TITLE: A Moment Alone
FANDOM: Buffy the Vampire Slayer / NCIS
CHARACTERS: Buffy Summers, Tony DiNozzo, mentions of Kate Todd
WORD COUNT: ~1,400
SUMMARY: Death was what they all knew. But it wasn’t supposed to happen at the hands of a human.
SPOILERS: Set after Season Seven of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and up through Kill Air: Part Two for NCIS
DISCLAIMER: The characters of Buffy belong to Joss Whedon, Fox, the WB, UPN, etc. The characters of NCIS belong to Bellesario, CBS, etc. The ideas and concepts in this story are mine entirely. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission.
All remaining mistakes are my own.
A/N: Belated, belated birthday ficlet for the wonderful Lisa
Buffy’s keys jingled as she searched through them for the right key. It slid easily into the lock and she jiggled it a little to the left before turning it over to the right to open. The deadbolt slid into the door and Buffy’s fingers wrapped around the door knob, twisting it slightly and pushing the door in.
Toni rushed in ahead of her, straining against the leash and Buffy gave her a gentle tug to settle her down. She pushed the door closed behind her and bent to unhook Toni from her leash. The dog bolted, paws sliding and nails clicking on the hardwood floor of the living room before she disappeared down the hall and straight into Kate’s bedroom. Buffy knew she’d find her on the bed, head resting on the tee-shirt Kate’d worn to sleep the night before
and left casually strewn on the comforter.
Buffy let herself fall back against the front door, tilting her head up to stare blindly at the ceiling.
Kate’s death had hit her hard; shocking her with the realization of her own mortality. She, like every other Slayer, knew the risks, whether they liked or wanted them. It was harder to accept when one of them died, or in Kate’s case was killed, outside their calling. Kate’s parents had no idea about the other life their daughter lead. She’d seen no need to burden them with it. And a small part of Buffy was relieved that she didn’t have to lie to the Todds’ faces, explain away the unnatural way their daughter died. Ultimately, she would have preferred Kate to still be here and no explanation needed.
It’d been especially hard on the younger girls in the DC Council House, who looked up to Kate as a big sister and role model, an example of a Slayer able to live a normal life. Death was what they all knew. But it wasn’t supposed to come at the hands of a human.
Buffy wanted revenge, could feel it pulsing through her body with every beat of her heart. It would be so easy, to talk Abby into letting Willow get her hands on the bullet that killed Kate, to force magic to find the killer where NCIS couldn’t, so Kate’s death could be avenged.
It was foolish to entertain the thought, because she knew she would do no such thing. Gibbs would find Kate’s killer. He wouldn’t stop until he did. Kate had trusted Gibbs, and Buffy trusted Kate.
With a frustrated sigh at her own helplessness, she pushed herself off the door and forward into the living room. Kate’s parents were coming up tomorrow morning to go through her things. They had wanted to come up today, but Buffy hadn’t had the time or desire to go through Kate’s apartment and de-Slayer it. She slid her fingers through her hair, pulling it up in a messy ponytail and securing it with the elastic band on her wrist. It was time to get to work.
The low strains of Coldplay drifted out of the bedroom speakers as Buffy squatted down, her knees cracking softly in protest, and she blew a few hairs out of her face that had escaped her ponytail. Carefully Buffy pulled up the comforter and flipped it onto the bed before she reached out to pull the slim case out from under the box spring. The metal grated against the hardwood, grinding against the dust and dog hair. She flipped up the latch with her thumb, her other hand pushing the lid up and open to expose the arsenal inside.
Buffy wasn’t surprised to find several guns secured into cut-outs in the lid’s foam lining. Kate was familiar with guns, as they were her weapon of choice with her occupation. It’d been hard for her to set down the familiar weight of metal in her hand and grip a wooden stake. Bullets didn’t kill things that went bump in the night, instead it just pissed them off. It had taken some time, but eventually Kate had become just as deadly with a piece of wood as she was with bullets.
The floorboard just outside Kate’s bedroom creaked and Buffy tensed, muscles tightening in readiness to fight, and she took stock of the weapons cache in front of her.
“NCIS,” a man’s voice called out. “Hands up where I can see them,” he instructed, staying where he was out of striking range in the doorway.
Slowly Buffy raised her hands, turning them to show him her empty palms.
“Stand up,” the voice ordered and Buffy eased her way to her feet. She turned, moving her head ahead of her body, and immediately missed her ankle boots and their four inch heels when her eyes landed on the tall presence in the doorway.
His weapon was trained on her, finger resting against the side of the barrel, millimeters away from the trigger. “Who are you? What are you doing here?” he questioned.
“Buffy Summers. And I’m packing up Kate’s things,” she evenly replied.
He quickly scanned the rest of the room, taking in her sole presence, and tried to look around her to the open weapons chest on the floor. But Buffy eased forward a step to block his view. He frowned and tightened his stance at her slight movement.
“What’s in the case?”
“Kate didn’t tell you everything before, Special Agent DiNozzo. I’d ask you respect her privacy in death as well,” she answered and his eyebrow raised at the mention of his name.
“How…” he started to ask but trailed off.
“I’ve known Kate for a few years.”
“So you broke in here to take her things?”
Buffy snorted a little at his line of questioning. “She gave me a key; it’s on my key chain on the coffee table. Who do you think has been taking care of Toni?” A gentle thumping of tail meeting bedspread drew both their attention to Kate’s bed at Toni’s reaction to her name.
“Some guard dog she turned out to be,” Special Agent DiNozzo sarcastically commented. He eased his gun back into its holster at his side and leaned against the doorframe to study her.
“She misses Kate.”
“She’s not the only one,” he softly admitted, ducking his eyes for a moment, before returning his gaze on her.
She fought the urge to fidget, to straighten her rumpled shirt, or run a hand over her hair and assess how bad it was. He narrowed his eyes for a second before they lit up in recognition.
“You were at the funeral. Black and white sleeveless dress that had an asymmetrical hem with Manolo Blahnik heels, and a gaggle of teenage girls.”
Buffy wasn’t sure whether to be impressed or creeped out that he remembered her dress and recognized the brand of her shoes. He must have seen the confusion on her face and he cleared his throat, clearly embarrassed and gave her a small shrug.
“We went to pay our respects.”
“All the way to Indiana?” He couldn’t quite keep the disbelief out of his voice.
A small, forced smile tightened on Buffy’s face. “Kate meant a lot to those girls,” she vaguely explained.
“I didn’t know Kate was mentoring local kids.”
Buffy let out an amused snort and an actual smile appeared on her face. “Believe me, Special Agent DiNozzo, there were a lot of things you didn’t know about Kate.”
“Don’t I know,” he muttered and gave her a curt nod. He pushed himself off the door frame and gave her bedroom another look, keeping his eyes specifically off the chest that sat, partially hidden behind Buffy.
Buffy’s lips drew down into a frown as she realized that Special Agent DiNozzo was grieving for Kate just as much as the rest of them were. While he might not have known the Kate Todd she did, he knew his own side and missed her very much in his own right. “Did you want anything of Kate’s, Special Agent DiNozzo? Before I packed it up or before her parents get here?” she gently offered.
His attention landed back on Buffy and he shook his head. “Please, call me Tony. And it’s gonna sound stupid, but I just wanted to have a moment,” he admitted, eyes shining with fresh emotion.
“That’s not stupid at all.”