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In the Aftermath of Silence

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This story is No. 2 in the series "The Fallen May Rise". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: Xander has a job interview in DC, while he's there, he looks up an old acquaintance who has an idea of just what he's going through. *Discontinued*

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Multiple Crossings > Xander-Centered(Recent Donor)ChilordFR18112,1471710622,7954 May 104 May 10Yes
In the Aftermath of Silence

-A Fallen May Rise Interlude-

Disclaimer: Buffy belongs to Whedon and various networks. NCIS belongs to Donald Bellisario. SG-1 belonged to SyFy channel last I heard. (ugh, talk about a bloody dumb spelling change.)

Author’s Notes: I’m writing it, but we’ll see if I can write the sequel or not. Timeline for NCIS has been moved back a few years so this takes place in season 1.

I originally intended to write this and post it as a completed work, needless to say that didn't really work out. I've been too busy with other things, other bits of fanfiction I've been writing on and I've been struggling with this. As I said, I'm still not sure if I'll ever get to the official sequel to Echoes of the Fallen or not.

We'll see.

-o-o-o-

Tony DiNozzo strolled up to his desk with a happy swagger as he cast his eyes over towards the desk opposite his own. “Goooood morning, Kate! Get plenty of sleep last night?”

Grin still in place, the brunette took a moment to glare up at the man with dark eyes before shaking her head, and meaningfully nodding it towards the desk of one Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs. Blinking slightly, Tony turned his head and peered over at the desk, to find it currently occupied. Occupied by a figure most decidedly NOT their boss.

Frowning slightly, Tony carefully shifted his body and strode over to the desk, to see a dark eyed, dark haired teenager watching him with a bemused grin on his face. Taking a moment, to glance meaningfully from the name plate on the desk, back to the boy, Tony offered him a slight, semi-amused grin. “You know, you really, REALLY shouldn’t be sitting there.”

“Mmm, this is Special Gibbs' desk, yes?” The words that fell past the boy’s lips were smoothly drawled in a cultured British tone that immediately reminded Tony of the kindly tones of one Ducky Mallard.

“And you not being him, being why you shouldn’t be there.” Tony continued as he put on the best, friendly smile he could.

“So the lovely Agent Todd already told me.” There was a light hint of amusement in those eyes, along with something else the former police detective couldn’t quite place.

“And yet, here you still are.” Tony countered as he lightly studied the boy in front of him. “Really, we are trying to help you here. You don’t want on the boss’ bad side, and he tends to be a little… territorial.”

“You don’t say.” The boy offered up, still wearing that half bemused little smile as he leaned back in the chair. “I do appreciate the warnings, but I’ll be fine.”

“Yeaaaah. You see, that’s not exactly all of it.” Tony responded, still with that friendly smile on his face. “If you’re there, and we didn’t get you out of there when the boss arrives, then, he’s going to be upset. More specifically, with us.”

“Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to inform him you tried.” The boy almost chuckled, Tony could tell, his eyes glittering with a look that made the investigator more than a little uneasy, as if the boy knew something he didn’t.

“Ah, Tony, Jethro! I was just about to…” A middle aged man strode up, his eyes smiling behind his glasses before he blinked slightly and made note that the man behind the desk was not the man he’d been hoping to speak with. “Oh, dear me, I do apologize. When I saw Tony here, I simply assumed that you would be Special Agent Gibbs.”

“Quite all right.” The boy offered in that same, amused drawl as he nodded to the man. “This helpful agent here was simply telling me how much of a frightfully bad idea he thought it would be for me to remain seated as I am.”

The older man’s eye’s lit up as the boy’s accent made itself known and smiled as he extended his hand. “Well he is quite right. But, please, excuse my poor manners. Dr. Donald Mallard, chief medical examiner. But, please, call me Ducky. It’s been sometime since I’ve had a word with someone from back home.”

“Ah, and I’m afraid it’s still been sometime.” The boy responded as he took the man’s hand in his own firm grip and smiled softly. “I picked up the accent from a dear friend back in California.” And then, suddenly the accent was gone, replaced by a slightly lopsided grin. “Xander Harris, pleasure to meet a man with a sense of humor.”

“Oh? And what makes you say that?” There was a slight bit of understanding disappointment in the man’s voice even as the curious amusement rose into the tone.

“Any Doctor so willing to be associated with quacks must have a sense of humor.” Xander responded as he grinned back at the man.

“I’d almost forgotten about that.” Ducky admitted with a slightly sheepish grin as he shrugged his shoulders in response. “I will admit to be rather… distraught with it when I was younger. Still, with age, wisdom and a sense of humor.”

“Or with some, wisdom, pain and loss.” Xander responded as suddenly his eyes seemed far, far older than any teen’s should as he offered the man a bittersweet smile.

“Hopefully more humor than that though,” Ducky responded even as he gave the boy a knowing nod of his head. “So, what brings you here, today?”

“That’s what I’d like to know.” A new voice sounded out from behind them, as a stern faced man in a military cut strode up. “Along with why you’re sitting in my chair, and why my agent is doing nothing about it.”

“Oh, he tried.” Xander answered with a slight grin as he eyed Special Agent Gibbs. “And, been a while, Mr. Gibbs.”

His eyes squinting, Gibbs studied the boy carefully before he spoke up. “… Do I know you?”

“I’m hurt.” Xander almost pouted back at the man, before he stood up and grinned. “I know I’ve grow up a bit, and that I don’t have Willow… or Jessie around with me, but…” The grin had faded slightly with that second name as he continued to look at the man. “I thought you’d remember me.”

“…Xander?” Gibbs blinked a moment, staring, before a genuine smile crossed his lips. “How have you been? I haven’t seen you since…”

“The day you guys left town,” Xander finished, the smile fading even further as he nodded his head. “I’m sorry I couldn’t visit or… ya know… You remember how my parents were.”

A dark look fell across the man’s face as he nodded his head in quiet acceptance. “Yeah, I remember…”

“So, uh, boss? You know this kid?” Tony spoke up as he glanced from the suddenly dark face of his superior to the teen now standing up in front of them.

“Xander? Yeah, I’ve known him since I was still in the Corps. Back when I was stationed in Sunnydale.” Gibbs spoke up, watching the way Xander flinched slightly at the name of his home town. “Xander and his friends… were my neighbors. Good kids. How’re Willow and Jessie doing anyway?”

Those eyes, were suddenly ancient again, as Xander took a moment’s pause before he responded. “Willow’s doing good. Graduated the top of our class. Going to USC Sunnydale in the Fall with her boyfriend.”

What he left hanging caused Gibbs’ eyes to latch sharply onto the boy’s own. “Jessie?”

“Been gone for almost 3 years now,” Xander responded simply as he couldn’t quite bring himself to meet the older man’s eyes. “They say he ran away, but… I think you know how Sunnydale was.”

Gibbs immediately stiffened in response, as he gave a short, almost imperceptible nod of his head before his voice lowered quietly. “What brings you to DC?”

“Job interview.” Xander shrugged just a bit as he offered a weary smile back to the man. “I figured I’d get here a bit early, and see if I could catch up with an old friend.”

At the look in Xander’s eyes Gibbs nodded his head quietly in acceptance. “Yeah, I’ve got a crime scene I need my team to get to first though, as long as you don’t mind riding along and being bored for a bit, I’ll take you there after we’re done.”

“That’s fine,” Xander agreed with a nod of his head as he smiled gratefully back at the man.

“DiNozzo, Kate! You’re in the truck. Ducky, we’ll need you on the scene as well.” Gibbs sounded off, before lightly giving Xander a pointed look. At the incomprehension on the boy’s face, the man sighed slightly and spoke up. “Xander? Move. I need to get my gun.”

“Oh, right.” Smiling sheepishly, Xander quickly nodded his head and stepped out of the way.

-o-o-o-

“Ok, so, was it just me or is there something odd about that kid?” Tony spoke up as he glanced over for a moment at the woman seated in the truck next to him.

“Compared to what, you?” Kate responded as she arched a brow before smirking back at him. “No, I have to say he seemed quite normal in comparison.”

“So funny, I completely forgot to laugh.” Tony shot back before frowning just a bit. “And I’m serious. Something in his eyes, looked like some of those soldiers you see, just fresh from a warzone. And the whole subtle innuendos they were giving each other without actually saying anything.”

“Only thing I found to be surprising, was the thought of Gibbs getting to know a group of young kids. Kinda creepy.” Kate responded with a slight shrug.

“Eh, never seen Gibbs with kids, have you?” Tony smirked a bit and shook his head. “He’s great with em. Which is good, because it means I don’t have to put up with the little monsters. I’m kinda surprised he never had any kids with those 3 ex wives of his.”

“He is?” There was a blink of surprise and a look of curious speculation. “That’s kind of surprising.”

“Yeah, well that’s the boss for you. Think you’ve got him figured out and bam, another curveball.” Tony muttered slightly under his breath and sighed softly. “It’s frustrating I tell you.”

“If you say so, Tony.” Kate agreed with an amused smirk on her lips. “If you say so.”

-o-o-o-

“So, gone.” Gibbs spoke up as he stared at the road ahead, following the rest of the team for a change as he let the words hang in the air.

“Depends, how much you know about Sunnydale?” Xander responded quietly as he gazed out at the flashing scenery they passed by. “And I mean the real Sunnydale.”

“Enough to have gotten my family out as quick as I could.” Gibbs answered back as he lightly tightened his grip on the wheel. “I tried to talk the three of your parents into leaving, but…”

“Sheila and Ira are stubborn and head strong. Jessie’s parents… who knows. And yeah, you know how my parents were.” The teen responded softly as he continued to stare out the window.

“We tried to get Social Services involved.” Gibbs commented quietly. “We were even willing to adopt you… But they wouldn’t listen. Considering how things ended up… It was probably for the best.”

The note of pain in Gibbs’ voice reached back to Xander, who nodded his head quietly in turn. “When I finally heard about it… Nobody would tell me what happened.”

For a moment, Gibbs said nothing, merely stared ahead as he followed his team, letting a heavy silence fill the air, before finally he broke it with a soft, quiet voice. “Shannon saw something she shouldn’t have when I was in Iraq. The person she saw doing it wanted her silenced, he didn’t care who he hurt in the process.”

Xander winced softly as he turned his head again and stared out into the street for a long moment, before finally he spoke up again. “After you were gone, the three of us continued on, like we always had. Living in happy ignorance of the truth of how dangerous our little town was.” He paused there, before his throat, tightened and he spoke, the words thick, almost raw with emotion. “Then… then we met Buffy, and everything changed.”

“… Buffy?” There was a quiet note of incredulity in Gibbs’ voice.

“Elizabeth.” Xander responded with a slight smile. “But, everyone called her Buffy.” His eyes grew distant for a moment, as that smile lay on his lips. “She was beautiful.”

Gibbs made no comment as he heard the implications of the boy’s words, nor when he heard the pure emotion bleeding into his voice as he nodded his head slightly. “Changed how?”

“We were faced with the real world, and we found out, there are some very, very good reasons to be afraid of the dark.” Chuckling bitterly for a moment, Xander turned his head and looked towards the older man. “The least of which, are the vampires.”

He’d known it was coming, his eyes still focused on the road ahead of him, but Gibbs couldn’t help but wince slightly at the implication. “How long ago did you find out about them?”

“The night we met Buffy,” Xander said simply as he stared forward. “The night Jessie was turned.”

Gibbs’ fingers tightened immediately on the steering wheel of his vehicle, sitting up, ramrod straight as he struggled against the emotions suddenly churning inside of him as Xander continued. “The next night, I was holding a broken pool cue, while standing in front of the girl he’d had a crush on when he was still, ya know, Jessie. Someone pushed him from behind… I looked him in the eyes as he turned to dust.”

The grip turned white knuckled as Gibbs took a slow, deep breath, and carefully nodded his head as he exhaled. “I’m sorry… I should have…”

“Don’t be.” Xander cut him off before he could continue as he looked out into the distance. “No one knows what the future holds. Should haves… could haves… They’re meaningless in the end. You did what you could, knowing what you did.” Taking a slow, deep breath, Xander paused a moment before he continued. “How much do you know about vampires, demons, and the rest?”

“That they exist, and that there are some very, very bad things out there.” Gibbs responded quietly as he slowly forced himself to relax his grip on his wheel.

“No worse than what humanity already has.” Xander responded evenly as watched the road. “Just a bit stronger and harder to stop individually. But, you already knew that.”

“… Ya think?” Gibbs answered more out of reflex than anything, before he winced slightly and shook his head. “Sorry, it’s just…”

“A lot to take in.” Xander filled in for him before he continued. “There’s a whole spiel for all of what I’m about to tell you, but I won’t bore you with the details. There’s a girl, one girl in the whole world at a time, that’s Chosen and imbued with the strength, speed, and skill to fight vampires and the rest on an even field, until she dies and the next one is called. Buffy was that girl when I met her. She was the Slayer.”

“Always thought that was a myth.” Gibbs muttered softly under his breath before smiling just a bit. “A boogieman for the boogiemen.”

“She’s as real as the boogiemen are.” Xander answered evenly as he smiled just a bit. “Currently, she’s Faith Lehane, from Boston originally, now living back out in Sunnydale. She’s the third Slayer I’ve known.”

“Buffy then…?” He knew the answer, it was obvious in everything Xander said, but he needed to hear it from the boy’s own lips.

“She died the first time, during Prom the year I met her. While most of our classmates were dancing, she was down in a bunch of caves, trying to stop a prophecy calling for her death. And me? I was stupidly forcing a vampire to show me where she’d gone.” Xander chuckled just a bit as he spoke, shaking his head slightly. “The vampire cursed with a soul, in love with the same girl I was, but he was sitting on his ass, not trying to stop the prophecy.”

“The first time? Vampire with a soul?” Confusion washed across Gibbs’ face as he almost ripped his eyes away from the road to stare at Xander.

“It’s complicated.” Xander responded with a chuckle. “And yeah… She was drowned… I managed to find her in time, performed CPR, she came back. Did call another Slayer though. Things died down during the summer, got complicated again when school started… and my life got crazier on Halloween.”

“How…?” Gibbs had a sinking feeling in his stomach as he continued to watch the road, and he had a feeling he really, truly wouldn’t like what he heard.

He was right.

-o-o-o-

Tony could practically see the storm clouds crashing above Gibbs’ face as he got out of the car, a somber Xander following him a moment later as Tony took a moment to study his boss before discreetly sliding over next to Xander and practically whispering his words to him. “What the hell did you tell him, and how can I avoid ever mentioning it?”

“Just told him about my time in High School.” Xander responded with an honest shrug, before smiling blandly at the man. “Also? It helps to not stick your nose into his business when he can hear you.”

The NCIS agent was still in mid thought process when Gibbs’ hand smacked the back of his head and the man’s voice filled his ear. “DiNozzo! You finished trying to gossip, or are you expecting those crime scene photos to take themselves?”

Giving the still smiling Xander a slight glare, Tony immediately spoke up. “On it, Boss!”

As soon as the man was out of hearing range, Xander arched a brow slightly towards Gibbs. “Feeling better now?”

“No, not particularly.” Gibbs grumbled slightly. “I need more damned coffee.”

“That can’t be good for your blood pressure.” Xander noted mildly, even as he shrugged off the man’s glare. “So, what’s the what here? Because, ya know, from here, it kinda looks like your victim got a meet and greet from someone rather explosively allergic to sunlight.”

“Probably.” Gibbs admitted with a sigh and a shake of his head. “There’s a demon bar near here where I’ll probably get some answers. Still, it’ll go down as an unsolved case, officially.”

“Demon bar?” Xander paused a moment before shrugging. “Want some company?”

“I can handle it.” Gibbs answered him simply as he gave the boy a look. “You're still a civilian.”

“You're the boss.” The teen responded as he leaned back against the car and let his eyes wander around a bit. “Lemme know if you get into trouble.”

Xander grinned slightly as he felt the glare Gibbs pinned him with, his eyes alight for just a moment before they again dimmed once more just before he heard Gibbs speak again. “Xander, I know you might be used to dealing with these kinds of things in Sunnydale, but here, people actually CAN do their jobs.”

“Fine, but I reserve the right to make snarky comments and witty banter.” Grinning for just a moment back at the man, Xander then made a slight shooing motion. “Go on, shake down the bar tender and what not, I promise, I'll... well, I'll TRY to stay out of trouble.”

The amendment earned him another less than slight glare, which in turn earned the marine another slight grin of amusement out of the boy before he turned and headed off towards where Xander assumed the demon bar was. Leaning back against the car, Xander lightly closed his eyes as his hands dipped down into his pockets. After a few moments of relative silence, he cracked his eyes open as he heard the quiet steps of Kate approaching him from the crime scene.

“So, you've known Gibbs a while?” She was holding a plastic bag, firmly sealing it with red tape as she wrote the information on it.

“Guess that would depend on your definition of 'a while,' Agent Todd.” His eyes glittered just a bit as a slight little smile tugged up across his lips even as he nodded his head in her direction. “I hadn't seen him for over 10 years before today.”

“Was he always such a...” She paused a moment, struggling for a polite way of phrasing her question as she watched a quiet amusement ripple across Xander's face.

“He's not the same man he used to be, but considering what he's been through, I'm not surprised.” Xander shrugged a bit, his eyes growing distant for a moment before he would shook his head. “Then again, I'm not the same kid that he used to look out for.”

Kate paused a moment, as she saw the distant look in the boy's eyes as suddenly she could see exactly what it was Tony had been referring to. “What he went through?”

“If you don't know, it's not my place to tell.” Xander shut his eyes again once more as he leaned his head back against the car's roof. “So, how long you been in NCIS?”

“Just started a few months ago.” A slight frown marred Kate's lips as she studied the boy in front of her, the way he kept making her revise the mental profile she'd been putting together on him. “Gibbs offered me a job after we worked a case together.”

“Honestly, she just couldn't get enough of me.” Tony's voice added in as he walked over, clipboard in hand as he threw Xander a slight smirk, before grunting softly as Kate's elbow impacted his gut. “See?”

“Apparently.” Xander agreed with a tilting nod of his head as Kate's eyes flashed dangerously towards him as he continued. “Finding a good, free punching bag can be a difficult thing you know.”

Tony blinked a moment, staring back at the kid, before pausing slightly as he almost seemed to pout. “Dammit, this isn't fair, he's not a probie, so I can't use that against him, and Gibbs likes him.”

“I'm also smarter than you and far, far more charming.” Xander offered up, never even bothering to open up his eyes as the lopsided grin curled across his lips.

“Well, it doesn't take much to outdo Tony in those regards.” Kate cut in, smirking back at the senior field agent as she crossed her arms about her chest.

“So you say, and yet, who's the one who has trouble getting a date?” Tony shot back, smirking slightly as his arms crossed about his chest.

“Tony, my boy, any idiot can get a date, especially if they're good looking enough. Someone who's charming not only gets the date, but another, and another and another, with a woman who is far more to offer than just a pretty face and an impressive set of endowments.” Xander drawled out with a soft chuckle before shaking his head as he cracked an eye open and studied the man carefully. “But then, you're still just a boy in that regards, aren't you? You don't really understand what it means to love a woman with every ounce of your heart and soul.”

“And a kid like you does?” Tony countered back as he couldn't quite keep the glare off his face.

“Yes, a 'kid' like me does.” Xander agreed as he shook his head. “And as your Dr. Mallard and Gibbs can tell you... age has far, far less to do with a date of birth, than it does with the experiences you've had in the time since then.”

“And from the way you hold yourself, I'd say you've had more than your fair share of experiences, hmm Alexander?” Ducky's voice cut in with a somberness as he strode up the group, and took a moment to study the body with a look of resignation. “Gerald, if you could get a liver temp?”

“Right away, Doctor Mallard.” The black man nodded his head with a grimace of his own as he took a look at the victim.

“Ah, poor boy... It seems he found more in last night than he was prepared to handle.” Ducky shook his head and sighed softly as he caught the look of understanding on Xander's face.

“Few are, the first time. Generally they're better prepared the second.” Xander paused a moment before a slight grimace blossomed across his face. “And please... It's Xander. Just, Xander.”

“Ah, the voice of experience.” Ducky nodded his head as he couldn't help but grimace slightly. “A tragedy for one so young.”

“Tragedies are a part of what ages us, Doctor Mallard,” Xander answered back as he nodded his head quietly. “And how we respond to them, part of what shapes us.”

“Wisdom beyond your years, young man.” Ducky nodded his head with a quiet, knowing sadness in his eyes. “I'm sorry to hear that.”

“Some are better suited to bear it than others.” Xander answered back with a slight, laconic shrug.

“Ok, seriously, that double speak is getting annoying.” Tony cut in, glaring slightly from Xander to Ducky. “Ever since he showed up, first Gibbs, now you, Ducky, have been talking in it.”

“Agent DiNozzo, there are things out there, that you would prefer not knowing.” Xander answered simply before shaking his head. “What we know is one of them.”

“Listen to the boy, Tony.” Ducky urged quietly as he lightly shook his head. “But, won't Jethro be a bit upset to see you standing around, chatting up his young friend instead of working?”

Tony winced before grumbling slightly as he shook his head. “Fine. But this isn't over.”

“That is your choice, but I urge you to let it go, Tony.” Ducky countered before watching the young man grumble slightly as he turned and walked off, leaving Ducky to turn onto Kate. “And you, Katelyn? Nothing to work on?”

“Seems kind of cut and dry to me.” Kate shrugged slightly before she met Ducky's eyes firmly. “Our soldier here ended up coming up short against a vampire. No dust nearby, means that it got away clean.”

Xander merely arched a brow back at the woman, who shrugged slightly in response. “I'm Ex-Secret Service. I worked the Presidential Detail. There are things you have to be aware of for that.”

“Ah, how quickly I do forget things like that.” Ducky chuckled ruefully as he shook his head and glanced towards Xander. “And judging by your lack of protests or surprise, you have some experience with them as well?”

“First vampire I staked used to be one of my best friends,” Xander answered simply as he closed his eyes a moment then shrugged further. “I've met so many different kinds of demons over the years... Vampires, werewolves... I can identify more demons on sight than I'm really comfortable with.” He paused a moment, before chuckling softly. “I suppose that's what comes with falling in love with a Slayer.”

“Slayer?” The confusion on both their faces as they stared back at Xander made him chuckle a bit more.

Xander smiled slightly at the pair as he shook his head. “As Gibbs put it, she's the boogiemen's boogieman. One girl, in all the world, endowed with the strength, speed and skill to fight the vampires and demons on equal terms. One of the best things to have in your corner if you're facing a demonic apocalypse.”

“I... think I would be better off not knowing how many such things you're aware of.” Ducky noted carefully as he lightly shook his head. “I best be off and see how Gerald is handling things.”

“Make sure you check his mouth.” Xander observed casually. “Best to know if he was turned as quick as we can.”

“Yes, right.” Ducky nodded his head again as he hastened his pacing.

“Soooo.... Secret Service babe, huh?” Xander arched a brow just a bit, even as he smirked softly. “Niiiiice.”

“...Babe?” Kate countered cooly as her brow arched slowly upwards. “What happened to charming?”

“Eh, since I have no intention of trying to sleep with you, it means I can have fun.” Xander shrugged slightly, before his smile dimmed just a bit. “Helps me forget that I didn't just lose my girlfriend a month ago.”

“Oh, I'm so sorry!” Kate immediately cringed as she regarded the boy, as so many things seemed to suddenly click into place. “I didn't know...”

“I only just told Gibbs on the ride here.” Xander shrugged a bit and shook his head. “No way you could have. Besides, she died saving the world.” That wane smile stood on his lips as he chuckled bitterly. “And heroes like that... They go to a good place.”

“... You weren't kidding about the demonic apocalypses, were you?” Kate put forth, very very carefully as she studied the boy again, part of her mind detaching, analyzing everything she was learning about him.

“Wish I was.” Xander shook his head a bit and sighed. “I've seen too many of them. This world... It's in danger a lot more often than people think.”

Kate winced slightly and shook her head before she caught sight of Gibbs storming back towards them, before she gave Xander a nod of her head. “Well, looks like the boss is back... and ready for war, so I'm just going to go... Back to work.”

“Would probably be of the good.” Xander agreed with a nod of his head and a chuckle as he continued to lean back against the vehicle, while Kate nodded her head again and then with one last glance towards Gibbs quickly made her way back to the crime scene.

“So, have they satisfied their curiosity yet?” Gibbs half growled as he glared over at his agents while he slid up next to Xander.

“Kate has I believe.” Xander answered the man back as he lightly chuckled and kept his arms crossed about his chest as he glanced over at the marine. “But then, as she's already in the know, as it were, about the supernatural...”

“Right, Secret Service.” Gibbs nodded his head as he lightly pinched his nose and sighed. “Which means DiNozzo is going to be like a dog with a bone on this.”

“And, I shall have fun amusing myself at his expense,” Xander agreed with a sage nod of his head. “For, he shall find the Snark is strong within me.”

Gibbs couldn't help but feel his lips twitch slightly as a flash of amusement slipped through him, before he again felt it quickly boiled away by the irritation he felt. “Just don't take it too far. He might not look it, but he's a damned good agent.”

“I promise to leave him, more or less in a condition that at least somewhat resembles his mental state prior to my arrival in his life,” Xander agreed with a nod of his hand and an innocent smile before the amusement took a more serious turn. “So, find out anything?”

“Yeah, our marine was feeling on the adventurous side apparently, and found himself in the bar last night.” Gibbs sighed slightly before shaking his head. “He apparently picked a fight with a British vampire with a Cockney accent, blonde hair...”

“... Please don't tell me he wore a leather duster and answered to the name of Spike.” Xander spoke up as he groaned audibly, and palmed his face with a sigh.

“Know him then?” Gibbs arched a brow slightly at the boy's reaction as he would settle back.

“Yeah.” Xander pursed his lips slightly and shook his head. “Spike, also known as William the Bloody. Youngest of the Scourge of Europe. Only one of them that hasn't tried to/helped to bring about the end of the world. Actually worked against them on that. He likes the world to keep on turning. When he's not drunk, he's actually pretty smart for a vampire.”

“And how would that put him on non-vampire terms?” Gibbs asked as he carefully arched a brow.

“Dangerous.” Xander answered simply. “Spike's cunning, ruthless, and one of the few vampires alive that has taken down Slayers because he was good, not just lucky.” He paused a moment, before giving Gibbs a meaningful look. “If you're going after Spike, I'm coming with you.”

“That bad?” It wasn't a protest as Gibbs arched a brow as he studied Xander's face.

“This guy has been known to SEEK OUT Slayers, Gibbs. He LIKES to fight them. And he's good enough to not only still be alive, but he's killed two of them. The first one before he was even a century old.” Xander shook his head before frowning a bit. “Plus... Spike is generally smarter than this. Killing a marine and leaving his body out in the open like this? So close to the bar they were both in? That's not Spike's style.”

“Fine.” There was a grudging acknowledgment in Gibbs' voice as he took a slow, deep breath. “How do you want to do this then?”

“Don't look at me!” Xander quickly held up his hands and grinned slightly back at the glare he found himself under. “I'm just saying you better take me with you. I'm just the stick. You still gotta find the guy.”

“You're the one that knows him.”

“Yes, in the let's avoid the crazy drunken vampire that likes to drag me into his fights because he's really stupid when he's drunk, way.” Xander shot back before pinching the bridge of his nose and shrugging. “Let's go back to the bar tonight and maybe we'll get lucky...” He paused a moment, before pursing his lips slightly. “That or we find his old DeSoto.”

“Got a license plate number?” There was a bit of hopeful doubt in Gibbs' voice as glanced at the boy.

“Just remember that it's black, was in decent condition last I heard...” Xander paused a moment before shrugging a bit as he offered a lopsided grin. “Could always make Tony errand boy and have him check around to see if he can find one around here. Should stick out decently.”

“I was already planning to do that.” Gibbs glared slightly back at the boy who smiled almost innocently back at him.

“Well, I figured it wouldn't hurt to make sure.” Xander paused a moment, before shrugging slightly as he settled back against the car. “So... Got more investigator stuff to do here?”

Gibbs inclined his head a moment, before slowly nodding back to Xander. “A few things, then I'll get Tony on looking for that Desoto and we can head there.”

“All right.” Xander nodded his head slightly before shifting just a bit as his hands ducked down into his pockets and in each, he took out a pair of meditation balls into each palm.

Curiously, Gibbs arched a brow at Xander, who merely shrugged his shoulders slightly in response. “It helps me to relax.”

“Right.” The look Gibbs sent him brought a smile to Xander's face as he casually shrugged his shoulders once again.

“Well, that and the make nifty impromptu weapon.” He grinned slightly as he continued to roll the metal spheres around in his hands.

“That, I'll believe.” Gibbs smirked slightly with a quiet nod of his head before he started towards his agents.

-o-o-o-

There was a moment of silence as Xander kneeled down in front of the cold stone as he lightly traced the worn leathers inscribed upon it. Kelly Gibbs. He slowly took a long, deep breath, before letting himself speak.

“Hey, Kel. It's Xan. Been a while I know. Sorry it took me so long to come and visit, and I'm sorry it's just me.” He paused a moment, glancing up towards the sky above before lightly shaking his head and sighing slightly. “Hopefully Jesse's not being an idiot and is keeping you company.”

There was another pause, as he stared almost blindly back at the tombstone, searching desperately for some possibility of what to say before hanging his head quietly and letting out a quiet whisper. “I know I don't have any right to ask... but could you make sure Buffy's alright? I know you didn't know her, but... I love her.” The words hung in the air as he could feel the tears again building on his cheeks. “I know I shouldn't ask... But... She's been through so much... She deserves all the happiness she can get. And she doesn't deserve to be alone.”

There was another pause, before slowly he turned his head and glanced to the tombstone one over, and bowed his head once more. “Mrs. Gibbs... I... Thank you for what you and your husband tried to do. And I mean it... But don't feel guilty about how things worked out. If I hadn't stayed. Things... Well, let's just say they probably would have been bad and leave it at that, all right?”

He shook his head again before sighing softly as his head lifted up, glancing towards the sky as he let his eyes grow unfocused, distant. “Hey, Jessie. Sorry I didn't visit too often... just... yeah.” Another shake of his head as he would lightly shrug his shoulders. “Hope you're doing well though.”

Finally, there was another, longer moment of silence, before a deep, shuddering breath fell from his lips as he opened tear rimmed eyes towards the heavens. “Hey, Buff. You know I didn't forget about you. Just saving the best for last, you know?” He could feel the emotions welling up in his throat, clutching down into his chest for a moment that lingered for what seemed to be an eternity.

“I miss you.” He paused there, uncertain as he could feel the stream of tears rise fresh again as they rained down his cheeks. “Oh, do I miss you. I know why you did it... I do... I just... I just wish you hadn't. I want you here. With me.” Fingers clenched back and for a moment, he let those words hang into the air as he stared down onto the earth beneath his feet. “I won't take His path though. I promise. I won't make those same mistakes.”

For a moment, there was silence, as he could feel the heavy pulse of temptation always there, thick beneath the surface and he shook his head. “I am Xander. Not Max, not Erik, not Magneto. I will NOT become what I fight.” He canted his head back, and stared angrily up into the Heavens as the tears ran down his cheeks. “But if you think you're going to make me into your play toy... I know what you did. I know how you tried to destroy her.”

He could feel a hand on his shoulder then, firm, reassuring as he turned his head, catching Gibbs steely gaze as he slowly shook his head to the silent question it held. “I'm good... Just... got some issues with the cosmic brass.”

“Brass tends to bring out the worst in most anyone.” Gibbs paused a moment, before a light little twitch came to his lips and he slowly shook his head. “Well, at least a lot of it.”

“Like I said. I have... Issues with them.” Xander slowly shook his head, as his fingers clenched back into a fist and his teeth set, grinding in his mouth for a moment. “You have no idea.... no idea how tempting it is to storm the gates of the heavens and bring them crashing down from their lofty perches.”

Another squeeze was sent on his shoulder, and Xander turned to face Gibbs' hard eyes staring back into his own. “Xander, I can't tell you that you shouldn't want that.” He paused, taking a moment to glance down towards the tombstones in front of them before he took a slow deep breath. “I can't say I wouldn't actually do to it if I wasn't in your position.”

“I'm sensing a but in there.” Xander offered with a soft, wry chuckle as he looked back into the older man's eyes.

“Don't go down that path. You needed to avenge her. You did. You said you won't take his path... Then don't let your pain rule you.” Gibbs gave the boy's shoulder one more squeeze before pulling back. “Don't let it destroy who you are. Otherwise...” There was a slow bitter smile on his face as he lightly shook his head. “Otherwise you end up with three divorces and a lot of screwed up relationships.”

“Three?” Xander paused a moment before arching a brow and staring incredulously at the man. “Seriously?”

Gibbs simply shrugged unapologetically. “They were red-heads. What can I say?”

“Man, am I glad Willow's been on the other side of the country from you.” Xander shot back with a playful grin, refusing to let the glare Gibbs sent back at him dim the smile in the least.

Gibbs' only response was a quick smack to the back of Xander's head before he turned around. “Come on, let's get some chow then we'll see what Abby can tell me about the vampire we're looking for.”

“Ah, food and coffee I'm going to assume?” He paused a moment, opening his mouth as if to say something before slowly shaking his head as he lightly rubbed the back of his head. “What the hell, considering's Willow's coffee consumption habits, who am I to complain about yours?” Shaking his head he sighed just a bit and offered the man a slight smile. “Lead on then.”

“My coffee is off limits. Got it?” Gibbs stated with a simple finality as he lightly glared at Xander even as they walked back towards his car.

“Does that mean I can make crass and witty commentary about your three 3 wives?”

“Never stopped me from doing it.”

-o-o-o-

As Tony looked over the black Desoto, he fought back a grin as he pulled out his cell phone and began to carefully pound the numbers in. A slow whistle of appreciation left his lips as he brought the phone up to his ear and then took a step back in the dimly lit parking garage. As the phone began to ring a voice spoke up from directly behind him.

“Some’thin I can help you with, boy?” It was a thick Cockney accent in the voice as Tony turned around to face a man with bleached blonde hair half smirking back at him with a thick black duster hanging off his shoulders. “Because, you seem to be certainly eying my ride like you’re looking for its owner.”

As Tony opened his mouth to answer, the phone clicked on and the familiar voice spoke up. “Gibbs.”

“Oh, hey Boss!” Tony raised his hand, a single finger extended in the classic just one moment post as he brought his attention to the phone. “You know that car you had me look for? Well, it seems I found it, along with a rather inquisitive gentleman who wants to know WHY I was looking for it.”

As the blonde man arched a brow back at the conversation, he calmly pulled out a pack of cigarettes and stuck on in his mouth as he flicked open a lighter and flicked it on as he brought to the tip of the paper wrapped stick.

“… DiNozzo, describe him, in a calm, unthreatening manner.” Gibbs’ voice held an edge to it that immediately set the young Special Agent on edge.

“Err… Sure Boss, he’s about 5’10”… Blonde, scar on his left eyebrow, black duster, smoking a cigarette and looking at me like I’m dinner…” Tony noted as he carefully seemed to be subconsciously taking a step back. “Oh, and he’s got a British accent.”

“Well, I am a might bit peckish…” The man agreed with a slowly growing, dark grin on his lips as he took another long drag on the cigarette.

“Blonde, British accent, scar on his left eyebrow…” Tony could hear his boss saying something to someone next to him before there was only a moment’s pause as he spoke up again. “Tony… listen to me very, very carefully and repeat after me.”

“Oooook…” The special agent’s face took on a particularly disturbed look as he eyed the man in front of him.

“Finished?” The man asked curiously as he lightly flicked a bit off ash away with a black nailed thumb.

“Look I’m just the messenger but I’m supposed to say this: Spike, if you even think about trying to make a meal out of me, you’ll wish that you joined your grandpappy with Acathla.”

Spike blinked slightly before his eyes immediately narrowed into dangerous slits. “And just who the bloody hell is gonna follow through on that threat, huh boy?”

Wordlessly Tony blinked before he reached out and offered the phone to Spike, who suspiciously brought it up to his ear. “Allo?”

“Hello again, William.” The cool cultured tones immediately made Spike stiffen in response as his eyes narrowed into slits.

“Who the bloody hell is this?”

“Really, Spike, I’m hurt, I really am.” The far more familiar tones of Xander Harris filled the phone as immediately the vampire stiffened ramrod straight.

“Harris.” Taking a moment to finish off his cigarette in one long drag, the vampire tossed away the dying remainder and exhaled slowly. “What brings you so far away from the ole Hellhole?”

“I’m sure you heard about the… incident, with Glorificus?” There was an edge to the man’s tone that immediately made the vampire stiffen in response.

“Yeah. I heard. Real shame. She deserved better than that.” There was a slight grudging admission of respect in Spike’s voice as he nodded his head. “Heard some interesting things about just who it was that took the hell bitch she stopped down too.”

“Yes, she did.” Xander’s voice agreed through the line before after a pause it continued. “So I’m sure you’ll have a very good idea of how… upset I’ll be if I have to track you down… for any reason, right Spike?”

“Hey, you know me, I want the world to keep turning as much as you.” Spike’s tone rose defensively before he glanced at the Special Agent. “So I take it I don’t get to have Italian for breakfast then?”

“As he apparently didn’t introduce himself, he’s Special Agent Tony DiNozzo.”

“Aw hell, a bobby?” The look of disappointment crossing Spike’s face made Tony’s brow rise up.

“Investigating the death of a marine. A marine who was last seen in the company of an old acquaintance of mine, whom I believed to be smarter than to do something that stupid.” Xander answered back with a calm drawl as Spike could practically feel the stare through the phone. “So, since the last time I saw said acquaintance, he was roaring drunk who thought it was smart to kidnap a certain red headed witch who was friends with a Slayer…”

“Bugger me.” Spike swore, paling considerably as he quickly shook his head. “Look, I know I’m no saint…”

“Two dead Slayers can attest to that, Spike.” The edge was in his voice, that had the vampire suddenly taking an unconscious step backwards. “But, I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt on this case… But, Special Agent DiNozzo’s boss has some questions for you. I don’t need to tell you what that means, now do I?”

“I have to play nice.” Spike answered back with a sour twist of his lips and an annoyed grunt. “So, I going with him, or you coming to me?”

There was a moment of silence thick in the air as Spike could make out the muffled conversation in the background before Xander’s voice spoke up once more. “We’ll be coming to you. Stay put, and behave.”

“And if I don’t, what, you’ll dust me?” There was a tone of sarcastic defiance in the vampire’s voice as his eyes narrowed just slightly.

“Spike… Don’t forget, I know how to hurt you. I know where your soft spots are and I know how to hit them. Hard.” Xander’s tone grew steely as his words almost growled through the device. “Do I need to spell out where and WHO those are?”

“Harris if you even think about doing something with Dru, I swear…” As Tony watched, he could almost swear he saw a flash of gold in the man’s eyes as he spat out his angry words.

“If you make me do something, vampire… I will make you WATCH.” The tone had gone dead serious as they hissed past his lips. “Do I need to elaborate on just what that means?”

“Grew a bigger pair of balls than I thought you had. Makes sense now why Peaches got so damned scared of you.” Growling out his response, Spike pulled out another cigarette as he eyed Tony balefully. “I’ll be a good boy though and leave your little bobby toy in one piece.”

“Spike…”

“Yeah, yeah… Don’t worry about it. I’m not as dumb as the ponce was.” Spike flicked the lighter again and took a slow drag. “I’ll make sure your boy here is fine.”

“Right… Put him back on, would you?”

“Sure.” Smirking once more, Spike shook his head and took another drag before calling out to Tony. “Oi! Nancy boy! Catch!”

Tony almost missed the casually tossed device, fumbling slightly to bring it into his grips before glaring again back at the man. “You know, I do have a name.”

“And I bet he doesn’t really give a damned what it is, DiNozzo.” Gibbs’ voice barked through the speaker as Tony immediately winced in response. “Now where are you?”

“Right, Boss.” Tony immediately winced as he shook his head at Gibbs’ tone before quickly suppling the requested information. “So, what did you want me to do?”

“Keep Spike there company. And don’t piss him off.” Was the simple response.

“Come on, Boss, this is me you’re talking to!” Tony’s grin was out in full force as he smiled back into the phone.

“Hence why I felt the need to remind you of what you should already know.” Gibbs countered back with an almost harsh retort. “We’ll be there in 30 minutes.”

As the line clicked over dead, Tony frowned slightly before slipping it back into his pocket as he eyed the smoking man in front of him. “So, uh, Spike was it? That some kind of music nickname or something?”

“Nah.” The man shook his head, taking another drag from his cigarette before grinning in a particularly disturbing fashion back at Tony. “You see… In my younger days, I ended up with a bit of a fascination with railroad spikes. Handy little things they are, really, the look on people’s faces when you’re holding a nice, heavy, rusty one against their soft, warm skin… It’s a very effective motivator.”

“… And suddenly I find the Boss’ need to reiterate the point makes a bit more sense.” Tony muttered slightly as he eyed Spike carefully. “So, you, ah, know Xander?”

“Harris?” Spike paused for a moment before shrugging his shoulders a bit. “Yeah, we’ve been in some scraps together. What about him?”

“What can you tell me about him?” Tony pressed suddenly, his eyes rather eager as he watched the smoking man with an expectant gleam in his eyes.

“That you don’t want to cross him.” Spike slowly shook his head as he leaned his head back, blowing a stream of smoke into the air. “I’ve seen things that would haunt your dreams and send you crying to momma like a snot nosed babe, hell, I had fun scrappin with em even. But Harris? He’s something to watch out for.”

“And what kind of something would that be?” Tony pressed as he stared back at what he thought was a man.

“Harris… Harris isn’t a scrapper like me, not a fighter, not a warrior.” There was a pause, before Spike smirked and shook his head. “Not to say he can’t do those things… It’s just not what he is. Nah, Harris, Harris is one of those you watch out for. The ones like him… They’re the Julius Caesars, the Alexander the Greats, the Genghis Khans, and the Attila the Huns. The ones not afraid to take that step into the darkness to do what needs to be done.”

For a moment, there was silence, before Spike slowly shook his head and chuckled. “They’re the ones that have the strength to forge empires, boyo, and know how to remind people not to cross them.”

“And that tells me a whole lot of nothing.” Tony shook his head with a sour twist of his lips as half glared at the man. “That kid, a general?”

“It told you everything, you just didn’t hear it.” Spike shot back with a smirk before he shook his head. “But don’t worry about it. Harris doesn’t strike me as the type lookin’ to bring the new world order.” He paused a moment before lightly rubbing his chin. “Or at least, he didn’t before. With his girl dead? Well… I’d advise staying on his good side, just in case.”

“Right, so everyone’s gone crazy, huh?” Tony almost, almost threw his hands up in frustration as he fought back the sigh that wanted, desperately to escape his lips. “I mean, is it too much to ask for a straight answer these days?”

“If you’re not getting one, probably so.” Spike agreed before grinning slightly. “But, you should know one thing I do know about Harris that I doubt’s changed. Loyalty is that man’s bread and butter.”

“How come he gets to be a man and I’m a boy? The kid’s gotta be almost a decade younger than me!” Tony groused softly as he shook his head.

“Age doesn’t make you a man.” Spike snorted softly and shook his head as he leaned back against a nearby car as he shook his head in disgust. “Gah, look at me, chatting up with a bloody bobby, waiting around like a damned whipped dog. It’s disgustin’ I tell you.”

“What is it with Brits and the whole tragedy of experience is what matters thing?” Tony griped quietly as he lightly sent a glare back at Spike.

“Heh, don’t know about any others, but me? I’m a simple bloke. Gimme a pint, a fight and my girl and I’m a happy little clam.” He paused a moment, before glaring slightly off into the distance. “Even if she’s a crazy, cheating little…”

“Ah, woman problems?” Tony nodded his head slightly before shrugging his shoulders. “Never really understood the allure of sticking to just one woman… just so many different flavors out there.”

“Joy, another bleeding wanna be lothario.” Spike rolled his eyes and shook his head. “And you wonder why people call you a boy?”

“Well, generally it’s frat boy.” Tony corrected with a shrug before leaning back against a car that just happened to be Spike’s Desoto. A glare and a warning growl later, he found himself a different car to lean against.

“Ugh, damned crazy colonials.” Spike muttered softly as he lightly glared at Tony again. “And damn Harris, leaving me with a bloody frat boy.”

-o-o-o-

“About bloody time you got here.” Spike growled when he finally saw Xander stepping out of the car next to a steely eyed older man he didn’t recognize. “Leaving me alone with this ruddy frat boy?! Are you just trying to get me to commit bloody suicide?”

“I wouldn’t object to it.” Xander admitted with a shrug of his shoulders as he lightly glanced towards an indignant looking Tony. “Still, need I remind you of what I went through because of you LAST time we met?”

“Right, that, fine.” Spike growled softly as he crossed his arms about his chest and glared. “Are we bloody even then?”

“Not even close.” Xander answered with a dark cheer as his eyes bore down into Spike’s. “Or did you think I’ve forgotten everything else I’ve been through because of you?”

“What? Not like I ever got that bloody personal. I just like a good fight and a good time.” Spike reminded him and growled just a bit. “Hell, I even switched bloody sides to help you out!”

“Yes, and we all know you did it out of the goodness of your heart.” Xander shot back dryly as he shook his head. “Try it on someone else, Spike.”

“Hey, like I told your girl. I like the world how it is. I unlike the great ponce don’t forget where I fall in the grand scheme of things.” Spike shrugged his shoulders slightly before shaking his head. “Wish you'd gone and staked the sod.”

The cold flinty eyes that suddenly bore down on Spike made the vampire wince slightly before holding his hands up defensively. “Oi oi! Don't look at me like that! I liked her, I did! Gave better than she got that one.”

“Gibbs...” Xander quietly let that single word fall past his lips before slowly he turned and regarded the man for a moment. “I think you had some questions for the one intent upon being one with the dust bunnies?”

“Right...” Gibbs pulled out one of the crime scene photo's from his coat, and held it up in front of Spike. “Ring some bells?”

“Not my work.” Spike answered simply even as he sent Xander a sulking glare before shrugging slightly. “Well, not the neck at least. I gave him the shiner most likely, nice thing about Marines, they give a decent fight and they can take a hit.”

Gibbs' eyes narrowed slightly as he bit off a growl. “Then please explain to me how that happened to his neck while he was dumped in an alley only two blocks from the bar you both left for your little... fight.”

“Don't know honestly.” Spike paused a moment eying the photo for a moment before shaking his head. “Damn shame though, not many like that one.”

“And what do you mean by that, exactly?” Gibbs continued, as his fingers clenched slightly.

“Sure you want me to say in front of the kid?” Spike took a drag before eying Tony pointedly.

“Ya know, I'm getting rather tired of being referred to like that.” Tony spoke up as he lightly growled just a bit back at Spike.

“Tony... you did a good job.” Gibbs spoke up, never taking his eyes off of spike. “Go and get your report taken care of.”

“Come on, Boss!” Tony growled softly as he glared at the other three men in front of him. “Why the hell is everyone treating me like a damned KID today?”

“Because your balls obviously haven't dropped yet?” Spike put forth in a smirking hypothetical.

“Who was the one sobbing over me about how his girl had dumped him for... well that?” Xander countered acidicly as he glared back at Spike.

“Ow, you cut me to the quick.” Spike mimed clasping his hands over his chest before wincing slightly. “Besides... Seems Dru still has a few... Issues to work through.”

“Dumped again.” Xander nodded before turning towards Tony. “Do you really want to see this? Because, it will be ugly. Spike's interventions are never fun. There's crying, wailing, more crying, moping... Generally just acting like a complete and utter waste, moaning over his insane girlfriend.”

“I am going to find out what you're...”

“DiNozzo!” Gibbs barked out as he lightly glared at the man. “Did I or did I NOT just tell you to go and get your report taken care of?”

“Well, ya, Boss...” The man reluctantly agreed. “I suppose you want me to... go get it done?”

“Ya think?” Gibbs was glaring at him a bit more, his eyes narrowed.

“Right, then I'll just... be going.” Tony gave the group on last look, frowning slightly before he turned and walked away.

Once he was out of sight, Gibbs' eyes immediately latched onto Spike. “Talk.”

“Not much to say. Your boy was a dhampir.” Spike shrugged his shoulders, not elaborating any further.

“A half vampire?” Xander snorted incredulously at Spike as he glared the creature.

“Heh, nah, just a bunch of horse shit that.” Spike waved his hand lightly and shrugged his shoulders. “Dhampir are humans with just enough demon ancestry in them to make em slightly improved over regular happy meals. You don't see many of em anymore because they've either been hunted down, or the demon blood's so weak it's practically gone.”

At Xander's arched brow, Spike smirked back. “Oi, what, kinda hard to have a kid when you're doing nothing but shootin, blanks, ya know?”

“Ugh. I don't need to know any of that.” Xander's face twisted in disgust as he gave the vampire a glare.

“So, the Marine was one of these dhampir?” Gibbs cut in, frowning slightly. “Then why would anyone...?”

“Blood's blood.” Spike shrugged his shoulders a bit in response. “Probably just some passing vamp that figured it'd get a quick meal after the guy was a bit beat up from our fight. Odds that it was one of those stupid shits that think they'd get stronger, feeding off dhampir? Unlikely.”

The vampire froze the instant the words left his lips as Xander gave him an incredulous look. “... Did you just...?”

“Oh... bugger.” Groaning softly Spike turned and proceeded to hit his head roughly against a nearby call. “Bugger, bugger, bugger!”

“Care to explain?” Gibbs arched a brow as he glanced between the vampire and Xander.

“Spike just gave Murphy a written invitation.” Xander noted blandly and sighed slightly as he glared a bit at the vampire. “I THOUGHT he was smarter than that.”

“You go most of a year or so without sex and see how clear YOUR head is.” Spike shot back with a half growl as he finally shook his head. “But its...” He immediately clamped his hand over his mouth and stopped himself from saying anything further.

“... Do all vampires think with their damned dicks?” Xander growled slightly as he took a slow, deep breath before reaching into his pocket and pulling out the metal spheres he began to manipulate around his palm.

“OW!” Spike immediately brought his hands up to his ears and glared at Xander with angry hiss. “You're doing that on bloody purpose!”

“Huh?” Xander blinked a moment and stared back at the vampire as he paused in his motions with his spheres.

“Those damn balls! Grindin' em together like that! Gah, I hate those bloody things! Had enough trouble puttin' up with em in China.” The man's face twisted in disgust before sighing as he slumped forward slightly. “They're annoying as all hell.”

“Right.” Xander shook his head and slightly rolled his eyes before his hand rose up and the spheres rose up, circling above his hand. “Now, Spike, since you're so intent on causing trouble for the rest of us... You're going to be helping us find this little bit of trouble.”

Watching the spheres warily, the vampire slowly shook his head. “I don't suppose I'm getting a choice in the matter?”

“Not in the least.” Xander affirmed with a nod of his head while the spheres continued to rotate around one another before he turned his attention to Gibbs. “Can we talk Ducky into helping with his... dietary needs?”

“Oi! Dammit, you're not going to turn me into ma grand poof!” Spike growled softly as he glared back at Xander. “You're not putting me on that pig's blood shit!”

“Ducky is our coroner.” Gibbs put it blandly as he glanced at Spike. “You sure we shouldn't just dust him?”

“No.” Xander slowly shook his head as one of the spheres suddenly reshaped into a glinting spike before racing forward before stopping just in front of Spike's eyes. “He'll behave. Won't you, William?”

The vampire glared back in no small amount of defiance as he refused to back down so easily. “And if I don't, Harris, what, gonna dust me?”

“Oh, no, I wouldn't do that.” Xander shook his head almost boredly as the spike reformed itself back into it's previous shape. “I'd contact Willow, curse you with a soul, then dump you off with Angel for rehabilitation.”

The look of absolute horror that rippled across Spike's face made Xander smile down right viciously. “Don't worry, Spike, I think you'll like being a white hat.”

“... Oh, how I bloody hate you.” Spike growled out as he glared at Xander, knowing it was an impotent gesture.

“Well, Spike, you always said you liked a good fight, right?” Xander pointed out with an amused smirk on his lips as he watched the suddenly stiffening vampire.

“Yeah, what of it?” There was a point of wariness in the vampire's eyes as he stared back at the man.

“Well, where you going to get better fights, then against a bunch of demons that are out to cause trouble and want to destroy the world?” There was an almost innocent quality to Xander's suggestion as the spheres dropped down into his hand.

“... Damn you, Harris... Just bloody DAMN you.” Spike growled softly as he crossed his arms about his chest and glared even more at Xander as his fingers clenched tightly.

“I owe you your life for what you did with Acathla. I also owe you pain for what you put me and Willow through last year. I'm just giving you an option to stay in my good graces.” Xander cocked his head to the side and arched a brow at the man creature. “What's it going to be?”

“Fine.” Spike glowered slightly as he crossed his arms about his chest. “Just don't think I'm going to turn into the poof.”

“Oh, of course not, Spike, never.” Xander nodded his head before turning back towards a slightly confused looking Gibbs. “Congratulations, you now have your own pet vampire.”

“WHAT?!” Gibbs shout coincided with Spike's

“I'm nobody's bloody pet!”

“Keep telling yourself that.” Xander agreed with a happy nod of his head.

-o-o-o-

“... What the hell was that, Xander?” Gibbs had waited, fuming until they'd both returned to the car and pulled out of the parking garage, leaving an almost equally irate vampire behind them.

“Spike's about the most dangerous vampire I've ever met.” Xander shrugged his shoulders with just a bit before grinning back at the man. “The only vampire still alive that's more feared is one removed back up the line, and that's just because Angelus was a vicious animal. Spike's the one you have to watch out for.”

“And you want a thing like that around my team?” Fire flashed behind Gibbs' eyes as he glared at the boy.

“Thing about him is, unlike Angelus, Spike actually thinks about things in the long term. Sure he likes his violence, but he's not in it for slaughter just for slaughter.” Xander shrugged a moment before grinning back at the ex-marine. “Violence for the sake of violence though? Oh yeah.”

“And again, you want me to keep something like THAT around my team?” Gibbs was racing between the cars now, moving the vehicle with a frustrated skill as he struggled not to glare at Xander.

“Because he'll behave.” Xander paused a moment before pursing his lips. “Well, for the most part. Might wanna make sure your team has crosses on them, just in case Drusilla shows up. Spike's smart enough to not try anything, but Dru's another matter entirely.”

“You keep giving me reasons to just stake the bastard and be done with it.” Gibbs growled slightly as he glared at the boy.

“Well, that might just set Dru off...” Xander answered hedgingly before wincing slightly. “Or make her fascinated with you instead. Never know with her.”

“Xander... Why should I let that thing around? I understand that he's done some good, even helped save the world. For completely selfish reasons at your own admission.” Gibbs was gritting his teeth again as he struggled to keep his temper in check.

“Because I want to keep him away from Sunnydale. And if he's here, doing something at least somewhat useful, I don't have to worry about him being back there, attacking my family because I'm not.” Xander responded simply as he lightly shrugged his shoulders. “Spike's a monster, that much is true. But he's a useful monster. Especially if you start coming across more issues like this.”

“... I can't believe I'm even considering this.” Gibbs growled quietly as he slowly shook his head with a twist of disgust on his lips.

“Spike... Spike knows what I'll do to him. We both know I scare him, he doesn't like to admit it, but he respects it.” Xander shrugged his shoulders and offered Gibbs an innocent smile. “Besides... I'm sure you can think of some useful situations to have someone like Spike in you back pocket.”

“You know I can't actually hire him...” Gibbs quickly glared back at Xander with a slight grudging sigh.

“Maybe, maybe not.” Xander shrugged a bit. “I think it would be better to give him an actual job if you can manage to swing it with your director, but at the same time... well there is the fact that you'll have to give reassurances on his behavior. Hmmm...”

As Xander seemed caught up in his internal debate, Gibbs slowly shook his head and sighed softly. “If I can't actually pay him, what makes you think he won't HAVE to do something extra to survive? He'd need a place to stay, money to spend... And I can't believe I'm even considering this. You're insane, you know that, don't you, Xander?”

The grin he got back as Xander raised his hand, thumb and index finger raised a slight distance apart in the classic 'little bit' gesture. At the snort of disbelief, Xander shrugged his shoulders again. “Ok, maybe more than a little bit.”

“Keep going.” Gibbs shot back and slowly shook his head with a soft sigh of annoyance. “Xander...”

“Yeah, I know, I know.” The young man slumped his shoulders and shook his head. “Look... I don't know WHY I'm not just tearing him to pieces.” Xander paused a moment, frowning a bit before slowly shaking his head. “No, I do. As I said, I owe him. I couldn't put him on a leash last time, I can this time. This is his only shot and I'm going to make sure he knows that. He slips up... he gets put down.”

“And you want me to play baby sitter.” Gibbs noted with a sour twist of his lips.

“That job interview I'm going for?” Xander glanced out the window and rested his chin against his hand. “I'm not sure, but I'm pretty sure it's classified like you wouldn't believe. And I don't want Spike to start thinking he can slip away without me noticing because I'm so busy.”

“And why don't you just do do the soul curse you mentioned?” Gibbs pressed as he studied Xander closely.

“Are you kidding me?” Xander stared at Gibbs incredulously and snorted softly. “For one, it's the demon we owe. Two, Angel, the vamp that WAS cursed with the soul? From what I understand, he was completely useless for a century. Three... And this is the big one, you're talking about taking a soul, from where ever it is, and putting it into a dead body, with a demon, and all the memories the demon has of the things it's done... as if they'd done it themselves.”

Gibbs let the words sink in, before slowly, reluctantly he nodded his head. “All right. I see your point. So that was...?”

“A bluff.” He paused a moment, before his lips pursed slightly and he narrowed his eyes. “For the most part at least.”

“For the most part?”

“If push comes to shove, what do you think I'll do, Gibbs?” There was a quiet clarity in Xander's voice as he met the older man's eyes with a calm, unflinching steel.

A simple nod was the only response he got.

*edit and moved from standalone chapter notes this chapter to meet TTH Guidelines*

I'm Sorry to say...
I just can't continue this.

Nothing I come up with fits, and I can't seriously write this without it getting out of control and becoming a Super!Xander fic.

I should have simply ended it with Echoes, but I let the shininess of the various ideas and possibilities lure me down a path I can't really bring myself to continue. Xander is just too powerful now for him to fit within either world with appropriate conflicts.

As much as I might have liked to write the grieving Xander... it would have eventually lead to things that I couldn't follow through with. It already started with the Spike portion demonstrated here.

So, I apologize for leading people on. I will say in my defense that I originally intended to continue this, and it wasn't an easy choice for me to cancel this.

Thank you for your support until this point.

The End

You have reached the end of "In the Aftermath of Silence". This story is complete.

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