Into the breach
AN: sorry for the delay. I got hit by a rash of writer’s block liberally interspersed with real life biting me in the ass!
Giles stood in the arrivals lounge at Sunnydale airport feeling slightly foolish. He was holding a sign that had “Gibbs” written in big letters. Xander had insisted that he bring it along when he went to pick up the boy’s uncle. He was fairly certain he would be able to pick the gruff sounding former marine out of the crowd but didn’t want to hurt the boy’s feelings.
A new wave of passengers started to come through the doors to the arrivals area. Most were the usual assortment of California types: surfers coming to test the waves and Sunnydale natives returning from various ports of call. Two men stood out from the crowd. One was older with greying hair. He carried himself with a military air; straight backed, eyeing the room in a calculating way. The younger man with him looked pale but was still devastatingly handsome. At first glance he might seem to be the playboy type, but hidden beneath the surface was a fighter.
The older man finished his scan of the room as his eyes landed on Giles and the sign in his hands. He nudged the younger man and they both made their way over to the former librarian.
“Mr. Giles?” Gibbs asked, cautiously sticking out his hand in greeting.
“Yes, but please call me Rupert, Special Agent Gibbs, or Giles as Xander is wont to do.” Giles shook Gibbs’ hand and then reached his hand to the man next to him as well.
“Gibbs is fine, or Jethro. This is my partner, Special Agent DiNozzo.”
Tony returned the greeting. “Tony, please. Between Jethro and Rupert, there are enough odd names without adding DiNozzo to the mix. Thanks for picking us up. But we could have just rented a car.”
“Well, there aren’t that many reputable places to rent from in this town. This is safer all around. Did you reserve a hotel?”
Gibbs answered as Giles led them through the parking lot to his Citroen. “Not yet, we decided to wait to find a place close to the hospital.”
“Well I can solve that problem; I have a guest room and den with a pull out couch. You’re more than welcome to them. It would be much safer than some of the hotels in Sunnydale. I’ll take you there now before we head to the hospital. Xander will still be asleep right now.” He unlocked the doors to his aging Citroen letting the two NCIS agents in.
“This is an old beauty,” Tony said as he settled into the back seat. “I didn’t think there were still any of these on the road. Is it a ’62?”
“63. She’s been a round the world with me.”
“Nice. I used to have a sweet Mustang. She was my pride and joy. People today just don’t appreciate classics the way they should.”
(AN: I can’t remember what Tony’s car was exactly. And couldn’t find any info online.)
“Too true Agent DiNozzo. Xander often mocks me for this one. Though that maybe because I won’t let him drive it. Better him than Buffy but still . . .” Giles trailed off, thinking of the teenagers on his charge.
“What exactly happened to Xander? You said he had been beaten. But you left out a lot of info.” Gibbs had tried to wait until they reached the British man’s house before beginning the interrogation but he couldn’t contain himself.
“We’re not far from my home. A few more minutes and I will answer all of your questions. This is better done where we are all comfortable and I have scotch available to help with some of the more shocking details.”
“Alright. I can wait a few more minutes”
They continued the drive in silence. They arrived at Giles’ home with only a minor argument when Tony tried to carry the bags in and Gibbs wouldn’t let him. And only minor awkwardness when Giles understood what Gibbs meant when he insisted that the spare room would be fine for both he and Tony.
Finally they were settled into Giles’ living room with glasses of water and that bottle of scotch on a nearby cupboard, waiting to be poured. Gibbs gave Giles his best Marine interrogation stare. “So, start at the beginning. What happened to my nephew and my sister?”
“Well, I don’t know much about Mrs. Harris. Xander only told me about her accident after he was hurt and she was gone. We’ve been having some difficulties lately. One of Xander’s friends was dating an older man. He turned out to be quite different than everyone originally thought. After the relationship ended he became nasty. He started stalking her and her friends. We’ve all been fairly focused on her and that situation so when Mrs. Harris was in her car accident Xander decided that it would be better not to worry the rest of us with any extra burden. That boy takes far too many responsibilities on his shoulders and won’t let us share any of his.” Giles paused to clean his glasses.
“Sounds like someone else I know,” Tony murmured softly, giving Gibbs’ knee a gentle squeeze.
“Well, we were finally able to deal with the ex-boyfriend issue yesterday. But it involved some deception on Xander’s part. For all the awful things Angel had done, Buffy still loved him and wanted to think the best of him. Xander’s lie allowed her to put Angel out of her life but she was overly irate when she discovered the truth. She spent a good portion of last night yelling at the boy for trying to protect her. I haven’t gotten the full story from Xander yet. But from what I can deduce, he returned home last night only to be told about his mother’s death. Sometime after that he was beaten quite severely.”
“Where did the attack take place and how did you find out about it?” The investigator in Gibbs had come to the foreground keeping a lid on the unfamiliar feelings of the worried uncle. He would deal with those later, once the bad guys were put to rest.
“Well as I was saying, Xander and his friends had a fight at the school library last night. As I told you on the phone, the group spends a lot of time there. Xander left after the fight and went home I presume. The argument was quite one sided with Xander bearing the brunt of it. I’m afraid I had other things on my mind and didn’t step in to take Xander’s side or to simply let him know that we weren’t all against him. I realized after I got home how it must have looked from his point of view and called him to explain. There was no answer and I became concerned. You see, this town isn’t the safest place to be after dark and it was very rare that neither of Xander’s parents were there to answer the phone. So I decided to go over to make sure the boy had made it home alright. As I got there I saw Tony Harris stumble out of the house, get into his car and leave. The front door was still open and the living room was a mess. I could hear someone moaning so I entered and found Xander on the floor. I called 911 and we went to the hospital.”
“Are you saying his father did this to him?” Tony asked angrily.
“I don’t know for sure. At the least he knew Xander was injured and did nothing to help and at the most he caused the injuries. Xander didn’t say anything. I didn’t press him about it.” Giles fumbled with his glass of water.
Gibbs sighed. “What do you think? Is his father capable of this? Was this a one time event or did was it an escalation from on going abuse?”
“I don’t know. Xander is very closed mouthed about his home life. It’s my understanding that both his parents drink or drank quite heavily. They were very disinterested in his comings and goings. He is overly fond of long sleeved shirts considering this is California. But he never gave any indication that his home wasn’t safe. I knew it wasn’t a happy place but . . .” Giles shook his head and moved to cupboard with the scotch on top. He offered to two agents a drink as he was pouring his own. Gibbs accepted one but Tony turned him down. “I should have realized something wasn’t right.”
“I’ll want to talk soon and get his side. We’ll figure out what happened and how long it’s been happening.”
“Giles, I’ve had dealings with abused kids in the past,” Tony added. “Sometimes it is very obvious by how they carry themselves and how the interact with others but not always. Certain children get very good at hiding the evidence, much like some abused wives. If the abuse has been going on long enough they learn to camouflage the affects. That could be the case with Xander.”
“Thank you for trying to ease my guilt. We’ll be able to talk to Xander in about an hour. If you’d like to freshen up there’s time. Or we could get something to eat. I know the time difference can throw things off.”
“Thank you Giles” Gibbs answered. “Dinner would be good but let us change first. Give us 15 minutes.”
“Certainly. I’ll call the hospital and check on Xander’s status.”
AN: sorry this is a little short. There’s too much involved with Gibbs first day to cover in one chapter and this seemed like a natural split. And don’t worry, we’ll see the wrath of Gibbs soon.
AN2: completely unrelated to the story . . . I was browsing on the internet movie database (imdb.com my own personal god!) and read down to the bottom of Sean Murray’s page (our intrepid Agent McGee) when I came across a little gem. Did you ever see the movie Hocus Pocus with Bette Middler? Remember the character Thackery Binx, 17th century boy turned cat? That was our own McGeek!! At the tender age of 16! I had to borrow my friends copy so that I could see it again. I may have to keep Xander at NCIS through the fall just to make a joke about this!