Willow settled into her seat on the airplane, for once glad that her parents didn’t fly anything but first-class. She glanced over at Faith, who had asked for the window seat on the flight. She got the impression that the Slayer had never flown before. It was likely – from her memories of Faith’s stories from earlier that year, they had probably taken place when she journeyed from Boston to Sunnydale.
The day had passed quickly, though her combined anticipation and dread made the final exams drag like a snail race. The more she thought about, the more she actually wanted to meet the mysterious Jethro Gibbs but her inner personality chipped away at the adrenaline, making her wonder if he would like her or if she would remind him too much of what he had lost or if his irritation with Ira would taint this meeting.
With an inaudible sigh, she turned her attention back at Faith, who was staring out her window in amazement. Willow wasn’t exactly sure why – they hadn’t even left the tarmac yet. However, despite the fact that her recent ritual had given her insight to many things, there were still some situations to which she still had questions. “Faith?”
“What happened? You know, that night.”
Instinctively, Faith knew what night Willow was asking about. The night that had led her to the Mayor’s door, the night that she had killed a man. In retrospect, he hadn’t been a particularly good man but he had still been a human being. “I don’t like remembering it,” she admitted in a soft tone.
Willow nodded. “Normally, that would be fine but I think I need to know.”
Faith finally looked at the redhead, a haunted look deep in her brown eyes. “Does this have to do with your vision ritual thing?”
She smiled gently. “A little, yeah.”
The Slayer finally nodded. “Okay, I tell you.” Both girls touched their buckled seatbelts almost simultaneously when the plane’s engines burst into louder noise and it began to move back from the gate. “It was that night that we fought Balthazar, you remember?”
A hard look flitted over Willow’s face. “Yeah, I remember.”
Faith wasn’t entirely sure what she was remembering but wasn’t particularly keen on asking. She wanted to get this over with instead. “We were in an alley and it was infested with vampires. Buffy and me, we’re a good team most of the time. She would grab a vamp and throw it to me to stake. But the deputy mayor was in there for some reason.” She swallowed, trying to push down the memory of blood on her hands and the thought that she had actually staked someone. God, it had taken him so long to die!
The inside of Willow’s heart felt like shards of glass. Everything about her life had shattered and it was continuing to do so. She had heard Giles lecture Buffy enough times to know that the blonde almost never used her Slayer instincts, the ones that allowed her to spot a vampire in a crowd or distinguish a human danger from the supernatural. However, she had never thought that this obvious lack in Buffy’s training could ever lead to something so horrible.
“You couldn’t tell?” the witch asked in a soft murmur. Deep inside, there was a seed that begged her not to place the blame on Buffy. Had she been friends with her for so long? Shouldn’t Faith carry fault as well?
“It happened so fast… and there was so much blood.” The quiet tone of Faith’s voice made Willow focus on her again and she saw the quiet tears rolling down the girl’s face. “I didn’t want to, I swear. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.” Struggling to swallow the sobs that were clawing their way out of her throat, Faith looked Willow full in the face. “You believe me, don’t you?”
Her face crumpling into sadness and empathy, Willow hugged Faith’s shoulders tightly, holding the younger girl as she shook and cried. The redhead wasn’t absolutely certain but she would have bet a thousand dollars that this was grief that she had been hiding under warrior-woman bravado and violence.
Idly, she wondered if Buffy had been the one to stake that man instead, would they still have blamed Faith?
Abby paced the corridor outside the interrogation rooms in agitation, pausing periodically to check the cellular phone in her hand. Of course, it was Gibbs’. Her personal cell phone was in her lab coat down in the lab and powered off. It was the only way she could keep from using it while she was working. Gibbs was currently using one of his many interrogation tactics on the poor sap that was stuck in a room with him and had left her in charge of answering his phone if it rang, the reason being that closing this case was running a bit close to the time that his daughter’s plane was due to land.
She grinned broadly for a second. Willow would be here soon!
If asked, she wasn’t completely sure she would be able to tell all of the reasons she was excited about the young Gibbs/Rosenberg’s arrival. There were many people she would trust to tell that Willow was a fellow hacker and absolutely no one to which she would dare mention the websites she frequented. But… she was a little Gibbs, which made her close family. It would be like having a sister.
The phone buzzed in her hand and she shrieked a little, the sudden loud vibration startling her out of her thoughts. Fumbling and quickly readjusting the phone, she flipped it open and put it next to her ear. “Hi! Gibbs’ phone!”
“Hi?” The voice on the other side of the line sounded soft and unsure. “Is Mr. Gibbs there?”
“He’s interrogating a perp right now.” She laughed softly, remembering her tangent from two days ago. “Isn’t that an awesome word? Is this Willow?”
“Yeah. My parents and a friend are with me. We’re headed to the Navy Yard now. Will he be done by the time we get there?”
Abby shrugged and then quickly realized that the girl couldn’t see the action. “He might. If he’s not, I’ll meet you in front. I’m Abby Sciuto, by the way.”
There was a quiet scrabbling noise and Willow’s voice sounded far away. “We are? That was quick.”
A soft laugh sounded in the background. “I dare say your mom drives like a maniac, Red.”
“Right.” After a brief moment, the sound of Willow’s voice became clear again. “Apparently, we have arrived at the Navy Yard. Mom says we should be at the NCIS building within a few minutes.”
“Oh, okay.” Abby peered curiously at the door that led to the interrogation room that Gibbs was using. She jumped slightly when she heard a muffled slam. By the sound of it, he might be close to finishing but not nearly close enough. “I’ll meet you at the doors.”
When the line went empty, she flipped the phone shut again and returned to her pacing. After a brief moment, her eyes widened considerably and she squealed as quietly as she could manage. She turned on her heel, stumbling slightly in her excitement, and hurried as quickly as she could manage to the ground floor.
Just as she very nearly screeched to a halt just beyond the metal detectors, she witnessed a group of four – two adults that were obviously married and two female teenagers – being held up by the newest addition to their fine group of security guards. The older man was helping him go down the list of approved visitors and Abby was about to say something when the dark-haired teenager said she wouldn’t forget for a long time.
“Hey, Rent-A-Cop. Back off and insert a doughnut in that gaping hole you call a mouth.”
Abby wasn’t sure if the adults were appalled or amused but the other teenager’s expression was calm but firm. “Faith, he’s just doing his job,” she said in an obviously chastising tone. Using her awesome powers of deduction, the Goth gathered that the quieter girl was Willow, which meant that the adults were probably her parents.
Deciding that she should fix the situation before it derailed further, she called out to the security guard. “Jerry, it’s fine. They’re here to see Gibbs.”
“Their names aren’t here anywhere.” The young security guard looked over at the scientist with an open, worried expression.
She shrugged easily. “Nah, it’s okay. He probably just forgot.”
At this point, all four of them were already walking through the metal detectors. At Abby’s comment, Faith snorted. “Great, things are starting out awesome.”
Abby’s happy mood took a dip when she noticed the worry and anxiety written across Willow’s face. Oh, why did Gibbs have to have picked today to be forgetful?
Gibbs collapsed into his chair at his desk, mentally strung from the interrogation he had just left. Oh, sure, he got the guy to admit fault but it would still be the lawyers that decided that trash’s actual fate. After a moment of trying to get his mind into the correct frame, he began to search his desk, not entirely sure what he was looking for but knowing that he needed it.
“What are you looking for?” Tony was watching his boss get more and more frantic. While the hilarity was definitely high, seeing the normally stoic man get wound up about something made him abnormally anxious.
Gibbs looked up at the agent just as the elevator dinged. Five people poured out of it, three of them talking animatedly. “And then I realized it was food coloring. Talk about having egg on your face!” Abby was relaying a story from about a year ago, if Gibbs remembered the details correctly. “Hey, Gibbs. I found your daughter.”
“Daughter?” Tony echoed uncertainly.
Abby’s gaze trailed over to the younger man, her eyes growing wider on the journey. “Oops.”
A/N: Okay, I'm pretty sure everyone's noticed that my updates for the last few chapters were a lot more frequent than those that came before. That would be because I had a summer break in my college semester. Classes will be starting back on Monday, so my updates will probably slow down again. I will try to get out Chapter Eleven before then.