: Not mine. BtVS belongs to Whedon. NCIS belongs to Bellisario.
Gibbs waited until he knew Director Vance was out of the building before he made his move. After hearing Xander’s story, he had tacit permission to do some surreptitious digging to see what he could find to confirm it. He just had to keep it quiet- COG was willing to help him, but there wouldn’t be much they could do if Vance read him the riot act for disobeying a direct order while both his contacts were out of town.
Xander was in Africa- he’d said probably a week, but possibly longer. No guarantees he’d be checking email during that time, much less voicemail, but if it was an emergency, he said Abby knew how to contact pretty much anyone who was anyone at COG. Gibbs had checked with Abby, and found she had the direct phone numbers for not only Willow Rosenberg (whose title Abby had also known), but also Dawn Summers (HR Despot), Buffy Summers (Slayer, The), and Rupert Giles (Grownup In Chief).
But he had a feeling that Ziva would be the one person who could come up with the information he was after. DiNozzo would be out of his depth, and McGee would probably start trying to hack computers, which Xander had already warned him was a Very Bad Idea. His exact words had been ‘Willow gets touchy about that, and it would be embarrassing to have to buy NCIS new servers.’ The look on his face had strongly implied that something similar had already happened at least once.
“Ziva,” he began, knowing that while he was speaking quietly, DiNozzo and McGee were both listening in. “I want to ask you a question. I ran into Xander Harris again the other night.”
“Wait, that punk from the Napolitano case?” DiNozzo demanded.
“Yes, DiNozzo, that punk from the Napolitano case,” Gibbs sighed.
“I thought he wasn’t local,” McGee said with a frown.
“He’s not,” Gibbs said, mildly annoyed that he was being sidetracked.
“So where did you run into him, boss?”
“In my basement,” Gibbs replied, privately enjoying the instant outrage as his team collectively leaped to the wrong conclusion.
“And what was he doing there?” Ziva demanded, looking disturbed. “I presume he was not holding a sludge.”
“Grudge, Ziva,” Tony corrected automatically.
“No, he was not holding grudges. He was waiting to talk to me, and Abby mentioned the basement would be a good place to wait. He was sanding a rail when I got there.”
“He’s based in London,” Tony mused. “That’s a long way to come for a chat.”
“Yeah. Turns out when he asked for Abby’s phone number, that was professional, not personal. His organization tried to hire Abby.”
“Tried but failed, as so many have before them,” Tony began, showing all the signs of going off on a dramatic tangent.
“Save it, DiNozzo. They didn’t exactly fail. After they interviewed her, they decided she wouldn’t be a good fit for their organization. So they’ve decided to work with her as a consultant. Xander thought I deserved a heads up, which I wouldn’t otherwise get.”
“How can they do that?” McGee asked. “Won’t that raise issues with jurisdiction, chain of evidence, and explaining to the director?”
“McGee, I think an organization that can have SecNav breathing down the director’s neck about one of their agents mistakenly brought in for questioning can probably arrange to have Abby do occasional work for them,” Gibbs said drily.
“What I wanted to ask Ziva,” he continued, with just a hint of bite in his tone to forestall any further interruptions, “is if you know anything about either COG- which is the Council of Guardians- or their old organizational name, the Watchers’ Council.”
He could tell by the instant hardening of her eyes that she had.
“Harris works for them?” she asked suspiciously. “What are they sniffing around Abby for?”
“You know them, I take it,” Gibbs said, curious what would provoke such a reaction.
“Yes, I know them.”
She paused. Anyone else might have fidgeted, but Ziva didn’t fidget.
“You know I had a younger sister, Talia, yes?”
At Gibbs’ nod, she continued.
“You might think that Talia was also being trained for Mossad when we were young, and originally I think that was my father’s plan.”
“What happened?” Gibbs asked.
“When Talia was eight, another organization approached my father. They look for girls with certain talents. These girls are trained in martial arts. If they are not selected by the organization before they reach adulthood, they are still highly proficient in many fighting styles. My father therefore saw no reason to object.”
“Selected for what?” McGee asked. “And why only girls?”
“Did Xander mention what the Council does?” Ziva asked, ignoring McGee’s question.
“Did he also tell you the life expectancy of those girls?” she asked.
“He mentioned the mortality rate is high. That’s why they didn’t want to take Abby full time.”
Ziva nodded, her mouth twisted bitterly.
“High is one way of putting it. My sister was chosen shortly before her sixteenth birthday. A few weeks later, she was killed in a suicide bombing. Given the circumstances, my father investigated fully to be sure it truly had been a bombing and not something else.”
“It was a bomber who killed her and three others in the café where her Watcher had taken her to celebrate. But even had he not, she would not have survived much longer anyway. Many last only a year.”
“Boss, what the hell kind of organization-“
DiNozzo and McGee had both spoken at once. Gibbs signaled them to be quiet.
“So you have heard of this organization, and I can assume that everything Xander told me, no matter how outlandish it may have sounded, is true?”
“It is unpleasant, but it is true. Will we be working with Mr. Harris much?”
“You don’t think you can work with him?” Gibbs asked quietly. She might not have said, but to those who knew her, it was obvious she didn’t think highly of COG. She couldn’t blame them for her sister’s death, but she blamed them for taking her.
“On the contrary. I would very much like to… work with him,” Ziva replied.
“So you’re saying we should have Ducky on standby with the body bag next time Harris is in town,” DiNozzo said in the tone of someone who is merely clarifying orders.
“I will not kill
him. I merely wish to give one of these Watchers
a piece of my mind.”
“I’ll take it into consideration, Ziva” Gibbs told her.