: I don’t own NCIS or BtVS. But some guys named Bellisario and Whedon do. Summary
: After the fall of Sunnydale, the Scoobies made a point of contacting their surviving families. Several months later, with the new year just beginning, it turns out that one relative somehow ... must have slipped Xander's mind. So his friends give him a gentle push out the door - and towards the one person that always mattered. Response to challenge #4342.Timeline
: The story starts several months after the last Buffy episode, 'Chosen' (and anything after is me, not necessarily season 8 or Angel), and season 3-ish for NCIS (meaning Kate is already dead).A/N
: Well, I was procrastinating one night and read through some random challenges - and this one stuck. I tried to shake it off but it kept sneaking up on me until I finally caved in... updates should be fairly frequent too (as in weekly to fortnightly). Enjoy!
There was a row of snowmen - and women - of varying shapes and sizes in the large backyard of the mansion in the outskirts of Cleveland. They watched silently as the first battle of the year unfolded in front of them. Now and then one of them would be hit by a stray snowball, but neither of them minded. Seeing how they were only a pile of snow themselves and all that.
Soon, the battle was over and, after deciding on the winner, all combatants made their way back into the warmth of the house.
"What a way to start another year," Dawn said with a sigh, shrugging out of her wet coat.
"Yeah," Xander added while he brushed the snow of his clothes. "Never figured G-Man to be a Master of Snowball fights
Smirking, Giles put his now snow-free glasses back on. "I have fought one or two battles in my time."
"Stupid Land of Tweed hogging all the snow," Buffy muttered darkly, not pleased with having lost to Giles, Faith and her sister. "Poor ol' California getting a Hellmouth in return."
Dawn giggled as she plucked the woollen cap from Buffy's head. It was completely white when it had been a darkish blue before they had left the house earlier.
"Yuck." Buffy shuddered as she shook her jumper to get rid of any leftover snow that had found its way down her back.
"Double-yuck," Willow added while she tried to remove the snow from her trousers. When this didn't work, she unceremoniously opened the buckle and dropped them in the middle of the room.
Whistling in appreciation, Faith openly ogled her. "Way to go, Red."
Of course, Faith herself was almost dry. Turns out that growing up in Boston came in handy now and then. High-Fiving Dawn and, with lots of eye-rolling, Giles, she turned as she pushed the two out of the room. "Losers have kitchen duty."
Groaning, the three remaining Scoobies hung up their wet clothes before following them.
"Happy New Year!" Abby hugged Gibbs as soon as he opened his front door to her. Smiling, he returned the hug, kissed her forehead and let her into his home.
Almost bouncing into the living room, Abby opened her small backpack and removed a wrapped package.
"Christmas was last week," Gibbs said with raised eyebrows. "And I've already unpacked your present."
"I know!" Abby pushed the gift into his hands. "But I've got this friend who travels a lot and ... and I asked him to bring me some of this. But his return was delayed so I had to get you another Christmas present."
Gibbs looked at the package from all sites. It was gift-wrapped in some silver-ish paper, a black gift ribbon keeping everything in place. "Abby..."
"Open it. Come on. Please?" Abby looked at him pleadingly. "It's like a Happy New Year gift! And you can get me an extra Caf-Pow in return."
His lips twitching, Gibbs nodded towards the door. "Kitchen."
Abby grinned and raced to the door. Turning just as she reached it, she pointed at the still closed present and said sternly, "Open it!"
Shaking his head in amusement, Gibbs did just that. After getting comfortable on his couch, that is. Smiling at the squeal coming from the kitchen, he released his own - much quieter and much manlier, of course - squeal as he found himself holding a package of his favourite brand of coffee.
It wasn't anything you could just go and buy in a supermarket either. No, it came from a small, private coffee farm in Ecuador that mainly sold their coffee locally. He had come across it by accident almost a life-time ago - and yet this was only the third time he had gotten his hands on a sample of the heavenly beverage.
He was trying to get his first sniff through the packaging when Abby came bouncing back into the room - a custom-sized Caf-Pow in her hand. "Gibbs! You're the best!"
"So are you, Abs, so are you." Patting the place next to him, he waited till she was seated. "How's your mother?"
Abby smiled. "She's good. She's meeting with some of her old friends today."
Gibbs took her hand in his. "What about your father? And brother?"
Abby shrugged her shoulders. "Alex sent me a Christmas card. He said last time he heard from dad he was in Vegas."
"He can't stay away forever, Abs. You could always try and find him?" Gibbs said and squeezed her hand.
"No! I'd feel like I'm betraying him. I mean, he stays in touch. Lets me know he's fine." Abby sighed and sunk deeper into the cushions of the couch. "Maybe he just doesn't like me anymore. Maybe I shouldn't have glued him to the ceiling. Or put his hands in warm water while he slept. Or painted a moustache on his face and convinced him it was a tattoo. Or dressed him in a skirt. Okay, he was only 6, but still. Then there was the time I put some pepper in his underpants..."
"Abby! Abs! I get the drift." Gibbs chuckled at his favourite Goth who had become something like a little sister to him. "Don't worry. Trust me. Nobody can resist your charm forever."
Abby gave a weak smile before having a long, long sip from her Caf-Pow.
Shaking his head in amusement, Gibbs grabbed his remote control and started the DVD player.
And so they started another year like so many years since the first time Abby came to work at NCIS. Not as co-workers but as good friends.
Giles, Buffy, Dawn, Willow, Xander and Faith were sitting on varying surfaces in front of the blazing fire in one of the family rooms of the Cleveland branch of the new International Watcher Council, or as everybody outside the supernatural world knew them - IWC.
Officially, IWC as a company was going back for a long time and was dealing with antiques in all forms and shapes - including anything in written form. They had experts on various subjects working for them. And, recently, those experts started to officially offer their services to whoever needed an obscure text translated or an unusual antique evaluated. If anything, it provided the IWC with an additional source of income - and an excuse for almost everything. Sort of, anyway.
Recently, they'd started to sponsor the odd boarding school for gifted girls - invite only. Like the very house the extended Scoobies were sitting in at the moment. The other residents, aforementioned gifted girls - or Slayers - were either at home or in another part of the house, celebrating the first day of the new year in their own way.
As, for today, this particular room was reserved for the small group of original Sunnydale-ians only.
"Yum." Xander closed his good eye in delight as he popped the marshmallow from its makeshift stick into his mouth. "I'll never get enough of them."
"We noticed." Giles leaned forward and put his teacup back on the small couch table. "Though I am not quite sure where you put them."
"Soft arms," Buffy offered immediately.
"Girly hair," Faith added, smirking at Xander's shocked protest.
"Extra padding for his stomach," Willow managed to say in between giggles.
"In short, keeping up the Xander-shape." Dawn smiled sweetly, leaned over and patted Xander's shoulder reassuringly.
Looking at his friends with sad eyes, he mounted five more marshmallows on the stick and shoved it back into the fire. "Well, I've got to get the love from somewhere."
The young women in the room exchanged a quick look - one the made Giles shudder and sink back further into his armchair - and jumped Xander as one. Buried under a pile of females, Xander had no choice but to give into the urge to hug all of them close. Well, that and admit that he liked them just fine.
Giles smiled wistfully as he watched his former charges enjoy themselves. It was good to see they hadn't lost their playful side completely after everything they've been through the past years. That they could still simply be silly. And, most importantly, that they had managed to overcome the rifts that had opened up between them over time. Sure, there was still some mistrust left and certainly some healing to do, but they've all acknowledged it and were slowly working through it. Which, naturally, didn't work without a hitch, but they were getting there. Amidst the occasional bout of fighting, screaming, accusations and pure stubbornness, that is.
By the time the girls let go of Xander his marshmallows were ... gone. As was the top part of the stick he'd used to roast them on. Mourning his loss for no more than a couple of seconds, Xander grabbed the bag with the few remaining ones and stuffed them all in his mouth at once.
"Eww, Xander! That's so gross!" Dawn said in disgust.
Xander quickly swallowed the marshmallows. "Look who's talking!" he deadpanned, reminding them all of the more than unusual sandwich combinations Dawn used to - and still did - come up with.
Rolling her eyes, Faith held out her hand to Xander. "Come on, Boy-toy, Scooby time."
Xander took the offered hand and, once upright, tilted his head. "I thought you didn't like Scooby-Doo?"
Faith smirked as she made her way over to the couch. "I don't. Though watching you lot watch it is quite entertaining."
"Hey!" Xander half-protested, half-questioned. Pulling Willow close, he whispered in her ear, "Compliment or mockery?"
Faith laughed out loud. "Both, I guess."
Xander grinned. "Okay. I can live with that. Now let's start!"
"I so do not look like her!" Buffy muttered throughout the movie, and she didn't stop when once the movie was finished either. "The TV show was much better anyway."
Dawn sniggered. "Are you sure you haven't forgotten to mention some hidden relatives?"
Buffy growled while everyone else laughed. Even Giles' lips were twitching. "She has a point, you know."
"You're so not helping!" Buffy stood up from her place between Dawn and Willow and stalked around the small couch table and plopped down on the floor - away from everyone else. "I mean, have you seen her hair
Still smiling, Giles finished off his tea. "Yes, well, apropos families. I hope you've all sent appropriate Christmas wishes?"
After lots of synchronised eye-rolling, Dawn nodded, "Yep. I even got Buffy to send one to Hank."
"Uncle and Aunt I can barely remember," Faith added with a smirk. "And Broods-A-Lot, too."
Xander snorted and, as he'd just taken another sip of his hot chocolate, choked in the process. Willow helpfully patted his back, "My parents are currently in Florida. I called them yesterday."
Buffy glared as everyone looked at her expectantly. "What? My brood is sitting right here! And there're no hidden relatives!" Crossing her arms, she looked at her Watcher. "What about you?"
"I have sent several Christmas cards to my extended family, thank you for asking." Giles took off his glasses and quickly added, "Xander?"
He shrugged his shoulders. "Send a card to the last known address of my parents in Vegas. No idea if there's still there, though."
"Fine, now that this-" Giles started.
"Awkwardness of trying to care?" Buffy offered immediately, receiving several nods and chuckles in return.
"-is over," Giles continued with a smile, "I believe it's time for some food. I have taken the liberty to order pizza and ice-cream."
The room immediately filled with lots of whoops and squeals of approval, causing Giles to shake his head in amusement.
"No! We can't!" Willow said amidst the ruckus her friends were making. When she found herself in the middle of everyone's attention, she blushed slightly but quickly shrugged it off. "I mean, Xander wasn't finished, right?"
Willow narrowed her eyes. "Xander Lavelle Harris!"
"Yes, Wills?" he offered sheepishly. He knew exactly what was coming - and that he was in trouble. Not just with Willow, but, within a few minutes, with everyone else as well.
"Willow?" Giles asked, looking just as curious as everyone else.
She just held up a hand to stop him from asking further questions while she stared at her childhood friend. "Have you or have you not?"
"I even sent a small gift?"
"And?" Willow prompted, her face slowly but surely changing in the feared resolved face.
"A card?" Xander said weakly as he tried to hide behind Faith. Grinning, the dark Slayer shook her head and moved aside, pushing Xander towards Willow in the process.
"Uh huh." Willow didn't sound impressed. At all. "How about ... I don't know ... a phone
"Well, you see, first I had no minutes left," Xander said, moving away from his prowling friend. "Then I'd lost the number."
In the background, Faith pulled a bag of crisps from its hiding place and offered it to Buffy and Dawn with a big grin on her face. They didn't need much prompting and dug in while watching the things unfold in front of them.
Willow's eyes narrowed dangerously at Xander's latest comments. Especially as that could only mean one thing. However, before she could speak up again, Xander added quickly, "But I emailed! And I've just sent a Christmas gift. Did I mention that? The gift, I mean?"
"Ten bucks he forgot to mention a relative," Faith stage-whispered to Buffy and Dawn. They just snorted in return. "Please. That's just so obvious!" Dawn retorted. "Any idea who Willow's talking about, though?"
Faith and Buffy shook their head. And a look over to Giles told them he was just as clueless as them.
"Xander, why don't you tell them?" Willow asked sweetly.
"Uh." He shuffled his feet as he looked at the floor. "Abigail?"
"Stowaway?" Dawn asked.
Faith grinned. "Evil cousin?"
Buffy rolled her eyes but played along. "Aunt?"
"Famous actress?" Giles asked with a straight face.
Laughing out loud, Dawn clapped her hands in glee. "Way to go, Giles!"
Of course, Buffy's protests were easily ignored. What else were friends for, after all?
Smiling sheepishly, Xander shrugged his shoulders. "Sister? Half-sister? Uh ... I guess it slipped my mind?"
For once, the room was silent. It might have been a shocked silence, but it was a silence nevertheless. For a few seconds. Then all hell broke loose.
Questions were asked, one louder than the previous just so it would be heard over the noise. Eventually Faith whistled. Loudly.
"Thank you, Faith," Giles said immediately as he rubbed his temples. "So-"
"Pizza?" Xander asked hopefully. He seemed to have retained a little bit of luck too as he heard at least two stomachs rumble in agreement.
Or not. The girls - and Giles - looked at him and, as one, shook their heads. "Please?"
Willow sighed. "Okay. But I want to know why you haven't called her."
Xander nodded in relief.
"I mean, it." Willow gave him a stern look. "I'm talking deep stuff, here. Not the lame 'I lost her number' excuses, okay?"
So, between eating pizza and lots of ice-cream, Xander told them about his sister.
And his reasons for not talking about her before.
--A/N: If you familiar with my other stories than you probably know that this is often the place for random silliness, mainly pertaining to the adventures of Muse (renamed She-Muse after she brought He-Muse along). Though sometimes it also contains semi-useful information. Like it was either starting this story (see? semi-useful) or watching even more 'Xena: Warrior Princess'. Seriously, I watched the first 20 episodes in the last three days (and I was working full-time today!). Ouch. Funny stuff, though.