Epilogue: The End is Where We Begin

It was well into the night when Gibbs arrived back at NCIS headquarters. He heavily sat down at his desk feeling exhausted and drained. He had sent Tony, Ziva and McGee home a little while ago, via a phone call. He could scarcely believe that it had just been a little over twenty-four hours since he'd first gotten the call about his house. God . . . that was another thing to add to his list; where he would stay until he found somewhere new.

Gibbs groaned and massaged his temples. He could feel a headache coming on. Then the elevator bell dinged and heavy footsteps made their way into the bullpen and up to his desk. Gibbs didn't need to look up; he knew who it was.

"It's all done," Franks said quietly, his face slightly sinister in the dullness of the squad room. "All evidence has been removed. There were no witnesses. Someone will find him and metro be'll called. It can't be traced back to us."

Gibbs nodded; he didn't even feel as though he had the energy to respond with words. What a bloody mess this was. And what did Yakovlev mean about Paris not being Jenny's fault? Just thinking about it made Gibbs' head ache.

As though sensing what he was thinking, Franks said, "Don't dwell on it, Probie. It was probably just Yakovlev looking for a cheap shot."

"Then why say it; why say that?"

Franks shrugged. "Who knows what was going on in that crazed out brain of his?"

"Still," Gibbs mused, "what if . . ."

"Don't, Probie, just don't. You'll just set yourself up for heartbreak. Forget about it; it's over now," Franks advised firmly.

"It doesn't feel over," Gibbs retorted and Franks sighed.

"Believe what you like, but I have a siesta to get back to. I take it you don't need me anymore," Franks said, feeling cheerful that he could finally go home.

Gibbs nodded and replied, "Thanks for your help, Mike."

Franks smiled fondly. "No problem, Probie. Just don't make a habit out of it."

Gibbs cracked a grin and looked up at his former boss and mentor. "Take care, yeah."

"You too," Franks answered. "No more pissing off people who then want to kill you." Leaning over Gibbs' desk, Franks stretched out his hand and Gibbs took it firmly.

Franks smiled and turned to exit the bullpen. But before he moved, he said, "Oh, by the way, maybe it's time." Without saying another word, Franks dumped an envelope onto Gibbs' desk and sauntered out the bullpen and over to the elevator.

Gibbs waited until Franks had given him a nod goodbye and had stepped into the elevator before looking down at the envelope Franks had left behind.

Decker's insurance policy.

Gibbs reached for it, but hesitated. Maybe Franks was right, maybe it was over, but his gut was telling him otherwise. He glanced at his watch. It was late and he hadn't slept in over twenty-four hours, but there was something about the envelope that had Gibbs carefully slicing open the top of it.

He pulled out the papers inside and groaned internally when he realised the insurance policy was like a small manifesto. Tiredly, he flicked through the pages, scanning the words as they passed. He wasn't really reading them; there would be time for that later. But then he stopped. His eye had caught a name. He backtracked and stared at the name for a full minute before he managed to shake himself out of his shocked stupor.

Staring back at him was the name Leon Vance . . .


A/N I know nothing has been resolved, but the requirements of the challenge were to end on a cliffhanger; I know the ending is unresolved and that was the point. I have a very tentative idea for a sequel which may eventuate into a story, but we'll see. Thanks for reading anyhow.