Don't own or claim rights to Buffy, Angel or NCIS
A/N: This is for Jane. Because I don't have enough stories on the go ;) It's set in the Summer between Seasons 5 & 6, but Buffy didn't die in Gift. Anya is not around - she's alive, but her choice is explained later in the story.~~~~~
Tara knew something was wrong. It didn't take much, no great Wiccan powers, no mystic observation of her lover's aura. All it took was the sound of china hitting tile, and Willow's wordless cry.
“Baby?” Tara cried softly.
Willow turned devastated eyes to Tara as she clung to the phone. “Daddy,” she whimpered.
Tara hurried over and took the phone from Willow's clenched grasp. “H-hello?” she whispered.
“Bunny?” Sheila Rosenberg asked shakily.
“N-no,” Tara replied. “B-buffy's not here. Th-this is T-tara. I-is there a problem?”
Sheila gasped out a sob. “It's Ira!” she wailed. “He's been taken!”
Tara looked across at Willow, slumped to the floor, tears sliding down her face. “Wh-what can we do?”~~~~~
Angel slumped in his chair. He was bored. Very bored. Insanely bored. Considering 'getting his happy on' (and he swore he could hear Xander's voice just then) if only to free Angelus and get something started. Of course, he could never do that. Apart from the fact that his soul was very firmly tacked on (it always amazed him what Willow could cook up) he couldn't do that, because it was wrong. Bad. But not boring.
He was almost glad to hear Cordelia's anguished cry from the lobby. He leapt up from his (don't say it!) brooding chair and raced up to the lobby to find Wes and Gunn helping the brunette seer into a chair, while Fred fetched the water and painkillers. He waited, patiently, for Cordelia to settle herself before asking about the vision.
“Xander,” Cordelia gasped.
Angel stiffened, and exchanged a wary glance with Wes. “Xander?” he asked carefully.
“He was wrestling with some old guy, and there was a gun on the table right where they were,” Cordy
“Do you have any idea where?” Angel frowned. God. He'd been bored, but he wasn't sure he was quite that
Cordy shook her head. “Don't know. But, I don't know, maybe try Sunnydale?” she offered sarcastically. “It's not like he's gone anywhere in the last, oh, twenty years.”
“Oxnard,” Angel offered.
The other four members of Angel Investigations stared at him.
“Uh, Buffy,” Angel shrugged. “When I spoke to her, she mentioned that Xander got as far as Oxnard on his post-graduation tour.”
Cordy snorted. “That sounds right. He really is a Zeppo.”
Wes frowned. “Wasn't he the one who planned your graduation?” he asked.
“And he faced down Angelus when Buffy was sick,” Angel nodded.
“Who is this dude?” Gunn asked, puzzled.
Cordelia sighed. “I've mentioned him. I know I've mentioned him. Doughnut boy? The Zeppo? My ex?”
Gunn folded his arms and frowned. “Let me get this straight. Your ex, a guy that actually dated you, stared down Angel on a bad hair day, and – what? – planned snacks for your graduation?”
Cordy shook her head. “Big snake went boom.”
Gunn turned to Wes. “Got any better than that, Brit-boy?”
Wes nodded, and shifted unconsciously into teacher mode. “The Mayor of Sunnydale was a one hundred plus year old sorcerer who had made a deal to Ascend to a demon. An, uh, olvikan from memory. It was scheduled to take place during Cordelia's graduation ceremony. Now, the only record we had of an Ascension to an olvikan was halted by a convenient volcanic eruption, but, of course, you can't plan for that. What Mr Harris planned was to lure the demon into the school library, which he'd packed with explosives, and kill him that way.”
Gunn looked around at the others. “And you couldn't just off him while he was human?”
“He had protections on him,” Wes explained. “He was invulnerable.”
Gunn nodded. “That'll do it. So this kid – he is a kid, right? – plans your whole graduation battle, and you still call him a Zeppo?”
Cordy scowled. “He's my ex, I can call him whatever I want. So are we saddling up and riding to the rescue?” she asked, looking to Angel.
Angel gave a gusty sigh. “Fine. We're going to Sunnydale.~~~~~
Xander dropped his bag on the floor inside Buffy's front door before heading into the kitchen to see Giles make a cup of tea. “You all ready?” he asked.
“Quite,” Giles nodded. “Of course, we could have taken our time. I don't believe the girls will be ready for hours yet.”
“No,” Xander sighed. “Can you believe it?” he added. “Will's dad kidnapped because he worked for the Navy?”
“It does seem odd, given our lives,” Giles mused. “We haven't had much truck with human crime.”
“Kidnappings, though,” Xander offered. “We've had plenty to do with that. Are we riding to the rescue?”
Giles frowned. “I believe Tara said that there were people already involved in the investigation.”
Xander tilted his head in thought. “Navy? That would be NCIS, from memory. Don't know much about them, though.”
“A military organisation?” Giles asked.
“Actually, no,” Xander considered. “Army CID and Air Force OSI are both military agencies, but NCIS is actually a civilian agency. Doesn't mean they're no good, though.”
“So,” Giles gazed into his tea, “something akin to the FBI?”
“Pretty much,” Xander nodded. “So why are we leaving at night?”
“Because this was the earliest possible time to get everyone together and mobile,” Giles sighed. “Also, there's Spike.”
Xander was about to say something further when there was a knock at the door. Frowning, he glanced first at Giles, then headed to the door. When he opened it, Cordelia tumbled through the door and latched onto Xander, hanging on for dear life.
“Oh, God, you're alive!” she cried desperately.
“Uh, yeah,” Xander agreed nervously. “Was there any doubt?”
Angel slid through the doorway, grimacing. “Cordy had a vision of you wrestling with an older man, and there was a gun on a side table,” he shrugged.
Xander pulled back to look the seer in the eye. “You came out here because you thought I was about to be killed?”
Cordelia pulled away, slapping his chest. “'Course not, dweeb. It's just … the Powers gave me a vision, so obviously I'm supposed to do something.”
Xander smiled fondly, and pulled her close for a hug, dropping a kiss on the top of her head. “Thank you,” he offered, smiling. “But there's a problem,” he added.
“Problem,” Angel frowned.
“Yeah,” Xander nodded. “We're going to DC tonight.”
Angel glanced at Cordelia. “Um, why?”
Giles frowned, and came forward. “Willow's father has been abducted. Uh, apparently he is working on some top secret submarine … thing and someone wants what he knows. Er, we think,” he added conscientiously.
Wes eased himself in past Angel, Cordy and Xander. “You think he's been abducted, or you think that's why he's been abducted.”
“Oh, he's definitely been abducted,” Giles nodded. “It's believed it's something to do with his work.”
“And so you're all going to DC?” Angel asked.
“Willow wants to be with her mom,” Xander shrugged. “The Hellmouth's really quiet now, what with Glory gone, so we're all going with her.”
“Oh no, Xander,” Cordelia declared, “you're not going anywhere. You go anywhere, you'll get into a fight, and get yourself killed.”
“Cordy, that fight could happen anywhere,” Xander argued. “And you are not
stopping me from being there for Willow,” he added, frowning.
Cordelia gave a small, frustrated shriek. “Will you listen to me? You go there, you will be hurt.”
“Maybe,” Xander shot back. “But I'm still going. I could be killed just as easily here, but you don't seem to have a problem with that, now do you?”
“Uh, Cordelia,” Giles interjected mildly, “am I to understand that you had a vision of Xander in a fight with an ordinary human?”
“Yes,” Cordelia nodded. “And?” she demanded.
“Is that … usual?” Giles prompted. “I would have thought that the Powers would have restricted their visions to things involving the supernatural.”
“Well, yeah,” Cordy agreed uncertainly. “Your point?”
“Perhaps you were meant to come with us?” Giles offered.
Everyone present stared at the older Englishman in varying degrees of dismay. “Giles,” Xander began reasonably, “we already have one vampire coming. Do we really need another?”
“Spike's coming?” Angel asked aghast.
“I thought you guys killed vamps,” Gunn protested from his corner of the room. Xander and Giles turned to stare at Gunn. “Well, I thought that's what you did here,” he added with a shrug.
“We do,” Xander agreed. “Spike's a special case.”
“In more ways than one,” Giles muttered sotto voce
“The fact remains that he has been helping us for the last year or more,” Xander sighed. “Also, he can't hurt humans. Demons are another thing entirely, but humans are definitely off the menu. So who's this?” he added, nodding to Gunn.
Angel glanced at Gunn, surprised. “Oh. Giles, Xander, this is Gunn. He works with us. He's been hunting vampires in LA for years.”
Xander grinned, and held out his hand. “Well, as one token human to another,” he greeted, “welcome to the madhouse. We have vampires, Slayers, and witches, oh my!”
Gunn eyed the outstretched hand, then glanced at Xander. “'Token human?'”
“Trust me,” Xander grinned, “we're a rare breed.”
Gunn shook his head, then shook Xander's hand. “So we're off to DC, then?”
“Seems like,” Angel sighed.
“Who's off to DC?” Spike demanded as he sauntered in to the room. He caught sight of Angel, muttered, “Oh, hell no!” turned around, and headed back to the basement.
Giles stared after the blond vampire pensively. “I, I suppose he could stay here,” he suggested. “Look after Dawn?”
“Buffy doesn't want Dawn that far out of sight. And she's not staying behind, so that means Dawn comes with. And do we really want to leave him alone on the Hellmouth? I mean, he fights the good fight, but…”
“Isn't he the vamp that tortured Angel for that ring?” Gunn asked, concerned.
“Yep,” Cordy nodded, scowling in the direction Spike had disappeared.
“I'm sure he didn't do anything more than I've wanted to from time to time,” Xander offered. “You know, if I'd been physically capable.”
“Trust me,” Angel grimaced, “you don't need red-hot pokers. You're perfectly capable of torturing me as you are.”
“Really?” Xander grinned, delighted. “You say the sweetest things!”
Gunn looked around at the mixed group and shook his head. “What the hell have I gotten into?” he demanded.~~~~~
Willow had managed to arrange for direct flights to DC that arrived early enough that Angel and Spike would be in their hotel rooms before the sun rose. It also allowed for the others to have a quick nap and tidy up before arriving at Willow's mother's house at a reasonable time.
Willow flew to her mother's arms, while Buffy and Tara busied themselves in the kitchen. Xander had a quick check around the house before relieving Tara in the kitchen so that she could join Willow as she comforted her mother. It wasn't too much after that that Buffy and Xander had breakfast on the table, and Willow was coaxing her mother to eat something to keep her strength up.
They had just finished breakfast when there was a knock at the door. Xander exchanged glances with Buffy, and went to answer the door. On the porch stood two men.
The older man pulled out an ID wallet. “Special Agents Gibbs and DiNozzo, NCIS. We're here to see Mrs Rosenberg.”
Xander put out his hand. “Can I see that again, please,” he asked.
Raising an eyebrow, Gibbs flipped open the wallet, and let Xander check it closely. When he nodded, DiNozzo copied the gesture.
Xander nodded, and opened the door and stepped aside, turning to Buffy as he did. “NCIS, here to talk to Will's mom,” he noted.
Gibbs noted the wary way the pair regarded him and DiNozzo. Buffy stood out of the way, but between them and the rest of the house, while Xander closed the door, effectively trapping the two agents between them.
“Willow's one of our best friends,” Buffy noted. “You'll understand why we're cautious about who we let into the house. Of course, it's all a bit horse-and-barndoor-ish, but we're here now.”
Gibbs looked over his shoulder at Xander, then back to Buffy. “Okay. So long as you don't hinder our investigation, you're welcome to stay.”
Xander chuckled. “Yeah. I don't think you get a say in this.”
“This is a Federal investigation,” Tony began.
“This is our friend,” Xander argued, stepping closer. “We are here for Willow and her mom. Don't get in our way, and we won't get in yours. Okay?”
Gibbs glanced at Buffy, then at Xander. “You do anything,” he repeated, “to hinder us, to prevent us from getting Dr Rosenberg back, and I will personally make you pay,” he warned.
Xander looked to Buffy, then nodded and smiled. “So we understand each other, then.”
Gibbs raised an eyebrow, but let the comment pass. “If we could see Mrs Rosenberg, then?”~~~~~
Once Gibbs and DiNozzo had gone, Buffy muttered to Xander, “Well, for Navy cops, they're certainly a couple of pieces of eye candy.”
“And either of them would count as an older man for you,” Xander nodded. At Buffy's outraged exclamation, Xander shrugged. “Well, even though he was human, and much younger than Angel, Riley still wasn't really our age, was he?”
“Well, no,” Buffy pouted.
“Well, there you go,” Xander grinned. “Agent DiNozzo's got to be late twenties, early thirties, and Agent Gibbs has to be at least his late thirties. Some guys go grey early, but he looks good with it,” he nodded.
Buffy regarded him doubtfully. “Sometimes I wonder about you.” She then shook herself slightly, and changed the subject. “Okay. We need to work out a roster, and see what we can do about finding Will's dad. Willow and Tara can probably do a location spell, 'cause I doubt that anyone's trying to hide him magically. I want someone here at all times who can look after Willow, her mom, Tara, and whoever else is here. Maybe if we keep Dawn here as much as possible, Cordy, and, oh, what's her name? Fred? Yeah, her. Keep all our vulnerable people in one place, means we're not splitting our forces. Giles and Wes can keep an eye on everyone, too.”
“We still have a problem with Spike not being able to fight humans,” Xander offered. “I doubt we're looking at demons here, which means he's useless as a fighter.”
“He can still act as an early warning system,” Buffy offered, “and he will try to fight, if it means giving Dawn a few extra minutes to get away. Also, bullets won't kill him, so he can protect her that way.”
“So, what have we got?” Xander frowned. “Willow, Tara, Dawn, Cordy and Fred here with Mrs Rosenberg. Spike, Giles and Wes to stand guard. Can Wes stand guard? I mean, he wasn't very big with the personal bravery and fighting ability back in the Dale.”
“Angel says he's really improved,” Buffy nodded. “He fights alongside Angel and Gunn, while Fred's more their Willow. Except without the magic. Um. You, me, Angel and Gunn can go do recon, but that will have to be tonight. We'll get Willow and Tara to do the location spell this afternoon, and then head out after sunset. Once we've found Dr Rosenberg, we can see about getting him back.”
“And if the bad guys are human?” Xander asked, concerned. “What are you going to do?”
Buffy shifted nervously. “I can't fight humans. I don't want to risk killing one, accidentally.”
“Maybe it would be best to stay here with Spike and the others,” Xander suggested.
“No,” Buffy shook her head. “I'll go in with you guys tonight, and if they're human, well … well, we'll just have to pull back and decide what to do then. Okay. Well, you'd better head back to the hotel, get some rest. We don't know how late we're going to be tonight, and you’ve done a lot over the last two days.”~~~~~
“Willow Rosenberg, Tara Maclay, Buffy Summers and Xander Harris,” Gibbs barked as he entered the bullpen. “I want backgrounds, relationships, current locations, everything.”
McGee glanced, bewildered, at Tony.
“Mrs Rosenberg had company this morning, when we visited,” Tony explained. He turned, frowning, to Gibbs. “You find it odd how those two greeted us?”
“Only if they turn out to be civilians,” Gibbs growled, before stalking off to check in with Abby.~~~~~
“Okay,” McGee began, “I have room bookings for the four people you were interested in, along with, uh, eight others who all booked in at the same time. And I have airline tickets on the same overnight flight for the same twelve people from Sunnydale, California. They booked the flights, er, seven tickets, including the four people you mentioned, yesterday afternoon, and another five a few hours later. They pretty much booked the first lot of plane tickets straight after a phone call from Mrs Rosenberg.
“Miss Rosenberg, Miss Maclay and Miss Summers all live at the same address, along with Miss Summers' younger sister, who is also here. Mr Harris lives alone. Along for the ride are Rupert Giles and William Pratt, British nationals here on permanent residency visas. Mr Giles and Mr Pratt share the same address. The five tickets booked later are for Liam Angel, Cordelia Chase, Winifred Burkle, Charles Gunn and Wesley Wyndam-Pryce.
“Now, Miss Burkle was a doctoral candidate at UCLA, in physics, but disappeared some years ago. She reappeared a couple of months ago. She's from Texas, now living in LA. Charles Gunn is an LA native, late twenties, nothing really notable about him. Liam Angel, well there's very little I can find about him. He lived in Sunnydale for a few years, which is where he seems to have met the others, including Cordelia Chase. Miss Chase graduated from the local public high school with Miss Summers senior, Miss Rosenberg, and Mr Harris two years ago. The final member of the LA group is Wesley Pryce, another British national on a permanent residency visa.”
“You're kidding me,” Tony protested. “A bunch of kids? Harris and Summers weren't acting like kids this morning.”
“No, they weren't,” Gibbs agreed. “Do you have any information about gang affiliations? Terrorist groups? Anything like that?”
“Uh, Summers and Harris have been interviewed by the local LEOs a number of times, and there are reports of a lot of gang violence in the town,” McGee offered.
“What about the others?” Gibbs asked.
“Well, Miss Rosenberg and Miss Maclay are both enrolled at the local state college campus; Miss Summers was also enrolled, but dropped out last year after her mother died. She's looking after her sister, and working at a local fast food place. Mr Harris is working for a construction company, doing well, Mr Giles owns a magic shop of all things, and the younger Miss Summers is still in school. And, like I said, there's nothing on Mr Pratt.”
“Is that not a large group to come so far?” Ziva asked, frowning.
“It is,” Gibbs acknowledged. “Add to that the way Summers and Harris acted. Something's definitely going on.”
“I'll call the local LEOs and see if I can get any more information,” Ziva volunteered, returning to her desk to start on her self-appointed task.
“I'll look around, see if I can get any more information on this group,” McGee offered.
“Good,” Gibbs nodded. “I'll take the address for the hotel. I want to talk to them away from Mrs Rosenberg.”~~~~~
The hotel room door was eventually opened by a bare-chested man. Apart from his lack of tan, his size and colouring could have made him Harris' brother. “Can I help you?” he demanded tiredly.
“Special Agent Gibbs, Special Agent DiNozzo, NCIS. Can we talk to Mr Harris or Miss Summers?” Gibbs asked formally.
“NCIS?” the brunet asked. “You're the guys looking for Dr Rosenberg, aren't you? Why do you want Buffy and Xander?”
“Just wanted to ask them some questions,” Tony smiled at the man he identified as Liam Angel.
Angel stared at Tony for a long moment, before stepping back from the door, and moving to the internal door. He opened it, and leaned through, calling out Xander's name. Eventually, Xander walked back through, still wearing his jeans from the morning, and dragging on a t-shirt. Once it was on, he glared at it for being too small, dragged it back off, and tossed it back through the internal door.
“What Dawnie's shirt was doing in my room, I don't want to know,” Xander mumbled tiredly.
“You want to put something on?” Gibbs asked. “We can wait.”
Xander scowled at the men. “You going to be long? 'Cause I just want to get back to bed.”
“You'll have to excuse Xander. He's not much of a morning person,” Angel smirked.
“And you're always so ready to greet the sun, now aren't you, Angel?” Xander taunted. “Besides,” he yawned, “I'm fine when I actually get a chance to sleep more than a couple of hours.”
“The less you snark, the quicker these men can get out of here,” Angel reasoned.
“Fine,” Xander sighed. He turned to the two agents. “So how can I help you?”
“We're concerned about the size of the group that came from Sunnydale,” Gibbs stated.
Xander raised his eyebrows. “That's it? That's why you got me up? You couldn't think of something more … interesting?”
“A large group of people turns up to possibly interfere in a federal investigation,” Gibbs frowned. “I have the right to be concerned.”
“Okay,” Xander sighed, “here's how it goes. Willow's here 'cause it's her dad. Tara is here 'cause she's Will's girlfriend. I'm here 'cause Will and I go back to Kindergarten. Buffy's here 'cause she's Will's best girl friend that's not Tara. Dawn's here 'cause she's not allowed to stay home by herself. Giles is here 'cause he's like a dad to those of us who don't have dads worth talking about. And Spike's here 'cause… Why's Spike here?” he asked Angel, confused.
“Because no one wanted to leave him in Sunnydale by himself,” Angel offered.
Xander frowned, and shuddered. “Oh, yeah. Your turn,” he added.
Angel sighed. “Cordelia decided that Xander was going to die, so she had to go to Sunnydale to make sure he was still okay. When we got there, Xander said he was coming out here, and Cordy decided that she needed to come to make sure he stayed alive. And if you get to meet Cordy, you'll realise that when she decides something, you just go along with it.”
“Oh, yeah,” Xander agreed vehemently.
“I'm here because Cordy needed an escort,” Angel continued, “and because I decided we all needed a break from LA. Which is why we're all here.”
“Your girlfriend decided that Mr Harris was going to die, so you're taking a holiday in the same place?” Tony asked, bemused.
“My secretary, not my girlfriend,” Angel clarified. “She's Xander's ex-girlfriend, if that's any help.”
“Very ex-, and you'd better not let her hear you calling her anything so mundane as a secretary,” Xander warned. “You're, uh, life wouldn't be worth it.”
Angel glanced back to one of the bedrooms. “Thank God she sleeps so well.”
“So that's it?” Gibbs demanded. “You lot are here,” he nodded to Xander, “to hold Miss Rosenberg's hand, and you lot,” he nodded to Angel, “are here for a holiday while Mr Harris hopefully doesn't die?”
“That's about it,” Xander nodded.
“The dying thing is much more Cordy's concern than it is mine,” Angel admitted.
“Don't count on me dying early, Angel,” Xander warned. “I've still got that promise to keep.”
Angel frowned, puzzled. “I thought that already happened.”
“You came back,” Xander shrugged. “Kind of cancels it out.”
Angel rolled his eyes. “It's not the same, you know. Willow fixed that little problem of mine.”
“Really?” Xander asked, trying to control a smirk. “Of course, now I've got all kinds of comments rolling around in my head about you being 'fixed'.”
“Oh, God,” Angel moaned. “Just don't use that term in front of Spike, whatever you do.”
“Oh, come on,” Xander whined. “That's just not fair. It's about the only thing we agree on,” he pouted.
“He's bad enough without you encouraging him,” Angel frowned.
“And Spike is, what?” Tony asked. “Your boyfriend?”
“God, no!” Angel and Xander chorused, disgusted.
“Spike is a pain in the ass,” Xander snorted.
“It's one of the few things Xander and I agree on,” Angel added.
“So who is he?” Gibbs asked.
“Have you seen any photos of our group?” Xander asked.
“All except Mr Pratt,” Tony advised.
Xander sniggered. “William Pratt. It's more fun when you realise he's British,” he added. “Spike's a punk – think Billy Idol – and won't answer to either William or Billy.”
“Trust me, I've tried,” Angel grunted.
“Well, like I said earlier,” Gibbs declared, “so long as you keep out of our way, it'll be fine. I can and will prosecute for obstruction if you don't.”
“Fine,” Xander sighed. “Great. Can I get back to bed, now? It's just that someone decided to seat me beside Spike on the flight, and that is not conducive to any rest whatsoever.”
“That's fine, Mr Harris,” Gibbs nodded, standing. “I've covered everything I needed to.”
Angel escorted the two agents to the door. “Well, I'm sure you'll be hard at work today, so we'll say goodbye now.”
Xander waited for the door to close before he spoke. “What was that last bit about?”
Angel smirked. “You didn't smell the pheromones.”
Xander raised an eyebrow and smirked in return. “Pheromones?”
“Pheromones,” Angel confirmed.
“Interesting,” Xander decided as he headed back to bed.~~~~~
“What have you got for me?” Gibbs demanded as he strode back into the bull-pen.
“I do not think much of the Sunnydale Police Department,” Ziva began acerbically. “Despite the fact that Mr Harris and Miss Summers have both been interviewed on numerous separate occasions, the detective I spoke to had no recollections of either of them.”
“You spoke to the detectives directly involved in the case?” Tony prompted.
Ziva glared at her team-mate. “Of course. But they say they have no idea who Xander Harris or Buffy Summers is. Which is very odd when Tim found that Miss Summers had been accused of murder in high school.”
“She what?” Gibbs demanded.
McGee cleared his throat. “Miss Summers was accused of the murder of a foreign national when she was found holding the dead woman in the library of their high school. It was at the end of their Junior year,” he added. “She was later dismissed as a suspect, and the death went down as gang attack. Her throat was cut by a sharp instrument, but other than that, there is absolutely nothing in the report about who did it, or with what.”
“Did they at least suggest which gang did it?” Gibbs scowled.
“Uh, no,” McGee shook his head. “Actually, I got into their records, and there seems to be a lot of holes in their reporting. They seem to have a lot of gang and drug violence, as well as a lot of wild animals, and since they are about two hours from LA, it seems a little … hinky. Actually,” he went on hesitantly, “it's exactly the sort of place that you don't want Abby to find out about. A real conspiracy theory kind of place.”
Tony's eyes glazed. “Hm. Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts. 'What you know could kill you.'” He flinched when Gibbs smacked his head, and smoothed his hair, frowning. “Sorry, boss,” he muttered.
“How are we going on finding out who took Dr Rosenberg?” Gibbs asked, moving onto the point of the case.~~~~~
When Gibbs next knocked on the Rosenberg's door, he was greeted by yet another new face. “Gibbs, NCIS,” he introduced. “Already passed your people's gauntlet once, let us in.”
Wes smiled slightly, and nodded. “Of course, Agent Gibbs. And your companion?”
“Special Agent Timothy McGee,” Gibbs announced. “He's out tech … type … person.”
Wes afforded the younger man a bigger smile, and nodded. “You'll want to talk to Fred, then,” he decided. “She deals with all our technical needs. Normally you'd talk to Willow, also, but she's … busy,” he added, frowning as he glanced upstairs.
“Her father's in danger,” Tim sympathised. “That's always difficult to deal with.”
Wes nodded absently. “He's not one she's used to worrying about.”
“That's usually Mr Harris and Miss Summers, right?” Gibbs asked off-handedly. As he expected, Wes' face went blank.
“I'm not sure I know what you're talking about,” Wes commented mildly.
“You teach that, too, in high school do you?” Gibbs interrogated.
“I have never taught in any school,” Wes dismissed. “I'm a linguist. Ancient languages,” he added.
“Nice cover,” Gibbs commented.
Wes returned Gibbs' gaze calmly. “I'll take you to Miss Burkle, shall I?” he asked Tim.
Miss Burkle turned out to be an excitable young woman, and Gibbs soon left the two technically-minded people to themselves as he went to find out who else was in the house. He found Mrs Rosenberg sitting with her daughter and her girlfriend, while a man about his own age sat reading. He was, Gibbs noted, seated between the women and the door, and looked up as soon as Gibbs entered the room.
“Agent Gibbs,” the man greeted as he stood, stretching out a hand. “Rupert Giles. Wes said that you'd brought your technician?”
“McGee is part of my team,” Gibbs clarified, “and an agent just like me. He also handles any of our technical needs.”
“Quite,” Giles nodded. “I personally think it's a dark art, but Willow seems to enjoy it. And Fred, too, of course.”
Gibbs glanced at the women paying them scant attention. “It's a long way to come for someone you're not in a relationship with,” he commented.
Giles frowned, and began to clean his glasses. “Do you have children, Agent Gibbs?” When Gibbs shook his head, he went on. “Neither do I. These young people are the closest I dare say I shall ever have to children of my own. I care for them deeply, and would do anything to keep them from harm.”
“How did you get to know them, then?” Gibbs asked.
“I was the school librarian,” Giles nodded, “and they began to congregate in my library. We formed a study group, and I became their mentor. Nothing, nothing official, but we have become quite close.”
“And Mr Pratt? He lives with you, doesn't he?” Gibbs prompted.
Giles shuddered. “Quite a temporary measure, believe me.” He considered the man in front of him. “Are we finished my interrogation?” he asked politely. “Though I'm sure Mrs Rosenberg will be pleased at your … very thorough investigation.”
“Your people are a complication,” Gibbs frowned. “I don't like complications.”
“Life is full of complications,” Giles argued mildly. “A man of your age should know that by now.”
Thoughts of a tan, dark-haired young man flitted through his head, and he shook his head. “Not in my investigations,” Gibbs countered.
Giles shrugged, then turned to the women behind him, and caught Tara's eye. “Call me if you need anything,” he murmured, then walked out.
Gibbs watched the other man leave, then walked over to the victim's wife, and began going through some more questions for her.~~~~~
“We can't do this with them in the house.”
Gibbs tensed as he heard the whisper, and decided it was the daughter of the house. He moved closer to the open door.
“They're not going to check the bedrooms,” another girl argued, one he hadn't met, so either Dawn Summers or Cordelia Chase. She sounded older than Dawn would be, though, so he decided it was Miss Chase. “Can't you do a quick-and-dirty check, and then have Tara go with them to get a better idea when they get closer?”
“Do y'all think they're going to let Tara go with them?” Fred asked. “Don't they want us all here where it's safe?”
“There's going to be four of them,” Cordelia countered. “She'll be safer than on patrol back home. Xander'll make sure of that.”
“I'll be fine, sweetie,” a soft voice, Tara's, soothed. “You know Xander would never let anything happen to me.”
“Like what you're hearing?” a low voice demanded at his shoulder.
Gibbs turned to find the last Englishman of the group, a smaller, blond man, scowling at him. “Not really,” he admitted. “What's going on?”
“Nothing you need to worry about,” Spike declared.
“They're going out looking for Dr Rosenberg,” Gibbs decided. “There's four of them going, including Harris, and these girls want Miss Maclay to go, as well. She doesn't fit into the group that's going, does she?”
Spike glanced at the door, and snorted. “Nah. Glinda don't have that killer instinct, and even the carpenter has that. She might just be needed, though,” he added thoughtfully.
“None of your group has any service history,” Gibbs frowned.
Spike smirked. “More than one war on this little planet,” he said, then turned and walked off.
Gibbs narrowed his eyes at the man, then glanced back at the door. He clenched his jaw, and went off to find a certain young man that didn't haunt his thoughts. He eventually tracked Xander down in the kitchen, where he was packing a meal. “I'm coming with you,” he announced.
“You're what?” Xander asked, startled.
“A group of you are going out tonight, looking for Dr Rosenberg,” Gibbs explained. “You're taking me with you.”
Xander looked back through the kitchen door, trying to figure out who'd spoken out of turn. “I have no idea what you're talking about,” he shook his head.
Gibbs prowled forward, crowding Xander into the kitchen bench. “I know you're going out. I heard the girls talking, and they want you to take Miss Maclay with you. Unless you want me to start taking people in for hindering a federal investigation, you will be taking me with you when you go out tonight.”
Xander clenched his jaw and his hands, determined not to give the older man any more ammunition against his family than he already had. “Not my call,” he ground out.
“I'd say get a room, but we don't have the time,” Angel smirked from the door to the kitchen.
Xander used the vampire's distraction as a chance to slip away from Gibbs, and slid past Angel, glaring. Angel nodded back to the front room, and Xander headed off to find Buffy.
“I'm coming,” Gibbs repeated. “That's non-negotiable.”
“Not my call,” Angel shook his head, repeating Xander's words.
“Who?” Gibbs demanded. “Summers?”
“Yes,” Buffy agreed.
Gibbs looked over to find the petite blonde scowling at him, arms folded. Behind her stood Xander, and a dark-skinned man Gibbs hadn't met, which made him Charles Gunn. “I won't have you compromise a federal investigation.”
“And if we found anything you could use, we'd tell you,” Buffy argued. “We'd already decided that.”
“He's threatened to take people in,” Xander offered.
Buffy's scowl turned thunderous. “I've had it with people who think they know better.” Finally, she tossed her head, and turned away. “You better keep up,” she announced. “I'm not waiting for you.”
Gibbs nodded, and followed them out. He expected to have to wait while the women changed their clothes, but was surprised when both of them walked out the door in what appeared to be their normal clothes. Buffy was dressed in something Ziva would wear to a club, while Tara wore a long skirt, neither of which Gibbs would approve of for working a case. He was the only person, though, who seemed to have a problem with their outfits, so he kept quiet.
They got to the cars, and, to Gibbs' disappointment, Buffy instructed Xander to accompany him. He'd rather one of the other men, given his burgeoning attraction to the younger man.
“How's your driving?” Xander asked as he got in the car.
“Fast,” Gibbs muttered.
Xander grimaced. “You should be able to keep up then,” he decided. “We have a rough idea of where we're going, but we're going to have to narrow down the search area when we get there.”
“How are you going to do that?” Gibbs asked.
Xander watched the older man for a while before answering. Just as Gibbs had given up on an explanation, Xander said, “Magic.”
Gibbs spared the brunet a glance. “Magic,” he repeated, disbelievingly.
“Tara's a witch,” Xander shrugged. “It's the only reason she's allowed to come tonight.”
“You seriously believe in magic,” Gibbs demanded.
Xander smirked. “Wait till you've seen Tara do her thing before going the Great American Skeptic on us. Then you can drop me and run. Or not,” he added.
Gibbs felt his mouth tighten. Not only was the boy ridiculously young, but he was also mentally unstable. Now if he could just suddenly turn ugly, he'd be set. ~~~~~
“We're in luck,” Xander announced. “Angel's driving.”
“How is that lucky?” Gibbs asked.
“Buffy's a lot more aggressive than Angel, especially on a hunt,” Xander explained. “Also, he's got way more driving experience than Buffy. 'Course, that doesn't work for Spike, but that's just Spike in general.”
“Pratt,” Gibbs clarified.
“In so many ways,” Xander grinned. “I think he thinks real cars are like dodgems. Certainly drives like that,” he snorted. “So glad we didn't drive to DC. Anyway, we're here.”
Gibbs pulled in behind Angel's rental car, and followed Xander over to where the others had gathered, determinedly not looking at the boy. Angel looked up as they approached, and glanced from Xander to Gibbs and back, smirking. Xander gestured obscenely, and moved to Tara's side.
“Anything you need?” he asked the witch.
Tara glanced at Gibbs. “Does he know?” she asked softly.
Xander shrugged. “Told him. He doesn't believe, though. Magic is for fairy tales,” he grinned.
Tara rolled her eyes at her friend, and handed him a map. “Find out where we are, and lay out that section.”
“On the hood?” Xander called out distractedly as he checked the map. He found the section, and smoothed it out onto the hood of the car.
Gibbs watched as Tara scattered some glittering sand across the map, and intoned something he couldn't understand while dangling a pair of cuff-links over the map. He watched in amazement as a spot on the map lit up. He stared at the now-marked map until he was startled out of his daze by a hand on his arm.
“You know DC,” Xander repeated. “What can you tell us about this place?”
Gibbs shook his head. “Warehouses.”
Buffy snorted. “Of course it's warehouses. It's always warehouses.”
Xander grinned at her. “Does get a little monotonous.”
Buffy sighed. “Well, let's go find out if we need to make an anonymous tip-off.”~~~~~
It had taken less than ten minutes to travel to the spot indicated by Tara's … whatever. Gibbs got out, and walked with Xander to join the others by Angel's rental.
Buffy nodded to the two men, then addressed the group. “Angel and I are going to have a look. Xan, you, Gunn and Gibbs stay here with Tara.”
“The hell you are,” Gibbs grunted. “I'm coming with you.”
Buffy smirked. “And if I thought you could keep up, I'd let you. Don't worry, Agent Gibbs,” Buffy leaned forward to pat him on the arm. “Xander will look after you.”
Xander rolled his eyes. “Way to go, Buffy,” he muttered, shaking his head. When Gibbs went to follow them, he grabbed the older man's arm. “Uh uh,” he grunted. “When Buffy said that about keeping up, she meant it. Much as I dislike the Great Brooding One, and, believe me, our feelings are deep, dark, long-lived and utterly mutual, he's the only one of us who can keep up with Buffy when she needs to get going.”
Gibbs glared at the younger man. “This is -”
“A federal case,” Xander finished, nodding, “heard that song before, Gibbs. The fact remains that I can't keep up with them when they need to get going, and I've been … by Buffy's side for five years, now, and I know I can't keep up with her.”
Gibbs set his jaw. “Either you're older than I think, or you were getting into trouble when you were a kid.”
Xander looked at the warehouses, and shook his head. “I'm pretty sure you know when I started getting into trouble. Soon after Buffy arrived in Sunnydale, Sophomore year.”
Gibbs wanted to growl. “You would have been sixteen,” he said finally.
“Yep,” was Xander's only response, and they fell silent.
“You were school kids,” Gibbs did growl this time. He grit his teeth. “Did she kill that girl? The one in Junior year?” he demanded.
Xander stiffened. “Kendra,” he whispered. He cleared his throat. “No. It was a trap. Buffy got drawn away, and they attacked. Will ended up in a coma, my wrist was fractured, Giles was kidnapped, and Ken was killed. Cordy was lucky – she was barely touched.” He frowned, and looked at Tara. “You got anything?”
“I'm a witch, Xander, not a psychic,” she murmured, frowning.
Xander fidgeted for a moment. “Get in the car,” he said finally. He looked at Gunn. “Tell me he gave you the keys.” When the other man dangled them from his fingers, he went on. “Get in and get ready to go.”
Gunn gave Xander a long look, but obeyed.
Gibbs fingered his keys, and glanced at Xander. “There a problem?”
“Much of the time, we run on instinct,” Xander answered, distracted, “and mine are pretty much screaming at me at the moment.”
“You sure it ain't that you're just so far from home?” Gunn asked, leaning out the window. “Cordy told me what it's like for you.”
“Hell, sweet Hell,” Xander muttered. “You could just be right,” he nodded. “Still…”
“It's not the safest place we could be,” Gibbs admitted. “Doesn't hurt to be prepared.”
Xander tensed, suddenly, and turned to look down the street. Gibbs turned to see what he was looking at, and saw Buffy appear at the edge of a warehouse roof several hundred yards down the street. Without hesitation, she leapt off the roof, and landed neatly on the street, with Angel landing to one side only moments later and they jogged back to the cars. Gibbs stared at the building they had jumped from. It had to be at least two stories high, and both had jumped without a care, landed without harm, and were running back at a deceptively easy pace.
“How'd it go?” Xander asked.
“He's there,” Buffy nodded, “and let's just say that Spike's back in the game.”
Xander swore. “Is there anyone he'd have a problem with?” he asked, worried.
Buffy shrugged. “Dr Rosenberg?”
“What's going on?” Gibbs demanded.
Xander scowled. “Well, Gibbs, it seems like your federal investigation has just hit one doozy of a hurdle.”~~~~~
The drive back to the Rosenberg residence was tense. Xander sat slumped in his seat, scowling out the front windscreen. After his announcement about the investigation's 'hurdle', he'd lapsed into a sullen silence, ignoring Gibbs totally. And Gibbs was not happy about that at all.
In fact, all of Xander's group were unhappy, though it ranged from mildly disturbed (Gunn) through to the furiously thoughtful man beside him.
“You going to tell me what kind of hurdle I'm up against?” Gibbs asked finally.
Xander glanced over at the older man, then straightened in his seat. “So magic's real, right?” he asked. “You saw what Tara did, and you know there's no normal, scientific explanation for it? Well, once you realise that magic's real, then it leads on to all kinds of other things that just about every 'civilised' person says is just a fairy tale. Or horror story, really.”
Gibbs felt his jaw clench. “I'm not going to like this, am I?”
“Not one little bit,” Xander agreed. “And I'd appreciate it if you'd wait until we were back with the others. I don't know what we're up against, exactly, except that it's nothing that you'd be used to dealing with.”
“But you have?” Gibbs frowned.
“In general,” Xander nodded.
Gibbs sighed. “Fine.”
The silent group returned to the Rosenberg residence and assembled in the lounge room. It appeared the whole group was there, Mrs Rosenberg being the only one absent. Giles frowned at the group who had gone to find the doctor. “Just how bad is it?” he sighed.
Angel and Buffy exchanged glances, then he sighed. “I saw a couple of fyarl, a few grapplers, a m’fashnik, and a half dozen vampires.”
“Any humans?” Spike demanded, grin spreading across his face.
“None that we saw,” Buffy shook her head. “So, yes, you’ll be coming with us.”
“Now just hold on a God damned minute,” Gibbs protested, only to stop when Xander laid a distracting hand on his wrist.
“Horror stories, Gibbs,” Xander warned. He looked at his friends. “He needs to know this,” he explained. Buffy waved her hand, and he took that as permission to go on. “Okay, so like I said, magic is real. You saw Tara perform a spell. She’s a witch. So’s Willow,” he added, smiling at the redhead. “Angel and Spike are vampires, and Buffy’s a Slayer, not that I expect that means much to you.”
Gibbs scowled at the young man still holding his wrist. The man was certifiable, but, unfortunately, he hadn’t yet turned ugly. And this was not the time for inappropriate attractions. “Vampires, witches, and whatever the hell a Slayer is. Do you really think I’m that gullible?” he demanded.
“And if I could prove it?” Xander asked with a distracting grin. He turned to Angel. “Well?” he demanded.
Angel snorted. “What am I? A show pony?” he retorted.
Cordelia simply back-handed him in the shoulder. “Just do it,” she commanded, annoyed. Angel rolled his eyes, but showed his game face. After receiving several scowls from the assembled group, Spike did likewise.
Startled, Gibbs went for his weapon, but was stopped by Xander leaning across his body and grabbing his arm.
“Bullets don’t kill vampires,” Xander warned, “they just piss them off. Of course, Spike couldn’t do anything more than glare at you, but Angel is more than capable of ripping your head off, which would complicate matters.”
Gibbs sat stiffly in place, absorbing the heat from Xander’s body, transfixed by the face held not so far from his own. After a long moment, he released his weapon, and Xander let go of his arm, returning to his position beside him. “So. Vampires. Thought vampires were supposed to be the bad guys.”
“They are,” Buffy nodded. “Xander called me a Slayer, but my proper title is Vampire Slayer. Slayers have been around about as long as vampires have been, and we’re mystically enabled to slay them. People like Giles and Wes are trained to help the Slayer, but it’s the Slayer that actually … slays.”
“So what about these two?” Gibbs asked, waving at Angel and Spike, once again in their normal faces.
“I was cursed by a soul over a hundred years ago, and now I’m working for my redemption,” Angel explained. “I don’t feed from humans anymore.”
“And Spike?” Gibbs prompted. Beside him, he heard Xander snort, but the younger man didn’t say anything.
Giles cleared his throat. “Spike has a behaviour modification chip embedded in his brain. It works on intent, and if he harms, or tries to harm a human, then it signals the pain centres of his brain. It can be quite … alarming to watch.”
“So one can’t hurt humans, and the other won’t?” Gibbs clarified. He considered that for a moment. “And Summers being a Slayer – is that why you said I couldn’t keep up?”
“Yep,” Xander nodded. “Vampires are, what? Four times faster and stronger than humans? And Buffy is easy strong enough and fast enough to deal with them.”
Gibbs nodded. “Okay,” he murmured, looking around at the group. “So… Slayer, vampires, witches, and trainers,” he identified, pointing at each in turn. “So what about the rest of you?”
“Cordy gets visions to tell Angel what to do,” Xander nodded to the brunette, “Fred is their tech wizard, though in a totally non-magical way, and Gunn is their token human. And I’m Buffy’s token human,” he added with a smile.
Gibbs shook his head. “That Affirmative Action,” he smirked at Buffy, “it’ll get you every time.”
“Hey! I resemble that remark,” Xander complained, grinning.
“So,” Gibbs went on after a moment, “how do we do this?”~~~~~
The next day, Gibbs met his team at the office, and directed them to head down to the car. He was pretty sure this wasn’t going to go over well, especially considering Tony’s especial fear of vampires. Though, now that he knew they actually existed, he was pretty sure it was a very valid fear to have.
He noticed the looks each of his team gave him, wary looks, trying to divine his mood, which, given his frown, could be quite foul. He waited a few minutes, until they were too busy concentrating on staying in their seats (DiNozzo and McGee, at least) before speaking. “Have you managed to find anything else out about Ms Rosenberg’s people?”
“Nothing much more than we already had, Boss,” Tony grunted. “Of the Sunnydale group, only Giles, Harris, and Summers are gainfully employed. Rosenberg and Maclay are at college, Summers Junior is at school, and we have no idea what Pratt does.”
Tim grit his teeth, and took over the story. “All of the LA group are work together, except for Ms Burkle; she seems to have appeared, or been rescued, from somewhere. Pryce is the head of the agency, having taken over sometime in the last few months, from what I can see. They did have a problem a year ago with their building blowing up, and one of their employees appears to have died in a separate incident that I can’t find any details about,” he added frowning.
Gibbs nodded in thought. “What about you, Ziva? You got anything for me?”
“Nothing about Ms Rosenberg’s family,” she shrugged. “So far Mrs Rosenberg hasn’t received a ransom demand, or any other contact from the kidnappers. We haven’t been able to locate Dr Rosenberg by any other means, but then neither has any of his work has been touched. He seems to have disappeared.”
Gibbs glanced and the Israeli in the rear view mirror, trying to determine how to introduce the next topic. “You accept the possibility of … the supernatural?”
Tony chuckled. “The supernatural, Boss? I know Ziva said he seemed to have disappeared, but I don’t think he dropped through a black hole.”
Ziva glanced at Gibbs’ senior agent, frowning. “As you know, Gibbs, I won’t discount things that are not normal. Is there anything in particular you were thinking about?”
“Vampires,” Gibbs offered, glancing at the man in the passenger seat.
As expected, Tony laughed again.
Ziva cleared her throat. “I have never met a vampire, if that’s what you mean,” she offered stiffly.
Gibbs nodded. Time to drop his bomb. “I have.”~~~~~
By the time they arrived at the hotel, Tony had finished with his panic attack, Tim was deep in thought, and Ziva was looking worried. He escorted his team to the shared rooms, and ushered them in. (Un)fortunately, Xander was right there to greet them, shaking hands with each of them. This seemed to be the right thing to do for Gibbs’ team, as they each seemed to take comfort in the body heat of his handshake.
“So what have you told them?” Xander asked.
“Please tell me vampires aren’t real,” Tony begged.
Xander gave a lopsided smile. “Sorry, can’t. Vampires a real, and, on the whole, you do not want to meet them. They are uniformly lethal, aren’t bothered by bullets, unless you have incendiary rounds, which I’ve never managed to get my hands on, and are much quicker and stronger than you have a hope of being. Frankly, by the time you know you’re facing a vampire, you’re pretty much stuffed unless you can manage to get some kind of advantage.”
“How in hell have you survived then, Harris?” Spike asked, smirking, as he wandered into the room.
“Ha ha, Fangless,” Xander returned. “You had me in your cold little hands, and yet I’m still here.”
Spike frowned in thought, the grinned. “That’s right, I did, didn’t I? How was your head?”
“Fine, eventually, no thanks to you,” Xander scowled. He looked behind the blond. “Are the others coming out anytime soon? We need to explain what’s going on.”
Spike grunted. “I’ll go check.”
Tony waited until the blond was out of the room, then hissed, “Harris, is he the vampire?”
Xander froze for a moment, then grinned. “Yeah, I probably should have mentioned that vampires have really good senses on top of everything else. So don’t bother whispering, they can hear you easy as anything. And, yes, Spike is a vampire. He is not a nice person, but we do trust him. He’s one of only two that we work with; the other is his Grand-sire, Angel.”
“Angel’s a vampire, too?” Tony whined.
“Yeah, but that’s okay,” Xander nodded. “Buffy keeps them in line.”
“Buffy?” Tony asked doubtfully. “Maybe five foot three, maybe a hundred pounds Buffy?”
“She can bitch-slap you into next week while painting her nails,” Xander returned.
“And wearing heels and a really cute top I got on sale,” Buffy added as she entered the room, followed by Spike, Angel, and Giles.
“I don’t get it,” Tony frowned.
“For as long as there have been vampires, there has been a Slayer,” Giles explained.
“Which would be me,” Buffy nodded.
“Well, now that everyone is here, maybe we can get on with some planning,” Gibbs suggested.~~~~~
The planning session had taken several hours, after which time Gibbs sent his team home to rest, with orders to return at eighteen-hundred hours. Once the others had returned to their rooms, he turned to the young man who fascinated him unknowingly. “What do you think are our odds?” he asked quietly.
Xander gave the question due consideration before answering. “Well,” he began eventually, “probably pretty good odds. We’ve done this sort of thing before, usually it’s me or Dawnie getting rescued,” he added with a grin. “I mean, yeah, we’ve got a variety of demons, probably more than they saw last night, but then we’ve got two vampires, neither of them fledges, and an experienced Slayer. Add to that two powerful witches and a number of decent human fighters, and, yeah, I’d say we have acceptable odds.”
“I don’t like splitting my team,” Gibbs grumbled. He held up a hand to stop the younger man. “I get why we have to do it, I just don’t like it.” He studied the young man before him. “So after this is over,” he began.
Xander felt his cheeks grow warm, and hoped that his tan covered most of his blush. “I, uh, was thinking of taking some time for a holiday. Not long, of course, ‘cause, you know, Summer is the busiest time for construction. But, like, a week or two to have a look around the place. After all, we don’t get much time to ourselves.”
“I could show you a few places,” Gibbs suggested mildly.
Xander shifted a little closer, and smiled at the older man. “That would be nice.”~~~~~
Gunn took a good bite of his sandwich as he opened the door. He took one look at the clean-cut soldier-boy types, and called over his shoulder, “Yo, Gibbs; your guys are here.”
Gibbs frowned, and approached the door, Xander right behind him. He shook his head, and was about to deny knowledge when the younger man slipped past him.
“Ri, Gray, what the hell are you guys doing here?” Xander asked, bemused.
The left-hand man shrugged, embarrassed. “Your phones are all bugged,” he explained sheepishly. “Which you all knew about, what with …” he trailed off, glancing further into the room. “Anyway, when the report came in about Dr Rosenberg, the higher ups got worried, so they pulled us out of Uzbekistan and sent us in.”
“Wait a minute,” Gibbs glared at the newcomers, “their phones are bugged?”
“I’m afraid you’re not cleared for any of this, Agent Gibbs,” the stranger advised calmly. “Of course, if Xander and his people choose to tell you certain things, that’s their prerogative.”
Xander smirked. “You gotta love knowing people who can get you out of non-disclosure agreements.”
The other man snorted. “Well, Willow turning the documents into a swarm of midges and directing them at the General kind of helped.”
“Do you blame her, Gray?” Xander demanded. “We’d had a rough couple of weeks.” He then made short work of the introductions before turning back to Riley. “How many do you have here?”
“A squad of six, including tech support, and a shaman,” Riley explained.
“You go into a field with a witch-doctor?” Gibbs snorted.
Riley gave the older man a long look. “He’s called a shaman, and since we’re the military version of them,’ he nodded to Xander, ‘but with a much worse attrition rate, you better damn well believe we travel with at least one shaman at all times.”
“Please,” Xander scoffed, “you guys go looking for fights; we just wait for them go come to us.”
This time it was Graham’s turn to scoff. “You live on the Hellmouth, use antiquated weaponry, and you don’t have any comms; do I need to go on?”
Xander sighed. “Fine. Let’s go find Buffy. Oh, hey – do you have any spare equipment? Gibbs’ people only have their standard weaponry.”
“You’re letting civilians in now?” Riley teased.
“We let you guys in, didn’t we?” Xander grinned. “Tell me how these guys could possibly be worse?”
Riley narrowed his eyes. “Anything I say, you’re going to turn back on me, aren’t you?”
“Would I do that?” Xander grinned before wandering off to find Buffy.
“How do you know them?” Gibbs asked, not jealous of their easy camaraderie.
“Dated Buffy for a while,” Riley shrugged. “We actually had a pretty messy break-up about six months ago. Still, my team was the best option for this op, since we’re probably the only ones she’d trust to actually work with her. She’s not a fan of the military, in case you hadn’t noticed.”
Gibbs nodded in thought. “So what kind of weaponry are we talking about?”
“Kind of like overgrown tasers,” Riley explained. “They will stun most demons, though not kill them. Once they’re down, decapitation is usually your best bet. Do you have access to machetes?”
“Not exactly one of our usual weapons,” Gibbs shook his head.
“That’s okay, we can get you those, too,” Riley nodded absently. “I just hope Willow and Tara were able to conceal their weapons, because I don’t think we have enough to go around, otherwise.”
Gibbs stared at the younger man. “I’m pretty sure I don’t want to know about the illegal transport of weapons across state lines, let alone on a civilian aircraft.”
Riley shrugged. “Don’t worry. I’m pretty sure we can get them covered under the Homeland Security act. There’s a subsection that covers this kind of thing,” he added cheerfully.
Gibbs just shook his head, and went to find his team.~~~~~
Gibbs knew it was bad when Willow tried to drag Xander and Giles off to a corner away from the others. He followed quietly, and listened in thoughtfully.
“We need Xander for a spell,” Willow explained. “It’s a triplex spell, and we need him to be the anchor.”
Giles frowned. “What spell is this?”
“We want to invoke The Morrigan,” Willow announced.
Xander frowned. “Aren’t The Morrigan a triple goddess? Wouldn’t I need to be a female for that?”
“Yes, and no,” Tara frowned. “Yes, The Morrigan is a goddess, or a triple goddess, but you don’t need to be female to serve her. The Morrigan are sisters, or aspects of the one goddess; it gets a little difficult to tell at times. And you’re very close to Willow, to both of us,” she added, smiling softly.
“Okay, so what’s the what?” Xander asked.
Willow smiled, knowing she had his agreement. “We do the ritual, and, er, become vessels for The Morrigan, allowing them to manifest on this plane. They will then take part in or influence the battle. I have the whole spell printed out, and ready for Giles to check over,” she added proudly.
Giles nodded thoughtfully. “I’ll have a look, but I can’t promise my approval. Have you looked at it, Tara?”
Tara nodded. “It’s from my grandmother’s old spell book. It’s a very old spell, hasn’t been used for a very long time. I remembered it when Buffy and Angel said there were demons guarding Dr Rosenberg.”
“How very interesting,” Giles noted.
“Are you really sure I’m the one for this?” Xander worried. “I’m not big with the mojo, you know.”
“You’ve served as part of the enjoining spell,” Giles reminded him, “so that’s not really an issue. And, as Tara said, your gender isn’t an issue, either. However, I will check over the spell, just in case.” With that, he accepted the printout, and walked away to study it.
Gibbs waited for the girls to wander off to make their preparations before speaking. “What’s this all about?” he asked quietly.
Xander turned as if expecting the older man to speak, and smiled. “Willow and Tara seem to think I might help out with their spell.” He frowned. “The Morrigan is a powerful war goddess; she could really help out. And since it’s Willow’s father we’re rescuing, and it’s entirely possible he was taken simply to get at Willow, then I’m hoping Morrigan will have no problem helping out.”
Gibbs stared at the younger man. “You’re seriously talking about invoking a goddess,” he clarified.
“Yep,” Xander nodded. “We did something kind-of similar when we did the enjoining spell, though I’d really rather avoid that kind of fallout this time. Getting killed in your dream is so not fun.”
Gibbs shook his head. “I really don’t think I want to know,” he admitted finally.
Xander chuckled. “Yeah, you really don’t. Anyway, this time we’re invoking a goddess instead of the Slayer spirit who is not so good with the sharing, so we may be fine.” He frowned. “Just so long as I don’t turn into a crow,” he quipped.
Gibbs shook his head. “Again, I don’t want to know.” He clenched his jaw. “I’m going to be with you,” he decided. “I don’t like the idea of you being vulnerable during this spell.”
“Oh, don’t worry about that,” Xander dismissed. “I mean, sure, I’ll be glad to have you there, but you won’t be alone. With Riley’s people here, and this spell on the table, we’re going to have to change things around a bit.”
Gibbs nodded. “Just so long as I’m part of the group watching your six.”~~~~~
Gibbs looked over to where Tony was inspecting their position. They had chosen the roof of a vacant building in line of sight to the warehouse holding Dr Rosenberg. Like Tony, he was glad not to be accompanying Buffy and the vampires into battle. Of course, Tony was glad because he still wasn’t happy with the idea that vampires actually were real, while Gibbs hated the thought of letting anyone else stand guard over Xander while he was going to be so vulnerable. Not that he was admitting that
Ziva and Tim were guarding the non-combatants back at the Rosenberg residence, along with two of Finn’s people, while his shaman was here keeping a professional eye on the spell, along with Finn’s comms person and his 2IC, Miller. Apparently Angel wanted his man to be one of the humans in the raiding party, but Buffy had insisted there only be two going in, so Gunn was part of the raiding party.
Gibbs watched as the three spell casters began their ritual. The women wore tank tops, while Xander was bare-chested, and each had been painted with some kind of Celtic knot-work, Willow’s in red, Tara’s in white, and Xander’s in black. Willow, as lead spell caster, wielded a black feather dipped in blood that the three of them had contributed and mixed in an iron bowl, and painted bloody stripes over their faces while chanting in what Gibbs assumed was Celtic. The bowl was then set aside, and each of them took turns chanting and tossing a powder into a fire burning in the middle of them. Finally, they chanted in unison, a sound that began to reverberate around the space as a strange wind began whipping around them. The three gave a final shout, there was a flash of light, and then silence.
“We have come,” the three intoned.
Gibbs looked, and the eyes of each of them had changed colour to reflect the markings painted on their bodies. The three rose fluidly to their feet, and Gibbs could see the ghost images of the goddesses overlaying the solid humans before him.
“Now we go,” the three intoned, and, as Gibbs watched, Willow changed into a wolf, while Xander changed into a crow, and the pair of them took off for the fight. Tara remained at the site of the ritual, her white eyes far-seeing.
“Boss,” Tony began.
Gibbs turned to give the order, but Finn’s comms person was already talking to his CO, giving him the heads-up about the incoming help.~~~~~
Buffy turned at Riley’s ‘Holy crap,’ and frowned. He turned, wide-eyed, to Buffy, then back over his shoulder. Buffy waited for an explanation, then turned to look in the same direction as her ex-boyfriend. Riley gasped when he saw a large, red wolf crest the top of the building to land on the roof not far from them, and lope over to stand in front of Buffy, and gaped at the large, black bird that dropped to land on the wolf’s shoulder.
“Riley?” Buffy whimpered.
Riley cleared his throat. “Uh, the crow is Xander, and the wolf is Willow. Or, you know, the goddesses that, um, took them over.”
Gunn looked over at the animals doubtfully. “I thought they were just going to get a blessing, or something. Didn’t know anyone was going furry.”
Spike tilted his head, and approached the animals cautiously. “We are honoured you decided to join us, ladies,” he greeted formally. “Now can we get on with killing people?” he added with a grin.
Buffy snorted, and shook her head. “I guess you have a point,” she offered with a slight smile. “So everyone knows what to do? Riley and Gunn, you two get Will’s dad out, and, uh, you two just … whatever,” Buffy finished vaguely, waving a hand at the two animals.
With a cry from the crow, and a howl from the wolf, the animals entered the building, swiftly followed by the warriors. Once in the building, the wolf stopped, and seemed to demand Riley and Gunn’s attention. Once she had it, she led them out the back, to where Dr Rosenberg was being held. While the two men were prepared for a fight, the wolf took care of any demons in their way with brutal efficiency.
“It’s really them, isn’t it?” Gunn muttered.
“Let’s just say I’ve never seen Willow so eager to get into a fight,” Riley returned.
The two men followed the great wolf into a room, and found Dr Rosenberg chained to a bed, watching the animal with a healthy dose of fear.
“Dr Rosenberg?” Riley greeted. “I’m Riley Finn, I’m here with NCIS; we’re here to get you out.”
“Man, we ain’t got no bolt-cutters,” Gunn hissed.
Riley nodded, but his attention was on the scientist, who was watching the wolf. “She, uh, she won’t hurt you,” he tried to assure the older man.
“You know,” Ira Rosenberg mused, “her fur is the same colour as my daughter’s hair. Odd, isn’t it?”
Riley and Gunn exchanged bemused glances. “Uh, yeah. We’ll, um, get you out of there in just a minute,” he reassured the other man. “I can’t believe we didn’t think of bolt-cutters,” he added to Gunn.
“You know,” Gunn nodded to the odd pair on the bed, “we may not need them.”
Riley turned back to see the wolf take the chain in her mouth, and pull. With startling ease, the chain broke, and Dr Rosenberg was free.
Ira Rosenberg gaped at the sight. “But… But that’s impossible,” he muttered, stunned.
“Yeah, impossible,” Gunn grunted. “It’s the new black.” He blinked, and exchanged a disgusted look with Riley. “I have got to stop spending so much time with Cordelia.”
Riley shook his head. “I’ll see your Cordelia, and raise you a Buffy and a Dawn.”
“I fold,” Gunn grinned as he guided the former captive out of the room.
Once outside, they reversed the earlier trip, following the wolf out of the building. When they were at a respectable distance, they stopped, and the wolf promptly lay down at Ira’s feet, alert, but at rest. They waited there until a large crow dropped, cawing, out of the sky to land at the wolf’s side. The large bird was soon followed by Buffy and the vampires, all suitably gore-covered.
As Buffy approached, the wolf surged to her feet, and went to greet her. When she was close enough, the wolf rose up on her hind legs, and placed her fore-paws on Buffy’s shoulders, much to the Slayer’s dismay.
“Uh, guys,” Buffy whimpered, but the wolf simply nuzzled her snout against Buffy’s cheek before pushing off, and turning to leave. The crow hopped forward a few steps before flying up to Buffy’s shoulder. Once there, the large bird repeated the wolf’s gesture before launching into flight again. Without any further gesture, the two divine animals headed back to their sister manifestation.~~~~~
“The, uh, goddesses are inbound,” Malcolm, Finn’s comms tech, advised Gibbs.
Gibbs nodded, and turned to face the direction the two animals had originally taken off in. Within minutes, the great, black crow soared in, landing on the older man’s shoulder, to be followed moments later by the wolf. The crow launched off Gibbs’ shoulder, and flew to join the other two, morphing with the wolf back to its human form. The man and two women, their eyes still with their solid colours, the goddesses’ ghost forms still visible over their solid human shapes, joined hands, and intoned a final blessing, then there was a flash, and all three collapsed, boneless, to the ground.
Riley’s shaman gave each a check-over, and pronounced them mystically fine, and probably physically fine, but said that the medic would need to look at them to be sure.
The comms tech gave the good news about Dr Rosenberg, and passed on the news about the three spell-casters. Riley assured him that they were on their way, passing on Buffy’s concern, and receiving the shaman’s reassurances in return.
Gibbs frowned at the dark-haired man at his feet, and wondered how the hell he had gotten himself into this mess.~~~~~
Two hectic days had passed, and Gibbs was almost ecstatic at the assurance that the Sunnydale and LA groups were returning that afternoon to their respective homes, minus one.
“You sure about this?” Gibbs asked gently.
Xander grinned, and brushed the back of his fingers against the older man’s cheekbone. “Life is short. I want some time for me.”
“I’m old,” Gibbs offered, shaking his head.
Xander laughed. “Angel is over two hundred and fifty years, and Buffy dated him in high school. My last girlfriend was a demon for over a thousand years before Giles broke her power centre, and made her human again. You’re how old?”
Gibbs chuckled. “All of a sudden I feel like a child. So how old is Spike, then?”
Xander tilted his head in thought. “Uh, he was turned in the 1880’s?” he offered. “So, yeah.”
“How do you want to do this?” Gibbs asked, not
holding his breath for the answer.
Xander smiled, and slid his arms around Gibbs’ neck. “Like this,” he murmured, then closed the distance and kissed him.
Gibbs wrapped his arms around Xander’s waist, and deepened the kiss, tugging the younger man even closer. He broke the kiss, and caught his breath. “Maybe we could move somewhere a little more comfortable?” he suggested.
Xander quickly looked around. “Couch?”
Gibbs nodded, and steered them deftly towards the couch. He took a moment to remember his side-arm, and removed it, placing it on the side-table before turning back to his new lover. He grunted in surprise when Xander pushed him back and quickly straddled him, grinning, before grinning, himself, and pulling the younger man down for a kiss.
The two men tussled playfully for a while, exchanging heated kisses as they struggled for dominance. Gibbs had just managed to pin Xander to the couch, intending to kiss him senseless, when he heard a woman shriek. They both looked up to find Tony blushing furiously, while Cordelia stared at them in shock, her hand over her mouth.
“Oh my god!” Cordelia muttered finally. “Oh, god, it wasn’t a fight. Oh, that is it! I don’t need damn migraine-inducing visions of my ex-boyfriend making out with his new boyfriend. That is just beyond the call of duty,” she decided, furious.
“What the hell?” Gibbs demanded. “What are you even doing here?”
“Sorry, boss,” Tony winced, “but Ms Chase decided that she needed to make sure Harris was okay, and I honestly thought you two were going to be talking carpentry in the basement, or something.”
Gibbs heard a muffled noise beside him, and turned to glare at his lover.
“Sorry,” Xander giggled. “Really, I am. It’s just that the only reason Angel’s people were here in DC was because Cordy had a vision of me wrestling with an old guy on a couch, with a gun on the side-table. And, uh,” he looked around the room, “that’s exactly what she saw.”
“Thanks, really,” Cordelia muttered sourly. “Now I need the brain-bleach. I so do not need to see you making out with anyone. Though, at least it wasn’t Anya. What happened with her, anyway?”
Xander shrugged. “After Glory, she decided that it just wasn’t worth it. I was about to ask her to marry me, but she had already decided that South-Central LA had to be safer than Sunnydale, so she was moving.”
“Did she even ask if you wanted to move with her?” Tony asked, glancing curiously at Gibbs.
“I don’t think I would have even if she had asked me to,” Xander grimaced. He nibbled at his lip. “This vision, though; it changes things.”
“How?” Gibbs asked, frowning. Xander hadn’t been prepared to move for a woman he’d been about to propose to; why would a vision make a difference?
“Cordy gets visions from the Powers That Be,” Xander sighed. “It’s always been supernatural stuff for Angel to deal with. This time, it was you and me, and that’s all. It has to mean something, Gibbs. I just don’t know what that might be.”
“Fine,” Gibbs growled. “So what happens now?”~~~~~
Gibbs walked into the dimly lit house, and found his lover stretched out, asleep, on the couch. He stood there for a moment, and remembered their first time on the couch, and the painfully early interruption. Things had been sorted out, and he felt that he had gotten the best out of the deal, almost to the point of indecency. While the others were missing their dear friend, he had gained a strong, young lover, and a close friend.
“You’re thinking too hard,” Xander mumbled. “Come here and stop thinking.”
Gibbs grinned, and joined Xander on the couch, shifting until he was comfortable. “I was thinking about you, and how lucky I am to have you.”
Xander snorted. “If you want to get technical, the term is ‘blessed.’ ‘Cause those Powers are such nice folk.”
“You still waiting for the other shoe to drop?” Gibbs asked, concerned.
“Oh yeah,” Xander grunted. “They’re not the kind to just do something out of the kindness of their hearts. If they do have hearts,” Xander added, frowning slightly. “Do you think non-corporeal, anthropomorphised beings have hearts?”
“I have no god-damned idea, Xan,” Gibbs chuckled. He sighed. “So you think they’ve got a plan?”
“They’ve always got a plan,” Xander nodded thoughtfully. “Of course, it could just be a ‘get Xander away from the Hellmouth’ kind of plan, but I don’t know why they’d bother. And these guys are the types to work decades, even centuries on a plan. I just wish I knew what it was.” He smiled up at the older man. “But I’m not going to think too heavily on it tonight,” he decided.
“Good,” Gibbs grunted. He stood, and pulled Xander to his feet. “So tonight we’re not thinking about them?”
“Tonight is for us,” Xander smiled.~~~~~
The raven-haired beauty stared into the mirror. “He’s not wrong,” she mused. “I am sure many plans are currently in play for our boy.”
The scarlet-haired woman snarled. “They’ve lost before they’ve begun. I won’t have him taken from us.”
“Be at ease,” the white-haired woman smirked. “Our sister has claimed him, and they can no longer touch him. “They are no longer their toys.”~~~~~
A/N: This is one of the projects I've been doing in the background. Five and a half months in the making, and this story is finished. There is the possibility of a sequel, but don't hold your breath. It is a long way away. I did have a concept, but then realised I'd already dealt with Glory, so there went that story. Anyway, that's all there is to this story.