A/N: So, here is my newest venture. I've been wanting to post it for some time now, but the plot just wasn't coming out right. Well, I finally got hit with a stroke of genius (or maybe just a stroke) yesterday and I'm gonna start posting, come hell or high water. It is a flashback piece but I hope that won't throw you off. Let me know what you think! Comments, suggestions, glowing praise, all welcome.
A/N: This fic is sort of along the same lines as my BTL series, only this is an expansion on several lines, a story about back story, if you will. The lines that inspired this fic were: "Please don't call me Abigail", "Abby's parents were deaf" (italics mine), as well as Abby's general Gothiness since it seems so at odds with her personality, and why Gibbs knows sign language. Enjoy! -pj
Disclaimer: Really? Do we have to do this every single time? They're Don B's, not mine. And he's stopped returning my phone calls...
Gibbs had never been a fan of hospitals. More often than not they were filled with bad luck, bad news, bad choices (and their consequences) and bad smells. And nothing so far in his life had convinced him to believe otherwise.
This was no exception.
It wasn't even his distaste for hospitals that left him feeling so utterly unenthusiastic at the moment. It was the nature of his visit. Taking the statement of the family of someone recently deceased would never be what he considered 'fun'.
He found room 338 and finished his coffee before he glanced at the name on the door, since dispatch had given him no details to speak of, and froze. Immediately his eyes traveled through the open door and landed on the figure on the bed.
She was facing away from him, looking at the television on the far wall, but those pigtails were unmistakable. He watched her quietly for a few moments from the doorway, and as he did so, his mind drifted back to his first interaction with the Abigail Scuito.
It was a Tuesday.
"I want to thank you for meeting with me Admiral." Gibbs said, sipping a paper cup of coffee.
The short, round man beside him nodded, adjusting his cover and taking a sip of his own strong brew.
"It's bad enough our boys have to die overseas, they shouldn't have to be looking over their shoulders at home too."
Gibbs nodded his agreement and then continued to walk side by side in the warm spring air, squinting against sunlight and watching ducks drive under the clear waters of the Anacostia.
"There a reason we couldn't have this meeting in your office?"
"Afraid of getting a sun-tan, Gunny?"
"No sir, but we usually conduct these interviews in a more…controlled setting."
The Admiral nodded in understanding, "Some of what I'm about to tell you is sensitive in nature and I don't need to worry about prying eyes and ears while I'm talking to you."
The Admiral turned first and Gibbs followed his gaze. He watched with unmasked surprise as a girl of no more than seventeen approached them. She wore jeans and heavy duty black boots, a bright yellow shirt and a red leather jacket, her dark hair braided in pigtails on either side of her head.
"They told me I'd find you here," she glared at him and then the coffee in his hand, "and what the hell is this?"
"Watch your mouth, Abigail."
She rolled her eyes, "this from the man who hangs out with Marines all day," she scoffed and took the coffee from him and brought it to her nose, taking a long whiff, "this is not decaf, Grandpa."
"Yes I can," she turned and marched purposefully toward a nearby trash can and dropped it in. She was still talking as she came back, "and you know the Doctor said if it goes much higher it could be dangerous. You shouldn't drink that stuff anymore."
The Admiral smiled and waved her off, "you worry too much."
"Maybe so, but you're going to be alive to hold your great great grand kids if I have anything to say about it, so" she raised a hand to point at him, "be good."
The admiral sighed, though he seemed more amused than annoyed, and Gibbs shifted his coffee to his other hand, unsure if the strange girl meant to 'save' him too.
"Ah, Abigail, this is Special Agent Gibbs of NCIS, Agent Gibbs, this is my granddaughter, Abigail."
All of a sudden the stern faced girl was replaced with a sunshine grin that complimented greatly her bright green eyes.
"Nice to finally meet you, I've seen you around."
Gibbs frowned, "you have?"
She nodded enthusiastically, "I'm interning in your forensics lab this summer. You probably don't see me, I'm usually cleaning something or getting coffee, but I see you."
Gibbs just nodded, wondering how he could have missed her. But then, he wasn't usually in the Forensics lab long enough to see anything but results.
"Okay, well, I gotta go. Jonathan wants me to run a calibration on the Digital Scanner before lunch," she quickly gave the Admiral a kiss on his cheek and then, after a quick glance in both directions, ran across the street. Once on the other side she mounted a red 600cc motorcycle, picking a helmet up off the seat and on over her head.
"You know I hate that thing Ab-"the Admiral tried, but his words were cut off as the bike was brought to life and she turned to wave at him brightly, which the Admiral returned half-heartedly and she accelerated out into traffic.
He was still smiling somewhat when he turned back to Gibbs, who was watching him with a curious expression. The man shrugged in a way that was at odds with his spit-and-polished crisp form of dress and carriage.
"Abigail likes to go her own way. I have found, it is usually best to let her."
"Can I help you, sir?"
Gibbs inhaled somewhat sharply as he was snapped from his reverie and turned to face a young doctor with pretty blonde hair and brown eyes approaching him.
"Do you know Miss. Scuito?"
Ignoring the question and biting back 'no, I just like to hang around outside hospital rooms in the trauma wing', he reached into his pocket and pulled out his badge and ID, quickly flipping it toward the woman.
"Special Agent Gibbs. NCIS. What happened," he asked gruffly, waiting for the seemingly inevitable description of a motorcycle hit and run. All he knew was that there had been an accident and a Marine was dead. He hadn't realized who the sole surviving witness would be.
He heard the woman sigh and the sadness in her tone told him she was new to this, still attached herself to every patient.
"There was a car accident. She suffered a concussion, bruising in her ribs and needed a quite a few stitches on her arm."
"Has anyone called her grandfather?" he asked, still watching the girl in the bed. He felt the doctor's mood dampen even more and looked at her.
"What?" He asked, seeing the way her body language had shifted to uncomfortable.
She looked up, as if gathering her strength, and squared her shoulders. "They were in the car together. The grandfather was driving…he didn't make it."
Gibbs head swiveled back to the bed and it's small occupant.
"Has anyone told her?"
"Yes, but she's in shock. She's been unresponsive to all attempts at interaction."
Gibbs narrowed his eyes, noticing for the first time that the TV in her room was in closed captioning. He tilted his head.
"Abigail," he called, loud enough to be heard on the other side of the room.
She didn't respond.
"See?" the doctor said, as if he'd just proved her point.
Gibbs ignored her and reached just inside the door to flick the light switch on and off.
Immediately the girl turned and looked toward the door. She frowned at him.
"You remember me?"
Abigail nodded and the doctor approached, her eyes narrowed, considering.
"How are you feeling? Any pain?" She asked, calmly.
Gibbs entered behind the woman and stood at the foot of the bed. He saw that the girl's eyes fell to the doctors' lips every time she spoke. Always responding wordlessly with a nod of her head or shrugging her shoulders.
For the first time since seeing him in the hospital some of the spark he'd seen when he'd met her return to her eyes.
Yeah. I didn't know you did.
He titled his head, can you hear?
And just as quickly the spark was gone, replaced with carefully kept tears, there was an explosion.
He dropped his hands and sighed, looking at the nurse, "she can't hear."
The woman gasped and turned to look wide eyed at Abigail and then, met with the girls' blank look, began to scramble for the chart in her arms, "T-there's no mention of her being deaf in her medical records."
"She's not. There was an explosion at the accident."
"Oh my god," she turned to Abigail and then back to him again, "I can't believe no one noticed."
"Me either," Gibbs said impatiently.
"Why doesn't she speak?"
Gibbs shrugged, "ask her. She reads lips."
So, flushing slightly, the woman turned to the girl and asked, though, to Gibbs chagrin, she made a point to speak loudly and slowly, exaggerating each word uselessly. Abigail scrunched her face in a frown and turned to Gibbs for clarification.
"She wants to know why you don't just say something."
My throat hurts, she signed, and Gibbs relayed the message.
"There was a car fire, she might be suffering from some smoke inhalation," she turned toward Abigail again, and Gibbs was satisfied to see that this time she spoke more normally, "are you having any trouble breathing?"
Abigail looked thoughtful for a moment and then shook her head, then followed it with a shrug, not really.
She caught a stern look from Gibbs and pursed her lips. maybe a little. Nothing too serious though, she conceded.
"Okay," the doctor said, once Gibbs translated, "I'll get you a mask, just to be on the safe side."
She shrugged again and the doctor left, leaving the two alone for the first time, what are you doing here?
A case. You're case.
She gave him a puzzled look.
Metro called NCIS when they realized it was a Navy Issue vehicle.
She nodded and looked away briefly, Grandpa's dead.
He sighed and shifted in his chair. He could tell by the glazed look in her eyes that, even as she signed the words, she was having trouble believing them.
Can you tell me anything about the accident?
She immediately shook her head and Gibbs started to clarify, encourage, whatever it would take to get her to answer, but she beat him to it.
It wasn't an accident.
Gibbs narrowed his eyes, what do you mean?
I grew up around wrecked cars, she waved away his questioning look, long story. The point is I know how a car should look before and after an accident. I know how long it takes for the gas tank to light up, just like it did in Grandpa's car, she paused, coming out of her frenzy slightly as her brow furrowed, it happened too fast, Agent Gibbs.
It was a car accident, it always seems to happen fast.
She shook her head again, cutting him off without saying a word, not seemed too fast, was too fast. Gibbs, this was no accident, her eyes flashed as she signed the last four words, my grandfather was murdered.
He frowned at this and something in his gut twitched, but he didn't get a chance to open his mouth or lift his hands in response before his phone vibrated in his pocket.
"Yeah, Gibbs, it's me, Thompson."
"Yeah, I got that Randall."
"Actually, Sir, my name is-"
"Thompson," Gibbs warned. He was not in the mood for one of his subordinates rambling speeches.
"Sorry sir – Gibbs. Um, well, you know that Admiral we found at the burnt out car scene this morning?"
Gibbs glanced quickly at the girl watching him curiously from the bed and, though he knew she couldn't hear what was being said, he stood to look out the window, "yeah."
"Well, sir, um…his house is on fire."