Chapter 27: A New Branch
Chapter 27: A New Branch
A/N: Sorry for the long delay; Musie just didn’t want to write this chapter. However, I promised to do it, and I wanted to keep that promise. Just have to be careful about doing stuff like that in the future. This got to be so long, that I cut it into two chapters.
Warning: I don’t know; maybe language and innuendo somewhere along the way.
Challenge: #4472 ‘Bunny is my what?’
Thanks to my betas: Chrislover and AshDawnSoulmates. Sorry to the others, I just wanted to post the first part now.
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 belong to Tom Clancy. I claim no rights to any copyrighted material. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission.Posted In Honor of over 740 reviews and 6,000 hits/chapter on TtH!
Summers/Osbourne/Harris Home (aka DC headquarters of Ursagga Council)
After having decided to caravan to the holiday party, the NCIS crew and company were startled by the woman – who was not Buffy – flinging the door open to let them in. ‘She must be the widow of Buffy’s friend,’
was the consensus of those who hadn’t met her before.
As she took their coats, Anya pointed to chairs and a rubber mat in the front entryway. “Welcome to our home! Please take your boots or shoes off if they could damage the floor or carpet. Repairing them is very expensive, and Buffy won’t let me make you pay – even if it’s your fault,” she rambled.
Buffy heard her name and moved quickly to intercept before Anya could say anything really embarrassing. “Hey, everyone. I see you’ve already met Anya. JR – her and Xander’s son – is sleeping right now, but he should be up soon. You all know Oz, and this is his cousin, Jordy. Guys, these are the crazy people at NCIS: Gibbs, Ducky, Tony, Ziva, Tim and Abby. The other lovely ladies are the rulers of Ducky’s life: Mama Mallard and Lucy. The guy in back is someone I’ve never met. Gibbs?” she asked, looking at her father.
Gesturing for his friend to come forward, Gibbs began the introduction. “This is Mike Franks; he was my mentor when I started at NCIS. He just came up from Mexico as a surprise.” He really hoped this introduction went well – seeing as how Franks was easier to talk to than his own father, Jackson. Franks was like the-- okay, fun
would be stretching it, but the uncle you could go to when you couldn’t talk to your parents.
The Slayer did a sort of threat assessment of the man standing before her. Except the threat he posed wasn’t necessarily physical. She guessed his importance in her dad’s life, and swallowed a nervous lump in her throat. Still, you couldn’t let them see you sweat, so she put on her friendliest smile and held out her hand in greeting. “Hello, Mr. Franks. If Gibbs hasn’t already told you, I’m Buffy Summers.”
Franks did his own assessment of the petite blonde. Best to get this over with right away. That meant he had to get her alone to talk. “Good to meet you. I hear you have a barbecue set up and beer on ice… Lead the way.”
Chuckling lightly, Buffy glanced at her watch to see it was still before noon. Then she saw the glint in his eye and sighed inwardly. Time for the interrogation. She only hoped it wouldn’t ruin the gathering for everyone else. However, she opted for levity, “Gee, can’t tell he’s
retired. Oz? You and Jordy want to give the tour of the house so Anya can go get JR?”
“No prob,” Oz agreed, sensing her agitation. As he passed Buffy, he gave her hand a comforting squeeze.
Gibbs was going to follow Franks and his daughter, but was stopped by looks from both of them. Despite his discomfort, he went to join the rest of the people on a tour of the house he knew almost as well as his own.~~~~~~~
As soon as the others were out of earshot range, Franks started in bluntly, “So, you’re the probie’s long, lost daughter, huh?”
Surprisingly, Buffy wasn’t put off by his attitude. She could only imagine what would happen if somebody showed up, claiming to be a family member of one of her friends that they thought was dead. “That’s what the blood test told us – not to mention the WPP file about Mom and me.”
“Why’d she let him think you two were dead?” he demanded, refusing to back down until he was satisfied she wouldn’t hurt his friend.
Her head dropped momentarily; not in shame, but in grief. Three years later and it still hurt like it was yesterday. That’s why she didn’t let herself think about her mom too often. “Not sure, and we can’t ask her ‘cause she’s dead,” she answered as calmly as she could.
“How can you be certain of that? After all, she faked it once before. Maybe she was trying to get away from you this time?” As soon as the words left his mouth, Franks knew he had gone too far.
Buffy must have agreed, since her eyes flashed in fury. He could see her clenching her jaw, fighting the urge to say something else. What she settled on saying hit him as hard as a heavyweight punch to the gut. “‘Cause I found her body. And she died of a brain aneurysm,” she bit out venomously, brushing away the tears to keep them from spilling over.
It was a good thing Gibbs hadn’t come with them, and Franks knew that if he had, it wouldn’t have been a metaphorical punch to the gut he felt. Hell, if it was possible to leave his body for a moment, he’d
punch himself for being such a-- He settled on trying to explain himself to the young woman before him, “God! I’m sorry for being such an ass. It just made me so angry to hear that she let Jethro believe you were gone. The man was broken.”
Giving herself a few minutes to calm down, using almost every meditation technique Giles taught her – that didn’t include showing off her Slayer-ness – Buffy reminded herself to think about this from Franks’ point of view. When she finally felt like she was in control, she looked at him with understanding. After all, she did
understand that Joyce screwed up with both Gibbs and her when it came to their duty. “I get it. There were times when Mom did things that seemed pretty harsh. She just didn’t handle loved ones in danger very well.”
Grateful that she hadn’t stormed off, Franks took a seat in the three-season porch where the food for grilling was set up. “Speaking from personal experience?” he asked in a much gentler tone.
Buffy chuckled ruefully. “A little.”
He decided he liked her. With that figured out, he also decided that this interrogation was over. “We can talk about that some other time. This is supposed to be a happy occasion. I take it that the others don’t know about you and probie?”
She nodded in return. “Only Ducky. We’re waiting until everyone realizes that I got this assignment because of my abilities before we spring this on them.” When she met his eyes again, he was startled to see the almost evil glint in hers. “So…as Gibbs’ mentor, you must have some funny stories to share,” she hinted.
Now Franks knew
he liked her a lot. “Get me a beer and I’ll be happy to spill,” he vowed.
Buffy reached into the cooler by the back door and grabbed one of her dad’s favorite beers – and a diet Coke for herself. Then she gestured for them to go back into the living room where it was warmer. “Yay! I need the ammunition on him.”~~~~~~~
Jordy decided to take charge of the tour while he waited for his friends to show up. “Our bedrooms are on that side of the house, but you don’t need to see them, so we’ll skip that area. Oh! I know a cool room to show you! C’mon!” he ordered with childish exuberance as he lead them down to the basement.
“He looks much better since the last time I saw him,” Ducky said softly to Oz, not really needing to hear about the house features Jordy was pointing out. He and Lucy had been over several times, with and without his mother.
Studying his cousin with a fresh perspective, Oz nodded, “Yeah. Buffy and Gibbs have been great for him, and he’s made some friends at school. A couple of them are coming over this morning to hang out.”
That surprised Gibbs. “On Christmas Eve? What did their parents have to say about that?”
Oz didn’t really understand the big deal; maybe it was the Scooby way not to get too caught up on particular days. Then again, the other parents didn’t seem upset, so maybe it was a Gibbs thing. “It’s only for a few hours. Their families don’t have anything planned until tonight or tomorrow, so they’re cool with the kids having fun.”
Before they could say anything else, Jordy announced loudly, “Here’s our training room! I’m only allowed in the outer gym unless I’m with an adult.”
Tony let out a low whistle as he looked around the room. The dumbbells were just regular dumbbells, but it was the electronic weight machines that got him excited. No noisy weights clanging while you worked out. Not to mention, how much you were lifting was private. Ever since that time he went to the gym at the Little Creek Naval Base and women
were outlifting him, Tony didn’t like lifting weights in public gyms. “Man, the gym at NCIS isn’t this well-equipped!” Then he remembered the second part of the boy’s comment and looked back at Jordy. “Why? What’s in the other part?”
“Is this what was taking so long with your remodeling? Why you weren’t able to have the team over earlier?” Ziva asked.
Buffy and Oz had discussed what they could tell others about their house and the Council. As long as it wasn’t anything specific, it should be safe. “Partly. The inner gym and some other rooms required special equipment and security.”
“Why?” His curiosity aroused, Tim piped up this time. Then he quickly added, so it didn’t seem like he was snooping, “That is, if you can tell me.”
The topic was still a safe one, so Oz answered, “Because this is now the official DC branch of the Ursagga Council. She and I are the current caretakers – for lack of a better term. If necessary, we’ll build on for more living space in case we get more Council members or students.”
Abby turned back to look at the redhead. “Students?”
Carefully choosing his words, Oz explained, “The Council attracts a special kind of person to join. If they meet our criteria, we start training them as early as middle school.”
“What are the criteria?” Tony inquired this time. They were like a tag team with their questions.
Okay, now they crossed the line and Oz needed to stop it. “That’s need to know. If you’re asked to join, then we would tell you.”
Wanting to help the young man, Ducky changed the subject to a safer one, “Can we see the inner gym?”
Breathing an inner sigh of relief, Oz shot the ME a grateful look. “Sure, I guess it couldn’t hurt.”
As he put his thumb on the pad and looked into the screen, Abby declared excitedly, “Wow! A biometric/retina scanner? This is like NCIS!”
Smirking, Oz walked in the secured gym to turn the lights on. “A little. Just our way of not having to worry about keeping track of company when they’re visiting. This way, they can’t get into secure areas, and we don’t have make them feel like they’re not trusted to walk around.”
Almost instantaneously, Ziva’s eyes were drawn to the weapons cage to their left. “Those are some very unusual weapons you have. Any reason why you train with crossbows or swords?”
“Sometimes guns aren’t a good idea,” Oz replied vaguely. “Anybody interested in trying their hand at one of them?”
Ducky was enamored with the sight of their cache of blades. He was very intrigued at the notion of modern day people using weapons for actual combat, but he knew he couldn’t ask about that at the moment. “I would love to have a go with the foils.”
“I can spar if you’d like. The protective gear is right over there; Buffy insists on safety first,” Oz explained to the group.
After a short, restrained sword fight, Tony started bouncing like a little boy on-- well, Christmas morning. “Cool Can I use one of the crossbows?”
The mannerisms reminded Oz of Xander. He could see what Buffy saw in the NCIS agent that made her like the man, despite her earlier impressions of him. “Sure. Anyone else? We have four shooting lanes for training.”
With that offer, Ziva, Abby and Tim eagerly step forward to join Tony. The others had already had the pleasure of using the range here, even Mama Mallard – although she only used a tranq gun.
Twenty minutes later, Abby reluctantly handed back the crossbow. “Can we do this again later?”
Knowing how much fun this could be when you didn’t have to use these to save the world on a semi-regular basis, Oz gave her an indulgent mini-smile. “Buffy or I have to be with you, but other than that, there’s no problem. We should probably get back upstairs now though. She’s liable to come looking for us if we mess up her schedule for today. Trust me, she’s scary when that happens.”
A/N: Next… Christmas Eve, Part 2.