Do Slayers Dream of Vampire Sheep?
A/N:Sorry for the long wait between chapters. RL snuck up behind me when I wasn't looking and delivered the world's biggest sucker punch. Still - new year, new start. Hope you enjoy. :)
“Thank you, Buffy, for your gracious invitation, and for a very, well, interesting
evening,” Ducky says, lifting his overcoat and hat from the breakfast bar. “And if you would be so kind as to tell Ziva that she is always welcome to drop by the morgue for tea and one of our usual chats, if she so desires – ”
“Will do, Dr Mallard,” Buffy replies with a smile, prompting the medical examiner to make a rather familiar clucking sound with his tongue at her use of his full name. She can almost feel Giles’ rueful grin from behind her. “Do they clone you guys at some secret facility run by Merchant Ivory or something?”
Giles snorts and steps forward into Buffy’s line of sight. “If that were true, I believe Ducky would have worn a hole in his spectacles by now, given Agent DiNozzo’s penchant for broadcasting his every thought.”
“So you do clean your glasses to avoid seeing what we’re doing!” Buffy says triumphantly, her smile inadvertently becoming an out-and-out grin at Giles’ good-natured eye roll.
“Where is Tony, anyway?” Abby asks, her question directed pointedly to the room rather than at the one person who would most likely know the answer. She hasn’t looked at – or spoken directly to – Buffy since shortly after her tirade earlier, apology or no. It bothers Buffy more than she’d like, but now is so not the time to have that conversation.
“Bedroom,” Gibbs answers dryly from the door, and Abby grins.
“Way to circumvent Rule 12,” she says cheekily, and now it’s McGee’s turn to roll his eyes.
“Please. I want to sleep without nightmares tonight.”
“I heard that, McDirty,” Tony calls from down the hall, appearing in the doorway to Ziva’s room with a loose-lipped smirk that looks ghastly given the blossoming bruises under his eyes. “What, you disappointed I didn’t take you up on the oh-so-tempting offer to crash on your cheap lumpy couch?”
“Oh, completely, but I’ll survive somehow,” McGee says with an eye roll to rival Giles’. Ziva says something indistinguishable and Tony disappears through the doorway unsteadily. “And my couch is not cheap or
lumpy. C’mon, Abbs, I’ll drive you home.” He shoots a quick shy smile at Buffy as Abby shrugs on her blood-red coat and fumbles with the skull-shaped buttons adorning the front. “See you in the morning?”
“Barring fire, flood or plague of demon locusts,” she answers, then frowns and taps the wooden back of the nearest chair. One lot of nasty flying demons per decade is enough, and besides… they’re fresh out of gas for the flamethrowers.
Gibbs opens his mouth.
“Probably better not to ask,” Giles advises.
“Wasn’t gonna,” Gibbs says immediately. “Summers, I’ll expect your report from the Paxton murder on my desk at 0700. Tell DiNozzo I don’t want to see him in the bullpen tomorrow. Face like that, he’ll scare the filing clerks.”
“Already printed, in your tray, and just waiting for your autograph, Boss,” Buffy says as he pulls the door open and steps into the hall. Off his and Giles’ surprised look, she shrugs innocently. “What? A girl can’t hand in a homework assignment before the deadline?”
“Principal Snyder would no doubt roll over in his grave,” Giles says under his breath, then winces at the playful impact of a super-strong fist to his upper arm.
“Wonder who got the job of picking him out from the Mayorsnake-mince?” Buffy wonders out loud, almost laughing at the look that McGee flashes at her over his shoulder. “Wait. I don’t think I wanna know.”
“I do not think any of us want to know,” Ziva says, joining her in the doorway and offering her goodbyes to the remainder of the NCIS team before disappearing again as soon as the elevator doors slide shut. “I will be out in a little while for the post-patrol debriefing,” she offers just before closing her bedroom door. It opens again almost immediately. “As long as I do not have to hear the story of how a full-grown man ended up inside a… Mayor snake.”
“Definitely a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ moment, Zi. Take your time. Use protection!” Buffy says with a wink that’s answered with a slam of the door. “Wow, was that a deja-vu-esque display of teenage hysteria or what?”Oh.
“Buffy – ” Giles starts, looking at her closely.
“Any scones left?” Buffy interrupts quickly, ducking away from Giles’ gaze and heading for the kitchen. “I could happily slay a tray of English pastries right about now, calories be damned.”
It’s an effort not to choke on crumbs that seem to turn to dust in her mouth.
It’s been an hour or so since the team left, and during that time she’s successfully managed to shake off Giles’ ‘let’s talk about it’ face by pleading hunger, then shower, then the need for some fresh air. The cold breeze makes Buffy thankful for Ziva’s advice on appropriate Washington outerwear, the wholly un-stylish but practical jacket doing a decent job of warding off the outside chill.
Her skin prickles inside the heavy double-layered fleece as she watches the moon peek out from behind heavy clouds and wonders suddenly where Oz is. Last they heard, he’d been heading back to Tibet with Jordy to teach the next generation of wolves how to control the change.
She could really use a bit of monosyllabic conversation right now.
Buffy doesn’t bother to turn or start at the sound of the balcony door sliding open, recognizing the sound of familiar footsteps on the tiles, the familiar shape moving in the dim shadows of the lights on the street below.
“Tony asleep?” she asks quietly, keeping her eyes on the skyline beyond them as Ziva slips into the chair beside her with a soft sigh.
“Out like a lamp. He is not good with painkillers,” Ziva replies matter-of-factly, something in her tone making Buffy simultaneously cringe and grin. She shifts the chair so that she’s facing Buffy, one dark eyebrow quirked in an unmistakeable question. It’s the kind of look that Willow used to give her just before demanding that she spill all the sordid details of a date with Riley.
Somehow Buffy doubts that Ziva is about to pull out a block of chocolate and giggle like a naughty teenager swiping tequila from her parent’s liquor cabinet at the promise of secret girl talk.
“I’m immune to your ninja interrogation techniques, so you might as well quit it with the staring,” Buffy says lightly, refusing to bite.
“Very well,” Ziva says with a shrug. “I will just have to ask McGee. He will spill his guts faster than the Paladri demon we encountered last week.”
“Really hoping you don’t mean that in the literal sense, because eww,” Buffy counters quickly, wrinkling her nose at the memory of the blue-skinned demon cowering before Ziva’s gleaming knife. “Do we have to have another chat about excessive force? It kinda makes my head hurt channelling Responsible Buffy, and she obviously left the building when I decided to let Team Federal Agent tag along on patrol tonight.”
Ziva looks at her for a long moment, her gaze unreadable. “What happened tonight was not your fault,” she says quietly. “They do not blame you.”
“Funny, ‘cos Abby definitely seemed to be channelling her inner finger-pointer.”Way to fail miserably at being flippant, Buffy
, she admonishes herself as soon as the words are out, falling from her mouth like birds shot out of mid-air. Vineyards and angry eyes and ‘you can’t stay here’ dance among the shadows, making her blink hard and shake her head slightly to clear her vision.
Ziva sighs fondly, rubbing at a smear of vampire dust on the back of her hand. “Abby is… well, Abby. She does not deal well when people she loves are threatened by humans, let alone slightly insane vampiresses.”
“Drusilla always did have the kind of timing that isn’t,” Buffy muses. “Which reminds me, I need to give Xander the heads up about the Spike-hunt. He’s going to love
that assignment… almost as much as I love the idea of being Dru’s matchmaker. Buffy Summers, provider of dating services for the lovelorn undead.”
“You think that this Drusilla wishes for you to find Spike so that they can… date?”
Buffy sighs, running her hand through her loose tangled hair and wincing at the scrape of raw knuckles against the strands. “How about we don’t go tripping inside Dru’s head right now? Don’t think I can handle any more crazy tonight.” The question niggles nonetheless, but it’s right up there with Xander’s adventures in Oxnard and Giles’ sex life in the ‘no power on this earth’ list.
They sit in silence for a long moment as the crash and clatter of dishes from inside the apartment tells Buffy that Giles is in full housewife mode, probably as an excuse to stay well away from anything that might involve his Slayer and a certain Federal Agent.
“McGee is a good friend,” Ziva says simply, pulling her hair back into a ponytail and propping her sweatpant-clad legs up on the railing of the balcony.
Obviously, Ziva has no such qualms.
“If this is the part where you tell me that if I hurt him you’ll beat me to death with a shovel – ”
“It is not,” Ziva interrupts. “Well, all right, perhaps it is, though I would most likely use far more… inventive
… methods. Still, he is a good friend and a good agent, and not someone who does things lightly.” Buffy opens her mouth to protest and Ziva raises a hand unthreateningly. “I am not saying that you are using him to fulfil your – how did Faith put it? – Double-H cravings, but…”
“Hey, still a non-fat yoghurt girl, no matter what Faith’s been telling you. And remind me to be having words with a certain dark-haired Slayer when I see her next.” Buffy chews on her lower lip briefly, suddenly awkward. What she wouldn’t give for chocolate and giggles right now, and the realization that she misses Willow (just a little bit, and in a ‘days gone by’ kinda way) hits harder than a freight train at full speed. “We, uh, we didn’t make with the horizontal mambo, if that’s what you’re trying not to ask.”
Ziva shrugs casually and Buffy has to fight not to roll her eyes at how not
immune she is to ‘ninja interrogation techniques’. Fish, barrel, bang
. Her skin prickles suddenly and she sits forward in the chair and stares into the darkness, eyes scanning the shadows for unusual movement. Tim’s words ring in her ears. “There was someone watching us, someone who is – as Wednesday, uh, Drusilla, said – very good at hiding.”
“You see anything?” she asks Ziva quietly, because while she doesn’t have the enhanced sense advantages that come with the Slayer package, Ziva has a pretty good instinct for knowing when she’s being observed. Comes with the life of observing others
, she’d said once during patrol, just before they got not-really jumped by a pair of unwitting fledglings.
Ziva doesn’t move a muscle, just shifts her gaze slightly and watches the tree line carefully.
“I do not,” she says finally, frowning. “But that does not mean that there is nobody there.”
“Noted,” Buffy replies. “And welcome to the world of surveillance, supernatural style. Copping the perve from invisible beasties. Yay us?” Giles will probably go into giddy fits of ex-librarian frenzy at the possibility of research, if only because it will give his lenses a rest from the furious cleaning that he’s been doing since Buffy and Tim came back to the apartment. “You’d think he’d have gotten the Buffy Has A Sex Drive memo sometime in the past, oh, I don’t know, ten years.”
Ziva just arches an eyebrow meaningfully, clearly not deterred by the segue. As much as Buffy wants to avoid skipping back to the previous topic, she’s learnt her lesson about loose ends and unfinished conversations over the years.
“I’m not looking to scratch any itches with McGee, if that’s what you’re worried about,” she offers. “And hey, if I wanted to – and I’m really not the type to quote ‘Of Human Bondage’ and leave him to wake up solo in the wet spot – I’m sure I could channel my inner Faith and pick up a more, uh, temporary scratching post of sorts.”
The unintended meaning of that hits a little too late, though if Ziva’s snort is anything to judge by, it didn’t go unnoticed. “I need friends who are more clueless about double entendres,” Buffy adds with a sigh. “But all dirty aside, Tim isn’t some notch on my super-sturdy bedpost. I don’t… hey, ask Xander for the full rundown of Buffy’s Dating Disasters, if you want. I just… I like Tim, and I’m pretty sure he likes me, and – just listen to me, any minute now I’ll be asking you to pass him a secret love note like it’s fifth grade. Ugh. But… he’s also kinda terrified of Gibbs and those rules and I’m – ”
“You are scared of Gibbs?”
It’s not what Buffy meant, and they both know it, but Ziva’s sly grin says she’s giving Buffy a free pass on the sharing, if she wants to take it. Right then, she does.
“According to the rest of NCIS, I’m trembling before the mighty Boss-bear like a first-time camper. Realistically? There are way scarier things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in their philosophy.” She grins at Ziva’s look of surprise. “What, you think I didn’t pay attention in sophomore English class?” Pauses. “Okay, so I got Wil…someone else… to take notes. Whatever.”
Ziva opens her mouth, hesitates, then plows forward with an uncertain look that seems alien on her normally confident features. “It is not maligning anyone’s memory to think of the times when things were good,” she offers softly. “I am sure that Dawn would – ”
“I’m beat,” Buffy cuts in, standing with such force that the chair leaves angry-looking drag marks on the tile. “See you in the morning.” She pushes through the sliding door without looking back – it isn’t really fleeing if she doesn’t exactly run – ignoring Giles’ surprised look and unheard inquiry above the sudden roar in her head.
Turns out those free passes on the deep-and-meaningful chats have a shorter shelf life than she’s entirely comfortable with.
Her bedroom is dark and warm – thank goodness for top-notch central heating – and the sound of snoring through the adjoining wall makes her grin, then hope (not for the first time) that Ziva isn’t a screamer. If there ends up being anything to scream about.
Tim’s face swims into view behind her closed eyelids, earnest and kind and a little reminiscent of early Xander with the hopeful slightly-smitten look that she’s learned to recognise for what it is. “Someone who is very good at hiding.”
She’s guessing that a trip through the ICWS archives – not to mention a trip down to Abby’s lab, just in case Dru wasn’t talking in strictly supernatural terms, and wow, won’t that be all kinds of awkward – is on the to-do list for tomorrow.
Buffy counts more than 400 fence-jumping vampire sheep before sleep finally claims her.
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