Chapter 35: New Relationships
Chapter 35: New Relationships
A/N: Gonna try this in 1st person Buffy.
Warning: I don’t know; maybe language and innuendo somewhere along the way.
Challenge: #4472 ‘Bunny is my what?’
Thanks to my betas: sorry, in the attempt to get it up for New Year’s, this is posted unbeta’d.
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. Picture of the truck found on a google search.Posted In Honor of clarityfades, who gave me my 5000th review on TtH – as well as many other reviews!
From the Mostly-Private Journal of Buffy Summers…My hospital room
One day post-getting shot
Even before I opened my eyes, I could feel somebody watching me. Carefully, I slit my eyes open, just enough to see who it was. Much to my surprise Ziva was standing next to my bed, staring at me with an inscrutable – a Giles word, go me! – expression. Made me wonder if the Director’s comments before she left last night were just the beginning of what she had planned. Was Ziva here to intimidate me into leaving NCIS? They’d be in for a big disappointment if that was the case.
I’d stick around to finish my job no matter what. Add getting to know my real father and it’d take the end of the world to get me to leave. And even then it’d only be temporary. In only a few months, Gibbs had broken down all the walls I’d built around my heart to protect it from bad fathers and military people who betrayed me. I loved him as much as Giles – and that was something I thought would be impossible for anyone to achieve.
Ziva’s voice interrupted my musings, “Are you going to continue to pretend to sleep, or can we talk now?”
Peeking out at her, I hedged with a bit of defiance, “Depends on what you plan to say to me. Not really in the mood to hear you tell me that Gibbs is better off without me in his life.”
Her confusion looked genuine to me. “Why would I say that?”
“Never mind.” Guess that answered the question of whether she was here for the Director or not.
“No. I actually…uhh…wanted to say…” Ziva stuttered out, confusing the hell out of me. What the frilly heck was going on here? “Well, you saved my life yesterday, and I haven’t been very friendly towards you, so…”
Suddenly I understood. Instead of letting her stumble over her apology anymore, I interrupted her, “Ziva, can I tell you a little story? I promise it has some bearing on what I think you’re trying to say.”
“Go ahead,” she said, seeming relieved not to have to talk for a little longer.
I thought about how to de-Slayer-fy my history while still leaving the lessons I learned. Luckily, telling my dad was good practice. “When I was younger, I was sort of in charge of a youth neighborhood watch group in my hometown. Some stuff happened and things got tense between my friends and me. I left for the summer without talking to them first, and it got even worse when I came back. We were just getting used to being with each other again without all the tension when this new girl showed up. She was a group leader, too, but she enjoyed her position more than I did. The others loved her cheerfulness and upbeat attitude, and that made me feel like I was being replaced by the new and improved model.”
Although she seemed to be paying close attention, Ziva grew impatient with my little tale. “What does this have to do with me?” she demanded to know.
“I’m getting to that,” I assured her. “Looking back, I wish I’d been mature enough to see that it didn’t have to be a competition between me and the other girl. Maybe if I treated her more like a sister than a rival, things wouldn’t have fallen apart between us. We eventually worked things out – after a lot
of fighting and other crap happened. My point is, I know what it feels like to have to share my friends with a new person,” I explained sympathetically.
“Just so you know, I don’t want to replace you; I never did. My career isn’t the NCIS, and sooner or later, I’m going to be moving on to another agency and/or town. Since Gibbs is my dad, I will stay in contact with NCIS more than originally intended, but you don’t have to worry about me trying to push you out. Even if I wanted to, I don’t think the others would let you go without a fight.”
It was the last comment that made her smile – even if it was a tiny little smile. “Thank you for that. I’d apologize for how I treated you, but Gibbs says it’s a sign of weakness,” Ziva said. It could have been my imagination, but I could have sworn her voice was a bit wistful when she said his name. Did she prefer my father to her own? Huh, something to think about.
Still, I had to admit something to her, “Well, I don’t agree with him on all of his rules, but you were just watching out for your friends and co-workers, so we’re good.”
“Thank you for saving my life,” she replied sincerely.
I just shrugged casually. “It’s what you do for a team member, right?” Now that that was over with, I changed the subject, “So tell me, are the commander and her son okay?”~~~~~~Same day
A couple hours later…
After Ziva told me about the people we’d rescued, she left for work so I could get some rest. Except, before I could fall asleep, Fornell and Franks showed up with a check from my negligent step-father.
Once they were gone, I managed to get a couple hours of sleep. Yeah, I was a Slayer – and therefore healed quickly – but it didn’t stop my body from needing rest to make it happen.
When I woke up, I fingered the charm which made my wound appear normal to the doctors and nurses. All the Slayers had them to keep any curious eyes off of girls who healed overnight from near-fatal wounds. The Council wasn’t going to allow any of the girls to end up as lab rats in some Initiative-type facility. Another perk of the charm as that it let the Coven know when a Slayer was seriously injured and where they were being treated.
At least I managed to avoid a swarm of Council friends from descending on me. Faith was busy with some minis who were having some trouble, and the others had an emergency situation building that they were trying to head off at the pass. Didn’t stop any of them from giving me crap about getting shot. You know, the whole ‘You’re not Wonder Woman with her special bracelets’ or ‘The third death might be the last one, Buffy’ or ‘You need a keeper, B’.
Now I had to figure out how to convince them to let me go home. Even when I needed to be in the hospital, I hated it. To be there when I didn’t…well, that was just torture.
As if he heard my silent plea, my grandpa came into the room, took one look at me and scolded me, “You know, lil darlin’…if I’d known that you were gonna go and get yourself shot, I’d never have let you leave Stillwater.”
Trying to look as innocent as possible, I gave him my best puppy eyes and ‘apologized’, “Sorry, Dada Jack; didn’t expect for it to happen.”
He sniffed at my words, clearly not believing that I was truly innocent; imagine that! “Well, guess this means I’m gonna have to stay around a bit longer to keep you out of trouble,” he declared, attempting to look stern. The happy glint in his eyes gave him away, though.
Even though I was thrilled at the idea of him being in town while I ‘recovered’, I had to ask about his responsibilities, “Really? What about your store?”
Dada Jack merely brushed off my concern. “Got one of the local kids to take over for a bit. They’ve worked for me about 5 years now; I think they know what to do.”
They worked for him for five years? “How old is this ‘kid’?” I inquired.
“Twenty-five,” he answered. “Why do you ask?”
Two years older than me. It made me chuckle. “Just when I think of a kid, I picture some pimply-faced high school student.”
“You’ll find that your opinion of that picture changes as you get older,” Dada Jack warned. He studied me to take in how I looked; he must have liked what he saw ‘cause he smiled and asked, “Now, what should we do while you’re on leave so you can recover?”
“Will you help me break out of the hospital?” I begged with a conspiratorial grin.
He thought about it for a minute or so, then replied, “I can tell them that my sole responsibility will be looking after you. Maybe that will convince them to let you go. You aren’t having any problems, are you?” he checked, suddenly unsure about this plan.
I quickly tried to reassure him, “The only problem I have right now is keeping up the pretense that I’m still hurt.”
“You’re better already?” he asked, looking a little suspicious. Was it because he was my grandfather and was overprotective, or did I actually look bad to him?
“Mostly.” His stare broke me down, so I had to admit, “It’s still achy, but nowhere near bad enough to be stuck in the hospital.”
My honest answer seemed to placate him more than pretending to be 100% better. “Okay, if you’re sure that it’s safe for you to leave.”
“More than sure!” I almost shouted, smiling brightly at the idea of escaping.
“Alright then, what would you like to do together?” he asked, leaning back in his chair to get comfortable.
Somehow I didn’t think he’d like to go shopping or anything girly. “What do you like to do to relax?” I turned the question back on him.
“Before he enlisted, your dad and I would work on cars together sometimes,” he recalled with a wistful tone. “Would you like to try that? We could find an old vehicle to fix up. I warn you though, it can get kind of expensive if you let it.”
Eww, getting all oily and grimy? Not my first choice. Then again, if you’d asked me six months ago if I’d like working on a boat, I’d have called you fruitier than a banana stand. Plus, his sweet face looked so hopeful that I found myself replying, “It just so happens that I came into some fun money this morning. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it, but this sounds perfect!”
The smile on his face made my reservations disappear like magick. “Good! Then we can look for something suitable to fix up. What would you like to try: a motorcycle, a car or a truck?”
I knew which one Faith would pick. “Hmm, the motorcycle is really tempting, and maybe sometime in the future, but a truck might come in handy for Council business. Sometimes we have to transport things that are hard to fit in a car,” I decided, trying to be responsible.
“Have you ever gone camping?” Dada Jack asked after a few minutes.
“Not really,” I told him honestly. It wouldn’t be good to pretend everything or he wouldn’t know the real me. “I’m not one for roughing it unless it’s absolutely necessary.”
“This wouldn’t be roughing it – at least not by my standards,” he corrected himself. That made me wonder what his definition was. “What I was thinking of was getting a camper that fits in the bed of a truck. It’s a tight fit, but if there’s more than four people going, you can always have some people sleep in tents. A friend of mine has one he wants to sell. It needs a bit of work, but it’s still in pretty good condition. You’ll want to update the fabrics; it’s from the 70s.”
Picturing avocado green and burnt orange, I couldn’t help but cringe a little. “Yeah, I would probably want to get something more…me.”
“Anyway, he used it when he went fishing or hunting with his grandkids, but they’ve stopped wanting to go now that they’re older,” Dada Jack explained. There was that wistful tone again.
But thinking about it, I actually started to get excited about the idea too. Not the hunting – unless it was for evil demons – but taking the kids out could be a fun family thing to do. “You know what? That actually sounds really good! I bet Jordy would love to go out camping in something like that, and when JR gets older, he can go too.”
He smiled brightly again. Made me happy that I could cause that. It was really nice having a loving grandfather.
“That should help us narrow the search down then,” he told me. “We’ll need a truck with an eight foot bed.”
“Wow, you seem to know a lot about this camper,” I pointed out, wondering if he got a commission or something if he sold it. Not that I would care, but he sounded very invested its sale.
Dada Jack actually blushed…a tiny bit. That was so adorable! “Well, he put a flyer up about it in my store. If I still went camping, I would have bought it myself.”
“So you’ll have to go with us now!” I instantly invited him. After all, it wouldn’t be happening if it weren’t for him. He should get to enjoy it too.
My answer didn’t please him for some reason. Or at least that’s the impression I got from his frown. “You aren’t doing this for me, are you? That’s too much money to spend if it’s not something you want.”
“Slayer’s honor that I want it. I may not have thought about it before, but I want it…promise,” I vowed, trying different hand signals for Boy Scouts, swearing an oath in court, even the Vulcan greeting – not that I would admit I knew it to Andrew. Made me wonder if we should come up with something. Oh well, I’d have to worry about that later.
“Good!” he declared with a chuckle. I think he recognized the Vulcan thing. “Do you have a laptop with you? We could search online for a truck nearby.”
Wait! My father’s father wants a computer to look up trucks for sale? Something was seriously wrong with this picture. “Are you sure that Dad is related to us? He hates technology with a passion.”
“Maybe it skips a generation,” Dada Jack teased. I pointed to my computer bag on the floor next to his chair. He talked while he plugged it in and started it up, “If we can’t find anything that way, we can always try the old-fashioned way.”
An hour later, we had a short list of trucks to check out within 75 miles. Dada Jack promised to go and see which one would be a good first vehicle for us to fix up together. He didn’t want it to take a long time for us to finish. Especially since we had to do the camper as well.
I didn’t tell him this, but I had my favorite of the bunch. It was a ’65 Chevy that was sort of a seafoam green color. Not entirely convinced I want to keep it that color, but who knows, maybe it will grow on me. And since the point of this is trying to keep what we can authentic…wait! That would mean that I have to use old colors for the camper too! Maybe I could find a vintage color that I like and use it for both – make them match. That could be doable.
A/N: I switched Jenny’s chapter with the Fornell/Franks chapter so they happen chronologically. The conversation between Buffy and Fornell/Franks happens between Ziva’s visit and Jackson’s.
A/N2: the truck Buffy likes (when it's fixed up) -
A/N3: Next…New Watchers.