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Black Hair and Gunpowder

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This story is No. 1 in the series "Black Hair and Gunpowder". You may wish to read the series introduction first.

Summary: Xander doesn’t exactly have a spectacular track record with women, and so it should be no surprise that when he opens his eyes the first thing he sees is a coffin.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
NCIS > Xander-Centered > Pairing: Abby SciutotigerlilyFR1512,42792411,43113 Aug 0913 Aug 09Yes
A/N:Yeah, I needed another project like I need a hole in the head, but it just wouldn't leave me alone. Chasing out the plot bunny demons by way of McGee-like free-writing again. This is something of an experiment, since I don't normally write Xander OR Abby in any great detail, especially not as standalone characters.

Disclaimer: BtVS is the property of Joss Whedon/Mutant Enemy. NCIS is Bellisario/CBS's baby. I own my laptop (minus an 'enter' and a few key letter keys) and way too many DVD box sets. That's all.

Dedicated to Samarkand who was the one to suggest this particular pairing/scenario in the first place. It's *all your fault*, so I hope it lives up to the fantasy. I don't even know how to describe what this is, so if anyone has any ideas, feel free to share.

Warning: Curse words lie within. Abandon all hope of series continuity, as this has nothing to do with the 'Smoke' or 'Lost' universe, except for use of the 'ICWS' acronym. This be a one-shot unless the author decides otherwise later. (Author has set her facebook page to 'Pirate English' and is feeling a little seasick)




Xander doesn’t exactly have a spectacular track record with women, and so it should be no surprise that when he opens his eyes the first thing he sees is a coffin.

It’s propped up against the far wall of the room, varnished inky black and buffed to an almost-shine, with ornate silver filigree decorating the handles and hinges, stretching across the lid in a bizarre pattern that almost looks like body art. Silver on black and my god it would be a beautiful piece of craftsmanship if the implications weren’t so damn creepy.

I hate you, Giles, he thinks with an exasperated sigh and eye roll. The muscles around his empty eye socket contract automatically. It’s an uncomfortable pain-not-pain feeling.

This isn’t his first coffin.

Part and parcel of befriending Buffy was getting to spend a lot of time hanging out in funeral homes and cemeteries, which did wonders for his chances of permanent head injury and despite his best efforts back in the day, surprisingly little for his as yet unrequited Buffy-crush.

Also, he learnt to tell the difference between Californian maple and oak, whether silk or cotton lining was harder to claw through, and saw first-hand evidence that that old ditty about ‘the worms playing something-knuckle’ was not only a catchy rhyme but completely and very disgustingly true. Not all things come out of their graves looking as good as when they went in.

And damn, he said ‘ditty’. Next he’ll be asking for tea instead of coffee and buying a pair of pharmacy glasses just so that he can polish them with his handkerchief, instead of having to concentrate on what those godforsaken children are saying or doing now.

Bitter much?

“I anticipate it will be a simple enough assignment,” Giles had said before Xander left for Washington, “After all, Dr Mallard knows that you are coming, and has some understanding of the supernatural. It’s rumoured his mother was a Watcher, back in the day, though since most of the original Watcher records and diaries were burnt in the Council Headquarters blaze, nothing can be confirmed.”

He’d almost looked sad, probably at the prospect of all those stuffy old journals lost forever. As far as Xander’s concerned, the less he has to read the better. They have a whole team of researchers to do most of that stuff now, though nobody has quite mastered the fine art of donut collection.

“Vanessa herself certainly isn’t talking much sense these days, poor dear. Collect the demon and give Willow the signal to teleport you back. Piece of cake.” Not even a cheerio or a pip pip, just three words that pretty much solidify the possibility of something getting royally fucked up along the way. Like saying the ‘Q’ word in a cemetery or hospital.

There’s a coffin in the corner and a mess of spiky things over on that table and holy shit, she’s got some strange looking stuff in here. Getting his freak on with the voodoo princess. David Bowie does a little spangly dance in his head. The power of the voodoo. Who do? (You do, Xander). Do what? You remind me of the babe.

Oh, I hate you, Giles.


Giles should know better than to say stupid things like that, because before you know it you’ve got an uncomfortable itch down below or are staring at your evil twin or… well, finding yourself wondering if that coffin over there is empty.

But he’s woken up in a relatively comfortable bed, rather than chained to the ceiling with an open slash across his stomach, so you just never know when your shitty luck with women might take a turn for the better. Baby steps.

Someone’s humming in the next room, though humming is probably too strong a word. It’s mostly just off-key noise interspersed with some recognisable vowel sounds, and if he hadn’t spent the last three months travelling around the world on Slayer Search ’09 with Buffy (who has many talents, one of which is not singing), he would be cringing at the sound.

There’s a giggle and the sound of heavy-booted feet dancing around on what might be a linoleum floor.

Even though he’s not seventeen anymore the thought of linoleum makes him think of that first time in the Sunnydale morgue, in the early days when vampires were still something of a novelty. Buffy was fighting a fledgling as he stood by bravely with stakes loaded into his belt loops, waiting for the chance to jump in and bravely and competently assist the slayer.

…or he might have been unconscious in the corner after copping a stainless-steel door in the face, but it’s his memory and history is written by the winners, so dammit he’s going to be a stake-wielding superhero….

Either way, when Buffy dusted the vamp it took her a good twenty-six seconds to notice her shirt had been torn down to her navel, sparking years of not being able to see cheap linoleum without thinking Buffy breasts. Breasts of Buffy. Be still thy beating crotch.

There’s a crash from the other room and Xander startles.

Back in the present, he does a quick check under the black sheet and yep, as suspected, Private Harris appears to have responded to the familiar bugle call. His clothes, on the other hand, are most definitely AWOL.

Situation Normal, then: All Fucked Up. If one really wants to carry on the military analogies. His head is throbbing in a familiar way reserved for only the fiercest of head-blows or the result of too much...

Tequila, he thinks with an inaudible groan. He should know better, really. Damn Slayers and their increased tolerance for alcohol. But… hmm. There’s something he’s missing, other than his clothes, dignity and a sizeable portion of last night’s activities. He can guess some of it, because whenever a woman flirts with him it usually leads to badness and sometimes with him being chained to things.

(Except with Anya, but then she was always the exception to many rules of thumb, and some of common decency. But that’s a thought for another time.)

Focus, Xander.

Right. Washington. NCIS, one of the more unfamiliar acronyms in the mostly three-letter business. Had to collect demon from Dr… Duck? He’d gone in the evening so the place would be mostly deserted, asked to be teleported directly to the morgue and then out again. Only… somehow, he was not back at Coalition Headquarters, but… elsewhere.

Black hair and gunpowder, the smell of sweet fruit. He’d landed in a lab… her lab, much to her squealing surprise. Damn witches and their directional challenges. She’d called him Gibbs before she saw who was actually standing behind her and almost knocked over a whole tray of… glass somethings… in shock.

“You’re not Gibbs,” she’d said with narrowed eyes as he stared dry-mouthed at the spikes ringing her neck, “How’d you get in here? Cos we’re meant to be locked down at night, and I know for a fact that security’s gone home and there’s nobody to let you in unless you have a pass. And, if you don’t have a pass, Gibbs probably already senses that I’m in trouble here and will be down here to kick your ass any second. I’m pretty sure the man has serious psychic powers. Just so you know.”

Oh god, she was so like Willow. All babble and fake bravery and bounce. Even had the black hair thing going for her, though to be honest he never much liked Willow with dark hair, not in the least because Dark Willow went on a grief-fuelled rampage and shot him full of world-ending electric goodness.

There’s a patch of hair still missing from his chest, that just never grew back. He hadn’t heard the end of it from Anya for weeks afterward, much to his… whoa, getting off topic again.

“I’m here to see a Dr Mallard,” – funny how the subconscious remembers names that the here-and-now him can’t – “about a body,” he’d said slowly, and despite his attempts at rugged and manly, he’d stepped back about a foot when she’d screeched.

“Mister Harris, right? ICWS? Abby Sciuto,” she says by way of greeting, saluting him (how odd). “You’re the one who knows about the demons, and tell me, do leprechauns really exist and what’s it like, fighting a vampire?”

They – ICWS – are not exactly all secret-identity-having these days, but still, Xander made a mental note to suggest to Giles that perhaps his contacts might not want to announce their reason for visiting to their co-workers? But she was strangely endearing, and so he’d promised to come back for a drink or two after dropping his foul-smelling cargo back at the Cleveland Base. And he’s pretty sure there was bowling involved, but surely he’s mixing his memories again…

Not a slayer prank after all, then, he thinks with a rueful grin. Certainly knew how to hold her tequila like a slayer, though. Judging by his unfortunate state of nakedness and memory blind spots the size of the crater that used to be Sunnydale, he inhaled the stuff like a drowning man inhales water.

From what he remembers, she seemed normal enough - if a little manic at times - but she was flirting with him, and there’s the question of the coffin.

“Hey, Sleeping Beauty,” a voice calls from the hallway, and holy hell she’s lucky she’s not within glaring distance. “You coming out anytime soon, or do I have to handcuff you and drag you out here?”

Damn, if he doesn’t get a little warm in the groin region at those words. Bad, Xander. Naughty and wrong and…. Hmm, wonder if they’re fluffy handcuffs…

She appears in the doorway, all bare pale legs and messy black hair, and if he looks closely he can see a vague hint of blonde at the roots of her scalp – but his depth perception is for shit these days, so who knows. She grins at him, slouching provocatively against the door frame.

Xander pulls together all his considerable skill with words to ask a coherent and perfectly reasonable question.

“You… coffin…alcohol… nuns?” Because now that he thinks about it, there were definitely nuns involved in something they did last night, though Jesus Mother Mary and Joseph he hopes it was before he was hit with the tequila truck and not after.

He wonders if Hell is like jail, if your time there can be extended according to number and severity of offences, or if one sin is enough for brimstone and eternal torment. He’s damned either way, really, so it’s kinda like Twinkies – it’s probably better not to know the details of what’s inside before you dive in.

“Memory a little fuzzy today?” she says eventually, saving him from his useless flapping. “I told Ziva not to let you have those last three shots, but she was in an even worse state than you, so… and yeah, we went bowling, which you were surprisingly good at considering your…” and she frowns and opens her mouth a few times, looking horrified.

“Lack of eye?” he supplies, well used to all the awkward. Hell, it’s just an eye. In the grand scheme of things, he’s just grateful not be another victim of death by barbeque fork. Only in Sunnydale could a cooking utensil be a perfectly reasonable mode of death.

“I think Sister Marguerite is a little bit in love with you, by the way. She says you remind her of someone she met in Boston a few years back. I’m sensing a story there, but she didn’t get past the bit about the naked girl, and a group of guys with facial deformities before Sister Angela dragged her to the ladies room and then we left, so…”

Oh Go... gosh. Nun love. Nun love and naked girls and… facial deformities? And Boston. Huh.

Xander’s sure he’s heard that story before somewhere.

“So…” Abby says, her hands busily plaiting one side of her hair. The tattoo on her neck catches his eye, and Xander can’t help but wonder if there’s a black widow spider version of the praying mantis lady. Bugs. It always has to be bugs.

“I can’t help noticing a distinct lack of Xander clothes around here,” he says cautiously, sitting up in the bed and suddenly wishing he had two eyes so he could keep one on that coffin… just in case. “Anything we can do about that? Not that, uh, I don’t like being naked in your coffin…bed! I mean bed… but, uh, a guy can’t go around in his birthday suit all day.”

She snorts and tosses something soft and familiar at him, then tilts her head and grins wickedly before crawling under the sheet and up his body and oh god oh god, being almost-violated by a maybe-demon feels so good it should be illegal (and probably is in at least three states).

Xander lifts the sheet cautiously. “Hey,” he says with a groan as she lifts her head and looks at him curiously and he’s torn between not really caring whether he dies or not and really wanting to know the answer. “Don’t take this the wrong way, especially considering your proximity to my male parts and all, but… you’re not a demon, are you?”

“Nope,” she says cheerfully, licking her lips in a way that sends shivers down Xander’s spine. “Why? Do you want me to be?”

He doesn’t answer, just lets the sheet drift down over her as all rational thoughts are abandoned in favour of building heat and the buzzing humming static in his head.

Maybe he doesn’t hate Giles so much after all.



Yeah, I know... *ducks for cover*

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