Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy or NCIS and am making no profit from the writing or posting of this story.
A contingent of Army soldiers, armed to the teeth, was waiting on the tarmac when the private jet from Washington arrived at Sunnydale Regional Airport. As the whine of the jet engines ground to a slow halt, the Secret Service agent in charge turned to his junior companions. “Agent Todd, Agent Wilkerson, you are officially off duty for the next forty-eight hours. Enjoy your weekend. Hit the beach. Do some sightseeing. Do not ask questions. Neither of you has security clearance high enough for the Senator’s destination, so these soldiers will be taking over security from here. I expect to see you both back here at exactly this time on Sunday; no earlier and no later. Is that understood?”
“Understood, Agent Baer,” Agent Todd replied, checking her watch. Agent Wilkerson nodded, also checking his watch, and they waited while Agent Baer and the Senator left the plane, were surrounded by soldiers, and vanished into an armored car. They exchanged glances, and Agent Todd shrugged. “Well, enjoy your weekend,” she said easily, retrieving her luggage and heading out to the taxi queue she could see not far away.
“Kate! Wait a second!” Agent Wilkerson followed at a trot. “Hey, since we’re stuck here together, do you want to maybe –”
“No,” Kate replied decisively. “See you Sunday.” She slipped into the back seat of the first taxi she came to, giving the driver the name of the hotel they were supposed to stay at.
A shower and a short nap later, Kate was going stir crazy sitting in her hotel room. She called down to the front desk and asked the bored-sounding clerk whether there was anywhere around to go dancing. She got the name of a club – the Bronze – and directions on how to get there. It was within walking distance, and the exercise wouldn’t hurt. She slipped into the one dress she’d had the foresight to bring with her, strapped a gun to her thigh, slipped a second gun into her handbag along with her ID and carry permits, and slipped her feet into her dancing shoes. She checked her reflection in the mirror to make sure she looked good and the gun on her thigh wasn’t visible, nodded once at herself, and headed out.
The Bronze was packed, and Kate smiled slightly as she entered. The energy of the place was high and the music – a live band called Dingoes Ate My Baby – was bad but cheerful about it. She made her way to the bar and ordered a cosmopolitan, then eeled her way through the crowd to the edge of the dance floor, sipping at her drink and taking everything in with the eyes of a Secret Service agent.
The crowd was mixed but mostly young, college kids for the most part, and she relaxed a little bit. None of them was likely to start any trouble that she might have to get involved in. She finished her drink and handed the empty glass off to a passing waitress, moving around the edge of the dance floor, her eyes on the band. For one moment she didn’t mind where she was going, and that was all it took for her to walk straight into something firm, warm and yielding.
With an exclamation, she grabbed the young woman she’d run into before the redhead could fall down, and apologized profusely. “I’m so sorry!” she exclaimed.
“No, no, really, my fault,” the young woman exclaimed, flinching back. “I didn’t mean to walk all over you. Sorry. Sorry.”
“No, really, it was my fault,” Kate replied, smiling at the worried pixie face. “Are you okay? I’ve been told I pack a punch.”
“Yeah, I’m okay. Really.” The young woman smiled. “Sorry again. Um… have fun.” With a flutter of her hand, she started away.
“Wait,” Kate blurted, reaching out. “Uh… I’m Kate. Are you… are you here by yourself?” Oh, very smooth, Caitlin
. She almost rolled her eyes at herself.
“Willow. And not… exactly. I’m here with some friends, or at least I’m supposed to be, except that Buffy’s… still at work, and Xander’s probably with Anya which means if they get here at all it’ll be close to midnight, so I’m kinda by myself because my boyfriend used to be in the band but he left to, um, find himself, so he’s not here any more either, and wow you totally didn’t ask for any of that information and I’m gonna shut up now.” She closed her mouth with a decisive snap.
Kate grinned. “Well I’m in for the weekend from out of town, so I don’t really have anybody to talk to. Want to get a drink?”
Willow’s eyes widened. “Sure. Uh… but I can’t drink yet. I mean, I can drink like coffee and stuff, but I’m not 21 yet so I can’t have alcohol, is what I mean.” She shut her mouth hard again, wondering what it was about this woman Kate that was making her babble so much. Maybe it was the warmth in her eyes or the casual, teasing smile on her face.
Kate smiled again. “Coffee, then,” she said. “Here, or somewhere else?”
Willow chewed her lip for a moment, indecisive. Buffy was supposed to show up later, as were Xander and Anya, but Buffy was still on patrol and likely would be for a couple hours and if Xander and Anya had tripped and fallen into bed, they might not show up at all. She studied Kate’s face and made a snap decision. “The coffee’s better at the Espresso Pump,” she offered.
“Sounds good,” Kate said, grinning. “Let’s go.”
Over mochas, Willow found herself spilling most of her life story – carefully edited to avoid mention of vampires, demons, Slayers and the Hellmouth – to Kate, who was an attentive and interested listener. For her own part, Kate returned the favor without any necessary editing. She made a joke about little Jewish girls and little Catholic girls that Willow found extremely funny, and the two of them were giggling when a blonde girl walked up to the table, mocha in hand.
“Buffy!” Willow exclaimed. “Kate, this is my best friend Buffy. Buffy, this is Kate; she’s in town for the weekend.”
“Nice to meet you,” Buffy said, shaking Kate’s hand. “Family here?”
Kate shook her head. “Nope; I’m Secret Service. I came in on a detail with a Senator, but apparently I don’t have security clearance high enough for whatever he’s doing, so I’ve been relieved of duty for the weekend.” She rolled her eyes. “You’d think they’d have left me behind; at least I could have still made Pilates tomorrow.”
Willow and Buffy exchanged an unreadable glance, and Buffy nodded once. “Well, I gotta book; I’m going over to see Giles about… something that happened at work.” She smiled at Kate. “It was really nice to meet you; maybe I’ll see you again before you leave. Will, make sure you’re careful out there, okay?”
Willow nodded, her mobile face unusually serious. “I will.” Buffy left, heading off down the street with a mocha in one hand, and Willow glanced at her watch. “Wow, it’s almost one o’clock. I didn’t realize it was so late.” She studied Kate for a moment and then said, “Hey, um… the museum is having an exhibit this weekend: ancient Egyptian artifacts. If you don’t have anything planned, do you think…?”
“I’d love to,” Kate replied instantly. “What time?”
“How about around eleven? We could have an early lunch and then go.”
“Sounds like fun.” The two of them headed out of the coffee shop, and Willow paused at the curb. “Where are you staying?”
“Holiday Inn,” Kate replied, an eloquent expression on her face.
“Oh, that’s on my way,” Willow said, smiling. “I’ll walk with you.”
Kate’s reflexes were superb, Willow had to admit. The vampire was barely out of the mouth of the alley they were passing before her gun had materialized in her hand, seemingly out of nowhere, and she was announcing herself in a firm voice. “Federal agent, don’t move.”
The vampire laughed and lunged. Kate pulled the trigger. The vampire roared in pain, his face morphing. Kate stared in shock, her gun forgotten in her hand, and Willow shouted, Incendere!” The vampire burst into flames and then poofed into a pile of dust on the ground. Willow grabbed Kate’s hand. “Come on! We have to get out of here before somebody calls 911.”
They didn’t stop running until they were inside Kate’s hotel room, at which point Kate looked down at the gun that was still in her hand and up at Willow in utter shock, her face pale. “What the hell was that?”
Willow sighed. “That was a vampire,” she explained. “Sunnydale’s full of them. Your Senator is probably here about the Initiative, which is a super-secret military group that’s doing something with the demons and vampires here.”
“That’s impossible!” Kate scoffed. “Vampires don’t exist.”
Willow snorted. “Then you
what that thing out there was.”
Kate’s mouth opened and closed a couple of times before her knees went weak and she dropped onto the edge of her bed. “Vampires? Really?”
Willow nodded. “Unfortunately.” She reached out and patted Kate’s shoulder. “You’re safe now, though. They can’t come in unless you invite them. And they don’t come out in the daylight at all.”
“But what… what’s that thing you did? You yelled something, and you made it explode.”
Willow shrugged slightly. “I’m a witch,” she explained. “It’s a spell to call fire.” She took a deep breath and then sighed. “If you don’t want to go tomorrow, I understand,” she offered tentatively.
Kate dredged up a shaky smile from somewhere. “No, I still want to go, I just… I need to process.”
“I understand. I’m gonna go. I’ll see you tomorrow about eleven? I’ll come here.”
Kate nodded. “Sure.” She watched as Willow left, then kicked off her shoes and went to her suitcase. She rummaged around in it for a moment before finding her rosary. Winding the string of beads around her hand, she moved to the side of the bed, dropped to her knees, and took a deep, calming breath. Then she made the sign of the cross with her right hand and began to speak softly. “I believe in God, the Father almighty, Creator of Heaven and earth…”
They went to lunch at a little café down the street from what looked like the site of a bombing. As they sat outside under the warm April sunshine, Willow explained that it had once been Sunnydale High School. She told Kate about the Mayor turning into a giant demon snake and how Buffy and Giles had blown up the building in order to kill him. Kate recalled hearing about the explosion on the news, and that it had been attributed to a gas leak.
After eating, Willow took Kate up to the site and showed her around the ruins, kicking aside pieces of moldering snake meat as they walked. Kate stepped on a trophy outside what had been the library. She picked it up, examined the half-melted cheerleader figure at the top, commented idly on how the eyes of the trophy seemed to follow her, and tossed it away with a slight shudder, wiping her hand on her jeans. “This is just incredibly creepy,” she commented.
“You think that’s creepy,” Willow replied, grinning as she pushed aside a broken piece of library door, “imagine finding out you’ve been spending all your spare time in a library that’s built on top of the mouth of Hell.” She pointed into the room at the cavernlike opening.
“That’s a Hellmouth?” Kate asked.
“Yep,” Willow replied.
“Huh.” Kate studied it for a moment, then turned to Willow. “Can I scream and run now? Because I’m really fighting the urge.”
Willow grinned. “I wouldn’t suggest running in all this, but yeah, we can go.”
They made it to the museum a little after one, and at the third exhibit, Willow began to giggle. Kate raised an eyebrow, but Willow was tiptoeing up behind a tall, broad-shouldered man with silvering hair. She poked him in the small of the back. “Boo!”
The man jumped and gave a slight shriek before rounding on Willow with a fierce glare. “Willow! Honestly! Are you trying to drive me into an early grave?”
She made a face at him. “You’re always so grouchy. Giles, this is Kate. Kate, this is Giles.” She grinned and lowered her voice. “Kate tried to shoot a vampire last night.”
shoot a vampire,” Kate corrected. “It just didn’t do any good.”
Giles raised an eyebrow. “She knows?” he asked Willow.
“She didn’t before last night,” Kate replied, “and she likes it when people talk directly to her.”
“Yes, of course, terribly sorry.” He put his hand out. “Rupert Giles.”
“Kate Todd,” Kate introduced herself, shaking his hand. “Nice to meet you.”
“Kate’s on the Secret Service detail for a Senator who we think is here about the Initiative,” Willow said quietly.
Giles raised a speculative eyebrow and Kate shrugged. “I don’t have security clearance for whatever they’re doing,” she explained, “so I’m out of the loop and off for the weekend. I ran into Willow at the Bronze last night and she offered to show me around a little.”
“I see.” He looked as though he actually did see, and gave her a speculative once-over. “Well, perhaps we can talk more later. I’m actually working today – the museum asked me to consult on the exhibits – but I’d enjoy a chance to sit and chat with you.”
“Sure,” Kate replied, smiling and knowing there was no way in hell she’d do such a thing. “I don’t know how much help I’ll be, though.”
Giles vanished into a back room, and Kate and Willow finished their tour of the exhibits, oohing and ahhing over the ancient treasures before finding themselves out on the sidewalk in the growing dusk. Willow, not really wanting to part company, tentatively suggested dinner, and Kate accepted with a smile.
After dinner they went back to the Espresso Pump for mochas, and Kate finally said she really needed to get some sleep around midnight. “We’re flying back to D.C. tomorrow,” she explained as she and Willow left the coffee shop. She was reluctant to leave, finding herself really enjoying the younger woman’s company and babble.
Willow looked as disappointed as Kate felt. “That sucks,” she said succinctly. “I was kinda hoping maybe we could get together tomorrow.”
Kate smiled. “I wish we could,” she said sincerely.
At the door of her hotel room, she turned and faced Willow. “I’ve really enjoyed the last two days,” she said softly. “Look, if you ever get out to D.C., maybe you could call me. We could do the Smithsonian.”
“That would be great,” Willow replied. Kate slipped a business card out of her purse, scribbled her personal cell phone number on the back, and handed it to Willow.
“I’d like to hear from you,” Kate said softly. “I mean it.”
Willow nodded once, firmly. “I’ll call.”
Kate debated the relative intelligence of what she was about to do, then leaned forward and placed a quick, chaste kiss on Willow’s lips. “Good night,” she said softly, then slipped into her room and shut the door behind her.
One hand on her lips, all bemused, Willow replied, “Good night,” and wandered away.
A contingent of Army soldiers, armed to the teeth, escorted the Senator back to his plane, which was waiting on the tarmac at Sunnydale Regional Airport. Inside, two junior Secret Service agents waited for his arrival so that they could head back to Washington, D.C. One of them grumbled about how boring a weekend in Sunnydale, California had been. The other was silent, her mind full of bright red hair and a pixielike smile. As the engines whined and the plane lifted off from the ground, Secret Service Agent Caitlin Todd sighed softly, her eyes tracking a small, burned-out patch that had once been a high school until it was too small to be seen any longer.