Gibbs wouldn’t be taking his people anywhere near this building if he hadn’t been ordered to. Then again, if Mike Franks hadn’t showed up at his door sober and in a nice suit, Gibbs probably would have found a way around those orders. He was a resourceful guy and the boys down in Dispatch were thoroughly terrified of him.
“You’re going, Probie, and maybe you’ll learn something,” Franks had rasped and Gibbs had quietly called Dispatch and told them he wouldn’t be needing their services.
Whatever he thought about the Council, if Mike thought there was something he should learn from them, Gibbs would try his damnedest. His team was armed, though, and Abby was tucked in between Tony and Ziva. Gibbs trusted Mike but the protection of his team came first.
Finn answered at the first knock looking solemn, stepping out onto the porch instead of letting them in. Gibbs was a little surprised to see the man in dress uniform and exactly how much chest candy was present.
“You’re invited guests tonight,” Finn started quietly. “So if anyone gives you trouble, let me know. Also, I know you have weapons on you. We’re not asking you to give those up. However, do not, under any circumstances, pull them tonight. You will not like the consequences.”
Mike nodded. “They understand.”
Finn gave Mike a warm look, surprising Gibbs. “Great, follow me.”
Gibbs was even more surprised when, as soon as they walked in, a dark-haired toddler ran up to Mike, arms raised. Mike swept him up, turned to Gibbs and his team.
“Guys, this is my grandson Jamal,” Mike said, bouncing the kid and making him giggle. “His mother Shahar is one of the Slayers that takes orders from this branch.”
Gibbs’s brows furrowed as Abby moved forward to coo at the little boy. “How long have you known about this?”
“A little after Shahar moved in with me,” Mike said gruffly. “She started breakin’ stuff and having dreams. Then a man approached and explained what was goin’ on.”
“You’ve known for around two years and you didn’t say anything?” Gibbs was trying to bite back on his anger but that was against his nature.
“I didn’t say anything because I figured you’d climb up on your high horse and have to be beat with sticks to get knocked back off,” Franks growled, letting Finn take Jamal so he could jab Gibbs in the chest. “And that’s exactly what happened.”
“Hey, hey. Not today, Franks,” Harris said as he sedately wandered into the room. If Finn looked odd in dress uniform, Harris looked doubly so in a suit that had Tony drooling. “Yell at him on your own time.”
Mike nodded. “Of course. Is everything ready?”
Harris nodded, face grim. “Yeah. Right on schedule.” His one dark eye focused on Gibbs who fell into the fathoms. “You’re here as a courtesy to Franks. Try to behave yourself.”
Gibbs gave a short nod. “I can do that.”
Harris gave him a dubious look but said, “Follow me.”
And follow they did, through a neatly refurbished mansion, over the gently lit backyard, and down towards a mass of people, mostly teenage girls, that were standing at the edge of a small lake. Gibbs was a little shocked that dusk had given way to a moonless night.
Vi stepped into their path, keeping them from following Xander as the man wound his way to the front of the crowd. “Take a boat and a candle,” she said, then glanced at Gibbs. “You’re supposed to take two candles.” Then she was back to talking to everyone. “Follow the crowd, put the candle in the boat, and the boat in the water. Each candle stands for a loved one lost.”
Gibbs felt irrational anger wash through him at the idea that they might know about Shannon and Kelly but picked up a little woven boat and two off-white candles, his team and Franks likewise following directions, and they all followed the crowd to the lake’s edge.
They scooted away after putting their boats down, moving so that everybody else could reach the water’s edge.
When the last boat was placed on the water, Harris, sitting on a boulder between the familiar redhead and an unknown leggy brunette, cleared his throat and said, “It’s been two years since Sunnydale fell. Most of you have been Slayers for two years.” A tiny brunette leaning against the front of Harris’s boulder snorted. Harris grinned suddenly, but that faded almost a quick as it came as he said, “I said most of you. You’ve all got the power, the privileges, and the problems that Destiny can grant you.”
Harris got quiet for a moment and the brunette reached up and wrapped a hand around his ankle. Harris continued, “You’re part of a great legacy. Girls destined to be unsung heroes. Tonight, we honor those that have gone before you.”
The redhead raised a hand and, in a wave, the candles in the boats lit, bobbing gently on the placid lake. The lake that no longer seemed small as it was covered in thousands of flickering candles.
“Four Slayers, two Watchers, and a witch are added to the lost tonight,” Harris said, voice rough. “Corporal Delta James. Aileen McDougal. Caridad Rodriguez. Buffy Summers. Andrew Wells. Rupert Giles. And Kit Holburn. Blessed be.”
“Blessed be,” everyone in the crowd echoed.
After a moment or so, the crowd turned back to the house. Franks and a suspiciously shiny-eyed Finn herded Gibbs and his team along with everyone else.
Gibbs glanced back to see the leggy brunette weeping into Harris’s shoulder. “Aren’t they coming?”
“No,” Finn said gruffly. “They’re keeping watch over the dead tonight.”
Gibbs’s heart rose into his throat. He felt a begrudging wave of gratitude at the knowledge that the spirits of his wife and daughter, Jenny, and Kate were amongst those being guarded.