A/N This is a Xandercentric story. There is really no bashing in here, so if that's what you're looking for, look somewhere else. I have no claim on either BTVS or NCIS.
Rupert Giles was apprehensive, this was unusual. As the head of a multinational organization that specialized in combating demons and had existed for millennia, there were not many things that worried him. To be sure, apocalypse season could be trying, but as the years had gone by the New Council had become more and more proficient in dealing with such situations. He smiled grimly, practice did indeed make perfect; and the Council had had a lot of practice in saving the world. There had been some governments that had kicked up a bit at all the new slayers, but several treaties and the full backing of the British and American governments smoothed things over nicely and brought the would be troublemakers to heel.
No, to make Rupert Giles nervous you needed something personal. Not dealing with him, but with the men and women who were his surrogate children. He had never thought that his life would end up this way. When he had been appointed to take Merrick's place, he had expected to be an active field watcher for a few years, and then retire to some sort of research post after his slayer was killed; with plenty of time to start a family once he was away from the hurly-burly of field work. There had always been the lurking possibility of dying at his Slayer's side, but he knew that as a Watcher, he would most likely outlive his Slayer. But Buffy had not died, and as the years passed Rupert Giles had found himself as the defacto parent for not only his Slayer, but her sister and friends as well. Then the Council had manage to get itself blown to Kingdom Come and the idea of retirement had gone right out the window because he was needed to head up the reincarnation of that organization. So now he found himself entering the twilight of his life with a family that he'd never imagined in his wildest dreams, but dealing with that family sometimes meant that you had to step lightly and this was one of those times.
He needed to talk to Xander; actually he needed to pull him out of the field. Giles knew that it would take a lot of fast talking to get the young man to even listen past the first few minutes, but Giles was convinced that it was necessary for several reasons. The most important was that Xander scared him now. The young man never seemed to joke or quip, something unheard of before the fall of Sunnydale. He was focused on the mission and only that, with no life outside of the slaying. And, if rumors were true; he was beginning to show an almost amoral streak that reminded Giles too much of his time as Ripper. Indeed, Xander had a fearsome reputation now; one that Giles was sure Buffy, Willow and Dawn were not aware of because of how that reputation had been built. With a sigh, Giles punched the intercom on his desk. "Would you ask him to come in please," and then he sat back to observe.
He watched silently as Xander stalked in, there was no other word for it. His posture was aggressive and overtly threatening, something Giles hadn't seen from him since the Hyena days. "Giles," he muttered as he dropped into one of the chairs, his aggression unchanged despite the fact that he was now sitting.
"Alexander, I appreciate you coming."
"You are my boss, you ask for me to come and here I am."
"We both know that if you truly didn't want to be here, you wouldn't be."
"Are you suggesting that I might ignore the wishes of the head of the Council," Xander asked, with a hint of a grin on his face.
"If you thought he was a daft prick or wrong about whatever the point was, then yes; in a heartbeat." In the privacy of his mind, Giles was turning cartwheels. Xander had actually joked, even smiled. That simple exchange had allayed Giles greatest fear, that Xander had looked into the abyss for too long. He now knew that it would be possible for Xander to become more like the person he had been those many years ago.
"Speaking from experience there Giles," Xander replied with a tight laugh.
"Sadly yes, as you well know." Giles' demeanor changed and he leaned forward. "Before we talk about why you are here, I need you to read these:" he gestured to a small pile of reports on the desk in front of him.
Intrigued, Xander dialed it back a bit and picked up the top report without comment. The different reports dealt with attempted kidnappings and the killing of slayers around the world. They were brief and Xander was soon done. "OK, what's the point, aside from the fact that all the bad guys were human," he asked as he tossed the last report onto Giles' desk.
"Yes, that aside; the point is that all of them built up until they were a threat to us, if we had been paying proper attention then we might have stopped them before they became an issue. We lost two slayers and four watchers, not counting those injured if we had known what to look for. This organization has been far too reactive, only acting once a certain threat level has been reached. I want us to start paying attention so that we deal with problems when they are small, not wait until they threaten our very existence. Think back for a moment Xander, if we had known about the mayor a year before his ascension then we could have done any number of things to prevent it and thus prevent the lives lost at graduation." Giles had used this example deliberately because he knew that the losses at graduation still haunted Xander. It was a low trick but one he was willing to use to get the younger man to think.
"You're talking proactive stuff there Giles, that's easy to abuse. I mean, once you start taking demons or people out because they could be a threat, then where does it stop. Honestly, if threat level was the only criteria then I should walk out of here right now and put a bullet in Willow's head."
"I am well aware of the moral ramifications of what you are talking about, but that is not the direction I wish to pursue."
"Then what is," Xander asked. He was intrigued now, for some time he had been suggesting taking a more proactive view but nothing had come of it here. In Africa, he had a little more leeway and had actually conducted offensive operations a couple of times. Hitting demon clans known for causing trouble before trouble was caused. Now it sounded like Giles wanted the entire Council to move in a similar direction.
"We, and by that I mean the field watchers; need to learn how to investigate. How to see a pattern developing before it becomes obvious. We need to learn how to see the threat before it becomes overt. Too often we get caught up in a game where our opponent is several moves ahead because we have been looking in the wrong direction. Too often in the past we have had to scramble to catch up, to determine who the players were and what they wanted and such rushing about causes mistakes and unnecessary losses. I want that to end."
"That's an interesting thought, how would you go about that," Xander asked, both intrigued and moved by the passion in Giles' voice.
"Three directions, the first is to start recruiting watchers from law enforcement and the military. Retirees would be acceptable because they wouldn't be doing field work only research. The second would be intelligence, we need to find or create consistent sources of information so that our researchers have something to mull over. Finally, we need to train someone currently in our organization and once they are proficient, have them sell the idea to our up and coming watchers, and then have this person lead the new section that deals with investigation and intelligence. That way the field watchers can know what to look for and filter that information back to our researchers. This would also give the people in the field more flexibility because the new group might be able to discern larger patterns than could be noticed on a local scale." Giles watched Xander closely as he said this, waiting for the penny to drop; waiting to see if Xander had caught the truly significant portion of his whole speech. When it did, the results were everything Giles expected.
Xander leapt out of his chair and leaned over the desk. "Oh hell no, I'm not about to start jockeying a desk or being a teacher just so everyone can finally get me 'fray adjacent'!"
Giles let him rant and rave for a few minutes, hiding a smile at the young man's more colorful metaphors. When it sounded like he was winding down a bit, Giles stood up and removed his glasses and placing them in his jacket pocket after giving the lenses a quick polish; metaphorically, Clark Kent had just stepped into a phone booth. Then he turned a rather amoral gaze at the young man and simply said, "sit down Alexander."
The tone in Giles voice hit every submission trigger in Xander's somewhat muddled psyche. With the soldier remnants, which easily recognized the tone of a pissed off superior; Xander abruptly sat down and shut his mouth. He was mentally kicking himself for letting loose like that. Giles was so pleasant and genial that it was easy to forget that Ripper was also floating around in there, just waiting to come out and play.
Again Giles fought to suppress a smile at Xander's immediate change; it was nice to know that he still had it. Not hinting at what was going on behind his eyes; Giles fixed his cold gaze on the man in front of him. "We will need someone to lead this new unit and you are the best candidate for that assignment, there is nothing more to it than that." He saw Xander was about to object and hurried on. "Willow, despite her considerable intelligence, doesn't have the instincts that you possess and would end up frustrated and then alienate nearly everyone working for her." Seeing the rebellion die in Xander's eye, Giles got back to the assignment. "Now, as to the particulars; there is a man whose family were watchers for generation, in fact his nephew is still with us; but he is a member of the type of team that we are looking to emulate. He obviously knows all about the dark and when given your personal details, felt as though you would be a good fit for the particular team in question. So next Monday, you are flying to Washington D.C. and will start work with the investigative team at the Naval Criminal Investigative Service. Do you have any questions?"
"Two at the moment," Xander replied calmly, still cowed by the presence of Ripper. "Who is my contact, first of all?"
"That would be a doctor Donald Mallard," Giles replied. "His cousin and I were friends for a while. I believe he is generally referred to as 'Ducky'."
"Cute," Xander shot back, but it lacked his usual enthusiasm. "The second is, how can I be in a military investigative team when I've never been in the military?"
"Neither have most of the people on the current team," Giles replied. "There is a former police officer a former member of Mosad, and their computer expert also writes rather half baked suspense novels."
"Great, so what do they think I am?"
"You are one of the ranking members of a United Nations sanctioned group that is looking to become a more efficient operation." He paused as Xander rolled his eye at the rather lame explanation. "I know it sounds both pretentious and false, however, it does have the rather unique distinction of being absolutely true. Now I know that you will be questioned about what it is that you do, but just stick to the usual cover story and don't worry. Willow and Riley have both assured me that any records that can be retrieved have no mention of what it is that we really do. Even their superior, a Director Vance does not know what the true function of the Council is. And you will keep it that way, won't you," Giles finished with a glare.
"I can't make any guarantees there Giles. I mean you're sticking me into a group of people that collectively are some of the best investigators that can be found. That means that they're smart and tenacious. It wouldn't surprise me if they found most of the details of my life including the stuff I try to hide on their own before they even tried talking to me about it. Folks like that are going to make connections."
"Indeed," Giles muttered. He was forced to admit that Xander had an excellent point. "Very well then; use your discretion, but please don't go volunteering information."
"That I can promise," Xander answered with a grin. "So, you got a breakdown on the folks I'll be working with?"
Giles replied by tossing a paperback copy of "Deep Six" by Thom E Gemcity into Xander's lap. "I'm told that most of the people you will be with are barely disguised characters in here," Giles said with a smile. "And when you are done with that I've got actual dossiers on the members, but the novel should give you a better feel for the various personalities."
"Great," Xander replied with distaste. "I'm gonna end up as a throwaway character in some crappy techno-thriller."
Leon Vance grimaced as he hung up the phone. He really didn't care for dealing with the upper echelons of the self important walking egos that ended up in Washington and now he'd just gotten off the phone having just been in a conference call with both the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State. It didn't help that he'd been told to do something he didn't like, and if he didn't like it, it was a sure thing that Gibbs was going to hate it. This caused another grimace because there were times that Vance was convinced that Gibbs really ran things around NCIS and that everyone else was really working for him. That thought didn't do much for Leon's ego, but it refused to go away. 'Well, no time like the present,' he thought and walked out of his office and looked over at the bull pen. "Gibbs, we need to talk; up here now." Normally Leon wasn't this abrupt, but he really didn't feel like debating his senior agent for half an hour in public. He quickly moved back into his office and sat behind his desk and waited for hurricane Gibbs to arrive.
It didn't take long. Gibbs burst into the office, without knocking as usual; and said, "what is it Leon," in an indifferent tone.
"You'll want to sit down for this Jethro."
"I'm fine," Gibbs muttered out.
"Trust me; you'll want to sit for this."
Gibbs started to sit when a thought occurred. "You're not gonna break up my team again are you Leon, we've been through this before."
"No Jethro, I'm not going to break your team up or even suggest it anymore."
"So why am I here?"
"Because for the next twelve months or so, your team is going to be bigger."
"What," Gibbs was confused now. He'd been set to argue with Leon about breaking the team up; he wasn't prepared for the shift in topics.
Director Vance tossed a rather thin folder across his desk. "Alexander Harris, he's one of the best field operatives for something called the NSWC and before you ask, I have no idea what it stands for. All anyone would say that it was a multinational organization that dealt with extreme situations. Anyway, we were asked to train this guy up as an investigator. Teach him what to look for and how to process information, that kind of thing; and as much as it pains me to say this, your team is the best I've got. So he's your problem for the next year."
"You could have said 'No' Leon," Gibbs muttered while thumbing through the file.
"When it's the Secretary of Defense doing the asking, well it really isn't asking," Vance replied with a smirk.
Gibbs froze, "Leon, this kid has a . . . ."
"Sealed file that is marked 'Top Secret' and code word protected," Vance finished. "I asked about that and was pretty much told that I didn't need to know."
"This kid isn't military, so how did he get a military file," Gibbs mused aloud.
"Check the dates," Vance suggested.
"What the . . ." Gibbs started. "This was sealed almost ten years ago, but the kid isn't even thirty yet. Who gets a sealed file when you're that young," Gibbs asked.
"Now that is a very good question," Vance said, then went back to his paperwork as Gibbs left the room.
Gibbs stalked into the Bullpen. It wasn't that he hated secrecy, it was just that he hated working with people that had serious secrets in their past; it generally meant trouble for him and his team. McGee looked up from whatever arcane thing he was doing with his computer and Dinozzo and David paused in their continual sniping at each other when he entered. "I've just been told that we're getting a probie," Gibbs noticed Dinozzo's look when he heard the term; "the guy's name is Alexander Harris and I want to know everything there is to know about him before he gets here tomorrow." He concluded by tossing the file on Ziva's desk and stalking away, he really needed some coffee right now.
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