Notifications and Introductions
Buffy the Vampire Slayer,
NCIS are all the properties of their respective creators, producers, and distributors. No copyright infringement is intended. No profit will be made.
Author's Notes: I now have (counts in head) a minimum of four stories going on, and I promised myself I would finish this before I did the last chapter to “Haven and Home”. Everything ties in to an eventual epic, apocalyptic battle (or, as TV Tropes would put it, “Battle Royale with Cheese”).
I'm beginning to think that Joss is destined to become the next Kevin Bacon – as in Six Degrees Of. Many of the actors of BtVS have gone on to other roles in other series, some of them pivotal. So what happens when an actor (like, oh, David Boreanaz) plays a major character in two series (BtVS and Angel) and an even more major character in another (Bones)? As a writer, I figure I have two choices: completely ignore it OR put a lampshade on it. Of course, if you're going to put a lampshade on it, you do have to provide a logical reason for the uncanny resemblance. Which I will.
The secretary knew well enough by now that if Special Agent Gibbs strode into the vestibule office, she might as well announce him to Director Vance, as Gibbs never cared if he was interrupting a call from the SecNav or a rare game of Minesweeper.
“Special Agent Gibbs to see you, sir,” she managed as Gibbs reached for the door handle.
Gibbs shot her a look with a slightly raised eyebrow – enough so she knew he was amused by her timing, not annoyed.
“He's expected,” Vance replied through the intercom. “Don't bother sending him in. He knows the way.”
Gibbs stepped into the inner sanctum of NCIS's director and closed the door behind him. As always, he scanned the room. Old habit. Old Marine sniper habit. Abby might occasionally tease him about it, but she knew just as well as the rest of the team that his hyperacuity had saved their lives on more than one occasion.
The office was much the same. Vance preferred the kind of overstuffed chairs and dark wood found in a smoking club. Luxurious without being opulent. Solid, a little intimidating, but also comfortable. There were two new photos of his children on the desk. The school portraits must have been sent out. The two men and the woman standing in front of Vance's desk were completely unknown to him.
“You're getting old, Gibbs,” Vance said. “A couple of years ago, Charlene never would have gotten the announcement to me before you were inside.”
“Maybe she's just getting better,” Gibbs replied and waited.
The visitors, all wearing badges, turned to face him. All of them had the expression, stance, and wardrobe of either government agents or non-government professionals. The taller man, dark haired and observant, wore the uniform of a United States naval commander. From the ranks of awards on his chest, Gibbs could count the number of deployments, campaigns, and combat theaters he'd been to. With that number, he would have expected a Bronze Star. With that rank, the lack of a Bronze Star didn't mean cowardice or incompetence. It meant he worked behind the scenes – not a rear echelon MF and not special forces, but probably a liaison between navy and other units. He would have sent men into combat. He'd have played political chicken with different branches of the service, and he'd have seen men die by the score on his watch.
The second man wore the standard issue black suit, crisp white shirt, and narrow black tie of a government agent. He also had custom made Italian leather shoes that Gibbs would have bet his next handbuilt wooden boat would survive running a marathon and had more than one hideout. His sunglasses were folded and placed in his jacket pocket. He stood with the ease of an athlete, a soldier. He wore a wedding band. The cut of his suit told Gibbs that it was tailored so he could move easily in it. Special forces under a civilian cover? He looked as wholesome as a fresh picked apple.
This was getting bad.
The woman bothered him the most. Tall, slender to the point of skinny, restless, and dressed to kill, figuratively and metaphorically. She set her gaze on him, and he could feel the burn of some obsessive desire. Not towards him. From the way she looked at him, he was a tool. Whoever she'd decided to take down, they were in for a world of hurt. She wouldn't stop until they were pulpy bits ground into the carpet, and she probably wouldn't care who else got hurt. Just so long as she got hers.
“We're kinda busy, Leon,” he told Vance.
“Not right now, but you will be,” the director answered. “This is Special Agent Riley Finn, currently attached to Homeland Security.”
Vance indicated Mr. Wholesome, who held out his hand to shake. Gibbs gave it a shake, measuring what he could. The man was in excellent physical condition. He had callouses on his hand, met his eyes, and showed only a little wariness.
“Currently?” Gibbs asked. “Who are you normally with?”
Finn gave him a wry smile. “I can't reveal that, Agent Gibbs. Let's just say I'm on loan for the greater good.”
“This is Commander Jarod Leightner, previously stationed in Brussels,” Vance indicated the other man.
They shook hands, and Gibbs got a totally different read off him. Unafraid. Curious. And very, very smart. Abby would go nuts for him, and he wasn't wearing a wedding ring. Brussels could mean NATO headquarters or a thousand other things.
“And this is a special operative,” Vance indicated the woman, “whose function will become apparent once you're briefed on the mission.”
“Katherine Parker,” the woman introduced herself, shaking Gibbs' hand. Sharp as broken glass this woman was. Dangerous, and not just to whomever she'd taken a dislike to. He was going to have to warn Tony off. McGee, at least, had enough self-preservation to stay away.
“Mission?” Gibbs asked Vance. “Not an investigation?”
“October twelfth, two thousand,” Commander Leightner said.
“Bombing of the USS Cole,” Gibbs responded. He'd been stationed stateside and hadn't been involved in the investigation, but a lot of work had been shifted to him as NCIS poured resources into the investigation.”
“October twenty-third, nineteen eighty-three,” Special Agent Finn added.
“Bombing of the Marines barracks in Beirut,” Gibbs said. The death toll from those two events was well over three hundred Marines. There wasn't a Marine in the world who didn't know those two dates.
“What if I told you that both those events were planned and enabled by a covert organization here on US soil?” the woman asked. “What if I told you that I can hand you the keys to their headquarters and the nails to their coffins if you'll work with us?”
His eyes narrowed. Even just a couple of years ago, his response would have been “what do you need?” Even now, he had to control that, narrow his eyes, and consider them.
These people were connected to one another, but there was more going on than just the group they were talking about.
“Why me? Why my team?”
Vance waited patiently, knowing there was no pushing Leroy Jethro Gibbs into something.
“Your team has an outstanding record,” Commander Leightner told him. “And it's got a range of abilities that we might be able to duplicate, but a history we can't touch. We need to know that the people we're working with are a cohesive unit.”
“Oh, they're that,” Gibbs answered.
“If Miss Parker's information on the hierarchy of this group, The Centre, is accurate,” Agent Finn said, “you'll be able to bring in up to a dozen terrorists personally responsible for planning the bombings and see them held accountable in a court of law.”
“Is it accurate?” Gibbs asked Parker.
“Wait,” Dr. Temperance Brennan said. “Why do they want us?”
Seely Booth, her longtime and long suffering partner, sighed. “Because there are a bunch of angles on this case, including serial kidnappings of gifted children. They need a forensic anthropologist in on this, because we're talking about at least forty years of activity. Plus, there are supposed to be bodies buried all over the place. They want scientific backup, they want psych-ops kind of stuff, and they really want squints. Very hush hush sort of thing.”
“Forty years?” Angela asked. “And it's not a serial killer?”
Booth shook his head. “No, it's a covert organization, acting on a global scale. It's like Al Qaeda
“Now there is a scary thought,” Dr. Saroyan said.
“We've got upwards of thirty or more children, kidnapped from the late sixties through last year. These kids don't show up on any of the databases because their families disappeared too,” Booth told them. “Info I've gotten is shaky, but in most of the cases, the parents were threatened into silence – talk and we'll take your other kids – or they went into hiding because this placewas trying to kidnap their other kids.”
“Wait,” Brennan said again. “Why entire families? Are they looking for some sort of inheritable factor?”
“I don't know,” Booth told them. “It's squint stuff. Psychological motivation, ESP, and apparently some sort of take-over-the-world conspiracy. I got pulled in on it this morning. There are multiple teams, and I've seen some of the names involved. This is real, and they want us.”
“Hang on,” Dr. Hodgins said. “I just want to get this straight. There actuallyis a group conspiring to take over the world. And our government is going to take it down.”
“Right,” Booth agreed.
“You realize that I am never going to let you live this down,” Hodgins said.
“I'm willing to live with that.”
Which, in and of itself, told them just how serious FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth was.
“Think it'll work?” Willow asked.
She sat across a comfy chair in the house they'd rented in DC for however long they would stay. Jarod had an uncanny skill at finding places that took cash, didn't ask many questions, and had landlords willing to fix plumbing problems by the next day. Two of three, Willow guessed, could be had at any time. All three together?
“I don't know,” Buffy answered, pacing the room. “I mean, on one hand, there's no possible way they could ignore what Jarod and Kate are taking them, right? They don't even have to make anything up. The Centre has been behind some seriously heinous stuff. But, it is kind of inching into tinfoil hatland too.”
“There's weirder stuff out there. I mean, the Initiative?” Willow pointed out.
“But who's going to believe we're included?” Buffy asked. “We're talking about FBI and . . . whoozit?”
“NCIS,” Willow repeated.
“What does that even stand for?” Buffy asked.
“Naval Criminal Investigative Service,” Willow answered. “They're Navy cops. They investigate crimes aboard ship, on Naval and Marine bases, and the deaths of any Navy or Marine personnel.”
Buffy gave her a very reproachful look.
“Tara had a thing forJAG,” Willow answered. “So I picked up the lingo.”
“Right, and so the FBI and the Navy cops are going to look atus and say 'hey, those two look nothing like coeds in need of a wet t-shirt contest, let's include them in our incredibly secret and ultra-coordinated mission to take down a worldwide conspiracy. What could possibly go wrong?'”
The other two persons present shifted. The older one cleared his throat.
“I think you'll find, Miss Summers, that Jarod can convince nearly anyone of nearly anything with even the least amount of preparation. It certainly helps that he's worked as an FBI agent before. And a naval officer.”
“It's Buffy,” she said, leaving the nail she'd been chewing. “If you're just Sidney, then I'm just Buffy.”
Sidney gave her an avuncular smile. “You may want to start introducing yourself as Elizabeth or Anne Summers. If there's anything that will give a government agent pause, it will be an operative named Buffy.”
“If I can slay vampires as a Buffy,” she said, glaring at him, “I can take down global conspiracies as a Buffy. Besides, Buffy is my first name. It's not a nickname.”
“Parents,” Broots muttered.
“Careful, nerd boy,” Willow warned him. “I acknowledge your hacker skills, but diss my Buffster, and I will take you down.”
“Why do the scary women always pick on me?” Broots asked Sidney.
Before Sidney could answer, Buffy's cellphone rang.
“You gave Riley the William Tell Overture
as a ring tone?” Willow asked, aghast.
Buffy shushed her as she answered.
For several moments, she listened.
“Uh huh. Uh huh. What did Jarod say? Really?”
Several more moments passed.
“Okay. Yeah, full wardrobe and props, no problem. Yeah. Okay. Text me the address?”
After she said goodbye and closed her phone, she faced the others. “We're on. Mission briefing is in two hours. I've got the address. We've got just enough time to get changed and drive there. Riley said to go full bore. We're to stick to the backgrounds Jarod made us. Broots, is everything in?”
“If you mean the enormous amount of completely faked life data all the way back to an in-school suspension for setting loose the frogs intended for dissection in biology class in seventh grade for Willow there, to the point that even NCIS's computer whizzes and the FBI can't make us, then yes. And let me tell you, the word on the federal geeks is that they are world class.”
“We'll need it,” Buffy said.
“Why did it have
to be frogs?” Willow asked Broots.
The building they were scheduled to meet in was on the grounds of the Jeffersonian – a lecture hall devoted to educational outreach. However, it took security clearance to get to it without a guide, and it had the media equipment both Miss Parker and Commander Leightner insisted was needed. As they were already on the grounds, Special Agent Booth and the Jeffersonian forensic anthropology team under Dr. Temperance Brennan walked over to the room. Dr. Hodgins and Angela fussed over getting the listed and stacked equipment connected, booted up, and running properly.
“I'm just going to make sure the others can find us,” Booth said, heading out of the room.
“Booth, there are five classrooms in this building, and the other four are locked,” Brennan pointed out.
“Yeah, I know,” he answered sheepishly, “but I really want to meet Agent Gibbs. Living. Legend. Seriously.”
“I don't understand what that has to do with providing visual cues to find the room,” Brennan said.
“Let him go,” Dr. Saroyan told him. “It's a guy thing.”
“How can something be a guy thing if it doesn't involve a pe-”
“Trust me.” Cam cut her off. “Just trust me on this one.”
There was actually good reason for Agent Booth to meet the others at the entrance. While the foyer was open enough to allow large groups to gather, beyond the admittance desk, there was a warren of offices and storage. The signs weren't very clear, and what looked like the obvious route – wide, well-traveled, and well lit – actually ended at the main set of restrooms.
Not wanting to have to sign in and out each time someone arrived, Booth chose a spot where he could see the visitors enter before they saw him. NCIS was a well regarded organization, especially under the hand of Director Leon Vance. Special Agent Gibbs was the stuff of “no shit, there I was” stories told when law enforcement officers got together after hours. His team had one of the highest clearance rates in law enforcement. Gibbs had a storied history as a Marine sniper. Their forensics guru was considered one of the best in the world and had been wooed without success by any number of private organizations. A Mossad agent
had left her country and citizenship behind so she could continue to work as a member of Gibbs' team.
And then there were the others. Special Agent Riley Finn rang some very quiet bells in the back of his head. He couldn't be sure, because there was no paperwork to check, but the name had come up while he was in Iraq, and when the name came up, some random trouble spot stopped being troublesome. Usually, it was never heard from again. Commander Leightner . . . there was an odd one. His file was extremely short, in the sort of way that made it clear a large segment had been redacted.
Plus, the civilians. If he hadn't worked with Temperance all these years, he would have refused the assignment based on just that, but the backgrounds on them checked out, and if it were possible for a 20-year old woman to be one of the toughest hand-to-hand combatants in the world and the other 20 year-old woman to be the kind of computer hacker and all around genius that made the CIA salivate, well, it was possible.
“Why am I wearing heels?” Buffy asked, exasperated. “I hate heels.”
“And skirts,” Willow reminded her.
“And skirts,” Buffy agreed. “Skirts suck. I can't move in them, I can't fight in them, and they always need ironing.”
“You look hot,” Willow told her.
“Do I?” Buffy asked. “You wouldn't lie to me, would you? I'm feeling a little insecurish.”
“Gee, hadn't noticed at all.” Willow rolled her eyes.
“Hey, in case you haven't noticed, Jedi Master, I fight vampires. Not people. Vampires. Vampires that go fwoomph
when exposed to sunlight. Or poof
when staked. People bleed. And they have guns.”
“Buffy.” Willow stopped in her tracks, causing Buffy to stop as well, and causing Broots and Sidney to nearly run them down. “Have you read the highlighted sections of the prophesy I gave you? Even a little?”
Buffy wobbled her head evasively. “. . . Some.”
“Okay, well, consider this a practice run. From what the prophesy hints at, there will be a lot more evil humans and a lot fewer vampires. You have to widen your scope. We've got enough Slayers. We need a warrior queen, and Xena's a few centuries out of style.”
Buffy stared down at her feet. She sighed heavily. “I thought I had it figured out is all. Me, Slayer. World, stupid but still here.”
“Hey.” Willow leaned in and took her best friend's hand. “You're not in this alone.”
Buffy took another deep breath, this time, bracing herself. “You're right. If there's one thing I've got for this particular end of the world, it's company.”
“That's the spirit!”
They turned toward the building and started walking again.
“Did I mention I hate skirts?” Buffy asked.
“Yeah, but you still look hot.”
Riley looked up from his smartphone, a thought crystallizing in his head.
“Jarod, where's Buffy?” he asked.
“She should be ahead of us,” Jarod answered. “She's probably already in the building.”
“And Special Agent Booth?”
“I think he's already in the meeting room,” Jarod answered. “Why?”
“I just remembered why that guy's face bugged me so much. Come on.”
“I am not
running,” Miss Parker stated.
Riley and Jarod took off at a run.
“God, I want a cigarette,” Miss Parker swore.
“So, let me get this straight, Boss,” Special Agent Tony DiNozzo said, “we're working with the FBI, some vague-ed up Homeland Security guy who could be anything from CIA to NSA to MIB, a bunch of civilians, and
“Looks like,” Gibbs answered.
“I can't wait,” McGee said, smiling. “The Jeffersonian is my favorite museum in the whole world.”
“Of course it is, Mc-Gee-I'm-a-Nerd,” Tony answered.
“Are you kidding?” Abby asked. “Why do you think I let you pry me out of my lab? We're going to be working with Doctor Temperance Brennan
“People still name their kids Temperance?” Tony asked. “What, is she eighty years old?”
“Try south of forty,” Abby said. “I went to her seminar on determining body weight by femur thickness. She is amazing.”
“She is the foremost expert in forensic anthropology,” Ducky said. “There is no one else I'd trust to sort through a case I couldn't solve.”
“Has that even happened?” McGee asked.
“Well, no,” Ducky admitted. “And not that I would wish for such an occurrence, which is why I'm delighted to be included in this exercise.”
“It's not an exercise, Ducky,” Gibbs said. “It's a mission.”
“She spent some time in Israel, helping identify the remains of a Hamas suicide bombing,” Ziva said. “I was not there, but I am told her work allowed several families to put their loved ones to rest. She is brilliant and abrasive, and she worked without a break to identify as many remains as possible so the bodies could be buried before the full day had ended.”
They had reached the wide brick apron spreading out from the building's entrance, each member of the team carrying a backpack or other equipment, each of the agents carrying at least one main weapon and a backup weapon. In Ziva's case, no one took Tony's odds that she was carrying at least ten weapons on her person and could improvise another five if you gave her half a minute.
Two men – the agents Gibbs had met in Vance's office – sprinted past them, racing for the doors. Even as they reached them, a woman inside had started shouting.
“Trouble?” Tony asked.
“Sounds like,” Gibbs said, and they ran for the door.
“I hate high heels,” Buffy muttered, tottering as one of her heels almost got caught in a sidewalk seam.
She hopped on the other foot a couple of inches and managed to right herself without losing the shoe. Points for the Slayer.
“Why does it seem so much colder here than Cleveland?” she asked Willow. “Aren't we further south?”
“It's the rain,” Willow said. “And the gray. It always seems colder if it's cold and wet as opposed to cold and snowy.”
The foyer was open and inviting. Willow looked over the displays with longing.
“Later,” Buffy told her as she signed in at the desk. “I'm sure there'll be a little time before-”
“Hi,” a tall man said. “You must be Buffy Summers and colleagues.”
“Yep,” Buffy answered, looking up from the roster. Her line of sight started at his belt buckle, which was bright red and said “COCKY”. “That's -
And she met his eyes.
“Angel?” she whispered.
“What?” Willow asked, looking over from a diorama of human sacrifice through the ages.
Agent Booth blinked in confusion when the young woman he greeted looked up at him and went white as a ghost.
And Buffy Summers, senior Vampire Slayer, for the first time in her life, fainted dead away.
Agent Booth was fast enough to catch her, but just as he started to pick the young woman up, the redhead with her went apocalyptic on him.
“BACK THE HELL OFF RIGHT NOW OR YOU WILL REGRET IT!
His reaction to imminent death was automatic. He dropped the woman and reached for his weapon. Brennan could explain to him later how a woman's eyes could go completely black and her voice drop four octaves, but right then, he was going to make sure he could get at least one round off before she squeezed all his blood out of him.
Two men sprinted through the doors behind her.
“STAND DOWN! STAND DOWN!
” one of them shouted.
The other skidded to a stop and put himself in front
of the seething, filled-with-death redhead.
“Willow, easy,” the man urged her. “Easy. It's okay. It's not what you think.”
The other man got right in front of Booth.
“Stand down, Agent,” he ordered. “Holster your weapon.”
Booth kept his grip on his nine millimeter semi-automatic, but took a half step back.
“There's been a misunderstanding,” the man in front of him repeated. “It's my fault. No one's in any danger. Willow, you hear that? No one is in any danger. This is FBI Special Agent Seely Booth.”
“THE HELL HE IS!”
But her voice had returned to its normal octave, and her eyes weren't blacked out any more.
“Willow, look,” the second man said. “He's standing in direct sunlight. See?”
Willow looked over his shoulder at Booth, both furious and frantic.
“What the hell does-” Booth started to say.
“Stand down, agent,” the first man ordered again. “Holster your weapon.”
Booth took two hard breaths as a new group of people – all of them agents, all of them armed – poured in through the doors.
The first man leaned in towards him.
“Sergeant,” he said in lower voice. “Stand down. You and I both know there's some weird stuff out there. You were just on the receiving end. I will explain. But first,holster your weapon.”
Very slowly, Agent Booth took his finger off the trigger.
“Get ducky!” one of the new people called, which made no sense to Booth.
“Keep going, sergeant,” the man said.
With a deep breath, Booth put the safety on, stood straight, and holstered his weapon.
The redhead stepped back and shook her arms out, trying to release the tension she felt.
“Willow?” the first man called.
“Okay!” she snapped. “But this better be good, Riley.”
The agents, all of them wearing NCIS insignia, ranged around them, blocking access to the doors, and placing themselves where each of them covered one of the participants. Each of the four had their own guns out, pointed at the ground. Once Booth secured his gun, they put theirs away.
The secretary peeked out over the desk. The other two men who'd been present – one nerdy, the other an elderly scholar – had pressed themselves against the glass barrier in front of the diorama.
“What do we do?” the nerdy one whispered.
“Stay quiet, don't move, and pretend you're not visible,” the other answered.
“Oh, that's easy,” the nerd answered. "I do that all the time."
“Jarod, how's Buffy?” the man, Riley, asked.
Jarod had knelt beside her and very gently turned her towards him.
“Pulse is fast, skin is clammy, breathing is shallow. Agent Booth,” Jarod looked up at him. “What happened?”
Booth put a hand to his forehead, aware that he'd just gone into a flop sweat. He'd been in more than a few tight spots before, but he had never
stared at Death quite like that. He didn't know how, he just knew it would have been instant, messy, and horrible.
“She just . . .” he started and had to swallow. “She just looked up at me and fainted dead away. I swear I didn't do anything.”
Jarod picked her up, cradling her head against his shoulder.
Riley – Special Agent Riley Finn, the one who'd called him in on this – kept his voice low. “You look exactly like – and I mean exactly
like – an ex-boyfriend of hers. He died last year.”
“Okay,” Booth managed to concede. “I can see where that might be upsetting. And why did the redhead want me dead?”
“It was . . . kind of a bad breakup,” Riley answered. "Buffy and Willow are best friends. Willow's . . . protective."
“What's the sitrep?” Special Agent Gibbs called, watching every movement.
two people entered – a short man with a friendly demeanor and a tall, lean woman dressed in black, chains, and tattoos.
“Good grief, what's happened?” Ducky asked.
“Ducky,” Gibbs said, pointing him towards Jarod. "She
fainted. The rest I'm not sure about.”
“Oh, well, let's see,” Ducky answered, making his way through the crowd of people.
Once Ducky reached Jarod and took a look at Buffy, the tension in the crowd bled off.
“Let's get everyone in to the designated meeting room and find somewhere this young lady can recover,” Ducky suggested.
“You . . . have to sign in,” the secretary said, holding out a pen with a shaking hand.
As they queued up to sign in, one last person joined them – Katherine Parker, who had neither hurried nor worried. She flashed a curious look at Willow, who had closed her eyes and was beginning a deep breathing exercise.
“I suppose I missed the Keystone Cops convention,” she said to no one in particular.
“You have no idea,” one of the NCIS agents said. He looked her over and gave her a suave, self-assured smile. “I'm Special Agent Tony DiNozzo. You are?”
She glared at him like he was a bug. “Not interested.”
She cut in line.
As Finn began to herd people through the checkpoint, Gibbs went over to Booth.
“You okay?” he asked softly, not looking at him.
Booth was still aware of his heart pounding in his chest, and in another thirty minutes, his flop sweat would transform into some ferocious BO.
“Give me a couple more minutes,” he said. “That was . . . intense.”
“Yeah,” Gibbs agreed.
Then he changed his demeanor and looked directly at Booth.
“Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs, NCIS” he introduced himself and held out a hand.
Booth took it in a firm shake. “Special Agent Seely Booth, FBI,” he responded. “I've heard a lot about you.”
“I could say the same,” Gibbs responded, scratching the side of his face. “There are some real stories about your work with Dr. Brennan. And your work in the army.”
“Whatever you do,” Booth said, pointing at Willow, who had calmed herself down and was talking to the two men who'd come in with her, “do not piss off the redhead.”
Gibbs indicated with a turn of his mouth that he completely understood. “I've always been partial to redheads myself, but she looks like trouble.”
“You have no idea.”