The Price of Honesty: Chapter 1--Opening
Disclaimer: We all know the drill. The totality of my possessions does not include anything related to NCIS, despite the recent passage of several gift-giving holidays.
Summary: Fits in the same series as the other stories (DL, OJ&G, T&CL, CoL&W, LF), about a month after the end of Lethal Fractures. A murder halfway around the world gets the attention of Team Gibbs, and by the time the case is resolved and the questions are answered, the lives of several members of the MCRT, both past and present, will change forever.
A/N: Just like with Consequences of Love and War, I'm writing this one as I go (unlike pretty much the others, where I had 20+ chapters written before I start posting). What this means for you is that I won't be posting at the most regular of all schedules; it also means that I'll be taking any suggestions you have into account, so feel free to give them.
The first four or so chapters (after the opening), don't have a whole lot to do with the whole story, but they wrap up a previous story pretty well, so that's why they're there.
There is some profanity (no more than one would hear in a military setting or around teenage boys), so if that offends you, sorry.
Oh, and Gracy will be in this, but not as a main character.
Enjoy. And happy New Year's.
Alex Earl was bored.
It was hardly the first time that that had happened, but he was beginning to get bored with being bored, and it was entirely his father's fault. His father's fault that he was bored, that is, not that he was bored with being bored.
He sighed and pushed his chair away from his desk, letting the tiny wheels take him to the space in front of the window.
Alex stared out into the clear day in front of him and sighed again. "Goddamn fucking country," he muttered, taking in the cloudless sky, spotless white beach, and bright blue sea in front of him. Sure, it looked nice, but the whole place represented one big fucking tropical prison cell that his father walked him into and his mother locked him in. It was his father who decided to sell his surgical practice and take a commission in the Navy, and his mother who, in her Wisteria Lane suburban housewife-ness, thought that was a wonderful idea and gushed excitedly about how proud she was of her husband and the great example she was setting for their children.
Why couldn't he have just started fucking a nurse and bought a Corvette, like any other self-respecting surgeon going through a mid-life crisis would have done?
The whole Navy thing wasn't the worst part of it, though. Sure, it was a massive paycut, which meant that Alex probably wasn't going to get the new Jeep he'd been hoping for on his sixteenth birthday, but he could learn to deal with that. What had really gotten Alex was the fucking move.
He figured his father would just go to work at the base in Corpus Christi, keeping the family in the same place and keeping Alex in his high school with the winning football team. But no, it turned out that the medical facilities at Corpus Christi didn't need a general surgeon, and even though the esteemed Dr. Earl could have taken a place on an aircraft carrier—again, keeping the family in Corpus Christi—he wasn't interested in splitting up the family. So they had to pack up and move.
To Bahrain. A fucking island in the middle of the fucking Middle East.
Mom had been thrilled with it, of course, going on and on about the opportunities to learn about different cultures and see the world and all that crap—for a woman who spent her entire adult life being a housewife and volunteering for the PTA and baking brownies for one bake sale or another, supporting her husband's decision to move the whole fucking family to the other side of the world was by the far the most exciting thing that she had ever done. And Ava, whose entire purpose of her eight year existence had been to ruin Alex's life, had carried the giant world atlas over to their father and batted her damn blue eyes and asked him to point out where they would be going, giving a wide-eyed look of excitement at how far away it was from Texas. Her second-grade class threw her a going away party in June, and now she had thirty pen-pals.
And Alex had a new high school in a country that thought that 'football' was played with a round black-and-white ball, while the friends he had been playing with since he was seven were polishing their skills for the University of Texas recruiters they would be meeting in a few years. He had asked if parents if they could send him to a boarding school instead. They thought he was joking and laughed.
His parents were the biggest idiots on the planets. He wished his parents were like Matt Kearns'. They would never do anything to risk their son's future college football career.
"Stupid fucking island," he muttered again, still glaring out the window. They didn't have football; it got over a hundred degrees every day—although they insisted on saying it was 'over forty degrees', because the damn country used the damn Celsius scale—there was never anything on TV, because even with a satellite, the time zones were so fucked up that when he was awake, it was the middle of the night back home; and the few hot girls at school stuck up their noses at him because their fathers were chiefs or something, not surgeons who didn't know the first thing about being in the Navy.
It had to be the first time his entire life that he was snubbed because his father was successful, which just further proved his point about how fucked up his life had become.
The only thing keeping him from hitchhiking a ride back to Texas—and he didn't even care how—was Erika Guess, who was not only hot, but also a former cheerleader who was just as pissed off about being in Bahrain as he was. And she also just arrived on the God-forsaken island, and both of her parents were doctors—an OB and a pediatrician—so she was right there with him, being excluded by classmates who thought that they didn't know anything about Navy life.
'Navy life' had sent him to Bahrain. He didn't need to know anything else about it.
The only problem was, Erika was ridiculously hard to impress. Before her parents had moved her to Bahrain, she had been dating the senior quarterback—who was now playing college football at University of Southern California—and she thought they were still dating. So while they spent all of their time outside of school together, complaining about one thing or another, he couldn't even manage to get to first base, despite his best efforts. He even went on that damn bike ride with her, which was how he broke his fucking leg and landed him in his damn bedroom after school, instead of sitting on the beach with all those enlisted girls working on their tans after sitting around the office in their uniforms all day.
God, he hated Bahrain.
Alex brightened slightly as he caught movement in a familiar window of the apartment building across the street. He didn't know who the blond man was who lived there—he never wore a uniform, but people around the neighborhood who didn't work on base were few and far between—but his girlfriend was hot, and he never closed the blinds on the windows, giving Alex a show much better than the porn Scott Edwards used to swipe from his older brother.
The man's one bedroom apartment was directly across the street and one floor down from Alex's bedroom, giving him a great view of both the bedroom and the living room, and Alex had seen the blond man and his very fit dark-haired girlfriend in the bed, on the couch, and once, against the kitchen counter. It was pretty much everything a fifteen-year-old boy could ask for.
This afternoon, the motion that caught his eye was the man walking into his living room, his girlfriend close behind him. They appeared to be in no particular hurry to do anything, much to Alex's disappointment, but he could be patient—it wasn't as if he had anything else going on, not with his right leg in a cast. They must be off whatever work they did for the day; the man grabbed a couple of beers from the fridge, handing one over to his girlfriend. Alex grinned as he watched the girlfriend pop the cap off the bottle with a swift motion against the counter. Her beer in hand, she began aimlessly wandering through the living room, using her free hand to gesture as she spoke, but it wasn't her hands that Alex was watching; it was the way her ass moved in those well-fitted khakis.
Damn, she was hot.
For several long minutes, nothing changed between them. The blond man continued whatever he was doing in the kitchen, moving continuously in and out of Alex's line of sight from the window, while the girlfriend continued her pacing and talking, taking occasional sips from the brown bottle in her hand. "Come on," Alex urged under his breath at the girlfriend, "take some clothes off. Get busy. What the hell is your boyfriend doing, and why isn't he fucking you on the couch?" He frowned as he studied the blond man for a minute before he registered what he was doing, and then the frown turned into an incredulous expression. "You're unloading the dishwasher?" he asked in disbelief. "You have a smoking hot woman in your apartment, and you're wasting time unloading the dishwasher? Come on, give me more than that."
As soon as the words were out of his mouth, the atmosphere in the apartment across the street changed abruptly. The girlfriend stopped her pacing, her body stiff as she turned to her boyfriend, who remained in the kitchen, out of Alex's sight. He obviously couldn't hear what they were saying, but whatever it was, the girlfriend didn't like it. "No, no fighting," Alex begged them. "Come on, kiss and make-up. And then some make-up sex."
For a second, he thought they might have heard him, because the dark-haired woman went around the kitchen counter, disappearing from Alex's line of sight. "Come on, come back," he urged. He continued watching the window intently, waiting for a sign that the couple would be soon heading into the living room or bedroom, barely aware of the minutes ticking by without sight of either member of the couple.
He was sure it was time to give up when he registered the changing light on the floor, indicating the opening and closing of the apartment door. Sighing heavily at the realization that there wouldn't be any make-up sex any time soon, he was about to wheel himself back to his desk when motion in the apartment across the street caught his eye again. Thinking that the girlfriend was coming back to apologize for leaving, he eagerly gave it his full attention.
And almost jumped out of his chair in surprise, broken leg and all.
Having slipped from his position somewhere behind the kitchen counter, the blond man was sprawled out on the floor, unmoving. And judging from the growing pool of blood under him, he wasn't going to be moving again.