The introduction was boring, but gave Xander a chance to scope out who was who and from where. He mentally pouted that he wasn’t sitting with Ezra, Vin and the others, and winced at the obvious tension between the NCIS agents that were present. If this was an intern hunt, Gibbs would scare them all off and prevent them from getting anyone. As it was, it was bad enough that Tony and Abby was quiet, and it looked like Kate was poking at things better left unsaid.
Just as it was time to go, Abby’s voice filled the room.
“God dammed it Kate, will you just shut up! Your bitchiness is why Tony isn’t talking. ‘Tony are you paying attention?’ ‘Tony why aren’t you flirting, know that the people here won’t even look at you?’ My God, if I knew you were going to be such a whiny little brat, I never would have befriended you! And you Gibbs, you’re just as bad! You’re basically letting her abuse Tony. ‘Oh, it’ll humble him.’ ‘Oh he’ll get over it.’ Well, if he gets over it by stepping in front of a bullet, then it’s your entire fault! Let’s go Tony; I can’t stand the sight of this person any longer.” With that she pulled Tony from the room and caught Xander’s eye, if Gibbs followed, he’d get to play beat the Marine at being a bastard.
“You know, I heard that Gibbs was a bastard, but to shun own of his own men just because he doesn’t like his thinking process, now that’s just sad.” Xander spoke loud enough that the room could hear, and left the room after throwing a disgusted look at Gibbs and his newest agent.
He had a feeling that Gibbs would hunt him down before he went after Tony and Abby, and that was what Xander hoped for. No one hurt his friends, and Gibbs was going to learn that first hand from someone who was much more than just an intern.
“What gives you the right to comment on other’s people’s methods kid.” The gruff voice behind him brought an evil grin to Xander’s face.
“I know that you don’t discount an idea, no matter where it comes from, if it has something to do with the case. If you don’t realize that all forms of fiction hold grains of truth, then you are a very sad person who doesn’t even believe the life he lives.” Xander matched Gibbs’ glare and his hand shot out to grab Kate.
“Oh you get to stay here missy. I’ve heard how you bitch and moan at Tony, basically baiting him them getting pissed off when he does it back. What, you can dish it out but not take it back. Hypocritical little brat you are then.” He gave her such a look of disgust that infuriated eyes looked back at Gibbs.
“Then there is you, Jethro Gibbs, second “B” is for bastard. Do you realize that people do need to hear that they did a good job? Do you realize that a dressing down is not done in public unless it is done to the whole team? Do you realize your attitude would land your ass in a brig faster than you could say ‘Coffee’? I didn’t think so. It’s fine to be an ass to the bad guys, but butting you head with other agencies and especially your own team, now that’s sad.” Xander gave him a mocking sad face.
“Do you have a point kid; I have an agent to find.” The growl was more pronounced, and Xander gave the man a feral smile.
“Oh, I have a point. You’ll lose your team by being cruel to your people Special Agent Gibbs, and I’ll laugh at you when it happens by poaching or beat your ass if it’s because they died. I don’t give a rat’s ass about miss Todd, because she doesn’t care about the team. I care that if something hurts Tony, Abby or Ducky, I will hurt you, and make it hurt good.” With that Xander let Kate Todd go and walked off, leaving a fuming NCIS agent and his shocked subordinate behind.
The people around began to talk and Xander simply smiled sweetly at Chris for his glare, and smirked at Horatio when he shook his head.
“You now know that he’ll hound you the whole time you’re here?” Came Buck’s amused voice.
“I know, and it’s worth it to keep him off the backs of the three I mentioned. Tony, Abby and Ducky all deserve better. Besides, Vin is letting Tony talk to Joe and Levon, and I think that you, Horatio, should talk to Abby and Ducky. Miami is a good place for both to come and join. New York is too close, and Las Vegas is too loud. Miami is perfect, even though Abby will need the same sunscreen that you do.” With a sweet smile, Xander went hunting for pastries and coffee, he needed the sugar to be nice again, Gibbs would always rub him the wrong way. Damn Hyena instincts that never left.
Xander knew he was playing with fire. Gibbs hated it when someone was able to alpha dog him, and was trying to make Xander’s first day horrible. It was a shame that he pissed off Chris though. Chris had a nasty temper if someone was after his men, and Xander was one of his men.
So, now Chris was having all the fun when it came to Gibbs and his confrontations, and this gave Xander a chance to lay a trap for Katelyn Todd. The woman still believed that she was in the right and Xander was going to get Josiah to give her a profile on Tony, yet not say that it’s Tony. When she’ll be done with the assessment, he’ll ask for her opinion, and he was sure she was going to tell him that it would be safer for the person to go to a new posting, as the one he was in was doing horrible damage.
Xander watched as she and Josiah came past him and herd her opinion on the matter and Xander slid in behind her.
“Guess what Agent Todd; I know who you just profiled.”
“Who? They need help.” Her eyes were worried and he gave her a vicious smile and whispered in her ear.
“You just profiled Tony, congrats on trying to get a man, who is supposed to be your team mate, killed.” With that he walked off, enjoying the paleness of her face and the dawning horror in her eyes.
As Xander left the floor, he met up with Buck and JD, heading towards Ezra and Vin’s room to finish showing them the carvings he had done. He wanted to share the people that had been in his life before, and the only mementos he had were the nineteen carvings in his bag.
Listening to JD chatting about the newest gadgets in the world of technology, Xander smirked as the younger man rarely paused for breath. Buck was shaking his head in amazement and exasperation at JD’s antics, but Xander knew that he cared for the young man. He wouldn’t let him go on otherwise.
It took about five minutes for them to arrive at Ezra’s door, and it opened before they could knock. Xander looked puzzled as he entered, before he looked at the television and saw that they had tapped into the security cameras on the floor.
“Sneaky people you, I can only wonder what made you choose to tap into the cameras.”
“We’re waiting for all of you, now we are only waiting for Chris and Josiah.” Vin’s voice came from the bathroom and Xander crawled onto the bed with the bags.
“They should be coming soon, Chris was giving Gibbs a piece of his mind and Josiah had Todd profile Tony. She’s properly horrified at her actions, but like they say – too little, too late.” Xander shrugged and curled up to wait for their profiler and leader, purring when Ezra and Vin sat beside him, letting him soak up their warmth and scent. He really did miss his friends and hoped that he could meet with them more often than not, Miami was fun and all, but it wasn’t for him.
Just as he was dozing off into the warmth around him, he was dimly aware that the door opened and two people shuffled in. A couple of taps on his nose caused a sleepy eye to open and look up at Chris’ smirking face.
“Hey sleepyhead, you said you had something else to show us?” Xander was not impressed with the amused voice, so he grunted and pulled his bag closer.
“I made all of your carvings after I did these ones, and I’ll tell you a bit about each person and how I got to know them.” He pulled out the wrapped bundle with a number one attached to it.
“This was Joyce; she was the closest thing I had to a mother since my real one wasn’t up to the task. She’d sit us down and give us a mug of hot chocolate before letting us talk about what was bothering us. She was a life line for me, since the others decided I was too normal, and didn’t want me around since they were too blind to see Willow’s manipulations.” He was hugged by Ezra and Vin curled a hand around his leg.
“This was Giles, he was the closest thing I had to a father, but he was spelled by Willow and he only saw me for me after Sunnydale fell into the ground. He was furious with her, and had her magic bound for three months for that stunt. That was the first time I saw that he did care, and it was when I also realized that some of the people I knew were no better than my natal mother or father.” He caressed the face of his mentor and father figure and remembered how Giles had done everything he could to make it up to Xander, and that was what made Xander believe him. Giles tired and never gave up, showing that he truly had been under a spell.
“Tara was my soul sister; you know that an abuse survivor recognizes another, and we hit it off. We felt safe around each other, and were the first to see Willow’s descent into the dark magics. Tara had become the confidant that Jesse had been, and when she was shot, I just wanted to curl up and follow her, but the others still needed me, even if they refused to see it.” Arms held him tighter and Xander only realized that he was crying when he was given a box of Kleenex.
“Jesse was my soul in many ways; being a victim of abuse is hard enough, but he was the reason I fought to stay alive. Then, he was taken from me and a demon took his place. I had to kill my soul, and Tara, Joyce and Dawn had been the only ones who truly saw that.” He wiped his eyes, and gave Chris a watery smile when his head was patted.
“Ethan was a thorn in our side until we realized that he just wanted Giles’ attention once more. They had been close friends and lovers at a young age, and Giles had just left without a reason why. Ethan then dove into Chaos magic and from there he found Giles for the first time in my junior year. It took us a while to see that Ethan wasn’t bad, he just missed his friend and wanted him back. Since all he could do anymore was chaos magic, that is how he tried to get Giles’ attention. It was fun to see them happy again. I considered Ethan our happiness, since he brought much joy to the girls and Giles.”
“Dawn was my little sister; yes she had a crush on me and thought I was her everything at one point in time, but I couldn’t love her like she wanted since, to me, she was an extra ordinary girl. When we were being attacked before the fall of Sunnydale, she asked me how I managed to keep my wits, I was the normal one. I told her the fact that even though she had no super powers, the determination that made her get up and fight, or even help, is what made her special. I think she was the only one that realized that I had referred to both of us, since we were both the only ones without powers.” A knock on the door stopped them and room service was distributed. Paying the man, Xander pulled out the next figure and smiled softly at the face looking up at him.
“Here’s Cordelia, she was all about the fashion but she did have a heart of gold. She could lift you up or knock you down with words and I am still amazed that she dated me for a while. I’ve known her for a while and she always knew what was going on. She had to keep a sharp wit since she was on top of the social ladder and her word was basically law. Gods I miss her.” He stroked her face and put her on the side table with the other six figures.
“Anyanka was a fiery woman that loved money, sex and her tales avenging women. She loved her job and did everything she could think of to get it back; however, she did learn that there were some things that were worth the pain. She went out fighting, helping people getting out of Sunnydale before it fell. She took a stand, and she did it with her head held high. I’ll never forget her; I couldn’t even if I tried.” He wiped his eyes and blew his nose once more.
“Oz was the calmest person you could ever know. Nothing fazed him, and I have a feeling that if a nuke fell in his lap he’d look at it and say ‘cool’. He was a year older than us and was Willow’s boyfriend. They split when he graduated, but she then found Tara when she began University. When Oz found out, I was surprised at how much anger showed on his face. He was kidnapped and we were lucky to get him out. We were lucky, he wasn’t in that bad shape, but we took great pleasure in beating the sons of bitches that took him.” Xander’s smile wasn’t nice, and he calmed down only because Ezra nuzzled his neck.
“Andrew was a bad guy turned good. His home life was similar to mine, but his older brother was a sociopath, and slowly began to twist his brother into that life. We managed to help him out, but not until after his brother had killed Tara with a bullet to the chest. I never hated anyone like I did Warren at that point in time. Andrew helped out, and he did what he could to help me after I lost Anya. She died helping him, and he hated himself for it. He was the first person I could forgive, because I knew that it wasn’t his fault.” Xander smiled at the memory of Andrew, he was so geeky, but the kid had a heart of gold.
“Riley and Graham were Army grunts that worked in the area. They were under orders to test some new devices, but didn’t realize that their CO, who was basically a mad scientist, was pumping them full of drugs and fucking around with their heads. She was trying to make a ‘super solider’ and made a Cyborg that was once one of her men. Riley and Graham helped us out, and helped us find Oz too, since the boss lady was the one that had him kidnapped. They were good guys, and went against orders to help us. They saved our lives too.” He smirked at the two figures in front of him and arranged the twelve of them so that there was still room for the remaining eight before he put them on the table at the corner of the room when he was going to light their candles later that night.
“Angel and Spike were the two oddest people that helped us. Both were reformed baddies, and they were working towards redemption. They both went out saving the world, but I still hated the fact that they fed Buffy and Willow’s delusions of specialness. Angel hated the fact that I could be with Buffy during the day, since he was older than her and done school. Spike was just an ass that enjoyed taunting people and making our lives miserable. Both got Buffy to believe she loved them, and so her mental facilities began to dribble out her ears when it came to dealing with them. Angel was the worst, since he broke her in and all, and she was positive that it was all a bad dream. Then Miss Jenny Calendar died, and she had no choice. But the y did get their acts together, and two years after Sunnydale fell, they managed to stop someone from destroying the world as we knew it. I never liked them, but I respect what they did, so I remember them too.” He gave a wry smile and patted both.
Xander leaned back and let the group soothe him for a moment, he still had six more to talk about, but the pain was fading. Each tale was allowing him to look back with fondness instead of anger, and Xander was glad that his friends were with him right now.
“You can rest right now if you have to Xan. You know we don’t mind waiting for you to talk.” Vin’s voice brought a smile to Xander’s face, and Ezra’s arms tightened for a moment before he pulled out the next two carvings.
“Kendra and Faith were both taken from us in ways that they never should have been. Kendra was killed by Spike’s psycho ex girlfriend and was an innocent. She came to visit from Jamaica and was very shy. She loved books and was able to quote passages from many of the tomes that Giles had, and he seemed to glow with pride at her ability. Faith was a wild girl, and she was tricked into joining a gang when she accidentally killed someone. She did go to jail, but instead of being hunted down, she turned herself in. While it was accidental, and the court found that the majority of Sunnydale’s system was corrupt, Faith served five years in jail before being let go for good behavior. She turned her life around and I am so proud of her for that.” He smiled at the two girls in his hands. Both would hit him for being so sentimental about their lives.
“Jenny Calendar, or Jenna Kalderdash, was from gypsy lineage in Romania. I always thought she was a cool teacher, and she was willing to explain things, which made my day. She had begun to date Giles, but then Angel’s old gang had her killed at one point and left her on his bed. I’d never seen that much anguish in a person, and I wanted to help him kill the assholes that had done it. She was a computer genius and I know that her death hit us all hard.” He sighed and practically cradled the carving in his hands, and put her by Giles and Ethan.
“When I first met Wesley I thought that he was the biggest pompous ass that I had ever seen, but after I got to know him, I found out that he was just as abused as I had been. He hid behind a façade of knowledge, but once I managed to see past it, I realized that his childhood was as shitty as mine. What was worse was that his father was still attacking him, and he was thirty years old. Wesley never had a chance to build walls to keep his father out, since his father controlled his whole life. We managed to free him and he decided that LA would be a good place to work and live. On his own, he became a good friend, and we kept in touch. He was like another brother for me.” Xander smiled at the memories he had of Wesley. He got his favorite axe from him, and Xander pouted at Chris.
“Where’s my Axe, Wesley gave it to me.”
“It’s at my townhouse Xander, since Ah know how much it means to you. Yes, Ah have been polishing it every day, and no, we did not bring it for you to play with.” Ezra whispered in his ear and Xander shuddered at the breathy tone and had to bite his lip to stop himself from moaning out loud.
“I’m guessing the last two carvings are Buffy and Willow?” Josiah asked.
“Yeah, Buffy was the girl I had fallen head over heels for. Next thing I know she’s shaking up with Angel and is trying to stop me from exercising free will and all that. I know that I could have done things differently, but at the time I did believe that I was right. She never forgave me when I got Angel to leave for eight months, and was very snippy to me for that. Buffy began to only need my help when things broke, and then I was her best buddy until it was fixed. If she needed a plan to stop the baddies, I was her man. It was only after Sunnydale left that she got her head out of her ass and saw that she was a horrible person. To this day, I still think she was faking it when she tried to repair our tattered friendship.” He smiled sadly at the carving of Buffy and kept her with Spike and Angel, away from the rest.
“Willow, Willow was in a unique position. We were friends since kindergarten when she broke a yellow crayon and began to cry. We had been inseparable at that point and when Buffy came it all fell apart. She began to change, but I think she always would have. She was a hacker, and her parents kept saying that she was a genius. When Buffy came she turned from a shy person to a confident young woman. She began to dive into things that she shouldn’t have and tried to “correct” me many times after that point. She would treat me like a kid, and then expect me to still like and care for her. I know I’ll always love Willow, but it’s the kind of love you have for a dead sister. She never saw that after Sunnydale fell and fucked with my life once more. I am happy that I’m here, but her arrogance in thinking that she knew what I wanted was what made me hate her.” His eyes looked at the engraving one Willow’s carving, ‘Willow: Friend turned enemy turned stranger’ and he knew that it was the truth.
Giving the guys a wry smile he looked at them all as he got up to place the carvings around the room. Joyce, Tara, Jesse, Wesley and Dawn were on the bedside table. Buffy, Angel, Spike and Willow were by the bathroom. The other eleven carvings were under the mirror on the telephone table. Placing a candle in front of each group, Xander lit them and gave them all a sad smile. If only things had been different.