Buffy belongs to Joss. NCIS belongs to Bellisario. No money is being made here, it's all in good fun.
Willow had no idea how they’d known where to find her, but at least one of her cousins was keeping tabs on her, because the note Rona had brought in with the mail was correctly addressed. She hadn’t heard from either of her cousins in several months, and she knew better than to expect to hear from her uncle unless it was about her annual visit.
Probably a normal girl would have worried, but she was far from normal, and so were her relatives. Willow occasionally felt guilty that she didn’t worry about them more, but it was hard to find time to worry for her cousins when she saw so many other young men and women who led dangerous lives on a daily basis. Heck, she did too.
There was no air mail or international stamp- so whichever cousin it was from, they were in-country. The only question was which one. She hadn’t seen them write often enough to know their handwriting on sight. Not that it would necessarily have helped- she suspected that both of them would disguise their writing for something that other people might see. Waving Rona’s curiosity (and possibly concern) away, Willow opened the envelope.
There was a single sheet of paper inside. The note was terse- a phone number followed by a single line. Please call. Urgent. א
That meant it was Ari, then. She didn’t recognize the number, but that was hardly unusual. He’d used a different one every time he’d been Stateside, not that it happened often enough to give her much previous experience to work with. Three times, maybe four since Buffy had moved to Sunnydale.
Willow excused herself from the brunch table- calling it breakfast in Slayer House was fighting a losing battle, since the girls either ate when they came in from patrol or when they woke up, and neither time was what she had heard normal people thought of as breakfast.
“Everything ok, Will?” Buffy asked. She’d seen the note delivered, and read the concern on Rona’s face that went with it.
“I’m not sure,” Willow replied. “It’s from my cousin. He wants me to call him.”
“Ooh, is this one of the secret agent cousins?” Dawn asked, a note of excitement in her voice. She’d been dying to meet Willow’s uncle and his two surviving children ever since Willow had been forced to explain how exactly she’d been able to untangle the bureaucratic snafu that had resulted from Dawn’s first solo Council mission, which had been in the West Bank.
“Yes, this is one of the secret agent cousins,” Willow told her with a sigh. “It’s really not as glamorous as you think, Dawn. Their job is as dangerous as ours.”
“Exactly,” Dawn replied. “So they’d probably get it and treat me like a normal girl. Hell, I could even tell them the truth about my job, seeing as I know about theirs.”
Willow shook her head.
“Dawn, even I don’t know what they’re doing most of the time. And the only way you’ll meet my uncle is if you go back to Israel. He never leaves the country. I don’t think he even goes out in public much these days.”
Dawn wrinkled her nose.
“I’m sure at some point, the memory of being stuck in that stupid tunnel for thirteen hours before pulled out only to be arrested by some very cranky police, dragged off to Jerusalem, and then locked up for another twelve while our bureaucrats argued with their bureaucrats will fade enough for me to contemplate another trip there, but I’m just not feeling it yet.”
“Seeing as it’s made such a lasting impression, maybe that experience will drive home the lesson about checking for booby traps. Go call your cousin, Wills.”
Willow grinned fondly at the pout on Dawn’s face at the mention of booby traps and retreated to the privacy of her own room. Once there, she locked the door and cast a spell to prevent eavesdropping before she called. She’d learned to be cautious when contacting Ziva and Ari. They’d told her often enough that it was for her own safety as much as for theirs.
Ari picked up on the first ring.
“Shalom, little cousin. I hope you are well?”
“I’m good, just kinda surprised to hear from you. I figured you’d save catching up for my trip this summer.”
“My apologies, I did not know when or even if you were coming. I’m afraid my father has not kept me up to date. But surely you do not object if I want to catch up sooner?”
“I was wondering if you wanted to have a late lunch with me.”
“You’re in Cleveland?” Willow squealed excitedly.
“No, not Cleveland,” Ari replied with a laugh, “but close enough that you could still meet me if you wanted. It is early in the day.”
“Where and when?” Willow demanded.
“Can you be in Mount Vernon at noon?”
“Mount Vernon like where George Washington lived?” Willow replied, slightly confused.
“That is the place,” her cousin replied.
Willow thought fast. She could do it by airplane if she hurried. She tried to save magical means of transportation for true emergencies, and somehow she was sure that Ari would have found a subtle way to mention if it was an emergency. His early in the day comment seemed to imply he expected her to do things conventionally.
“I think so, yeah,” she said. “If I leave for the airport like right now. I don’t need to bring much, do I?”
“Just yourself… and perhaps a friend,” Ari said, sounding thoughtful. “Yes, I think it would be best if you brought your good friend. Safer.”
Willow paused. Her ‘good friend’ had to mean Buffy, but it was odd he didn’t just say it if that was who he meant. She started to ask, but suddenly realized Ari hadn’t called her anything but ‘little cousin’. He evidently didn’t want to use names, even over a burn phone.
And safer? While the Israeli branch of the family was always security conscious, for obvious reasons, none of them had ever said something like that before. It was a little worrying. Ari being who he was, it wasn’t like she could come right out and ask if he was in trouble.
“Ari, is everything ok?”
“Not over the phone, little cousin. I will see you for lunch. We will talk then.”
Willow exhaled as she hung up. She hoped Buffy didn’t have other plans for the day. It sounded like something serious was about to go down.