The Art of Avoidance
I disclaim anything that is recognizable.
Sorry it took so long, lots of insane stuff happened. School and life sometimes gets a little bigger than this stuff. Combine that wit a nearly terminal case of writer's block, and nothing comes out.
I'd also like to thank Phoenix Queen for taking the time to beta this chapter for me.
Xander Harris sat three seats down from the prettiest girl in the bar, tipping his beer glass slightly, before signaling for the bartender. The day lasted longer than it should have, but at the same time shorter. It always seemed that way when they were researching the next Big Bad.
Dawn called him days ago, and he’d just gotten into the grand capitol of these United States, which was supposed to have been his last stop on the graduation road trip, before…well, he didn’t really want to remember his time in Oxnard.
Anyway, apparently, the Fyarl worked for another Big Bad that was once again trying to destroy the world. That combined with the unexplained eagerness of NCIS had the entire gang on edge. It had taken a while before Willow had managed to get accurate information on the group, being that they were somewhat classified and Willow doesn’t necessarily like to hack as much as she once did.
She had found out through questioning sessions with some allies within the government that once Gibbs’ curiosity was piqued or when his pride was hurt (which seemed the more likely reason here) that he was as bad as Buffy, which said a lot about his character, fiercely loyal and slightly lethal.
Xander asked for a glass of water, veering away from too much beer. It simply reminded him too much of Cave-Buffy. A voice came from his left, but he couldn’t look through his peripheral to see who (or more possibly what, seeing as he was in a bar that had a balance demon as the bartender) the voice belonged to.
He turned his entire head, before seeing a man trying to chat up the girl that he’d motioned toward earlier, and unsurprisingly she was more interested in the man with two eyes and no eye patch. It wasn’t like he felt sorry for himself, and he wasn’t so much angry at Buffy anymore even though he blamed her for a while. He eventually had come to the realization that he was a demon magnet and a one-eyed demon magnet to boot.
That and he still loved Anya, no matter how many told him that he should move on. He simply hid behind the one-eyed-demon-magnet excuse, so Dawn and Wills would leave him alone about it once in a while.
The bartender interrupted Xander’s thoughts, handing him the water and some peanuts, before turning to the pair beside him and asking, “Tony, Ziva, what would you like tonight?”
The man now known as Tony answered, “My usual Johnny. What about you Sweet Cheeks?”
The woman’s eyes glint dangerously at Tony, before answering, “Same.” The bartender went to work on their drinks, before the woman turned back to him, speaking in a sugar sweet voice, “They will never find the body, my little hairy butt.”
Xander’s eye shot open in shock, as he wondered whether this was a demon or human evil, momentarily forgetting that Scooby-speak was always misconstrued and he could be misinterpreting the tidbit of conversation. It wasn’t like the ‘shovel speech’ made the Scoobies sound very sane either.
Still he stood, slowly moving toward the door. The woman, Ziva, noticed his nervous stride and looked him over once again. He felt her eyes follow him as he left the bar. She made it across the room in ten long strides, and quickly followed him out the door.
Xander saw the boyfriend following closely behind. Several seconds later, he felt a hand grab his shoulder and he allowed himself to be turned.
“Alexander Harris,” Ziva stated.
Ziva and Tony pulled out their badges, quickly showing them to the one-eyed man, and said, “Very Special Agent Tony DiNozzo and this is my partner Officer Ziva David.”
“Not agent,” Xander questioned, subtly trying to find out just a bit more about them.
“No, I am the liaison between NCIS and Mossad,” she explained, and Xander knew immediately that he needed to tread lightly with her. Mossad was known to be dangerous.
“How,” Xander started, but at the second look he remembered where he had heard that name. “Wait, you’re the agents that Dawn said ruined her day. The Navy ones.”
The soldier information told him it was NCIS, but Xander chose to play that down for the time. Goofy, know-nothing Xander was needed here, not sneaking-into-military-bases-with-Cordy-for-rocket-launcher Xander. He continued, “NCSI? Like the TV show with the Grissom guy. He really likes his puzzles. Ooo, and the blonde that’s always working with sunglasses guy.”
The boyfriend, then Xander amended, partner seemed crestfallen, murmured, “It’s only CSI if you’re dyslexic.”
Ziva turned her glare back on her partner before looking back to Xander, sizing him up, “You’re the pervert living in an all girl’s school?”
“Firstly, the name’s Xander, not pervert, secondly there is none of the naughty touching, the girls would kill me, and thirdly…well there’s no thirdly yet, but I reserve the right to throw one in at any time,” Xander babbled, channeling friends for a moment or two.
“Your friends have become somewhat…” Ziva began.
Xander quickly cut her off, “There is a thirdly. I knew there was a thirdly, and it is that I run the school. I don’t live there. There’s an apartment I share with Andrew and occasionally Clem, Spike, Deadboy, or Oz. See, no girls, all guys. Although, that doesn’t necessarily sound good either, so I’m going to shut up now,” he babbled pointedly. Several people had brought this up since he took over the school and it always set him off.
He looked again toward the agents and Xander could see the questions and interrogations in their eyes, but they had nothing on Slayers and witches trying to figure out who he’d been dating.
Ziva stepped forward, distinctly reminding him of Faith when she was sizing him up. Instinctively, he stepped back.
“What was your friend doing with the dead marine,” Tony asked, apparently choosing the direct approach.
“You mean Dawn, right? I don’t know, maybe she had a date or something. Dawn doesn’t really like to talk about that stuff and she hasn’t told me yet why she was there,” he answered, barely telling the truth. Dawn hadn’t told him about what happened until after Willow had filled him in on that evening’s activities.
“So you do not think she killed Lieutenant Wiley,” Ziva asked bluntly.
“Only if she was possessed by some kind of ghost or something, Dawnster would never,” Xander answered honestly.
Ziva turned sharply to her partner, and whispered too soft for Xander to hear, “if you quote a movie now…”
“What about Ms. Burkle? I know she had nothing to do with the murder, but how do we know this isn’t some heist that Ms. Summers’ family and friends are trying to cover. The lawyer seemed nervous in general, but more than concerned around her,” Tony addressed Xander.
Xander burst out laughing for a second, in a desperate attempt to come up with an answer that wouldn’t throw too many suspicions. Fred and Illyria was a dangerous subject and something that these agents definitely needed to stay away from, even though the Smurf-ette had apparently made an impression.
“Oh, Fred…right…Gunn and Fred were…well…together, but then she fell in love with someone else who was killed recently. He was just a bit worried about her,” he answered.
It seemed to be a fairly suitable answer, so Tony continued, “…and how did someone get into a federal database without throwing up red flags all over the place?”
Answering that question was a little trickier. He needed to come up with a reasonable explanation without revealing that magic was involved in his best friend’s hacking.
But after second thought, his grade school scores would back him up (computer skills – nearly non-existent) if his lips were sealed, he plead the fifth, or just said, “I’ll never…tell.” That thought caught off guard and he almost teared-up at the thought of Anya, before smacking the back of his own head when he remembered what these guys were doing.
Before he could answer, though, he heard the familiar roar of a motorcycle behind him. “Yo, Boy Toy, Little D’s flippin’. We gotta’ get you back before Little D gets any crankier. At times, she’s scarier than the idea of Red going vein-y again. Let’s roll.”
“Sorry, looks like I need to hit the road. Maybe we can do this interrogation thing another time, like just the other side of never. You good Faith?”
“Five by five, yo.”
Xander thanked Whistler (no way in the Hellmouth was he thanking the PTBs) for Faith’s timing, as they rode away. He turned back to see one very pissed agent and one gaping openly at Faith’s outfit.
Well, that went well. Guess they’re not quite giving up yet.
“Hey Faith,” he said, “you got a phone?”
“Back at the hotel, why,” she responded.
“I have a feeling that the only way we’re going to be able to get these people to back off is to play hard ball. I know how to call Riley, but I’m pretty sure he’s going to need some leverage first.”
“Ya’ think this could wait until we’re sure that we survive the latest apocalypse,” Faith asked.
“Yeah, I guess you’re right.”