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Tanika's Trials

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This story is No. 8 in the series "A Different Future". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: What happens to a Vengeance Demon when she breaks the rules? (Part of the "A Different Future" series - post-Fate's Little Plaything Volume Two)

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
NCIS > General(Current Donor)CordyfanFR1314,2562376,6443 Aug 103 Aug 10No
Not an Ordinary Murder


Summary:  What happens to a Vengeance Demon when she breaks the rules? BtVS/NCIS Crossover.
Pairings:  None at present
Disclaimer:  I don’t own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or NCIS.

Notes:   This was originally supposed to be a one-shot, to link in with the sequel to “Fate’s Little Plaything” (when I eventually write it). The plot bunnies, however, persuaded me to extend it.

Note that Ziva has joined NCIS slightly earlier than in canon – I have my own ideas for Kate.

The story probably won’t make any sense if you haven’t read the rest of the series – especially “Making the Quota”.

* There may also be a few spoilers for “Fate’s Little Plaything Vol.2”*  


Arashmahaar

Normally a Hellish oasis of calm, Arashmahaar was almost in an uproar, at least by local standards.  Countless Vengeance Demons were milling around in the darkness, every one looking distinctly worried.  Even for a species which relied on terror and pain to survive, that degree of fear amongst their own was distinctly unsettling.  On top of the ever-present aroma of brimstone, the pungent scent of terror added a spicy new piquancy to D’Hoffryn’s realm.

Newly returned from a Vengeance mission in Milan – and having taken some time out in one of her human forms to enjoy a bit of designer shopping – Tanika didn’t have a clue what was causing the consternation.  She only knew it had to be something internal.  Nothing in its right mind attacked D’Hoffryn and his Order at the best of times, let alone within the safety of Fortress Arashmahaar.  Most likely, she mused, the cause of the panic was D’Hoffryn himself.  He’d probably just made a painful example of some pitiful newly recruited Vengeance Demon – that was usually sufficient to place the others on edge.

Halfrek suddenly materialised beside her.  In Tanika’s opinion, the Vengeance Demon for Abused and Neglected Children relied on her teleportation powers far more than was strictly necessary.  It was one thing using the ability to travel distances in the mortal realm, but within Arashmahaar itself, teleporting was just plain lazy.

Halfrek didn’t waste any time with pleasantries. “You, my dear friend, are in deep trouble!”

“Why?” the Vengeance Demon for Scorned Men asked in surprise.

“D’Hoffryn decided we’re all getting soft, especially recently.  He’s conducting an audit of every Wish granted in the last century.  And guess who he’s bound to pick up on?  You, Little Miss Do-Gooder,” Halfrek shook her head sorrowfully.

“What d’you mean?  That beauty queen in Milan will never recover from the acne I gave her.  Face like a pepperoni pizza, just days before the biggest show of the year.  And I gave her just about every STD it’s possible to get,” Tanika protested, sure she’d more-or-less followed the terms of a jilted fiancé’s Wish.

“Zits and the Clap! Ooohhh you're the bad one...” Halfrek rolled her hooded eyes. “Nothing but soft sell.  That’s half your problem.  You never go for the really big pain, let alone the kill.”

Tanika was only moderately worried. “Had this talk with D’Hoffryn and he doesn’t care, so long as I keep to quota.  And I’m usually far ahead of everyone else.”

Everyone knew she was the Lord of Arashmahaar’s favourite.  Recruited in ancient Babylon around 2000 BC, Tanika was also one of the longest surviving Vengeance Demons in the Order.  D’Hoffryn might scold, but he’d never punish her too severely.

Halfrek smirked.  Tanika was her friend – so far as Vengeance Demons actually had them – but sometimes she needed taken down a peg or two.

“Two words, Tanika.  Cordelia Chase.  Ring any bells?”

The other demon shrugged. “Pretty routine Wish.  The guy didn’t want anything really bad to happen to her.  He just wanted her to be put in her place, so I fixed it that she’d join the Army...”

“It should be ringing a fricking great bell, Tanika!” Halfrek’s voice rose.

“She’s a Slayer, for the Big D’s sake.  You sent her back to Sunnydale, put her in a position where her powers would start to assert themselves.  Now she’s thriving in the Army, working with that gang in Sunnydale – the same one Anyanka wound up helping – and attached to an alien and demon-hunting team in the Air Force.  You’ve broken a big rule, Tanika.  Making the world a better place?  Really not allowed.  And D’Hoffryn’s taken a look at her future.  It really doesn’t look good for the bad...” she warned.

“Plus you know how he is about Sunnydale.  After the whole Anyanka thing?  D’Hoffryn took losing her really badly – even if it was down to her own incompetence,” Halfrek reminded the other Demon.

“He already fried two Probationers, for much less.  Put another ten in the torture chamber for a decade or so.  An experienced Vengeance Demon like you?  Could be talking weeks - months - before the execution’s over...  You’re gonna have to talk fast,” she sighed dramatically.

Tanika felt a wave of panic rise up inside her.  D’Hoffryn could, indeed, prolong the death of his Vengeance Demons if he was feeling particularly vindictive. 

“Maybe – uh – maybe I could go back and try again....” she suggested, voice wavering.

If she was lucky and chose her explanation carefully, Tanika reflected fearfully, D’Hoffryn might simply have the scales flogged off her back and stretch her on the rack for a year or two.

“Against the rules, sweetie.  Not allowed to re-visit a wish – you know that,” Halfrek reminded her.

All at once, there was an almighty roar, shaking the very foundations of Arashmahaar.

“Tanika?  You pathetic, snivelling excuse for a Vengeance Demon!  Come here!” D’Hoffryn bellowed.

“Daddy’s home and someone’s gonna get a licking...” Halfrek snickered, as a trembling Tanika obeyed her master’s summons.

 

Marine Corps Recruit Depot, Parris Island, South Carolina – 13th December 2001

“Goddamnit, Recruit Smith!  You look like a bag of smashed asshole!  Is this any way to present yourself for officer’s inspection?  You deserve to be a damned civilian, because you’re a walking clusterfuck as a Marine!  And if you don’t smarten yourself up and pull that pretty head out of your ass, I’m gonna stick it on a pole by the main gate, so high the crows won’t be able to reach it!  Do you understand me, Recruit?  Do you understand that you are a homesick abortion?” The Drill Instructor’s spittle, sprayed from a range of about three inches, caught Recruit Tanya Smith right in the face.

“Yes, sir!” Smith yelled back, in standard USMC fashion.

“Yes what, Recruit Smith?”

“I understand that I am a homesick abortion, who deserves to be a civilian, sir!” the hapless recruit responded.

“Hoorah!  Now drop and give me fifty, Recruit Smith.”

Smith dutifully dropped into position and began to “beat her face” in regulation manner.  It was difficult to be philosophical when a DI was intent on making her life a living Hell, but it could have been infinitely worse.  For instance, she could easily have died screaming.  Nevertheless, D’Hoffryn must have had some sense of humour when he sent her here, as punishment for the Cordelia Chase debacle, transformed back into human form.  And she hadn’t been one of those for four thousand years.

She couldn’t even leave.  D’Hoffryn had made sure of that, with a spell that would immediately transfer her back to the first day of training if she attempted to quit.  The former Vengeance Demon had to stick it out and accept whatever a human life threw at her.  D’Hoffryn had hinted that she just might be permitted back into the fold in forty or fifty years time, once she’d learned that humans weren’t worth any mercy, compassion, or pity.  And certainly no favours.

Unlike the “victim” of the Wish that landed her here, Tanika/Tanya had no special talents whatsoever in the military department, something her DI reminded her of about twenty times a day.  D’Hoffryn had at least permitted her to choose her most attractive human appearance, out of several she’d formerly used as a Vengeance Demon, but it only seemed to make her even more of a target. 

Still, half the others in her platoon received exactly the same treatment.  The DI didn’t like any of them, as the worst performing group of trainees currently at Parris Island.  The NCO Instructors pejoratively referred to them as Booger Platoon.

“Move your ass, Smith.  Before I stick my boot so far up it, you’ll be able to untie the laces with your tongue!” her implacable DI screamed at her.

Through the depths of her misery, Tanya reminded herself that she only had another fifty years to go.  Then, she swore, there would be no more Nice Demon.  Evisceration would be her middle name and pain her postal address.

Not that the humans weren’t capable of inflicting such things on themselves.  In the last week, two Drill Instructors had been found on base, disembowelled.  Offhand, Tanya could think of several hundred suspects, all going by the name of “Recruit”.  It was just a shame no one had yet killed her own nemesis.

“On your feet, Smith!” her DI bellowed, before she was halfway through the session.

“They found another one...  Burt Mallinson this time...” Two other DIs were deep in conversation, faces sombre.

There were also a group of three civilians.  She recognised them as NCIS Agents, who’d questioned some of her fellow Recruits over the last few days.

“Special Agent Gibbs wants a word, Recruit,” her DI positively glared at her.

“Where were you between two and four this morning, Smith?” the grey-haired Agent demanded, without further ceremony.

“Uh, asleep in my rack, sir,” she responded in puzzlement.

“And did you see Staff Sergeant Mallinson at any point in the last twenty-four hours?” Gibbs asked.

“No, sir.”

The Special Agent paused. “Then would you like to tell me why we found him, stabbed with a Ka-Bar, with your prints all over it, Recruit?”

Tanya could almost hear D’Hoffryn’s mocking laughter.

“I...”

“Cassie?  ‘Cuff the recruit and read her rights,” Gibbs ordered, Tanika wilting under the stares of every Recruit and DI in sight.

“Tanya Smith, I am arresting you on suspicion of the murder of Staff Sergeant Burt Mallinson.  You have the right to remain silent...” Cassie Yates snapped on the handcuffs and began to recite the usual mantra.

 

Interrogation Room, NCIS, Washington Navy Yard, Washington DC – 13th December 2001

Tanya had been in the interrogation room for what seemed like hours, under the harsh glare of the overhead light and even harsher glare of Special Agent Leroy Gibbs.  She was entirely innocent, but the evidence was damning – and also beginning to point towards her involvement in the other two murders.  This had to be D’Hoffryn’s doing, she reflected bitterly.

“I want to see a lawyer...” the former Vengeance Demon demanded.

“You’re gonna need one, Recruit Smith.  And probably a priest...  In case you haven’t heard, Joint Chiefs have approved a return to more traditional military methods of execution – the rope or the bullet.  They didn’t really like the needle in the arm and the long sleep...  So there’s a shiny new gallows at Fort Leavenworth and sharp new JAG lawyers just waiting to hang you there,” Gibbs informed her unsympathetically.

That was blunt, even by Gibbs’ standards, but he’d known two of the murdered DIs.  And this murderess wasn’t going to escape on a plea of insanity.  Her psych profile suggested she was rock steady in that regard.

Tanya put her head in her hands and started to cry. “It wasn’t me, I swear it!”

Four thousand years as a Vengeance Demon, only to end her life on the end of a rope, at the hands of humans.

“Tell me why I should believe that,” Gibbs demanded, unmoved by the tears.

“You wouldn’t believe me if I told you,” the prisoner sobbed, seeing no way out.

“Try me,” Gibbs folded his arms.

Tanya closed her eyes, blinking away the tears, and paused for a moment. “Have you ever heard of Vengeance Demons?”

Gibbs eyes widened slightly and he immediately signalled for recording to stop and the Techs to leave the adjoining room.

“Keep talking,” the Special Agent ordered.

 

Observation Room, NCIS, Washington Navy Yard, Washington DC – 13th December 2001

“She’s playing the insanity game.  And those are crocodile tears.  Surely Gibbs won’t believe it?” Ziva David frowned.

The Mossad liaison to NCIS had only been with the team for a matter of weeks and was still learning the trade.  Some things she knew absolutely nothing about as yet, namely the team’s past and current involvement with the supernatural.

“Maybe...” DiNozzo replied in noncommittal tones.

“Come on, Tony.  She’s pretending to be as fruity as a fruit cake.  And it’s not very convincing,” his new colleague protested.

“Wait and see,” DiNozzo responded mysteriously.

“And that’s “as nutty as a fruit cake”...” he absently corrected.

The telephone rang, DiNozzo picking it up.

“Get Ziva out of there right now, DiNozzo,” Gibbs ordered crisply.

He wasn’t yet ready to trust the newbie with the deepest of secrets.  What was more, they weren’t his to divulge.

 

Interrogation Room, NCIS, Washington Navy Yard, Washington DC – 13th December 2001

“Assuming I believe the part about you being a former Vengeance Demon, Recruit Smith, that doesn’t rule you out of suspicion.  In fact, sounds like something your type would do,” Gibbs told her flatly.

“It’s nothing to do with “my type”!” Tanya almost screamed in frustration. “I’m human now, not a Vengeance demon!”

She took a deep breath. “There’re people who can maybe help me prove I’m innocent – not sure how, but they’ll figure it out.  I can give you two names – Anya Jenkins and Cordelia Chase...”

“Cordelia Chase?  Now Lieutenant Cordelia Summers?  And Anya Jenkins was a Vengeance Demon...” Gibbs nodded.

“Get them here – with a witch.  I’m willing to submit to a truth spell,” Tanya urged desperately.

She wasn’t even sure either Cordelia or Anya would help.  But at one point, Anyanka had been amongst her closest friends in Arashmahaar - and surely Cordelia would see that the Wish had actually been the best thing that could have happened to her.  The Slayer had, after all, come a long way - and in a very short time – from the verging-on-homeless and destitute girl she’d met in LA.

“Truth spell?  Not exactly admissible as evidence at a court martial...” Gibbs noted.

He suppressed a groan.  What had started as a seemingly open-and-shut multiple homicide case was rapidly degenerating into further involvement with Those People.  The Agent made a mental note to buy another bottle of Jack on the way home.

 

The Bullpen, NCIS, Washington Navy Yard, Washington DC – 13th December 2001

Cassie Yates greeted Cordelia and Willow at the entrance to the Bullpen.  She didn’t recognise the third woman, but presumed it was Anya Jenkins, apparently an ex-Vengeance Demon.  Like Willow, the latter was armed with an AFOSI ID, which had eased their passage through security.  Cordelia, meanwhile, had both an increase in the fruit salad on her chest - including one very special ribbon - and a change of headgear from the last time they’d met.  She was now the proud wearer of a green beret, a fully fledged Special Forces trooper, and an officer – albeit a “Commissioned Private”, as Gibbs sometimes termed Second Lieutenants.   Yates also knew that her boss – who feared almost no one – would never say that to Cordelia’s face.

“Hi Cassie,” Willow smiled and leaned on her stick.

Anya nodded, but said nothing.  She tended to be uneasy in surroundings such as NCIS, for no obvious reason. It had also been months since she'd been part of the supernatural scene and hadn't been in a hurry to be sucked in again - at least, not anytime soon. It had taken all of Willow's gentle cajoling and Cordelia's growling to persuade her to help out on this one.

“Hey Willow.  Boss is waiting in Interrogation for you,” the Agent replied.

“Better be worth it.  Five months at the JFK Special Warfare Center and this is my first leave,” Cordelia grumbled.

"It is," Yates assured them. "But you got here pretty quickly."

Cordelia shrugged. "Your boss used the "d" word - tends to get us moving fast. And Gibbs asked for us specifically by name, which kinda makes a girl curious... Plus we also charter our own Gulfstream these days - the only way to fly."

"Please don't tell Tony the part about the Gulfstream. He has this idea that NCIS can afford its own jets, instead of riding around with the rest of the freight in a C-130," the Agent chuckled.

"I'm not likely to tell Tony anything, Cassie," the Slayer growled, eyes flashing.

Yates noted the reaction, but decided it was best to say nothing. DiNozzo was certainly conspicuous by his absence. Actually, he had been since he learned that Cordelia would be heading up an Assembly investigative team and cooperating with Gibbs' people.  After what had happened months before, between DiNozzo and Cordelia in Sunnydale, the Agent was visibly jumpy whenever Lieutenant Summers came up in conversation.  Although it wasn’t wholly surprising that he didn’t want to talk about that dreadful day. Certainly not to his co-workers, most of whom had long-since made their feelings known to the young agent.

“Word of warning.  We’ve a new rookie.  Mossad liaison – daughter of their Director, actually – but she isn’t read in,” Yates warned.

The Slayer nodded.  Israel had its own demon-hunting force, with the usual patchy record of such formations, but its existence was probably only known to a handful.  Even the Mossad Director’s daughter probably didn’t have need-to-know.

“Officer Ziva David - she’s a feisty one,” Yates added in conspiratorial terms.

“She best keep it to herself...” Willow opined, shooting a sidelong glance at her friend.

Yates also recalled the last time Buffy and the red-haired witch visited NCIS.  That had started with a security guard in hospital and several others beaten semi-conscious.  Officer David had, perhaps, best keep her head down.

“Can you ask Gibbs to send Abby and Doctor Mallard down to interrogation?” Cordelia was all business for the moment.

“We’ll do lunch,” Willow promised over her shoulder, as she hobbled after Cordelia and Anya.

 

Interrogation Room, NCIS, Washington Navy Yard, Washington DC – 13th December 2001

“Special Agent Gibbs isn’t with the prisoner just now.  I can’t allow you to enter unaccompanied,” Ziva blocked the door to Interrogation.

She was, to say the least, somewhat miffed at being shut out of this case, especially with the arrival of these outsiders.  Even DiNozzo had clammed up completely, something having utterly transformed his usual cheerful and often downright juvenile mood.

“Well, duh, Einstein.  He brought us in to conduct the fricking investigation.  Maybe he wants us to spend time alone with her?” Cordelia bristled.

The Mossad agent reached out a hand to push her back. “You don’t have authorisation.”

The Special Forces Lieutenant glared at her and indicated her companions. “These two are Air Force Office of Special Investigations and I’m a US Army officer.  And this case is cleared higher than you can imagine.  So move your butt, or I’ll move it for you.”

“I’d like to see you...”

“If you value your spine, Ziva, I’d do as she says,” Gibbs warned, appearing from a neighbouring room.

“Lieutenant Summers, Special Agent Rosenberg – and Special Agent Jenkins, I presume?” he turned on what passed for charm and actually smiled at the Slayer.

“The new look?  It suits you, Lieutenant,” Gibbs admitted.

If the Slayer could only keep her smart-ass comments to herself, she'd also make one Helluva Recon Marine, the Special Agent reluctantly conceded to himself. And as a highly-skilled fellow scout-sniper, more than proven in combat - even if she hadn't been through the USMC Scout-Sniper School - the Slayer was certainly worthy of his professional regard.

“Thanks, Jethro,” she smiled thinly – they’d never be bosom buddies, but each had considerable respect for the other.

“Want me to wait outside?”

The Lieutenant shook her head. “Nothing you aren’t cleared for. And I'm guessing this isn't your ordinary murder.”

"You'd be guessing right," Gibbs replied.

Nothing was ever ordinary when the Assembly were called in, even if he'd personally - and reluctantly - picked up the figurative red phone to Buffy. He could almost feel the headache beginning already. The supernatural - if, indeed, that's what they were dealing with - was an affront to his well-ordered existence. As an investigator, Gibbs had never exactly been bound by the book, or even called conventional, but there were certain basic rules that applied to any criminal case. The same couldn't beginto be said for the supernatural and, by comparison with the motley crew currently visiting the Navy Yard, his approach was downright staid and predictable.

Leaving Ziva fuming in the corridor, the four of them entered Interrogation, closing the door behind them.

 

The Bullpen, NCIS, Washington Navy Yard, Washington DC – 13th December 2001

DiNozzo caught up with an irate Mossad agent a few minutes later.

“Who does she think she is?” Ziva complained.

“Someone who could kick your ass all the way back to Tel Aviv.  Gibbs won’t tangle with her, either,” DiNozzo cautioned, completely serious.

He had good reason to be wary of the brunette Slayer. Last time they met, he'd been about two seconds from death at her vice-like hands. DiNozzo swore he could still see the fingermarks on his throat. And if the Israeli provoked Cordelia too much, there would be tears before bedtime. Or perhaps just a bloody streak on the wall.

Ziva snorted. “I could take her.”

“No you couldn’t.  Superior reflexes, physically stronger, and much faster moving – plus full combat training...  Work it out.  You might be a Krav Maga expert, but if your opponent can react to every move you make, before it lands, and respond before you can block?  And fight in a style you’ve never seen?  Game over.  Before you can kill her with your paperclip...” DiNozzo warned.

The new Mossad liaison was justifiably proud of both her parent service's reputation and her own highly specialised combat and covert operations skills. Sometimes, in fact, she was proud almost to the point of condescension amongst her NCIS colleagues. But Ziva David's skills were worth precisely squat compared to a Slayer with full Special Forces training under her belt.

Yates added her ten-cents worth. “You’d be like a three-year-old against a karate Black Belt.”

“Superwoman,” Ziva replied dismissively.

The NCIS Agent shook his head.  His new colleague would soon change her tune, as soon as she was introduced to the Slayer and her terrifying world.

“Want a clue?  Ask Daddy Director about someone called the Slayer... I'm guessing Mossad keeps a file,” DiNozzo knew he could be fired for telling Ziva even that much – and pummelled until he bled by Cordelia, or maybe turned into a toad by Willow – but she’d find out sooner or later anyway.

“And think about it.  D’you know anyone else who intimidates Gibbs?  Or can at least leave him speechless?” he pointed out.

 

Interrogation Room, NCIS, Washington Navy Yard, Washington DC – 13th December 2001

“Officer David is a tad aggressive,” Gibbs admitted, as he closed the door.

“She can’t even spell “aggressive”,” Cordelia responded smoothly. “But she’s ballsy -  I kinda like her.  Get her read in ASAP, then we’ll give her the Sunnydale experience.”

Gibbs shrugged, as though unsure. “You say so, LT...”

“I do say so...” the Slayer nodded firmly.

Cordelia took her seat in front of Tanya/Tanika and smiled, somewhat inscrutably.

“Well, this puts a different spin on things, doesn’t it?” The Slayer remarked lightly.

"I always said that soft streak would get you in big trouble with D'Hoffryn. Surprised he didn't have you roasted on a spit, just like the other turkeys," Anya sniffed.

"Anyanka... He killed Hallie. Incinerated her on the spot. Not for anything she'd done, just to make a point with some of the rookies. And because she was your friend," Tanya told her quietly.

Her ex-demon colleague nodded sadly. "I know. I asked a few questions before I came here - still have a few friends in the demon world. Plus even demons like money... But if it hadn't been for Hallie? I might not have come."

“Are you going to help me?” Tanika asked in a tiny voice.

Cordelia laughed, not unkindly. “You did put the vengeance whammy on me – and at first I swore I’d kill you first time we met – but you actually did me a favour.  Which I’m guessing is how you ended up amongst us mere mortals.  What goes around, comes around...”

The ex-Demon looked at her with pleading eyes. "I didn't do it! Ask Anyanka - I'd never be able to kill someone this way. Maybe fifteen hundred years ago, I might have been able to force myself, but not now!"

"I go by Anya these days. Anya Harris very soon, actually... But you never did have the stones to be a proper, hardcore Vengeance Demon, Tanika," Anya agreed.

“We didn’t fly all the way here – Willow and I from Colorado Springs and Anya from Miami – just to say no.  Even to a Jarhead...” Cordelia couldn’t resist the last part, not with Gibbs only a few feet away.

Ignoring a soft growl from the NCIS Agent, the Slayer continued. “See, not only are we going to clear you, but we’re going to bring down that bastard D’Hoffryn once and for all...”


 

* Thanks to sambrooke for pointing out that I hadn’t settled the Tanika issue.  He set the Muse to thinking and this is the result.  *

The End?

You have reached the end of "Tanika's Trials" – so far. This story is incomplete and the last chapter was posted on 3 Aug 10.

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