Title: Dark Hallow
Disclaimer: I do not own NCIS. It's part of CBS and some others.
Warnings: Character Death
Pairing: No Official Pairing, but you could read in some pairings at the end.
Spookathon Prompt: For renatria who requested CSI/NCIS the "rational" characters deal well, the more "out there" ones freak;general would like: you name it, but tend toward dark fic
NFA Challenge: Operation Arcane
Beta: Demona - Thanks bunches!!
Summary: The team finds they aren't in Kansas anymore when something goes hinky in Abby's lab. (bit of a supernatural touch; character death)
Tony cracked his eyes open, but immediately shut them again. Once the sharp, mind-numbing pain subsided, he carefully opened them again. Blinking a few times to clear his vision, Tony found he was no longer in Abby's lab where he last remembered being.
He pushed up slightly from the rough ground he found himself and regretted it when his whole body started to ache. He heard some muffled groans coming from his right side and glanced over to see Gibbs going through the same wake up process he was experiencing.
"Boss? What the hell just happened?" Tony questioned with a slightly shaky voice.
"Don't know DiNozzo. Was hoping you could tell me."
Finally getting into a sitting position, Tony glanced around and saw Abby laying a short distance away and McGee next to her. Tony forgot about his own soreness as tried to move quickly in Abby and McGee's direction.
"Ow!" he cried out as he collapsed back to the ground.
"DiNozzo!" Gibbs shouted out as he hurried over to the downed agent.
"My foot, Boss," he said in a pained voice. "Think it's broke. Go check on Abby and McGee, I'll just sit here," he said with a grimace.
"Abs?" Gibbs voice carried on the air. "Come on Abs, wake up. Your computer is on fire."
"Gibbs!" Abby's voice cracked. "Don't do that again. Don't tell me my baby's on fire cause I'm not falling for--" Her voice cut off as she noticed her current surrounding were no the lab she last remembered being in. "Gibbs, where are we?"
"Not in Kansas anymore?" Tony asked from his seated position. At a glare from Gibbs he added on, "Shutting up Boss."
"Don't know Abs. McGee! You gonna join us!" Gibbs moved from Abby's side to lightly tap McGee's face.
McGee blinked groggily before responding, "I'm awake Boss."
"Good. Now you can help the rest of us figure out what the hell happened."
"Hey Boss?" Tony had slid across the ground to get closer to the others. "Damn, these were $150 and only worn twice," he muttered, looking down at his ripped pants.
"You got something DiNozzo or were you just enlightening us on your spending habits?"
"Ah, no Boss. It's just that this wooded area looks a lot like the wooded on the film clip Abby and I had just started watching in the lab. The film from the crime scene."
"You saying we're inside a film clip?"
"When you say it like that Boss, it sounds crazy, but that's all I got."
Abby looked around at the others before glancing back down at her finger. "I'm bleeding," she stated as she took a closer look at the small puncture wound. "I cut it on the projector just as you and McGee walked into the lab, Gibbs." Abby let her mind filter back to what had happened. "Tony was saying the movie looked like a Sleepy Hallow set up cause it had panned over a wooden, covered bridge. The speed of the film reel was a little off so I reached down to tweak it when I cut my finger on something. Then I felt this tug and looked up to see you two in front of the projection and Ziva was over at the door. Oh god Gibbs!"
"Abs, calm down. What is it?" Gibbs reached over to pull her close to him, but she pushed away and stood up to pace over the rough ground.
"No! Just no! This can't be real. We aren't here and this is just a dream. A horrible, twisted dream and I'm completely giving up caffeine for life when I wake up. Gibbs? Gibbs... tell me this isn't real. Tell me I just fell asleep in front of my computer running some fingerprints. Tell me Gibbs!"
Gibbs stood up and pulled her close, "Wish I could Abs, but I'm really here and I sure as hell don't have dreams with DiNozzo in them."
"Love you too Boss," Tony added, trying to lighten the mood.
"Tony," Gibbs looked over at his senior field agent, "think you can walk on that foot? We need to do some surveillance, see if we can figure out where we are and if there are people nearby."
"I'll need some help, but yeah," Tony admitted a bit quietly. "Or you can leave me here and go check things out."
"Not leaving anyone alone until we know where here is. We go, you go."
With that, discussion time was over as Gibbs walked over to pull Tony to his feet. He slung Tony's arm over his shoulder and placed his own around Tony. "One of these days I won't have to carry you like this DiNozzo."
"But then what would you do for fun," Tony quipped back. Dropping his voice a little more, he added, "Thanks Boss." His answer was a grunt from Gibbs.
They decided to head south on the path in front of them, letting the conversation what they knew about the case that seemed to be the source of their predicament.
"So, we had the body of a decapitated marine, no head to be found," Tony ticked off items from the case on his free hand. "His bunkmate was missing and even with the decapitated body, the only blood evidence was on an old movie projector that had hit the end of the reel by the time we arrived. Did I miss anything?"
"The part where we are somehow in the movie, Tony?" McGee put in.
"You know Probie, beheadings, creepy wooded areas and," he paused and squinted ahead of them. "And a wooden, covered bridge," he pointed off in the distance. "If I didn't know any better, I would say we are in Sleepy Hallow. Don't know if I want it to be the 1999 version with Johnny Depp and Christina Ricci or the 1980 made for TV version with Jeff Goldblum though. While the Johnny Depp version-"
How Gibbs managed to smack him in the head while still supporting his weight, Tony would never learn.
"Abby," Gibbs said to catch the Goth girl's attention. Ever since her minor panic, Abby had remained noticeably quiet. "You okay?"
"Sure Gibbs," she replied in a slightly sarcastic tone. "I mean for someone who is somehow stuck in an 8mm movie reel, I'm feeling perfectly fine."
"Abs," Gibbs started again, but Abby cut him off.
"I'm fine Gibbs."
He gave her meaningful look hoping to convey his message that he didn't buy that she was 'fine', but he did back off for the moment. "When we which that bridge that DiNozzo thinks he sees, we will stop for the night."
They continued on in a silence that stayed even after they sat on the ground at the foot of the bridge. The sun had just started to set and they had split the candy bar Tony had found stuffed in his pocket.
Abby suddenly made a startled sound and raised her hand. Gibbs cast her an impatient look before barking, "What is it Abs?"
"What is that?" she asked in a hushed voice.
They all turned in the direction she pointed and in the distance saw a black shadow in the fading light. There was a fiery glow at the top, where the head would be. At the moment, it was stopped, but they watched in fascinated horror as the part of the shadow moved and the fiery glow changed locations to the side of the shadow, leaving an empty place where the head would have been.
Tony was the first to find his voice. "I've got a bad feeling about this Boss," he said quietly.
"You and me both DiNozzo. McGee," he looked over at the younger agent. "Take Abby and head west. Follow the water for a bit, then move to the trees and keep going west. Move as quickly and quietly as you can."
Abby's mouth dropped open. "But what about you and Tony, Gibbs," she hissed out.
"Abby," he said quietly, pulling her into to a hug, "this is not debatable. You go with McGee and I'll stay back with Tony." He leaned in to whisper in her ear. "I'll keep him alive."
"You better," she mumbled into his shoulder before she moved from the hug.
Gibbs looked hard into McGee's eyes before speaking to him one last time. "You take care of her. Tony and I'll catch up when the coast is clear. Understand?"
"Got it Boss," McGee said quietly.
"Be careful Probie," Tony added as they moved away. He turned to Gibbs with a glint of fear in his eyes. "Boss, you should go with them. They need you more than I do."
Gibbs took Tony's face into his hands and stared for a long moment at his agent. Then he released his hold to lightly tap the back of head. "I've never left a man behind and I'm not about to start with you. Got it?"
"Got it Boss," Tony echoed McGee's affirmation as Gibbs pulled him to his feet to move. They cast one quick look at the shadowy figure and saw it start to move.
Back in Abby's Lab…
Ziva watched with wide eyes as the headless horseman chased her teammates through the wooded pathways. "Ducky," she said in a desperate voice, "we have to save them. We can't – we can't leave them in there to die."
"I know my dear," Ducky responded by placing a hand on her shoulder. "But how can we help them? They are there and we are here."
"They are there and…" Ziva's voice trailed off in thought. Finally, her eyes lit up and she stopped short of punching Ducky in the shoulder. "That's it Ducky! If I repeat what Abby did, I can go there and they should come here, just like the dead marine!"
"But Ziva," Ducky kept his voice calming, "if you go in there, then you would be trapped until someone switched places with you."
Ziva looked up at Ducky, controlling the emotions playing behind her eyes. "I know," she said quietly. "But they are my team, my family and I will not leave them there to die if I can do something about it."
Taking both of her shoulders and pulling her into a hug, Ducky spoke into her ear. "You know that Jethro will turn right around and return to bring you back. Anthony too."
"I know. That's why you have to destroy this infernal thing right after the switch occurs."
"But-" before Ducky could finish his argument, Ziva interrupted.
"It's the only way Ducky. I'll do this and they'll be safe. Can you make sure it happens?"
Ducky pulled back and stared into her eyes for what seemed like eternity. "Alright my dear."
Ziva blinked back the wetness from her eyes. "I'll bring them back Ducky and you will take care of them."
"That I promise you, my dear," Ducky replied, blinking back some of his own tears. "Let me move our dead marine from the area before you go."
"Actually Ducky," Ziva halted him with a hand on his arm, "it might be better, if this works that is, if I take his body with me into there. Then he can still be just a missing marine instead of questions as to how his body ended up in Abby's lab."
"You are right, my dear. This is going to be a hard case to explain all around. I suppose one less item to worry about will help."
Ziva glanced at the flickering projection a gasped. "My god Ducky…"
The two watched as the headless horseman gained ground on Abby's location. Ziva snapped into action and walked over to the projector in order to recreate what she saw Abby do several hours before. Saying a short prayer in Hebrew, she looked over to Ducky.
"If you stay just outside the lab door, you should be safe. That's-- That's where I was," she paused and took a breath. "Ducky… Tell them-- Tell them that I--"
Ducky regarded her with a soft expression. "They know my dear. But I'll tell them just the same."
"Thank you," she replied. "Now, all I should have to do is cut my finger," she pricked her finger on the metal piece that still had Abby's blood. "That should do it."
She looked up at the projection and felt a slight tug, but just before the light enveloped her, she saw a horrible sight; Abby was lying with her back on the ground and the horseman was right above her about to swing his sword.
"Ab--!" was echoed through the lab as the world disappeared around her.
"McGee!!" Ducky jumped as the shout changed from Ziva to Abby's panicked voice. Then he took in the disheartening scene on the lab floor.
Tony lay sprawled on the floor next to Gibbs, their arms slung over each other's shoulders in a way that suggested one had been helping the other to walk. Worse of all was Abby and McGee. Abby was curled on her side shivering, eyes wide open, but it was McGee's headless body on top of her that made Ducky's heart fall.
"My dear boy," he murmured. Gently he reached down and moved McGee's body away from Abby. Then he grabbed a lab coat from the nearby hook and draped it over the body.
Ducky allowed himself a moment to gather himself before moving to destroy the damned contraption that caused the horrors in the first place. He knew if he put it off any longer, Jethro would not allow it to happen when he came to his senses. He paused momentarily as he looked back over at McGee's body and made a quick decision.
"It's for the best," he muttered and set about his tasks.
"Why the hell did you do it Duck!?" Ducky winced at the onslaught of shouting he had been receiving since both Gibbs and Tony had awaken. It had carried through the remaining clean up and covering up in the lab to the hospital where they awaited word on Abby's condition.
"It was the only way Jethro. She knew it and I saw it. It was her decision to make. You are not to blame for what happened. Either of you," he cast a quick glance at Tony's pained expression.
"How can you know I'm not to blame Duck?" Gibbs asked in a much quieter tone. "We don't know what the hell that was that happened. And now I've got an 'unsolved' case surrounding a decapitated body, a 'missing' marine and two missing agents, one of which we know is dead and can't say anything about. Let's not forget Tony's broken foot and Abby. God Duck, what are we going to do?"
Ducky walked over and placed a reassuring hand on Gibbs' shoulder. "The best we can, Jethro, the best we can."
Just then the three men glanced up at the approaching doctor. "Are you the ones who came in with Ms. Sciuto?"
"Yes," Ducky cut in before either Gibbs or Tony could frighten the man away. "I'm Dr. Mallard and they are Special Agents Jethro Gibbs and Anthony DiNozzo. How is young Abigail?"
"Well, it appears that the shock of the mugging and attempted rape have caused her to slip into a catatonic state," he pause looking over at Tony. "If you were the one who witnessed and saved her from the attack, the police wanted to take your statement for the record."
"We can take care of that later doctor. Just tell us what you aren't telling us." As an afterthought, Tony added a quiet, "Please."
One Week Later
The two agents stood in the darkened hospital room watching Abby stare at the ceiling with unblinking eyes. The only sound was the heart monitor's steady beeping.
"Boss?" Tony's voice broke through the silence. "Do you think… Do you think we'll ever get her back?"
Gibbs cast a look at his senior—no, his only field agent. He had never handled expressing emotions to others well, but, at the moment, he knew Tony needed him just as much as Abby did. He placed his hand on Tony's shoulder and gave a slight squeeze, "I wish I knew DiNozzo. Wish I knew."
"The doctors earlier… I overheard them talking about her being placed in some kind of home or something. Saying she would most likely never be responsive again. They can't, I mean we won't let them. Will we?"
"No DiNozzo, we won't. Abby's ours and we are going to take care of her. Got it?"
Tony gave a small smile for the first time since the nightmare had started. "Got it Boss."
Three Months Later…
Tony let his fingers trail through the dark hair beneath his hand. He kept repeating the process, hoping it would sooth the dark haired girl as much as it did him.
"Hey Abs," he murmured after some time had passed. "You'd never guess what happened the other day. Apparently our little autopsy gremlin has been having, in Ducky's words, an inner-office tryst. Seems him and our probationary Agent Lee have been knocking boots all over headquarters. Rumor has it they even got it on under Gibbs' desk one night. Can you imagine it? I never thought Palmer would have had the balls for it."
Tony looked up when he heard the click of the bedroom door. His eyes locked with the blue eyes of his boss. 'Any change?' was mouthed to him. He responded with a negative shake of his head.
"You remember Sarah? Tim's little sister? She took all of his notes and even his 'free writing' and finished the last two chapters of Rock Hollow: The Continuing Adventures of LJ Tibbs. It goes on sale next week, but Gibbs has connections and managed to snag us an advance copy. I told him we could use a little comic relief for a change and that you really needed to find out what happened with Goth forensic scientist Amy Sutton. So, without further ado…"
Tony tapped out a little drum roll on the headboard as Gibbs settled in on the other side of Abby; the book propped open in his hand.
"…Rock Hollow: The Continuing Adventures of LJ Tibbs, presented in stereo by Leroy Jethro Gibbs, with color commentary provided by DiNozzo Productions. Please turn off all cell—shutting up now Boss."
Gibbs let his hand fall from the top of Tony's head to rest over Tony's hand that was still stroking through Abby's hair. Tony gave him a small smile as he lightly spoke, "Let's see how well our little Probie did on the sequel Boss."
He settled back with half-closed eyes as Gibbs started to read. Abby continued to stare into space, just as she had since the time they returned minus two of their family.