A/N: I'm back! Did ya miss me?? ... No... Oh well...

This is my alternative ending to South by Southwest - Season 6 Episode 17 - which was prompted/requested by inkpen1. So thanks for this, inkpen1, and I hope it lives up to your expectations - it's not exactly the same scenario that you gave me, but pretty close. Anybody else think Jerome Sax was suffering from Stormtrooper Syndrome?

Uhh obviously spoilers for South by Southwest, some for Requiem and Judgement Day too. References to Bête Noire and Heartland.

Disclaimer: All things NCIS belong to those lucky people 'across the pond' at CBS. Although, if I did own NCIS, Vance would have died in JD and Tom Morrow would have come back!


"Head for the rocks!"

Shoving the cell into his pocket, Gibbs turned back to the rest of the group and pointed at the rocky ridge they were already heading towards. Just by the tone of his voice, Tony could tell there was something wrong, very wrong, and he knew not to question his boss' command. Dina Risi, however – not accustomed to the gruff, no-nonsense orders of Leroy Jethro Gibbs, swivelled in her saddle. "What's going on?" Gibbs, with no intention of explaining his order, ignored her and yelled again, more insistent this time.

"Go. Move... Move!" Following Sheriff Boyd's lead, Tony and Dina kicked their horses into motion with Gibbs moments behind as they gallop towards the rocks – their only hope of shelter from the crew of the helicopter. They certainly were not going to be friendly; not if the execution-style hit of Jack Patterson was anything to go on.

As they reached more open ground, the helicopter appeared directly in front of them, a dark-haired figure hanging out the side. Tony, his sharp eyesight once again proving itself, spotted the long, dark barrel of an M4 Carbine. Before Tony even had time to shout a warning to Gibbs or Sheriff Boyd, the figure in the chopper loosed a burst of ammunition, spraying up dust and slivers of rock. Riding as close behind Boyd as he was, Tony barely managed to avoid the aging sheriff as a bullet pierced the man's thigh, sending him sprawling into the dust with a pained grunt. Galloping past the wounded man, Gibbs ordered the other two to go. As the chopper flew past them, out of the gunman's range, Gibbs knew that it was their best opportunity to get Dina Risi out of harm's way. "Keep going! Go!" Another shout from Gibbs had Dina and Tony both riding as fast as they could, only stopping when they reached a large boulder surrounded by trees and long grass. Gibbs, already turning his horse around, pointed at the rocks, yelling to make himself heard over the sound of rotor blades getting closer. "The rocks... take cover!" Tony nodded to the older agent, knowing exactly what he would be doing, then dismounted, pushing the artist with him as he ran to get away from the open ground. He took one glance back at the helicopter and was startled to see it turned round and headed straight for them. "Boss, it's coming back!" He could only watch as Gibbs rode back to Sheriff Boyd, and pull out his gun in preparation to provide covering fire.

Cursing inwardly as he glimpsed the wound in Sheriff Boyd's leg and the blood soaking through the beige trousers, Gibbs was about to reach down to pull the injured man up when he was interrupted. "I'm alright, Gibbs," Boyd tried to sit up, wincing as it put pressure on his wounded leg, "Get the Henry." Immediately, Gibbs knew what the sheriff meant him to do and turned his horse, riding off again. "It pulls to the right!" Gibbs barely heard the shout as the rotor blades roared overhead and DiNozzo emptied a magazine in the direction of the chopper. Reaching Boyd's horse, Gibbs heaved the rifle out of the large holster and, in one fluid movement, swung off his own horse. He took a few steps forward, checking the weapon was loaded, and then took aim, adjusting the sight. The clouds of dust and razor-sharp shards of rock flying up hardly registered as he concentrated, zeroing in on his target. He waited until the bullets hurtling at him were landing mere feet from him before taking one final breath, holding it and then firing. As the helicopter veered off, Gibbs smiled. He did not enjoy killing people, but pulling off such an accurate shot whilst under heavy fire and with an unfamiliar weapon was strangely satisfying.

Tony watched open-mouthed as Gibbs stood calmly in the face of the helicopter and its gun-toting passenger, fired a single shot and killed the pilot, sending the aircraft spiralling into the hillside to erupt in a ball of flame and debris.

He just killed a helicopter with an antique!

There was a shrill ring from Gibbs' direction as Tony pulled Dina from behind the rocks and started forwards. Tony watched as Gibbs answered, immediately pulling the phone from his ear as McGee yelled on the other end.


"Boss, you okay? ...Boss?!" McGee almost shouted into the headset, ignoring the strange looks the technicians were giving him. He could not help but exchange a worried glance with Ziva as the silence on the other end grew. The short sigh on the other end and even shorter assurance, however, quickly put him at ease. McGee would have responded, but Gibbs hung up as soon as he finished speaking.

He didn't sound injured... then again, this is Gibbs.

Standing metres from the huge screen in MTAC, McGee and Ziva watched the satellite feed as the group gathered around their fourth member who was lying on the ground.


Throwing the satellite phone at Tony, Gibbs walked back to Sheriff Boyd and knelt down beside the injured man as he groaned and tried to sit up. "Woah, take it easy, sheriff," Gibbs murmured, placing a hand on the sheriff's arm and helping him into an upright position. He studied the gunshot wound, taking in the blood seeping from it and soaking through the man's pants. Tony and Dina Risi cast a shadow over Gibbs as they came to stand on Boyd's other side, looking around for the spooked horses. "Now we got to round up the horses... How do we do that?" Whining, Tony flexed his legs, trying to rid them of the aching pain from riding the horses – the adrenaline from almost being shot rapidly wearing off. He looked down as Gibbs chuckled softly. He expected some wise-ass comment from Gibbs but not the sheriff. "Didn't your father teach you anything, DiNozzio?" Tony grinned broadly, but Gibbs noticed that it did not reach his eyes.

"Apart from how to report while pouring him a drink?" Boyd smiled as if it had been a joke, but Gibbs knew better. Tony looked away and glimpsed blood on Gibbs' pant leg. He was instantly worried. "Boss, you OK?" Tony knew he would most likely get a gruff 'I'm fine' but it was worth a shot. Annoyed that the younger agent would even think about his boss' injuries over those of someone else, Gibbs glared at his senior field agent with his hands pressed over the bullet wound in Boyd's leg. "Yeah, DiNozzo," he sighed, looking his agent over for any sign of injury and, seeing none, added, "Why?" Tony nearly snorted with laughter as Gibbs glared at him, daring him to even suggest Gibbs was hurt. "Erm... well, boss, maybe because you've got blood on your—" Before Tony could even finish, Gibbs had roughly grabbed his arm, jerking him down so that he was kneeling opposite Gibbs, their eyes level. "I'm fine, DiNozzo. Put pressure on the wound." The Marine stood, his knees popping as he did so, without waiting for a response and started away from the trio. For a moment, Tony watched Gibbs walk away, the slightest of limps developing, then turned back to the sheriff.

After shrugging off his warm sweater, Tony ripped long strips out of the material and handed them to the sheriff. "Is it a through-and-through?" He asked nervously, willing the answer to be 'Yes.' Cocking an eyebrow, Boyd looked comically from his injured leg to the young NCIS agent. "Well now, with that kind of firepower, I think it's safe to say it went straight on through, son." Seeing Tony hesitate, the aging law enforcement officer brushed a hand over the back of his thigh and nodded in confirmation. "You'll have to bind it, DiNozzio. Gibbs'll be back soon; you don't want to keep him waiting." Smiling slightly at the sheriff's astute observation, Tony nodded and began looping the strips of material around the Sheriff's leg.

Dina, unsure quite what to do, just stood there, waiting for someone to tell her what to do. Being exposed to radiation was one thing, but getting shot at... well, that was just a whole different kettle of fish. Obviously it was not unusual for the two agents, but for her, an artist who lived in the middle of nowhere in Arizona, well, getting shot at was definitely not on her list of things to do before she died. Yes; she had a shotgun and yes; she had used it, but now as the younger agent used his own clothing to cover Sheriff Boyd's wound, she realised that her hands were shaking uncontrollably, and not just from the cold.

Get a grip, Dina! We still need to get to the main road and then to a hospital, and shaking like a leaf definitely won't help!


A/N: Hope you like this. As usual, reviews are most definitely wanted and I'll try to get back to reviewers as soon as I can. Con. crit. and other helpful comments are especially welcome in the Hawkeye4077 camp.

I don't know when I'll next update as it's a very busy week for me next week but there are more chapters to come. You'll just have to be patient... and un-Gibbs-like!