Disclaimer: Belisarius Productions owns NCIS. I don't even own Abby or Ziva – frack! I do, however, own Dawn and Siobhan (rhymes with Sha-vawn), and they're enough for any man. ;)
This is my fifth NCIS Mystery, all following one progression. While 'Superheroine Affair', 'Jurisdiction', 'Wiccan Affair' and 'Sacramental Seal' all stand alone, the back stories cover a progression related to the fourth Season of the Series. Reference is made to several points of these back stories, so you'll want to read them to familiarize yourself with the characters and situations. Later stories will include 'Assassin', 'Dark Night' and 'Inner Darkness'.
Dawn Caldwell of Jefferson Parish, Louisiana was introduced in 'Jurisdiction', while Reverend Siobhan O'Mallory made her first appearance in 'Sacramental Seal'.
These and all other characters are fictional. There is no similarity to any person, living or dead.
Rating: T - or NCis-17; Occasional violence, graphic descriptions of autopsy and forensic evidence, frank adult topics, murder, intrigue - typical days for our NCIS friends.
Your Reviews are invited.
The Fantasy Affair
"Honey, I'm really not hungry," Nikki pleads as she tugs the taller man's black jacket. In the walk from their car to the restaurant, she's more concerned with the setting than her hunger. She knows his mind; thirty years of marriage tonight is enough to teach her thoroughly. This place is far too expensive for their budget.
"Al, honey, I know this place. You don't tip the Maitre 'd, you put him in your Will!"
"That's out of a TV show."
"Look, honey, we can afford it."
"I know, but...."
He pulls her into his arms, holding her close to his tuxedoed body. "Listen, hon, for our–"
A 'shump!' from behind him makes him stiffen, his chest thrust out before he pitches forward into her arms.
Nikki grabs him before he falls. She's horrified to look down her husband's body and see an arrow shaft protruding from his back. "AL!"
"Help!" she screams. Unable to hold his greater bulk, she falls to her knees. She looks up, about to scream again and sees a man running to them, braking to a halt a few feet in front of her. He's tall, wears a brown leather jacket and a backpack.
"What happened?" he asks, looking down at the man who lies face down on the parking lot pavement, the arrow sticking upward out of his back.
"What do you mean 'what happened'?" Nikki cries. "Look!" Al Morrison lies face down, unmoving, blood covering the back of his tuxedo jacket.
"Did you see who did it?" he asks, reaching over his shoulder into his backpack.
"No!" she cries hysterically.
"Yes, you did," he assures her, drawing from his bag a long length of flexible metal, one side of which is lined with a dozen blades resembling shark's teeth. Nikki, on her knees, tries to withdraw as he swings the metal. The sharp blades wrap twice about her throat, piercing deep as she screams.
Bracing himself, he gives a mighty yank and the blades cut deep, saw into her neck, cut off her shriek as they slice to her vertebrae. The blades nearly sever her head as they whip about. She's pulled forward in an explosive wash of blood and lands across the still body.
The man stands above the gory corpses, blood dripping from each of the long 'teeth' onto Nikki's back. He drops the weapon, the blades curling upon her.
Dining with Death
Dr. Donald Mallard rises from his chair in the Cocktail Lounge adjoining the main dining hall of La Chateau Julienne and tugs his tuxedo jacket into place. Across the room a tall young woman with long jet black hair, accompanied by an equally spectacular if slighter blonde woman, approach him.
The dark woman is intimately familiar, though her appearance is not. Normally he knows her to wear the most stunning - no, shocking attire. It's unusual to see her in a sleeveless black gown which sweeps down her body, and even the daringly deep 'V' is tastefully attractive, the whole effect less shocking than her 'normal' appearance.
The younger woman beside her, at 22 a mere four years her junior, is a picture of elegance. Her long blonde hair is artistically arrayed, sweeping down to an off-the-shoulders jade gown that hugs her svelte figure quite flatteringly.
"Good evening, my dears," Mallard says, employing all of his considerable charm. He gives the taller woman a discreet kiss on her cheek, social conventions allowing for more than a simple wave in greeting. "You look radiant."
"Thank you, Ducky." Abby tries not to blush. The dress is so far from what she's used to that she'd been self-conscious all evening. She has to admit, however, that nothing less would do justice to the man's tuxedo.
"And you must be Ms. Caldwell," he says, turning all his attention to the blonde woman. While not ignoring his friend, he manages to convey that her jade-clad companion has his full attention, a difficult thing to master but which he pulls off with aplomb.
"Dawn, this is Ducky." Abby is clearly concluding a buildup she had begun earlier.
"I'm happy to meet you, Dr. Mallard," Dawn says, extending her hand, her voice softened by shyness.
"Ducky, please." Far from shaking her hand, he takes it, bows and kisses it.
Dawn feels a tingle flash through her. She'd seen such Courtly manners in films, but no one had ever used such with her. She senses that with this man it's not an affectation, this is his normal manner. "Ducky," she smiles, her voice still quietly shy.
She had been as uncomfortable about this evening as Abby had been, even more so because lately she doesn't do well in social situations. When they'd gone shopping for clothes - rental, fortunately, rather than purchase - she'd been taken aback by her friend's suggestions, based upon the reputation of the place to which they had been invited. Upon seeing the tuxedoed man in this overwhelming setting, she's even more nervous. A meal here would cost an entire week's salary on a kindergarten teacher's wages. To be guests of a man she's never met is a daunting prospect.
She's amazed, however, to realize her discomfort has been put aside barely seconds after meeting this man - and all without her awareness.
"I must say, Ducky, this is quite a place you've chosen." Abby looking about the Lounge, vastly impressed. To her, 'eating out' is the Great Wall Chinese eat in / take out on her corner.
"I do not normally do so, but this is a special occasion. Dining out should always be a special occasion, and with such lovely ladies as my guests it shall be a memorable one."
Dawn is still awed. Her usual 'dining out' experiences are little different from Abby's, and this setting is still slightly intimidating. "Th - thank you. I - hope it...."
"Did you have any difficulty finding the Restaurant?" he inquires of Abby, mostly to save the young woman.
"No, but for some reason the parking lot is closed. I had to leave the 'batmobile' about a block away." The 'batmobile' is her nickname for her black convertible which, though it doesn't bear a resemblance to its fictional namesake, is a fully stocked mobile Forensics vehicle - which just happens to be appropriately decorated.
"I'd like to thank you, Dr. Mal - 'Ducky', for inviting me," Dawn says, beginning to recover. "And especially for everything you've done for me."
"It is my pleasure and privilege, Madam," he assures her gallantly.
About a week after Independence Day, in Clarkston Lakes, Virginia, Dawn had become the first victim of a serial rapist who had preyed upon that community. She'd called upon her lifelong friend Abby Sciuto for help and Abby had dropped everything - including most NCIS' regulations and a host of legal ones.
The case had been a tense one, both because of jurisdictional issues and the escalating violence of the assaults. It had ultimately led to the death of a Navy Lieutenant before the perpetrator was stopped in a horrific climax. Of the three known victims, Dawn was the least physically injured, though her emotional and psychological injuries had and still require psychiatric counseling to enable her to regain control of her life. She hopes for enough recovery to resume her duties as a kindergarten teacher – in 4 days.
It will be a longer time before she recovers. Today she's 'managing'.
This Labor Day weekend, the final period before school reopens, was planned as a vacation from Jefferson Parish, Louisiana. It's a final opportunity to get together with her old friend without the pressures of work and worse.
When Ducky had heard she was coming north, he'd suggested meeting her and conceived this plan for an evening the young woman would not soon forget.
"Here are our other guests," Ducky announces, turning their attention to the entrance where a tuxedoed Tim McGee escorts a redheaded woman. Tim is dashing in his tuxedo, but it's the woman beside him that captures their attention. When last Ducky and Abby had seen her, she'd been attired in her 'uniform' of black skirt and light blue shirt together with an inch high band of stiff white that encircled her throat. Now she wears a sky-blue, off the shoulders gown that accents her long red hair.
When Ducky had invited McGee and O'Mallory to this social evening, Abby hadn't been put out. It wasn't like he was inviting Ziva. And McGee, though he might possibly be linked in Dawn's mind with the incident in Clarkston Lakes (she'd even dreamed of him as her attacker), he's what Abby considers a 'safe date'. He's hardly likely to drive the young woman to a panic attack by his mere presence.
Dawn had told her she'd had too many of those over the past month, but Abby feels her friend can feel safe with Tim. And she also wants to see the man in a social engagement without Ziva.
His companion's presence is an unexpected but pleasant addition to the 'mix'. Certainly, gorgeous though she is - Abby certainly will give credit where it is due - neither woman could feel 'threatened' by her.
McGee and O'Mallory are old friends, the others having met her last week during the distressing events at St. Mary the Virgin Episcopal Church. The mystery had resulted in the deaths of at least two members of that Church and the disappearance of a third before the perpetrator had been caught. Following this McGee had proposed to NCIS Director Jenny Shepherd that O'Mallory's skills could best be used by filling a long-existing gap in the ranks of the NCIS Headquarters Division. In this capacity she could use her talents to assist the Agency in the same way her fellows do for the Uniformed Services.
"That's your new Chaplain?" Dawn whispers. Abby'd told her they'd recently hired a woman to the post, but it's still a surprise. For a woman to be a Priest is something Dawn had heard of, but as a Roman Catholic it's still something more of story than 'fact'.
"She is indeed, my dear," Ducky assures her sotto vocé just before the pair reaches them. "Good evening, my friends," he greets them warmly, focusing all his attention then on the woman. When she extends her hand to shake his, he takes and kisses it as he had Dawn's. "You are truly elegant, my dear."
"Thank you, Doctor," the red haired woman replies in a soft voice flavored with a strong Irish brogue. She's taken slightly aback by his courtly manner. The times they'd met previously he had been quite polite but on both occasions they had been on 'business'.
"Sorry, we're late," McGee apologizes. "There's some problem. Parking lot's half full but they have the gate closed, no one in."
"Think nothing of it, my boy, you're right on time," Ducky assures him.
"Miss Caldwell, it's good to see you again."
"It's good to see you too, Agent McGee."
"Tim, please; I'm off duty. May I present Reverend Siobhan O'Mallory, NCIS' newest Chaplain?" He introduces the woman with a warm smile of long, close friendship; pronouncing her name 'Sha-vawn'. "Siobhan, this is Dawn Caldwell, Abby's friend from Jefferson Parish, Louisiana."
"Pleased to meet you," Siobhan turns to Ducky, "and thank you for inviting me."
"You're most welcome, my dear. This is, in fact, something of a celebration in your honor as well. The first social event we've managed since your Appointment."
"Abby tells me you're new?" Dawn inquires, uncertain how to begin the conversation with the taller redhead.
"Yes, I've just been with Enkiss for a few days."
"Enkiss?" Dawn asks, momentarily perplexed. "Oh, I get it. I like that, it sounds softer, more feminine."
"Well we do have a woman Director," she points out with a smile, "and women do hold all the key positions."
"Amen," Abby agrees.
Ducky and Tim exchange bemused glances, feeling distinctly outnumbered. Ducky is not sure how the younger Agent feels about this assessment of NCIS' priorities, but for himself he would not have it any other way.
"And on that note--" Whatever he would have said is interrupted by the tones of McGee's cell phone. Even before Tim can open his tuxedo to remove the offending instrument hidden under his cummerbund, Ducky's phone starts playing a bagpipe rendition of 'Scotland the Brave'. The two men draw their phones and compare the single word upon each screen: [Gibbs].
"I should have turned it off," McGee says dismally, but he knows the futility of that prospect. Turning off his phone is the worst possible idea.
"What do you suppose the odds are that he is calling to wish us 'bon appetite'?"
"About the same as his calling to offer to pick up the check," McGee concludes wryly.
Ducky gives McGee a 'be my guest' gesture and he answers his phone. "Yes, Boss." While he listens, Abby's phone in her black wrist bag, which is barely large enough for the phone and other 'essentials', begins playing the theme from 'The Munsters'. Dawn giggles briefly, but quickly covers her lips. There is no joy in any of them.
"Ducky's here with me, so are Abby, Mother O'Mallory and Ms. Caldwell," he looks to the latter two women. "Hello." He gives them a helpless shrug as Ducky's and Abby's phones cease their dissonance. "Right, Boss," he closes his phone and his expression gives adequate expression of his thoughts. "A Navy Captain and his wife have been found dead," he reports, gives them the address and turns to their two guests. "I'm really sorry."
"It's all right," Dawn assures him, not allowing herself to think of two hours in a beauty parlor and a rented gown.
"Well, at least this time we will not have to journey far," Ducky comments.
He is actually surprised by the question. "That address is the parking lot of this establishment, the lot to which you were unable to gain admittance."
Thinking back, McGee is not entirely surprised. He'd found the restaurant on the corner of the block by the intersections of the streets, not by numbers. The Agents withhold all comment as they exit the building, turn left and work their way through a thickening crowd to the entrance of the restricted lot, their gold shields gain them admittance under the yellow 'Crime Scene' tape to the lot illuminated by the high headlight beams and flashing lights of Metro PD vehicles.
Siobhan O'Mallory and Dawn Caldwell remain on the rear of the growing crowd while the others enter. "You're not going in?" Dawn asks the taller woman.
O'Mallory shakes her head, not taking her eyes off the little she can see or her attention away from her prayers. She has her own shield in her purse, but what work she could carry out can be as efficiently accomplished at a distance.
"No; I'd just be in the way in there. Tomorrow morning I can administer Last Rites when Dr. Mallard has the bodies in his Autopsy Room. This evening all I can do is pray." From the corner of her eye, she sees Dawn cross herself with that familiar start that tells her the young woman had forgotten. She can't blame her, being this close to death is something she is not used to either.
She knows the encountering of dead bodies will be an occupational hazard of her new life from this time forward, but she is in no rush to begin that phase of her duties. She will perform that sad duty tomorrow in Autopsy. She could never get close during the Medical Examiner's investigation now; so, having an 'excuse' to remain behind with the only non-Enkiss member of the group, she doesn't hesitate to do so.
Completing her prayers, she turns to the blonde woman and sees that, under the colored rotating lights, the young woman's face is completely white. "Are you okay?" She considers it the stupidest question she's asked all week.
"Another - I – I have to – to get out of here."
Taking her arm, O'Mallory turns and cuts their way through the crowd that has expanded behind them. They quickly reach a secluded spot beside the Restaurant, near the linked fence but out of sight of the lot.
"It - it's -." It takes many moments for the woman to recover enough to speak. She looks up at the Priest with haunted eyes. "How much of what happened in Clarkston Lakes did Agent McGee tell you?"
"Just bits and pieces in the car."
Dawn takes a deep breath, trying to regain her composure. "How's your stomach?"
O'Mallory knows she's about to find out.
The Police have already established a perimeter about the bodies, keeping everyone out of the lot and yellow 'Crime Scene' tape stretches across the wide front entrance, preventing any access to the bodies of Albert and Nikita Morrison.
The sun has already set, casting the lot into heavy shadow, and while the high beams of the headlights illuminate the bodies, the flashing colors of the rotating lights on the Police RMPs do nothing to aid the scene. Ducky asks the Sergeant to have them turned off. When the MCR truck arrives, there'll be floodlights to set up.
"Okay, Doctor." The Officer-in-Charge of the scene has worked with Mallard before but that doesn't save him from a scathing commentary upon the police having touched the bodies to determine identity. A Navy Captain and his wife are in NCIS' jurisdiction, but it'd probably been safer for the officers had they gone through their own ME.
Ducky draws his ire to an early close. He's quite put out, not because of a missed social occasion but because any moving of the bodies is a disturbance of evidence.
As the lighting steadies, now only under the beams of two cars from wide angles, Ducky can begin his examination of the bloody corpses.
Little can be seen of the man's prone body under his wife's, while the vast amount of blood from her ripped and shredded neck has soaked much of the area. Her body lies draped across her husband's, the downward angle of her upper body allowing her blood to flow to cover him and all else. On her back lies a particularly gruesome weapon.
"Looks like whoever did it tried to cut her head off with that thing," McGee speculates, pausing in his collecting of pictures with his cell phone. Nearby, Abby circles the area, using her own camera phone to document the scene.
"That it does, my boy," Ducky replies grimly, stepping as close to the bodies as he can and coming down to balance on the balls of his feet just outside the pooled blood as Tim resumes his own documenting of the bodies.
"Don't worry, my friends," he tells them softly. "We will determine who has reduced you to this state - and why."