Epilogue: A New Anniversary
A/N: Welcome to the end my friends. I managed to hack my account back from the Leverage Team (see 'Steal a Story' to understand the joke) so I could finish the story my way.
Warning: I don't know; maybe language and innuendo somewhere along the way.
Challenge: #4472 by CindyB.
Thanks to my betas for helping with this story over the years: zigpal, Chrislover, Hawkehunt, AshDawnSoulmates and CindyB.
Disclaimer: BtVS characters belong to Joss Whedon / Mutant Enemy. NCIS characters belong to Donald Bellisario, Don McGill and CBS Paramount Television. Jack Ryan and his friends belong to Tom Clancy. Criminal Minds characters belong to Jeff Davis, The Mark Gordon Company and CBS. I claim no rights to any copyrighted material. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission.
Posted In Honor of the end of this story on TtH (and other sites)!
Six weeks later…
Buffy felt like singing…or at least doing cartwheels. The day was a beautiful day and life was great! She paused to look out the windows and found a late season snowstorm raging outside. Guess they'd be staying in for the day. Oh well, that was wonderful, too.
As she walked into the kitchen, the smell of food cooking caught her attention…just as her whistling caught the cook's attention. "What's got you feeling so chipper this morning, darling?" he asked.
"Life is awesome, Dada Jackson!" Buffy chirped.
He chuckled, then guessed, "I take it that Joy slept through the night?"
"Uh-huh," she agreed with an energetic nod. "For the first time since we brought her home, I got a full night's sleep…and it was amazing! Then I wake up to find you making breakfast. Wait, you shouldn't be out of bed!"
"It was just a mini-stroke," Jackson complained. "And I already spent two weeks recovering from it. Any longer and I would have become part of the bed."
Buffy frowned at him. "I don't think any stroke should be called mini." She sighed resignedly, then said, "But I suppose the doctor said it was okay for you to get up now – as long as you took things slowly and didn't overdo anything."
"I hardly call making pancakes and bacon overdoing it. Speaking of bacon, don't you have any of the real stuff? How can you stand this turkey substitute?" he growled, guessing that they got it specifically because the doctors ordered it.
She held up a hand to stop his complaints. "Don't talk to me, talk to Jordy. For some reason he loves turkey bacon. Rather than fight it, we decided to learn to enjoy it, too."
That stopped him in his tracks. If it was for his 'great-grandson', he'd accept it as well. Just as long as it wasn't because of the doctors trying to run his life. "Would you like some coffee?"
"Yours?" she asked hopefully. When he nodded she exclaimed, "Always! You are going to get us so spoiled if you keep making us breakfast and coffee. You don't have to, you know. We want you here, not a cook."
Jackson smiled fondly at his granddaughter. "You made that abundantly clear when you ordered me to move down here once I was released. It really wasn't fair to use the children against me like that," he mock-rebuked her.
She flipped her hair back and replied, "I will use whatever weapons I have at my disposal to win, and if that includes two adorable babies and a preteen that really can pull off the puppy eyes, so be it. I notice that you didn't put up nearly as much of a fight as I expected."
He chuckled and whispered, "That was mostly for Jethro's sake. Couldn't make it seem too easy to persuade me. I just needed to make sure I had somebody trustworthy to take care of the store for me."
The next day…
The first couple times she saw the BAU agents, Buffy passed it off as coincidence. After all, they were in similar fields and she was bound to run into them at the parties once in a while. But then she started noticing them in places that those excuses didn't make sense. For some reason, they were keeping an eye on her.
She knew it wasn't official because the serial killer case was closed. They dug into the guy's records and discovered that he needed a baby to claim an inheritance from his wife's family. They listed that as his official motive, although his wife and baby's corpses in the ranch house implied another twisted motive; one that couldn't be answered because he was dead and supposedly buried. Buffy hoped he was enjoying his time with the vengeance demons.
It took a little while for Buffy to guess what might be drawing the agents to her, but then she remembered the whole 'kicking in the back door' thing, and realized that they might not accept it as the result of adrenaline. Damn the cops for not having Sunnydale Syndrome when she needed them to!
Now she had Agent Morgan trying to be charming towards her. To be fair, if she wasn't so jaded, Buffy probably would find him charming, but thanks to guys like the Immortal and former-VP Kealty, charm felt more like slime to her…although she learned from DiNozzo that it didn't have to be that way. And it didn't have anything directly to do with his value as an agent.
Back to the matter at hand, Agent Morgan invited her out for dinner once he finished buying her coffee and sharing some good running trails for her to try in the DC area. She didn't expect dinner to turn into anything serious. Slimy or not, he gave her the impression that he felt six months was a long-term relationship and she didn't feel like getting into anything like that. But she was willing to use the opportunity to get out and enjoy an evening without diapers or burp rags.
One person who wasn't happy about her date was Jordy. He pouted the whole time she got ready and gave her a surly good night when she left.
After the door closed, Tara asked him, "Why are you giving Buffy attitude?"
"She shouldn't be going out with other guys," he answered petulantly. "She belongs with Oz."
"Maybe they don't like each other that way. Or even if they do, the fact that Oz was Willow's first love and Buffy was her best friend might make them feel as if they are betraying her memory by dating," Tara suggested carefully.
Jordy considered that for a moment, then asked, "Well, can't you do a séance or something to ask her to give them permission? I saw them do it on Charmed the other night."
"That's a TV show, Jordy," she reminded him. "Our magick doesn't work that way. But I suppose I could search for a spell…as long as it doesn't involve anything dark and can be done more than once."
"Why more than once?" he wondered out loud.
"Because we should know what she'll say before we have her appear to Buffy and Oz. If she's against it, having her tell them would pretty much end anything romantic between them," Tara explained wisely.
Just the thought of that happening had him agreeing quickly, "Good point. More than once, it is."
Two months after that…
Gibbs woke up, not surprised to find he was in a hospital, but definitely shocked that it didn't look like a hospital in the Middle East – or even one in Germany – like he expected. Even more astonishing was the fact that his father of all people was sitting next to his bed, along with a man he didn't recognize. It took several minutes for him to ask what was going on and who the man was. He explained that he just was in a blast in Desert Storm, only for them to respond that Desert Storm was 15 years ago.
He was overwhelmed when they brought in a young woman and claimed she was his daughter, Kelly, although she was going by the name of Buffy now for some reason. With everyone pushing, he shut down until his mentor, Mike Franks, came to talk with him about the past 15 years…especially how his daughter was alive.
Meanwhile, Buffy asked Tara if they could use magick to restore Gibbs' memories. Despite knowing that it came from a place of love, Tara glared at her for asking. "Even if he didn't have the physical trauma to his brain, it would be dangerous to manipulate his memories. With the trauma, I could destroy him if I slipped up even a little bit. He needs to recover on his own," she answered firmly.
"And if he doesn't?" Buffy inquired softly.
"Then you learn to love the man he is without his memories," Tara said. "I think you'll manage to have a close relationship with him either way."
"Sorry for asking," Buffy apologized. "But we need the information about the bombing…and I would like my Papa Bear back."
The two women hugged and shared Buffy's concern over Gibbs' condition.
A week later…
Franks looked up and saw his Probie walking down the beach with a bag slung over his back. He lifted a beer in welcome, but his smile turned into a wide grin when he saw the entourage behind Gibbs. Buffy was carrying baby Joy in a sling; Oz had JR on his back; and as soon as he saw Franks, Jordy came racing towards his honorary grandpa's friend.
"Where's your father, Probie?" Franks asked.
"He's bringing our stuff in the truck," Buffy answered for him. "The kids didn't want to wait until Dada finished shopping and gassing up."
Franks looked at them and smirked, "The kids…right! Well, let me welcome you to the simple life. I hope you enjoy your stay."
Since they were in Mexico, away from any other possible romantic distractions, Jordy decided the time was right for his plan to get Oz and Buffy together. He was too impatient to keep waiting for Tara to find a non-dark spell. He wanted his family together officially, and he wanted it sooner rather than later.
Papa Gibbs seemed happy that Buffy wasn't dating, so getting his help was out of the question. Maybe Franks? He'd ask the older man; the worst Franks could do was say no. Well, he could tell Oz and Buffy what Jordy was up to and they might get upset, but he didn't think Franks would do that.
To Jordy's delight, Franks agreed to help him. In part because he thought the couple meshed well, but more so because he was looking forward to the expression on Probie's face when/if he found out they were serious about each other. He hoped there'd be pictures…lots and lots of pictures.
First issue was coming up with an activity Buffy and Oz would enjoy that could be considered date-ish without being obvious that it was a date. That was solved by a snorkeling/tequila tasting combo package (done in that order).
Second issue was distracting Probie so he didn't interfere. Jordy took care of that by asking Gibbs to help him strip, sand and repaint an old rowboat behind Franks' house. It would take them hours and keep them at the house so they could watch the babies, freeing Buffy and Oz to get away for the evening alone.
Gibbs was amused by the whole charade. He wondered if it was as transparent to his daughter or Oz as it was to him. He figured it was 50/50 chance given how sleep-deprived they currently were and also because of how generally clueless they were when it came to hints about them getting together.
Funny thing was that he found himself hoping it would work out like Jordy hoped. Granted, his initial introduction to Oz wasn't the best – although he appreciated the humor of it now. And he still remembered with a grimace the day she casually mentioned she was sharing a bed with him. He had been ready to take Oz apart with his bare hands for taking advantage of her vulnerable state, only to discover it was for Jordy's sake and that nothing happened other than actual sleep.
Now, however, he had gotten to know the young man better. More than that, he saw the positive influence Oz had on his daughter. They made a good team. They held each other up and also kept each other in check when need be. The only question he had was whether there was any chemistry between them. And he really didn't want the details if there was.
He got his vague – thankfully – answer the next day when he saw them exchanging glances and blushing whenever they 'accidentally' happened to brush hands. Trust alcohol to break down the barriers when nothing else does.
Five weeks later…
Gibbs invited Buffy over for dinner, clearing it with Oz first since they were tentatively dating now. He wanted a night of just him and his daughter so they could celebrate. When Buffy asked what they were celebrating, he handed her a gift box and answered, "Today is the one year anniversary of when I got my daughter back in my life again – even if I didn't know it until a couple days later. Happy anniversary…Bunny," he added in a teasing tone.
Buffy's eyes narrowed momentarily at the name, but then she started laughing as she opened the box and saw a stuffed rabbit holding a service revolver and with an NCIS badge pinned to the chest. "I can still kick your ass for using that name, you know," she mock-growled. Then she got up and hugged him tightly and whispered, "Happy anniversary, Papa Bear."
A/N: Thanks to everyone who reviewed or rec'd/faved the story. It's been a wild 5 years. Barely got this out on the anniversary date of the story. Real life hasn't been cooperating lately!