Alex looked around the park then back at Danny that Sunday. He saw the person staring at him and snorted. He tugged on his daddy's hand, pointing at him. "Looking!"
He looked over. Interesting people you met in the park these days. So, he'd be calm and cool about this. He had seen the Flackmobile park a few minutes earlier. "He's a bad guy. What do you do when some bad guy is nosin' around you?"
"That's right. You yell for Grandpa Flack."
"GRANDPA! BAD PERSON!" he shouted as loud as he could. His grandfather came jogging over so he pointed. "Looking!" he said, looking pitiful.
He looked. "That is a bad person, Alex. Very good." His hand was starting to move to his gun as he stared at the thug.
"And why do we yell for Grandpa?" Danny asked.
"That's right, because he can turn bad guys into spaghetti sauce when we can't." Grandpa Flack laughed at that. "I can't. Too close to the situation. Besides, I saw you walking."
"I can agree with that." He walked over to the guy. "Why are you bothering my grandson, sir?" he asked, his badge in his hand.
"Just watching a friend's grandson," he smirked.
"He's not. Technically Danny is his grandfather." He sneered. "The park may be a free place but I'd move along, Sassone. Before you get into a lot of trouble."
"It's a free country, no matter how often the Republicans try," he sneered back.
Alex looked at his daddy. "Stupid?"
"That's right. Thugs are stupid. He's arguing with Grandpa Flack ta prove he's stupid," he agreed happily. "'Cause the only one who can argue with him is Daddy Don or Grandma Flack." Flack senior gave him a look. "They are."
Alex walked over there, leaning against his grandfather's leg. "Stupid?"
"Nah Messer's not dumb. Usually."
Alex scowled and kicked him, then bit him. "Not daddy! You! Stupid! Woose!" He ran back to Danny, cuddling him. "Bad!"
"Yes he is. He's a very bad man." He called Mac. "Our son is brilliant. Sassone. Called him a stupid bad man. Bit 'im too." He hung up, pulling out a cup of koolaid. "Rinse your mouth out and spit, don't swallow. Don't know what you'll pick up from his sort. Like with your teeth." He did like he did at night, earning a smile. "Good job. Go play." He went to play, ignoring the silly adults. They could handle the bad people for him. That's what they were there for. He smiled at a nearby mother. She was looking very worried. "He's presently waiting trial. We're cops." She nodded. "He killed people."
"Good to know." She gathered her daughter and headed off, just in case they had to shoot the guy.
He strolled over there, keeping an eye on the baby. "You know, my parents do know. I sent 'em a card and said they still can't visit my grandson."
"How do you have a grandson?" he sneered.
"The military made the kid for us. He's got two grandparents who're cops and then a daddy who is." He sneered back. "So hop on your little bike and head back to Queens, Sonny. Before my son has to prove he knows how to treat bad guys again. Not like he doesn't see tougher on the subway trying to pick pockets."
"I'm sure you're having fun being a mother."
"Mommy Mac," Xander corrected. "Really stupid you."
He glared at the kid. "You should learn manners."
"He has plenty for the right people," Don Junior said from behind him. Sonny glared at him and Mac. "By the way, I'm his other grandparent and Mac's his daddy. You might wanna move on now, Sassone. I'd hate to have to teach my son why violence is wrong already."
He backed up. "I still say he needs manners."
Alex came over again, leaning against Danny's leg. He looked at Danny then at him. "Woose!"
"Alex," Don warned.
"I don't give a damn. You don't say that word. That's not polite. Even if it is true."
He looked at him. Danny shrugged. "Nah, doesn't have enough hair ta be a poodle. Schnauzer maybe." Flack senior snickered at that. He looked at his son. "When did you see a poodle?" He pointed at the one up the park playing with a frisbee. "You're right, he does kinda look like the shaved parts of the poodle's ass." He looked at him. "Anything else?"
"I think we'll talk again," he said smugly.
Alex tackled him and stared down at him. "Stupid," he hissed. "Mine." He laughed so Xander put the pointy toes Daddy Don said he had into the guy's stomach, making him moan. He stood up and jumped too until Mac caught him. "Mine!"
"Damn, even the kid has ta protect you," Sonny sneered. Danny pulled his gun and he backed up. He wasn't going to go that far in the park in daylight. "Fine. We'll talk later."
"Poopie!" Alex called, waving at him. "Bye!"
Don Senior coughed to stop snickering but his son wasn't so lucky. He looked at Danny. "How does he learn those words?"
"The kid in daycare." He put him down, pointing at the playset. "Go play. Or else we're gonna go home." He ran over to play again. He looked at them. "He pointed him out to me. Said he was a bad man. Did what we told 'im to when I reminded him. He yelled for Grandpa Flack."
"He did. He's got a good set of lungs on him too," Don Senior agreed. "I was parking." He jogged off to make sure his car was locked.
Mac shook his head. "That'll cause problems."
"Probably," Danny agreed. "Which is why I'm stayin' out of it."
"Good," Don junior agreed. Alex ran over to give him a hug then ran back to play some more. He looked at him. "You okay?"
"I wanted ta cap his ass," he muttered. Don nudged him with a shoulder. "I know. Wrong thinking."
"Me too," Mac said. "You two heading home soon?" Danny nodded. "Yours?"
"Nah. Yours. We'll let Alex look at the weapons catalogs again." That got a smile and a nod. "Maybe a new one came. Why is he calling battle axes kittens?"
"I don't know. He always has," Mac admitted. He shrugged, walking off. "I've got that meeting in twenty. Thanks for the warning, guys. Don?"
"I'm off in ten minutes. Clock me out when you get back?"
"Sure." He went to do that. This was definitely going to cause some problems. He nodded at Don's father when they passed. "Budget meetings."
"I'm sorry, Mac. I know how draining they are." He clapped him on the arm. "Don't forget to log the son out please?"
"Of course." He went to do that. Though he did type out a warning email to Stella. She wasn't on until later so she'd need to know. One to Sheldon too. Just in case.
Don Senior flopped down on the bench, watching Alex climb. "He have more sugar?"
"Nah. Just normal afternoon hyper behavior," Danny assured him. He looked at Don. "The daycare's nagging."
"He's too young to be treated for ADHD," he said firmly. "They can kiss my ass."
"Good. That's what I said. I also said he paid plenty of attention to what he considered important. He really didn't like their crafts." He shrugged. "Had one last week that was on anti-psychotics at his age," Danny told Grandpa.
He shuddered. "I still think that's wrong." Alex came over to bounce in front of him. "What?"
"Sure, I can push you." He got up, taking him to the baby swings a bit away to push him in one of the booster seat style swings.
"Why did we get rid of the nanny?"
"Too expensive," he sighed. "We didn't need the security. Damn we were stupid."
Don smiled. "We'll figure it out. Like we did diapers."
"Yeah." He nodded at that, sitting back and crossing his legs. His son was happy. "He's turning into a little thug."
"Who uses bad language," Don agreed. "Which kid?"
"Captain Overton's kid. He's in IAB."
"Wonderful!" He shook his head. "Wanna start thinking about preschool?"
"Head start or a bigger one?"
"I don't wanna be yuppie and put him on a waiting list."
"That's one of the reasons we decided the nanny was too expensive. So we could afford his education." He scratched the back of his neck then pushed his glasses back up his nose. "Catholic school or otherwise?"
"I wouldn't mind somewhere better academically. If he's got yours and Mac's brains we want him somewhere they'll push him a bit. Too many of the catholic schools are preaching to the test these days." Danny nodded. "Hillstop?"
Danny looked at him. "You want him to be a middle class kid in a preppie school?"
"Somewhere like that? At least with their scores?"
"That I can agree with."
"Yours," Don Senior called.
"Better than mine, Dad. I want his brain to grow bigger'n Doc's." He looked at him. "Expensive?"
"Very. I save some. You save some. We'll figure it out. Plenty of them will let you make monthly payments."
"Good point. We'll start looking around."
"Let's start by weeding out where we see on cases."
"Even better. Think there's a guide?" Danny handed him one from his backpack/diaper bag. "Hey." He grinned. "Thinking?"
"Yeah. I folded down a page. I want him there for high school."
He looked then nodded. "Good scores. Low level of kids on drugs. Small classes. Expensive as hell."
"Remember the elementary school case?"
"Sword fish and twenty-seven grand a year for kindergarten," he agreed. "Too much."
"They have scholarships if we can't afford it all."
"Okay." He looked and found a chart, finding elementary schools with the same sort of rating. "Most of these are really expensive preppy schools."
Danny leaned over to point at one the next bracket down. "That's not a bad school. It's near the station. They've got a daycare/preschool program that'll take him next year. They're not that expensive, and they'll push him. If he's got brains, he'll be going higher places from there." He sat up again. "That was my suggestion."
Don flipped to that page, reading it over. It sounded pretty nice. Good scores. Not that expensive, they could afford it on their salary. They said they accepted children from many academic and social levels so their son wouldn't be an outcast from it. "How much is the daycare?"
"One-eighty a week."
"We pay one-twenty for the daycare." Danny nodded, looking at him. "Yearly fees?"
"Four grand a year."
"Not bad considering."
He looked then nodded. "Very not bad." He folded the corner down and put the book into his pocket. "I'll suggest it to Mac tonight." Danny grinned. "Want me to take him home?"
"Nah, we can go look at the weapons catalogs again."
"I can do that."
"Another one who didn't like you having him?"
"No. She's happy I'm taking such good care of my son. Her dog's going in for dental surgery. He broke two teeth so they've got to pull them and put in falsies for him."
Danny gave him a look. "Excuse me?"
"Front teeth. The thing can't eat without 'em. Besides, I like her dog." He stood up. Alex saw and wiggled until his grandfather put him down. "Wanna go home?"
"No, he's not back." Alex pointed. He looked then glared, moving his coat away from his gun. Sonny strolled off again. "Okay, that's a good reason to go to Daddy Mac's house." Don Senior nodded. "He's got weapons catalogs."
"He's very good with them. Alex is going to be a wonderful cop or CSI in his year." Don pulled out the guide and showed him the school they liked. He looked at it then at him. "Brats?"
"Probably not if they accept kids from lower classes."
"Four grand a year once he starts regular school. One-eighty a week for the daycare/preschool he can start next year."
Don Senior considered it. "That's not that bad. About what you pay now, right?"
"Sixty more a week."
"Not bad." He handed it back. "How do they accept students?"
"Don't know. We're passing the idea around the family. We'll talk ta Mac later."
"That'll work," he decided, smiling at his grandson. Then at his son. "At least it'll be a uniform."
"Yeah," he said dryly. "Not dress blues but one." He picked Alex up with a moan. "Too much candy, Alex. You're getting heavy again." They packed and headed back with Grandpa Flack. Don's car was with Mac apparently. It was going to be a long night but Alex could coo over the catalogs for *hours* on end without being bored.
Danny looked up as Mac came in, looking exhausted. "Caught a late case?"
"Budget meeting that would not end." He put his jacket down and flopped down, getting a beer from Don. "He's down?"
"Just went down an hour ago," Don said happily.
Mac went to check, kissing him on the head. He got a sleepy mumble. "I'm home. You're a good boy." He left, closing the door again. He sat down and sipped his beer. "Anything else happen?"
"He tried ta watch from farther away," Danny admitted. "We got to talking about schools."
"Yeah," Don agreed. "There's a nice sounding one up the road from the precinct. Has a preschool program starting for three-year-olds." Danny handed him the book.
Mac looked it over. "How much more expensive?"
"Sixty a week," Danny told him. "Four grand a year when he starts regular school."
"That's not bad considering. Some of the better catholic schools are more than that." He took another drink. "Do they test?"
"Don't know yet. We were talking about it, getting counter ideas."
"There's a great one on the island but it's too far out for daily commuting," Mac told them. "I'll judge it against their standards." Don flipped back to the chart that measured things side-by-side. He looked then found their elementary program. He compared the two. "Not bad."
"I figure it's not the best but if he's got brains, they'll encourage 'em," Danny told him. "If not, they'll be able to handle that. Plus that school has a counselor for things like ADHD. They have a low rate of kids on drugs."
"I do like that," he agreed. "Let's get information. We'll swing the costs somehow."
Don nodded. "I was doing simple math earlier. If we take thirty grand and put it somewhere that has six percent interest, simple interest will cover it and give us about 2750 left when he graduates for a blowout graduation trip."
"I've got five I can move over from my retirement fund," Danny said. "Take out a loan for the other five?"
"The PD's credit union has special rates for education loans," Mac said. "Stella got one for some continuing education classes. Low interest." He looked at them. "That would work?"
"Simple interest, at six percent, without any withdrawals, but I figure it'll still keep growing and we'll have some times that're over six percent and a few that're right under it."
"I don't mind the idea," Mac said. "We'll talk to them, see what we can work out. If we start that now it'll be there when he's ready."
"If tuition goes up we can cover the difference or put it into the bank as soon as we know," Danny agreed. "I was looking in the Times today and they had one that said most parents should expect to pay a good hundred thou in the city for a good school over the course of their lifetime."
"With simple interest that grows up to be about seventy," Don told him. "Don't they have special accounts for education expenses too?"
"Savings plans," Mac agreed. "Including a way to prepay tuition to any college in the state." He took another drink. "We'll take a day off together."
"I've got Thursday off," Don offered.
"I'm on four to midnight so we could go anytime probably before noon," Danny agreed.
Mac considered it. "I can push back my schedule a bit. We'll go that morning. That way we know what we're doing by Monday." They nodded and he smiled. "I blacked that thought out of my head."
"I don't want the kid in public school," Don told him. "Ever. I don't mind catholic. I don't mind private, non-religious. Just not a public school."
"I agree," Mac sighed. "Danny?"
"Catholic until high school then I went to mega one over that way." He flicked a hand in that direction. "I'm hoping they don't have one of those years of waiting lists."
"Probably won't," Don told him. "They're usually the really expensive higher end ones."
"Good!" He sipped his beer. "We should start a piggy bank for him anyway. He's always picking up change."
"I've got one for him at my place. It's a small sealing glass jar." That got a smile. "He loves it and it helps me teach him his numbers."
"He's doing good with his learning," Mac said. He finished his beer. "Were you two staying over?"
"Any other topics we should discuss?" Don asked. "Clothing since he's growing again?"
"Shoes," Danny moaned. "He hates them. Especially any I pick out."
"I say we let Stella take him to the second-hand stores," Mac said, making them laugh. "He hates to shop. We hate to shop. She likes to shop and it'll make her happy. She suggested it earlier."
"Sure, she can be frustrated by him tryin' ta run outta the store," Danny agreed.
"You heard from your people?" Don asked.
"Louis called." Mac looked at him. "They know. Have known. Got the card I sent with the note that they're not allowed to see 'im. I doubt they'd do more than Sonny has. They can't hope to win a CPS case."
"Not with their history," Don agreed. "Anything else we should know?"
"Girlfriend really likes him?"
Don grinned. "She loves 'im. They were making spaghetti the other day. He was helping and smiling and didn't do more than flirt with her. She calls him the adorable one."
"He is when he wants to be," Mac said. "We've got to break him of the name-calling habit."
"Agreed," Danny and Don complained.
"Though it was funny he called Sonny a stupid woose," Danny said with a grin.
"Was," Don agreed. "Thanks for rinsing his mouth too."
"You never know what scuzziness he's gotten into this time." He leaned back. "Workbooks?"
"I'm out at my place," Don admitted. "The educational games are making him feel bored too."
"Mine too," Mac admitted.
"I've got one we haven't tried yet but he's pouting about them. Should we move toward a more hands-on education style? He likes tactile things."
Don nodded. "We could do that." He looked at Mac, who shrugged. "Teach him how to change the oil in cars?"
"Teach him to play basketball first," Danny ordered. "That way he's got another way ta run."
"That's not a bad idea," Don agreed, smiling at him. "I go this weekend to the mentoring meeting to pick my team. I'll bring him with me."
Mac smiled. "That'll work." He sat up. "Go home. Let us rest." They nodded, packing up and heading home. He smiled once the door was shut and locked. It was good that they could come to an agreement so easily. Even if the thought of his education costs were going to make him heave soon.
Danny opened up his door the next Saturday morning, finding his brother there. "They send you?" Louis nodded. "They still can't see 'im."
"I know that. They don't want to, probably. He is your son."
"Grandson." He let him inside. "He's at Don's." He sat down, looking at him. "Someone military was screwing around with DNA. Made a baby Messer-Flack and then took that embryo and some of Taylor's seed to make Alex."
"The earlier one?" he asked, looking confused.
"Didn't need to be born ta do it. All they needed was some cell splitting."
"Oh." He sat down. "So you're actually a grandfather?"
"Yeah, though we consider ourselves a trio of fathers. It's easier. He's a good boy. Got our brains." He grinned. "Pounced Sonny ta try ta beat him for saying mean things ta me."
"Good for him." He looked at him. "Dad wants to see him."
"Dad can shit elephants."
"You kiss him with that mouth?"
"Yeah, even though we do have to remind him not ta swear," he quipped back. Louis snorted at that. "You can tell 'em no, they can't see 'im. I don't care. No."
"You sure you wanna set that challenge?"
"Yup. Don and Mac don't want them to see the baby either. Don nearly killed Sonny."
"I heard you pulled your gun."
Danny grinned. "He was saying mean things to my kid."
"Fine." He stood up. "Photos?" Danny found one for him. "Recent?"
"After his birthday. We had professional ones taken." He sat down again, looking at him. "You can tell 'em that his new favorite word is woose. He used it on Sonny and the muggers on the subway."
"So he's really got your mouth." Danny smirked and nodded. "They won't be happy."
"Ask me if I give a damn. You can quote me."
"I'll do that." He headed home, handing his mother the picture. "It's not his son, it's his grandson." They glared at him. "He said someone in the military was screwing around, made a baby Messer-Flack in a dish, waited until it started to grow some cells, then took one to combine with Taylor's sperm. That's how he came to be."
"The kid in the center?"
"Danny said they probably never came to be, Ma."
She grimaced. "Ungodly."
"Danny made himself real clear. We're not welcome near his son."
"Did you see him?" his father demanded quietly.
"Flack had him last night."
"I see." He considered it.
"He also said he bit Sonny after trying to beat him, Pops. He called Sonny a stupid woose. Got Danny's mouth."
"That can be fixed."
"I doubt they're going to let you near their kid. Since they're cops no judge is gonna take the baby away from 'em. Even if they were gay and doing each other."
"It's not a good upbringing," his mother said firmly, glaring at him.
"No worse than divorced parents. Plenty of people share custody of their kids, Ma. Judges make it happen every day."
"That's against God's laws too."
He shrugged. "Oh well. The state of New York says it's good enough for them. No judge is going to take a baby from three cops. Especially not a decorated one like Flack or Taylor."
"Point," his father said to end the argument. He looked at him. "He say anything else?"
"Yes but I can't quote him with Ma in the room." She walked off. "He said you could shit elephants and ask him if he gave a damn about what you wanted, Pops. He pulled a gun on Sonny in the park. Oh, the baby called Sonny a stupid woose." His father laughed at that. "He does have Danny's mouth."
His father picked up the picture. "The judge might grant us visitation. We are technically relatives."
"That's a long court case, Pops," he warned. "It might not work. Not with my past and yours."
"Then we'll make it work." He put the picture down. "Do we know his daycare yet?"
"They've got him in a secure one that other cops go to." He sat down. "The kids play in a protected lot so no one can take pictures. They apparently switch off custody. When I tracked him Thursday and Friday, Flack Senior's wife picked him up both afternoons for an hour or so."
"We touch her, the whole city might as well burn around us," he warned.
He waved a hand. "I don't want to touch her." He looked at him. "I want to see my great-grandson."
"Danny said he considers himself his father instead. It's easier. Less confusing for the kid probably. Sonny said he was calling Flack senior grandpa."
"Good," he said with a smile. "Then he can learn this side's grandparents as well. Arrange it." He nodded, going to talk to some people. He got comfortable, staring at his grandson's picture. He was a handsome boy. Huge brown eyes. "Must be from one of the other lines, like the dark hair."
Don leaned back in his desk chair, rubbing his eyes. He was tired. He hadn't had Alex last night and he was still tired. He heard a cleared throat and looked over. "Hey, Gerrard. What's up?"
"Your mother just called in a break-in." Don hopped up, staring at him, suddenly very pissed. "Check the clock, Flack."
"Who?" he demanded.
"Messer's less than stellar lineage. His brother was spotted in the car."
"Danny didn't encourage it. He told 'em to fuck off. My mother?"
"She's fine. Where's Messer?"
"Case." He called. "It's me. Meet me somewhere with Mac, now." He hung up and walked off, pulling on his jacket on the way. Danny and Mac both met him outside. "Louis broke into my mother's house," he told Danny.
"I'll kill the fucking bastards," he vowed. "Want SWAT or just us?"
"Us," Mac said. Gerrard came out. "Are you coming? That way we make sure we don't shoot them?" He headed for the official SUV. Don got into the shotgun seat. Danny got into the back. Gerrard got into his and followed them. Danny could navigate. They pulled up outside the house an hour later, the lights still on. "Weapons?"
"Loaded," Don said, checking his.
Danny checked his. "Not sure I should have one."
"Anyone gets ta shoot 'em, I do," Don promised, sliding out of the SUV and walking around the front. Mac and Danny were behind him, Gerrard behind them after calling in what was going on. He walked up to the door and pounded, sneering at the woman who answered. "Where is my son, woman!" he demanded.
"We don't have him."
"Kidnaping is a felony, Mrs. Messer," Mac agreed, pulling her out to cuff her and hand her back to Gerrard. "Hold her." They walked in together. Danny led the way to the study, kicking in the door. Mac walked in first. "Where is my son?" he demanded coldly.
"How dare you come into my house without a warrant!" Danny's father shouted.
"SHUT THE FUCK UP!" Danny shouted back, making his father sneer at him. "You stole my son. Our son. You got ten seconds to produce him or his location or you're going away for kidnaping, B&E, and any other charge we can get on yo. I'll stand there and clap, Pops. Since Louis was spotted in the car, we know you have 'im."
"He's napping." Danny lunged and Mac grabbed his shoulder. "Get out of my house."
Gerrard put down a warrant. "Wasn't that hard to get one." He walked out, looking at the officers who had brought it for him. One had went to get it while he told Flack. "Search the house." They went to do that. He looked at Messer. "Outside." Danny shook his head, following them.
"Guns!" Alex squealed when the officers found him.
Don sighed in relief. "Ambulance needed?" he called.
"He looks okay, sir." One of them brought the kid down with Danny. "Looks a bit grimy."
"He was probably playing at daycare." He looked at him. "You hurt? Any booboos?" Alex hugged him around the neck. "We'll get him checked out anyway. Danny?"
"I'll drive." He walked out, going to get the carseat out of the back of the SUV. Mac's had one hidden in the trunk. He installed it and they got the baby into it, then headed off again. Mac was using what medic training he had to look him over. "We good?"
"Dirty. A bit tired. Probably time for his nap," Mac admitted.
"That's fine. Can I kill 'em now?"
"No," Don said. "Let Dad. He'll let you watch, applaud, give him ideas." He smirked at him when Danny glanced back at a stop sign. "Going on?"
"Yeah." He drove on, taking their son to the ER. He walked in first, showing his badge. "My parents kidnaped our son."
"Is he bruised?"
"We need ta make sure," Danny told her.
"There's a few critical cases...."
He waved a hand. "Fine." She nodded, marking him down. They sat down to wait, though not very long. Gerrard came in. "They still in handcuffs?"
"Booking." He looked at the sleeping baby. "He okay?"
"We're making sure of that," Mac said. "You couldn't call?"
"I went right to Flack when I got told."
Don looked at him. "My mother?"
"She's fine. Your father called me. The local precinct got the call. They called him. He called me because he didn't have Hernandez' number yet." He sat down. "I'm here to do the paperwork."
"Are we sure I can't kill 'em yet?" Danny asked.
Mac looked at him. "You can have a few blows if they come back. The same as I can." Danny grinned at that. He looked at him. "We ran into Sassone in the park a few weekends back."
"You didn't report it?"
"I did put it into the prosecutor's ear and wrote a small, supplemental report on it. Alex spotted him, told Danny, who got Flack Senior there. They got us coming back from a case so we showed up too."
"The son brilliantly called him a stupid woose," Don said dryly, cracking Gerrard up. "Bit 'im too."
"Kicked him, stomped on him," Danny agreed. "Our son needs lessons in manners."
"Ma's working on it," Don assured him. "She did mine."
Danny grinned. "You are too polite to be a New Yorker some days."
"Blow it out your ass," he muttered.
"No swearing in front of him or he'll repeat it," Mac ordered. The nurse came over. "Us?" She nodded so they went back to the exam room. "Complicated thing but someone screwing with DNA made him of the three of us." She wrote that down. "Detective Messer's parents decided they wanted visitation."
"After I told 'em where ta go," Danny assured her. "Twice when my brother showed up Saturday."
"He was at daycare, then my mother picked him up, like usual. Apparently they took him from my mother," Don finished. "We found him in a room?"
"My old room," Danny agreed. "Locked in. From the inside so I think he must've done it."
"That's fine, detectives." She looked at Gerrard.
"I'm here for paperwork. We arrested them."
"Good!" She took the baby, waking him up. "What's your name, cutie?"
"Alex," he said with a shy smile. He looked at Danny. "Bad poopie stupids?"
"They're in jail," Don told him. "Quit calling people names."
"Yes, Daddy. Mommy!" Mac rolled his eyes but gave him a hug. "Doctor?"
"Hospital," Danny corrected. "We're making sure you don't have booboos. Did you play outside?" He nodded, beaming at him. "Is that why you're dirty?"
"Grandma Flack garden!"
"Ah, no wonder you're so dirty. Helping Ma with the roses? The sharp and pointy pink and white flowers?" Don asked with a grin. The baby nodded. "That explains the dirt then."
The nurse smiled, stripping him down to look him over. "Well, he has a wet diaper." She looked at his back. "I'm not seeing too many. This one on his back?"
Don looked. "Didn't have it last night when I did his bath."
She nodded, making note of it.
Danny leaned on the table, looking at their son. "Did the evil ones hit you, Alex? Spanked, swatted, anything?" He covered his mouth. "Spitting?" He pouted but nodded. "Anywhere else?" He pointed at his head. "Hit you on the head?"
"Bangeded on door."
"Anywhere else?" Gerrard asked. He shook his head slowly. "Did they hug you? Anything?" He nodded. "Which one?"
"Grandma. Not Grandma?" he asked Don, looking confused.
"No, not grandma," Danny told him.
"Bad people?" Alex asked, sounding cautious. "Hugged."
"I know they did, but they're like the guy in the park, Alex. Not nice." He nodded, accepting that and the hug from his daddies. He looked at the nurse. "Think we should try subdermal photography?"
"Do they normally slap that hard?"
"Depends," Danny admitted.
"You can try."
Don looked at him. "Hey, Alex, where did you get the booboo on your back?" He touched right above it. "Here?"
"Thom," he said with a grimace. "Meany."
"What did the brat do this time?" Mac asked.
"Pushed you off the swing?" Mac asked. He nodded. "I'll talk with his father again," Mac muttered.
"Oh, let me," Don said with a grin. "You got the first three." He looked at the nurse, who was snickering quietly behind the folder. "Anything wrong that we can see?"
"Not that we can see."
"Who locked the door?" Gerrard asked him.
Alex slowly raised a hand. "Noisy. Yelling."
"That's a good reason ta do that," Don agreed. "Good boy." He got him redressed. "Thank you, nurse."
"You're welcome." She let them have the paperwork and watched them leave. "Aww."
Gerrard looked at him. "Unless he has sugar," he assured her. She laughed, walking off to get the next patient. He walked outside. "Which house are you three going to be at tonight?"
"Mine," Mac decided.
"Mine's got the extra rooms," Danny pointed out. "They could know yours too, Mac."
"I'm all for going to visit Stella's place," Don offered. "They could've been watching all our places."
Mac nodded. "She only has one bedroom." He looked at them. "It could be a low risk tonight."
"Then Danny's got more room and he can cook," Don told him.
That got a nod. "Good point. Danny?"
"I'm all for it." He looked at Gerrard. "Need my address?" He nodded so Danny wrote it on the back of the papers, handing them over. "Let us check out. Yeah, his parents know." That got a nod and they left to hit the station for a minute to gather their things so they could go home.
Flack took a small detour, walking into the local IAB office, sneering at the captain in there. "If your son *ever* hits my kid and bruises him again, you won't have Taylor in your face. Am I clear? It's bad enough your son's a horrible influence who teaches my son words like woose and stupid. This time he bruised him and I will *not* put up with it." He stared him down. "If my kid can learn manners, so can yours." He walked off again, heading down to drive home. Danny and Alex hitched a ride with him, letting him plug his phone into his hands free system so he could call his father. "Ma good? We got 'im. They're in jail. The ER said they didn't hurt him any. She okay? I knew you had it, that's why I didn't call sooner. Is. Ma. All right?" He smiled. "Good. Danny's. All of us. Sure." He hung up. "They're coming over too."
"I've got stuff in the pantry," Danny promised, glancing back at the baby. He was sleeping again. "How did he like your mentorees?"
"He loved 'em. They taught him how to bounce the ball. Anytime it went out of bounds he chased it for the guys. And one girl, I got a girl on the team this year. She's good though. He tried to flirt with her but she was gentle and told me he'd be breaking hearts and she hoped he didn't have a baby's momma when he was eighteen." Danny grinned at that. "They want to see him most every practice."
"Sure. I'm good with that if Mac is." They finally got onto his block, letting him nod at the local patrol guys parking by his building. They pulled up beside him, rolling down his windows. "You guys good for the watching stuff?"
"Sure, Detective. What happened?"
"My parents," Danny said. Everyone on the force knew anyway. "Kidnaped him from Flack's Ma." They shuddered. He pointed. "We're on the second floor in that one." That got a nod. "I've got a neighbor who makes a lot of crank calls." He smirked and they found a spot to park in. Mac could park at home, change, then come over. They made it inside, Don putting Alex down while he went for the pantry. He had stuff. He pulled out a few jars and a box of pasta, finding a good pot too. Then he got to work. By the time Mac and the Flacks showed up dinner was ready. He nodded at the bowl since his mouth was full.
"Where did you order from?" Mrs. Flack asked.
Danny gave her an offended look. "I cooked, woman!"
She gave him a hug around the head. "Thank you, Danny." She got the rest of them food, glancing in on Alex before sitting down.
"They're in jail. Gerrard took them personally," Don promised. He looked at Danny. "You mind a TRO on 'em?"
"Nope. Them, Sonny, all of 'em." He ate a bite, nodding at Mac. "You?"
"That's fine, Danny. I know this puts you in an uncomfortable position."
Danny snorted. "Not really. Not like they talk to me."
"Good point." He smiled when Alex came wandering out. "Are you up again?"
"Bad dreams." He climbed into his lap, cuddling him. He waved at his Grandmother. "Okay?"
"I'm fine, dear. They only pushed me." He nodded, snuggling in again, going back to his nap.
"They pushed you?" Don junior said. "Really?"
She looked at him. "I don't want you to do anything violent, Donald."
"Yay. I won't. Might tell some people that they tried to kidnap a cop's son." He smirked. "Tried to hurt an older lady ta do it."
"Let me call some contacts, son. You worry about him," his father told him. "After all, I've put away more people. More hell for them to go through."
Don smirked. "Fine. I can still tell mine though." He dug in again.
Danny shook his head. "I think I'd rather tell some of Sonny's contacts. This'll draw attention to him, which they really don't want." Mac gave him an evil smirk for that. "We have one going to trial next week even."
"Good point," Mac agreed. "Thanks for reminding me of court, Danny." He dug in to eat. It was a good plan. Vengeance had nothing on them for touching their son.
Mac looked at the judge. "You can't order all Messers to not go near him. Danny's his biological grandfather and he shares custody with us. Every Messer but him we don't want anywhere near him."
The judge looked at him. "How did that work?" Mac handed over the copy of his report, letting him read it over. "We're sure?
"Four DNA tests confirmed it, Your Honor," he assured him.
"It is a wide range of places for them not to go."
"They don't need to be near his daycare. It's in Manhattan and they live in Queens. We live in Manhattan. The Flack's live in Yonkers. Not near their neighborhoods either. The four residences, the daycare, and the office. Ten thousand feet from us if they find us out in public since Sonny was stalking him in a park."
He looked at him. "Are you sure this is necessary? They're in jail."
"The judge gave Mrs. and Mr. Messer, Danny's father, bail. Louis is in jail without bail because he was in on the kidnaping. Sonny Sassone came scouting the son for them. Plus he's tried to accuse Danny of being a dirty cop in the past."
"Louis was in the same gang as Sonny. Danny was younger and idolized his brother. Louis drove him off so he wouldn't join and that made his family disown Danny. This'll be the third time this connection has come up."
He nodded at that. "All right." He signed the orders. "We can do that. It'll be legal for one year." He handed it over. "I'm sure you know you have to keep a copy with you?"
"Of course. My wallet, their wallets, filed with the daycare." That got a nod. "Thank you." He took the report back. "You have a good afternoon."
"You have a better week, Detective."
He grinned. "I'm trying to." He walked off, handing Don the restraining order. "Copy that." He nodded, going to get certified copies for everyone who'd need one. He looked at Danny. "You good?"
"Whispers. They thought it was cute I broke in the office door."
"I thought it was good." He clapped him on the door, taking his copy from Don to put into his wallet. They did the same. "Who's picking him up tonight?"
"I am," Danny said, taking that copy and heading to the daycare. He smiled as he walked in, taking off his sunglasses. "Hey. Is Miranda around?"
"She's out back with the children, Mr. Messer. Is there a problem?"
"My parents are shi... Dirtbags," he modified, getting a smile. He held up the order. "Tried ta kidnap Alex the other day."
She looked at it, nodding. "Okay. Do we have pictures?" He handed over the one he carried. "How old is this?"
"Few years. They don't look any different. She keeps the same hairstyle." She nodded, leading him out to the head of the daycare. "Hey." Alex came running over and he caught him, lifting him up to cuddle him. "You ready ta go home now?"
"No." He pouted. "Play park?"
"Not today, kiddo. We'll play at my place then go to Daddy Mac's place." Alex shrugged and hugged him. He looked at the head of the daycare. "They took him from Mrs. Flack."
"Aw, crap," she mouthed. He nodded. "How long?"
"One year." He pointed at the picture. "He's out, she's out, he's out. He's in jail but he's trying to protest not getting bail since my parents did."
She nodded at that. "All right." She smiled. "It shouldn't be a problem."
"Thanks. Let us know if they try?" She nodded. "Have a better day."
"You too. Oh, he has a note."
"What did he do this time?"
"He and Thomas got into it."
"Who started it?"
"Thomas. Your son ended it by knocking him down and sitting on him, then sticking his fingers in his ears and humming so he couldn't hear him complain."
"Well, non-violent. That's at least good."
"Some." She led him back to get his things, handing that, a tape, and the note over. "We've had a talk with Captain Overton."
"Don got in his face the other day." He smirked. "It's my turn next." She laughed at that, giving Alex a pat. "C'mon, snookums. Let's head home."
"Don's girlfriend?" He nodded, lifting his head to look at him. "We'll call Don, see if she's comin' over so you can see her again." He beamed and waved at the daycare people as they walked out. "Thanks." He got him into his carseat and put the bag in front of him, walking around to drive back to the house. Don was letting him use his car today. He called while he drove. "Our son is brilliant and thinks your girlfriend would like to see him." He laughed. "That's what he asked. Home. Yeah, in your car. I'm being careful." He hung up and paid more attention to traffic. It wasn't bad this time of day. For New York traffic.
Alex frowned, watching the car next to them. "GUN!" he shouted, pointing. Danny flinched but looked where he was pointing. Then he pulled off, making them follow him. "Oooh, bad poopies!"
"Yeah, they are."
"That's not a bad thing," Danny promised, trying to stay calm. He called dispatch. "This is Detective Messer, CSI Manhattan felony. I'm in Flack's car on 5th. There's a tan sedan following us with guns hanging out the window. No shots yet. Going past East 11th in a block." He hung up. "Alex, can you duck down a bit for me please? Just in case?" He saw cop cars and they turned to get the sedan. He pulled over once they had them, getting out to look at them. "What did they want?"
"Well, one is," one of the officer said, holding up an uzi. "This one's real." He looked at him. "What happened?"
"Alex saw it. He told me."
"They didn't fire at the car. We're all a bit jumpy since we had ta get a TRO against my family. They kidnaped him from Flack's mom."
"You've had a bad week then, huh?" one of the officers quipped.
"Ya think?" he asked dryly. Stella pulled up and hopped out. "One real, at least one toy."
"I don't care! You don't point guns at people in traffic!" she shouted. "Especially not at a car with a baby in it!" They shrank down. "Danny, go ahead and go home?" He nodded, getting in. "If we need a further statement, I know where he is." They nodded, letting her handle it. She outranked them and if she wanted to scream, let her. They'd even let her do the booking paperwork.
Don tapped before walking in. "Hey." Alex beamed at him. "You are a lucky boy. I called her, she said she is more than happy to see you tomorrow night and we can play with the dog." Alex bounced around cheering. He picked him up to cuddle. "You okay?"
"Yeah, first thing I knew he was shouting 'gun' and pointing. One toy, one not."
"Two not but yeah." He sat down. "Psych students out of NYU doing a field experiment."
"So they'll get to do another one on what jail's like?"
"Judge denied bail for at least a week." He looked at the baby. "You look upset." Danny started the tape, letting him see today's fight. "Can we copy that?"
"I want Overton this time," he said dryly.
"Nah, let Dad do it. It's his turn. He hasn't gotten to yell at anyone in days." He smirked. "He insisted."
"Yay. It's my turn then him."
"He was gonna double-team with Ma."
Danny considered it. "I'll look weak after that."
"Good point. Sure, your turn." He grinned. "I like the non-violent response. Very nice."
"Very. They sent a note home too." He handed it over with a smirk. "They'd also like us to work on his mouth." He smirked. "Though, he did tell me he had a bad poopie when we started to drive defensively." Don snickered at that. "I thought he was calling them a name but he said it was him."
"He's definitely got yours and Mac's mouth," he agreed. He patted him on the back, answering his phone when it rang. "Flack." He beamed. "Hey. Cuddling him. He's a little bit worn out. At Danny's. Take me half an hour but we can. You mind, Danny?"
"Don't keep him too long."
"Sure. Squirt, you wanna head home? She's bringing the dog over tonight." Alex beamed and nodded. "Go get your stuff." He let him down and ejected the tape. "We'll get copies tomorrow."
"Sure." He waved, watching them head off, Flack cooing at his girlfriend. "Mush," he muttered, shaking his head.
Danny walked the portable DVD player and DVD into IAB the next morning, putting it down and pushing play to show the pertinent parts. "You know, one of these days he's gonna hit your son back and hurt him. I'm happy he's staying non-violent so far but he *does* have my temper too." Then he grinned. "You wanna say stuff to your son yet? This is getting ridiculous. Really."
The head of Internal Affairs walked in. "Why do you three keep visiting him?"
Danny restarted the film, letting him see it. "This is the latest thing his son did to ours. This was yesterday."
"Your son handled it well."
"He stuck his fingers in his ears and hummed Beatles songs so he wouldn't have to listen to him whine," Danny said dryly. "His son's a bully. My son's patience is as vast as Taylor's, but he's got *my* temper as well. I'm hoping like hell my son stops at slapping when he finally snaps. Since my son's coming home bruised at least once a week from his son, you might wanna teach him how to teach his son about the dangers of bullying. Before they're both kicked out for the fight."
"I can do that. Your son all right?"
"Fine now. A few days back he had one in the middle of his back from being pushed off the swing by his son. Like I said, about once a week or so he comes home bruised from him. We've got most of them on film if you wanted to see them too."
"That's fine, Detective Messer. Let me yell at him."
"Please do. Us doing it hasn't worked yet. Next he gets the Flacks." He took the portable DVD player back to the lab, walking it into the morgue, handing it to Sid. "Yesterday's scuffle."
He pushed play, watching the tiny screen. "Well, it was non-violent. Almost Buddhist of him."
"Yeah, well, still not good." He smirked. "The head of IAB came down ta see why we kept showin' up." He took it and walked it off, going to show Stella. She was with Mac so he put it in front of where she was pacing and pushed play, walking away.
She watched, rewinding it. Then she giggled. "Is he humming?" She smiled at Mac. "He is?" He nodded, smirking back. "It's cute and a good way to deal with the bully."
"Whose father is Captain Overton."
"Well, he's IAB. He's a bully too." She turned it off and handed it over. "I needed that. I hate this case, Mac. I have absolutely no suspects and I know I'm missing something."
He took the folder to look over. "Epithelials?"
"No sign of leather, ruber, latex, or anything else on the rope and there should be since it skidded."
"Winch?" he asked, making her hit herself on the head and go check the rope for winch marks. He smiled, replaying the short clip. Their son was a pain in the ass sometimes but he was good more often than not.
Don was the last one to arrive at the daycare the next Monday. "Let me guess, he snapped and hit him back?" he asked.
Melinda looked at him. She turned on the tape since they were all there. Thomas Overton was telling their son about how his fathers were dirty cops and his father was investigating them. How he was going to go to jail with them. How he'd get to beat them all in jail. Then he hit Alex on the jaw. Alex glared and pounced, beating the snot out of him. "He's in the emergency room. He's going to need an arm cast and stitches in his lip."
Don looked at his dad, then at the other father. "You proud now? Your son clearly needs help. He pushed ours into it."
"He still can't express such violence on the playground," Melinda said patiently.
"I agree," Mac told her. "We will be teaching him when hitting is not appropriate. I thought I got through to him when I told him walk away when he started this time."
"He has for the last few days. On Friday Thomas told him his parents were gay and going to hell. Then he tried to push him off the bigger slide, at the top." Danny winced. That was a good three foot drop. "Alex has phenomenal balance right now and a very good grip. He managed to avoid most of the shoves but one kick to his ribs sent him over the side. One of the attendants got him before Thomas could pry his fingers off." She looked at Captain Overton. "I want your child out of my daycare. Permanently. He's not only picking on Alex. He's picking on six other children. I've already had this conversation with them. They agreed. Your son goes or they're going to start making police reports out."
"Whatever," he said, slamming his way out of the office.
She looked at them. "Alex needs help controlling his temper."
"That's my heritage," Danny admitted, shifting some. "You said yourself, he tries to stay non-violent."
"He has been. He's been doing wonderfully. He's even protected a few of the other kids from Thomas. He still needs to learn that hitting is wrong. Which is why he's not allowed back next week. We consider it like a grounding."
Mac nodded. "We can handle that." She smiled. "It's right to punish him for hitting."
"And for not stopping," Don Junior agreed. "We can handle him for the week."
"Thank you for not getting huffy."
"Hell, Melinda, we wanted to beat Thomas," Danny said dryly, standing up. "He here?" She nodded, pointing at the nap area. "Time out?"
"He walked in there and curled up under one of the cribs. We've tried to get him out and he won't come for us."
Mac nodded. "Let me." He went in there, looking down at his son. "We're not mad at you." Alex pouted at him. "I'm not. You went too far but I'm not mad. Thomas made you hit him this time." He squatted down. "Come on, let's go talk with the other daddies."
"Me bad," he whispered.
"No, you're not bad. What you did was wrong, but you're not. That's what we'll talk about. It's wrong to fight. How to handle bullies and things." Alex scooted over, staring at him. "I promise, you're not in trouble."
"Can't come back?" he whimpered.
"You have one week when you're grounded from daycare," he said honestly. "Then you can come back." Alex pouted. "There's consequences for your actions, son. This is the consequence for hitting him. You knew better, even though he pushed you into it. We're still not mad at you for it, but we do need to talk about how to handle those things better."
Don walked in and picked him up, looking at him. "We're not mad. Really." Alex sniffled then cuddled his neck. "Shh, Al. We love you. We're not mad at you." He patted his back, helping Mac up and back into the office. He sat down. "Melinda, you're not mad, right?"
Alex looked at her. "Not?"
"No, Alex," she said, staring at him. "I'm not mad at you. I'm mad at Thomas. I'm mad that you hit him because hitting is wrong. I'm not mad at you though." He nodded, putting his head back down. "Thank you, guys."
"Not an issue," Danny promised. He stole him. "My turn for Alex cuddles. That way Daddy Don can drive us both." He nodded, clinging to his neck. "His bag?"
"All packed." She went to get it for him, handing it over. "Thank you for understanding, guys."
Mac patted her on the arm. "We knew it'd happen sometime. What did he break?"
"His ulna." Mac winced. "He... I've never seen a baby that pissed."
"He's got Danny's temper," Don agreed. "Copy of the tape?"
"I'll mail it." They nodded, walking out together, Grandfather Flack hovering behind them. She smiled. They were reasonable parents. She was so happy! She did copy it and sent a copy to Captain Overton's boss as well. He had said he wanted to know what was going on after the slide incident made her call him. This would clearly show it. Plus all the other copies she had. She hoped his next daycare was better.
Danny and them sat around that night once Alex was down. "How're we doin' this?"
"I've got six weeks saved," Don offered. "I can take one."
"I can take some too," Danny told him. "That good with you, Mac?"
"That's fine. I can take him next weekend?"
"My mentoring kids love having him there."
"He can play basketball," Mac promised with a smile. That got a nod. "How did he learn those skills?"
"Past life?" Danny suggested quietly.
"Could be," Mac agreed. He sipped his soda, glancing into the bedroom then at him. "I'm almost impressed. Even if it was wrong."
Don grinned. "My boy's better at brawling than I was at his age. I cried."
"Me too," Danny admitted. "Louis used ta push me around all the time." He sipped his drink too. "You want earlier or later in the week?" he asked Don.
"I'll take earlier. You have a case to wrap up." Danny nodded. "So you take Thursday and Friday?"
"I can do that." He looked at Mac, who nodded. "Think Gerrard's impressed since I know it's gotten around?"
"I am," Don admitted. "We'll have to channel that into constructive ways."
"Martial arts?" Danny suggested. "Mac?"
"I learned one. We'll see what I can teach him when he's a bit older." They nodded at that. He stood up. "Peyton and I are having dinner."
Don looked at his watch. "Me and mine too." He hopped up, heading out. "I'll be back in the morning."
"Sure," Danny said, waving as they headed off on their dates. He glanced in at Alex then went to make dinner. It was more satisfying than a date any day.
Don looked at his boss early the next morning. "My son got grounded from daycare for the week."
"I heard why. Overton's kid looks rough, Flack."
He beamed. "You hear what the kid said?"
"Oh, yeah. Overton's boss wanted me to make sure there wasn't anything going on."
"I've got a girlfriend."
"I know that. Not that stuff. How was he last night?"
"Danny had him after we talked. He wasn't having nightmares when I went out with my girlfriend."
"Good. How long?"
"Danny'll take Thursday and Friday."
"That'll work." He filled out the forms. "Take them downtown. Ask them for emergency leave for a few days thanks to kid issues. I'm sure they heard too."
"Overton's kid really badly injured? I know Alex broke his arm and he needed a few stitches in his lip." He pulled out a picture and held it up. "Alex didn't hit him on the eye, Hernandez."
"Yeah, watch the tape again."
"I'll do that. Shoo." He nodded, heading off. He called the head of Internal Affairs. "Just talked to Flack. He pointed out something. How did Overton's kid get a black eye? He said Alex didn't hit him there." He nodded. "I would, yeah. Rewatch the tape. Let's see. No, he's grounded from daycare for the week so he's taking a few days. Messer's taking a few days. Taylor will probably have him this weekend since he's not on." He smirked. "Exactly. It works for them. Thanks." He hung up and shook his head, making notes about the meeting and the phone call.
Don walked into Danny's place an hour later. "The HR people thought it was a good idea." He heard a moan and went to Danny's room, finding him in bed. He frowned, going to Alex's room. "Alex?" he called. Danny moaned again. "Alex? Ralph, where's Alex?" he asked the local ghost. He opened a cabinet door, showing him his son curled up hiding. "Hey." He got down to check him. He was asleep too. Pulse was good. He didn't wake up when touched. He called for an ambulance. "This is Detective Flack. We need an ambulance and CSI for two possible drugged people, Detective Messer and our son." He gave the address and went to check on Danny. He had a needle with him. "No way." He walked out at the first sound of footsteps. "Stella, needle on the bed." She went to gather things and search for clues. "Want me to move the baby?"
She came out to look, taking pictures. "You opened it how?"
"The ghost opened it."
"He won't leave prints. That'll do it for me." She patted him on the back. "Guys, I don't know what's in the needle but I know Danny doesn't use drugs." They went to look.
One of them sniffed then looked at her. "Heroin." She sniffed then moaned. "You're sure?"
"Absolutely positive. Danny's a CSI with me. On my shift." They nodded. "And that's their kid with Taylor." That got a shudder from one. "There's a few good candidates for this. The baby's in the kitchen in the cabinet. Want help?"
"No, ma'am. What can we touch?"
She moved the sheets, looking him over. "He doesn't sleep clothed." She took pictures. "Go ahead. Tag for processing. I'll get someone there." They nodded. "Run a tox screen as soon as you get in." They nodded and took off with him, the other coming back for the baby. "Don, follow." He headed out. She called Mac. "Don walked in and found Danny unconscious with a needle next to his arm and the baby in one of the kitchen cabinets, where he usually keeps his crock pot, Mac. The needle smells like heroin and we *know* Danny doesn't. Exactly. Ambulance is just leaving," she said, looking out the window. "Flack's riding along. He'll need processed. I'm on his place." She hung up and got back to work on the bed. She'd end up at the doorknob. There were only a few causes for this.
Sheldon ran into the ER. "CSI Hawkes. I'm told I'm to process a set of patients?"
"Are an officer and his son. We know the officer doesn't. We were just drug tested a week ago." She went pale. "We know damn well he doesn't. He's a CSI too," he said quietly.
"He's back in trauma bay two. The other detective won't leave his side with the baby. We're going to admit them both overnight." He nodded, heading that way. "I'll get security for you?"
"Don't bother. We'll be here." He walked that way, shifting out of the way of a rushing nurse. He walked in and looked. "They good?"
"Hell no," Don said grimly. "Who in the hell....!"
He held up a hand. "I don't know. Yet." Don nodded, going back to pacing with the baby. "His clothes?"
"Bagged." He pointed. "Danny's too. He was fully dressed and not in what he was wearing when we left last night."
"Okay. That'll help." He looked at the bags, then put them into his evidence box. He came to look Danny over. "Isn't he right handed?"
"Mostly. Now and then you see him carrying stuff left handed."
"The needle was in his right arm."
"So definitely not doable?"
He pressed, finding the vein. "Not unless he already knew it was there. I know the last blood drive the nurses complained they had to take it out of his wrist due to deep veins." The nurse walked in. "Did the needle actually hit his veins?"
"Barely." She handed over the report. "You're a CSI?"
He grinned. "Former ME as well."
"Even better." She looked at the baby against the one guy's chest. "We're going to admit them both."
"We over thinking Danny did this?" She nodded. "Good. I'm staying with them. We want them in the same room if possible."
"Out of the question."
"If someone did this to him...."
"We have hospital security."
Don pulled up his badge. "They broke into a cop's house, drugged him, his son, stuffed his son in the cabinet under the kitchen sink, and redressed Danny. We need them together because *no one* we don't know and trust are going to be allowed there."
"I'll see what we can do." She went to talk to the floor supervisor, letting her know what was going on. She came back thirty minutes later with a smile. "He'll want some water soon."
"No, he'll want milk, juice, or soda," he said dryly. "He hates water." Sheldon handed him something. "Lemonade for water. That'll work. Thanks, Doc."
"Welcome." He grinned at the nurse. "Even I can't get him to drink plain water and he loves me." She smiled at that. "Got it figured out?"
"We can put him on a smaller ward. It's a corner room so we can put them together. One of the nurses there used to do Pediatrics." Don nodded at that. "I'm assuming you're his partner?"
Don smirked. "Many assume but no. Someone made the baby of us and another CSI. Someone military," he offered at the confused scowl.
Sheldon smiled at her. "They found out when Mac was kidnaped from his house and woke with shallow stomach stitches and the baby still covered in afterbirth fluids." She shook her head. "Exactly." He finished up. "Okay. I'm done with him. Don?"
"I let the SART nurse do his." He handed him over once Sheldon's hands were clear. "She's got the fingernail and hair stuff at the desk."
"That'll work." He looked him over. "No needle marks?"
"It looks like some was dropped onto his tongue. Not a high dosage like Detective Messer got but enough to knock him cold. We're also waiting on the report from his CT. We were worried about a concussion since we can't wake him up."
Don smiled. "If you did he'd flirt with you. He likes to do that." His father stomped in. "Hey, Dad. Get a report from Stella?"
"Taylor threw a fit. Cleared his desk finally. Broke one of those pretty glass walls of his with the phone."
"I'm holding mine in."
"Go scream, son."
"Sure." He looked at the nurse, getting a nod. "Let me know the room number?"
"He'll be here," she said, showing him the transfer order. He nodded, heading outside for some privacy to throw a screaming at God fit and vow to him that he was going to kill *someone* for this. Possibly everyone, but whoever had done this definitely. She looked at the older man. "You're Detective Flack's father?"
She smiled. "Then I'm sure the baby Flack will be a great officer as well. We'll be moving him now, CSI..."
"The one who used to be a surgeon?" He nodded, smiling at her. She handed over the rest of the chart. "We noticed an anomaly during his physical look over."
He read it over, then frowned and looked at his leg. "I don't think he hit it recently." He handed it back and took pictures, just in case. "Thank you, nurse...."
"Pritchard." She smiled and walked off. Detective Flack was walking back in looking a bit mussed but calmer. "They're going to move him any minute now."
"Thanks." He smiled. "You've been great to us." He walked in there, taking the baby back from where he had been laying on Danny's stomach. "Anything conclusive?"
"Did he bruise his leg?"
"Not in like three weeks." Sheldon showed him. He pushed some of the hair out of the way. "That's a tazer, right?" Sheldon took another picture then put down a ruler to take a sized one. He nodded. "Huh." He looked down at the baby that was blinking at him. "Hey. Thirsty?" He nodded. "Dad?" He handed over the lemonade packet, letting him get him a bottle of water somehow. A set of orderlies came in. "Hey."
"Sir, we have a bed waiting on him."
"He'll scream," he promised. "I'm going anyway. Doc?"
"You're right after Stella and Mac, Don. I'm sure he'll be here soon." He packed up and carried the evidence out, stopping to get that one kit from the desk nurse. He smiled at her. "Thank you, Nurse Pritchard. You were very helpful." He walked off, finding Mac parking. "They're moving him upstairs now." He stopped him. "Mac, he got given about twice what a chronic junkie takes. He was redressed according to Don, and Alex tazer marks on his leg."
"Tazer?" Sheldon nodded. "Anything else?"
"His body was way out of whack. They let me see the report." Mac nodded. "Don and his father are up there with them. They were moving him."
"Stella said whoever took the baby took the crockpot too." He walked inside. "My CSI is being moved where?" he asked politely.
"Thank you." He headed for the elevator, going up there. He smiled at Don, who was sitting in a chair, letting the baby sip from the bottle of water. "He awake?" Don nodded, looking at him. "Someone took the crockpot too."
"My wife," Don senior offered. "She borrowed it last weekend since she can't find the liner to ours."
He texted that to Stella then looked at Danny. "He wake up?"
"Nope. Had to fight with the nurses about him not doing it to himself too. They finally got the point when I demanded the SART nurse start processing Alex." He looked down at him. "You wanna go back to sleep or hug Daddy Mac?"
"Momma," he said weakly.
"Sure." He handed him over, letting him have the chair. "Consider me planted here, Mac."
"Of course we are." He fed the baby more of the water. "Did Uncle Sheldon give you stuff to make lemonade?" The baby smiled at him. "Such a good boy. How much did he get?"
"Drops on the tongue," Don told him, rubbing his eyes. Danny moaned. "Oh, now you wake up?" he called loudly. Danny heaved so he helped him onto his side, letting him puke onto the floor. "Nurse!" he called. She came jogging in, moving him to help him. "Puking."
"It's not uncommon. Any idea who shot them up?" she asked Mac. Who shook his head. "How long before you know?"
"Hours," he said. "Maybe a day at the most." His phone buzzed so he looked at it. "That's my boss. The hallway?"
"The windows are a safe area." She pointed. He walked out with the baby still in his arms, holding the phone with his shoulder while he coaxed the boy into drinking more. Danny started to dry heave so she sat the bed up and let him rest again, getting a cool compress. Don took it over for her. "Let me get him some water." She went to do that, bringing back a cup of ice water. "It won't help much but it'll keep him from vomiting stomach acid and ripping the lining of his esophagus." Don nodded, nudging Danny's cheek until he blinked at him. "Try to sip the water, it might help some."
Mac walked back in. "The Chief of Detectives wants to call in the Feds. I told him they get it when they pry it from Stella and Sheldon's fingers, then go through me. He agreed I'm helping you stand guard." He sat down. "That's a good boy, Alex. He helped by holding the phone."
"He's very helpful when he does that for me too," Don agreed. He grinned at Danny. "We don't know yet. Doc processed you and checked the SART nurse's job on him. Stella got your place. You were redressed in jeans and your blue henley." Danny slowly shook his head. "Yeah."
"Lost it last month to the dryer," he whispered hoarsely.
"I'll let Sheldon know," Mac promised. "Which jeans, Don?"
"Um, lighter, faded blue jeans."
Mac texted that then smiled at the baby. "Your Auntie Stella is so mad at whoever made you sick. She's been swearing in Greek all morning." He grinned at that. "Want to lay down for a bit or can you finish the lemonade?"
He let him have the rest of it to drink, smiling at the hovering nurse. "He hates plain water. Loves koolaid though."
"Warm jell-o," Danny told her. "Same thing only thicker. Worked when he had the flu last winter." She nodded, going to make a note of that. He looked over, squinting some. "Our boy?"
"He's fine. They didn't shoot him up," Don promised. "Dropped some in his mouth and put him under the sink."
Danny looked at him. "Who?"
"Not enough time to process yet," Mac told him. "Stella's already back at the lab working on it."
Danny hummed. The nurse came back with someone with a mop to clean it up. "Sorry."
"It happens to a lot of patients, sir." He cleaned up the mess.
She looked at the mess. "Did you eat last night?"
"Pasta florentine around nineish. He had ravioli from a can at seven."
She nodded. "That's a lot of material."
He looked over then shrugged. "Yeah, very solid. Maybe I'm not remembering a midnight snack."
Mac handed Don Senior the baby and took a vial of the sample, plus some of the mop water to compare against, texting Stella to come pick them up. Lindsay showed up twenty minutes later to get them.
"Anything?" Don Junior asked.
"Not yet. She said we've got nearly every machine working. We moved this case ahead of everything but my Cabrio murder." She walked out, going to bring them back to the lab for testing. Stella pounced her at the elevator. "One of mop water, one of stomach contents."
She looked. "Huh. Danny should've been down to stomach acid by then." She noticed Mac had noted the time regurged and last time known eating. "Okay." She went to run those as well. She wanted some answers and someone was going to be begging at her cute little toes by the time she was done with them.
Stella called her people together, nodding at Sheldon. She took the folder he held out, nodding. "Mine said the same thing." She put hers and his on the table in front of the rest of them and the detectives from Don's squad. "This is the asshole who tried to OD Danny and Alex." One of the detectives grabbed and pulled it over to look at. He stared at her. "Fingerprints. He left skin cells on the sheets and the clothes. He left them on Alex's clothes. It was nice he fed Danny before making him OD."
"He's ours," he said, standing up.
She let out a small laugh. "Like hell. I'll let you lead."
He stared at her. "You know how to use that thing?"
"Have in the past."
"Then why are we arguing?"
She smirked. "I'm driving too."
"Fat chance. I've seen you drive," another detective said, grabbing the folders. He looked at her. "Interesting. Let's go now." They got up and headed to the other building. They looked like an avenging army. One of the officers there tried to get in their way but one of the detectives pulled him aside and cuffed him, putting him into a chair. They stormed into the head office, finding him in there. The one who had the folders down in front of the guy. He looked then at him, backing away slowly. He was shaking his head. "Oh, yeah."
"Not only are you in such deep shit, you'd better pray," Sheldon told him. "It's your only hope."
"Help!" he shouted.
His boss walked in. "We're having a meeting?"
Stella handed him the evidence folders. "Yes. We are. You're in the way."
"No I think I'm in the right place." He looked at them. "They good?"
"He nearly killed Danny and Alex! Hell no!" she shouted, getting into his face. "I want him first."
"We don't allow...."
She shoved him back at Sheldon, who looked at him then handed him over. "Here, I don't usually carry handcuffs." He helped pull the cowering man out of his seat, handing him to Stella. "I'll make sure he lives." He smiled sweetly. "That way he'll be okay to go to Gen Pop tonight." The head of IAB spluttered but wasn't going to get out of it this time. He was handcuffed to a doorknob and they walked the unfortunate person outside. A few other cops tried to get in their way but there was no stopping them. The captain got free once he was outside but Stella pulled her gun and shot at his feet. "You know, I keep forgetting what a good shot you are," Sheldon said with a grin for her.
She beamed. "Someone's got to be around the lab. You and Lindsay suck. Danny's only good because Don worked with him for months." The captain was still frozen. "You wanna come back here or am I going to have to come over there?"
"This isn't allowed," he complained, his hands up, staying where he was.
"Neither is dropping heroin into a baby's mouth and then shooting one of his fathers up so much he nearly died," she said bluntly. "All because your kid's a bully and got kicked out of daycare after their son had to finally beat his ass for you." The head of Internal Affairs came out. "Oh, do get in my way," she sneered.
"Bonasera, you don't want to do this. We'll have to send you too," he said, sounding reasonable. "Let me handle it. He'll be going to prison. General population if I can manage it. Come on, put it away?"
The detectives all laughed at that. "After he dosed Flack's kid?" The head of IAB looked behind him, finding Flack Senior there. "Hey, Cap."
"Boys. Stella. Sheldon. Didn't expect to see you here." He grabbed the man by the neck, making him scream in pain. "I think we're going to have a talk off the record."
"But ..." Stella complained.
"You can cheer." He smiled. "He is my grandson."
"He's as close as most of us are getting to kids."
"He scared me off having one," one of the detectives agreed.
Flack smiled. "Fine. Let's go to the alley, people. Before some unsavory news crew shows up." He walked them that way. Then he let loose all of his anger.
Don Junior walked in. "Ah-uh. Mine!" he shouted. They all got out of his way, including his father. "Didn't we warn you? I warned you. Mac warned you. Danny warned you. Pity." He laid into him, beating him until he wasn't getting up again. He stared down at him. "It would be in the best interests of the department for you to confess. That way you quit dirtying the people who're supposed to stop the dirty cops." He walked over him, looking at Stella. He kissed her on the forehead. "You can have your own."
"Some of us are scared after watching Alex's chocolate dance," one guy told him.
Don snickered, smiling at him. "So are we, guys, and he still wants siblings." He looked at Sheldon. "Thanks, Doc."
"Welcome. Can we arrest him now?"
"Sure. Go ahead." He smiled. "They're both awake. The baby's drinking everything he can. Danny's trying to drink but he's still a bit pukey. The doc said they can come home tomorrow probably. The baby definitely as long as his bloodwork stays good. Danny maybe a few days later. No chocolate until they're all better no matter how much the son begs, guys. We can't have him hyper and sick. He'll never get better." He looked at his father. "We done?"
"Sure." He walked over him too. "Should we present him to anyone?"
"Nah. I'm sure someone around here can do booking forms." He glared at the head of Internal Affairs, making him back up. "Maybe next time you should take complaints like that seriously when they happen the second time instead of the eighteenth." He walked off, heading back to his car. "Heading back past CSI. Got Mac's SUV. Who'm I driving?"
"Me," Stella said. "They wouldn't let me drive, Don."
"Neither do I, Stella. Especially when you're pissed." He opened the door for her with a grin. "There ya go."
"Thanks. Such a gentleman."
"Let's hope the son learns manners like I did." He walked around to drive and the rest of them went back to the station to get back to work.
Flack senior smiled at the head of IAB. "Remember when all bad cops were taken out this way?"
"Good. So do we." He looked at him. Then at the pitifully sobbing pile of human. Then back at him. "Let's hope his son grows up better. That's a horrible example but it does show why his son's a bully." He walked off. "Going back to the hospital if you needed more information."
"No, I think I have plenty," he said, walking over to haul him up. "Can you walk?" He nodded, limping with him. Once he was inside he cuffed him and tossed the still cuffed guy his keys. "Meet me in my office." He walked him up there, pausing to grab the evidence folders. Then he went to fill out the booking slips. He was going to be doing some hard time for this. The injuries would fade. His twenty to life wasn't going to.
Mac looked up from reading to Alex, nodding at Don Junior. "We get him?"
"He's confessing. He got the point it'd be better for him." He kissed the baby on the head, getting a grin. "That's my good boy. Soak up more knowledge so you can be smarter than Daddy Danny." He winked and looked at Danny. "Is he supposed ta be gray?"
"No. They say it's where he's been sick."
"Uh-huh." Don went to wring out the wet compress, bringing it back out. Danny looked at him. "Don't puke on me but if you have to, Alex might like that."
"He laughed last time," Danny said dryly, but pretty weakly. "Do I wanna live?"
"Yeah. Otherwise you'll never get to see him graduate college."
"Good point. Damn it." He shifted and Don put the washcloth on his head. "Thanks."
"Welcome." He patted him on the head. "We got 'im."
Danny looked at him. "He did this because his kid's a bully?"
"I'll kill the bastard," he mouthed, not wanting his son to hear that sentiment.
He smirked, patting him on the cheek. "He's confessing," he said, staring into his eyes. Danny relaxed and nodded. "When I got there, Dad, the whole squad, Stella, and Doc had him in the alley with the head of IAB." Danny looked at his hands, offering the washcloth. "I'm fine." He grinned. "Now, you think you can handle soup?" Danny moaned and rolled onto his side to aim at the pail the nice nurse had gotten him.
Alex, being a toddler, thought it was hilarious and giggled some more.
Danny walked into his apartment and flopped down, putting his feet up. "Damn it," he said, realizing his door didn't fully close. He had to try twice until he got up, wandering over to close it then going back to his comfy, soft, non-antiseptic smelling couch. He curled up on his side, flipping on the tv. They'd be over soon but he hoped someone else planned on cooking. He fell asleep there.
Don walked in first with the baby. "Aww, look. Daddy Danny's nappin', Al." He put the baby down, letting him toddle over there to climb up his father and hug him. "That's my good boy." He went to check the fridge, starting to toss stuff out. Thankfully it was trash day so it wouldn't stink up the apartment for long. He finished weeding out the bad things, looking at one jar. He wasn't sure what it was so he left it alone, even though it did look foul. He carried out the trash and came back to find Alex had flipped the channel to the playboy channel. He looked at the baby, blocking his view. His son pouted. "Don't even think about it, Al. Grandma would definitely scream about that program." He flipped it to Nick Junior and took the remote with him. He went back to figuring out dinner, frowning at what was in there. His phone rang. "Hey." He smiled. "At Danny's. He's just back from the hospital so I brought the sprout over and figured I'd make him dinner." He grinned. "Tomorrow?" He nodded. "I can do that. Hey, Al, want to eat dinner with her tomorrow?"
He looked over. "Why not? There's a hockey game. We'll watch it on her tv." Alex pouted patting daddy. "We'll see how you feel tomorrow." He put the phone back against his ear. "He's pouting and patting Danny on the head, but I'll be over." He grinned. "It's a date. Sure, call me an hour beforehand to let me know if I need ta bring anything. You too, babe. Have a good day." He hung up and figured he'd make pasta. Danny had a lot of it. He made good pasta. He had some frozen sauce. He pulled that out and some vegetables. Mac knocked then walked in, making Don hand him the remote. "The son wanted bunnies."
"I forgot Danny had that channel on his tv."
"Well, he's single." He shrugged. "Peas?"
"Not with the case I had earlier." Don put those back and pulled out broccoli. He smiled at the baby. "Hey, Alex. Is he pettable?"
"Tryin' ta sleep. Let 'im," Danny mumbled.
Alex leaned down to kiss him on the head like he got then stroked his hair for him some more. Both fathers smiled and Mac took pictures. Alex scowled at him so he took one of that look too. That way he could prove to Danny that the baby did have his scowl. Alex shook his head, shifting to pet the daddy better, waking him up. Danny blinked up at him. "Sleep, Daddy. Beddy bye."
Danny grinned, pulling him down to cuddle. "If I'm gonna sleep I'm gonna need a teddy like you have. Wanna be mine?" Alex beamed and snuggled in. "That's my good boy. Tell your other fathers to put up the camera and to quit burning my good pots please?" he called.
"No!" Alex shouted.
"You don't need the flame that high to boil the water," Danny shot back.
"Fine." He lowered it. "Takes longer."
"Scorch marks don't come off."
"Fine. Go back to sleep." Danny drifted off again and Don checked before turning up the heat again, shaking his head. At least until the smoke detector went off. Then he grabbed a towel to fan away the smoke and turned down the burner again. Mac snickered, coming over to help by taking out the battery for a few minutes. Don finally got to put the pasta in and it was nice. Real food. Danny snored. Alex snored with him. They could enjoy that tonight.
Alex looked at Grandma Flack, staring at her. "Grandma?" She smiled at him. "Daddy kissy Momma soon?"
"No, son. They're not going to kiss anytime soon."
"Because your Daddy Don knows it would upset me."
He pouted at her. "Need kissies."
"He has a nice girlfriend, dear."
Alex shrugged. "So?"
"That's not how good men are."
Alex nodded at that. "Momma kiss Daddy Danny?"
She pursed her lips. "I know you have a one-track mind, Alex, but really."
Don senior came out of the kitchen. "If they do I'm sure they'll let you know, Alex. Don't you worry about it." He patted him on the head, staring at his wife. "If they do, you can't say a word."
"I can so!"
"You can also be without the grandson," he reminded her. "Messer knows a few good gay folk and so does Taylor. They're very open minded and are going to raise the boy that way. They've said so plenty of times."
"It's not right."
He shrugged. "To you. I'd rather have the three of them happy, wouldn't you? Instead of Taylor dating the tiny ME who the grandson calls a ho?" She pursed her lips at that, looking pissed. "Don's girl is nice from what I understand." He shrugged, looking at his grandson. "If they do, they'll tell you and talk about it, okay?" He beamed and nodded. "Good boy. Want to help me trim the grass?" He nodded, going to help him with the old push mower. He didn't have enough grass for a real mower and a weedeater was too much trouble for this much lawn. So he had gotten one of the old spinning wheels of blades mower. "You sit there and watch me. Watch my coffee for grass for me?" Alex cuddled the cup for him, getting a smile. He got to work doing the seven passes that was cutting his backyard, watching the boy look at his coffee very carefully. He smiled, finishing up and stretching. "There, all done!" He smiled, taking back his coffee. "Thanks, Alex. You're a good coffee guardian." He patted him on the head. "That's a good boy. Cartoons?"
"Bugs or is there a new one?" The baby got up and bounced. "What are you doing?"
"Bouncing like bunnies!"
"Aw, damn it, Don said Messer had the playboy channel." Alex giggled. "Did you sneak and watch it?" He beamed and nodded. "Don't watch that trash. You'll never date a nice person." He led him back inside, sitting down to read to him instead. He'd have to remind the guy his tv had a V-Chip and how to use it. Before his grandson got more weird ideas. Because his son and Taylor? Not a great match without some buffering. They were both too stubborn.
Danny came back from the doctor's, finding the Flacks in his apartment. "Hey." He sat down, taking the baby to cuddle. "How're you?"
"Daniel, we've programmed your V-Chip so he can't get onto the nasty channels," Mrs. Flack said.
He looked at her. "Really? Gee thanks but I like those channels when he's in bed and my tv won't let anyone into them when you use it because the chip's faulty. I do block it so you have to punch in the number." She gave him a hurt look. "Unfortunately after the last power reset I had to reset my channels and didn't get around to blocking out Lifetime and those." He took the remote and canceled it, turning off the chip. Then he went to fix that problem. All the channels he hated or his son shouldn't see he blocked out. "There, better?"
He glared. "That way he has to go hunting. Not like you don't live next door to the nice lesbian madam." She went pale. "Who he told me allll about the other day because he can see into her bedroom window." He smirked. "He was very impressed with her handcuffs and whips. Thought Stella could use one." She moaned.
"She got the point, son," Flack Senior said. "Maybe you should date."
Danny looked at him. "I date babbling little things who're young and cute. They don't really like single fathers." That got a nod. "I'd date older women but they bore the crap outta me." He looked down at the baby. "How was your day?"
"Bored. No bunnies."
"You can't have bunnies anyway. You know that."
"No, not even the bouncy ones. Sorry." The baby pouted but snuggled in instead. "Any other issues?" They shook their heads. "Isn't your son supposed ta watch him tonight?"
"Date," Flack Senior said. "Mac's on call. Can you handle him?"
"Hopefully. I just got cleared for duty." That got a nod. "Thanks for telling me he was getting into those stations again." He smiled at his son. "Tell them good night now?"
"Night!" Alex said, waving and beaming. "Be good!"
"I think that's what we tell you," Grandpa Flack said dryly, patting him on the head. "You sure?"
"I'm sure." She left and he stopped Flack Senior. "Would you like tell me where my son learned the word fag from?" he asked quietly.
He moaned. "She's very set in her ways."
"Yay. He said it to a gay minister I know and shocked the hell outta us."
"I'll work on her."
Danny smiled. "Thanks. We fixed his. He knows he's not supposed to say those words. He also knows he's supposed ta chastise those who use that word."
"Good point, son." He gave him a pat on the head too then left.
Danny looked at his son. "Don had a date?" He nodded. "With the same girl?" He nodded. "Huh. Want pizza for dinner? I'm too tired to cook."
"Sure, we can have mushrooms if I can find my wallet." He went to look then shrugged and called anyway. He had money in the bank and a fifty. He could afford dinner and subway fare to work. He let the baby play until the delivery guy got there. He opened the door, giving the driver a surprised look. "Moonlighting from the gang?"
"No," his brother said, handing over the pizza. "Can we talk?"
"No. The baby's here. I don't want you anywhere near my son."
"I'm your brother."
"And he's my spawn. No. Sorry. I'll meet you in the park tomorrow." He closed the door in his face and went to check the pizza first. No drugs. Nothing bad on it. He grimaced at the onions but Alex wouldn't mind. He put out two pieces and put the rest in the fridge for later. He ate a good sized bite first, making sure he didn't have any funny symptoms and wouldn't fall asleep from it. Then he let the baby have some. Alex nibbled while he built with his blocks. Someone knocked as he was about to suggest a bath. "Who is it?" he called. No answer so he got up to look. "No. Don't make me enforce the restraining order." He walked away, calling Mac. "My brother delivers pizza sometimes and now my mother is here." He smiled. "We're fine. I got cleared for desk work. Going to give him his bath. Sure." He hung up. "You're lucky. Daddy Mac is on his way over," he said loudly. He heard her stomp off. "Bath?"
"Yeah. Time for a bath."
Alex pouted. "Not dirty?"
"Bull. Bath." He pointed. Alex put up his blocks, like Daddy Mac made him do, then headed that way so they could have a good bath together. Even if he was the only one getting clean. Danny looked out when the door opened. "Hey, Mac. She still out there?"
"We had a talk. I informed her of the particulars of the restraining order and pointed out she was in violation." He closed the door behind him, coming in to help. Alex was still pouting. "You usually like baths."
"Uh-huh. Were you outside?" Danny asked. He nodded, smiling. "Then you're dirty." He went back to scrubbing his back for him. "Even if you don't want to you should take a bath every day, Alex. That way people don't think you stink."
"Now. That's what a bath is for," Mac told him. "To make sure you don't stink." Alex pouted at him. "What?"
"Yes, they can," Mac agreed. "But someday soon you'll be a big boy and potty trained. Then no more diapers."
"Then you can have undies like Daddy Don, ones that'll make you giggle at them too."
Mac smiled. "He did?"
"He did. Don was sleeping in some when his apartment's heater got stuck on. He giggled all the next day about it and most of the rest of the week. Don blushed the first few times then told him some day he'd have pink underwear too." Mac snickered at that. He finished scrubbing him and looked at his hair. "We gotta do the hair." Alex held his ears. "We'll get those looked at, Alex," he promised, keeping him upright.
"I've noticed he doesn't like to dunk his head as much," Mac said.
"I think he's getting an ear thing." He shrugged. "Who knows. Kids do it all the time." He covered his eyes so he could rinse the shampoo out, making his son giggle. "He likes the sound of the falling water."
"It's the same sound as the potty," Mac told him. "That means he'll like it a lot."
"You're really looking forward to not changing diapers, aren't you?" Danny taunted.
"A lot." When Danny was done he grabbed a towel and the baby, walking him back to his room. Alex spread himself out for ease of diapering. "When did you get this rash?"
Danny came in to look. "I didn't see it earlier." He tested his forehead. "He's warm."
Mac looked. "That looks like chicken pox."
"He just got his booster a week ago," Danny said, then he moaned. "They said you could catch a mild case."
Mac gave him a look then shook his head. "They're going to go insane at work."
Mac checked his watch. "It's before the late night bar accidents. Let me call the local one." He went to look up the number and call it. "Hi, I have a two-year-old son who got his chicken pox booster about a week ago. On his rear. Yellowish pustules. I haven't seen any others. Danny, did you see any others?"
He looked him over. "Yeah, in his elbows and the back of his neck." He came out to look at him. "He's running a slight fever."
Mac repeated that. "That's what we were wondering." He nodded at her instructions. "I can do that. Thank you, ma'am." He hung up. "They're full already tonight. It'll be six in the morning before they'll be able to see him if we show up right now." Danny grimaced. "She said calamine lotion and call the pediatrician."
"Go ahead. You know his number too. Let me look in the cabinet." He picked Alex up, carrying him under his arm. "Let's find the anti-itch stuff." His son giggled. He found a small bottle and smiled, checking it. "A bit old but it'll do for tonight." He brought him out, watching Mac listen to the answering service tell him who was on-call tonight. "Someone we like?"
"Ours." He left his name and the phone number, then hung up and helped cover the spots. Alex was giggling so much he nearly had an accident so Danny sat him on his potty chair while they did the back of his neck. Alex looked down when he peed, then at him. "That's what big boys do," he agreed happily. "That's a potty too." He took him to wash it out then put the small cup back under the chair. "Looks like I'm still off, Mac."
"All of us, Danny. We can all carry it." He went to call Don Senior and Junior. His cell had three-way calling for field questions. "Guys, bad news. We think Alex sprouted a case of chicken pox from the vaccine."
"Tell me you're kidding?" Don begged.
"Wish I could. Looks like it. The good news is he was giggling so hard that Danny put him on his potty chair and he used it while laughing. The back of his neck, elbows, and his rear."
"That means I'm a carrier," Don said dryly.
"All of us," his father reminded him. "The pediatrician?"
"Waiting on the callback. He was out of reach for two hours. He should be back in about another thirty."
"Speaking from experience. Calamine lotion, oatmeal baths, some minor rubbing alcohol over the sores when they're full to make them disappear faster, Taylor." He hung up.
"I should tell her, right?" Don asked.
"You should. If we don't hear back I'll ask Sheldon his opinion."
"Okay." Don junior hung up and went to talk to his girlfriend, who was lounging on the couch. "Alex popped up some chicken pox from the vaccine."
"Is he all right?"
"They didn't say he was horrible but he's apparently not making his other fathers happy." He smiled. "This may mean I'm quarantined."
She kissed him. "If you are, I would be too. Whatever shall we do?" she asked, teasing his throat with a nail.
He grinned. "Once we know it's not something more serious in a half hour?"
She nodded. "Of course. Which one called?"
"Mac three-way conferenced with my dad. Means Ma's gonna complain about grocery shopping." He shook his head and kissed her, taking his mind off it for now. She didn't mind. When the phone rang forty-five minutes later he answered it with one hand, putting it against his ear. "What's up?" He listened, then he sighed. "Picture phone?" He nodded. "How long? And her?" He smiled. "Thanks, Mac." He hung up. "I've got about a week to make sure I don't sprout."
"It'll be fine." She stroked his cheek. "We'll handle it." Don nodded, pulling her onto his lap to kiss her again.
Danny looked at the Chief of Detectives when he opened his door. "We have chicken pox in the house."
"I've had them." He walked inside, seeing the miserable, pouty baby on the couch. "I can understand why you're off. Why are Taylor and Flack?"
"Pediatrician's orders. We could be carriers."
"Everyone's had chicken pox."
"Don hasn't." He groaned. "For that matter, Alex got 'em off his vaccination."
"Damn it," he muttered. "You're leaving the lab short, Messer."
"Why come ta me about that? Did I get a promotion and no one told me?" He got given a scathing look. "Mac lives about three blocks away. Hasn't moved in decades from what I've heard."
"Fine. Can you handle him alone?"
Danny snorted. "No!" He gave him a look. "He's running one-oh-two at the moment and we've got to keep applying the cream, give him baths, meds to take down his fever, all that good stuff. Did your mother do it alone?"
"Without any help?"
"Well, my babysitter."
"Uh-huh." Mac walked in. "We're leaving the lab short."
"I didn't know you had been promoted over me." He handed over the bag. "Our pharmacy was nice enough to bring it to the car for me." He picked up the baby to cuddle him. "Are you feeling nasty?"
"Itchies!" he whined, pointing at his diaper.
"I know it does. Let's see if more cream will help it." Alex put his head down on his shoulder, cuddling in. "Sir, with all due respect, it's not like we could help it. Plenty of kids get chicken pox off the vaccination every year." He stood up, carrying him into his room so he could look at his butt. "It looks like it's time for another bath."
"Not dirty!" he complained.
"Soaking in the slimy stuff makes it quit itchin'," Danny called. "This'll be a play bath. You can splash yourself all you want, Alex."
"Daddy Don?" he whined.
"He hasn't had this yet," Mac told him. "So he can't come see you for a few days. Then you can see him." Alex started to cry. "Shh, we've got you and he still loves you. Want to call while you're in the bath?" He walked him that way. "Oatmeal packets?"
"On the side of the tub, Mac." He gave the baby a hug. "We'll call." Alex pouted but nodded, putting his head back down. He looked at the Chief of Detectives again. "Sorry but unavoidable, sir. Not like we planned on him getting chicken pox."
"Fine. How long?"
"Until his last sore is dried up. He can't go back to daycare until it does."
"The average time is...."
"A week and a half ta two weeks. Mac might be able to go back sooner. Or I might. We still have to get him back down the other side of the bad part."
"Fine. I'll let Bonasera know."
"She called earlier ta check on him. She knows." He 'humph'd then walked out, slamming the door. "Puss sucker," he said quietly, heading for the bathroom, grabbing the phone on the way. He smiled at the panting voice. "Is your son going to interrupt? He's pouting because you can't come over. Sure, give you thirty." He hung up, looking at the baby. "Daddy Don is in the middle of his own bath so he can't talk but he'll call when he's done. Good for you?" Alex pouted and shook his head. "It'll be soon. In about a half-hour."
"Interrupting?" Mac asked quietly, giving him a look.
"She's playing nurse. He's getting the special bath."
"Oh." He nodded, getting back to washing down the sores. Alex was still squirming but not as much. "Does that make it feel better?"
"I know," Mac promised. "I had them when I was ten." He let Danny kneel beside him to help him wipe their son's back down. "I thought this vaccine was supposed to mean no one would get it ever again."
"It covers some of the strains but not all. It was more to protect you against what they could but if you got it you'd get a lighter case. No more deaths from the fevers it can cause sort of thing. Like the flu shot. It covers twelve-to-twenty strains of the flu but there's over a hundred out there."
"That's something I need to get again this year." He went back to helping their son, handing him a toy boat. Alex played listlessly but he did play some. "Have we heard from Don's parents?"
"Twice. His Ma giving me advice about alcohol baths and to feed him oatmeal because she said it helped Don when he had a fever." Mac hummed at that. "Told her his fever wasn't that high yet but I'd keep it in mind." Mac nodded, accepting that. Someone knocked. "Who is it?" he yelled.
Don walked in. "Fuck it, if I'm getting 'em I'm getting 'em." He walked in and knelt between the other two. "She said she'd gladly check me for spots in a few days. She had ta go do work stuff this afternoon." He hugged his son, getting a sniffling cuddle back. "I know, you feel miserable. You're all itchy and nasty feelin'. That's what the slimy stuff is for, Al. To make it quit itchin'." Alex let him help wash him down. "Did you miss me?" he teased with a grin. The baby looked up and nodded. "I missed you too."
"She'll see you once you're better. She promised she'd even bring over the dog."
"Sorry to interrupt," Danny said quietly.
"Nah, was still good and she agreed, he needs me." He grinned at him too. "Didn't matter. Still got what we both wanted. Gave me a chance to catch my breath." He handed Alex a floating toy clown, watching him bat at it so it'd drown. "Not him, huh?" He got him something different. This one got a confused look. "It's a tiny gunboat. Like in the movie you and Daddy Mac watched."
"Yes, it's a boat that has guns," Mac agreed, making the baby a bit happier but still kinda pouty as he shot the clown and then the other toy boat.
Danny shook his head. "We need to start gun safety lectures soon, Mac."
"I'll work on those." He looked at him. "We've done a good job so far."
"Gerrard's last day he took his gun off him, ejected the clip, then cuddled it," Don said. Mac laughed. "Exactly." He looked at Danny. "Go nap." He nodded, going do that. "Didn't figure he had with as tired as he looks."
"Probably not. I didn't get much last night from the couch either." They finished up with the baby, making him pout. "What? Want to stay in?"
"We'll be putting on more cream," Don promised. "I'll wear gloves but we can do that." Alex nodded, hugging him to get him damp. "That's my boy." He pulled him out, wrapping the towel around him before carrying him back to his room. More calamine lotion was applied then a diaper. "There. How's that?"
"You want clothes?" he teased. The baby nodded. "Did Daddy Danny teach you to wear clothes?"
"Grandma say no naked boys."
"True, she told me that plenty of times." He pulled off his t-shirt and put it on the baby. It was a special treat he loved. "There ya go, kiddo." He put him down, watching him wander out to cuddle next to Mac on the couch. He took off the gloves and went to do the same. "Want cartoons or read to?"
"Food's good," he agreed, getting up to see what was in the cabinets. "Danny clearly needed to grocery shop." He looked then at Mac, who nodded for him to go. "Is it safe?"
"If you're going to sprout you probably would've by now." Don nodded, grabbing another shirt to wear so he could grab some quick groceries from the corner store. Mac pulled Alex into his lap, cuddling him. "You have been a very good boy. I'm proud of how good you've been." Alex beamed at that. "Now, want cartoons or read to?"
"Once Don gets back, Alex. There's nothing to eat yet."
"Poop." Mac gave him a look, getting a sheepish one back. "Bad?"
"Very bad." He turned on the tv. He had to change the station off A&E but that was fine. Alex liked the DIY shows and he found one within a few channels. He settled in to watch the people work on the houses with him, comfortably cuddling with him.
Danny looked at Don two days later, reaching over to test his forehead, making Don duck away. "You don't have the stigma anymore."
"What?" he complained. Danny got his hand mirror, showing him the area below his ear. "Damn it."
"Yup." He pointed at the spare bedroom. "Hit it, Flack."
"Go lay down before I tell your girlfriend? Yup," Danny overrode him. "Now. Take some tylenol too." He pouted but went to do that. "Wondered who he got the pout from," Danny muttered, calling Mac. "Don's got 'em too." He hung up and went back to fixing dinner. Alex was still down for a nap on the couch. Don would need something too. He walked the soup in there, going to get Don's phone at the same time. He handed it over with a nod. "Yours."
"Thanks. I should call her but she's out of town."
"So wait until she's free." He walked off again, going to check on their boy. The ear thermometer didn't wake him up, which was nice. His fever was down, which was nicer. Mac came over with ice cream and he smiled. "Thanks."
"I figured they could both use some." He put it into the freezer, looking at the thermometer. "Not too bad. It's closer to normal."
"He's in the bad, puss building stage. He'll be fully ripe probably tomorrow. Then we're on the downward side after a few days."
"Even better." He went to check on Don, who was still staring at his phone. "She call?"
"She's out of town. I sent her a text message about needing a back scratcher."
Mac looked at his back, nodding. "You have a few between your shoulder blades."
"I know, they itch." Mac got the calamine lotion and dabbed some onto his. "That doesn't help that much."
"Didn't when I had them either. When did Danny have them?"
"Don't know. Haven't asked. Hey, Messer, when did you have chicken pox?"
"I was three. Or so my mother told me."
"That's young," Mac said.
Danny shrugged. "A cousin had 'em probably. It's not unheard of for parents to expose their kids on purpose to get it over with." He went back to the kitchen, checking on their son. "Hey," he said, seeing the open eyes. "Want some soup?"
"No. Want Willow."
"Willow? Is she a friend from daycare?" Mac asked as he came out. He tested his fever. "He's burning up, Danny." Danny got the baby tylenol for him and handed the bottle over. "Where do you know her from, Alex?"
Alex blinked at him. "I don't know you," he said, sounding confused.
Danny stared at him. "Alex, do you know me?" he asked calmly. The baby shook his head. "Huh. Okay. How old are you?"
"Twenty-one," he said weakly, taking the medicine Mac was holding up. "Eww. I haven't had that in years. Willow used to feed it to me." He sat up, looking at himself. "Spell?" he asked.
Danny came over, squatting in front of him. "Do you remember someone named Anya?" he asked quietly. His boy nodded slowly. "She did it."
"My Anya?" he asked, looking so miserable. Danny nodded, giving him a hug. He struggled until he got free, staring at him. "She can't. She loves me."
Danny gave him a sad smile. "She said she wanted to give you a better childhood, Alex."
"Xander," he said, pouting some.
"We know. We were told the memories were gonna fade when we found out." The baby looked heartbroken. "You've got the chicken pox. A really high fever."
"So it unblocked it? The fever sneezed open the memories?"
"Apparently," Mac agreed, stroking over his hair. "We don't know how she did it, kiddo. All we know is that you're our kid now. Have been since you were found near me the day you were born."
The baby stared at him. "Willow? Buffy?"
"We checked out that way. We heard they were fine," Danny told him. The little body relaxed. "We're not sure if these are gonna stay or not," he offered.
"Can I tell myself stuff?"
"We can tape record a message," Mac promised. "I have to run home to get one but it's only a few blocks." The baby nodded, giving him a trusting look. "We do the best we can for you, Alex. It's a whole new start."
"What do you do?"
"We're officers. Danny and I are CSI. Your other father is a detective."
Xander blinked at him. "Cops?" Mac smiled and nodded. "I guess that's good. Drinking ones? There's a lot in Sunnydale."
"No, we hardly ever do. You scowl so hard at us," Don promised as he joined them. He grinned at him. "We'll let Mac get the tape." He headed off to do that once he had Don's keys. "It'll be okay. We promise we're nice guys to you."
"Sure. I guess that's good." He looked at Danny. "Are you sure it's okay in Sunnydale?"
"It was when we checked late last year."
"Can... can I call?"
Danny considered it. "I don't know if they know, Alex. She never said if they knew or not. There's every chance your fever will go down and you won't remember."
Alex leaned forward. "Willow vowed to the Goddess that I'm her soul-bound friend." Danny handed over the phone. "All I want to do is hear her voice." He dialed a long- known number, listening to the chipper voice. He choked and hung up, handing it over. "She's okay."
"Shh," Danny said, picking him up to hug him, letting Don sit beside him. "It'll be okay. She's happy. You'll be fine. You'll grow up again and it'll all be great."
Alex looked at him. "Things happen around me and come for me," he said quietly.
"We've noticed you seem ta draw bullies," Danny said dryly. Alex smiled and nodded a bit. "The rest, we'll handle when we have ta." Alex nodded, resting against his shoulder. Mac came back with the tape recorder and a few tapes. He gave the baby a nudge. "Go into the bedroom, tell your younger self all about you, Xander. It'll be okay. When you're older we'll have this talk again if you don't remember." He nodded, letting Mac help him with the unfamiliar machine while Don put him down onto Danny's bed. They left him alone for a while, letting him figure out what to say, how to say it, and let him decide how much he was going to tell himself. They listened but it was nerve rattling. "The fever?" Danny asked. "Or what Overton did?"
"Could be either. Could be both," Mac offered. "We'll have to see if it fades again after his fever goes down." He listened at the door for a second before going to make himself something to drink. "Either way we have to get his fever down. It can't be good for him."
Don wiggled but Danny rubbed the itchy spot for him. "Thanks."
"Welcome. Been doing a lot of this recently. If chicken pox weren't so nasty I'd do this for a living," he teased.
Alex came out of the bedroom, staring at him. "I had chicken pox when I was ten or so. Willow took care of me. How did I get it again?"
"The vaccination. We've been giving you all your shots," Mac told him. He sipped his tea. "It's not unheard of to get them off the vaccination."
"Oh." He frowned. "No demons, right?"
"This is New York. If there are, they're hiding from the mobsters," Danny said with a smirk.
"I guess. As long as *they* don't try to get me too." He rolled his eyes. "What else am I doing?"
"Daycare at the moment. You're only two," Don said quietly.
Alex looked at himself then at him. "Do you feel freaky too?"
"Good. It's not just me. Hell, I'm used to mojo and accidents happening from it and it's still not just me." He looked at them. "If I don't usually have my memories...."
"Your fever spiked and there was a problem with another officer who wanted to get us back for his kid getting kicked out of daycare because he tried to thump you," Danny said honestly. "You beat him good and they kicked him out. He broke in and dosed us both with heroin."
Alex gave him an odd look, then looked at Don. "He's dead, right?"
"A cop in prison. Soul's dead."
"Okay. I guess I can accept that. There's all sorts of stories about cops in prison." He went back to the bedroom then came back out. "She did it why?"
"She said to give you a more secure childhood than the one you had," Mac said.
Alex looked at him then at Danny. "Anya used to be a vengeance demon. I know very well how her mind worked. Sex or money?"
"Some money, better emotional control, less violence," Danny said honestly.
Alex just nodded at that. "Okay then. She's....."
"In a permanent coma," Don said quietly. "We think whatever she paid to impersonate Danny while shooting a coworker got her for not paying a debt or something."
"That's kinda reasonable with their sort. Preschool?"
"Next year. How were your grades?" Danny asked.
Alex let out a bitter snort. "I loathed school. Every damn last minute of it. I hated school. The only reason I went was because it got me out of the house." He went back to talking to himself, his future self, whatever.
Don got up and leaned in. "Hands-on stuff work better for you? We can send you to a good school, kiddo."
Alex shrugged a bit, rubbing his forehead. "I didn't like lectures very well. We didn't have hands-on classes really."
"Wanna learn what Mac and Danny do? They're crime scene guys. They're the ones who find out who did what bad thing. Lots of science but they've got one who reminds me of a trained chimp on night shift."
Alex grimaced. "I passed freshman biology and called it quits. I barely passed freshman biology and that's because the teacher turned into a demon that wanted to eat me after killing the first one."
Don just nodded at that. "You get on well with engines, that stuff?"
"I was doing carpentry when she did this to me."
"Okay. So maybe hands on stuff would work okay? More project based than reports, testing, that stuff?"
"That might be nice," he admitted, grinning some. "We didn't have much choice in Sunnydale. Honestly, I tested so sucky I nearly got put into special ed. Twice. No matter what my SAT scores said I sucked ass in school."
"No swearing," Mac said. "Sorry, reflex."
"No, you're right, I shouldn't," Alex agreed quietly, staring at him. "I don't know. Trust me, you'll know when I hit problems. Also, a bit dyslexic now and then."
"There's ways ta help with that and the bounciness that you have," Don promised, getting a grin back. "Though we're still going to cut you off sugar for a while. You scared perps the last time you did your chocolate dance." He withdrew, going to look at the books. "Project based."
"There's a magnet school that does but it's junior high," Danny admitted, taking it to find it. He pointed. "We can ask."
"Now we know why he likes catalogs instead of books," Mac said calmly.
Danny punched him on the arm. "We'll handle it, Mac. Even if the old memories are here ta stay. He'll still be our kid." Mac nodded, finishing his tea. "Did Jeremy ever get us good info from his last life?"
Mac shook his head. "Only what that group saw." He turned to make another cup. "Guys?"
"Nah. Thanks anyway, Mac," Don said, getting some water and going back to bed. He felt miserable and had to call his girlfriend. Though he wouldn't be mentioning this, just in case. This was freaky and he didn't think she could deal with it. He wasn't dealing with it very well and neither was Mac. Stella and Doc might but they weren't.
"Hey, Alex, when you're done, let's do a bath," Danny called, sipping his beer. Mac smiled at that. "He's still got the fever. Can't be good for him." That got a nod and Mac went to run it while Danny finished up then went to brush his teeth. Alex finally clicked off the tape recorder an hour later and came in to let himself be stripped and put into the bath.
He looked down at himself. "Thank god I grew," he said quietly, cracking Mac up. He grinned. "I did. Thankfully." He let them bathe him, wincing and holding his head as the fever got a bit worse. Danny got him new medicine when it was time. He started to feel sleepy and drifted off.
Mac looked down at the baby, smiling at him. He took his temperature. "Closer to normal." He kissed him on the head. "We'll take good care of him, Xander. You don't worry about it. We have it." He went back to helping Danny bathe him. When he was out, relotioned, and back in his bed, he headed home to start a background search on him. Even hackers weren't going to stop him this time like they had Jeremy.
Stella looked up at the young woman walking up to the reception desk the next morning. "Can I help you?"
"I'm not sure. I wanted to speak to someone about a young boy named Xander." She stared at her. "Which I think you may know."
She blinked. "The only child I know is named Alex, miss."
She sighed. "He called last night. Can you...."
"Let me call Mac," she decided, calling him. "Mac, I have a young woman here who is asking about a child named Xander....." She handed over the phone. "He said he knows."
She listened. "This is Willow." She smiled. "No, I want to know what happened. I got the phone call. That's why I'm in your city instead of mine. Please. I can meet you there. That's not a problem. Thank you." She hung up and smiled at her. "Thank you. I know it's a bit strange but necessary." She walked out, heading to the cabs outside so she could catch one to the address he had asked her to go to. "15 Gramercy please?" The driver took off and she relaxed, thinking about all the ways something could've happened to him. They had all wondered for the last few years. She got out and paid the driver, then walked to the man sitting on the stairs. "Mr. Taylor? I believe you were doing background searches on a subject very dear to my heart."
"He's got chicken pox up the street." He looked at her. "Last night his fever spiked."
"What happened?" She sat down next to him. "Will the residents or owner mind?"
"No. It's a detective I know. He'd say it would be fine if he was home." He looked at her. "There was a young woman named Anya who kept showing up. She claimed she deaged him to make him have a more secure and less violent childhood."
"I'll kill the bitch," she muttered. She looked down then at him. "He's how old?"
"Two. Just barely two," he said quietly. "The first we knew I woke up in an older building and he was covered with birth slime near me. I had some shallow stomach stitches."
She nodded at that. "Okay." She handed over something. "Xander's journal."
He smiled a bit. "We met him last night when his fever spiked."
"Did something else happen? You don't sound too sure."
"A few weeks back an officer broke in and retaliated against Danny, one of the other fathers, and Alex by OD'ing them on heroin," he said quietly. "His kid was a bully and got kicked out of daycare for it."
"Xander used to protect me from bullies all the time," she said quietly, giving him a sad smile. "Is he okay otherwise?"
"He's a good little boy with a mouth on him," he said dryly. "He likes to help us clean our guns."
"Yeah, he was always a weapons person," she sighed. She looked down then opened her purse and handed him something. "That is a full background on him. My diaries, all of it." She looked at him. "It can only help him this time."
He nodded his thanks. "We were told the memories would fade."
"Mostly it's like Xander's asleep in the back of his own head." She stood up. "I want him to be happy this time. His parents last time were crap. Very big piles of crap." He nodded at that. She licked her lips then rubbed her nose. "Don't drink around him. I can warn you of that much."
She nodded. "He should be happy. Not hunting, because that wasn't making him happy. Violent. Seeing himself like he saw Batman. Not happy." Mac nodded at that. "Don't tell him about Sunnydale unless he asks."
"He made himself a tape."
She smiled a bit. "Of course he did. It'll probably not mention that either. It might be warning him about his taste in women." She smirked a bit. "You can make sure he's happy and safe?"
"As safe as we can make him, Willow."
"Thank you." Someone pulled up the street going slowly. "Who're they? They're radiating trouble."
He looked then he sighed. "That is the next attempt by Danny's family."
She looked at him. "Why?"
"Danny didn't want to be a thug. They kicked him out."
"Oh." She looked then she muttered and waved a hand. They watched as the car suddenly dropped speed and rolled to a stop a second later. She looked at him. "No more problems. You let me personally know if we have any problems that relate back to demons, magic, or otherwise. I'll make sure they're handled and I'll be telling someone local to watch over him for me. That way you can have a son and not a future warrior. He deserves a better life than yearly apocalypses and fighting every night while never expecting to come home." She walked off, heading to find one of the local witches. She knew where they were. She had looked them up on her way over.
Mac got up and went to look in the car. There sat five perfect looking iguanas. He looked after her but she was gone already. Then he looked in the car again. "Danny's going to throw a fit," he muttered, calling him. "It's me. I did meet with her. We had a nice talk. In a minute. What do you want me to do with the iguanas who were your father, brother, Sonny, and a few of their thugs?" Danny spluttered. "Yes, that's what I said, Danny." He smiled. "The same source, Messer. Do you want me to call the ASPCA?" he asked. A car came up the street and he flagged them to go around. The driver parked and stared at him. "Someone parked their car here with five iguanas in it."
"Why?" he demanded. He looked at his house then at Mac. "Needed my front step?"
"Yeah, it led back to the person who gave us Alex."
"That's fine then." He came over to look. "Need some pets?"
Danny was yelling on the other end of the phone. Mac could hear him with it against his shoulder. "I just asked Danny that." He hung up on him, smiling when he came stomping up the street a minute later. He waved a hand. "What do you want me to do?"
"I should let the pound have 'em," he muttered. The detective gave him an odd look. "That's my brother's car."
Danny grumbled but pulled a pillow case out of his pocket, letting Mac put them into the bag for now. "Get it towed?"
"Sure. They here?"
Danny looked at the bag then at him. "Don't know." He walked off shaking his head.
"How is the boy? I heard he had chicken pox," the detective said.
Mac nodded. "His fever broke last night but Don has them now too." That got a snicker. "So we've got two miserable, pouty people." He walked off shaking his head. "Have it towed."
"Sure. Thanks, Taylor." He called that in and then went to have lunch.
After Alex had went down and Mac had gone over all the information he and Danny sat down to go over it together. There were some surprising things. The tapes hadn't hinted at some of what Willow had left with them. Don came stumbling out rubbing his eyes. "Do you have spots there too?"
"No. Can't sleep." He flopped down and took the pages they were done with so he could go over it too. "I can see why he's your son and our grandkid," Don said finally, looking at them. "Now what?"
"She thought it'd be like a sleeping presence in the back of his mind," Mac told him. "I would guess it would've been the fever that did it." He leaned his arms on the table. "Have we seen hints of this before?"
"His thing with guns?" Danny suggested.
"I'm not sure and I don't think we should treat it like it's gonna follow the same course this time," Don said. "He's not the same guy. He doesn't have the same sort of parents. Why do we have iguanas?"
"Willow did it when Danny's family showed up," Mac said dryly.
"Uh-huh," he said, checking his own forehead. "I'm not that warm."
"I saw her do it," Mac told him.
Don shook his head. "Then I wholeheartedly want him out of that life. Before his next tantrum turns one of us inta one."
"She wanted the same thing," Mac agreed.
"Good. Then we can work on it. They'll be like signposts of what could be," Danny decided. "It'll help us with school stuff a bit. We know he needs ta learn ways to channel his frustration sometimes. Other than that, I say we lock it up and wait until he's at least fifteen ta give it to him."
"I can agree to that," Don said. "I think the tapes were meant for an older him anyway since they were warning him about dating and stuff." He yawned and stretched backward, then winced. "This disease sucks."
"It does," Mac agreed with a small smile. "Need more calamine?"
"Please. I was wiggling on the bed when I woke up."
Danny got it for him and fixed his spots so they hopefully wouldn't itch as much. "We have plenty of oatmeal packets."
"I'm not a bath sorta guy unless I'm in with someone," he said dryly. "Thanks, Messer." He stood up and stretched again. "Gonna go back to bed now. Any idea on schools?"
"There's a few," Mac admitted. "I'm looking into them." That got a nod and Don went back to bed while Danny went to fuss in the kitchen. "Are you okay with this?"
"I found out first and Jeremy admitted what he knew," Danny reminded him. "I've always considered it an indication of what could happen, not what would happen. Though I am liking the hands-on stuff a lot more at the moment." He looked at him. "What was his SAT score?"
"Huh. Yeah, that's not testing sucky. That's other things got his attention." He went back to fussing with the dishes. "Think we got enough of everything to get them both through this?"
"I hope so. Then again, one of us can go back to work starting in three days by Health Department rules. We'd have to switch off though."
Danny shrugged. "That'll work for me." He turned to look at him. "Flack's ma thought he had it."
"It could be a different strain than he had. Which means he's in for a lesser case."
"Maybe." He went back to his dishes. "Check his fever?"
"I can do that." He took the ear thermometer into the baby's bedroom to test his temperature, smiling at the low number as he came back out. "Ninety-nine. Good, low number."
"So we're really on the downhill side," Danny said, sounding happier. At least until Don had to go get sick. "Just hit the bowl and don't make a mess," Danny called after him, getting Mac some ice water for him. It was going to be a long few weeks.
Don finally got back to work and had to pout at the stuffed chicken on his desk. "Not cute, guys." He flopped down and stared at the lack of files. "Did someone do the paperwork for me?"
"No, we had to steal all your open cases," one said, handing him two folders. "Payback, man."
"Thanks. Didn't think it'd take me that long to get over them. Ma thought I had 'em before." He looked them over then at the one guy. "The mechanic?"
"Pretty sure, waiting on the lab. Figured you could use an easy one to get back on the horse after two weeks," he said, giving him a look.
Don gave him an unhappy one. "I had a hundred and ninety-four pustules," he said. The other detective shuddered. "With a fever. There's *nothing* that eases the itch of those, especially in your ear." He grinned. "Alex got one on the end of his dick. We had ta put on some heavy pants to stop that scratching. Oh, and he decided Danny should kiss booboos better since he does so well with his knee. Mac too."
"His?" the other detective asked.
"Ah. His slutty mind is back."
"That's how we knew he was better. He wanted Stella to cuddle him and he wanted Mac and Danny ta kiss me better."
"Your kid's gonna make you a grandfather *way* too early," another detective joked, tossing Don one of his files.
"No, we've got that covered. He knows having babies makes you evil. He complained Mac was going evil while he was sick." That got a few more laughs. "We're looking for a good project oriented school for him, guys. If you hear one, give us a note or something?" That got some nods.
"Not higher brain trust places?" the first detective asked.
"He likes hands-on stuff. It'll probably be easier to start there then move onto a bigger brain trust place. Maybe less expensive too. The one we liked on the brain trust side is only four grand a year, but that adds up."
"To about a new Beamer," the other detective said with a shudder.
"Yeah, plus tuition hikes and inflation," Don said dryly. "We've got a school fund started, thankfully, but man!"
Their boss came to his doorway. "I thought you were looking at the place up the street."
"While we were all babying me and the baby we figured out he does better with hands-on stuff instead of traditional ways of being forced to learn stuff, Hernandez. We decided to try somewhere project oriented first. He's still got Danny and Mac's brains but they'll train it gently in ways he'll appreciate since it'll let him be a bit more hyper too."
"What did the kid get from you if he got their brains and Messer's nose and chin?" the second detective asked.
"My cuteness," he said with a grin. "That's how he picks up girls all the time. Helped me get my present girlfriend." They all laughed at that. "Dad ranted about that before anyone asks. Though the son thinks she's sweet enough to last until he gets his way about us getting together."
Hernandez shook his head. "I'm sure you'll straighten him out sometime, Flack. Need more files?"
"No, thanks, really. I'll take first case." He got a nod and the boss went back to his desk. Don frowned but got into the files. Another detective came in late and dropped off another file. "I didn't have this many open when I left," he complained.
"Yeah you did," Hernandez called. "By the way, Monroe found your chocolate stash. We figured it would be better to let her have it than listen to her bitch out a suspect who had insulted her."
Don looked then at the office. "She can replace it too," he called back. He sent her an email to that effect then got back to work. He was only paused by a phone call. "Flack." He grinned. "Hey, Melinda. What's up? No, he was fully healed for the last day and a half, we were waiting on my last sore to dry up before we brought him back. Why?" He leaned back, listening to what someone had said. "She's paranoid. He got it off the vaccine. Really? Huh." He nodded. "Sure, I'll check on him. Thanks, Melinda. He okay?" He beamed. "That's my boy. Thank you." He hung up and called Danny's phone. "Melinda said you look like hell?" He got hung up on so he called Mac. "Melinda said Danny looks like hell?" He blinked at that. "Really? I didn't.... How did he manage that? Anything... Sure. Thanks, Mac." He hung up. "Messer caught them off us. Even though he thought he had them when he was three. Mac checked with Hawkes and the Health Department. There's no way I'm contagious." That got some nods. "But Danny's hiding. So if you need Messer, he's at home. Still." He got back to work, shaking his head.
Mac knocked on Danny's door impatiently. He'd been doing this for the last two minutes. No movement. He knew if he simply walked in while Danny felt rotten he'd be hit with something.
Don came up the stairs, giving him an odd look. "Ma wanted to babysit since he's better." He opened the door. "You throw shit at me, Messer, and I'm throwing it back no matter how bad you feel!" He walked in and found him on the bed. Fevered. Sweaty. Thrashing in a nightmare. He touched him on the arm, then ducked when Danny took a swing at him. "Uh-huh. Mac, shower?" He went to start one while Don hauled their buddy up and took him to the bathroom, tossing him in clothes and all. Danny woke up with a moan of complaint. "Nightmares?" he asked.
"Yeah." He looked at himself. "I didn't need this."
"Your bed's soaked with sweat. Yes you did," Mac told him. "Shower. We'll remake the bed for you, Danny." He went to do that.
Don got Danny his bathrobe then went to find the anti-germ spray. They got the bed remade and Danny was still in the shower. They shared a look. "Stella?" Don suggested.
"She'd beat us," Mac said dryly. "And then scream." He went in there, reaching in to wake Danny up again. "Shower."
Danny mumbled but showered once he tossed his wet clothes out onto the bathroom floor. He got out and Mac got a scowl when he found him shaking the calamine lotion. "Don't need it."
"Bull," Mac said, turning him around to start on his back. "I think you have more spots than Don did. I should coat you from head to foot with it."
"Then he'll look like a sunburned Italian," Don teased. "All pink...." Danny glared at him so he handed over the tylenol. "All yours, buddy."
"Yay." He took the cottonball to do his front himself. "Thanks."
"Welcome," they said together.
"Ma," Don said.
Danny looked at him. "She gonna give him another anti-gay rant?"
"I hope not. I yelled about the last one," Don said, giving him a look. "Even my dad yelled about the last one, Danny."
"'Kay." He finished up and put on his bathrobe, taking his wet clothes to put into the laundry basket so he could get dressed. "Why else are we over?"
"You're sick," Mac told him.
Danny snorted. "I'll be fine in a few days."
"Yeah," Don said dryly. "And I so believe that after having them last week!" He gave him a look. "They might be scared of Mac's little Marine white cells but you and I are normal folk and you still need a bit taken care of."
"Shuttup," Don complained, going to make him some soup. He found some cold on the stove and looked. "Got tired while warming?"
"Yeah. Thankfully I remembered to turn it off. Things went a bit technicolor there for a few." He came out and Don had poured it into a mug for the microwave. Then he got handed the warm cup. "Thanks."
"Welcome. It's what we do, Danny." He put him onto the couch and handed him the remote. "Rest."
"I'm trying to."
"No, you can't hide from us," Mac said. "It'll upset Alex."
"Point. No letting him fuss."
"Yeah!" Don snorted. "Because he didn't learn that from you already!" He called his mother. "Hey, Ma. We were right. He's got it now too. Fussy. Doesn't want anyone ta fuss. Making him more soup in a minute. Sure. He good so far?" He smiled as the baby got handed the phone. "Al, have you been good for grandma?" He listened then he snorted. "Hand Grandpa the phone." He leaned against the counter, free arm over his chest. "Dad, can't you just yell at her? No, our son isn't against it. She is. And if she keeps up with that shit, she's not gonna be watchin' him alone." He hung up. "Ma tried again when Alex pouted that we hadn't kissed my booboos better. Dad's saying stuff." He looked at the door. "I'm gonna go get him." Mac nodded. "You sure?"
"Bring him back here. That way he can fuss too. He's been looking forward to fussing since he helped you get better."
"Good point." He headed out, driving to his parents' house. He walked in and caught his naked son. "Where's your clothes?"
"No bath! Tired of baths!" he pouted.
"You still need the normal, washing up bath, kiddo. Otherwise you might start ta stink and then what'd we do with you?" Alex pouted at him. "Besides, if you don't get clean you can't help Daddy Danny feel better. He's got the same spots we did and he feels rotten." Alex scowled at that, wiggling until he put him down. Don watched him run back to his grandfather and the bath, then looked at his mother. "We don't care if Alex is gay or not, Ma," he said quietly. "Quit." She gaped. He gave her one of the looks he used on suspects when they were throwing fits. "My son is going to be raised very tolerant. There's a lot of different people in my city and he'll learn that they're all good unless they're breaking the law. Gay, straight, trannie, blue, green, purple, red, or orange. Got me here?" She nodded. "If he wants to try to make us kiss, that's his imagination. It's good for him to stretch it. Then again he thinks Mac's still a girl so he can have a baby sister too." He smirked. "Been working on that one again." He went to help with the bath. "Hey, Dad. You getting undirty for us?"
Alex pouted at him. "Daddy needs boy."
"You're right, daddy does need his boy ta cuddle him so he feels better. You're very smart and you'll make him feel a lot better. Even if he is growly at Mac." Alex beamed and let his grandfather finish him up, then he got out immediately and held up his arms. "Let's get you dressed." He grabbed a towel to dry him off. "Thanks, Dad."
"Welcome. I tried to talk to her again."
"I laid down the law," Don assured him. He walked Alex back to his old room, getting him dressed again. "Okay. Let's go baby Daddy Danny until he whines." Alex beamed and got up, running for the car. He grabbed his diaper bag, heading out after him. "Thanks, parents. We'll see you tomorrow." He walked out, letting Alex open the door so he could climb into his booster seat. "Good job!" He got him buckled in and turned to find someone behind him. "Yeah?" he asked the guy, closing the car door.
"Do you live here, sir?"
"My parents do. Why?" He moved his suitcoat to show his badge. The man backed off. "Why did you need to know?"
"We've had a lot of foreign traffic. It's got some citizens worried."
Don snickered. "This whole neighborhood has known me since I was my son's age. It's not an issue in my case." The man backed up another step. "Keep going." He turned and walked off. Don walked around to get into the car, sharing a look with his father over the roof before sliding in to drive. His dad could kick the guy's ass. He had taught him after all. They drove back to Danny's apartment, Alex humming with the stereo. When they got there, Alex got the seatbelt undone and rushed out of the car, hurrying up to the apartment, pounding until Mac let him in. Don followed with the diaper bag once the car was relocked. "He knew he had ta take a bath so he could be clean enough ta fuss."
Mac smiled. "It's a good strategy with him."
Don watched as their son cooed and petted Danny's hair, giving him a cuddle. "You'll be okay soon," Alex cooed. "I was and so was Daddy Don. You'll be okay and we'll make sure of it."
"Thanks, kiddo. I needed ta hear that," Danny said, patting him gently on the back. "Wanna hit the bed since it's bedtime?"
"NO!" He gave him a look like he was stupid - he had learned it off his Auntie Stella. "Make you soup!" He got up and went to find the cans of soup in the pantry. Mac helped and he watched as his mother poured it into a mug to warm up then helped carry it out very carefully, handing it to him. "You drink!" he ordered, tapping a foot until he took a sip.
"You look like Stella when you do that," Don teased, patting him on the head. "Drink, Danny."
Danny sipped, smiling at him. "You make good soup." Alex beamed. "Now that I've had soup...." His son snorted and went to check the bed, coming out to get him some stuff to look at, like Mommy had gotten him when he was bored but stuck in bed. Danny took another drink when his son gave him a look. "You look a lot like Auntie Stella when you do that."
Mac got the camera and filmed it. He'd get the soup scene again when Danny had drained that cup and Alex made him another one. He was so cute!
Stella came into the office the next morning looking confused. "What happened?"
"Our son has turned into a miniature you," he said, turning on the tape. "We had to convince him this morning that going to daycare would let Danny sleep and it'd make him feel better faster."
She turned to watch, giggling at what he was doing. "I don't tap my foot that way!"
"You do so. You did when they were in the hospital."
Don leaned in. "We're hoping he doesn't want to curl his hair, but he's good!" He walked off, going to find Lindsay. "Monroe, you have *anything* on my case yet?" he called as he found her up the hall.
"Still working on it, Don."
He looked at her "Why? It's only three fingerprints and a hair."
"We're backed up! We haven't had a full staff with all the sickness." She scowled. "Why is Danny still off? Did he get suspended?"
"No, he got the same version of chicken pox I did," he said dryly. "He was running a hundred and one this morning." She shuddered. "Exactly. So how much longer? I'm gonna go talk to a suspect this afternoon."
"I'm waiting on Adam for the hair. The fingerprints weren't to the same person."
"We expected that. That's why we had reference samples taken." She shook her head. He nodded, handing her the folder, open to the proper page since his thumb had been holding it in place. He pointed at the note made. "Yeah, we did."
She sighed. "I didn't see those." She went to look at those.
He stared at her back, then went back to Mac's office. Stella was giggling and it was good to hear. "We're that backed up?"
"No. She couldn't find matches," Stella said. "Adam got backed up because we moved the child molestation case ahead of yours."
"That I get. She said it's because we're underpowered on lab people."
"Not hardly!" she assured him. She pinched him on the cheek. "He is like a miniature me. I'm so proud I warped the baby that way. We should show Sid." She walked out to go look over Adam's shoulder. "Hey."
"Hey, Stella." He handed her something. "I saw Flack."
She looked then texted him to find her. He leaned in so she handed it over. "The mechanic."
"I thought so!" He walked off going to find the guy and talk to him.
She looked at him. "Danny's got the chicken pox."
"Poor man. I was miserable when I got them in high school."
"Yeah. But it was so cute! Alex turned into a miniature me. All the same scowls and mannerisms when Danny didn't want fussed over." He grinned at that. "Mac's got it on tape." He laughed, going to watch. She paged Sid with the message of 'new Xander tape of extreme cuteness' and got back to work. Lindsay could page Don when she finally figured out what they already knew. Sometimes gut instinct did work.
Alex looked up from playing at daycare, staring at the new man who had walked in. "Bad man!" he shouted, pointing. Not sure why but somehow he knew. The daycare workers reacted and looked, one of them pouncing him since he had a gun in his hand. Alex pouted. "Me help?" he called.
"No, you stay," the daycare worker said, locking the room and calling the cops, like they had planned. "Don Flack, this is Alex's daycare. We had someone walk in with a gun. He's down. Thank you." She hung up and went to cuddle those kids. "It's all right." She smiled at Alex. "That was very good spotting work."
"Chocolate?" he asked, giving her his best hopeful puppy eyes begging look.
"Later on. We'll make sure your daddies give you some." He beamed and went back to playing. Don Flack Senior stomped in and waved at them then hauled the guy up and outside. She sighed in relief, letting him do a search of the daycare just in case. She came out. "Did he say why? Or how he got past our metal detector?"
"Your door guard is knocked out," he said quietly. "Coming around with a headache. Looks like he was gassed instead of hit. The metal detectors they unplugged." She sighed. "Who spotted him?"
"That's my boy," he said proudly.
"He wanted chocolate as a reward."
"Hell, I'll watch him do his chocolate dance for hours for that." He smiled at her. "I don't know why they're here. We'll find out in a few minutes. For now, keep it locked down." She nodded. "Give him a hug for me." He smiled at his grandson and waved, getting a happy smile and a wave back. "Also, his grandmother's on another anti-gay kick but Donny put down his foot with her. Correct him because the boys want their son to be tolerant."
"I've already done that once today," she promised. He smiled and nodded, heading back out. She went back into the room. "Alex, he'll see you after daycare and he did say you could have a treat for that. Good boy." He beamed again and went back to playing.
Mac got the page and walked down to Don Junior's precinct, finding Don Senior there. "What happened?"
"This putz walked into Alex's daycare with a gun. Alex spotted him and the daycare people got him down. He gassed the guard and unhooked the metal detector."
"Hmm." He looked at him. "That was extremely stupid with how many children of officers go there." Don Senior put something down in front of him. He looked at the ID card then at him, sneering now. "We'll be having a talk."
"Think it relates back to whatever Jeremy got called off to do?" Don Senior asked.
"There's another thing that he let us know that it could be." He took the ID. "Bring him to my office." That got a nod. Mac called an old friend on the way. "Captain, I have a Marine in custody for walking into a daycare with a gun. Coincidentally the daycare my son goes to," he said when he spluttered. "I want his service jacket and I want it within the hour. That's his name. Who sent him?" He got hung up on. He called back. "Don't try that. Jeremy told us what he used to do." He paused, listening to him complain. "And?" He nodded. "I'll make sure it's fixed. I want his jacket. He's being charged as a civilian. The others can take it if they want." He hung up and walked that way. "Fax come in yet?"
"No. What did Jeremy used to do?" Don Senior asked. Mac pulled out the information Jeremy had once gotten for them, handing it over. He read through it slowly then looked at him. "Yahoos with a grant?"
"It's where Alex came from," he said grimly. He looked at the soldier. "So. Were you after Xander?" The man flinched. "I see. Any other targets? If you tell me now I won't let his other fathers know until you're in lockup."
He glared at him. "He's ours. We made him."
"Anya made him." He walked over there, staring down at him. "I already know, kid. I know *everything*." He leaned down. "His nanny used to be Initiative." The guy swallowed. "I heard *all* about it. Then I talked to Miss Rosenburg." The guy started to sweat. "So we know all about him as well. What. Were. You. Going. To. Do?" he asked calmly but very coldly.
"I wasn't going to harm anyone. Just retrieve what we made."
"For?" Don Senior asked. "Unlike him, I'll get away with hitting you until you beg, son. It comes with the higher rank."
The man blinked at him. "You won't."
"I will," Mac promised. "Since I'm a higher rank than you are, Marine, and in the same Corps you're dirtying, I'd talk. I can and will make everything you've ever been through look like my son's daycare." The man swallowed. "And we'll be handing you over personally to someone *I* trust. After we charge you."
He went pale. "They're in Colorado. Some of the scientists. They wanted him back. For testing and stuff."
Mac stood up. "I want their address."
"I can't, sir. I was to call when I got him out of the city. They'd meet me."
"Uh-huh," Don Senior told him. "Phone number?" It was written down. "Good." He looked over as the receptionist walked in a sheet of papers. "His?"
"His, sir." She looked at Mac. "Do you want booking slips brought here, Detective?"
"Please. Though I need transfer ones as well. He's still active duty and we need to consult with NCIS about this." She nodded, heading to get those for him. He looked at the service record, frowning. "Not a very good Marine. Two write-ups for drunk and disorderly. One for insubordination." He flipped the page. "Hmm. Sent to them when your mouth got out of control. Interesting." Don Senior took the forms from the receptionist while Mac made a call. "I need you here in my office, Gibbs. Today. I have one of ours." He stared at him. "Initiative. They came for my son." He hung up on the spluttering. The Marine was curled as tiny as he could. "That is not how Marines sit!" he snapped, making him sit up straighter again. "Thank you!" He checked the clock then looked at Don. "Want to tell your son?"
"Hell no! He didn't leave me hardly any of the last one who threatened Alex."
Mac smiled. "If it had been me there wouldn't have been anything."
"I'll remember that and let you take your turn last," he said dryly. "By the way, the daycare's undoing what the wife's been preaching."
"Don said it best, Captain. She keeps it up, she's not watching him alone."
"I understand why." He looked over as someone ran through the door. "Hold up, kid." The tech panted. "A lab assault?"
"Monroe fell down after passing out, Mac." He hurried off. He looked at the prisoner then at him. "We had to call someone but they're being slow. Want me to call you some backup, sir? Stella's here."
"I can handle this little boy all by myself, son. If you see him in the halls, shout." That got a nod and he left again, jogging back to his lab. He smirked at him. "You're damn lucky she passed out, kid. No one's seen Taylor break bad since the last lab assault. I heard it was damn good. Obviously he sucked up the training you didn't." Mac came back. "She okay?"
"Probably. Looks like a dizzy spell. I sent her off to the ER with the paramedics. Nothing got compromised." He made notes and wrote a quick informal memo to the bosses over the lab, sending it by email. That way no one could fault the lab's protocol or say that it allowed tampering. Don Senior gave him a look. "If a sample had been left open the defense can say it was compromised and challenge the test's results. Most judges don't have a clue."
"Pity. There's that many rules?" Mac pulled a thick book off his shelf and put it in front of him. "That's the handbook?"
"That's just the Federal one. We have a supplemental for state and city codes," he said grimly. "My personal ones are tougher than all three but we have to have them all in place, memorized, and make sure they're all followed to the letter or they can send in agents who don't have a clue to bother us for a day. It gets messy when they end up in the morgue freezer thanks to bothering Sid and Marty." Don Senior laughed at that. Don Junior walked in. "We're seeing if we keep him or if the Feds want him since he's active duty," he told him.
"Why was he at the son's daycare with a gun?" Don asked a bit too calmly.
"That stuff Jeremy told us about. They've started to reform and they wanted to test the son. He was on a retrieval mission."
Don looked at the man. "How stupid are you?" he sneered. "Like we wouldn't have had every single cop and Fed in this country looking for our boy within seconds of hearing." He shuddered, shifting away from him.
"I've never seen a Marine with that bad of posture," Don Senior said. The Marine stiffened again. "Or that scared of anyone. Hell, Taylor can take torture and not whine. So can Messer and he wasn't a Marine, he was a street rat." The Marine growled. "I dare you, son." He jumped up and tried to hit him so Don Junior tripped him and stood on his back, making him beg for air. "Nice move."
"Learned it from the son when he did it to Gerrard the last time to frisk him for more candy." His father and Mac laughed. "How long?"
"I called the one I trust. He'll be here within two hours," Mac assured him.
"That'll work." He got off him and pulled him up, shoving him back onto the couch. "Enjoy the padding. Your ass won't be feeling anything but thin prison mattresses for *years*." He looked at Mac. "Saw the ambulances? Danny show up for work?"
"Lindsay passed out," he said. "Danny's at home watching talk shows. He sent an email to complain about that fact."
"He's got the playboy channel."
"He's too miserable for anything but dysfunctional people on talk shows." He printed off the email to let him have a copy.
"Ah," Don Junior sighed, shaking his head. "Drama queen."
"Bored one," Don Senior reminded him. "By the way, Alex spotted him and wanted chocolate as a reward. Tough, son."
"Hey, I'll let him share my cookies," Don said proudly. "That's my boy." The Marine mumbled something. "What was that?" he snapped, glaring at him. He shrank away from him.
"If I have to tell you again I'm strapping you to a backboard," Mac warned. The Marine sat up straight again. "You disgrace all of us." He looked at Don again. "He's feeling better. Don't give him too much. Are we all going to make Danny's life less miserable?"
"Should." The door was pushed open behind him so he looked at the gruff looking older man walking through. "You are?"
"The one I called," Mac admitted. "Thanks for the quick flight up, Gibbs." He handed him what they knew. "Jeremy, our former nanny, was there for about two weeks before someone finally got wise and ended it. They apparently want our son back to test him. They're in Colorado." He handed over the phone number. "He was to call when he got our son out of the city. He's such a disgrace to every Marine that I've to be a drill sergeant with the little worm."
Gibbs looked through it then at him. "I knew what they were doing. We were on the mop-up when they got stopped by civilians." Mac handed him something else, letting him look at it. He nodded once. "Saw them." He looked at him. "You're sure?"
"That came from Miss Rosenburg."
"That explains that angle. He's whose son?"
"They set it up so he's the grandson of me and a CSI here named Danny Messer. Then that kid's cells were combined with Mac's to make Alex," Don told him. The Marine tried a move and Don turned, slamming his head into the glass wall. "I said don't move," he snarled. "Trying to escape means I can take any reasonable action to stop you." He whimpered so he let him drop to the floor again. "Anyway, Mac was kidnaped and left in an older building with the baby beside him wearing afterbirth slime. They apparently want him back now."
Gibbs nodded. "Kidnaping?"
"He only got to the point of walking into the daycare with a gun," Don Senior told him. "Alex spotted him and warned."
"That's a good boy," he said. "Going Marines?" he asked Mac.
Mac shrugged. "I'll suggest it but he's hyper and a weapons nut," Don said with a grin. "Coos, pets, helps us clean. I've been told he'll be good at hands-on stuff."
"Then he might make a good one even if he is a bit bouncy. Most people grow out of that." He closed the folders. "You want him?"
"I want them stopped," Mac said calmly, leaning on his desk. "Either you do it or I do it."
"Also, can we check to see if this recent influx of chicken pox has been them?" Don Senior asked. "I know very well my son got it when he was younger. Alex I can see getting it off his vaccine, but Don and Messer both when they've had it?"
"It wouldn't surprise me if it was a biological release," Gibbs admitted. "With these people anything is possible." He stared at him. "You guys charge him then we'll take custody for questioning. Even the disgraced ones in prison would kill him for this."
"You can use our interrogation rooms if you want," Don Junior offered. "You can even borrow Stella. She's got ways of making men beg for mercy." He grinned at his father. "Mac's got a tape of the night I came to get him. He turned inta Stella."
"That does sound cute," he admitted.
Mac sighed but turned it on, making Gibbs laugh at some of the boy's fussing. "He's a bright kid, Taylor, protect him," Gibbs said. "Let's go." He hauled the Marine up and walked out with Don Senior escorting him. That way they could get him arraigned and then questioned.
Two days later, Willow appeared in Mac's office. "I really hate those guys." He smiled at her. "The ones in Colorado. The dweeb patrol. Alex okay?"
"He's fine, Willow. His little bit of memory seems to have went back to sleep once his fever came down. The chicken pox are no longer going around thanks to them. It's good."
She beamed. "Good." She handed over something. "A birthday present."
"It was a few months back."
She gave him a look. "For when he's eighteen, Mac." She disappeared.
Mac looked at it, checking the tag. Then he put it into his bottom desk drawer and shut it. It'd be a long time before they had to deal with that issue again.
Though he did have the best son in the world. He had learned how to make the cookies he begged for constantly with Danny. That's why they had six dozen cookies that had went to daycare this morning and they each had a good sized bag in their drawers as well. He nibbled one. They were good cookies. His son was amazing. He was a very proud daddy. Even if his son insisted he was actually the mommy.