Chapter 4: A New Understanding
Chapter 4: A New Understanding
Warning: I don’t know; maybe language and innuendo somewhere along the way.
Disclaimer: BtVS characters belong to Joss Whedon / Mutant Enemy. NCIS characters belong to Donald Bellisario, Don McGill and CBS Paramount Television. I claim no rights to any copyrighted material. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission.
Challenge: #4472 ‘Bunny is my what?’
A/N: Thanks to my betas for their help... zigpal and CindyB.Posted In Honor of the 10,000th hit and 75th review on TtH! Which are now long past. Yay! It would have been earlier, but had to write it first (grin). You all are turning me into a review junkie!
Ducky met Buffy at her hotel early that evening. He felt an excitement which was usually reserved for opera or autopsies. This was Rupert’s indescribable Slayer. But the way he did
describe her showed how much this remarkable young woman had completely encapsulated his old protégé’s life and heart.
He felt he must find out if Rupert had been overstating her qualities or not. Given how she managed to survive – despite everything she faced day in and day out – spoke to her talents as the Slayer. And how she had bucked the conventions of the Watchers Council indicated the strength of her character. So it was entirely possible she was everything Rupert had claimed her to be.
Ducky greeted her with a charming smile, “Good evening, Miss Summers. Are you ready to go?”
“Please call me Buffy, Ducky. ‘Miss Summers’ gives me flashbacks to my principal, Mr. Snyder and that Council pillock, Quentin Travers.” She smiled at his shocked look at her use of the word ‘pillock’, but he didn’t say anything, probably assuming she was just parroting what Giles had said. Giles had
said it, but Buffy was merely agreeing with him.
Buffy turned from the door to reach for something. “Let me just get my jacket. Am I dressed alright for where we are going?” she inquired.
“Well, I actually thought that we’d have something delivered to my house,” he said by way of an answer.
“Why Dr. Mallard! Are you trying to seduce
me?” she asked with a mock look of incredulity.
Ducky felt the blood drain out of his face at the insinuation. Harmless flirting was one thing, but if she or Rupert thought he was seriously
trying anything, he doubted that anyone at NCIS would find enough left to identify him. “Certainly not! I just thought we wouldn’t want to have to censor what we say,” he rushed to explain.
Buffy saw the look of abject mortification on his face and took pity. “Don’t worry, Ducky. I was just teasing you,” she comforted him with a gentle pat on the arm before commending his idea, “That actually does make a lot of sense. I’m sure Giles already told you about my trouble being ‘secret identity’ girl.”
Once he felt his heart make its way back to his chest, he assured her, “It’s not your fault if someone chooses not
to disregard what’s staring them in the face. You weren’t walking around, carrying a sign that proclaimed you were the Slayer, were you?” He smiled at her shake of the head. “Then let’s be off, shall we?”
She grabbed the offered arm and threaded her own through it. “Let’s shall! I hope you’re planning on sharing lots of embarrassing stories about Giles from when he was younger,” she pleaded with a conspiratorial wink.
They were halfway through their dinner before Ducky finally got around to sharing the story of how he and Giles had met. He was Professor Mallard of the Biology Department at Oxford during Giles’ second attempt at completing his academic training.
Now, he may have set aside his rebellious ‘Ripper’ persona, but he wasn’t quite ready to settle into the staid Watcher persona he was expected to become for those stodgy men in tweed.
Buffy took a quick sip of wine to wash down the bite she had almost choked on. “So you’re saying that he stole a cadaver from your department and set it up in the Dean’s office? ….On a dare
? What happened when they found out he did it?”
“They never did. I only found out months after the fact. There was no point in turning him in then. Also, the Dean was an absolute ponce who deserved the aggravation,” Ducky answered with a slightly malevolent grin.
“Did you already
know about vampires before that? Or did something happen after you two met?” the Slayer questioned her Watcher’s mentor.
He set down his fork to begin his tale, “Well, I’d had the rare body disappear from the morgue before, but had been truly fortunate not to be present when they rose. The first time it occurred, Rupert just ‘happened’ to be passing by and saved my life.”
He paused for a sip and then continued, “This was a couple weeks after I learned about the cadaver incident. I had gone to the local morgue for some paperwork. Suddenly, I heard pounding coming from one of the cooler units on the wall. When I opened it, this monster grabbed me by the throat and tried to feed on me.” He shuddered at the memory.
“But Rupert was only a few seconds behind me and doused it with holy water, startling it. That gave me the chance to break free and, before it could do anything, Rupert staked it. A few tumblers of scotch later, he finished explaining about vampires. Over the years, he told me about the Council and Slayers. Finally, he told me about his own dark past and that he was afraid that he’d never escape the shame of it.”
Ducky’s face took on a dark expression at his walk down memory lane. “It was quite sad, you know. He was such a charming, intelligent and inventive young man. But he was being crushed by the disapproval of those in charge of the Council. It was just a big game to them, I suppose. Keep him in the fold so they could try to control him, but never let him feel like he could make amends for his sins. Bloody bastards! …Oh, I do apologize for using such language in your presence,” he hastened to say when he recalled who he was speaking to.
Buffy just laughed it off. “I’ve probably thought and said worse about them, Ducky. We never saw eye to eye on anything. The only things they did right in my opinion were sending me Merrick and Giles. Did he ever tell you about their wonderful test they had for me on my 18th birthday?”
He nodded thoughtfully, “Yes, he did. Poor boy. As soon as he found out about it, he overnighted a sample of the serum to me and begged me to come up with a counter-agent that he could give to you before you had to face that monster they picked out. He knew he couldn’t defy them or else they would get rid of him – and possibly even you – if he did.”
Her eyes widened in surprise at the news. “Why didn’t he tell me that he had done that? I wouldn’t have been so angry with him if I had known!”
Ducky patted her hand to soothe her. “He still felt like he failed you and that he deserved your anger. The Council really did a number on his self-esteem when he crawled back to them. Besides, did you know that you two were never to have lasted that long in the first place? By putting an untrained Slayer together with a reckless Watcher – at least in their eyes – in one of the most dangerous spots on earth, they figured you’d both be dead within months. Or that’s what a mutual friend from the Council told me afterward.”
“But instead of seeing your continued success as a testament to your brilliance as a team, they just increased their efforts to weaken your trust in each other. Hence the need for the test,” he clarified.
“Which reminds me, I was a little surprised to learn this afternoon that they not only changed their name, but also that they would choose to rename themselves with the Sumerian word for ‘hero’. How did that come about?” Ducky inquired before starting to gather the dirty dishes.
“Can you answer a question for me first? How did you know that I was with the Council, but didn’t know what the correct name for it was?” she asked as she joined him in clearing the table.
“If one listens carefully enough, one hears rumors floating around the office about Jethro’s team getting yet another
liaison. But this one was from some Council in England. I didn’t automatically jump to the conclusion of which
Council until I heard your name,” he finished with a smile.
“Okay. It was just something that was kind of confusing me,” Buffy said, putting the dishes in the sink.
She sighed and began, “When we took over the Council last year, it was decided by all of the heads that the term ‘Watchers’ left a bad taste in all
our mouths, even Giles’. Besides, the name was practically a neon sign screaming, ‘Here we are!’
We wanted something meaningful to us, but less likely for others to recognize instantly. It also serves as a reminder of what everyone
working for the Council should strive for, not just the Slayers
Ducky still looked befuddled. “How did you take over the Council? How can you be stationed away from an active demon community? Is there another Slayer or has the one from jail been rehabilitated?”
Buffy was stunned at his line of questioning. “Wow! When was the last time you spoke to Giles?”
He considered it for a moment before replying, “Well, I get little post card-type messages once in a while now, but I would guess the last informative communication was a few years ago. You were trying to keep something safe from someone who wanted to use it to end the world somehow. Since the world is still here, I reasoned that you were successful in that endeavor.”
“I guess it would depend on your definition of ‘success’,” she told him with a wounded look. “We saved the world, sure. But it was at too great a cost to us. Part of the cost was losing what we were protecting. Once the threat was over, the ‘item’ just vanished; went back to where it came from…I don’t know.”
She took a slow, deep breath to try to regain her control. “And the last few years have been pretty tough to deal with for me. I know it has been for Giles and the others too. Can I just give you the highlights now and the rest later? Or you can get them from Giles?” she begged with a crack in her voice.
“Certainly, my dear. I’m so sorry to have upset you. Would you like to call it an evening?” Ducky offered, worried that he had caused her any pain.
Buffy gave him a weak smile. “Thanks, but no. I have to get used to dealing with it. A little more every day, ya’ know? So here it is: the old Council was killed off by a big, Big Bad and to defeat it, we activated all the Slayers around the world. Faith was out to help us, but she’s back in jail until we can get her formally released or pardoned. And now that I’m not the only Slayer around, I get to take assignments like this one.”
Her face suddenly brightened, which lit the entire room “Oh! By the way, have you ever met a werewolf?” she asked with excitement.
He blinked a couple times to catch his bearings. “That is an abrupt change in topics! No, can’t say that I have. Although, I suppose I might not be able to say that with absolute confidence, can I?”
“Probably not, unless you’ve seen them the three nights they’re supposed to change.”
“What do you mean, ‘supposed to’? I didn’t realize there was a way around that.” He appeared astonished at that information.
She chuckled, “Well, in proving that it’s a small world, the witness that Gibbs’ team had to see this afternoon was an old friend of mine from Sunnydale, Oz.”
Ducky got a expression of recognition on his face at the name. “Ah yes, the one who dated Willow Rosenberg, I believe.”
“Good memory, doc. He went away during our freshman year of college to better understand his wolfy side. Turns out that with enough mental training, he can stop himself from shifting during the full moon. The flip side was that it also made it possible for him to shift if he lost emotional
control,” she explained with a grimace.
Ducky seemed worried. “Oh dear, that would
be bad. So you say that he was in town today? Does that mean he’s gotten a handle on it now?”
Buffy shrugged, but appeared unconcerned. “I don’t know; we didn’t get a chance to speak privately. Not with Gibbs and the others hovering around. I’m supposed to meet up with him later tonight. That way he can also give me the rundown on supernatural activity in the area.”
The medical examiner ran through the causes of death he had seen lately, both in his own lab and in the papers. “Well, I haven’t noticed a great deal of unusual occurrences – in your area of expertise, that is,” he elaborated. Then her wording caught his attention. “So it’s ‘Gibbs’ now and not ‘Agent Gibbs’? Did he ask you to call him that? Because that is very unusual for Jethro to warm up to someone that quickly. You should feel honored.”
She smirked. “He didn’t have much of a choice. I knocked him on his ass for calling me ‘Bunny’. Well, actually, I challenged him to a fight and if I won, he wouldn’t call me that again and
he’d treat me with respect. I’m sure you can guess how that turned out.”
Ducky tried to look reprovingly at her but found that he wished he had been there to witness it instead. “You didn’t hurt the lad, did you? Although. that’s rather peculiar that he would be insulting to you with no cause. He may not be very cordial to new people, but he’s rarely blatantly rude
. I wonder what could be wrong?” he wondered aloud, drifting off before another thought came to him. “That still doesn’t explain why he would ask you to call him ‘Gibbs’ though. Especially
if he had been that hostile with you before. Curious…”
Now Buffy seemed interested. “I don’t know if this had anything to do with his change of heart, but I was able to help them with Oz. He wasn’t trying
to give them a hard time, but his short answers can be very discouraging if you can’t read the rest of the way he answers.”
She scowled momentarily at the memory of the Initiative and Sunnydale police. “Plus, none of us have had the greatest history with either the military or with law enforcement in the past and NCIS represents both of those things,” she explained, hoping that Ducky wouldn’t take it personally.
Then she smiled and announced, “But hey! I told him about you and he’s interested in meeting someone from Giles’ past that we don’t have to automatically assume is an enemy. That doesn’t happen often for us.”
Ducky smiled back. “I look forward to it as well. Just let me know tomorrow, okay?” He glanced at his watch and noticed that it was getting late – at least for him. “Did you need a ride to where you are meeting Oz?”
“Normally I’d try to walk to get in a little patrolling, but since I don’t know the area yet, I think I’ll accept your offer. Thanks, Ducky. For that and for the wonderful evening. And also being there for Giles when he needed someone. I know that my life would have ended much sooner if one of those Council drones had been my Watcher in Sunnydale.”
A/N: Next…A walk on the wild side of DC.