A/N: Written for the NFA Angst Challenge. WARNING: Major death fic. This is a story about loss and healing. ...and the losses are great.
A/N 2: I wrote this around the beginning of the season 6 premiere and so the relationships aren't canon anymore. It's set somewhere in season 5.
Disclaimer: I do not own NCIS. I think if the characters could actually comment, they'd be relieved that I don't. I wouldn't mind making money, but I'm not. I'm just doing it because I enjoy it.
Death and Destruction
by Enthusiastic Fish
Ambulances. Dust. Sirens. Dust everywhere. People screaming. Dust, hiding the true extent of the destruction. It was like being in the middle of a war zone...not the capital city of the most powerful country in the world. Just like the World Trade Center, the war had been brought home...only why here? Why now?
He had been so close to stepping inside.
"Tim? Can you hear me?"
Who had been inside?
"Is he deaf?"
What time was it? He had left his apartment early...but he wasn't sure how early it had been when he arrived. There had been traffic to contend with, a big pileup.
"Tim, look at me."
What was the time? Ten minutes could mean the difference between a building full of people and one nearly empty.
Nearly. It was never completely empty. Someone was in there. Someone had to be...it was just a matter of how many someones.
A hand passed in front of his face, but it couldn't block out the view he had, the flames, the wreckage...the evidence of mass casualties. It hadn't been early enough.
"He had a pretty bad knock on the head. He's lucky he didn't have worse. There are a couple of bruised ribs, plenty of lacerations. His sunglasses probably kept his eyes from being damaged by the flying glass."
Lucky. A sudden breeze momentarily cleared the view he had. He looked at the remnants. How many people had died? Sound cut in and out, one moment nearly inaudible, the next overwhelmingly loud.
"His sunglasses aren't doing him much good now. Tim?"
Who would have been in already? Oh, no...Abby... He stood up, not seeing anything except the piles of rubble, the fire still being fought, the struts which were still standing...holding nothing. Abby...she always came in early...to beat the sun. And Gibbs...Gibbs was always there. What if there had been a lengthy autopsy? Ducky...Jimmy... He had to get them out. He had to get them out before it was too late.
"Tim! Stop! Wait!"
He began to run toward the building...toward what used to be a building, not hearing anything, not feeling anything beyond his pounding heart. He had to save them. He had to. He had to erase the movie continually playing in front of his eyes of the building exploding.
Hands closed around his arms, around his chest. Finally, he broke his silence.
"No, let me go! I have to help them!"
"No, you don't. That's what the emergency crews are doing. You just need to let them get on with their work."
He pulled against the restraining arms.
"We don't know who's in there! We have to get them out! ...before it's too late!"
"Tim..." Whoever was speaking sounded like they were almost crying. "...it may already be too late."
He stopped trying to fight and stood, staring at the ruin, the destruction. A grief running as deep as the ocean began to churn inside him as he tried to breathe.
"We found someone!"
The cry was like a jolt of lightning through his veins and he ran toward the voice, ignoring the people calling after him again. A mass of firefighters had converged around the area that had been the main entrance. They were shifting debris in an eager but organized fashion...then, they stopped. He reached the group and looked down at the...the corpse. It could not be called a person any longer. Whatever had previously animated the body was long gone...and that was a tender mercy.
Tim took a long slow breath as he stared down at the body, the face torn apart by the blast, blood everywhere, legs twisted at unnatural angles, the feminine hands crushed by the collapse of the ceiling. There was a gaping hole through the left shoulder, marking the place where a large piece of shrapnel had torn through.
The comments were fast, furious...and filled with the kind of callous concern expressed by people who have to see this kind of thing every day.
"Man...it's a jigsaw puzzle."
"Who is it?"
"She had to have been near the center of the blast."
"There's no way she could have survived...what a mess."
"No one will be able to tell without..."
Tim listened to all the words being said. They washed over him adding to the unreality of the situation. One of the firefighters looked up at him, realized who he was and tried to apologize for their comments. Tim shook his head and stared, the tears blinding him.
"I know who she is."