For Every Action
When Buffy opened her eyes, she found Faith lounging on the floor, paging through a magazine.
“According to your horoscope, this month is a good time for patching up fights and starting over,” she offered.
“Great, I’ll be sure to do that. What fight am I supposed to be patching up?”
Faith smirked. The two senior Slayers had long ago buried the hatchet, to the point that occasionally new trainee Slayers thought that the two were speaking literally when they referred to each other as sisters. One of the class of ’10 girls had actually been asking who Mr. Lehane had been and if a demon got him. Dawn had verbally torn strips out of a few junior Slayers who had been around long enough to know better when she found out they’d been gleefully feeding that mistaken impression.
“Did you find anything out?”
“Not as much as I’d hoped. My dad was deployed to Iraq when whatever took me away from my parents happened. I’m pretty sure whatever it was involved my mother’s death.”
Faith sat up, raising an eyebrow. This would not go well. Never mind that whatever happened had gone down twenty years ago, hurting family was a surefire trigger for both Summers girls. Hell, it had been for Mrs. S, too. It was something you just didn’t do unless you were ok with the idea that you would bleed for it.
B was constrained by rule 22- human world, human rules- but D tended to take a slightly more flexible approach these days. There was a reason that few crossed the younger Summers despite her lack of Slayer powers. She’d developed a streak of ruthlessness that rarely surfaced unless her family was in danger. Xander had once wondered what would have happened had they not had Giles, Faith, and Spike around to keep her from crossing the line.
Maybe, if they were lucky, whoever killed B’s other mom would turn out to be dead already. It would make things considerably simpler.
“I don’t think there’s too much more we can find out from a distance,” Buffy said. “We’re already scheduled to fly tomorrow, right?”
“First flight out in the morning. We can stay here or crash at my flat tonight, whichever you’d rather.”
Buffy chewed her lip thoughtfully.
“I’m not saying it’s a decision, but your place is closer to the airport, and we’re not really a morning type crowd. Has Dawn called in yet?”
“She called earlier, but you were still asleep. Figured things must be going ok, cause except for a minute or so where you looked like you were about to slay something, you looked pretty happy, so I didn’t wake you up. D said she’d call back after playing looky-loo at the museum. Figured there was no point to making her say everything twice anyway.”
Buffy eyed Faith. She knew her sister Slayer well enough to know there was something she was leaving out.
“What?” she demanded.
Faith sighed and surrendered to the inevitable.
“I was going to wait until we were all back in conference, but I guess it doesn’t make much difference if you see it now.”
She handed Buffy her phone. There was a text notification blinking. It was from Dawn.NCIS says I have no birth certificate- and Buffy doesn’t either. What’s going on??
Buffy looked up, mystified.
“We do too have birth certificates,” she said. “We did, anyway. They were in Mom’s desk with all the other important papers we didn’t think to grab before we wrecked Sunnyhell.”
Faith stood up with an unconcerned shrug.
“Wasn’t like dropping the whole town into a crater was part of the plan,” she said, pulling Buffy to her feet in one smooth motion that would have dumped anyone else on their butt. “Good thing Cleveland didn’t play out the same way when we sealed it, think how awkward that would have been. Come on, the others are dying to know what you remember now.”
The two Slayers moseyed down the hall to the conference room, where they found a heated discussion already in progress.
“Riley, it was a surprise to us, too!” Xander was saying angrily into the phone. “And if you already knew, it might have been helpful if you’d brought it up before Dawn tangled with a federal agency!”
Willow, seeing Buffy and Faith’s entrance, set down the phone she’d been holding and reached over, hitting the button to put the call on speaker so everyone could hear.
“We assumed at the time that it was the Council protecting the Slayer by restricting access to her records!” Riley snapped. “How was I supposed to know that wasn’t the case?”
Willow surprised everyone by letting out an ear-splitting whistle. At the surprised looks of everyone in the room, she grinned.
“Now that the gang’s all here,” she said brightly. Her diversion neatly kept the boys from really getting into it. Xander and Riley mostly got along, but the few times they’d butted heads over the years had not been fun for anyone.
“Riley, we didn’t have any clue at our end,” Willow continued. “Buffy used to have paper copies of both birth certificates, but they went down with the rest of Sunnydale. Are you saying those copies weren’t legit?”
“Not as far as I can tell,” Riley replied. “We didn’t dig into it very far back then, but after Dawn texted me, I checked again- state of California has nothing on record for either of them. That has to be setting off all manner of red flags over at NCIS. God only knows what they’re thinking.”
The intercom buzzed.
“Dawn just checked in,” Mona announced. “She says she’s just arriving at Riley’s office.”
“I thought she was going to call from Graham’s,” Buffy said, confused.
“I asked them to come here instead,” Riley said. “Thought it might be easier to do at least some of this face to face.”
“If you would prefer face to face, we will be arriving in DC tomorrow,” Giles told him.
There was a moment of silence from the other end of the phone and a low murmur in the background that implied it was under consideration, and then Dawn spoke.
“How about if we just do a secure videoconference now?” she asked. “At least a short one. Cause I’d definitely like to know what’s the what before I deal with the NCIS people again. You guys won’t be here until after lunchtime, but I’m stuck with them again tomorrow morning. I’d rather not be blindsided a second time if it’s all the same to everyone.”
“Will?” Buffy asked expectantly.
Willow clicked a few things on her laptop before grabbing the hookup for the conference room projector.
“Coming right up,” she said. “Can you see us?”
Riley, Graham, and Dawn appeared on the screen. Dawn’s face was an interesting mix of excited and irritated. Graham looked concerned, and Riley looked frazzled.
“Ok, so what happened at your end, Dawn?” Buffy asked.
“I got to NCIS this morning and instead of asking about last night, they asked a lot about our past- a little about mine, but mostly about yours,” Dawn replied. “I had no idea where they were going with it, this came totally out of left field. I couldn’t think of a way to shut it down without either looking suspicious or flat out demanding to speak to the President. Anyway, they say there’s no paperwork for either of us until Sunnydale, and really nothing at all for me until we got our passports.”
Buffy knew she wasn’t the only one in the room getting Dawn’s unspoken message-she was being as clear as she dared, but there were some things she wouldn’t say even on a supposedly secure line, and mentioning the Key was one of them.
“Anyway,” Dawn continued, “the investigator I talked to said he was going to following up in England, so someone might want to make sure our public records are up to date and non-suspicious. NCIS also can’t find much about Mom or Hank. Graham thinks you might be an abducted child, but I’m having trouble with that idea. Hank’s more than proven that he doesn’t care enough to have done it and I can picture Dru sane easier than Mom hurting a kid. Your turn.”
“Willow lifted that memory spell I told you about,” Buffy began, only to be interrupted by Riley and Graham both demanding to know what she was talking about.
“Buffy recently began having troubling dreams,” Giles cut in. “Upon talking to Willow, she discovered her memory had been altered prior to her being called as the Slayer.”
Graham and Riley exchanged troubled glances.
“Are you ok, Buffy?” Riley asked.
“Peachy with a side of keen,” Buffy replied, fooling no one who knew her. “But it turns out I wasn’t born Buffy Summers. I still don’t remember what my original name was, but I think it may have been Kelly. That’s what my mother called me in my dreams, anyway. My father was a Marine. While he was deployed in Iraq, someone took me away from my mother. I think whoever it was may have killed her.”
Graham grabbed a laptop off Riley’s desk and started to type, but Riley cut him off.
“Don’t. NCIS is already sniffing around. We caught them trying to hack into us earlier this afternoon. They’re the ones you’d have to go through to get records of Marines whose kids went missing. Let Willow handle it so there’s no connection to us.”
“Hey, if this is a meeting-“
Riley handed her a box without comment.
“We trained you well,” Xander commented, as Dawn pulled out a donut with rainbow sprinkles.
“Uh-huh,” Riley said with a tinge of irritation. He’d never quite gotten used to the lack of seriousness with which the Scoobies confronted pretty much everything. “But I’m actually more concerned about rule 27 right now- does anyone else think it’s weird that this is happening right when one of you first came into contact with the agency that would be responsible for investigating missing Marine dependents?”
“Yeah, the timing is a little suspicious,” Willow agreed. “Buffy, did you find anything else out?”
“I think my mom had something to do with the timing,” Buffy said slowly. “She kept talking about needing to be ready to see my father, like she thinks we’re going to run into each other.”
“Maybe your father’s in DC,” Xander suggested.
“Or maybe NCIS is bringing your father to DC now that they’re digging into the case,” Graham pointed out. “The only way they could have latched onto Buffy would be through DNA. If that’s the case, it will be easy for them to contact him to say they have a lead on you. I’d be surprised if they haven’t already.”
“Dawn, did they give you any impression that they were concerned about you?” Giles asked. “Any indication that they believe you are also-“
“Kidnapped as a kid, as opposed to as an adult?” Dawn asked sardonically. At Giles’ nod, she shook her head. “Nope. Once they established that I remembered living in LA before Sunnydale, they asked a lot of questions about Buffy. It’s like they think she’s the odd one out.”
“There has to be more to it than that. They wouldn’t have Buffy’s DNA and not compare it to Dawn’s if they thought she was a missing child. If they think Buffy is an abduction victim, it implies that Dawn is, too.”
“They didn’t ask anything like ‘do you remember being kidnapped as a young child’,” she pointed out.
“Yeah, but they couldn’t, could they?” Graham replied. “It was clear you had no idea what was going on. They’ll want to keep you around while they continue to investigate. They know you work for an international- if they freak you out and you leave the country, there goes their lead. It’s not like any other government is going to forcibly return you or your sister. Even if you’re kidnapping victims, you’re an adult and they don’t have grounds to extradite you.”
“Why is everything always complicated?” she asked rhetorically. “Right, here’s the deal. I’m flying in with Will, Xander, Faith, and Giles tomorrow. That should be enough firepower to finish the setup on the DC facility, deal with whatever the merry hell is going on down in Quantico, and tell NCIS politely but firmly to back off of Dawn while I try to remember whatever else there is to remember. And if we’re not happy with how things play out tomorrow, then NCIS gets the call telling them they’ve wandered off the edge of the map.”
“Here there be monsters?” he suggested.
Despite his attempt to lighten the mood, Dawn still looked apprehensive.
“Dawn?” Giles added, in a parental tone. “Do remember that you are allowed to tell the investigators to direct all queries to the Council’s legal department. It was noble of you to cooperate with their investigation, but you may cease to do so at any time you choose. NCIS do not need any further explanation once you make it clear that they should talk to you through your legal representative. And you are entitled to make that call without having to involve anyone else.”
Now Dawn looked relieved.
“So I can get out of answering questions without invoking the President?” she asked.
“Absolutely,” Willow reassured her. “Any Council personnel are authorized to refer any law enforcement or other government authorities they encounter to their lawyer.”
“And you’re high enough that we send the big dogs,” Xander grinned. “Not quite bloodsucking lawyers, but hey, we can always arrange some of those, right?”---
Gibbs sighed as he poured himself a measure of bourbon. He was in his basement, but for once not working on anything. He couldn’t. There was too much in his head to concentrate on the wood. He looked blankly at the boat, meant to be the Kelly II
. Amira’s original had been fixed, and he’d decided to start a new one- this one would be for him.
But now that he knew Kelly- his girl, not the boat- was still in the world, he couldn’t look at the boat without thinking about her. Wondering where she was, what she was doing. It was almost as maddening as the first time he’d been deployed after she was born. The difference was that time it had been duty that demanded he be separated from his little girl- and he’d expected her to still be there when he got back. Now they were separated because someone had taken his baby when he wasn’t there to protect her. Worse still, he hadn’t even known she’d been taken.
Then there was the puzzle of Dawn Summers. He’d never known Abby to be wrong about forensics. Her DNA analysis said Dawn was his daughter. And Shannon’s. Hearing that had been like a punch to the gut- one of his biggest regrets was not listening to Shannon when she swore they could make their budget stretch to fit a second child. They had that second child now, but he was sure she didn’t know she was his.
How the hell do you tell a grown woman she’s your daughter?
Gibbs heard the door open and shut again. Listening, he recognized the tread. He wasn’t surprised to see Ziva walking down the stairs to join him. What did surprise him was that she was almost as tentative as the first time she had taken that walk. Hesitant- almost reluctant.
“Ziva,” he greeted her.
“Gibbs,” she replied.
“What brings you here?” he asked.
“I am not entirely sure,” she replied, seating herself on the workbench. “I have just spoken with Eli. I called him.”
Gibbs raised an eyebrow. After Somalia, Ziva hadn’t been on speaking terms with her father until his visit to DC and near-death in the bombing. Even since then, though, their relationship was fragile and uncertain. He wondered what had prompted her call. Usually communication between the two surviving Davids was the other way around.
Ziva paused, and he waited, letting her think through whatever it was. She liked to be sure of what she was saying.
“Family is what brings me here, Gibbs,” she said finally. “I have told you before you are the closest thing I have to a father. That has not changed. Eli may be in my life again, but that does not mean…”
She trailed off, her eyes fixed on the Spot. Gibbs knew she meant there were things she could not overlook- things he wasn’t sure a daughter could or should forgive a father. He hoped Kelly could forgive him.
“I called him, Gibbs, because I was curious about Dawn Summers. She went to the Smithsonian. I do not think it was a cover story, or at least not just a cover story. There were several genuine researchers there who appeared to be meeting with her. But one of her contacts changed her travel plans after the meeting, and I became curious.”
“Where did this contact go?” Gibbs asked.
“Rome. Lara Whitmire is a well-respected archaeologist with quite an impressive CV. However, she also appears to have an interesting family background, and after meeting with Dawn Summers, Whitmire moved her flight up from Friday to leave immediately.”
Gibbs digested that. What could his daughter be doing?
“Tell me about this interesting family background,” he said.
“Whitmire’s father, uncle, and mother were all involved in a limited liability corporation called Custodes Worldwide. Her father was killed in a gas explosion at the corporate headquarters in 2002, shortly after the uncle was murdered while on holiday in Turkey. Within weeks of the explosion, Whitmore’s mother reverted to her maiden name and moved to Italy. One of my sources claimed she sought sanctuary in the Vatican and did not leave until the following summer. I was not able to confirm that, but she now lives in a villa in Rome that is almost suspiciously secure.”
“Custodes…” Gibbs said. “Isn’t that Latin for-“
“Watchmen,” Ziva said. “Or guards.”
“Pretty close to Guardian,” Gibbs observed. “Any chance Custodes has anything in common with Dawn Summers’ employer?”
“They appear to be one and the same, just under a different name. Comparing the available information on their holdings, there is little change.”
“So was Summers reporting to a superior, or just handing a report to a courier?” Gibbs mused aloud. “Is Whitmire’s mother still involved with Guardian?”
“It is difficult to tell. On the surface, there appears to have been no contact since she established herself in Italy. Of course, we know very little about Guardian’s agents- it would be easy enough for her to still be involved but more discreetly.”
“Eli was your source for all this?” Gibbs said, letting some of his skepticism bleed into his tone. He didn’t trust that shifty bastard any farther than he could throw him- and maybe not even that far.
Ziva shook her head.
“No, most of that was research and asking around. When I called Eli, I asked first about Whitmire, but he claimed not to know the name.”
“You believe him?” Gibbs asked.
“I think so,” she said. “For once.”
She took a deep breath.
“It is about Dawn Summers that I spoke to Eli.”
As she’d expected, that got Gibbs’ full attention.
“What did he say?”
“He told me that we should not interfere with her. He claimed that Dawn and Buffy Summers number among the righteous. He seems to think that if Dawn is here and in danger, her sister will come as well- if she is not in fact here already. But he also thinks that Director Vance will be told that we must drop this case. He expects you will be ordered to stay away from the Summers sisters.”
Gibbs shook his head.
“Not going to happen, Ziva.”
“I know. I said as much. Eli said you would be given no choice. Then he begged me to stay away. I am not sure what it is that worries him about these women, but he sounded almost like a concerned father.”
“Maybe he was,” Gibbs replied. “Ducky was telling me some things about this Guardian International earlier. They’re not a very nice bunch. Did Eli or anyone else at Mossad ever mention vampires to you, by any chance?”
Ziva’s eyes widened.
“Yes! We were warned about them. But the undead are not our concern. There are others who handle such things.”
“Is this Guardian those who handle vampires? We were never told who did, just that such people existed and we were to leave them to it.”
“Yeah, except apparently the people that handle it are a bunch of little girls.”
Ziva’s expression darkened.
“She may have been one of the girls they wanted. Ducky isn’t sure how they pick them, but once they do, they’ll do whatever it takes to get the girl they’ve targeted.”
“How does Dawn Summers fit into this?” Ziva asked. “Is she another of the girls, and they have simply put her together with Kelly? Some sort of team?”
Gibbs hesitated, then decided he might as well tell her. She’d find out eventually either way.
“Abby finished the DNA on Summers. She’s a full sibling match to Kelly.”
Ziva’s jaw dropped. She worked it soundlessly for a second, before managing, “And you…?”
“Never had another child,” Gibbs confirmed. “Abby’s trying to figure out how I ended up with a second daughter.”
Abby had been bouncing off the walls trying to figure it out when he’d left. Her best working theory was that someone had gotten their hands on genetic material from both him and Shannon. If they’d managed that, given technology of the time, whoever kidnapped Kelly could have used in vitro to create her sister. Why they would have done so was an equal mystery.
“What do you plan to do about this?” Ziva asked.
He could see in her eyes that she’d back him no matter what he decided. You do what you have to for family. But he had no answer for her.
“I don’t know, Ziva. I’ve got no plan. I don’t know how to tell a girl I’ve only met once she’s my daughter, let alone ask how she and her sister ended up on the wrong side of the country with a woman I never met raising them.”
“But you do intend to have her come to NCIS again tomorrow.”
“Maybe by then we’ll figure this out.”
Ziva nodded, then headed for the stairs.
“In that case, I think I will go back to the office. Perhaps there is something we have overlooked.”