4th September 2013
Leroy Jethro Gibbs hung up the phone on his desk, getting to his feet quickly and slinging his bag over his shoulder, collecting his badge and his gun from his top drawer.
"Gear up, we've got a dead Marine," he told his assembled team. Tony, McGee and Ziva were on their feet already, having preempted what Gibbs was about to say. Together the team moved to the elevator, their movements so practiced they were virtually in sync with one another, having worked together as a team for such a long time.
There had been arguments and short-term split-ups, but then every family had those. Gibbs' team were no different but as a whole they existed as one big, happy family… in most ways even more so than they had been when Willow had first come to D.C to live with Gibbs… six years before.
Willow was twenty-two years old now and although she'd lived away from home for her college years (much to Ducky's excitement, Willow had gone to Oxford with a full scholarship), she still frequently called or visited D.C. from Sunnydale, where she had moved to after graduating.
It had been Willow that had been behind changing the team's… the family's dynamic. It has been Willow who had encouraged Tony to tell Ziva about how he felt about her, while at the same time reassuring Ziva about her own feelings about Tony. It had been a highly effective maneuver, performed with military-style accuracy, which had proven to be more successful than attempts by Tim, Abby and Ducky to get Tony and Ziva to realize that they were destined for one another. Even Gibbs had approved of the match, admitting that he was rather sick of watching Tony and Ziva stare at each other across the bullpen. Even though it had meant that rule twelve had been thrown out of the proverbial window, Gibbs had been willing to put aside his past experiences with Jenny Shepard and give his approval to Tony and Ziva's relationship. He'd seen how devastated Ziva had been when Tony had been shot by Chekovic protecting Willow and had realized that life was too damn short to waste time, especially when the love of your life sat in the desk opposite you at work.
Willow's efforts had been rewarded when Ziva had asked her to be a bridesmaid at her and Tony's wedding. Willow had happily accepted, joining Abby, Tim and Palmer in Tony and Ziva's wedding party. Gibbs fondly remembered the look of panic that had crossed Palmer's face when Abby had told him that he had to dance with Willow at the reception. The assistant medical examiner had almost fainted at the prospect of having his arms around Gibbs' daughter.
Of course, it was only because of Vance's opinion of the team that Tony and Ziva had been allowed to continue to work on Gibbs' team together. Vance trusted that Gibbs would take action if he thought that the relationship jeopardized any of their cases. Vance's leniency might have stemmed from the fact that Gibbs, McGee, Tony and Ziva all threatened to quit NCIS if Vance didn't give Tony and Ziva a chance and Ziva privately suspected that her father might have made a phone call of his own to Vance regarding the matter too, but it was of little consequence. The team were as professional as ever and their case clearance rate had remained at its customary high level.
Gibbs' thoughts turned to Willow. He hadn't seen her in a few months, as it seemed that she was a little busy in Sunnydale with things there and with her work. Willow had taken up designing and selling computer programs and had even sold a couple of security programs to the US military. She was doing quite well for herself, as Gibbs understood it, and it left her plenty of time for her… commitments in Sunnydale. Gibbs and his team too had been busy with cases and the much-loathed paperwork that accompanied them.
Once she'd graduated high school, at top of her class much to Gibbs' pride, Willow had headed off to Oxford and had split her holidays between Gibbs and the team in D.C. and her friends in Sunnydale, but she'd frequently been in contact. Gibbs had found himself to be oddly content with the situation and, knowing that through her self-defense training (which Willow had done even when she'd been in England), she could look after herself.
Of course, that hadn't prevented the feeling of heart-stopping panic Gibbs had experienced when he'd seen the news bulletins announcing that the town of Sunnydale, California, had collapsed into a giant sinkhole, leaving nothing remaining of the town that Willow had grown up in except for a giant crater.
It hadn't been the first time that Gibbs had heard rather unsettling news about Sunnydale while Willow was visiting on the TV. Willow's school graduation had been held a week before the Sunnydale high school graduation and Willow had flown down to L.A. two days beforehand so that she could see her friends graduate. Gibbs had approved of the trip, with the plan being that, after graduation, Willow and Xander would roadtrip together across the country back to Washington D.C. Gibbs had subconsciously accepted that Willow would probably participate in some form of slaying while she was in Sunnydale but he hadn't been prepared for the news that the school had blown up during the graduation ceremony (a ruptured gas pipe the apparent cause). It had been a short hour later when Willow had called. Later Gibbs had learned that the Mayor of Sunnydale was actually a demon with plans to ascend. This involved him transforming into a giant snake and the Scoobies had not only used some bombs under the school to destroy the demonic snake, probably saving the world (although they destroyed the school in the process), but they had also coordinated the entire graduating class into a sort of anti-vampire army with minimal casualties. Gibbs didn't know whether to be angry with Willow for not telling him about the plan and the high-risk situation she was going to be in or proud of the achievements of not only Willow, but of the rest of her friends in Sunnydale. That pride, however, had not been enough to stop Gibbs from making a phone call to the ops center in LA. Hetty had been most obliging and for the rest of her stay in Sunnydale, Willow had Callen and Sam Hanna as a protection detail… which had turned out to be a good thing, since Xander's car decided to die before he and Willow even got to L.A. If Callen and Sam hadn't been there, Gibbs imagined that Willow and Xander would be spending their summer in Oxnard… not what they'd had in mind.
At the time of Sunnydale's vanishing act into a sinkhole, Willow had been staying with Buffy, so Gibbs had immediately tried to call Willow, trying to find out if she had managed by luck to escape or had heeded the warnings and fled town before the ground had opened up beneath it, devouring the town from below. Gibbs could not claim to have stayed calm as a recorded message to him that Willow's phone could not be reached. Tony, Ziva and McGee had seen the look of fear on Gibbs' face… the horror and panic the team leader felt at that exact moment obvious to all who knew him well. Tony had been in the same boat with his aunt, uncle and cousin all also unaccounted for. Gibbs had overheard Tony tearfully explaining to Ziva that it didn't matter if they were horrible parents to Xander or that he hadn't spoken to them in years, let alone seen them, family was still family and nothing got in the way of that.
Gibbs, Tony, Ziva, McGee, Abby, Ducky and Palmer had all waited in the bullpen with bated breath for any news about Willow, Xander, or any of their friends. Even Vance came down the stairs, a look of deep concern on his face. They had all tried calling Willow and Xander's phones, as well as the emergency numbers that Willow had given him and the special hotline set up for those seeking information about loved ones, but the phone went unanswered and the hotline could give no information about them. McGee had reasoned that the cell phone towers had either been destroyed in the destruction of the town or were overloaded, and that was why they couldn't get through. Gibbs had scowled and thrown his phone against the wall, smashing his fourth phone in one day… a new record.
Eventually though, Gibbs' desk phone rang and he quickly answered it. The entire bullpen fell deathly silent. Even all the other teams waited with held breath for news. Gibbs had never been so relieved to hear the sound of Willow's voice, sheepishly apologizing for taking so long to call, informing him that she, Xander, Buffy, and most of their friends had made it out of Sunnydale alive. It was obvious to Gibbs from the pained hitch in Willow's voice that she'd lost friends… and close friends at that, but Gibbs had simply been grateful that Willow had survived the disaster that he suspected was not so much natural but supernatural in origin.
Willow and Xander had visited shortly after that event but in the year since, Gibbs hadn't heard much from Willow, only that she was now living in Cleveland with her friends. She still called frequently, but she had kept what she was up to close to her chest. Gibbs had been curious but he'd respected Willow's privacy enough to not say anything.
Gibbs pulled himself from his deep musing at the sound of his cell phone going off and quickly answered it, pulling over to the side of the street.
"Gibbs," he answered, surprised when he heard the smooth voice of Director Vance coming from the phone.
"Gibbs, its Vance. I want to talk to you about the case. Local law enforcement has already run the fingerprints of the civilian that was found with the Marine. Her file is sealed but I've done some ringing around. She's an agent of an organization known as the IWC. The IWC have been informed and are sending two of their agents to assist in the case. Depending on how well this case goes, NCIS will have these two agents permanently in a consulting roll, which they will also serve for the FBI. They'll be based out of the Navy Yard though," Vance informed Gibbs. Gibbs scowled.
"IWC? Never heard of them."
"I'd heard of them… the Secretary of Defense and the President are aware of them… they've only been operational under the name IWC for just a year now though… but I've been assured that they're sending their best agents. The Secretary of Defense spoke very highly of them, as did the head of the IWC. They won't get in the way of your case," Vance told Gibbs
"They better not," Gibbs said before hanging up. Upon receiving the curious looks from the rest of the team as they drove out onto the road once again, Gibbs sighed and told them what Vance had told him.
The Marine, identified by his uniform, lay on the ground, half-concealed by bushes, his pale skin intact except for two small wounds on his neck. Tony and Palmer were exchanging grins and Gibbs knew it was only a matter of time before one on them made the inevitable vampire joke (although ever since the team had met Willow, vampire jokes had become much less funny than they had been before). He was accompanied, however, by a girl. Gibbs guessed her to be about a year or two younger than Willow, slightly built, but with the same well-developed muscles that Gibbs had seen on Buffy. The girl had the same wounds as the Marine, although she had appeared to have put up a bit of a struggle.
"What have we got, Ducky?" Gibbs asked. Ducky rolled his eyes.
"As much as the dead like to talk, Jethro, if you are willing to listen, they need time to formulate the words."
"Roughly?" Gibbs asked. Ducky sighed.
"I can tell you that these two died at approximately eleven o'clock last night and that she has defensive wounds. I would suggest, at this early stage, that the couple's assailant attacked him first, killing him quickly, before our Marine had a chance to try and protect himself. Our mysterious lady, however, was not so surprised and put up quite a struggle, judging by the defensive wounds she carries. Our assailant will most likely be a tad bruised at the moment, I would imagine."
Gibbs nodded, getting to his feet and surveying the crime scene. It was a remote piece of parkland with lots of trees and bushes. A jogger, going for their early morning exercise, had been the one to find the bodies and call the police. McGee was interviewing the jogger, while Ziva and Tony sketched and photographed the scene, scouting for any trace of evidence they could send to Abby for analysis.
"I've never heard of this IWC," Gibbs overheard Ziva comment.
"Neither have I," Tony agreed. Gibbs scowled as he thought about the situation. He hated working with other organizations… CIA, Mossad, FBI, CGIS, but he'd never even heard of the IWC. What could that organization have to offer NCIS?
"I wonder if they're anything like the Men in Black and that's why we've never heard of them." Tony smiled and Palmer snorted in amusement. McGee coughed to hide his laughter, having finished interviewing the jogger, while Gibbs and Ducky glared reproachfully at Tony and Jimmy.
"Right… sorry… inappropriate." Tony looked suitably chastised. Gibbs nodded and the team went back to work, hoping to get as much work done before the two IWC people came. Gibbs didn't want IWC to muck up his crime scene.
About an hour later, a black car parked in behind the autopsy van and two people in suits got out. None of the team noticed as they were busily collecting evidence and doing their assigned jobs. The pair flashed their badges at the police standing at the yellow tape that surrounded the crime scene and were gestured through. They ducked under the tape and walked up the hill towards the crime scene. Tony was the first to notice them and a wide grin broke out on his face.
"No way… I knew it was vampires." He smiled.
"What are you on about, Tony?' McGee asked before he saw the approaching pair.
"Oh," McGee said softly as understanding dawned on his face.
"Gibbs will be rather surprised," Ziva observed with a smile on her face. The pair, both dressed in black suits with black sunglasses on, approached the group. Gibbs, Ducky and Palmer turned as the two strangers stopped walking, having arrived at the crime scene. Palmer's face broke out in a wide grin and Gibbs' jaw slipped open a notch before he could stop it.
"Surprise," Xander Harris greeted.
"Special Agent Gibbs, I am Special Agent Rosenberg and this is my partner, Special Agent Harris, of the IWC," Willow said, holding out her badge with one hand and taking off her sunglasses with the other. She managed to get the whole sentence out before a grin broke out on her face. Gibbs' eyes were fixed on the badges Xander and Willow had. They were near identical to the ones carried by he and the rest of the agents, except the watermark on the ID cards was different and the shield was different, featuring a book and a stake instead of the eagle.
"It was so worth getting Giles to make badges for us." Xander grinned.
"I kind of wish that I had a camera," Willow replied.
"IWC?" McGee asked curiously. Willow turned to face him.
"International Watcher's Council. Xander and I have been appointed as the members of the Washington D.C office, which co-incidentally kind of liaises with NCIS, so you'll be seeing us around… a lot."
"I'm not complaining." Tony grinned.
"So, what have we got? G-Man was kind of vague on the details." Xander asked. Tony, Ziva, Palmer, McGee, Ducky and Gibbs all exchanged glances. Things had just gotten rather interesting for everyone.
December 25th, 2013
Gibbs smiled as he sat at the head of his dining room table, surrounded by his friends… his family. At the opposite side of the table sat Ducky, who was chattering away to Abby and Tim. Jackson was whispering softly to Palmer and Gibbs was certain that his father was telling the assistant medical examiner all sorts of stories about when Gibbs had been younger. On Gibbs' right sat Tony and Ziva, looking blissfully happy, the only slightly visible baby bump in Ziva's stomach making her appear to glow. As for Tony, Gibbs had never seen his senior field agent so happy. On Gibbs' other side were Willow and Xander, discreetly holding hands under the table.
Gibbs had learned soon after Willow and Xander had taken over one of the NCIS conference rooms to serve as the Washington, D.C. office of the International Watcher's Council that the pair of IWC agents had been dating for a few months. Gibbs could see how much they loved one another and Xander treated Willow like his world revolved around her. Of course, Tony's baby cousin or not, if Xander hurt Willow, then the young man would answer to Gibbs, and Tony, and Tim, and Ziva and Abby and Ducky and Jackson and Palmer, not to mention any of Willow's own friends, who would be angered by any mistreatment on Xander's behalf towards the red head. Xander had commented once that it made for the most frightening shovel speech ever (Gibbs had asked Abby the meaning behind the phrase and then, as a little joke, had invited Xander around to his house to help with some gardening).
Tony had gone a step further, joking that Xander was the bravest person in the world simply because he was dating the daughter of Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Gibbs figured that Tony had a good point; he wasn't the most approachable of men after all.
Regardless of the teasing of Tony and Gibbs, Willow and Xander were completely in love with one another and, Gibbs realized as he looked around the table, that his family, once torn, broken and shattered by the death of Shannon and Kelly, had been healed and was once again happy, content, and, all in all, complete. Gibbs smiled. He rose to his feet, raising his glass in a toast.
"To family," he proclaimed.
Everyone else around the table picked up their glasses of drink, smiling at one another, completely in agreement to what Gibbs was proposing. They were family… not your typical family, yes, but definitely family.
"To family," they echoed, before drinking deeply.
A.N. Wow, and so this story comes to a close. While it is open for continuation I have no plans at the moment of a sequel, so if there is one it will be a while before it happens. THANK YOU to by beta reader Darkened Shadows for supporting me while i wrote this story, and looking over each chapter correcting mistakes. I really appreciate it, this story wouldn't have been as well received as it has been without your guidance and input. Thank you too to the reviewers. Thank you for your wonderful feedback and your encouragement and praise. You really encouraged me to do my best while writing this story, and encouraged me to keep going with it. This story started life as an idea in my head in November 2010, prompted by a challenge from Suzanne on TtH. It's grown into a rather long story that saw me through a long period of my life, through triumphs and times of deep mourning. It has been my friend, and sometimes my enemy, and I am both sad to see it finished, and proud of how popular it has become. So, for the last time (for this story at least) I say farewell, and I hope you will read my next fanfiction, which lies just around the corner. Rivan Warrioress
THANK YOU to by beta reader Darkened Shadows for supporting me while i wrote this story, and looking over each chapter correcting mistakes. I really appreciate it, this story wouldn't have been as well received as it has been without your guidance and input.
Thank you too to the reviewers. Thank you for your wonderful feedback and your encouragement and praise. You really encouraged me to do my best while writing this story, and encouraged me to keep going with it.
This story started life as an idea in my head in November 2010, prompted by a challenge from Suzanne on TtH. It's grown into a rather long story that saw me through a long period of my life, through triumphs and times of deep mourning. It has been my friend, and sometimes my enemy, and I am both sad to see it finished, and proud of how popular it has become.
So, for the last time (for this story at least) I say farewell, and I hope you will read my next fanfiction, which lies just around the corner.