All That I'm After: Down The Other Road

Chapter One: Now it's Too Late

I know I said I'm sorry, but that's not what I meant to say - Daughtry

"No, Anthony!" The voice shrieked, snapping the boy to attention. "Now it's too late, I don't care if you say sorry, I don't care if you didn't mean it. It's done." Whack "You worthless filth. I never wanted you, why would I want something like you? Get out of my sight…no…Get out of my house! Get out of my life." Pain

It seemed so long ago, it seemed such a long way away. It felt like he'd been running for months when really it had only been days…Or had it been months? It still felt like too long. This had been the last place, the first place he'd tried. The darkness closing in forced him forward, bone weary. First the winding trucks, that had picked him up near the I-95 S, four hours and seventeen minutes, his watch ticking away. But, no further.

No, he wouldn't go any further. Not with what they wanted him to do. No…he'd never, he couldn't. No. He'd run from there. Run so fast. And he'd walked, feet dragging one way then the other, shoulders heavy. The cops of trees near the right turn onto the MD-3 S had served as a night shelter. The warm summer night still bringing a shiver, cutting through the fabric.

And it was there. A house, last on the row, the garden out the back, overgrown flowerbeds reaching up towards the turquoise sky of a new morning. Alone. Inviting. Empty.

He shivered, looking furtively left and right. No one about. No one watching. Taking a breath he started up the path, crouching in front of the door with a long hairpin he'd slipped off his mother's dressing table, his pen knife in the other hand.

The door swung back easily, thumping softly against the inside wall of the hallway. The boy breathed out, that had only ever worked twice before, and those time he knew the locks; must be getting better.

Slipping inside the cold hallways, the boy shut the door behind him. As he suspected: Empty. Sheets even covered the furniture, no lights shone from within…or without. It was utterly empty. And that's where he was now.

This wasn't his house, wasn't his home. He was an intruder? Yes, he was. He wasn't supposed to be here…Make as little impact as possible. As little impact. But, it was hard. The floor…or the sofa? And what was this? Covered by a thick black sheet, different from the others. He pulled at a corner, peeking under the cover. A piano?

It was a piano.

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It had been a long, long mission. A long mission. Sometime Agent L.J. Gibbs felt that being an NCIS agent took more acting than honesty. Gibbs ran a hand over his tired face, leaning against the seats in the back of the taxi cab which was winding its way through the empty streets of the quiet neighbourhood.

"Just drop me off here." Gibbs signalled the cabbie, reaching into the pocket of his crumpled suit to retrieve the equally crumpled payment. His body was telling him that he needed sleep, but it was also telling him that it was already time to get up. Damn jetlag. It wasn't like Europe had held anything he really wanted to see, nothing he wanted to remember.

Director Morrow's debrief had been just that: brief. Short and to the point, and now he was home.

He'd always hated deep undercover work, it took over your life and left you bereft afterwards. This mission had done just that, taken over his life. He'd been so far undercover that he'd been forced to bring a suspect back to his house once when he'd been tailed and then his…alias, had moved. They'd known where he lived and he needed to make it look real. This bloody undercover op had made him leave home, the one place he could escape from it. No, that had been taken away and it wasn't like anyone had asked if he wanted this. Of course he didn't fucking want this!

The cab trundled away, leaving Gibbs to haul his bag onto his back and trudge towards the inviting sight of his house. His home.

"Psst." Gibbs frowned, turning his head slightly. People actually still did that? An elderly man who Gibbs recognised as the man who lived across from him was beckoning him over. The agent sighed deeply, he really wasn't in the mood for this, but he went over anyway, inclining his head as politely as he could with the fatigue which was raging through his body.

"That'd your house there." The elderly man stated with a nod.

"Yes it is."

"You got a visitor."

Gibbs blinked, "What? Who?"

"I dunno, this kid, he come yesterday and he break in, me and Maggie. We saw him, didn't we Maggie."

"That we did, Bernie." His wife had some how materialised beside him.

"Yeah, want us to call the police. We can call the police for you. Might be best if we call the police, breaking and entering."

"What's this kid look like?" Gibbs' inner investigator sneaking up the barrier of exhaustion.

"Don't know, it was dark. Early morning." Bernie nodded to himself.

"It was that, very early." Maggie cut in.

"He was young, maybe nine or ten. You think he was the same age as our Greg or our William, Maggie?"

"Oh, our Bill, Bernie."

"Then our Billy's ten now. The kid was nine or ten. Do you want us to call the police?"

"Naw, it's 'kay, I'll fix it out." Gibbs assured the old couple, who seemed to keep odd hours of the day if they'd been up in the early morning yesterday and were still up in the late hours of the night now. Gibbs gave them a slight smile, retreating back across to his dark house. He glanced over his shoulder, still able to see Bernie and Maggie – Berggie – watching him intently, good thing he had an obscured doorway them he doubted this would go down with his oddly observant neighbours.

Silent as a cat, Gibbs slipped his bag off his shoulder, resting it in the porch-way, thankful that he'd remembered to turn off the porch-light so it didn't flicker into existence at his presence.

Sliding his gun from its almost permanent position by his hip, Gibbs tested the door handle; unlocked…interesting. Bracing himself, Gibbs quietly opened the door, his gun preceding him into the hallway. The darkness within was almost overpowering, the chill of having not heated the house for weeks forcing out into the calm night.

Edging along the hallways, Gibbs held his gun steady, eyes adjusting to the darkness of the familiar surroundings. He only had a second to react as a chair was wielded in his direction, aimed at his chest.

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Now I'm triple-tasking. It's a skill…sort of. No, I haven't forgotten anything, it's all being written; I'm just a story maniac. Short and sweet, just how we like Gibbs…well maybe not short he's probably six foot, but the way he talks anyway. I'll keep this short. Throw a dedication to my faithful followers: ShadowWolfDagger, peanutmeg, Hussey, kutoki, 3hourmonologue, sarahbeara07, AgentDiNozzo13, sparkybunny, Tara La'Quinn, newgal, AMAPADME, Invisible Brunette, julie250…oh so many more. Jen…but of course. Anni, can't forget. And this was going to be short, failed there. But, there it is. Yes, this is a short chapter, next will be longer and actually better written, this isn't amazingly written, but hope you like it!

Eryn [Soul Music]