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Summary: Answer to Whispers of Willow challenge. 8th-season Willow decides to change the past; 3rd-season Willow decides to join a university in DC. Before the move, Ira informs her of a different parentage, in which Gibbs is her biological father.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
NCIS > Willow-CenteredDarkenedShadowsFR183272,18917208108,24529 Mar 1127 Oct 14No

Chapter Three

A/N: {} convey flashbacks.

Meanwhile, in Washington DC in a mostly empty house, Gibbs stared at the only wall clock he had. He had fallen asleep in the basement again after a long night of working on the current boat and idly drinking bourbon. His internal clock woke him a little past dawn, at which point he’d dragged himself upstairs and completed his personal training regime.

It wasn’t until he was on his way to shower that he noticed that the light on his answering machine was blinking. Thinking it might be Director Morrow, he strode to the blocky machine and pressed the play button. So much easier than the sequence of buttons to access the voicemail to his cell phone, he thought, which was why he never answered it.

“Hi, Jethro. It’s Ira.” Ira and Gibbs had met years ago, when he was still a gunny. Before settling down, the Jewish man had been a rabbi for the military. “I guess you’re down in the basement and I know better than to call your cell. Listen, I need to talk to you, so I’ll call back this afternoon after I have lunch with Willow. It’s about that night.” He sighed. “I know we hashed it all out before but there’s something you don’t know, something important.” It was there that the machine beeped a second time, cutting off whatever else his friend might have said.

They had met during Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada. It had been Ira’s first time overseas, having been the only chaplain to volunteer for the combat situation. Jethro had almost run him over with a Humvee because the man had his nose in a book, something he knew now to be the Torah. The evening that followed had consisted of some heavy drinking and Ira explaining Judaism to him.

The night he’d mentioned in the message had occurred nearly a year later. Gibbs was off deployment, of course, but it was a hard time in his marriage. As much of a joy Kelly was as she got older, she was a nightmare the first year paired with Shannon exhausted under the stress of a newborn and dealing with the crippling postpartum depression that sometimes comes with the territory. Some nights, he stayed late on base, drinking much more than he should.

He met Sheila that night, intoxicated and depressed. As Tony liked to say, he did have a thing for redheads and he could have mistaken her for Shannon if he closed his eyes. In essence, he hadn’t cared. It wasn’t until the next morning that he was aware that this sweet woman – at least he thought she had been sweet but who really knows? – was engaged to one of his best friends. Ira had been furious, for him at least.

They didn’t speak again for seven years, the rabbi finishing his contract with the military and moving to California, per his plan. The next time Ira spoke to him, his life had shattered to pieces. He was the only friend Gibbs had left that knew about Shannon or Kelly, something he did well to keep under wraps.
So, Gibbs sat on his couch and waited, watching the minutes tick by on the nondescript wall clock impatiently.

~*~*~

The rest of the conversation kind of blurred for Willow, though she knew that her keen mind picked up every ounce of information given. Despite her unspoken request to not know the details, Ira continued to spew them in lieu of actual conversation. She sat in an unusual stupor, trying to align the facts.
Sheila was a manipulative woman, but normally in a nice way. Ira had been sterile since he was young, caused by a series of illnesses and the wrong kind of treatment. Willow’s mother’s psychological concentration was in child psychology, sometimes abnormal psychology in children and young adults. The problem was that she needed real-life experience with an actual child, preferably her own. As he had given her details that she couldn’t seem to tune out, she crafted the situation almost perfectly in her head.

{Ira and Sheila had been talking about in vitro fertilization for weeks. The problem with those sperm banks was that you couldn’t pick and choose as you pleased. It was horrifyingly random, usually. Sheila didn’t feeling like playing lottery with her eggs.

She felt that if she couldn’t have the genetic possibility of Ira’s intellect, then she could certainly use the sperm of the soldiers by which she was surrounded. They might not have been smart, not even by the furthest stretch of the word, but they were genetically superior, physically speaking. She even told her fiancé this, to which he had agreed. It had made her smile then, that the moral strictures of his religion did not restrain the openness of his scientific mind.

Quite sure that this was not what Ira had agreed to but not caring, Sheila had cased the bars on post. It was the best situation to manipulate a soldier to copulate with her. Not that her attractiveness was subpar or anything like that, but many of these military men had stronger morals than the most religious men she knew.

There was a man there, strong and solid but covered by an almost tangible sadness. Flirting and the press of alcohol and mostly closed eyes had led to the moment. The moment of conception of a child she would later name Willow Danielle and… how she had wished it was Ira!

Later, when Ira did arrive with them both essentially naked, she realized the name the soldier had been saying in his drunken haze. Jethro Gibbs, her husband-to-be’s best friend.}

Willow felt the bitterness line her throat again and knew that her haze had lifted. Despite this bombshell and all its implications, there was still something she had to do. However, she couldn’t stop the questions about it. “Why did you tell me? You know I can’t keep this kind of thing from Mom.”

Ira smiled tightly in her direction and she suddenly knew. He didn’t want her to keep it from Sheila. He wanted them all to deal with it, now that Willow was at an age that they couldn’t control her decisions. “You don’t have to.”

“What about… him?” She didn’t know what to call him. Jethro, Gibbs, Dad? No, not Dad, not when she hadn’t even met him yet.

“I’ll talk to Jethro tonight.” The more they talked, the more Ira’s lips thinned. Willow thought that maybe a small part of him had never forgiven Gibbs, refused to see the whole of Sheila’s manipulation.

“Dad, there’s something else.”

Ira glanced in her direction, only taking his eyes from the road for a moment. He smiled gently. “What is it, sweetheart?”

She cringed slightly. He was coddling her, she knew. He only used that pet name when he tried to make her feel better. However, she had to remind herself that he would generally do as she asked when he did. “It’s about the graduation assembly. I kind of don’t want you to come.”

He cast a quick, sharp glance at her. She watched his expression relax and knew her face must have conveyed nervousness, probably quite a lot of it. “Why?”

“It’s just…” She sighed and began wording the lie in her head. Even as she was sorting through the new information about her parentage, she knew there had to be a plausible reason for them to voluntarily miss a big moment of her life. “There’s a speech, ‘cause I’m the valedictorian. If you and Mom are there, I know I’ll mess it up.”

He nodded. “I understand. I’ll talk to your mother and we’ll figure something out.” He slowed down the car and she realized they were home. “Meanwhile, you can do that thing with your friends. Isn’t that one of them there?”

Willow looked past her father and saw Faith looking out the front window. How long had she been there?

~*~*~

Faith had dropped into unconsciousness as soon as the Mayor left, still wearing the clothes from the night before. In her exhaustion, she had forgotten the reason that she sometimes feared sleep, the confusing dreams that had an eerie tendency to come true. Or told her about the past. Or something that needed to be prevented.

This time, however, there was her first Watcher, looking at her in the reproachful way that was so British. Diana Dormer stood tall, though her height was slightly shorter than Faith’s, and her light brown hair seemed to glow. However, the thin bone structure that seemed common to female Watchers reminded her far too much of Gwendolyn Post, which might have been why Faith had been quick to trust the darker Watcher.

“You’re going down the wrong path.”

Faith felt anger flare in her, as it always had at Diana’s lectures. Her moral compass was never as straight and narrow as the older woman preferred. It was a bone of contention between them sometimes, what the Slayer was allowed to fight. This time, however, she knew the dead woman was right. “I can’t seem to stop.”

While it was obviously odd that she was speaking to someone that had been dead for almost a year, it didn’t seem to bother her here. “Anger led you away from the Calling. This poor excuse for a man has kept you angry.”

Faith scoffed. Diana had tried to train her to be calmer but the Slayer instincts sometimes pushed her emotions to the forefront. “I’m pretty much always angry, Di.” She grinned when the dead Watcher’s face pinched in response to the butchered use of her first name. “You’re right, though. I feel compelled to obey him.”

The woman arched an eyebrow, noting there was something the Slayer wasn’t saying. “Except?”

Faith rolled her eyes. “When I’m around Red, mostly. I don’t always obey him. It’s almost like she cancels him out.”

Diana smiled softly at her Slayer. “Miss Rosenberg’s natural power is phenomenal, so it’s likely that she does this subconsciously. However, her training is sorely lacking.” The woman’s dead eyes began to focus on something very far away. “No matter how good at magic she is, I think she’ll change the world.”

“Don’t they teach Watchers about magic?”

Diana nodded. “Of course. Most of us can cast quite proficiently.”

“Why doesn’t Giles train her then? You always said that dark magic-users came from lack of training and that could lead to them abusing their powers, right?”

Again, there was that faraway look and Faith realized that her Watcher was searching for something. “When he was young, Rupert was a dark magic-user. He doesn’t trust himself to teach her. Also, because of his own inept experience, he thinks using magic will change her and make her dark as well. His solution is to attempt to quash her talent.”

Faith scoffed, idly wondering how so many Watchers could be so smart and yet so stupid. “But it doesn’t stop her. I know she teaches herself. I know for a fact that she can move things with her mind, small things.”

The woman nodded and reached forward with her hand, her index and middle fingers pressed together, to touch the middle of Faith’s forehead. Deep inside, she could feel something lift and figure it was some of the compulsion laid on her by the Mayor. “This will only help for a while. Until the Mayor is gone, you must try to be near Miss Rosenberg as much as you can if you want his taint to stay away.”

Faith cringed at the thought of the Mayor gone. Even though she knew for sure now that he was using her, he was always nice and didn’t expect anything of her that he wouldn’t do himself. “I can’t kill him. I’m sorry.”

Starting to fade away, her Watcher nodded in understanding. “I know. That is for Miss Summers to do. Just remember that all things burn.”

Everything faded to dark and Faith opened her eyes, sitting up in her bed. She felt lighter inside, not complicated by the dark feelings that oppressed her when she thought about the other Slayer and her holier-than-thou attitude. Sure, she didn’t much like Buffy anymore but Red and Xander and the wolf… They had never been that bad and she had to believe they’d never intentionally excluded her.

With a decisive nod, Faith moved around her apartment, taking a shower and changing her clothes. Knowing that Willow’s parents were likely to be the respectable kind with which she had little experience, she chose a red shirt that mostly hid her tattoo with dark cargo pants and running shoes. Boots and leather pants would probably give the wrong impression.

A glance at the clock before leaving the apartment informed her that it was a little past one in the afternoon. Though her dream still filled her mind as well as a decision to not let the Mayor be the only thing to fill her mind, she had slept for almost six hours and felt very rested because of it. As Sunnydale was not a large town and the apartment complex was in the same area as the suburbs in which Willow lived, it took Faith about five minutes to reach her house at a walk.

When she knocked, an older auburn-haired woman answered the door. She attempted a friendly smile without it coming off as come-hither and put out her hand for a handshake, reminding herself to be gentle. The woman shook her hand, which caused Faith’s smile to broaden slightly. “Hi. I’m Faith. Is Willow home?”

The woman arched an eyebrow. “She should be back soon. She and her father went to San Diego early this morning.”

“Oh.” Faith paused, searching her mind for what should happen next. “Can I wait for her inside?”

The woman laughed. “Of course. Where are my manners? I’m Sheila, by the way.” She stepped back, allowing the Slayer to step over the threshold. She wondered if that odd little interaction would have allowed a vampire entrance and if some part of that woman knew about the dangers of this little town. “Are you friends with that Bunny girl?”

She couldn’t help herself – Faith guffawed suddenly, the noise sounding a little loud in the quiet and ordered house. “Buffy? We’re not friends, per se. The Mayor thinks she’s a bad influence.”

Sheila led her to the living room and they sat on the couch. “How does a young thing like you know the Mayor?”

Faith cast her eyes downward. “I was a ward of the state but he helped me get emancipated. He says I’m like a daughter to him.”

There was a gleam in Sheila’s eyes when she spoke again. “Do you think you could introduce Willow to him? It would be a good reference for her college.”

Faith stood and moved to the window. There was a car further down the street but her Slayer eyes could see Willow in the passenger seat. “I planned on it.”
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