The group gathered in the designated park at five to eleven and made their way over to Ryan and the rest of the day shift CSI’s. The pinched look was gone from his face, and Xander saw a spark of life in the hazel eyes.
“Glad you could make it.” Ryan drawled when they finally made it to him.
“We refuse to not show up, we want to see history in the making here.” Xander’s eyes were practically glowing with glee.
“I wanna see how she’ll react to Mr. Grumpy-pants about his attitude.” Ryan snorted with laughter.
“Yeah, I think a few people want to see that. Luckily IAB isn’t here, and being in public is a nice thing that we can’t get in trouble for. “
“I know, it’s great; we get a free showing, and there is no chance that we can get in trouble for it. Also if they show, they can’t use anything since it is off the clock and no one made any complaints!” Xander beamed in joy at the thought of being able to see Eric get the tongue lashing of his life.
“You do realize that if Xander and Ah were allowed to ‘dress up’ once more, we could have given Mr. Delko another reason to be upset.”
“He’s saying we could have gone in drag to a club that Eric was going to so that we could wreck his reputation as a ladies’ man.”
“That would be going too far.”
“That’s why we never suggested it.” Xander drawled out, and mock glared at Vin’s smirk when he had to shift his stance.
“That would have had H breathing down your neck faster than you could say oops!” Ryan said, holding back a smirk.
“Chris would beat him to it.” Was Vin’s sage voice, making the group nod.
“You know, I think Calleigh said something about popcorn?”
Xander pulled out two large bags of popcorn as Ezra and Vin popped open the cooler showing off soda and juice. Pulling out one each, Xander smirked at his friend and co-worker before putting their chairs in a semi-circle and kept their eyes open for Eric and his mother.
They spotted Eric and his mother half an hour later. After drinking several cans of Pepsi and other sodas, Xander was anxious to see the show down between Eric and his mother. No one decided to bet, since they knew it was a sure thing that Eric would get a tongue lashing.
They watched as Eric got pulled off by Natalia, and his mother was latched onto by Alexx. The pleasant face went from shocked to angry and if the bellow of “Eric” didn’t warn everyone that the show was about to begin, the marching over and pulling on his ear was.
“How could you be so cruel and vicious to your team! I know that Speed was dear to you Caro, but you had no right to hurt the new boy like you did! Also, yelling at Calleigh for swallowing her pride and doing the right thing! Shame on you! I raised you better than this!” The melodious voice was getting shriller in her anger.
“To think that you used your sister’s illness to try and get out of trouble as well, and on top of it you got another person hurt because you were late to back them up! I am shocked, appalled and disappointed in you Eric Delko! You know that your friend hated it when people were compared to him! He hated that attention! Also, if you had told your boss in the first place why you were late then you wouldn’t have so many problems! Marisol’s injuries can be looked at by the whole family! You have a job that makes it difficult to be in the same room as her, and you know why!” Angry brown eyes glared at her youngest son and she stepped towards him.
“You will fix your attitude. We all miss Speed, but Caro, you are making things for everyone difficult. If you cannot let go of the pain of his death, then you should think of looking elsewhere for work. You told me yourself that being a police officer, even as a CSI, meant that your death could be harsh, but if you are not willing, or able, to accept that you lost Speed that way, then you should not be doing this job. I will see you at home Caro.” With that the regal woman left, leaving everyone watch Eric slowly blink before staggering over to a bench and sinking down with a bowed head.
“That, gentlemen, was the kindest dressing down I have ever seen.” Xander’s soft voice melded with the other murmurs in the gathering and those around him looked him over.
“What do you mean by that?”
“She never hit him.” It was said in such a matter of fact tone that it took a moment for them to realize that all arguments with Xander have ended with him being hit, one way or another.
Getting up, Xander made a quick meal for Eric and gave the group a jaunty wave before walking over to the depressed man and putting the plate beside him with a bottle of coke. At first Eric never moved, then he looked over at Xander with a surprised then guarded expression.
“I’m not here to bitch you out, your mother did that enough. Now, I have one thing to ask you, is everything she said true?”
“Yeah, it’s all the truth.”
“Then, take a week off, think it over, then come back and deal with everything the way you should have in the beginning. I know that you have a good friendship with Alexx, Calleigh and H. Nothing but your own attitude is stopping the one with Ryan and me. Think over your actions, and we’ll go from there. I was hoping that you would have gotten over it on your own, but sometimes, another person needs to drive the point home. Eat, drink and think it over. No one’s gonna think less of you if you go home early.”
“Why are you being so nice?” His voice was scratchy as he held back tears and emotions.
“You need someone to be your friend, and since I was closest to the food, I chose to be that friend. Ryan would have come, but we had a feeling that it might have come across differently. If it makes you feel any better, he wanted to train under Speed, not take his place.” Xander patted the trembling shoulder and walked back to his group, knowing that they were going to pester him for info about what he had said to Eric.
“I’ll tell you boys later. Now, I wants me some of that food. Alexx is a good cook, better than Josiah!” With that, nine men attacked the spread of food, and the rest of the gathering slowly followed their example.