Disclaimer: Everything you recognize is not mine!
Why yes, I decided to make a multichapter fic after my KindRed premise. I liked the scenario, so I went with it. There will be pairings, one is point blank obvious even in this first chapter. I'll try to keep it more Mentalist than NCIS, but can't promise anything, as I know my NCIS crew better than my Mentalist. Either way, enjoy!
They made an odd sight on the bikini-clad beach.
Seven Roman Catholic nuns in summer habit and one pigtailed Goth woman, dressed to bare nearly all, carrying a bag containing a bottle of SPF 75 and a black lace parasol. The nuns were gawked at as they tried their hand at beach volleyball with a black, skull printed inflatable beach ball. The woman was wolf-whistled as she went for a dive, keeping the ball from the sand. Her assets had shown themselves off marvelously during the play according to many watching. Some thought it, then prayed for forgiveness. The woman was playing with nuns, after all.
Abigail Scuito stood and growled, brushing the sand off of her chest and stomach. Sand-burn, ouch! She turned with a lopsided smile to Sister Mary Clarence who tutted, "I told you to put some clothes on, girl! Now look what you've done!"
"Sorry, Sister…and it's my skin, it'll heal. No harm, no foul. Nice spike, by the way."
"Thanks." The nun's teeth were a flash of white in her dark face, "Never expected you'd be able to drag this group of fuddy-duddies out here anyway; when's the last time any of them have even seen a beach? I'm not even gonna try to guess when you last saw surfers." The nun moved swiftly, returning the ball to the other side of the court.
"It was probably a while for most of them," Abby said as she set the spike, "seeing as DC's not known for its beaches. I'm just glad you managed to convince your Mother Superior to let you join us."
"Let me? Oh, honey, you've got a lot to learn about my Mother Superior." The nun spat out a mouthful of sand, brushing down her habit idly. "She's the one who just blocked your spike."
"Ah. Up for a game herself, then?"
"Quite. Her and Sister Mary Roberts and Sister Mary Patrick are a lively group, once you convince Mother it's worth it to have fun, of course."
"Of course." Abby agreed, catching the ball instead of hitting it back. Something beyond the nuns on the other side of the net was...wrong. What was it? She ventured over, ducked under the net and towards the man that had caught her attention.
He was kinda cute, in a military way. The required buzz-cut and dog-tags gave him away, as did the "Semper Fi" tattoo across his bicep. His eyes were Gibbs-blue, but that wasn't it, either…what was it? That was when it came to her. His eyes. They were dead.
He was dead. Shit.
Abby realized she must have spoken the last as Sister Mary Clarence whipped a cell phone out of her habit pocket, punching in 911. Abby scrabbled in her bag, ripping out her own phone and speed-dialing automatically.
"Hey, Abs." She'd never quite realized how calming his voice was to her until now. "What's up?" Thank God he'd picked up.
Alone in the silence of his elevator "office", NCIS Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs took a moment to crack his neck and pop his shoulder. Ahh, that was much better. He wouldn't admit this to anyone, but he was getting to feel the strain he put on his body day after day. One of the reasons he didn't do as much of the "tackle and take down" on the criminals any more. Too likely he'd hurt himself.
Now, he didn't mind Abby fawning over him when he got hurt. He would just prefer to be able to remain on the job. Thinking about Abby got him hoping she was enjoying her vacation. The thought of her constantly surrounded by her bowling-nuns caused his lips to twitch. A persistent ring brought him out of his thoughts. He didn't even have to glance at the screen to know who it was. She'd been the one to program his phone to play The Addams Family when she called.
"Hey, Abs. What's up?"
"Well…" The hesitation in her voice made him pause. Abby, his Abby, Miss "Mile-A-Minute" was hesitating before speaking? Something had to be wrong. Very wrong.
"Abby, is everything ok?"
"Yeah, we're all fine, butIfoundadeadguyonthebeachwhenwewereplayingbeachvolleyballandthepolicehavebeencalledbutthedeadmanisaMarinesowecouldinvest -"
Oh boy. He gave himself credit for understanding even part of that. "Abby, calm down and slow down. Are the police there yet?"
"No…but if you can get me talking to Ducky I borrowed a video camera, and I think I just rigged it to play on the second video feed from Autopsy to my lab, so he can take a look at the body. The problem would be there's no sound from his end to mine, where I need it. One of the sisters here has my camera, she's taking photos where I think we need them, but I want Ducky to corroborate me."
"Ok, Abby, I was on my way down to see him. We caught Seaman Johnson's murderer, turns out it was his brother. Would have gone a lot faster if you were here."
"Oh, Gibbs," her near-coo of his name made it hard for him to not laugh, "that's sweet of you to say. Now get me Ducky!"
"Working on it, I can't make the elevator move any faster than it is, Abby." She took the warning in his voice to heart, and remained silent the rest of the way down. "I don't think you should be doing this…"
"But I'm like a first responder, Gibbs, I've got to. Besides, I'm too curious for my own good, you know that!" He chuckled appreciatively at her tone, shaking his head. "That's it, laugh, my silver-haired fox. You'll see when I come back home just how much you laugh then." Her purred words caused his next chuckle to die in his throat. Damn it! He stepped through the near-silent doors to Autopsy, the steel tables shining sinisterly under lamps. Neither man in the suite had noticed his approach.
"I'm putting you on speaker, Abby. So watch it. Yes, it's just Ducky and Palmer, but still…" The elder of the two men relaxing in the office jumped to attention at his nickname, while the second looked up briefly before returning to his book, glasses perched crooked on his nose. Jimmy Palmer looked uncomfortably cramped in his chair, Gibbs thought, before returning his attention to the matter at hand.
"Alright. Hi, Ducky!" The voice of the nearly ever-perky forensic scientist made the Scotsman pause in his address to Gibbs.
"Hello, Abigail. I do hope you're enjoying your vacation. What brings you to speak to me?" Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard glanced at the phone in his taller friend's hand, gesturing for Gibbs to place it on his desk.
"I've got a dead Marine out here. Could you turn your video-feed to channel two? You should be able to see me then." In a moment, the pair could indeed see the face of their green-eyed Goth.
"We've got you, Abs. Now show us what you have." Gibbs commanded her briefly, resisting the urge to do or to say anything that might make his companions in the room suspicious. But damn, she looked good in her bikini!
The forensic scientist began panning down the dead man's body, stopping where Ducky wanted a better look. "Dogtags say he's Private Collin Fairbanks." Gibbs borrowed Ducky's phone to relay the information up to his team, then retook his place in front of the monitor. "…I'm having Sister take pictures worthy of one of your meat puzzles, Ducky. And don't worry, Gibbs, I'm having her stay in one spot, I know the importance of not contaminating the crime scene." The camera whipped over to the woman standing beside Abby, causing the men watching to go dizzy until it leveled out at the face of a black nun. She paused a moment, waved, readjusted her wimple, then went back to her pictures. Another whip brought the camera back to the body.
By this point Jimmy had gotten curious, put down his book and extricated himself from his chair. "Dr. Mallard, could I talk to Abby? I think I've spotted something." The elder gentleman nodded his agreement, adjusting his plaid bowtie. Jimmy needed more practice doing work like this himself, all the better for him to become a full fledged medical examiner.
"Abby," the bespectacled assistant asked, "what's in his right hand?"
"Um…" She zoomed in on the paper there. "Looks like a ticket stub from the Boardwalk. The Sisters and I were planning on going there after we finished our game, but-"
"Abby!" Gibbs warned; this wasn't time for her to go into one of her tangents. Then again, it would be worse for Ducky to start in on one of his.
"But now we can't, because of the dead Private! You should have let me finish, Gibbs!"
He tried to think of something to counter her reply, but before he could get a word in edgewise, there was a faint shout from the other end of the line. "Hey, you can't be there, this is a crime scene!" The camera flailed around until it was focused on a dark haired woman who was striding towards Abby, another woman and two men following close behind, all with hands on their weapons. There was a fifth person trailing slowly behind them, his hair glinting in the sun. Must be a blond.
"Dang, the police are here! Gibbs, you'd better get yourself up to Vance and tell him I need you, otherwise he'll be stuck with Mr. "Sound-of-Music" as his forensic scientist for a month at least. Love you! Thanks Ducky and Jimmy, bye now, call me later!" Her cell phone and the video feed were cut at nearly the same instant, causing the three men to look at each other and respond in their own ways.
Jimmy and Ducky let out identical sighs and shook their heads. Gibbs cursed, then turned and left the Autopsy suite, calling over his shoulder, "You two really need to get out more, you're acting more alike than a married couple!"
The ME and his assistant shared a sidelong glance, the silence broken by Ducky's statement, "I'm terribly sorry, Mr. Palmer, but I told you he would discover our secret. Shall we call the engagement off?"
Rigsby was still grumbling about Jane's latest prank when they got to the scene. How was the consultant supposed to know the other man had an unholy fear of fighting fish?
Van Pelt thought they were cute, the way they puffed up when you put a mirror in front of them. Cho had thought the fish was like Jane, they both puffed up in front of mirrors. Rigsby had crawled under his desk and refused to move until Jane took the offending betta to Lisbon's office.
The team leader had been surprised to get the "early birthday present", but graciously accepted the water-filled vase and its blue occupant. The fish was now named auspiciously Polly, short for Police. A great team leader Lisbon might be, Jane reflected, but she wasn't the most creative. He'd been thinking more along the lines of Prospero or Neptune. Something interesting, at the very least!
Jane was the first to speak when they stepped down from the boardwalk and saw their crime scene.
"Now this is the first time I've seen that!"
"I think this is the first time any of us have seen that, Jane," Cho responded.
It was, without a doubt, one of the oddest scenes any of them had seen. And this group had seen some pretty odd ones. Six nuns held a perimeter of twenty feet. They had untied their habit-belts and now grasped them by the ends, as one would when trying to swing while playing double-dutch jump-rope. The habits themselves were swaying lightly in the breeze because of this, but the nuns didn't move. In the center of this circle was their victim, who was himself surrounded by a nun with a camera and a woman, whose Celtic cross tattoo was grazed by her black bikini top and bottom. That woman held a cellphone in one hand and a video camera in the other, something silver on her neck glinting in the sunlight. They could see her mouth moving quite quickly as she spoke.
The team watched, all but spellbound as the woman turned to the nun for a moment, then back to the victim. The breeze finally carried her voice to them as they gazed down at her from the dune.
"...from the Boardwalk. The Sisters and I were planning on going there after we finished our game, but-but now we can't, because of the dead Private! You should have let me finish, Gibbs!"
Lisbon finally seemed to break the spell, and strode forward, calling out sharply, "Hey, you can't be there, this is a crime scene!"
The woman turned, pigtails whacking her face as she caught them all in the camera. "Dang, the police are here! Gibbs, you'd better get yourself up to Vance and tell him I need you, otherwise he'll be stuck with Mr. "Sound-of-Music" as his forensic scientist for a month at least. Love you! Thanks Ducky and Jimmy, bye now, call me later!" The phone was quickly shut and video camera turned off. The nun continued to take pictures.
"Sister, please stop the photography." Van Pelt tried to plead with the good woman.
"Give me a minute, sweetheart. I've just got to get his feet." Five or six pictures later, the habit-clothed woman stood, turned off her camera and handed it to the Goth woman. "Here, Abby."
The woman nodded, and turned her attention to the agents ranged in a loose semi-circle around her. Jane was busy talking to one of the parameter nuns.
Before Lisbon could get a word in, the woman piped up, "You all may want to take three steps back exactly…otherwise you might contaminate the crime scene."
Rigsby had had it with this hooligan woman. "And you and the nun didn't? We can have you arrested for tampering with evidence!"
"No, we stayed in one spot, walked in straight and will leave in that exact route. Better yet, we haven't touched anything, only photographed it, I know damn well how you aren't supposed to touch anything, officer!"
"Why, did you watch it on TV?" Rigsby asked snidely. The woman kept talking as if she hadn't heard him, only turning to glare at her assailant as she spoke, green eyes darkening in anger. Jane merely smirked at Lisbon, Van Pelt and Cho's pained expressions. Rigsby was just digging himself even deeper, poor man.
"And for your information, "the nun" is Sister Mary Clarence of the Sisters of St. Joseph of the Third Order of Saint Francis from San Fransisco. Around you are her fellow sisters Mary Roberts and Mary Patrick, and their Mother Superior. The remaining nuns are sisters Lucy, Rosita and Elizabeth of the Poor Clares of Perpetual Adoration from Washington, DC. I'm Abigail Scuito, NCIS Forensic Specialist."
That was when Jane chose to speak. "Really, Rigsby, did you have to antagonize her? I could have told you all of that without getting the fair Miss Scuito's back up. Nice cross, by the way. Patrick Jane, consultant for the CBI."
"Why thank you," she met his grin with a matching one, a combination of the charismatic 'trust-me' smile Jane was known for added to her own cheery 'yes, I bite, if you want me to', "but please, call me Abby. You don't seem to be an inker yourself." Her grip was firm and slightly sweaty, not the limpwristed shake so many women seemed to prefer.
"No, I'm not, Abby." Jane said, staying where he was, and motioning the others back. "But I am an admirer of beauty in all its forms, and that cross is quite gorgeous; as is your spiderweb. Although I can't see that one fully…."
"Oh, right, my collar. Sorry, it's locked; you won't get to see my full tat until I get my key, which should hopefully be on its way here now…as long as my Director isn't an idiot."
"Huh?" Cho asked, and then looked closer at the piece of leather encircling the Goth's neck. Black with red stitching, it gladly proclaimed "NCIS LAB RAT" for all to read, surmounted by two silvery spikes on either side of the words. Abby chose this moment to shift her weight to her other foot, showcasing the NCIS shield tucked into her bikini bottom.
Lisbon saved the other woman from her male colleagues' next comments by asking pointedly, "Your key? And you still haven't explained what you're doing at this crime scene."
"Oh, um, well…the key, or the copy, rather, is in the possession of my friend and NCIS Special Agent, Gibbs, 'cause I lost my key on the plane. He should be talking to Director Vance and getting permission to come help, as I did find the body and am the only good forensic scientist in the DC area who's willing to work for government wages and has my level of clearance, so he's gonna want me back soon. As for what I'm doing here, I found the body, like I said. The Sisters and I were playing beach volleyball when I realized I was being stared at…" Her returning glare prevented any comment from Rigsby, though his lips twitched with a held back remark. Jane meanwhile had a smile blooming from ear to ear at his teammate's predicament. "So I went over to give him a piece of my mind, and realized he was dead." Now was not the time to mention that she'd felt something wrong about his stare, not just in a hinky way, but that he was dead. She'd tell that to Gibbs first. He would understand.
"But the pictures and video?"
"I contacted our ME, Dr. Mallard and took him through the body as well as I could being across the country. The pictures are also for him, to reconstruct the body. This could be considered an NCIS case; the deceased is Private Collin Fairbanks, Marine."
Lisbon stood there sputtering, as Abby went on. "Of course, I would be willing to ask if this could be a joint investigation if I had some things done for me first." Expecting a "what" and getting none in return, she continued on, irritated, "I'd like to know your names. It would be one thing if you were polite at least, like Mr. Jane," here she nodded in his direction, and he bowed, "but you haven't been, not all of you." Her pointed glare finally made Rigsby wince. Lisbon wouldn't like it if the case was taken out of their jurisdiction because he got a Fed mad at him. He'd be hearing about it for months.
"Sorry, Miss-Abby. I'm Teresa Lisbon, this is Grace Van Pelt and Kimball Cho. The man you're making friends with so well is Wayne Rigsby. We're CBI agents. You've already had our consultant's pleasure."
"Thank you, Agent Lisbon. Now then, am I going to be brought in for questioning, since I already answered all the questions I could suppose you'd ask me?"
"You won't be unwillingly brought in, but any help you and NCIS can bring to the case will be greatly appreciated."
"Of course, I'm sure we'd be glad to help...I can't guarantee that, but I can guarantee that if your Agent Rigsby keeps it up, I can easily kill him and hide the evidence." Her sunny grin caused Jane and the nuns to chuckle, while the man in question merely began to look like his nemesis, the fish. Abby walked back the same way she came in, standing on the perimeter next to her picture-happy friend.
"Sister Lucy, would you mind driving the others back to the convent? I'm sure I can get a ride back to my hotel with Agent Lisbon's team. We still need to wait for the LEOs and CSUs. They're remarkably late; I expected at least one of them to be here by now." Her words seemed prophetic, for less than a minute later, the local LEOs and CSUs arrived to canvas the scene and do their normal work.
The majority of the team was still dumbfounded, but Jane stood there, listening to Abby prattle on about what seemed to be everything and nothing, a smirk on his face. Finally, something interesting!
A/N: Why yes, Sister Mary Clarence and her fellows of St. Francis are indeed from The Sister Act. I'm afraid I couldn't resist. Constructive criticism would be lovely!