it kind of worried him as well. For some reason, Willow and Jesse decided to give dating each other a shot. They figured that they were already outcasts and pretty much un-dateable to anyone they might be interested in at Sunnydale. Because Xander wasn't there and wouldn't feel like a third wheel, they hoped it wouldn't make things real awkward for the three of them.
Time would tell if they worked out as a couple and/or if their dating affected their relationship with Xander. He hoped it wouldn't.
A/N: The chapter covers the two main things I wanted, which is showing that Xander was misdiagnosed and that Jesse and Willow got together, so I guess it's a success in that regard.