With You, I Will Grieve
Note and Disclaimer: Obviously, I don't own the character and plotlines of NCIS, but do own some of the characters (like Lydia Sullivan and her family and friends and whoever else who are not on the show) I have created in this story. They are all mine and cannot be used without my permission please. I'm new to this (not writing fan fiction, but this TV show), so please be nice. I'm still working on the plotlines, but I have a basic storyline on this. But please be patient. I'll get this done!
Dad and I were walking to Colonel Henderson's house in the afternoon sunshine, Washington DC's heat making me sweat despite the light dress I had on. The colonel was an old friend of the family and had served with Dad in Vietnam (when they were just young Marines running around the jungles of Asia fighting the Communists) and in Desert Storm (watching their men in the deserts of the Middle East). He was also the one who introduced Dad to Mom, was there when they got married…and when she died…and even babysat for us kids when we were wilder and younger. He even kept tabs with my much older brother and sister, making sure that they were ok, especially after my sister had a child (my little nephew, Sam) and the father walked out on her and my brother enlisted in the Marine Corp after a series of schools and jobs.
Colonel Henderson himself was not married and was often living alone even in his retirement, save for his only nephew, Felix, who came by often enough. So, to return the favor for all he had done for all of us, Dad and I visited him once every week (sometimes a few times a week for me, depending on work and school) and checked up on him. We chatted with him, catching up to some old times, and even invited him to dinner at our place in Alexandria. Each time was declined very politely, regardless of how tempting the offer was. Hell, even my cooking and baking skills (which the old colonel loved) could not make him park in our driveway
Before we went across the lavish front lawn to Colonel Henderson's apartment, Dad stopped me abruptly, making me almost drop my tray of cookies, a little something that I made for the colonel every week. Pulling me rudely by my thin dress strap and bra behind the bushes that characterized the whole apartment building (two large elephants artfully mastered in their lifelike likeness), he sneered at me, his face registering a cross between contempt and bitterness, as if I did something wrong once more, like my life had been a mistake from its conception.
"You had better behave yourself, Lydia. Do you hear me?" Dad growled at me, his face a picture of anger. "I don't want to hear of you giggling with his nephew again. You hear me, girl?"
My breathing soon came into slow, gasping grabs, like I could not get enough air and needed to desperately get what I could when I was allowed to. I felt like a fish out of water, flapping around and not being about to move back in, and that the shore was my worst enemy. Oh, hell, it was my life…period.
"Yes, Sir," I answered meekly afterward, respectfully even, as if I could not make up for being the most unwanted, disobedient and disrespectful daughter he ever had. "I won't bother Felix anymore when he wants my attention."
"Good." Dad let go of my dress strap and pushed me, letting me breath once more in relief, despite the impatient shove that he gave me.
Recovering the shock, I thought. Dad really shouldn't quite worry about Felix, but I like to keep it that way actually. He didn't know about Keith still (my ex Air Force boyfriend living in Silver Spring) and it made me glad to hear of that. Keeping up the pretense of some sort of flirty relationship with Felix still had to be maintained to keep the façade alive. I didn't like it, as did both Keith and Felix. However, they both felt it was necessary to deceive my father and to make sure that he did not suspect a thing for a while, since it was so dangerous living with a veteran with severe PTSD and anger issues.
I followed Dad humbly and walked up the front lawn with him, shaking as I was holding the tray of cookies. I dared myself to take a smell from them (peanut butter chocolate chip cookies) and smiled, knowing that my father was addicted to sugar of all kinds, but was highly allergic to peanut butter thankfully. Colonel Henderson could not share them with his friend, his brother-in-arms, the former Marine Captain Gregory Sullivan, but with me, his youngest daughter and child, the only one who was like his dead wife in every way.
The front door unlocked, we entered the three-story apartment building – fancy, neat and without any insect infestations or cracks and crevices – and walked upstairs to the top floor. Little yap-yap dogs with dyed pink fur barked behind the doors of the first two occupants as we crept up the stairs together. Shuddering, I remembered that two older women, who held little appeal to the colonel, lived in those apartments. They also liked to pinch my cheeks and say how lovely I am every time I was seen, albeit a little chunky and prone to embarrassment beyond words.
Breathless with anticipation of the upcoming wonderful visit and silent with each other as always, Dad and I made it to the last floor together and stood side-by-side at the door, as if on inspection for the colonel. Then, Dad, stiff as always when he was not threatening, knocked on the door, but oddly enough received no answer. Usually, we did get one, as the colonel always knew we were coming (calling the night before, last night being no exception). On the appointed day, he seemed to be at the door even before we even came.
Dad knocked again, calling out. "James? James, are you in there? Lyddy and I are here."
"Maybe he's sleeping?" I suggested out loud quite bravely, remembering dimly that Colonel Henderson liked to nap in the afternoons, especially when it was hazy, hot and humid outside, even though the air conditioning in the house was working perfectly fine. The more comfortable he was, the more of a mood he was in for a nap.
"Why don't you shut up about things you don't know anything about, Lyddy?" Dad asked me, knocking once more on the door, gagging on the smell of peanut butter as he tried to breathe in the cool air of the apartment's outside hallway. "James, are you in there?"
Ah, there it was again. Lyddy…now, that was a pet name of mine that I had not heard out of anybody's mouth since Mom died, seeing as how it was a nickname she had given me when I was three. Maybe (hopefully?), Dad was becoming sentimental with age? I doubted it. It's been thirty years since he got out of Vietnam and practically fifteen since Desert Storm. And since that time, he's been harsh, heated and bitter about everything. Visiting Colonel Henderson, his former commanding officer, had put the edge off of his bite. He would laugh with his former wartime buddy and joke around, hiding everything he had done to me, and always pretending that everything was normal. No words were spoken about the abuse I had endured, and it was hidden well too, even the black eyes and broken bones.
Shaking my head with the memories, I suddenly realized that I needed to back away from the situation before Dad shoved me aside. I started to step backwards, to let Dad into the doorway fully, but was stuck to the floor by some sticky substance. It felt like the maple syrup I had gotten in my good Sunday shoes once when I was six, but worse than the arguments I endured from my father. It had a strange metallic smell to it, like it was notoriously famous, sneaky in its ways…sinister even.
When he saw what I was doing, my father noticed it as well, and stepped back along with me, shocked as he found the source. All of that…redness…was under the door. Red, sticky and smelling weird…yep, it was that thing they called blood. But why was there all that blood on the floors of this apartment, namely (and possibly) Colonel Henderson's?
It was a good question that required an answer and I was not going to be the one who tried to open that door to find out.
"Move out of my way, Lydia," Dad finally ordered, after a few minutes of complete silence and shock. He then pounded on the door one more time, yelling for the colonel to open up.
Finally, totally frustrated after a few minutes of banging on the door and screaming Colonel Henderson's name, Dad kicked open the door with the training he had learned, demonstrating to me once more how powerful he was, even at his age. However, when he looked inside to the colonel's living room ahead, I didn't think his training would have prepared him for what was there, not even what he received before being shipped to Vietnam.
I didn't close my eyes, but looked inside instead with curiosity, dropping my tray of cookies in the blood puddle and gasping with fright as Dad stood completely still, seeing the scene before us. Colonel Henderson was hanging by his feet on his own living room ceiling, his head and chest covered in a few gory holes shot into him. The trail of blood had slowly dripped from his body to the floor and down towards us at the door.
Suddenly though, before I could even register what was around me, I felt my body being pushed out of the way. Dad had me by the ears at the stairwell before I knew it, then guiding me into another corner with blood trailing from our shoes, throwing me his cell phone as I was cornered. He was saying words that I could not hear, could not even possibly begin to comprehend fully, especially with that dead colonel in there…
"Did you even hear what I said, dammit?" Dad finally screamed into my ears (the first words that I understood) as I slumped into the corner, the hot sunshine from the window hitting me in the face and the blood riding up my dress.
"No, Sir," I whispered back. "What do you need me to do?"
No, no…not again. It can't happen again!
I was trying to keep a straight face despite everything. After all, it was the second time I had seen a dead body, the second time I had discovered another dead body in a year, and it still killed me to see it. This time though, it was more violent than the last.
Dad pointed to his cell phone in my hands. "Call NCIS now, Lyddy. I put the number in already. Just call them. I'll keep the others from the scene."
"NCIS?" I asked him, very confused. I didn't what it was or what the letters stood for. All I knew was what I had to call somebody and do it fast before Dad beat me…again.
"Yes, Lydia, call NCIS – Naval Criminal Investigative Services. I want you to call the agency and specifically ask for Marine Gunnery Sergeant Leroy Jethro Gibbs."