Author's notes: Well. Here's the final part. I'm both glad and sad this is over. It has been a great experience for me to write NCIS and combine it with SG-1. It was quite a challenge to keep everything within character and divide my attention between the characters, although I gladly admit that Gibbs and Jack got more than a fair part of it, they are, after all, my favorites.
Now I know it might be hard to except a case without it being completely solved, but you know, that's just the way it is with conspiracies. Some pawns in the game get caught, but the ones pulling the strings stay out of harm's reach. It is just fuel for us writers to get some more stories out, grin. And then again, we all know that Jack will get the bad guys in the end, and we know what will eventually happen to Simmons.
About the stargate project? Well, you know it would have to be kept secret. And Gibbs was not to find out. No matter how hard he pressed. I hadn't press him that hard, btw, 'cause I think Gibbs is smart enough to know how far he can go and when to back down.
There's no further delaying this... on with the final chapter. Basically I wanted it to end the way it ended, the rest of the chapter is me just stretching it a bit into a full chapter. I hope the last paragraph, especially the last sentence, will leave you with a grin on your face. If so, my efforts in finishing this story will have succeeded.
GIBBS' RESIDENCE, SOMEWHERE IN WASHINGTON
The first two days at home had passed in some sort of blur for Gibbs. Coming home, he'd been exhausted from the trip and had barely made it into his living room where he'd crashed on the couch.
When he'd come around later that day, he'd found himself covered by a blanket and hooked back up to the IV-pole. He'd wondered briefly how Jack had managed to put that back together with only one functional hand, but had felt too weary to ask.
Ducky had come by to change the dressings, a painful procedure that had left him worn out. He'd slept most of the time, unable to keep up appearances and to keep a conversation going and although he knew his team had been stopping by for visits, he'd missed most of it.
The third morning he woke up feeling a lot better. His head was clearer, his shoulder still hurt, but less than before and the tremors that had wracked his body were gone.
He was just deciding whether to try and get up when O'Neill came into his bedroom. The colonel crossed the room to open the curtains before turning, staring at him intently.
"Morning. You look much better today."
Gibbs slowly sat up, throwing aside the blankets before sliding his legs off the bed. "Feel better," he commented.
"Good. Your fever broke yesterday, the rest was your body catching up with sleep. Fancy some breakfast?"
Gibbs stared at the colonel, momentarily wondering when, but more importantly how, he'd gotten from the couch to his bedroom, not to mention who had managed to get him out of his clothes and into one of his more comfy tracksuits.
Jack grinned. "Don't ask," he advised, then turned to leave the room.
Jethro frowned before deciding it was probably better if he didn't know. He sat still for a while, looking slowly around as he tried to adjust at being upright. He was neither nauseous nor dizzy, but, as Abby would call it, something was hinky. It was probably his body needing to get used to the change in position.
Once he felt more secure about the sitting up part, he slowly rose to his feet and headed for the bathroom. Rinsing his face with cold water felt incredibly refreshing and a quick brushing of his teeth got rid of the foul taste in his mouth. Almost as good as new, he thought, although he really could use a shower. He'd had to ask Ducky later.
His stomach growled, making him realize that he was hungry. Hadn't Jack said something about breakfast? He slowly walked towards the kitchen and smiled when he could smell the coffee.
Jack was behind the counter, fixing breakfast. He'd made toast, had bacon in a frying pan and, Jethro's senses hadn't betrayed him, had two large cups ready with hot steaming coffee.
"Sit down," the colonel motioned as he grabbed the frying pan to deposit the bacon on the plates.
Jethro stepped closer to help, but O'Neill threw one look at him and he sighed, stepped back and set down at the table, watching with wonder as the Air Force Colonel managed with one hand.
The cup of coffee was placed in front of him first. The plate followed suit. Then the Colonel brought his own stuff over and sat down on the other chair across the table.
"You got handy, doing all that one-handed," Gibbs commented as he tried to decide between sipping coffee or eat a slice of toast first. The coffee won, he lifted the cup, smelled the aroma and sipped.
"Got a lot of practice over the years," Jack replied. "Wished you had some oatmeal, though. Should have gone shopping, but driving is a kinda no-no."
Jethro grinned as he started spreading some butter on his toast. "So," he asked between two bites, "what did I miss?"
"Oh," O'Neill replied lightly, as he lifted his bandaged hand, "not much to do, except watching reruns of The Simpsons on television, entertain your team when they stopped by... Same old, same old."
"The Simpsons?" Gibbs asked, wondering.
Jack shrugged. "Can't get enough of it! Your agent, McGee, was kind enough to bring me a bunch of tapes."
Having no idea what kind of show The Simpsons was, Jethro decided not to ask. He finished his toast, took a few bites from the bacon but didn't like the way his stomach responded to that, so he pushed the plate aside and downed his coffee.
When O'Neill was also finished, Jethro got up and wanted to help getting the plates back on the counter, but Jack wouldn't let him. "Ack!" With his pointing finger of his good hand raised, the Colonel looked at the barely recovered agent. "You get comfortable on the couch. I'll clean up here."
"Least I can do is help," Gibbs objected.
"Nope," O'Neill responded resolutely. "Your forensic tornado is coming to see you any minute now. Do you have any idea what she'll do to me if she finds you up, doing the dishes?"
Gibbs had to smile at that description. "Abby's coming?"
"Oh, yeah. She's been over a few times... been worried 'bout you... The first night? Wild horses couldn't drag her away."
Jethro frowned. He didn't know what disturbed him more, the fact that Abby had been taking care of him all night or the fact that he didn't remember it at all.
"Ducky is coming over as well," Jack continued. "Said he'd probably be able to stitch your wound today. Now go and get your butt on that couch, Jethro. You're doing better but you still gotta take it easy and rest. You lost a lot of strength the last couple of days."
Giving in, Gibbs left the kitchen and entered the living room. He was barely settled when he heard his front door opening, followed by quick, short clicking of shoes in the hallway. Next he knew, Abby came rushing in, rambling non-stop. "Gibbs! Gibbs! You're up! You're looking much better, Gibbs, you got some color back on your cheeks. How do you feel? Did you have breakfast yet? And coffee? I was so worried about you! But you're better now, right?"
She hurried forward, bent over and gently wrapped her arms around him. "I'm so glad you're up, Gibbs. Are you sure you're okay?"
"Fine, Abs, I'm fine," he replied, patiently waiting for her to let go.
"Are you sure?" the lab-girl pulled her arms back then placed one hand on his forehead, the other grabbing his wrist. "Shh," she instructed as she counted inwardly. Nodding, she then smiled, "feels better. But we'll let Ducky be the judge of that."
She wanted to let go, but this time, Jethro grabbed her by the arm, pulling her a little closer. Looking intently into her eyes first, he made an effort to reach her and pressed a gentle kiss on her cheek. He wasn't a man of many words, but she understood and whispered, "You're welcome."
Getting up, she ran a hand over her short red-white gingham skirt as if to straighten it, then looked into the direction of the kitchen. "I'm going to help with the dishes. You," she pointed, her face indicating she wasn't one to mess with, "stay put."
He grinned and watched her disappear, then leant back and closed his eyes.
The next time he opened his eyes, Jethro glanced in surprise at Ducky, who was seated in the living-room telling one of his famous stories to Colonel O'Neill.
Stopping in mid-sentence, Ducky looked at him with a huge grin on his face. "There you are, Jethro. Slept well, I presume?"
Staring from Ducky to O'Neill then to the plates with sandwiches on the table he asked while getting into a sitting position, "What time is it?"
"It is lunch time, Jethro," Ducky answered, "you slept through the morning."
O'Neill gave him one of those I-told-you-so looks before picking up a plate and starting to eat a sandwich.
"Are you hungry, Jethro?" Ducky asked, getting up to hand Gibbs a plate as well.
Gibbs nodded and took a bite as well, still amazed at the time passing without him noticing.
Ducky ate, but continued his story in between bites. When they were all finished, Ducky went to grab his medical bag from the hallway then sat down on the coffee table close to Gibbs, motioning for the special agent to lie down. "I'll take a look at your shoulder now, Jethro."
Once Gibbs' sweatshirt was out of the way and the bandages removed, Ducky inspected the wound with great care. He nodded to himself, "Yes, the infection is gone. I think it is safe to close it now." He'd brought the necessary equipment with him, so he took it from his bag and gently injected a local anesthetic on both sides of the wound before deftly setting to work.
Thirty minutes later, the wound was closed and freshly bandaged, and Jethro was sound asleep again.
Gibbs woke up a couple of hours later to find the living room silent and empty. Frowning, he lifted his left hand to tentatively feel at his shoulder. Ducky had apparently managed to put his shirt back down, and his right arm was nicely resting in a sling. He sat up in confusion, wondering where everybody was and how long he'd slept this time.
After checking his kitchen, Jethro went down the stairs to his basement and found Colonel O'Neill one-handedly sanding the ribs of his boat. "Hey," Jack greeted him as he looked up from his work. "You okay?"
"Yeah," Gibbs replied, a little confused. "For a guy who keeps falling asleep..."
"Don't worry," Jack grinned, "sleep is the best medicine."
"Me?" Jack asked in surprise. "What about me?"
"How are you?"
"Oh, I'm fine," Jack replied. "Took the liberty of working on your boat. The Simpsons are nice but even I get bored of them after hours of reruns. Hope you don't mind."
Jethro shook his head as he inspected the sanded ribs by running his good hand over them. Sadly enough it would take a bit longer before he could start working on it himself. Heading over to his workbench he hopped up onto it as he had no chairs in the basement. With a grimace, he asked, "so what happens now?"
Jack looked up. "I'll head back to Colorado tomorrow."
That was the bare minimum of information, but then again, Jethro realized he hadn't exactly been specific with his questioning either. "The guy, who got away?"
"Oh, don't worry," Jack waved him off. "We'll get him, eventually."
"Won't do them any good with that lock, will it?"
"No, guess not. What happens to Colonel Makepeace?" Jethro wanted to know.
"He stays in prison," Jack shrugged. "I'll have a word with him, about the stuff he had collected. Having no evidence sucks, but knowing what was in it at least is something. Hopefully I know a little of what to expect."
"What do they want?"
"To shut us down."
"Why?" Gibbs wondered, without knowing what it was they wanted to shut down to begin with.
"So they can control it. Do things their way. Which isn't our way."
Well, that was helpful information, Gibbs thought. Then again, he should know better than ask questions about things Jack wasn't supposed to be discussing.
"They go far, to get what they want," he remarked, thinking about the torture and murder of Lieutenant Makepeace, the kidnapping of O'Neill, the threats that had been made involving General Hammond's grandchildren.
"Let them come," O'Neill muttered. "I'm ready. Won't go down without a fight."
"To what end?"
Jack stared at him.
"What if they win?" Gibbs pressed on.
"We'll cross that bridge when we get to it, Jethro."
"Wish I could do more to help," Jethro answered sincerely. Despite having no clue about what the people of the so-called SGC were doing and why, his gut told him it was something important, something dangerous and something the Air Force colonel played a huge role in. He'd come to like and respect the man a lot during the time they'd spent together and he got the impression that feeling was mutual. "Watch your back, Jack."
"Always, Jethro," Jack responded. "Always. As Daniel would like to say, I've got eyes and ears in the back of my head and more lives than a cat. Thanks for going though all that effort to find me. Appreciate it."
Gibbs nodded in acceptance. He'd done it gladly and would do it again, if needed.
"You've got a good team, too," Jack continued. "They're good at what they do and I've seen they care a lot about you. It's important, to have a team like that."
"I know. Just don't tell DiNozzo," Jethro agreed. "Yours isn't bad either... Although I still haven't figured out what you need a linguist and archaeologist for."
O'Neill smirked. "And you haven't met Murray yet..."
They fell silent, both musing over their lives, their team, the past case. O'Neill was sanding again, slowly and precisely, seeming to enjoy it and Gibbs just peacefully watched. He would love to join in but for now he was just glad he could stay awake.
After an hour of silence between the two men, O'Neill put the sandpaper down, brushed a hand over his face and through his hair and then dug up his cell from the pocket of his pants.
Comfortably leaning back against the wall, Jethro wondered who he was calling and watched in silence as O'Neill flipped it open, hitting one of the speed-dials. A wide smile appeared on his face as he heard who Jack was calling and what he was asking.
"Yo, Carter... if I start building an airplane out of wood... Can you make it fly?"
A/N: It is truly amazing how many hits this story is still getting. Thank you all for reading, for putting it on your fav-lists. I am so glad you like it. I have finally made the last chances based on the suggestions made by Lynette so I hope it is better English now. Special thanks, to her and kate, for beta-ing this for me. And, as always: I still love to hear what you think...