AUTHOR: Ashleigh Anpilova
PAIRING: Leroy Jethro Gibbs/Donald 'Ducky' Mallard; Abby/McGee
SUB-GENRE: Established Relationship.
SUMMARY: Written for the 'warning of impending death' challenge on rare_pair. Abby has a dream. And Gibbs and Ducky have an unnerving experience on the streets of Washington DC. Could there be any truth in what both people claim to have 'seen'?
DISCLAIMER: I don't own these characters, nor am I making any money from them. I merely borrow them from time to time.
"No!" Abby woke up with a shout. A clap of thunder cracked through the sky; it seemed to shake her apartment building. Her breath was coming in short, sharp bursts and she was sobbing.
"Abbs?" Next to her McGee sat up and put his arm around her. "Abby, what's the matter?"
As another, even louder, roll of thunder filled the air, Abby clung to McGee. "It's Ducky," she wailed, over the violent crashing.
McGee looked puzzled. "Ducky?"
"I saw him. He's lying on the ground and there’s blood on his face. Gibbs is bending over him and his face is wet. I’m sure he’d crying. Gibbs is crying. Oh, Tim, Ducky's going to die." And she subsided into racking sobs, burrowing herself in his arms, crying louder now than the thunder that cracked through the air.
"It was just a dream, Abbs." McGee patted her back, rocking her and stroking her hair. "Just a dream."
Abby looked up. "But I'm crying, Tim. I never cry. The last time was when . . ." She swallowed hard. "Oh, Tim, the last time was when I woke up sobbing and saw Tony with blood splattered over his face. That was just before Kate died." On the word 'died', the air was bombarded with a prolonged burst of thunder. Then with one final clap that again shook the building, it was gone, and the only sound left was Abby's sobs.
"It's a dream, Abby. Just a dream," McGee repeated, still stroking Abby's hair and hugging her.
Abby subsided against her lover, still crying, still sucking in air through her mouth, soaking up the affection and comfort, in a way she rarely did.
Finally her sobs died down to become mere hiccoughs, and she lifted her head and looked at McGee. Speaking slowly, carefully, having to remember how to form words, she said, her voice flat, "I lost Kate, Tim. I can't lose Ducky."
"You won't, Abbs. It was only a dream. A nightmare."
But Abby went on, hearing the words without hearing them. "And what about Gibbs? What will Gibbs do if Ducky dies?"
Suddenly she pulled herself out of his embrace, leaped out of the coffin and began pacing around the room. "I won't tell Gibbs or Ducky. Or maybe I should. Maybe I should tell Gibbs. He'll know what to do. That's it, I'll tell Gibbs. I'll tell him what I saw, and he'll be able to . . . No, I can't tell him. I might be wrong and it'll worry him. Maybe he won't take care when you're out on a case. And then . . . Because if Gibbs dies, it'll be even worse. Ducky needs him too much. No, I won't tell them. After all, what can they do? Or should I? Tim, what shall I do?"
McGee sat watching her, a patient, affectionate look on his face. "Come back to bed, Abbs," was all he said, holding out his arms. "Things will look better in the morning."
"Promise?" Abby whispered.
"I promise, Abby. Now come on; you're shivering."
After a second or two's hesitation, Abby returned to her lover and let McGee pull her into his arms and hold her.
"Where the hell did that come from?" Gibbs said, pulling Ducky into a boarded-up shop doorway, as the heavens opened, and thunder crashed through the air.
"The sky, I believe, my dear," Ducky said brightly. Gibbs just glared down at him.
The old friends and lovers had taken the rare opportunity, occasioned them by a lull in their caseload, to leave the office and share a lunch together in the relative privacy of a little-known restaurant. It was one that Gibbs had accidentally stumbled over when he'd misread his own handwriting, and had ended up in the wrong part of the city.
It was in the somewhat run-down part of town, and from the outside didn't look fancy or even overly clean, but inside was a completely different matter. Gibbs sometimes wondered if the two men - clearly a couple - who ran it, deliberately kept the outside looking shabby in order to deter people from venturing inside. He also wondered just why they owned and ran the place, clearly not for the money, as the food was more than reasonably priced, and the décor and furnishings designed for comfort, albeit in an understated, highly expensive way. In the nine months that Ducky and he had been frequenting the place, there had never been more than four other people in the place at any time, be it a lunch time, an evening, mid-week, or weekend, and often they were the only two. Gibbs wasn't complaining.
Finally the storm seemed to abate, at least enough for Gibbs to decide that leaving the somewhat dubious cover of the shop, wasn't going to result in Ducky getting completely soaked. He turned up the collar of his overcoat, even though the move was more than a little pointless. Sometimes he wondered whether he should start wearing a hat or a cap outside of crime scenes.
He took Ducky's arm, "Come on, Duck. Let's go before it gets any worse." Still holding Ducky's arm, he led the way through the deserted alleyways.
Suddenly out of a doorway, a man appeared. Instinct made Gibbs push Ducky behind him, and his body tensed for possible action. Again thunder began to dance overhead.
To his surprise the man grew wide-eyed, turned ashen and began to shake. He grabbed Gibbs's arm, his grip so tight that Gibbs couldn't shake it. "Death surrounds you," the man cried, battling against the crashing. "It walks beside you, behind you. Someone close to you will die. Death reaches out and -" His words were swallowed up by the sky-ripping crescendo that split the air. The man's mouth still moved, but Gibbs couldn't hear the words. The green eyes looked like those of a madman, as the man stared in sheer horror at Gibbs.
Fighting to make himself heard over the thunder, Gibbs was about to say something, if only, 'Get the fuck off me', as Ducky came out from behind him.
"Jethro, what -"
"It's him!" the lunatic cried, letting go of Gibbs's arm with such violence, that Gibbs momentarily lost his balance and stumbled back against the wall, smashing his head against the bricks. For a second his vision blackened, and he had to brace himself to remain on his feet.
A split second later it cleared, and he saw the man stumbling away through the ferocious rain, tripping over his own feet, looking back with pure terror. About to chase after him, Gibbs felt his arm held firmly in a secure grip, and a hand moved up to touch the back of his head. Dragging his eyes away from the fleeing man, he looked down at Ducky. "Duck?"
"Yes, dear. What on earth was that all about? What was the gentleman saying? I couldn't hear him." Gibbs just started at Ducky, hearing his lover's words, but not really processing them. Again, he made as if to follow the man who he could no longer see. Again, a firm hand kept him in place. "Now keep still, Jethro, and let me feel your head. You'll have quite a lump there. But there isn’t any blood. It is fortunate that you seem to have an extremely hard head, and given the number of times you have been hit, it is a good thing. What on earth happened?"
Shaking his head slightly and wincing as a shot of pain raced through it, Gibbs brought his breathing under control and forced himself to speak. "Don't know, Duck. Reckon he was some kind of weirdo. Come on; let's get out of here. Next time we're bringing the car."
Ducky looked up at him, rain pouring off the brim of his hat, still the thunder sounded overheard, but now it had reduced to a mere rumble. For a moment Gibbs thought his lover might argue, but Ducky just frowned for a moment, before letting the deep affection he had for Jethro show. "Yes, dear," he said placidly. This time he slipped his hand inside Gibbs's arm.
Still shaking water from his head, Gibbs strode into Abby’s domain, a Caf-Pow in one hand, his own much needed coffee in the other. “Hey, Abbs. Do you have the -“
Sheer instinct kept him on his feet and both drinks still upright, as Abby launched herself at him and threw her arms around his neck. “Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs, Gibbs.”
“Yeah, Abbs, it was the last time I looked. What’s up?” Gently he pushed her away and looked at her; he was surprised to see how unusually pale, under her pale makeup, she was.
“You’re wet,” she said, touching his face where his hair still dripped.
“It’s raining. Here.” He handed over the Caf-Pow and blinked as Abby just shoved it on to her desk.
“Have you been out?” she demanded.
“Yeah, Ducky and I went out for -“
“Is Ducky okay?” She grabbed his arm again and stared at him, eyes wide and filled with panic.
“Sure, Abbs. A bit wet that’s all. Not as bad as me though, his hat kept him dry.”
Abby sagged with obvious relief and turned away.
A few seconds later she turned back around, her beaming pussycat smile on her face, the bounce back as she grabbed her Caf-Pow and sucked some of the revolting liquid up through the straw. “So, my silver haired fox, I mean Special Agent Gibbs sir, what can I do for you?”
Gibbs blinked, wondering whether Abby had consumed more Caf-Pow than usual, or whether she’d tried some of the substances she’d been testing. He took her arm, “Abbs,” he said gently, “are you okay?”
“Course I am, Gibbs. I’m always okay.” But she wouldn’t meet his eyes. Instead she tugged away from him and moved back across her lab to fiddle with her spectrometer. Gibbs could almost see the waves of tension that surrounded her.
He moved across to where she stood, her back to him. He knew she’d heard him, because the already taut frame became tauter, and she took a step away - or tried to. He caught her arm and pulled her round to face him. Still she wouldn’t meet his eye.
His thoughts began to go into overdrive; who’d hurt her? And what had they done? The comment she’d made about not telling him about her stalker because she hadn’t wanted the man beaten to pulp with a baseball bat, came into his mind. If someone, anyone he didn’t care who they were, had hurt his beloved Abby, his surrogate daughter, he’d . . .
Her put two fingers under her chin, well it worked with Ducky, tilted her head back and looked into her fear-filled eyes that were still trying to avoid looking at him. In his ‘I’m your father, you will obey me’ tone, he said, “Tell me, Abby.”
She just stared in silence for a long moment. Then to his horror her eyes filled with tears and she flung herself back into his arms. He wouldn’t bother with a baseball bat; his bare hands would inflict more damage.
Tensed to hear what the man had done, he was stunned when she sobbed, “It’s Ducky.” For a split second, he was speechless, as his mind made an abrupt change of direction, and a deep rooted chill began to race through his body. “Oh, Gibbs,” the distraught girl cried. “Ducky’s going to die.” As she said the words, a sudden roar of thunder crashed around the building.
He was grateful that she subsided into noisy tears, and pressed herself more tightly into his arms, her head buried into his shoulder. Pure instinct took over and as he held her, rocking her gently, stroking her back and head, and murmuring words of nonsense, just as he’d done when Kelly had been upset. Although size-wise holding Abby felt different from holding Kelly, after all Abby was a grown-woman, in virtually all other respects it felt exactly the same.
Eventually her sobs began to subside and she lifted her head from his shoulder; her face looked a mess, clearly even Goth makeup wasn't waterproof. Digging his handkerchief out of his pocket, he wiped her eyes and then handed the white linen over to her, resigned to the fact that it was all ready no longer white. "Want to tell me, Abbs?" he asked gently as she wiped her face. Although asked as a question, his tone was that of a gentle order.
She gave him a baleful look, blew her nose, sighed and told him. "There's not much to tell, Gibbs. I had this dream last night. It woke me up, well it and the thunder. Ducky's on the ground, there's blood on his face, and you're bending over him. Your face is wet; I think you're crying. Ducky's dead Gibbs. Why else would you be crying?" She stood watching him, biting her lip and trembling. He patted her arm, again trying to soothe.
The thunder boomed again.
Death surrounds you. It walks beside you, behind you. Someone close to you will die. Death reaches out - It's him. The garbled words the lunatic had said came unbidden to Gibbs's mind.
Again the thunder roared overhead; now it sounded as if it were in Abby's lab with them.
"It was just a dream, Abbs," he forced himself to say. And the bloke in the alley was just a madman.
"That's what Tim said," Abby said quietly.
Gibbs raised his eyebrows. "You told McGee?"
To his surprise, Abby glanced away from him and twisted the sodden handkerchief she still clutched. At that moment, she really did look like a little girl. "He was with me when I had the dream," she finally admitted.
If Gibbs's gut hadn't been churning, he'd have found Abby's reaction amusing. After all, he knew about her on-off-on-off relationship with McGee, even encouraged in a subtle, off-hand way. Never before had Abby shown any degree of embarrassment about it; quite the opposite at times! Maybe it was just the Father-Daughter moment that had preceded her 'confession'.
"McGee's talking sense - for once." He added the final two words deliberately, in an attempt to lighten her mood.
It worked. "Gibbs!" she admonished, glaring at him. "McGee often talks sense. Not always, I'll admit, but often."
He forced a smile, "Yeah, I know, Abbs," he said. "Just don't tell him I said so."
"It'll be out secret. But, Gibbs."
"It's not the first time I had a dream like this and it came true."
He raised an eyebrow at her, and watched as tears filled her eyes again. Slipping an arm around her shoulders again, he pulled her nearer and kissed her on the cheek.
"I dreamed that Kate was going to die," she said, her tone soft. "Well, I didn't as such. I dreamed that Tony had blood all over his face. I woke up crying then too, Gibbs. And I never cry." She sounded indignant, as she sniffed, and again wiped the tears from her eyes. "And then Kate died and Tony did have blood on his face, didn't he?"
Gibbs nodded. "Yeah, Abbs. He did. But it was a coincidence, that's all." He kissed her cheek again.
"Ducky can't die. You won't let him, will you, Gibbs? You can't let him. We can't lose him. You can't lose him. You'll keep him safe, won't you?"
Gibbs closed his eyes for a moment. He couldn't, wouldn't believe in Abby's dream, or the madman's words. They were just coincidences, like Kate's death. Equatorial pygmies know what you think about coincidences. Abby's words came into his mind. He pushed them away. "Yeah, Abbs," he said. "I will." He crossed his fingers and prayed silently to a God he wasn't sure he believed in anymore; and even if he did, a God he wasn't certain listened, or even cared.
The call came during the morning. Two bodies, dressed in Marine uniforms, had been found by a couple who'd decided that outdoor sex in a place where the odds on their being seen were high, might perk up their mundane love life.
"Whoever did this wanted the bodies found," DiNozzo said, as the field team stood staring down at the bodied.
"You think, DiNozzo?"
"Sorry, boss. Guess it was a bit of an obvious statement."
"You guess right." Gibbs glared at his agent. "McGee, DiNozzo, perimeter search. David shoot and sketch. We'll need to wait for Ducky and Palmer before we can touch the bodies."
"How far out do you want us go, boss?"
"How long have you been working for me, DiNozzo?"
"Er, just over four years."
"Right." Gibbs strode up the small incline, and stood looking down. Anyone going by could have seen down into the dip; and given that the entire area was popular with joggers and other health-freaks, the discovery of the bodies was a foregone conclusion.
"What did Gibbs mean, Tony?" Ziva's voice carried to him.
"That I should know how far out he wants us to go."
"Why could he simply not say that?"
"He's Gibbs. Come on, Probie."
Ziva stared at DiNozzo. "And why," she added, raising her voice, as DiNozzo and McGee began to move away, "do we have to wait for Dr. Mallard? We know they are dead. And how they died is clear. They both have bullets through their heads. Why do we have to wait for Dr. Mallard to come and tell us this? Why can we not take the bodies back to him? It would save everyone a lot of time."
DiNozzo turned around and moved back towards Ziva. "Ah, gee, Ziva, maybe Gibbs has never thought of that. Why don't you suggest it to him?"
"Maybe I will."
Torn between simply shouting at them to get on with their work, and going down and head slapping David and DiNozzo, Gibbs suddenly spotted something glinting out of the corner of his eye. "Hit the ground," he yelled. As he called out, he dropped to the ground, rolled himself down the small incline, and drew his Sig in one continuous fluid movement.
As the sound of gunfire ceased, he glanced up to see that his team had obeyed him. It didn't surprise him to see that DiNozzo had thrown himself on top of Ziva, who appeared to be objecting violently.
Crawling on his stomach, he moved carefully towards other three, pausing when a second volley of shots went over his head.
"Get off me, Tony!" Ziva hissed, as Gibbs finally reached them. "I am more than -"
"Shut up, David," Gibbs ordered. "You three okay?"
With hand and eye signals, he instructed them to head for the truck; he'd cover them. "On three," he whispered. "Two, three."
Less than a minute later, under the cover of three shooters, he joined them. They crouched behind the truck, momentarily regaining their breath and reloading.
"Just the one, do you think, boss?"
Gibbs nodded at DiNozzo. "Reckon so. Certainly only one gun."
"Want me to try to circle round behind him?" DiNozzo asked, glancing over to where the rifle fire had come from.
"I'll go," McGee said quickly.
"I am more -" Ziva began.
"Shut up," Gibbs broke into their argument. "No one's going anywhere for now. Let's see what the bastard's next move is."
Suddenly McGee said, near panic in his voice, "Ducky."
The heavens opened and thunder crashed around the clearing.
"Oh, great. That's all we need," DiNozzo grouched, as rain began to pour from the leaden sky.
"Shit," Gibbs swore, shouting to make himself heard as the claps did battle with one another. He yanked his cell phone out. Nothing. There wasn't a signal. "McGee," he tossed it to the young man. "Make it work!" His mind told him his request was unreasonable, but he made it nonetheless.
To give McGee his due, after a swift look of horror, he grabbed the phone, bent over it and started to fiddle with it.
By his side, DiNozzo dug his own phone out and flipped it on. The look on his face told Gibbs what he didn't need to know. "Maybe the Autopsy Gremlin will get them more lost then he normally does," DiNozzo said over the continued crashes. He turned the collar of his jacket up, as water poured off the peak of his cap.
"Maybe," Gibbs said through gritted teeth, once more beginning to pray. "DiNozzo, start to -"
The suddenly silence as the thunder ceased cut into his words. And then to his horror, over the hush came the sound of the voice he'd know anywhere.
Several things happened simultaneously:
Gibbs warning cry was drowned out by another clap and roar of thunder, accompanied this time by a flashing streak of lightning.
From the trees where the lightning had struck, a man, carrying a sniper's rifle, ran, saw Ducky and Palmer, aimed, and fired.
Palmer opened his mouth, but his words couldn't be heard over the crashing, and launched himself at Ducky, pushing him to the ground.
Gibbs and his team rose as one and fired at the sniper.
The sound of four Sig-Sauers blasting out half a dozen shots each, were heard even over the thunderous roars above them. As the sniper fell to the ground, Gibbs was already running towards where Ducky lay. Palmer knelt by his side; a look of sheer horror on his face.
Skidding to a halt, ignoring his cap that flew off his head, Gibbs dropped to his knees beside his lover. "Duck," he cried in the same horror, as he saw the blood on Ducky's face. His own face was wet from the torrential rain that still fell.
Ducky's on the ground, there's blood on his face and you're bending over him. Your face is wet.
"God, no. Please," he begged. His fingers shook as he moved them towards Ducky's carotid artery.
He felt nothing.
Death surrounds you. It walks beside you, behind you. Someone close to you will die. Death reaches out - It's him.
Still the thunder roared.
Still the rain pelted down, washing the blood from Ducky's face; streaming down his own.
Then there was a single crash, so loud for a second he was deafened.
Then silence, eerie in its noiselessness.
Under his fingers, he felt a fluttering; there was a cough, and two blue eyes opened and gazed up at him. "Duck," he murmured, "Oh, Duck." Without thought, he gathered Ducky's head into his lap, and lowered his lips towards Ducky's forehead. Now the wetness that streamed down his face wasn't only the rain.
"Jethro my dear," Ducky murmured, as he reached up to touch Jethro's face. "The children."
But Gibbs didn't care. To hell with them. They all knew anyway. He let his lips complete their journey, brushing them over Ducky's forehead where a single bullet from the sniper's gun had grazed it. Thank God for Jimmy Palmer, he thought, as he kissed Ducky lightly for a second time.
Rearranging Ducky's head more comfortably in his lap, he glanced up and began to snap orders at his team. Four pairs of eyes, wide with a combination of surprise and relief, hastily raced away, and as one 'the children' began to move; all of them tripping over their feet in their haste to obey their boss.
"Why don't you tell me, my dearest?" Ducky said gently, as Jethro held him in his arms. They were in Jethro's bed, the front door had been securely locked, and for the last couple of hours they had been gently making love.
"What it is that is on your mind?"
"I was just thinking, Duck."
"Oh, dear. I must be failing in my technique then," Ducky said, and chuckled softly.
Jethro smiled and kissed Ducky's forehead again. "Never, Duck." He moved his lips from Ducky's head to Ducky's own lips.
Several pleasurable moments slipped by.
"Well?" Ducky asked, when the kissing had stopped.
"Anyone ever you that you're like a dog with a bone, Duck?"
"Mmm, yes, they have. In fact I believe that I learnt that particularly attribute from you." Ducky's eyes twinkled.
"Me!" Jethro said, in mock outrage. "I'd say I learned it from you."
Ducky smiled innocently; Jethro kissed him again.
"Come along, dearest," Ducky said, when yet more pleasurable moments had slipped by. "You know you will tell me."
"It's nothing, Duck. I'm just a bit worried by what the loony said. I mean Abby's bit about you being on the ground and having blood on your face," Jethro shivered, and Ducky pulled him more tightly into his embrace. After a moment or two, Jethro continued. "And me with water running down my face, came true. But . . ."
"His words also came true, my dear." Ducky's voice was soft.
"Part of it is a constant. Death does 'surround you'. It does 'walk beside you and behind you'. It may be a rather fanciful way of stating it, but it is merely the truth. Is it not?"
"Guess it is," Jethro said, not entirely certain whether he felt relief or reluctance at Ducky's explanation. "But what about the rest of it? 'Someone close to you will die. Death reaches out', and the way he cried, ' It's him', when you appeared. How do you explain that?"
Ducky shrugged. "Firstly, my dear 'close to you', doesn't necessarily mean close in the emotional sense, it could merely have been a matter of distance. I believe that the man in question wasn't that far away from you all when you shot him. Don't look at me like that, Jethro. It could be that."
"Hmm." Was all Jethro was prepared to say.
Ducky sighed, somewhat extravagantly. "Secondly, 'will die' could have been referring to the past as well as the future. You were fond of Caitlin, and she died."
"Now that is pushing it, Duck. He said 'will die'. That's not past tense; that's future."
"You said he seemed somewhat . . ."
"Loopy? Besides what about the 'It's him'?"
Ducky sighed again, but said nothing. "And thirdly. Thirdly, dearest, I believe that maybe for a few seconds I was . . . " He broke off, reached up and stroked Jethro's cheek. "Jethro, you yourself said that you couldn't feel my pulse. Maybe -"
"But it was just a scratch, Duck. The bullet only grazed you. It couldn't have, could it?"
Ducky was silent for a moment. When he spoke his voice took on its storytelling timbre, but his eyes remained solemn. "We know a great deal about the human body, my dear. But despite our knowledge, there is far more that we do not know. And I doubt we ever shall. Shock can cause all kinds of things; and the combination of the bullet grazing my scalp, together with Mr. Palmer thoughtfully and selflessly pushing me to the ground, would have caused quite a jolt to my system. Perhaps that jolt was enough to momentarily cause my heart to cease to beat."
"Then what started it again? Because I hadn't done anything."
"I told you, Jethro, there is much we do not know about the body. You say that there was an exceptionally loud clap of thunder at the time?"
"Yeah, jolted the hell out of me, and deafened me for a second. But, Duck, surely . . . "
"I do not know, dearest. I'm not saying that was the case; nor am I dismissing it. Maybe I truly was dead for a second or two. Maybe you were just too upset to feel the pulse. Maybe you hadn't placed your fingers in quite the right place. Maybe -"
Jethro silenced his lover in his favorite way.
Sometime later, still lightly stroking Ducky's body with his fingertips, Jethro said, "Don't know why I'm so bothered, Duck."
"Yeah. Well it's all rubbish anyway, isn't it? Foreshadowing, I mean. Okay, so Abby had a nightmare; some loony-bin escapee decided to treat me to his ravings, but so what? The mind doesn’t work like that, does it?"
Ducky smiled softly. "Well now, my dear, the workings of the human mind are even more complex and far from our understanding than the workings of the human body. I remember a time when - Mmmmm, Jethro."