Spoilers: None. Set pre-series

Disclaimer: I would hug Gibbs if I could, but neither he nor the rest of NCIS belong to me.

A/N: A cathartic exercise for me. Based on a comment Gibbs made in 1.22, A Weak Link. For 100situations prompt #2, bathroom


He knew that there wasn't anything he could do. The woman had looked him in the eye and lied. Her boyfriend hadn't touched her, she said. She had fallen down a flight of stairs. She was always such a klutz. He had promised her that he would protect her if she made a statement. The bastard wouldn't ever touch her again. And if she didn't care for herself, what about her children? What happened when beating her up wasn't enough and he turned on the two little girls that looked so much like their mother? She had shaken her head, wincing at the pain the action brought but still denying that anything was wrong. Her daughters were safe, she said. They would be taken care of.

Later his mind would play that conversation over and over again. Taken care of, she had promised.

He waited until the next morning before showing up at her house. Part of him hoped that maybe one more night of reality would be enough to convince her to change her mind. The statistics were against him, but maybe this would be that one exception to the rule. No one answered, but when he turned to leave there was a muffled cry. It was enough for him. He crashed into the house, the front door shattered in his wake, his gun drawn and ready. A second wail led him to the bathroom.

Standing in the open door he froze in horror. His stomach revolted and he wanted to run from the place but he couldn't. Instead he forced his legs to work, his arms to move. He grabbed at the woman who only minutes ago he had been hoping to rescue and yanked her out of the room, throwing her into a sobbing heap in the hallway. And then he plunged his arms into the overflowing bathtub and pulled out the first of two submerged bodies.

The phone call to 911 took less then fifteen seconds.

There wasn't much space in the bathroom, but he didn't dare move them. They were small anyway; lying side by side there was still enough room for him to kneel between the girls. He turned to the smaller one first, pushing soaking hair out of her face as he tilted her head back to clear the airway. There was no pulse, no air coming from between her tiny lips. He gave her some of his own. Breath. Compress. Not too hard because he didn't want to hurt her, but not too gentle because then it wouldn't be effective. Breath. Compress. Repeat.

He turned to the older sister. She was seven, maybe eight. He tried to breath life into her too, but she wasn't responding either. There was sobbing in the background and he took a precious moment to snarl that she better shut the hell up. Whether she did or not he didn't know as he turned his attention back to the two girls. Breath. Compress.

He was still fighting for life when the paramedics raced into the room. Exhausted, he leaned against the wall of the bathtub, water soaking through his shirt, and watched as trained professionals tried to save the lives he had failed. It didn't take more then a look to know that they were beyond hope.

When he walked out of the room he heard the woman crying as her wrists were bound in handcuffs. Her boyfriend would have to love her now, she explained through her tears. And no one would ever hurt her daughters; she had taken care of that.

He drank two thirds of a bottle of bourbon that night in an attempt to forget but didn't work. A decade later the memory was still burned into his brain. When an agent asked him what people were capable of, he answered that nothing surprised him. People were capable of anything.