Chapter 23: A New Heartbreak
Chapter 23: A New Heartbreak
Warning: I don’t know; maybe language and innuendo somewhere along the way.
Challenge: #4472 ‘Bunny is my what?’
A/N: Thanks to my betas for their help... zigpal, Hawkehunt, Chrislover and AshDawnSoulmates.
Disclaimer: BtVS characters belong to Joss Whedon / Mutant Enemy. NCIS characters belong to Donald Bellisario, Don McGill and CBS Paramount Television. Jack Ryan and his friends belongs to Tom Clancy. I claim no rights to any copyrighted material. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission.
Sadly, I didn’t win, though. Thanks anyway to whoever nominated me!
Posted In Honor of the 50th recommendation and 1128 people tracking on TtH!
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!!!
Buffy & Oz’s place
A couple days later…
When her dad arrived after receiving her urgent phone call, Buffy suddenly wasn’t sure how to broach the subject of her summons. As a result, she stumbled over what to call him, “Papa Bear? Gibbs? I have something to tell you.”
Worried by the call and by the fact she didn’t stick to her pet name for him, Gibbs shifted into protective mode instantly. “What’s the matter, sweetheart? Did somebody hurt you?” he demanded with a growl.
Buffy hurried to assure him, “Not like that. Something has happened, and I need to tell you everything. Well, not everything
because that would take way too long--”
“What happened?” Gibbs asked, cutting off her babble.
Sitting down, Buffy asked an apparently bizarre question, “Have you ever heard of a ‘deadman’s switch’?”
Gibbs was startled by the change in subject, but drawled his answer anyway, “Yes.”
“Here’s the thing…the leader of the group that took Xander a couple months ago? Well, the others finally got him.” Buffy paused to get past the lump in her throat as she continued, “But we didn’t find out until after he died that he had one of those switches in Xander.”
“I don’t understand,” Gibbs replied, feeling like he had missed something here.
She went on to tell him about vampires and magick, and that her neighborhood watch group was really the front-line defenders of the Hellmouth. He seemed to be taking her revelations far too well. So Buffy inquired, “Why aren’t you freaked? Or denying any of this?”
“I ran into a couple vampires when I was young,” he explained. Then his eyes grew wide as he made a certain realization. “So wait, are you telling me that you are the Slayer?”
Now it was Buffy’s turn to be startled. “Huh? How do you know about Slayers?” She hadn’t gotten to that part of the story yet.
Gibbs smirked. “You didn’t think I could take out a couple of vampires by myself, did you? I appreciate the vote of confidence, but no, a Slayer saved me.”
Buffy let out the breath she’d been holding. “Wow. Alright, I wasn’t expecting this to go so smoothly. Then are you going to be cool with the fact Ducky and Abby know, too?” she asked, deciding to go for broke.
“That depends; why do they know before me?” Gibbs hedged. It hurt that his daughter trusted them more than she did him.
Guessing that his ego was a bit wounded, Buffy tried to reassure him by saying, “Well, Ducky knew from a long time ago, and Abby found out because I saved her when I first got here.”
Gibbs growled again, this time in anger that somebody tried to hurt the lab tech he cared for as one of his own. “She was attacked?”
“Yep.” Buffy smiled at the memory of what came after. “Then she asked about a thousand questions – which I only answered because she seemed truly interested in avoiding it happening again. She even took some dust to analyze.”
Coming to the conclusion this had something to do with the strange behavior of the two girls and Ducky that day after Buffy fought DiNozzo, Gibbs ventured, “So that’s why she was so hyper that morning she ‘met’ you. Why did it take you so long to tell me?” he asked, still hurt.
Buffy took one of his hands so that he would focus on her and see she was being sincere. “I haven’t had the best luck telling my parental figures. You know about the time Mom told me not to come home if I left to take care of a baddie. What I didn’t tell you about was the first time I tried to tell her and Hank.”
Gibbs could tell he didn’t want to know, but he knew he needed to. “What happened?”
“They had me committed. I had to lie so I could get out,” Buffy explained, fighting back the tears from her memories of that time.
That confused Gibbs. “If your mom already knew, why did she blow up the next time?”
The gang had talked about it extensively when she told them – finally – about her time at the institution. Buffy shared their best guess with her dad, “She had forgotten the reason I was locked up. See, when it comes to the supernatural, there’s this strong mental block people have. Basically, until they are ready to face the ugly truth, they rationalize away the weird things they’ve seen. It’s either that or they snap and go crazy. So, it was actually lucky she forgot. And if I hadn’t left town for so long the second time, she might have forgotten again.”
Her explanation made sense to him. He sort of wondered why he was one of those that accepted the truth. Then he realized it was a good thing it happened when it did – regardless of why – otherwise he would probably have reacted the same way. And Gibbs had the strong feeling he would have lost any chance with his daughter if he couldn’t accept this part of her life. “Okay… not that I don’t appreciate the history lesson, but I doubt that this would explain the sudden urgency to tell me now,” he said to get them back to the point of this talk.
When Buffy’s face crumbled, he wished he hadn’t, though. “You’re right,” she confirmed. “The switch in Xander is slowly eating him away from the inside out. I need to leave so I can be with him when he dies.” Then she got to the part about why she told him now. “When I told him about you, he wanted to know that I had told you the truth, and I couldn’t lie – not about this. I don’t know how long he’ll last, so I could be gone a while.”
Gathering her in his arms to lend her his strength, Gibbs murmured into her hair, “Is there anything I can do for you, sweetie?”
Buffy gave into the sense of comfort he was creating. “You’ve already done it, Papa Bear. Just believing me and not hating me is more than I could have hoped for,” she replied with tears streaming down her cheeks.
Gibbs gently wiped the tears away with a tissue from the end table next to him. “Not that you need to do it anytime soon, but will you tell me your stories again – this time with the stuff you left out before? I’m guessing there’s some parts that need expanding,” he prompted hopefully. He guessed that knowing everything would give him even better insight how to deal with his very unusual daughter.
She stiffened slightly in his arms. “You’ve got it. But you better brace yourself, some of it is pretty bad. I hope you won’t be too disappointed in me when you find out,” Buffy remarked, looking away from him.
He cupped her chin and turned her face to force her to meet his eyes. “I think all kids disappoint their parents at one point or another. But that doesn’t mean that I’ll ever stop loving you, though,” he comforted her, making his point with a soft kiss to her forehead and another embrace.
Overwhelmed by her emotions, Buffy couldn’t stop herself from responding in a small voice, “Thanks, Daddy.”
Gibbs blinked fiercely to stop his own tears from falling. “Always, baby girl,” he vowed after he got past the lump in his throat.
Later that day…
Buffy’s departure was quite the ceremony. Even if Shepard had wanted to protest her taking an indefinite leave to sit at the bedside of a dying team member – which she didn’t; she was quite happy Buffy was going – the fact that a pair of Secret Service agents came to escort her to Air Force Two would have curbed those thoughts. They declared to anyone within earshot that the person she was going to be with was a hero to the nation and the world. That made the rumor mill flare with questions of what this Council really did.
As she left with her escorts, Buffy grumbled about Presidents who needed to keep their mouths shut. But her anger was only half-hearted; Xander deserved the recognition. Her problem was that she was getting the attention, not him. Graham leaned to whisper in her ear, and her mood changed dramatically. Her smile lit up the room just as the elevator doors closed, leaving everyone to wonder what the agent had told her.
Once they were settled with their drinks, Gibbs pounced on his friend, “Why didn’t you tell me about my daughter being the Slayer?”
Having been warned by Buffy that her dad knew the basic truth and that the ME knew already, Ducky was prepared for the attack. “It was her secret to share, Jethro. I told you she was a very special girl,” he reminded the younger man.
Remembering his friend holding a scalpel on him, Gibbs grimaced. “Yeah, I remember. But once we knew for sure, didn’t you think I deserved to know?” he persisted.
“Course I did,” Ducky agreed. “But like I said, it was her decision. She needed to know she could trust you before she revealed that big of a secret. Speaking of which, how do you know about Slayers?” Buffy hadn’t had time to go into all of the details of her discussion with Gibbs.
Gibbs relayed his experience with the vampires and the girl who saved him when he was younger.
Ducky smiled warmly. “So, we both owe our lives to the Council. Or, at least two of the people running it.”
Seeing that his friend was a bit nostalgic, Gibbs tried again, “What can you tell me about her now?”
But Ducky deflected it by asking, “What did she tell you?”
They spoke for a few hours about Buffy’s life and what the Council really did. Gibbs was understandably unhappy when he learned the ages of the girls who became Slayers, and Ducky did his best to reassure the man that things were better for them since Giles and Buffy assumed control of the Council with their friends.
Not only did the girls not have to fight alone anymore, they had a choice whether to fight at all. The Council and the coven that worked with them found a way to reverse the activation for those that couldn’t handle the pressure. Those girls went back to being Potentials. However, if the Powers chose them, it would be a different story. Even with this development, the Council still had plenty of girls willing to fight.
Plus, the girls didn’t have to give up their personal lives. Once they completed their initial training, they were allowed to go back to their families and homes. They just had to come in for the occasional training seminars. The Council called it their ‘Weekend Warrior’ program – modeled after the National Guard/Reserves of the US.
Gibbs was disappointed that Ducky would only talk about the Council, but the older man insisted that any personal information about Buffy would have to come from her. All Ducky would say was how important she was and that as much as Xander was loved by his colleagues, it was nothing compared to how they felt for her. She was their Queen and General all rolled into one petite package. In return, she loved them as if they were her own – which, in some ways, they were.
Taking the last sip of his drink, Ducky remarked, “I hope you understand my feelings of protectiveness for her now, Jethro.”
“Of course. I’m just a little stunned at how important she sounds. Why would she need me for anything?” Gibbs wondered aloud, more to himself than anything.
Ducky answered him anyway, “Because all children need their parents. Maybe even more so in her case. You can help shoulder her burdens when they overwhelm her. And they will overwhelm her at times. She mourns for every girl that dies – whether she shows it or not. Knowing that she can depend on you to love her no matter what means more than she can tell you.” He felt compelled to warn the other man, “Just know that if you ever fail her seriously, there are several people that will come after you, including me.”
Gibbs took the warning seriously. “I hope you’ll help me avoid that then.”
“Of course, dear boy,” Ducky promised, pleased at how well Gibbs had done with his daughter so far.
Gibbs’ expression turned worried. “Should I have gone with her?”
Shaking his head, Ducky replied, “No. She needs this time alone with her people. Just be ready to be there for her when she gets back. This death will be especially hard on her.”
“Why? If you can tell me,” Gibbs tacked on as an afterthought, proving he was learning to be patient.
Ducky sighed sadly. “The most simple way to describe their relationship is that he’s her brother, friend, and comrade-in-arms.”
A/N: Next…Saying goodbye to Xander.