Title: The Night Dark and Drear

Story: NCIS

Rating: T/PG (gen)

Chapters: 1 of 1

Summary: When one of their own is mortally wounded, the team races to save him. Can they outrun death?

Disclaimer: Don't own, just playing, yadda yadda

This evil plot bunny would not leave me alone. The story was inspired by a song (the title is from the first line) that got stuck in my head. Hate it when that happens…

XXXXX

It was supposed to be a simple job.

Their latest case involved a rash of bombings around the Norfolk Naval Air Station, and the group of fanatics claiming responsibility was proving very difficult to track. McGee had found a possible family link to one of their suspects, and the team had traveled to a rural homestead to question the family, hoping to learn more about the group's next move.

That's when everything had gone to Hell.

Somehow the family had known they were coming, and as soon as they reached the end of the driveway, the people in the house had opened fire. Gibbs' team had returned fire, and in response the family had blown themselves up, along with their house which rained debris over a large area. When the smoke cleared Gibbs, suffering from only minor cuts and bruises, had struggled to find and assess his team. Ziva had escaped relatively unscathed. DiNozzo had been creased by a bullet to his upper arm, but had managed to stop the bleeding quickly. And McGee…

Gibbs rode in the back of the sedan with his junior agent in his arms, trying to keep pressure on McGee's wounds as the car bounced down the narrow dirt road away from the smoking remains of the homestead. Ziva swore under her breath in Hebrew as she drove as fast as she could towards the nearest hospital, hoping to meet the ambulance half-way. DiNozzo sat next to her with his body twisted so he could keep an eye on McGee. The flashes of lightning from the storm bearing down on them illuminated his face, and Gibbs was startled to see a puzzled look cross McGee's pale features.

"Tim, what's wrong?"

"D-do you…see her, B-boss?" A shy smile appeared on his face. "S-she looks h-happy…to see m-me…"

"Who, Tim?" asked Gibbs, an icy chill creeping up his spine.

"K-kate. She's…right…there."

Gibbs met DiNozzo's gaze and saw his own fear mirrored by his senior agent. He barely managed to keep his voice steady when he reassured McGee. "There's no one there, Tim."

McGee gazed into the smiling countenance of his former teammate as she whispered to him.

"It's OK, Tim. You can let go now. Come with me and the pain will go away, I promise..."

"C-can't you…h-hear her, Boss? S-she wants me to…go w-with her…"

"Ziva," said Gibbs in a low voice, "drive faster."

Ziva pressed her foot to the gas pedal, and tightened her white-knuckled grip on the wheel. DiNozzo gripped the back of the seat and tried to talk to McGee, but the words seemed stuck in his throat. Tim continued to stare into space, seemingly focused on something no one else could see.

"Come on, Tim, my friend, it will be like old times. We'll have fun together, and no one will play pranks on you here. We'll treat you very well..."

"P-please, B-boss. Tell me you can s-see her? She r-really wants…me to g-go with her… n-now."

"No, Tim! No. She's not there. You need to stay with me, son. Do you understand? Hang on." Gibbs griped his agent tighter and hoped that they would meet the ambulance in time.

"Oh, Tim. Still stubborn I see. You actually think you have a choice? I'm sorry, but you are coming with me…NOW."

Tim gasped as the image of his friend shifted to something dark and terrifying and he tried to pull away from its cold grip.

"No…no…Boss…help me…it's…it's not Kate! It has me…please…no…let me go…"

Gibbs grip on McGee tightened even more as they finally left the dirt road and hit the black top. He could barely hear DiNozzo yelling at McGee, telling him hang on, just for a few minutes more. Suddenly the lights of the ambulance appeared as Ziva brought the car to a screeching halt. Gibbs wanted to breathe a sigh of relief, but when he looked down at the man in his arms and gazed into his wide, unseeing eyes, his breath froze in his throat.

Tim McGee was dead.

XXXXX

Gibbs awoke with a start and sat up at his desk, anxiously glancing around. He could still feel the weight of his young agent in his arms, could still see his glassy stare, fixed in death. With a light groan, Gibbs reached up and rubbed a hand over his face to erase the remnants of the nightmare. Suddenly he was aware of someone watching him and he looked up.

"Uh, sorry to bother you, Boss…" It took Gibbs a moment to recover when he saw who was standing there.

"What do you need, McGee?"

"I, uh, I found some relatives of one of the suspects—Ackers—and I thought that we, I mean, the team, should go talk to them. Maybe they know something about, uh, where he's hiding. I know it's kind of late, but…" The young man stood and silently waited for a response.

"McGee…"

"Yes, Boss?"

"Call the state police, tell them we'll need them for backup, then get Ziva and DiNozzo and meet me at the car. And McGee? Make sure you're wearing a vest. All of you."

"Um, Boss, are you…do you know something I don't?"

"Better safe than sorry, McGee."

"Uh, right, of course. On it, Boss."

Gibbs watched him leave, then sat back in his chair for a moment with his eyes closed. Soon, he rose and went to meet his team, one thought running through his mind:

Better safe than sorry…

The End


A/N: Of course I couldn't kill McGee. Sheesh. Please let me know what you thought of this strange little tale.

FYI, the song that inspired this is Der Erlkönig (The Erlking) by Franz Shubert. If you've never heard it, you should check it out. It's wonderfully creepy.

English Lyrics, translation by Edwin Zydel

Who rides there so late through the night dark and drear?
The father it is, with his infant so dear;
He holdeth the boy tightly clasp'd in his arm,
He holdeth him safely, he keepeth him warm.

"My son, wherefore seek'st thou thy face thus to hide?"
"Look, father, the Erl-King is close by our side!
Dost see not the Erl-King, with crown and with train?"
"My son, 'tis the mist rising over the plain."

"Oh, come, thou dear infant! oh come thou with me!
Full many a game I will play there with thee;
On my strand, lovely flowers their blossoms unfold,
My mother shall grace thee with garments of gold."

"My father, my father, and dost thou not hear
The words that the Erl-King now breathes in mine ear?"
"Be calm, dearest child 'tis thy fancy deceives;
'Tis the sad wind that sighs through the withering leaves."

"Wilt go, then, dear infant, wilt go with me there?
My daughters shall tend thee with sisterly care
My daughters by night their glad festival keep,
They'll dance thee, and rock thee, and sing thee to sleep."

"My father, my father, and dost thou not see,
How the Erl-King his daughters has brought here for me?"
"My darling, my darling, I see it aright,
'Tis the aged grey willows deceiving thy sight."

"I love thee, I'm charm'd by thy beauty, dear boy!
And if thou'rt unwilling, then force I'll employ."
"My father, my father, he seizes me fast,
Full surely the Erl-King has hurt me at last."

The father now gallops, with terror half wild,
He grasps in his arms the poor shuddering child;
He reaches his courtyard with toil and with dread,-
The child in his arms finds he motionless, dead.