Disclaimer: NCIS and its characters do not belong to me. Fan fiction is just for fun, not for profit.

Spoilers : 'Good Wives Club' (sort of)

Summary: A deeply troubled and mentally unbalanced former Petty Officer fixates on one of the NCIS team.

I should be working on additional chapters for my current 'Star Trek: Voyager' fic, but then I just happened to watch 'Good Wives Club' again and this idea sort. of crept up on me and wouldn't go away.

I couldn't help but wonder what was going through Petty Officer Barbara Swain's shattered mind as she stood over the unconscious Tony DiNozzo and what happened to the poor girl after her rescue.. How would the so-called experts go about repairing such a vulnerable and damaged psyche - and what if they couldn't?

Talking of damaged psyches; I'm getting a wee bit concerned that my writing seems to have recurring obsessive themes!

Hope you enjoy my first NCIS fic and I sincerely hope that I've done justice to these great characters..


Chapter 1

Pine Ridge Medical Center - Morgantown, West Virginia

It was just so easy for Barbara to walk out of there.

Alice had said it would be. It was only minimum security after all. It wasn't as if any of the patients were psychopaths or serial killers needing 24/7 monitoring.

Their plan had gone like clockwork. All she had to do throughout the morning was surreptitiously tease and agitate poor Celia to the point where the dumb little bitch had one of her epic panic attacks; the type that had her screaming like some banshee and tearing at her own hair and flesh, lashing out at anyone who came within helping distance It took three nurses to restrain her - two holding the struggling traumatized woman as she kicked and spat and screamed obscenities at some unseen horror, while the third tried to administer a sedative.

And while all this was going on and everyone's attention was focused elsewhere, Barbara pulled on her favorite pink sweater over her pretty cotton sundress grabbed some of her personal stuff and walked unchallenged out of her room, past the currently unmanned nurses station, down two flights of stairs, on through reception and then to the front entrance where the ever loyal Alice was parked up and waiting for her in a muddy-colored sedan.

By the time anyone at Palm Ridge realized that former Navy Petty Officer Barbara Swain was missing she would already be halfway to Washington DC.

With Alice at the wheel and driving well within the speed limit, Barbara settled herself comfortably back into her seat, closed her eyes and allowed herself the luxury of a good old-fashioned daydream .

It had taken many long and agonizing months of counseling and therapy and one private hospital after another, for her to finally come to terms with Brett's death. Now she understood that their love was always destined to be short-lived; that he had given his life so that Barbara could find hers. Oh , he would always hold a special place in her heart, but now she had another focus - the man who had rescued her from that dark place. Her savior.

Barbara knew this was true love - the forever kind. And when they were finally together he would love her right back. He just had to.

The elevator doors slid open with a soft ping and Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo exited, strolling slowly into the bullpen with his head bowed and shoulders hunched; the epitome of a man lost in deep troubled contemplation.

Blatantly ignoring his co-workers, he dumped his backpack behind his desk, took off his jacket and draped it carefully over the back of his chair, powered up his desk top and then sat with a huge dramatic sigh.

Ziva David and Tim McGee glanced at each other curiously.

"What, no barbed insults? No biting sarcasm or childish innuendo this morning?" Ziva asked, but her only response was another sigh from Tony, this time his breath hitching a little for added effect.

While loathing her own willingness to be drawn into what she assumed was another DiNozzo scam, Ziva nonetheless found herself across the office and perched on the edge of Tony's desk.

"I know I am going to regret asking this, but what's wrong?"

"Why does something have to be wrong?" he asked defensively.

"Because DiNozzo," she leaned across his desk until they were practically nose to nose, "you look like a man on the way to his execution."

She caught a whiff of his obviously expensive but subtle aftershave. Very nice!

"Well, since when did you start caring, Zee-vah?" he sniped. "And what's with this?" He rolled his chair deliberately back and as far away from her as he could get in his restricted workspace, a little unsettled by their too close proximity.

"With what?"

"Yesterday you thought I was crass and juvenile and today you're all… touchy, feely. It's just… " he gave a shudder for emphasis,. " …hinky."

"I have a soft, sensitive side," purred the former Mossad agent with a mischievous glint in her dark eyes. "If you search for it."

Is she flirting with you DiNozzo?

Tony gave himself a virtual head slap.


In all honesty, he really didn't have the energy this morning for one of their verbal sparring matches. He was a man in deep doggy doo and what he needed was some constructive advice. Gazing around hopefully at the near empty office, Tony resigned himself to the inevitable.. Ziva David wouldn't normally be his number one choice of confidant, but as his only other option seemed to be McGeek on this occasion she would just have to do.

Ziva settled herself a bit more comfortably on the desk and folded her arms impatiently.

"Come on. What's biting you?"

"Uh…that's eating. What's eating me," he ventured, then recoiled a little as she narrowed her eyes. "It's Megan," he admitted after a lengthy pause.

"Don't tell me the poor girl has finally seen sense and dumped you!"

"Nuh uh. It's far worse than that," he stated emphatically, choosing not to be offended on this one occasion "She wants us to be…," he made metaphorical exclamation marks in mid-air, "exclusive."

"And that's bad because?" asked McGee who had joined them by this time, truly intrigued. He'd only met Tony's latest conquest, Megan O'Neal the one time at a local bar, but to say she was drop dead gorgeous was the understatement of the century. Tall and classy, with honey blond hair, vivid blue eyes and a figure to die for, she was every male's wildest fantasy and then some . DiNozzo was one lucky SOB. They had been dating on and off for nearly three months now, give or take the prolonged periods Megan was out of town on a modeling assignment or when Tony was tied up on a case Discounting the amount of actual time - or lack of - they had managed to spend together, this was still shaping up to be a DiNozzo dating record.

Tony was staring at him as if he was dim-witted. "That's bad probie, because I don't do exclusive."

"Maybe that's because you have yet to find the right woman."

"And it was all going so well." Tony lamented, choosing to ignore the woman's strangely evocative behavior in favor of gazing wistfully off into the distance. "Megan's into Tantric yoga. ya know," he added with a dreamy smile. "She can do the most amazing things with her…."

"Enough!" Ziva held up a hand. "We have no wish to hear the ins and outs…"

Both Tony and McGee snickered.

"…details," she amended pointedly with a warning glare, "of your sordid sexual fetishes."

"Get your mind out of the gutter, missy," Tony reprimanded with faux indignation "What I was about to say was that she has certain….talents" He shook his head sadly. "I'm sure gonna miss her."

"Don't tell me you're thinking of dumping a major babe like Megan, just because she wants some form of commitment?" McGee intervened, looking aghast.

"DiNozzo wouldn't know commitment if it bit him on the ass,." came the gruff voice from just behind them. As usual, none of the team had been aware of Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs's covert approach.

As the older man stalked past them, morning caffeine fix firmly in his grasp, Ziva and McGee practically launched themselves from Tony's desk back to their own. All three soon had their heads down , the living embodiment of diligent federal employees.

"Agent DiNozzo!" Gibbs barked out after several minutes of settling himself at his desk and a long swig of coffee.

"Yeah, boss."

"What's rule number 13?"

"Is that…uh.." Tony was struggling, "…is that the one about bringing livestock into the office?"

"No DiNozzo," Gibbs snapped. "That's the one that says you keep details of your personal life to yourself during office hours. Get it?"

"Got it, boss,." came the meek and slightly wounded response.

Gibbs just nodded, though the hint of a smile tugged at his lips Anything else he might have been tempted to add was interrupted by his ringing phone. He immediately snatched up the receiver and listened intently for the longest time, while DiNozzo, David and McGee looked on expectantly. As soon as the call had ended he opened his desk drawer to retrieve his gun.

"We have a double homicide. A Lieutenant Commander and a female companion ," he announced. "Let's move."

In the relatively short time it took his well-trained younger agents to grab their own gear and scramble across the bullpen in his wake, Gibbs was already waiting and impatient by the open doors of the elevator.

"Today people!"

A teary-eyed Barbara placed the delicate corsage on top of the small black marble memorial plaque, tracing her fingers lovingly across the simple engraved inscription.

She'd felt compelled to come here to say a proper goodbye. With her enforced incarceration in one private clinic after another since his death, there had never been an opportunity. Brett deserved to know that it was time to draw a line under their relationship, for Barbara to move on.

Barbara sniffed and dabbed at her eyes with her small white handkerchief. "I have to go," she said softly, "but I will always love you."

With one last lingering look at the memorial, she turned and walked to where the ever-caring Alice waited for her in the shade of a weeping willow.

By the time they made it back to the car, parked just beyond the entrance of the cemetery, Barbara's tears had pretty much dried. Walking through those ornate iron gates sort of symbolized a new beginning for her; leaving the past behind and facing a bright future head on.

And Special Agent Anthony DiNozzo was going to play the most vital part of it.