An NCIS Crossover with Buffy, the Vampire Slayer
A Murder in Norfolk
Notes: I mention real ships in this story, but all the characters are fiction. Any resemblance between any of these characters and real persons is strictly unintended coincidence.
The NCIS Team, plus Willow, drove for Norfolk with flashing lights as fast as Gibbs could drive. Traffic kept him from going crazy fast, although Willow was ready to bail out by the time they got outside of the city limits . If the others were worried, they didn't say until hours later when they nearly became airborne on the downside of the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel.
"Hey Gibbs," said DiNozzo, "I'd really like to live to see tomorrow."
Gibbs didn't answer, but he did slow a little; in the end Gibbs had shaved a half hour off the normal three hour trip. But they finally made it to the Norfolk NCIS office in one piece. They all followed Gibbs up the steps to the NCIS building in the Norfolk Navy Yard. Gibbs started to talk to the receptionist when a man in a expensive suit came out of the corner office.
"Hey hey, if it isn't my old buddy Jethro Gibbs! Howya doin' these days?"
"Fine Bill, fine. Guys, this is Bill Nielsson, Bill, this is my team..."
"So you're the poor bastards who have to put up ol' 'Sinker' Gibbs! Did he ever tell you about his first trip around Cape Hatteras? He was a brand new PFC, right outta boot camp. It was about 1970 or so and I was a new Lieutenant (jg) on the Manitowac, the second of the Newport LST class, and for the first part of the cruise for some reason there weren't any Marine Officers on board to ride herd on you flakes. So it was up to me, eh, Gibbs, up to me to keep you from falling overhead, eh?"
Gibbs wore a fixed smile and he had developed a noticeable muscle spasm in his neck as he said, "Yes, and now I'm your senior in the NCIS, funny world, isn't it?"
Nielsson laughed out loud and said, "You shoulda seen him on his first night at sea. We hit a little weather and all the leathernecks were sicker 'n dogs. The heads near the Marine's compartment were awash with vomit, it was disgustin', I tell you, I mean really disgustin'! Next day it had to be cleaned out with a firehose, it was so bad. But that night, a little after midrats, young PFC Gibbs crawled up and aft to the fantail where he finds a cook loungin' against a bulkhead smokin' a cigarette. The cook says...," Nielsson broke up laughing and slapped his knee, "...so the cook says, 'Needed a little fresh air, eh?' And Gibbs answered, 'I just wanted to see the sky again before we sink!' And the cook laughs at him, laughs out loud and tells his friends about the dumb seasick jarhead who thought we were in heavy seas and about to sink!" Nielsson laughed some more, while Gibbs forehead veins developed alarming pulses, and continued, "so the rest of the cruise ol' Gibbs was known as 'Sinker', did he ever tell you that story?"
After a moment Nielsson continued, "When we finally got to that island somewhere in the Caribbean to practice beach assaults, what was the name of that place, do you remember Gibbs?"
"No Bill, can't say I do."
"Well whatever, Gibbs was the first to hit the beach, you can betcher ass he was the first down the bow ramp. I heard he got down on his hands and knees and kissed the sand!"
Gibbs said quietly, "That didn't happen. Look Bill, we heard about your four agents going down at the hands of our only viable suspect..."
Nielsson interrupted again, "Now wait just a damn minute Jethro, those weren't my agents. Everybody at ACSIT received the warnings from Major Finn's outfit, we were supplying backup and surveillance as requested."
"So who were they then?" asked Gibbs.
"They were from the Little Creek office, they had just got back from the Inter-Agency Counter-Intelligence Conference in Washington, and saw the update that went out, you saw it too, right? Anyway, they took it upon themselves to try and arrest this Drusilla person."
Gibbs thought about asking Nielsson why he hadn't warned other NCIS offices, especially since Little Creek and the Norfolk office were only a few miles apart, but finally decided it would be pointless.
"And besides," Nielsson continued, "what do you mean 'only viable suspect'? We've got lot's of leads, I have more than fifty Special Agents, ten Investigators, four Marine NCIS Special Agents, as well as fifty support personal at ACSIT and I assure you everybody is working hard to develop leads! I just can't figure out what to do with you folks from Washington."
"We're here primarily for the Lilly Hornsby case, plus we have another case, the Yarro murder, which could be connected to your investigation, but we don't know for sure. Therefore, we simply want to coordinate our efforts, make certain we aren't duplicating anything, until we've developed enough evidence to determine whether it is or isn't part of your case. At that time, we will either hand it to you, or continue on independently, depending on what the facts dictate."
"Yeah, right, you just want to horn in on the biggest murder investigation NCIS has handled in years!"
"No Bill, that's the difference between you and me, I just want to put criminals in prison; nothing else matters to me. Now, who in your ACSIT will be our liaison so we can compare notes?"
As they left, some twenty minutes later, Gibbs muttered, "I hated that blowhard when he was a Navy Lieutenant, and now he's even a bigger asshole than he used to be. If I had to work for him I'd have to retire just to keep from shooting myself."
"Don't worry boss," said DiNozzo, "we won't repeat that story." Tony's assurances were a little offset by the muffled laughter that escaped his throat.
Ziva said, "Just tell me how many weeks you want him stuck in the hospital and I'll make certain he gets the necessary injuries, anonymously of course."
"Thanks for the thought Ziva, but that won't be necessary. Well, we all have embarrassing stories from our youth, and now you've heard mine, and we'll never speak of it again, right? What's that, I don't hear anything..."
"Right boss," said Tony.
"You got it, never again," said Ziva.
"Nope, that's the last time, you can count on us boss," said Tim.
"I'd better. One thing you can bet on is that Bill Nielsson spends most of his waking hours thinking about how to advance his career, and not many hours trying to solve crime. Remember that when we deal with him."
"I have some experience in working around overly officious bureaucrats," said Willow, "which surely describes your friend Bill."
Gibbs was startled when he realized that Willow Rosenberg was still with them. He frowned as he thought back and tried to figure out whether she had been there the entire time, or had just wandered back. "I'll keep that in mind."
NCIS Special Agent at Sea Robert Hafele, on board the USS Stout, DDG 55, walked up to the bridge in answer to a summons from the Captain. It was a beautiful day, plenty of sunshine, scattered clouds, a fresh breeze that was neither too hot nor too cold, but the waves and especially the swells were the remains of a severe storm that was still blowing itself out many miles to the north. So the ship was lively, bouncing up and down like an over-excited puppy with the bow wave looking like a bone in its teeth. They'd been been cruising long enough for everyone on board to have gained their sealegs and settle down to the work and pace of life at sea.
Except today the whole crew was buzzing about the dead machinist's mate found that morning in the paint locker. Up until then, they had been looking forward to a couple of weeks in port after exercises in the North Atlantic which had been about as grueling as such things could be without being for real. The Stout had stopped for a brief port of call at the Washington Navy Yard, and was finally on the way to her home port in Norfolk.
Just as Hafele stepped onto the bridge, the Quartermaster of the Watch announced on the 1MC, "Now hear this, all hands to Special Sea and Anchor detail." Hafele was nearly bowled over by sailors rushing past in both directions. After the rush, he stepped over to the Captain's chair and asked, "You wanted to see me Captain Decker?"
The position of an NCIS agent at sea presented some peculiar etiquette problems, since he was a civilian and not in the chain of command, and yet had the power of arrest and detention over potentially anyone on the ship. In practice, he didn't arrest anyone unless he had damn good reason, and was careful to keep the Captain informed of his progress. The complications were enhanced further by the fact that this wasn't the ship he was normally assigned to; Hafele was from the USS Bataan, LHD-5, the flagship of the small amphibious assault group. Hafele had been dropped off by helicopter earlier in the day, shortly after the gruesome discovery.
Captain Decker asked, "Have you finished questioning my crew?" He didn't sound particularly enthused about Special Agent Hafele, but he was probably just pissed about the whole situation.
"No sir, we're going to be met in Norfolk by more NCIS agents as well as forensics technicians, the crew will have to be questioned, but I have been able to narrow our focus. I think most will be able to go about their business in just a few hours."
"But not everyone," the Captain said flatly.
"No sir, not everyone. And with a little luck, we will find our murderer. You understand sir, that as soon as we tie up to the pier this investigation is out of my hands, whoever Washington sent will be in charge."
Captain Decker nodded as he looked through his binoculars out to the horizon.
A watchstander announced, "Sea buoy off the starboard bow, zero two zero relative."
"Look at that," said Captain Decker to Hefele, "we sighted the outer buoy just five minutes after the prediction and no one's excited. Back when I was an Ensign, if we sighted the sea buoy within two hours of the predicted time, everybody congratulated each other on a superb navigational feat. GPS has ruined the thrill of ocean navigation."
Agent Hafele reflected on the thrill of getting lost at sea, but choose not to voice the thought.
The Captain ordered, "Come right to two eight five true. Reduce speed to twelve knots."
The helmsman replied, "Two eight five, aye."
The lee helmsman replied, "Twelve knots, aye."
The Captain turned to Agent Hafele to ask another question when the helmsman reported a little breathlessly, "Sir, helm does not respond!"
"Repeat your last sailor," the Captain asked quietly but intensely.
"The helm does not respond, sir."
Captain Decker jumped off his command chair and looked over the shoulder at the helmsman's control panel. He turned to a watchstander and said, "Call After-Steering."
The watchstander said, "After-Steering, Bridge, report," over his sound powered phone set. After a couple of repeats he said to the captain, "No reply sir, nothing at all from After-Steering."
The Captain ordered, "All Stop! Rudder amidships, if it responds. Chief, get down to after steering. Agent Hafele, go with the Chief Quartermaster, perhaps you can find someone who's arrest would improve my disposition."
As the Special Agent and the Chief Quartermaster ran down the ladder, Hafele could hear the captain shouting out more orders, but the sound was cut off as the door closed behind him. It sounded as if the Captain was steaming mad.
It took only a couple of minutes to get back to the after-steering compartment, they could hear the Captain on the 1MC ordering Damage Control back there, so it was no surprise to find two or three other sailors in front of them, all rushing through the engineering spaces, past the gas turbines and down a small access hatch into an area of the ship that Hafele had never been, never even knew existed. They finally ended up in a small compartment surrounded by large hydraulic machinery that directly controlled the twin rudders. Everyone had stopped suddenly in front of Hafele, he edged between a couple of DC's and looked down at another dead body. Just like the other one, a ragged neck wound was the apparent cause of death.
"Anybody know why the rudder isn't responding? A dead sailor shouldn't have affected anything here," the Chief Quartermaster remarked callously.
One of the Damage Control Technicians was rooting around behind the machinery and said, "Blown circuit breaker Chief, let's see if this'll fix it." There was a click as he reset the breaker and the hydraulic pumps activated. Everyone checked to make certain they were clear of any moving parts. But something started sparking and circuit breakers flipped off again. The Chief picked up the abandoned sound powered telephone headset and reported to the bridge. Agent Hafele wondered what the weird symbols written in blood on the bulkhead meant.
A report came over McGee's desk from the USS Stout. He read it and swore softly, picked up the phone and called Gibbs. "Boss, there's been two more murders, dead sailors on the USS Stout, at sea. Right now the ship is outside Chesapeake Bay, but they're dead in the water, some kind of engineering casualty. There's an NCIS Agent aboard, and he's requesting backup, a full team including forensics, ASAP. I think the second killing has him worried."
"What's that got to do with us? Surely Little Creek would have jurisdiction," said Gibbs.
"Yeah, well, Little Creek's agents are dead or in the hospital, but more importantly, the wounds on both of these murders are consistent with the Yarro case, and the Stout's last port was right here in the Navy Yard, just down the street."
Gibbs answered, "Hell, OK, we'll helicopter out there from Little Creek. Go talk to the director. And McGee, don't let anything go out to ACSIT, I want to treat 'em like mushrooms."
"Feed 'em shit and keep 'em in the dark."
"Ah, sure boss."
"But make sure the paperwork is correct. And McGee, issue temporary ID's for Buffy Summers, Dr. Dawn Summers, and Willow Rosenberg as consulting forensic investigators, and tell DiNozzo how to print out the ID cards here in the Little Creek office."
"Oh no," said Willow, "well yes really, Dawn needs something, but Buffy and I have our own Department of Defense identification, courtesy of Major Riley's department. And they showed Gibbs their IDs.
He yelled into his phone, "Just for Dr. Dawn Summers then. And get back to me ASAP about that helicopter ride." Gibbs paused in thought for a moment, then added, "Wait, what kind of ship is it?"
"Uh, a Guided Missile Destroyer, assigned to escort the USS Bataan, LHD-5, whatever that is, boss."
"Amphibious Assault ship, sort of a half vast carrier, give me the Agent's name and cell phone number, we'll get a ride faster from the ship."
Two hours later they landed on the flight deck of the Stout, just ahead of another smaller and altogether sleeker looking black helicopter. After the first helicopter was tucked into the ship's hanger, the other landed and Riley stepped towards them and greeted the emerging men, all of whom were dressed in sinister black uniforms devoid of any insignia, carrying a variety of lethal looking weapons. A few sailors engaged in tying down the aircraft stared at the five armed soldiers curiously.
Buffy got Gibbs attention and said, "We need to get moving while the corpse is still fresh. I've got an itch Agent Gibbs, let's go, the sooner the better."
Gibbs nodded but turned towards Riley and asked, "Major, who are these soldiers?"
"My men sir, we're here to back you up."
"What the hell are you expecting? A bunch of sailors hepped up on dope, murdering left and right? I mean seriously, what is this?"
Riley, pausing to puzzle out the word 'hepped', had to think a moment beyond that to come up with a plausible explanation. "What I think might happen is, uh, classified. And with luck we won't be needed, we're just here to back you up, just in case, like," he tailed off unconvincingly.
"Major Riley, this is a crime situation, not an invasion, I think you can send your soldiers home and let NCIS handle it—it is our job after all."
"Uh, no sir, sorry, but you're stuck with us until I don't think we're needed anymore."
"Make a hole! Make a hole!" someone yelled as a half-dozen sailors carrying supplies from the helicopter pushed through the group of civilians. Buffy and Dawn stepped smartly back to clear the way.
"Damn it," said Buffy impatiently, "let's move, or I'm just gonna wander around 'till I find something that needs killing!"
Agent Hafele stood nearby listening to this exchange with fascination, all the while checking out Buffy with quick sideways glances. He finally interrupted, "Agent Gibbs? I'm SAaS Hafele."
Gibbs said to Hafele, "These are forensics consultants to NCIS, Ms. Buffy Summers, Dr. Dawn Summers and Ms. Willow Rosenberg. And this is Major Riley who is stuck to me like a barnacle for some reason known only to the Pentagon, and is just as hard to pry off."
Riley stood by impassively.
"It's amazing," observed Willow while holding tight to a metal handrail, "that a ship this big can still bob around this much."
Buffy stood ten feet from the nearest solid handhold, her knees bent slightly with her ankles doing all the adjustment necessary to keep her standing straight while the ship rocked slowly beneath her feet. Hafele looked at her and said, "Hmm, I guess you've done this before."
Buffy replied, "This is the first time I've ever been on a ship that wasn't tied up at a dock."
Dawn said disgustedly, "Of course, SlayBuffy has perfect balance in all situations."
Ziva glanced at Dawn with surprise and then looked at Buffy speculatively.
"Oh don't worry Dr. Summers," said Agent Hafele, "you'll get your sealegs in no time at all, you're young and athletic, you'll see, it's just a matter of your inner ear getting used to the motion."
Dawn promptly slipped and and stumbled against a Navy Lieutenant who was hovering anxiously near the group. He didn't seem at all put out at finding Dawn in his arms. Buffy commented to Willow, "I guess there's an advantage to being clumsy after all."
Hafele helped Dawn to her feet said, "This is a gorgeous day, the ship is rolling a little more than usual, but still, it's beautiful out here!"
Gibbs tilted his head towards the women with him and said gruffly, "I gave them some Dramamine, they'll be all right. Now, Ziva and Tony, take Buffy Summers with you and check out the most recent crime scene, I understand the body has yet to be moved?"
"No, we had to pull him aside to allow repairs on the machinery, the Captain is anxious to get going again. But I did take a full set of pictures before anything was moved."
"Didn't you tell the Captain that it was a crime scene, and could not be disturbed?" asked Gibbs.
"Yeah he tried," said a wry voice from behind Gibbs, "but the safety of the ship takes precedence Agent Gibbs, we must have steering."
Gibbs turned and said angrily, "It was a crime scene Captain, and now you've compromised it! You know that the USS Gripper is on her way out to take you in tow, you could have waited!"
"No way Agent Gibbs, and I'll take it all the way up to SECNAV if I have to! Tug or no tug, crime or no crime, it's my duty to repair the ship if at all possible!"
Gibbs backed down since the argument had been lost before he came on board. Besides, he reflected to himself, the real reason had to be that Captain Decker would have felt professionally embarrassed to have his ship towed in to Norfolk in front of his fellow captains and worse, the Admiral.
Gibbs, Willow, and Dawn had followed the Lieutenant to a large but cramped berthing compartment where they were engaged in looking through the contents of the dead Machinist's Mate's cordoned off combination bunk and locker. There wasn't anything unexpected. Dawn asked plaintively with her nose crinkled up, "What is that smell?"
Willow inhaled deeply and replied authoritatively, "Concentrated essence of male."
"Willow," said Dawn with a frown, "it smells gross in here, why are you sniffing the air with a big grin?"
"Oh," she fluttered, "sometimes I just suck at this lesbo stuff."
Dawn smiled at her, the Lieutenant looked askance, a female petty officer passing by doubled over in laughter, Gibbs ignored them all.
"All right, let's go check out the paint locker," said Gibbs.
A few minutes later they were studying the corpse. The paint locker hadn't been disturbed since no one was inclined to argue that painting anything could be an emergency, so someone had just locked the door. Dawn and Willow studied the scene with experienced eyes, but they said nothing. Gibbs took samples, but he was feeling a little useless, there just wasn't much to add the report he had already seen. "Any comments Dr. Summers?"
"No, let's go look at the other one." On the way aft they could hear the turbines revving up and the ship started moving forward. As she steadied on a new course the motion of the ship settled down to a more regular rocking motion instead of the random up and down from sitting dead in the water.
The Lieutenant escorting them said, "Huh, they must of got the rudder repaired, that was fast."
As they passed an open compartment they heard someone say, "...holy hell, you shoulda seen the size of that turd! It was..."
An open hatch to the deck the deck below produced, "...you dummy! That's cosine, not sine! Stupid fuck! Crap like that could be..."
Eventually they made it to the After Steering compartment and found little to see besides the aft bulkhead. They stood cautiously clear of the hydraulic rams and massive cast iron levers that were moving slowly and irregularly back and forth. Gibbs asked Dawn, "What does that say?" Pointing to the blood smeared writing on the bulkhead.
Dawn looked at it and said, "Well, this is Latin, but a slightly out of date usage, the Latin someone might have learned in a Catholic church a couple of hundred years ago. It says something like 'How dare you defy me, your blood is mine!', more or less, plus something about somebody named Edith." Dawn turned and continued, "Well, that was anti-climactic. Look, it's the end of the first dogwatch, can we get something to eat? I'm hungry."
Everyone looked at her in surprise. Dawn said, "Hey, I still read you know."
"Yeah," asked Willow, "but when? We were called out here on a moment's notice. And what's a dogwatch?"
"Well actually," Dawn replied, "I saw it in a Patrick O'Brien novel." She turned to the Lieutenant who's sole duty appeared to be following them around and asked, "But they still have dogwatches, don't they?"
"You bet doc, sailors get twitchy when they miss supper. We can eat in the Wardroom, c'mon."
Gibbs, more surly than usual, said, "We don't have time to eat. Dr. Summers, I want you to translate this properly, Ms. Rosenberg, you are a qualified crime scene technician, right? I saw that on your background papers."
"Yes, but you've already taken samples and this crime scene was disturbed beyond analysis."
"Never mind that, just get to work, see if anything was missed."
Ziva popped in and said, "Gibbs, we found some female sailors who told us there's a stranger on board this vessel."
"A ringer? Someone in uniform no one knows?"
"Yeah boss, she was noticed at first because of her waist length hair—decidedly non-regulation. Riley and his men are sweeping through the machinery spaces, that being were she was last spotted. Buffy is wandering around in front of Riley, acting as bait I guess."
"No," said Willow, "Buffy is the big gun, Riley and his guys are beating the underbrush to flush out the quarry."
Buffy chased Drusilla through the engine room, jumping from catwalk to catwalk, barely missing steam pipes, electrical lines, and other gear bolted here and there. A group of firemen watched them with an air of Twilight Zone wonder. Drusilla finally popped up through an emergency hatch into the open air and turned to confront Buffy, squeezing through the opening as fast as she could squirm.
"Damn," Buffy said as she took in late evening, "the suns down!"
Drusilla replied, "I may be pure and fair and my head isn't always here, but I know when the light of death falls below the horizon." She swayed and waved her long blood-red fingernails in front of Buffy's eyes.
Buffy said, "Don't try that hypnosis crap with me, Drusilla, it won't work," and gracefully kicked Dru in the stomach; she flew backwards into a large davit, she landed on the deck with her legs splayed ungainly. Dru flipped herself up and ran towards Buffy, screaming, "Slayer! You'll get yours! When the stars align my pet and I will take over your world and we'll swizzle and twirl the dance of the dark!"
"What the hell does that mean you crazy bitch?" Buffy replied along with two left jabs and solid right.
"You'll know." And she punctuated the statement with a roundhouse that was almost too fast to see. They starting trading blows and strikes along the deck until Drusilla leaped up and onto one of the boats that took up most of the space on the main deck amidships, just forward of the Phalanx weapons system. Drusilla waited on the boat watching Buffy with a reptilian glare; jumping to join her would leave Buffy exposed for a vital few seconds, so she jumped to the top lifeline and danced along the swaying wire without slowing, the ocean below her on one side, the boat hull on the other. Gibbs watched from the midships deckhouse side deck; he stopped breathing as he watched Buffy run along the swaying wire lifeline without pausing. Much to his amazement, Drusilla leaped off the workboat to confront Buffy. Drusilla jumped to the wire and in an almost simultaneous move, swept her leg around to kick Buffy. Buffy ducked, squatting down in a move that put one leg out over the waves and her arms stretched the other direction to keep her balance. When Drusilla's booted foot passed over her head, she immediately leaped up and tried a hand strike to Drusilla's jaw. All the while, both women were riding with ship, their legs pumping up and down and their ankles and feet twisting this way and that to keep their balance.
It was difficult to see the fight for they were right on the edge of the ship, hidden from view in all directions except from the starboard bridge wing and a small sliver of the fantail and from the aft stacks just above the ship's boats; nevertheless, they had a small audience of astonished sailors who watched hypnotized as the two danced to keep their balance and try to kill each other at the same time.
Someone turned on the worklights as the evening dimmed, but only a sliver of light fell on the combatants who were mostly in deep shadows against the very dark blue sky. The sun was behind dark clouds on the far horizon, occasionally an errant ray would flash momentarily on the combatants. Drusilla ducking wildly to keep the sunlight away while Buffy tried to maneuver Dru into the ray.
Agent David stood on the deck forward of the boats, her gun was up and she was attempting to aim at Drusilla. But between the rocking deck and the bad light, she didn't feel she had a good shot, at least not good enough to be certain to miss Buffy. So she stood ready to shoot if the circumstances changed.
Buffy leaped, landed on her toe and pirouetted, catching Drusilla with one fist to the shoulder and with the heel of her boot. As her foot twisted on the swaying lifeline, her boot slipped downwards until her heel caught the wire, the watchers collectively gasped. Then Drusilla kicked Buffy in the leg and stepped backwards towards the helicopter deck. After several more traded blows and some world-class gymnastics, a loud metallic crack rang out in the rapidly deepening dusk.
The pintle housing on one rudder had broken catastrophically. The rudder swung uncontrolled to one side causing the rear half of the ship to jink sideways. Apparently, whatever problem the Stout had with the rudder still was not fixed. Drusilla and Buffy both slipped off the wire as the ship skidded a foot or so sideways; as Buffy fell she caught the lowest lifeline and elegantly flipped herself over the top lifeline and back on deck. But Drusilla fell into the sea. Buffy, and a number of other sailors rushed to the side and looked below. But no one could see her. Buffy started to climb up to dive in after Drusilla, but Ziva caught her hand and said softly, "Don't Buffy, you can't breathe underwater." Buffy glanced at Ziva with concern, but didn't say anything. After a moment she stepped back to the deck.
"Man Overboard! Man Overboard! This is NOT a drill, Man Overboard!" rang out throughout the ship from the 1MC. There were some unusual and very loud clanking noises from aft as the helmsman tried to steer. Then the prop pitch was reversed and the ship started shaking as they came to a stop, the water boiling furiously under the fantail and pushing out from the sides of the hull, and the ship came to a stop and starting sliding backward. Finally the engines were stopped and the ship was dead in the water.
Buffy said quietly, "Huh, man overboard—so not the case."
By the time the USS Gripper rendezvoused with the Stout, it was full night and the outgoing tide had pushed them further out to sea. It took a few more hours to properly prepare the Stout for towing and then the tow was a real bitch because the Stout kept going sideways. Eventually, the deck force were able to tie off their errant rudder and the tow settled down.
But it wasn't until well after dawn when they finally made it back to the Norfolk Navy Yard. It took another hour with harbor tugs pushing fussily this way and that until they were finally tied up at a concrete pier underneath a large swiveling gantry crane.
Dawn, Buffy and Willow watched from the bridge. Dawn asked, "How come it takes so long for anything to happen? I mean, if this were the movies we would have been here last night in plenty of time for dinner and a show in town! And they would be pumping water out of the drydock so the ship could be fixed before lunch."
Gibbs overheard and said, "Everything involving ships takes far longer than seems reasonable. It's just how it goes when you're moving around this many tons of steel."
Dawn didn't think much of the explanation, feeling that things were not well organized, but she kept her mouth shut.
A radioman came onto the bridge looking for Gibbs. Gibbs read the message and cursed, "God damn it to hell!"
Buffy raised her eyebrows and asked, "What is it?"
"We're to report back to Washington, the case has been closed. But we haven't found Lilly Hornsby's killer yet! No way am I going to take this lying down!'
It was a glum NCIS crew that walked down the ship's brow to the pier. Gibbs mood was further darkened when he saw that Bill Nielsson was waiting for them. And Nielsson looked very angry.
"What the fuck did you think you were doing Gibbs?" he hissed apoplectically.
Gibbs didn't back down a inch, "My job of course, that's what I always do. What do you think is wrong with the outcome?"
"If you hadn't interfered, we could simply have removed her once the ship was tied up! No fuss, no muss!"
"Oh? You don't think another half-dozen or so dead sailor's would have mattered much?"
"I don't know what you're talking about! She was a woman! They could have overpowered her!"
Back at NCIS in Washington, Gibbs said angrily, "So that's it? Case closed? Director, I think you are being premature."
"No, the file came down from the Secretary of the Navy, but it originated with Admiral Fitzsimmons, due to information received they are confident that Drusilla NLN was guilty of at least fourteen murders, and is now presumed dead thanks to the efforts of NCIS. There will be no further inquiries from this department. All evidence and paperwork to be forwarded to Major Finn at the Pentagon. Apparently, they will tie up any loose ends."
"But director, Drusilla wasn't the killer! Not of Lilly Hornsby, anyway. I suppose she was ACSIT's prime suspect. We still have an open case!"
"No, we don't. It's out of our hands and I don't want to hear another word!"
Buffy and Dawn relaxed in the Agent's lounge at NCIS headquarters, while Willow was down in the labs talking up a storm with Abbey. Ziva came in and sat down. She looked at Buffy for a moment and finally asked, "So, you're the Slayer."
Buffy stared back. Dawn said, "What? No, you're crazy! That's just a myth!"
Buffy put her hand on Dawn's arm and said quietly, "It's all right Dawn, she already knows."
"Yeah," said Ziva, "Dawn let the cat out of the bag when she called you Slay-Buffy back on the ship. I'd heard the story before, and I've seen some things that force me to believe that vampires exist. But I never thought the Slayer was real, not until yesterday. That fight between you and Drusilla, that was supernatural—no one could balance on a wire life-line and fight like that!"
Buffy shrugged, "I didn't ask for it."
Ziva continued, "Do you really think Drusilla could have survived? Those waves were huge, it must have been thirty miles to shore and the tide was against her, how could she have made it?"
"Fall to the bottom and walk, I suppose, or maybe she knows how to swim. Or maybe she can just drift on the waves until the tide pushes her in, diving down during the day to escape the sun. Unless she got eaten by a shark, there's nothing out there to kill her. And no self-respecting shark would take more than one bite of a vampire."
"So we should be looking for her!"
"No, Riley's group will take care of her if she's still around, unless I find her first." said Buffy. "I hope you're not planning on putting any of this in a report or anything, are you?"
"Are you kidding me? I think they call that a Section Eight around here; it's not for this girl."
"What about Gibbs and your fellow agents?" asked Dawn.
"Nope, my lips are sealed."
"Good. One person you can talk to is Major Riley. But you shouldn't unless you want to get caught up in the demonic underworld. Riley would be the first to tell you, it's not a good way to advance your career—this stuff isn't just secret, it simply doesn't exist," said Buffy.
"OK," Ziva agreed, "but who, or should I say what, killed Lilly Hornsby?"
"A demon. A demon called by Drusilla. You see, Dru is a vampire, two hundred odd years old. But she was loony before being sired and she's even more whacked out today. She was trying to raise her great love from the dead. She found an old spell book and had sacrificed a half dozen vampires as well as those poor innocent people, but her spell failed. Mostly because she couldn't get an accurate translation."
"Yeah," added Dawn, "plus her great love isn't dead anymore, but she doesn't know that."
"Alllll riiiight," drawled Ziva, "a crazy vampire killed all these people for love. What about Lilly?"
"Oh, the demon she called, a Fyarl demon, not too bright, but big and strong and willing to maim and kill for food. Lilly was called as a Slayer, but she hadn't any training at all and proved to be no match for Drusilla and her pet Fyarl. Riley's boys cornered the demon right here in the Washington Navy Yard and disposed of it quietly. Unfortunately, they missed Drusilla who managed to hide out on a convenient ship. Which then promptly took off to Norfolk with a stowaway vampire, and you know the results of that little mixup."
"Do these Fyarls have tails?"
"Yeah, but usually just little stubby ones," said Buffy, "but I guess an old one could grow a longer one."
Dawn added, "Yeah, but the disgusting part is the spitting paralyzing mucus. Probably what slowed Lilly down—that would have caught her by surprise."
"We didn't find any strange substance on her."
"It evaporates in a few hours, you wouldn't have found any trace of it."
"Gibbs is going to spitting mad about this, and we can't even tell him what happened."
"I wouldn't if I was you."
1) Dogwatches— the four to eight pm watch is split up in two dogwatches, four to six and six to eight, to allow time to eat supper. In one O'Brien novel, Dr. Maturin deadpanned that it was called 'a dogwatch because it had been cur-tailed'. Captain Aubrey thought that was a capitol joke, and apparently, so does Dawn.
2) The catastrophic rudder failure that I described would be highly unlikely in reality, but I don't think it's completely impossible.
3) Here's a picture of a similar ship to the Stout, showing the area where Drusilla and Buffy fought along the lifeline between between the sea and the ship's boats. Just remove the excess spaces and replace the word dot with actual dots, and you're set: Http// macsnavylinks dot ca / macmodels / rossi dot jpg
4) The boats are usually stowed nearly on top of the lifeline, which would not allow enough room for anyone. But, we must assume that the boatswain's mates had moved them over in order to perform scheduled maintenance, thus allowing enough space for Buffy and Drusilla to fight.