BODY LANGUAGE by scousemuzik

Chapter 1: He wondered.

They were being really kind. They were moving quietly around him, and speaking in hushed voices, as if he were some sort of nervous animal, who might spook at a sudden word or motion. They were partly right, Josh thought vaguely – he might just jump up and run, or break down into hysterical weeping, or scream, or something.

They had found him, the people who came running at the sound of the explosion; they had seen his injuries, and led him gently down from the small hump of earth that made up the side of the bunker. They had sat him down, just as gently, where he could no longer see the horror that lay on the singed grass beyond the sand. It didn't matter; he'd see it for ever. He wondered how he was going to tell Mom.

The paramedics arrived – model professionals, both. Josh observed their cautious, unthreatening body language, and heard how they told him carefully what they were about to do, before they did it. He appreciated it, even though he felt incapable of actually responding. He wondered how he was able to notice it, or anything else for that matter. Dad…..

A large camouflage painted vehicle rumbled to a halt, then another. You couldn't not notice them; their engines were loud, and he hated the smell of diesel, and the movement of the soldiers pouring out of them was neither quiet nor gentle. The sight of them made him brace himself. As they set to work taping off the scene, Josh's eyes were still too full of tears, although he was determined that he wasn't going to shed them, to make out the rank of the female officer among them, but it was clear from her body language that she was in command. He wondered what the army had to do with it; he acknowledged that the thought was unreasonable, but he wanted NCIS. Dad was a marine.

It seemed like only a moment later that he almost gave way to the inner chaos; he had to suppress a wild laugh as a large black sedan, intemperately driven, screamed to a halt, and the four people who piled out wore caps and jackets with the familiar white letters on them. He watched them, since it was better than thinking about how twenty minutes ago he'd had a father who loved him, and he wondered what they would do to catch the one who had taken him.

Josh would have blushed inwardly if he'd had the energy to; it was the woman on the team he noticed first, and he noticed her because she was beautiful - like he should be thinking about such things right now. Her attitude suggested that she knew what she was doing, and he wondered why he thought that exotic Mediterranean looks should make him suppose otherwise. The whole team exuded confidence, and a tiny part of him came back to life.

He looked hard at the oldest of the three men, and felt a stirring of both hope and pain at once. He was obviously the team leader, and was just as obviously a marine. His body language as he headed straight for the leader of the army squad made him think of his dad again, and his stomach lurched. Dad… good looking, smiling, relaxed, giving out an air of complete ease; disguising so well how heavy his heart must be at leaving the family he loved, in order to serve his country. He would not make his wife and children feel any worse than they already did, there would be no tears until the very last minute when the car came to take him back to base prior to embarkation. Josh choked back a sob of despair, he wasn't going to weep; but there would be so many tears now.

It was a tiny sound he made – he didn't even think it was audible to the EMTs, but one of the other two NCIS agents turned to face him, as his colleague strode away with his camera. Josh wondered just how good the man's hearing was. He didn't take in too much about the guy, except that he was tall, and younger than his boss – and then extraordinary eyes, greeny hazel, met his. He didn't approach, and he didn't speak, but the long, level look said clearly that he recognised the young man's pain, and didn't take it lightly. There was strength in that steady regard, and it somehow held Josh up. A strange understanding flashed momentarily between them – it wasn't just an ex-marine who would fight for justice for his dad. Josh nodded slightly, the other man nodded back, and then walked off to join his team.

The medics were about done; Josh organized his thoughts enough to thank them, and rose from his perch on the back door sill of the ambulance. He realised that he could see his father's body now; his mind recoiled and he tried not to look that way again.

Instead, he watched the investigators going about their work. He saw the tall man standing still and looking around, seeming to be doing no work at all, to the annoyance of the army grunts who were working their way across the green on their knees. The agent suddenly bent, picked up a handful of dried grass mowings, and tossed them into the air. He observed which way the breeze took them, and moved off purposefully in that direction. Was there a hint of a swagger to his walk, Josh wondered? A hint that the soldiers could sneer at him all they liked if they could do half as well as him? Another tiny part of him managed to smile.

The smile, a little twisted but valiant, actually got as far as his face a few minutes later when he heard the tall agent yell delightedly, and saw him hurrying back to his boss. As he seemed to be showing him and the lady officer, (colonel he now noted,) some evidence he'd discovered, the body language conversation of army and marine told its own story. Josh forgave the green-eyed agent for whooping in triumph while his dad lay there silent, if he'd found something to help nail his killer.

His eyes had been drawn unwillingly back to his dad; he shuddered and dragged them away again, and wondered what he should do next. There didn't seem to be anyone to tell him. His dad's truck that he'd promised to valet….he was shaken by a sudden wave of absolute misery and lost track of his thoughts altogether for a moment. What… oh yes, the truck. It was still in the car park, but the keys must be somewhere on…. Well, with the burns on his forearms he probably shouldn't drive anyway. He wanted to get back to his mom, but didn't want to leave his dad…. He didn't know who to ask, and realised he seemed to have been forgotten.

All at once he felt like an abandoned toddler. He knew it must be shock, but that didn't stop it from happening. Now he did want to weep, and fought it, but he couldn't fight the roaring in his ears and the loss of sensation in his legs. He collapsed on the grass, and for another moment or two he wasn't sure of anything much, until the sound of voices and running feet worked their way into his fuzzy brain.

"….. the colonel's son. Apparently he was caddying for his father. Hasn't anyone noticed?"

"You'd think someone would care about the kid!"

"Don't call him a kid to his face, DiNozzo – he won't appreciate it."

A slight laugh. "Guess your right, boss."

"Can you deal with this? Take the car, I'll call for another one. Take the lad to the Navy Yard, we'll need his statement."

"On it, Boss – I'll take him home first if he wants to though, he might want to see the rest of his family."

"He does," Josh said thickly, aware that he was being lifted into a sitting position, and his head pushed gently forward.

"OK, Josh, is it? I'm Tony. D'you need a drink?"

As he raised his head, Josh saw it was the tall man, he'd known it would be, offering him a bottle of water. The green eyes once again offered strength, and concern, but however heartbroken he was, Josh was relieved to see not the slightest encouragement to wallow in self-pity. He wondered how this man understood so much.