DISCLAIMER: I don't own NCIS, NCIS:L.A. or Buffy the Vampire Slayer. They are the property of Donald Bellisario and Joss Whedon. I am only borrowing the characters and having a play. A.N. Before reading this i recommend that you read What was Once Lost is Found, otherwise it's not going to make much sense.
A.N. Before reading this i recommend that you read What was Once Lost is Found, otherwise it's not going to make much sense.
Willow smiled as she caught sight of her best friend as he weaved through the crowd of people milling around at the arrivals gate.
"Xander!" she called. Xander beamed when he spotted her, walking quickly up to her and wrapping his arms around her in a tight embrace.
"Wills," Xander greeted, "how have things been?'
Willow smiled and shrugged. "Pretty much the same," she replied. "Abby and Ziva have been busy planning the wedding, though, and they've enlisted my help." Xander laughed at the pout on Willow's face.
"I thought that, as a bridesmaid, you were supposed to help."
"Yeah, and I like helping… it's just that none of us know anything about weddings. I mean, Ziva is an expert agent and Abby is brilliant at the whole forensic science thing."
"And you're a genius computer programmer and slayerette extraordinaire," Xander chimed in. Willow blushed at the compliment.
"If you say so, Xander, but none of us have any experience of weddings. The closest any of us have gotten to a wedding is Abby, when she was a flower girl when she was five and she jumped into as muddy puddle in between the car and the church because the dress was pink."
Xander snorted at the comment. "So the planning has come along well, then?"
Willow groaned and rolled her eyes. "Only with a bit of help from Tony's next door neighbor, thank the Goddess. I can't believe the wedding is only a few days away."
"Excited much?" Xander teased and Willow turned and swatted him in the arm. Of course Willow was excited. She'd been excited about Tony and Ziva's wedding for months, ever since the couple announced their engagement just before she left to go to Oxford to start college. Ziva and Tony had both promised her that they would get married in the summer, so she would be able to help out and, true to their words, the date had been set a month after Willow's semester finished. She'd become even more excited when Ziva asked Willow to be a bridesmaid. Abby, naturally, was serving as maid of honor and Tony had chosen McGee to be his best man and Palmer as his groomsman.
"Of course I'm excited. Tony and Ziva are made for each other and I'm excited that you're here."
"Well, somebody has to represent Tony's family and I just happened to be available."
"Good thing too. Tony's dad turned down his information. At least Ziva's dad sent them a nice long letter and a present. At least their work family is going to be well represented… I've lost count how many agents from NCIS are going to be there."
"Probably a good thing the Initiative wasn't directly connected to the Navy then," Xander said in a low voice. Willow looked around nervously.
"As far as we know anyway," Willow said. "Dad and the others know that it was you guys… or rather, they suspect. I didn't say anything one way or the other."
"Gibbs knows what's out there… I think he understands why we do things the way we do," Xander said seriously. Willow nodded in agreement
"He told me that the Secretary of Defense is brushing it all under the carpet, like it never happened. All the guys… Riley and Graham and the others will get reassigned and be given 'monetary compensation' for the things that happened in Sunnydale.
" 'Monetary compensation'?" Xander asked.
Willow smirked. "Shut up money, basically," she elaborated. Xander nodded in understanding as the pair began to walk towards the baggage claim area.
"So, speaking of things in Sunnydale, how has it been since… then?"
"Not too bad. It's been worse… much worse but it's not at the point that Giles starts freaking out because it's been too quiet. I have to say, I've been looking forward to getting away for a bit. I mean, I know we went away together last summer on the road trip, but…"
"It's been a busy year and you're up for a break?" Willow finished for him. Xander smiled and nodded, putting his arm over Willow's shoulder.
"Not just busy, but long. Do you know it's been almost a whole year since I saw you?"
"Xander, I video-called you guys every week, or more often when you weren't busy." Willow smiled.
"I know but it's not the same. I missed you so much, Willow."
"I know, Xan. I missed you too," Willow replied, leaning against his chest comfortably, smiling contentedly because she was near Xander again as her best friend bent down and kissed the top of her head gently. Just being around him made her feel better about everything… even though there was nothing for Willow to feel bad about. Tony and Ziva were getting married, there was no major supernatural threat endangering the continuation of humanity on earth, she'd easily passed her exams at Oxford and would continue on to her second year in the fall, and Xander was in Washington D.C. with her. Everything in Willow's life was perfect.
Willow sat on the couch of Tony and Ziva's apartment, smiling as she watched Abby work on Ziva's hair. She couldn't believe that today was the day of Tony and Ziva's wedding. The couple had come such a long way since Willow had first come to D.C., almost exactly two years before, when the pair would, as McGee put it, just gaze sloppily at each other from their respective desks. Sure, they hadn't actually 'dated' for very long before Tony had gone down on bended knee (especially considering the fact that Tony had been engaged before and had been brutally dumped just before the wedding) and they'd moved in together. Everyone knew that it was because Tony and Ziva knew each other so well as they'd worked together for so long and because they were soul mates and everyone could see it… even Gibbs.
Now all that was left for Tony and Ziva to actually get married. Tony's bachelor party had been a huge success (according to Xander, who had enjoyed himself even though he wasn't old enough to drink and therefore had been made designated driver by Gibbs) and Willow had rather enjoyed Ziva's hens party, which Abby had organized. Willow was certain her father knew that Abby had given her a couple of alcoholic drinks but Gibbs had said nothing about it. The best part of those occasions, however, had been the afternoon before, when they had met at a laser tag center and played guys versus girls. The girls had won but only because Gibbs refused to shoot either Willow or Abby and Palmer had shown why he wasn't a field agent. Willow and Xander, however, had done very well, both of them outscoring McGee, much to the amusement of everyone else.
Willow smiled as she reflected on that day and on the other days since Xander had arrived in D.C. They'd both helped with final wedding preparations while at the same time taking time out to do the tourist things that they wanted to do and just catching up. Xander had spent the night before the wedding at Gibbs' house with Tony, Gibbs, McGee and Palmer, while Willow, Ziva, and Abby stayed at Tony and Ziva's apartment. Ducky, who Ziva has asked to give her away (much to the older man's delight), would arrive soon.
Jumping slightly when she felt someone's hand on her shoulder, Willow turned around, looking up at Ziva.
"It's time to get our dresses on, Willow." Ziva told her. Willow nodded, eying the dress bag with her name on it. She'd worn her dress for the wedding before and she was in love with it. It was made of satin and it touched the floor when Willow walked. Abby had initially wanted the bridesmaids dresses to be black but then had changed her mind, telling Ziva and Willow that there was already so much darkness in Tony and Ziva's world, given their occupation – there needed to be some color. Willow was grateful for the change; black tended to make her look even paler than she naturally was. Instead of black, they had chosen a gentle green color that Ziva had chosen because it reminded her of the color of Tony's eyes.
Carrying their respective dress bags, Abby and Willow went into a spare bedroom and got changed quickly into their dresses and the black shoes they would be wearing. Surveying herself in the mirror, Willow was startled by her reflection.
"You look great, Willow," Abby told her, "Gibbs isn't going to believe his eyes… you look so grown up. Xander isn't going to be able to take his eyes off you."
Willow felt her cheeks blush to the same color as her hair at the implications of Abby's comment but by the time she'd gotten over her shock of the comment, Abby had left her alone in the room. Willow walked back into the lounge and helped out the best she could, applying finishing touches to Ziva's hair and makeup and posing for photographs with the photographer as well as greeting Ducky, who looked rather overwhelmed by being involved in the process.
In what seemed like no time at all, Willow was being ushered into the car that she and Abby would share for the day and being driven to the building that Tony and Ziva had chosen. They had opted not to get married in a church but had found a wedding reception center that had a separate, older building for civil ceremonies to be conducted within. Willow watched the building as the car parked in front of it, slowly getting out of the car to try and avoid standing on her dress.
"Before we go in there, I would like to say how beautiful you all look," Ducky told them once he and Ziva joined Abby and Willow on the sidewalk. "Especially you, my dear," he added, looking a Ziva. Ziva smiled and hugged Ducky. Ducky gingerly hugged Ziva back. Willow smiled at how nervous Ducky was of somehow damaging Ziva's dress. It was, naturally, white, made of satin, and it was of a simple design but still pretty. Willow knew that Ziva wasn't into dressing up and being girly, so she thought it was appropriate. Ducky was right – the Israeli-born NCIS agent looked stunning.
"Shall we?" Ducky asked, offering Ziva his arm. Ziva nodded and they all walked up a path to the building. They were shown to a side room where they stood waiting until an employee of the company nodded to them. Willow picked up her bouquet of flowers, a small bunch that included a few flowers that were common in Israel and that Ziva was especially fond of. The others followed her lead and they waited by the door. Willow caught sight of her own reflection, the beautiful dress she wore, her hair curled and arranged so that it hung in ringlets, cascading down her back. She was almost unrecognizable from the small, mousy teenager she had been when she first went to live with Gibbs in Washington D.C.
The doors swung open and the music swelled and Willow took a steadying breath and stepped onto the carpet that led down the center of the room. Everyone was standing and looking at her. Willow felt very self-conscious but she held her head high, spotting the reassuring grin Tony sent her way. Forcing herself to relax, Willow kept walking, knowing the moment Abby came into view from the way McGee's jaw dropped. Giggling, she spotted Gibbs, standing in the front row beside Xander. She could see the pride in his face as their eyes met and he nodded approvingly. Xander was smiling at her and Willow melted a little at the look in his brown eyes.
Reaching the end of the carpet, Willow took up her position opposite from Palmer and McGee. Abby joined her and they both watched as Ziva and Ducky made their way down the aisle. Willow glanced over at Tony and knew that the senior field agent could no longer see her. His eyes were focused on Ziva, whose gaze in reply was focused on him. They were the center of each other's world. Nothing else existed for them except for the other.
Smiling, Willow shifted her feet and the ceremony was begun.
Willow smiled and applauded as Tony and Ziva drove off for the night towards the hotel they were staying at before they headed off to their honeymoon. It had been a wonderful night, from the start of the service to the photography session that followed to the reception dinner and, of course, the party and dancing that followed. Tony and Ziva's first dance together as husband and wife had been beautiful for Willow, although Willow giggled as she remembered the second half of the dance when the rest of the bridal party had gotten up to join them. Abby and McGee had looked great as they'd danced but Palmer had been terrified under Gibbs' gaze. Willow knew that the assistant medical examiner had been petrified that his hand would slip off Willow's hip and go a little too low, resulting in him being shot by Gibbs. Willow herself hadn't helped the situation by coming down with a case of the giggles that Palmer eventually caught and by the end of the dance, they were both quietly cracking up.
The highlights kept coming after that. The touching father/daughter dance between Ducky and Ziva had been memorable, a reminder that Eli David had declined his invitation, although he did send a gift and a touching letter begging Ziva for forgiveness. The father/daughter dance, however, was important for Willow because, not long in, she felt Gibbs's hand on her own, taking it and leading her out to the dance floor. Willow stepped close to Gibbs and he wrapped his arms around her in a gesture that poor Palmer would never have dared. Willow knew that at that moment she and her father were thinking of Kelly and the father/daughter dance she would never have the opportunity to experience.
After that, Willow stayed close to Gibbs. She danced with McGee and Tony danced with her once (while Ziva danced with Xander). Not long after that, Xander came and sat in Ducky's unoccupied chair, joining Willow and Gibbs.
"Nice night," he said with a grin. Willow nodded in agreement.
Xander played with the sleeve of his jacket nervously and Willow watched as Tony and Ziva mingled with the group of well-wishers that came to greet them when they weren't dancing. She noticed how they never let go of the other's hand and smiled at the romantic nature of the gesture.
"Do you want to dance?" Xander abruptly asked as a new song started up. Willow glanced over at Xander in surprise.
"Well, we promised at the start of junior high that we would dance together at both homecoming and at senior prom and… well, it didn't happen, so by my thinking you owe me two dances and, well, tonight is a good enough opportunity to pay up," Xander explained. Willow had blushed, remembering that occasion vividly. She'd always assumed Xander had forgotten.
"Alright then, I wouldn't want to continue being in debt," she replied with a smile, letting Xander take her hand and lead her out on the dance floor before twirling her around to face him. Willow smiled as she remembered how they'd danced, how one song had just melted into another. She could practically feel the gaze of Gibbs burning into the back of her head but she couldn't bring herself to care.
"You look great," Xander whispered into her ear. Willow had blushed in reply.
"You do too," she'd told him. She hadn't been lying. The black tuxedo that Xander was wearing made him look very suave, kind of like a young James Bond or even Jason Bourne… with slightly longer hair. Willow couldn't help but be glad that everyone else at the wedding was older than her and Xander, so that there was no one else competing with her for Xander's attention. As it was, Willow knew that Xander was focused on her.
At one point, Gibbs had wandered off and Willow and Xander had left the dance floor. Willow's feet were beginning to hurt, so they found a secluded spot in the corner so they could watch the other people, just like they used to do at the Bronze before they met Buffy. Willow leaned comfortably against Xander's chest and Xander unconsciously rubbed his arm against her bare arm. Willow tilted her head back in order to say something, just as Xander lowered his head to whisper something into her ear. The result was that their faces were incredibly close. Willow went to draw back but then her eyes found Xander's and she was trapped.
"Xander," she whispered, licking her lips as her mouth went dry.
"Wills," Xander replied. Willow turned her body so they were facing one another, their faces still close. Slowly they inched forward, still lost in the eyes of one another before their lips gently brushed one another. A warm feeling had run down Willow's spine as she realized she was kissing Xander. Emboldened, she had deepened the kiss, her hand rising to rest on the back of Xander's head. They both had jumped apart, however, when Abby's voice come over the microphone.
"Okay, girls… it's time to for Ziva to throw the bouquet. Let's get all the single girls up here," the forensic scientist announced. Willow went beet red.
"You better go, your dad will notice if you're not there," Xander told her. Willow nodded. There weren't that many women at the wedding (the disadvantage of working in a predominantly male workplace), so if she didn't go up, it would be noticed by everyone. Letting out a sigh, Willow had stood, trailing her hand down Xander's arm, letting her fingertips linger on his before letting her arm drop as she walked away. She had just kissed Xander and it had been the most wonderful experience of the night.
It had been Abby that caught the bouquet and Tony had instantly started teasing McGee, who had gone beet red. Willow had smiled as she watched the teasing, long used to the good-natured ribbing that Tony was known for distributing when he thought it was appropriate. Willow herself had been on the receiving end of Tony's teasing on a few occasions but not nearly as often as McGee.
The night had continued on with more dancing. Willow had danced with McGee and again with Xander, although they could both feel Gibbs' gaze fixed on them so they knew that it would be unwise to go any further than that. Willow couldn't believe that she and Xander had kissed. Throughout her teen years, kissing Xander had been a dream unachievable and now she could proudly say that she had done it… and it had been every bit as wonderful as she'd imagined… and then some.
Having watched Tony and Ziva drive off together, Willow turned and went back inside with the rest of the team and Xander, who had loosened his tie and undone the top button on his shirt, now that the occasion had become more comfortable.
There were less people at the reception now, especially now that the bride and groom had left and the NCIS team sank own at their delegated table. Director Vance had left, along with his wife, but the rest of the team remained.
"So… Xander, how are things going. Are you still with your girlfriend… Cordelia was it?" McGee asked. Xander smiled and shook his head.
"She wanted to move to L.A. after graduation and I wanted to stay in Sunnydale and we didn't want to do a long-distance relationship, so we decided to split up. I haven't heard from her in a while. I dated a girl… Anya for a bit late last year and earlier this year but she broke it off."
Willow cringed as she remembered Buffy talking about Anya in emails the blond slayer had sent her. The former vengeance demon had been an interesting character but Willow had been privately relieved when Anya had broken up with Xander and moved on with Graham. Willow felt she knew Xander better than anyone else (other than himself) and she couldn't imagine Xander living out his life with an individual such as Anya and that was even discounting her status as a former demon.
The conversation shifted and moved on until a group approached Gibbs and his team. Willow recognized two of the team as G. Callen and Sam Hanna, who had served as her protection detail after Gibbs had heard about the events of the graduation ceremony at Sunnydale High the previous year. She had seen them at reception but had been busy helping Abby and Palmer with things, so she hadn't been able to stop and say hello.
The same agents had shadowed her and Xander as far as the Californian border that summer when the pair of teens went on their planned end-of-high-school road trip. It had been rather handy that the two agents had been there, since the engine had fallen out of Xander's car before they had even gotten to L.A. The two agents had arranged for Xander's car to be towed to the garage in L.A. used by NCIS and given the two teens a lift to L.A. Xander and Willow had stayed at a safe house during the night, while going sightseeing during the day. A few days later, once Xander's car had been fixed (Willow had used part of the money the Rosenbergs had given her for her sixteenth birthday to pay for it), they headed out of town with the two agents shadowing them from a distance should anything happen. Having made it to the state border safely, Sam and Callen had called Willow, told her that they were heading back to L.A., said their goodbyes, and turned around, leaving the two teenagers on their own to go their own way.
"Jethro," Callen greeted, shaking Gibbs' hand. "How have things been?"
"Better now that the weddings over and done with," Gibbs grinned before introducing the pair to Ducky and Palmer, who were the only members of the group who hadn't met G, Sam and the rest of their team – Special Agent Kensi Blye and Detective Marty Deeks. Willow knew that Gibbs' team had worked with the L.A. team on a case while she was away at college and Tony and Ziva had gotten along well with them, leading to the team being invited to the wedding.
"Willow, Xander… long time no see," Sam said, sitting in a vacant seat while Gibbs and Callen talked and Deeks and Kensi chatted with McGee and Abby about the wedding.
"Yeah, it's been awhile. How have you been, Sam?" Willow asked.
Sam nodded. "It's been fine. How's Oxford going?'
"I love it, it's really great." Willow smiled.
"What about you, Xander? What have you been up to?"
Xander shrugged. "I've got a job in a construction company as a carpenter, so that's been keeping me busy."
"Your car still running well?" Sam asked teasingly. Xander laughed.
"Yeah, my uncle Rory always does a double take when he sees that it's still running and running even better than it did when he had it. Your mechanic must be genius."
Sam snorted. "Ha, I think she enjoyed it. It made a change from having to patch up bullet holes and replacing windshields."
Willow and Xander both laughed loudly at that comment and everyone else looked at them curiously.
"Did I miss something?" Deeks asked.
"Just talking about Xander's car," Sam explained. Callen smirked and Abby giggled.
"Tony told me about that. It must have been so embarrassing."
"More for Xander than anyone else, although I don't think car troubles were what Dad had in mind when he asked you two to watch us." Willow smirked.
Gibbs smiled at that. "No, not really," he admitted. Of course, he hadn't realized how much of a bomb Xander's car had been until they'd arrived in D.C. and Gibbs had looked out his front door, unable to believe that the car had made it the whole way across the country, even if it had been seen to by a mechanic chosen by G, Sam, and Hetty.
The L.A. based team soon headed off, as they had an early flight the next morning, and Gibbs and the team helped pack up before gathering their things and leaving the reception center. It had been a magical night for Willow but it was now tinged with sorrow as she knew that Xander would be heading back to Sunnydale shortly and unless she could make it back to Sunnydale at Christmas, they would not see each other again until at least the next summer.
Willow stood in the departure lounge at the airport, hugging Xander tightly as he prepared to leave and catch his flight back to Sunnydale.
"I'll miss you," she promised Xander, who hugged her tightly in response.
"I'll miss you too, Willow. I promise I'll call and email and text and Skype."
"You better." Willow sniffed as a tear rolled down her cheek. "Tell the others that I say hi and that I miss them all too."
"I know, Willow. They miss you too."
"And you all better be careful, alright? I don't want to have to go to a funeral the next time I come back."
"We're Scoobies, of course we're careful." Xander smiled. Willow rolled her tear-filled eyes.
"That's not exactly your most convincing argument. Xander. Careful isn't usually a word that is used to describe us."
"That is true," Xander admitted, "but I could be."
"If you say so, Xander."
"I do and also say that YOU need to be careful too, alright? All on your own in Giles land."
"I manage just fine, thank you, Xander," Willow replied smartly, a grin appearing on her face.
"Ah, I made you smile. My goal in life is achieved. I'll tell Giles to go and visit you if he has to go over to England for something."
"Alright." Willow nodded, their eyes locking again. This time, though, there could be no giving into temptation. Gibbs was mere feet away, having offered to drop Xander of at the airport. Instead, Xander kissed Willow on the forehead gently.
"The year will fly by and I'll see you soon," he told her before picking up his backpack and walking to the departure gate.
"Bye, Gibbs," he threw over his shoulder to Gibbs. Gibbs nodded.
"Bye, Xander. Look after yourself."
"Will do," Xander waved before he vanished from sight. Willow sniffed and leaned against Gibbs as she felt her father wrap his arm around her slender shoulders.
"Ready to go?" Gibbs asked softly. Willow gave a shaky nod and together they walked from the airport, both of them knowing in their gut that they would see Xander Harris again.
A.N. I hope you all enjoyed this little (or not so little) one shot. I'm not sure why i decided i would write it, but one day i just woke up and felt like writing the TIVA wedding scene with Xander and Willow, so here we are. R.W.