The best part about Halloween? When it's over, you can start getting ready for Christmas!!! At least in my opinion. This takes place sometime after La Grenouille, but obviously before Jenny dies in L.A. Hollis was here but is long gone. For the purposes of this story, Jenny isn't sick/dying either. This is going to be an adaptation of A Christmas Carol but with NCIS characters of course. The story and the characters are the properties of Charles Dickens and Don Bellusarius, respectively. I'm only borrowing them.
A thick curtain of drifting snowflakes filled the streets of Washington D.C. It lay heavily along the sidewalk and roofs, and coated the branches of the pine trees lined up in parking lots and waiting to be sold. One by one, golden streets lamps turned on, illuminating the huge, slow-falling flakes. Early in the afternoon, five days before Christmas Eve, the city's inhabitants were settling into the joy and peace of the holiday season. At least, most were.
"What do you think you're doing?! There's a bomb in there!" Gibbs snapped angrily at his boss, "Get them out of there!"
Jenny Shepard ignored him, conscious of her own boss, the Secretary of the Navy, standing right beside her and scrutinizing every single move that she made. The dim light of MTAC made it easier for her to pretend that he wasn't there. "Sergeant Ellis," she crisply instructed the disheveled man on the feed in front of her, "I understand your concerns, but it is imperative that we get that software out of that house."
He stared at her for a long moment, exhaustion showing itself in his every movement. He nodded his head slowly. "Yes, Madam Director. Just... if I don't make it... tell my wife I love her, please."
She nodded once in return, and squaring his shoulders, the sergeant turned to obey her orders, rallying his men and entering the gaping hole that was once the wall to a house.
Gibbs waited until the sergeant was out of earshot before he continued, "Are you that uncaring?" he hissed in a voice that grew in volume with each word, "That computer isn't worth a life!" He knew that he was disrespecting her in front of her own boss, but he couldn't see anything through his own fury. This was too much like the sinking of the Chimera. Didn't she understand what she was doing?
Jenny turned to glare at him. Worry and strain stretched over her face. Didn't he understand how important this software was? Not only was it expensive, but it was the prototype and sole copy of a defense programming design that had taken years to perfect. It couldn't be risked. But now, here he was, insulting her intelligence and morals in front of the Secretary of the Navy. "Special Agent Gibbs, if you cannot keep your mouth shut, thus jeopardizing this mission by publicly undermining my authority, I suggest you leave this room immediately!" she felt a twist of regret as soon as the words were out, but refused to soften the blow at all. Didn't he know that she cared about these men's lives too?
"You are going to get them killed!" he wouldn't, couldn't, stop speaking.
"ENOUGH, Special Agent!" the Secretary cut in, "And Director Shepard, control your subordinates," he said with obvious irritation and suppressed anger.
She turned back to focus on the mission. The minutes crept by, staring at the dark hole in the side of the building, desert sand swirling across the camera and at times obstructing their view. Everyone in MTAC held their breath as the estimation clock for the time bomb ticked down to zero. When nothing happened, Jenny crossed her arms tightly across her chest, waiting, hoping, praying for the soldiers to make it out.
A flash of movement, then several running figures. A low murmur filled the room as Sergeant Ellis and his men raced from the building. The sergeant brought up the rear, clutching a large black case tightly to his chest. Suddenly, to the horror of all those watching, the house exploded in a blast of debris and fire. A fraction of a second later, the sound caught up with the picture as a huge sound blasted through MTAC's speakers. Flung forward by the supersonic explosion, Sergeant Ellis tumbled forward, hitting the ground headfirst. Metal, glass, and dirt rained down from the sky, peppering his unmoving body. The case was flung to the side.
A moment later, the camera fell to the side as the operator ran to aid his fallen friend. The screen cracked upon contact with a fist-sized rock embedded in the ground and cut to a blank feed. No one in MTAC moved. Then Gibbs abruptly stood up and stormed out the door.
Jenny felt her stomach twist but kept her face calm. "Agent Nikky, try to establish contact with the nearest base. Send for back-up. Agent Stanzi, inform the medical/trauma center and tell them to ready a chopper. Agent Grisholm, I want to know where that missing bomb squad is right now!"
As the techs scrambled to do her bidding, she stared at the colorful screen. Clenching her fist so tightly that her nails dug into her palm, she waited for something, anything, to happen. She jumped as her boss spoke.
"Well done, Director," he said quietly, "I'm sure that the case prevented the software from coming to harm. You did what had to be done. Keep an eye on that sergeant and his team and tell me how they are. However," his voice grew stern, "I expect you to deal with Agent Gibbs. That was inappropriate, and it makes all of us look bad. You know as well as I do that we barely have enough funding to function properly as it is. Too many stories like this, and we are the unruly little child that Congress doesn't want to back."
"Yes sir," she returned. He made his excuses about a conference and quickly left the room.
Several hours later, Jenny herself exited MTAC. As she walked over to her office, her gaze flashed over to the bull pen below. His entire team was no longer there. Good, she decided, because she had no idea what to do about him. At least the sergeant was alive. With a some head trauma that was the full extent of his team's injuries, he was already en route to Bethesda. The doctor on the base had already given him a fair prognosis, and for that she was glad. The software was safely back where it belonged, and now she only had this problem remaining.
"Can I help you with anything, Director?" the sympathetic look in Cynthia's eyes told Jenny that the girl had already guessed the source of her preoccupation.
"Cynthia," she addressed her assistant, "I'm sorry to do this to you, but would you please tell Special Agent Gibbs that I need to speak with him immediately?"
Cynthia nodded, suspicions confirmed. She actually found herself pitying both the agent and director at moments like these.
As Jenny entered her office, Cynthia took a deep breath and called Gibbs' cell. She didn't bother to look up the number; she had called it so many times before.
"Agent Gibbs? This is Cynthia. The director needs to-" she stopped talking as she heard the dial tone. She sighed and dropped the phone back on its base, putting her face in her hands and propping her elbows up on her desk. If Gibbs was a pain to the director, he was a thorn in Cynthia's side. He never made things easy on her, not even once. It was if he thought that rules were beneath him.
Fifteen minutes later, she was interrupted by a storm of fury. Gibbs strode into the room, and without bothering to acknowledge Cynthia's existence, barged through the director's door. Cynthia winced as the shouting match began. Gibbs' team inched up the stairs to eavesdrop. None of them had been in MTAC, but they'd bourne the brunt of Gibbs' fury for the better part of a day. She rolled her eyes but didn't bother to shoo them away. If Gibbs and Jenny wanted to yell so loudly that everyone in the building knew their business, that was their problem. But really, it was Christmas. You would think they could behave.
Unintelligible bursts of conversation carried through the office door. Only thirty seconds later, the door slammed back open and Gibbs stalked away.
A figure watched from the corner of the room. She had been there the entire time, from the MTAC fiasco through Cynthia's exasperation, although no one had seen her. She shook her head; this might be harder than she had thought.
Well, thanks for reading. :) I know this is a slow beginning, but I'm trying to get this story set with the time table of A Christmas Carol. Next chapter: Gibbs gets a special guest that he has missed for over a decade.