Author's Note: This is my first NCIS fanfic. I am an established fanfic author for CSI, but never for NCIS. I will also note that I have never read an NCIS fanfic (*gasp*), so I'm unfamiliar with any conventions that are currently in place by those of you who are established NCIS authors. Please note that I am not interested in flames, so if you hate my story, that's fine-- please ignore it and move on. I will also never beg for reviews. I am a grown up with QUITE a full life; I write for my enjoyment alone. If you wish to review and actually have something constructive to say, it is appreciated; if not, that is your prerogative and that is also fine. I truly hope you enjoy my story, but please rest assured that I will never hold the story hostage to reviews.
Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs paused before knocking at the pediatrician's office door. It was just slightly open, and he glanced inside to size up his witness. Dr. Katherine Andrews was poring intently over a file, making notes here and there. Gibbs couldn't see her face as she studied her work, but the general impression he got from looking at her slender shoulders and the top of her dark red head was a sense of youthful attractiveness. He rapped twice on the door and received a distracted, "Come in," as the young pediatrician continued looking at the file.
As Gibbs stepped in, Katherine Andrews glanced up and did a double take as she took him in. Her surprise at seeing a man with a clearly displayed badge on his belt walk into her office, however, was quickly hidden and she flashed him a warm and genuine smile as she stood and extended her hand to him.
"Good afternoon. I'm Katherine Andrews. How can I help you?"
Gibbs took the proffered hand as he quickly glanced her over—dark blue eyes, a smattering of freckles over her nose and cheeks, medium height, slender build, and nails that were well-manicured but not prissy. She looked entirely too young to have the letters M.D. behind her name.
"I'm Special Agent Gibbs with NCIS."
Katherine raised an eyebrow.
"—Investigative Service," Katherine finished, smiling. "My dad was a Marine. What brings an NCIS agent to my office?" she asked, sitting back down.
She gestured for Gibbs to sit in one of the overstuffed chairs across from her desk. He complied. "Can I get you a cup of coffee?"
A woman after my own heart, thought Gibbs in amusement. Aloud, he said, "That would be great, thanks. I keep a lot of late nights."
"As do I. You learn in the first month of medical school that coffee is your best friend and that you won't survive without it," she laughed. Gibbs watched her with some interest as she rose and walked to a cherry side table that held a burr grinder, a French press, and a hot water dispenser. She opened a container, poured some whole beans into the grinder, and started them grinding. Gibbs found himself studying her long red hair, which was tied back at the base of her neck. It was thick and dark and twisted around in curls at the bottom. He jerked himself back to reality and said, "That's some setup you've got there."
She turned to him as the grinder wound down. She poured the grounds into the French press and added hot water. As she let it steep, she laughed again and said, "I'm something of a coffee connoisseur. Some people are wine snobs; I'm a coffee snob." She shrugged. "That'll be ready to pour in just a minute. Why don't you tell me what this is all about?"
Gibbs pulled a picture from the folder he was carrying. "Do you know a man named Duke Jackson?"
Katherine's eyes narrowed and her face and voice were wary as she said, "Yes…"
"He's my best friend's brother-in-law."
Silence. Then, "Agent Gibbs…what's happened?"
A pause. "We found his body this morning in a hotel in Arlington." He watched her carefully as her eyes widened. Her eyes never left his as she closed the file in front of her.
"Oh, God…" she breathed. "What happened?"
"He was murdered. Tortured, actually…and then murdered."
Katherine looked dazed. "Tortured? How?"
Gibbs hesitated. "He was…beaten…and then castrated…and ultimately stabbed multiple times in the abdomen and left to bleed out."
Katherine looked down at her desk. She looked like she might be sick.
"Your name was in a note by the body."
Her head snapped up. "MY name?"
"Yes." Gibbs placed the picture on her desk.
Katherine stared at the 8 x 10 photograph showing a note that read, "This is what happens to men who molest children. Thank God for Katherine Andrews."
"Holy shit…." she whispered.
"Can you explain what the note means?"
Katherine swallowed. "Perhaps."
"Please give me a moment, Agent Gibbs." Gibbs watched as Katherine pinched the bridge of her nose tiredly, took a few deep breaths, and then looked back up at him, eyes oddly clear and focused. She was clearly in control of her emotions, and Gibbs had the distinct feeling that she was a level-headed young woman who would make an excellent witness, without over-embellishing or omitting details.
"Duke Jackson is the brother of my friend Allison's husband, John. Allison and I only met a couple of years ago, so I'd only met Duke once or twice. I really don't know him well." She blew out a big breath, rose, and poured them each a cup of coffee from the French press before she continued. "Three days ago, on Monday, Allison brought her daughter, Hannah, in to see me. Hannah's been having recurrent urinary tract infections, which isn't entirely uncommon in girls her age—Hannah is four. Rather than just testing her urine this time, I decided to have a look to rule out other problems." Katherine paused to sip her coffee and closed her eyes against what she said next. "When I examined her, her vaginal area was extremely red and enflamed, and there was some bruising—though not terribly severe—of the labia. Now, even this isn't necessarily terribly alarming; young children will often fall and bruise their genital areas. So I asked her, 'Hannah, did you fall and hurt yourself?'" She swallowed. "Hannah then stated very clearly that Uncle Duke touched her there and made it feel bad."
Gibbs clenched his teeth together and his eyes tightened. Seasoned investigator though he was, he never quite got used to cases involving child abuse, particularly sexual abuse.
"What happened then, Dr. Andrews?"
"Well, naturally, Allison fell apart. She tried hard to hold it together in front of Hannah, but I could tell it was a losing battle, so I had her call her sister to come get Hannah, who seemed relatively nonchalant about the whole thing, thank God. She simply told her mother that she didn't like it when Uncle Duke touched her there and didn't want him to come over to babysit anymore, and then she continued playing with her doll. Once I was alone with Allison, she went ballistic, of course, sobbing and ranting about her brother-in-law. I told Allison that I was legally bound to report the abuse to child protective services, and she sat with me as I made the phone call. I then asked her if she wanted John to come in, or if she wanted to speak to him privately, and she said she would discuss it with him privately, as she couldn't vouch for his reaction. Then she left."
"Have you spoken to her since then, Dr. Andrews?"
"Yes. I wanted to call that night, but not only was I on-call, I felt that I needed to give the family some time to process things. I spoke to her the next afternoon, though. She said that John had reacted much as she suspected, hitting the roof and threatening to kill his brother." At this point, she paused. "I know how this looks and sounds, Agent Gibbs, but if my opinion means anything, which I'm sure it doesn't, John Jackson did not do this. I've known the man for two years, and he could not take a life."
"Not even the life of his daughter's molester?"
"Not even then. Not that he wouldn't want to, of course. It's just that John is one of the most intelligent and disciplined men I've ever met and I can't see him losing control like that."
"What does John Jackson do for a living?"
Katherine smiled humorlessly. "I'm surprised you don't know that already. John Jackson is Commander John Jackson, and he is a professor at Annapolis."
Katherine Andrews observed Agent Gibbs carefully as she spoke to him. His blue eyes were striking, and he was well built underneath his polo shirt and khaki pants. Without thinking, she glanced down at his left hand. No ring. She noted his reaction as she related the story of discovering what had happened to Hannah. He is a good man, she thought.
She was finding it hard to concentrate as well as she knew she needed to in order to help Agent Gibbs with his investigation. She was shocked and had no idea what to make of the note he has shown her, but she knew it was imperative to assist him to the best of her abilities.
She observed his raised eyebrows as she revealed that her friend's husband was, in fact, a naval officer.
"Commander Jackson?" he said. "He teaches at the Academy?"
"Yes," she answered. "He is a professor of mechanical engineering. When his last assignment aboard the USS Louisiana ended, he accepted a commission to teach at the Academy. He's been doing that for five years or so now."
"And it is your assertion that he could not have been involved in his brother's murder?"
Katherine paused. She struggled a moment with how honest she should be. She finally settled for laying herself bare.
"Agent Gibbs, I never said he couldn't have been involved. I said he didn't do it. I know that John Jackson does not have it in him to murder a man, especially his own brother. But whether he was involved at all, I cannot say."
Gibbs narrowed his eyes, as if evaluating whether she spoke the truth. "If possible, I need you to come to NCIS to make a more complete statement. Can you do that?"
Katherine glanced down at her calendar.
"I had just sat down to do some dictation and make some notes in patient charts….and once the office ladies leave in a few minutes, I'm actually going to be on call. But…I'll go ahead and do it if you can assure me that I'll be free to answer my phone as needed and to leave if I need to. Otherwise, it will have to wait." She smiled apologetically.
Gibbs nodded. "That will be fine. Thank you for being so cooperative."
Gibbs stood with his coffee—which was quite good—and thanked the doctor once again for agreeing to come down to the office to give her statement. He was surprised to find himself looking her up and down appreciatively as they left her office together. She was in front of him, clad in a crisp white button-down shirt and black slacks, paired with smart heels that made her legs look longer than they were. He stopped those thoughts short and gave himself a mental slap on the back of the head. Inwardly rolling his eyes, he thought, She can't be more than 26 or 27, you idiot—and a potential witness, to boot. Snap out of it, moron.
Gibbs pulled out a chair for Dr. Andrews in the interview room. He handed her a cup of coffee and apologized with a rueful smile, "Sorry, I highly doubt this is as good as your coffee—which was great, by the way…thanks again."
She smiled at him and took the coffee appreciatively. "What do you need from me, Agent Gibbs?"
"I just need a complete, official statement of what you've already told me. I'll record it, so you don't have to write it down. I'm going to start by asking you a few questions, and then once you get going, it will mostly be you, although I may break in every now and then with a question for clarification. Do you have any questions?"
"I don't think so."
"Okay, then, we'll begin when you're ready."
An hour later, Katherine was finished, and was amazed to have only been interrupted once with a patient call. Agent Gibbs had informed one of his colleagues—Agent DiNozzo—that he was headed out to interview Cmdr. John Jackson, and that DiNozzo could close up shop for the day, if he liked. Gibbs walked her out to the main lobby of the NCIS offices, and Katherine stood there, unsure of what to do, until Gibbs turned to her.
"Thank you for your time, Dr. Andrews," he said warmly.
"Please, call me Katherine."
"Ok," he smiled. "Thank you for your time, Katherine."
"Is there anything I need to do from here on out?" she questioned.
Gibbs reached into his wallet and handed her a business card. "This is my contact information. If you think of anything else that might be pertinent, please call or email me. I have your information, and if I have any other questions, I'll be sure to get in touch with you. What's the best way to reach you?"
"You can always call me, but if I'm in with a patient, I won't answer. If you email me, you can be reasonably assured of getting a reply within an hour or so."
"Thank you, Katherine. I'll keep that in mind."
With that, Agent Gibbs turned smartly and took his leave of her, leaving a very intrigued Katherine Andrews in his wake.